Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Making Cards With Cricut's New Anna Griffin Patterned Cardstock

We have several family birthdays in the fall, including those of my mom and my mother-in-law. My daughter also has a few friends with birthdays in August, September and October. Crafting buddies that we are, she and I decided to make these special people some lovely handmade cards with our Cricut Explore Air™.

When I saw the range of new and beautiful deluxe patterned cardstocks available on Cricut.com, I knew they would be perfect for creating feminine and fancy homemade (with love) birthday cards.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How To Keep Your Kids Safe Around Pools & Lakes

Growing up, I learned to swim just by practicing in the lake at our cottage. As a result, I can swim, but I don't have a high level of confidence in my abilities. When my own children came along, I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure they were strong swimmers. When they were small, I worked with a woman whose grown son drowned while swimming in a lake with friends. I can't even imagine the nightmare of that.

Canada is such a wonderful country to live in. We are blessed with bountiful natural resources and plenty of water. Whether you swim from a dock in Muskoka, a rocky beach at Lake Erie, the Cape Breton shoreline or your own swimming pool, make sure you and your children have every possible safety advantage.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Master Bedroom Mini Makeover Part 2: The Bed & New Douglas Mattress (giveaway)

A couple of weeks back, I shared the first part of our principal bedroom makeover - the wallpaper statement wall and the painted dresser. Today I want to show you the rest of the sleeping end of the room. (There is a sitting area that we will address in the future.)

We have long been wanting to switch from a queen bed to a king. The inspiration for our mini room makeover came when I was invited to review the new Douglas mattress from Novosbed. It was the perfect time to finally switch to a king bed. We had already purchased an inexpensive bed frame, sheets and a duvet cover. And my mom gave me a duvet she got as a gift at the casino. So, when our mattress arrived, we were fully ready to give our bedroom a quick refresh. Here is what the sleeping area looked like before:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Seahorse Cupcake Wrappers & A Big Cricut Explore Air 2 Bundle Giveaway!

These adorable seahorse cupcake wrappers can be cut in any color with your Cricut cutting machine.

I am linking up with some of my crafty Canadian blogging friends today to share our most recent projects made with the Cricut. Many thanks to Ariel from PMQ for Two for hosting and also hooking us up with a special Cricut giveaway. (Enter to win your own shiny new beautiful Cricut cutting machine and a whole bunch of other amazing things below!)

My daughter and I were browsing the latest designs in the Cricut Design Space™ and her eyes lit up when she saw the lovely seahorse cupcake wrappers. Like me, my daughter enjoys baking. Cupcakes are one of her specialties. On the day we made these cardstock cupcake wrappers, however, we were light on time, so we bought cupcakes at the store. I'm actually happy we did, because I think this scenario better illustrates how you can buy simple cupcakes at the grocery store and whip together a few of these wrappers to make them look special. (Maybe you can even pass them off as homemade? I won't judge.) I want to show you just how we made the seahorse cupcake wrappers in case you would like to make them yourself.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Book Club Meeting Vegan Brunch Menu & What I Ate Wednesday

In case any of you still think vegan food is boring, I wanted to give you a peek at a recent book club brunch that I hosted. Our book club group is very small. Like just three of us to be exact. But we like it that way. Because our book club meetings are all about the food and we are all on the same page when it comes to the menu.

We have been meeting for many years - me, my sister-in-law Connie and our friend Sarah. Only we hadn't met at all for the last few years, mainly because we weren't all three able to read for various reasons. Missing our book clubs, I proposed that we have a book club meeting without the book. The best part is the conversation anyway. (And the food. Always the food.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A DIY Cricut Cuttlebug Feather & Foliage Mobile

A fun DIY feather and foliage cardstock mobile using the Cricut Cuttlebug

Crafting has become a whole lot more fun since I got a Cricut Explore Air cutting machine. And recently I added a Cricut Cuttlebug® machine to my crafting arsenal for a whole new range of DIY possibilities. For my first Cuttlebug project I decided to celebrate beautiful, glorious summer with an abundant, colourful, nature-inspired DIY mobile.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Why We Chose To Send Our Kids To Catholic Schools

Within our family, I did not attend Catholic schools growing up, while my husband did. My older brother attended a Catholic elementary school, but my mom decided to send my sister and me to the public school next door. Mainly her choice was related to the facilities - the Catholic school had open-concept classrooms at the time and she felt this was a distraction. I believe there was also a fee for attending Catholic schools then. Fast forward to today and the difference in facilities is not a factor. In fact, in growing areas like ours, there are many beautiful new Catholic schools.

Here in Ontario, we are fortunate to have options when it comes to where we send our children to school within the public school system. Both public and Catholic elementary and secondary schools are widely available in many areas, including here in the Greater Toronto Area.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Master Bedroom Mini Makeover: The Before, Wallpaper & Painted Dresser

After the spring One Room Challenge, for which we renovated our dining room over a 6-week period, I swore I was going to take a break from beautifying our home. But then I got an opportunity to review a new mattress and that got me thinking it was time to do a mini makeover of our neglected and "tired" master bedroom (or principal bedroom if you prefer, because it sounds less like the woman is there to serve).

