04 November 2012

Veg Eats Vancouver: Fray

I've been meaning to check out Fray for a while, especially since I can walk there from my house. Kirk and I finally decided to try it one Sunday because there was no line up for brunch. That's a rare thing in Vancouver.

Firstly, I like the decor. It's a little hipster, but light and airy and it feels clean in there. And there are crayons on every table and the placemats have fun activities for adults.

I started out with a pot of green tea. I was impressed with the tea pot. The tea was okay.

I had the Superfoods Salad. I was a little put off by the $12 price tag ($12 dollars for a salad at brunch?), but it sounded like the thing on the menu I wanted to try the most. It's quinoa, beets. crispy chickpeas (where have you been all my life?), beans, fennel, dried cranberries, kale, herbs and a little bit of raspberry vinaigrette. I understood the price tag as soon as I saw it - it's figgin' huge! I got three full meals out of one bowl, and $12 is a bargain, really. It was good, and I'd get it again.

I am now a fan of Fray. Honestly, it's nothing super special. But it's good food, good prices, good service, and no line up for Sunday brunch. Works for me.

Fray on Urbanspoon

01 November 2012

Veg Eats Vancouver: The Acorn

It was mine and Kirk's sixth wedding anniversary last week. Now that we're parents, we don't get to have romantic weekends at B&Bs anymore, but we did have my Mum babysit so we could go out for a nice dinner.

I've been wanting to try The Acorn since it opened. Finally, a nice vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver! Don't get me wrong, I like The Naam and Foundation, but I'm not a hippie or a hipster, and bad service is not really my thing. And it's nice to have somewhere vegetarian to go for a special occasion.

So anyway, they don't take reservations and we went early. I don't like waiting for a table, and luckily we got one right away.

Now, I had a cold, so I can't reliably comment on flavours, but I'm going to anyway. Take my comments with a grain of salt, as it were. Also, sorry about the crappy iPhone photos. I should have used my flash, but I have it turned off so I'm not blinding Odin with it all the time.

We shared a potato and parsnip croquette appetizer. I found it a little bland, and I said as much to Kirk. He pointed out the pieces of sharp cheese in the sauce. I hadn't gotten any cheese on my portion, and I think if I had it would have made all the difference in the world. With the appetizer I had a glass of the Kettle Valley Gewurztraminer, and I didn't like it. Normally I'm a Gewurztraminer fan, but I found it a little musky for my taste. The server recommended the Pentage Reisling, which was better, though very fruity. It could have been my snotty nose ruining the wine, though.

They didn't clear our plates after the appetizer, and we had to use the same cutlery for our entrees. I wasn't impressed by that, and it seemed inconsistent with the rest of the service, which was pretty attentive.

I chose the beer battered halloumi entree. It came with a zucchini pancake, smashed peas and a yogourt sauce. It was honestly one of the best things I've ever eaten. The halloumi was salty and somehow light, for fried cheese anyway. The pancake was all zucchini, not a bunch of filler, and the peas were delicious and a little minty. It seemed to me like a spring dish, rather than autumn, but I enjoyed it very much.

Kirk had the king oyster mushroom medallions with spelt and a peppercorn sauce. He said it was really good, although other than the peppercorn sauce, it seemed like something we would make at home. If he could choose again, he would have gotten the halloumi too.

I ordered the pumpkin semifreddo dessert. It was good, but not spectacular. It tasted really nice, and was surprisingly light, but was frozen a bit too hard and was difficult to cut into with the big, clunky spoon they gave me. The plate wasn't chilled, so it melted a bit on the bottom and I ended up chasing it around on the plate.

Overall, I enjoyed The Acorn, and I would definitely go back given the opportunity.

The Acorn on Urbanspoon

31 October 2012

Baby Food

I started feeding Odin solid foods a few weeks ago, and it's been quite the adventure for both of us.

Even just knowing where to start is confusing. There is way too much information out there. Purees, baby led weaning, cereals or no cereals, fruits or no fruits, juice or no juice, water or no water, the connection between starting solids and skin troubles, and just as we were starting out all the news articles about iron and breast fed babies... It seems like everyone has an opinion. I decided to keep it simple. I asked our GP, and she said 5.5 months is a fine time to start as long as he's showing interest. She said to stay away from sweetened juices and water and to make sure I don't wait too long to try iron-rich foods like meat or tofu. I did a little research and found a nice, simple chart of what foods are fine when from Wholesome Baby Food that made sense to me. Then we went for it.

