January 2013

Fabulous Londoners: Andrea Nair, M.A., CCC

Andrea Nair

I love writing about the skills and talents of fellow Londoners. Today I’m enthusiastic to share another fab Londoner and an equally fabulous book that she has written; Andrea Nair and her psychological novel stripped down running.

I read  STRIPPED DOWN RUNNING to share my opinion in the form of a book review. But I was so moved by the story that I had to know more so I did a little Q & A with Andrea. But first, here is why I loved the book so much.

STRIPPED DOWN RUNNING

Stripped Down Running by Andrea Nair

I imagine that Hannah (the main character) is someone that I would be drawn to in real life. I think outwardly, she’d make a good friend and even more, an interesting person to be around. Her personality seems strong and magnetic, yet her impulsiveness seems chaotic. I don’t know why but this draws you in and keeps you glued to the page.

I felt like I related to Hannah. It’s not necessarily because we share the same characteristics or even the same type of childhood, but on some level, I think we can all see a piece of ourselves in her. She’s motivated by her heart, or so it seems. It’s not until we dig further into Hannah’s past that we see how much of a role our childhood’s play in our future.

This compelling psychological novel dramatically highlights the impact of what was thought to be sort of a normal family upbringing. As a young adult, the heroine tries to outrun her past, but like so many childhood influences, outdistancing one’s early years does not always work.

Her relationship with her husband in convoluted and it’s interesting to see how that unfolds. Again, I think this relationship is relatable for most. Whether it’s your spousal relationship, a friendship or a working relationship, they can all be complicated in some way or another.

Reading it from Hannah’s perspective is like listening to someone who’s experienced relationship turmoil first hand. It’s an honest, sincere confession of sorts. Although Hannah reveals some things about herself that you may not like, you forgive her. Her story is so raw and endearing that you end up falling in love with her and you find yourself rooting for her.

ANDREA NAIR

Andrea Nair is the author of STRIPPED DOWN RUNNING and a psychotherapist, Parenting Educator and Co-owner of The Core Family Health Centre here in London. Andrea is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to parenting and families.

It was really interesting to get educated on family relationships and parenting through a form of fiction writing. I think it was a clever and effective way of bringing an important topic to light.

I did a little Q & A session with Andrea to find out more about her background as well as to find out some more info on Hannah. I can’t wait to ‘meet’ Hannah again so I am anxiously awaiting her next book!

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself:

A. I am a parenting educator who loves to write! My husband, a family doctor, and I own a medical building called The Core Family Health Centre in London; which is where I base my parenting psychotherapy practice.

In my attempt to reach as many parents as possible, I have turned to writing to share the tricks and tips which research suggests and I find helpful with my own two boys. To reach the people who prefer to read fiction than self-help books, I write about parent-child relationships to show to how much this relationship continues to affect the children well into their adulthood.

Q. Is this the first book that you’ve written?

A. Yes, STRIPPED DOWN RUNNING is my first completed novel. I am 8,000 words into my second novel.

Q. Who is Hannah?

A. Hannah, the main character, is someone you could easily relate to, love, laugh with, but also want to choke! Her fun sense of humour and edginess pull us in but her wild behaviour makes us wonder what the heck is she doing? And why?

Q. How did your background as a psychotherapist help to develop the character of Hannah?

A. My background as a psychotherapist helped Hannah’s character development because I really wanted to dig into the guts of what was driving Hannah’s confusing behaviour. I used my master’s degree research to put together a story where the reader would understand a bit about why people do the things they do. I also hoped to make Hannah’s character emotionally riveting.

Q. Will we hear more from Hannah?

A. YES! You will hear from Hannah. So far the next book as made me cry my own guts out.

GIVEAWAY

Today you can enter to win one of two copies of STRIPPED DOWN RUNNING by Andrea Nair. Please use the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

City Mom

Spice Up Your Super Bowl Party!

Super Bowl 2013In just over one week, two NFL teams (the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens) will meet in New Orleans to compete to win the ultimate trophy in American football.

Did I fool you there? Did I sound like I actually knew what I was talking about?

I am a sports girl. I love my soccer, hockey, track and field and many other sports, but football is not my cup of tea. I can’t stand to play it and don’t even get me started about watching it. But one thing I do like is a good old party and even better, hosting a party. In this circumstance, and this one only, I can tolerate some football.

When planning any type of entertaining menu, you can count on Life Made Delicious to inspire the best of celebrations.

I wanted to try out one of the many Chex Mix recipes that LMD offers. I love party foods that promote a handful here and a handful there. I’m also a sucker for both sweet and salty types of foods.

