Amazing! Starbucks Reserve & Princi – The Seattle Roastery.

So good!

I love pastries! My favorite hobby is sourcing pastries. For a number of years my favorite pastry shop in Seattle was Crumble and Flake. Today, they have slid down to number 5. But I’m not writing to tell you about their fall, I’m writing to tell you about Starbucks Reserve & Princi at the Seattle Roastery on Pike St. If you haven’t been there – it’s definitely a place to go. Not only for the various tastings of their higher grade coffee, or their modern wood decor but for their pastries and breads!

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Prosciutto & Cheese Croissant!

I ordered a prosciutto and cheese croissant to eat while I was taking in the ambiance of the Roastery (I think the prosciutto is from Rainshadow Meats – which is another great meat source for steaks and shaved ham). The pastry was served on a wooden tray which connects to the modern wood design of the place. As you can see from the featured picture – it was devoured. I also ordered a chocolate croissant and a loaf of multi-grain bread to take home. When the  twins came home from school they completed a taste test of chocolate croissants from Princi, Crumble and Flake and Bakery Nouveau. The winner…Princi! Note: Bakery Nouveau still wins its category for double baked almond croissants!

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Top left – Princi, Top Right – Crumble & Flake, Bottom: Bakery Nouveau

Today, I toasted the multi-grain bread for breakfast with homemade peanut butter and then made chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. Even though the bread was dense it was delightful with it’s respective combinations. Now on to the coffee.

I am not a regular Starbucks connoisseur. I prefer the local coffee shops – Cafe Rococo , Diva Expresso,  Caffe Vita, Expressovivace. While I was at the Roastery, I had a non-fat latte. But it wasn’t with their regular blend they offer in their regular Starbucks. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay a attention to which exact reserve blend it was but I think it was their Guatemalan blend. The latte was AMAZING! I didn’t need to add sugar or anything else.

If you have in visitors, or need a spot for a breakfast meeting, a coffee date or just want to learn more about coffee – be sure to visit The Seattle Roastery you won’t be disappointed.

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Brioche – interior completely filled with custard!

 

Last minute holiday gift ideas!

HatPile1--e1452815122982A few last minute holiday gift ideas that are a bit unique. If you’re looking for a hat for warmth or for style, visit Goorin Bros on 1st ave in Seattle. They do have a few female hats but predominantly they have hats for men.  The hats are authentic, distinguished looking and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable.

While reading through Geekwire 200, I came across a startup called Glowforge. It’s a 3D laser printer that can be used in your home or business. It’s affordable, easy to use and you can even create exact chocolate desserts, a cardboard globe, a leather wallet, a unique skin for your laptop or iPad. Very cool for that techie or creative genius in your life.

A friend of mine wrote the cookbook: The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen: With More than 150 Inspirational Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes to Maximize Your Health. The cookbook is not only for diabetics, people looking for low carbohydrate recipes, but also for people (like me) who like to try new yummy recipes. Due to this book, I’ve purchased a spiralizer in which one of my daughters is now a huge fan of zucchini noodles, and we have added 5 new recipes to our rotational meal plans. The recipes are easy and quick to make after a long day at work.  Check it out!

The last idea, is more of a hostess or work colleague gift for that someone who loves eclairs. The store Choukette on Western Ave in Seattle makes very unique eclairs. I had to try 4. They are a bit pricey $5/eclair but they are a work of art.

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Eclairs!

As the holidays quickly approach, hostess and teacher gifts come to mind. Instead of giving scented candles, or wine try these amazing artisan pickles http://www.seattlepickleco.com/. The fresh dill pickles and green beans are fantastic. Not into pickles?

This strawberry freezer jam is outstanding home_cta_freezerveshttp://sunfreshjams.com/ . We recently stayed at Sun Mountain Lodge and were served this yummy jam with toast. After one bite, I lathered my half piece of toast with this jam and asked for more. I do make jam, but not in these flavors. The staff at Sun Mountain Lodge nicely told me their jam secret. So, I bought a case! The jams can be thaw and then be refrozen, thus you’re able to bring them to a holiday party. These items are great for teacher, boss, colleague gifts.

Enjoy!  you won’t be disappointed.

Paula

*Update: if you buy 4 jars of pickles online = FREE shipping. Otherwise if you can find them via the store locator on their site.

