two years - a note to my l'il E

L'il E is two


To my sweet L'il E,

Two years ago today you showed up a week early and it's from that day that my life changed forever. You're the coolest little kid and I know you are going to grow up to do great things (and probably some not so great things).

I love being your mom and I still sit and stare at you like I did the day you were born. I don't think that awe will ever disappear. I promise I won't be like that creepy mother in that Robert Munsch book "Love you forever".

I can't believe how much you have grown and accomplished since I wrote this post a year ago. I loved the first year, but the second year has been so amazing seeing you morph from a little baby into a little boy. You learned to walk, you learned to run, you learned to talk and best of all you learned how to make us laugh.

You're a very thoughtful and observant little guy (you were even like that at a week old) and it's as if the wheels in your head are constantly spinning. You're not one to take risks, in fact you are extremely cautious and just like your mom and dad you suss out the situation before you get too comfortable. Unfortunately you inherited my stubbornness (we'll work on that) and dad's hairline (we'll work on growing that out a bit).

I wanted to write this note to you so that we could look back one day and remember all of the funny things you say and do. So here's a list of my faves:

1. Every morning you greet us with a very loud "Hiiiiiyaaaaa". Even though you're in a big boy bed and can get out of it on your own, you insist that one of us comes into your room to give you permission to get out of bed.

2. You love oatmeal (you call it "meal") or Cheerios for breakfast.

3. Our iPad is probably your most prized possession and I often wonder if we should stage an intervention, but the games and videos you play and watch have taught you a lot like letters, numbers, colours, and animals.

4. Your crutch is your soother. You only suck on it at bedtime and nap time but you LOVE it and I can't take that comfort away from you.

5. "Helpy?" is your favourite thing to say. You are always game to help with baking, unloading the dishwasher, sorting laundry, watering plants, chopping stuff for dinner, sweeping, and vacuuming. I know this won't last much longer so I'm taking advantage of it now.

6. You go nuts for chai tea and so we let you drink it diluted with a lot of milk and honey. You especially like to sit on your special cushion and have tea time as a family. It's pretty cute.

7. You love brushing your teeth. Please continue to love this important hygiene activity.

8. The streetcar ride is probably the highlight of your day most days and you love giving the driver the token. There are many crazy characters on our rides to and from school; you love observing them all and they don't seem to confuse you.

9. You're really into saying please, thank you and you're welcome all at once. We're working on the sequence of  who says what when but right now you're happy saying all three.

10. You give the best hugs and kisses. You don't give them out often but when you do I feel so loved.

Happy Birthday to my L'il E. I know you're big but you'll be my L'il forever.




February 06, 2013 — AlannaB

big brother


It's time to start adding to our library of baby books because L'il E is going to be a big brother this July!

I've been dying to spill the beans because the Hubs and I are very excited (stressed out) about all the cute baby giggles (sleepless nights), sweet baby cheeks (explosive diapers) and long baby snuggles (spit up stains) that are coming our way in 5 and a half months. What I'm looking forward to the most though, is sharing this journey with our L'il E and watching as he becomes an amazing big brother (he's such a good boy).

I am an only child so this is huge for me. It's going to be such an experience navigating the world of siblings and rivalry. I also secretly hope it's a girl because my dream always was to have a big brother.

Anyhow if you have any tips to share I'm all ears. They will be two and a half years apart, so I'm sure we're in for a wild ride.

Oh and I'll save my first trimester woes for another blog post. They're right when they say every pregnancy is different (barf!).



video killed the radio star

You might not know this about us but we're huge TV-aholics (sorry if you were hoping for something kinkier). So, to break our habit of watching bad reality TV shows like American Idol, The Voice, SYTYCD, and all the CSIs you could imagine we flipped Rogers the bird and never looked back.

For a while it was great because we were free of the skull-numbing TV schedule that had ruled our lives and all of a sudden we had so much more time. Then we discovered Netflix and all the content you could possibly want online and sadly we're back to our usual ways, but at least now we're watching stuff that's good and it's on our own schedule.

I'm into so many TV shows right now it's obscene. So if you've been wondering where I've been hiding it's likely been in my basement in front of our brand new TV watching the following:

American Horror Story - this show has taken over my life and I've been watching it so much that it's totally messing with my head.

Downton Abbey - I know I'm super late to the game on this one, but I just can't stop.

Homeland - I'm waiting on pins and needles for the rest of season 2 to get started already!

Dexter - I have a love/hate relationship with this show, but Season 7 has captured my attention again.

So I'm sorry my  friends, but I will come back to you soon. Well just as soon as I emerge from the cave.

