Browsing the blog archives for August, 2012.

No One Walks (or takes the bus) in LA – for good reason.

California, Kids

Ok so I have been walking and taking the bus in LA for 5 whole months. I take the Metro Transit City bus all the way to the end of the line and then transfer to the Blue bus to get to Venice and sometimes take that to the end of the line to get to the Santa Monica Pier (2 hours, people)! I take that same Metro Transit City bus up and down the PCH to Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and the other way all the way out to Long Beach to hit up the Aquarium. We take other buses to the farmer’s market and it’s all very sweet and environmental and wonderful – until it isn’t.

Last week, I was trying to meet up with a mommy group in my area at a neat outdoor mall with a fountain for the kids to play in (not renegade style, that’s what the fountain is for), it was a really quick trip too. Just ten minutes on my beloved Metro Transit City bus and then another 15 minutes or so on a connecting bus. Dude! We waited an hour for that connecting bus. Eventually, we gave up walked a few minutes up the street to a cute park we found the first week we got here and called it a day.


A couple of days ago, we were headed out to a park that isn’t directly accessible by transit. We knew we were going to have to walk a bit from the bus stop. No biggie. I’m from Toronto! We walk everywhere! So, away we went – except we got off at 8th Place in Hermosa instead of 8th Street in Redondo. It was about a 40 minute walk. Wee One #1 just gave me ‘the face’ and we went to Pinkberry for some pomegranate frozen yogurt and turned around and went home. If I was driving and accidentally turned up 8th Place instead of 8th Street, I could just turn around and keep going.

Times like these are the only times I really wish I was a driver. Honestly, it’s not a money thing, I could get a car if I really wanted one and it’s not a fear thing, I could drive if I really wanted to, but I just can’t justify owning two cars with all these buses and everything I need within walking distance. Plus since my husband drives everyday (he is madly in love with his car) he picks up random heavy things I can’t drag home in the wagon and since he loooooves driving, we do a fair bit of road tripping. So my not driving doesn’t really rob us of any of those driving perks.

Something important came up in conversation with the kids when we were talking about the frustrations over the bus system here, the kids noted that we have an incredibly good time together when we’re adventuring around the city on the bus in ways we couldn’t do if we were driving. We go to a lot of places where parking is a total nightmare and we don’t have to worry about it, we play a lot of eye spy at bus stops while we wait for the bus, we play games on my phone at the back of the bus and best of all? We just chat. Endlessly. About nothing. My 12 year old and I will go on and on and on about nothing and everything and my 6 year old makes up games and stories and then my three year old wants in on it too and she gets really animated and I love it.

So, the kids and I sat down and made some ‘booting around LA on foot / the bus rules’ and I thought it would be fun to share what happens when we are faced with frustration. Giving up or giving in is not an option. Especially when Wee One #2 says, while waiting for the bus that began that insane trek on Wednesday ‘where does all the smoke from the cars go, Mommy?’ Into the air we all breathe, sweetheart.

So, here are the general rules agreed upon by the two oldest Wee Ones and myself:

1) 1 mile is the furthest they are willing to walk and / or sit in the wagon (which totally works because Whole Foods, the grocery store and our fave thrift store are all under a mile away)

2) With the exception of a once a month trip out to Santa Monica, no bus transfers to avoid the trip abruptly starting to suck mid-journey

Which led to some related rules for our schedules:

1) We will meet up with our local homeschooling group once a week IF the park they are going to fits the above guidelines, otherwise, we’ll go to our local beach.

2) We will meet up with the local mommy / small kid group once a week IF they’re nearby, otherwise we’ll go out for ice cream

*we made an exception for our favorite park because it’s 1.4 miles away but they agreed the slushees on the way back from the 7-11 are worth the extra 0.4m

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Lazy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake


I know it’s Wednesday, but my Work in Progress is a pile of puffs, strikingly similar to the pile of puffs you’ve seen repeatedly this summer (I’ve knitted about 130 or so since we moved to LA). Sockdown starts on Saturday and there will be some furious knitting happening for about a year after that. Don’t ask me where Christmas knitting fits with furious sock knitting (unless everyone gets socks for Christmas). 😉

So instead I will give you this, the easiest, dirtiest (in a ‘this is defo not health food’ kind of way), laziest recipe I’ve ever made. It’s so lazy, I felt guilty making it. No really, I totally did.

