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Thursday 30 April 2020

Pikachu Marshmallows

At Mathilde's little Pokémon birthday party last weekend we made Pikachu marshmallows. They're super easy to make, taste yummy, and the kids really enjoyed making them. 

I had originally planned to make the Pikachu marshmallows in advance to serve up as a party food (as I had done for Ava's Pokémon themed 10th birthday party years ago) but then I figured that seeing as we were at home with access to a kitchen, it would be fun to make them as a party activity. And I was right! It was fun!

These little Pikachus are super simple to make and only need a few ingredients.

Here's how we made them...

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Mathilde's 6th Birthday

Last Friday Mathilde turned six. 

Given that we're all sheltering at home, a party with her classmates and friends was unfortunately out of the picture. But that didn't mean that there was no party at all. Originally I didn't think we'd do anything right now and save the party for over Summer when (fingers crossed) we can start seeing friends again. But a few days before her birthday Mathilde started talking about all the fun things she was looking forward to doing at her party. It occurred to me that there was no reason to cancel or postpone her party at all. Instead of celebrating with friends, we celebrated with just the five of us. 

Because we were busy with school at home on Friday we celebrated Mathilde's birthday with a small party on Saturday. It worked out quite well as Friday was rainy on and off, but Saturday had glorious weather.

Monday 27 April 2020

National Parks Week

This past week has been National Parks Week here in the US.

While we haven't been able to get out and about to explore any of our favorite parks, they have been on my mind. So today I thought I'd share the National Parks that we have visited so far. Some of these have been sprawling parks filled with majestic landscapes while others have been historic parks showcasing important moments from America's past.

Here's a look at the National Parks we have visited by state...

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Environmentally Friendly Products for Earth Day - and Every Day!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you shop through these links, however it will not cost you any extra. Thanks for your support!

Today is Earth Day!

Mathilde has been learning about helping the environment in her school work today and that's got me thinking about the things we do around our home (and out and about) to help mother nature. Recycling, shopping with reusable bags, using refillable water bottles, cleaning with environmentally friendly products, walking or biking instead of driving, getting our milk delivered in reusable glass bottles direct from the dairy... There are so many easy actions that we can take to do our part to protect the earth.

Today I'm sharing some of my favorite products that we use (or have used in the past) to do our part in helping the environment. As always, click the product name to shop!

Here's a look...

Around the home

There are so many small changes you can make at home to be more environmentally friendly. Planting a water wise garden, turning lights off when you leave a room, hang washing out to dry, turning the water off while you brush teeth, installing water saving shower roses and toilets, recycling and composting, switching over to energy efficient light bulbs, washing laundry with cold water...

Below are some products that we use around the home to lower our carbon footprint. I hang most of our washing out to dry rather than putting it in the dryer, and this handy clothes line holds a surprising large amount of washing. It also folds up quite compact for storage. When it comes to cleaning I like to use products that are available in refill packs to cut down on waste. Reusable paper towels and dishcloths are handy too. Reusable silicone bags are a great alternative to single use plastics when it comes to storing food. When it's not possible to bring a reusable lunch bag home I like to use compostable paper bags to cut down on waste. Speaking of waste, we've cut down on soda bottles by using a soda stream machine at home. It also encourages us to drink more water.

🌳 Leifheit Pegasus Clothes Drying Rack
🌳 If You Care Compostable Food Waste Bags
🌳 Stasher Half Gallon Size Reusable Silicone Bag
🌳 Method Dish Soap Refill
🌳 General Electric LED Light Bulb
🌳 Seedling by Grove Reusable paper Towel
🌳 Lunchskins Compostable/Recyclable Paper Sandwich Bags
🌳 If You Care Reusable Paper Towels
🌳 Seventh Generation All Purpose Cleaning Spray
🌳 Soda Stream Fizzi Sparkling Water Maker

Out and About

Doing your part for the environment can be just as easy when you're out and about as when you're at home. Pack a refillable water bottle so you won't need to purchase bottled water. Ditch the wasteful ziplock bags and pack snacks in washable silicone or fabric snack bags. These are great for dog treats when you're out walking your pup too. Speaking of walking dogs, don't forget the compostable pet waste bags! Much better for the environment than regular plastic bags. The dog snacks I've shared here are environmentally friendly too as they're made from food that would otherwise go to waste. The best way to do your part for Mother Earth when out and about is to ditch the car! If you're going too far to walk think about riding a scooter (it cuts our walk to school in half!) or riding a bike. A cargo bike is a great idea for lugging kids, shopping and other cargo. I had the older version of the bike pictured below and it was a great way to get around town with the kids.

🌳 Baggu Reusable Shopping Bag
🌳 Hydroflask 32oz Wide Mouth Water Bottle
🌳 Hydroflask 12oz Kids' Wide Mouth Water Bottle
🌳 Micro Kickboard Scooter
🌳 Lunchskins Zipper Set
🌳 Shameless Pets Dog Treats
🌳 Stasher Snack Size Reusable Silicone Bag
🌳 Yuba Mundo Lux Cargo Bike
🌳 Earth Rated Compostable Pet Waste Bag

