museum of natural sciences

On a cold Monday morning not too long ago, we were looking for something fun to do with our children. We had planned on going to the Western Development Museum, but as luck would have it, it’s closed on Mondays. Instead, I googled museums in and around Saskatoon and one of the results was the Museum of Natural Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan.

I have been to that museum many times. I would pass through it a few times a week on my way to class when I was a university student. I also used to work in that building as a research assistant five days a week prior to having children. I would drive to the university, park for free using my step-dad’s spare parking pass, grab a coffee from Tim Hortons, and head on up to the quiet library, staying for as long as I needed to. Oh, those were such easy and care-free days! How things have changed.

As for the museum itself, I had never thought about visiting it again because I had always regarded it more as a lobby filled with dinosaur bones- a place that you happen to pass through on your way from A to B, as opposed to a museum that you would take the time to visit. However, there is no admission fee and Remy is slightly obsessed with dinosaurs, so I thought that it would be an exciting adventure for both her and Wilder.

It didn’t matter to them that it is not that big from an adult’s standpoint. Because to children, it is! All that mattered was that there was so much to look at, open spaces to run around, and people to interact with.

While I was nervous about how loud and excited they were, the students and teachers seemed to find them amusing. We received so many laughs and comments. It was a fun and educational 45 minutes, and I recommend it to anyone living in Saskatoon that has young children and an hour or so to spend doing something fun. Best of all, it doesn’t cost anything.

Emory

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recipe: valentine’s day jam jam cookies

This recipe is inspired by my Aunt who used to make these all the time when I was a little girl. They have always been one of my favourite cookies, and one that was fun and easy to make with Remy. We will be taking them to her preschool Valentine’s Day party this week!

Jam Jam Cookies

Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients:

¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp artificial vanilla
2 large eggs
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup jam, raspberry or strawberry

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well incorporated.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Then pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Mix well. Batter should be slightly sticky but also firm enough to roll out and cut and still keep its shape.

3. Put cookie batter on a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out into a large, smooth surface about 0.5 cm thick. Cut out circles using either a cookie cutter or cup. Then place onto a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and flip over when slightly cooled. Spread jam onto the undersides when still warm, then sandwich two cookies together. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy these simple and sweet cookies!

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3<3

Emory

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acreage renovation: remy & wilder’s new bedroom

I am going to preface this post with a question. Do your children have their own bedroom, or do they share with their siblings?

For most of Remy’s short life, she has had a room to herself. We had hoped that when we moved from our last home that we would be moving into one with multiple bedrooms. While our current house does have four bedrooms, only two are on each level. That means in order to sleep on the same floor as our young children, they have to sleep in the same room.

Remy and Wilder’s bedroom was actually only Remy’s room up until two weeks ago. After spending weeks making it over, we finally transferred Wilder’s crib into her room, thus making it a shared room for a boy and girl. Not an easy design feat! This is how we did it …

We initially began with a blank beige slate. See above. These pictures were ones that I saved from the MLS listing for our home. Once we moved in we only added a few necessities.

With neutral walls, a white bed, white rug, white dresser, and no window treatments (we embarrassingly hung a blanket in her window for months), we had so many options to make their bedroom into whatever theme we wanted to! Because the bedroom is not an overly large one, I knew that I wanted mostly white walls in order for it to appear bigger than it really was. That said, Remy’s last bedroom had four white walls and even though I loved it, I did want a bit of a change. Cue the accent wall!

With a mental image of three white walls, we now had to come up with one colour that would be bold yet gender neutral, yet childlike, and be able to tie the entire room together. The only problem was that Wilder’s crib was blue. That immediately left blue out of the equation. Yellow? Too dated? Grey? Not playful enough. Black? Already in our room. Green? Yes! Now to decide on a shade of green.

After bringing home paint swatches, Geoffrey and I fell in love with a medium-dark green. However, right before going to Home Depot to buy it, I felt like it might be too dark. I chickened out at the last minute and instead purchased a light green shade called Frosted Jade that I felt would still compliment a blue crib. I was wrong.

I came home, put up two coats, and hated it. It was a pretty colour in itself but on their wall looked institutional. Wanting to salvage what I had done, I painted a Harringbone pattern overtop of the green that was highly inspired by a Swedish wallpaper company that I followed on Instagram. I thought that it looked better, but was more suited for a modern condo bedroom and not the rural room that I was going for. Frustrated, I went to bed.

After talking it over with Geoff, the next morning we took one of Wilder’s crib rails into my favourite Home Hardware store with a mission to pick out the darkest green that we could find. He promised to repaint it for me since I had felt like a complete failure. We found the perfect shade that had hints of blue in it called Atlantic Waves. We played in the store for a bit, then bought it, and left. Then we came home, and Geoff started painting. It was done by the end of the day. It looked beautiful.