We started off with mashed yams at Thanksgiving dinner. Not a big hit. He wasn't sure what to think, really. Then I tried avocado. He didn't like it straight up, but loved it thinned out with a bit of breast milk. Same with carrots.

adventures in yams

So far he's tried apples, avocados, pears, carrots, peas, butternut squash, yams, oatmeal and rice, all purees, some homemade, some prepared. No bad reactions, not even gas or constipation. Rice cereal is by far his favourite. He likes jarred peas better than oatmeal. What a weirdo.

avocado - yuck!

Overall, this whole solid food thing has been fun so far. I love watching his reactions to new things. It does make me a little sad too. He's growing up so quickly!

rice cereal is serious business


Happy Hallowe'en from the cutest monster ever!
He's too little to trick-or-treat and it's pouring rain outside, so he's just dressed up to hang around the house. But costumes are fun no matter what!

28 October 2012

In the meantime...

I have a couple of restaurant reviews that I need to write up for you guys, but in the meantime, here are some recent photos of my 6-month-old cutie...

05 October 2012

Veg Eats Vancouver: Lucky's Doughnuts

Just a quick post to sing the praises of Lucky's Doughnuts, a new-ish doughnut place inside 49th Parallel Coffee on Main St. This place has been all over the blogosphere (did I just use that word?) and I finally got to try it out. I had the Salted Caramel Old Fashioned, and oh my god, it may just be the best thing I've ever eaten. It's definitely the best doughnut I've ever had.

It's so nice that there are artisan doughnut shops opening up (and let's not forget Lee's on Granvile Island), especially since our national doughnut chain, which shall remain unnamed, reheats frozen doughnuts rather than making them fresh. I once heard that Canadians eat more doughnuts per capita than any other people in the world. I don't know if that's true, but I know frozen doughnuts should be a crime.

Diet be damned! I will eat at Lucky's Doughnuts again!

 Lucky's Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

03 October 2012

This Week in My Kitchen: Local Food Products

I'm dog/cat-sitting for my mom this month, and she lives near a fancy gourmet grocery store called Meinhardt Fine Foods. Tonight I decided to treat myself to dinner from there. I don't have a lot of time to cook since I have to get Odin to bed around 6:30, so it had to be something fast and easy. I found some great foods from local Vancouver companies to make a quick, healthy, yummy dinner. Here's what I had:

Happy Planet Thai Coconut Soup with Sunrise Firm Tofu
I've wanted to try Happy Planet soups for a while, but they aren't cheap and I usually end up passing them by for something cheaper, if less healthy and delicious. The Thai Coconut Soup was SO worth it! I love red coconut curry, and this had just the right amount of hot and sweet. I added some local tofu for a filling, balanced meal and even after dessert I'm already thinking about seconds.

Rico n' Lalo Frozen Fruit Bars
I noticed these fruit bars because of the fantastic packaging, then saw that they are local and all natural. The fact that they're low-calorie is a bonus! I chose lime flavour as a perfect ending for the red curry soup. It was so good! Sweet and tart and refreshing! I'm excited that there are three bars left in the package...

24 September 2012

This Week in My Kitchen: Lactation Cookies Part 2

The last time I made Lactation Cookies they were super high in calories (and delicious!). I decided this week to make them again and see if I could lower the calorie content without sacrificing taste and nutrition.


I used stevia powder instead of sugar, 0% Greek yogourt instead of oil, and 1 cup of carob chips instead of 2 of chocolate. They are still delicious, and I cut the calories by more than half. I still have about 12 pounds to lose, so that's pretty important to me at this point.

Here's my recipe, adapted from Major Milk Makin' Cookies from Peaceful Parenting.

Cara's Low-Cal Lactation Cookies

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups oats (I used a mix of oats, flax and bran)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup almond butter
3/4 cup Greek yogourt
3 tbsp brewer's yeast
2 tbsp egg replacer
2/3 cup water
1 tsp stevia powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup carob chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In a large bowl beat together almond butter, yogourt, brewer's yeast, egg replacer, water, stevia and vanilla until creamy and well blended.
Gradually mix in flour mixture. Add in carob chips.
Place flattened balls of dough on a cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.

