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The Easiest Tomato and Avocado Summer Dip

Growing up in an Italian household, we were lucky to have parents that poured, and continue to pour their heart and soul into harvesting a garden from spring into fall.  Fresh vegetables and herbs were only a few minutes walk away, which at the time we didn’t realize how spoiled we actually were. Tomato and cucumber salads were a daily staple in our kitchen….and the juicier the tomatoes, the better. The combination of vegetables, extra virgin olive oil and feta-such simple ingredients, but a flavour explosion in your mouth!

My father would stop and pick up fresh Italian bread on the way home from work for us to tear apart and dip into the juices.

Fast forward to my kids, they love it and request it just as much as my siblings and myself did, and it being so healthy and simple to make, I can’t say no.

I’ve done a few different variations of this recipe but my most recent has turned into a new favourite of my families.  Combining our two favourite dips, guacamole and tomato salad seemed like an obvious recipe to create. It really couldn’t be easier to make and I guarantee people will be asking you for the recipe.  The sweetness of the tomatoes, the creaminess of the avocado and the saltiness of the feta-magic. Best served with a chilled glass of white wine or a delicious margarita.

You can use corn chips to dip into this variation of guacamole, as a side dish, or my personal favourite, spread on toasted sourdough bread.  

Now that we are into the warm weather of summer, the vegetables are local, fresh and easily accessible.  What’s better then sitting in your backyard during our long summer days and nights enjoying a healthy dip that’s bursting full of flavour?

Tomato Avocado Dip

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup onion, choose your favourite, red or yellow

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon Basil, chopped

4ounces feta, crumbled

2 avocados, chopped

salt and pepper to taste  

This dip is best made ahead of time, stored in the fridge, allowing the flavours and dressing to marinate.  Chop and add the avocado just prior to serving the dip. Turn up some latin music, pour yourself a refreshing drink, and just sit back and relax.  Maybe even close your eyes and pretend you’re on a beach in Mexico.

I hope you guys give this recipe try and love it as much as I do.

Lori xo

Lori is a thirty something year old mom of four, living in the little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Her passions include her family, fashion, and food. She loves preparing simple and delicious recipes that both kids and adults will enjoy.

A DIY, New-Mom, No-Money, No-Time Home Tour

The day my husband and I moved out of the city and into our new suburban home was a very big day for us. Yes, moving is a huge undertaking, but it’s also the day I found out I was pregnant with my first (and only to date) child.

When I bought the house I had many grand ambitions for design and renovations for this square white box of a cookie cutter home. I now look back at those ambitions and laugh at myself for how far off I really was. With crippling morning sickness right up till the day I delivered (lucky me), and every other fun thing about pregnancy that slows you down, I would have been thrilled to even get paint on the walls. Spoiler alert: we did not accomplish that.

My little girl is now nearing 2 and though we are still stuck with that horrible quality builder’s paint. With the purchase of a few key design pieces, and a lot of Annie’s chalk paint for furniture, I am confident to say “yup, an interior designer lives here”.

Let’s walk through my “DIY-new-mom-no-time-no-money” home:

Family Room:

A DIY, New-Mom, No-Money, No-Time Home Tour

· Never underestimate the power of plants. They bring much undervalued life to a room. 

· DIY floating shelves and some décor go a long way. (Literally we used old beer jugs, a couple picture frames and plants. No need to reinvent the wheel here.)

· Drapery! Even if you don’t need them for privacy, side panels make a huge impact on the overall look of a room.

· Furniture acting as storage to hide the many toddler toys is an easy way to feel human when baby goes to bed.

I can’t say my couches are high design, but hey they were 50% off at The Brick and seem to hide toddler spills pretty well, so they will do for now.  To counteract this white box and uninspired furniture I rely heavily on décor items to do the work for me.

Kitchen – Before and After:

A white kitchen is not going out of style anytime soon, but never trade that look for personality. White cabinets can be a slippery slope to a very bland space. Make sure to accent the plain white cabinets with the warmth of wood and other natural materials.

Bland white kitchen BEFORE DIY design
Before
A DIY, New-Mom, No-Money, No-Time Home Tour
After

· Taking out the under cabinet range (and cabinet)  and replacing it with a chimney style vent makes a HUGE impact, for as little as $300. 

· Don’t be afraid to go bold with a kitchen backsplash. This 2’x2’ slate tile packs quite the punch and really makes the space what it is.

Dining Room:

A large dining room needs statement furniture to appropriately fill the space. We had none, and only a small budget for it. Thanks to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and Homesense we furnished this whole space for around $1500.

using plants/ side panels to design an entertaining space
DIY dining table design that looks more expensive than it really was

· We were lucky to find this dining room table TOP only on clearance for $100. Nobody was buying it because it had no legs. After a very easy leg purchase online we now have a statement dining room table that would sell for $3000+, which we spent $300 on. 