Lazy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Lazy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake via – I’m a Lazy Mom

1 box yellow or white cake mix (use Trader Joe’s mix or organic mix from Whole Foods to feel slightly less awful)
2 eggs beaten (Omega eggs, at least!)
5 tablespoons melted butter (I used vegan butter, which I know means NOTHING when applied to this recipe)
2 cups M&M’s or mini chocolate chips (I chopped up a big bar of dark chocolate for this).

You literally just mix it all up and pour it into a (greased) 9 x 13 inch pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. I feel like an asshole for even sharing this recipe. But it’s one of those awful, awful things that my kids love! There wasn’t any left for my husband when he got home!

Lazy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Lazy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Lazy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Lazy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
They are addicting because they have the texture of a cookie with the moistness of a cake and of course chocolate chip make everything tastier!

First Week of (Home) School 2012/13

California, Homeschooling, Kids

We are still trying to figure out how to balance our longish school days with our park day meet ups with other homeschooling families, mornings at the library, field trips and mommy group meet ups with kids closer to Wee One #3’s age. So far, we have decided to do formal school 4 full days a week with a half day on Friday. Every afternoon we break for 45 minutes of fun and sun and exercise in the pool. Wednesdays are both library day and homeschoolers in the park day so that is not a formal school day, however since we don’t have to leave the house super early for Wee One #3’s story time at the library, we’ll do a French lesson and then maybe practice our new French words as we stomp around LA. Friday will be a half day so we can meet up with some little ones for fun in our neighborhood, but considering what time we get up (way. too. early.) stopping early is more like 3/4 of a day instead of a half day. Right now Saturday mornings are for the farmer’s market and the rest of the weekend is for chilling out, but as soon as I find a YMCA we all like, I suspect weekends will belong to ballet and karate and the like. We’ll see how this first term shapes up and what adjustments we will have to make to our schedule and our books and our goals.

We started the school year with pink (read: beet) pancakes with grated apples and adverbs! Fun! Haha.
Mid-day I made cookies for them as a treat and managed to knit a couple of puffs while supervising cursive. Science for our littlest was food coloring-tinted vinegar in baking soda. She was mesmerized (I kinda was too).
Yesterday ended with an art session involving homemade puffy paint and today began with stacks of buttermilk pancakes.

Every afternoon is celebrated with a dip in the pool, no matter how short lived!

Today art involved glue and table salt and food coloring and Q-tips. I know, I know, we’re amazing. Very high brow.

110 of the World’s Healthiest Foods – #38 Bananas & #70 Flax


For a few years now I’ve been getting a lot of my basic information about the foods I eat from The World’s Healthiest Foods, and then I generally do more research on whatever food I looked up and pull it all together for a better understanding of what I’m eating. I figured since I refer back to this site so often, I will try to blog through the list. The website actually lists 127 foods, I omitted the animal products from the list (meat, dairy & seafood), which leaves us with vegetables, fruits, beans & legumes, nuts, seeds & oils, grains, spices & herbs, natural sweeteners & drinks.

I will figure out a way to track which foods I’ve posted about with link back to them at some point, but for now, he’s a crazy quick breakfast that is equal parts healthy and tasty!

This includes both flax and banana and takes maaaaybe 5 minutes to prepare. The inspirational recipe I first saw (over at Some the Wiser) included Grape Nuts cereal and I didn’t use any in my version.

banana breakfast roll

1 large, ripe banana
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground flax

Just mix up the cinnamon and flax in a small bowl. Spread natural peanut butter all over the banana and roll it in the flax/cinnamon mix. Then drizzle with honey. Voila!

banana breakfast roll

Here’s the why behind ‘eat this, it’s good for you’.

Flax – Just two tablespoons over the course of a day (this recipe takes care of half of that first thing in the morning) gives you 132.9% of your daily value of omega 3, and a little less than 1/4 of your manganese, vitamin B1, and fiber for the day. By increasing our anti-inflammatory and antioxidant protection, flaxseeds can decrease our risks of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, asthma, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Omega 3s make your cardiovascular system happy and the lignans in flax also help protect it from inflammatory damage. Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) is crazy important for proper functioning of the brain, nerves and muscles. Other notable positives for flax include cancer prevention, digestive health, and relief from post-menopausal symptoms.