08 September 2012

This Week in My Kitchen: Lactation Cookies, Peach Crumble, Zucchini-Noodle Lasagna

Now that Odin is getting old enough to amuse himself for periods of time, I can get back in the kitchen and get cooking again! I'm watching my caloric intake at the moment, so I've been trying to make healthier options. Here's some of what I made this week:

Lactation Cookies

My sweet tooth (which didn't exist before my pregnancy) was hitting me hard this week. I decided to justify baking by making these Major Milk Makin' Cookies from the Peaceful Parenting blog. The brewer's yeast, oats and flax in them are supposed to increase your milk supply. I don't know if they increased my milk, but they were delicious! I used almond butter, Bob's Red Mill egg replacer, half & half dark chocolate and butterscotch chips, and no nuts. These are pretty high in calories, but fairly healthy.

Peach Crisp

Kirk and I took Odin to the Okanagan recently to meet his great-grandparents. I took the opportunity to stock up on some juicy ripe fruits and veggies, including a bunch of peaches. I peeled and sliced them all and used 6 cups of them to make a delicious crumble. For the topping I used rolled oats, whole wheat flour, ground flax seeds (and some whole ones too), demerara sugar and coconut flakes with a bit of vegetable oil. Odin started fussing as I was making the crumble and I forgot the seasoning, but I would have included nutmeg, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Either way, it still turned out pretty great.

Zucchini-Noodle Lasagna
While in the Okanagan we also got a huge zucchini from Kirk's Gramma's organic garden. I decided to slice it thin (about 1/4") lengthwise and use the slices as lasagna noodles. Here's the step-by-step on how I made it.

 1. First layers: Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with slices of zucchini. Pour some tomato sauce over top, then layer a half head of cauliflower, steamed lightly and mashed. Sprinkle seasoning - I used oregano and garlic salt.

 2. Add a layer of baby spinach (or regular spinach chopped roughly), then one container of cottage cheese or ricotta (for vegan option, use cashew ricotta or other vegan cheese).

 3. Add a layer or mushrooms (any kind), then more tomato sauce.

 4. Cover with more zucchini slices and oregano and red pepper flakes to taste.

5. Top with mozzarella cheese (Daiya is a good vegan option), then bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes, or until the veggies are fork tender an the cheese is melty and browned. Let cool and serve warm. Mine was pretty soupy since it's just vegetables and they let out water as they cook, but it was delicious nonetheless.

01 September 2012

Four Months Old!

Odin turned four months old on Monday. I can't believe how time is flying by!

He's such a little person now. He is a squirmy-wormy, who loves to stand up (with assistance) and has been rolling over for a while now. He sucks his thumb and makes all sorts of cooing and gooing sounds. He blows raspberries and drools like nobody's business. He's getting better at going to sleep. He's a big flirt and loves when people pay lots of attention to him. He likes reading books, especially "Peekaboo Kisses" and "That's Not My Penguin". He loves his toys, particularly his rattle ball and Sophie Giraffe. He's sensitive and temperamental and likes things a certain way.

I love him more every day. I don't even know how that's possible...

Here are some recent photos:

07 August 2012

Interview at Yes and Yes!

Check out the interview I did for Yes and Yes!, one of my favourite blogs.

21 July 2012

The War Upon Wakefulness

Some parents are blessed with babies who sleep when they are tired. Others have babies who insist on being awake for everything, despite how tired and cranky they become. We land squarely in the second camp. Odin is a non-sleeper.

At this very moment I am listening to him fuss in his crib over the monitor. It's 7:00am. He's been awake since 5:30. This is typical, and better than a few nights ago, when he decided to start his day at 2:30am.

Daytime is the same. I hear legends of babies who, at 12 weeks, still sleep all the time. Books tell me he should be napping for at least an hour and a half three times a day. People tell me he should be sleeping through the night.

My baby is the type who fights sleep, literally. Just as he's starting to fall asleep he starts kicking and thrashing about, despite being swaddled into a compact little burrito. I take a kind of masochistic pride in the fact that he can escape any swaddle, including the expensive velcro swaddle blankets. I spend countless hours rocking and bouncing and patting his bum. I put him into his crib asleep, ever so gently so as not to wake him. He wakes up 10 minutes later. I put him into his crib awake but drowsy. He immediately starts crying. I let him cry in his crib for a while. He goes into hysterics and will not be consoled. We develop elaborate sleep rituals that work for three days in a row, giving me hope, then fail miserably on the fourth day and we have to start all over again. I have cried on the floor beside his crib. I have told him to shut up, then apologised. I have unapologetically yelled profanities at the monitor. I worry about the development of his brain.

