Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Build-Up to Christmas and My (Newly) Lowered Expectations


I approached the few weeks leading up to Christmas like a madwoman, creating list upon list of all the tasks that needed to be done. I had a shopping list, a housecleaning list, a list of blog posts that needed to be up before Christmas, a list of freelance articles due and a general to-do list. I did things that didn't need to be done at Christmastime, like having the bedroom carpets cleaned (which of course "necessitated" hours of purging closets and drawers). I am that person who sorts the pantry and cleans the area under the kitchen sink when guests are coming over. Tell me I'm not alone.

I crossed pretty much everything off those lists, including "find Jolene's collar." (That one took a while, seeing as she managed to misplace it out in the backyard, no doubt while poking her head through the fence in the hopes of getting a treat from our neighbour.) With apologies to my brother-in-law, we finally gave him a gift for his birthday (which was in September). Things were looking good. I never did make my own seitan or finish reading Ian McEwan's new novel. But that was what this post-Christmas week was to be for.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I Heart New York - A Road Trip Video


One year I really hope to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve in New York City. I just think the city must be so beautiful at this time of year, with all the lights and hustle and bustle. While we won't be going to New York City this Christmas, we did go for five fun-filled days as a family back in August.

My husband volunteered to make a brief video encapsulating our New York City road trip (which we hashtagged #nycroadtrippin on Instagram). I didn't realize it would take him four months to make the video, but I suppose beggars can't be choosers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Special Features & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #15


Hey there! I'm a bit late with my Vintage Bliss Tuesdays post because, well, it's almost Christmas. I've cleaned the house, I've done the shopping, but now I have baking and gift-wrapping to do! In the spirit of this most wonderful season, I'm sharing a look at some of the Christmas-related goodies that people linked up at last week's party. (I only wish I could get these gals to decorate my house!)

I love Diana's country cupboard, all decked out with vintage Christmas stockings and other goodies. So sweet. Penny's sideboard is beautifully dressed for Christmas too. She recently added some pieces of Cuthbertson to her Christmas dinnerware. And, while I'm accustomed to snow at Christmas, I think I could pass it up for one year to go picnicking at Meg's Australian paradise of a home.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Products We Love - Nature's Path (Recipe & Giveaway)


Every week there's at least one Nature’s Path product on my grocery list. The kids rely on their favourite Nature's Path EnviroKidz cereals to get them going on busy mornings. My daughter and I also love the instant hot oatmeal packets. And don't even get me started on that Love Crunch cereal (freeze dried berries and chocolate, oh my)!

Nature's Path is a family-run, sustainably driven, organic food company. They believe that healthy foods don't need to be boring or tasteless. I can tell you from personal experience that none of their products could be described that way! Plus, Nature's Path voluntarily has their products third-party certified organic and Non-GMO Project verified. The Nature's Path family also lobbies to keep GMOs out of our food supply. The company sources 78 per cent of their ingredients in North America. When they have to get ingredients elsewhere, they choose suppliers who believe in organic agriculture and sustainability. All of their organic cocoa is fair trade. And many of their products are gluten-free (while still being delicious!).

Friday, December 19, 2014

Gifts for Dogs: BEHAVIOUR AIDS FROM THE COMPANY OF ANIMALS (Giveaway)


BEHAVIOUR AIDS FOR DOGS


I am in the camp that believes your companion animals deserve treats at Christmas too. Sure, they don't know it's Christmas, but they are part of the family and they should share in the extra love that gets spread around during the holiday season. It could be as simple as picking up some of their favourite yummy treats. 

Our beagle mix rescue dog, Jolene, received a few gifts from The Company of Animals this year to help with some of her quirkier habits. World-renowned animal psychologist Dr. Roger Mugford founded The Company of Animals in 1979. The company is based on a 100-acre working farm in Surrey, England - it's home to the Training and Behavior Centre, which specializes in dog training, among other things. Therefore, The Company Of Animals is in a unique position to research and develop new products to help resolve pet-related behaviour and training problems. They strive to develop products that help owners and their pets enrich their lives together.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

School Lunches Made Simple


Of all the many things that I love about Christmas vacation, not having to make school lunches is pretty high on the list. On the face of it, you wouldn't think it's such a difficult task. But when you consider picky eaters, the desire to provide healthy, portable lunches and the necessity of packing nut-free snacks, the day-to-day of it can become quite tedious.

