Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday I'm in Love - BeginAgain Alphabet Puzzles

They're new, they're bright and they are making my day. The shop just got a bunch of BeginAgain's new alphabet puzzles in and they are just so cute! Incredibly colourful and vibrant they are the perfect tonic for today's grey sky day.

Made of responsibly sourced Rubber wood (you know I love that!) each of the 26 pieces in each puzzle has one letter of the alphabet - one one side in uppercase,on the other lowercase. Each is carefully crafted and stained with child safe stain and comes in it's own beech wood box for easy tidy up and display.

Problem is, I can't decide which is my favorite! The dino, no... the butterfly... no, the, butterfly... *sigh*... see, I can't decide. Which do you prefer?

Monday, November 12, 2012

World Kindness Day

Today is World Kindness Day. It's a day look beyond ourselves, beyond the boundaries of our country, our cultures, races, and religions and realize we are an extended community. A world family. It's a day to practice random acts of kindness. A day to recognize that one simple act can change the world.

Seems impossible. How can one act make such a difference? But just think- there are over 7 billion people in the world. If for one day just 1% of those people made a point to do something extra, something  kind, made a positive d change in the way they related to others, maybe took the time to help a stranger. Could you imagine how much change could happen? How much happy? The world would be an immeasurably better place. We' probably have at least 140 million happy people - beneficiary and at least one benefactor.  And since those recipients of others kindness would be more likely to pay it forward it becomes exponential and those around them might get the bug to do something kind. It can bes infectious - just like a smile.

So it's a big thought that just needs a small act. You don't need to give a million dollars like Lady Gaga did to make a difference (course if you have it to spare it's a great idea!), maybe you have some food to share or simply some time to help someone. Every small act counts in this big world.

If your short of ideas there are many places to find inspiration. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation's website is full of ideas and stories. It's a great place to be inspired and even has a section for educators to bring kindness into the classroom through activities and lesson plans.  And then there's blogs like 366 Random Act of Kindeness where Ryan Garcia journals his daily acts to inspire.

At Little Footprints we carry Boom Boom Cards. These awesome decks of random acts of kindness are perfect to make being kind the ultimate game of goodness. I love them. I play them. Each deck has 26 cards of inspiring ideas to do and even blank cards to create your own action cards. It's a game of play-it-forward, the idea is to commit the act of kindness from the card you choose then take to the net and share your act with others on the Boom Boom site and then pass that card on to someone else. As the card goes from person to person the kindness grows and so do the stories linked to that card on the site. The most amazing thing is see how one act can move across the world and make a difference, Boom Boom's site links the cards and their stories on a world map so you can see how far your kindness can reach. With their Green deck, Teen deck, Family and Original decks there's enough inspiration to inspire great change and with all the decks costing under $20 taxes in, they make a wonderful gift to inspire others.
Boom Boom cards at Little Footprints
Sharing Random Acts of Kindness with Boom Boom Cards

So don't let the enormity of the idea that you can make the world a better place hold you back. Do one kind thing today that you normally don't do and join in the quest to make this planet a little kinder place for us all.

With love,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday I'm In Love with Rainbows

Wooden rainbow toy
Sunrise by Glueckskaefer

It's been really rainy and damp around here lately. It's the kind of rainy that doesn't come with many bouts of sun. The kind that makes you sort of glum. It's the kind of weather that keeps you from playing in the rain because there's nothing more miserable than a wet, cold kid being pelted with icy rain - or the sniffles that are bound to come after. It's the kind of weather where it's hard to find the silver lining, impossible to find the rainbows.

Capturing a rainbow on a road-trip
The kids and I are rainbow hunters. Every chance we get after a rain we look to see if we can find one. This year was a good year for rainbows, we found quite a few, even a double rainbow one day on a long drive through Ontario.

Rainbows are great. They have led to many fun and insightful conversations with the kids. In the early days a rainbow sighting was a chance to learn our colours and their order on the colour spectrum. As the kids have gotten older our conversations have turned more to how they are made by light refraction, about how the colours blend, if all the colours are present in the rainbow we see (not always!) and my favorite rainbow conversation of all time - where do they begin and where do they end. Kids have such wonderful imaginations and hearing them build stories around these places is always such a joy.

