LasVegas

Top 10 Ways to Unwind in Las Vegas #LetLoose2014

Did you know that April is National Stress Awareness Month?!

Ya… Me neither!

There’s no hiding the fact that I wear many hats – Busy Mom, Full time employee, business owner, athlete, coach, chef, chauffeur, activities director, student, friend… to name a few!

While I love each and every one of my roles, come Friday, I’m wiped and ready for a relaxing weekend (which is typically anything but), and come Monday I find myself wishing for the weekend again.

Between kids, family, work, and extra-curricular activities, my “me” time and my “hen” time (aka gal pal time) is dwindling. I would love nothing more right now than to grab a couple of my gal pals, and hop away for a weekend in the Vegas!

So in recognition of my much needed catch up with my girlfriend time, and the fact that April is National Stress Awareness Month, I’ve come up with a list of the Top 10 Ways to Unwind and Let Loose in Las Vegas!

  1. Relax at the PoolThe Aria has three distinctive pools to choose from! Warm sun on your shoulders. Clear skies overhead. Blue waters calling your name… Yes please!
  2. Get pampered – Watch the tension melt away in The Spa Salon at ARIA. Hot stones, skilled hands, tranquil water gardens and natural light will ease your mind, body, and soul.
  3. Shop ’till you drop – Las Vegas is well known for it’s plethora of retail shops, 500,000 square feet of which are located at Crystals – an unparalleled collection of retailers, all under one roof! Grab the ladies and hit the shops for some quality bonding time!
  4. Hit the links – I’m an avid golfer, and guests at The Aria receive exclusing access to the legendary Shaddow Creek golf course. Wandering creeks, manicured greens and a competitive slope rating are a great way to spend a day.
  5. Ante up – No trip to Las Vegas is complete without a stop at the Casino! Whether you’re into slots, table games, poker, or race & sports book, there’s something for everyone. Rub your pennies together and get ready to hit the relaxed casino floor.
  6. Catch a show – Seeing a Cirque Du Soleil show is definitely on my bucket list, even more so after missing out on going last time I was in Vegas. Checking out Zarkana – A spirited voyage through an abandoned theater where an extraordinary circus comes back to life, is a must see event!
  7. Put on your dancin’ shoes – Vegas with girlfriends = painting the town red! There’s definitely no shortage of amazing nightlife in Las Vegas and it’s easy to find yourself in the center of the excitement! Whether you want to relax in one of many bars or lounges, or shake your booty at Haze Nightclub at ARIA a good time is sure to be had by all!
  8. Stuff your face – As a foodie, it’s tremendously important that I’m surrounded by good food. A variety of eclectic menus are available in any of the 17 restaurants at The Aria, including a Starbucks to help you start your day off right!
  9. Be a tourist – Don’t be afraid to leave The Strip and enter a desert landscape worth framing during your trip to Las Vegas! Helicopters, Canyons, and adventure tours await you!
  10. StaycationThe Aria is more than a collection of lavish rooms and suites – it’s an impossible trail of nuances that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. A hand laid mosaic, a scale replica of the Colorado River, unprecedented public art, water features, and living vegetation are just some of the amazing design features that can be seen. Shut the door and breathe – Leave the velocity of The Strip at the door as you relax and unwind in your personal refuge, knowing that everything you could need is within reach.

How would you let loose in Las Vegas?

{MAKE IT} Baked Mini Doughnuts

I’ve professed my love of all things mini before… like here, here, and here. But love takes on an all new meaning with these delicious little halo’s of cinnamony, sugary goodness.
Seriously…
Did you look at that picture?
I’m not gonna say that these are good for you, but the fact that they are baked to perfection certainly makes them better than your typical fried up carnival variety. So you can indulge a little more guilt free, which is good, because you’ll definitely be eating more than just a couple.
I picked up an electric doughnut maker a while back, and have finally gotten around to taking it out of the box (in other news, I also have an unopened mini doughnut pan, and apparently a kitchen gadget shopping problem…), and let me tell you, if I had of realized how easy to use this thing was, I’d have been eating homemade doughnuts for months.
Don’t worry, I fully intend on quickly making up for lost time!
The recipe is quick and easy, and the results are amazing! I suggest you go make these, stat!
Baked Mini Doughnuts

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • Topping:
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or turn on doughnut maker
  2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients
  3. In a small bowl, combine milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Wisk until thoroughly mixed
  4. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry mixture until just combined
  5. Fill piping bag or resealable sandwich bag with batter and pipe into doughnut machine or doughnut pan filling 3/4 full
  6. Bake 5-7 minutes or until golden brown
  7. When cool enough to handle, dip mini doughnut in butter and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture to coat
  8. Enjoy! Obviously these are best served warm, but will stay fresh for 24-48 hours if stored tightly (I can not speak to this as they didn't last more than 12 hours at my house!)
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What’s your favorite type of doughnut?

