Thursday, 20 September 2012

Homemade nut-free granola bars

Trying to find yummy, healthy AND nut-free snacks to send to school can be downright tricky.  Then add to the mix a picky eater and you might as well just throw in the towel!

So, to satisfy the schools policy of nut-free healthy snacks and my daughters particular palate - I set out to make my own granola bars. Of course I did a little online research and came across a recipe that not only looked good but was full of super healthy & scrummy ingredients over at Sweet Girl Confections.

The following is my version of the granola bars - simply using what I had on hand.

Healthy Nut-Free Granola Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2 cups rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup dried unsweetened coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup chopped prunes
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp sesame seeds
¾ tsp sea salt

½ cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup mashed ripe banana
2 tsp vanilla extract

Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

In large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, coconut flour, coconut, cinnamon, flour, prunes, dried cranberries, sesame seeds and chocolate chips, and salt; mix and form a well in the center.

In medium bowl, whisk together honey, egg, coconut oil, banana and vanilla.
Pour honey mixture into the well created by the dry ingredients in large bowl; mix well.

Pat down the granola bar dough evenly into the pan.

Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees F) for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool in pan for 5 minutes.

Cut into squares or bars.

The true test came when I gave a piece to my daughter - she LOVED it!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Fall Fashion

It's that time of year again. The mornings are getting crisp and the evenings are turning a little bit chilly. If you haven't already done so, now is the perfect time to start putting away your summer frocks and start pulling out your warm & cozy knits.

It's no surprise that most people love the fall.  The cool breezes, the colourful leaves and the woodsy scent that invites you to head outdoors.  I love all those things.  But what I am particularly looking forward to, are layers, leather and - I can't believe I am going to say this - the colour burgundy!

Here are my top 4 Fall fashion trends.  

Leather:  Although leather has always been a fall favourite, this season you will see even more styles, cuts and colours. Leather is so versatile that it can be worn with almost anything, from the most casual of outfits to evening dresses.
What to look for: unique pieces with leather insets.

White: Cool, creamy and sophisticated, winter white is wonderful wardrobe addition this fall.
What to look for: knit sweaters.

Burgundy: If this rich, sensual colour doesn't make you want to curl up with a good book (or fashion mag) and glass of wine in hand, I don't know what will!
What to look for: jeans or trousers.

Black & Blue: A sexy and sophisticated colour combo. Think blue pants with black blazers, dresses with abstract blue and black patterns, pairing a blue scarf with a black blouse. Worn together, these create a fresh and modern look. What to look for: mix your separates and shop your closet!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

one step at a time

There are going to be many more moments like this in our lives. Milestones. Stepping stones. Moments of pride.  On Tuesday, I embraced & cherished taking my daughter Ryan to her fist day of Junior Kindergarten.  It is a time in her life where she gets to exert her independence. It's a time in my life where I learn to let go - 
just a little bit.  

Taking Ryan to her first day of school was particularly momentous for my husband and me.  For several months now, we have been working with a wonderful woman at Pathways* to help us & Ryan deal with her feelings and her anxieties.  More recently, we have been working towards making her feel comfortable going to school.  Not for the reasons one would think. Although it's actually quite common for kids to experience anxiety when it comes to starting school: Fear of not liking the teacher. Scared of not making any friends. Worried about being away from their mom and dad.  For Ryan, she wasn't worried about any of those things!  Her anxiety stemmed from the daycare that is attached to the school.  The daycare that she attended. The daycare that she once LOVED turned into a place she now FEARS. 

During "walk-through's" of the school, Ryan would cry and scream and say that she was scared anytime we were close to any area that reminded her of the daycare.  There are times when I have left our sessions with Pathways crying.  What could have happened to make my daughter shake when she nears the building.  Unfortunately we will never know. And since Ryan is under the umbrella of the highly sensitive child, there is the possibility that something or someone scared her, the situation was never resolved, and it has now created something bigger in her mind.

So, on Tuesday morning, just as we are about to enter the JK playground, Ryan started to scream and pulled back refusing to go in. Calmly, I knelt down to talk to her. I reassured her that everything was going to be fine. That she was in fact going to school, into the classroom that we had visited several times, not to the daycare. [Just so you understand completely, the daycare and the JK class use the same playground at the school, and in the middle are the steps that lead up to the daycare doors. Off to the left are the doors that Ryan will now go through to go into her school and into her classroom.]  She composed herself and holding my hand, she walked through the gate into the playground.  Ryan looked all around - as if looking at the area all over again for the first time. But she kept an eye on the door that leads to the daycare.  Not too long after we arrived, Ryan's teacher came out to greet everyone. She immediately came over to Ryan to welcome her and took Ryan's hand to lead her and her classmates in.   Ryan followed without looking back. 

At the end of her first day, Ryan was back outside in the playground, playing, laughing and talking with her new friends from school. When she spotted me, she came running over to me to tell me all about her day. Success! 

Hand-in-hand, we walked back home. Both of us beaming with pride.     

*Pathways is a Children's Mental Health Agency that provides a range of services to children, youth and families.

Monday, 10 September 2012


PEPLUM: is a short overskirt or a ruffle attached around the waistline of a shirt, jacket, skirt or dress.

After two seasons of gracing runways and store fronts, there's really no way to ignore the peplum this fall. But why would you? Believe it or not, the peplum style is actually quite flattering. Seriously, wearing peplum can create the illusion of shape, balance out proportions, or enhance curves that are already there! I know right?!

Here are some super-cute ways to rock the trend.

Vegan Leather Peplum from Piperlime

What do you think? Is this a style you would ever consider trying?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Grilled cheese re-vamped!

Crusty on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside. No, I am not rewriting my bio, I am talking about the grilled cheese sandwich. A staple in many homes I'm sure.  Of course, when I was growing up, it was simply white bread, a processed cheese slice and lots of butter.  Now, as long as you have bread and cheese, you can add absolutely ANYTHING to it to create your very own interpretation of a classic.  

Trying to keep it as simple and healthy as possible - I have created my own grilled cheese gooey-goodness.

What you need:
Crusty Bread - I used an olive loaf
1 Avocado sliced
Tomato, sliced
Goats cheese
Parsley Pesto (recipe below)
Panini Press or Grilling Pan

Parsley Pesto
1 shallot roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
2 tbsp of fresh parsley
Olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.

Layer your pesto, goats cheese, avocado and tomato on your bread.
Then simply grill. No need for butter or oil.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Soon time to settle down

I know that I have been M.I.A for a while, trying to cram in as much as I could into the "final" days of summer.

I promise I will be back at it regularly with more tips and more inspiration - and especially, more fashion!

In the meantime, here is what I have been up to.

When in doubt, go to the beach!

Ice cream break.

Out for dinner style.

Family Tie-Dye project.

Trip to Sandbanks.

Business lunch with the lovely Christine from Purple Essentials.  

Fun filled day swimming and spending time with family by the camp fire.

We took a break from driving and found a beautiful and quiet beach.

Collecting rocks.

We have visited Menchies on numerous occasions this summer!

Making bracelets and necklaces.

Picnic lunch at Lake Ontario Park.

Shopping time in Montreal. My store picks - Simons and Zara.

The girls spending time with their favourite uncle!

More cottage time. A beautiful day spent at a friend's cottage in Ste-Agathe, Quebec.

Here's to the never ending summer! We definitely made the most of everyday. 
Happy September!