Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winner!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bittersweet

 
 Check out how tiny she was in that infant car seat!

Today we celebrated the anniversary of Little One's homecoming.  It may sound silly to most people, but when you're a parent of a preemie, every little miracle (like being able to finally take your baby home from the hospital) calls for celebration.

Three years ago today, we brought our little bundle of joy home to the Island.  After seventy days in the NICU, two weeks in the Level II Nursery, and a transfer to the biggest regional hospital closest to us, we were finally able to have our baby home with us and in our arms.
 

No NG tube, no CPAP, no leads, no ventilator, no incubator/isolette...nothing.
We were flown from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto to Sudbury, where Little One had to stay at the hospital for a few more days before we could take her home.

 
 
 
That was three years ago. 

This is now.
 
 Just to give you some perspective, Hubby pointed out that this cheese weighs just a little less than Little One did at birth. I think this was 800 g or so. Little One was 980 g. That's just over 2 lbs of butter (or in this case, cheese)!

Now Little One is a very busy, active, happy girl.
Time seems to have flown by at the blink of an eye.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Total Paranoia & Addicted to #PresidentsChoice

Hubby: So, you mean we wasted over $1000 on getting a new water purifying system installed in the house?

Me: No. We didn't waste money. You drink the tap water. I trust our tap water. I do! I know it's perfectly good for us to drink! I just feel even better if it's filtered even more.

Hubby wasn't too happy when I came home from the Superstore with a PC universal water filter system/jug and a pack of 5 filters. I had been on him about getting a new water filtration system in our house with UV filter, etc, etc, etc. We ended up getting the works done last year. Living on a farm, I wanted to spare no costs when it came to our drinking water. I was so happy and felt so secure in knowing that our drinking water was absolutely, positively safe to drink.

Then I bought a PC universal water filter system and filters! They were on sale and I had been wanting to get a [insert name of popular drinking water filtration pitchers] for a long time. A pack of 5 filters for $7.84 (on special) was a much greater deal than the "other" leading brand. I went with the PC brand. The price was much better and I love and trust PC products.

I do realize this whole thing with our drinking water is a bit excessive and is entirely psychological on my part, but I cannot help it. Hey, and if this makes me drink more water, then that's a good thing! Right? Yes, I have noticed that I've been drinking A LOT more water since I purchased it. I've been drinking more than a pitcher of water a day!

Maybe because she sees me drinking (and loving) the water from the new pitcher, Little One has been drinking more water too.

It looks so pretty too, no? Check out those sleek contours! It's aesthetically appealing, right?

Because I am a President's Choice fan, check out just one of my tea shelves in my "tea pantry"!

Among my favourites are the PC Chocolatey Mint Black Tea, PC Chai Tea, PC Green Tea, PC Rooibos Tea, PC Mulled Apple Herbal Tea, and PC Organics Jasmine Herbal Tea.

See? I told you I was addicted!

President's Choice really is worth switching supermarkets for!

Disclosure - This is not a paid/sponsored post. This time I'm just sharing how much a absolutely LOVE President's Choice products! All the opinions on this blog are  honest and my own.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Kid on the PTPA Blogaholics Block

We've got some exciting news brewing! One of the coolest things I wanted to share is that I am the newest member of the PTPA Blogaholics! {doing the happy dance}


Many of you are already familiar with PTPA. For those of you who aren't, let me give you a brief introduction. PTPA (Parent Tested Parent Approved) has parents (Yes, parents!) as their product testers. Real life parents test and evaluate products and give their honest opinions. That's how the products earn the PTPA seal of approval.

For me, doing research on what products are the best and the safest for my Little One is really important.  What I value the most is honest opinions from parents just like me. Let's face it. Parents know what's best for their kids. With PTPA, it's just like getting feedback on products from your best friends or from other parents at play group. Very cool.

Whenever you see the PTPA Winners Seal, you know it's a product you can trust for your family.


Want to browse the some of the PTPA Winners? Click here for the list of all the winners.
You can join their growing community of over 40,000 parents and test products too! Just head on over and register!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

KUNG HEI FAT CHOI!

We celebrated Chinese New Year with friends and family last night.

