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11 Beginner Tips for Growing Plants from Seeds

Are you a beginner gardener? While it may seem easier to start your garden from a transplant, or “ready-made” plant, growing plants from seed can be satisfying.

One of life’s hidden treasures is watching your seeds grow into healthy plants with edible fruits or leaves. This is a fantastic way to get into gardening early in the season.

If you’re new to gardening, start small and with a few easy-to-grow varieties. You’ll have the most success if you keep things easy. It’s easy to grow from seed to harvest with the right light and some basic equipment.

What is the best way to start plants from seeds? Here are 11 beginner tips for growing plants from seeds.

11 Beginner Tips for Growing Plants from Seeds

  1. Ensure that the timing is right.
  2. Use the right containers
  3. Make sure your soil is right
  4. Plant your seeds at the appropriate depth
  5. Water
  6. Maintain a constant moisture level
  7. Fertilize
  8. Keep the soil warm
  9. Keep air circulating 
  10. Seedlings need light
  11. Harden off your seedlings

seedlings growing in small containers

1. Ensure that the timing is right.

When planting seeds, the main aim is to get seedlings or plants ready to be transplanted outdoors once the weather permits. Check the back of your seed packet to see when you can start planting them inside and when you should move them outside. This may vary depending on where you live (gardening zone).

Starting seeding 6-8 weeks before the last frost is a good rule of thumb. While timing is key, don’t worry if you start a little early.

Some plants, such as beans and squash, grow so quickly that they don’t need to be started indoors. Read the seed packets carefully to find out which ones to start and which ones to guide sow, which means to plant them outside right away.

2. Use the right containers

You don’t want your containers to be too large or too small, so choosing the right ones is crucial. Choose a container with a depth of at least 2-3 inches and a width of about the same. This will encourage you to start your seeds without worrying about them being planted too deep or too shallow. Make sure there’s a drainage hole in the bottom. This is essential to avoid root rot and overwatering.

3. Make sure your soil is right

Watering and sunlight are essential, but so is soil composition. Purchase a test kit from Amazon, have your soil checked by a local nursery, or visit your local extension office, which will most definitely test it for free. When growing plants from seeds, it’s not a smart idea to reuse the potting soil from your houseplants. You shouldn’t use soil from your garden unless it’s freshly mixed soil that you haven’t yet planted anything else in.

Starting with a new, sterile soil mix is the best way to go. This guarantees disease-free, stable seedlings. The majority of potting mixes are devoid of nutrients. I know the bag says it will feed your plants for up to 6 months, but to ensure you get the healthiest plants, add your own liquid fertilizer a few weeks after the seedlings have sprouted.

Make sure the soil is moist until you start bringing it into the container. You don’t want the soil to be soaking wet or muddy in consistency. It just needs to be slightly damp. This means that the seeds have moisture right away, which aids in their germination. Moist soil also helps to nourish seedlings as they do not have their own established root system yet.

4. How deep should I plant my seeds?

One of the many pleasures of gardening is planting seeds. Here’s a little secret about how to always get the perfect depth. This is founded on a lot of trial and error over the years.

The general rule is that the seed should be planted twice as deep as it is long. So, what exactly does that imply? Let’s make things a bit clearer. Multiply the number of seeds you have by two. If your seed is 1/8 inches long, you can plant it 1/4 inches deep. Isn’t it simple? Most of my seeds are planted about 1/4 inches deep, as this tends to be the sweet spot for germination for most seeds.

5. How often should I water my seeds?

Water is necessary for the growth of seeds and plants. You don’t want to overwater or underwater your seeds so they won’t germinate. Begin with moist soil and water once a day. You may need to water twice a day if you live in a dry climate. Test to see if your soil is dry to the touch. If it is, a small amount of water should be added.

6. Maintain consistent moisture

Use a seed starting container with a lid to maintain a high level of humidity. This is an excellent place to launch your seeds. This is by far the simplest method for creating a high-humidity setting. Another excellent way is to sandwich your seeds between two damp paper towels and store them in a tightly sealed plastic container with a lid.

7. What temperature do my seeds need to be kept at to germinate?

The majority of seeds germinate at temperatures ranging from 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Hold your seeds at 75°F after they’ve sprouted. They will stay safe and flourish as a result of this.

8. Do I need to fertilize my seeds?

Although your seeds usually do not need fertilizer once they sprout and become seedlings, a weekly fertilizer will be required to help them develop a solid, safe root system. Understanding the basic needs of your seeds can be as simple as looking at the box they came in or doing a fast Google search.

9. Do I need to circulate the air for my seeds to grow?

Yes! Air is necessary for seedlings and plants to develop and thrive. Adding a fan to your setup can improve air circulation and help avoid damping-off, a seedling disease. Keeping the air moving around your seedlings will help them survive and develop into strong, healthy plants.

10. How much light do my seeds need?

Some seeds germinate best in the dark, while others need a moderate amount of light to germinate. You will find out what your seeds need by reading the box. All seedlings need light once they have sprouted. You can leave seedlings outside throughout the day (as long as it is warm enough), and then bring them back in at night.

This hardens them off while also providing them with the light they need to develop.

11. What is hardening off seedlings?

Hardening off the seedlings refers to preparing them for planting outside. Start by bringing your seedlings outside for an hour on the first day, then increase by an hour per day for the next 7 days. This will acclimate them to the outdoors. Then, you should be able to transplant them to their permanent location after a week of being outside for 7 hours at a time.

When your seedlings are outside for the first few days, provide them with shelter. Direct sunshine and windy conditions should be avoided. Allow them to grow stronger and more accustomed to being outside.

 

Plants from seeds are not difficult to develop, but they do take some planning and patience. You’ll have hearty, balanced seedlings in no time if you follow these steps! Get the kids involved in gardening as well – they’ll love getting their hands dirty, digging, and watching the seeds grow into full-size plants! 

 

 

Photos by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

5 Practical Tips to Help Balance Work and Family

Working from home has undoubtedly been the new norm since the Covid-19 pandemic hit every corner the world. At first, it looked like we would never get used to working, resting, and playing under the same roof, but that was not the case. It was just a matter of time before everyone got accustomed to the new norm and was able to move on with their lives. Except a group of people called MOMS.

Based on conventional perception, Moms are tasked with helping every family member strike a balance in their lives but don’t often get someone to do the same for them. This often makes being a working mom in the pandemic look like they’re running in circles without knowing how and when to stop. The struggle is real!

As a working mom during the pandemic, your life has always been about juggling simultaneously between multiple roles. One minute, you are putting the children to bed, and the next, you are clicking away on your laptop on the kitchen table while making breakfast. When you are not picking up Lego in the living room, you worry about cleaning up the mess around the house or doing laundry.

With these multiple tasks, lockdown for you as a mom has been overwhelming. And balancing work and family without losing your sanity has become so daunting.

You are not wrong trying to be the best mom to your spouse and children, even if it means putting your life, career, and work on the line. But does it really have to get to that extent? No, and it shouldn’t come at the cost of your own health and sanity.

So, we’ve compiled 5 practical tips to help you balance work and family without going to bed every night depressed, angry, stressed, and with aches in every part of your body.

5 Practical Tips to Help you Balance Work and Family

1. Set Boundaries

As a mom who wants to balance work at home and family, it would be best for you to establish a daily routine that clearly states your workday’s start and endpoint. Setting up a daily work routine means that you won’t be attending to one last report, opening just one more mail, or taking an unprecedented task once your work hour ends.