Tell me, what are you favourites these days?



my 12 best recipes of 2012

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This year I fully embraced the wheat free lifestyle and with that came a lot of experimenting in the kitchen.

I love to eat good food, but because wheat is in almost everything learning to cook without it is a huge task. I took time researching and looking through many cookbooks and websites, I learned a lot about alternative flours and how to use them and now I'm embarking on 2013 with a arsenal of great recipes that actually taste good (not like cardboard!).

Here are our 12 favourite recipes of 2012. They are on a high rotation in our household.

  1. Homemade turkey soup - what else do you do with all that leftover turkey?
  2. Healthy blueberry muffins - the most popular post on FO, these are healthy and delicious!
  3. Dairy free carrot ginger soup - was a staple in our fridge until we discovered L'il E's tree nut allergy (oops!).
  4. Wheat and dairy free brownies - if you love sweet, sticky brownies these might not be for your, but I like them.
  5. Maple ginger granola - a nice twist on a traditional recipe.
  6. Gluten free mac 'n cheese - the ultimate comfort food so even us GF people need it!
  7. Wheat free raspberry muffins - my all time favourite muffin (yum!).
  8. Healthy cookie recipe - a pleasant surprise, you can put just about anything you want in these.
  9. Flourless lemon almond torte - delicious dessert if you're looking to class things up a bit.
  10. Quinoa burgers - even meat-eaters will chow down on these amazing burgers.
  11. Lemon cilantro chickpea quinoa salad - I have an unhealthy relationship with this salad (consume in large amounts!).
  12. Dunk-worthy gluten free chocolate chip cookies - Finally a gluten-free cookie that actually tastes like its wheat counterpart (happy face!).

Enjoy a less rumbly tummy!



Quilted pocket advent calendar

The last few weeks have been hectic around here and I apologize for the lack of posts, but there are only so many hours in a day (right?!).

Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope everyone had a great holiday and that you're all rested and well fed. We had a fantastic Christmas, so good that I'm still recovering from all of the excitement.

This was our first Christmas at home with L'il E so I wanted to create new traditions of our own as well as incorporate existing family ones. I believe that traditions organically evolve (they can't really be created) and I'm so glad there are a few that seem to be surfacing (ok and one I created).

One of our  traditions that has evolved over time is homemade pizza for dinner on Christmas Eve. For the last few years that we have stayed in Toronto, the Hubs and I have made our favourite homemade pizza, uncorked a bottle of red and enjoyed a nice relaxing meal before the feasting of Christmas Day. This year we shared that with L'il E and for me it sealed the tradition for good.

Growing up I always had one of those yummy chocolate advent calendars, but always envied the families that had a homemade one with pockets or drawers (no I didn't feel deprived mom, I loved my chocolate advent calendar just as much). With that, I decided to sew up a quilted pocket advent calendar (I used this tutorial) and be one of those families I envied. I finished it just in time for the beginning of advent, but alas I wasn't organized enough to fill the pockets.  Next year I plan on filling the pockets with little notes, chocolates and trinkets as the days lead up to Christmas Eve. A new tradition in the making?

As for the rest of our Christmas celebrations it's mostly what the Hubs and I grew up with and surprisingly they don't differ very much! I imagine that many more traditions will arise as we celebrate more Christmases at home with our growing family.

What are your Christmas traditions? Do you stick to family traditions or make up your own?


gift exchange

I came home to a gift from my secret elf tonight - all the way from Sweden. I was going to wait until Christmas morning to tear it open, but my curiosity got the better of me.

We don't know each other but Kathleen (my secret elf) from Sweden sent me chocolate, wool, knitting needles, a little candle and a beautiful scarf. I feel spoiled. It's so cool that we have connected from so far away!

My draw is a gal from Australia and I'm feeling terrible because I haven't sent my gift yet, but I will be sending it tomorrow. Everything is handmade so she'll be receiving a little bit of crafty-ness from Canada.

Thanks Fat Mum Slim for organizing this awesome exchange through It's been fun and I hope we do it again next year!

Happy gifting!



December 19, 2012 — AlannaB

christmas tipples

Photo credit

I don't know about you, but I'm glad it's Friday! Who needs a drink?

As the countdown to Christmas continues and you knock a few more holiday parties off your list this weekend I thought I would share a few tasty holiday cocktail recipes to spice up the party circuit (or perhaps the pre-drink).



Candy Cane Martini (this spells headache so if I were you I would just have one!)

You'll need:

  • 1.5 oz. vodka
  • 1/2 oz. vanilla liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. peppermint schnapps
  • 1 oz soda water
  • crushed candy cane
  • peppermint sticks or candy cane for stirring

Then you:

  1. Rim martini glass with crushed candy cane
  2. Pour vodka, vanilla vodka and peppermint schnapps in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and pour into martini glass.
  3. For the the weakling you can top off with soda, but I would prefer this straight up!
  4. Serve with a candy cane as a stir stick.


