Raisin Report: No 6

Rasin Report - edition 6

I used to be a Valentine’s Day nay-sayer.  The old me would tell you: “it’s just another day.”  And technically it really is, but I kinda think it’s nice to celebrate hugs with your friends and family, and smooches for that special someone on a day that’s marked for L.O.V.E.  And helllooo cinnamon hearts! I love feeling that little burn you get on your tongue after eating a few hundred too many.

Don’t get me wrong though, I still think getting flowers, or random acts of “I Love You” gestures go further on days that aren’t Hallmark ridden.  I’d be lying though if I said I didn’t enjoy opening up a card from Chris on the 14th.  And really, why not embrace Valentine’s Day?  And more importantly, why not flaunt it with subtle elements in your wardrobe?  It’s another reason to wear pops of red or pink.

Showcasing hearts with elbow patches is kinda right up there on the scale of cute, yet classy.  Or rocking some bright high heels or pants!  Really all the looks above can be used on ANY day.  Forget 50 shades of Grey, I’m all about 50 shades of Red from terra cotta, burgundy, to crimson…and who says no to wine – ever!?  I mean there’s a reason we like to sport red lipstick isn’t there?

I’m not saying go all out and buy a red cocktail dress for the 14th, but hell if you wanna do it and you feel fabulous, why not?  Go for it!  That said, the 14th is a reason to branch out and wear something that will stand out in a simple way but also say: “hello I just entered the room!”  Sometimes it’s nice to step out of your comfort zone and try something new when it comes to your outfits, plus if you’re nervous to try wearing red…use Valentine’s day as your reason to give it a shot… will ya!?



Winter Wonderland


Winter in the prairies can be pretty damn cold.  I laugh when people post the temperature in their cities where they think -15 is unbearable.  Try -44 with the windchill, and a polar bear is sitting in your back yard.  Okay, I made that last one up but when it’s -44 for you, only then can you talk to me about it being cold.  But let’s pause the -44 for a second and talk about how pleasant it is when it’s actually “mild” outside.  It’s damn glorious with a capital G!  No need to wear multiple layers, no need to warm up the car for 10 minutes, and no need to sprint from your car like you’re gunning for gold in the olympics to the nearest door leading to warmer places.


Around here  -15  is like we’re basking in the first days of spring.  Winnipeggers are an interesting breed. I saw some people wearing shorts…yes SHORTS, and a lot of windows rolled down this past weekend.  I think we could rival anyone up North with the way we brave the frigid temps.  I on the other hand, can’t. I literally wear my winter jacket inside for an hour after being outside because I’m THAT cold – I have references that can be made available upon request to verify that one for ya.  But this past weekend was another story.  I was all over celebrating our outdoor winter wonderland. It wasn’t too cold to keep us indoors and we took pure advantage of it while we could.



We met up with some friends at The Forks and walked down the Red River Mutual Trail.  It’s probably the coolest winter scene you’ll see and should most definitely experience here.  It’s 2.5 km of paved ice on the river that you can skate, play hockey, curl, cross country ski, or just walk along.  In fact I know people who use the trail to get to and from work in the winter – kinda convenient!


Throughout the 2.5 km stretch you’ll find a handful of warming huts.  These huts are the coolest in design!  About 5 years ago the idea came about as an Art + Architecture competition where people around the world submitted their ideas to be picked.  Only 5 are chosen and then they grace the river for the season.  Raisin and Apple loved the neon one the most…I’m pretty sure you can see this one from space.


So that’s all pretty rad, but coming up in the next week the BEST event happens on the River.  Drumroll please …..  Raw: almond!  This is by far the coolest (and pretty damn unique) outdoor winter fine-dining experience you’ll ever attend.  A mixture of 31 chefs – locally and across Canada – each host and share their 5 course meal creations to people who are willing to fight the cold.  Frigid foodies unite!   We’ve gone the past 2 years and have our tickets for our night this year.  Can.not.wait.  But I do for at least another week.  I might be a wee bit cold attending, but at least it will be on the raddest river, with some awesome pals, and of course some serious eats.  I’m sure some wine will help curb the cold.  Winnipeg winters…you’re not so bad (sometimes).

