Monday, June 13, 2016

lighthouse park

this past weekend, we spent a beautiful sunny sunday hiking around lighthouse park. after an entire week of being cooped up with finn and his chicken pox, a little forest bathing, vitamin d and salty sea air was exactly what each of us needed. if you are in or around the vancouver area, lighthouse park is worth the trek every single time.

Monday, June 6, 2016

thai coconut mussels

one thing i have forever LOVED is mussels. boiled in any kind of broth and served pipping hot with fries or crusty bread on the side... heavenly!

until today, i had never made mussels at home. the process, although seemingly simple, always felt too advanced for me. but when i was at the grocery store the other day and saw fresh mussels on sale, i couldn't resist.

i assure you, prepping and cooking mussels is arguable one of the simplest things i have done. the recipe i used was borrowed from the how sweet it is blog and includes directions on how to quickly clean and prep your mussels before cooking. a process that took me no more than 5 minutes.

if mussels aren't really your thing, i think this broth would be incredible with shredded chicken, shrimp, scallops or crab meat... or a combination of a few of those things. it would also be deliciously satisfying all on its own or filled with wilted greens for a vegetarian option.

thai coconut mussels
ever so slightly modified from how sweet it is

:: ingredients ::
2 pounds mussels (i only used one pound, but still made the entire broth recipe so i would have extra for sipping the next day)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons red curry paste
a sprinkling of chilli flakes (optional if you like a bit of extra heat)
1 large (400ml) can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock (i used chicken bone broth as its what i had on hand)
2 green onions, sliced
baguette or bread for serving (or fries!)

:: directions ::
keep the mussels refrigerated until you're ready to use. once ready, place them in a large bowl of ice cold water. scrub the outsides of the mussels and remove the string (or "beard") by pulling it out. discard any mussels that have opened already. keep the mussels in the ice water.

heat a large heavy pot over medium heat and add the butter. once it's melted, stir in the onions, garlic, salt and pepper. stir and cook for 5 minutes, until slightly softened. stir in the curry paste and chilli flakes (if using) and continue to stir until it's distributed throughout the entire pan of onions. cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and stock, stirring until it's smooth. bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring continuously. reduce the heat to medium low. add the mussels and toss. cover the pot and cook just until the mussels open, about 5 to 6 minutes. garnish with the sliced green onions. stir the mussels well so the broth makes it into the shells. serve immediately with baguettes or fries.

enjoy! xx

Saturday, May 14, 2016

art + alexander

as you may have noticed, my sweet friend jill update my blog banner with her gorgeous calligraphy, and i couldn't be more excited!

her company, art + alexander offers bespoke wedding invitations, custom design, calligraphy and hand-lettering- her talent oozes from every single thing she creates and her creativity constantly amazes me. i was so fortunate to get to spend some time working with jill these past few months, helping her to rework and update her very beautiful website. have a peek and swoon over all her lovely projects if you are so inclined!
Art + Alexander

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

6 year birthday portraits

each year, we take two portraits of finn just before his birthday- mostly to be used as the front and back cover of his annual birthday book (a book i put together every year in april to capture all the photos we've taken since his previous birthday) but also as an ongoing project to look back and see how much he has changed year over year. it is with out a doubt one of my most favourite traditions.

above is this years portraits- jeff shot them on film this year (because apparently thats what we do now) and below are all 6 years passed.

Monday, May 2, 2016

(good for you) granola bars

last summer, my friend kristen sent me her favourite recipe for granola bars. i know- those of you reading this you are probably thinking one of two things. either 'meh- granola bars. take it or leave it.' or 'meh- granola bars. full of sugar masquerading as a 'healthy snack''.

let me start by saying that these granola bars are neither of those things- these granola bars are FULL of good, wholesome ingredients you will actually want you and your kids consuming. chewy with a bit of crunch, this gluten-free, refined sugar-free, no-bake vegan bar is snack perfection. AND they seriously taste AMAZING! i CRAVE them, (and i am not a granola bar person.)

it took me some time before i actually got around to making these- mostly because the ingredient list is a lengthy one, so procuring everything (and then instructing the other members of my household NOT to add everything to their smoothies!) was a continual work in progress, but once i finally made them, it was like our entire world changed. these are seriously delicious! i most recently made a batch for finn to take to school to share with his classmates on his birthday, and everyone LOVED them! (and his teacher was appreciative of the no-sugar factor).

:: classic granola bars :: 
recipe slightly adapted recipe from the 'oh she glows' cookbook
small note- i always double the recipe because 1) they will get eaten. quickly, and 2) a doubled recipe fits into a large baking sheet just perfectly. enjoy!

