Januaury 1, 2017 - Cooking Up Ideas for a Healthy 2017

 

 

November 23 - Kid's Week on CTV

 

September 6 - CTV Morning Live

Fresh Ideas from Foodland

September 23 - CTV Morning Live

Grilling with Rob Rainford

 

September 21 - CTV Morning Live

Fall Home Decorating and Hacks

 

September 6 - CTV Morning Live

Get Cracking #wakeupyellow


August 15 - City Montreal

Back to School

 

August 12 - Rogers TV - Daytime


August 10 - Rogers TV - Daytime

 

August 9 - CTV Morning Live

Twists on Breakfast

 

 

 

 

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Monday
Oct242016

Happy Halloween

  Halloween is one of my absolute favourite holidays of the year.  I just love the costumes, the parties, the decorating and pumpkin carving and best of all the little trick or treaters.   Over the years, I have written countless blogs and appeared on various shows sharing some of my best ideas and inspiration with you.  This year, I have assembled some of my favourite blogs and updated my annual lists of pumpkin patches and events.  Look for me on this year on CTV Morning Live and Rogers TV for this year’s latest Halloween tips and tricks.              

plan a party spooky events Mountain View Mountain View
Tuesday
Sep202016

Easy Ways to Cozy up Your Home for Fall 

 

 

The nights are getting cooler and the leaves will soon begin to change.  Fall is here and with it comes sweater weather, baking, colourful leaves, warm soups and harvest stews.  I can almost feel the seasons changing when I step outside and that’s my cue to make some seasonal changes indoors too. 

Inspiration is Right Outside Your Door

Take a walk outdoors with the kids to find things to bring inside. This is such a fun family activity.  Small branches can be brought inside and bundled together, tied up with pretty ribbon in autumnal colours and placed around your home.

Short, thin twigs can be glued onto clear glass jars to create seasonal votives. Pinecones can be collected and placed in large glass bowls or onto plates and platters. Children can glue pinecones to a paper plate to create a decorative wreath.  Add a little English Ivy to your displays. They are not only beautiful, but they are also a natural air purifier.

Bring your hydrangea inside and let them dry naturally.  The beautiful fall hues will add warmth to your home. 

 

Take a Trip to the Farmer’s Market

Stop by your local farmers market and pick up seasonal fruits and vegetables to decorate your home.  The rich colours and textures of apples, pears, clementines, squash, gourdes and pumpkins really stand our when clustered together in your kitchen or family room. 

Throughout the month, swap out fruit with fresher varieties and use your ripened pieces in your fall baking. Nothing says fall like an apple pie or cobbler fresh out of the oven. 

Simmer Some Stovetop Potpourri for Natural Warmth 

Bring the scents of fall indoors with a simmering stovetop potpourri.   Add any combination of your favourite fall fruits and spices to a large pot of boiling water.  Reduce the water to a simmer.  This will not only make your home smell like fall, but the steam from the pot will add moisture back into the dry air caused by the heat.

  • Apple slices
  • Orange slices
  • Whole nuts with shells
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Vanilla
  • Whole cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Star of anise
  • Berries
  • Essential oils

Create a Cozy Corner

Create a cozy corner in your home that invites your family to relax and unwind. Add inviting blankets and scatter some soft cushions in fall colours.  Set out puzzles, games and some great fall reads.  Here are my suggestions.   

Kids

  • Apple Farmer Annie – Monica Wellington
  • Time to Sleep - Denise Fleming
  • Halloween Day – Anne Rockwell
  • Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf – Lois Ehlert
  • Giving Thanks – Jonathan London
  • Leaf Jumpers – Carole Gerber
  • Applesauce Season – Eden Ross
  • Pumpkin Circle – Shmuel Thaler

Adults

  • The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena
  • The Best Kind of People – Zoe Whittall
  • Commonwealth – Ann Patchette
  • Wenjack – Joseph Boyden
  • The Wonder – Emma Donoghue
  • Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
  • Two by Two – Nicholas Sparks
  • Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult

Pumpkin Spice is Always Nice

Stock up on fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, mulling spice, thyme and vanilla.  Fill your pantry with new, fresh ingredients so you are ready on a whim to whip up your favourite fall recipes.