Butternut Squash and Kale Pie

Squash kale pie

Something pretty standard happened this weekend – I was a pirate, a lego master, and a big hairy sasquatch.  I ran around with a fake sword, built a few tunnels and towers, and walked around imitating an ape.  I did it all with 100% effort and the feeling I get is amazing, but the reward is always priceless: giggles and hugs from Raisin.  I also did something else this weekend…I made my first pie.  Yes, FIRST.  I feel so grown up now. Though the feeling here was more of a mixture of nerves and anxiety.  I’ve never ventured into pie town and I wasn’t sure how I’d do dipping my toe into this territory.

Squash kale pie1

Our lovely neighbour gave me a more than thoughtful gift for Christmas.  I had mentioned in a passing conversation that I’d never made a pie before.  I can’t even remember why this even came up, but she remembered.  Come Christmas morning I unwrapped a new cookbook: Not-So-Humble Pies.  I laughed and then stopped realizing now I’d have no excuse to avoid making pies.

Squash kale pie3

So let’s baby step this one, shall we?  I didn’t want to make an apple pie which involves peeling and coring pounds of apples, or something with multiple layers, or a pie with a top crust or some fancy weaved basket thingy.  How do you people make those!?  Fancy, fancy!  So anyways, I found one that spoke to me.  A savoury pie with 2 veggies I can inhale.  Squash and Kale.  Seriously better than bacon.

Squash kale pie4

The process was painless, and I think I have broken the pie barrier into my next pie baking venture.  Peach pie?  Probably, because it’s my fave…my belly will see you reaaaaal soon.

Linking up with #TastyTuesday @ honestmum.com

Recipe from Not-So-Humble Pies
Yields: 8 servings


1 Pie Crust I made this one
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Medium butternut squash
1 Tbsp butter
1 Medium onion, diced
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tsp smoked paprika
1/2 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp Thyme
1/4 Tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Pound kale leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 Cup water
1/4 Cup shredded parmesan cheese


1 –  Preheat oven to 375 °F.  Line the pie crust with parchment paper or a double layer of aluminium foil and add pie weights or dry beans.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.  Increase the oven temperature to 450 °F.

2 – Slice the butternut squash in half.  Scoop out seeds, and place on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and add a dash of salt.  Roast for 1 hour, or until very tender and caramelized.  Remove from the oven to cool to room temperature.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 °F.  Alternatively, you can peel the squash and cut it into square chunks to roast – all a point of preference here.

3 – In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, paprika, salt, thyme, and crushed red pepper.  Cook for a minute, or until fragrant.

4 – Add the kale and water.  Stir to coat the kale and cook until it is tender and wilted, about 6-8 minutes.  Once wilted, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

5 –  The squash should be cool enough to handle at this point. Scoop out flesh into bowl (discard skin) and mash with a fork.  It’s okay if it’s a bit chunky.

6 – To assemble the pie, spread half the roasted squash on the bottom of the pastry crust.  Next, add the kale mixture and then top with the remaining squash.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over the top.

7 – Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Raisin Report: No 5

Rasin Report-edition 5

I’m coming back from using the washroom right now.  TMI?  Nope!  Because I’m totally pumped as to why.  I’ve taken up drinking water.  Sounds like I’m trying a new hobby or sport or something when I put it that way.  But honestly, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in the last little while.  I can’t believe I stopped really.  The only consumption of liquid I’d have most days consisted of my Venti decafe Americano, green tea, wine, and maybe a glass of water.  That was it.  Shocking, right?  But since I’ve been drinking more water, I feel like I’m living a whole new life!  My skin looks better, my pee is clear (which I constantly update Chris with via text because that’s how happy I am), and I feel SO.MUCH.BETTER.  It even helps me go to the bathroom the other way too.  Now that’s probably TMI.