Sarah

{MAKE IT} Lentil Sloppy Joes

As a vegetarian, I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on some of the meaty meals that I cook for my family, things like OMG Chicken, Turkey Pot Pies, and of course Epic Sloppy Joes. With summer approaching, I was on a mission to make a vegetarian version of my Epic Sloppy Joes that would suit not only my vegetarian tastes, but the meat loving tastes of my family.
Pretty sure I’ve nailed it with this one!
The lentils offer a hearty, meaty texture with amazingly robust flavour. This recipe is quick and easy to make, likely with ingredients you have on hand.
You’re gonna want to get on this one!
Lentil Sloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups brown lentils (I used a mixed variety), rinsed and picked over
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 cup Vegetable broth
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (I used the Italian seasoned)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 4 - 6 hamburger buns

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet or saucepan, add onion and garlic stirring frequently until softened and golden, about 5 minutes
  2. Add spices, lentils, broth, red pepper and liquid from stewed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for aprox. 20 minutes, lentils should be tender enough to eat, but firm enough to still hold their shape.
  3. Roughly dice remaining tomatoes or pulse gently with a hand blender, add to lentil mixture.
  4. Stir in molasses, brown sugar and soy sauce, continue cooking until sauce has thickened, aprox. 10 minutes.
  5. Serve lentils on hamburger buns and enjoy!

Notes

Adapted from Whole Foods Market

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This recipe was a hit with the whole family! For a heartier version, add 1 – 2 cups of cooked ground beef or veggie ground round. For a delicious variation, serve lentil mixture over rice or quinoa!

 

Sarah

{MAKE IT} French Toast Roll Ups

I have a confession to make…
I am 30 years old, and I JUST discovered that I like nutella…
I know… CRAZY right?!
It’s something like the time when my brother was little and my parents convinced him that he didn’t like steak so that they wouldn’t have to fork out their hard earned money on expensive steaks for a kid, only to have him try steak at a friends house and realize that he loved it. He was evidently unimpressed with my parents over the whole situation.
So that happened to me!! Sans the whole parental brain washing part (I think…) when I tried a little sample of Nutella that came in the mail. Needless to say, I like Nutella!
In my quest for breakfast-y Nutella goodness, I decided to pair chocolate with strawberries and wrap it all together in a classic, French Toast.
The beauty of these little rolls is that you can put virtually anything in them, they’re super quick and easy to make, and they’re simple to eat, perfect for little hands! This batch was cream cheese and strawberry & Nutella and strawberry.

{MAKE IT} French Toast Roll Ups

Ingredients

  • 8 slices of bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp Milk
  • Cream Cheese* (Softened), Nutella, Fruit, Peanut Butter, or filling of your choice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. In a shallow bowl or dish, wisk the eggs and milk together until combined, set aside
  2. Mix sugar and cinnamon in another shallow bowl or dish and set aside
  3. Trim crusts off each slice of bread
  4. Flatten each piece of bread with a rolling pin
  5. Place desired amount of filling at the end of one side of your flattened bread (I used about 2 Tbsp of cream cheese or Nutella) and top with berries, if desired
  6. Roll the bread tightly, repeat with remaining slices of bread, I added a thin line of cream cheese/Nutella to the inside of the end of the roll so the seam wouldn't come apart.
  7. Heat your greased pan or grill to medium heat
  8. Dip your bread rolls in egg mixture, making sure to coat entire roll and ends
  9. Place in pan, seam side down, turning to cook ensuring that all sides are golden brown
  10. Roll cooked rolls immediately in cinnamon sugar mixture until fully covered.
  11. Serve while hot with syrup, honey or just enjoy as is!

Notes

I mixed the cream cheese with a small amount of icing sugar to sweeten it up a bit as the kids didn't like the tartness of the cheese by itself.

This recipe was adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

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Enjoy!

Sarah

sarah-blog

Top 5 car seat mistakes you may be making

A few years ago my car was T-boned in a busy intersection, with my son in the back seat. The whole situation was terrifying, nevermind the fact that I had a small child in the car with me. It was that moment that I was very thankful I had extensively researched vehicle crash test ratings prior to purchasing my car, and taken the steps of having my car seats inspected to ensure they were installed correctly.

Fact: Results from safety checks across Canada reveal that between 30-80% of child car and booster seats inspected are installed incorrectly. Is yours one of them?

Fact: Car crashes are a leading cause of death and hospitalizations for Canadian children under the age of 14. 