All of this is hard to admit. There is enormous pressure to be the perfect parent with the perfect baby. Well, he is perfect, he just doesn't sleep.

07 July 2012

Handmade Home: Baby Wipes

After seeing how many baby wipes we were going through, I started looking for a better solution. Baby wipes aren't cheap, aren't environmentally friendly, and we go through an awful lot of them.

I looked through a bunch of recipes for homemade wipes and put together my own version with stuff I already had on hand. We've been using them for about two weeks and are loving them so far.

Handmade Baby Wipes
Boiled or distilled water
Pure castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner's)
Baby oil (you could use any non-mineral oil, like almond or vegetable)
Tea tree oil
Cloth wipes
I don't have exact proportions because I just guessed, but it's about teaspoon of soap, half a teaspoon of baby oil, and three drops of tea tree oil to a cup and a half of water. I just put it all in a spray bottle (I got a pretty one from the dollar store) and gave it a good shake. For wipes I just use baby facecloths, since we have a ton of those. You could use cut up pieces of flannel or prefold diapers or receiving blankets that are past their prime. At each diaper change I spray one corner of a wipe three or four times, wipe him down, and dry him with the opposite corner. The soiled wipe goes in the wet bag with dirty diapers, which are washed every two days.

We still have disposable wipes on hand for the diaper bag and for super messy poops, but we've cut down on our use drastically. Plus I feel good about using something natural and super cheap to make.

03 July 2012

Handmade Home: Natural Deodorant

Last year I went on a quest to find a natural deodorant I like. I'd tried the crystal kind years ago and didn't like it and had been using regular commercial deodorant ever since.

I tried all different natural brands and the result was the same with all of them: by three in the afternoon I was stinky. I started to feel sorry for my office mates! I was ready to give up and start smearing chemicals on my underarms every day again when I stumbled across a stupid simple recipe for natural deodorant you can make at home. I was a bit skeptical, but since I had the ingredients on hand anyway, I gave it a shot.

Holy cow!! I love it! I love it so much I made some for everyone for Christmas. It was kind of a weird gift, but my family loved it after they tried it.

Handmade Deodorant Recipe
2 parts coconut oil
1 part aluminum-free baking soda
1 part arrowroot powder (you can also use cornstarch)
essential oil (optional) (I used tea tree oil)
Just blend all the ingredients together and store in a jar. Apply a small amount under your arms.

If you don't like the smell of coconut, use refined coconut oil.
Aluminum-free baking soda is important - It defeats the purpose of making it yourself if you're going to smear aluminum under your arms. The jury is still out on the effects of aluminum in antiperspirants, but I'd rather not take the chance. I get mine at a natural foods store near my house.
I used cornstarch the first time, but had a slight skin reaction, so used arrowroot powder for the second batch.
Tea tree oil is antibacterial and smells great, so that's why I used it, but you can use any oil you like the smell of, or just leave it out.

The best thing is, after using this for a couple of months, I discovered that I didn't even need it every day. The antibacterial properties of the coconut oil and tea tree oil created a less-stinky environment in my armpits! Yay!

So try this stuff. It costs very little to make, lasts forever, and works better (at least for me) than commercial deodorants!

I have one jar in my bedroom and one in my bathroom so it's easily on hand at all times!

16 June 2012

Our birth story...

I wasn't originally going to post my birth story here, but reading a friend's eerily similar story on her blog made me want to share mine as well...

Odin Kirk Sheppard was born on April 27th at 5:38am at 41 weeks and 6 days. He had presented head-down and anterior for over month, then turned posterior about a week before birth.

I went for a Cervadil induction on Wednesday afternoon, and by that evening I was in full-blown back labour. I laboured at home until about 1am, when I was sure I was in active labour. Kirk paged our midwives and we went to the hospital to meet one of them. She examined me and told me I wasn't quite in active labour yet and that I wasn't yet dilated enough (I had asked that they not tell me dilation numbers). It was probably better to go home, as we live about 10 minutes from the hospital. So I continued labouring at home for another 12 hours with no real change. The back labour was pretty difficult, but I was breathing through the contractions and taking baths and coping pretty well. Kirk was doing an amazing job of taking care of me, even though I'm sure he was scared!

