starting new.

i don’t what happened to me. i’ve been intending to grow some easter grass this year, but somehow the time slipped away from me. so, i started it today. better late than never, right? bear was delighted.

then, my green thumb got an itch. so i started a few morning glory seeds and a few lupins. we’ll see if anything comes from them. i want to transfer them into my garden once the fear of frost melts away. i love morning glory’s. check out my stick markers. pretty clever, eh? idea from here.

kefir snack break. the kids love sippin’ away with their butterfly straws!

and finally, here’s tonight’s dinner. yum!

how was your day?
did you get outside and do any gardening?

xo, mama lola

barley, and it’s dirty little secrets.

i did not blog yesterday and missed a day for NaBloPoMo. but, i was so tired after a long day in the big city, that i decided rather than posting a terrible post, i would just skip posting anything.
so, here we are a fresh new day… sunday. we are ending the week on a good note. or trying to anyhow. dear hubby is making the usual sunday feast. homemade pizza with dough from the bread maker! yum!

i have started my research into bear’s various allergies or sensitivities to be more accurate. it seems that egg, being a well known and potentially serious allergen is labelled clearly on packaged food items. although, things like bagels and pretzels may not contain egg, but they might instead be glazed with it, and so not sure if it then has to legally be marked. not sure where to find this information either…

but, barley…. oh boy! bear has a medium sensitivity to barley, which i didn’t really think much of, until i started to read labels and see that it is in everything. kind of like wheat or gluten. with my research i stumbled upon story after story of people, who thought they themselves or their kid had a gluten or wheat intolerance, but turned out to be barley! i nearly got him a gluten intolerance test but i’m pretty sure he’s just allergic to barley. that said, it might be worth doing a few tests with him just to be 100% sure of what’s causing his symptoms. a barley allergy presents commonly with skin rashes, eczema, head aches, stomach problems, diarrhea etc., just like so many other intolerances.

i had never even heard of a barley allergy before thursday. but, dear hubby and i have decided to make our household barley free, because bear will be exposed to it out there in the world, without us knowing. barley can be mixed into wheat flours and does not have to be labelled; malt is most commonly made from barley and can be found in all sorts of foods, like cereals. barley may also be found in bear’s fave soup, miso. oh, dear!

allergen labelling is tricky business and the government has laws to try to protect the general public, but the rules aren’t air tight and the gaps can be dangerous for some.

it’s time to put our homemaker aprons on and really get into the swing of making more of our own foods. with bear’s eczema it has become clear to me that we, as a family, have to take more control of what we eat. i have taken food for granted, assuming, all be it half-heartedly, that most foods are safe to eat. but, as evident by our govenrment, if manufacturers don’t actually have to include every single possible ingredient in their products, then there is potential for harm to my kid. luckily, luckily for him the reaction will not be dangerous or severe, but maybe one day it will develop into an anaphalactic allergy.
nobody knows anything really, when it comes to allergies it seems.



our boys got a surprise toy from my parents… a hockey net and hockey sticks! i guess that’s what happens when you’re family is finnish/ canadian! the weather was wet and dreary for our visit, bt we had fun. earlier in the day we went to the out of the cold art show, my folks have been volunteering at. both boys came home with some well chosen art!

hope you’ll be back tomorrow!

xo, mama lola

making bread.

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”  Robert Browning 

a friend of mine gave me her used bread maker. i helped her pack a few boxes when she was moving. i was surprised and delighted as dear hubby and i have been considering buying one for a while. 

anyhow, yesterday dear hubby made our first loaf of whole wheat bread in it. i want to be a family that eats homemade bread.

the bread tasted great, but i’m looking forward to making some gluten free loaves and various dark rye breads. for dinner, we devoured super-fancy-avocado-tomato-brie cheese-sandwiches with a side of sweet potato fries. what a delicious way to end the week! 


xo, mama lola

bow tie tutorial: how to make your own!

the first bow tie i made for bear was a few years ago for my sister-law’s wedding.
since then i’ve made a few more for various special occasions. 


basic instructions:
choose your fabric. synthetics and silks tend to fray and be much more slippery when sewing, so more patience may be necessary as well!

1. fold fabric in half and cut out two rectangles simultaneously. then, ensure the “right side” of the fabric is facing each other and pin the two pieces of fabric together.

2. sew the pieces together, following along with the rectangle shape, remembering to leave an opening so that the fabric can be turned right side out. it’s also a good idea to enforce the stitching on either sides of the opening. i typically leave 3 cm’s. i just wing it with my machine only eyeballing the straight lines. 