Take a moment to consider this sobering thought…
Whether you’re driving around the corner or heading out on a road trip, accidents can and do happen at any time. 
Certified Car Seat Installation Technician and Parenting Expert Maureen Dennis has the Top 5 mistakes parents make when hitting the road — and how to avoid them. 
  1. Wrong Seat at the Wrong Age. A common mistake made by parents is not using the correct seat for the child’s height, weight, and developmental stage. This can usually be seen when parents move their child to the next stage too quickly (rushing to get them into a booster seat to accommodate a new baby when they still fit in their harnessed forward-facing seat, for example).
    Solution:
    Know the guidelines of when to make a car seat adjustment and know your child’s height and weight.
  2. Car seat not securely installed.  Another error often made is when attaching the car seat inside the car.  In many cases, the seat is too loosely installed and not tightly secured to the vehicle.
    Solution: Your car seat should not move more than 2.5 cm (or 1 inch) in any direction at the base of the seat, right at the seat belt or UAS path.
  3. Harness on the child is too loose. How tight is too tight? A common mistake is leaving the harness too loose and not having your child secured properly.
    Solution: Conduct the “pinch test”. You should not be able to pinch any of the harness webbing at the child’s shoulder.
  4. Placing the chest clip. Another common mistake found is where parents place the chest clip.
    Solution: The chest clip should always be at the armpit level – not too low, such as down near their belly button, or up too close – near the neck.
  5. Improper placement.  Even if the car seat is installed and securely fastened, there are still errors that can occur which may harm your child.
    Solution: Make sure that seats in a rear-facing position are at a 45 degree angle to support the baby’s head and neck. All forward-facing seats require a tether strap that hooks to a tether anchor in your car, so make sure you don’t forget that step.
I cannot stress the importance of proper car seat installation. According to a report from the Canadian Paediatric Society, child seats, when used correctly, reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% and the risk of serious injury by 67%. Using a booster seat instead of just a seat belt alone is a reduction of 59% in injury risk. 
Staggering numbers! 
Chevrolet, Safe & Sure. Child Car Seat Installation Workshop
To make sure you know how to properly install your car seat, Chevrolet is working with Parachute, a national charitable organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives, to host free car seat installation workshops for families and caregivers.  Sessions will begin at Chevrolet dealerships in Vancouver and Toronto in April 2014.  No matter what vehicle you drive, or the type of car seat you own, parents and caregivers can register online now for their free expert consultation (www.safeandsure.ca).

Sarah

Leftover Pizza on a Stick Bento Lunch

If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you’ll probably notice that I sometimes like to stick regular foods on a stick and then feed it to my kids, like here, here, and here. Well, today’s bento lunch is no different!

One of the downfalls of being a vegetarian in a carnivore house is that there’s often a LOT of left over food from dinner. This pizza was no exception! I decided to stick the leftovers in the kids lunch with a twist. Not only does slicing it up into smaller squares make it easier for little hands, but it makes it easier to dip in the pizza sauce, and I find that even a subtle presentation change like this makes it seem a little less like the meal they just ate the night before. Everybody wins!

This lunch consists of leftover Thrifty Foods Pizza (which by the way received amazing reviews from the family!) on a stick, pasta sauce in the mini dipper, a mini orange and mini banana, goldfish crackers, carrots, a babybel cheese, some mini rice cakes, and a chocolate foil heart.

Enjoy!

Things I used to make this lunch:

Sarah

cutezcute-mini-pocket-sandwich-maker-and-egg-mold-kit-animal-palz

Mini CuteZcute Panda Bento Lunch

A while ago I received this awesome CuteZcute Mini Pocket Sandwich Maker from All Things For Sale a while back and am just getting around to using it for the first time. Not sure what took me so long as much like the original CuteZcute, it’s super easy to use and fun for the kids. 
I was able to cut three mini sammies from the bread which is perfect for a lunch box. 
The kids lunches today consist of Wow Butter and jelly sammies, orange slices, pomegranate seeds, cucumber, crackers, half an egg, and popcorn all packed in our EasyLunchBoxes.
Super cute and simple!

Enjoy!

Things I used to make this lunch:
CuteZcute Mini Pocket Sandwich Maker and Egg Mold Kit - Animal Palz 

Sarah

$300 PayPal Cash Giveaway!

Enter to win $300 Cash via PayPal
Sponsored by Michael Phillip Cash.

Complete the tasks below to earn entries into this giveaway.
Refer your friends using your unique link to earn even more chances to win.
Open Worldwide.
Ends at 11:59pm EDT on April 8th, 2014.
This giveaway was coordinated by Giveaway Promote.

