oreo cookie and white chocolate bark!

i didn’t get around to posting any of the holiday treats and crafts we got up to this season. but, i have a few easy things i want to share, that aren’t necessarily x-mas related. i will start with this highly addictive (you’ve now been warned) bark. i’ve never made bark before and i was looking on pinterest and came across THIS super easy, super delish recipe at bakers royale.


15 oreo cookies
10-30 oz white chocolate 


1. line your pan with parchment or wax paper, leaving lots of overhang for easy removal at the end.

2. place chocolate in a double boiler over low heat and stir continuously, until chocolate is completely melted. i chopped and shaved the chocolate first, to help speed the melting process.  then, transfer the chocolate to a heat proof bowl and cool for 5 minutes. 

3. add chopped oreos and stir to combine. Pour mixture into pan. use a spatula to smooth out top. sprinkle more oreos on top if desired.

4. let the bark solidify in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. remove from pan, cut up and ENJOY!

i’m salivating just looking at these pics. holy mama, this was easy and yummy!
i made one batch with chopped candy canes sprinkled on top, but that was a bit too sweet (even for me!)
xo, mama lola

the new year brings with it some baggage, but in a good way.

a new year and a new project.
i’ve joined the fun at 365 project; come check out my profile HERE. i’ll be posting a photo a day as a kind of photo journal of our days in 2013. i know i already post lots of pics here, but i like the idea of choosing one picture to describe our day, like i do for this moment every friday.

* * * * * * *

a new year and new habits.
we have gorged ourselves with gingerbread cookies, various decadent bark flavours, other baked goods and lotsa food in general, and yesterday was the final day for pigging out. the kids have been eating way too many treats and the thought of all of that sugar on their pearly whites freaks me out. i am so done with all of that refined sugar moving through their wee bodies, making their behaviour erratic and wild, and mucking up other good habits.

three cheers and health to us all. less sugar, less white flour, less processed foods, regular dental checkups with our Dentist Vineland and back to the goodness of real, whole foods. my mouth is watering just thinking about the dinners we’ll enjoy again!

* * * * * * *

a new year and a time for calm.
after our chaotic fall and busy holiday season, i am eager to enjoy the calm and routine the new year will bring with it. yes, the routines can be mundane, but the predictability of the routine will allow me to work on myself and my needs and reduce the anxieties tied up in my shoulders. i am hoping to learn new habits for old relationships.
i also need to place priority on myself more, so today i rescheduled my chiropractor’s appointment from next week to this evening, as i think i have a pinched nerve in my neck causing intense pain in my neck and shoulders. i know this doesn’t sound like a huge thing, but it’s a step and hopefully the baby steps will lead me to a healthy, strong, balanced destination.

* * * * * * *

a new year and quality time with my dear hubby.
yes, we instilled a regular date night over a year ago, but truth be told, we have spent many friday date nights running errands and only talking about the kids. i am hoping to spend more quality time with my partner, talking about us, life, goals and yes, the kids as well, but i don’t want them to dominate our time. i want to turn off the tv and play board games or card games, laughing together, as we enjoy each other’s company.
i am hoping to turn to our families more for help with the kids. i have nothing to prove and sending the kids away on overnight visits to grandparent’s houses is going to be the new thing for us. can you believe we’ve never done that?!

* * * * * * *

what does 2013 look like for you?
did you make any resolutions?

xo, mama lola

xo, mama lola

buy nothing x-mas?

Welcome to the October 2012 Simplicity Parenting Carnival: Holidays
This post was written as part of the monthly Simplicity Parenting Carnival hosted by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM. This month we are discussing how we simplify the holiday season. Be sure to read to the end to see a list of the rest of the excellent carnival contributors.

i am already planning for christmas 2012. if you know me personally, i’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that! yes, it is only october, but the holiday season is around the corner and i like to be as organized as possible! christmas is my favourite time of year. i get super excited, super psyched and super stressed. you can read all about the x-mas rage i experienced last season!

as my kids mature and start to feel and understand the excitement of the christmas season, i try to make a point of discussing the magic of things rather than the consumerism of things. 