3. turn the fabric side side out and then sew up the opening by hand.

4. now repeat the first three steps with rectangles of fabric that are a touch smaller than the first rectangle. when the bow tie is cinched and put together it gives it more depth.

5. cut another two rectangles out, this time wanting it to be long and skinny. this piece is going to cinch the bow tie in the middle and essentially hold it all together.

6. now there’s two ways to sew the middle section.
a) the proper way: place the two rectangle pieces (or take one larger piece and fold it in half) facing each other with the wrong side showing. sew three sides leaving one of the ends open. then turn it right side out. you may want to you use something like a pen or a kitchen utensil of sorts to help move the fabric as the piece is going to small and finicky.
b) the lazy way: place the rectangle pieces together with the right side showing and sew the one side creating a tube.

7. take the two larger bow rectangles, placing the smaller of the two on top of the other an dthen take the long, middle piece and wrap it around the centre. depending on if you went the proper or lazy way of sewing, make sure you tuck and raw edges and hide any imperfections. 

8. sew up the ends of the middle sections by hand, ensuring the bow tie stays in shape. some people like to attach the middle piece to the bow section. 

9. now add your elastic. loop it under the middle, cinching fabric and the sew the ends by hand. kids typically like them slightly loose and if you’re making one for a special occasion then you can tuck it nicely under the collar of a shirt.

let me know if these instructions make sense!

good luck!

xo, mama lola

granola mama, crunch, crunch.

this has been circulating on facebook, did you see it?

i think it’s hilarious, because this crunchy mama is such an extreme stereotype of what it means to be a crunchy mama. she mentions many of the key ideas that crunchy parents tend to do differently than mainstream parents, like opting to co-sleep, baby-wear, homebirth, cloth diaper, and opting for more natural health solutions like eating garlic or taking spirulina! i don’t like her judgemental tone about how other mamas mother, as she’s assuming her choices are best. which may be true for her family, but perhaps not for others.

[we are avid baby-wearers, both of us. above, lion at a few weeks old and still quite yellow from the jaundice. below, bear is conked out on dear hubby’s back at about 14 months of age.]

i tend to mother on the crunchier side of the spectrum. sometimes i feel like i shove attachment parenting beliefs down people’s throats, other times i feel as though i am not vocal enough about things like the positives of co-sleeping with a baby (especially a breastfed newby). i’ve actually become quite low key about breastfeeding, which when bear was a baby was a hot topic for me. some of you may remember my 30 seconds of fame a few years back when the local CTV station came to our house and interviewed me about facebook attacking women who post pictures of themselves breastfeeding.
(i tried to search CTV’s site for the clip, but alas, their search only goes until 2010. perhaps if i switched my facebook page to the new timeline format i could find it. sigh.)

this is the picture facebook found offensive and removed. i think, now, it is available again for viewing in my profile pictures. to me, this picture reminds of a time when bear was about 10 months, learning to walk and feeling pretty sensitive with his new found independence. you can see the tears as a result of probably colliding with a table corner or something! this is a mama nurturing her baby, nothing else.

although i am still a HUGE advocate of breastfeeding, i think my focus and passions in my mothering career are evolving with the needs of my kids and family. as we prepare for the world of academia and school, i am becoming aware that my role as a SAHM/ homemaker is only in its early years. even when my kids are both in all day school i will still be the mom who is available to volunteer in the classroom, field trips and is always nearby. perhaps i will take on part-time work, but for us and our family, having a parent home is the only way we can do this parenting thing. maybe one day dear hubby will be the one who is home in the afternoons and doing school pick ups and making dinner, who knows. but one thing i do know is, one of us will be here. always.

it is very frustrating when i hear people comment “oh, i wish i could afford to stay at home like you”. it makes it sound as though we are millionaires and truth be told we are far from that. it just means that what we deem important, and what is worth sacrificing, is different from the mainstream parents i think. we live in a small house, 2 bedrooms and one-and-half stories, no big tv’s here, one car, and lots of second-hand furniture and clothes. i could go on, but i’m sure my point is made.
all families and parents make sacrifices; we chose to sacrifice on material items so that i can stay home. like everything in life, these are the choices we made.

oh, the joys of baby-led-weaning! here’s bear and his beautiful spaghetti face! I’m really glad we chose to do led-weaning with him. My friend told me to check out best for mums to learn about it and after doing lots of research, I decided it was definitely something that I wanted to do!

xo, mama lola

ho! ho! holiday traditions!

i am desperately trying to incorporate finnish christmas traditions into our canadian holiday season. i find food is an easy and fun way to do that..

