Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Wordless Wednesday - My son's first Passport Photo!

The first step to our first plane trip vacation with our 11 month old son is done! It was difficult to hold him still while he got the photo done.  It took about 10 tries, but it's done!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Frugal ways to Reinvent your baby or child's clothing - Easy and quick apparel crafting

Do you ever see great deals on baby or children's clothes at the store but find they're a bit plain?  Looking for some affordable and unique ways to jazz up your child's clothing?  I had some fun using a few things from the craft store and reusing other things from around the house.  Using a few simple ideas and supplies I was able to personalize my son's clothes more and make them unique to only him!

Fun Clothing reinvention #1 - Monogrammed Onesie

I bought two frugal pieces of baby clothes, one navy onesie and one red shirt.  They're both cute, but a little plain.

To reinvent the navy onesie I looked through my craft supplies that could be used to make it less plain.  I decided to use an iron on teddy bear patch and some letters.  It took me a little while to come up with what I wanted to spell on the onesie.  I thought my son's initials would be a nice idea, so that's what I did.  I think it looks like because it looks monogrammed now.  What do you think?

Fun Clothing reinvention #2 - Horseplay

I bought this striped onesie for only a few dollars.  

To  add some extra style I added an iron-on horse patch that I thought went well with the stripes.  It was a 5 minute craft that adds some equestrian style to this onesie.

Fun Clothing reinvention #3 - Reuse some material

This last clothing reinvention was inspired by a broken lampshade.  A broken lampshade? Yes, a lampshade that my son broke by knocking over a lamp a few times gave me an idea.   

I noticed the shade was covered in a thin material that had cute details embroidered on them, like a teddy   bear and bird.

I cut the material off of the lampshade and divided into the two main details - the teddy bear and the bird.  Now, what was I going to do with these cute details?

I had picked up a bright yellow summer shirt that was on sale and was waiting for warmer weather so my son could actually wear it!  In the meantime I thought why not see if the embroidered details from the lamp would look good on the shirt.

I folded the detailed material under and laid them on the shirt like patches to see how they looked before I decided which one to sew on.  I like the teddy bear detail on this shirt, so this is what I'll be sewing on. 

 I'll keep the bird detail and may even cut the material down to only include the bird and sew it on another piece of clothing when I get inspired.

These are only a few, very quick ideas to add a little more style to our child's clothing.  I find it fun to think of ways to personalize clothes and make them unique.  I hope you have fun coming up with your own ideas!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

My Maternity Leave ends & my Life as a Stay at Home mom begins!

Today I finally, officially ended my Maternity Leave and resigned from my full time job.  I talked to my boss on the phone, wrote and sent my resignation letter and it's done.  Now all there's left to do is a bunch of tedious paperwork, but it's a relief that it is all final and out in the open.

Before I was pregnant I didn't think that I would want to be a stay-at-home mom, (SAHM).  When I was pregnant I started to consider the option, but still didn't really picture it.  After having my son, I went through the motions of calling daycares, in preparation for returning to work.  I considered if I wanted to return to the same job or try something else in the company or work somewhere else entirely.

About half way through my Maternity Leave it dawned on me, as I thought and thought and planned, that going back to work, wasn't going to work for me now.  I didn't tell most people though, because it wasn't a final decision.  It was almost like I wanted a door left open just in case I changed my mind.  It became more and more difficult to picture the new daily routine of returning to work and not being with my son during the day.

The best way I can sum it all up is that I realized I could probably do a job outside the home and be a mom, but I couldn't do them well.  It was a personal decision, and everyone's is different, but this was mine.

Throughout my year of Maternity Leave there were habits that were part of my daily routine.  They were so routine that I didn't even think of them before.  When I finally decided not to return to work, I thought of 6 daily habits that I'm happy are no longer a part of my life right now.

1. No small talk or elevator chats: I'm surprised at how bad I've become at small talk now.  It must be because for a year the majority of my day is with my son.  Although I try to talk to him all the time and narrate what I'm doing, it's not like talking to adults.  Now when I'm at any event with adults where I have to start conversations it's more challenging to think of topics and keeping the rhythm of the conversation going.  I'm glad I don't have to stutter through those elevator chats when I'd get stuck with my boss, or bosses' boss and try to think of something witty to say.  

2. Being "on" all the time: When I was in the office it felt like 9 hours of being "on". I didn't feel like I could truly be myself, and I always felt on edge.  Someday's I found this really exhausting and I know not everyone feels this way, but I definitely did.  It was a feeling that at any moment some major issue would come up and I'd have to be ready to tackle and solve it right away.  Sometimes I feel that with my son too, that I can't relax because I'm always watching him and making sure he's not getting into any trouble.  The difference is I feel like I can be myself, however wacky that is and I won't be judged.