I hosted a Chinese New Year dinner at our house and we will definitely be hosting one every year. With Little One being Chinese-Caribbean-Spanish-Filipina-Scottish-English-Irish, I really wanted to teach her about her cultural background and for her to embrace each aspect of who she is.

Getting the veggies ready for my Chow Mein. Little One loves noodles (aka: "Noonuls")!
Garlic ribs! I was supposed to use pork ribs, but since we live on a beef farm, we had beef ribs on hand. That, and one of my friends doesn't eat pork, so I thought I'd make sure there was a meat dish that she could eat.
I have to admit that I had the help of VH for our New Year's celebration. The ribs were made with VH Garlic Rib Sauce.
Check out the awesome spread! I made four dishes (sweet and sour pork, garlic ribs, chow mein, and Hoisin Garlic pork, plus steamed rice).
 
Guests also brought Chinese New Year-inspired dishes. Among them were sesame dumplings, soup, pot stickers, fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, and homemade fortune cookies!!!

Can you believe it?! HOMEMADE FORTUNE COOKIES, people!!! I was totally blown away! My friend said she just went on YouTube, found a video recipe, and made this with her 3 year old! She made two batches. One regular and one gluten-free!
 Apparently, I'm going to live a long and happy life.

Hubby's favourite dish of the evening: Hoisin Garlic Pork...also with the help of VH!
 
Artwork and decorations were made by my lovely and talented friend.
Happy New Year, everyone! May the luck of the Dragon grace you all this year!

Disclosure - We were given an assortment of VH products to help celebrate Chinese New Year. All the opinions on this blog are honest and my own.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

#TimHortons - I Love You, but I'm SO Disappointed

Driving home from Guelph (where Hubby was speaking at the Beef Symposium at U of G), I was really looking forward to stopping at Tim Hortons. We were six hours into our drive back home and Hubby asked which location I wanted to stop at.

I wanted to go to the one just off the highway on our way into Espanola. I really like that location. There's a lot of parking space, everything is fresh and tasty, and I can always expect the same friendly service each time I go there.

Not this time.
Hubby stayed in the vehicle, since our 3 year old was sleeping. It was just after 11:30PM. I went in to get us some beverages to keep us awake for the r  emainder of our drive home.  The place was empty. There was just one other customer apart from me.

I stood at the counter, ready to order. I was really looking forward to our beverages! I waited....and waited...and waited. The woman behind the counter was standing at the cash right in front of me! I smiled, cheerfully said hello, and took out my wallet. Still nothing!

No acknowledgment of my presence, no hello, no "How can I help you?"...NOTHING!

I stood there in disbelief. Is she really ignoring me? Does she not realize there is a paying customer standing at the cash? Hello!?!?!

No. She didn't even serve me or speak to me. It's not like she was incredibly busy. There was only one man sitting at a table and waiting for her to make his sandwich! She surely could have at least taken my order.

She turned her back to me and proceeded to do something else.

Fine. I loudly zipped my wallet shut and stormed out.  I did entertain the thought of saying something, but was too worked up and knew that I may not handle it so well if I did say something. No. I'd just fill out a comment card, stating my disappointment. Okay, initially, it wasn't disappointment. It was sheer anger.

I do know that this is not indicative of all Tim Hortons locations and I did mention that this is the one we frequent most often. Will I stop going to this particular location? No. However, I do hope that this is just an isolated incident. I hope I was just the only one this Tim Hortons employee disregarded and ignored.
  Photo via Google Images

A paying customer! I am in shock and am completely stupefied! I understand that maybe she had something on her mind. Perhaps she was  having a bad day. It was pretty late, but they have late hours of operation. Who knows? But, to send a paying customer storming out the door without even ordering? No, you're not going to lose business, but I do hope staff is trained how to work with the public. This was totally uncalled for.

Hubby knew when he saw me storming out the door, that he wasn't going to get his coffee. On the 74 minute drive home to the Island, thoughts reeled through my mind.  "I HOPE this was being videotaped and that her manager saw how terribly her service/performance was!" and "That was the rudest thing that has EVER happened to me!"

Bottom line: I still like Tim Hortons and I will likely continue to frequent that location. I just hope this is dealt with and that the manager makes sure that employees treat their customers the proper way. I can't even say that the service was horrible, because there was no service!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Celebrating Chinese New Year with VH Sauces

 
I am sad to admit that though I am part Chinese, I know very little about my heritage. Growing up in Quebec, my parents chose for us to focus on French and not Chinese or Tagalog (my Dad is Chinese and my Mom is Filipina).