on the weekend i made some joulupuuro, translated as christmas porridge, which i think is basically rice pudding for all you english speakers. i also made some kiisseli to go with it. it’s like a thick fruit soup and you can use any ol’ fruit (fresh or dried), but for this time of year i use dried plums, apples, apricots and raisins. (in the warmer months i sometimes make rhubarb soup and my mom makes a wicked blueberry soup.)

for iltapala (bedtime snack) we each enjoyed a bowl of warm joulupuuro with a big heaping of kiisseli on top. the cinnamon smells wafted through the house adding to the holiday magic at our house.

the instructions are in metric as that’s what the finns use. easy enough to convert if you need to thanks to google!

this is where i got the recipe and directions from.


200 g dried plums
1 l water
3/4 dl sugar

place plums (and other fruit), water and sugar into a large pot. let it simmer on a low heat for 20-30 minutes* or until fruit is soft. add water if needed.

1/2 dl water
21/2 tblsp potato flour/ potato starch
mix water and potatoflour/ potato starch in a bowl. add slowly to pot with steaming fruits and let it simmer for a few minutes.

the amounts are a starting point i find. i didn’t measure my dried fruits, but just grabbed a handful of each and threw them in. i also increased my water and potato flour amounts slightly. the potatoflour is a thickening agent, if you want the soup to be thicker add more potato flour. i also threw in a cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

* this time may vary depending on how hard your fruit is.

also, we made some more reindeer cookies using chocolate chip ready-made cookie dough. they tasted delish and looked adorable!

time to go and wrap gifts. we haven’t done any yet! yikes!
also, just wanted to mention that i am loving the sirius radio and the all day x-mas music we get to listen to! fun! fun! fun!

xo, mama lola

homemakers, homemaking and me.

i am reading this absolutely amazing book radical homemakers by shannon hayes. it is a book about how our current consumer driven society came to be. how we evolved from homes with two homemakers, where two adults worked all day to maintain the household and family. they worked in the home, for the home, for the family. today, homes sit empty all day while people leave their homes to work for someone else so that they can afford their homes. it is about the consumer society that has dictated a new norm and we are all supposed to follow this path in order to maintain the buy, buy economy. hayes argues, for example, that there is excessive value placed on work, especially over work, keeping family members away from the home and separated from each other. this in turn has led to rising rates of depression and other mental health illnesses in the USA, where hayes is writing from and about. her book is well researched, presented and for myself, has made me take a closer look at my family and our values and think about where we’re headed with the choices we are making.

lion loves to help in the kitchen.

i am a stay-at-home-mama by choice. years before dear hubby and i were ever married and seriously considering parenthood, i knew one day i wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. dear hubby has always been very supportive of this career path of mine and shared the belief of its importance. and yes, i do call it a career path or choice. homemaking is what i do all day, it is my work, my job. i may not receive monetary compensation for it, but i tend to our home and tend to the needs of the people living in our home. i ensure there is healthy food, clean clothes, clean living spaces, safe activities for the children, and much, much more.

being a fulltime at home parent is a rarity. there is tremendous pressure in our society to own lots of stuff, as that is a way to measure our success and ultimately, our self worth. the sizes of homes are getting bigger, but not because families are, but because of what it represents. the bigger the car, home, or diamond the more money they have and the happier they must be. but, according to hayes, research has proven this assumption is massively wrong. more money often means more hours worked, which actually means people are unhappier, because their time is very limited with their family.

i often get quite defensive when explaining my reasons for wanting to be at home. i feel like i have to justify that what i do is legitimate work and not just a lazy day with the kids. i in fact take my at-home duties very seriously, as i would with any job. for example, i try to feed my family fresh, nutritious foods, making meals from scratch most evenings. i am trying to teach my children how to enjoy a variety of foods; understand that food is grown on farms thanks to hard working people and doesn’t just appear in the grocery store. it is very important to us that our kids appreciate the manual labour and handmade aspect of their toys or clothes or food. obviously these discussions are short, as our kids are small, but we do acknowledge the fact that someone had to pick the fruit we are enjoying and someone had to ship it here and then someone else had to unpack it at the store.

we picked these apples and are making an apple crisp.
sneaky little bro trying to grab an apple chunk!

our society has lost the basic skills to darn, sew, knit, make clothes or fix cars, appliances, tools or grow and make our own foods, like bread. everything is ready-made for us. when things break, we toss them away and buy a new one.

