camping. camping. camping.

we went on an overnight mini camping extravaganza vacation with friends this past weekend. it was one night of laughs, booze, camp food and lotsa fun!



because our area of canada is experiencing an unusually dry and hot summer, there was a fire ban at the grounds. there have been lots of forest fires, so i completely understand the ban, but i will admit i was slightly saddened. what’s camping without a fire?
It’s ultimately my own fault as I should of done more research into the camp ground. Lesson learnt. In future, I’ll definitely be reading up on how to find the perfect campground for your RV. No longer am I taking our RV and just randomly choosing a camp site in the hope it has everything we need.

we had meal planned our dinner to be cooked with the fire, but luckily a couple of weeks before we decided to purchase a stove top. After reading lots of camping products reviews, we have spent quite a bit of money upgrading our camping gear! So… we did it all stove top instead and it all worked out fine. our to be fire roasted potatoes, became stove top taters instead and were yummy as heck! We recently bought a new RV Battery which meant we could cook all this wonderful food. It saved the day!

[ new potatoes, garlic cloves cut in half, generous chunks of butter, cut yellow onion and a generous sprinkle of sea salt. i had wrapped them all in lots of foil as we had hoped to cook them in the fire. this is how we do taters at the cottage on the BBQ! ]



there were six kids and six adults so it all balanced out. the kids played in the woods where we set up dear hubby’s beloved brazillian hammock and as dusk settled in the kids explored everything with their flashlights. it was so funny and cute and hilarious to listen to their excitement. the little ones had a harder time getting to sleep. dear hubby walked around the campground with lion on his back, which worked out well. however, we got off to sleep absolutely fine in our RV as we have comfy beds and even an amazing skylight to which we can see all the stars glistening from. last year when we went camping our skylight was damaged a little from being so old, but luckily we had a dome skylight replacement to fix it on the spot so we didn’t have to panic about not having a view of the stars!



once the kids were finally asleep the real party started, and the booze came out in generous pours and were slurped in generous gulps. it was a perfect summer night for sitting around our pretend fire, where the chatter and drinks flowed and then as the night progressed the laughs became slightly louder and longer.
good times.



morning dawn brought with it a few rain drops that luckily didn’t amount to anything. it brought with it super hungry kids who had to have some fast granola and fruit to rid them of the morning grumps! just look the differences in the two pics of the kids… before granola and then after!



and then after some team work we all ate fantastic breakfast burrito’s and sipped on the best coffee ever! food tastes to great at camping, even if it car camping!
so yummy!



lots of summer love to our friends. we had a blast and can’t wait for next summer’s camping trip!
*******
today is monday and incredibly hot. tomorrow they are predicting +36c, which midas well be the boiling point. we will hunker down inside with craft projects and friends and ice cream!


what’s the weather like where you are?



xo, mama lola

friday, i’m in love.

friday afternoon bear had a quick visit to JK classroom. he was scared as we were leaving the house and was the first kid to start crying in the classroom, but according to the teacher, mademoiselle C, he was also the first to stop. by the time we showed to take him home he was busy colouring the turtle they were given as a craft.

whew.
maybe he will be ok.
i sobbed in the car. this september is going to be heartbreaking for me. the thought of missing him, brings tightness to my chest and sadness into my eyes. 


anyhow, to balance out the stress of the afternoon we filled friday evening with loads of fun and wonderful family memories. because, our summer is so short and i want to make sure we take advantage of these warm dusk hours before it’s too late. 



first we enjoyed a beautiful, colourful dinner outside in our backyard. we gobbled up roasted new potatoes and brussel sprouts, a tofu n’ bean scramble, and a lush garden salad with homemade croutons. 