Personal Care Items

Caring for the environment and caring for our bodies can go hand in hand. There are lots of great health and beauty products that are environmentally friendly, from products that cut down on wasteful packaging, products made from organic and sustainable ingredients, and products that replace single use alternatives. When it comes to washing hair, shampoo and conditioner bars are a great choice as they avoid wasteful packaging. You can store them in a soap holder and they're handy for travel too as they take up little space. Washing hair less regularly cuts down on water use, which is a plus for the environment, but it can lead to oily hair. Dry shampoo is a great option here but make sure to avoid an aerosol product. Removing makeup can be quite wasteful if you're using make up remover wipes or even cotton balls. I like to use the Make Up Eraser wash cloth to cut down on waste. I have no idea how it works, but it successfully removes even water proof mascara with just water! Periods can be pretty tough on the environment (and your wallet) when it comes to buying pads and tampons regularly. Period pants and menstrual cups are reusable options that create far less waste, save money in the long run, and can be a healthier choice with less risk of toxic shock syndrome than tampons. If you've got a baby in your family, or one on the way, consider switching to cloths diapers. They're a much better choice for the environment and they're substantially cheaper in the long term than buying disposable diapers. I used BumGenius diapers for both Lola and Mathilde, and they even went on to be used by a friend's baby after Mathilde no longer needed them. If you're not up for the extra washing, there are cloth diaper services available in most cities. They do all the dirty work for you and deliver clean diapers. To be honest though, I really didn't find cloth diapers to be much more work than disposables. Speaking of diapers, ditch the wasteful single use wipes and get yourself some snuggly soft bamboo or cotton wipes. I used the same ones for both Lola and Mathilde, and years later they still get used as face washers. You can simply use them with warm water to clean little bottoms or with a gentle cleansing spray. I used Tubby Todd Baby Fresh Spray for Mathilde. If you're nursing, consider using washable nursing pads instead of disposable. I found Bamboobies to be both comfortable and absorbent.

🌳 Acure Dry Shampoo
🌳 Bamboobies Washable Nursing Pads
🌳 Thinx Period Underwear
🌳 Make Up Eraser
🌳 Sustain Menstrual Cup
🌳 Soapbox Shampoo Bar
🌳 Thinx (BTWN) Period Underwear for Teens & Tweens
🌳 Lush Solid Shampoos
🌳 Lush Solid Conditioner
🌳 Lush Bubble Bath Bar
🌳 Charlie Banana Reusable Organic Cotton Wipes
🌳 Tubby Todd Baby Fresh Spray
🌳 BumGenius Cloth Diaper

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Easter 2020

Did you celebrate Easter this past weekend? Was it very different from your usual Easter celebrations?

Our Easter certainly was very different for us, and not because of the Coronavirus. As I shared in my previous post, we always celebrate Easter at home by ourselves, so there was no difference in that respect. What was different, however, was that we had a white Easter! Yep - it snowed here in Colorado! It was quite a lot of snow too and it continued all through Sunday and most of Monday.

The snow didn't stop us from celebrating though. In fact, an Easter egg hunt in the snow was much more entertaining than our usual Easter egg hunts. The kids loved it and I have to say that I did too.

Here's a look at our Easter Sunday...

Thursday 9 April 2020

How we Celebrate Easter at Home

Easter is coming up this Sunday. Are you ready for it?

I've been seeing a lot of discussion on social media about how to celebrate this holiday while sheltering in place. Parents wondering if the Easter Bunny should still visit. How can they make the holiday special for their kids while staying home. Maybe, Easter should just be cancelled altogether.

I have to admit that these discussions have left me a little confused. Sure, we can't meet up with other people, but apart from that how is Easter any different this year? As expats with no extended family in the same country (or hemisphere) our Easters are always celebrated at home with just our immediate family. To me, this is our normal, so Easter this year will be no different than any other year. In fact, this is also how I remember my family celebrating Easter growing up - although my Grandma did come and stay with us for Easter each year. Given that "normal" is different for everyone, I did a little digging and discovered that for many people Easter is celebrated with extended family and friends, as well as with community events. Without these events and the ability to visit family a lot of people are stumped on what to do to make Easter special.

Seeing as Easter at home is normal for us, I thought I'd share some of the ways that we make it a special day for the kid. As we're not religious most of what we do revolves around the Easter bunny and chocolate.

Here's a look at what we usually do for Easter Sunday...

Thursday 2 April 2020

Quick & Easy Meals: Tuna Mornay

With so many people looking for economical meals that can be made from pantry staples at the moment, I thought today would be a good day to share one of my go to meals for the family: Tuna Mornay. Now, if you're Australian, you're probably pretty familiar with tuna mornay. It's one of those meals that you rarely see on a menu, but every family has their own recipe.

Tuna mornay was a regular meal growing up and it is a regular meal for my family too. My kids love it and would happily eat it several times a week - which they usually end up doing as there are always left overs. If you're not Australian, there's a good chance that you have no idea what tuna mornay is. I just presumed it was a recipe known around the world until I moved to the US and discovered that my American friends had no idea what it was. I then figured it must be a commonwealth thing, but unlike most Australian foods that are actually really British, it turns out that my British friends aren't familiar with tuna mornay either. Nor are my German, Italian and Russian friends. Only my Australian friends seem to be familiar with it, and they all claim that their family's recipe is the best. But they're lying, because my Mum's recipe is the best!

You're in luck, because today I'm sharing my Mum's tuna mornay recipe with you. It's a recipe that I've thought about sharing here many times over the years, but never have for two reasons. First of all, it's one of those recipes that I've been making for so long that I actually don't have a recipe. The ingredients always stay the same, but I just wing it when it comes to the amounts. My Mum has always done the same, so when she gave me the recipe years ago, it was just a list of ingredients. Sharing my recipe here meant paying attention to the amounts I use, and I never think of that until after I've made it! The other reason I've never shared my tuna mornay recipe is that as delicious as it tastes, it's not a particularly photogenic food! You'll see! It's definitely one of those "tastes much better than it looks" meals!

Here's what you'll need:
1 onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
2 9oz tins chunk tuna in water (in brine is better if you can find it)
1 tin corn (drained) or 1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar works best but I used a Mexican blend here)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups pasta (I like penne or spriali)

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