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Who’s Making YOUR Breakfast in Bed?

EAT, holidays By June 12, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Breakfast in BedMany parents are wakened on special occasions by an ominous clattering in the kitchen: loving-hearted children preparing to surprise us with coffee or hot chocolate in bed.  There’s also that cinnamon toast or oatmeal positively doused with sugar.

What many parents don’t realize is that such meals usually come courtesy of a whole crew of children.  Chocolate, coffee and sugar are often harvested by kids in developing countries.  Some children are even trafficked – taken from their parents to be sold into slavery – onto plantations far from home.  Others are forced into labour to help put food on the table at home.

Most Canadian parents struggle to keep costs down, yet our lower prices here are made possible by low pay overseas.  Many children are forced to work for no pay, making our price tags even more appealing.  Take cocoa for instance.

“An estimated 1.8 million children work to provide the world with its cocoa, in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana,” says World Vision Canada’s Cheryl Hotchkiss.  Hotchkiss explains that child workers are often trafficked – kidnapped and sold – into labour.  They work in brutally dangerous conditions, with sharp machetes and toxic chemicals.  Many are physically abused so they’ll work harder.  Few are given adequate food or rest.

It’s easier to snuggle down under our covers than admit we live in a world where child labour is still prevalent.  But it’s also pretty simple to do something to help change things.  Fair trade cocoa, coffee, tea and sugar are available in many grocery stories.  While they cost more, the payoff is much greater than a mouthful of sweetness.

“We made it into a field trip,” says Toronto mom Debbie Wolfe, of her first fair trade shopping trip with her two sons. “We stood in the grocery aisle, read the labels, and talked about how we’d be helping a real child and his family.”

“We’ve never enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate so much.”

To learn more ways to help end child slavery, visit www.nochildforsale.ca

Disclosure: This post was made possible through efforts of World Vision Canada.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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New Year’s Eve With Kids!!

EAT, FAM, holidays, kids By December 31, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

new years eve with kidsYou’ve got the most fabulous dress.  And the shoes.  And the champagne.  And…  whoops.  The kids.  A  babysitter is pretty much impossible, or prohibitively expensive on New Year’s Eve.  If you ask family the guilt will consume you all night.  Let’s think outside the box, shall we – without compromising your attachment to the kids, or our hip and savvy selves?  UrbanMommies has a few ideas about how you can celebrate New YEar’s Eve with kids – and still make the evening special..

1.  Dress well (even if you are exhausted).  Put the baby down, and make a romantic dinner together.  You could choose cuisine from a beloved country or new food that you’ve never attempted and experience something special together.  Eat by candlelight and try to stay awake until the ball drops.

2.  Sit down as a family and look at photo albums from the past – relate birth stories, marriage memories and the ups and downs of the past year.  Top it off with a frozen pizza ‘picnic’ on the floor complete with an extra-special bottle of wine and shirley temples.

3.  The whole family can go to Value Village and find the most sparkly, shiny outfits possible.  Blow up enough balloons to fill a room and drink milk, oj and champagne out of your best glasses.

4.  If you must venture out, swap with another couple so you can watch each others’ kids every second year.

5.  Have another couple and their children for a sleep-over.  The kids can do art in an empty bathtub and can be allowed to paint themselves and the tiles for the only time all year.  Everyone can then have a bath and pick from a huge pile of mismatched jammies for bedtime.  Once the wee ones are fast asleep, an adult dinner and fine music can complete the evening.

6.  Italian family eating/potluck with movies for kids and crafts, then chocolate Fondue, champagne and board games for adults when the babes are in bed. Everyone stays over and we cook pancakes in the morning.  (compliments of @Babe_chilla via Twitter).

7.  ‘Family Planning’: list the top 10 books, movies and music you want to experience this coming year.  Chart a plan for activities for the kids.  Talk a bit about budget.  (See our article for help).  Then drink champagne and start saving tomorrow.

8. Bowling with the family is always fun at midnight, they give out hats and horns!  (from @LollyBopBaby via Twitter)

9. Sit with kids and illustrate with markers and paper your new year’s resolutions and share (from @kiddictionary via Twitter).

10. Celebrate New Year’s in another time zone other than your own so the kids can celebrate too. (from @tykethreads via Twitter).

Please let us know about your plans and ideas, and we will post them as they come (or just comment below).

