Monday, December 31, 2012

Blast from the past...family craft cards



If you are a regular reader, you know that my favourite thrift shopping is free. I call it "thrifting at mom's house." On one excursion into my parents' basement, I found these cool vintage family craft cards. I'm not much of a crafter, but a person can change, right? I'm trying.

You could do a whole blog just with crafts from these cards. Not that I'm going to do that. But I can do a few crafts at least.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Enjoying our toys


Our little family of four has been enjoying just hanging out in our pajamas, tidying up the house and recovering from the sniffles.

We all have new toys to play with. My son is big into technology and is busy using his new iPod. Thankfully, my little girl still likes regular toys. I had the most fun watching her open all her cool girl toys this Christmas.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life...with Frida Kahlo


Happy Insta-Friday! I hope you are all recovering nicely from the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

I am sharing a look at our family cell phone photos from the past week, beginning with our "date" last Saturday. As I mentioned before, my parents were staying with us, so we took the opportunity to have them babysit. We saw the Frida and Diego show at the Art Gallery of Ontario and then went for dinner in Kensington Market.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gilmore Girls and a $50 gift card giveaway



I was lucky enough to get a few special treats for Christmas this year. I always ask for chocolate, organic body wash, a scented candle and a chick flick. This year, I mentioned to my husband that I would like to re-watch Gilmore Girls. I started watching that particular TV show a few years in, so I am eager to go back and start from the beginning. My husband got me three of the seven seasons for Christmas, but he wasn’t able to find the first season.

Enter CardSwap.ca. CardSwap credited my account with $75 to review their online gift card buying and selling service.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, Christmas edition


I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Hard to believe it's over. So much work leading up to Christmas, and then it goes by in a flash.

Here's a What I Ate Wednesday look at some of the food I enjoyed this past week, including on Christmas.

For our Christmas Eve Open House, I made these nuts and bolts, above. If you use the right cereals and pretzels, you can make this gluten-free. I served it in individual Dixie cups.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!


Happy Christmas! All the best from my family to yours!

The cookies have been made (and eaten), the presents bought, wrapped and unwrapped. Our faux turkey is in the oven with my Mom's chicken and we are enjoying a leisurely day in pajamas just helping the kids with their new toys.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Scenes


Our Christmas Eve Open House is tomorrow and I still have lots to do, but I couldn't help snapping a few photos around the house this weekend. I love Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Insta-Friday...pre-Christmas edition


It's Friday. And we're alive. I don't pay too much attention to end-of-the-world stuff, but I'm happy it wasn't true. You know what's bad? When people are disappointed that it's not the end of the world, because now they have to finish the stuff on their holiday to-do lists. I ran into a neighbour while walking the dog this morning and that's how she felt. She's kidding, of course, but it just goes to show you the stress that Christmas expectations can cause.

On to Insta-Friday, now, and sharing simple cell phone photos from our week. I bought myself an early Christmas present. These two owl mugs. They were like five bucks for both at Winners. Unfortunately, I broke the handle off my favourite owl mug. I dropped a bowl on it. It's now on my husband's work bench with the many other odds and ends requiring repair. So, for the next couple of weeks, I'm using these puppies. Not that the mug will be fixed in a couple of weeks...it's just that these mugs are for Christmas and I figure I gotta stop using them some time in January.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Tree Farm...in the rain


We got our Christmas tree a couple of weeks ago, and I am just getting around to sharing the photos. I didn't want to skip it, because I love the tree farm we go to so much. It's Horton's Home Farm in Stouffville, Ontario. What I love about it is the restored log cabin on site.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, with a greenish smoothie


Happy What I Ate Wednesday! So far I haven't made any Christmas cookies. If I had, I would be forced to show you lots of photos of all the cookies I nibbled on while I was baking. That's still to come.

In the meantime, a look at some of the stuff I ate this week. 

I like my smoothies to be a little (or a lot) sweet. So, rather than going totally green, I added a bit of veg and a lot of fruit to my breakfast smoothie today. The result is this delicious yet healthy green-ish smoothie.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Memories...and a game of tag




Christmas Eve is a week away and, to me, that means time for cookies...lots of 'em! I always make a bunch of cookies and display them on this pretty blue and white tiered stand that my mom gave me. More about our holiday cookie tradition below.