Make and Entrance

From Thanksgiving guests to trick-or-treaters, your front door is a busy place in the fall.  Carry your fall decorating right out the door by adding a few potted mums to add an instant pop of autumn colour. Welcome your guests with a cheerful fall doormat and pile on the pumpkins.  Don’t be shy to experiment with containers.  An old wagon makes a perfect display for hay bales, flowers and gourds. 

Freshen up for Fall

Fall cleaning is not as common a phrase as “spring cleaning,” but preparing your nest for the long winter is just as wonderful as cleaning out the cobwebs after a cold season spent indoors. 

  1. Clean your blinds with 50-50 vinegar and water mixture and an old sock.
  2. Use a razor to remove paint and lint from clothing.  Bring out your favourite cozy sweater.  It will get you excited for cool weather.
  3. Freshen your dresser drawers with a sachet of fall spices. 
  4. Remove tough carpet stains using an iron and a damp washcloth.
  5. Scrub your cutting boards with half of a lemon and some kosher salt.   Rinse off with warm water and dish soap.
  6. Get your cookie sheets ready for holiday baking.  Scrub with a mixture of 1/4 cup baking soda and enough hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Rub the paste all over your sheets in small circles. Let sit for 2-3 hours and rinse.
  7. Freshen your mattress by first vacuuming the surface. Follow by sprinkling with baking soda.  Let the soda sit for 2 hours before vacuuming off.
  8. Clean your microwave by filling a bowl with equal parts water and vinegar. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. This will steam clean the microwave from the inside allowing you to simply wipe the walls clean.
  9. Wash plastic toys in the dishwasher using the short cycle. 
  10. Rub a half bagel over a dusty painting to remove particles from the surface. 

A special thanks to  Flowers by Maggie, who inspired me with her expertise in bringing "the outside in.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Sep072016

Back to School Breakfasts 

Get Cracking in the Morning with these Large Batch Egg Recipes

Watch as Julie demonstrates three fresh egg recipes to get kids going in the morning.  Large batch recipes make it easy to provide your kids with delicious breakfast options packed with protein and fresh ingredients. Recipe links below:

 

>Julie Findlay on CTV

photo of Julie on Rogers TV

 

Baked Oatmeal Cups

Egg Baskets

Veggie Cheese Muffin Frittatas

Tuesday
Aug302016

Get your kids excited for Back-to-School

 

Back to school is just around the corner and it is never too early to get your kids geared up for going back.  In fact, with a little enthusiasm and persuasion, you can generate a little excitement.

 Here’s how:

Get the class supply list early and look it over with your kids.  Compare the needs to the items you may have at home.  If you have extra, consider donating it to your child’s class.  Teacher’s are always in need of extras.   Hit the stores and shop the sales.  My kids love the picking up bright new pencil crayons, sharp new pencils and crisp paper and binders.

Set up a study box for each child.  Make sure that everything is in one place so that they will have the tools to complete homework tasks.  A study box allows kids to set up and do assignments anywhere they like, at the kitchen table, in their room or sitting outside.  Creating the box is a fun way to get everyone involved.  We used Pom-Pow Wow   to decorate our back to school gear. 

Keep it fresh all summer long.  Math and reading are fun and can sometimes be disguised as games.  A deck of cards or a set of dice are amazing tools to make up math drills, times table review or simple addition and subtraction. 

Use technology and apps to engage children in reading.  I love the  Ooka Island app on my ipad.  Kids log in as if playing a game and using their reading skill to unlock a world of fun. 

Back to school is an exciting time of year for children.  It’s a new adventure every year.  By mirroring their excitement and establishing year-round study habits, you are adding to their success. 

Monday
Aug292016

Back to School with Mom in the Know

We are back to school and quickly settling into our routines.  Luckily, my kids have not be overwhelmed with homework yet as they ease back into the school year.  I know it is coming   and this year I am going to be prepared. 

 

I want to make sure that my kids are set up for success with a calm and successful routine that may even, at times, include a little fun.  I have some great strategies.

Create a designated work space

Having a designated area for your child to do their homework will help get them into the homework mindset and stay focused. Have this area in a quiet space in your home with no distractions such as TV, video games or computers. Keep in mind that it’s best to find a space that is easily accessible if they need help or guidance.

