mother’s day gift ideas: get name necklace

Mother’s Day is less than 8 weeks away, which means that it is time to start thinking about what to buy your significant other, your own mother, or special woman in your life. Or, like I used to do before I had children, myself!

One website that I have recently discovered is GetNameNecklace. They offer beautiful, personalized jewelry at low prices. Let’s take a look at some of my favourite pieces.

A necklace that I would love to own is this Personalized Sideways Cross Necklace. I love that I would be able to incorporate my children’s names with my religion. You can also choose to replace the cross with a birthstone or celestial symbol. 

Or, instead of needing to stack two necklaces, I also absolutely love the Engraved Family Stacked Circle Necklace. I could even incorporate my husband’s name, and the name of our angel baby.

I would honestly feel so loved and spoiled if Geoffrey ever surprised me with this Personalized Stackable Bar Ring. It is so simplistic and elegant, which is exactly the type of jewelry that I wear.

Each piece is customizable to ensure you get exactly what you are looking for. For instance, with this Promise Ring you are able to choose the material, first and second birthstones, first and second engravings, engravings inside, and of course, ring size.

You may click these links for a more comprehensive list of Name Necklaces and Birthstone Jewelry.

Lastly, right now they are having a Spring Sale where you can get up to 65% off using the code SPRING15. They offer free shipping and returns, with 15% off of your first order when you sign up with your email address. What are you waiting for? Be sure to check them out today!

Emory

This was a sponsored post. I’m thankful for the brands and websites that I can partner with!

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recipe: best chocolate chip muffins

Best Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract
¾ cup milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line muffin trays with 24 cupcake liners. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

2. In a separate large bowl, combine butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk, and lemon juice. Fold in dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips and stir until just combined.

3. Pour batter into liners, filling them half full. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy these soft and sweet muffins while they’re still warm, or keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

Emory

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zero waste (part three)

Initiatives to combat climate change, from large corporations to regular individuals seem to be everywhere these days. I don’t if it’s because I was living with my head in a hole (full of waste), or because I follow several social media accounts that are dedicated to low waste lifestyles, but I feel empowered more than ever to adopt these environmentally-conscious ways.

I have said this before, but moving to our acreage one year ago was really kickstarted our new lifestyle. Because we do not have garbage pickup, we have become so aware of what we put into our garbage. We used to throw away a small bag of garbage a day, and recycle n o t h i n g. I shudder at that thought. Now, as a family of four, we only throw out one small bag every few days, recycle everything that is paper, plastic, or glass, and compost all of our food scraps (that we can’t give to our dogs).

Additionally, we have also stopped buying paper towel and cleaning products. I do not regret cutting paper towel out of our lives. My mother-in-law was kind enough to give us a bag full of rags from old towels that she no longer used. This was something that I had never even considered doing- enlisting in family and friends to donate their old cloths to you. Really, it’s serving you both! They are able to downsize and you gain more rags. Plus, its keeping more out of the landfill. Even with a baby and toddler, I do not find using rags any more difficult. In fact, they are gentler on skin, furniture, and surfaces. Remy and Wilder both have learned that if they ever spill anything, to go into the drawer, pull out a rag, and clean it up! Wilder is only 15 months old and he does this on his own. It’s hilarious! Plus, we are saving a lot of money. Why would we ever go back?

As for cleaning supplies, I am actually grateful to be using vinegar as opposed to commercially-made ones that are filled with harmful chemicals. A few months ago I had a bowl of vinegar and water on the counter because I was cleaning our microwave. I turned my back and started making lunch for the kids, when suddenly I hear “Yuck, lemon juice is gross. My tongue hurts” from Remy. She was standing beside the bowl. I was confused at first, then realized that she must have picked it up and drank from it. I started panicking and asked her if she swallowed some. She saw the panic on my face and she looked like she was going to cry. I said, “it’s ok honey. Just tell mommy if you tried some.” She said that she did. Then I realized that it’s just vinegar, and although was probably really disgusting, could not harm her. It’s not like it was a bowl of Green Works, Mr. Clean, or any other harmful substance. Incredibly relieved, I hugged her and told her to not try anything without asking me first. That is one reason why I will not start buying cleaning products ever again. Natural is the safest way to go.

