Thursday, February 22, 2018

Oscar Party Decor Ideas (with Cricut)

The 90th annual Academy Awards are just about here! This March 4th, Jimmy Kimmel returns as host and anybody who is anybody in Hollywood will be in attendance. I, on the other hand, will be watching it on the television, wearing pajamas and holding a cup of tea and a large chunk of chocolate.

We did recently hold our own Oscars party, though. And by recently, I mean in the fall. It was actually my daughter's 13th birthday party and she wanted an Oscars theme. I turned to my trusty Cricut Explore Air™ for Oscar-inspired black and gold party decor. I thought I would share the party decor details with you today in the hopes that you can use a project or two (or three) for your upcoming Oscar fĂȘte. All of the projects can be found ready-made in Cricut Design Space.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

5 Healthy Foods To (Easily) Add To Your Diet and What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

As I said in this post about starting a vegan diet, I recommend approaching the change to a more plant-based diet with the mindset that you are enriching your eating experience. In fact, I really don't like the word "diet," associated as it has been with deprivation and calorie counting. I'm using diet here as "the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats." Think about any change towards more healthful eating patterns as "adding on" rather than limiting what you eat.

Even if you currently eat a plant-based, whole foods diet, you can fall into a rut, eating the same meals and snacks regularly. And even vegans sometimes don't eat enough vegetables. To increase my intake of fruits, vegetables and other health-promoting foods, my recent strategy has been to buy loads of them and build my meals around them. I peruse the local flyers before I go to the grocery store, looking for deals on strawberries, watermelon and broccoli so I can price match at my chosen store. (I know, there's an app for that, but I love me some paper.)

Why not browse the flyers (or the app) and pick out five whole foods each week to emphasize in that week's diet? Here are five healthy foods I've enjoyed lately and a few recommendations for how to serve them:

  • grape (or cherry) tomatoes - put them on top of a salad or stir-fry; roast them in the oven with other vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus; cut them in quarters and serve them on avocado toast (pictured above); add them to soup; stir them into penne pasta in an olive oil and garlic sauce; make a quick salad with canned chickpeas, halved grape tomatoes, fresh basil and vinaigrette; use them as a pizza topping
  • berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) - add them to smoothies; sprinkle them on top of salads; use them in a fruit salad with sliced bananas, oranges and apples; stir them into pancake batter; make a blueberry banana loaf; make a parfait with granola, berries and coconut yogurt; top a bowl of berries with coconut whipped cream
  • avocados - slice and serve on salad; freeze in chunks and add to smoothies (particularly good when your avocados are all ripe and you need to use them up); mash with salt and pepper and spread on toast like butter; make chunky guacamole with mashed avocado, salt, lemon juice, garlic powder and diced tomatoes
  • cauliflower - drizzle cauliflower florets with olive oil, sprinkle on salt and roast at 450°F for 25 minutes or so; add roasted cauliflower to a bowl with quinoa and roasted chickpeas; make cauliflower "rice" or cauliflower "wings"; serve raw with hummus or dip
  • walnuts - roast in a toaster oven until fragrant and sprinkle on salad; serve on top of your morning oatmeal; add to a trail mix with cashews, raisins, pretzels and dairy-free chocolate chips; candy walnuts with maple syrup and serve over coconut yogurt with berries
Obviously there are many, many more delicious whole foods that you can add to your diet. Browse the produce area of your grocery store on your next visit and pick out four or five fruits and veggies to enrich your meals and snacks for the week. 

Okay, on to What I Ate Wednesday and some food highlights from the past week. Going back to Valentine's Day, we decided on takeout Chinese food, with braised tofu and veggies, fried rice and noodles. This is leftovers I had for lunch the next day, above, and the noodles were sadly all gone.

This past Monday was the Family Day holiday here in Ontario, so I made a pancake breakfast for the fam. I had loaded up on berries on Sunday so naturally we had a nice fruit salad with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and bananas for our breakfast.

We also enjoyed stacks of pancakes, filled with fresh blueberries. I have to say the smaller frozen blueberries make pancakes easier to prepare though. These large ones clustered together leaving areas of the pancakes susceptible to tearing.

We are all addicted to these frozen hashbrown sticks and they have become a regular part of our pancake breakfasts.

We had a few brown-spotted bananas in the house (as we do every week pretty much) so I made this vegan banana bread one day.