It’s not like I need to tell you the benefits of drinking water…but I am going to anyway.

– it gives you more energy

– it helps you think clearly

– it can improve your mood

– it keeps your kidneys working

– it aids in weight loss

– improves skin complexion

– flushes out toxins

– naturally helps steer clear of headaches


I have been drinking about 3 litres a day now.  That seems like A LOT, but really you’d be surprised at how easy it is to down it all throughout the day.  First thing in the morning I have 2 large glasses of water.  I’m so parched that I literally guzzle those down.  Then at work I fill my travel mason jar jug outfitted with a straw almost every half hour.  Which works out well because the cooler is right next to the washroom, and I’m pretty sure that’s how many times I have to go pee!

I feel like I stand and sit taller, I walk faster, I’m more on point, and I’m much more alert, and I’m never bloated anymore either! I can’t believe how much energy I have and how much easier my day goes by now.

If you’re not drinking water, give this a read and maybe you’ll change your mind.  Now excuse me, I have to go pee and then grab another glass of water.  Cheers!


Little Reads: Toddler Approved

Little reads intro

When you say the word “cold,” a few things come to mind:  ice, air conditioning, or refreshing.  But really what it’s starting to mean is: unwelcome, suffocating and unbearable.  What I’m referring to here is our more than frigid temperatures.  But, you’re also hearing from someone who loves the heat and is better known as a sun worshiper!  Yes, it’s great to experience all four seasons but just like anything else, it comes at a bit of a cost.  And that cost is going stir crazy by being cooped up indoors. When it hit’s -40 temps we find ourselves planning plenty of indoor activities all of us as a family can enjoy.  One of our regular hang outs is at Chapters: Indigo, or McNally Robinson.  Who doesn’t love books, coffee, home decor, accessories and of course toys?

Those visits though come at another cost dollah’ bill wise, and that’s on books… which I never think of as a bad expense.  One of my favourite parts of the day is when I sit with Raisin and blow through 5-8 books in a row.

Little reads1

I’m sure you’ve heard or read somewhere that a toddlers mind is a little sponge. Man, they’re not kidding!  And side note, who exactly “are they?”  Moving on, I can read Raisin a book one day and the next time we read it, he’s pretty much reciting it back to me.  It’s pretty amazing.  Sometimes I feel like I have the worlds smartest toddler (so is yours, right?!).  At this rate our generation of toddlers will be geniuses.

Little reads2

We’re working on a rolodex of a few books right now and the ones listed below are the flavour of the month for Raisin:

1.  Scaredy Squirrel – A tale about a squirrel who branches out into the unknown and realizes it’s not as scary as he thought.  Think of stepping outta your comfort zone.   I can’t get over how hilarious it is that we’re reading about a squirrel with OCD.  Love the quirkyness of this book.  Author:  Mélanie Watt

2.  Hug Machine – This is a cute story about a boy whose goal for the day is to hug everyone and anything.  Bonus, this book doubles as a nice reason to squeeze out extra hugs while I read it to Raisin.  I actually can’t wait for this book every night!  Author:  Scott Campbell

3.  Aw, Nuts – Talk about a squirrel (yes I know another squirrel book!) who is determined to catch the nut that got away.  The Raisin loves shouting AWWWW, NUTS when his little squirrel buddy crosses a challenge keeping him from his acorn.  Author:  Rob Mcclurkan

4.  The Book With No Pictures -  I can’t even begin to say how fun this book is.  We received it as a Christmas gift and it’s so clever!  Raisin giggles and laughs so hard.  He never believes my Monkey Robot voice, in fact his impression is better then mine.  Watch this book in action here.  Author:  B.J. Novack

5.  Good Night Dump Truck – There’s not much I need to cover here.  If you’ve read Good Night Moon, this is a take off of it starring trucks…a little boys dream.  At the end of this book Raisin request I buy every single truck that made an appearance. Authors: Dam Gamble & Mark Jasper.  