[ brussle sprouts halved, new potatoes halved, several chunks of butter
and a generous sprinkling of sea salt, baked in hot 400F over for 30-45mins.
take out of oven and mix every so often to ensure the buttery goodness is absorbed. ]
[ 1 yellow onion, 2 carrots chopped, 1/2 broccoli chopped, 2 cloves garlic, half can of black beans, half can of chick peas, 1 package of medium tofu, 1/2 tsp tumeric, 1/4 cup tamari sauce, few shakes of black pepper, fresh chives and basil leaves from the garden. all done in cast iron pan stove top, quick easy, fast. ]
[ all it is is romaine lettuce, apples, tomatoes, sun flower seeds and lotsa fresh parsley from the garden. the croutons are plain bread cut in squares and mixed with olive oil and baked in the oven for about 10-15mins 
at 400F. mix ’em up every so often for a more even bake and colouring effect. ]



after dinner we drove down to the river and for some ice cream! as we sat and ate the creamy goodness, we were surrounded by tons of geese and goslings, which of course the kids were thrilled with! 



then we hit the park!

run daddy, run!!!




today wasn’t half bad either, but tomorrow will be glorious! we are hitting our favourite beach for the day. oh, the sun, waves, sand and fun!

xo, mama lola

moose for dinner!

we had some super silly pasta for dinner, thanks to IKEA. they were moose shaped! the kids loved it and bear said “i love to eat moose”, which we found especially funny as we’re vegetarian! 



i’m really enjoying my cast iron pan again and since our naturopath told us bear was iron deficient i’ve been using that beast a lot. especially when i’m cooking things like tomatoes, as they (along with other acidic foods) absorb the iron from the pan, which is healthy and good, not just for bear, but all of us! 


for the sauce i used:
1 can canned whole tomatoes, which i cut into smaller pieces.
1/2 can chick peas
1/2 zucchini
1/2 orange bell pepper
2 tblsp sour cream
2 cloves garlic
1 yellow onion
dried oregano
fresh basil leaves
olive oil
i sauteed everything starting with the onions. once everything was in and smelling wonderful, i decided i wanted to thicken the sauce, so i threw in a dollop of sour cream. just what it needed!



we also had some yummy spur of the moment salad. i have been craving cucumber dill salad, but we didn’t have any dill, so i got a little creative with what i could find. 


i chopped up some cukes and cherry tomatoes, stirred in thick sour cream, white vinegar, sea salt and some of our home grown parsley. it quenched my craving and the kids loved it too! 



yum!
cheers!

xo, mama lola

spring cleaning: my insides!

i start a liver cleanse in a matter of hours. it’s going to be a tough 14 days, let me tell ya!  i gave up my most special vice, coffee, last week in preparation for this cleanse. i have no shame in admitting that i love a good cuppa coffee first thing in the morning and will hold on to it as my vice for the rest of my life.  i have some last minute cleanse shopping to do for myself tonight. luckily, the lovely expert who has developed this particular cleanse has also included a meal plan and a grocery shopping list, so getting ingredients will be easy.


i am already a grump, though. no coffee makes me super cranky, which i didn’t know! i wonder what will happen after i cut our dairy, breads, fruits… oh, boy! look out family!


but, i think i really need to get my body balanced inside. i had strep throat five times this winter and the amount of antibiotics i consumed is ridiculous and kind of gross. plus, with all the surgeries and T3’s i was popping while pregnant with lion, i think is still just stuck in my organs jamming things up. i good liver cleanse is exactly what my body needs and deserves.
*******
had a frolick through the woods with good friends today. kids loved it, so did us mama’s!

*******
for tonight’s dinner i tried something new, rice paper wraps with veggies. 

i took one tomato, one perfect avocado, asparagus, green onions and some left over green pepper, chopped them up stirred them around in my cast iron pan until warm.
then, i placed the veggies on the softened rice paper with a piece of seaweed and sprinkled some sesame seeds for good measure.

they were easy to make, but a bit time consuming and the texture wasn’t the kids’ favourite, but dear hubby and i loved them. i will definitely be making these again, since i can’t use wonton wraps anymore due to bear’s egg intolerance. we also had some quinoa-chick pea salad and sweet potato fries! yum!



ok, time to shower and binge on some fantastic treat once dear hubby gets back from the store!
i am so scared of this cleanse and worry that i will not have the discipline to follow it, although at the same time i feel like it’s exactly what i need.
wish me luck!

xo, mama lola

one of THEM evenings with kids and tofu!

