Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014!

Happy New Year, everyone!

As I have done the past 2 years (here and here), I am going to write my top 10 highlights of 2013! It is always fun to reflect on the past year and think about all of the exciting things that have happened. To be honest, every highlight this year could have been about Henry. He sure has changed everything! And most of this things we have done this year have been Henry-centred. However, I am sure I can think up some more varied highlights. Here goes!

10. Having an amazing class: Last January I packed up my things and left teaching for my maternity leave. I had very mixed emotions leaving halfway through the year since I had such a great connection with my students. Before I left, my amazing class threw me a surprise going away party (yes, completely planned and implemented by 19 grade 2's). It was one of the most special things anyone has ever done for me.

9. Going Car-Free: This was definitely a highlight. We feel good about saving money, lessening our environmental impact, and being more active since we need to walk everywhere!

8. Enjoying downtown: Now that we live downtown, we have really been enjoying downtown. We are close to the library, the museum, the market, many of our favourite restaurants, parks, etc. It has been great taking advantage of what we have right here.

7. An entire year vegan: We have been vegan for all of 2013. Pretty nifty! And I still feel great about it.

6. Enjoying our pool: We moved away from our house with a pool this summer. That doesn't mean we didn't take full advantage before we left! It was a lot of fun spending hot summer days in our backyard by the pool.

5. Family hikes: Hiking will probably always be a highlight since I love it so much. This year, we got to hike as a family of 3!

4. Cottage visits: I was lucky enough to make it up to my Mum and her husband's cottage 3 times this year! Our whole family even made it up for Thanksgiving. It was so much fun.

3. Family time: If I have learned one thing this year, it is that babies bring families together! Joe and I have spent a lot of time with our families this year, which has been great. My brother, Mike, even came home this past summer after living away for a few years. It has been awesome having him home!

2. Moving downtown! This was a huge one for us. It was a big decision to move again, but we are so glad we did. We are so happy here!

1. Meeting Henry. Our lives have changed forever and we love him!

2013 was such a special year for me becoming a Mum. I'm looking forward to 2014 and all that it will bring!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Fun!

I don't know about you, but for us this has been quite the busy Christmas season! We just finished a 5-day stretch of family gatherings. It has been busy but a lot of fun! Henry sure was spoiled by his aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends this year. We truly are lucky to have so many great people in our lives.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Organic Comparison

It’s Joe here for a special guest post!
Meghan and I have been eating Vegan or as I like to say, a whole food plant-based diet, for almost exactly a year. We’ve done lots of research into food and health over the year and have most recently been interested in organic foods. Some of the benefits of organic foods are that they are free of GMOs, pesticides, chemicals, and are farmed in a natural and sustainable way. They also tend to be more nutritious, even though they may be somewhat smaller than conventionally farmed produce.
All of the dried beans and grains that we get from our local health food store are organic but Meg and I were looking for a source for fruits and vegetables. Most grocery stores do carry organic produce but the selections tend to be limited, pricy, and often imported. Meg’s friend, Kate told us about Grand River Organics (GRO), a company that does organic produce deliveries from various local farms. GRO offers a wide variety of items delivered in two different sizes, a bag of 8-10 items for $26 or a box of 12-14 items for $38. There are options for all local produce or a combination of local and imported goods. You can just place an order and get the random, expected items for the week or customize your order and choose specific fruit and veg. We decided on a custom order, as we needed a heaping amount of kale for our morning smoothies! We paid $41 and this is what we got:

We were impressed with the freshness of the produce but a little disappointed that some of it did come in plastic wrap and containers, which we really try hard to avoid. We knew that this one box wouldn’t be enough for us for the week, but in general, we did find the amount of certain items to be small. On the plus side, our pick-up location was less than two blocks away from our house!
We did enjoy our delivery but thought that we should also try and see what was available at the Kitchener Market. We had never really sought out organics but just visited our regular local farmers. As we discovered, there were quite a few organic options from a number of stands. Most of the produce was local, but there were also some non-local options. We decided to see what we could get using the same $40 budget and here was our haul:

