Mom’s Night Out

MNO

Hey Mama, We know that you’re run down and tired. We know you speak to children more than you speak to grown-ups. We know you’d love to do anything that involves leaving the house without a van load of little people and a diaper bag full of Goldfish crackers. We see you moms over there juggling the school days with the work days. Can’t remember the last time you had some ME time? Do you lack sufficient motivation? Consider this your motivation!

We want to meet you! Yes, YOU! The real, live, living and breathing version of you. Wouldn’t it be nice to meet some other moms, sit down, chat, eat, not feed someone else…? We sure think so. That’s why we are planning a Mom’s Night Out for any London Moms who’d like to be there. This month we are planning a trip to Forrat’s Chocolates in Byron. At Forrat’s you can eat incredibly decadent chocolate that isn’t in the shape of a bunny (unless that’s your thing), have a glass of wine, a latte or just drink the chocolate fondue, we won’t judge.

Interested? Hop on over to the forum and follow along with the discussion HERE. When you see the post to sign up, do it right away! Spaces are limited.

See you there!

Valentine’s Day Treats

vday treats

Whether you’ll be sending treats to a party or just want to surprise your family with a little something special, here are some no-fail, super-easy Valentine’s Day treats to make this week. If you’re really brave, have your kids help you out and really share some love in the kitchen… because there is no way this much chocolate and sugar could possibly make this activity end badly. If it turns out (or even if it doesn’t!) take a picture and share your Valentine’s Day treats with us on Facebook. You can find these and more of our ideas on Pinterest.

DIPPED TREATS

Pick up some of those brightly coloured candy melts at either your nearest bulk store or Michael’s – pink, white, red, purple, whatever your Valentine’s heart desires. Melt them down and then dip in whatever treats you desired. Get creative – pretzels, pretzel sticks, cookies, Oreos, licorice, jumbo marshmallows, rice krispie squares, Twinkies… anything! Once dipped, you can lay them on parchment paper to dry or for extra fun, first roll them in sprinkles, chocolate chips or coloured sugar.

HEART SHAPED ANYTHINGS

All you need is a heart shaped cookie cutter. Bonus points if you have multiple cutters in different sizes. Whatever you feed your family on Valentine’s Day for snack or at mealtime, use the cutter to shape it. French toast, pancakes, toast, sandwiches, cheese, apple pieces, melon, cucumber slices, banana slices… Take it up a notch by cooking or baking things in a heart shape, like heart shaped pizza, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and cupcakes.

LOVE BROWNIES

It is so easy to take a simple thing like brownies and turn them into a special Valentine’s treat. Prepare your favourite brownie recipe (we won’t tell if you use the box version ;)) and before baking, sprinkle the top with red and pink M&M’s, conversation hearts, heart shaped sprinkles or any combination of your favourite red and white treats. Bake the brownies and voila! Valentine’s brownies. Bonus points if you cut them out with your heart shaped cookie cutter.

PRETZEL FUN

Have you ever noticed that pretzels are the shape of a heart? You’ll notice now! There are two ways to show the love with pretzels – one is with a chocolate kiss, the other is with a piping bag and some chocolate chips. Either way, you will end up with a Valentine treat pressed into chocolate in the centre of your little pretzels. A perfect treat for snack time!

CHOCOLATE FRUIT

Chocolate + Fruit is such a delicious combination and for some lovely reason, Valentine’s Day is an open invitation to pair the two. Don’t just stop at strawberries! Whether you are dipping and leaving to solidify or are eating it fondue-style, chocolate also goes well with kiwi, banana, apple, mango, melon, grapes, pears, and just about every other fruit. Want the combo without the mess? Stick a chocolate chip inside a raspberry for a bite of heaven.

Countdown to Christmas

countdown

It is the last week of November now, which means Christmas is about to hit us full force and there won’t be anymore excuses about why it should be holding out. If you are Christian, the season of Advent begins in one week, and if you’re not you are probably still planning on counting down the days of December in some memorable way. The countdown is not only a great way to celebrate the season of Christmas, it also gives a visual to young children who do not yet understand the concept of time or calendars yet. Instead of answering “Is it Christmas yet??” twenty-four times in a row, you can just point them to their countdown and remind them that the end equals Christmas. Here are a few ideas on how to countdown the days.