Banana – 1 banana gives you 21% of your daily B6 (along with a decent dose of C). B6 is very helpful in reducing your risks of heart disease, and can help with depression and anxiety. Bananas have an antacid effect that can protect against ulcers, they also improve digestion, protect your eyesight, and promote kidney health! Not just a potassium kick!

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Week in Review #4

California, Healthy, Kids

What a wonderful, wonderful week it has been!!

sister love and palm trees
sparkles and Hello Kitty are a match made in toddler heaven
Polliwog Park and Manhattan Beach in general are my new favorite places
after five months of having a pool, none of us can imagine not having one & the same is true for these palm trees
white peaches and cluster tomatoes at the Torrance farmer’s market
loot from this Saturday’s farmer’s market
homemade vegan dragon fruit ice cream
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Butter Tarts (So Very Canadian)


I made these little gems for Canada Day this year and then again a few weeks ago for my husband to take to work with him. Butter Tarts are extremely common in Canada, and not just in an ‘everyone’s Grandmother made them’ kind of way (though everyone’s Grandmother did make them). They are in bakeries and grocery stores all over the country. Then once you take a step into the States, people are all ‘what the hell are Butter Tarts?!’

So I feel the need to make the best butter tarts there ever were in order to educate all our new American friends about Canadian pastry. 😉 The best way to describe Butter Tarts to the uninitiated would be that it is very similar to the base of the typical pecan pie minus the pecans. Sort of gooey, but it holds itself together and is very-to-extremely sweet.

Butter Tarts (So Very Canadian)

Butter Tarts

*your favorite pie crust pastry
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup half-and-half cream
1/2 cup raisins or chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts) I didn’t add any

Butter Tarts (So Very Canadian)
Butter Tarts (So Very Canadian)
Preheat oven to 375. Prep your pie crust and line a tray of muffin cups with it. Then cream together the butter and brown sugar.
Butter Tarts (So Very Canadian)
Butter Tarts (So Very Canadian)
Add eggs and half & half cream to the mixture and continue mixing for a 3-5 minutes. Then pout into your prepared tart shells.
Butter Tarts (So Very Canadian)
Butter Tarts (So Very Canadian)
Bake for 15-20 minutes, check on it after 15 minutes. The filling with cook quickly, you’re looking for the pie crust to brown.
Butter Tarts (So Very Canadian)
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Flashback Friday #5


After yesterday’s post and school starting up for us on Monday I thought I’d share a school tradition we did when I was a kid that I kept up with my kids. I will keep doing the same thing, even though we’re schooling at home now. 🙂

Every year on the first day, we’d have our pictures taken in front of the house. This series of photos from my childhood has me standing in front of the same front door every year! I lived in one house from the time I was a few months old until I moved out at 18. My kids? Well, we have adventured quite a bit. Our version of this series has a total of 5 front doors, plus this year is yet another one. When I ask them about it, they both (Wee One #3 is too young to really have an opinion on it) always say it’s been a lot of fun and Wee One #1 reminds me he has been more places and seen more things at 12 than a lot of people ever get to go or see.

This picture is from the first day of school in 2009, Wee One #2’s first day ever!

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Homeschoolers, us? Really?

California, Homeschooling, Kids

When Wee One #1 was still wee (he’s 12 now), I had big plans to homeschool him and any other children we’d have. I thought it was better than traditional school for so many reasons – I could tailor the lessons to make sure it sinks in, I could spend extra time on concepts that are harder than others, blah, blah, blah. So when school age started creeping up on us, I was voted down – overwhelmingly – by my husband and both our families. As the only one who thought this was a good idea, I wasn’t winning anyone over. Over the years, I got into the swing of school and though I always supplemented their educations with lessons to drive the point in at home, I started to agree with everyone that traditional school was better, at least for us.

Fast forward eight years from when our first child started kindergarten, we now have a 7th grader, a 2nd grader and our wee-est one is officially preschool age.