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Top Eight Ways to Make your House Memorable on Halloween

EAT, holidays, LIVE, play, wash By October 24, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

You remember when you were young. Ok, younger. Trick or treating was the highlight of your year and during all of the other seasons you walked by certain neighbourhood houses and smiled. The man in the tudor house made you tell a story before being given candy. And there was the dentist who handed out toothbrushes. You were certain the yellow house was haunted. Why your dad always wanted to linger at that place that gave him a hot drink is still a mystery… As a child you build relationships and memories with neighbours, and when you make your house memorable on Halloween it creates a perfect opportunity to reach out to your community.

The notion that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is powerful and true. This opportunity once per year where you meet children and neighbourhood families is powerful and should be used to make lasting connections to others. Let’s make your house the one the kids remember for years and years shall we?

Top Eight Ways to Make your House the Coolest Hallowe’en Destination on the Block.

1.  Let your profession or passion trickle into the treats. An actor? Hand out chocolates wrapped in old theatre tickets. Doctor? Tape a bandaid to the top of a candy wrapper. It’s the little inspirations that kids remember.

2.  Give out amazing candy. The new Hallowe’en inspired Scary Bars are a great place to start. ScAero, KIT KAT, Scaries and Coffin Crisp. These are the same favourite bars with updated packaging and frightening names.

3.  Follow out scariest House on the Block décor ideas. Dress up, create an atmosphere and stimulate the senses as the kids approach your house.

4.  Hand out an alternative to candy. Depending on how many children come to your house, little dollar star balls that light up or bugs made out of pinecones with googly eyes can be fun.

5.  Think charity. Now that Unicef boxes have gone by the wayside (sniff), there are still lots of ways you have give back at Hallowe’en. Me to We with Free the Children produce upcycled rafiki friend bracelets that allow one child in Africa to get school supplies for a year. A voucher given to a child saying that you have donated an amount equal to what you would have spent on candy to charity along with an explanation of the charity is truly unique.

6.  Have a party on hallowe’en night and have lots of people in costume come to the door each time the bell rings.

7.  Offer water for the kids to curb dehydration, and a little hot toddy for their parents. The extra minutes they remain at your house will create some time for families to get to know each other.

8.  Take time to carve an incredible pumpkin like this deathstar pumpkin from Mental Floss. Websites like Pumpkin Masters or the Pumpkin Lady have carving patterns that will make you a superstar.

Image credit: Mental Floss

Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Scary Bars.  All of our opinions are our own.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Disney Diabetes

Disney’s New Diabetes Resource

Disney, EAT, family meals, holidays, ROAM By April 9, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Disney Spoonful DiabetesIf  your kids are living with Type 1 diabetes, you’ve got a few extra challenges.  We’re very excited about a Disney’s New Diabetes Resource from one of our favourite Disney sites.  Disney Interactive has partnered with Lilly Diabetes to launch an online destination dedicated to help families affected by type 1 diabetes on Disney’s family lifestyle site Spoonful.com. Combining Lilly’s knowledge of diabetes with Disney’s robust parenting network has created a unique and powerful diabetes resource.

Through a mix of articles, videos and advice, site contributors (which include dietitians, psychologists, nurses and everyday families) cover a variety of topics all designed to help families manage type 1 diabetes in everyday situations, such as:

·         Routines for families that manage type 1 diabetes while still letting kids be kids
·         Important info on how to pack for vacations, sleepovers and other outings
·         Talking tips about type 1 diabetes to share with friends, teachers and coaches

One of our favourite sections contains quotes from mothers about how they deal with everyday challenges such as sibling rivalry, glucose checks and keeping every day fun.  There are even printables for the babysitter and great ways to care for the caregivers! Disney’s New Diabetes Resource is a great addition to the Spoonful roster.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Dried Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

EAT, holidays By December 28, 2012 Tags: , , , No Comments

Are you looking for something new to brighten up your holiday cookie plate? The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking cookbook is bursting with recipes that will satisfy a sweet tooth, cookie exchange or dessert for a holiday gathering.
Everyday Baking features 118 original recipes by celebrated baker and longtime Almanac collaborator Ken Haedrich. A winner of the Julia Child Cookbook Award, Haedrich may be best known as the author of Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie, which was recently named one of the best baking books of the past 25 years by Cooking Light magazine.

Everyday Baking, with its handy reference section and time-tested advice sprinkled throughout, demystifies the art of baking and will inspire home bakers of all skill levels to make delicious breakfast treats, after-school snacks, and impressive desserts. The easy-to-follow recipes in Everyday Baking don’t demand unusual ingredients or abstract cooking techniques, but rather just a desire to make delicious home-baked goods completely from scratch.