Setting boundaries and having a weekly work hour schedule is one of the quickest fixes to balancing your work and family life. Although, sticking to a strict work routine for weeks and even months to come may seem uneasy. But, the results should get you motivated to keep going for as long as you need to.

Now, your boss or clients will know not to ask you to take an assignment or order after work hours. Your family will become less intrusive since they know you have a routine that also has them included. Honestly, doing extra while working from home is just so inevitable. But, by setting boundaries for yourself, family, and work, you will always have enough time to balance each side, keep everyone happy, and improve productivity at work and in your responsibility as a mom.

2.  Define Your Workspace

Working from home has made it almost impossible to have a designated area just for work. A space where you can put your creativity, problem-solving skills, and brainpower to use. Working from home comes with a lot of flexibility that can mar your success at balancing work and family life.

Not defining a workspace means that you can work almost anywhere around the house, from the bedroom to kitchen, living room, etc. Carrying your work everywhere around the home simply means that you will likely be doing more work than you imagined.

It is crucial to set aside a conducive space for work. It doesn’t have to be a specially built room or office. An ergonomically-designed desk that lets you adjust between standing and sitting positions is ideal. Not defining a workspace that is free from any form of distraction will make getting jobs done on time a lot difficult. If you can’t get designated tasks done when due, you’ll need to spend extra time working. And that means less time for family and relaxation. 

3. Ask for Help

Though often difficult, please do not try to be a supermom who can do everything around the house alone without asking for help from anyone. You don’t need to be everything to everyone at all times – it’s impossible, and will lead to burnout.

Do you have family, friends or even neighbors that could help? Buy yourself some time by asking if your children can hang out, or play with their kids for an hour or two outside while you get things done. This will, of course, depend on where you live, and the public health restrictions for that area. If restrictions aren’t as severe where you live, make sure your safe “bubble” doesn’t have contact with a lot of others. Make sure they’ve been faithful with adhering strictly to the pandemic safety guidelines.

If you have older children, engage them around the house. Ask them pack to their toys after play, tidy up their rooms, and prepare their own snacks. Older siblings can look after younger ones – it’s also great babysitting experience. You’d be surprised at how well children love to take up responsibilities and do them even beyond expectations.

The bottom line is that you’ll achieve more balance in your work and family life if you can engage all family members to help with chores around the house.  

4. Make Weekends Count

So you’ve worked five days a week, and hard! You don’t want to ruin your weekend with that unannounced buzz on your work cell phone. If you can’t do away with being tempted to grab your mobile and have a glance at what’s going on in your email inbox or social media, it may be best for you to turn your gadgets off completely and keep them out of sight.

If you haven’t already, make it a point to start treating weekends differently and make them fun by enjoying quality time with your family. Weekends don’t come often, but if well-planned, they can be a perfect getaway from workday woes, and help strengthen your family life. It’s about balancing work and family, remember? Never take your work into your weekends. It just has a way of ruining everything!

5. Reflect 

Is your working from home creating problems in your relationship? What are the possible consequences if you don’t maintain a healthy work/family life? What will your life be if you continue to do what you are doing now for the next six months, or even a year? Do you need to prioritize your relationships more?

You need to be clear on why you need to balance work and family life in the first place. This will help you establish a purpose and direct the ideas we have shared with you in this post to achieve precisely what you are aiming for.

 

Learning to adjust can take a while, but incorporating these practical tips into your daily life could be the only thing you need to start having a happy family while also being productive at work.

 

mom working alongside daughter

 

Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Energy Bars

This recipe for Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Energy Bars is one you’ll want to tack onto your kitchen bulletin board for easy reference. Rather than buy a box of energy bars from the grocery store, you can make these fresh in your own kitchen.

These energy bars are a cinch to make at home; as long as you keep good stock of the ingredients. They’re quick and easy, gluten-free and packed with protein. It’s more economical to buy ingredients in bulk; I always keep a big container of Medjool dates and huge bag (Costco) almonds in the house as they keep well for several weeks.

These gluten-free energy bars are great for breakfast on-the-go, or for an afternoon pick-me-up with an almond-milk chai latte. I will usually go for two pieces because they are guilt-free!

When I make the next batch, I will experiment with adding some other nuts and seeds, and some dairy-free chocolate chips. I’d imagine you could increase the number of tablespoons of peanut butter and add oats to make a larger batch, but I’m also sensitive to oats, even if they’re made in a gluten-free facility.

Here’s my recipe for quick and easy gluten-free energy bars:

Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Energy Bars

Ingredients

2 cups pitted Medjool dates 

1 cup almonds

3/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut 

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1/2 tsp almond extract

 

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a Vitamix or high speed blender and pulse until the mixture comes together in a clump, about 2 minutes in the Vitamix.
  2. Spoon our mixture into a parchment-lined 8×8” pan. Place another piece of parchment paper on top and press down with hands.
  3. Refrigerate for about a half hour to firm up.
  4. Slice into squares or rectangles. Sprinkle some cocoa powder on top, or drizzle with melted chocolate.
  5. Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Almond energy bars

Yield: 10 squares

Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Energy Bars

Almond date energy bars on a plate

This recipe for Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Energy Bars is one you’ll want to tack onto your kitchen bulletin board for easy reference. Rather than buy a box of energy bars from the grocery store, you can make these fresh in your own kitchen.

These energy bars are a cinch to make at home; as long as you keep good stock of the ingredients. They’re quick and easy, gluten-free and packed with protein. It’s more economical to buy ingredients in bulk; I always keep a big container of Medjool dates and huge bag (Costco) almonds in the house as they keep well for several weeks.

These are great for breakfast on-the-go, or for an afternoon pick-me-up with an almond-milk chai latte.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pitted Medjool dates 
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut 
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Instructions

    1. Place all ingredients in a Vitamix or high speed blender and pulse until the mixture comes together in a clump, about 2 minutes in the Vitamix.
    2. Spoon our mixture into a parchment-lined 8x8” pan. Place another piece of parchment paper on top and press down with hands.
    3. Refrigerate for about a half hour to firm up.
    4. Slice into squares or rectangles. Sprinkle some cocoa powder on top, or drizzle with melted chocolate.
    5. Store in an airtight container.

    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    10

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 274Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 87mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 6gSugar: 32gProtein: 5g

    Squares of almond and date energy bars

    Do You Have a Word of the Year for 2021?

    Let’s never speak of 2020 again, shall we? I don’t think there’s ever been a year people around the world have collectively wished to be OVER than this past year.  While the pandemic won’t magically disappear in 2021, there is a renewed sense of hope for better days ahead.

    With the promise of a number of vaccines, and the eventual trickle down of people receiving it, we can hopefully see our lives returning to normal at some point this year. But the process will be slow… and it makes me wonder how many more months of this limbo-state will we have to endure.

    Usually, I like to take time during the first few days of January to reflect on the past year, and then create a WORD, an intention for the upcoming year. A mantra of sorts.

    But because of Covid, I think it’s fair to say we’ve all had much more time and reason to reflect. Many of us have been forced to get back to the basics, and practice gratitude for good health, family, and even food and shelter.

    So how can I drum up the desire to create a new word for 2021 when 2020 was such a disaster?

    Well, it was also an eye-opener, in many respects. Sure, it was frightening and precarious. But it was also eye-opener in many respects. Grounding. There are always lessons to be learned from difficult periods, as long as we realize them and use them towards positive change. And we must hang onto those simple yet profound moments (and people) that make life truly meaningful.

    Despite the hardships and challenges of last year, I do think it’s still worthwhile to create a WORD for 2021. After all, with all of the lessons and reflections, that word might be greatly different than previous years – and possibly simpler too.

