vegetable bok choy soup!

i started a neighbourhood soup exchange with some friends back in the fall. it started because i find wednesday’s to be the hardest day of the week, and then to plan a dinner just makes it that much more torturous! so, every wednesday at after-school pick-up, there we are, the soup club mama’s with our large mason jars exchanging yummy soups. we’re the only vegetarian family and we rotate who exchanges with who, and it all works out so well! this veggie bok choy recipe has become a fave!

bok choy soup, vegetarian soup, soup recipe

this is a soup that has received lots of compliments and recipe requests:

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 large onion

2 medium carrots

4-5  parsnips

4-6 heads of baby bok choy

1-2 cups green lentils

1/2 package of rooster brand longkou vermicelli noodles

8 cups water

3 tbls safflower oil

2-3 cloves garlic

2 tsp fresh ginger

1 tsp tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

2 vegetable bouillon cubes

fresh parsley

sea salt to taste

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. heat oil in your soup pot. add onions, sautee until lightly browned, then add carrots, parsnips, finely chopped garlic and finely chopped ginger. sprinkle lightly with sea salt. stir regularly to avoid burning. once the carrots and parsnips are bright in colour add the water.

2. add lentils, bouillon cubes, cinnamon, cumin and let the soup simmer at a low heat.

3. add noodles and bok choy once carrots and parsnips are soft. once they are cooked, which only takes a few minutes, add fresh parsley and serve.

* i find many soup recipes allow for some flexibility in the recipe, depending on what ingredients you have in your fridge or what your family’s tastes are. this particular recipe can easily be customized and changed to fit your personal tastes.

 

bok choy soup, recipe, vegetarian soup, healthy dinner

my kids love this soup, although the bok choy can be tricky for them to navigate. i love the cinnamon in it, especially in the winter, as it adds a warmth to the flavour which is lovely.

let me know what you think!

xo, mama lola

a weekend getaway… without the kids!

HELLO OTTAWA!

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we were invited to a family wedding in our nations capital. after lots of humming and hawing, and figuring out how to do it all without the kids in tow, we came up with a rather exciting plan! the wedding also nicely landed a week after our 7th anniversary, so it was a great excuse to celebrate US! dear hubby and i decided to fly to ottawa on porter airlines, stay in a lovely hotel in the center of the city, celebrate the beginnings of a beautiful marriage, take in a few sights, and then hop on a train to come home. it was a great trip filled with delicious foods, lots of walking and a calm that is hard to find when the kids are around.

we climbed onto our wee plane at 9:30am in toronto and landed in ottawa at 10:15am! AMAZING! i barely had time to read my book!

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we arrived at our hotel early, but luckily we were able to check in early. lucky, because the finnish men’s hockey team was stomping all over the american team and ultimately won 5-0!!!! it meant bronze for my finn’s! then we had to rush to eat, as we had a wedding to get to!

and, this was our lunch. we found this awesome deli where the “bread” part was made of scones. i had this yummy salmon scone sandwich with a salad.

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unfortunately i have no pictures of dear hubby and i looking dapper at this wedding. but, boy did we look great! dear hubby wore his gorgeous black velvet blazer, which was perfect for this winter wedding setting! i wore a sparkly grey dress, but i was warm enough because, i wore the wrap my mum made me for our winter wedding on 2007. one side of it is a beautiful green/ purple silky material, but the other is a natural white wool where my mum embroidered the leaves all sorts of trees. it is unbelievably beautiful, and i was so happy to be able to use it again!

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it was a splendid wedding! lots of laughter, great stories and piles of love! congrats sarah & mike! xo

mello’s diner was an awesome breakfast spot for the morning after from the wedding! yummy food with fast and courteous service!

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once our bellies were full we started walking through ottawa. we soaked in the sun and enjoyed the seasonally warm temperatures. we walked from ottawa, ontario to the hull area of gatineau, quebec. look at that glorious sun!

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after walking we arrived at the canadian history museaum also known as the canadian museum of civilization. i have to admit this is one of the best museums i have ever experienced. everything about it was fantastic! please, go check it out if you can!

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this is the grand hall. and, WOW is it ever grand! it is a hall will enormous totem poles that were carved by strong, creative hands. the totem poles  stand proud holding onto the stories their makers wanted to share. they are breathtaking.

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at the far end of the grand hall has a set of curvy stairs. above the stairs high on the ceiling is a stunning mural “morning star” by alex janvier. the colours, the energy and the rhythm was exhilarating. it was impossible to get a good picture of it, but trsut me when i say, it was stunning!

