Calgary Food Bank Changing Lives

I've had the privilege of attending many media functions and events in Calgary over the past 17 years.  The Calgary Food Bank has always been an organization near and dear to my heart.  

About a month ago I participated in the Annual Mayor's Food Drive in support of the Calgary Food Bank.  This year, we were introduced to a young man who touched every one's heart.  His name is Jeret. Here is Jeret's story in his own words as he kicked off the event. 

"Hello my name is Jeret Holt and I am a volunteer at the food bank I feel very fortunate to be here today. I also feel very fortunate to be where I am in my life and am able to give back to an organization that gave my family more than just boxes of food. Growing up, even in a middle class family, times can be tough. I grew up with an alcoholic father that was on occasion abusively violent to my mother.

There was no getting around the fact that, as strong as my mother was, there was no way she was going to better our situation without support. I cannot image the added worry and struggle any mother must go through especially this time of year. Wanting nothing more than to see her children safe and smiling.

That’s why I said, "it was always more than just boxes of food." In those boxes was hope.  Hope that my mother had made the right choices no matter the struggles. Self confidence, to help focus on what was coming next. To ease ones burden and create help and grow opportunity.  In those boxes was a means for my mother to instil a better life in her three children, and she did.

After utilizing the food bank around Christmas for several years we were all able to persist forward. My mom now owns a successful house cleaning company and the girls are getting University educations. As for me, I am a freelance cinematographer that shoot’s TV and film across North America. That’s why I feel fortunate to be here and have the time…a story and a skill, to give back to the Calgary food bank. My family’s struggles are over but still for so many they are still just beginning."   

Thank you Jeret for allowing The Brighter Side to share your inspirational words and experiences.  For more information on the Calgary Food Bank, visit their website at http://www.calgaryfoodbank.com

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Visit Jeret's website www.calgarycameraman.com

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Made By Momma

Not long ago, Role Mothers introduced me to an outstanding Non for profit organization called Made By Momma.  They are a group of mothers helping other mothers.  And as a mother of 2 boys under the age of 5, I know how hard it can be at times to just catch your breath. I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed at times. But what I don't know is being a mother recovering from illness and injury. And that's why getting involved with Made By Momma was important.  

I'll admit, there are times when I do think I'm Super Mom!  But once reality settles in, I too needed a helping hand.  We all need that extra hand from time to time.  So where do you turn when you need help?  Family, friends and colleagues are a great resource, but not everyone has those options.  

Made By Momma touched my heart.  They deliver baked goods and hot and frozen meals to mothers recovering from illness and injury, mothers experiencing situations of adversity and women who need some extra time while establishing breastfeeding or bonding with a new baby.  They provide other services as well to help mothers the best they can.  

Sugar Cookies
So, my friend Jo Jo and I came up with the idea for a Made By Momma Recipe Exchange.  Bring food to donate, have a get together with friends, and you go home with the new tasty recipes to test in your own kitchen.  Being the middle of December, several people were too busy to attend the party, but that didn't stop them.  They dropped off meals and baking to my home, until the baskets were full!  

Ready for Made By Momma
Here was the final Made By Momma Party count:
42 cupcakes  
 9 dozen cookies
12 muffins
 5 banana loafs
 2 brownie mixes
 2 dozen granola squares
 4 sheppard's pie
 1 lasagna
Packed and ready to deliver
 1 butter chicken with rice
 2 meat sauces
 6 veggie burgers
and... a whole lotta love!

Thank you Jo Jo, Melissa, Lisa, Shanna, Kathy, Laurie, Kim, Lindsay, Danielle, Pam, Carolyn, Erin, Kelly and Cindy.  As Made By Momma said, "Women helping women, it's one of the best and strongest support systems that has ever existed".  

Made By Momma is always looking for women with kind, generous hearts to help out!  They know that women are multi-talented and whatever your "gift" from preparing meals, baking, knitting, artwork, dog walking or providing breastfeeding support or advice, you will be a welcome addition to their care team.  