I did a show on this a few years ago.  Watch the video for inspiration or read the accompanying blog here.  

 

 

Establish a routine

Kids thrive on routines so establishing a routine from the start of the school year is imperative. Figure out what works best for your children, whether that means doing their homework right after school, having a little downtime and then doing their homework or tackling it after dinner. Try and keep this homework time consistent.

If you find your kids are in the zone right after school, be sure offer them a protein-packed snack to help them stay concentrated until they finish the work.

 

Use incentives

Incentives are a great strategy to get your children doing their homework without any nagging or fighting. This simple system allows them to look forward to something such as being able to watch TV or use their electronics once their homework is complete. Try to involve your children when creating an incentive system to find things that they would like to work towards.

Communication

Communicating with your children and their teachers is the key when it comes to a successful homework routine. Be in the know with your child’s homework assignments and be sure to know the expectations of their teacher at the beginning of the year.  A memo board or work calendar in the homework area can be a key tool for this. 

I am really looking forward to this school year and I hope you are too.  If you have an ideas or strategies to help ease the homework issues at your home, share them with me here.  

Five Minute Back to School Lunches

 

Make it a Muffin

Kids love muffins.  Make them bite sized for easier handling.  Try these recipes.

Morning Glory

One Bite Apple

Sandwich Bar

Lay out the lunch fixin’s for the kids to make their own.

  • Bread (buns, wraps, bread)
  • Cold Cuts
  • Cheese
  • Veggies

Tip:  Not big on bread.  Make a lettuce wrap. 

 

Veggie and Fruit Kebobs

Cut up in season fruit and vegetables and allow your children to choose their own. Have them make up their own snacks of veggies and dip or put together a sweet fruit salad. Make it fun by giving them skewers to make a kebob with any of the fruit, veggie or sandwich items.

Super Soups

In a pinch?  Go ahead and use a low sodium canned soup and add some lean meats and in season veggies to that soup. 

My kids love this Leek and Potato Soup.  It is great at this time with added sweet corn off the cob. 

Pack it Up

Choose the right containers to pack up lunches.  Thermos brand containers are great for keeping things warm or cold.  Bento boxes are ideal.  

 

 

Feeding minds 

 

 

Setting up for Success

 

CREATE THE SPACE   

Study Box


Everyone gets new shoes for back to school. This year we’ve decided to personalize our shoe boxes and use the for our study boxes. All the tools we need to complete homework ar
e in 
the box: pens, pencils, calculators, French/English dictionaries and thesaurus. We used the school supply list provide from our school to make sure filled our boxes with

 everything we would need for the school year. 

If my kids find another spot to do homework, their toolbox can go with them.

MITK tip.  Have the kids personalize their duo tangs or decorate their pencils; they take more ownership of it!Save


Visual Aids are great for Your Children and their Workspace

For the youngest grades

  • alphabet letters
  • numbers
  • recognition words that they are learning

For the older grades

  • have a homework duo tang  that could include helpful information that will help build strengths
  • multiplication chart
  • math formulas
  • grammar rules

                          …just as a few suggestions

MITK tip.  There are many books and workbooks out there that reinforce essential skills and develop critical thinking for children. One of my favourites is 365 Simple Science Experiments with Everyda Materials from Scholastic . We have a blast doing it together. Try to get involved in your Child’s learning.

Calendar

Have a calendar near by. It will be a perfect tool for recording when assignments are due, field trips as well as all other extra-curricular activities your child might be involved in. The calendar is a perfect organizational tool as well as a keepsake at the end of the year to take a look back at all of your child’s accomplishments.


MITK tip. Most schools have a newsletter with important dates, add them to your calendar as soon as you receive them. Get rid of the paper trail!

 

 

 

KEEPING IT TOGETHER

 

Label It

Mabels Labels has all the labels needed to identify kids belongings and keep their things out of the lost and found.


Art Portfolio

We can now keep all of our little artists artwork! Take two prices of Bristol board and staple them together keeping the top open. I have been collecting the artwork and reusing it as wrapping paper, cards, and giving out pieces to family. The 'great works of art' I frame it.

Backpacks - It is worth the search for a good one

A few of my favourites: 

JWorld New York have a great line of backpacks on wheels. Some models have the wheels light up.