If you have some time off work this month (or maybe a patient grandmother around to help with the kids), it might just be a good time to re-consider how you handle school lunches in the new year. In that spirit, I recently re-organized my lunch cupboard. By the way, actually having a lunch cupboard is my top tip for making lunch preparation simpler.

Gifts for Her: ACCESSORIES, INTIMATES OR MAKEUP BOXES FROM WANTABLE (Giveaway)


ACCESSORIES, INTIMATES OR MAKEUP BOXES


Wantable

If you are a regular reader, you know by now how much I love my Wantable boxes. That's why I asked Wantable if they would partner with me to give away a box to one lucky reader this holiday season. If you're not familiar with Wantable, the company sells accessories, intimates or cosmetics boxes, curated just for you based on your preferences. There's also a new fitness category, currently only available in the U.S. Whatever category you choose, you get a fun surprise box of goodies in your snail mail. You can buy just one box or get a discounted price by subscribing for monthly boxes.

I think it's a great holiday gift idea for any woman on your list (including yourself) who could use a little extra pampering this winter. My December accessories collection did not disappoint. Wantable accessory boxes can hold anything from jewelry to sunglasses to scarves. This month I received a large statement necklace, two pairs of earrings and a bracelet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gifts for All: SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB S & ACCESSORIES FROM STAPLES





SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB S & ACCESSORIES
Staples.ca

My husband's birthday happens to fall just a couple of weeks before Christmas, which means I have to think of not one, but two major gifts to get for him in December. Gift number one, the birthday gift, was easy. The two of us were previously "sharing" a tablet, but he would often accuse me of hogging it. (I can't deny it - I like to read magazines at night on my tablet.) So he was thrilled to get this
8.4-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S. I have to admit it's super cool and I kinda wish I could keep it for myself. What really makes it stand out from its competitors is the crystal-clear screen and ultra-thin (only 6.6mm), lightweight design. It's very sleek and high-tech looking.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S is ideal for watching a movie, reading a magazine, browsing Instagram, reading a book or playing a game. I am not skilled in techno-speak, but apparently what makes the screen look so fab is the Super AMOLED display. It has clearer contrast, more vivid colours and resolution that is twice as good as an HDTV! That last detail is the kind of stuff that's thrilling for the male folk among us, if my husband is any indication.

What I Ate Wednesday - A Day of Eats


I knew that Christmas was coming. I really did. Yet somehow I didn't schedule all my shopping, cleaning (and blog posts) efficiently. Let's not even talk about the baking! Lots to be done all around! But I'm looking forward to a lot of rest and chilling with family and friends too. Maybe reading a couple of novels. Wouldn't that be incredible?

Anyway, my last-minute tasks mean I didn't snap many food photos at all this week, so I'm just sharing a look at everything I ate yesterday. I went to the health food store after I dropped the kids off at school in the morning. I hadn't eaten anything, and you know what they say - don't go grocery shopping while you're hungry! Needless to say, I bought lots of stuff, including Gardein breakfast sandwiches. I've been wanting to try them for a while, but they are pricey and you know how groceries add up. But I needed a quick breakfast yesterday, so there you are. The sandwich (complete with vegan patty and vegan cheese slice) was pretty great for a quick breakfast. The patty is a little more spiced than I would like though.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Housecleaning Made Easy with the Dyson Digital Slim™ DC62 Cordless Vacuum


The more children and pets you have in your home, the more mess there is to clean up. Add to that the fact that those very same children and pets require care and attention that prevents you from spending a lot of time cleaning and you've got a challenge on your hands. Are you with me? So, in between walking the dogs, taking the children to appointments and activities, work, grocery shopping and making dinner, there's some housecleaning to be done.

When I moved to this house seven years ago, I was delighted to have central vac. But it turns out that in actual fact that long vacuum tube is quite unwieldy and inconvenient - not the ideal thing to grab when the cereal gets knocked over or one thousand bracelet beads get dropped on the floor. And that big ole vacuum rarely got put away, so people were constantly tripping on the hose (or using it like a tightrope in the case of the kids). Having heard great things about Dyson products from family members and friends, I turned to them to help me with my vacuuming challenges.

