Sunday, Sunday, glorious Sunday!

What an epic day! When I say epic, I don’t mean in the sense that a crazy adventure was had; we didn’t all go bungee jumping together or anything remotely crazy like that. No, an epic day for us is one where everyone is happy to do their own thing and chores also get done in the process.

Today was one of those glorious days where the children were totally compatible and spent the entire day cavorting together without a single fight as they morphed from one fantasy world to another. They started off the morning as pirates and turned our sofa into their pirate ship, sailing the seven seas in search of adventure before my husband and I were enlisted to plan and map out a full on treasure hunt. This went on for quite a while before the pirates decided they were hungry and I was called upon to make Pirate PBJ sandwiches.

With full tummies the pirates then decided they were done hunting for treasure so opted to go for the next best thing and watch Scooby Doo (the 1970’s version) while giggling at the slap-stick antics.  During this time I was upstairs re-organizing our bedroom closet and giving the whole room a good old fashioned sweep-down.  I purged the shelves of clothes not worn and did away with holey socks and t-shirts. I dusted and hoovered (vacuumed) like a mad woman and the result was a blissfully clean, organized and zen-like room complete with fresh sheets and puffy pillows to which I’m looking forward to getting cozy with tonight.

As I finished my chores my daughter approached me and “ahem”-ed me. I turned and was greeted by a dazzling pink princess. “Mummy, I am now Queen and you must do as I say,” she informed me as her brother came racing into the room in his Spiderman costume and declared for all the neighborhood to hear that Spiderman had arrived. With eyebrows raised I accepted this new change in family hierarchy and asked if there was anything Her Majesty required at that present moment in time. I was told no but to be aware that a demand may happen at any moment unto which I would be promptly informed. They both then hurried out of the room and descended the stairs to the basement where they began a whole new fantasy game. They also spent time crafting crowns for themselves out of construction paper, the remnants of which now scatter the playroom floor. Throughout all this my husband and I pottered about doing our own thing, casually remarking at how beautifully the offspring were playing together and how lovely it is not to hear fighting and bickering.

This game continued all the way up through dinner and let me tell you, it was amazing seeing the clean plates! Usually my children are fussy eaters but not tonight; those plates were cleared by mini tornadoes before they were off again to continue their game of Queen and Spiderman. Nothing makes a parent feel more accomplishment than when their child has scarfed food they have prepared without a complaint! Bath and bed time was a breeze and now I sit here while my husband plays video games, children all nestled in bed, a sense of peace and happiness floating through the house. Like I said, it really was an epic Sunday.

Food, Healthy Food!

Yeah, a food blog episode!

No cleaning today, I’m busy trolling the internet for new ways to organize stuff so I’ll get back to you on that. What I did do today was become a baking madwoman and now my house smells like a bakery crossed with a fresh garden!

My husband and I agree that we don’t enjoy sending our daughter off to school with a lunchbox full of processed foods, so this term I decided to actively start making healthier (and cheaper) snacks for her to have at school. Firstly she really loves good old-fashioned PBJ sandwiches but as we all know you can’t send that to school due to allergies, so we found an alternative called WOW Butter. It’s ‘peanut’ tasting soy butter and she really likes that so one problem already solved. Health and Safety all in one!

The next issue was snackables; she really enjoys having granola bars, chewy cookies and bite-sized biscuits but they get expensive so I looked to the cook books and came up with some really lovely recipes. A firm favourite is banana bread (tried and true recipe found here) and if I don’t make it while children are sleeping then I’m lucky if it lasts 24 hours! The recipe calls for vanilla extract which I just happened to have run out of so I thought of the next best thing: coconut extract. Well, bananas + coconuts = Pina Colada! Apparently you can also add a shot of espresso but I wouldn’t recommend it for a child’s snack!

