Thursday, September 12, 2019

Motherhood: It's a Balancing Act

A Life and Motherhood Update

My baby Liyana and I are 6 plus months in and here's what I know: Mommyhood is all about balance. 

Balancing your chequebook, balancing your time, balancing your feelings -balancing your energy! 

It's like hanging a painting- one day you're a little to the left, the next day you're a little to the right. You gotta keep adjusting!

As a mama you give yourself to the baby, your partner, the family, your friends....I'm still learning to give myself to ME.

What I'm Working On

These days, I'm taking extra time to check in with myself, find time for my health, look for ways to force myself to take a break because there is always something else to be done. 

Finding small opportunities to take some time for yourself can be rewarding- as long as you don't take too much time and feel the mom guilt. (Ah, you need to balance that too!) -  all while keeping baby on his/her optimal schedule might I add.

How to Reset

While every day is a different story, today I have made it a priority to try to find a little more balance. I may teeter off my path again tomorrow...but I will have to reset and readjust as the baby's needs and schedule changes. 

Step one today is sitting down to make a plan so I can keep my balance as much as possible- I'm looking to fit in classes and baby activities, increased fitness opportunities for me, more time for my work, some professional development and meal prep! 

You know what they say, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail - so I'm hoping making a written plan will help me make the best use of the little personal time that I have. 

These are the things that I find fill my cup, uplift me and give me energy and strength to take care of my little lady. 

Wish me luck! What are you trying to balance these days?

P.S. our cutie mommy and me yoga gear is by @jillyoga_com I absolutely love their matching sets for Moms and their littles, ranging in sizes from infant all the way to teens. If you know me, you know I live for the matching outfits! Check out Jill Yoga 's pop- up shop at Shops on Don Mills or visit their website to shop.

Thank you to my friends at Jill Yoga for sponsoring this post. As always, all views and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Travel: Five Reasons to try Glamping this Summer

Let's Go Glamping

Ah summer! The weather is all warmed up and nature is calling everyone outdoors. I love this time of year! People smile more and are generally in a better mood. I love that everyone has a little more energy to plan some outdoor fun and I like to extend this energy into the autumn months too.

One of my favourite ways to spend time outdoors in the summer/early fall is to go camping with a group of friends. We've done this for the last few years, and my husband and I always talked about going just the two of us as well.

We thought it would be so romantic and relaxing with the quiet setting, a burning fire and a sky full of stars.

To be honest - the amount of work that comes along with camping is what has deterred us. From planning, to packing to setting up - it's way too much for two people to do alone.

That's why I was so excited to learn about Glamping! If you haven't heard of it before, it's glamorous
camping. A solution for those who love the wilderness but not the idea of "roughing it".

Want to know more? Here's my top five reasons you'll want to try the trend.

Enjoy the Outdoors

The number one reason to go camping is to immerse yourself in nature. This is true for Glamping too, and there's nothing like the serenity and peace that comes from breathing in fresh air and listening to the birds in the trees.

A stunning sunset from our last Glamping adventure in Norfolk County, in Ontario's Southwest

Save time and energy

Camping requires a lot of planning. In order to "rough it" you have to plan your meals, figure out your sleeping arrangements and set up your accommodations. I know it's part of the fun but it can honestly be a lot of work. You will be saving a whole lot of time and energy if you glamp instead.

This campfire was already waiting for us when we arrived at Long Point Eco Adventures

Pack less

It's funny that doing something that takes you back to nature would require you to bring so much along. From canteens of water, to firewood, pillows, sleeping bags and everything in between, it's a lot to pack.

Bringing utensils and pots/pans - not to mention the other things you would normally take on vacation (bathing suits, towels, sunscreen etc.) - it's just a ton of STUFF. If you Glamp instead, you can leave all that at home and just bring what you would need on a summer overnight.

Sleep Comfortably

One of the most attractive features of Glamping is being able to enjoy a soft and comfortable place to sleep. Most glamping sites offer beds with fresh linens in a tent that is more like a room. Some even offer heating and air conditioning!

