Archive for December, 2011

When my son turned 6-months old I became obsessed with making sure he enjoyed eating all types of food. While we’ve had our ups and downs (we just went through the “throwing food when I don’t want it” stage), little Tommy is a pretty good eater so far. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

Here are the top 5 resources and tools I continue to use:

1. Weelicious.com! – I just LOVE this site. It is so useful and full of great ideas for baby food, toddler food, and family food. When I’m in a rut I go to this site for inspiration. Weelicious is about wholesome food that is still delicious. They make all their everyday recipes with no (or little) refined sugar and nothing artificial. In my fridge right now is the apple walnut puree (I stir it into oatmeal and yogurt for me too!) and the edamame hummus. I also love the banana wheat germ muffins and the pumpkin apple muffins. The recipes are always easy and not time consuming.

2. Baby Led Weaning – A friend introduced me to this “BLW” method of eating solids. I used it for Tommy and it’s been amazing to see how well a 6 or 7-month old can eat if you try it out! The premise is that babies were fed purees when it was recommended they start solids at 4 months. Now the general recommendation is 6-months and at this age babies don’t necessarily need purees. Baby Led Weaning is about giving your baby finger food options from the beginning and letting them feed themselves. The pros: your baby feeds themselves and you can eat with them, not after them. The cons: be prepared for a mess and some food waste.

3. The Baby’s Table and Start Fresh!: Two books I love and refer to often. The Baby’s Table is excellent as it’s updated to reflect the latest Canadian baby feeding recommendations, and there are some great recipes in there. Start Fresh! is by one of my favourite chefs, Tyler Florence. Some of his flavour combos are unique and so good. He has an avocado, banana, and pineapple pudding that could be dessert for me. Many of his recipes are also online.

4. Baby Bjorn bibs  and Silpats as placemats – I am all about bibs with a pocket to catch the food, especially if you are doing BLW. These bibs are my go-tos as they are washable and easy to put on. I had trouble finding a good placemat that would stay put and not distract Tommy from eating. I returned the first set of placemats I bought because they were so colourful he just attacked them! My husband suggested using my silicone baking mat and it was a great idea. It’s food safe, stays put, and I don’t mind buying extras as I know I can use them for baking for years to come.

5. Zoli products and Wean Green storage containers – For on the go meals and food storage, I get regular use out of my Zoli Snack Stacker, and wean green glass storage containers. The Zoli snack stacker lets me compactly bring multiple food items when we go out for a meal. You can get Zoli products at Hip Baby, Jack & Lola and Saf & Benjamin. The wean green containers are the perfect size for little snacks or purees. You can freeze them, heat them, travel with them, stack them…you get the idea. And they’re a Canadian company too!

Modern Mama will be hosting an Essential Series topic on Nutrition in 2012. Stay tuned for details!


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As a follow-up to last week’s Christmas Shopping post, here are some more great & easy ideas to get your Christmas Shopping done in a snap! Get most of your shopping done earlier so you can get everything shipped to you, thereby skipping the need for line-ups, and all the last-minute mayhem that awaits! As a busy mom, this is my ideal method of shopping. I would not push it past December 15th to ensure everything arrives in time.

5 more great & easy Christmas ideas:

1. A box of gorgeous confections from Mink Chocolates. There’s giving chocolate and there’s giving chocolate. Mink is one of the best and they are a local company in downtown Vancouver. But you can also order online for shipping worldwide! I first discovered Mink via a friend, who gifted me an adorable Welcome Newborn Gift Box (complete with a onesie saying “If I’m crying, feed the nearest adult chocolate!”) when my son was born. Mink makes the most amazing chocolate bars with a great array of flavors and names. And be sure to peruse their gorgeous and colorful bonbons.

2. Spa gift certificates. You can give me a gift certficiate to a spa for $10 and I’ll love it. You know why? Because I’ll just HAVE to book an appointment to the spa as I have a gift certificate to use :-). And my favourite spas let you order gift certificates online or will mail them straight to you. Breathe Spa is home to the BEST facials and body scrub treatments in town. Truly. Go and you won’t regret it. Le Petit Spa offers excellent treatments and pedicures in a relaxing environment. They also have the best chocolate and cookie treats, amazing lavender tea, and wonderful staff. It makes for a perfect escape. Bloom Essentials is famous for their amazing Picasso Pedicures, painting your toes with the most beautiful designs. I have a Christmas holly painted on my red toes right now, courtesy of Bloom.

3. “Hoity Toity” Tea – The Urban Tea Merchant is home to some seriously amazing and high-end tea from France. The leaves are of the highest quality and taste and come in beautifully packaged tins. A special gift for any connoisseur of tea. Or, also consider the coveted Empress Tea Blend.  You can only have it high tea at the famous Empress Hotel in Victoria…or from the Fairmont Hotel Store online. You need to order a minimum of 3 boxes, but they make great little hostess gifts through the holiday season.