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canada hall is one of the permanent exhibits at the museum. it is this fabulous meandering walk through the thousands of years of history our land holds. the layout is unbelievable, as you walk from one century to another, it feels as though you are outside walking along the streets of a prairie town during the 1900’s or strolling through a 60’s airport waiting lounge littered with ashtrays and funny payphones! it is great for people of all ages and i look forward to the day i can take my boys there!

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ottawa is a wonderful city. not too big, busy or overwhelming the way many big cities are. so much history, beautiful architecture and plenty to see.

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this is our parliament building. it’s where the big wigs make, um…. mostly terrible decisions on our behalf. haha! but, it is a beautiful building with lots of history.

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and, rideau canal.

daytime.

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nighttime.

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this was the hotel we stayed in. the lord elgin. it is in the center of town walking distance to the byward market, parliament hill, rideau canal and so much more! it was built during the war in 1941 and there are so many wonderful details left from that time period.

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on the morning of our departure, we went to the byward market to load up on delicious goodies like montreal style bagels, bearvertails, coffee, and lunch for our train ride back to toronto.

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this was our lunch on the train. a couple of different deli salads and some yummy grilled veggies with rice ‘n beans.

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on the train i was feeling super anxious about seeing the kids. i have never been away from them for so long and i was missing them deeply. this three day, two night separation felt like an eternity, but i know it was something we all needed. the kids had a wonderful time with my folks, which i knew they would!

here we are arriving at union station in toronto.

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on this mini-getaway we traveled by car, ferry, plane, city bus, taxi, train and subway! oh, and let’s not forget by foot as well! with our trusted pack from our worldly adventures from way before the kids were ever even thought of, we did what we do so well together. we traveled. it may not have been to another country, another continent, or anything super adventurous, but it was a trip where we arrived at our destination hand-in-hand with big smiles on our faces eager to explore. there were no strict schedules or time constraints, no kids begging for attention or melting down from low blood sugar. although, dear hubby was hit with a cold, we still had a great time just the two of us.

HAPPY 7th ANNIVERSARY to US!

xo, mama lola

dinosaur cake! ROAR!

for bear’s 6th birthday he had requested a dinosaur cake. we went on the internet and looked at ideas, but everything looked super complicated and out of our cake-making league. so, DH and i decided to make a scenery cake, instead of an actual dinosaur. we used carrot cake for the land and volcano, everything was heavily slathered with icing from a container and we added weird rock looking candies, raisins and cinnamon sticks all over for interest. for lava, we used strawberry jam and we made a dino’s nest with cadbury’s mini eggs! the dinosaurs themselves are plastic toys.

the kids were amazed and i have heard back from many parents about this awesome cake! haha!

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INSTRUCTIONS:

1. bake 2 cakes of your choice. any type of cake is fine, as it’ll be covered with icing anyway. our fave is carrot cake and the kids all loved it! find the recipe HERE! we baked one 9″ X 13″ for the land, and one 9″ X 9″ for the volcano.

2. cut up the smaller cake into triangular pieces and build your volcano. it doesn’t have to perfect, as it’ll be covered with icing, jam and dinosaurs!

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3. slather a thick layer of icing all over the volcano and land. i left it very imperfect, hoping it looked more realistic!

4. we added candy, raisins and cinnamon sticks for various landscape features. we also made a nest with dino eggs!

5. add the strawberry jam last. i just spooned it on top of the icing trying to make it look like spewing lava. kids thought it was pretty cool!

6. i made a simple tree out of two pipe cleaners; one green one and one brown one. i couldn’t find and plastic trees, so my pipe cleaner had to do!

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here’s the birthday boy blowing out his candles! so cute!

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check-out the adorable name tags i made for this birthday party HERE.

and, coming soon are details on the other dinosaur crafts we got to for the party!

xo, mama lola

how to make fruit sushi!

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my kids LOVE sushi! their favourite is the raw salmon. but, a lot of kids don’t share their enthusiasm for this japanese cuisine, so that’s why for bear’s 6th birthday i decided to make his class at school some yummy fruit sushi! i prefer these treats to cupcakes and cookies, as there are less concerns with allergens, these sushi bites are healthier and hey, they’re totally memorable too!!!

INGREDIENTS!

sticky rice (read instructions on package as they vary depending on brand)

mango, kiwi or any desired fruit

seaweed sheets

a bowl of water

* plus you will need a rolling mat

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fruit sushi 4

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. cook sticky rice as directed on package. let it completely cool down before using. cut fruit into strips, about the same thickness as an average adult finger.

2. place your rolling mat down on a flat surface, put a seaweed sheet on top, and then place your sticky rice on. try to  ensure it is spread out fairly evenly.

3. place desired fruit onto the rice and using your mat, roll the ingredients making sure they  are held together tightly. i found i had some excess seaweed at the end, so i cut it off and “glued” the edge of the seaweed sheet to the roll, by dabbing them in some water.