    Do you have a word of the year?

    Choosing one word to sum up a theme for the upcoming year is no easy task. What one word can represent all of the things you hope to be, do and achieve?

    My word in 2014 was flourish as I looked to expand my business. I couldn’t choose one word in 2015 so I opted for three, while in 2016, my word was nurture. In 2017, my word was manifest; In 2018, I chose three theme words as I couldn’t narrow down to one. My 2019 word was pivot, and open in 2020.  

    What is your word for 2021?

    Do you have a theme word for 2021? Narrowing your goals for the year to just one word can be a challenge. But what would your word be?

    My word is a simple one this year.

    Most of us spend many of our waking ours thinking, planning, analyzing, and worrying. Add in technology and social media, and it’s a recipe for mental overload, overstimulation and exhaustion.  This past year has been particularly challenging, pushing many of us into a psychological tailspin. Those who never suffered anxiety or depression were suddenly catapulted into caring for their mental health and prioritizing self-care.

    Part of that self-care means more people were taking walks outdoors, going on nature hikes, baking and cooking, spending more time with family, taking up a new hobby, starting a new exercise regimen, practicing yoga or meditation – simpler things in life, unmaterialistic things, that ground us.

    So my word for this year is grounding.

    Grounding

    A practice I began some time ago but truly made priority this past year. It must continue through 2021 – and always for that matter.

    There’s a scientific reason why grounding, or earthing, is good for you; connecting with the Earth’s electrons has been found to promote physiological changes including better sleep and reduced pain.  

    Grounding also connects us with the here and now, the present moment. Grounding creates calm, contentment, decreases stress and anxiety, and allows us to live in the moment and appreciate what matters most in life. It’s a way to connect deeply with the earth and our own bodies and souls, reminding us of our part in this vast universe.

    Grounding for me also means feeling stability and security, something that has been lacking for some time. While last year, I was open to receive opportunities, this year I must stay grounded and nurture what I have.

    What is your word for 2021?

    Do you have a word of the year? amotherworld.com

    Do You Have a Word of the Year for 2021?

    How to Have a Fun New Year’s Eve This Covid Year

    New Year’s Eve is going to look a whole lot different for many people this year because of Covid-19. It won’t be much different for us as we usually spend New Year’s Eve at home. But for others, New Year’s Eve usually means going out for dinner, a banquet hall for a dance, or a night on the town.

    This year, many places have restrictions and here in Ontario, we’re in a lockdown which means all non-essential businesses are closed including restaurants, bars and large social gatherings. So what can you do for fun this New Year’s Eve if everything is shut down?

    Well, guess what? You can still have a fun New Year’s Eve this Covid year! Here’s how to have a fun New Year’s Eve this Covid year:

    How to Have a Fun New Year’s Eve This Covid Year

    Virtual event.

    Sure technology has a few downsides, but this year, being able to connect virtually has been a lifeline for work, education and keeping in touch with friends and family. Many businesses have pivoted to online, with creative ways to keep people engaged and spending their hard-earned money. There are many online games, classes, tours and activities that you can participate in virtually, and there is no better time than on New Year’s Eve. Join a virtual event

    Toronto is hosting a variety of virtual events, here is a list of them: 15 virtual events for New Year’s Eve 2021 in Toronto (blogto.com)

    Scavenger hunt.

    Arrange a virtual scavenger hunt with some friends or family on a Zoom call. Virtual scavenger hunts are remote games where players have to collect items and finish challenges before time runs out. Since we can’t go out to find things, this idea is to finish items in your own home, and fulfil the challenges at home as well.  Accomplish all the tasks and find all the items and present them to your challengers via video call. Here are some fun ideas: Virtual Scavenger Hunt Ideas & Sample Lists (teambuilding.com)

    Virtual escape room.

    Another idea is to partake in an online escape room. How does it work? Teams are placed within a virtual room and presented with a mystery. They then have to crack codes or complete challenges to escape. Here are some of the best escape rooms to try this year: The best virtual escape rooms to play with friends this New Year | Spectator Life

    how to have a fun New Year's Eve This Covid Year

    Board game night.

    Pretend the internet is down, and the TV can’t connect and bust out the old board games for a night of laughs and challenges. Our favourites here are classics like Monopoly, Game of Life and Clue, and the newer fave, Speak Out. Playing a game of Spit, 21, or Gin Rummy with a regular deck of cards is also fun, and even more competitive when there is a small reward involved. Enter to win the board game Clue here: Holiday Gift Guide for Kids and a Giveaway! amotherworld

    Karaoke fun.

    A karaoke machine is also a fun way to spend the evening. Belt out your favourite tunes while your children watch on, and your teenagers roll their eyes at you. Want to include family members outside your household? You can connect on Zoom, Watch2Gether, or Houseparty, the video-calling app that makes for an easy and fun virtual gathering. Here’s how to set up a virtual karaoke party with your friends and family online:  How to Throw a Karaoke Party on Zoom | WIRED

    Video game tournament.

    Have a video game tournament with the family. My boys love playing NHL hockey on the PS4 against each other. The kids have been playing multi-player virtual games such as Fortnite and Minecraft for some time now, so they know how valuable gaming is to connect with their friends. This is how the new generation Z socializes, especially this past year.

    For the musically-inclined, compete in a round of Rock Band, or have a Just Dance competition in your family room. If you don’t know how to set it up, just ask the kids – they are likely much more technically savvy than you are!

     

    Get dressed up.

    Closets full of clothing but nowhere to go? Now is the time to dress up in fancy outfits and take photos of one another. The dress you were supposed to wear at your child’s Grade 8 graduation, or the fundraiser event that was cancelled this past summer? Wear it on New Year’s Eve. Might as well get a little fancy, even if you have nowhere to go!

    Create some new photo memories.

    While you’re all dressed up, arrange a photo shoot. Take some pics for memories because 2020 has been like no other, and for social media if you dare. Feeling spunky? Perform a few silly dance videos while you’re dressed up and post them on TikTok.

    Can’t be bothered to get out of our pajamas? Totally understand! Instead, stay cozy in your loungewear and take some fun photos with the family with face-changing apps on Snapchat or Instagram. Silly faces are optional.

     

    Stay safe and have fun! Happy New Year!

     

    How to Have a Fun New Year's Eve This Covid Year

    Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

    Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash

     

     

    Holiday Gift Guide for Kids and a Giveaway!

    This Christmas is like no other, but that doesn’t mean our kids can’t enjoy some magic this holiday season! Despite the restrictions due to Covid-19, Santa is still planning to bring gifts to all the girls and boys across the world! Didn’t you hear? Santa already received the vaccine! Dr. Anthony Fauci himself travelled to the North Pole to make sure Santa is protected while he, Rudolph and his reindeer deliver presents on Christmas Eve.

    Here are the hottest toys this holiday season, and thanks to the lovely toy-makers, I’m giving some away too, thanks to Hasbro! So here’s a holiday gift guide for kids and a giveaway too!

    Holiday Gift Guide for Kids and a Giveaway!

     

    furReal Mama Josie the Kangaroo

    This Mama Josie the Kangaroo interactive pet toy is as loveable as her cute little babies. One baby ‘roo is a boy, the other a girl, and the third one is a surprise! Unbox all 3 for the big gender reveal. Then this loving mama can care for her little ones and play with you, too, responding to touch with 70+ sound-and-motion reactions, including loving sounds (little kisses!), feeding sounds (sometimes a hiccup, too… or a burp).   Mama Josie joins in on the fun too – she can do a hopping dance and play music at the same time.  Ages 4 years & up $89.99 at Toys R Us.