But it's not rainbow weather now and we don't know when or where we will see a 'real' one again. So rather than wait at the window looking we have brought our beloved rainbow inside.

The shop carries Glueckskaefer Sunrises and we have one at home. Made in Germany from sustainably sourced woods and non-toxic stains, this beautiful rainbow fills our den with colour and inspires our imagination. Sanded smooth and splinter free, this natural wood rainbow is beautiful enough to display and full of endless cheery fun. Both my 5 year old and my 8 year old enjoy the creative challenge it offers and it's limitless possibilities. Me, the ever geeky mom, loves watching them learn about balance as they try to build beautiful precarious structures challenging each other and themselves. Like the inuckshucks we see at our nearby beach, along the highway and annually at the Ex, the beauty of the build is found in the balance, the patience and the peace one needs needed to make it.

And it isn't just fun for kids, adults like me and their dad also love to see what we can build and if it will fall.

Balance build rainbow toy
A challenge at all levels
So as we hunker down for the on-coming winter it's nice to know all the pleasures of our beloved rainbows are not lost in the cold dark damp of the oncoming winter but alive and well in our hearts and our home as we play together.

A silver lining found in a simple toy, there's nothing I love more.

Thanks for stopping by.
I wish you a happy day full of rainbows and love,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mid-Week At My Place - Making bread the easy way.

I am very much enamored with homesteading. If you haven't heard the term before, homesteading is about getting back to basics and among those basics are making food from scratch and clothes yourself. While I love the idea and dream of my very own plot of land where I can have chickens and food gardens I live an urban life in the heart of Toronto. Chickens are not allowed (yet) and my backyard's a shaded postage stamp. Even if I could have chickens (to my husbands horror I've planned in my head how to use some of our garage as a coop) I'm pretty sure the racoons would dispatch my flock lickety-split. And like many other working urbanites my time to make food and sew my own clothes is limited - about as limited as my sewing skills!

But one thing I am able to do on a very regular basis is make fresh baked bread and one of my favorite breads to make comes from Michael Smith from the Food Network. I saw him make this "no kneed bread" couple years ago by chance and have become a fan of his since.

This month I got to tell Chef Smith how great his bread it when I met him at Blissdom, a social media event held annually in Toronto where he was promoting lentils (*yumm*). I was so excited to tell him how much we loved his bread. He was excited to see what my green streaked hair would do with the green screen he was posing for pictures in front of. In case your wondering it went from this
Me with Chef Smith. Green hair and green screen

to this
I'm blue!
But back to bread!

The recipe so simple it's insane. I can recite it by memory, and here it goes:

In a big bowl I add 3 cups white flour, 1 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup other grains (which I blitz in my magic bullet for the sake of my texture sensitive kid), 1/2 tsp active dry yeast, 1 1/2 tsp salt - I use ground sea salt, and 2 1/4 cups warm water. My grains and flour are all organic but you can use conventional of course. Mix until it's all a goopy glob, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a quiet place in the house for 18 or so hours. Once  the waiting game is done the goop/dough doubles in size and I take it out of the bowl onto a floured surface and with floured hands knock it down. It's quite the wet stringy dough - don't worry about that. At this point you have a couple choices as Chef Smith describes in his recipe. You can either let it rise again in a loaf pan or on a Silpat with a floured tea-towel on top. After 2 or 3 hours it has doubled again and can be baked. If you've gone the loaf pan route the oven should be at 425 and the bread goes in for 45 minutes. If you've gone with the Silpat you'll need to heat a cast iron or enamel pot with a lid in a 450 degree oven then flop your dough gently into the pot, bake for 30 minutes with the lid on then 15 minutes with the lid off.

The finished product looks like this
I would have showed you the whole loaf but it doesn't last very long around here!

The bread is dense, a bit moist, keeps well and really really good. I was asked to bake bread with my daughters class as they are learning about pioneers. I brought this recipe and it was a hit - I've even had parents come to me asking for the recipe after their kids came home raving about it. So if you've ever thought of making bread but haven't had the inclination to try I recomend you try making this bread or heck, it's so easy, get your kids to do it!