Heys Plaid Backpack, featured in the Ottawa Citizen, has a distinct plaid fabric. The curved shoulder straps wrap around your shoulders securely and the foam padding cushion the weight of the pack on your shoulders. There is an interior organizer for your cell phone, pens, and accessories.


The OBUS FORME is another great choice. It is one of the few backpacks that offer a waist strap.
 All are available at Capital City Luggage www.capitalcityluggage.com

 

 

Back to school, back to our routines and back to the neighbourhoods we call home.

 

There is no time like the fall to remind us of home – the streets we live on, the shops we frequent and the places we meet.  Fall is brimming with tradition and this urban Mom is eager to get her family in full swing.  

A recent trip around my neighbourhood brought me to the Field House at Parkdale Market.  This is an amazing food boutique where everything is grown and produced locally.  Fall comfort cooking with my kids is a wonderful tradition, especially with fresh local products.  Have a look at my tip sheet for cooking with kids for ideas. 

The red and orange hues of the season warm the windows of shops and eateries.  As we pass The Collected Works, I notice friends gathering over coffee and families looking over the collection of new fall books.   My current Raise a Reader campaign is supported by The Collected Works.  My kids and I love to read together and I look forward to those cold fall days curled up with them around a book. 

Here are some books we love:

How do Apples Grow ~ Betsy Maestro

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf ~ Lois Ehlert

Too Many Pumpkins ~ Linda White

Johnny Appleseed ~ Reeve Lindbergh

The window at Thyme and Again is eye-catching.  Stepping inside, we are greeted by a wide array of fall decorations for the home and table.  I am tempted by a poster of their fall Thanksgiving catering menu – mouthwatering.  The kids picked out festive candles and napkins for our Thanksgiving table.  We will work on some crafts over the next few weeks to complete the look.  Here are some fall craft ideas.

Summer is gone for another year.  Camps and cottages, holidays and travels are over for another year.  Fall is upon us and it is good to be home! 

 

Fall into Freshness

 

Prepare for back to school with fresh food ideas

 

 

 

 Salads

Stuffed Tomatoes

Combine cooked Ontario corn kernels with diced Ontario tomato, sweet green pepper, green onion and minced fresh parsley. Split fresh Ontario tomatoes in half, hollow out and fill with mixed ingredients.  Add a splash of your favourite vinaigrette dressing.

 

Veggie Fried Rice

Sauté cooked rice with diced Ontario onion, carrot, sweet pepper and zucchini, season with soy sauce.

Variation: You can add a any of these delicious ingredients to to Cous-cous, curly pasta or Ontario romaine lettuce

Sandwiches  

Bagels 'n More Ontario

Top bagel halves with cream cheese and thinly sliced Ontario apples, pears, or cucumbers.

 

Cucumber Round

Top thick slices of Ontario cucumber with tuna salad.

 

Rice is Nice

(for those who are gluten intolerant)

Top rice cakes with sweetened cream cheese and thin slices of Ontario muskmelon, apple or pear. Add a dash of cinnamon if you like.

 

Pepper Wedge Ole

Combine softened cream cheese with some drained salsa sauce to taste. Fill wedges of Ontario sweet red or green peppers with the mixture.

 

Soups

Instant Corn Chowder

Add fresh Ontario corn kernels to cream of potato soup. Simmer 4 - 5 minutes.

 

Soup’s On

Add shredded Ontario Carrot and finely chopped Broccoli and Zucchini to chicken noodle soup.

 

Dessert  

Yoghurt Fool

Stir chopped Ontario seasonal fruit into plain yogurt.  Add Ontario liquid honey to taste and sprinkle with granola.

 

Cottage Cheese Delight

Cover cottage cheese with slices of seasoned fresh Ontario apple, pear, nectarines or plums.

 

Cheese and Fruit Skewers

Feed skewers with Ontario Cheddar and apple and pear pieces.

 

Soups

Instant Corn Chowder

Add fresh Ontario corn kernels to cream of potato soup. Simmer 4 - 5 minutes.

 

Soup’s On

Add shredded Ontario Carrot and finely chopped Broccoli and Zucchini to chicken noodle soup.