Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer Cycling

This past Spring my eldest turned 7, and she was still only cycling a few hundred meters on a bike, in a field, before falling over.  We have enrolled her in Pedalheads (awesome program), but I realized a change wasn't going to happen unless we actively cycled with her.

Summer memories usually encompass a whole bunch of different things - but this Summer I can easily say, we cycled.  July saw me at first working with my eldest in the field, getting her comfortable going longer distances.  Still having to give her a push to get started.  My middle quickly wanted to join in, and we had him on a bike with training wheels for the first time.

My eldest got more confidant.  We moved from the field to the sidewalk (which terrified her but she did it!).  The middle joined in, and we spent most of that first Summer month, cycling in the cul-d-sac (a 800m loop), over and over.  My middle still went at a slow enough pace I would walk behind him with the littlest in a push trike.

Then end of July, I found I occasionally would have to run to keep up to him!  We were ready.  A friend let me borrow her trailer, and we were off!  I got on an old bike we had here at home, hitched up the trailer, and I cycled with them in the loop.  August hit, confidance was building, my eldest was no going downhill and making it up hills (!), and we started venturing out.

We went from a Summer of splash parks and playgrounds in July, to the kids only wanting to cycle in August.  We've been for donuts, for ice cream, for slushies, and to all sorts of neighborhood parks.  We even rode to a Drs appointment one morning! (the little two in the trailer, and the big one rode 9K!).

For our wedding Anniversary my hubby bought me a brand new bike, and we invested in a trailer of our own.  My eldest goes back to school next week, and we have created some really special memories.  I can't wait for the Spring, when the middle might get the training wheels off, and our cycling adventures can continue.  Until then, we have a few more weeks into the Fall, after school, when we can still get out.

Cycling our Summer away has been so much fun.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hexagon Birthday Quilt

For each of my kids, once they had transitioned out of a crib, and into a bed (corresponding to their second birthday), I made them a quilt.  My littlest one has been out of a bed for some time, so when her birthday approached this Summer, a quilt was more than necessary as she was outgrowing sleeping with her crib blankets.  I put it off for quite awhile though, only starting her quilt end of July, with a middle of August deadline.  Most naptimes, and evenings were spent at my sewing machine. The pattern came all the way from Ontario from a friend of my Moms who owns a quilt shop out East.  I loved it, but wasn't sure I could tackle it.

Could I really sew hexes?  I read the instructions and felt particularly like I was way over my head, but I decided to tackle it one step at a time.  The first task being to get a hexagon template the right size.  I thought I had it... and cut out all the hexagons, to realize I had the measurements THE WRONG WAY.  Quick math and I realized I could fix this by adding another row to the width, and two to the length.  Leaving me with mere scraps after all was said and done.

When all was said and done though, I am so proud of this quilt.  I love the colours, how soft yet strong it is, and that (I hope!) it can grow with her for years to come.

First night sleeping with her big blankie.
 I need to get some better photos of the entire quilt, but here is one a friend of my Moms snapped of it with daughter sitting on it for size comparison.

I wanted to have the quilt done, longarmed, and back to me for binding so I could have it wrapped for my little ones birthday.  Acorn Quilting was recommended to me by a friend, and the husband and wife team did not disappoint.  I had it to them on a Sunday, and a call came on Tuesday the quilt was done!  To top it off when I went to pick it up, they had rainbow loom bracelets for all three of my kids.  Now almost a month later, my middle still wears his on an almost daily basis :)

Now that I'm done having kids, and don't have anymore 2 year old quilts to make, I'm thinking on the idea of making one for my husband and I for our bed.  That seems like an even bigger job to tackle, the first part being landing on what colour palette to use.  I thought maybe I would be done quilting once the kids all had one for their beds, but it seems the quilting bug has bit a little bit ;)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Calgary Women's Run Race Review

I decided to do this run only a couple of weeks ago, with a few goals in mind:

1.  Run one more race before I turn 35.
2.  I've been feeling my legs are getting faster and I wanted to see how fast I could run a 10K.
3.  I wanted to run the 10K straight.  No walk breaks!

Some things I loved about the run:

The website didn't leave you with alot of info, but a week before the race, a two page word document was e-mailed out to participants with everything you could possibly want to know.  The bonus for me, was I could pick up the kit on race morning.  This race was sandwiched into a busy weekend, so this option was perfect.

The race started at 9 am and I got to the start at 8:30.  It started at Shouldice Park in the NW of Calgary, so parking was really only available in the neighborhood.  It was already starting to fill up.  I found a spot just a short walk to the finish, and everything was set up and ready to go.  The race kit had a $25 off coupon for the Tech Shop attached to the bib, as well as a Luna Bar and a copy of the trail Impact Magazine.  I don't have a photo of it, but the highlight was a reusable bag, bright orange with blue polka dots.  It screamed fun :)

Some things I found surprising:

Before the race started, the race director asked everyone to bow their head and pray.  This was not a Christian organized race, it was put on by the Calgary Road Runners and Tech Shop.  She said if you didn't believe the same you could plug your ears and bow your head.

As we walked to the race start she stated no earbuds.  If you wore them you would be disqualified.  At the finish, she did disqualify three runners!

The race was to start at 9 and we were well on our way at 8:58.  I saw a few runners dashing to the start.

Prizers were listed as being given out at 10:45.  She was drawing names by 10am when some were still crossing the finish line or running the course.  It would be unfortunate if it was one of their names drawn and discarded for not being present.