Everyday Baking is available online at Almanac.com or wherever books and magazines are sold.

From The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking cookbook (page 48)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
Optional: Fleur de sel or sea salt, just a few pinches

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the sugars and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Stir the dry mixture into the creamed ingredients, half at a time, until evenly mixed. Stir in the cranberries, white chocolate chips, and nuts. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours (or overnight).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter two large baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into 1-1/2-inch-diameter balls. Place the balls on the baking sheets, leaving about 2-1/2 inches in between. Optional: sprinkle a tiny pinch of fleur de sel over each ball, literally just about 5 granules on each cookie. Bake one sheet at a time on the center oven rack for about 17 minutes (this sounded like a long time to me, but because the dough was cold, it was perfect!). When done, the edges of the cookies should be golden brown and the centers much less so. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Makes about 30 cookies.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Thanksgiving Tips from Martha Stewart Weddings Darcy Miller

EAT, holidays By November 21, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , 1 Comment

I have been infatuated with Darcy Miller, Editorial DIrector of Martha Stewart Weddings from the first time I ever saw a luscious spread in the magazine and was planning my own wedding.  (I drove my wedding planned nuts, BTW. “But in Martha Stewart I saw….”)

We know how important entertaining is in terms of role modelling for your kids.  As a child I remember holiday ‘children’s tables’ that made me feel special and kept me on my best behaviour during special occasions.  So who better than Darcy Miller to demonstrate affordable and easy ways to create a gorgeous Thanksgiving table.

Darcy shares tips and deals with us so that you can create her show-stopping look in your own home.  We’re sure you must already get it in your RSS feeds but in case you want some last-minute tips, here are her ideas on the Martha Stewart Living website.

Happy Thanksgiving, and may your children embrace the memories that they will pass on to their own kids one day.

 

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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halloween pet safety

Halloween Pet Safety

grow, holidays, LIVE By October 30, 2012 Tags: , , 1 Comment

Haloween Pet SafetySafety during Halloween extends to the entire family including pets. These safety tips from PetSmart will help ensure pet parents and their pets have a safe and fun Howl-O-Ween.

·         Keep them happy. “Before having pets join in the Halloween fun, it’s important to assess whether your pet will be comfortable participating or if the festivities will cause undue stress,” says Dr. Simon Starkey, pet care expert at PetSmart. “Pets may be alarmed to find a ghost or witch at the front door so make sure there’s a quiet space away from all the activity in case your pet needs it.”

·         Make sure treats are pet friendly. Many Halloween treats are not pet-friendly, especially those containing chocolate. Make sure to choose pet-safe treats to celebrate, such as GREENIES® Dental Chews, which also keep pets’ teeth clean and ensures their breath isn’t scary.

·         Keep them safe. If you plan to walk your dog around the neighborhood in the evening, make sure they’re properly outfitted and at ease around strangers and crowds. An adult should always have control of the dog’s leash, and reflective leashes, collars or ID tags are essential accessories. Some pet costumes also offer safety features such as the glow-in-the-dark Martha Stewart Pets™ black Halloween skeleton costume.

·         Decorations without danger. Halloween decorations can be scary, but should not be dangerous. Pet parents need to make sure curious cats and dogs are unable to reach lights, decorations, candles and other festive items.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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camping with kids

Tips for Camping with Kids and Babies

Canada, GEAR, holidays, kids, LIVE, ROAM, USA By July 31, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , 4 Comments

Pre-kids, you used to hoist a bunch of stuff onto your back, portage a canoe and enjoy a romantic long weekend in the woods.  Suddenly, there were three of you.  Or four.  Do camping and kids mix? Absolutely and we’ve got tips for camping with kids and babies so you don’t have to throw away your old life when you have children – you just have to adapt.  By integrating the things you love into your parenting approach, your kids will learn from your excitement, and you will be a happier person. We interviewed avid woods-Mom Carrie Roxburgh, a Canadian mom of boys who was a skilled camper pre-kids.  She’s helped us compile the UrbanMommies top 20 list of stuff you need to know when camping with children:
1.  Car Camping.  Drive in, leave the cooler in the car, and don’t even try to hike into a campsite with the amount of stuff you need.  There are lots of great fun, kid-friendly campsites.

2.  You’ll need a bigger tent, 6 x 6 x 6.  Mountain Equipment Co-op is always reasonable and great quality.  And grab a tarp while you’re there.