4. cut the roll into bite sized pieces. if they are lose and fall a part (this happened a couple of times for me) i just used more water to re-seal the seaweed ends. and, voila!

5. i served these to the kids in bear’s class as is, and some of them devoured lots. other’s were a little apprehensive about the seaweed, but i would say majority of the adorable kindergartner’s tried at least one!

HOW YUMMY DO THESE LOOK???

fruit sushi 2

 

xo, mama lola

10 fun kids birthday ideas!

bdayfun collage 3

we are in full birthday fever over here! my bear is turning the BIG 6 and i am in full b-day crafts mode! i am up to my eyeballs in glue, green paint, dinosaur stickers and scraps of paper! haha! we like to make a lot of our own decorations, cakes, treats and invitations, but it is time consuming! whoa! details of bear’s party prep coming soon… but, today i am sharing some wonderful ideas i found while looking for inspirations online.

BIRTHDAY INVITATIONS

DIY happy face birthday invitation from bear & lion

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sprinkled mini birthday hats from jacks & kate

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oreo pops from makoodle

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DIY no sew birthday banner from small for big

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happy birthday balloon card from the thrifty ginger

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felt crowns from kojo-designs

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ice cream cake from one charming party

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balloon wreath from fast daze

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M&M pretzel peanut butter banana’s from the sweet spot blog

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DIY pixie/ candy stick from kara’s party idea’s

although we like t get crafty, we do like to keep things on the simpler side of things, that’s why these ideas included here i love! those banana pops are a perfect party munchy, and you could use other nut butters, or nutella if you had guest with a nut allergy. and those crowns, LOVE the bold colours!  

xo, mama lola

valentine’s day treats!

valentine’s day is all about sweets and treats! to get inspired for valentine’s day i looked for fun baking and treat making ideas i could get the kids to help with. some of these goodies are more time intensive than others, and some will definitely require adult super vision. i can’t wait  to show my after school girls these delights and they too will love making these treats with us!

valentine's day, treats,

valentine’s day also happens to be my bear’s birthday, so i think i’ll make some of these for his party. i especially like the arrows! which one is making your mouth water?

valentine's day, treats, heart treats

heart shaped rice krispy treat from the magazine

valentine's day, treats, arrows, heart arrows

cupids arrows from organize your stuff now

valentine's day, treats, marshmallows, hearts

marshmallow valentine’s day treats from the sweet life

valentine's day, treats, donuts, hearts

valentine’s day donuts from love from the oven

valentine's day treats. treats,

valentine’s day cookie from haniela’s

valentine's day treats, XO's, cookies, red and white

hugs n’ kisses treats from delish.com

valentine's day, treats, wafers

chocolate dipped wafers from flour on my face

valentine's day cookies, treats, chocolate heart cookies

chocolate cake mix cookies from sally’s baking addiction

 

so, which valentine’s day yummy-goody-treat will you make for your loved ones?

or maybe you’ll make all of them! haha! either way, ENJOY!

valentine's day, treats

 

 

xo, mama lola

christmas is all about love and family.

i realize this is a little late, but we’ve been on the go this past week with birthday celebrations and an adventure up north at the cottage for new years! we had a wonderful christmas. there were some unexpected twists and turns, forcing us to be flexible, testing our patience, but after all was said and done, it was  a wonderful christmas in the end. it was one that reminded all of us of what really matter in life, and how fortunate we all really are just because we live in canada. the 24th of december is traditionally when finnish families celebrate christmas. so, typically the boys, dear hubby and i head to my parent’s house for a beautiful christmas meal and evening. my mum decorates the house so nicely and she works hard to prepare traditional finnish foods for us to enjoy. it is very special. but, this year toronto and much of southern ontario was hit by a terrible ice storm. lots of people were without power for many days, my folks included. so, on christmas eve my parents drove about an hour to join us at out house. but, i didn’t have time to prepare much, because honestly we were all expecting the power to be restored more quickly than it was. this is where that flexibility and patience came into play; dear hubby baked some yummy treats and i made some quick appetizers with smoked salmon, baked a yummy gnocchi (recipe coming soon here) and we bought several delicious cheese; it wasn’t the kind of christmas meal my mum would make.

DSC_0222b DSC_0226b we started the evening with a glöggi toast cheering our family and health. we ate, while my parents shared stories of christmases from their childhood, which the kids were fascinated by. then, it was time to open gifts. oh, the kids had fun, fun, FUN! at the end of our evening it was clear that christmas is really all about love, family and being together.  even though our plans were quite different, unexpected and even stressful leading up to christmas eve, we all still had lots to be thankful for. we had each other, we were safe, we had resources to get food, to drive and shelter (even if it was cold for some). eventually my parents layered up and headed back to their freezing house, deciding not to stay with us, as they had stayed with friends the night previous. they were worried about the house as a city owned tree was dropping branches right on their property. but, even though christmas wasn’t what we had wanted or planned, we were all grateful to be together and share in a warm, loving evening together.

