Wednesday, April 26, 2017

One Room Challenge Dining Room Makeover Week #4: Wallpaper, Chair Rail & More

It's One Room Challenge week 4, and we're getting to the point where we can really see how the dining room is going to come together. The mood board is one thing, but real life results can look a lot different. Fortunately we are loving how the dining room looks so far.

In last week's update, I told you how we managed to get a bit of work done over the Easter long weekend. Unfortunately this last weekend we were out of town from Friday to Sunday for my son's basketball tournament. That's the job when you're a parent though, right? I'm sort of glad in a way, because I think it's fitting if I can show you how we managed to make over our dining room in just five weeks while still conducting our regular business, like work, tax preparation, cooking, cleaning and parenting. The blog is called Woman in Real Life after all. And real life means you don't often have a lot of spare time for diys and decor.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

DIY Terrarium Made With a Candle Jar & A Jewelry Organizer

quick diy open terrarium - made with a cleaned out candle jar and a jewelry or accessory organizer

Earth Day is just a couple of days away. To celebrate and show gratitude for the beauty of our world, I added a happy little piece of greenery to our home. I don't keep many plants in the house. In fact, most of the time we don't have any plants in the house. You see, I'm not good at caring for them. (I forget to water them.) My husband has more of a green thumb, but he over-waters in my opinion. We used to have a few plants on the kitchen counter and I would often find pools of water around them, staining the counter. (He'll deny that.)

I couldn't help but catch the succulent fever that's going around. I see so many sweet little succulents and clusters of succulents around the web - nestled in vintage containers, topping wine glasses and peeking out from glass terrariums.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

One Room Challenge Dining Room Makeover Week #3: Trim & Tools

Thankfully this past weekend was a 4-day weekend for us, without any activities to shuttle kids to. We did dog-sit a large puppy and attend two Easter dinner parties, but there was at least some free time to work on our dining room makeover for the One Room Challenge.

That's a good thing, because we are at week 3 (out of 6) already! Seeing as week 6 is the reveal, we have three weeks left to go. Where are we at with it? By last week, most of what was accomplished was painting. From there, we planned to move onto wallpaper, picking a paint colour for the secondhand china cabinet and installing some of the mouldings.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Another Common Writing Mistake You're Probably Making Right Now - Decor Bloggers Take Note

Another common writing mistake you're making right now! Decor bloggers, take note - your fireplace isn't wearing a mantle.

A few weeks back, I wrote about one common writing mistake you might unknowingly be making right now. That post involved it's vs its. You might want to check it out and see if you are on the right side of that writing rule.

In this second post, I take a look at another common error I see in writing all the time. One of my pastimes is decorating. I enjoy decorating our home and sharing diys here on the blog. I also love to look at design magazines, websites and other blogs that feature decor inspiration.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

One Room Challenge Dining Room Makeover Week #2: Preparation & Paint

The weeks fly by quickly, don't they? Especially when you are renovating a whole room in just five weeks. It has already been a week since the launch of the spring One Room Challenge. You might recall from my first post that we are making over our dining room to create a more sophisticated space that coordinates with our newly renovated foyer.

We progressed fairly well considering that we're doing all the work ourselves and both my husband and I were busy with other things every single day of the week. Things like our regular work and orthodontic appointments and then an entire weekend taken up by our daughter's dance competition (me on duty for hair, makeup and cheering on) and our son's basketball tournament (he on duty for driving and cheering on).

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

One Room Challenge Dining Room Makeover Week #1: The Before & Mood Board

Is your home everything you want it to be? Chances are it's not. Most of us don't have the budget or the resources for the perfect home. But doing renovations yourself certainly makes a home (or room) makeover more accessible. My husband and I started redecorating our home back in the fall with our big foyer makeover, which we revealed in early December.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Celebrate Spring Party With Veggie Burger Bar & Vegan Root Beer Floats

Now that spring is here and we are emerging from hibernation, it's the perfect time to party with family and friends. Dannyelle from Life is a Party had the awesome idea of partying all through 2017 actually. A bunch of us bloggers are joining her in celebrating "A Year of Feasting," with ideas for parties in spring, summer, fall and the "w" word.