Now that their wall colour was finally sorted, I had the fun task of buying items to complete their room! I turned to Amazon for most of it. There I purchased white curtains and a gold curtain rod, pony bedding for Remy’s bed, and seagrass baskets for their books (that haven’t yet arrived). Everything was very inexpensive.

I also bought the cutest white floating shelf from JYSK that we hung between their beds. It was on sale for $7.99.

I brought in the antique storage unit that we were using in our laundry room as a boot rack. I believe that it used to be in my mother’s hair salon and was a bright shade of red. I scrubbed it down, painted it white, purchased five wood crates from Michael’s, and put their toys on it. I love the way it looks so much, and it certainly has a lot of memories attached to it.

We were finally able to hang all of the pictures and artwork that I had been storing in the closet for the past year! Remy’s side has her three sonogram photos, a three-month photo, a picture of her as a toddler from my pregnancy reveal, a “be you” sign from a Canadian company, and a ceramic elephant vase that I have had for years.

Wilder’s side has his two sonogram photos, a baptism plaque that was given to him by my in-laws, a deer head that had belonged to my Gedo, and a “wild & free” banner that I had purchased while pregnant with him (and not knowing that he was a boy that we eventually named Wilder).

We decided to reuse the rug, shelving, and mirror that was in Remy’s room prior to this makeover. I also didn’t buy a new light fixture because I can’t decide on whether to hang a modern ceiling fan or a trendy bamboo light. Which one would you choose?

All in all, we spent less than $200 dollars turning this girl’s bedroom into a shared boy and girl room. Everything in their room holds so much sentiment and meaning (including the toddler handprints on the mirror). It certainly was a labour of love, from both Geoff and myself. I honestly love the way it turned out, and I know that Remy and Wilder enjoy sharing it together as well!

Emory

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recipe: vegan chocolate zucchini cake

Enjoy diving into this decadent dessert that is not all that bad for your health! Hello New Year and new healthy body!

Ingredients:

(For the cake)
½ cup canola oil
¾ cup almond (or any dairy-free) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup zucchini, shredded
dairy-free butter, to grease

(For the icing)
1 ¼ cup icing sugar
2 tbsp dairy-free butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp almond milk (or more depending on desired consistency)
½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8”x8” (or thereabouts) baking dish and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, milk, vanilla extract, and sugar. Mix well.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in the wet ingredients, adding the zucchini last. Stir until just combined.

4. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the icing. Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until melted. Stir often and do not burn.

6. Once the cake has cooled thoroughly, top with the dairy-free icing. Yum!

Emory

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geoffrey’s 34th birthday

To my husband, on your birthday.

I have spent 11 years to the month loving you. When you walked into the room of our Art History class I had to do a double take. Without your beard, you looked exactly like Brandon Flowers from The Killers- a band that I had recently started listening to. It was puppy love at first sight. Then when you sat one seat away from me I thought I was going to pass out. Only, you left that spot open for your girlfriend at the time. Still, I knew that we would become friends and I didn’t mind waiting for you.

Fast-forward to six months later, and by then we were best friends. Then suddenly you were single! We waited another month before dating. Five months later we almost broke up but became engaged instead (what?!), and less than four months later we eloped!

We were young, penniless, naive university students who were only living in our first condo together because we used our parent’s money towards a down payment instead of a wedding. We relied a lot on family at the beginning of our marriage, and it would’ve been much more difficult without their generosity. We didn’t know much except that we loved one another madly.

We were so passionate about everything. We fought often, lived in two different provinces while you went to school and I worked to support us, travelled, moved often, turned down scholarships and additional schooling, rescued pets, and so much more. Still through it all we always remained each other’s best friend.

We had exactly five childless years before I became pregnant with Remy. It was then that our marriage changed completely. After she was born we seemed to grow up overnight. We tried desperately to navigate through the tricky waters of being first-time parents. Without the help from our family and with very little friends, you finished yet another program and went on to work at a low-paying job while I worked from home. We moved into our rental, then sold it and moved again. I started a master’s program, my job ended, and for the first time in our marriage I realized that I no longer wanted to work and only wanted to stay home with our child (and future children).

You never questioned me. Instead you worked a full-time and part-time job to support our family, often sleeping in your truck. Then you found a career where you would be able to pay our bills and have us live comfortably. You moved to another province for two months to start and complete training, then came back for two months. I became pregnant for the second time, and once again you had to move away for work.

You were gone for three months. In that time we lost that child, but became pregnant with Wilder on one of your visits home! You missed Christmas and your birthday. However, you continued to work so hard, and haven’t stopped yet.

Two and a half years ago I asked you to be the sole provider for our family. I told you that it would be my dream come true. You went and accomplished that almost immediately. We had so many trials during that time, but in the end you became the man I always knew you would be.

You are so kind, patient, and loving. You’re a hard worker, hardly ever complain, are quiet, strong, optimistic, and so much more. You’ve continued to be my best friend after all of these years, and I still love you more than anyone else (except our children ;-))).

Happy birthday, Geo my love! I hope that we have another sixty-four plus years together.

Em

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