As anyone who reads this blog is painfully aware, we have all moved from Canada to the States and we did it 3/4 of the way through the school year (and the school year is different in these countries too). For reasons ranging from ease of transition for the kids, to initially thinking we were only going to be down here for 6 months, we decided to homeschool while in California and then put them back in their tiny rural school of 35 kids when we moved back to Canada. Now that we know we’re going to be here for a few years it would make sense to put them in school, right? Except the homeschooling experience has been so wonderful we have decided to keep it up the whole time we’re down here. And interestingly (oddly too, maybe) that my husband, and both our families are encouraging me to homeschooling. Telling me all the things I told them six years ago. Ha! Well, whatever the reason for the collective change of heart, I’m happy to have everyone on board with this.

Gym in the pool? Yes, please!

We are following Ontario curriculum even though we’re in California because technically we are here on a temporary Visa and we are permanent residences of Ontario, with permission from our local school board in Ontario to homeschool. The nice thing about that though is the flexibility it provides. We will keep French as our second language and keep Canadian geography and history, but we are also adding in some Spanish and American geography and history as well.

I think the best thing about this decision are all the options for styles of teaching and books to use and extra subjects to cover! Ontario curriculum lists learning sheet music, but the instrument you use is up to you, same goes for the core subjects. The kids will use math textbooks for learning math, but we will learn all of our science curriculum through experiments and field studying and I have added nutrition and environmental awareness to our list of subjects as well. The kids love all of it – they get to choose their books for free reading and pick from a list I chose for literature. Win-win!

Here are some of the books we are using this term, I don’t love classic textbooks for most subjects because they all assume that kids know nothing about the subject at all or that they need to be drilled the information in a way that most kids (at least my kids) find frustrating. I have no doubt we will be adding more to this collection, but these are the ones we are starting with. Some are general enough for both of our older kids, but most are for one or the other.

This is the year that Wee One #3 would be starting preschool, but it doesn’t make sense to me to put her in preschool here if the other two are at home anyway, so I’m going to ‘officially’ start her preschool at home this fall. Though honestly, we read and sing and count and color all the time anyway, the major difference with adding the word officially in there is that I’ll be deliberately teaching her specific things. Her books and her materials will be a lot different. I will be making homemade playdoh every other day like I did with Wee One #1 when he was little and now that I know how to make chalk and paint, there will be a whole lot of that going on too. I’m looking forward to documenting and blogging about it in the coming months as well!

These are for Wee One #3

This last one is for me. 😉

As far as scheduling goes, when we first started I tried every subject, every day. It worked for a while but sometimes you just need more time for certain things. This term I’m breaking up the day into 45 minute blocks – with an hour long block for swimming in the middle of the day and the kids will start sports and formal lessons in whatever physical activity they choose at the YMCA this fall.

We have joined two homeschooling groups in LA, though we’ve only been out to meet up with one of them. They are the sweetest and most supportive group of moms I’ve been around in a very, very long time. A lot of them are from out of state also and they are all so welcoming. Most importantly, the kids have made friends which was my only real concern with homeschooling. With that out of the way, I’m hella excited about this year – especially field trips! Here is a list of the places we’ll be going on field trips this year, some we’ve already been to but it’s worth going back!

Aquarium of the Pacific
The La Brea Tar Pits
California Science Center
Museum of Natural History
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Kidspace Museum
Skirball Cultural Center


Torrance Farmer’s Market!

California, Healthy, Kids

Every Saturday and Tuesday from 8am-1pm, farmers from over 60 California farms (from Fresno to San Diego) come together in Charles Wilson park in Torrance!

In Canada, our favorite farmer’s market staples were strawberries, blueberries, butternut squash and apples. Here though? Here we were excited about (and not disappointed by) the local citrus fruit. The concept of ‘local citrus’ is totally insane in Ontario, so having local lemon slices in my water last night and this morning was beyond awesome. Better than that, I got to meet the lady who picked them – yesterday morning! How sweet is that?! Same goes for the oranges we got, picked yesterday. Wee One #1 loves oranges, so he was hyped when we had a sample wedge and bought a few pounds of them. We also picked up fresh herbs, peppers, strawberries, pumpkin seeds, a HUGE bag of kettle corn, raw sage honeycomb from Pacifica and vegan sun-dried tomato pesto and basil pesto from Bolani.

This week I’ll make some treats with the honey and the Bolani dips and post about them.

