Five things you could gift to new moms

I initially intended to have this post coincide with Mother’s Day, in the spirit of giving gifts to moms, but it appears as though my own gift of “taking the day off” has caught up to me and now it’s Tuesday.  Tuesnight actually.

I titled the post “new moms”, and by that, I mean, first-time moms or any mom who has just had a newborn.  When we had each of our kids, those first few weeks with a newborn were the most exhausting as we adjusted, then readjusted (times three) to having a newborn in the house.  People stopped in to visit and drop off gifts of all kinds.  When it was our first baby, clothes, books, baby items were the typical gifts, but as each new little human joined our family, the gifts became less about stuff and more about service, which I fully appreciated, in my newfound quest to live a more minimalist life.

These five gift ideas are, in my opinion, the most helpful to new moms (and even dads too!).

1) Time

The gift of time can be offered in many ways.  Twenty minutes so Mom can take a shower.  Taking the older kids to the park for half an hour so they can have some special attention.  Holding the baby for ten minutes so Mom don’t have to.  Holding the baby for an hour so Mom can take a nap.  Time is the easiest gift to give because you know how much you can afford to give and you can give it whenever it’s convenient.

2) Meals/Food

As I mentioned earlier, those first few weeks with a newborn are exhausting.  Making meals is not high on the priority list.  There are so many creative ways to give the gift of food, even if you’re not a cook, yourself.  Meal subscription services (they deliver all the pre-measured ingredients and you follow a simple recipe to cook the meal), homemade meals that can be eaten right away or frozen for later (I’m still drooling over Sarah’s tomato soup that she made with fresh tomatoes from her garden!), gift cards for restaurants that deliver, and even grocery delivery.  Anything that can avoid having to go grocery shopping with a newborn in the dead of winter in Winnipeg, I am huge fan of. I recently gifted a friend a subscription to a Pop of the Month Club from Pop Cart, because they’re her favorite. Even if your food gift is for treats, that’s never a bad thing! Moms need treats too!

3) Dates

This one ties in with both food and time, but dates are hard to come by for new parents, usually because they’re too tired to put in the effort to get dressed and leave the house but also because they need to find a babysitter.  Sometimes it’s nice to just get out of the house, even if it’s only for an hour.  I remember the day we found out we were having number four, we asked a family member to come by, so we could walk to a nearby restaurant.  With three toddlers running around, it was impossible to process what had just happened and we needed a time-out and some fresh air!

4) Cleaning

This one is a touchy one.  It’s not for everyone.  One year, for my birthday, my parents gave me the gift of one full house cleaning.  They came over, I think they even brought some of their own supplies.  They spent the day here, it was glorious.  Seriously one of my favorite gifts ever.  Their house is spotless so why wouldn’t I want them to clean my house?  I say it’s a touchy one, because some people don’t want their parents (or in-laws) to clean their house.  Some people don’t want strangers to clean their houses either.  When we had our second baby, a friend called me to ask if she could send her house-cleaner over to clean for us.  She asked if I thought it was weird.  While I had never thought of the idea of gifting cleaning services, I did not think it was weird at all.  We were getting ready to sell our house, and I had a one month old, a 19-month-old and a partner who worked all day.  On top of the fact that we were also looking for a new house.  How was I a) going to find the time to clean the house b) going to maintain the cleanliness for entire time it was on the market?

Solution: We got the house-cleaner to come, then we moved out until the house sold.  Again, cleaning services. Amazing.  Can you tell I hate cleaning but love a clean house?

5) Alone-time

Going to the bathroom alone is a luxury nobody realized until they saw their toddler’s fingers squirming their way under the bathroom door.  Showering sans baby crying in the bathroom.  Going grocery shopping alone.  Making supper without someone asking  for a snack.  These are a few of my favorite things.  Even if you only have 10 minutes, let the mother drive herself to Starbucks to pick up a coffee and come right back.  Sometimes a quick coffee break is enough to recharge the batteries.

As you can see, gifts for new moms don’t have to be all about “stuff”.

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” 
-Marthe Troly-Curtin

Stop buying salad dressing (Five salad dressings you should make from scratch)

Salads are one of my favorite things to prepare and to eat.  They’re quick, simple and the combinations are endless.  Making your own dressing is as easy as shaking all the ingredients up in a jar.  In addition to being inexpensive to make, they’re free of preservatives and random ingredients that you can’t even say.  Most of the ingredients in these dressings are on my list of 55 Ingredients to have on hand at all times so you can whip up more than one dressing last minute without having to run to the store.

For lunches when I’m working, I like to use kale and quinoa as my base.  The kale can be washed ahead of time and will last all week.  The quinoa can also be cooked and portioned in advance.  Just by changing up a few veggies and the dressing, I can have a different salad every day. My two current favorites are:

Kale + quinoa + grape tomatoes + black olives + bocconcini + honey balsamic

Kale + quinoa + carrots + red pepper + edamame + almonds + sesame soy

I want to draw extra special attention to the Caesar vinaigrette.  It was born from my dislike of creamy dressings and mayo.   Last weekend, a friend came over for dinner and brought a salad.  She texted me and asked “Is it okay if I bring Caesar salad? Will you eat that? It’s creamy.”   Clearly, she knows me well, although I will eat creamy Caesar salad now and then.

Use a whole piece of naan, fill with whole romaine leaves, chicken, bacon, parm and dressing and make a copy-cat Wendy’s wrap if you’re feeling nostalgic!

It’s just that, ever since I invented this Caesar vinaigrette, I prefer it. My partner also prefers it. My kids even like it!  Inspired by traditional Caesar dressing recipes containing raw egg whipped up with a few other ingredients, (why does that sound so gross?) this still creamy-ish dressing does not contain egg or mayo.  The trick to the creaminess is to whip it up in the blender to emulsify the oil and other ingredients.   We use this for supper usually, in a simple chicken Caesar salad, with grilled chicken, bacon bits and parm.  Also, does anybody remember waaaay back in 2000 when Wendy’s had pitas?  This dressing was partially invented in mourning of those delicious chicken pitas with Caesar vinaigrette.

Other salads we like to have for dinner are honey mustard chicken Cobb and chicken/avocado taco salad.  See the breakdown of ingredients below.

Cobb: Arugula + tomatoes + hard boiled eggs + shredded cheddar + chicken + avocado + honey mustard dressing

Taco: Romaine + black beans + corn + red pepper + avocado + shredded cheddar + chicken + tortilla chips + chili lime dressing.

Side note: Remember those burrito bowls I posted on Instagram this week?  Basically, the same stuff.  Swap the lettuce for rice and use spices instead of dressing.  Boom. Ingredient efficiency at its best.

What’s also great about these two salads is that there is protein in the eggs, beans and avocado so you could forego the chicken in either salad if you’re short on time or you want to make it a meatless meal.

I’m curious to see how you use these dressings.   Use the hashtag #tblsalads on Instagram to share your salad!

5 salad dressings infographic