Please visit http://www.madebymomma.org for more information.  
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A different way to donate this year

Homeless Partners
A Different Way to Donate This Year

Giving money or donating clothes to homeless shelters each year is helpful, but for a group of people who decided to add some creativity to the cause, it now has a personal touch.

Homeless Partners is a non-profit, self-funded program that changes the way you can give to those less fortunate this year. By visiting the website below, you can select a recipient in your chosen city, read their story, and review their Christmas wish list. Items range from blankets to bus tickets, making Christmas comfortable, or perhaps life changing for those in need. 

To participate is simple! Visit the website and create an account. Select your chosen city and shelter, and select a recipient. Click on the gift box next to their wish, then pledge your gift. Wrapping and deposit instructions are also included on the website, making the donation process easy.

Homeless Partners is unlike any other organization, creating such a personal way to give. Each individual has their own story to tell, and you can get to know them by reading a little bit about their life, then selecting an item from their wish list that would mean the most to them.

Click the link and get to know someone in your area. Giving them a chance to unwrap a personal gift from you could make a difference this season!


The Brighter Side wishes to thank Marlana for sharing this story with us.  I quickly went to the link and in Calgary you can grant wishes for those at the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre.  I was in tears reading the wish lists.  Simple things that mean so much to them.  For example there was one wish for an eye exam and glasses, the other was as simple as a jacket.  It's just a click away.  If you've been wondering where to help this holiday season, THIS ONE IS A MUST SEE!

Blessings to you and your loved ones this Holiday Season.

Marlana's Website
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It Make Scents

It Makes Scents
Anti-Itching Cooling Spray 
Marlana Prowal

If you frequently go to bed with itchy skin, a few things can be a factor. It could be the type of laundry soap and fabric softener that may not agree with your skin type, or it could simply be this dry time of year where we become good friends with our wooden back scratchers.Using anti-itch lotions leave a mess, and usually don't last long on the skin. So why not use a powder? Even better, why not make your own?

There are essential oils that work best for calming itchy skin, and making your own powder to dust on your skin before bed, or sprinkle inside your night shirt could just be the most fun you have concocting your own treatment.

Cooling Anti-Itch Powder

In a bowl, sift and mix:
2/3 Cup of Arrowroot Powder (find at your local health food store)
2/3 Cup of Cornstarch
1 heaping Tbsp Baking Soda
Use a deep bowl because this powder mixture will get everywhere. On one cosmetic pad, add the essential oils (see amounts below). On second cosmetic pad, add a 1/2 Tsp of Tea (seed) oil or Jojoba oil. 
6 drops of Peppermint
4 drops of Eucalyptus
4 drops of Lavender
2 drops of Rose
2 drops of Ylang Ylang
2 drops of Tea Tree

Spoon half of the powder mixture in to a glass jar. Add the two cosmetic balls. Add the second half of the powder mixture. Screw the lid on and shake. This powder can be ready for use in one day, but to get a nicely cured powder, leave in the jar for at least three days (up to a week if you can wait that long), shaking the jar at least a few times each day. After a couple of days, you may want to put in two fresh new cosmetic pads with the oils. 

This is a very minty, cooling powder! If you suffer from itch that keeps you from sleeping, dust a bit of this powder on your bedsheets just before you go to bed. Keep this powder handy in the summer, as it also works wonders on irritating mosquito bites.

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Letter To Santa COOKIES!

Once the decorating starts, you have to finish until the end!  Every year we see the neighbours put up their lights the same way they did last year.  You hang the Christmas wreath on the door, just like you did last year.  And the tree goes up with the same decorations.  Well, except the new ones your kids made.  (If you forget those, you'll hear about it!!!)  Instead of doing the same thing year after year, why not kick up your holidays a notch with a Letter To Santa Cookie!

While surfing the tweets on Twitter, up came a link to Letter To Santa Cookies.  Intrigued, I clicked!  WOW!  What an awesome idea.  I love love love this idea.  The letter your child wrote to Santa is on a cookie!  What a wonderful, unique idea.  And they look delicious too!  But that's not all, the best part, besides having the coolest cookies in your neighbourhood, is that $1.00 of every cookie sold will go to an organization called Children Without Poverty.  If it wasn't for Bloomalicious, I would have never known about this fantastic group of people.  