in our household we make a conscious effort to try and make things, like gifts, for the kids, family and friends. for example, last christmas the boys got a much adored kitchen dear hubby built from an old night stand we purchased secondhand. i sewed some simple food items and found some real kitchen items from value village to round out the gift. this was our way of continuing our christmas traditions that will hopefully create a smaller foot print environmentally, but willalso create a sense of pride in the handmade items, no matter how small. we have been known to make soups, cookies, other baked treats, soaps and small sewn items as gifts for people.

all of that being said, i will admit that i too feel the pressures of keeping up with the jones’ (whoever they are). i want to have beautiful clothes, furniture and stainless steel everything, and i often feel the pressure to go out and get a paying job, so that we can afford more stuff. but, then i am reminded that we in fact do not want that stuff. we don’t want a tv, another car or fancy tech toys that are all the rage these days. what we do want is to see and experience the wonder of new places and people; we want live and work abroad, dear hubby seriously wants to sail around the world as a family, but most importantly we want to do EVERYTHING together.

i hope i didn’t come across as self-righteous. i am only speaking of my life and my family and what works for us. we are very much a work in progress.

here’s a little mama humour to leave you with on this soggy wednesday; something i found on pinterest.

xo, mama lola

money wow$.

image found here at a new blog that i like. it’s got coupons and savings codes for all sorts of consumer goods and i love to save a buck if i can.

while driving the other day i was listening to the CBC and to this show (i was especially interested in the last two segments focussed on group buying and coupon hacking). we have signed up for a few deals on wagjag (group buying) and it’s been surprisingly easy and efficient. in the spring we purchased a trucks worth of top soil for $40 and recently we got a martini and dinner for two deal at a fabulous local restaurant.

i am all about finding a deal and hate to pay full price for things, especially for items i know will go on sale. things like diapers, pasta, ice cream, cleaning supplies, and even clothes. i am that mom who stocks up her shopping cart when chickpeas go on sale and buys winter clothes at deep discounts in the spring time. according to one expert on the radio show mentioned above, people like me, who refuse to pay full price, are bad for the economy. but, in my defence, we are a single income family with four people to feed, clothe and house, so i have to pinch my pennies when i can, right?

the only solace i can find in this situation is that there are thousands of other families who live like this, so you could say that we’re all facing this fight together. in fact, my friend is one of these people. she struggled with money for a long time, and it wasn’t until she discovered that investing in biotechnology (Biotechnologie investieren in German) provided her with much more money in the long run that she could spend quite happily on her shopping budgets and everything else. Maybe i should try the same thing because she said that it’s very rare that she stresses about her financial situation now. wow, wouldn’t that be amazing? but saving every bit of money that i have is so important to me and my family.

that being said, we had a unintentional frugal weekend thanks to my dad. we went to the glorious niagara falls and he paid for our lunch and the ridiculously confusing ice-cream that cost $27 for 3 cones and a cup. confusing for me, as i had no idea how to order and kept messing things up. i still have no idea how i got it all so wrong, but i did.

xo, mama lola

tea towel tutorial

this project is as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. embellishing tea towels is something people have been doing for a long time, but it’s what and how you do it that makes it fun. the window for creativity is huge on this project.

i started off by buying a pack of tea towels. then i sat on the floor with the towels and chose my fabrics, all the while trying to decide on a design. i searched the internet for ideas and instructions on how to do this. this is what i was going to do first, but when i saw these towels here i decided to go with the more elaborate design.

since the towels were going to the kids’ grandma and mummo for mother’s day, i wanted to personalize them and do something cute. dear hubby was in charge of tracing the kids’ hands, which from the sounds of it was one of the trickiest parts of the project!

– tea towels
– iron-on fabric adhesive
– scissors
– fabric
– thread
– pins & needles
– iron and flat surface to iron on

basic instructions:
1. choose design and fabrics for embellishment. cut out design.
2. iron your tea towels and fabrics well before starting. leave your iron out and plugged in!

3. once you have decided on a design, start cutting your iron-on fabric adhesive. 
4. i sewed the thicker band that sits at the bottom of the towel at one end first and then ironed on the adhesive. then i sewed all around the other edges of the band.

5. if in your design you have something under your band/ ribbon iron on your adhesive before sewing the edges! i had my flower stems.
6. keep ironing your design and then sewing. i did the little hearts inside the hands by hand in a very loose and random stitch.

that’s really all there is to it. the more intricate your design, the longer it takes to sew. the little hands were a pain to sew with all the turns – stitch, foot up, turn fabric, foot down, stitch 4 stitches, foot up, turn fabric etc… you get the idea. 

please share your ideas and projects with me!

xo, mama lola
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