3.  Get a cooler on wheels.

4.  While a 7 oz camp stove used to suffice, you’ll need something a bit larger, like a Coleman 2-burner stove.

5.  Invest in a Kettle.

6.  One of the biggest differences post kids for Carrie was meal planning.  In considering nutrition for her kids, she realized that you can’t just eat hotdogs and freeze dried food (darn).  She pre-cuts veggies and loads up on tinfoil so that there are always healthy sides for the kids.

7.  Bring your old smaller tent and split up your children at bedtime to make getting them to sleep easier.  Transfer them into your own larger tent later.

8.  Make sure you bring a few comforts of home for the kids: teddy bears and pillows are great.

9.  Shopping for special new kids’ sleeping bags makes the experience all the more memorable.

10.  Don’t forget the toys! Trucks, sand toys, and sports stuff make outdoors fun, and board games can be played in the tent during rain.

11.  Speaking of which… don’t forget rain gear.

12.  A Wagon – that way the kids can help schlep stuff too.  (And it can make for some super-fun photo ops).

13.  Bug sprays are a must, but with kids, you have to be careful.  If Avon Skin so Soft isn’t your preference, you can try: Buzz Away, available at Lavish and Lime.

14.  Lifejackets: if you’re by a lake, save yourself a panic attack and make a rule that life jackets have to be worn at all times when near the water.

15.   Baby Wipes.  No explanation needed.

16.  Lots of warm clothes.

17.  Sunscreen: Badger and Green Beaver are great picks, available at Raspberry Kids

18. Buy milk in tetra packs that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

19.  Glow sticks (and flashlights with extra batteries).

20. First Aid Kit for the little boo-boos.  And while you’re at it, program emergency numbers and the number for the campground or park into your cell phone.

Fun Ideas:

–       Keep a journal
–       Talk about the birds and the bees.  No really.
–       Talk about bear awareness and maybe a game of charades would be fun at this point
–       Give each child a disposable camera

Kid-friendly Campgrounds across Canada:

Try the Canadian Tire Campsite Selector

British Columbia: You can book up to three months in advance of your arrival, online at Discover Camping, or call at 1-800-689-9025.

Alberta: www.TravelAlberta.com 1-800-ALBERTA).

Ontario

Prince Edward Island

New Brunswick

Nova Scotia

Newfoundland

– Jill Amery would love to take the kids camping, particularly if it means that we don’t have to pick up Lego pieces.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Canada Day Recipes, Parties and Style

EAT, holidays By June 26, 2012 Tags: , , , , No Comments

We wouldn’t be true Canucks without breaking out the red and white over the Canada Day long weekend.  Our team were busy beavers (couldn’t resist) as we dug up these ideas for food, style, entertaining and plain coolness.

Food:

1.  The Strawberry Canada Day flag cake by Kraft.

2.  Strawberry cheesecake bites by Oh She Glows.

3. Maple leaf jello jigglers on a sandwich with sprinkled yoghurt from Meet the Dubiens.

Style:


1.  Canadian nails by CND Shellac.

2.  HUDSON’S BAY COMPANY COLLECTION Diana F+ Lomography Camera.  The Bay

3.  Alexander Wang Leather Donna hobo in persimmon at Holt Renfrew

Kids:


1.  The peace shirt.  Redfish Kids

2.  Daisy flower headband by Carrie N.

3.  Swimsuit by Bonpoint

Cool Stuff:

1.  Red Paisley Bandanas as napkins.  Shindigz

2. The Purple Forge Canada Day app (free)

3.  Canada Day printable subway art.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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The BNB. A Bacon stirstick with Bourbon. Divine.

EAT, holidays By May 9, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , 2 Comments

I love shocking people.  It happens every time I order a bourbon.  The drink just seems incongruous with my classic look and softspoken voice.  So while at the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe, it was a thrill to see the waiter’s face when I ordered the BNB.  (My colleagues were pretty surprised too, as photos of the drink flew around Facebook and Twitter).  Still evaluating the exact moment to eat the bacon, I must practice this one at home a few times before I perfect the methodology.. Or just head back to the Ritz.

The recipe for the bourbon:

1 liter of bourbon (the Ritz uses Maker’s Mark)
1/3 liter bacon grease, warm
Mix together and let sit for 6 hours at room temperature.  Spoon off bacon fat that will have risen to the surface, and them strain mixture through a coffee filter at least once.

The recipe for the cocktail:

2 oz. Bacon infused Bourbon
.5 oz. real maple syrup
2 dashes bitters
Stir gently over ice in a 12oz rocks glass, garnish with a blue cheese and bacon stuffed fig and an orange twist

Bon appetit!

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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