1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 1/4 cup crisp rice cereal (i use organic puffed brown rice)
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
1/4 cup of nut or seed butter (natural peanut butter is my absolute favourite, but almond butter is also amazing or a slightly sweetened sunflower seed butter worked perfectly for a nut-free/ school-friendly option.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
optional additions: 1/4 cup mini non-dairy/ dark chocolate chips, cranberrys, chopped nuts... 

line 9-inch square pan with parchment paper and set aside. (if doubling the recipe, line a large baking sheet.)
in a large bowl, mix together oats, crisp rice, hemp seeds, ground flax, coconut, sesame seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon, and salt.
in small saucepan, stir brown rice syrup and nut/seed butter together. cook over medium heat until mixture softens and bubbles around edges. remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
pour nut butter mixture over oat mixture, using a spatula to scrape every last drip of it out of the pot.
stir together well with large metal spoon until all of the oat mixture is coated in nut butter mixture.
if you decide to use chocolate chips, let mixture cool a little before folding them in to keep from melting. (though the first time i did this, i did not wait, and some of the chocolate melted and mixed throughout which was actually quite nice.)
transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread it out evenly. using spatula, press down the mixture firmly to compact. the harder you press and more evenly you spread the mixture and the better the bars hold together. you can use your fingers dipped in cold water to help press down the edges OR if you are using a baking sheet, a rolling pin (or large glass jar used as a rolling pin) spreads and compacts the mixture so perfectly!
place dish or tray in the freezer and chill for 10 -15 minutes, until firm. or if you have more time on your hands, you can put them in the fridge and cut them whenever you are ready.
using the parchment paper as handles, lift the mixture out of the pan and place on cutting board.
slice into 5 or 6 rows using pizza roller or large knife, and then slice them in half or thirds for desired bar size.
the recipe says to wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or to freeze for up to 1 month, but i skip this step as i think it's time consuming and wasteful. i usually just put one container in the fridge and one in the freezer with a layer of parchment or wax paper between each layer of bars. they also keep for longer than two weeks in the fridge and longer than a month in the freezer (if by some miracle you happen to get them to stick around that long.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

finn and arlo do disneyland

back in november, my girlfriend katie casually mentioned wanting to take her son arlo to disneyland. my response was something along the lines of 'oh man, that would so so much fun! i would love to take finn there someday!' to which she said something like 'well then, maybe we should go?'

after a lot of 'should we's?' and squirrelling away as much christmas and birthday money as we could, we said 'yes! lets!'

and so, we flew to california for 4 days of crazy, exhausting, insanely wonderful time together with our boys at the most magical place on earth. DISNEYLAND!!

despite katie's suggestion of packing light and bringing as little as possible to the park with us, i decided to bring my dads (very old, very heavy) canon a-1 film camera and one single roll of tri-x 400 film. i just had it in my mind that a trip to disneyland would be perfectly captured in a few black and white photographs, and although these pictures are far from perfect, i am really glad i lugged that extra 3lbs around for the duration of our trip.

thank you so much to katie for planning and planning and planning. our trip was honestly more incredible than i could have ever imagined and that was entirely because of how much time and energy she spent making sure every last detail was thought through. also, a huge thanks to her husband, bob, who miraculously made a connection that was able to make us lunch reservations at club 33- something that until the words were uttered, was never more than some elusive pipe dream with zero hope of ever becoming a reality. and lastly, thank you to our family and friends (and husbands!!) who gifted us holiday and birthday money to make this trip a reality. we could NOT have done it without all of you, and we are so fortunate and grateful to have been able to make this adventure happen.

(you can see more digital photos from our trip on instagram #FinnAndArloDoDisney)

Friday, April 22, 2016

finn turns 6

we've dubbed this year 'the never ending birthday' for finn. he celebrated in new brunswick, he celebrated at school, he celebrate an entire weekend at home and then again with family and friends, and then he continued the celebration in disneyland. to say this kid got a lot of attention this year is a bit of an understatement. 

for some reason, 6 has been a real doozy for me. each birthday that passes is always emotional, but SIX has definitely knocked me on my ass. i think part of it is that six just FEELS like the first real 'big kid' age. as much as i look at him and see this little person that will forever be my baby, the reality is he suddenly weighs 60lbs and can probably run faster than me. he's losing teeth, gaining independence, starting to read and write and come up with super creative things without us planting those initial seeds. he suddenly cares a little bit more about the image he presents to the world- some old toys are deemed 'too babyish' and certain sunglasses or shoes are suddenly 'super cool'. he doesn't want or need me like he used to, and although at the end of the day, he still snuggles in to my chest like he always has, the handholds and public kisses are gradually becoming fewer. he loves nothing more than independent play time his friends- the further out of sight and unsupervised, the better. and for the most part, we are happy to give him that freedom- gradually allowing him to learn and explore on his own, unobstructed by our visions or interpretations of what surrounds him.  i can sense the days of just him and i are no longer what they used to be. summers past would have been filled with solo him and me time, but now requests to play with buddies trump most things i'm able to offer.

its both incredible and heartbreaking to watch this transformation. he is SUCH a cool person, and seeing him grow will forever be one of the greatest experiences of my lifetime. but it also reinforces just how fast life moves, and i know that is a feeling i will never get used to. 

a bit about these photos- for the past few years, we have made finn a bit of a 'choose your own adventure map' to lay out what we will be doing on his birthday. this year was a bit trickier as his birthday fell on a saturday that happened to be the opening ceremonies for his baseball team and my sister was passing through town with her family, so we had already made plans to have dinner with them and ended up with a pretty crammed day.

we also weren't really sure what to get finn for a gift this year (he really didn't have anything on his wishlist and we wanted to keep it simple/inexpensive since we were going to disneyland). we ended up getting him a really basic digital camera. the idea being he would have something all his own to take pictures of whatever he felt like, and he could also bring it to disneyland with us. so far its been a pretty big hit. we continue to prompt him to use it as its not yet a regular habit, but he has really loved capturing the things going on around us.

happy 6th birthday, bunny! xo