A midwife came to our house around 1:30 pm and did an internal exam. I was finally dilating! We went to the hospital again, and things really felt like they were progressing. I felt great, and even though my back was killing me and I couldn't get comfortable even between contractions, I was dealing with it. But by 6pm it became obvious that the baby was not turning, despite us trying every trick in the book - different positions, heat and cold, homeopathics... I also hadn't made any progress dilating since entering the hospital. We decided that we would try a synthetic oxytocin drip to strengthen contractions and hopefully turn the baby. The baby's heart rate dropped a bit when they first administered the oxytocin, but he quickly recovered and we carried on.

After about 6 or 7 hours of labouring, drug-free, on oxytocin, I was getting exhausted. It had been 45 hours since I'd had any sleep, and I'd been in labour for about 38 hours so far. I agreed to an epidural, hoping to get some sleep while they upped my dose of oxytocin. Unfortunately, as soon as the epidural went in (I couldn't even feel the effect yet), the baby's heart rate dropped again and was slow to recover. The OB on call gave me the choice of a forceps delivery where she would use the forceps to turn the baby, or a cesarean section. In the meantime, the baby's heart rate dropped again and failed to recover, and she called for an emergency c-section.

My midwife Annie took photos for us.

From there everything happened so quickly! The epidural hadn't even fully taken effect yet, so the anesthesiologist came in and decided he'd up the dose for the operation. All sorts of people came rushing in and I totally lost track of what was happening. It all felt very surreal. They wheeled me into the OR while Kirk got changed, and the anesthesiologist checked the epidural. It still hadn't taken effect yet, so he gave me a spinal block. Kirk came and sat by my head, and a few minutes later we heard Odin's gurgly cry. It seemed like an eternity before they let my midwife bring him to us.

It turns out I had developed a Bandl's Ring, which obstructed the baby and was putting enormous pressure on his head with each contraction. The cord was also wrapped around his neck twice. The Bandl's Ring could very likely have led to a uterine rupture had they tried forceps or had I continued labouring, and Odin and I would have been in very grave danger. As it was, we both recovered very well and were discharged home on Sunday. My recovery from the cesarian section was difficult, but I had great help from Kirk, who took 10 days off from work, and my mother and mother-in-law. I don't know what I would have done without the three of them.

Nothing in my labour went the way I had hoped and I'm a little sad that I didn't get a natural delivery, especially after labouring naturally for so long. But the end result is the same, and I wouldn't change anything since it all led to meeting our precious little Odin.

03 June 2012

Odin's Nursery

You know those people who post nothing but baby stuff online? It used to annoy me, but now I am one of those people. I get it now. My whole life is wrapped up in this little guy. I don't do anything else. So what else am I going to post about?

And in that vein, here are some photos of Odin's nursery. It's easily my favourite room in the house, and I'm just about done with it. I just have to make a bed skirt and some curtains for the windows, as the matchstick blinds don't block enough of the light for when he starts sleeping in there (he's currently still in our room in a bassinet, but I'd like to start transitioning him to his crib in the next few weeks). But sewing things involves clearing off my desk, which is a whole other task in itself, one that I just don't have time for at the moment. Right now all my time is taken up by nursing, changing diapers and rocking in the rocking chair, and that's just fine by me...

 Kirk's stepmother, Donna, made the beautiful quilt.
Mum and I made the awesome owl mobile.
I got the rocking chair/glider used on craigslist.

The crib is the Mod II by Status. My father made the toy box when I was a kid.
My sister-in-law, Angela, knitted Sleipnir the 8-legged horse

I made the birdcage mobile by taking birdcages from Wonderbucks & Michaels,
spray painting them white, putting birds in them and hanging them with wire.
I got the pillow on clearance at JC Penney.

The owl in a suit print is by Ryan Berkley.
The chickadee painting is by Michele Maule.

 Mum had the Odin wall hanging made with letters she took months to source.

Of course I couldn't resist sneaking in a baby picture!
Odin absolutely LOVES his owl mobile.
The small owl rattle is from Baby Bomb and the large bird is by Stuf.

The penguin print on the left is by Michelle of My Zoetrope.
The centre print is from The Haiti Poster Project.
I made the two prints on the right.

The top of the IKEA dresser folds down to make a change table.

I think I got this bird hook from Wonderbucks, but I could be mistaken.
It holds our wet bag for diapers I got from Puddle & Quack.

The square prints are by Trish Grantham.

I made the felt name banner on the door.
The bookshelf is Leksvik from IKEA. 

A lot of these books are my own collection. I hope I'm okay with sharing!