    Holiday Gift Guide for Kids - furReal Mama Josie the Kangaroo

    Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Drizzy Ice Cream Playset

    Ahhh playing Play-Doh is always fun when you’re a toddler/pre-schooler. Play-Doh has so many fun sets to choose from, but this one is super fun. Now you can drizzle a crazy candy coating on your Play-Doh ice cream creations! For the first time ever, this toy ice cream set comes with Play-Doh Drizzle compound – a pretend syrup that turns into a pretend candy shell when you drizzle it on top of regular Play-Doh compound. Load Play-Doh and then press the handle to create colorful sundaes and cones. Squeeze some drizzle on top with the two included bottles of Play-Doh Drizzle and add fun Play-Doh sprinkles and candies to decorate for your pretend ice-cream stand.  Great for kids 3 years and up, or just a fun arts and crafts activity $19.99 at Mastermind.

    Gift Guide for Kids Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Drizzy Ice Cream

    Disney’s Frozen 2 Elsa and Swim and Walk Nokk

    Kids and fans who were enamored by the majestic water spirit in the movie can take it home with them in the form of this Disney toy. The Swim and Walk Nokk toy swims when you put it in the water and walks when you put it on land (best on hard, flat surfaces). The Elsa doll fits on the Nokk’s back so they can embark on epic adventures together, wherever your child’s imagination takes them! The Elsa fashion doll has a molded blue bodice with long sleeves and a removable blue skirt.   Ages 3 and up, $99.99 at Chapters Indigo.

    Holiday Gift Guide for Kids and a Giveaway! Disney Frozen 2 Elsa and Swim & Walk Nokk

    Some more gift ideas for kids!

    Marvel Spider-Man and Avengers Bend and Flex Action Figure Toys

    Love these fun and flexible action figure toys from Marvel. Kids can bend, flex, pose, and play with their favorite Marvel Super Heroes with these super agile Spider-Man Bend and Flex Figures. These stylized Super Hero action figures have bendable arms and legs that can bend and hold in place for the picture-perfect pose. Collect all the characters inspired by Marvel Universe – with a twist.  Ages 6 and up $12.99 at Canadian Tire.

    Gift Guide for Kids Marvel Spider-Man and Avengers Bend and Flex Action Figure Toys

    Transformers Bumblebee Cyberverse Adventures Trooper Class Bumblebee

    Transformers have been around since I was a kid, and they’re one of the best-selling toys of all time!  Transformers are living, human-like robots with the unique ability to turn into vehicles or beasts. Now, the Battle for Cybertron is on and kids can join the heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons with each Bumblebee Cyberverse Adventures character.  Will those powers be used to defend Cybertron… or threaten it? With Battle Call Trooper Class figures, kids can lead the charge to action with voice-activated Energon Power lights and attachable Energon Armor.  Ages 6 and Up, $34.99 at Amazon.

    Holiday Gift Guide for Kids Transformers Bumblebee  

    Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition

    He looks like “Baby Yoda,” but this creature is called The Child, and your child can be his “parent”. Touch the top of The Child Animatronic Edition’s head and hear over 25 sound and motion combinations, including happy and excited sounds, giggles, babbles, and more. The Child’s head moves up and down, ears move back and forth, and eyes open and close. Boys and girls ages 4 and up can pretend to harness the power of the Force as The Child toy closes its eyes, raises its arm, and sighs too!  For Ages 4 years & up. $79.99 at Hudson’s Bay.

    Gift Guide for Kids Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition

    DreamWorks Trolls World Tour Pop-to-Rock Poppy

    In the movie Trolls World Tour, Queen Poppy and her friends go on an epic, Trolls-tastic journey to save all music! Now kids can go on their own journey of imagination with DreamWorks Poppy with the DreamWorks Trolls World Tour Pop-to-Rock Poppy Doll. This musical toy has 2 different looks and 2 different sounds–pop and rock. Hand Poppy her ukulele and push the button, and kids will hear a pop version of the song “Trolls Just Want to Have Fun” from the movie. But when they put the rock ‘n roll outfit on Poppy and hand her the electric guitar, they’ll hear a hard rock version of the same song! Kids can pretend that Poppy is performing for her friends and sing along! Ages 4 years & up.  $39.99 at Walmart – on sale for $19

    Holiday Gift Guide for Kids DreamWorks Trolls World Tour Pop-to-Rock Poppy

    Beyblade Burst Rise Hypersphere Vortex Climb Battle Set

    Launch into Beyblade Burst – the competitive battling top system designed for epic head-to-head battle games. With interchangeable components, each spinning top toy unleashes its own skills and thousands of possible combinations. Let it Rip!   Hypersphere Vortex Climb customizable Beystadium consists of 4 sections specially designed for exciting Beyblade Burst battles. Climb up the ramp to speed up your attack in the Battle Axis, then drop in from the top level for head-to-head collisions. Get the drop on your opponents for exciting, high-intensity battles!  Ages 8 and up $79.99 at Chapters Indigo on sale for $54.50

    Gift Guide for Kids Beyblade Burst Rise Hypersphere Vortex Climb Battle Set

    Clue Liars Edition Board Game

    Clue Liars Edition board game means players use Investigation cards (there are 6 Lie cards and 6 Truth cards) to help them figure out who killed Mr. Boddy in the mansion.  Players pick a card and read it out loud, trying to play it cool and convince other players that they’re telling the truth … even if they’re not. If a player suspects they’re lying they can call that player out by hitting the Liar Button. Were they caught lying or were they telling the truth? Either way, an Evidence card is revealed and players move one step closer to cracking the case. When a player is ready to make an accusation, they secretly look at the cards placed inside the case file envelope to reveal Who, What, and Where. A correct accusation wins the game! Ages 8 and up.  $29.99 at Toys R Us.  

    Gift Guide for Kids Clue Liars Edition

     

    ENTER TO WIN

    Enter to win the following toys from Hasbro:

    • Beyblade Burst Rise Hypersphere Vortex Climb Battle Set
    • Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Drizzy Ice Cream Playset 
    • Clue Liars Edition Board Game

    Holiday Gift Guide for Kids plus a giveaway

    A $190 value! To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter below. Open to Canada only. Contest ends 11:59 p.m., December 31, 2020.

    Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    This is the Largest One-Stop Shop For All Things Home and Renovations

    Like most people, we have been spending most of our time at home thanks to Covid-19. A couple of years ago, we turned our unfinished basement into a usable living/entertaining space, third full bathroom, and storage area. It was a decision made because of the rising home prices in our area; to move to a slightly larger home would mean spending at least $100,000, not including realtor commissions and transfer fees. Staying put in a home and neighbourhood we love made the most sense.

    And thankfully, it was completed before the pandemic hit because we needed the extra space! Having two teen boys stomping around the main floor was not conducive to a calm and quiet working and remote learning environment. The boys and their father have taken over the “man cave”, while I’m quite content with my cozy family room/yoga space.

    This is the largest one-stop shop for all things home and renovations.

    But boy do I wish I knew about Improve Canada then!  This is the largest one-stop shop for all things home and renovations.

    Improve Canada is Canada’s largest centre for home improvement, conveniently located in Vaughan off Highways 400 and 407. There are over 350 showrooms to improve your space, including kitchen and bathroom, basement, flooring, tiles, backsplashes, home décor and art, backyard landscaping and pools, custom furniture, general contractors, and interior designers all under one roof.

    Best of all, it’s Mike Holmes approved!

