Friday, August 23, 2013

How to Clean Your Snack Bag

If you own one of my handy little snack bags or sandwich bags, you may have wondered, what's the best way to clean it?  Well, wonder no longer.  Here is my advice on cleaning a reusable fabric snack bag.

If there are only a few crumbs at the bottom, you could get away with just dumping them out and using it again for something dry, like another sandwich or crackers or dry cereal.  I do this all the time when we're camping.

For a more thorough wash, I recommend pulling the inside liner outside of the bag as far as you can.  From here, there are a few options for cleaning the bag.

If you feel you only need to wipe the liner out, then you can do so in your dish water.

If you want to make sure there is no bacteria left on the liner, you can spray it with a bottle of vinegar.  We have multiple spray bottles of the standard 5% vinegar around our house.  It is a fantastic, all natural cleaner, that has many purposes around the house.

If your bag is pretty dirty because it had mushed up sliced apples, grapes, cucumbers, pears, a jelly sandwich... you name it, you can always throw it in the washing machine.  It actually washes up really well.  I put ours in the washing machine, on a hot wash, almost once a week.  Other than that, I wash them in the sink with the dish water or a vinegar spray.
To dry your bag, you can lay it out on your dish rack with the other dishes.
Or, you can hang it on the line to dry.  Alternatively, you can throw it in the dryer, but that's not as environmentally friendly!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Running and Eating...

Two things I very much like to do, and generally do well at.  I imagine that's a good thing, as one provides energy for the other, and at the same time, the other provides an outlet for all that energy! 

With all the wonderful fresh local fruit in season I just can't resist baking a new vessel to eat it in every chance I get.  I made a delicious peach raspberry pie this weekend.  The pastry turned out really well, but the filling had a little more liquid to it than I would have liked.  Nothing a turkey baster can't fix, I'm sure, except we don't have one as we are vegetarians!


I also made some buttermilk scones this weekend so we could have some strawberry shortcakes for dessert on Sunday.  The girls just love this treat!  Instead of forming one large circle and then cutting the dough into triangles, like I often do, I just grabbed clumps of dough and put it on the baking sheet for nice rustic scones.

It was our towns annual summer festival this weekend - Cactus Festival.  We had fun strolling along the street and then spending our life's savings on one ride at the midway.  Seriously.  It was ridiculously expensive!

I had a chance to burn off some of my summer baking at the Cactus Fest Race on Sunday morning.  It was the perfect weather for racing.  I did the 5k and placed first in my age group, which was great!  The best part of it was the prize - a tiny little cactus plant!  By far, the best race prize I've received to date.  Well, meeting Lisa Bentely (professional Canadian triathlete) while having her present an award to me (socks!) after winning first in my age category in a triathlon, was pretty cool, too!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Camping at Grundy Lake

Back in July, Hubby and I took the girls on our second camping trip of the season, to Grundy Lake Provincial Park, an hour north of Parry Sound.  We had never been there before so we were excited to experience a new park.  We loved it!  It's a beautiful park, with many small lakes, each with their own little sandy beach.  We stayed on Gurd Lake, at Hemlock Campground. I think we had one of the best sites in the entire park (118).  The lake was directly across from us, with Picnic Island sitting in the middle of it.  It was such a lovely view, especially in the evening as the sun was setting.  We were also lucky enough to be camping during a full moon, which we had the perfect view of every night as it sat low above the lake.  It was stunning.


The campsite was such a fun place for the girls to explore!  There were endless tree roots and big rocks and hills to climb all over.  They didn't need much other entertaining than that!

Of course, it brought them such delight when they discovered they could sit "baby" on the edge of the canoe!

Just two minutes away from our site was a little sandy beach where the girls could swim and play.  The sand was nice and soft and the water was pretty clear.  There was a floating dock, which the girls loved to swim to and jump off of.  Just across from the beach was Picnic Island. On the first day there I decided to swim to the island and back.  I haven't done an open water swim like that in a very long time.  I use to do triathlons before the girls were born and it wouldn't be too big a deal to swim to an island then, but times have changed, let me tell you!  My arms and shoulders were sore for a week after this swim.  Pathetic!!!  Aside from being a little rusty with my swimming, it was a lovely swim and I wish I did it more than once!

Can you spot my swim cap and arm in the picture below?  We did enjoy Picnic Island on some canoe trips.  The girls had fun exploring the little island and we all enjoyed watching the large variety of birds we saw around the island.  There were no shortage of loons.  We saw and heard many!  We even got to see some loon families up close on our canoe trips.
While Little V was napping one afternoon, Hubby took Little L on a bike ride and they saw a couple of these... can you tell what it is?

A water snake!  There are also plenty of these at Grundy Lake!  They even watched one eat a frog!