3. No heels: I used to wear heels in the office all the time, especially when wearing a suit.  During my commute to work and on my lunch hour I loved taking off my heels and slipping into more comfy shoes like Birkenstocks.  Since I wore heels daily I got used to it though, even though many of them hurt my feet.  Now, I'm almost always in flats and other comfy shoes and enjoying it a lot more.  When I have to put heels on for a special event it really takes getting used to again.

4. No ironing: I used to have to iron my clothes for work almost daily, depending on what I was wearing.  I hated it.  I hated it so much I bought a handheld steamer that made it easier to steam out wrinkles while your clothes were anywhere - on the back of a chair, on the bed, etc.  My steamer stopped working around the time I started my Mat Leave, a sign perhaps?  Recently I had to iron a pair of pants and was thankful this isn't a daily task anymore.  The ironing daily task has been replaced with many different mommy-related tasks.

5. Warm breakfast and lunches: I have to say, I'm a sucker for a warm and substantial breakfast or lunch everyday.  When I was working I'd try to make a warm breakfast before I left at least a few times a week.  Lunch was harder, so I'd bring in frozen dinners or get something from the food court about once a week.  Now it's a treat to be able to try new recipes and have a warm lunch anytime my son will cooperated long enough for me to whip one up.

6. Commuting: Commuting, this I don't miss.  I used to have to illegally park my car in the overflowing train station parking lot, just so I could take the overpriced and overcrowded train.  Now there is talk that the train company may charge monthly fees for the privilege to park there, making it more expensive to commute downtown.  Trekking from the train station on my 15 minute walk both ways among the crowded streets won't be missed either.  I find it harder and harder to sit in traffic now too, especially when my son is in the car and might have a meltdown at any moment.

Does a year, a habit make? A year doesn't sound like a long time but it is.  Many of my old habits have slowly died.  They've been replaced with habits that all centre around my son, and I am thankful for that.  I'm blessed to be able to stay home with him for now and decide what I want to do next in terms of work.  Once in a while it is fun to go back downtown and remember "the old days", because some of those days were good.  But, these days, even the frustrating days with my son are better than any bad day I ever had at the job I left behind.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Easy almond butter in 10 minutes!

Making creamy or crunchy, thick and tasty almond butter at home is so quick and easy, you'll never buy it from the store again!  Have you ever bought almond butter from the store?  At stores nearby, I can't buy it for less than $6-10 for a small jar.  When you buy it from the store it also usually has other ingredients such as preservatives and too much salt or sugar.  By making it at home you can control the ingredients.

Knowing that almonds are just as healthy as peanuts, and having almond butter for breakfast is an easy way to incorporate important vitamins and minerals, I tested a number of methods of making almond butter easily and quickly.  Almond butter is high in Vitamin E, potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.  It's also a great alternative to other higher calorie spreads like butter, chocolate spread, cream cheese, jams and jellies.

Recipe - it only takes under 20 minutes!

Toasted almonds
1 tbsp Olive oil (optional)
1 tsp. Sugar (optional)
1 tsp. Salt (optional)

1. Arrange 2 cups of almonds on a cookie sheet wrapped in aluminium foil.
2. Measure out 1 tbsp of Olive oil and spread it over the almonds
3. Measure out 1 tsp of sugar and salt and spread both over the almonds
4. You can omit the oil or the sugar and salt and still come out with very tasty almond butter!
5. Toast the almonds in a toaster oven for approximately 5-8 minutes, turning half way through.  Make sure to monitor them so they don't burn. Toasting the almonds adds a lot of flavour and is an important step!
6. After the almonds have cooled, add them into a food processor and pulse for approximately 5-7 minutes, stopping every couple of minutes to scrape the sides of the bowl.
7. Put the almond butter into a sealed container and refrigerate.  This butter should last for weeks for you to enjoy!

You can use the almond butter just as you would use peanut butter: simply for spreading on bread, or toast, in cookies, in sauces, etc.  Almond butter can be substituted for peanut butter in most peanut butter recipes! Enjoy!  If you try the recipe let me know what you think!!

Toasted almonds
Stage 1 of processing - almonds are still in large chunks

Stage 2 of processing - starting to look like a paste

Stage 3 of processing - starting to be shiny because of oils & smooth at the bottom of  processor

Stage 4 of processing - homemade almond butter - ready to spread
Homemade almond butter stored in a margarine container - yum!