Suitable for all ages

Glamping is an amazing experience and suitable for all ages because you will find the same comforts of a hotel room - running water, electricity, indoor lighting and even a private washroom with a shower all within your tent.

So whether you want to bring someone who is 5 months or 85 years old, you will have what you need to have an enjoyable experience.

Now that you know WHY you should try glamping, let me share with you WHERE you can do it, here in Ontario!

My glamping experience was at Long Point Eco Adventures in Norfolk County. It's about a two hour drive from Toronto and offers incredible outdoor experiences without all the extra work.

Located within the broader region of the Long Point UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the campgrounds   overlook the inner bay of Lake Erie and Turkey Point Marsh.

At Long Point Eco Adventures, they have amazing wilderness suites which are equipped with everything you need to have a comfortable overnight experience in the woods. The rooms are safari style tents with sliding glass doors and offer the following little luxuries:

  • a king or queen size bed
  • heated blankets for those crisp nights
  • a ceiling fan and electric heater
  • a mini fridge
  • a lamp and electrical outlets
  • a full hotel style washroom 
  • an outdoor shower so you can bathe under an open sky
  • a deck with Muskoka chairs
Basically - all the best parts of camping are waiting for you when you arrive.

They also have great activities available on site like Tree Trekking and Ziplines, axe throwing and a state of the art Observatory with an incredible Night Sky program - we saw Saturn!

To help you unwind, there's a fabulous winery, Burning Kiln, which is within walking distance from the campgrounds. It's the perfect place to enjoy a tour or tasting in the middle of nature.

When it comes to food, a full, all you can eat breakfast is included in your stay. We  enjoyed fresh coffee each morning with sausages, eggs  and toast as well as some fruit and yogurt.

For lunch, you can check out the onsite food truck where you can get delicious tacos and sandwiches - perfect for enjoying outdoors.

There are also communal barbeques set up in case you want to bring some groceries and make your own meals. Each suite also has a mini fridge to store the essentials. Personally, I enjoyed having a break from the meal preparation.

Why Go Now?

I personally love getting outdoors all season long but especially in the late summer/early fall months. The reason? It's no longer peak Camping time but - the colours are so beautiful! The air is a little fresher and cooler which means its perfect to enjoy long days outside and get active too!  Also has anyone else noticed less bugs and mosquitos as the summer winds down? And - fire side s'mores are just so much tastier when there's a little chill in the air!

Hope I've inspired you to experience something different and enjoy an incredible Glamping holiday this year. I for one, cannot wait to go back!

A special thank you to my friends at Norfolk County Tourism and Long Point Eco Adventures for sponsoring this blog post. As always, all views and opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Recipe: Homemade Chili Powder

Stocking the Pantry with Homemade Seasonings

Aside from Culinary School - I realized I've never really made a point to make my own spice "blends." I just throw things in a pan and taste as I go to get the perfect combo. But a friend messaged me after one of my recent recipes on Instagram ( @angeliesood ) and suggested I make my own blends instead of using the ones from the store.

It was a great idea and he definitely inspired me to go out and buy what I was missing to make a couple of staple spice blends for my pantry.

The motivation to do this was two-fold; I love a good kitchen diy and also it is a much cleaner and healthier alternative, as I can control which ingredients make it into my seasoning.

Bonus: If you have kids who are home for the summer, this is the perfect project to get those little hands working in the kitchen. Learning to prepare food is so empowering for young children and can start so many conversations - where our food comes from, healthy eating habits, it can inspire future cooking projects and provides some beautiful opportunities for learning (sensory exploration, measurement) and bonding as a family.

The first seasoning I wanted to tackle was homemade chili powder.

I use this so much in my cooking whether I'm making Mexican rice, veggie or turkey chili, stuffed peppers, taco filling - there's lots of applications, so this was the first seasoning I needed to prep in advance and keep on hand.

