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Monday, 28 September 2015

Homemade 8 Layer Dip

Gord invited some friends over on Saturday to our place for a BBQ so I decided to put together a 7 layer dip and ended up with an extra layer making it an 8 layer dip!  I haven't made 7 layer dip in years but I happened to have all the ingredients so it was an easy one to put together!  

I learned how to make 7 layer dip when I was a teen working at our local Grocery Store Deli.  not that it's difficult but the Taco Sauce is really what makes the Dip great in my opinion and I learned that trick there!  Basically we would take a packet of taco seasoning and mix it with sour cream to make the taco sauce for the 7 layer dips the store sold.  But for mine I just used a few scoops of my Homemade Taco Seasoning and it worked perfectly!  

If you haven't tried making your own Taco Seasoning I highly recommend it.  In our house we go through a lot of Taco Seasoning, so I found we always needed lots of packets on hand when I purchased it.  And it seemed as though we were always out!  So Gord and I started making our own and couldn't believe how EASY it was!  Plus you are in control of how much Salt and other ingredients go into it.  I just add all the spices into a Mason Jar, screw on a lid and give it a shake.  Done!  

Homemade 8 Layer Dip


Organic re-fried beans
Taco sauce 
Sour cream 
Chopped Tomatoes
Sliced black Olives
Grated Cheese


  • Spread out re-fried beans to the bottom of a dish. 
  • Combine 1/2 cup sour cream with 2 TBSP Homemade Taco Seasoning to make Taco Sauce. 
  • Spread Taco Sauce on top of beans. 
  • Mash 1 avocado with 1 TBSP sour cream or Greek yogurt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp Sea salt, 1/4 tsp curry powder. Mash together to make guacamole. 
  • Spread guacamole onto taco sauce and top with a layer of plain sour cream. 
  • Top with chopped tomatoes, sliced black olives, chives and grated cheese.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Taco Sauce using Homemade Taco Seasoning and Sour Cream!

Friday, 25 September 2015

What is Periscope?

What It Is

I've mentioned Preiscope on my Facebook page a couple times now but I figured most of you are probably wondering what on earth I'm talking about and why I'm using Periscope so much lately.  

You may have already heard of it, or maybe not–it’s called Periscope, and it is seriously awesome!  Basically it is a platform that allows users to conduct live broadcasts anytime and anywhere.  Those watching the broadcast can comment, ask questions, and “heart” the broadcaster in real time, and the broadcaster can read the comments as he or she is talking.  You can also catch the Replay of the broad cast and give Hearts but you can't comment.  

I’ll be honest, I downloaded it and signed up at first and then deleted the App and ignored it for several months!  I mean, really, who has time for yet ANOTHER social media platform, much less one that involves live broadcasting?  I have enough on the go!

Image result for periscope
But then, hearing so many people talking about it….I got curious, so I Re-downloaded the app and started watching.  Almost instantly, I was hooked.  There is something incredibly powerful and FUN about watching and interacting with someone in real time. I had a great "Scope" yesterday and ended up chatting with a few of the viewers just like we were friends having coffee together! So cool!

I also watch a variety of inspiring scopes, everything from business & blogging tips to ideas for goal setting, saving money, improving my marriage.

The thing about Periscope is that it is best watched live, because you can interact and ask questions or comment in real time.  However, if you can’t make it live, you can view the replay right on the Periscope app for up to 24 hours after the broadcast.

That said, I have also set up a page at to store all my past Periscope broadcasts, if you want to see those as well.  You can find it HERE.

Image result for periscope

How to Get Started

If you haven’t yet downloaded the Periscope app, I encourage you to do that HERE.  Don’t worry–it is completely free!  If nothing else, even if you’re not ready for a new social media platform, just secure your name before someone else does (or you might regret it in 2016!)

Once you have downloaded the app & signed in, getting started is really easy:
  • First, search for the people you want to follow by clicking on the “People” icon all the way to the right and hitting the small magnifying glass in the top left corner.  (To find me, just search for @gordcrys.  I usually try to scope daily and during the work week I scope on our Commute home (Gord drives) at 4:20pm Pacific time!  Periscope will notify you when the people you are following are live.
  • While watching a broadcast, you can interact, ask questions, and participate in the discussion by typing into the comments at the bottom of the screen.  You can also give hearts (Periscope’s way of letting the broadcaster know you like what their saying) by tapping the left side of your screen.
  • If you can’t watch a broadcast live, you can catch the replay for up to 24 hours after the initial broadcast.  The recent broadcasts of the people you follow will appear in your home screen.
  • To start your own live broadcast, simply choose the broadcast icon, then type in the name or subject of your broadcast and press the start button.  People following you will be instantly notified that you are live.