Little reads3

There’s something so endearing about children’s books.  I love all the hidden messages and morals that are put in such a simplistic way of opening up their minds and hearts to something new, exciting, adventurous, or empathetic.  Books let you escape into a world of wonder at any age.  Reading with Raisin is definitely one of my favourite daily routines.  We’re always up for book suggestions – what are you reading to your tots right now?  And while we’re at it I could use a recommendation to read something for myself.  Throw em all at me.

Little reads-4

Low fat Oatmeal Walnut Banana Bread

Intro Banana Bread Final

Okay so I have to admit it…I suck at golf.  I’m not that disappointed I didn’t do well with a club and a golf ball. So what if I only tried it once, and okay I only did 3 holes. But then, something amazing happened.  I became best buds with the golf cart and a nicely camouflaged little beverage that looked like water.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard about the high golfers get when connecting the club with the golf ball.  The thrill of watching their ball soar through the sky and bouncing on the green exactly where they’d anticipated.  I get that high too…except it’s when I crack eggs, mix it with some flour and use retired looking bananas to make the most perfect banana loaf.


Now mini golfing – there’s a game!   Obstacles in your way built of miniature windmills, little burbling streams, and fake itty bitty building skylines.  Now we’re talking.  Keeping score is for suckers, whoever gets the ball in with the craziest shot is way more fun.  Golfing and baking kinda go hand in hand.  They relieve stress, they’re hobbies, they bring you joy and excitement.  Wack the golf ball as hard as you can and the tension melts, or crack a couple of eggs, use your mixer and feel the satisfaction of it all whipping into something glorious.  Kinda the same, yes?  Just me then…alright.


So I have to admit something else.  This banana bread, it’s not my regular recipe.  I wanted to try a new one because I was getting a little bored of the same version over and over.  How different can one banana bread recipe be from the next?  Do me a favour and google “banana bread recipe” and you’ll feel the love on the banana bread front.  There’s SO MANY!  Who’da thought?  But when I saw this one called for oats and it was low fat, I was sold.  I love oats and was open to trying something new. Kinda like trying a new sport with a golf club or something….


The smell of banana bread baking has to be in the top 10 of best smelling things ever.  Those of you who like the smell of gasoline, or fresh cut grass, you get one free pass.  None of us could wait to sink our teeth into this loaf with good reason.  It was delicious.  The oats add a nice density and chewiness factor, and a double bonus of being low fat. Score!   I’ve made plenty of banana bread loaves and I think I’m happy with this switch up.  Truth be told, it’s inspired me to try out this golf gig again. See ya on the green…with a slice banana bread.


Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker
Yields: 1 loaf


1 – 1/4 Cup whole wheat flour
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp cinnamon
3 Tsp canola or walnut oil
1 Large egg, beaten
2 Medium egg whites, beaten
3 Large bananas, ripe
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 Cup uncooked old fashioned oats


1 –  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside.

2 – In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients including the oats and cinnamon.

3 – In a smaller bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or fork. Add oil and whole egg and mix thoroughly.

4 – Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.  FYI, batter will be very thick, ya didn’t mess up!

5 – In a medium sized bowl, with an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form.

6 – Fold the egg whites into the batter in three additions.  The batter will be much smoother now, success!  Add walnuts if using.

7 – Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch, 45 to 50 minutes.

8 – Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Flip out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes. Slice it up and hoover a couple down because you can.



Raisin Report: No 4

Rasin Report - edition 4

The new year would have you to believe people are working out now more than ever, cleaning out all the unnecessary clutter in their lives, and giving their livers a much needed break from all the holiday liquid love. Perhaps this is true.  I’m not a resolutioner.  I believe in habits.  Forming a lifestyle that is healthy with indulgences here and there, and something that works for your schedule is more fitting and realistic. Problem is though, I feel like I’ve actually moved backwards to what everyone subscribes to this time of year.  January 1st hit and I haven’t thrown anything out, done a single arm rep, or cycle on the bike, or tread on the mill.  So, what’s the deal?  I’m a 4-5x a week gym goer and I stopped the day when everyone starts fresh.  Honestly, I have no idea why.  But I can tell you this much, I feel more tired now that I haven’t gone.  So I’m not saying “starting today” I’m hitting the gym because I started a long time ago, and for some reason for the past eight days stopped.  Really what I have to do is stop this weird impromptu un-welcomed break from my regularly scheduled activity.