Schism was recently chosen as a BOTYA 2013 Finalist in Science Fiction.
To celebrate, Michael Cash would like to offer a everyone a chance to win $300.
On the planet Darracia, an ever-widening social gap between its inhabitants is causing turmoil that is fracturing a once peaceful world. Struggling with his identity, nineteen year old Prince V’sair must harness the power of the elusive Fireblade, the secret to a warrior’s heart, in order to overcome his uncle Staf Nuen’s lust for supremacy. Will the energy of the Elements guide the young prince to his true destiny or will Staf Nuen conquer Darracia?
Dii, an Amazon reviewer said:
“Does intolerance of people’s differences go beyond our planet? What of jealousy and the quest for power? Is it thicker than blood? Schism by Michael Phillip Cash is a fascinating and intense dark fantasy/Sci-fi filled with everything that makes for excellent, magnetic reading! Prejudice, love, greed, trust, the lust for power, deceit, cruelty and bloodshed, it’s all here in the first book of what looks to be an amazing journey to another planet somewhere in the heavens.
The ever-widening gap between the different classes is causing unrest to the once peaceful plant of Darracia, the haves get more, the have-nots lose what little they have and are beginning to fight back. Considered inferior to those around him, young Prince V’sair struggles to be seen as warrior material, in spite of his smaller stature and different skin coloring. He is a half-breed, part Darracian, part Planta. Smart, filled with knowledge from books, he still longs to feel the power of the Elements in the Fireblade, a weapon that can only be wielded by one blessed with a warrior’s heart. Forbidden to risk his life in a quest to find the powerful weapon, V’sair chafes at being trapped between wanting to help his people and needing to obey the King and Queen. But there is more to the unrest among the classes than meets the eye. Someone nearby is a traitor and it may be up to V’sair to save his world, but how? Unprepared for what awaits him outside of his castle, V’sair finds strength in love, honor and in believing in himself as he stands against the odds and the evil betrayers around him.
No doubt about it, Michael Phillip Cash can build a world with depth and clarity and then populate it characters that one can see in their minds. Soar above the clouds on a flying horse-type creature, feel the tension, feel the fear and wonder of V’sair as he runs into danger, faces near death and the love of a girl whose skin is as red as his is blue. Mr. Cash introduces each character with ease and enables the reader to see who to watch for, who to root for and who to hiss at. He has created magic with his words that transport you into another world as good battle evil in the takeover of Darracia and a boy becomes a warrior with heart. As the foundation from which this series will build, Schism is a powerful testament to the power of the imagination when guided by a masterful storyteller.”
Book 2, Collision: The Battle for Darracia (Book 2) (The Darracia Saga) is now available on Amazon.

After the success of his first three books (Brood X, Stillwell, and The Hanging Tree) Michael Phillip Cash is fulfilling a dream and creating his own epic fantasy world. The third book in the series is coming soon!

Sarah

The great kitchen debate

 

It’s been almost 2 years since the purchase of my “dream” home. I say “dream” because while the house itself is stunning, the 1988 decor is not so much… In the two years that we’ve lived here, very minimal renovations/updates have taken place. This is mostly due to the fact that life with two kids and an overseas student means that things can be a little chaotic at the best of times.
Spring brings change, refresh and new life… Quite indicative of my current situation, so in light of that I’ve decided to finally bite the bullet – there’s no time like the present. The next month or so you will get a little taste of life outside of the bento box, and inside the crazy bento house as I embark on a fun DIY basement suite kitchen refresh with Rust-Oleum.
Now, here’s where I need your help!
The kitchen that I’m refreshing is a whopping 8 x 7 with no natural light… The big dilemma here is what color should I choose for my cabinets and countertop?!?!
I’m leaning towards purchasing the light kit and going with a Linen or Porcelain finish, and Java Stone for the countertop, but would love your opinion on the colors that I should go with given the size of my kitchen!
Step 1 in the great kitchen refresh:
Head on over to the Rustoleum website and then comment below on what color cabinets you thing I should go with and why?! (walls are likely to be painted a light grey but I’m open to suggestions there as well!)

Sarah

waffle

Maple vs. Honey – What team are you on?

I was recently contacted by the Vancouver Sun and informed of a cool new feature they’re doing in the weekend paper called Gastropost. They’ve been following my foodie posts on instagram and encouraged me to submit a photo for a chance to be featured in an upcoming edition.
Awesome! What foodie wouldn’t be excited to take the challenge? This past week’s challenge was Maple vs. Honey and seeing as I had just received my new Breville SmartWaffle, I knew that a waffle post with vanilla bean maple syrup had to happen. #TeamMaple all the way!
Anyways, I was super excited to get an email early Sunday morning letting me know that my amazing Belgium waffle with vanilla bean maple syrup had made it into the pages of the Vancouver Sun! On my first try no less! So stay tuned for more BentoMomma Gastropost’s, and more importantly, more amazing waffles thanks to my new favorite kitchen appliance, the Breville SmartWaffle!

So… Are you on Team Maple or Team Honey?

Sarah