The creator of Letter To Santa Cookie, chose this organization from her heart.  Having experienced first hand from her childhood, she felt the need to give back.  She remembers a time when she was in 6th grade going to school and her tummy was rumbling from hunger.  Back then, things were "tight" at home.  It's unfortunate that anyone goes through those experiences.  But it's those moments we remember, and those moments make us who we are today.  And today Bloomalicious can give back.  

Children Without Poverty provides mentoring, support and assistance to families moving from homelessness and poverty to a desired sustainable lifestyle.  Incredible! What a wonderful gift that would be.  Thanks to Bloomalicious and their support through the Letter To Santa Cookie, now you can make a small step towards helping these children.  To learn more about this local charity, visit their website www.childrenwithoutpoverty.com.

And on Christmas Eve, your child's face will light up when they see their letter on a cookie!  And during the rest of the year, be sure to check back with Bloomalicious for one of their custom made cookie bouquets!  Another Great Idea with Amazing people!  

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Give The Gift of Health

With the spirit of Christmas, comes the spirit of giving.  This is the time of year that everyone wants to see those less fortunate have a Merry Christmas.  But it’s not always about toys and food.  (But those are very good organizations that help out).  It can also be about health.  There is a way to give when it comes to health, and that’s where you can consider becoming a life-force donor of stem cells, by registering as a bone marrow donor.  If nothing else, pass along the information to anyone who you may think would like to do this. 

I recently received an email from a friend of mine who is looking for anyone who may be able to help out a friends 3 month old granddaughter Zoe.  Zoe is currently fighting for her life with a very serious rare blood condition called HLH.  Being a bone marrow donor might save the life of a child, just like Zoe. 
The best way to get started on the stem cell donor list is to go to http://www.onematch.ca/.  
On behalf of my good friend and this family, thank you for reading this and passing the information along.  Please spread the word, the more people who join the network means the more stem cells matches that are possible for sick kids here in Alberta and around the world. 

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Great Idea's for Dinner ~ Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla

This is probably one of my favourite things to make.  It's quick and easy.  And the kids LOVE this too.

Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla

2 chicken breasts (or Roasted Chicken from grocery store)
8 green tortilla wraps
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups shreaded mozzarella and cheadar cheese

Salsa & Guacomole
2 red tomatoes diced
1 orange pepper diced
1 yellow pepper diced
1/4 cup red onion diced
1/3 cup cilantro chopped
1 Tbsp chilie pepper flakes (optional if you want it spicy)

2 ripe Avacados mashed
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp Epicure Guacomole mix (optional)
2 Tbsp red onion diced (optional)

Cook chicken breasts through.  Cut into strips.  Brush olive oil onto bottom side of the tortilla wrap.  In a large frying pan on medium heat, place tortilla wrap oil side down.  Spread handful of cheese onto wrap, top with handful of chicken strips.  Top with more cheese, over chicken.  Brush olive oil onto top side of the second wrap and place oil side up over chicken and cheese.  Once cheese has melted, flip wrap.  Quesadilla is ready once it's been warmed through.  For those picky eaters who refuse to eat chicken, just add cheese.  Top Quesadillas with salsa, sour cream and guacomole!  Enjoy!

Chicken & Cheese
This meal is faster if you pick up an already roasted chicken.  Great for when you're on the go!!!

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Must Haves

With Christmas less than a month away now, you may need a new list for your must haves.  Feel free to pass on this list to those who wish to spoil you.  You'll find things on the web, ideas for family fun, gift cards, tech stuff and even classes!  Hopefully they'll all help make your life brighter and easier!  Use it as your own must haves or some great ideas for the Mom in your life.

Bubble Friends  Fun! Fun! Fun! A Calgary mom who has an amazing imagination! From Bubble Name bobbles (for your kids coats and to collect) to awesome invites and banners for your parities. The Bubbles also make it easier for your kids to zip up their own coats!  They're unique and fun for you and your kids! Especially for your theme parties.  For adults and for kids.  Maybe it's a Moustache party or a Pirate Party.  The Bubble Friends team are creative and fun.  Bubble Friends has all kinds of great gift ideas too!  Have a look!

