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Toddler Travels

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This winter…am I right?!! Brrr! With spring break right around the corner here’s a fun idea if you are lucky enough to be road-tripping to somewhere warm or even if you’re planning a stay-cation! Little play dough activity kits are sure to keep your kidlets busy in the vehicle or indoors!

The sky is the limit as far as themes go, upon research I found some fun ideas for fairy kits as well as farm kits, ocean life kits or whatever your little is interested in!  I’m sure it would be great to even focus on alphabet kits with magnetic letters and then items to represent each letter!

I made two kits for my travelling toddler and our upcoming trip to Texas!  I themed his dinosaur and construction site.  I added trees and signs as well as some dinosaur figurines and CAT implements.  I also found a book to go along with each theme and then made some essential oil scented play dough to add to each kit.  I put each themed activity together in a clasped lid container for easy access in the vehicle.  E can play with these in the truck on his lap desk I made him last year! (search “travelling” to find this post). You could also add beads, marbles, stones, a wide array of figurines, and cookie cutters!

The recipe I used for play dough is as follows (from a generous friend):

  • 1 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp cream of tarter
  • 2 cup flour
  • 2-4 drops essential oil for each container of playdough
  • Boil the water and salt and once dissolved add the remaining ingredients. Remove from heat and let cool enough so you can kneed the dough to the consistency you want. (I wore rubber gloves so I could handle it sooner. This is also when I added food colouring and essential oils.)

 

Nosh

Four Ingredient Gluten-Free Wraps…Love-ly Lunch or Dinner!

As promised and just in time to spread a little love for Valentine’s Day, here’s an easy and tremendously healthy recipe to try! I’ll be the first to tell you that restricted diets aren’t fun and often times not super convenient to create wholesome menu items that don’t make you feel like you’re “missing out”.  These gluten-free wraps are game-changers.  You are in control…no additives and no extras means they are healthy and with only 4 ingredients plus water they are super accessible and easy to make.

In the original Spinach-Gluten-Free Wraps (adapted from elavegan.com) I modified the recipe a bit to include a healthier starch alternative.  Arrowroot powder or starch is one of the healthier starches to use plus it is freezer stable for all your sauce needs.  Just like corn starch or potato starch it is used as a thickener.  It has no flavour or taste so adding it to anything is great.  Arrowroot has potassium and B-vitamins as well as it is very gut-health friendly.  It is gentle on the digestive system and is often used to aid digestion specifically for IBS sufferers.  It has metabolism boosting qualities and it is great for circulation and heart health.

I was so impressed with how quick and easy these wraps were to whip up.  With a consistency much like crepe batter these “tortillas” were a lot of fun to make.  After mastering the spinach recipe I couldn’t help but think of other vegetable possibilities.  Perfect for Valentine’s Day the ruby hue of roasted beets came to mind first.  This recipe was equally as easy to whip up and once I got the recipe tweaked just right I was in mad-love with these beautiful wraps too.  I filled ours with greek style chicken breast, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and feta and we enjoyed them along side some lemon oregano heart shaped roasted potatoes…A perfect and LOVE-ly meal for anytime of the year but so easily festive for February 14th!!

Spinach Gluten-Free Wraps

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Blend all ingredients in a processor or blender until smooth…this batter resembles crepe batter, as does the method.
  • Pour roughly 1/2-1/3 cup batter into a heated non-stick skillet and kind of twirl the pan to spread the batter into a larger round.  Cook evenly on both sides until slightly browned on a medium heat.  Much like pancakes you’ll see bubbles rise and pop before you’ll be able to flip them.  Don’t rush this.  If the tortilla doesn’t want to flip it’s likely not ready.  It should be easy to peal off the pan!
  • Keep warm under a tea towel while you cook the entire batch.

**Add more water if you want bigger, thinner wraps.  1 cup is great for more small sized taco-style tortillas…The thicker the batter the thicker and smaller the wrap is as it doesn’t spread as far in the pan.

Beet Gluten-Free Wraps

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 3/4 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1 cup roasted, peeled and diced beets
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Same method as above.

 

Nosh

Peppernuts…spicy little morsels of my childhood!

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Peppernuts or Pfeffernusse are coin-sized cookies that pack a lot of punch.  Spicy notes of cinnamon, anise and black pepper hit your taste buds with a ton of flavour.  The smell of these little treats alone bring me back to christmases of my childhood.  My grandma made them every year at Christmas…the time she spent in her kitchen had to have been unreal!  They are crunchy and sweet and delicious.

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The recipe for these German-mennonite cookies is easy to follow.  Although a bit tedious they are fun to make and share.  Fill up mason jars, coffee mugs or dessert tins and pass them around this Christmas.  I love them with a steaming mug of black coffee or tea.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground star anise
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp canilla
  • 8 cups + flour
  • In your mixer or with an electric beater, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the syrup and spices along with the vanilla.  Add in the flour and baking soda gradually until a soft dough is formed (much like a sugar cookie dough).
  • Roll into ropes (the thickness is up to you, I rolled mine 3/4-1 inch thick). Cover with plastic wrap and freeze.
  • Slice into thin coins while still frozen and bake on parchment lined baking sheets at 350* until golden and crisp.  Let cool (they’ll crisp even more) and store in airtight containers.  (This recipe makes 6-7 pan full, I’ve halved it many times as well when I’m not as energetic for a full batch!!)
Mom-ing

What is Christmas?