I decided to use a 250 mL Mason Jars for this project and was able to buy about a dozen for $8.99 at Canadian Tire.

This recipe is super simple once you gather all the ingredients, though if you are teaching young children how to do this you can take it a step further by roasting and grinding your own spices too.

Chili Seasoning at Home

Preparation Time: 10 minutes


air tight jar or glass container
1/8 cup of sweet paprika
1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin powder

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container. That's it!

This was a super simple project that I really enjoyed. The simple act of measuring and mixing things together was so cathartic - it kept me so focused that it almost felt like a little meditation session. Try it! Super relaxing and of course you end up with an awesome finished product to use in your cooking or add a little label and some twine and give this as a hostess gift to a friend.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Life With Baby: Diaper Bag Essentials

What to Pack in a Diaper Bag

These days I'm out and about quite a bit with my little one. My right hand man (aside from dear hubby of course), is my diaper bag.

I have this one from Skip Hop and find it to be really roomy and great for cramming a lot of stuff into. The one con of this diaper bag is also that there's space for a lot. You want to stream line and clean it out from time to time so you're not lugging around extra things when you don't need to be.

I try to carry the minimum amount of extra items in my bag but here are the staples that I can't go without.

Note: I love the idea of having a backpack diaper bag because it means you are hands-free but if I were to buy one today I would go with my original instinct to buy one in a faux leather look - something that I can take to any occasion and not feel like I need to take a different bag.

This is the one I originally wanted but the grey one we went with was my hubby's choice - either way - both great bags!

Change Pad
This one from Skip Hop is great - it has a change pad as well as a place for your diapers and wipes so everything you need to change a diaper is in one place.

I always have a light container of wipes (choose one that is skinny and light so it doesn't bulk up your diaper bag). If you buy the Change Pad - it actually comes with the perfect container for wipes too.  I also got a sample of a soft dispenser like this which has come in handy.

We love Pampers Swaddlers the most. I have tried other brands and styles but these are our favourite for fit and leakage protection. I also love that it has a wetness indicator built in, so you know when the baby needs a change based on the colour of the line.  (yellow for dry, blue for wet)

Diaper Cream and Dry Cloth
We use Earth Mama's Organic Diaper Balm and love it. It's actually great for any scratches, cuts and rashes too. I used this on sunburn and it helped heal it over night! We also keep a dry wash cloth to wipe up any access moisture before putting on a new diaper.

Tip: buy washcloths in two colours - one for bum stuff and one colour for wiping their face and for baths.

A Set of Clothes
I like to pack socks, an extra outfit (t-shirt onesie, pants or shorts) and something comfortable to go straight to sleep in if we are out late.

Extra Items

There are some things you can add to your bag to make it your own and to help you out while you're out of the house.

  • face cloth 
  • burp cloth
  • bibs (2)
  • hair brush                                         

A Few Other "Nice to Haves"

Muslin Blanket
These blankets are a must have and I love buying them in fun colours and patterns. We use these to put down on the floor when we are out so baby can play on it. We also use them to keep her warm, or even as a nursing/car seat cover. There are so many uses for these thin, light blankets - we even play games with them or use them as a burp cloth in a pinch. So versatile! 

Car Seat Cover
I have really enjoyed having a car seat cover. It's great for creating a quiet and dark space if your baby needs a nap, but it was also great during cold and flu season for an extra layer of protection. The one I bought is by Milk Snob and doubles as a nursing cover. It's super lightweight and rolls into a little ball so it's easy to carry around.

Nail clippers
I don't know why but babies' nails grow extra fast and they are razor sharp! Always good to have some clippers in your bag in case you didn't get the chance to do it at home.

Sweatshirt or light jacket
I like to be prepared so I tend to keep a sweater in a neutral colour in her bag too.

Pacifier and clip
If your baby takes a pacifier, it's something you will want to pack along if you're headed out. I love having a pacifier clip too. These are awesome for clipping toys, soothers and teethers to your babies' clothes or car seat so they don't fall and get dirty. I've linked a similar one to what I have here.