We sort of celebrated Chinese New Year, but we didn't really know much about it. Not knowing the language, the history, or anything about our background left me feeling a disconnect from my culture. Now that I am older, I'm saddened by this.

This is why I want to celebrate the Lunar New Year. I want Little One to appreciate, embrace, and learn about her Chinese background - even though she's Scottish-Irish-English-Filipina-Spanish-Caribbean-Chinese (in other words, "Canadian"!), I would love for her to be in touch with that part of her.

On January 23rd, we are ushering the Year of the Dragon with a Chinese New Year dinner. I am so excited that we are celebrating the Year of the Dragon. The Dragon is supposed to signify power, luck, success, and happiness! What better way to celebrate than by sharing a meal with friends and family?

VH is playing a key role in our celebration this year.

We were sent VH sauces to help in the creation of our festive meal. We received VH Garlic Hoisin Stir-Fry Sauce, Sweet & Sour Stir-Fry Sauce, and  Medium Garlic Rib Sauce.  

I'm really excited about preparing our meal, but won't share what's on the menu yet! You'll have to find out about it after our New Year's celebration on Monday! I promise to include recipes and photos of the festivities!

In the meantime, here is one of the many recipes VH is sharing with you. I hope it inspires you to create dishes for your family that include a little Asian flare and a touch of the Orient with the use of their Sweet & Sour sauce.

Exposing children's taste buds to a variety of different ingredients and tastes is a good thing! Get them to try new flavours like a touch of ginger or something tangy or with garlic! Exploring a wide range of tastes may keep things interesting at the dinner table and maybe even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy their meal once they smell how aromatic everything is! Plus, sampling new foods is a great way to introduce kids to different cultures and teach them about the world around them. After all, food is a universal subject! Everyone enjoys talking about food!


Chicken stuffed with Broccoli and Goat Cheese

Serves 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
½ cup (125 mL) plain goat cheese (cream cheese can also be used)
2 cups (500 mL) frozen broccoli florets
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
1 bottle VH Sweet & Sour Sauce

1.       Place 1 chicken breast between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap, carefully pound chicken breast with the flat side of a meat tenderizer or rolling pin. Flatten breast to a 1/4 inch thickness, taking care not to tear the chicken. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.
2.       Place broccoli in a small glass and add just enough water to cover the florets, microwave for 4 minutes. Drain and chop finely. Stir warm broccoli into goat cheese until well combined.
3.       Place ¼ of the cheese mixture at the base of the first piece of chicken, carefully roll the meat over the cheese, tucking in the sides to enclose the cheese. Use 2-3 toothpicks to secure. Repeat with remaining 3 breasts.
4.       In a large sauté pan heat oil over medium-high, brown chicken on all sides, about 7 minutes. Add VH Sweet & Sour Sauce to the pan along with ¼ cup (60 mL) water. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes.
5.       Slice chicken and serve with sauce poured over top.

Tips: For a cheesier version stir ¼ cup (60 mL) finely diced cheddar cheese into the broccoli and goat cheese mixture before stuffing. Also, for ease of preparation veal scallopini or store bought tenderized chicken can be used.
 For some Chinese New Year inspired recipes to try at home with your family, check out the VH Facebook page here!

Disclosure - We received an assortment of VH Sauces to facilitate this post. All the opinions on this blog are honest and my own.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's Official! #FisherPriceMoms

I'm a Fisher-Price Mom!

Is it wrong to get so excited over a fantastic new blog button?  I hope not, because I am excited! I get to learn more about the Fisher-Price company and its products, as well as share lots of exciting things with readers! For example, did you know that Fisher-Price has a Play & Learn section on their site that offers lots of activities for your kids (that you can do as a family) and they've even sorted them for each age group? Yes, all the activities are age appropriate for your child/children!
Not only that! You can follow along with the rest of the Fisher-Price Moms on their blogs. This is a group of fabulous writers/mothers/ladies! Meet the original Fisher-Price Moms (Lisa, Lena, Tammi, Jen, Ilissa, Danielle, Caroline, and Nadia) on the Fisher-Price site here.