[ source ]

i grew up in finland, and once december rolled around, kids were reminded of very sneaky “joulutontut” or christmas elves, who travel around spying on kids to see who is naughty and who is nice. the tontut are small little elves, who poke around corners and peek through windows to see what kids are up to, and will eventually report back to joulupukki or santa with a detailed report. as an adult, i have the skills to recognize the tontut and last holiday season i saw the tontut out of the corner of my eyes and told the kids; they believed. 
that’s what christmas is about to us. the mystery and the magic.

each year the four of us love to get creative and make lots of gifts for people. one year i made big mason jars of soup. annually, we make a huge mess in the kitchen as we bake a large assortment of cookies, the kids make all sorts of art, we make our own x-mas cards (one year i drew each card by hand individually), we make wrapping paper and re-use gift wrap from years passed, and sometimes jazz up the old with potato stamps! there is a lot we do and in doing these things, we are kinder to mother-earth, gentler on our bank account, but most importantly we are teaching our kids an invaluable lesson : christmas is about giving, not about receiving. and specifically, it is about giving love, sharing love and being with family.

at four (almost five) i recognize that bear has inherited his mummo’s desire to create various things as gifts. he is eager to make art, both abstract or something practical for people he loves. his wee bro lion, is also very artistic and eagerly follows whatever project bear has on the go.
this year, i have some projects ear-marked that i can’t mention here, not yet anyway! there are some crafts that the boys and i will get to as we get closer to the giving season. we will make our annual batch of salt cookies, paint them and make garlands from them. we will re-make our christmas wreath on our door, make ice lanterns and maintain other finnish traditions. i will start playing festive music early and i am already collecting various items for the wall hanging advent calender i made the boys last christmas. bear is still talking about it!

sure, we talk about asking santa for things in our annual letter, but i always remind bear that just because he’s asking, doesn’t mean he’s receiving it! yes, we will buy the children presents, but as in years past i will buy lots of things second hand or we will make things ourselves. yes, we will buy gifts for our family and friends, but again, with frugality and the environment in mind. so, honestly, this holiday season will not be a buy nothing x-mas, but it will one which will include more baking and more crafts!

ho! ho! ho!

Thanks for reading the Simplicity Parenting Blog Carnival! We hope you’ll take time to read these other great contributors’ posts: SimParCarButton150x150

  • Making Halloween – JW at True Confessions of a Real Mommy says “No need to spend a lot this Halloween! Check out some easy, frugal ideas for dressing your family up!”
  • Hibernating During Halcyon – Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and her family are gearing up for the Halcyon celebrations and enjoying some quiet time as a family.
  • Savoring Family Time (or, Simple Homemade Gifts) – Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM is trying to prepare for the holidays early so she can slow down and enjoy time with her family as the days grow shorter and a new baby enters their lives.
  • 7 Green Gifts for Toddlers – Shannon at GrowingSlower shares unique green gift ideas for kids this holiday season that are sure to be green mom approved.
  • Less is More: Simplifying the Holidays to Make Room for More of What Matters – Amy at Anktangle shares a few easy strategies she uses to keep the holidays manageable, stress-free, and fun!
  • buy nothing x-mas? – mama lola at bear & lion describes what christmas is all about to her and her family; treats, music, crafts and LOVE!
  • DIY holiday fun – Justine at The Lone Home Ranger revels in thrifting for and making her own holiday gifts and decorations.

Thanks to all the fabulous writers and readers for being a part of our simplicity parenting community! Stop by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM to see how to join us for a future carnival.

xo, mama lola

giving thanks & a fall fair.

today was the most glorious day. the morning started with frost on the ground and crispness in the air that lingered longer than expected. it was the perfect day to head out on a thanksgiving morning to a local fall fair and have a spontaneous play date with wonderful friends.

it is moments like these where i feel my heart swelling with love and gratitude.

i am thankful for my beautiful children. they are my life.
i am thankful for my dear husband. he is gentle, loving and very cute!
i am thankful for my family and friends, and the love they give.
i am thankful for my health. it ain’t perfect, but i’ve come a long way, baby!

i am thankful for our community. it is a beautiful network of families and neighbours.
i am thankful for our home. sweet peppermint patty keeps us safe, warm and cozy, when it matters most.

i am thankful.

i am very thankful to all of you for your continued support with this blog.
i am thankful for my new readers, returning readers and the comments many of you leave. and hey, don’t forget to check out bear & lion on facebook!

xo, mama lola

xo, mama lola

july 1st : true north and free.

july 1st is canada day, eh!!! 
here are some ideas i have collected from pinterest for the cannuck in you get in the spirit of things, eh! 
what to wear, what to eat, what to decorate, what to DIY, eh!