Thanks for stopping by, I'm going to go have some bread now.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday I'm In Love - The Art of Dino Rubbing

We went to the Royal Ontario Museum the other day to check out their awesome Dinosaur exhibit with friends. To make the trip a bit more fun I brought along a GLOB Artist Pad and a set of coloured pencils. My little guy brought his current favorite pen. I thought the kids might enjoy drawing bits of the exhibit but once we got inside I realized that as usual more fun is to be had when you go with the flow.

Once at the ROM my son immediately began journaling what he saw with his favorite pen.
 I just love watching him write!

When we got into the Dino exhibit we quickly discovered the images on the information plaques were raised. We figured this was for the visually impaired just like the Braille (very neat and smart the kids thought) but we immediately realized that this could make things even more fun for us too and grabbed our pencils to try a rubbing.

It worked beautifully!
Cool no?!?

The 70 lbs, 100% recycled, chlorine free GLOB paper was just thick and sturdy enough to do great rubbings without tearing or bunching. It even took well to both sides being used for rubbings.
My little guy rubbing away.
And once my daughter realized what we were up to she wanted in on it too so we tore a few pages out of the spiral sketchbook for her to run off to do her thing. When I caught up with her a bit later I saw she added her own ideas as like labeling each skeleton rubbing and even using the reliefs of people on the information plaques to define the scale on her drawings just like on the plaque.

Bringing the sketch pad made the exhibit even more fun and interactive for us and we've produced some great kid art that I'm looking forward to hanging on my wall.
GLOB Art Pad - Little Footprints Toystore

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Going Solar Part 2 - Halloween Treat

This is so the most awesome Halloween treat I've had yet. Would have been even better if the meter was in, then we'd be making energy, but we're close! We were off grid for the morning while we added this baby, fuses and breakers and got our system all ready to connect into the grid. Everything's back on-line now and we wait.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


There's a Pikachu hiding somewhere in here...


sew   sew    sew                                

                   cut   cut   cut    
                                                        paint    paint   paint

getting closer to finding him.........

Here he is!!!

And there he goes!!

Happy Halloween Folks!


Sugar-free Halloween Redux

We are ready for another Halloween in our house. Well almost. One kid's costume still need to spend some time with my trusty sewing machine before it comes to life tomorrow but at least we have our treats covered. And just like years before they have no calories, leftovers will never go bad and they make the kids scream for joy and even line up at our door.

Trick is our treats aren't candy. Not even coupons for the local fast food joints even cold hard cash. Round here it's loot and toys that makes our door popular and makes it fun for all.

Couple of years ago I blogged about how we do a candy free door here and just how we do it. If you want to read about my top tips for sugar-free treat dispensing you can find them all in the Trick or Treat post but if you just want some inspiration here's some eye candy a.k.a. this years Spooky Box of Treats.

This Years Sugar Free Tricks and Treats

To get into the spirit of things the kids cut spooky shapes out and glued them to a box covered in kraft paper (so we didn't see the stuff printed on the box) then we filled it with the loot we scored this year and any leftovers from previous years.

More fun than buying a plastic cauldron!

Making spooky shapes

Our Candy Free Loot Box

Course my kids went all squirrelly lining up the treats they thought visiting ghouls would like most based on what they themselves would want to get. Ipod and cell phone erasers were a hit with both my boy and girl. Cool patterned mini tape was further oohhh'd and aahhh'd over by my girl while her brother went straight for the slotted retro-80's glasses.... stickers, wooden paddle ball games, glitter glue, fun pencils and other fun stuff went into the box too. "Mommy, can we trick or treat at our own house?????!!!???" plead my kids.

I know not everything we bought is planet friendly and a lot is made out of plastic but I really believe that sometimes less than ideal is ok too. I'd love to give nothing but really green loot out at my door however I haven't found enough suitable variety yet. I'm content knowing that I'm not adding to the kilos of high fructose corn syrup that will be carted home tomorrow night and in knowing that we are giving out fun stuff and useful stuff too - without doling out toothbrushes and carrot sticks.