For a full day of vegan eats, I'm looking at yesterday, when I started my day (happily) with leftover blueberry pancakes, a pile of berries and decaf green tea. And pancakes would be nothing without a (big) drizzle of maple syrup in my opinion. (Vegan margarine optional.)

On Sunday, we visited Fresh on Spadina, one of a chain of vegan restaurants in Toronto. I got the new Tikka Masala Bowl. The menu explains that it is a combo of coconut, vegetable and chickpea curry, steamed broccoli, crispy chick’n tenders, whole roasted cashews & cilantro. I must have read it slightly wrong, because I opted for soba noodles instead of rice and it really wasn't a good fit with the curry.

In addition, the noodles were borderline mushy and also in a quantity that overwhelmed the curry. The crispy chick'n tenders seemed out of place with this combo too. That being said, I've had other items at Fresh that were very good. I sampled my friend's Buffalo Cauliflower and it was delicious. I'll probably go back one day and just have the cauliflower with a pile of fries. Anyhoo, my Tuesday lunch was leftovers from my Fresh meal. I didn't even really want to eat it, but it was $20 so I felt bad wasting it. I tried to revive it with homemade coconut nut butter sauce, fresh avocado and grape tomatoes, but it still wasn't good.

After that lunch, I was craving something sweet, so I cleansed my palate with ginger ale.

For dinner, I prepared fried tofu with roasted veggies, served on rice. I'm going to share the recipe for the tofu soon.

My daughter asked her dad to make peanut butter cups (because he had once made them to top my birthday cake). He agreed, making some mini peanut butter cups and some larger ones (in muffin cups). I enjoyed two mini peanut butter cups with my evening tea.

Which plant-based whole foods are you picking at the grocery store lately? How do you serve them?

Linking up to WIAW at Sprint2TheTable.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

Happy Valentine's Day friends! Whether you are celebrating solo, as a pair, in a group or not marking Valentine's Day at all, I hope you treat yourself well today. Do something you enjoy doing and give yourself a little treat. Because it's What I Ate Wednesday, I'm thinking it should be food. Preferably chocolate. But you do you (as they say).

Scones are always a nice choice too. Like this vegan raisin scone, above, that I enjoyed with a nice cup of decaf green tea in my husband's Jimi Hendrix mug. Because sometimes I get bored with my usual mugs. You too?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Valentine's Day Pink and Gold Table Decor with Gold Flatware

There's a pretty good (approximately 100%) chance we'll get takeout food for Valentine's Day. Because one of my favourite gifts is not having to cook. I'm not sure if it will be vegan sushi or Chinese food, but I do know that we'll serve up our takeout at a pretty pink and gold Valentine's Day table. Because even takeout deserves a lovely setting, especially on Valentine's Day. For this Valentine's Day tablescape, I primarily gathered up dishes and decorative items I already had in my home. But the real showstopper is my new gold flatware from Amara, sellers of luxury home fashions.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

If you hang out with me on Instagram, you know that I'm pretending it's spring. Even though today is a snow day and the kids are home from school. Shhh... I mention this because a spring breakfast calls for something different from a winter breakfast. Like a smoothie bowl. (Which is not to say I've given up on oatmeal.) This particular smoothie bowl is made from frozen mixed berries, a fresh banana, soy milk, ground flax and peanut butter. Of course, the toppings are the best part. On this day, my smoothie bowl toppings were banana slices, strawberries, blueberries and granola.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

DIY Iron-On Mini Tote Bags for Galentine's Day (Free "I Got You Bae" SVG File)

As long as we're spreading the love around in February, why not celebrate your best friends, the women who offer you a shoulder to cry on, who send you those silly GIFs that perfectly capture your relationship and who understand what it's like to be the only person in the house who can see an empty toilet paper roll? Galentine's Day is celebrated on February 13th. It's a party just for the ladies. I think it would be fun to get together over a couple of bottles of wine and a selection of chocolate goodies and share little gifts that nurture your favourite gals.

These DIY iron-on mini tote bags are ideal for filling up with small treats for your besties. Of course, these totes can also be used for Valentine's Day proper. They would be great to hold gifts for a kids' Valentine's Day party or for your child to give to special friends at school. Better yet, why not make these mini totes together with friends at a crafting party? Read on to see how they're made.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Book Club Brunch and What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

As I said in this post about our last book club meeting, the book club that I enjoy with my sister-in-law Connie and our friend Sarah is mainly about food and conversation. It's just great, girls-only fun and time to catch up on each other's recent activities. We eat a vegan brunch and all of our goodies are made with spelt flour.

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