Wardrobe Change…Personal Shopper

Need a fabulous personal shopper/stylist contact Cheryl O’Connor!  Cheryl Anne Styling

After 6 years of a variety of jobs – owner of Barkz where I wore a Barkz shirt, jeans, and running shoes, to pregnant mom of twins – XXL t-shirt and lululemon yoga pants, to a new mom – t-shirt with puke on the shoulder and sweatpants to a stay at home mom who wore Banana Republic long sleeve black shirts, Hudson Jeans (because you can fit so many things in your butt pockets, and the black shirt didn’t show stains) and running shoes, to now… a job in a professional business setting – I needed help.

A friend of mine gave me Cheryl’s contact information and she has been fabulous. She came and looked at my closet of jeans, the odd nice shirt for date nights and said “I’ll meet you at Nordstrom on Tuesday!” I gave her a budget, and on the Tuesday I walked in, was escorted to a dressing room and shown a variety of outfits. I walked out with an entirely new wardrobe. Cheryl, not only listens to what you need, chooses clothes that fit your body type, colors that suit, undergarments that make everything look smooth and sleek and of course helps you match shoes to your new wardrobe.

She saved me money. I didn’t spend hours looking through racks trying to find my size, questioning myself on the new styles, figuring out what would match with what and I didn’t have to go back and spend time returning items that didn’t fit. However I do love Nordstrom for that fact – that you can return something even after a year.

If you’re in need of a wardrobe lift for the new season, contact Cheryl!

Labeling Kids Clothes – Back to School

Four years ago my fabulous sister-in-law gave me labels for the girls. At first I thought what am I going to do with all these? The girls are only 2 weeks old. Why do I need labels?

Daycare’s and schools require names on everything from extra underwear to water bottles. So back to school for me is pretty easy when it comes to labeling clothes, because my SIL gave me labels from Mabel’s Labels. I just have to stick the labels on and I’m done. (They don’t come off in the wash nor the in dishwasher.)

It takes me 5 minutes to label two sets of: clothes, backpacks, thermos, lunch containers, shoes etc. I have yet to purchase any from the site as I’m still working through the gift. Thanks so much CH!

Enjoy labeling.

Kids camps!

Fantastic Summer Camps in Seattle!

The girls were in camps most of the summer. I put them in the morning sessions so we could hWP_20150829_14_35_30_Proead to the beach, park or just hang out in the afternoons.

(I couldn’t source camps in Seattle until my kids actually went to them.)

Here is our list for 4.5 year olds:

Best to Worst

  1. Aerospace Camp – Museum of Flight (the girls loved the songs, the water rockets, learning about planets and more) There isn’t much around the museum for parents while the kids are in camp, but they do have free WiFi and if you’re okay with driving 20 minutes – the largest Costco and Southcenter are close by.
  2. Seattle Children’s Theatre – Treasure Trunk (worth the drive to the Seattle Center. The Armory has great bagels, coffee and free WiFi for parents while you wait)
  3. Elizabeth’s Dance Dimensions – Frozen Dance Camp (need I say more?)
  4. Mummy Camp – I was beat out by Aerospace Camp. This is a week in which we only do things with Mummy – Ferris wheels, aquariums, carousels, lunches out etc.
  5. Tennis Camp- This was at the Pro Club in Bellevue. Even though it was only one hour in duration – it was just enough to get the kids into tennis.
  6. Bellevue Studio – Art Camp! This is an amazing program. The enclosed pictures were completely done WP_20150829_14_35_15_Proby the girls. They start them off with three separate sections i.e. for the flower – draw a circle and a straight line. Then draw circles around the big circle, then draw a line for the grass. Shade and smooth. If I was taught this way I may have drawn more than triangular mountains and V shaped birds!
  7. Engineering For Kids this was disappointing because the description in the handbook says they’re outside and building bridges and towers.
  8. Pedal Heads Many of my friends loved this camp but we did not have the best experience during the camp session. However the manager did give us 2 free private lessons, which were excellent. Only one of my twins enjoys biking, the other prefers kayaking.

Good luck with the Back to School rush!

Gardening? Try planting only edibles.