[ * FYI: in this blog entry i threaded instructions via pictures, 
a fast and efficient way to marinate tofu. ]



augh.
monday’s are a long day for me. i parent alone all day, from sunrise to sunset, until dear hubby gets home after eight o’clock. 


today started off so great. with a dramatic drop in temperatures a park play date was moved to our house. it was -3c today and after the high teens and low +20c’s last week it felt shockingly cold! so i ran around cleaning and vacuuming before everyone showed up. the kids had a great time and us MAMA’s had a chance to chat and drink coffee. it was a wonderful way to start the day and the week.


after everyone left, lion went down for a nap, i chatted on the phone (for what we call half time) with a dear friend and bear watched a DVD. once lion came down from his nap, a couple of hours later, the kids played and snacked and we had a quiet afternoon… 


until, just before i started to make dinner things turned. dramatically and quickly. bear became frustrated with a maze in his activity book and started to crumple some pages and cried and cried. i tried to calm him down, but i was also making dinner so it was tough. dinner was fast to make; a veg stir fry with tofu and rice. 

[ cut tofu into shape desired. ]
[ toss into a ziplock bag with tamari sauce (soy sauce). we use the tamari as it’s gluten free and generally healthier with less sodium and it’s organic.] 

then, at the dinner table both boys refused to eat. they both stuck their tongues out and complained the food was disgusting. this is where things went downhill fast, and i know it’s my fault. but, i was tired and hungry and fed up with the rudeness so i got mad, got the kids into their pj’s and had them lie in bed until 7pm. they complied, shockingly, and it was kinda what we all needed. some silence and stillness. eventually we got on speaking terms again and bear complained about being hungry so i let the boys have a second chance at dinner. bear ate like a bear, but lion still refused to eat. 

[ leave tofu marinating for a at least 10 minutes, tossing the chunks around every so often. ]
[ my secret ingredient in stir-fries. ]

anyhow. the boys were asleep by 7:45pm, which is kinda late for them, but i feel like i did the right thing letting them eat rather than starve all night. both boys also had a little bit of apple sauce before heading to bed.


i hate it when i lose my shit. i really do. my heart crumbles and i feel like the worst mother around. i know all parents and caregivers lose their cool, but i feel such shame and guilt for my own behaviour. 
augh.

[ dinner is served in my lovely teema bowls. does not look disgusting to me, what do you think? ]



hope your monday ended better than mine.
here’s hoping tomorrow will bring with it some peace.


g’night.

xo, mama lola

granola bars.

i’ve decided to make our own granola bars, again. the packaged ones are so full of additives and unnecessary junk my family does not need. i checked out a couple of recipes from here and here, but ultimately made my own version as i didn’t have the right ingredients or patience for some of the steps..


so, here we go… in a bowl in no particular order i chucked in


2 cups oats
1/2 cup unsweetened cocunut
3/4 cup dried cranberries
10 dried plums, cut up
2 large tblsp cashew butter
1 large tblsp butter
1/2 to 3/4 cups of honey
1/4 cup sesame seeds
sprinkling of salt


mix it up really well. after each ingredient or so i stirred and stirred as it’s so sticky. 

obviously you can add or decrease whatever ingredient you want. i suggest tasting it as you go. 

i found ours to be too sweet, that’s why i added the cashew butter (plus, dear hubby finished off the almonds i thought we still had, which i was planning of crunching up and putting in).

once all the ingredients were mixed in well together, i oiled an oven safe dish and pressed in the granola mixture. i pressed down hard to ensure that any air would be squeezed out and that the bars would hopefully have an even texture to them.

i was also hoping this would make them less crumbly. that was the problem with previous bars. i sectioned off the bars before putting them in the oven. i used a knife and spatula to really try and separate the sections.

i pre-heated the oven to 400F and placed the dish in for only 5 minutes. i wanted the ingredients to adhere to each other. then i set the dish to cool for several hours first on the counter and then in the fridge, in hopes the stickyness would really stick and make the bars more shapely and not crumbly.

final verdict: kids and dear hubby loved ’em! i think they could have used less honey and more crunch, like almonds. they were so easy to make, so it’ll become part of my kitchen repertoire for sure. especially, since there is so much room for creativity depending on the ingredients available and the seasons.









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.

kiisseli.