Heritage Makers 
I CAN’T live without my pictures and memories. Maybe it all started when I lost all my pictures when I was a kid in a house fire. To me, “THINGS” aren’t as important as our memories. And what a better way to preserve your memories, than in an amazing keepsake book. I’ve made great photo books for the grandparents, a honeymoon book for my husband and yearly memory keepsakes for my boys. This is a MUST in my books!!!!

Family Fun Calgary  AND IT’S FREE!!!
  EVERYTHING you need to know!! This site was created by Melissa Vroon and Voula Martin, two Calgary women who have known each other a long time. One day, Melissa said to Voula, “Why isn’t there a website where you can go and find all the fun things to do in the city with the kids? Someone should make a site like that.” And Voula replied, “So why don’t we create it together? Thank you ladies for this GREAT site and reference guide for all parents!!

Lite 95.9 Christmas Music.  It’s not always about just one song; it’s about what Christmas music means. It’s about the season it represents. Christmas. Christmas is about going to church with your parents to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and to listen to your dad sing (as bad of a singer as he is).  Christmas is about remembering your childhood and how excited you would get about the presents under the tree. It’s also about remembering loved ones who have gone before us. It may bring a tear to your eye, but in loving memory.

Portable North Pole  
Technology has come such a long way. If you have kids you HAVE to send them this personal message from Santa! Yes it’s free. Only costs if you want to make your message into a keepsake.  If not you can watch it again and again and again for free! PNP – Portable North Pole console will be online throughout the Holiday season, allowing you to send personalized video messages FREE to your children, parents and friends. Your kids will LOVE this!!!

Starbucks non fat Latte or Tim Horton’s Cafe Mocha, whichever tickles your fancy for the day.  This is an easy stocking stuffer for your coffee lover!!! Nothing better than that first cup of coffee. Mmmmm

Body Shop Bubble Bath and Essential oils.  Aromatherapy doesn’t just smell good, it so beneficial as well. It helps you relax and gives you stress relief. It’ll help your mood and well being. Aromatherapy can also give relief of minor discomforts; boost your immune, respirator and circulatory system. Aromatherapy doesn’t “cure” major illnesses but it is effective at alleviating many of the discomforts associated with them. Essential Oils are the heart of aromatherapy. They have been used to heal wounds, energize, improve skin tone, relax muscles, improve sleep, and relieve tension headaches and so on and so on!!  Any mom who takes her "time out" in the bath NEEDS this!

If you’ve been thinking about the iPhone, stop thinking about it. Do it! As a mom it’s not only good as a phone, but the apps out of this world! Great for you and great for entertaining your kids!!! There are times when you’re at the grocery store or at the doctors’ office, and the kids are getting restless. With an iPhone you can get the “Kid” friendly apps. We have flashcards, memory games and even movies.   But with the iPhone, you’ll need an iTunes gift card.   This way you can get the games for your kids, and the apps you need.  Most are free, but there's the occasional $.99 cents you'll need to buy yourself Angry Birds.

Last, but not least, a new camera.  Not just a point and shoot, but go out on a whim and get an SLR camera.  I have last years big seller, the Canon T2i Rebel.  But now you can get the latest and greatest.  Yes, this wish list item is a bit on the expensive side.  
But since pictures mean SO much to me, I was getting fed up with pictures not turning out and not being the quality I wanted them to be.  It’s intimidating at first to use an SLR camera, but with time you’ll figure it out, and be glad you did. Plus, there are some GREAT classes you can take to get familiar with your new best friend.  What a great way to also get out of the house.  I took this class and LOVED it!  Check out Mt. Royal University Continuing Education.  

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Jann Arden

I remember the very first time I saw Jann Arden.  She was singing at an intimate pub in Gas Town in Vancouver in 1993 for Music West.  I remember her sitting on a stool with one foot on the floor, I guess that's call "sit-standing".  Anyway... I had no idea who she was, but thought, this woman is FUNNY!  Never mind the singing talent, she was hilarious.