It was clear that we did get a little more bang for our buck at the market. It wasn’t quite as close as our GRO delivery but we do enjoy our trek to market every Saturday anyway. I do appreciate what GRO does, especially for those who may not be so close to a farmer’s market. We would order again from GRO, most likely if we’re away for a weekend and know that we won’t be heading to market. That’s another good feature of this service, there is no weekly commitment, you can order as you please. As it stands for now, we will use GRO occasionally and continue to search for organics at the market!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our Christmas Cards

Since it is Henry's first Christmas, I couldn't resist sending out some Christmas cards this year. I decided to try taking some photos myself for the card, and I'm really happy with how they turned out!

After taking the photos, I played around on PicMonkey and made the cards. I made 5 different versions in total. Since I couldn't decide on my favourite, I printed some of each. It was a simple, fun project and will be a great memory! Here are a few examples of the cards. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Basement bathroom makeover!

When we moved into our house, the basement bathroom was kind of the house's dirty little secret. It was in definite need of some help. The previous owners had done some patching in there and I didn't repaint. On top of that, it had an old claw-foot tub that had been painted a textural pink, the existing wall colour was a soft peach, and the vanity brought back memory of our previous kitchen with it's melamine/oak cabinets. Joe said it was maybe the ugliest bathroom in the history of the world. (But really...did he forget our old bathroom in our old place before we painted it??!)

The strangest thing of all might have been the window... or lack thereof. Instead of a window there was a piece of Styrofoam in front of a storm window. For some reason it glowed red. It reminded me of Amsterdam come nighttime. Definitely not the vibe I generally go for in my home.

I didn't think the bathroom was going to be anywhere near the top of my to-do list, but then we got the basement windows replaced and I felt like it wasn't an impossible task. Then, I was going through all of the paints we have (leftovers from previous projects, and paints left by the previous owner) and realized that we could easily improve the look of the bathroom for free. With paint. So I did.

I started by painting the tub with a shiny black that was leftover from a previous project. Then I painted the trim and ceiling with the white I used in our old bathrooms, and the walls with leftover gray from the upstairs bathroom. I also painted the oak trim on the vanity, which hugely improved it's look without needing to replace it quite yet.

I put up some art we had and some matching hand towels, and voilĂ ! It actually looks decent. 

Of course, if I actually want it to be a nice washroom I would still need to replace the yellowed floors, the vanity and the old toilet, but for now it is just right!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Vegan comfort foods

Today marks almost a week of Henry and I being down and out with a nasty virus. It has been a long week, but we are finally starting to show signs of improvement. Thank goodness!

Lucky for me, I have a wonderful husband who is always willing to cook up anything I might want- especially when I'm sick. I realized that I haven't really been too sick since becoming vegan. When I've been sick in the past, I always crave the same things: Chicken noodle soup, crackers, ginger ale and creamy tomato soup. Problem: Those soups aren't vegan!

I told Joe, and he whipped up this delish soup: It's a vegan version of chicken noodle soup (tofu noodle soup?). It was delicious and hit the spot. And I'm sure it was much lower sodium than your regular chicken noodle soup. I think all he did was throw the veggies we had on hand (carrots, celery, onion, tomato) into some veggie broth with cubed tofu and rice noodles.

He also made me this vegan creamy tomato soup. (Find the recipe here). It was SO good. It also happens to be gluten free and paleo. And super healthy. Even if I wasn't sick, this one would be a great meal.

Despite how yummy these soups were, I am so glad that I am getting better. Just in time to enjoy the snow!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Henry at 10 months

Henry is 10 months old!
This has been our busiest month yet for sure! Henry is up climbing on everything. He is also growing like a weed! It seems like he is outgrowing his clothing on a weekly basis.