I miss that high off endorphins from a rad run on the treadmill and killing my last mph, or feeling the burn on my muscles from a great workout.  Burpee’s I actually kinda hate you, but love you.  Sorry body, you miss that and I’ve sadly deprived you of it – my bad.  So I’ve been looking at some fun workouts to do at home after work.  I usually hit the gym on my lunch break at work, but it’s been a busy one.  No excuses though because  there’s always time at home once the Raisin is down for the night.  Tabata workouts are great because they usually involve little to no equipment.  And I have the elliptical sitting pretty in our basement that’s wondering where I’ve been – so kinda need to get my butt in gear and remind myself why I even stopped in the first place. The only problem is I’m not sure what I wanna do first!  Run, cycle, hop on the elliptical, or a do a  HITT quickie.  Decisions, decisions.  I’ll tell you one thing though, I’m not going to wait until Monday!  Let’s lace up.


Little Bites

Toddler Snack ideas

I’m a grazer.  A total snacker.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a meal (especially the ones that are cooked for me) but I could honestly eat little snacks all day and be equally satisfied.  Of course it can get a bit boring, and really in the end there’s nothing like a home cooked meal.  If you come over though, I’ll always have a pantry stocked with snacks, a bowl full of fruit, and the fridge with chopped veggies and hummus or tzatziki.   Except for this week – hello routine, still sorting it out.

With snacking and meals in general, I really had to get creative with Raisin.  When I say I had (and still have at times) the world’s pickiest eater, I am not exaggerating.  He did eat well at one point, and then bam!  I could count on one hand the things he would eat.  They consisted of:  yogurt, grapes, crackers, peanut butter and the odd banana.  That’s it.  Every snack and meal was a struggle.  So I had to try anything and everything to get him to eat.  Thank goodness for Pinterest and the abyss of ideas there.  Hopefully you’re not in the same boat, or ever will be.  Now he eats a bit more, and I wish I could say he eats whatever we’re having on a daily basis, but that would be a flat out lie.  I want meal times to be stress free which means getting Raisin to help in the kitchen during snack or meal prep.  The more he knows about food, the better choices I know he will make and the easier it will be to introduce him to new foods.  It’s not like the lil guy is eating truffle seared scallops or duck confit, but he’s eating chicken, turkey meatballs, carrots and cantaloupe which is more than I can say he was about 6 months ago.  Oh ya and ketchup…lots of ketchup.  Plus there’s always sneaking veggies in where they don’t see.  My top two is I slather avocado on his pb and honey sandwiches, or I boil and puree a mix of veggies like broccoli, carrots and spinach and mix it up in tomato sauce.  Nothing earth shattering, but whatever works right?

All that said the snacks pictured above are just a few that peaked his interest.  Some were total winners and others he was a bit skeptical about.  I did read somewhere though that it takes up to 20-30 times introducing a toddler to a food before they actually give in or try, so don’t give up!


Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies

Intro Avocado CC cookies

So yesterday I bought 2 pairs of shoes.  I needed a little, okay A LOT of retail therapy and 2 pairs helped. Then when I got home I did what any self respecting new shoe owner does.  Naturally I took them out of the box, put them on and paraded around the house doing everything I would normally do with them on. This included baking, another therapy measure.  And hello – who can resist a chocolate chip cookie? Especially one that has healthy avocado and rolled oats.  Hands up?  Thought so.


It’s not like I ever really need a reason to bake cookies or buy a pair of shoes, but it helps!  New shoes = a whole new wardrobe look and feel to old tired outfits.  Baking cookies = house smells amazing, licking batter off the spoon, and end result is cookies around the house as a little dessert.