If your also in the candy free spirit this this Halloween let me know how you do your candy-free door! In the meantime please excuse me, I have a costume I better get back to sewing!

Have fun and thanks for stopping by,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday I'm In Love - All Natural Coverage

Image courtesy of Mindy McGregor
It's certainly getting colder outside and with the cooler weather comes dry and chapped skin and lips. Well, around here it does at least!

These are a couple of things I love to combat the elements and they are both wonderfully natural.

Grape Seed Oil
Ever since the kids were babies I've used grape seed oil on their skin and mine when we are all dry. High in antioxidants and non-comedogenic (won't clog pores or cause pimples) it isn't smelly, it absorbs quite well and doesn't leave us terribly greasy.  I love that it's always handy and the price can't be beat compared to store bought moisturizers.

Natural Lip Balm
I discovered Lady Bug Jane lip balms this year and couldn't wait to get them in the shop! Made of all natural 100% certified organic ingredients these balms are yummy - not to mention vegan, glueten-free, soy free, GMO and oh so importantly - chemical free!
Sweetened with organic stevia Lady Bug Jane balms come in a bunch of yummy flavors like Wacky Watermelon, Fresh Mint, ever popular Sweet Strawberry and even flavorless Natural for those, like me, who just want to care for their lips. Oh yeah! And they even provide some natural sun protecction (SPF8) using organic aloe and vitamin E.

So while I may not be that fond of the effects of colder weather I'm certainly happy to have natural ways to beat them!

Have fun today and thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Patch Fundraiser

Our school community has it's annual Pumpkin Patch fundraiser today. It's a very fun and unique event and it's part of why I think our school so great. Some very committed parents get up very very early to haul pumpkins off a farmers truck starting at 6:30am - 'course one very kind farmer gets up even *earlier* to bring them all the way into the city for us! - and many others baked all sorts of yummy treats or signed themselves up to stand outside for a while to man the tills and tables in our kindergarten playground throughout the day rain or shine.

The patch of hundreds of pumpkins for sale were joyously picked over in the morning by the kids while mums, dads and caregivers chatted over coffee and sweets. Lots of families take the chance to grab a great picture of the kids on pumpkins and later in the day the kids come down with their classes to check it all out. By the end of the day we only have a couple pumpkins usually left.

This year however must have been our busiest yet. By the ring of the bell there were only 70-odd pumpkins left without name tags on them, less than usual, and after seeing so many new wee ones in the playground I guess I shouldn't be surprised  - our community of families is growing rapidly around here.

So after the bell rang the Patch looked a little like this...

and the sugar filled kids? All in class.

Good luck teachers!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fridays I'm In Love... With Non-Toxic Halloween Nails

Image courtesy of
Tina Phillips
We all love getting dressed up from head to toe for Halloween, don't we. Costumes are so much more fun when we can pull it all together no matter what our age. Whats a Witch without ghoulish nails after all? Problem for me is regular nail polish is filled with icky stuff I don't like on my kids nails, or mine!

Luckily there's a fab alternative to traditional polish. Piggy Paints is a orderless, non-toxic natural polish is wicked colours including Halloween favorites like black, orange, toxic green, and even a glow-in-the-dark clear topcoat to make any colour or bare nails extra spooky!

I love this stuff. I love that it comes in fun seasonal colours and is gentle on our nails and the planet to boot.

 Have you tried Piggy Paints yet?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Going Solar - Part 1

We are going solar. Back in the spring we started to look into the viability of adding panels to our roof. I always thought that we would  be shaded by an adjacent roof turned out we were looking pretty good. We looked around, asked for a few proposals and settled on a company that was comprehensive in its service, conservative in its numbers and recommended a reliable and locally made panel system.

I really liked that our panels would come from a local manufacturer. Great thing about local sourcing, you don't have to keep large stock to achieve shorter turnarounds - no long boat-ride for product - you just need a flexible local manufacturing centre and you can make to order. (yippee local!) And once our our funding program application was approved we had a couple of guys on our roof installing rails  - didn't even take a day. Manufactured in no time our bespoke local panels arrived yesterday, made to our size requirements,  the guys started at 10am and were done by 3pm.