Pretty, easy, right?  

A few Tips...

Don't be a little Red Dot

Turn off your Locations when you go to Broadcast.  It's ok to have them set for the App but when you hit the Broadcast icon you will see a flashing arrow, just tap on it and it will turn off your precise location.  The reason for this is because you will show up on the Map of people who are currently live broadcasting.  You might think ya but then how will people find me on Periscope if I'm not on the Map?  

Here is the deal, there are other ways to get followers on Periscope without putting your self at risk.  When you are a little red dot on the map, people can actually see your precise location, so if your broadcasting from your home, they can zoom in and actually see where you live!  

How to get people to watch your Scopes without being a Red Dot?

1. Tweet your Scope with Hashtags!  
2. Ask People to Share your Scope with their followers and on Social media
3. Write a good title
4. Join Periscope facebook Groups

Periscope for Business?

If you have a website or just want to connect to others you can now add your website link to your Periscope profile and it will be clickable!  You can even add two links!

Interact and Give Love!

Commenting and chatting with people will not only build great connections on Periscope with other scopers but it will help you gain more followers too.  Interaction is the best way to grow your following and meet other like minded people! 
When your on someone elses scope whether it is Live or you are watching the replay, give them hearts!  The hearts show them that you like the content they are providing you and show others that they are active scopers and provide good content sort of like a social proof so help them out!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Healthy Apple Recipes for Fall

September and Apples just fit together in my world.  I've been busy making apple and pumpkin everything these last few weeks.  Trying out new recipes on the boys and seeing what they like as well as bringing back a few old recipes from last year too!  Here is a little Apple Recipe Round Up to give you some inspiration this week!  

Apples are in season right now and you can get many local varities super cheap right now! We went to the root cellar this weekend and grabbed a bunch all .99 cents per pound!  Love that!   Fraser and Asher both love eating apples whole, baked in most anything, in sauce or dehydrated!  

Here are 8 Apple Recipes already up on the blog or posted to my Facebook page, as I add more over the next while I'll add them to this post!  

Enjoy Apple Season! 

 Apple Cranberry Granola Waffles

Organic Apple Nachos

Apple Cinnamon Drop Scones

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Waffles

Baked Apple Chips

Homemade Apple Sauce

Pork Apple Skewers

Thursday, 17 September 2015

6 Tips for a Healthy Cold and Flu Season

Asher came home with the sniffles the other day... great.... back to school a week and here come the colds.  Unfortunately you can't control what your child is touching all day at school or whether or not they are putting their fingers in their mouth or nose... Yuck right!  But it's true.  What you can control are your chances of catching one of the dozen he will bring home between now and Easter!  

My 6 Tips for Avoiding Colds

  • Wash your hands - Duh right?  But most of us don't do it often enough or well enough!  
  • Get adequate rest - You need plenty of sleep to keep your Immune System in high gear!  Getting at least seven hours of shut-eye is the easiest way to steer clear of the common cold. I love to track my sleep with my fitbit so I know how much I'm getting.  But with a 2 year old I can tell you I'm not always the one in control of my sleep!
  • Eat Healthy Food with Plenty of Vitamins - may seem easy enough but Cold and flu season runs in tandem with candy season — from Halloween to Easter. So make an effort to fill your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner, and snack on fruit throughout the day. 
  • Zinc Zinc has been proven to support and enhance the immune system. Eating just a single oyster will give you a whopping 13 milligrams of zinc. That said, since it may be difficult to work Oysters into your diet regularly (so not my thing) consider adding more Beef, wheat germ, spinach, nuts, Cocoa, baked beans, and pumpkin seeds to help you get the recommended eight milligrams a day. 
  • Exercise - Ya those baggy sweaters and forgiving leggings make it easy to hid a few pounds over the winter months but try to keep moving this time of year. Regular exercise is another immune-system booster, which can prevent cold bugs you do catch from making you sick.
  • Vitamin D - This lovely vitamin helps to regulate the Immune System.  Studies have shown that people with low levels of Vitamin D are more susceptible to catching colds. In the winter months we all get less Vitamin D because one of the main sources of it is sunshine!  If you drink a lot of milk; frequently eat fatty fish, like salmon; or live in a sunny climate, you are probably getting an adequate amount.  If not you can take a Vitamin D Supplement or drink Shakeology ;)
Good to know: there is 6mg of Zinc and 50% of your daily value of Vitamin D in one scoop of Shakeology so I'm already helping my immune system out every single day!  Score!  
Zinc is also effective when taken at the first signs of a cold. Oral lozenges that contain the mineral, have been shown to decrease the duration of colds.