We have replaced plastic bags with reusable bags and only run the washing machine and dishwasher once a week. When we do, we put the washing machine on the fastest setting (express) and the dishwasher on the shortest cycle (1 hour). We still try to hang dry most of our clothes indoors during the winter months, and outdoors during the summer. All of this helps save on water and power.

Lastly, we have been putting our bottle recycling to good use. Only recently I have dedicated Fridays to doing something fun with the kids. We don’t have any activities that day, so we use the morning to go swimming, or to a museum, etc. Sometimes we do something free, like the library. However, if we do pay for admission somewhere, I aim to use the money that we get from SARCAN. It’s not like we can’t afford it. I prefer to do it because it’s more of an initiative to take our bottles into a recycling depot. In the end, it is like our activities are free, which to me make them more rewarding!

Now that we have the updates out of the way, here are more ways that we have been reducing our waste since my last post:

Thrifting

I have made a promise to myself that 2020 will be the year of thrifting. More specifically, I will buy no new clothing items for myself for an entire year! Everything that I do purchase must be secondhand. Why, you ask? Well new clothing creates a lot of waste. On average it takes 700 gallons of water to make one shirt, and 2000 gallons to make one pair of jeans. Furthermore, a staggering amount of textiles end up in the trash bin each year. In 2014, the fashion industry created over 16 million tons of waste, 10 million of which went into landfills. If we were all to give our clothes to consignment or donation stores, one person’s “trash” becomes another person’s treasure. What is no longer new to them is now new to someone else.

It does not go without saying that another huge benefit will be all of the money that I will be saving this year! In January alone I purchased three tops (one to sell on eBay) and one dress from secondhand stores- each averaging $7 an item. If I would have bought these items brand new, I would have easily spent closer to $200 rather than $28. And that was just in one month! Suffice it to say that this is one of the aspects of our new lifestyle that I am most excited about changing.

Gifts

I am normally a buyer and not maker of gifts. I think that I have preferred doing it this way mostly due to saving time. However, ever since Christmas I have been making an honest effort to make gifts for our neighbours and children’s friends rather than buying them. The same goes with cards. Not only are cards costly but roughly 2.5 million trees are cut down each year just for greeting cards alone! I think that it is better to create your own card, or even just skip out on a card.

So what exactly do we make? One thing that I have been doing more of is giving the gift of food. At Christmas we gave our neighbours baking. Normally I would have put together baskets of little toys and treats for Remy’s friends and preschool class for Valentine’s Day, but instead I made them cookies and other sweets. I realize that this can’t be done for every holiday and occasion, but once in awhile, it can easily replace purchasing something non-biodegradable that will eventually end up in the trash. Try it!

Home Cooked vs Bought

Now that we are discussing homemade foods, I must bring up one of the biggest changes we have made- I have been baking our bread, buns, and bagels rather than purchasing them at the grocery store. Now this might not seem like it would make that big of an impact, but just think about it. Each loaf of bread, package of bagels, or a dozen buns usually come in a plastic bag. My family goes through a loaf of bread or thing of bagels every few days. Say that is two plastic bags a week, that equals 104 bags a year. Or three plastic bags a week is then 156 excess bags a year. The answer? A bread box and tinfoil.

Now when I make bread from scratch I make two loaves at a time. One immediately goes into this beautiful bread box which gets stored in our pantry. The other gets wrapped in tinfoil and placed in the freezer. Once we take it out and unwrap the bread we then recycle the foil! No waste is being created in this process, and by making our bread we are cutting down the use of plastic bags dramatically. Plus, it is cheaper and tastes better than buying store-bought bread. (Here is my favourite recipe that yields two loaves in two hours and tastes delicious.) 

While I realize that it does take longer to bake bread than to buy it, it is a switch that is definitely worth the time. You don’t have to bake ever single loaf, even doing a few a year saves you money and plastic from ending up in the landfill.