Little did I know, when I moved to Calgary in 1995, that Jann Arden was from here.  Since then I've seen Jann perform on numerous occasions.  I even had the opportunity to get to know Jann better when she was on an episode of Antique Psychic (where I was the host).  Again, Jann was so funny.  Really she is.

Another adoring quality about Jann Arden is that she's down to earth.  There's nothing "Hollywood" about her.  She's not demanding, she's not a diva, she's not rude.  Well, rude in the sense that she's not pushy.  If you don't fancy the "f" bomb, you may think she's rude.  But other than that, she's not rude.  It's not like she says it to your face.  Just in conversations.  Really, who doesn't?

Jann has one of those infectious personalities.  The more she talks, the more you want to get to know her.  I would LOVE to just have Jann over for an hour or two to just talk.  More like, I'd listen and she'd talk.  Jann I just put you on my "Bucket List" of things to do... Have lunch with Jann Arden.

Jann just released her book "Falling Backwards a memoir".  I'm only One chapter deep, but I caught myself laughing out loud.  When my husband asked me what was so funny, I couldn't really explain it.  Let's just say it involves Jann being VERY grateful for her mother when she gave birth to her.  The next out burst came when Jann explains what happens to children when they play in garbage cans in the back ally.  THAT you'll have to read on your own.  I'm not about to go into detail.  But Jann sure does.  Jann has freaked me out a bit.  My 2 year old son is already showing signs of being a little Jann.  I'm thankful that we don't have Milk Man chutes in today's day and age... for fear of my son getting his head stuck.  But there are other corners and crevasses he may find.  (Let's put it this way, Jann was an "adventurous" child, and so is my son who recently put peas up his nose).

The sentimental side of Jann comes from the inspiring love she has for her parents. I found myself tearing up as she talks about the unconditional love she has for her mom and dad.  Thank you Jann for sharing that.  Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us.  I'm looking forward to reading more.  (Hope the rest is just as good as the first chapter! lol)

At the same time Jann has also released a new album "Uncover Me 2".  It features Jann interpreting songs popularized by artists including The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, The Smiths, The Everly Brothers, Doris Day, Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee.  So I popped my new CD into my car and had a listen.  Again, showcasing her God given talent.  Outstanding.  Especially the Stevie Nicks song Dreams.  Love Love Love that cut on this CD.  So now you have two ideas for gift giving this Holiday Season.  The book "Falling Backwards" and the cd "Uncover Me 2".

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet up again with Jann for a book signing of her latest memoir.  Once again, she is as down to earth as one gets.  Earlier in the day she was in Edmonton for a book signing at Chapters.  Then drove to Calgary.  Arriving at the Deerfoot Walmart by 7pm, with a crowd of people waiting to have her sign their books.  Jann told the store manager that she'll stay until the last book is signed.  After a long night of chit chat and autograph signing she was off to Vancouver to sing the national anthem for the Grey Cup game.  When do you take a breath Jann?

Thank you Jann for the fun pictures, and for brightening my day.  Thank you for also brightening the day of all your fans.  We truly love you!

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Finding your way back.

It seems to be the most desired answer for a mother to find.  How does one find balance and calm in their life?  Good question!

Secretly, I long to be able to turn off.  But my mind races so fast I sometimes have a hard time keeping up.  Do I do too much?  Am I not doing enough?  At the end of the day I'm already planning for tomorrow, and in some cases for next week.  

Carbondale River
Castle Mt. AB
Mandy Shapanski, CEO of Xerox Canada, was speaking at a Women of Influence luncheon.  She suggested that if you're looking for balance, picture your life in glass balls.  Your family, your health and your life. When you juggle, just be careful which one you drop.  Your career, however, is a rubber ball.  That one will always bounce back.  What I took away from that was, unless you're good at juggling, it's not worth the risk.  (Christina featured in Women of Influence)

I believe the key is to find that place that helps you rejuvenate.  Find that energy that gives you the power to make the right choices.  

Can you have a happy balance of all the things in your life?  I say... sometimes.  But some things are more challenging than others. Your normal for today may not be your normal for tomorrow.  Some days you will have it all, and other days things will overwhelm you.  