Special Features & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #14


I thought I'd do things a little differently for this week's Vintage Bliss Tuesday. Instead of showing you more of my vintage, inherited and thrifty items, I am featuring a few goodies that were linked up at last week's party. There were so many great things that it was hard to choose, but I narrowed it down to these four items that really spoke to my heart.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Shopping - The Teacher Gift


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias


Despite having the best of intentions, I always end up doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. To me, Christmas is about the kids most of all, and they are always at the top of my list. Then there are gifts for my husband, parents, sister and in-laws (in no particular order - ha ha). Sadly, it’s often not until the night before the last day of school that something clicks in my head and I realize I have yet to buy gifts for teachers.

Teacher gifts aren't the easiest gifts to buy, because generally you don't know that much about your children's teachers. (I think that's why I put off shopping for them and then end up grabbing gift cards at the last minute.) But teachers deserve special treats at Christmas. After all, they provide education, care and attention to our children throughout the year. And what's more important than that?

50 Mouthwatering Vegan Christmas Dinner Recipes


Photo credits (clockwise from top left):  Coconut and Berries, It Doesn't Taste Like ChickenHealthy.Happy.Life., The Pretty Bee, Wonky Wonderful and An Unrefined Vegan.


With Christmas dinner on the horizon, I turned to my vegan blogging friends for inspiration. Sure, I could always throw a vegan roast in the oven, make mashed potatoes and a couple of veggie sides and call it a day. But there are so many more inventive and delicious options for vegan holiday fare. Just browse through this mouthwatering collection of vegan recipes and you'll see.

There are ideas here for everything from starters through to dessert. Honestly, I want to make them all! (Or, ideally, have someone else make them all. A giant, real-life vegan potluck would be awesome.) Many of them are gluten free, not to mention healthy and full of the most nourishing ingredients. It's comfort food. It's festive, holiday food. And it's not just for vegans! Try a few of these recipes and you're sure to discover some new family faves.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Christmas Tree Farm


The Christmas tree farm has to be one of my favourite places on earth. So much so that on this last visit I briefly considered giving up our home and buying a property like the one the tree farm sits on. They have a little lake behind their home that's dotted with canoes and surrounded by a forest. Tempting.

But, for the moment, I'll just hang onto these photos from our recent visit to Horton Tree Farms. We go to the home farm every year for our Christmas tree. People have told me of fancier places with Christmas goods for sale, but I like the search for the perfect tree to be free of consumerism (except for paying for the tree of course!).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gifts for All: POSTERJACK PHOTO ART


PHOTO ART GIFTS

Posterjack

We have been in our current home for seven years now, and most of our walls are filled with artwork, family photos and assorted other decorative items. But we have one space that has been awaiting something large and suitably wonderful. As we walk down the staircase from the second floor, we face a large blank wall. And it has been bugging me...until now. Posterjack has helped me create the perfect photo art to fill that pesky wall.

I wanted the wall to hold a family photo, but not just any family photo. It had to be something that brightened our days, brought back fond memories and just generally made us all feel good. I immediately thought of one of my favourite family photos - I took it on a vacation to Nova Scotia several years ago. As the kiddos walked up the hill at the Fortress of Louisbourg, my little guy reached out gently and took his sister's hand to help her with the climb. This tired mother's heart was happy. And I caught it on film! Posterjack, Canada's photo art experts, turned one of my favourite pictures into a 48-inch by 36-inch posterboard. At that size, you sure can't miss this image. Even when we're sleepy-eyed while coming down those stairs in the morning, it will serve as a great reminder of this special moment of sibling harmony (and hopefully encourage many more harmonious moments!)

What I Ate Wednesday

Isa Does It marbled banana bread

Have you started your holiday baking yet? I feel like it's too early, and here's why. If I make cookies and squares now for Christmas, I.will.eat.them.all.before.Christmas. Even if I put them in the freezer. I mean how long does it actually take for cookies to defrost. Seconds, right?