Check out the other bloggers' party ideas via the links at the bottom of this post. Such beautiful parties! I decided on a simple, casual "Celebrate Spring" party for the family, featuring a veggie burger bar and vegan root beer floats. If you're a new visitor to the blog, hey! I'm Joann and I'm a vegan, while my husband and kids are vegetarians. But I promise we're really normal otherwise. Sort of. Between odd and the same, you gotta be rooting for odd, right? If you are in need of some meat-free meals, check out this abundance of vegan recipes.

Monday, March 27, 2017

How To Stay Calm & Cool In Stressful Everyday Situations

I originally wrote this article for York Life magazine. I am sharing it here because I know that we all experience stress in our busy lives and I hope these simple tips will help you to manage your stress levels in tense situations and be kind to your body.

Get Calm and Carry On

Sure you can find your inner zen at your weekly yoga class, but how do you stay calm and cool when dealing with an angry customer or when you’re running late — and stuck in traffic? Dr. Meghan MacKinnon, a naturopathic doctor in Aurora, shares her tips on getting to your happy place, wherever you are — no yoga mat required.

Friday, March 24, 2017

One Common Writing Mistake You're Probably Making Right Now

When I was in elementary school I loved grammar. Really. Loved it. Weird right? For a class assignment, I proudly wore a button that said, "How's Your Grammar?" In Grade 4, I enjoyed underlining nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs on the chalkboard. I was a shy kid - didn't like to talk in class - but I did love to read and write. I would still rather write than talk.

I went on to study English and then Journalism in university. For one class, all we did was write leads for fake news stories - over and over again. The professor would read aloud the ones he liked and brutally rip others apart. Mine fell into both categories. Either way, I loved that process too. I miss it actually, because, two decades on, I don't remember all the grammatical rules so much. Yes, I'm a writer and some rules I just know without being able to explain them, but there are a few I'm sure I've forgotten too.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Is The Absolute Best (A Home Tour)

I think most of us in the north are pretty much on the same page right now - ready for spring! Bring it. The temperature dipped below zero again yesterday, but I am confident that actual, lovely spring is just days away!

In the meantime, I have brought some light and flowery spring decor touches into my home. I'm sharing them today as part of a Canadian bloggers spring home tour with 20 other bloggers. Thank you to Shannon and Christina for hosting the tour, which goes on all week. Be sure to check out the other homes decked out for spring by following the links at the bottom of this post.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What is a Cricut machine? What can I do with it? Plus, pretty diy decals for spring!

Painted mason jar with pretty diy bunny decals cut with the Cricut - perfect for Easter or spring

Perhaps you've walked through your local craft superstore and stopped to wonder at a shiny new Cricut machine. "What is it? What can I do with it? And why do I feel like I need one in my life?" you ask yourself. I know because I used to do it and think it too! Since the fall, I've been one of the Cricut-initiated - I've been getting to know and love my own shiny new Cricut Explore Air™.

So I thought today I would give you a wee intro to the Cricut electronic cutting machine and cover some of the things you can make quite easily with it. (Hint: it does much more than scrapbooking!) First of all, do you know how to pronounce Cricut? I didn't. I was pronouncing it Cry-cut, when it's actually pronounced cricket, like the insect.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cinnamon Toast Sweet Loaf (Vegan)

Cinnamon Toast Sweet Loaf - a fluffy and delish vegan snack bread that pays tribute to both cinnamon toast and cinnamon rolls

When I was a kid, I enjoyed eating toast topped with margarine and a sprinkle of cinnamon/sugar mix. (Put cinnamon and sugar in a spice jar at a ratio of about 1 to 3.) Even today, if I'm feeling snacky in the evening and we don't have any treats in the house, I'll fall back on this quick and tasty sugary snack.

This Cinnamon Toast Sweet Loaf pays tribute to my good old reliable childhood snack. I adapted (veganized) this recipe from one in The MacDonald Mixing Bowl 500 Down-east Recipes, a cookbook created by a collective of women in Nova Scotia, complete with ads in the back for local spots like Truro Lanes, The Family Fun Centre.