· Hutch and coffee table were dated, orangey pieces found at the Restore. With a couple coats of white chalk paint and new hardware they work in just about any space. 

· Don’t forget the plants/ drapery side panels and you have yourself a space to entertain in.

Master Bedroom:

This master bedroom is such a painfully square and boring room. With grand ambitions to one day put in hardwood flooring and do a wood statement wall, a rug and some décor items are doing the trick for now.

Master Bedroom home design ideas and tips

 · A plush rug takes your eye away from the builders grade carpet.

· Move the eyes upand away from the plain wallswith decor. A headboard, wall art, lamps, plants etc. 

· End tables are refinished logs with legs bought on Etsy. 

· Makeup vanity, chair and mirror were all literally found on the side of the road. HELLO spray-paint and new hardware! 

I’m not suggesting that décor items are cheap, but I am suggesting that they are cheaper than a full blown renovation when you’re not ready. It’s always nice to dream of your perfect home, but until time and budget fill that dream there is plenty you can do to make your home design an inviting space that you are proud of.

Lara Young is the Principal of Lara Young Design, and also a new mom. Like many of us Lara is trying to find that quintessential work/life balance. Being her own boss is bringing Lara one-step closer to her dream. You can read Lara’s full bio, or contact her to help with your next design project here.

Our Family Almost Didn’t Make It To Summer Break

We just crawled to the finish line. Our last month before summer break was a doozy! We had such a healthy year and then crashed and burned in June. On top of our family having one illness after another, we were forced to face some big time parenting problem solving.

Having four kids… you can always expect a wobbly plate. You focus on that kid and get them sorted, then triage the family and move onto the next wobbly plate and so on. Well, somehow, some way we had four wobbly plates for an entire month before summer break.

It was so draining for me mentally and emotionally that it began to have a physical affect on my body. Phew. Despite the stress we pushed through and I am happy to say we have restored the peace in our home in time for the summer break. Watch as I share our journey and then implemented a system that helped us changed the narrative in our home and created a positive atmosphere…

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My Struggle With Postpartum Self Esteem

For women there is a constant expectation and pressure to look a certain way. Whether it’s actresses in movies, the media picking apart celebrities, or airbrushing in your favourite magazines, we’re bombarded from every angle with how we “should” look.

Add to that the toxic, often repeated, phrase of “baby weight”, and the idea that new mothers have to “bounce back” or suffer comparisons to their “pre-baby body” and it’s no wonder a lot of women’s self esteem takes a hit once they’ve had a baby.

My Struggle With Postpartum Self Esteem by Roseanne Murray for Nesting Story
At 3 months postpartum I was constantly feeling self conscious about my body

I fell into this trap freshly postpartum, and let’s be honest, these thoughts still linger. The intense physical changes your body goes through after pregnancy are difficult enough, never mind the overnight identify shift, and the sleep deprivation (oh, the sleep deprivation).

I kept saying “this isn’t my body” because it was so, SO, different from what I thought it would be after birth. As someone who has always preached self-love, regardless of the how your body looks, I was disappointed in myself to be struggling with my postpartum self esteem because I was heavier. Fitting into any clothes I owned was difficult, the sheer heaviness I felt in my body every time I moved was difficult. My body looked and felt completely alien to me.

A lovely photo of me using my Moby wrap with Willow. I could never bring myself to share this because I thought I looked so large.A lovely photo of me using my Moby wrap with Willow. I could never bring myself to share this because I thought I looked so large.
A lovely photo of me using my Moby wrap with Willow. I could never bring myself to share this because I thought I looked so large.

But what had I really expected? There is a serious lack of representation for how postpartum bodies will look and feel. I really had no idea what to expect.

I had heard my whole pregnancy how “breastfeeding will make the weight fall off!” But it didn’t work that way for me. I gained around 50lbs during my pregnancy, and two years later I’m still carrying about 20lbs of that. It took me a long time to learn to love myself again. I spent so much time feeling like my body had let me down because it didn’t look how it used to. Fighting these thoughts is something I’m working on.

To think of my strong postpartum body in these narrow terms is so damaging. It can be difficult to come to terms with how much changes after pregnancy and birth, and our society’s attitude to postpartum bodies definitely doesn’t help.

The first few months (or, let’s be honest, the first year) after having your baby is a steep learning curve. It’s a scary, beautiful ride navigating this new phase of life. The last thing you need is to feel ashamed of how your body looks, or feel anxious about how you’ll “lose the baby weight”.