Nevertheless, I have done a bit of baking this week. All of which, naturally, was soon eaten. Not just by me, thankfully. I have a family to feed. I relied on Isa Does It for several recipes this week. Like this marbled banana bread, above. (Clearly I don't know how to "marble.") Love, love, love the cookbook, but have to say this isn't my fave recipe.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Favourite Vase & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #13


I didn't do any thrifting at all this week, so I thought I'd share a couple of pics of one of my favourite vases. I bought this large, grey vase years ago from an antique store on Locke Street in Hamilton, Ontario. It says W. Germany on the bottom, which I thought was kind of cool. I also liked the battle scenes - of horses, shields and arrows - depicted on the sides. Beyond that, I don't know anything about this vase.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gifts for Her: PIXIE MOOD VEGAN HANDBAGS (Giveaway)


STYLISH VEGAN HANDBAGS

Pixie Mood

Need a holiday gift idea for a friend, wife, mother (or how about a treat for yourself)? You can't go wrong with a stylish handbag. Especially if the bag was made without harming our animal friends. Pixie Mood is a vegan-friendly, Canadian accessories brand whose products are made with cruelty-free materials such as cotton, canvas, sequins, vegan leather, polyester, straw, cork, faux 
suede, faux wool, wool-less felt and jute. 
Pixie Mood makes use of Polyurethane (PU-leather), which is higher quality and has less environmental impact than other synthetic leathers like vinyl or PVC.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Make-Ahead Meal Ideas for An Easier, Healthier Week


Meal planning for the week on Sunday is always a great idea. It means you still have groceries and ideas by the time Wednesday roles around. What's even better? Actually making your meals for the week ahead of time! While it can't always be done (busy weekends and all), it means a beautifully easy week if you prepare at least a couple of your dinners on the weekend.

Like most families, we try to be efficient with our time and our budget wherever possible. Making meals in large quantities on the weekend accomplishes both. No more going for takeout in frustration come Thursday, or heading to the grocery store for the third time because there are no ingredients for dinner.

Whether it’s a big pot of soup or homemade Italian pasta sauce, we use a selection of Rubbermaid storage containers with Easy Find Lids to portion out meals, ingredients and snacks into suitable amounts to use throughout the week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday, Wine & A Holiday Party


This weekend was a bit of a party weekend for us - more about the wine, beer and good company than the food. Our friends had a holiday party on Saturday night. Our kind host is a wine enthusiast, so I brought along this lovely bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from PondView Estate Winery, a family-owned winery in the Niagara Region.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Quick Weeknight Chili & The Vegetarian's Complete Quinoa Cookbook (Recipe & Book Review)

Quick Weeknight Chili from The Vegetarian's Complete Quinoa Cookbook

By now most of us are aware that quinoa is a superfood. It is one of the plant world's few complete proteins, providing all of the essential amino acids that your body requires. It's versatile too - it can be used in place of grains like rice or millet, in spite of the fact that quinoa is actually a seed, a pseudo-cereal that is eaten and cooked like a grain.

But how often do you use quinoa in your daily life and in how many ways? I tend to have it only about once or twice a month and I usually use it as a base for a stir-fry or as a simple side dish. Enter The Vegetarian's Complete Quinoa Cookbook. With this book, we can now use our favourite power food in 130 recipes that take us right through from breakfast to dinner and beyond to dessert (yes, quinoa desserts!).

Blue Pottery & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #12


Here is the final pair of items I found at Goodwill on my last visit. I discovered two pieces of blue pottery, marked Arden Pottery. According to this page, the pottery comes from Arden, Ontario, a picturesque village on Big Clear Lake. My favourite piece is this candle holder, probably because it has a clear use and the light shines nicely through the holes.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Foster Fail and A Sweet Dog In Need of a Home


I'm officially a dog fostering failure. And this is one instance where I'm happy to fail. When I decided to foster a dog, everybody told me I would want to keep him. But I insisted I could help more dogs by allowing them to move on to other homes.

It turns out my friends and family knew me best. I took one look at sweet little Ace and I fell in love. I defy you to see him and not want to take him home with you. He is that cute. Ace was abandoned, sad and afraid when Our Angels Dog Rescue pulled him out of a pound in Kentucky. (Yes, our little guy is American.) The family who nurtured him before he came to Canada says that he was the most fearful dog they had helped this year. And they have helped lots of dogs.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Escape The Holiday Shopping Chaos as an #AvionVIP



What do you think is worse - a crowded mall before Christmas or driving to that very same mall with a couple of kids? I think it's a toss-up. Last time we drove to the mall as a family, my daughter must have said "Mom" about a thousand times. Yet she somehow still managed to fight with her brother too. (The same brother who was poking me through the space in the car seat just at neck/shoulder level.) The kids are really into "punch buggy no punch backs" right now. And then they fight over who did it first. (Is it just me or are Volkswagen Beetles experiencing a resurgence in popularity? I have the bruised shoulder to prove it!)