General stuff:

The course had three water stations, and bananas and cookies at the finish.  None of the tables were manned at the end, and I saw a few frustrated runners finishing to find all the water gone.

I have also never seen a race with so many post race prizes.  There was hot yoga for a year valued at $1200, pedicures (I scored one!), free shoes, crafts for kids, free race entries to upcoming Fall events.  It was pretty crazy.

The course was well marked though and essentially flat.  I found I could turn my iphone on full blast, had my earbuds tucked into my sweater, and could still pace myself with tunes.  My brother has informed me he doesn't run with music at all anymore.  I'm not there yet, I'm pretty music dependant.  Maybe this is something I can work towards.

I felt strong during the run and finished in 53:05.  I was nervous as I was running and saw the pace per k as 5:24, then 5:22, but it felt good so I kept at it.  I'm really pleased and proud with the result.

As for running the race again?  The verdict is still out.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pinata Cake!

My littlest just turned two, and I turned to the internet for some inspiration for her cake.  She has a rainbow dress that she loves, paired with rainbow tights (she dresses herself and has a strong opinion on clothes!).  A Google search on "Rainbow Cake" brought back this amazing pinata cake.  

I'm not sure who was more excited.  Me or my middle about candy spilling from the centre.  For no particular reason I settled on Gummy Bears.  He particularly wanted gum balls :) The rainbow and bears kind of made me nostalgic for the eighties and the Care Bears ;)

A few days before the party, I decided that if the outside was rainbow, perhaps the inside should be as well.  I used this Funfetti homemade cake recipe.  It was fantastic.  I made the cake on Friday and it was served on Sunday afternoon.  Even two days after the party it was still super moist.  Only change I would do, is the sprinkles could probably be cut in half.  I made three batches of it so I could make a double layer of the 9", as well as a dozen cupcakes.  The rainbow cake served all of our guests - 13 adults and 9 kiddos leaving the cupcakes for us to eat at home after the party was done.  The sprinkle amount you will need (as called for in the recipe) is one complete jar per batch.

After putting the gummy bears in, and finishing up the cake, I kept it stored in our undeveloped basement for the two days prior to the party to keep it cool.  I wasn't sure how the gummy bears would fair in the fridge.

Here's the finished cake (with the name smudged out).  I used Twizzlers Rainbow licorice for the front, and regular marshmallows cut into quarters for the clouds.  The birthday wish was piped on with Royal Icing.  The tiny marshmallows are a US speciality and are the Jet Puffed Mini Mallows.

The site said they recommended cutting it on the side so the candies would spill out.  Unfortunately that didn't work.  I have two theories on it.  One, the gummy bears are kind of sticky.  My son is probably correct that using gumballs or a hard candy would be better.  Second, I think my candy well wasn't deep enough.  A larger hole probably would have been better, as when the cake was cut the candies were kind of squished in.

 Once we got the cutting the center of the cake, THEN the bears spilled out.  No loss though, the kids were all thrilled with the candy in the cake, and my daughter was thrilled because it was CAKE!  I recommend this fun cake as well as the Funfetti cake.  Both were fantastic.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sharing a secret...

.. which maybe I shouldn't divulge until I am sure it is working, but I'm two weeks in and I can see a difference so I'm stepping out and sharing.

I'm going SHAMPOO free.  (And conditioner free too!)

Crazy talk?  Maybe.  But this could be good.  For the pocket book and my head.

Here's where it all started.  I went on vacation with my parents in July and took along a sample of shampoo and conditioner to use, saving me from packing my big bottle.  My sensitive skin had a horrible reaction leaving a rash on my neck.  My parents encouraged me not to use shampoo that week.  That they haven't used shampoo, other than maybe once a month, in a year.  What!?

Day 2 in and I couldn't do it.  My hair felt gross, and I started back on shampoo as soon as I got home.  Then two weeks ago, some friends on an online forum also started confessing THEY don't use shampoo.  And they shared their secrets.  Baking soda and vinegar.  I jumped on the bandwagon.

Week 1 I started gradually eliminating my normal shampoo (Dove), and using every second day a shampoo I had at home that was "safe" (sulfate and cone free).  My kids Burts Bees baby shampoo.  That first week my hair felt "dirty" and my scalp itchy.  Week 2 was the worst and my hair was SO tangly.  On the days inbetween the shampoo I used a baking soda solution and a rinse with WHITE vinegar.  My scalp was starting to feel better but to be honest, my hair felt NASTY.  Here's a picture from my daughter's birthday party this past weekend.  All I can see when I look at this photo is BAKING SODA.  Because that's how my head felt.  Coated in baking soda.

And I gave in yesterday and used a 'cone conditioner spray in because I couldn't handle the tangles.  Today I was ready to drive to LUSH to pick up a cone free conditioner to use.  Then luckily I found this blog.  And instead of running to LUSH, I had a shower and used APPLE cider vinegar.  I also used a baking soda paste rather than a wash.  Third I combed my hair while in the shower.  DUDES!  It worked!  My hair feels CLEAN, my scalp still feels good.  Week 3 is starting to feel like I CAN be shampoo free.

My plan for this week is to only rinse with water, using the baking soda and vinegar solution maybe part way through if I need to.  The other difference I notice is my hair feels thicker with more body.

I only wash my kids hair once a week, and thinking on it, their hair always looks good.  This week when I gave them their bath I used the Burts Bees baby wash on their hair.  This next week I'm switching them to my soda and vinegar routine.  Pretty soon we will all be product free with healthier happier hair.