If you're hosting a holiday party, I think this cranberry vodka punch recipe would make a great crowd pleaser.


Vodka Cranberry Punch

You'll need:

  • 1 750 ml bottle of chilled vodka
  • 8 cups of chilled cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 cups chilled ginger ale
  • 2 cups chilled soda water

Then you:

  1. In a large punch bowl mix cranberry juice and vodka well.
  2. Add plenty of ice.
  3. Stir in soda and gingerale and add any fruit you wish (I recommend floating cranberries!)


Please drink responsibly folks!

don't drink and drive


This is a compilation of advertisements made by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) of Victoria, Australia. The TAC clearly is not shy about graphically demonstrating the dangers of drinking and driving. The video is long, but insanely effective (I was in tears by the end).  I wish MADD would release ads like this in Canada.

During the holidays I always fear driving on the highways on weekend nights. Just this past Saturday L'il E and I drove back into the city from Brampton at around 8:00 p.m. and I was gripping the steering wheel all the way home. I'm not usually that paranoid, but there is something about this time of year that creeps me out on the road. I also know that a lot of people don't take drinking and driving seriously - there are fatalities every year.

Please be safe this holiday season. If you're going to be drinking either take a cab or just crash at your friends' house. It's not worth a DUI charge or worse - taking someones life!



December 10, 2012 — AlannaB
Tags: not sure

wheat free holidays

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The Christmas party season is upon us and I'm starting to get anxious. This is my first holiday season being completely wheat free and I've quickly realized that I'm the worst dinner guest ever.

From wine and cheese parties brimming with spongy baguettes to cocktail parties filled with passed phyllo this and mini slider that to dinner parties with sweet holiday desserts, my stomach is churning just thinking about it all. I've been wheat free long enough and cheated enough times to know that I just can't eat that sh&!. It literally takes me 24-48 hours to recover from a single cracker (I know how pathetic!). So that said, for this party season my plan is to pre-eat or bring my own wheat free grub with me on the party circuit.

If you're hosting your own party and want to consider preparing a few allergen free dishes here are few courtesy of Zero8 , a restaurant in Montreal committed to being allergen free, well at least the top 8 allergens. They include wheat and other gluten containing grains, fish and shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy and sesame seeds.



Oriental Style Quinoa Tabouli

You'll need:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tomato
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a few sprigs of mint, chopped
  • lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 5 tsp olive oil
  • pinch each of salt and pepper

Then you:

  1. Chill quinoa
  2. While quinoa is chilling dice tomatos, green onions and chop mint and coriander.
  3. Add herbs, tomatos and green onions to quino along with juice from 1/2 a lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper.
  4. Cover and let stand until ready to serve.[/print_this]



Coconut Milk and Mango Puree Panna Cotta

You'll need:

  • 1 can coconut milk, certified allergen-free
  • 1 7g packet of gelatin, certified allergen-free
  • ¬ľ cup plus 4 tsp white sugar
  • 4 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 mango, very ripe
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 capful rum, pure (unspiced and unflavoured)

Then you:

  1. Puree mango using a blender, add white sugar, brown sugar, lime juice and blend until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Pour mango puree into dessert glasses and set in fridge.
  3. In a pot heat coconut milk with 4 tsps of white sugar and rum, bring to a boil and set aside.
  4. Dissolve gelatin in a small amount of cold water.
  5. Mix geltin into hot coconut milk mixture and stir well.
  6. Let cool.
  7. Pour gelled coconut milk mixture over mango puree and place dessert glasses back in the fridge for at least 2 hours.[/print_this]





nadege patisserie - a sweet gift


I've been MIA (a.k.a. sick and tired for the last 2 weeks) but during this time I've been harboring all kinds of amazing gift ideas. So here I am now spitting them out for you.

Next up is my all-time fave - Nadege Patisserie. When I was pregs with L'il E I used to eat a few croissants from this place a week! It was hard to resist the aromas as I walked passed on my way to work in the mornings. Sadly, since I discovered my wheat intolerance there is not much I can eat at Nadege, however that doesn't mean YOU can't indulge!

If you've never visited this little gem on Queen West, you must give it a try. Especially if you're going to be entertaining this holiday season. Their pastries are so beautiful you feel badly eating them. They also carry a wide array of gorgeous and colourful macarons as well as chocolate and confectioneries. Oh and you must try their homemade marshmallows!

They will be launching an online boutique soon, but it's still in the works.

Go check them out. I can smell the croissants now...