On the bottom of this lovely dish it says: Hand Engraving, Old Foley, Chrysanthemum, James Kent, Staffordshire, England.

The dish is all ready...now I just have to get started making those cookies!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday in real life...and a contest to win $500


It's Friday. Have a good one. And don't worry too much about your Christmas shopping. It will get done. It always does. (By the way, that little encouragement was just as much for me as for you -- I have barely bought a single present.)

Normally I would call this Insta-Friday, with the "insta" representing cell phone photos. But I am mixing cell phone and camera photos, because I am tired of the quality of my cell phone photos. Nope. No iPhone 5 over here. Not that I'm jealous.

I am including this photo of fruit to illustrate a story about kids...my kids. I sent pears and apples in their lunches yesterday. Mostly they came back untouched. So, I cut them up after school and put them out like this. They ate it all. Apparently they are too lazy to bite into a whole fruit.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, with a delicious stew



I don't have a whole lot to report this What I Ate Wednesday. Our weekend schedule was completely based on my son's basketball tournament. Five games. Out of town. Equals few food pics.

I did have this one fabulous lunch this week. I love vegetables. Not that I want to go to a restaurant and only eat salad, just so you know. No vegetarian does, by the way. I like to have other stuff on my plate. On this particular day, I had leftovers from two dinners to use up...cauliflower and rapini from one meal and roasted veggies, beets and breaded tofu from another. I ate all this for lunch and I was stuffed!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Homemade Hostess Gift: Chocolate Macaroons


I promised I would share a homemade hostess gift idea with you. My daughter and I made these vegan chocolate macaroons recently to bring to a Christmas party. Actually, I measured out the ingredients, but she was able to do most of the work. So, if you are looking for a way to bring your kids into the kitchen without too much fuss, this is it!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Vintage Green Glass


My sister-in-law (and her hubby too!) gave us these lovely vintage green wine goblets. Perfect for enjoying the bottle of homemade wine my father-in-law sent along with us that day.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Popcorn Party


We had our own little family popcorn party recently, and it reminded me of this great gift I got from my sister last year at Christmas. If you are looking for something to give to a family, this is it!

She got us this Nostalgia popcorn maker, a couple of plastic popcorn buckets and a bunch of cardboard popcorn boxes. Add to that some popcorn kernels (hopefully organic -- GMO corn freaks me out), and you are set for your own popcorn party. I melted some vegan margarine on the stove and poured it on. Plus a little salt on top. Yummy!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life, with a chocolate fountain


It's Friday...and I'm about to share a bunch of seemingly random photos. They are united under the "Insta-Friday" theme...sharing simple family cell phone photos from the past week.

Last weekend, I went to get my hair cut. I hadn't been to the salon for, oh, something like 10 months. My hair was ragged. Here's my little gal all decked out for a cold day in the city of Toronto.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rustic Advent Calendar DIY


While Santa Claus and Frosty decorations have their place, especially in a child-friendly home, I am going for a more subtle, natural look overall this Christmas. My decorations started with this rustic DIY Advent calendar, which I finally got up on the wall just yesterday.

I was inspired by a similar piece that I saw in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I don't have a lot of experience with crafts, but I thought this project looked pretty darn simple, even for a relative beginner like me.



And this rustic Advent calendar diy would have been simple...if I could find the little muslin drawstring bags. I confidently headed to my local crafts superstore. I found the number stamps no problem, although they were a bit smaller than I would have liked, and a lot more expensive. Luckily, I had a 50% off one item coupon. I got a couple of green and red stamp pads too. But no muslin bags. I checked the dollar store too. No bags. With December 1st quickly approaching I decided I would have to stop my store searches and head online.

I eventually ordered the bags from a soap making supply company. Because the shipping cost more than the bags, I decided to throw in a lip balm kit too for $19.99. Same shipping costs. How's that for logic?


The bags arrived within a few days. In the meantime, I found some cut tree branches that a neighbour had sent to the curb. My husband fished some twine out of the basement. I bought some inexpensive Christmas toys to fill the bags with, including pencil sharpeners, rings and stamps. I used leftover Halloween candy for the rest. The kids would be disappointed if some candy didn't come from those bags. By the way, each bag has two identical items...to avoid fights!


I used one of my vintage Christmas stamps to stamp "Merry Christmas" on the December 25th bag.