DSC_0234b the 25th we spent together as a family of four. we went tobogganing with neighbourhood friends to test out the fancy snow runner the kids received from joulupukki (santa claus). it was a quiet day of fun, games and love. again, reminding me of the meaning of chistmas for our family. spending time together as foursome, without any distractions or obligations, was truly special. then, on the evening of the 25th my mum phoned to say their power had been restored and we all hooted and cheered! it was a small, belated, christmas miracle!

on the 26th we headed to see dear hubby’s family. first we had a small tea party with his folks. we used dear hubby’s grandmother’s fancy tea cups, which was fun and special. we opened gifts and had a chance to play before heading to visit with extended family.

DSC_0285b i’m not sure why, but i didn’t really take many pictures this christmas. i was more focused on being involved in all the special moments, i suppose. sometimes i feel like an outsider when i end up taking pictures from the periphery.

i hope you had a wonderful holiday with your family, celebrating whatever traditions matter to you.

i will share some wonderful pictures from our time up north soon!

xo, mama lola

almond cranberry biscotti recipe.

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this is a fantastic recipe from the joy of cooking. my dear hubby is the one who bakes this holiday goodie at our house! the word biscotti is italian and means twice baked biscuits. the name perfectly describes how you ultimately bake these yummy treats, TWICE (or so)! biscotti is a wonderful holiday gift, as it is easy to make and lasts a long time. it is a bit time consuming, but well worth it in the end, in my opinion. so, let’s get to it.

INGREDIENTS:

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon anise or almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
(* although we typically bake and cook without eggs, this recipe was made with eggs. at our house biscotti is more of  an adult treat, so our egg sensitive bear will not be nibbling on these)

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. combine oil, sugar, eggs, zest and extracts together. then stir in flour, baking powder and salt.

2. add chopped almonds and dried cranberries. mix well.

3. shape two loaves out of the dough on parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 375F for 25 minutes.  allow loaves to cool then cut on a diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.  then, bake slices on sides for 10 minutes and turn over and bake for another 10 minutes.

4.cool on a rack. serve with a cuppa tea or coffee and dip biscotti in the drink.

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enjoy!

xo, mama lola

candy cane treats! YUM!

candy cane treats, christmas treats

tis the season for candy canes! my kids are a bit little for just sitting and eating a cane; it tuns into a huge sticky mess, which i hate! so, instead i love to incorporate candy canes into all sorts of treats we like to eat. here is a round-up of super yummy candy cane treats of all sorts… from cookies to fudge to bark!

ENJOY!

candy cane bark, candy cane, christmas treatschocolate peppermint bark cookies from recipe girls

candy cane cookies, candy cane treats, christmas cookies, recipes

candy cane cookies from foodless

candy cane treats, candy cane recipes, christmas treats

candy cane hearts from glorious treats

candy cane cookies, candy cane treats, candy cane, christmas treats

candy cane joe joe’s from cake or death

candy cane marshmellows, candy cane treats, candy cane, xmas treats

candy cane marshmallow pops from liv life

 

which one is your favourite? which recipe will you be trying this season? 

the marshmallow treats look perfect for a cuppa hot chocolate, so i think i will make some when we head up north to the cottage for the new year!

xo, mama lola

christmas cookie round-up!

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the christmas season is full of yummy cookies. we love to bake all sorts of cookies this time of year. here is a round-up of decoration ideas from snowflakes to snow globes to hurt gingerbread men.

christmas cookies, cookie recipe, snowman cookie recipe

melting snowman cookies from simply stitched together

xmas cookie recipe, christmas cookie, cookie recipes

christmas ornament cookies from fresh cut flours

christmas cookie recipes, snowglobe cookies,

snow globe’s from hello naomi

xmas cookies, christmas cookies, festive cookies,

christmas cookies from sweetopia

snow flake cookies, christmas cookies, x-mas cookies, holiday cookies

christmas cookie snowflakes from pasta princess & more

xmas cookies, gingerbread cookies, snow flake cookies,

gingerbread cookie recipe from glorious treats

xmascookies, funny gingerbread cookies, hurt gingerbread cookies guys, holiday humour,

gingerbread men cookies from the national geographic

 

i am so inspired to roll up my sleeves and get baking! i love, LOVE decorating cookies!

what kind of cookies are you baking this holiday season?

do you prefer gingerbread cookies or sugar cookies, or do you bake both?

xo, mama lola
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