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

the exquisite house of ginger.

dear hubby may not be a carpenter who can build me my dream home, but he sure is smart in the kitchen with his gingerbread house building skills. he’s a master of the gingerbread house, like no one else i know. each year he closely follows the recipe from the joy of cooking and voila, a house forms from the mess of ingredients. real holiday magic!

this year he had two lovely helpers. yesterday they got the dough done. today they measured and cut the structure, baked ’em, put them together and then i get to join in the best part, the decorating! bear has been waiting for a long, long time for this day. check out helper fraulein.
*****
GINGERBREAD HOUSE OR COOKIE   (from the joy of cooking p. 781)
recipe and instructions:


in a medium (2 quart) saucepan, melt
1 cup or two sticks of butter
add and strir over low heatuntil sugar is disolved and the mixture no longer feels gritty: 
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsulphurred molasses
remove from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm. in a large bowl, whisk together:
41/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tblsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 tsp grated or ground nutmeg
make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the lukewarm butter mixture, and beat to blend everything together. work in
1/2 cup all purpose flour
beating until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl:
remove the dough from the bowl and knead 3-4 times on the counter, until smooth and pliable. wrap well and refrigerate until the dough is thoroughly cook. (the dough can be prepared several days in advance.) 
after refrigerating, if the dough feels too soft to roll out, work in a tiny bit of flour.
*****

to create her own holiday magic, mother nature let it snow those big ol’ fluffy flakes all morning. while lion snored away dear hubby and bear headed to the park to romp around for a bit. dear hubby also got our sirius radio set up so we’ve got a new variety of holiday music to dance and sing too! woot-woo!

after the sun had set and our sushi dinner devoured, we headed to a local park to see a colourful display of holiday lights. with cookies in hand, dressed in our holiday jammies we drove through the park ohh:ing and aah:ing at the fabulous light show. bear was in awe. 


ho! ho! ho! holiday magic!



xo, mama lola

holiday magic.

i am a real fan of christmas. i have such lovely memories from my own childhood of holidays spent with my family back in finland. my mom would cook an amazing dinner for us to enjoy on christmas eve. we never had turkey, like they serve here, but instead we had a multiple course meal which included glazed ham, fresh fish, possibly some smoked reindeer meat, various vegetables cooked in a variety of ways and of course ample desserts and treats to be nibbled on.  as an adult today, i recognize the efforts she made each year trying to create some holiday magic at our house. and not just with food either; my mom was into making our own decorations and collecting natural treasures, and still is. (*note: i was speaking with a friend who fondly remembers last year’s holiday magic at my parents’ house, so it’s not just me).

joulutonttu, or the christmas elf left some chocolates for the kids in the advent calendar. it was messy and joyful. bear waited years before we gave him chocolate, lion is so lucky to be the second born!

i want my kids to feel the magic of the holidays too. it’s hard though, because my kids are still particularly little and their enthusiasm is very limited. but, still i plough on forward.

today bear and i made these cookies.

i’ve always been terrified of the ready-made doughs you can buy at the grocery store, but when i saw this recipe and saw how cute the cookies were i made an executive decision to ignore my fears and bake on. the simplicity and ease was shocking, but the chemicals still kinda freak me out. that being said, i think we created some holiday magic with this easy baking recipe, no clean up, all around hassle free.

this is the original recipe via pillsbury.
all you need is the cookie dough, they recommend the gingerbread one, but my local store didn’t have any so we used the albino sugar cookie stuff instead. various candies depending on the look you’re going for. we used various M&M colours for eyes and noses etc. the original recipe calls for chocolate chips for eyes, but we like colour in our cookies! also, make sure you get small pretzels. bear was so pleased in the end!

tomorrow i’m taking the kids to see the muppets! can’t wait!
i feel nostalgic already!

xo, mama lola

oreo cupcakes.

holy moly cupcakes batman! we had a wee belated birthda fam-jam at our house on the weekend. mother nature put on her finest and presented us with brunch weather that could not have been more perfect. we enjoyed dear hubby’s famous crepes and other delicious food. for the cake, bear wanted to make cupcakes so i found these over the top oreo cheesecake ones. bear helped bake while lion napped and they were easy and AMAZING! super sweet and nothing healthy about ’em, especially since we slapped on some icing and decorated them with jelly candies. but, they were a hit!





let me know if you try the recipe!



xo, mama lola
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