Stroller fan
We purchased a stroller fan when we were going on a beach vacation but it's been amazing for summer walks and time outdoors. Our baby runs hot so this is great for keeping her cool and comfortable.

Noise-canceling headphones
These headphones have been a life-saver for us on more than one occasion. We have used them to help our baby get to sleep while we went for dinner, at a sporting event and at a wedding. We are getting great use out of these!

Hope these tips help you as you pack and prepare a diaper bag for your little one. When we go out we also like to keep a rain shield and bug net with our stroller in case we need it. They are super helpful!

If there is something else you like to pack along with you when you head out with your little, let me know! Find me on Instagram @angeliesood

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Motherhood: Tips for Getting Out of the House with an Infant

Leaving the House with a Baby

New moms will know, sometimes it takes awhile to get a groove going and to streamline certain aspects of life with a baby. Take going out for example- there's a lot more moving pieces then there used to be.

From getting the baby ready, feeding and changing them, to packing a bag and trying to figure out all the extra items you may need for your outing - the "getting ready" process can take forever!

I knew I had to figure out a way to make the process easier on myself otherwise I would just end up staying home all the time.

Here are my tips for getting out the door a little bit more quickly and efficiently with a baby (though I think some of these tips would work for parents of toddlers and school age children too).

Have a Catch All

We have a basket in our front foyer that we use to catch all of Liyana's miscellaneous going out items. Her diaper bag, a warm blanket, a muslin blanket, a sun hat  - all of these are housed in the same place. This cuts down on going up and down the stairs trying to find that one thing with a crying baby on your hip.
(If you want to know what baby items I usually take with me for an outing then you can read about my Diaper Bag Essentials here. )

Don't Unpack your Diaper Bag

I keep my Diaper Bag packed and ready for the most part. If there were no accidents that day, I just leave the same emergency outfits in the bag for the next outing. It really cuts down on time spent packing extra sets of clothes for the baby. I use a thin packing cube to contain the extra clothes so they fit nicely in my Diaper Bag.

Restock your Diapering Essentials At Night

When you come home from an outing or day trip, check to make sure you have enough diapers and wipes for the next time you will be going out. It's much easier to do this when you don't have a time crunch or when you need to get out the door quickly.

Have an Emergency Bag in the Car

I learned this one the hard way. I had just come back from vacation and the next morning we had a Mommy and Me dance class. I rushed out the door without checking my Diaper Bag and Liya picked that day to have a major blowout. Of course I had no extra clothes for her and it was rough. Luckily the other moms in the class came to my rescue and lent me a onesie for Liya to wear and we were good to go. Since then, I decided to keep a few extra things in a zippered bag in my car. In the kit I have an extra outfit (a long and short sleeved diaper shirt and pants - this will work if it's warm or cool) and extra diapers and wipes.

To see what else is in my emergency kit, you can watch here.

Buy Certain Things in Pairs

While I love the Minimalist approach, I find that with certain things, it's helpful to have pairs. Stroller fans, hair brushes, pacifier clips, nail clippers, car seat covers, sunglasses and sunhats are a few things that I'm enjoying having doubles of right now. For her car seat cover (also a nursing cover - I have this one) I found having two was helpful because I could wash one and still have one available for the next time we went out.

Other Tips

  • Keep your stroller in the car
  • Keep your stroller accessories with the stroller (mosquito net, rain shield , stroller caddy etc)
  • Go easy on yourself and take your time to learn the basics. It took me a couple of outings and week by week I learned how to use a different piece of baby gear until I felt comfortable taking her out on my own
  • Smile! It may take awhile but the more you practice, the easier leaving the house will be!

Hope these tips help to stream line your "getting out of the house" process so you can enjoy more outings with your little one!

Have any tips to share with me? Send me a message on Instagram @angeliesood I'd love to chat!