Here is my Advent calendar project up on the wall. We had only one spot of blank wall space big enough to fit it. Also, we had to hang it a little high, because Jolene the sniffer dog can smell food a mile away. She could use that couch arm to pull down a few bags. Don't think she wouldn't. I caught her chewing on one of the empty bags. (The bags arrived in a box stuffed with packing peanuts that smelled like they were made from cereal.)

First a homemade doll dress, and now this? What's happening to me? It seems you can teach an old dog new tricks.

I am actually having a great time, and I will have a homemade hostess gift idea for you soon too!

What do you think? How is your decorating going? Do you have an Advent calendar?


Follow Woman in Real Life on Bloglovin' for my latest diys and vegan recipes!



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday


Noodles. Yum. Probably my favourite food in the world. Well, except maybe chocolate.

Wednesday has rolled around once again, and it's time to share food highlights from the past week.

My husband made garlic noodles, breaded tofu and broccoli one night. Here's what was left for my lunch the next day. Nice to see that the family ate most of the broccoli.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Vintage Fabric Doll Dress


Remember a few weeks ago when I went thrift "shopping" in my mom's basement? I came away with some vintage fabric, featuring a lovely dancing couple. I told you then that I planned to make dresses for my daughter's Maplelea (Canadian Girl) dolls.

I have never sewed more than one crooked line my whole life. I wasn't sure I could do it, to be honest.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What a hoot...


So many readers have admired the owl mug I got from my husband and the kids last Mother's Day. That's why, when I saw these hand-painted folk owl mugs at Anthropologie.com I just had to share a pic with you. They are $14 each. Not too bad.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Apple Crisp With A Twist


Remember when I went to the apple orchard in September? I had all of these plans to make lovely recipes to use up the apples that the kids so lovingly picked that day.

It's now (late) November and I still have a fridge drawer full of apples. The guilt is starting to eat away at me.

So, yesterday I put together this recipe for Apple Crisp With A Twist.You probably guessed from the picture that the twist in this apple crisp is raspberries. But, I really should have said twists plural, because I also added orange juice and flax seeds for extra fun!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, sushi edition


Happy hump day! This What I Ate Wednesday, I am looking back at a few food highlights from the past week. Sushi, when I can get it, is always a highlight. I stopped and picked some up for lunch one day. That's bean curd and mushroom sushi on the left, avocado and cucumber maki on the right. What's with the salad, though? Where did the tradition of iceberg lettuce with weird dressing come from?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Vintage Christmas Stamps


Yesterday, I told you how the kids and I had fun on Friday making our first Christmas crafts of the year. On my last trip to my parents' house, when I was rooting around in the basement (as usual), I found some Christmas stamps that my siblings and I used as children. As I have said before, if I used it as a child, sadly that makes it vintage.

By the way, my mom also gave us the rosemary plant. She is handier than any store. And free!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chestnuts roasting...and a giveaway winner

  
We had our first snowfall this weekend. Welcome back, my old friend. Please don`t overstay your welcome. If you could go away by February, I would appreciate it. 

We have been enjoying a lovely weekend with family, including my niece, Maple, above. This big, beautiful gal is the chillest dog I have ever seen.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Insta-Friday in Real Life


Happy Friday! How many of you are going shopping? I'm not sure how long Black Friday has been a tradition in the US, but it just started happening in the last couple of years in Canada. Because we celebrate Thanksgiving in October. Not that I'm complaining. A sale is a sale, and I am a woman, after all.

It's time to share simple cell phone photos from our week. Around here, we have been spending a lot of time at my son's basketball tournaments. His sister is getting used to watching.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, stir fry edition


Happy What I Ate Wednesday, and Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! (And good luck fighting the crowds if you are going shopping on Friday!)

I have not been inspired cooking-wise this week. It happens. So, for healthy and quick, I usually go with stir frys. Here is my lunch from yesterday...a stir fry of mixed frozen organic veggies and extra-firm tofu, with kamut udon noodles and teriyaki sauce. I added some Lundberg Family Farms sesame and seaweed rice chips on the side and washed it down with Silk chocolate soy milk.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Brooches and baubles


Recently, my daughter asked me if granny might have some clip-on earrings for her to play with. She has pierced ears, but I guess she got it into her head that playing with costume jewelry would make for a good time. I knew that granny did have some brooches and baubles, because I used to root through her jewelry box as a child. I'm not a big jewelry fan (that's my sister) but I enjoyed looking just the same.