One Last thing: Don’t swear off workouts if you do get a simple head cold. Studies have found that moderate exercise can actually help you recover from a cold more quickly than normal.

Kick start your immune system with my Free 5 Day Clean Eating Group just fill out the form to join and then share with a friend!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Battle of the Pumpkin Scones

 Well I have a guilty pleasure of going for coffee with my co-workers in the mornings that I'm in the office and last week I saw that they released the Pumpkin Scone but it looks WAY different than it used to...

Pumpkin Scone VS. 

The photo doesn't do it justice... anyways the new one is a flat square coated with white icing!  Looks pretty gross to me!  

If you have been following me for some time you will know that I love to bake and have made many healthy muffins and scones.  The Pumpkin scone is no exception.  I've been making my own version for years and this time of year always gets me into the mood for a hot cup of tea and a pumpkin scone! But after seeing this icing coated blob of a pumpkin scone at starbucks it got me wondering how my scone compares to theirs nutritionally.  

Maybe I should do a taste test too!

First let me say that the Nutritional Facts table doesn't give you the FULL STORY!  So while I'm going to do a comparison here for those who like that sort of thing, the INGREDIENTS LIST is really where the info is when your eating for a healthy lifestyle!  For example Fat isn't all equal.  I used a Recipe Calories Calculator website to do the comparison for this blog post and because I sometimes use coconut oil for the recipe I entered both versions of the recipe and the fat content in the nutrition facts went up when using coconut oil which is a very healthy fat!

So lets do a little comparison of the current Starbucks Pumpkin Scone  to my Homemade Copycat version!

Starbucks Pumpkin Scone

Ingredients:  icing [sugar, glucose, palm oil, water, contains less than 2% of agar, citric acid, gums (xanthan, locust bean, guar), salt, vanilla extract], enriched flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], pumpkin, sugar, butter [cream, lactic acid], eggs, dry cream [cream, nonfat milk solids, sodium caseinate], palm oil, molasses, pumpkin powder [pumpkin, maltodextrin, corn flour, sunflower lecithin], tapioca starch-modified, cinnamon, salt, baking powder [sodium acid pyrophosphate, corn starch, sodium bicarbonate], natural flavor, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger, acacia gum, cloves, colors [carrot concentrate, apple concentrate, hibiscus concentrates, pumpkin concentrate].


4 cups Whole Wheat flour
2 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1 cup Butter or Coconut oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs

Comparison of the two.... 

Using a Recipe Calorie count website I was able to do a comparison of my recipe to the Starbucks Pumpkin Scone. I only use about half of the icing the recipe called for so I just said 1/2 cup but if you really loaded it up there would be more sugar in them.  My recipe also makes 24 Scones.  

Starbucks Pumpkin Scone Homemade Pumpkin Scone
Calories 450 181
Fat 21 8.6
Calories from Fat 190 78
Saturated Fat 14 5.1
Cholesterol 60 36
Sodium 390 144
Potassium 0 245
Carbohydrate 64 24.7
Dietary Fiber 2 2.9
Sugar 41 9
Protein 4 3.6

Basically you could have 2+ of my homemade scones for everyone 1 of the Starbucks scones!  But more than that the ingredients in my scones like Honey and whole wheat flour vs. Enriched flour (enriched means that it's been stripped of all nutrition and has vitamins added back into it) and refined sugars make them a much more nutritious option.

There is also 4X more sugar in the Starbucks Pumpkin Scone (41g) compared to the Homemade version (9g)!!! And most of the sugar comes from Honey not refined sugar!  And if you leave the icing off it's even better(6.5g sugar)!


Monday, 14 September 2015

After School/Work Routine and Busy Activities

Last week Asher Started Grade 1!  I created a simple After School Schedule for him so that there are no arguments about screen time, or coming to the dinner table.  I structured it so that he has a chunk of Homework/activity time before dinner (screen free) and then after dinner he gets screens until 7pm. This has been great because he is learning that the longer he takes to eat dinner the less time he gets to play, watch a show or play minecraft! Resulting in a lot less arguments!  