Meatless Meals

I previously discussed in this post how Geoffrey and I have agreed to implement one meatless meal per week. I felt like that change deserved a spot here too. Now there is much controversy about cutting back on meat consumption in order to fight climate change. The livestock industry reportedly produces more greenhouse gases than all transportation worldwide. However, cutting down on meat would obviously hurt local cattle and dairy farmers. Some farmers argue that grass-fed cows actually improve their fields by making way for new grass to grow. Other reports state that in order to significantly cut down your carbon footprint, you will need to transition to a mostly or completely vegan diet. That said, one meatless meal for one family every week may not create a huge difference, but like all of our other efforts, we have to start somewhere.

Renovating Rooms

Even though our entire house needs to be renovated, I think it’s important to reuse and incorporate items that are neither not new nor new to us in these made-over rooms. For instance, everything you see on that shelf was from our old house. The picture frames range from 2-11 years old, the lamp has been in a multitude of rooms over the last few years (finally ending up here), and the hanging planter was in our previous bedroom. We reused our white bedding, and after wanting a pop of colour, I rediscovered those cute yellow pillowcases in our antique wardrobe after buying and storing them away 8 or so years ago. They haven’t seen the light of day until now! My Baba crocheted the grey blanket at the foot of our bed for her couch before passing away. That probably holds the most sentiment for me. Finally, the oversized wood bench is actually part of our kitchen table set. The only things that we purchased brand new in this frame were the ceiling fan and the yellow throw pillow, the latter of which we bought locally. By simply recycling objects from other rooms or from other people, it can make a room feel new again.

Emory

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recipe: sourdough cinnamon rolls

Like most of my recipes, I get inspired by one and then research and combine three or four just to make that one thing. It annoys my husband to no end, but I tend to treat recipes as a general guideline rather than a step-by-step manual. The rest I leave up to creativity, curiosity, and taste. This one was no different.

The first time I made these cinnamon rolls, everything went smoothly until the 6th and final day. That day I screwed up royally and ended up have to discard everything. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement. However, mistakes in the kitchen happen. All we can do is learn from them and try again.

After my blunder, I sat down and physically wrote out this recipe for my blog. Finally I had just one recipe to follow, rather than a couple. I made them again from my own instructions, and they more than turned out. They were soooooooo good. Even though I made quite a few batches, we polished them all off in no time at all.

If you feel like making some cinnamon rolls that take a little extra time, love, and patience, these are the ones for you! I promise they will work for you. ;-)))

Good luck!

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:

(For the bubbly starter)
1 cup whole wheat or whole rye flour
½ cup cool water
14 cups all-purpose flour

(For the dough)
1 ⅓ cup milk
8 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup bubbly starter
4 tbsp sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
oil, to grease

(For the filling)
2 cups brown sugar, packed
4 tbsp ground cinnamon
⅔ cup unsalted butter, melted

Glaze optional

Steps: 

1. You need to first make a bubbly starter that will eventually go into your Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls. This takes nearly a week to prepare. I recommend starting in the morning. Day one: Mix 1 cup of whole wheat (or rye) flour together with ½ cup water in a medium non-reactive bowl. This includes glass, food-grade plastic, stainless steel, etc. Stir thoroughly, cover with a tea towel, and let rest at room temperature for 24 hours.

2. Get in the practice of discarding most of the bubbly starter. The original recipe called for throwing half of it away on day two. Meanwhile, the end result was to yield less than 10 cinnamon rolls. What I did instead was keep both halves of the starter on the second day, thus doubling the recipe. So, day two: Divide the bubbly starter into two, placing each half in a medium non-reactive bowl. Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour and ½ cup of lukewarm water into each bowl. Mix well, cover, and leave for another 24 hours.

3. Day three: Today you should notice some bubbling and a fruity aroma. Today also signals the start of two daily feedings, each one 12 hours apart. Separate 1 cup of bubbly starter from each bowl and throw out the rest. Put that cup of starter back into the bowl and add 1 cup of all-purpose flour and ½ cup of lukewarm water. Mix well, cover, and repeat again in 12 hours.