Friday, March 10, 2017

True North Maple Cake with Buttercream Icing and Strawberry Filling (vegan)

Most of us Canadians walk a fine line when it comes to national pride - on the inside we are extremely proud of our country, but we don't like to appear boastful or make like we're better than others. Our pride is not often on display - there aren't many flags flying on porches - except on Canada Day, July 1st (and maybe when we're watching our hockey teams).

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, when the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into one Dominion of Canada. Most of us know just how lucky we are to live here in Canada. We celebrate tolerance, diversity, education and respect. We promote peace. And we love our surroundings, from the rugged cliffs of Newfoundland to the Yukon's Mount Logan, the highest mountain in Canada.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Books To Keep You Busy Sewing On Spring Break

Ever since I saw Molly Ringwald's character, Andie, craft her own prom dress in the eighties film Pretty in Pink, I have imagined what it would be like to sew your own unique threads. Of course I only ever imagined - I didn't actually learn to sew clothing.

My daughter has expressed an interest in taking sewing courses. (She's almost as old as I was when I watched Pretty in Pink!) Maybe she can live out my dream by creating her own unique teen wardrobe? Either way, I thought it would be fun for us to explore some sewing books this Spring Break. Maybe we'll start off with something a little more simple, like a toque or a pillow cover.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Spring Break $200 Cash Giveaway

Looks like spring is on the way! And if it's not, I don't want to hear about it. Let's be optimistic - together we'll look forward to sunshine, blooming flowers, bike rides, breezes flowing through open windows and maybe a bit of shopping.

In the spirit of springtime, I have joined together with a group of Canadian blogging friends to offer up $200 to one lucky winner! That should get you started on your spring shopping. You could buy some seeds to start off this year's plants indoors perhaps, or even better, get a pedicure to prepare for flip flop weather! Or treat the family to a great meal on spring break. The prize is $200 Canadian and the giveaway is open to readers worldwide.

Come Back & Enter Each Day During The Giveaway Period!

Giveaway rules: Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter every day. Mandatory question must be answered to be eligible to win. Giveaway is open worldwide. Prize is $200CAD, to be transferred to a PayPal account. Ladena from MyFamilyStuff is responsible for awarding the prize. This giveaway is sponsored by all bloggers included in the giveaway widget. The prize is non-transferable. Giveaway runs to Mar. 13, 2017. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Our Powder Room Makeover - The Big Reveal!

Our powder room makeover is complete! I'm pretty sure our tiny bathroom space couldn't look any more different from the bland, purely functional original space it was. Before, the powder room didn't have much to say about the family who lives here or the things that bring us joy. (I know, enough with the Marie Kondo already!) Now, when I open the door to the powder room, it sings to me. It reminds me of spring, good cheer and, quite frankly, my younger days.

You see, we got a bit "safe" in this home. The tiny Toronto apartment we lived in before kids had three rooms and three different vivid colours - deep green in the kitchen, sunny yellow in the living room and dark blue in the bedroom. And we loved it. Although we won't be getting that "colour brave" again, I think we are finding our way back to colour, this time with a more sophisticated approach befitting our ages and tastes. Clearly our most bold choice for the powder room is the Eden Orange/Grey/Cream wallpaper by Graham & Brown at The Home Depot Canada.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What I Ate Wednesday

The weather is warming up significantly around here. We were promised some sort of record-breaking warm day today. I'm not sure we're quite going to make it, but the temperature is expected to go up to 13 degrees Celsius this afternoon. It's warm for February, but today it's also accompanied by dense fog. With most of the snow melted, the yard is just plain ugly. But I'm not complaining (okay, I'm complaining a bit) because spring is surely on the way!

This What I Ate Wednesday, I'm looking at highlights from the last couple of weeks. I don't seem able to post as regularly as I used to, but I hope spring takes care of that too. More energy, more ambition, all that good stuff. As I said on Instagram, between sick days, PA Days, exam days and snow days, I had one or both of the kids with me quite often over the past month or so. That has limited my creative time and also my time spent experimenting in the kitchen. Once the kids were finally back at school for a stretch, I decided to make a special breakfast just for me. The kids aren't hot on the idea of coating French toast with coconut, so I made one of my favourite quick, easy and delicious breakfasts - the coconut French toast from the incredible Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Beet-ing Hearts Blood Orange Smoothie for Valentine's Day and Beyond (vegan & gluten-free)

If your Valentine is still full on with his or her new year's health kick, this Beet-ing Hearts Blood Orange Smoothie is a great option for saying "I care." It's delicious, smooth, creamy and a bit sweet, while containing health-protective ingredients like beets, blood orange, strawberries, chia seeds and coconut oil.