Life is 10% of what happens to you.  The other 90% is how you react to it.  (I've heard that one many times from several different speakers.  And they're right!!)

Lost Creek
Castle Mt., AB
So how can one live life on The Brighter Side?  The way I find my energy, and my revitalizing time, is actually in my car. This is why I don't mind a long commute.  When I'm alone in my car, it's my sanctuary.  (Note:  ALONE in my car... no distractions of kids, pets or husbands!)  When I'm feeling overwhelmed with everyday challenges, I turn up my music.  Music allows you to turn off those negative emotions.  The best part is, you are all alone.  And you can listen to whatever you like!  If it's Christmas music that makes your smile or hard core heavy metal.  It doesn't matter.  No one but you is listening! For me, I actually turn on relaxing music.  If I can't be in nature, I'll bring nature to me.  Serenity sounds like water, birds, wind, symphony orchestras, drums.  No words, just relaxation.  I've caught myself catching my breath.  I focus on the road and listen to the calming music.  My phone is buried in my purse and turned off so I don't hear the text or email messages coming in.  I feel as though I'm turning off the problems and just refueling my energy.  

But everyone is different.  And some have a hard time finding The Brighter Side.  What do you do to re energize yourself back to normal?  
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Always on the go!

Mel Risdon is another one of those people who has GREAT IDEAS.  And better yet, she follows through on those ideas!  

Mel’s day starts with her alarm going off at the wee hours of the morning, to not only start her day, but yours too at Shine FM with Mike and Mel in the morning.  After she enlightens us with our morning wake up, she heads home to be with her daughter, soon followed by her son coming home from school.  In the meantime she’s an inventor of two AMAZING products.  The first is the Head Snuggler.  A brilliant invention that is designed to properly support your child's head and neck while they’re in their car seats and strollers.  We’ve all seen children fall asleep with their heads dropping to their chests.  The Head Snuggler supports their heads so they wake up well rested, and in no pain.  Believe it or not, it’ll work for you too!  One size fits all!  My 4 year old loves it.  If he's tired while we're on a long trip he'll just pull it down himself and settle in for a short car nap.

Next, Mel found the need for the Magic Bib.  It’s brilliant.  A bib that actually catches the food your little one misses.  There’s lots of pocket bibs out there, but this one actually catches it.  How?  There’s a magnet that goes on one side of the bib and the other to the high chair tray, which then pulls the bib out.  It moves easily with your child, and keeps it neat and tidy for you to clean up!  Magic indeed!  Having tried it on my own “muck”, I can honestly say this really is a magic bib.  Now all Mel needs to do is come up the magic of my child actually wanting to eat healthy food!  She tells me she’s working on it. 

After the clean up!
30 Car Seats in a pile before recycling
Mel didn’t stop there with her inventions with Melrose Kids Inc., she also saw a need to help reduce the waste of old car seats.  She teamed up with Keepin’ Baby Safe and launched Alberta’s first recycling program for used and expired car seats. They accept all used and expired seats at various drop-off locations, Round-Up Clinics and Inspection Clinics around Calgary. Kidseat Recyclers is the first recycling program of its kind in Alberta focused specifically on keeping the thousands upon thousands of car seats that are thrown away every year out of the landfills. They will ensure that every part of the seat that is recyclable, including metal, plastic and any usable parts, will be properly recycled or reused.  To find a recycling depot near you go to Kidseat Recyclers.  

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Keep em' busy!

Now that the temperatures are less than desirable... well except for the odd Chinook days, it's time to keep the kids inside.  Unless of course you want to spend 20 minutes bundling them up, layer after layer only to have them tell you the now have to pee.

Ready to make pizza
Okay besides that... how do you keep them busy inside? One of our favorite things to do is to involve them in cooking.  Pizza of course is the best.  But the trick is to prepare ahead of time.  Have all the ingredients ready to go before you invite them to part take in the fun!  
Pea Pizza

Today I'll share my sons pizza recipe, followed by my favorite pizza recipe that I tore out of a Chatelaine Magazine from the doctors office.  (Sorry about that if you were trying to read that one... but it looked so good I had to have it).  (Note: I made some modifications to the one I use excluding the chilli's and orange zest)

The first thing to do is get all your toppings ready in separate bowls.  These are the ingredients for this pizza....