Today I made the most delicious carrot cake muffins. We seemed to have a lot of carrots left over from 3 weeks ago so what better way to use them than in a yummy muffin? Even my 3 year old son who is the King of Picky Eaters liked these muffins. The recipe, which you can find heremakes roughly 12-14 decent sized cupcakes. I kept 6 out and froze the other 6 so they ready and waiting.

Next came apples which ended up becoming apple chips. Sprinkled with a little cinnamon and a touch of brown sugar these tasty treats again needed to be made without attending children! So easy to make and worth the time in the oven. You’ll find my favorite recipe hereBut you can use more than just apples; try using pears or strawberries or raspberries. And you can also do the same with vegetables. I made carrot chips which disappeared rather quickly!

All this is fun and makes you feel good when packing up a lunch box that then comes home empty. You do need time though which you may or may not have. If this is the case makes things in big batches that you can freeze and take out when needed. Usually I dedicate a weekend day for my snack making then I’m set to go for the week.

Food blog over – I hope you enjoy a few of the recipes I’ve found. If you have any other healthy kid foods that would make a good lunchbox item please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Cleaning House; let’s start small.

The holidays are officially over and this morning I was back to the routine of getting children ready for school, making a packed lunch and ensuring all forms of winter wear were at the ready. It is bitterly cold (-23) with a wind that rips right through you so there won’t be any outside adventures today. Needless to say that doesn’t mean a non-productive day, oh no! It’s a perfect day for getting stuff in the house done. With one kid in school I feel I can get on top of the housework and start regaining the house after two weeks of little Tasmanian mess devils running around.

As I mentioned in my New Year’s post I like to use the winter months as a good way to kick-start a house cleanse and declutter. Winter lasts roughly 5-6 months here in Toronto which means I get to pace myself nicely and although I wish I was more organized I am not one for drawing out plans and lists of how to go about the house cleanse; I like to just see which room irritates me the most on any given day and today it was the stairs and hallway.

I have hardwood throughout 90% of my house and coming from the UK where everything is carpeted I actually find it harder to keep wood clean than carpet. I’ve had many a discussion with my in-laws and my husband about this! Hoovering (vacuuming) a carpet to me is much easier than sweeping and sweeping and still not getting all the dust. Or worse, getting that stupid dust line from the dustpan that simply will not sweep up! Anyway, this morning was spent sweeping all corridors and down the stairs; high traffic areas that have lots of nooks and crannies for dust bunnies to hide in. It took me probably 15 minutes but I swept up enough to make me feel good about doing it.

Now I am drinking tea while blogging and thinking about the next mission. I am a procrastinator and I’m not afraid to tell you! However when I get on a cleaning bender it feels really good. If you are like me and you’re not someone who cleans everyday, no worries. Start small and see where that takes you.  Look around and see if there are areas that bug you, even if it’s only a little bit. Look at high traffic areas, classic dumping grounds and hidden dump drawers. There can be times where, even if things are stored in a drawer, you know that draw is a mess and believe it or not it bugs you! If you look at it and think, ‘I know there’s junk in there but I don’t want to go near it!’ then ask yourself these questions: when was the last time you opened that drawer? Do you know what is in that drawer? If the answer is ‘I don’t know’ then it’s probably safe to say a vast majority of items could go into trash or recycling. I’ve found the best way to kick start the clean-up is to buy a drawer organizer. You can find them from dollar stores or IKEA and if you have one then it means you can make peace out of chaos!

Start by putting things into 3 piles – one for definite trash and recycling, one for certain keep and the last is the unsure pile. Once you’ve gone through the drawer once, go back through the unsure pile again and see if those items are seriously worth keeping or not. Can you honestly say they will be used? No? Throw it out! Trust me, once it’s done and the draw is organized you will never look at it again with hate. You might even be proud and consider showing it off to friends and family.

Right, enough sitting. Time to do more cleaning! Remember, if you know you hate cleaning but want to make a difference then start small. One thing at a time and all the little things will add up to a big difference and a happier you.

P.S: if you need inspiration look to things like Pintrest. There are some great ideas you can adapt and use to your advantage.