SWEET AND SPICY HONEY NUT CHEX MIX

Yum! This recipe not only marries sweet and salty but also adds a nice little zip with cayenne pepper and cumin.  The raisins create an alternate texture and some sweetness to the mixture, rounding this out as a super satisfying party treat. And bonus, it’s gluten free!

Be sure to check out the other fun Chex Mix recipes at lifemadedelicious.ca.

Sweet and Spicy Chex Mix

Ingredients
  • 4 cups (1 L) Honey Nut Chex* cereal
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) roasted salted sunflower nuts or hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) honey
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) warm water
  • 3/4 tsp (3 mL) salt
  • 3/4 tsp (3 mL) ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) raisins
Directions
  • In large microwavable bowl, mix cereal, peanuts and sunflower nuts; set aside.
  • In small bowl, mix honey and warm water. Stir in salt, cumin and red pepper until blended. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated.
  • Microwave uncovered on High 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Stir in raisins. Microwave 1 minute longer. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool. Store in airtight container.

What’s your favourite party recipe? Are you a Super Bowl fan?

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Image (football) courtesy of John Kasawa/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net


City Mom

LittleEcoFootprint Coupon Code

LittleEcoFootprint Box

There’s been a lot of buzz recently about LittleEcoFootprint and for good reason. Everyone (including me) seems really excited about the opportunity to have nontoxic, Eco-friendly items for mom and baby delivered right to their door.

The feedback I’m receiving shows a common theme that parents across the country like the idea of having the “work” done for them. Many of us want to make the move to implementing more environmentally friendly items into our homes but we don’t know where to begin.

Many like the idea of being able to test out the products before deciding if they are right for their family. And others love the fact that LittleEcoFootprint contributes to the chemical-free regimen they already have going on at home.

SAVE 20% OFF YOUR FIRST MONTH

For whatever reason you’re excited about LittleEcoFootprint, you’re not alone. And here is one more reason to add to your list:

When you sign up for your LittleEcoFootprint membership* on or before February 10, 2013, you will get $5.00 off the first month’s fee. That means that instead of $25, your first month will cost $20.00.  Use coupon code LITTLEECO20.

BECOME A FOUNDING MEMBER

And there’s one more reason (like you needed another) to join now; when you become a member before the launch, you will automatically become a founding member.

What does that mean?

Well, as a founding member, you will receive special gifts and rewards throughout your subscription with LittleEcoFootprint.

SNEAK PEAK

Each month’s delivery is tailored to the season and the age of your child but the rest is a surprise. Here are a few hints about what to expect in LittleEcoFootprint’s first ever delivery.

LittleEcoFootorint

* Please note that this is a referral link

City Mom

City Mom’s Kitchen: David Rocco’s Tomato Lentil Soup

Tomato

What do tomatoes and David Rocco have in common? Well, they both make delicious dishes in the kitchen! And today I’m happy to share tips and tricks for cooking with tomatoes and a tasty soup recipe from celebrity chef David Rocco.

No one knows the ins and outs of cooking with tomatoes better than celebrity chef, author and Food Network star David Rocco. As a Hunt’s “Tommalier” – a tomato expert – David Rocco uses tomatoes as the base ingredient for the freshest, most flavourful dishes, from sauces to soups and stews.

Personally I am a huge of fan tomatoes. I like them cooked, steamed, boiled or raw and I love their versatility. They’re also really good for you. In fact, tomatoes pack more of a nutritional punch than apples. So if you want to stay away from the doctor’s office; have a tomato a day!

Below, David shares 10 tips and tricks for using tomatoes as the base of many great dishes. Check them out:

Hunts

DAVID ROCCO’S TOMATO LENTIL SOUP

Last week I began a healthy eating meal plan and one of the items on the list was Tomato Lentil Soup. I was going to buy pre-made and prepackaged soup but then I discovered Chef Rocco’s recipe. I’m so glad I did. This recipe has a hearty, comfort food feel to it but it’s actually a low-calorie dish with lots of health benefits.

I highly recommend this soup on cold winter day. Actually, I recommend this soup any day. The lentils create a thicker consistency to this soup which makes it more like a meal than an appetizer. Enjoy!