4. Day four: Repeat the steps for day three.

5. Day five: Repeat the steps for day three.

6. Now it is time to prepare the dough. Again I recommend starting in the morning, only to let it rest for approximately 12 hours. Then that evening you will be able to make and bake the cinnamon rolls! Day six: Using a large bowl, combine 1 egg, ½ cup of bubbly starter, and 2 tbsp of sugar. While stirring, add ⅔ cup of warm milk and 4 tbsp of room temperature butter. Next add 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour and ½ tsp of salt, forming into a rough dough. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Repeat steps in a separate large bowl, thus make 2 rough balls of dough.

After the dough has rested, flour your countertop and knead for approximately 6 minutes. It should be soft and somewhat tacky. Put the dough in a medium bowl that has been coated with butter. Cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Set both aside for 8-12 hours at room temperature.

7. Once 8-12 hours have gone by, it is finally time to roll the dough. On a lightly floured countertop, drop one of the dough mixtures. Stretch it as best as possible with your hands. Then using a floured rolling pin, smooth it out into a 12”x16” rectangle. Combine 1 cup of brown sugar, 2 tbsp of ground cinnamon, and ⅓ cup of melted butter in a medium bowl. Spread onto the rolled out dough, leaving a ½ inch border along the edges. Then starting from the longest edge, carefully roll to the other side. Cut in 1 ½” pieces with a serrated knife in order to yield approximately 12 cinnamon rolls. Place onto well-greased 9”x9” baking dish and set aside for 1-2 hours. Repeat with the second dough. Preheat oven to 350°F and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Remove, let cool, and add glaze if desired. Finally, it is time to enjoy your amazing, melt-in-your-mouth Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls.

Emory

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remy is four

I have been putting off writing this post for several reasons. One is because it is a daunting task to sum up just how much Remy has grown, mentally and emotionally, over the past year. Another part of me is in disbelief that my oldest child is now four. At the same time, I am so incredibly proud of this four-year-old.

If somebody told me to write one last letter to my daughter, this is what it would say.

To Remy on your birthday week,

You are one smart cookie. You can count to 100, forwards and backwards, can spell too many words to keep track of, know the words to an immeasurable amount of songs, can name almost any dinosaur, and have started writing on your own. You love to learn and it shows. I have a feeling that you will easily excel in school.

You are the sweetest girl and do not have a mean bone in your body. Sometimes you get frustrated and yell, but it’s more out of not understanding your big emotions as opposed to hate or malice. If you get a time out, you come out of your room saying “I’m so sorry mum, or I’m so sorry dad.” You have never physically harmed any living thing. I’ve witnessed a few children hit or kick you and run away and you never defend yourself. It is always me who runs over to you to tell you that they shouldn’t do that. I’ve also seen Po knock you down countless times, and you just get up and brush yourself off. You are so strong and so gentle.

You are polite. You always say please and thank you and ensure that everyone has what you have.

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You are sporty. If I had to choose a favourite right now I would say that it was either swimming or gymnastics. But you also love to dance, your trampoline, your aim and power with kicking a soccer ball is incredible, you love running, jumping, climbing “snow mountains,” parks, and our daily walks. You’re just an active girl.

You have never come across an animal that you didn’t love. Or want to take home. You beg me everyday to go to the zoo and a pet store. Sometimes I catch you watching hamster videos on YouTube during your afternoon quiet time, which is probably why you ask us now for a hamster.

You also love reading, travelling, dinosaurs, toys, running errands, playing, vehicles, music, clothes, crafts, baking, family, and children. You honestly have such a zest for life and there isn’t really anything you don’t like (except strange men).

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You went from being one of the biggest introverts I had ever seen to blossoming into a social butterfly. You are every child’s biggest cheerleader (see above) and “best friend.” You do not discriminate. You make sure that everyone is included in all things and at all times. You lead the way and ensure that everyone follows. Please keep up that attitude throughout all of your years.

You are still shy around adults that you don’t know very well, and need to practise sharing with your brother. Aside from that, and even with that, you are perfect.

I could go on and on about you. You are one of my greatest achievements, and I just know that you are going places. I love you I love you I love you. Happy fourth birthday, darling girl!

Love Mama

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