Napkin Rings, Anyone? A Fun & Useful Craft

IMG_0563I absolutely delight in old fashioned, simple pleasures…. especially ways to make time shared with family or friends feel extra special, and create a mood of unhurried enjoyment.  As a mother of 3 young, preteen children, my days often feel packed to capacity. We’re on the go at warp speed these days!

When I find an idea that brings a little nostalgia to our daily routines, I hold on to it!

Serving meals accompanied by cloth napkins is the most recent simple pleasure that I have stumbled upon, and it is doing my heart a world of good!   I was intrigued by a close friend’s reports about Laura Calder’s latest cookbook, “Paris Express”, so I picked up a copy to help inspire my culinary offerings as my veggie garden grows.  I use the word “cookbook” as a description of Laura’s book, but it really is so, so much more than what one has come to expect in a cook book type publication.  Reading this book just fills my spirit – from her thoughtful introductions included for each recipe to her snipits of thoughtful ramblings that read more like blog posts relating to food, dining, and the presentation of simple, fresh meals shared in the company of friends.  One such snipit pertaining to the warmth of presentation characterized by the use of actual cloth napkins inspired me to purchase some of my own for my family AND to spend an afternoon crafting napkin rings with my 6 year old daughter. [Read more...]

Family Fun in the Veggie Garden PLUS a Free Printable Garden Plan for YOU!

Veggie Garden in JulyI was born to a family of garden lovers.

When I was growing up, my grandparents babysat my sister and I every day after school and on PA Days at their flower shop.  We would help build boxes, listen to stories while my grandfather cleaned thorns off the roses, and watch as my grandmother created beautiful arrangements while humming her favourite old tunes.

For the past 20 years, my own mother has built a showstopper of a garden surrounding her own home.  She adores roses and perennials, and has reaped some bountiful harvests from her veggie gardens.  Over the past 12 years, she has shared all kinds of gardening wisdom with me as I built my own perennial gardens and veggie gardens.  A day in the garden with my mom is truly a delight, and every week when she visits, one of my favourite things to do is accompany her on a garden tour where she points out what she likes and what can be improved (and how so) in my own gardens.

But nothing is sweeter than watching my own children as they pick cherry tomatoes right off the plant and pop them into their mouths!  It can seem like forever before the tomatoes start ripening toward the middle of August, but they are so worth the wait! [Read more...]

Summer Beach Days

IMG_6438For me, the best sort of summer family fun is found at the beach.  I just love, love, love everything about it… building huge sand castles, getting steaming hot and then taking a dip in the water, reading on a blanket while the kids play, even playing board games together under the big blue sky with the water stretching out before us.

For me, this is perfect, old fashioned summer fun.

We do not own a cottage. We do not live in a town that offers a beach.  Actually, our family has only taken one beach holiday since having kids.  How then do I get some beach fun with my family each summer?   [Read more...]

Visiting a Strawberry Patch is SO SWEET

Strawberry patchI’m sure I’m not the only mom who finds the first week of summer to be quite a juggling act.  At times it feels like one of my hands is tied behind my back and I’ve received 7 new balls to juggle!  Morning deliveries to camps that are quite a bit further away than the kids’ local school gets our mornings off to a busy start.  And while one child is away, of course I want to deliver on some fun for the other two.

However, I am a creature of habit and a lover of routine.  With all the spontaneous fun at the start of this summer, along with the Canada Day holiday thrown into the mix, who knew that there were no breakfast options awaiting my sleepyheads when they awoke Wednesday morning!

Learning to juggle everything and still add a bit of spontaneous fun in the mix is part of summer and thankfully seems to get easier as the days pass.  A few days ago, we visited a nearby strawberry patch.  I cannot believe how easy it is to fill those great big baskets full of beautiful, scrumptious strawberries.

Before my girls and I set out for the patch, I was feeling stressed about the lack of groceries on hand as well as the fact that I had no ideas yet for dinner with my parents that evening and it was already well into the afternoon.  Nevertheless, I was determined to make a little bit of fun in the day with my girls.  So off we went for a couple of hours to a simple, nearby, pick-your-own strawberry patch under bright, beautiful, blue skies.  This is something I try to make time for each summer, and it really is so much fun to share with the kids.  In fact, it is such a simple thing to do, that it almost doesn’t make sense how much fun it always is… but year after year it proves just as much fun as ever!

At this little strawberry stand market we located many other delicious produce items and picked up several of our favourites to enjoy with dinners in the coming days.  We also found mini angel food cakes, and my girls were as excited as could be at the thought of preparing individual strawberry shortcake desserts for my hubby and me along with my parents who would be visiting for the evening.

Thanks to this outing, we are having some food fun in the kitchen, delicious snacks fresh from the strawberry patch, and a little happy memory of some simple summer fun.

Click HERE for a Strawberry Muffin Recipe from Multi-Testing Mommy.

What are your favourite recipes for serving up fresh picked strawberries?

A Week Full of Fireworks & Family Fun!

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If you are planning to spend some time watching fireworks as part of your Canada Day or July 4th celebrations, take a moment to read my entry at our Summer Fun Forum posted on June 25th.  You’ll learn how our kids turned the wait time for the big firework show into an amazingly fun show of their own just using glow-sticks and our camera!

Muffins, Marvellous Muffins!!

Muffin Recipe BookIf you are interested in my all-time favourite banana chocolate chip muffin recipe … scroll to the end of this post.  If you would like to read how I came upon it, then just  keep reading….

Like many parents with young children, I have spent more time than I can count measuring, mixing, baking, and cleaning out muffin tins. Actually, baking these tiny, yummy treats with my young bakers in training has been a great deal of fun and offered the added bonus of providing some mighty yummy treats to enjoy!

Finding the recipe below and the 40 other DELICIOUS muffin recipes in Marie Simmons’ fabulous book, “Muffins A to Z” was actually a bit of a wild ride for me.  Years ago I stumbled upon this little handbook of muffin baking at my local library.  It is filled with muffin recipes to correspond to each letter of the alphabet and includes everything from sweet treats to savory sides perfect for adding to a soup or chili.   [Read more...]