It kind of makes you want to give up and do your shopping online. But sometimes (especially with a long holiday gift list) you need to browse shops in person for ideas. And, as Christmas approaches, you might worry about items being shipped to your home in time.

Here's where RBC Avion cardholders have the advantage. The RBC Avion Holiday Boutique at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre is a place that contrasts starkly with the stressful car ride to the mall and the chaotic mall full of holiday shoppers itself.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday


I'm writing this on Tuesday night, having just this evening consumed an all-you-can-eat sushi dinner. My son is away on a school trip for the night and my daughter is at dance classes, so the husband and I decided to visit a fave sushi restaurant. And gorge ourselves to the gills. And then we went to Costco. Where I found it difficult to even look at food, nevermind buy it. But we still managed to spend beaucoup de dollars. Costco is magical that way.

Needless to say, I'm having trouble looking at these food pics, especially the sushi ones that follow. But I will endure. This morning I made some delicious blueberry pancakes using a recipe from Chloe's Kitchen. I love pancakes, but don't want to discuss them for the moment.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Silver Plate Treasures & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #11


As I mentioned in last week's Vintage Bliss Tuesdays post, I came away with a few pairs of matching items on my recent visit to Goodwill. I shared a look at a pair of green vases last week. Here is the second pairing - two lovely aged and silver-plated items.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gifts for Kids: SWEETS KENDAMAS (giveaway - CLOSED)

Sweets Kendamas

Sweets Kendamas


As soon as I mentioned the possibility of doing a holiday gift guide again this year on the blog, my son began his campaign to have me include this very cool toy. To be honest I had no clue what a kendama was. If you are similarly clueless, here it is, straight from Wikipedia: The kendama is a traditional Japanese toy consisting of a ken (sword) and tama (ball) connected by a string. The ken has three cups and a spike which fits into the hole in the ball. Basic kendama tricks consist of catching the ball in the cups and on the spike, however a huge variety of kendama tricks can be performed by juggling the ball between the cups, balancing it in various positions on the ken, balancing the ken on the ball and juggling the kendama.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday


Outside my window it already looks like it's the middle of winter - snow on the ground and no evidence of sunshine. But I can't complain - I hear they're getting hammered with snow in Buffalo today. It's a bit early for hibernation still, but you'll find me staying inside whenever possible nevertheless. Staying inside and eating. But hopefully not excessively.

We have pasta at least once a week in our house. I think my husband had it almost every day growing up in an Italian family. I am good with having pasta regularly, especially if we alter the sauce a bit. One time we might add chickpeas, another time a handful of red lentils. This week I spotted Gardein vegan "meatballs" in the freezer section at the health food store. I'm a Gardein fan so I really wanted to give them a try. The Gardein meatballs are a bit larger in size than any vegan meatballs I've tried before. They are firm and dense and I enjoyed the texture. I spotted some fennel seeds in the mix. Because I chose to cook the meatballs in my sauce, the whole sauce was infused with the taste of the fennel and other spices from the meatballs. I'm not going to say it was my favourite flavour - I'd probably cook the vegan meatballs separately next time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Green Vases & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #10


This is an anniversary post of sorts. I mean, 10 Vintage Bliss Tuesdays already? I had to go back through them to see if I counted wrong. How quickly time seems to pass when you number your posts! Anyway, thanks for partying with me all these weeks. I love checking out the thrifty finds that people link up.

I visited the Goodwill with my husband on the weekend. It was a quick trip round the store about half an hour before closing. Of course I concentrated on the housewares, as I always do. Looking through clothes just seems too overwhelming to me. So much crap to look through to get to the good stuff! I bought pairs of items, all matched in colour. Today I'm sharing a look at the first pairing. One, this cute little green and brown pottery vase.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

GIFTS MADE EASY with Shoppers Drug Mart


I hope you enjoyed a fulfilling October, rich with pumpkin spice lattes, leafy fall walks in the woods and Halloween goodies. Now that this lovely month is behind us, it’s on to the festive holiday season. It’s definitely not too early to think about holiday gift giving. Get the jump on it now so you can enjoy more leisure time with friends and family come December.

