Monday, November 30, 2015
If you are playing Santa to a kiddo or two this Christmas, I have an incredible tip to help you get great gifts on a budget. If you live or work in the Greater Toronto Area, get yourself to the Pop! Toy & Party Services Toy & Gift Warehouse Sale. Running until December 24th, this sale features popular toys for kids ages infant to 14 years at significantly reduced prices. Like, if you have $100 to spend, you can get 5 or 10 gifts! To give you a better idea of what you can find, here are 10 hot Christmas toys I spotted at the Pop! Toy Warehouse Sale.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
I don't think many people typically like the mall at Christmas time. Stalking people walking through the parking lot in order to get a parking space, wearing (or carrying) an uncomfortably warm winter coat, fielding the kids' constant requests for snacks (or just pleasing your own demanding tummy). Not to mention finding the perfect gift for each person on your list.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Lighting is so important in a room, both for atmosphere and for practical reasons. The floor lamp we have in our family room recently broke (the base cracked and it wouldn't stand up anymore). My husband had to take it out of the room to fix it. That's when I realized how deficient the room was in terms of lighting.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Granted my food photography table is sort of an odd item to feature for Vintage Bliss Tuesday. It's brand spanking new after all. But I bought it with my assortment of vintage and not-so-vintage dishes in mind. Rather than keeping the mismatched plates and cutlery mixed in with the daily family dishes, I wanted them to be kept separate and handy for food photos.
I bought the cart for something like $90 plus tax at Costco recently. I had looked at a number of other kitchen carts with a couple of desirable features in mind - particularly wheels so they could be moved around and shelves underneath the table top to hold a selection of plates, cutlery and cloths. I opted for this kitchen cart/chef's table for two reasons - because it is cheaper by at least half than the others I saw and because it has a solid bamboo top, meaning it provides a nice surface for pictures.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Winter is on the horizon and that means I'll soon be spending quite a bit of time hibernating. While evenings spent in front of the fireplace with a book and a hot cocoa sound pretty good, eventually all that time indoors (especially with kids) leads to boredom. That's where these books from DK Canada's Craft Boutique come in handy.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Happy Wednesday! For those of you thinking about going vegetarian or vegan or perhaps even enjoying "meatless Mondays," you might worry that vegetarian meals are laborious to prepare. And I'm not gonna lie - they definitely can be so. There is sometimes a lot of veggies to cut, tofu to press, lentils to cook and assorted things to sauté.
But we all have those nights when we don't want to spend two hours in the kitchen making dinner. I have days where I feel really energetic and motivated to try recipes and create something great. But not as often as I'd like. More frequently I just want to get something reasonably healthy on the table as fast as humanly possible. If you're the same way, then I hope my What I Ate Wednesday posts can provide you with some helpful suggestions for quick and healthy vegan options.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
(By the way, in case you are in need of a definition for "silverplate" as opposed to silver, it's basically "a thin layer of silver electroplated or otherwise applied as a coating to another metal.") Recently, as I was setting up my new food photography table, I decided to take a stab at quickly cleaning my silverplated cutlery in preparation for future photos. Too lazy to polish each piece with some fancy store-bought silver cream, I decided to use this quick and inexpensive method for cleaning silverplate.
Friday, November 13, 2015
When I first saw Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*cksitting on the shelf at a book store, I confess I was a bit turned off by the title. Not that I'm against swear words - where I come from they are used quite liberally actually. (Do I sound like Drake, trying to pretend I'm from the 'hood? I hope not - I'm from Hamilton, Ontario and I think swearing is akin to breathing there.) Anyway, I had the same kind of turned-off feeling I had the first time I heard about Skinny Bitch - like they were just deliberately trying to be shocking in order to sell books. (BTW, Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook is a great vegan cookbook.)
All doubts aside, I picked up that copy of Thug Kitchen and perused the recipes. They are vegan recipes, but they aren't really presented that way. It's suggested in the intro that the book is about eating healthy - giving up drive-thru dinners and adding more veggies to our meals. It's a book for ordinary folks. "We are your next-door neighbors and somewhere along the way, we learned to eat right," say the authors. "And you can too."
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
It's Remembrance Day in Canada and together we will share in an 11:00 a.m. moment of silence to honour our military, past and present. Here are some interesting points to note on this solemn day. With Canada's newest Defence Minister, Harjit Sajjan, being a Sikh and a former soldier, this exhibition that highlights the contributions of Sikh soldiers over the years is timely. And I love this sweet, multi-flag tribute to Canadian veterans. It's difficult to comprehend how many people have lost their lives to war, but this video honours a few loved ones who paid the ultimate price. Peace to you, my friends.
On to What I Ate Wednesday. Today I'm looking at my food consumption from yesterday, beginning with my breakfast, above. I started my day with banana, raspberry, cherry "nice cream," with a few chocolate chips on top. (Because why not?) It's pure fruit, so you need a bit of fat on top. That's my thinking anyway.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Monday, November 9, 2015
Guess what? Before you know it, winter will be here! Did you hear that ominous music just then? Winter around these parts is loooong. Come fall, I start dreaming about an escape. I have been doing some research and I think I have found just the place to retreat to in winter (or right now for that matter).
It's called Andros Island in the beautiful Bahamas and it's an actual paradise right here on Earth. Andros is the largest of the Bahamian islands (at 2,300 square miles), yet it is also the most sparsely developed. That makes for an abundance of natural beauty, perfect for nature lovers. This island gem boasts the third-largest fringing barrier reef in the world. It is home to miles of deserted beaches and freshwater lakes with countless species of wildlife, marine life, flora and fauna.
Friday, November 6, 2015
The Toxin-Free Home guides us as we create a "clever house" - a house that's healthy, doesn't take an undue toll on the environment, is comfortable and safe, is reasonably affordable to maintain and is run efficiently. Sounds like a tall order, doesn't it?
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Happy Wednesday on this important day for Canada, as we swear in our new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and his cabinet ministers, 15 of whom are women (16 men). Clearly he's not just good looking, he's smart too. My only complaint is the Canada Goose coat he wore on Halloween. Is fur a thing again? I hope not. Do people know these coats have coyote fur collars? Here's an article about the true cost of these fur-collar coats.
On to What I Ate Wednesday. My son requested lentils and rice for dinner one day and I was happy to comply, as it is one of my fave recipes of all time. I also smashed some potatoes with minced garlic, olive oil, salt and fresh parsley. This pic, above, is my next-day lunch leftovers. I made eight potatoes but this is all that was left. The kids said they prefer mashed potatoes over smashed but that didn't stop them from eating the potatoes up!
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Yesterday I bought a small table (chef's table/work surface) to help me with my food photography. It's going to sit under my kitchen window, but it has wheels so I can move it around to catch the light (which is becoming increasingly more scarce as fall progresses). Under the bamboo tabletop there are wire shelves that will hold some of the plates, bowls, napkins and cutlery that I like to use in my pictures. (We don't have the table put together yet, but I'll be sure to show it to you when we do.)
I used those new shelves as an excuse to stop off at the Salvation Army thrift store after I purchased the table. Because I am trying to limit the items that I bring into the house, I restricted myself to looking for small dishes and cutlery. The great thing about using small plates for food photos is that you can purchase just one of each style - you don't need to find matching sets. I found these three plates, above, two for 99 cents each and one for $1.99. I also found a few pieces of cutlery for 25 cents each.