1431552893885 Two years ago I read an article that stated if your kids help you plant seeds, watch a vegetable grow then they’ll eat the vegetables. Issue #1 when we planted the carrot seeds – nothing appeared. Issue #2 I had no idea how, what and where to plant things. Issue #3 when something did grow, it was infested with bugs. At that point I brought in the professionals – Seattle Urban Farm Company

WP_20150514_16_33_07_ProThey built a 2’x14′ planter out the front with a cold frame for winter planting, changed the soil in the back vegetable patch, planted seedlings, fertilized and maintained the vegetable gardens. At the same time they educated me in urban gardening. I learned what to plant, how to plant and when to harvest. For example, how to thin out carrots, where to place your tomatoes so you don’t shadow your other vegetable plants, top your snap peas, and how to deal with the bugs and crows! I can’t say enough great  things about this company. Throughout this past winter – I never needed to buy broccoli or kale because I could harvest it from December until March. I’m also growing garlic and it will be harvested in July  (I’ll have enough until Christmas)! As soon as Spring arrived here in Seattle – the urban farmer was out – planting snap peas, bok choy, new broccoli, kale, carrots, beets, potatoes, spinach, lettuce and cabbage. Recently the tomatoes went in. The company has a variety of maintenance and assistance programs. If you’re in the Seattle area I highly recommend you call for an estimate. If you’re out of the area – they have written a fabulous book Food Grown Right in Your Backyard
It’s very informative and easy to digest. After reading it, I was able to decrease the maintenance plan and harvest the vegetables timely and correctly to encourage new growth to have a second and third harvest of that plant.

Last spring, I tried planting only edible plants, since my girls eat us out of fruit within a day of buying it. It was a success! I was able to use all of my herbs throughout the year and my blueberries and strawberries all came back. I had my first strawberry harvest today. If you’re in the USA,  Dutch Gardens has a fabulous online catalog and offers unique fruit planting. I have strawberries that are designed for hanging baskets and blueberries for pots. They do have a variety of other perennials which you won’t find at your local nursery. A secret with Basil – put it indoors in a glass of water and it will grow throughout the year. You can have fresh basil all year round.

Another little secret is copper Slug and Snail Tape.
You can also use copper pennies (Canadians can use the old penny) throughout your pots, but the tape is great if you have a large box.

The slug tape stuck to the vegetable box.

The slug tape stuck to the vegetable box.

Happy gardening.

The questions about dying asked by toddlers and preschoolers

There is a beginning and an ending for everything that is alive. In between is living.” Pat Thomas

In her book I Miss You: A First Look at Death Ms. Thomas begins “Every day someone is born…and every day someone dies.”
She then also states “Death is a natural part of life. All living things grow, change and eventually dies.” This is a great picture book to help toddlers and preschoolers understand that all living things die, and we are living things. It’s an opener for us to first talk about what living things are and what non living things are. Then we can bring in examples such as bugs, plants, animals and their life cycle, which will then lead you into ours. When you’re inundated with the questions you will have a base to work from.

Where do you go when you die? What is a cemetery? Are you going to be buried? What happens?  Where is your mummy? Why did she die? How did she die? You must miss her.

We went through a phase – the never-ending questions about death, dying and how it happens. It started at 2.5 years and we’re still in it. I found some books about dying that talk about it, in a non religious way. We all have various beliefs, but these books are wonderful ways of talking about death in a way young children can process. How I introduced it? I bought all the books listed below and put them on their bookshelves. When the girls saw them we just read them, the way we read books of Fancy Nancy, Curious George etc. My girls ask loads of questions when reading these books, so I just handled the books that talked about dying the same way. For example in the book The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst, Barney is buried in the ground and my girls ask – whether I’ll be buried in the ground. I clearly and factually say no, I want to be cremated. Then the next question is “what is cremation?” So I just tell them. I do say that I want to be scattered in the PNW where the whales are and then my husband proceeds to announce, under his breath, that I want to be fish food, but the questions are answered honestly, simply and factually.

When my children ask if I’m going to die, my response is Yes, someday… but not soon, because I’m not done living yet”.  When my children say “I don’t want to die” – I reply You will die sometime but not yet because you have loads more living to do.”

Here are the books that we have on our shelves. I hope they provide some comfort when needed and help answer some questions. As always if you have a suggestion please let me know.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Picture Puffins)

What’s in my basket?

The container in my car!

The container in my car!

If you’re a parent to young children you will hear the screams and the attitudes when you’re kids are hungry. And if you’re like me you’ve scheduled loads of playdates at parks, signed you’re kids up in numerous activities that are at least 30 minutes from home and run into construction at least once a day, probably at 4pm.