If your Valentine is still full on with his or her new year's health kick, this Beet-ing Hearts Blood Orange Smoothie is a great option for saying "I care." It's delicious, smooth, creamy and a bit sweet, while containing health-protective ingredients like beets, blood orange, strawberries, chia seeds and coconut oil.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Peach Oatmeal Snack Bars (vegan)

A couple of weeks back, I shared a recipe for warm, buttery Peach Perfection Vegan Scones. Today I'm sharing another easy baking recipe that takes advantage of canned peaches. I like to use canned California cling peaches in baked goods because they are convenient to keep in the pantry no matter the season and the peaches are already peeled so you can sweep them into a bowl and have a delicious treat on the table faster than you can get to the coffee shop.

The key advantage to baking your snacks and desserts at home, besides better flavour, is knowing exactly what you're eating. No mystery additives or artificial flavours. Just pure, natural ingredients that come together to make a tasty and wholesome treat. Like these Peach Oatmeal Snack Bars.

Monday, February 6, 2017

20 Family Day Crafts & Activities To Do With Your Kids

Here are 20 ideas for crafts and activities to do with your kids on Family Day or any day you want to spend time bonding together indoors.

The third Monday of February is Family Day here in Ontario, Canada. A quick look at Wikipedia tells me that the same is true in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Saskatchewan. It also coincides with Presidents' Day in the US. In Manitoba, Nova Scotia and PEI, the holiday is called Louis Riel Day, Nova Scotia Heritage Day and Islander Day, respectively. British Columbia (BC) observes Family Day on the second Monday of February.

As it's not a federal holiday, not everyone actually gets this day off of work. But for those of us who do, the term "Family Day" kind of implies we should do something family-ish, right? Seeing as it's still very much winter here in February, you could possibly head out for a day of skiing, snowshoeing or sledding. But if you're more of a fan of indoor pursuits (like this cold-sensitive gal here), why not do some crafting together as a family? For inspiration, I've rounded up family craft ideas and projects for all different ages from some of my favourite bloggers. I've also included a few things you can bake, because you surely need something to munch on when you're doing all that crafting!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lovey Dovey Vegan Chocolate Bark + A Valentine's Day Blog Hop

So you don't have to slave away on Valentine's Day, this Lovey Dovey Vegan Chocolate Bark is super easy and quick to make.

If Valentine's Day seems a little trivial to you right now, a bit selfish, I say that Valentine's Day celebrates what we all know is best and most important in this world - our family, our friends, our neighbours, our peeps, whomever they may be - our loved ones. Valentine's Day celebrates love. And we can all use more of that.

If you object to the crass commercialism of Valentine's Day, why not celebrate your loved ones with homemade, inexpensive gifts that come straight from the heart? Something made with chocolate never hurts. Plus, check out the 24 creative Valentine's Day project ideas from other Canadian bloggers at the end of this post - there are treats, crafts, cards and even a cocktail (that I really want to try).

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Peach Perfection Vegan "Buttermilk" Scones

Peach Perfection Vegan "Buttermilk" Scones - with cinnamon and ground ginger for a gentle sweet and savoury effect (and an unbelievable fragrance when these scones are baking in the oven!

I have been all about scones lately. I suspect it has to do with those feelings we get in the middle of winter - the desire to shut ourselves off from the (grey and dismal) outside world and snuggle in with a cuppa and a warm baked good. Hibernation is oh so tempting in January! But as we are also meant to be thinking of good health in the new year, I thought I'd create a comforting vegan scone recipe with added nutritional benefits, using fruit that's easy to find in winter.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Our Powder Room Makeover - The Before + Mood Board

Powder Room Makeover Mood Board - for a sophisticated small bathroom reno

There's a funny thing that happens when you make a significant change in your home - everything around that change looks like it could use a change too. At least that's what we have found since completing our dramatic foyer makeover this past month. We are honestly so happy with the results and pretty proud that we did the renovation work ourselves. 