    This is the largest one-stop shop for all things home and renovations This is the largest one-stop shop for all things home and renovations

    Get a personalized visit. 

    You can visit and browse at your leisure, but for a more personalized experience, the centre offers booking appointments for you so that you can have the best shopping trip, as well as due to Covid-19 restrictions and for safety purposes. Also, depending on when you are visiting, it’s best to book an appointment to ensure the showrooms are open and not busy with other scheduled visits.

    When you call the customer service team, they will ask you questions about your needs and they will set you up with the best experts for your renovation.

    There is so much inspiration to be found here! During my trip, I visited several showrooms.

    Here are just some of the showrooms at Improve Canada.

    This is the largest one-stop shop for all things home and renovations
    GT Kitchen & Bath

    GT Kitchen at Improve Canada
    GT Kitchen & Bath

      Artistic Mosaic at Improve Canada
      Artistic Mosaic

      Artistic Mosaic at Improve Canada
      Artistic Mosaic

    Pyramid Contractors at Improve Canada
    Pyramid Home Improvement And Renovation

    Pyramid Contractors at Improve Canada
    Pyramid Home Improvement And Renovation

    Glam Décor at Improve Canada
       Glam Décor

    Glam Décor at Improve Canada
       Glam Décor

    Glam Décor at Improve Canada
       Glam Décor

      Oak & Tenon at Improve Canada
      Oak & Tenon

    The House of Interior Design at Improve Canada
    The House of Interior Design

    The House of Interior Design at Improve Canada
    The House of Interior Design

    The House of Interior Design
    The House of Interior Design

    Not Art at Improve Canada

    Not Art

    Indulgences Art Gallery at Improve Canada
    Indulgences Art Gallery

    Harmony at Improve Canada
    Harmony

    Harmony at Improve Canada Canada's Largest Home Improvement Centre
    Harmony

    Improve Canada home renovation centre

    Improve Canada

    Azure Design Studio at Improve Canada
    Azure Design Studio

    Azure Design Studio at Improve Canada
    Azure Design Studio

    Azure Design Studio at Improve Canada
    Azure Design Studio

    Bathroom renovation Improve Canada Bathroom renovation Improve Canada

     

    Book an appointment.

    Improve Canada is located at 7250 Keele Street, Vaughan. Call them to book an appointment at (905) 677-2577. Visit them at Improve Canada – Canada’s LARGEST Home Improvement & Renovation Centre

    Spring 2021?

    We are looking to renovate our kitchen – hopefully, this coming spring/summer.  Stay tuned for my next post about some of the kitchen ideas and inspiration I received from Improve Canada! 

    This is the Largest One-Stop Shop For All Things Home and Renovations | Improve Canada | amotherworld.com

     

    This post is proudly sponsored by Improve Canada. As always, the opinion expressed herein are my own.

    Holiday Gift Guide for Her – The Weird 2020 Version

     These holidays will be like no other we’ve experience in my lifetime! This will be the first Christmas I’ll be spending without my parents and siblings, nieces and nephews, in-laws and extended family, thanks to COVID. This is the weird 2020 version of the holidays that we haven’t witnessed ever before.

    So my husband, boys and I will celebrate this Christmas in our own little bubble at home, and I’m truly thankful for having that. We’re still going to buy gifts, decorate the house, bake Christmas desserts, and a big Christmas feast – but just for the four of us. I’m still planning on making my holiday gift wish list – because moms deserve it!

    So here’s a holiday gift guide for her – the weird 2020 version – because there’s never been a weirder year than 2020.

    Holiday Gift Guide for Her – The Weird 2020 Version

    Sonja Morgan Holiday Dress

    Nowhere to go but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up at home for Christmas Eve. Yes, it’s time to get out of those sweats and dress up a little for the holidays. I’ve been cheering on Sonja Morgan as she launched her clothing line on the Real Housewives of New York. Sonja always looks amazing, and some of the outfits she wears are from her own Sonja Morgan line. They’re chic and trendy, and the best part, affordable! I love this Leopard Robe dress, which is perfect for dressing up for your holiday party this year – at home with members of your own household, of course!

    $132 Sonja by Sonja Morgan

    Holiday Gift Guide Sonja Morgan dress

    Handmade Beaded Bracelet

    This past summer, my 13-year-old son wanted to start a business. Of course, I wanted to encourage his entrepreneurial spirit and helped him launch DNNY Co, a bead bracelet company. Together, we’ve created glass bead bracelets, semi-precious gemstone bracelets, letter-name bracelets, and custom bead bracelets, as well as some polymer clay pendants. Ten percent of proceeds are being donated to Sick Kids Foundation!  $10 and up   DNNY (@dnny_co) 

    Holiday Gift Guide for HER - beaded bracelets

    New York hat & masks

    I miss travelling, and one of my favourite cities is New York. But since we can’t travel right now, I can pretend by wearing these awesome face masks and toque by Love NYC Souvenirs. For the past 10 years, the owner has hand-picked the best-selling souvenirs in New York City.  The New York Night Skyline face mask is my fave! And the New York hat is warm enough for cold winter temps!  $16.99 hat   $9.99 mask

      Holiday Gift Guide NY Souvenirs

    * M O R E   G I F T    I D E A S    H E R E *

    Nixplay Smart Photo Frame 10.1 inch (Wi-Fi)

    Since we can’t all be together this holiday, we can still share photos of our loved ones. Nixplay is a smart Wi-Fi digital photo frame is a great gift for new parents, grandparents, newlyweds, college kids or families separated by distance – and Covid. You can share images to your loved ones’ smart frames and invite others to share pictures to your frame. Send unique photos or playlists to separate frames and grow your private family sharing network with smart photo storage.  $179.99 Nixplay.

    Holiday Gift Guide for HER - Nixplay Smart Photo Frame

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg Supreme Mug

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a legal, cultural and feminist icon, fighting for women’s rights during the years she served as a Supreme Court justice in the U.S. Her passing this September was felt by women around the world. This is a must-have for your morning-motivation coffee or tea!  $20.00 DinkusInk.com

    Holiday Gift Guide Ruth Bader Ginsburg mug

    Handmade Pottery 

    This year is also about buying local. So many small businesses are suffering because of lockdowns and closures, while big-box stores continue to get richer. Support a small biz like Love Your Mother Pottery, a family business based in the Toronto area that offers locally sourced, eco-forward products that cater to your everyday sustainable lifestyle.  Sarah is one of the founders of Love Your Mother, and their beautiful pottery is handmade by her grandmother and glazed by her mother!

    Each piece is unique and can be used in a variety of different ways. Whether you are looking for a home for your plant, a spot for your jewelry or nicer way to enjoy your tea, these porcelain beauties will brighten up your space and connect you back to the Earth.  Prices vary: Love Your Mother Pottery

    Holiday Gift Guide Love Your Mother Boutique

    Stephanie Anne McKay Art

    Here’s another creative who you should support, Stephanie Anne McKay, a talented fashion artist and illustrator from Montréal, Canada.  Her specialty is watercolour abstract art, but she’s also known for her live sketching abilities for runway shows and events. With her instinctive approach, she can create illustrations on site in five minutes or less!  Her fine art prints of cocktails, fashion, flowers, food and travel, would make a beautiful addition to your home décor.

    Starting at $25  StephanieAnne.ca

    Holiday Gift Guide for HER - StephanieAnne Fine Art Prints

    Holiday Gift Guide for HER - StephanieAnne Fine Art Prints

    Capresso Froth Select 

    With the winter weather comes outdoor fun and what a better way to warm up afterwards than with a hot chocolate! The Capresso froth Select makes it fun and easy to create your own custom recipes, including flavored hot chocolate, flavored steamers, matcha latte and hot apple cider. There’s a special hot chocolate function that can accommodate chocolate chips and chunks to create frothy hot chocolate.