With the new routine in place after school I realized that I needed to plan out some activities for the "Homework/activity" time block in the boys after school schedule.  I know he will eventually have some reading/homework type activities to do but for now I want to keep him and Fraser both busy without the use of screens while Gord and I get dinner made.

So I got to work planning a few activities for both age groups.  Fraser is 2 (Preschool age) and Asher is 6 (School age).  

I found a bunch of great activities on the Kids Activities Blog and other blogs I discovered along the way and decided to make a little schedule to plan our our evening activities so that I knew what I needed to do and had a plan in place rather than just gathering everything together while I was supposed to be making dinner. 
Busy Bags all ready to go!

Over the weekend I made the busy bags or bins, and prepped the Bins.  I created a list for all the supplies for the week and a Busy Bag Activities Supply list for each day to make it easy to sort the bags.  

You can receive the Supply List and Busy Bag Activities List I used for each day of the week by Clicking here to have it Emailed directly to your inbox!

The nice thing was having the lists made getting my husband to help out much easier and shopping for the few supplies I needed easy!

Day 1

Fall Craft: Tissue Paper Leaves

Fraser's Activity: Colour Leaves
Asher's Activity: Tissue Paper Leaves

Looking forward to this craft!  We hit up the dollar store for tissue paper on Sunday  and I can't wait to see what Asher comes up with for his leaves!  I might have trouble not doing one of my own!

Fall Craft: Tissue Paper Leaves
For this craft you will need

This free fall leaf printable
Tissue paper in fall colors
White glue

Get the Busy Bag Activities List here

Day 2

Fraser's Activity: Ocean Sensory Bag
Asher's Activity: Bubble Fish Art

For the Ocean Sensory bag, I hit up out local dollar store and grabbed a few bottles of blue hair gel, some Finding Nemo toys ($1.25 each!) and some of those glass rocks. I already had sprinkles at home.  I made the Sensory Bag on Sunday so of course Fraser was already playing with it and the Nemo characters were a big hit!   

Ocean Sensory Bag-4 copy

Supplies Needed

Here’s what you need to make an Ocean Sensory Bag:
Gallon-sized ziplock bag
Hair gel
Blue food coloring (optional)
Sea animal toys
Packing tape

Here’s what you’ll need for the Bubble Fish Art:

1. cheap non-toxic acrylic paint (water-based children’s paint is safest)
2. dish soap
3. water
4. straws
5. card stock cut into folded cards (and envelopes too if you want to make stationery)

Day 3

Fraser's Activity: Finger Painting and Learning Colours with Flash Cards

Asher's Activity: Colouring and Phonics Flash Cards

I put my husband to work printing off colouring sheets from Pinterest!  Super easy!

Day 4

Fraser's Activity: Water Scooping and Pouring Activity 
Asher's Activity: Make Ice Cube Boats and Phonics Flash Cards

We started this activity last week actually but the ice boats didn't make it as we didn't have tape!  One of those items you think you have but when you search for it you come up empty! I got some more tape at the dollar store so now we will try again!  Besides the water activity was a huge hit so I'll do that one again!  This time I'm putting down a water resistant table cloth too!

Supplies Needed

You'll need for Ice cube Boats: 

A plastic cup or 
Bendable straw
Hole punch

Asher building his Ice Boats

Water Activity was a hit!

Day 5

Fraser's Activity: Play with Ice Cube Boats
Asher's Activity: Play with Ice Cube Boats

Overall having planned out activities over dinner time is awesome!  Pre-Prepping the activities into Busy Bags or Bins is Key so that you aren't busy running around to organize everything for the activities.  To have a copy of my Supply List and Busy Bag Activities Supply breakdown emailed to you just fill out the form below!  

Get the Full Supply & Busy Bag Lists Emailed to you
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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Banana Berry Muffins

Sunday morning breakfast & Breakfasts for the week! 

Asher's Request: Banana Berry Muffins

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
2/3 cup honey
2 eggs
2 bananas
1/3 cup Almond milk or regular milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium-size bowl and set aside.

With a stand mixer (I use my KitchenAid mixer) beat the butter and the honey together. 

Add eggs and bananas then stir together. Then add in the almonds milk and vanilla extract. 

Add dry mixture into your wet mixture and stir until combined. 

Then stir in the blueberries. 

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until their golden brown and the room starts to smell delicious!