This year, some  new additions were included to this dynamic bunch! Want to get to know them? Check them out!

Tenille
Rebecca
Jen
Lisa
Emma
Amy
Christine (me!)
Lynette
Sheri
Jody
Erica
Erica
Marilyn
Loukia
Genevieve
Marie-Andree
Maryse

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby, it's Cold Outside! {Plus a Recipe!}

I don't know why I foolishly thought we could bypass winter all-together.  It seemed too good to be true.  Not that I don't like winter or snow.  I just don't like the cold!

We didn't have a "White Christmas". In fact, winter started off without any snow. It was unusually mild until just recently.  It was only yesterday that we got our first huge snowfall. I think it was somewhere in the neighbourhood of 8 inches! A friend's Facebook status told me it was 2 feet of snow though. Either way, it's still a lot of snow.

Anyway, I'm not complaining. I love the snow. Freshly fallen snow is just so pretty. Up in the country, the snow on our property is fresh and white. It's not the slushy, black, stuff I remember from all the traffic in the city.

Did I mention  how much I love snow? I love playing in it and can't wait to go sledding/sliding with Little One. I can't wait to build snow forts and snowmen, and yes...even make snow angels!  Okay, maybe I don't love having to clean my van off in the mornings or having to shovel the deck. I do love seeing Little One and my canine baby, Chance playing in the snow though. Unbelievably cute!

Another thing I love about winter? All the homemade soups I get to make!  Granted, one can make soup any time of the year, but there's nothing nicer than coming in from the cold and having a bowl of hot soup to take the chill off!

Here's one of our favourites!  Okay, so it's not intended as a hot soup!

Vichyssoise Soup
Technically, Vichyssoise soup, as its original name suggests (crème vichyssoise glacée), is to be enjoyed chilled and not as a hot soup. It's known to many as a creamy chilled leek and potato soup. I may be committing a cardinal sin in French cuisine by serving it hot. I actually do chill it in the summer months, but in the winter, I like my soup hot!

At my bridal shower 7 years ago, my maid of honour put together a cookbook with favourite recipes from my female family members and friends. I still revert to that book for some of our family favourites. My aunt's Vichyssoise Soup recipe is in the book. Because it's her recipe, I will not post it. However, I will post another one similar to hers.

Ingredients:
4 cups leeks, sliced
4 cups potatoes, diced (cleaned and peeled)
6 cups water (I add chicken bouillon)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream (or milk)
Chives, chopped (to garnish)
Butter

Preparation:
In a large saucepan, add butter. Add leeks and potatoes. Cook until transparent. Add water/stock. Puree or blend if you wish. Season with S & P and adjust to your taste. After chilling soup, stir in your cream or milk. Before serving, sprinkle chives to garnish.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A {Cardboard} Knight's Tale and a GIVEAWAY!

 Once upon a time, there lived a brave and gallant knight.  He saved princesses from the flames of an angry dragon, defended his kingdom from enemy forces...and all while wielding his trusty cardboard sword.
Remember last week when I posted about that great Cardboard Adventures Knight costume we received from The Orb Factory?
I mentioned how it provided hours of creative/make-believe fun for the kids. Well, in all my excitement, I forgot to mention that the good people at The Orb Factory are giving one of my lucky readers a Cardboard Adventures™ Knight  too!
Okay, perhaps it wasn't so much as lapse of memory from excitement, but more a "Mommy Brain"/"Momnesia" moment! Hey, having a 3 year old is a good excuse for Momnesia, right?

Do you want to win a Cardboard Adventures™ Knight  for a special little boy or girl in your life? Now is your chance!
Enter the giveaway by filling out our handy dandy Rafflecopter form below.

One of My Biggest Fears

 

I know one cannot live one's life in fear.  It's a terrible way to live.  Having said this, I have to admit that I am a fearful person.

When I was younger, I feared that I would never meet "the right" person to spend the rest of my life with. I was a serial dater and it was always with the wrong kind of men (ummm...make that "man-children"/boys).

When I got married, and we didn't get pregnant right off the bat, I worried that we would never have children. A couple months passed, and we got pregnant. 

When we got pregnant, I worried that something bad would happen to our baby.