We ended our day by finally (!!) getting LA library cards and discovered there are a zillion different districts and a heap of branches in each district! So many libraries to check out!

The South Bay Homeschool Network meets up today and I am so so so glad we hooked up with them. The parents are all really friendly and nice and my oldest has made a friend with similar interests and that’s defo a win!

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Menu Monday with More Peas and Thank You Love

Domestic, Healthy

As most of you are aware I have been cooking and baking my way through Sarah Matheny’s cookbook, Peas and Thank You this year. I have posted 19 recipe reviews so far (and made quite a few more than that) and I’m totally in love with this book. I mean, I’m such a fan girl it’s a little embarrassing. Here are the five most recent recipes I’ve made. So so so good!!

Peas and Thank You's Peanut Butter Blondies Peas and Thank You's Peanut Butter Blondies

I was late to the party with blondies, I’m sure because my granny was never big on them. She maaaaaaay have made them once or twice but I have no childhood memories of these ‘brownies void of chocolate’ and once I discovered what they were I couldn’t get past the why? Why leave the chocolate out of a brownie? (read)

Peas and Thank You's My Kinda Bar Peas and Thank You's My Kinda Bar

One of the biggest hurdles we all have with healthy eating is time, unless of couse you either have someone to make all your meals for you or you’re willing to spend your shoe / yarn / cute dress / kitchen gadget money on prepared meals and snacks. (read)

Peas and Thank You's Skinny Elvis Peas and Thank You's Skinny Elvis

One photo and no recipe? Surely this is a cop out. No, no. I just really, really don’t want to give away recipes for free from a book that is worth buying not just because it was written and pulled together by a talented food blogger that I adore, but because these recipes are crazy good – and also kinda crazy. (read)

Peas and Thank You's Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce Peas and Thank You's Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce

I? Am a little in love with these falafels. Some of the ingredients were totally unexpected to me and I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a good idea, but I went with it, and trusted Mama Pea and what do you know? They’re amaazing. (read)

Peas and Thank You's Carrot Cake with Vegan Cream Cheese Icing Peas and Thank You's Carrot Cake with Vegan Cream Cheese Icing

This recipe comes together very simply and has just the right texture. Perfect with a cup of coffee or a glass of almond milk. My kids are not big on carrot cake, but 2/3 of them love this and I’m a serious fan of it. It’s nice to bring along when visiting because it’s uber healthy but still sweet! (read)

I have mentioned, but try not to broadcast that I generally make separate dinners for my family and myself. Occasionally, I’ll cheat and eat what I made for them or some slightly different version of it. I’m not trying to force my relatively newfound dietary beliefs on them, but I’m also not going to eat meat every night just because they are. I don’t ever bug them about it, I generally make healthier versions of their favorites and add in as many veggies and seeds and other goodies like that as I can without causing them to hate it, but I try to keep them happy and at the same time, lead by example. If they never come around to eat the way I strive to, that’s cool, but I’m going to keep on with it because it honestly does make me feel better.

Having said all of that, here’s this week’s menu!

August 20 – 26

Monday – Chicken Pot Pie for the fam, Peas’ Un-Toppable Black Bean Soup for me and Deceptively Delicious Doughnuts for dessert

Tuesday – Chili and Cornbread (with loads of hidden veggies) for the fam, Peas’ Falafels and Tzatziki for me and Snickerdoodle Cupcakes for dessert

Wednesday – Chicken Bacon Wraps with Sweet Potato Fries for the fam, leftover Peas’ Falafels and Tzatziki for me with Cherry Swirl Coffee Cake for dessert

Thursday – Chicken Hot Pockets with basmati rice and carrots for the fam, Tempah, beans and basmati rice for me and Spice Cake for dessert

Friday – Pea’s Tired and True Whole Wheat Pizza Crust with spiced up Pea’s Homestyle Spaghetti Sauce for individual Pizzas and Banana Pie for dessert

Saturday – Cheddar Baked Chicken with Bacon Mashed Potatoes and cauliflower for the fam, Quinoa Stuffed Red Peppers for me and Oreo Cookies and Cream Tartlets for dessert

Sunday – The Duggar’s Tater Tot Casserole (with homemade tater tots and broccoli) for the fam, Peas’ Crack Wrap for me and Caramel-Filled Brownies for dessert

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