The shorelines in Northern Ontario are so spectacular.  I love looking at all the different rock faces with trees growing right out of them.  This was a popular place for cliff jumping.  As Little L said, "I don't think that's very safe for them to do."! 
Grundy Lake also has some hiking trails to enjoy.  We rode our bikes from our campsite over to Swan Lake and hiked the short Swan Lake Trail.  It was the perfect distance for girls.  Hubby and I love to hike and we used to only knowing hiking at a super fast race pace.  Like many things we do, we do it with speed, like everything is a competition.  The girls have introduced us to a new pace (now that they are no longer in a backpack on our backs).  We call it a West Coast pace.  It's like walking with our friend from Vancouver Island - nice and easy.  Without this slower pace I probably wouldn't have even noticed the wild blueberries at my feet.

Bug suits for the girls - too cute!!!

We will definitely go back to Grundy Lake in the near future.  It was the longest car camping trip we have done yet - 5 days and 4 nights.  It was perfect.  Each day you settle yourself in a little more and become completely comfortable with the fact that you haven't showered or seen yourself in the mirror in days.  Life is good!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Pepper Picnic Giveaway

I'm participating in a Back to School Giveaway over at Being Creative to Keep my Sanity. Check it out and enter to win a sandwich and snack bag set of your choice!  Good luck!

Thanks to Laurie for the feature on her blog!


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

New Pencil Case in the Shop

Sometimes I get emails from people through Etsy asking if I can make a custom order for them.  Most of the time, I do my best to fulfill their request.  Recently, I had a customer order a snack and sandwich bag set in the spring bird fabric.  She loved them so much that she contacted me to ask if I could make her a pencil case with the same bird fabric.  I said sure, and then realized, I should have been making these all along to sell in my shop.  Sometimes I don't think as clearly as I should.  I blame it on having two small children!

After finding some pretty soft pink cotton fabric to line the pencil cases with, I had a new pencil case in the shop.

The great thing about these zippered pouches is that you can use them for anything.  The lady requesting the order was going to use them to store her double pointed knitting needles in.  So clever!  I use them for a variety of purposes - a case for my phone, a wallet on the go when camping, hiking or biking, or to carry our toothbrushes in when heading to the bathrooms at the campground.  Really, the uses are unlimited!

Thanks to Betsy from Massachusetts for requesting a custom order!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Moose & Wild Blueberries in Algonquin Park

We spent some time in Algonquin Park last week and had such a fantastic time.  We love Algonquin and always cherish our trips there.  We felt like we really hit the jackpot this year as we discovered a never ending field of wild blueberries and had several viewings of moose with their calves throughout the park.

You really have no idea how huge a moose is until you see one up close.  Let me tell you, they are gigantic!  Even the sweet little calves are tall, thanks to their long, gangling legs.  We couldn't believe how lucky we were to see several different mama moose with their baby in tow.  We spotted all of them from the roadside.  The one directly below was really close to the highway so we got some great photos.  If you look closely, you can see all the flies or ticks all over her body. 

The girls are at such a great age right now  (2 & 4) . Traveling is super fun with them.  We have been bringing our bikes with us when we go camping this summer and spend a lot of time on them as a family.  I bike with Little L behind me on the Trail-a-Bike and Hubby bikes with Little V sitting on the WeeRide Kangaroo Ltd. front mounted bike seat.  We can get on trails that the Chariot didn't allow us to because it was too wide (we have a double) and most of all, the girls love the view from their new rides.  Little L especially, just LOVES the Trail-a-Bike!  I can't believe I don't have any pictures of her on it.  I must get some soon!

We parked at Mew Lake Campground and did the 10 km bike ride East, to Rock Lake, on the Old Railway Bike Trail.  It was a beautiful trail, riding alongside many lakes.  We stopped and had a quick lunch on Whitefish Lake.  Little V was falling asleep and it's really not too safe to ride with her hanging over the handlebars so we rode the 10 kms back to Mew Lake at record pace.  

We stopped a short distance before the parking lot (after waking Little V) to enjoy the massive open field full of delicious wild blueberries.  I had never even seen wild blueberry bushes until a few weeks ago when we were camping at Grundy Lake.  We took the girls on a hike there and walked passed a few little wild blueberry bushes and marveled at how tiny they were (the blueberries and the bushes).  We enjoyed eating the three or four blueberries we could find.  In Algonquin, there were a billion times more blueberries.  Seriously!

It was such a splendid experience.  I felt so wonderful in the middle of this vast, open field, surrounded by forests and glorious blue skies and white fluffy clouds above.  There, with my family, was heaven. To make it even more sweet, we all devoured as many blueberries as we could.  They were magnificent! Like nothing I had ever had before.  They truly are in a class of their own.  Wild blueberries and domestic blueberries are not even the same fruit to me anymore!  I quickly emptied my wide mouth water bottle and started filling it with fresh picked berries.  The girls used their snack bags to hold their pickings.  Little V had a hard time putting any in her bag.  Most of them went straight to her mouth.  And so they should!  We picked enough to enjoy in pancakes the next morning and then on top of a yummy pavlova that I made when we got back to our house on the weekend.

The only thing that would have made this experience more spectacular would have been to see a black bear enjoying the blueberries too.  It would have been the perfect way to see one up close - with all that openness we could see one within a safe distance and we could hop on our bikes if need be and get to our car in a short amount of time.  Maybe next year?!