red and white, all the way, eh!
bring it on all you 
touque wearing, 
beaver tail eating, 
timmy’s double-double slurping, 
HBC blanket cuddling, 
CBC watching,
bear & moose loving,
hockey playing, 
whatever generation of o’canadian you are!
it’s time to kick back with a beer, eh!

xo, mama lola

the easter bunny dropped by.

we had a great time in the big city for easter. we had a nice dinner with my parents and then dear hubby and i went to a movie, while the kids stayed with my folks. we saw an iranian movie called, a separation. it was incredible, powerful and heartbreaking. i would recommend it to everyone.

then on saturday we headed to the famous st. lawrence market. the market was beautiful with shelves overflowing with bright fruits and veggies, with tanks crawling with lobsters and counters filled with yummy fresh, fish and various cuts of red meat. bear was very curious of the beat, since we’re vegetarian and never have meat in the house, seeing meat was so interesting for him.

the market not only had food, but lots of vendors selling colourful kitchens gadgets, wordly jewellery, and funky clothes. there was so much to see, but with the crowds and a four year old with a sudden case of spaghetti legs, it was difficult to navigate and take pictures!

then, it was off to the beach in the cities east end, where the outside space gave us lots of freedom and the earlier case of spaghetti legs suddenly disappeared!

the kiddo’s soaked up the warm spring sun, as they ran through the sand to the shoreline, where they threw stone after stone into the lake. it was so fun!

today we had a wee egg hunt in our backyard. i dragged my butt out of bed before everyone else and secretly hid some eggs around the yard. after breakfast the kids went out and found the yummy treats; mini eggs and small jelly beans in wee plastic eggs and one kinder per kid.

a lovely easter closing with a lazy-bum-day at home with my family.

how was your easter? did the easter bunny drop by your house?

xo, mama lola

easter fun!

we’ve been busy getting ready for easter.

i purchased some wee chicks, tipuja, and set them out on our table and at breakfast the boys were so delighted to see them. i have tried to enforce the rule of “not for touching, but for admiring”, which bear has always seemed to understand. here’s hoping lion will too!

yesterday in the basement i found a carton of already-blown eggs (meaning the insides have literally been blown out by making two small holes at each end of the egg), so the boys decided to paint them. i was so scared they would break the eggs, but the painting project progressed without any smashes! 

both, lion and bear painted with such focus and artistic flare; they will make their mummo so proud. she has painted perhaps about a 1000 blown eggs! here are some from our small collection my mom gave us. this year we couldn’t find any good pussy willows, so we hung a large branch from the ceiling and hung the eggs from there. bear and i added some of our own fancy decorations onto the branch to fancy it up some!

today we are baking egg-free sugar cookies. we found the super simple recipe here. bear has been asking questions about chocolate and whether or not they contain eggs, and if he can eat the chocolate eggs the easter bunny will leave. poor kid and his worries! i explained that i emailed the easter bunny and told him about the new egg allergies. that seemed to calm bear’s nerves a bit!

saturday first thing we’re heading to the st.lawrence market in the big city. it was recently names the best food market in the world by the national geographic! check out the top ten here and note that number 7 is kauppatori, helsinki! oh, this dual-citizen mama is bursting with national pride for both markets; how wonderful to have a good food source in one’s two hometowns.

we’ll have small easter egg hunt in our backyard on sunday, i think. i will sew quick pillow cases as gifts and i bought some funny little things and some chocolates as well. i’ll post pictures of the delight later!


xo, mama lola

christmas rage: what’s that you ask?

is it too late to write about Christmas?

now that the holidays are a warm, fuzzy memory and I’ve had a chance to decompress i can share something personal with you, my faithful reader: i lived with some serious Christmas rage! Christmas rage is exactly what it sounds like, rage experienced in-and-around Christmas. for me, the trigger revolves around dear hubby as it (sadly) has for many of my friends!
it’s that whole forgetful, fumbling, mumbling, procrastinating, a slow-moving disaster that dear hubby becomes around the holidays. I will admit that I knew I was marrying a mumbler and procrastinator, but the Christmas obligations really exaggerate these qualities in him, and combined with the stress I feel, it creates the rage. Unfortunately, this can cause some tense moments in the house. When you’re stressed, people can begin to irritate you easily. This causes an unhappy mood within the house. As it’s nearly Christmas, it’s important to be festive and happy, however, I find myself to be quite stressed and angry. When talking to one of my friends about this, she suggested that maybe I need to consider trying some of the black diamond weed strain. Apparently, she’s taken that before the Christmas holiday and she was completely relaxed and uplifted throughout the whole day. Maybe that’s the sort of thing I need to consider. I’ll have a look into that. Christmas is supposed to be fun and happy, so I need to try and be less stressed out.