This might just be a case of “do as I say, not as I do,” because I’m often dashing off to the store a couple of days before Christmas for those last few gifts on my list. Fortunately, we have a Shoppers Drug Mart just around the corner. It’s open late too, so it’s definitely a convenient place for me to shop, last minute or not.

Still, I’d like to think that one year I’ll get it together and have all my Christmas shopping finished early. Shoppers Drug Mart is once again here to help with its GIFTS MADE EASY in-store and through the online gift finder. Whether for family, friends, teachers, neighbours or school bus drivers, Shoppers Drug Mart has the perfect gift.

What I Ate Wednesday


Happy Wednesday! I'm off to see Ryan Adams tonight - first time I've seen him live - so I'm super excited. Love him. If you don't listen to his music yet, you need to buy this album. What are your fun plans for this week? November can be dull in terms of the weather, so we need to keep it exciting, right?

In terms of food, I'm not sure it has been the most exciting week around here. But I have been reading my old copy of Raising Vegetarian Children. Whether you are a vegetarian expecting mother or you have a teen that recently went vegetarian, this book is a great introduction to vegetarian nutrition for children. It has some yummy recipes that are meant to appeal to children too. You can buy it in Canada here or in the United States here. I used to read it all the time when my kids were smaller, but I sort of abandoned it for a bit. Now that my son (who is 12) is going through another picky eating stage, I thought I'd have another go at reading Raising Vegetarian Children. I want to make sure he gets the proper nutrition to sustain him as he plays soccer and basketball (and grows taller and taller!). By the way, I don't think this is an issue that's restricted to vegetarians. Some people seem to think your child is all good as long as he eats meat. Not so. Let's hear it for the veggies! The book has a couple of our favourite family recipes, like French Bread (tofu) Pizza. Anyhow, that picture above is of a bean stew with dumplings my husband made on the weekend. We were all fighting over the dumplings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Silver-Plated Cutlery & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #9

Vintage Silver-Plated Cutlery

It's Remembrance Day here in Canada, a day on which we pay tribute to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have died in the line of duty, and also to those who have served our country in the name of peace. I wrote a little bit about my own family's experience with war in this post.

Remembrance Day 2014 comes shortly after the recent tragedies that saw (my fellow Hamiltonian) Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent killed in their own country. We will remember them today along with all the others who have given their lives. Peace to you, my friends.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A New Addition to the Family & How You Can Dare2Give


As a Canadian, I'm fortunate to live in a safe and prosperous country. I believe that Canadians are known for their kindness and compassion too. Certainly most of us want to help others who are less fortunate. Whether we give our time, skills or cold hard cash, we can all help make Canada even better.

This is why I'm thrilled to be involved with a new campaign that sees Canadians daring their friends, families and co-workers to "give" in whatever small (or large!) way they can. Research shows that one of the primary reasons people decide to give is just because someone asked them to. That’s the simple concept behind Dare2Give, the latest in the My Giving Moment Campaign, inspired by the Governor General of Canada.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Vegan Gluten-Free Donuts & The Healthy Shopper (Giveaway)

vegan gluten-free donuts

Maybe talking about donuts is a funny way of starting a post about healthy shopping choices. But the thing is, I like to know what's in my food. When I make my own baked goods, I know that they don't contain any artificial colours or flavours or unhealthy additives. That's where the folks at The Healthy Shopper and I are in complete agreement. The site is a great source for healthy living ideas, recipes, product reviews and more. Plus, they are the people behind The Healthy Shopper coupon book, which happens to hold my very favourite coupons ever. That's because this unique coupon book offers significant discounts on natural and organic products.

Recently I received some happy mail - a box of (healthy!) goodies from The Healthy Shopper - their fall product picks. Among the natural and organic products I received were a couple of Pamela's gluten-free products. I have used and enjoyed Pamela's gluten-free Artisan Flour Blend before, so when I saw this recipe for vegan and gluten-free donuts, I knew that this flour would help me to create the perfect gluten-free donuts. And so it did. The donuts had a great taste and consistency and gave an authentic donut experience with much healthier ingredients.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday, with a Sunshine & Light Orange Kale Smoothie

orange kale smoothie

Well, it's November and the weather is completely unpredictable, A light dusting of snow the other day, rain today. All you can do is cozy up whenever possible with a bowl of steaming soup or a comforting warm meal.