Our awesome solar babies look like this when they arrived...

and by the afternoon our roof looked like this!
In case your wondering the bubble where the missing panel is is our suntube, brings a wicked amount of passive light to an area inside.

Sadly, we now wait. We have to have the local power co. disconnect us so can power up then reconnect us again so we can start supplying power. This will take a couple weeks at the most to schedule in I hear. Once thats done we figure we will be able to produce enough power to cover Little Footprints electrical use and half our homes power use too. We have a handy online system that will helpus monitor our system and the energy we produce.

Stay tuned and I'll let you know how it is going!


October is Fair Trade Month

Did you know October is Fair Trade Month? Yes, indeedy it is! So like all other "Months"  it's a time to raise awareness - in this case for the reasons why fair trade is important.

You might be wondering why it's important to get behind fairly traded principles and goods. To invest in fair trade and ethically sourced goods is to buy and use socially and commercially sustainable, fair trade products in place of things which may harm the environment, the economy, communities and individuals. We can raise the quality of life, employment, manufacturing and ethical standards around the world - doing our own part to eliminate sweat shops, child labour and to ethically manage our worlds resources - if more often we were to say 'no' to cheap badly sourced stuff. 

For me it starts with considering the impact bad manufacturing has on the individual then imagining the bitter end. I would rather invest in something worth it's cost - 'course I'd like it to last but I would also like to know that the people who made it are living a decent life, that the resources used to make it are worth their investment in the goods, that they are properly derived and when it's all said an done - broke, mended and broke again - I'd like to know that it isn't going to last forever a toxic reminder of what was. That's something I'm happy to have in my life.

Fair Trade can make you happy to! Just give it a try. Look for Fair Trade labels and whenever possible do some research on the things you buy or shop with a retailer who does the homework for you and you can trust.


Saturday, October 13, 2012


It has been a very long time since my last post. For the past year I have been very focused on family. My aunt - my role-model, my mentor - was diagnosed with terminal stage 4 bone cancer three years ago and told she had about two years to live. She was an awesome woman. Smart, independent and loved by many. She spoke her mind, never worried if people liked it or not. She taught me to work hard, have convictions and most importantly, to act on them. She helped me through school, when my father had a massive stroke she helped me cope and adapt to caring for him, she helped me in all my endeavors and businesses. She was there when my daughter was born and she took care of my daughter when my son was born.

And she died this summer.

She surpassed doctors expectations, even without the chemo they said she would need to extend her life which she refused because she didn't want to dye plagued with the effects of the treatments. Our family was able to come together during her last week. My mother and uncle traveling from Europe to be here. We shared hugs and tears before the cancer which progressed to her brain and liver took her words, then her vitality, then herself.

Now we are beginning to heal. My mother has gone back home. My daughter has made the most lovely shrine to my aunt in her room and my son has finally begun to stop talking about how everything 'goes dead' when it is a bit sick or broken. The journey of mourning for my children has amazed me for their resilience as much as it has pulled at my heartstrings. My aunt was very much my daughters grand-ma. Never having had children herself she was my favorite relative to stay with when I was a kid and I always felt so very lucky to be able to see her be and do the same with my daughter. It kills me inside to know that this is over. She will never get another chance to hang with my aunt eating ice-cream in bed while watching a movie or listening to great music eating pizza. She will never get to see my little girl grow up.


I have all her albums and CDs now and have already begun to dole out her music for my daughter to discover.

We have our memories, our photos and videos to keep her alive in our hearts.  I'm thankful that I have this to share with my kids as they get older and begin to forget her as I know they will. It's inevitable, they are so young.

As for me. I am in a process of renewal. I dropped out of day to day for a while. In part because I didn't have it in me, in part because my aunt was a very private woman and I didn't feel right sharing my thoughts on her illness. Now that I am no longer focused on my aunt and the time we have with her I am coming back into my own. Healing my soul, renewing my focus in places like the shop and this blog. I'm ready to share again and I thank you for being here to listen.

It wont be so long till the next time I post. Promise