On our last visit to my parents' house, my mother had put together a package for my little girl. Above, a set of clip-on earrings and a matching pin. And more goodies. She said a couple of them might be real gold. And you are giving them to an 8-year-old? That shows you just how much she wants to clean house.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Lake


A few days ago, I showed you some highlights from "the cottage," otherwise known as my parents' house. No look at the cottage would be complete without a look at the lake.

Last weekend, my husband, the kids and I took a walk down the beach, as I used to do as a child myself. Part of the beach is blocked by rocks that people have poured over the cliff to act as retaining walls. I loved to climb those rocks as a kid. I don't mind now, except I found myself without appropriate footwear this time! Slippery boots are not the best option.

Lake Erie is not a gentle lake. Many people have drowned in it. My mom even saw a body floating ashore when we were kids. In the wintertime, the lake takes away several feet of land and trees each year. My mom's friend recalls a time when there were farmers' fields out over the part of the lake that I swam in as a child.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A gift for my little girl...and a photo book giveaway!


It’s now the middle of November, and I am still in denial about Christmas. The kids are busily cutting out toy ads from store flyers and making lists, complete with prices and store availability. They know me well.  A thorough source of information will better ensure I actually remember what they want. Don’t be like me. Start planning your presents now, so you can better enjoy the days leading up to the holidays. Make some cookies before Christmas instead of rushing to a crowded mall.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, Soup's On...and a winner


Can you believe it's Wednesday already? That means What I Ate Wednesday...to me anyway. I'm into stuff like that.

We had an unseasonably warm day a couple of days ago. Well, in the morning anyway. In the afternoon, it turned cold and rainy. All of that is to say that normally, from September to...oh, about May, we have good soup weather around here.

As the day goes on, my enthusiasm for cooking generally wanes. That's why I love the slow cooker. Throw a simple soup together when my energy is high in the morning, add bread and a salad in the evening, and dinner's on the table! On this particular night, pictured above, I paired the soup with a corn muffin, made from a recipe in How it All Vegan. This black bean sweet potato slow cooker soup is based on a recipe in Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, a book I highly recommend. I have mixed black beans and kidney beans and added some sweet potato. I also reduced the amount of thyme, because I don't like a strong flavour of thyme. The recipe follows. If endorsements might convince you to try making this, you should know that my kids actually said this soup was good. That kind of high praise doesn't often come from those two...when it comes to healthy meals anyway.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Cottage


We got “the cottage” when I was maybe about 9 years old. Back then, it was a little red cabin, covered in red logs and sitting on blocks. I clearly recall that, when a storm would come in off Lake Erie, my dad would get us out of bed to sit on the green vinyl-covered benches around the kitchen table until the storm passed. I’m not sure what he was afraid of, but that guy is the definition of “safety freak.”

We used to visit the cottage sometimes in the winter, setting up portable heaters (which I'm sure my dad turned off at night) and using electric blankets in bed. After my parents retired, they decided to move to the cottage full-time. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thrifting at mom's house again


Last week, I talked about thrifting with my sister while visiting my parents in their small town. Besides the goodies I got at local thrift shops, I also came away with more vintage stuff from my mom.

But, first I want to show you some of the cool things my parents own that I haven't taken home...yet. 

My mom isn't going to be too happy to see the cobwebs in the photo, above, but the collection is up by the (high) ceiling and I didn't feel like dusting all these objects. My parents live by the lake, which means lots of spiders! This is just a part of my dad's collection of beer steins, etc. My favourite item is that little guy who pours shots. He actually moves. I loved it when I was a kid.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The pacifist clings to hope...


Vera Brittain

Remembrance Day, November 11, 2012


"The pacifist clings to hope." I remember writing that in an essay during my fourth year of university. I took a fascinating course about war in literature. We had 10 books to read, and I just couldn't get them all finished. My favourite was English writer Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth. The book jacket describes it as "one woman's unforgettable record of the First World War - a haunting elegy for a lost generation." Haunting is an appropriate word for it. I cried sometimes while I was reading it. Vera Brittain's real life losses were many and painful. But this book is also strikingly beautiful with eloquent, poetic writing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life, Jolene gets a bath


Happy Friday folks!