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What is Christmas to you? Is it the hustle and bustle? Is it finding that perfect gift and wrapping it up for under your tree? Is it church and candles and the blessings of God? Is it family and food and gatherings after gatherings? Is it cringing and wishing it was January? Is it loneliness and heartache? Is it cinnamon and pine? Shopping lists and concerts?  Is it snowflakes and hot chocolate? Children laughing and counting down till Santa? Is it just another day?

Here’s the thing…This year has given me a rude awakening.  I’ve been thrust into a realm of self-analysis.  I have been left questioning myself, my worth, my life and my why in ways I haven’t had to in a long time.  I cracked, I broke, I cried, I lost some faith, I healed, I grew, I learned, I studied, I laughed, I loved and I changed.  With all that change and growth came a new sort of Christmas for me.

This year I’ve really tried to make the moments matter.  The day to day events as well as the bigger occasions have brought forth new meaning.  We truly are here for such a short amount of time and every second is important.  I want to breathe in every last drop of E and his childhood.  He grows so fast.  Time is always a bit of a villain.  I don’t want to waste anything where he is concerned.  I want him to grow up with so much love he pukes on it!  Memories Matter!  They matter so much.  I reflect on happy times a lot more these days (perhaps that’s the meds talking but either way I do!) and cherish my own childhood memories even more.

This holiday season, in a world of so much chaos, I especially wanted to put more effort into spreading cheer and kindness and love and less effort on ‘the perfect holiday’ and the commercialism of Christmas.  Within this effort I’ve let my house get messy.  I’ve danced in the kitchen to jingle bells a million times a day with E.  We’ve covered our windows with home-made santas, angels, reindeer and snowflakes.  We’ve made snowmen, foraged for greenery, sipped on cider and hot chocolate, made dozens of cookies, visited with friends and loved ones and created crazy chaotic memories.  I wanted to spend more time and less money! In an effort to do this I created a tradition I hope to carry forward for many years…Cousin Christmas!

Right now I have 6 nieces and nephews…they range in ages and interests alike…I wanted to have a day with each of them individually to do some sort of Christmas activity so that they’d get to spend more time with E and to give them a bit of a treat. (Little did I know that I would in fact be given the best gift.). We made an array of projects…bath bombs, grinch cookies, birdseed ornaments, Christmas tree sugar cookies decorated with Christmas light sprinkles, tractor track wrapping paper, and apple cinnamon garlands.  (The youngest of said cousins will hopefully get to partake in these memories next year once he’s a bit older plus I’ll have a brand new niece or nephew to spoil next year too!!!). E loved these days…having kids over to play with him is always a highlight and he really likes project days! Perhaps the kids got a wee bit spoiled…more sugary treats than normal and less rules than usual…(shh don’t tell) but I hope more than anything they had as much fun as we did.  These days were action packed and filled to the brim with a lot of excitement and some chaos.  I’m not gonna lie, they definitely tired me out! But they also gave me a serious dose of reality.  Of learning what Christmas in fact means to me.  It’s the moments.  It’s being IN THE MOMENTS.  It’s taking time for each other.  It’s letting some of that OCD slide and falling into childhood again. It’s family. It’s kids and creations.  It’s anticipation. And it’s Love.

I’m encouraging you all to find YOUR meaning of christmas.  Get inspired by random acts of friendship and love.  Take time for each other.  Don’t waste what little moments we have here and now worrying about perfection.  Be Christmas.  Be Love. And be what you can when you can.  Giving memories and giving of yourself is so much more than anything that you can buy and wrap in sparkling paper with ribbons and bows. Once again it has hit me that simple really is the best.

Nosh

Ginger Cookies with a Split Twist

I’ve waited patiently for the beginning of December to let myself truly explode Christmas!! (Ok that’s a lie, I haven’t waited patiently…I haven’t even exactly waited as we’ve already done some Christmas activities including decorating the tree…oops!)  I just honestly can’t hold in the excitement! This time of year makes me feel closest to the magic of childhood!  If unlike me you are just letting yourself get into the spirit I hope to give you some easy inspiration to take your traditions to the next level this Christmas or inspire you to bring in some new traditions!

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In this post I’m showing you how to elevate an already favourite ginger cookie recipe (or use mine) into something super decadent and fun.  This is an easy decorating technique that your kids or grandkids (or nieces or nephews or even the neighbor’s kid) can get involved in easily as well.  Share the gift of baking with your loved ones!

Ginger Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Cream the butter and sugar then add the molasses, spices and vanilla.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  • Drop by scoopful on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375* for 10-12 mins (rotate your pans if you are baking them together on convection.)

For the decorating:

  • Melt 3/4 cup white chocolate discs over a double boiler.
  • Dip each cooled cookie into the melted chocolate to cover half and then lay on waxed paper.
  • Sprinkle with your favourite decorations!  We used gingerbread man sprinkles and Christmas coloured little ball sprinkles.
  • Let cool to set the chocolate then share!