My kids are extremely active, and my belief for our family is if you’re hungry then eat…but eat relatively good food that will sustain you and give you energy. Since my kids are active therefore I’m active and therefore I get hungry when my kids do. So I pack a basket in my car. Actually it’s a container from the Container Store with the lid off so I can easily grab a snack. (Note: I have tried to do the eat only at meal times but my kids are on the small and frequent meal plan, not by my doing)

So what’s in my basket/container at all times?

Almonds – dry roasted from Whole Foods (I found an almond that the girls and I like with no salt)
Pretzels – both salted sticks and non salted rings
Harvest Snaps, Baked and Lightly Salted
Amazon and Costco carry the big bags, QFC carries the small ones.

Chukar Cherry Medley If you buy them from Pikes Place Market you get a discount. I sometimes switch these out for dried blueberries.

Peter Rabbit Organics I only provide the vegetable ones, since my girls eat an enormous amount of fruit without encouragement. My girls love the sweet potato, the spinach and the carrot flavors.

Peanuts – plain (I buy the ones that you grind to make peanut butter from Whole Foods) Also the girls do love the peanuts from CB Nuts but that’s usually saved for road trips.

CB’s Nuts Organic Pumpkin Seeds

Back to Nature Crispy Cheddar Crackers – I buy two varieties: cheddar and whole grain.

Sesame Sticks – Whole Foods sells a few flavors, we enjoy the turmeric ones.

Granola Bars – Clif Bar Energy Bar, Peanut Toffee Buzz is our favorite and Taste of Nature Snack Bars comes in close second.

Raisins – small boxes or you’ll have them all over your car!

Planters Deluxe Whole Cashews Canister, Lightly Salted

Supplies: Spoons – plastic ones that can be recycled (washed and reused). By having spoons in the car I can grab some yoghurt in the morning and not worry about forgetting the spoons. Kleenex for tears and wipes for hands and face.

You may wonder what is the state of my car. It’s not that bad. I do have a rule for myself that when I go to a gas station I must clean out the garbage while the tank is filling up. I do try, when I get home at the end of each day, to clean out the garbage and now I’ve started training/encouraging the girls to remove their trash.

My supply chain- when I grab the last box of granola bars from my storage room, I reorder so I don’t run out of supplies in the car. I try to choose things that I can reach easily into the container and hand them to the kids. I also choose items that I like so when I get hungry I get something that can sustain me. Having a snack supply that stays in my car has decreased the tantrums – both for my kids and myself. Think about yourself…have you found yourself heading into a meeting or an appointment and you are famished. You become a bit grumpy and rushed because you’re hungry. Having some nuts or something with protein in it keeps you going until you can get to a meal. What are some of the other items I always have in my car?

  1. Water – I have a large container of water for myself and refills for the girls water bottles. If we’re out at a park and they’ve used up all their water I don’t want to be caught without.
  2. Backpack – in this bag I have an extra set of clothes for the girls including underwear. Even though they are potty trained I always have an extra set in the car for emergencies. Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus Red For the parks that have filthy toilets or for “I gotta go right now while driving” or at a park that has no facilities – it’s great to have this in your backpack.
  3. Tennis Balls taped together – for me. I have a bad back and when carrying children after scraped knees or falls, climbing on jungle gyms – my back sometimes needs a good roll.
  4. Old towel – in Seattle it rains. So when the sun comes out we head out to the parks. But the slides and swings can be wet so having an old towel to wipe it down makes the parks more fun. As summer approaches and the days are warmer – we all spend one more minute at the parks. But as soon as we get into the car the tantrums may start because we’ve past snack time, haven’t had enough food or water and we get stuck in traffic – I find having a container full of snacks at hand  helps you get home with your sanity still in tack.Oh and if you’re meeting your husband/partner for an appointment and he hasn’t eaten all day – it’s also great for him!

I’m always on the lookout for good snack foods that can stay in my car. Let me know yours.

Enjoy the weather

Educational iPad games/apps; keeping kids busy while …

Educational iPad games/apps keep my kids busy while I prep for dinner. They learn something while eating veggies and I get 30 minutes to make dinner, clean up and gear up for the dinner fiascos and the after dinner routine.

When my girls were 2.5 years of age I caved, and started giving them screen time on their iPads (I do have two iPads). However I only give it to them at 4:30/4:45pm pm in the afternoon, otherwise known as the ‘witching hour’. At the same time I also give them their vegetables – carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, green beans, red peppers, frozen peas in a dish, so while they are playing they can easily grab a veggie. Dinner is at 5:15pm and my weekday meals must only take 15 minutes to create. I do have a meal plan for each day which I do create on Sundays (I’ll write a post about that another time).