Whenever you find your thoughts drifting to your pre-pregnancy skinny jeans gathering dust in your wardrobe, or that new exercise regime you saw to get rid of “the mum pooch”, please  remember how incredible your body is, and remind yourself of these facts first:

You literally grew a human being(s) inside of you.

Isn’t it mad when you think about it? You LITERALLY grew a human being, with no conscious effort; you created life while you slept. It’s a pretty awesome achievement, and definitely one to feel proud of. If you breastfed, you also produced breastmilk all while batting through the sleep deprivation and craziness of newborn life.

Baby Bump comparison, 15 weeks pregnant and 40 weeks pregnant.
15 weeks pregnant, compared to 40 weeks pregnant.

You gave birth.

It took sheer strength and determination for you to birth your child (not to mention surviving labour and contractions and all that crazy business). Whether you pushed with everything you have, or you underwent surgery to have your baby brought into this world, your body is insanely powerful.

Hours old newborn baby.
Willow, only hours old.

Your body records your life.

Whether you’re left with stretch marks, loose skin, or any leftover signs of pregnancy, think of them as beautiful natural tattoos! They serve as a physical reminder of the strength you possess, and the beautiful experience of pregnancy you were so lucky to experience. And stretch marks are actually extremely beautiful and delicate, if you look at them without judgement and hate.

My Struggle With Postpartum Self Esteem by Roseanne Murray for Nesting Story
Newborn life is a beautiful struggle, take it slowly and treat yourself with kindness.

Your body is absolutely incredible, and deserves to be honoured, treated with kindness, and loved fiercely as you embark on this new phase of your life. Wanting to gain back your previous level of fitness and feeling strong is fantastic, but coming at it from a place of hate for your soft postpartum body will never make you feel good.  

Your body is so much more than how it looks, please remember this, and treat yourself with love if you’re struggling with your postpartum self esteem today. You’re beautiful, and you got this mama.

Roseanne is the blogger behind the honest and inspirational personal blog Roseanne Writes. Native to Scotland and now calling Canada home, Rosanne helps mothers navigate motherhood while remaining true to themselves. You learn more about Roseanne and follow her personal blog here.

Baby Products You Can Use in Your Beauty Routine

How many times have you gone to wash your face at night or reached for your dry shampoo only to find out that they’re empty?

We are often so busy focused on everything else that we forget to keep our personal supplies stocked. The things we always make sure to never run out of, though, are baby products. It only takes one diaper change with an empty diaper wipe container to make sure things like that never happen!

So, since your baby supply is probably the equivalent of a fully stocked Costco, here are 5 baby products you can use in your beauty routine!

Baby Products you can use in your beauty routine - Elyse Morency for Nesting Story

Baby Wipes

When you’ve run out of makeup remover, baby wipes are a great replacement. They’re great at removing any makeup, dirty, and oils sitting on the skin. This is something that I keep in my makeup kit while working on clients because it does such a great job of cleaning the skin!

Baby Wash

Baby wash is one of those secret weapons that can be extremely useful in your beauty routine. It is designed to be gentle on the skin and makes a great face wash! Most baby washes are fragrance free, hypoallergenic, and have a moisturizing formula which ensures a great cleanse without stripping your skin of all the good oils.

Another great use for baby wash is cleaning your brushes. It cuts through makeup grime and maintains the quality of the bristles.

Baby wash is great for your face too -  Elyse Morency for Nesting Story

Body Lotion

If you’ve run out of face moisturizer, using a baby body lotion is a great alternative. Any scent free baby lotion works amazing since it won’t clog pores and is typically a light consistency. My favourite body lotions to use on my face when I’m in a pinch are Glaxal Base and Cerave. Both have done wonders for keeping my skin hydrated and clear.

 baby products you can use in your beauty routine - Elyse Morency for Nesting Story

Baby Powder

There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning and realizing you don’t have time to wash your hair. Grab some baby powder and sprinkle it on your roots and work it in to absorb the oils. It’ll take away the oily look and add a fresh scent to your scalp!

Diaper Cream

Diaper cream works really well as a spot treatment for dry skin. Before you go to bed, apply your moisturizer to a clean face, and then top the dry spots with diaper cream. In the morning when you wake up, remove the cream and your should find the dry patches have cleared up. Diaper cream does a great job of locking in moisture and creating a barrier so the skin can heal, perfect for any irritations you might have!

Unexpected beauty products mom's can use - Elyse Morency for Nesting Story

If you want to learn more quick makeup tips that you can add to your everyday makeup routine, check out www.elysemorency.com. You can also find Elyse on Instagram at www.instagram.com/elysemor/ where she talks about the real and raw life of motherhood and makeup!