Something did happen.  My cervix was dilated when I was just into my second trimester.  Little One was born 3 months early and spent the first 70 days of her life in the NICU.

I feared that something would happen to her because she was born so early. It was the worst feeling in the world.

Though I was scared, I still had faith that everything would be okay. By some miracle, we now have a happy, healthy, busy, active 3 year old girl who shows no signs that she was a preemie. One wouldn't be able to tell that she was born at 28 weeks and 980 g at birth.

Today, my biggest fear is the possibility of having cancer.  I don't know why I am so paranoid about this.  Whenever I go to the doctor for a check-up, I get the nurse practitioner to do a breast check on me. I know how to do a self-examination. I do it quite regularly. Just the confirmation from someone else that there indeed is no lump found makes me feel huge relief. I dream about it and wake up having to check my breasts to make sure that there are no lumps. I've almost convinced myself that I will discover something there one morning. It's really irrational and it's driving me crazy.


Just recently, six (YES! SIX!) of my friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer. That is not a small percentage at all. It's alarming and scary.

Friends of varying ages (between 30 and up) have been affected by breast cancer.  I've been there through the chemo/radiation and some of them having to have a breast (or both) removed.  The ups and downs, the trials and tribulations...all very real and very close to home. The worst part? Cancer does not discriminate. You can be the most active, healthy, wonderful person ever, and cancer can still strike.

Perhaps this is why breast cancer is on my brain so much these days.

Thankfully, there are a lot of great resources for women.  Your doctor is a great person to start with.  There's also this website that talks about breast cancer screening. Women's Health Matters is another fabulous site to check out.

Things I did not realize: "The tumour may be hard or soft and may sometimes be described as a thickening of the breast. Breast cancers are almost always painless.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women.
One woman in nine will develop breast cancer by age 85. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, after lung cancer. It is the leading cause of cancer death among women aged 40 to 55.
The National Cancer Institute of Canada estimates that in 2007, an estimated 22,300 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,300 will die of it."
For more information on breast cancer, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, surgery, and living with breast cancer, visit Women's Health Matters.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cardboard Adventures Knight - Review

I have a confession.  I am the Mom of a Preemie Drama Queen.  Ever since her grand grand entrance into the world (at three months premature), Little One has decided that it's either go big, or go home.  Everything she does, she does it with gusto.  It's all drama in this household.  "Spirited" is a very mild good way of describing her character.

I also have to admit that my three year old has a closet filled with costumes.  She's a drama queen, alright!  There were days when I'd have to take her on errands to the bank, post office and grocery store, decked out in her lion costume.  Other days, she'd have to dress up as a chicken and have a tea party with her stuffed animals.  Then there are the fairy and princess moments.

The good thing about having a closet full of costumes is that she can play dress up with all of her friends.  She's got costumes for everyone and no one gets left out.  Well, unless you're a boy and don't want to wear a princess fairy tutu.

This issue has been resolved. Thanks to a fantastic company called The Orb Factory, we received the Cardboard Adventures™ Knight.
 

In a time when brave and gallant knights protected princesses from ferocious dragons and neighbouring enemies, this cardboard knight's armour was perfect! Our little ones have great imaginations and put this costume to good use!


The box says this is suitable for children aged 4+, and with good reason. My friend and I pretty much assembled the knight's armour (okay, my friend did 99% of the assembly since I was snapping photos!). There were a few little pieces to affix and clasp so that the pieces fit together and stayed together. Do not assemble in the presence of very young children. You will lose your parts and pieces! We managed to collect all our missing pieces and all was good in the world again.


The greatest joy was the feeling of accomplishment Little One's "boy friend" (notice I didn't say "boyfriend") had when he personalized his sword and armour.  The pieces for the sword are reinforced with additional cardboard. Thank goodness too! Little One jabbed the sword into the couch. She didn't render it useless since it was reinforced.


The costume provides hours of fun, imaginative play. We were pretty curious as to how the cardboard would stand up with a bunch of 2, 3, and 4 year olds.  It was fine!


For more information on the Cardboard Adventures Knight and Orb Factory, please visit:

 

Disclosure - We received Cardboard Adventures™ Knight for review purposes. All the thoughts and opinions on this blog are honest and my own.