ADVENT WREATH

The traditional Christian countdown is the wreath with four (or five) candles, one is lit each week until all four (or five) are lit. Your local parish will likely be selling or giving away prayer books or sheets with a reading for each night while you light the wreath. This is a great way to bring the Christmas season back to the birth of Christ.

CHOCOLATE COUNTDOWN

For the very affordable price of $1.50, you can get a chocolate Christmas countdown with windows to open daily until Christmas Day. They can be purchased just about anywhere and for that price and minimal effort on your part, you can keep all of your kids happy by buying one for everyone.

DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE COUNTDOWN

I’m separating the cheap chocolate countdowns from the more expensive ones, not only due to price but also taste. The more you pay for your chocolate calendar, the better the chocolate. Everyone from Laura Secord to Lindt puts out a calendar this time of year and the treats inside can be downright luxurious. You may want to save one of these calendars for yourself. We won’t tell.

TOY COUNTDOWNS

A few companies have realized that not every family wants to have their children starting the day with chocolate and have begun to create countdowns with other things. LEGO, Playmobil, and Kinder Egg (which is the best of both worlds?) are examples of other countdowns you could get for your children. These cost about $20-$40 and will leave your child with a months worth of small toys.

DIY CHOCOLATE COUNTDOWN

If you’re smart, you’ll realize that the bridge between the cheap calendars and the pricey ones can be made by creating your own. This also works better with multiple children. Simply buy a countdown calendar with openings big enough to hold one treat per child/person. The upfront cost can range between $10-50 depending on how fancy you want it to look, then a few bags of treats each year will have you all set indefinitely. For the truly ambitious, have a look at Pinterest for inspiration. People have used everything from muffin tins to plastic shoe holders to make their own countdowns.

RANDOM ACTS OF CHRISTMAS

If you’ve invested the money in a countdown with doors or you have created one of your very own, another idea is to ditch the treats and put Christmas activities in the doors. Activities can range from doing daily Random Acts of Kindness/Christmas, driving to see the lights, watching a Christmas movie, singing a carol, baking cookies, buying a gift for an Angel tree, or any other activity that will get everyone cheering Ho Ho Ho! Just make sure you have your calendar handy while you think up things to do – nothing worse than having to tell the kids that today’s activity is not going to happen because staying up late for a movie just doesn’t happen on a Tuesday when there are gymnastics lessons to get to.

BOOK OF THE DAY

Three kids in, we have a lot of Christmas books. Thirty-seven to be exact. The reason I know this is because one of our traditions is to wrap them all up and open one per day for bed time stories. If you don’t have that many Christmas books stocked up, you can still do this! Just pick 24 of your kids favourite books and wrap them up, or get to the library and wrap up some of their stories (just make sure they’re unwrapped and read before your three weeks are up!). The fun in this activity is just in opening the present and having that time together every night.

STANDARD COUNTDOWN

If you want to avoid an abundance of both gifts and treats before the big day, you can also do the standard 25 day countdown. Crossing off days on a calendar, adding or removing items from a Christmas scene, Christmas magnets on your fridge, chalkboard countdowns, homemade, store bought, the options are endless.

ELF ON THE SHELF

Oh, yes, I did bring up that controversial little creature. If you hate the whole idea, fair enough, skip to the next idea. For the rest of us, the good old elf can bring a lot of fun to the days before Christmas. S/he can simply show up and move around your house every night or s/he can actually cause fun or mayhem while the kids are asleep, it all comes down to how creative and motivated your elf is. Pinterest is bursting with Elf ideas for you newbies who haven’t had their Facebook feeds clogged with it for the last five years. If the Elf isn’t your style, check out Dinovember and let your imagination run wild.

ADULT COUNTDOWNS

If you or your significant other really want to amp up the holiday countdown, create a grown up version! Beer-a-Day or Wine-a-Day creations are all over the internet. I’m not sure I’d make it through a month with that much wine, but I’d definitely have enough to get me through to 2015! Other retailers have come up with adult countdowns that won’t induce such a hangover, like David’s Tea with their Tea-a-Day countdown. Head to one of the coffee stores that sell the individual K-cups and create your own coffee countdown. Really, the options here are endless. Think about what you would love 25 days of and treat yourself!