Friday, September 30, 2011

Lions & Tigers & Bears

We went to the zoo last weekend.

It was likely the last warm day of Indian summer before the shorts get packed away until next year. A perfect day for a stroll and some animal sightings...

Doug, Elissa, Caleb & Emerson joined us for part of the morning...

... and rented this great quadra-cycle to help them get around (since Elissa is still recovering from a knee surgery).

Of course, the kids all fought over who was going to get turns on the big bike.

Silas wasn't quite sure what to think when his turn came around.

And what good would a zoo post be without a few pictures of the animals?

Sleeping grizzly.

Micah thought howling at the wolves might wake them up.

Didn't work.

The boys of the family waiting for the lion and tiger feeding.

Boomer the lion was pretty excited about his horse meat.

Sweetie the tiger acted a little more nonchalant. Like a true cat.

All in all, a great day was had a the zoo...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Going Green - Part II

To continue with the green theme, I decided to try a new recipe the other day. A few weeks ago I saw a tip while browsing Pinterest that said you can substitute 1/2 the butter (or margarine) in cookie recipes for the same amount of avocado.

So, I decided to give it a whirl.

I'm sure you could try this with any cookie recipe, but I decided for my first go I would google an actual avocado cookie recipe. The first one that came up was this one and it promised to be so good that I wouldn't be able to eat just one!

The recipe intro on the blog included a bit of a disclaimer: "I’m pretty sure that this still doesn’t classify them as healthy or part of your five-a-day and I’m sure that some of you are thinking ‘what’s the point- if you’re going to eat a cookie, eat a cookie’."

But then it goes on to say that sometimes it's the little things that count. And especially as a mom with young kids (some more picky than others), I'm always looking for ways to add healthful content to their food intake. Avocado is one of the best foods around - and the idea of replacing some bad fat with some healthy fat? Bring it on.

Oatmeal-Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1/2 cup butter softened (I used margarine)

1/2 cup peeled mashed avocado (I needed a whole one to get 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup shredded coconut (I opted to add 1/2 cup of rolled oats instead)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional - I didn't use them)

1. Beat the butter/margarine and sugars until smooth. Add the mashed avocado.

If you have any little helpers around, they might enjoy the mashing process.

Margarine and sugar... meet avocado.

The mixture was tinged slightly green after we added the avocado. I took a taste at this point and could faintly pick up on the avocado. But only for a moment until all that sugar took over in my mouth :)

2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the avocado mixture and mix well. Stir in oats and coconut. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.

And, you might ask, how does avocado cookie dough taste?

Still delicious.

Just ask my assistant.

4. Drop into tablespoon-sized balls onto a baking sheet.
I found it helped to press them down a little so they baked wider rather than rounder. The recipe says to bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, but I probably did mine for a little under 10 minutes.

The end result? A delicious and kind-of-nutritious, slightly yellowy-tinged, after-school snack that the kids were happy to eat.

I even shared them with the moms at ballet and I believe they passed the "yummy" test... Now, who is brave enough to try this in your favourite tried-and-true cookie recipe?? Please do and let me know how they turn out!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Going Green

When we were in Mexico, we drank spinach/fruit juice from the juice bar every morning at our resort, and it was really yummy. Ever since, I've been thinking of incorporating more spinach into our diet.

So, yesterday I concocted a spinach smoothie. It was a delicious success.

I'm sure it would be yummy with many different combinations of fruit, but here's what I used:

- handful of frozen peaches (since I just bought about 30 lbs of them last week...)
- one banana
- handful of spinach
- juice from 1/2 lemon (only because I just bought about a bazillion of those too...)
- little bit of water to add some liquid

Then everything went into the Magic Bullet...

I decided to add a bit more stuff about half-way through because once it was all blended it only filled up 1/2 the cup. So, in went another handful of spinach, a few more frozen peach slices and some more water...

And there you have it, a deliciously healthy, naturally-sweet, thick and creamy smoothie. The frozenness of the peaches added a cold, thick, slushy consistency that was amazing. And I really think that little bit of lemon juice was a key contributor to the yummy factor.

Even Silas was a fan - getting some good helpings of fruits and veggies under his belt early in the day.

I'm feeling more and more inspired to consume less sugar in this house and more healthy (but still delicious!) meals and snacks - particularly things that will appeal to the kids too. So, if you've got something up your sleeve that fits those criteria, please pass them my way!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bye-Bye Summer

Yes, of course the summer sped by.
It gets faster every year, right?