Unless you've got the heat pumped up and you're making a smoothie, of course. I made this quick and simple Sunshine & Light Orange Kale Smoothie this week, Now and again I realize I could be eating more fruits and vegetables. That's where smoothies come in handy - you can pack in fruits and veggies and still feel like you're getting a bit of a treat. This smoothie is perfect for those rushed mornings or for a pre- or post-gym pick-me-up. It's on the sweet side, because that's how I like my smoothies. That makes it safe for those who aren't quite ready for a super-green smoothie yet! The recipe follows.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Vintage Green Fondue Pot & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #8


I spotted this vintage green fondue pot at my parents' house last time we were there. But, with storage at a premium around here, and a lovely vintage orange fondue pot already housed safely in my cupboards in the basement, I meant to pass up on taking this guy home. My attempts at self-control were dashed by my 10-year-old girl, though. She decided that this fondue pot was really cool. So home it came.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Why My New Cellphone Rocks (Giveaway)

LG G3 cellphone

I've said it before - I'm not a phone person. I'd much rather chat over tea and goodies than talk on the phone. I think my limit is about 10 minutes and then I start to get a little bit antsy. I'm not a serial texter either. I think texts are super convenient and, let's be honest, they keep us from having to talk for a really long time on the phone. But you will never catch me texting throughout a restaurant meal or while over at somebody's house for dinner.

HOWEVER, I recently received a new mobile phone and I have to stay it has changed me a bit. My phone no longer rests comfortably in my purse for 23 out of 24 hours each day. "She" pretty much stays by my side. Why the change? Because, until I received my LG G3 smartphone, I didn't even realize my previous cellphone sucked. I kid you not. I couldn't even hear my husband (pretty much the only person I ever talked to) on my old phone. I blamed him. I told him to speak louder. I blamed the service provider. Little did I know it was just the phone. You should be able to hear on a cellphone? Oh.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Products We Love - Better Life all natural cleaners (Giveaway)

Better Life natural cleaners

Cleaning isn't all that fun. Are you with me? I take it there are people who enjoy cleaning, but I'm not one of them. But I do like a clean and shiny house. (And once in a while it even happens.) What helps to motivate me is having products at the ready that are pleasant to use, safe for my family and the environment and effective at doing the task at hand.

Recently, Better Life brought its range of natural cleaning products to all 130 Canadian Target stores. So, while I'm shopping for great non-leather, size 11 (yay!) boots and shoes at Target, I can also choose from among 12 beautifully packaged Better Life cleaning products for my home.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Vegan Ginger Chocolate Chip Scones

Vegan Ginger Chocolate Chip Scones - with a warming hint of ginger and a handful of delicious, gooey chocolate chips. #vegan #ginger #scones

Sweet or savoury, dropped or cut into triangles, life just wouldn't be the same without scones. Sometimes I wake up with a craving for scones - just open my eyes and think "scones." I guess that's the Scottish in me?

Fortunately, scones are super quick and easy to whip together. And, despite what you might think, scones don't need butter or milk to be supremely tasty. Take these Vegan Ginger Chocolate Chip Scones. They are completely free of dairy, but with all the warm delicious goodness a scone should have.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday


I am holding off on turning on the furnace for as long as I can. I find it so drying to my skin. We are making ample use of the fireplace in the meantime, but I confess it's sometimes a wee bit chilly around here.

Making soup, stew, chili and fresh warm baked goods helps. I predict that Isa Does It is going to help me get through the winter. There are so many great recipes for cozy-looking vegan comfort foods. Like this Down-Home Curry With Tofu & Broccoli, above. As Isa says in the intro to the recipe, it's "a homey, filling, stick-to-your-ribs meal that's easy enough to throw together anytime the feeling strikes you." I could go for some of those savoury tofu chunks right about now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Some Pyrex, a Picture & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #7


Not much thrift store shopping around here recently. I had hoped to pop into a couple of thrift stores yesterday to look for more little plates for my food photographs. But the kids were home for a PA Day and I had promised to take my little girl shopping to spend her birthday money. Between the five or so stores she wanted to go to and a couple of stops for groceries, we were gone about six hours. Then I was too tired to go to the thrift stores. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I did, however, make an apple pie. But that's another story.