                                 Pea Pizza
1/3 cup sugar snap peas (taken out of the pods because we don't like that part... oh and not cooked peas because those ones taste old)
1/3 cup sliced carrots (they have to be the round ones, not the long and skinny ones... oh and not cooked carrots because those ones taste old)
1/3 cup sliced cucumber (baby cucumbers are best because the small ones taste better... oh and take the skin off because the skin is too tough)
1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar and part skim mozzarella)
2 Tbsp of tomato paste
1 tsp olive oil

Anything goes pizza
Directions:  Mom to preheat oven to 450 F (220 C) 1.) Brush oil over flat bread.  2.) Use large spoon and scoop tomato paste onto flatbread, spreading around with back of spoon.  3.) Add layers of toppings in no particular order, just how you see fit.  4.) Top with oodles of cheese.  5.) Bake until cheese is melted and flatbread is crispy, about 10 min.

Once you serve pizza, make sure you take all the layers off, so you can just eat the flatbread and the toppings go to your brother.  (By the way his brother will eat all the toppings plus his own pizza too!)

Okay, now it's your turn. Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza (BEST PIZZA EVER!!)
Prosciutto Arugula Pizza
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Clove garlic minced
1/2 Cup grape tomatoes sliced
3 slices of prosciutto (thinly sliced)
4 small bocconcini cheese sliced into rounds
1/2 cup baby arugula 

Preheat oven 450 F (220)C.  Place flatbrad on a large baking sheet or pizza pan.  Mix garlic with oil and brush over flatbread.  Tear prosciutto into thing strips, place tomato slices and bocconcini slices.  Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly and flatbread is crispy, about 10 min.  Remove from oven and scatter arugula overtop.  (It actually works better if you cut the pizza first, then top with the arugula.

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Mom! What's for dinner?

by Christina Rowsell
The Brighter Side

Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks that one of the hardest things to do as a mom is come up with dinner ideas EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!  The fact that I even cook -- and serve some pretty decent meals -- is something I didn't think I would ever do!  But, here I am -- a mother of -- cooking, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!  

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I'd be doing this, I would have laughed out loud.  I do faintly remember my mother telling me once, "You will cook, you just have to be a mom first."  Once again... the I told you so scenario.  

Honestly, I'm okay with it.  But, I had to come up with a way to make my evenings easier.  So, I do a weekly menu.  It has to be one of the best decisions I ever did.  Not only do I save on my food bill -- I'm not stressed out trying to figure out what to cook for dinner.  

Unfortunately my family had to go through some not so good meals.  But, if you ask my husband he'll be the first to tell you, "She's getting better."  With that being said, I would like to share with you a few recipes that I've had success with, and changed up a bit to make it work for us.  I hope you enjoy them and they give you some new ideas for your dinner table.  

Lemon Tarragon Shrimp Pasta
Photo © Christina Rowsell

2 cups tiny broccoli florets
1 cup green onions sliced
4 cups small pasta shells
1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp oil
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled, patted dry
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp minced fresh tarragon
¼ tsp pepper and a pinch of salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
½ cup sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Chopped fresh parsley

1.) In strainer, combine broccoli and green onions; set aside.  In large part of boiling water, cook pasta until tender but firm.  

2.) While pasta is cooking, in large heavy skillet, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and garlic; cook for 2 to 3 min, or until shrimp are pink.  Transfer shrimp and garlic to a plate; set aside and keep warm.

3.) With any remaining juices in the skillet, add chicken broth, lemon juice, tarragon, pepper, salt and cayenne pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced by about half.

4.) Drain pasta through strainer containing vegetables.  Return pasta and vegetables to pot over low heat; gently stir in shrimp and garlic.  Add sour cream and mustard to mixture in skillet and stir. 

5.) Pour over pasta.  Serve warm.  Top with parsley

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