David Rocco's Tomato Lentil Soup

Serves: 2-4 people

 INGREDIENTS
  • 4 tbsp (56 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 fresh chili peppers, chopped
  • 2 cans (14 oz/398 ml) tomatoes, such as Hunt’s Original Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 ml) lentils, drained and rinsed
  • Salt, QB
  • Pepper, QB
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste, such as Hunt’s Original Tomato Paste
  • Water
 DIRECTIONS
  1. In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Add garlic, parsley and chili peppers and sauté for a few minutes until the garlic has started to turn golden.
  2. Pour in the diced tomatoes with the juice right from the tin. With the back of a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes into little chunks. You can decide the consistency. Then add in the rinsed lentils, salt and pepper.
  3. Add tomato paste, and then add water about 1/2 an inch above the lentils.  Bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat and cook for 20 minutes until the soup has thickened.

 Hunt’s Tommalier Tip:

It’s a tradition to make tomato lentil soup with sausage on New Year’s Day as it is supposed to bring good luck for the year ahead.  For a heartier version that does not betray the soup’s cucina povera roots, break up some sausage and let it slightly brown, just before you add in the tomatoes.

Happy cooking!

Disclosure:  I received compensation for this post.  As always, the opinions on this blog are my own.

Tomato image courtesy of James Barker/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

City Mom

LittleEcoFootPrint Giveaway

LittleEcoFootprint Logo

Last month I announced my role as a Mom Expert with LittleEcoFootprint. This Canadian company was founded by two enviro-conscious moms who were looking for safe, nontoxic products for their sons.

Today, LittleEcoFootPrint is a doorstep delivery service that offers eco-friendly, chemical-free and most importantly, safe products for moms and their babies. Consider Lisa and Kristy your personal shoppers and know that they have your child’s health and safety at the top of their list. Sit back and enjoy all that motherhood has to offer and let LittleEcoFootprint do the work for you.

GIVE YOURSELF THE GIFT OF EASE

LittleEcoFootprint’s first monthly box of goodies will be shipped in February of this year. You can now sign up for your membership for $25 a month. Boxes will be filled with age and season appropriate items for mom and baby that all fall under the eco-friendly, nontoxic category. Box values are between $35 and $45 each month.

FOLLOW ALONG WITH VILLAGE MOM

As mentioned back in December, Village Mom, a.k.a. Lindsay will be City Mom’s new Baby Consultant as she is expecting her first baby in February. Each month, Lindsay will share what the contents of her LittleEcoFootprint box are and her review of each product. Stay up to date on the latest, safest and most trendy baby and toddler items through City Mom and LittleEcoFootprint.

WIN A THREE MONTH SUBSCRIPTION TO LITTLEECOFOOTPRINT

I’m excited to share that one City Mom reader will win a 3 Month, LittleEcoFootprint membership. The winner’s first shipment will be tailored to the age of their child and sent out on February 15, 2013. They will also receive a second shipment in March and a third shipment in April. How exciting!

Giveaway is open to all Canadian residents with a Canadian mailing address.

Please use the form below to enter the giveaway and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

City Mom

City Mom’s Kitchen: Mashed Potato Bar

Image courtesy of vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My mouth is watering as I type that title; I LOVE mashed potatoes. Really, who doesn’t?

Back in September I attended a wedding of a self-professed meat and potatoes couple. The meal served by the local catering company was so impressive that I served it myself this Christmas. They put a really elegant and unique spin on the good old potato and made it wedding-suitable. It’s so easy to do, yet it is so loved by all who get to experience it.

THE MASHED POTATO BAR

The idea of a mashed potato bar is much like a buffet; a mashed potato buffet. Start with your favourite mashed potato recipe. I used this one. Note that this recipe is not waistline-friendly.

Once you’ve got your mashed potatoes whipped up, place them in a slow cooker on low heat.  If your slow cooker has a Keep Warm setting, this might be a better choice. It really depends on how long between your potato prep and your meal.

TOPPINGS

Here is the fun part. The sky is the limit when choosing the toppings for your mashed potato bar. I chose two different types of cheese; cheddar/mozzarella mix and Tex Mex mix.

I also provided fresh chives, bacon pieces, sour cream, chives & garlic cream cheese and salsa as topping options.

Mashed Potato Bar Toppings

PRESENTATION

Preparing and serving your Mashed Potato Bar is all about the martini glasses. I didn’t have a set with enough to serve my entire family at our Christmas dinner so I made a quick stop at Dollarama. Luckily they had martini glasses in stock and I was able to buy 11 glasses for under $20.00.

Arrange your toppings around or near the mashed potatoes in individual bowls with serving spoons. I was limited in space and time and I would have liked to get a lot more creative. Consider making labels for each topping and including a fun, printed table-cloth. Again, the options are endless!

Allow your guests to serve themselves and customize their martini glass mashed potatoes, they’ll be a huge hit!

Mashed Potato Bar

What is your favourite meal to serve at family gatherings? What other toppings would you add to a mashed potato bar?

City Mom

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