Today I'm sharing a look at the vintage Pyrex storage containers my mom gave me recently. I am always looking for more food storage. I like my dry goods to be in glass or plastic containers so I can see what I've got in the pantry and hopefully not waste anything. I put vegan protein powder in the larger of the two containers. We usually put it in the cupboard and forget to use it. Then it expires...which is a shame...because it's something like 50 bucks a jar! I put red lentils in the smaller container (another food item I tend to forget about - sometimes, if I'm good, I'll throw a handful in pasta sauce, because the kids hardly notice it and it adds extra nutrients).

Friday, October 24, 2014

Banana Ginger Medjool Date Mini Loaves


I'm really excited to share this recipe for Banana Ginger Medjool Date Mini Loaves with you. Why? Because I previously bragged about creating The Best Banana Bread Ever. But guess what? I like this new recipe even better! A little bit of ginger, a handful of sweet and tasty Medjool dates and some on-trend coconut oil make these deceptively simple-looking little loaves into a whole bunch of banana deliciousness.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Vamping It Up This Fall With Wantable


According to the insert that came with my September Wantable box, fall is the time to "vamp it up" and "unleash your inner bad girl." Only when it comes to accessories of course! So pair your cozy fall sweaters with "vampy and bold" accessories to liven them up a bit. And bring out those colourful scarves that have been waiting patiently all summer.

I love the accessories included in my Wantable box this month. Cate & Chloe is the featured brand, and I received a gorgeous Cate & Chloe Laurel Leaf necklace. This silver-tone piece is very light and delicate with a long chain. I also got the Jayden gunmetal stretch ring, which features delicate beading. Wantable suggests pairing it with a glitter party nail. Fyi, I get lots of stretch rings from Wantable because I listed that as a preference. I'm too afraid that regular rings won't fit my big fingers!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday


I'm keeping it short and sweet this What I Ate Wednesday. I had planned to share a look at everything I ate on Monday, but we ended up going shopping for my son's school project in the evening. Which meant grabbing a veggie burger, fries and a pop at Harvey's. And then a stomach ache for the rest of the night (from the bubbly pop). And no photo. Just quick and greedy consumption of the aforementioned take-out meal!

But I did get a photo of my breakfast, above. My husband made a quick spelt bread in the breadmaker the night before. I had the very last slice that was left of it the next morning, topped with peanut butter and jam. I also had a couple of slices of the Banana Ginger Medjool Date Mini Loaves that I made on the weekend. The recipe is for an upcoming post. You will want to get this recipe. Not to brag, but these ordinary-looking little slices are incredibly delicious and moist.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Vintage Cheese Board & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #6



This vintage wooden cheese board with a plastic lid is another little goodie I picked up at my parents' house on Thanksgiving weekend. Also on that weekend, I went for a little stroll down the road and collected a few pine cones and acorns that had dropped into the grass next to a cute little cottage that was all shut tight for the winter.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Coconut Cherry Chocolate Chia Bars


I love to bake all year round, but baking in fall is an absolute necessity. When it's chilly outside (or even when it's not!), we need to indulge ourselves as often as possible with a hot cuppa coffee, tea or chocolate and a warm baked good.

My preference is for vegan baked goods that whip up quick and easy (so they get in my mouth faster). One of my favourite dessert recipes is my luscious and "buttery" berry oat bars. Because they are so delectable, I recently decided to make a variation of them, using a similar base/topping, but with coconut oil instead of margarine and the addition of shredded coconut and ground chia seeds.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Peachy Keen Almond Milk Smoothie


We all know by now that smoothies are a really effective way of getting nutritious foods and beverages condensed into one healthy little meal that's perfect for folks on the run. This makes smoothies an optimum breakfast or snack for kids, parents and grandparents alike.

I don't keep any regular, dairy-based milk in the house. And we eat soy foods (like tofu and tempeh) regularly, so I generally don't put soy beverages in our smoothies. My preferred "milk" for smoothies (and cereals and granola) is almond milk. So when I was asked to create a recipe using Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, it was a natural fit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday and Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen (Book Review)


When I took a look back through my food photos this week, I noted that many of them reflected recipes I had made from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics. So I decided I had better just combine my review of this amazing new cookbook with my What I Ate Wednesday post.

My love affair with Italian food began when I met my husband-to-be back in high school. More specifically, when I met his Italian mother. She introduced me to homemade gnocchi, fresh lasagna, canning of tomatoes and pasta of all shapes and sizes. If eating pasta is wrong, I don't wanna be right!

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