    There are four settings to choose from: cold froth, hot froth, hot milk or hot chocolate. The Capresso comes with two frothing disks and one heating disk, so you can choose and vary milk texture for your cappuccinos, lattes, hot chocolate, chai lattes, and more.  Visit capressoblog.com for recipes too!  $99 Capresso.

    Holiday Gift Guide Capresso Froth Maker

     

    Everlasting Evergreen Holiday Gift Set by Dr.’s REMEDY

    Add a little sparkle to your self-care routine with this Everlasting Evergreen Holiday Gift Set by Dr.’s REMEDY.
    Dr.’s REMEDY is a doctor-formulated vegan nail polish infused with organic, naturally healing ingredients.

    Gift set includes:

    Empowering Evergreen – a deep forest green
    Reliable Rustic Red – an earthy crimson
    Sincere Snow – sheer white with a dusting of shimmer
    Basic Base Coat – enriches nail health and decreases nail discoloration
    Calming Clear-Gel Performing Finish – a high shine top coat with a gel-like finish
    Caress Cuticle Oil – hydrates & revives dry, cracked cuticles and can treat fungal infections
    Enriched Nail Polish Remover – acetone free and infused with vitamins and proteins
    2-Pack Face Masks – breathable and comfortable with a double ply poly fabric

    Only $75 RemedyNails.com

    Dr Remedy Nails holiday set

    Paint by Shadows Art Kits

    Not an artist but wanna be? Paint by Shadows Art Kits come with everything you need to paint your version of these beautiful licensed original works of art! There are 24 tubes of quality acrylic paint, three paint brushes, and a woven polyester canvas “shadow” art along with accompanying guide art images and painting instructions. Perfect gift idea for the creative type to do on a snow day.

    $45 Paint by Shadows Art Kits.

    Holiday Gift Guide Paint by Shadows Art Kits

     

    The Karma Collection

    The Karma Collection includes personally handmade items for the whole family. Every product is consciously created with love & the intention to support you on a spiritual-emotional level. Karma Herbs – a taste of the Mediterranean, Karma Spice – a taste of India, Karma Chai – a luscious blend of spices & black tea for the kitchen. Mala Bracelets – made with stones that have been blessed & cleansed & Crystal Wrapped Necklaces for males & females of all ages. Lots of variety to choose from or custom made options available for the same price.   KarmaLifestyle.com

    Fleece Leggings by Baleaf

    Loungewear for the win. Love these brushed micro-grid Fleece lining leggings. They’re comfortable with a side and hidden pocket, 4-way stretch. Pair with the fleece full-zip bodyfit pocketed track jacket with thumbholes and you’re good to go. Only $29.99 each – what a deal! At Baleaf.

    Holiday Gift Guide for Her 2020: Baleaf Fleece Leggings and Track Jacket

    Fila Watch

    Since we seem to now have a lot of extra time on our hands… pun intended… this unisex Fila watch is perfect for the minimalist athleisure-wear enthusiast. Since we’re all pretty much keeping things low-key, the subtle accents of colour make this watch pop. A classic watch to compliment your joggers and hoodie ensemble!  On sale $65 OGWatches.

    Holiday Gift Guide for Her 2020 - Fila Watch

    Desalu Skincare 

    Desalu Naturals is an all-natural skincare brand of natural oils and body butters sourced from all over Africa, including Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Uganda, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria. Desalu prides itself on being able to give back to these communities.

    The All Natural Shea Butter With Avocado Oil, Almond Oil & Coconut Oil is made with pure, unrefined shea butter.  $12.99 Desalu.

    Holiday Gift Guide Desalu Naturals Shea Butter

    Lucite Tray by SmithHonig

    Lucite Trays are the perfect accent piece for a coffee table, entryway, or nightstand, and come in a variety of patterns and colours with a global flair.  SmithHonig is a wanderlust-inspired home décor brand founded by designer and colorist, Kellie Smith and Melanie Hönig, a visual artist and photographer. Find unique pieces for your home, including pillows, tabletop linens, hardware, fabrics, tassels, wallpaper, and more in joyful combinations of color, culture, and pattern. $48 each. 

    Holiday Git Guide Lucite Tray

     

    “Flavorbomb” by Bob Blumer

    For the home chef intent on taking their cooking to the next level, Flavorbomb, the new cookbook by Canada’s famed “gastronaut” and Food Network star Bob Blumer, is the perfect rogue guide to help food reach its maximum flavor potential. More than just a collection of recipes, this magnificent hardcover is filled with decades worth of tips, techniques and strategies to help give the reader the courage and confidence to up their game by caramelizing, seasoning with abandon, tasting and adjusting on the fly, while adding finishing touches that make a difference.

    Holiday Gift Guide - Flavorbomb cookbook

     

    Swoon Skin cleansing kit

    The I Heart You Cleansing Kit is a better solution for super sensitive skin and a better option for those looking for the convenience of a disposable makeup wipe without the waste. This kit features everything you need to cleanse your skin, gently exfoliate and remove ALL makeup (even long wearing) using only water! It’s reusable, 100% nontoxic & chemical-free and perfect for at home or on-the-go.  It includes three of our signature ultra-plush heart shaped makeup remover pads, as well as a spa headband and mesh laundry bag for easy washing.  And, at under $25 for the kit, it makes a wonderful gift for the beauty lover or eco-enthusiast on your list! 

    Holiday Gift Guide I Heart You Cleansing Kit

    H.E.A.L’s Self Care Kit

    2020 has been the year for self-care considering everything going on in the world. So this year, promote the gift of self-care, sleep and relaxation with the H.E.A.L’s Self Care Kit . Enjoy a bath or foot soak with OSI Magnesium Bath Flakes For any achy muscles spray the Magnesium Oil directly onto the areas and massage the area gently while soaking. Bodytox Lavender Sleep Patches are a relaxing product designed with organic ingredients to help you relax and ease into a night of rest that is free from disturbances and discomfort. Breath a few more breaths of H.E.A.L’s Lavender Essential Oil. Slip into bed and enjoy your good night’s sleep.

    H.E.A.L’s Self Care Kit includes magnesium bath flakes, magnesium oil, lavender sleep patches and lavender essential oil, all for only $21.69.

    Holiday Gift Guide HEALS Self Care Kit

     

    The Lumi Charge

    For the techy gal in your life, the Lumi Charge is a smart LED desk lamp that has multi-functions – a lamp, phone charger, speaker and organizer. It features a built-in LED screen that displays helpful information like the time, date and temperature to keep you on time and prepared for most anything. It also is a wireless phone charger for phones with wireless charging capability. With the built-in motion sensor you never have to worry about running into anything in the dark again. When you enter a dark room a motion sensor will light up to show you the keys to turn on the Lumicharge. $79.99 LumiCharge

    Holiday Gift Guide for HER - LumiCharge lamp

    Voila Hair Mist

    Hair perfume is so popular right now! And no, you can’t use regular perfume in your hair because they’re loaded with alcohol, which can dry your tresses.  Voila Hair Mist is seductive and elegant hair fragrances by famed French perfumer Paul Emilien that captures the essence of femininity with healthy ingredients. Voilà signature hair fragrances are designed specifically for the hair and contain nourishing Vitamin E and Castor Oil that don’t dry out the hair. The five different scents contain nearly 50% less alcohol in every scent as compared to your traditional body perfumes.