Parent Map had a great article a few years back listing some good educational apps– however most were for children older than 2.5 years. But they did list a great site appolearning.com to find educational games for all ages.

Example of appolearning.com
Example of appolearning.com

 

The apps are reviewed by educators and then given a mark out of ten. The apps with 9/10 are the ones I download. I also notice, that some games are listed for older kids but I still download them if I think my kids can handle the challenge. However, if your child is getting frustrated with the game, be sure to sit with them and see if they can do it or if it’s out of their skill level. I do rotate games in and out and if I introduce a new one – I do sit down with them for a few minutes and be sure they understand the requirements. (I also turn on restrictions on my iPad settings so they can’t open the internet and purchase more apps).

Here is my list of iPad games/apps that help with mathematics, science, writing, reading, music, health, history and the world we live in. I’ve listed them at the time of introduction. Most of the apps that are listed under 3 years of age are for children ages 3-5 years old.

2.5 years of age
A to Z Music Videos from ABCmouse.com by Age of Learning
Awesome Xylophone by Tharts
I Hear Ewe – Animal Sounds for Toddlers by Claireware Software
Interactive Alphabet ABC’s by Piikea St.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox by THUP Games
Peekaboo Pets by Kid Baby Toddler Ltd.
Peekaboo Barn by Night & Day Studios
Play Lab
Stop & Go by Shortstack
Toddle Puzzle Shapes by Technolio
Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose

3 years of age and older
tryIconLeo’s Pad by Kidaptive (This is for older kids but my girls love this. At 4 they are still learning various items from this game)
Gazzili Science by GazziliWorld (love this one – wish there were more)
Petersons Inventions by Filimundus – this is a fabulous game for the Engineer. The girls did get stuck at first a bit but I would say “try two things” and then I’d help. We did a couple together and then they caught on. Now they can outsmart me!
Kids Learn Spanish with busuu by Busuu Limited
Paper by Fifty Three
Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Check Up by Disney
Doc McStuffins: Moving with Doc by Disney
Abby Monkey Preschool and Kindergarten by CFC
Preschool Colors Toys Train Kids by 22Learn

3.5 years of age and older
ABCmouse.com – Early Learning Academy by Age of Learning
LetterSchoollearn to write letters and numbers by Sanoma Media
iWriteWords by gdiplus
iTrace by iTrace
Super Why ABC Adventures by PBS Kids
AbbyPhonics: Kindergarten Reading by 22learn
BrainPop Jr. by BrainPop – This app is for older kids. However they have videos that teach the kids about various things from President’s day, vegetables vs cookies, voting to smoking. It helps start conversations and it helps you as a parent address the issues you see with your kids. For example before they watched the smoking/addiction video they were asking me why was smoke coming out of that person’s mouth, what was the pipe they were holding? These videos are 3 minutes in length, there is a robot named Mobi who does things wrong or tries things out and the girl in the video ‘educates’ Mobi. During our dinner we discuss what they have learned that day from BrainPop. I do limit this game to two videos a day…I can only handle 4 new topics to discuss at dinner. When I toured a school recently I did see them using this in grade 1. My girls don’t do the activities yet just the videos.
Motion Math: Hungry Fish by Motion Math
Motion Math: Hungry Guppy by Motion Math
Toy Store Delivery Truck by MindSmack
Moofy Recognizing Pattern by PlaySmart
Counting Caterpillar by Bellamon
Peg + Cat Big Gig by PBS Kids
Meet the Orchestra by Vide Infra Group
DoReMi 123: Music for Kids by Creativity
Animal Orchestra For Kids by Devmiles

4 years of age and older
The Word Monsters: Learn to Read by Mindconnex learning
Seasons and Weather! by Tribal Nova
Animals! Life science by Tribal Nova
Ansel & Clair’s Adventures in Africa by Fingerpring
Dragon Shapes -Lumio Geometry Challenge by Lighthouse Learning
Numbers and Counting – Teacher Tilly by Shoto
The MathTree by Bellamon
Jungle Time: learn how to tell time by Andrew Short
Measurement by Emantras
Toca Builders by Toca Boca AB
Sound Recall by Javelin Sdn Bhd
Mathcubes: Addition & Subtraction for kids by Apps4Needs (I have just introduced this one)

Feel free to drop me a line and let me know your favorites as I’m always looking for new educational apps to add.