But, at the same time, I feel like I got to enjoy A LOT of summer weather this year. We missed out on the lousy early summer in BC and enjoyed hot sunny temps in Manitoba almost every day, not to mention our scorching week in Mexico back in June. And when we returned to Abbotsford, summer seemed to follow us here. We've had those warm, warm September temps that seem to be the pattern around these parts...

The hot days make for perfectly warm evenings. Evenings that are great for biking down our quiet street where we get our fill of farm animals to see (and smell): sheep, cows, horses, and even llamas.

And warm evenings that are also perfect for family get-togethers...

Including birthday celebrations.

But the last couple of mornings we've awakened to that fall crispness in the air. And I gotta say... I love it.

Makes me get excited for jeans and sweaters and hot soup and pumpkin spice lattes...

And watching the trees change into their autumn attire...

So, with that said...
Bye-bye summer.
And hello fall.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


School started this week... and with it, some big adjustments.
For all of us.

Because our school closed last year, we had to choose a new school. Even though a lot of our friends also moved over to this school, it's still a challenge - a new place to "figure out" (for the kids and for me), bigger class sizes (which translates into more volume and chaos, especially on the playground at recess), and new teachers.

Micah is in grade 1 this year. This is also the first year that he has to stay for the entire school day.

Little Miss Keziah is in Kindergarten this year. Even though she is 2 whole years younger than Micah, they'll only be 1 year apart in school (because we held Micah back). This means, however, that Keziah will also have to go to school for the entire day... {sniff}

Keziah has a gradual entry so she won't be required to stay for the full day until next Wednesday. She's doing great so far (but she's only had to stay for 1 hour at a time at this point). I'm a little nervous about how that's all gonna go down...

I'm even more nervous now after how Micah's first few days have gone. He did great the first day (which was a half day), but after his first full day yesterday, he was all teary and kept whining that he didn't want to go back to school. Of course, we made him go this morning (after I peeled him off of me in the parking lot) only to get a phone call at lunch that he wouldn't be able to make it through the day. It doesn't help that his best friend has also been having a tough time. The two of them were waiting together in the principle's office at noon... both in tears :(

After talking with Micah, and talking with his (amazing) teacher on the phone, we made a deal. Micah will go for just the mornings for the next few days, but then on Wednesday we'll try to do the full day again (since Wednesday will also be Keziah's first full day). Micah seemed to agree with this idea and I'm hoping that his own "gradual entry" will do the trick.

I'll tell you this though - one adjustment that has been easy to make is the driving time. A 20-minute commute down to 4?
Wonderful :)

Monday, September 05, 2011


We've been in our house for over a week now. It still feels pretty strange. There are still a lot of boxes and piles around here. But there are some improvements happening too.

Say good-bye to the palm tree toilet seat.

And hello to this eco-friendly, low-flush (and may I add, nice and white?) toilet.

We could just leave the palm tree one out on the lawn... Maybe plant some flowers in it?

It would go nicely with some of the other motif around here.

Anyway, back to the real bathroom...
A little familiar artwork also makes it feel much more homey.

And the kids bedroom went from looking like this:

To this:

Much, much better.
I feel like I can breathe when I go in there.

And the closet isn't looking quite so nasty either. After the purchase of another set of those plastic drawer storage thingys, there's a place to throw all the random toys that didn''t have a home.
Thank you Walmart.

I think the kids are digging their new bedroom too.

Silas continued to sleep in our room for a couple of nights, but tonight we put him in his "bunk bed" (as he refers to it... and I won't correct him) for the first time. It was a bit of gong show but I believe everyone has fallen asleep.

Now to see what the morning will bring...

Erik also took down a few nasty shelves that were remaining in their bedroom and hung some other things up for me:

As for the outdoors, we found the perfect tree branch to hang the swing. And it even does double-duty -- while the kids are swinging, all ripe - but out-of-reach - plums fall easily to the ground :)

And today Mom & Dad T (mostly Dad) took on a big demolition project. It was time for this old green pig barn to come down.

Erik helped push down the final walls...

Now there's a lot of junk to clean-up, but it gives us a more unobstructed view of Mt. Baker as well as better access to the mother-load of blackberries that were hidden behind.

Seriously, look at the size of these things.

Now I should be off to bed. It's the first day of school tomorrow and I need to be up early to pack our first-ever school lunches.
And so it begins...