    Soleil Levant | Sunrise is a lively and floral quintessential flavor fused with an enticing fruity zest is perfect for the free-spirit. Chaleur d’Eté Summer Heat is another popular scent, as is Soir d’ Hiver Winter Night, a floral evening scent.  $56.00 Voila Luxe Beauty.

    Holiday Gift Guide Voila Luxe Beauty Soleil Levant

    Cashmere Sweater

    A cashmere sweater is always a good idea. This Cyprie Cashmere Sweater by Wilfred is kitten-soft and luxurious. It has a slouchy silhouette, drop shoulders and a subtle mock neck. Most importantly, it’s made with made with 100% cashmere from Italy. Grazie!  $168 Aritzia.

     

    Meebak skincare

    Meebak’s products are made with cica, short for Centella Asiatica, a plant that can restore vitality to skin has made it a leader in skincare trends. Cica can soothe and heal dry, irritated, and damaged skin, but is compatible with all skin types. It can help smoothen skin texture, correct fine lines and wrinkles, and locks in nourishing ingredients with a moisture barrier.

    Meebak’s cica cream is a rich anti-aging cream that calms, smooths, and moisturizes with cica’s healing and soothing properties. This brightening serum with cica restores the moisture barrier in dry, irritated skin and infuses essential nutrients deep into its layers. $19.97 each, Meebak.com

    Holiday Gift Guide Meebak Cica Serum and Cream

    Evil Eye Earrings

    I love jewelry with the evil eye. Wearing this protective symbol is for good luck, but also serves as protection from the power of the negative energy. These minimal evil eye earrings are 14k gold plated on 925 Sterling Silver, 925 Sterling Silver, Cubic Zirconia, and in either silver or gold. Bonus – they are sold by a local shop on Etsy. $21 Etsy.

     

    Holiday Gift Guide Evil Eye Earrings

     

    Crystal Bath Salts Zennboxx

    I also love crystals and bath salts, so the crystal-bath therapy by Zennboxx is the perfect metaphysical addition to your self-care regimen. Relax and unwind while tapping into a higher vibration with these herb-infused crystal bath salts. Each formula is infused with organic herb botanicals, therapeutic-grade essential oils and ultra-nourishing sea salts. The company also smudges their batches to ensure that their products are energetically clean!  $40 Zennboxx.

     

    Holiday Gift Guide ZenBoxx Rose Quartz Crystal Bath Salts

    Feather Cuff

    Isabelle Grace Jewelry is all about accessories that are timeless and unique. Each earring, necklace and bracelet is made by hand in their New Bedford, MA studio. There’s no assembly line, no mass production; their designs are made of the best materials and expertly crafted by people who love making beautiful things.

    Make a bold statement with this unique feather pattern cuff in brass. $38 Isabelle Grace.

    Holiday Gift Guide - Isabelle Grace Feather Cuff

    M.A.C Lipstick Set

    Love this Sleigh All Day Lipstick Trio from Hudson’s Bay – a $72 value for only $32. Colours are Lady Danger, Velvet Teddy and Chili. Hudson’s Bay exclusive.

    Holiday Gift Guide MAC Sleigh All Day
     

    Happy Shopping!

    *MORE GIFT IDEAS HERE*

    Holiday Gift Guide for Her - The Weird 2020 Version - amotherworld.com

     

    My Mom’s Tried and True Recipe for Rich Greek Pastitsio (Παστίτσιο)

    Nothing says a rich dish like a Greek Moussaka or Pastitsio or Παστίτσιο in Greek. Pastitsio is an authentic Greek baked pasta dish with ground meat and béchamel sauce. It’s like a Greek lasagna but with béchamel sauce and thick spaghetti.

    Pastitsio has layers of pasta, minced beef, and a creamy béchamel sauce which are baked together to create a rich, velvety dish. This is my mom’s tried and true recipe for rich, authentic Greek Pastisio. Make sure to watch the video below as well! 

    Authentic Greek Pastitsio (Παστίτσιο) – Greek “Lasagna”

    Ingredients

    2 packages of thick, long pasta such as bucatini, or if you can find Greek brand Misko Spaghetti  No. 3 at your local Greek bakery

    1 – 1½ cups of Kefalotyri, Kefalograviera, Mizithra or parmesan cheese, finely grated

    1 cup milk

    Pastitsio Greek Pasta Nea Fytini

    Beef Mixture

    1/2 kg ground beef (1 1/2 pounds of beef is ideal)

    1 large onion, finely chopped

    2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    2 tablespoons olive oil (if meat is extra lean)

    2 teaspoons sea salt

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    Half a cinnamon stick

    2 bay leaves

    3-4 cloves

    1/2 cup white wine

    1 cup tomato purée, or 3 medium tomatoes, shredded

    1/2 cup water

     

    Béchamel

    3 cups of milk

    6 tablespoons flour

    4 tablespoons butter, softened (or Nea Fytini, which can be found at your local Greek bakery)

    4 eggs

    Salt and pepper

    Watch my mom make the recipe!

    Method:

    Sauté the ground beef, onion and garlic in ¼ cup of butter until browned.

    Add salt, pepper, parsley and stir for a few minutes.

    Add tomato and stir for a few minutes, then the wine.

    Cook on medium heat for about an hour, or until sauce is thick and no water remains. When the sauce is cooked, add a a handful of the shredded cheese to the mixture and stir.

    At the same time, in a separate pot, boil the water for the pasta with a little salt.

    At the same time, prepare the béchamel. In a small bowl, mix together softened butter and flour, salt and pepper until a nice consistency.

    Add 3 cups of milk to sauce pan and cook on low heat. Slowly add the flour/butter mixture and stir to remove clumps. Then, add eggs, one by one, stirring well after each addition. Keep stirring on low heat until the sauce thickens.

    Once the pasta is cooked, drain and place back into pot. Add the remaining ¼ cup of butter and mix with the pasta, along with 1 cup of milk, and a handful of the grated cheese.

    Once the sauce is cooked, remove the bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves. Add a handful of the grated cheese and stir.

    In a large round roasting pan, add half of the pasta. Then, add a layer of the beef mixture. Add the remaining pasta on top. Then, add the béchamel sauce to the top. Add a little more cheese, and a few pats of butter to the top.

    Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until brown.

     

    My Mom's Tried and True Recipe for Rich Greek Pastitsio

    My Mom's Tried and True Recipe for Rich Greek Pastitsio

    My Mom's Tried and True Recipe for Rich Greek Pastitsio

    Yield: Large Roasting Pan

    My Mom's Tried and True Recipe for Rich Greek Pastitsio (Παστίτσιο)

    My Mom's Tried and True Recipe for Rich Greek Pastitsio

    Pastitsio is an authentic Greek baked pasta dish with ground meat and béchamel sauce. It's like a Greek lasagna but with béchamel sauce and thick spaghetti.