We’re only a few days post holidays and let’s face it we’ve all indulged in more sugar than usual.  That said, these cookies are pretty perfect. Not overly sweet, but enough to satisfy a sweet tooth or craving. Cookies (and shoes) are pretty much my kryptonite.


The best thing about baking now, is that I have some willing and helping (little curious) hands.  The Raisin loves measuring, mixing, cracking eggs, and of course stealing a chocolate chip or two before dropping them into the batter.  The process takes longer, but I love it.  It just means spending more quality time together in the heart of the home…the kitchen.  His hands even seem to show up while taking pictures to snatch up the goodies!


Between the shoes and the cookies, I’d call yesterday a success.  And today too because I’m wearing a new pair of kicks right now. And if you’re a gambler it’s a sure bet in probably about 30 seconds I’ll be eating a cookie to compliment my americano.  They kind of go hand in hand right?


Recipe by: Adapted from Woman’s Health
Yields: about 36 cookies


1  Avocado
1/2 Cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 Cup brown sugar
2 Large eggs (room temperature)
2 Cups whole wheat flour
1 Tsp baking soda
1 Tsp coarse salt
1/2 Tsp baking powder
1 – 1/2 Cups old-fashioned oats
1 – 3/4 Cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tsp pure vanilla extract


1 –  Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the pit from the avocado. Remove the avocado from the skin and place the avocado flesh in a large bowl along with the butter and brown sugar. Cream together the avocado, butter, and sugar for 3 minutes, until fluffy.

2 – Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

3 – Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder and slowly combine, making sure not to over mix the batter.

4 – Add the oats and chocolate chips and combine. Refrigerate the batter for 1 hour.

5 – Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Lightly grease baking sheet.  Using wet hands, roll the dough into  about 2 inches in diameter.  Flatten the cookies with the palm of your hand to create 2 1⁄2-inch disks.  I fit about 12 per baking sheet.

6 – Transfer the sheet to the top rack of the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are slightly golden brown on the edges but still soft in the middle.

7 – Remove from the oven and let rest on the baking sheet for at least 3 minutes before transferring the cookies to cooling racks. Repeat the process for remaining dough.  You will bake 3 baking sheets total.

8 – Serve the cookies immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for five days or in the freezer for up to three weeks…that is if they last that long!


Just dunk one in milk already.

Raisin Report: No 3

Rasin Report - edition 32015 is here – seriously, when did THAT happen?  I vividly remember ringing in 2014.  I was sitting solo by the fireplace with a glass of champagne in hand while Chris was doped up on Nyquil asleep in bed battling the worst head-cold.  Let me add that Chris was a HUGE trooper though!   We did have an awesome sushi dinner date before he went to bed.  You know when you’re so sick people you don’t even really know ask if you’re okay…yeah, that’s what he looked like. He was so run down that I repeatedly asked if he wanted to bail and order something fun in, but he insisted on going out so we did.  Funny enough, the year before I was the one in his shoes.  So this year we opted to lay low from making any huge plans, and we kept it simple.  It pretty much goes like this – after work I met up with Chris and Mason and we went out for a bite to eat, came home and let Mason play a little later than usual and had him in bed asleep by 8.  Then we watched The Equalizer, washed up and were in bed by 11:30 p.m.  No party hats, no champagne, no confetti or balloons…people who know us would wonder who the hell we were – we love a party!  But in all honesty, it was actually pretty perfect. From all the fun holiday adventures and family time, we needed a “low key” evening.  And so it was.  And here we are today, 1 day of 365 down.  In all honesty wasn’t the best day of events of how I’d hoped the New Year would start, but I know it’s not indicative of how the rest of the year will be.  Positivity, optimism, and conquering every day because you want it to be the best day it possibly can be – in my mind – is the best way to live life. Mind over matter.  I’m not really a resolutioner, but I am turning 35 this year (yeesh) so I have a few goals and ideas in store – more on that later though!  In the mean time chin up, eyes wide with pride and tackle the next 12 months with a smile.  Happy 2015.