4. Theatre Tickets – Consider buying tickets to a local show – throwing in the babysitting makes it an event better gift! The Arts Club and Vancouver Playhouse both have a great selection of shows to choose from and it makes for a great night on the town for your gift recipient. Broadway show Jersey Boys is also coming to Vancouver in 2012 for the first time.

5. Museum/Activity Memberships – Gifting a year-long membership to a place like the Vancouver Aquarium or Science World makes for a gift that keeps giving and can appeal to a wide range of ages. My 30+ friend has a membership to the Aquarium and goes all the time  – it’s the place takes his nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Good luck with the last minute shopping!

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Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? If not, don’t fret. Here are our top tips and five places to get Christmas shopping done in a snap.

General rules for great gifts, easy:

  •  Make a list in advance. Write down all the people you want to buy a gift for, a budget per gift, and any ideas you have for them. If you know what you want you’ll spend less time wandering from store to store looking for “inspiration.”
  • Use the Internet. I regularly think of fun, random ideas for my husband and google them. In most cases, somebody sells my idea and I can order it online and get it shipped right to my door.
  • Edible gifts are always good. If I’m really stuck on ideas, I usually get something edible. Really, who doesn’t like a box of nice chocolates, cookies, or a box of tea? Just make sure you go somewhere special. No to Pot of Gold Chocolates, yes to Thomas Haas Chocolates, for example.
  • Shop in the morning or evening. Christmas crowds are building, but avoid the them by  shoping when there is less traffic. Go when stores first open in the morning, or later in the evening before they close (7:30pm is good for malls). Shopping quickly is difficult when there’s a 30 min. line-up to pay.
  • Ask for help. If you go to the right store (in my mind, local, small businesses), ask for ideas from the storekeepers. If you’re at a small business you’re often talking to the owner of the store, who is likely an expert in whatever they sell.
  • If you are really desperate – gift cards. If you find yourself on Christmas Eve with no gifts, the world of gift cards can be your savior. They’re not creative, but people like ’em. I like getting itunes gift cards as it opens up the options for what somebody can buy. 7-11 (open all the time!) now carries a great selection of gift cards.


But, please do some shopping in advance! Here are our five picks for great, all around great gift finds:

1. Chapters/Indigo, Kidsbooks, Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks – I love buying books for people. They are thoughtful gifts while still being easy to order, wrap, and give. Chapters/Indigo is of course a great source for all books (plus baby gifts, home decor, and cute things) and you can get a big chunk of your shopping list done on their website. However, if you have time, check out the local specialty bookstores. Kidsbooks on Broadway has an amazing selection of books and toys with a helpful staff. Similarly, Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks is a food lover’s heaven, stocked with every specialty cookbook imaginable.

2. Dilly Dally Toys – While there are many excellent toy stores in town, Dilly Dally on Commercial Drive is the one I love visiting over and over. It’s stocked high with amazing wooden toys for all ages. Even their business cards are designed for play! You can get gifts for all the kids (and a few adults) on your list here. The only drawback is that Dilly Dally does not have an online store. If you’re looking to shop online, I’ve been loving the wood toys at Pebble Baby lately.

3. The Regional Assembly of Text – If you’re looking for some beautiful, thoughtful gifts that won’t break the bank, check out this local stationary and gift store on Main St. The Regional Assembly of Text makes their gorgeous stationary and cards in Vancouver and celebrates the institution of letter writing and all things text-based. They also have a button-making station, and extensive stamp selection, and unique prints for tea towels, t-shirts, and onesies. There’s even a teeny kids section. Again, you’ll get multiple gifts in one stop at this charming store.

4. Williams-Sonoma – While this is a U.S. Chain (and I do love and recommend local shops Ming Wo and Cookworks), the thing about Williams-Sonoma is just how many silly things they have. Star Wars shaped cookie cutters and cake pans. 12 kinds of hot chocolate. Strange but kitschy kitchen gadgets. If you want to go for something you know your gift recipient would never buy, you’ll get some fun ideas here.

5. Front & Company – For the hipsters on your list, Front & Company on Main St. is a good stop. In addition to their affordable selection of new and consignment clothing, they have lots of accessories, topical books, and silly gifts (ie. bacon car freshener). Plus in addition to their main store, they’ve also got separate store fronts (right next door) for baby products, home decor, and gift items.

Enjoy shopping, have fun with it, and please do try and be done a little early. The best part of Christmas is wrapping the gifts (while drinking egg nog!), giving gifts, and celebrating the season. Not stressing about the shopping!

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