As you can see, it is becoming much more difficult to take his monthly photo. He doesn't want to sit still even for a minute!

This month he got a new nursery, spent his first weekend away from Mummy, and started getting up on furniture and walking along it. He also got one of his top teeth! The other is on it's way. He got to enjoy fall weather and wintry weather! It has been quite the month. 

Here are a few photos of this month. He sure is sweet!

He loves to get up on anything and everything!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

This past weekend, Joe and I got our Christmas tree!
I don't know if it was the Christmas crafting weekend, the Christmas tunes I keep hearing or the snow on the ground, but it seemed like the right time!
Now that we are car-free, I thought that getting the tree home might be a little trickier. However, Joe convinced me that he and his family often carried their tree home from the store a few blocks away. I figured it could be extra tricky with Henry in tow, but as you can see, Joe found a solution.


Henry was pretty excited by the whole thing. He really wanted to help decorate! (And by help, I mean hinder!). Regardless, he was pretty intrigued by the tree, especially once we got the lights on. Oh... and check out Joe's sweet Movember 'stache. How many days left until December??! (aka Decem-beard, followed by Janu-hairy? I guess we'll see.) I guess I can't complain since I've been partaking as a Mo-sistah! Haha...

It is definitely feeling Christmas-y around here! As for our ornaments: We bought most of the glass ball ornaments last year at a local thrift shop. Some of them look really antique. The rest have been collected over the years (my Mum tends to give me ornaments most years!) or homemade. And there are also quite a few special ornaments from Joe's and my students. We chose to hang the baby-friendly ornaments on the bottom. I love our eclectic, mismatched tree! Less than a month until Christmas!

Monday, November 18, 2013

2nd Annual Christmas Crafting Weekend

You might remember that last year, my Mum had my two sisters and I over for a Christmas Crafting weekend. Well, this year, she invited along her sister, Corinne, my two cousins, Kristen and Lisa, and my brother's girlfriend, Micaela. We had SUCH a blast! We each brought a craft to share with the group, and worked on them all weekend. It was a huge success, and I love all of the crafts that I got to bring home! 
Of course, we found most of our inspiration from Pinterest. For example, this was the craft I brought:

I love the yellow so much that it "inspired" me to do yellow as well.
Here are some of the other beautiful crafts I made! It was so much fun, and definitely got me in the Christmas spirit!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Henry's Orange & Mint Nursery

Our first new house project is complete! Or at least, as complete as it's going to be for now. As I had mentioned in my last post, we decided to go with an orange and mint nursery, as inspired by the nursery on this blog.

The first order of business was replacing the nursery furniture. Henry's nursery in our other house was a fairly large room (I think about 12 x 12 ft?), so when we put his furniture in his new nursery (which is much smaller, about 8 x 10 ft, with awkward doors on 3 walls) it seemed like the furniture was swallowing the space. Not good.

I noticed that a few of my favourite nurseries had the same crib in them (It is the Hudson by Babyletto)... and then I found it at a local shop, The Baby Boutique. It was fate.

We also decided to go back to using his first change table. It is a dresser we found on Kijiji for $30. It fits nice, although it is a bit trickier to fit all of his things in it! But it works since he also has a good-sized closet. 

When we first began painting, I was a little panicky. The paint was looking rather 90's sea-foam greenish. But as we continued painting it definitely grew on me. And once we put everything back into the room it began to come together. Thank goodness!

As for where we got things: Most things were budget/DIY/gifts/thrifted. Our one splurge was the crib, but we even got that on clearance since it was the floor model. (We saved $115 even though it was in perfect condition!) We got the shelf, frames and carpet at Ikea. 

I do still have a few small items on my wishlist. Although none of them are overly necessary - such as a bunting (this one, perhaps?), and maybe a new crib sheet and/or changing pad cover in oranges/tans/mint. I'm also trying to figure out a book display/storage so that they are within reach of the chair. For now, they're just in a basket.

We are pretty happy with how it has turned out!