Friday, 11 September 2015

After School/Work Routine

I decided a few weeks ago that I needed to have a simple After School Routine for Asher this year.  Through the summer we have been struggling with getting him to come to the dinner table when it's time to eat because he gets so wrapped up in playing or watching a show etc.

I found a few templates on Pinterest for after school routines but none of them quite fit our needs so I decided to make my own!

My first version in the sheet protector
With our routine Asher is to come home and give me a hug and kiss first (not on the schedule but he knows).  Then I have asked that he unpack his own backpack and lunch kit.  After that is done he gets time at the kitchen counter for homework/reading or an activity if there is no school work to be done.

When dinner is ready he knows that after dinner is FREE TIME!  On nights where he has an activity like swimming or Karate the free time goes towards those activities and at 7:00pm we start the bedtime routine.

This has been great, because he now knows that the sooner he finishes dinner the more free time he gets!

The last few nights have been a lot smoother and he has been really enjoying checking off the tasks on his schedule!

Since I love sheet protectors and use one for my weekly meal plan, I printed it off and slipped it into one so that he could check off his Jobs as the night goes on.  He also decided to number the jobs.  For us this works great because Asher is a very visual learner.  I'm planning on making a simple morning routine for his as well to help keep everyone on track!

I thought I'd share it here in case anyone else could use an after school routine too!  I hope this helps your family in the evenings too!

Click here to print off a copy!

It's nice to start getting organized!  I'm also working on pre planning activities for both boys during the Pre-dinner homework/activities block so that they are kept busy while I make dinner!  Stay tuned for that!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Zucchini Lasagne

I made this yummy dinner the other night knowing that my husband would scrunch his nose up about it... BUT I had to try making Zucchini Lasagna and I still had a few huge zucchini's on my counter!  

I would make a educated guess that the 21 Day fix containers for one slice would be 1 Red, 1 Green and 1 Blue (maybe more than one blue but shhh...).  There is quite a bit of cheese layered in this dish but considering there are no lasagne noodles I figure it all works out plus I love cheese :)  

Once my hubby had taken a few bites I asked him what he thought and he seemed to think it wasn't as bad as he figured it would be but suggested I peel the zucchini next time as it was a bit tough.  Later that night he actually told my cousin that is was GOOD!  So I'd say it was a WIN!  Maybe not his favorite meal but he will eat it and like it which is good enough for me. 

Zucchini Lasagna Recipe


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 Jar Grandma's Tomato Sauce (Fixate Cookbook, see Recipe Below)
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8" thick
  • 15 oz ricotta
  • 16 oz  mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 large egg


In a medium Frying pan, brown meat. When cooked add in Tomato Sauce and let simmer on low. 

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8" thick slices, add lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

On a  grill pan, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side. 

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well. Add Sea Salt and ground pepper to taste. 

In a 9x12 casserole dish, spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. Then place some of the ricotta cheese mixture, then top with the mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. I had enough meat and sauce for two layers so my last layer was ricotta and Mozzarella but if you have enough sauce your last layer could be sauce and mozzarella. Cover with foil. 

Bake 45 minutes covered at 375°, then uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand about 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

Grilled Zucchini

Grandma's Tomato Sauce Recipe

I made a bunch of big batches of this tomato sauce a few weeks ago and canned it to preserve and have over the winter.  So I just opened up on Jar to use for my Lasagne.  Here is the Recipe. 
21 Day Fix Servings:  12 (1/2 cup each)       3 greens  1/2 tsp
Prep Time: 40 min
Cooking Time: 1 hr  15 min


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 (6 oz can) tomato paste, no salt added
1/4 cup red wine
2 cans (28 oz each) whole peeled tomatoes [like San Marzano or Cento} crushed or pureed in a blender
2 Tbsp agave nectar or Honey
1 tsp sea salt
1/4  tsp ground black pepper
1 (3 oz) Parmesan (or parmigiano) cheese rind
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil


1.  Heat oil in large saucepan over me-high heat
2.  Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 5-6 min or until onion is translucent
3.  Add garlic and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 min.  Do not let tomato paste burn. 
4.  Add wine;  stirring constantly for 2-3 min. 
5.  Add tomatoes, agave, salt, and pepper.  Bring to boil,  stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to low; gently boil, stirring occasionally, for 3 min.
6.  Add cheese rind; cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
7.  add basil, mix well. 

*The parmigiano rind is not totally necessary, but it is a great way to add depth to the sauce without much by way of extra calories.   

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