I am sharing simple cell phone photos again. On Monday, I told you about the shopping expedition I shared with my sis, during which we argued over a Guess wallet. The cool charity thrift shop we went to had this awesome display of salt and pepper shakers. I didn't buy any though. I am NOT getting into that!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday and The Simply Bar Giveaway



Welcome to What I Ate Wednesday and The Simply Bar giveaway!

My dad had surgery last week, and I knew that mom and I would need some snacks while we were waiting at the hospital. So, I made us date squares (a favourite of both me and my mom), along with these All or Nothing Granola Bars, above. They are not only delicious...they also contain some good nutrients to keep your stomach full in between meals. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thrifting Sisters...part two...with a dispute


Back in June, I told you about a thrifting outing I took with my sister. This past weekend, she and I hit the thrift stores again. Bargain shopping is never far from my sister's mind, and I am easily convinced to go along. We were in my parents' small town, where the thrifty deals are greater than they are in my area.

At the first store we visited, I found this large Blue Mountain Pottery jar, above, for $5. The woman at the store said she thought it was hideous. Luckily, I know what I like...namely bargain-priced home accessories. I love the orange "drips."

The Lady Soma Masque Winner is...


I am happy to announce the winner of the Lady Soma Antioxidant Berry Masque contest. Thank you to all who took the time to enter.

The winner is...my blogger friend Tabetha, who writes lovely musings over at The Closet Intellectual. Congratulations dear Tabetha!

And lest anyone think I choose favourites, I just have to tell you that my mom entered the contest. Sorry mom.

That's why I use Rafflecopter and let it pick automatically!

Stay tuned for more fun contests soon, starting with a giveaway this upcoming What I Ate Wednesday.



  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 2, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life, a football game + more


Insta-Friday time...simple cell phone pics from our week. In my last post, I told you about the girls' night that my daughter and I shared last weekend while the guys were at the football game in Hamilton.

It was the last game at the old Ivor Wynne stadium in our hometown, so my husband wanted to be there. They are going to tear down the stadium and build a fancy new one.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Girls Night In


The boys went off to a football game on Saturday, in our hometown of Hamilton. It rained throughout the entire game, but they stayed strong until the end. Oh, and the Ti-Cats won the game, so that made it all worthwhile. Here`s my son wearing my dad`s vintage Tiger-Cats jacket.

Me and my newly-turned-eight mini me were left with a day to hang out together. Notice she crashed the off-to-the-game picture, above, while still wearing her pjs (and her Junie B. Jones glasses of course).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, Happy Halloween edition


I'm not going to lie to you. Halloween is here, and I'm going to be dipping into some treats.

Okay, truth be told, I have already had a few treats. I might have indulged in a couple of small packets of Swedish Berries...and a couple of chocolate bars.

I'm going to limit myself from eating too much candy though. How am I going to accomplish that? Why, by baking of course. If I have some homemade treats to consume, I won't be so tempted by the chemical-infused packaged goods.

Now for a What I Ate Wednesday look at what I ate on the weekend...besides candy of course.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Thrifting on 10 Bucks, take two


The last time I took $10 to the thrift store, I got lucky. Read about it here if you like. But, that was a different type of thrift store...one that we don't seem to have in my area.

So, today I thought I would experiment by taking my $10 to a chain (read over-priced) thrift store in my area. I decided on the Salvation Army store.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lady Soma Skincare Review & Giveaway


Lady Soma, the makers of all natural women's probiotic supplements and skincare, recently sent me a selection of skincare products to review.

As much as possible, I prefer to use natural and organic products for my home, food and skin. I started on this path more than a decade ago. Like many moms, my concerns about our exposure to chemicals intensified when I became pregnant and had children.

None of Lady Soma’s products contain sulfates, parabens, propylene glycol, mineral oils, silicone, synthetic fragrances or dyes. The company’s ingredients are grown bio-dynamically and organically or ethically wild-harvested. They use natural botanical preservatives with appropriate packaging to keep products fresh.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Insta-Friday, family focus edition


Happy Friday! It's time to share cell phone photos once again.

Today, I am organizing my photos in terms of what each of my family members has been focusing on this week. Well, except my husband, because he has basically been working and coaching basketball. I don't have pictures of either of those things!

I spend a lot of time in this room, on this computer, typing and reading. So, I have been thinking about doing some more work on this room. Thinking about it, mind you, not doing it.

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