We love our home and we're grateful that we have a comfortable house and plenty of nutritious food to eat. We could leave our house just the way it is and it would be absolutely fine. But my husband and I actually enjoyed the process of fixing up and decorating our foyer (although it wasn't easy by any means) and we plan to make being Mr. and Ms. Fix-It a bit of a hobby this year. And, as I mentioned in our foyer "before" post, our kids are now 12 and 14 and we think it's time for a more sophisticated decor. Still a comfy family space, but a little less "worn in" is what we're going for.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What I Ate Wednesday

I'm long overdue for a What I Ate Wednesday post! I have eaten plenty of satisfying meals lately, but I haven't often been inclined to photograph them. Must be those January doldrums. Is anybody else feeling blah? I neglected to take Vitamin D throughout the winter and that's a mistake in a climate like this where sunshine is rare. (Read this primer on Vitamin D for more.) I have been trying to make up for it by taking Vitamin D regularly this week, as well as using my happy lamp for 10 to 20 minutes a day.

In any case, I thought I'd share a few of the meals that I have actually gotten my butt in gear to photograph recently. Starting with this breakfast of champions, above. Raisin scones. Sometimes when you don't feel much like eating first thing in the morning, you just have to treat yourself. You can find the recipe for these vegan Scottish Scones here.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Roasted Roots & Pulses Bowl Recipe + Books For A New Year (With A Giveaway)

At the start of each new year, a lot of us think about making some small (or big?) changes in our lives, maybe starting up a new hobby or taking steps towards discovering our inner selves a little bit more. I believe that we keep finding out more about ourselves - our preferences, our passions and our paths in life - no matter how old we are. I also believe that books are a powerful tool to assist us in finding our passions. That's why I started off the new year by perusing some interesting titles from DK Books.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

40+ Vegan & Nut-Free School Lunch & Snack Ideas for Kids (& Big Kids Too!)

The worst part of sending kids back to school after vacation is packing daily school lunches again. Preparing lunches the night before seems like a wise plan, but by the time dinner is made, dishes are washed and kids are wrangled into the bath, who among us feels like packing up lunches? Once morning comes, packing lunches is a mad rush and sometimes nutrition falls by the wayside in favour of convenient, portable and packaged snacks.

During the last couple of days of Christmas vacation, my daughter talked some more about embracing a vegan lifestyle. She has been vegetarian her whole life, but struggles with giving up foods like pizza, conventional chocolate bars and macaroni and cheese. (Her brother and her dad eat cheese, while I do not.) I'm not one to push her into a fully vegan diet, but most of our meals and snacks are vegan anyway and she would prefer a completely animal-friendly diet. So we sat down to plan for vegan lunches and snacks. I thought what came out of our brainstorming might be helpful to some of you. Even if you have no plans to become vegan, these ideas will work for healthy, everyday meals and snacks on the run, for school or work.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Top Vegan Recipes of 2016

Top 10 Vegan Recipes of 2016 from Simple recipes that are relatively quick to prepare.

Happy New Year friends! I'm easing into 2017 slowly. The whole family is still at home this week and we have been hanging out in our pajamas, eating lots of yummy things, playing Yahtzee and charades and spinning vinyl records. We're not entirely lazy though - we have also been packing up Christmas stuff, donating old snowsuits and other excess stuff and planning a small renovation of our powder room. I'm grateful for all the social opportunities that the holidays brought to us, as well as the gifts I received, especially the diy fireplace mantel my husband made.

Seeing as it's Veganuary, when people experiment with becoming vegan (even if just for the month), I thought it would be a good time to look back at the vegan recipes that were most popular on the blog last year. Hopefully they will provide some inspiration for those of you who want to add more vegan recipes to your meal repertoires. It's my goal to make vegan cooking easy, relatively quick and accessible (ie. so that meat eaters enjoy it too). Here are the top 10 most popular vegan recipes on the blog in 2016, starting with number 10. (Take this order with a grain of salt because some posts included giveaways and that always boosts the numbers!)

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