    Prep Time 1 hour
    Cook Time 1 hour
    Total Time 2 hours

    Ingredients

    Beef Mixture

    • 1/2 kg ground beef (1 1/2 pounds of beef is ideal)
    • 1 large onion, finely chopped
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil (if beef is extra lean
    • 3 medium tomatoes, shredded, or 1 cup tomato purée
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 2 teaspoons sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1/2 cinnamon stick
    • 3-4 cloves
    • 2 packages of thick, long pasta * see notes below
    • 1 – 1½ cups of Kefalotyri, Kefalograviera, Mizithra or parmesan cheese, finely grated
    • 1 cup milk

    Béchamel

    • 3 cups of milk
    • 6 tablespoons flour
    • 4 tablespoons butter, softened * see notes below
    • 4 eggs
    • Salt and pepper

    Instructions

      1. Sauté the ground beef until brown. If using extra lean, add some olive oil.
      2. Add onion and garlic, salt and pepper.
      3. Add tomato and 1/2 cup water and stir.
      4. Add cinnamon, bay leaves and cloves, and stir.
      5. Add in the wine, and cook on medium heat for about an hour, or until sauce is thick and no water remains.
      6. Once sauce is cooked, add a handful of the grated cheese to the mixture and stir.
      7. At the same time, in a separate pot, boil the water for the pasta with a little salt.
      8. At the same time, prepare the béchamel. In a small bowl, mix together softened butter and flour, salt and pepper until a nice consistency.
      9. Add 3 cups milk to sauce pan and cook on low heat. Slowly add the flour/butter mixture and stir to remove clumps.
      10. Then, add eggs, one by one, stirring well after each addition. Keep stirring on low heat until the sauce thickens. Add a handful of the cheese and stir.
      11. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and place back into pot. Add the remaining ¼ cup of butter and mix with the pasta, along with 1 cup of milk and a handful of the grated cheese.
      12. In a large round roasting pan, add half of the pasta. Then, add a layer of the beef mixture. Add the remaining pasta on top.
      13. Then, add the béchamel sauce to the top. Add a little more cheese to the top, and a few pats of butter to the top.
      14. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until brown.

      Notes

      Try to find Greek brand Misko Spaghetti  No. 3 at your local Greek bakery. If you can't, use bucatini, or something similar - super thick spaghetti.

      You may choose to use Nea Fytini instead of butter, which can be found at your local Greek bakery.

      Nutrition Information:

      Yield:

      16

      Serving Size:

      1

      Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 541mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 15g
       

       

       

      My Mom's Tried and True Recipe for Rich Greek Pastitsio (Παστίτσιο) (1)

      These Are the Cozy Fall Products You’ll Love Right Now

      This fall is unlike any other; thanks to the pandemic, we’re spending more time at home and getting outside for walks as much as possible. So rather than shopping for trendy clothes and glammed up outfits, we’re looking inward into cozy and comfy items for our wardrobe, beauty boxes, and homes.

      These are the cozy fall products you’ll love right now:

      The Cardigan

      Just because you’re working from home, you don’t have to look schleppy. The Cardigan by The Source Apparel is a cozy, comfortable wraparound piece that feels like wearing a blanket, but looks polished enough for a video conference. It’s made of stretch organic cotton twill, so it’s versatile.  Wear with leggings at home, as part of your yoga ensemble, or pair with jeans when going out. The Cardigan is sourced and sewn in Los Angeles, under fair conditions, using eco-friendly practices, and is available in sizes XS-3X.

      Currently available in black, it will also be available in Juniper (olive green) just in time for the holidays.

      $98 The Source Apparel

       

      Comfortable Leggings

      As I mentioned, pair The Cardigan with my favourite leggings by far – 90 Degree by Reflex yoga pants. I’ve tried so many different brands of leggings but these are by far the most comfortable, flattering, AND they don’t ride down! I’m always finding I’m lifting up leggings as they roll down, or start to shift down. But these are the only pair that seem to stay put. Definitely look for the high-waist variety, and I particularly prefer the Hypertek material (82% Nylon 18% Spandex blend).  90 Degree by Reflex, $38.

       

       

      Weighted Blanket

      A weighted blanket produces a sense of comfort much like when you swaddle a baby. The SensaCalm blanket can help you sleep more peacefully, reduces anxiety and stress, eases restlessness. Sensa Calm is American-made. Prices vary, SensaCalm.

      Warm Layers

      I’ve been enjoying daily walks since the pandemic began. With winter coming, I refuse to stop so I’ll need to layer up. The RedHEAT ACTIVE base layer crew top and bottom from KOMBI Canada will keep me warm on my outdoor exercise. This new technical fabric stores and manages body heat for maximum comfort during high intensity activities.  $59.95 each, Kombi Canada.

      Top off with the Camp toque $25.95, and Mittens $29.95

      Sherpa Cozy Slippers 

      And… these cozy wool-blend fabric house socks in Buffalo print with sherpa lining will keep your tootsies warm indoors. Bonus, they have heel grips on the bottom so you don’t slip and slide on hardhood floors! I’ll be living in these all winter. $29.95 ·at KOMBI Canada.

      Nail Polish in Fall Shades

      This year might look different, but painting your nails is one of the few little self-care things you can do at home. Dr.’s REMEDY Enriched Nail Care has a gorgeous line-up of fall shades, including the shade, New Desire Dark Brown.

      There’s comfort in these rich earthy hues by the 10-free formula and the #1 podiatrist recommended brand. It’s formulated with organic ingredients, and without formaldehyde and other chemicals, and paraben free too.  $17.25 Dr.’s Remedy.

       

      Scrunchies

      Who’s bothering to style their hair these days unless for a Zoom call? The top bun is likely the hairstyle trend of 2020 for most moms! Dress up your locks with these stylish and cute scrunchies from Bellefixe, an American hair-accessory company. From headbands to scrunchies and pretty barrettes, these hair accessories are pretty and practical for the cost-conscious fashionista.  Also affordable, all items range between $8 – $18.  www.bellefixe.com

      Envirosax bags

      Ditch the boring reusable bags from the grocery store and opt for these trendy, high-quality reusable bag that can compliment your everyday style. From a grocery shopper bag, traveling bag, beach bag, or just an everyday tote, the Envirosax can fit all. Made from lightweight polyester, these bags are designed to hold more than 44lbs, are water-resistant and folds to 2″. What’s unique to the brand is that they use eco-friendly dyes and printing methods.   $49.99 for a pack of 5 at Envirosax.

      Prana Brush

      As the weather gets colder, we need to keep our skin moisturized. But first, it’s important to exfoliate! Dry brushing has incredible health benefits; it detoxifies the body, improves circulation, eliminates dead skin cells, exfoliates the skin, improves skin tone, aids digestion, reduces and prevents cellulite, and increases energy and well-being. In addition, dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system, which helps eliminate toxins and pathogens that can cause inflammation and illness. $44.50 Prana Brush.

      South of France Body Care

      Thanks to “Emily of Paris”, I’m dreaming about France… and while I can’t travel there, I can pretend to be whisked away to the Fresh countryside with hand and body creams from South of France Body Care. Thicker and richer than conventional moisturizing lotions, South of France hand and body creams are absorbed quickly to leave skin silky to the touch.

      Ingredients include Fair Trade Certified organic shea butter and cocoa butter, as well as coconut, sunflower and sweet almond oils. They are certified animal cruelty-free, non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan. They are also free of all sulfates, phthalates, paragons, EDTA and colorants. Climbing Wild Rose and Violet Bouquet are pretty scents, not overpowering, and moisturize with a little dab. The Green Tea soap is my favourite scent. $10.99 on Amazon.

       

      Sipology Tea

      Put your feet up with your KOMBI slippers, and cozy loungewear, and have a cup of Sipology tea. Sipology by Steeped Tea is a Canadian owned, family run, quality loose leaf company using only use real, whole ingredients tested for the highest standards: ✓ No artificial flavour ✓ No irradiated ingredients ✓ No artificial colours ✓ No harmful preservatives ✓ No added sugar unless stated ✓ No MSG.  The Earl Grey is delightful!  Visit Sipology with Sarah

       

      These Are the Cozy Fall Products You'll Love Right Now | amotherworld.com