one of our biggest problems is that i think Christmas is a season and not a day or two in December, as he does. during one of my rages this year dear hubby admitted to thinking x-mas started on the 24th and for me, it started a few weeks before. this is a huge difference in how we view and experience Christmas, and hopefully, we will take the lessons we learned in 2011 and apply them in 2012.

christmas is magical and i love all the music, traditions, smells and tastes that come along during this special time of year. but on the flip side, it is a lot of work too. there is a lot of pressure on me to remember all of the finer details about the holidays, who to shop for, make for, what to get, what to make, when to do it, making cards, deciding on the concept, etc etc.

it’s January 8th and I am planning next x-mas already. think what you may, but I don’t want to find myself in the same rage this year. I have suggested to dear hubby to get his shopping done by September, seriously, because then he can focus on the fun stuff around the holidays. and as the kids get bigger there will be more fun, winter, holiday activities to participate in, but if hubs is out doing last-minute shopping or wrapping or whatever, then his time will be limited with the family. plus, with bear starting school in the fall, he too will only have limited time during Christmas to romp and play.

and, finally, I want to clear up that Christmas rage wasn’t an ongoing fight at our house. we did have lots of fun, beautiful moments and created lots of warm memories as a family, dear hubby included.

i’d love to hear about your Christmas rage experiences and ways you’re hoping to combat the problem this year.

xo, mama lola


it’s time to start new and fresh, it is a new year after all. 2012 arrived in full glory with snow and rain and storms, but here we are safe and sound at home coming down from the holiday high.

we spent a glorious new year’s extra-long weekend with our dear friends at the cottage getting into all sorts of shanighans! kids of all sizes and generations had fun tobogganing, building forts and lumilyhty’s; we sat by the fire sipping various drinks and cocktails and munching on a lovely variety of festive treats; the conversations flowed easily, opinions were debated and ideas developed. it was fantastic!

there was a spectacular fireworks presentation thanks to papaD. unfortunately, bear was growly and little ozFire (almost 2yrs) was terrified and cried the entire time. there were also some fancy extra long sparklers for the big kids and they were such fun, even for the grumpy bear!
the big kids were really in their element enjoying all that mother nature had to offer. no matter what kind of precipitation was falling from the sky, the kids were out in full force. we did have to call them in to dry off and eat every few hours. check out the fancy snow fort below!

here’s a quick slide show of our winter fun!

our drive home took an unusual 7 hours due to some weather related difficulties. first we got stuck for an hour on the cottage driveway, which was incredibly frustrating. it had all iced and since we were the last car to leave we had to back up over tons of ice. finally after trying branches, wood blocks, salt, the ashes worked and got us on the road. 
then after driving for about 2 hours we hit a major snow storm and had to drive at 30-40km/ph. slow going, but safe i suppose. eventually we got home and quickly went to bed.

looking forward to all sorts of adventures that 2012 has to offer! 
my motto or mantra for this year is (stolen from friday night lights):
 “clear eyes, strong hearts, can’t lose.

xo, mama lola

aaah, it’s done.

christmas is officially done for another year. whew! we are all tired and burnt out from the holiday marathon of excitement, but now we need to get recharged for two days of birthday celebrations. first mine (28th) and then my MIL’s (29th). i’ve always loved having my birthday in between x-mas and new years, but since moving from the big city and having kids it’s complicated things. 

last x-mas dinner. (please excuse the weirdness with the frame, cannot be fixed).

tomorrow we are heading to the art gallery in the big city to see this with my parents. i am excited to see some beautiful art with my kids and explore the paintings through their eyes. chagall’s paintings are so whimsical and full of magic; he’s one of my favourites. but, there’s a winter storm coming so we’ll have to eyeball the weather and see if it’s reasonable driving weather. 

right now at 13:39 it is snowing heavily outside, with big flakes accumulating, but the temperature is supposed to drop down to -18c tonight, which means any water will freeze and the roads might be a mess tomorrow.
fingers crossed…

on the 30th we are heading up north to the cottage with our usual new year’s posse of partiers! so, counting down the days to that!

xo, mama lola
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