I opted for a "mini" makeover because we have one of those ridiculously large suburban bedrooms with room for a sleeping area, a sitting area and then some. It would take too much time and resources (including my limited mental resources) to tackle the whole space right now. With a new mattress coming, we decided to tackle the sleeping space in the room.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What I Ate Wednesday

Cooking hasn't been a high priority around here lately. For one, it's summer. Who wants to cook in summer? For another thing, we have been decluttering, decluttering and decluttering. We have lots to get rid of and I have to say it feels good to see things go. We are hoping that, by the end of summer, the house will look much more free of stuff. In the meantime, meal prep has to be as easy as possible.

Super easy on the scale from difficult to super easy is ordering Chinese takeout, above. This place had vegan "chicken" in sauce and faux shrimp. I wasn't a big fan of the gelatinous texture of the shrimp but the faux chicken was nice.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Simple Summer Rice Salad (vegan, gluten-free)

Summer is officially here and it's time to bring on the salads! Pasta salad, green salad, noodle salad and, of course, rice salad. I envision a summer of stocking the fridge with neatly stacked clear containers full of all kinds of easy-to-make, healthy salads to grab on the go. Off to the beach? Have a sesame noodle salad at the ready. Pop it into a cooler with a refreshing spritzer, a variety of fruit and a batch of homemade Coconut Date Brownie Bites and you'll be ready for a picnic at the beach or park. Because, if you're anything like me, preparing for a day trip is all about the food!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Vegan Morning Glory Muffins

These vegan Morning Glory Muffins are hearty, healthy and filling. Packed with nutritious ingredients like carrots, raisins and coconut. Great for grabbing on the run in the morning.

These Morning Glory Muffins remind me of my mom, because when I was little she used to say, "Morning glory" as a "good morning" type of greeting. I also remember I really liked these muffins, jam-packed with ingredients, as a teen. Still do. Recently I started thinking about these muffins again. And I wondered where the original Morning Glory Muffin recipe came from.

The now-famous muffin was created by chef Pam McKinstry when she owned Nantucket's Morning Glory Café. Chef Pam's Morning Glory Muffin recipe was published in Gourmet magazine in 1981 and became quite popular. Morning Glory Muffins are packed with ingredients - like carrots, raisins, apples, coconut and walnuts. They offer the spicy, warming taste of cinnamon. They are fittingly glorious to eat in the morning - pleasantly tasty with filling, nutrient-dense ingredients.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Canada Day Party Ideas & A Family-Friendly Strawberry No-jito Recipe #YearofFeasting

*This post is sponsored by Giant Tiger. All opinions are authentic and my own. Thank you for supporting the awesome companies that partner with Woman in Real Life!*

Summer is just about here and I am once again joining Dannyelle from Life is a Party and other Canadian bloggers to celebrate the season with a party. Last season, my party was a Celebrate Spring Party with a veggie burger toppings bar and vegan root beer floats.The idea is called "A Year of Feasting," and it involves holding one themed party per season in order to spend more time with family and/or friends. As Canada Day falls on July 1st, and it's the country's big 150th birthday party this year, we decided to theme our parties this month around Canada Day. Hopefully you will take away some ideas you can use to celebrate Canada Day in style. If you are American, just convert the maple leaves to stars and you're good to go! Be sure to check out the other bloggers' party ideas via the links at the bottom of this post. Such fabulous ideas!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What I Ate Wednesday

It has been gloriously hot outside this past week and my thoughts (and cravings) have turned to fresh fruits, salads and veggies. We had our first barbecue of the season this past Sunday. My husband barbecued sweet potatoes, asparagus, zucchini, peppers, potatoes, veggie hotdogs and veggie burgers. That's my plate, above. I opted not to have a burger because I just really enjoyed all the veggies. And I ate my hot dog without a bun because I feel like eating "lighter" when it's warm outside.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Canada Day Mantel With Two Cricut Projects

Canada Day maple leaf garland and framed art cut with Cricut Explore Air

July 1st, 2017 is not only Canada Day, a federal holiday on which we celebrate the anniversary of the 1867 enactment of the Constitution - this year it's also an extra-special celebration, because Canada is now 150 years young. People throughout the country will be celebrating the holiday with parties, outings and beach days. No doubt many will be decorating their homes in red and white, the colours of the Canadian flag. As the central portion of the flag features a red maple leaf, the maple leaf is also prominent in Canada Day decor.

To celebrate, I decorated our diy fireplace mantel for Canada Day with two projects - a Canadian flag garland and a framed maple leaf print. These are both simple yet festive projects to make with your Cricut Explore Air™ or other Cricut cutting machine.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies (vegan)

These vegan Carrot Cake Oatmeal cookies are all good things - like scrumptious, soft and chewy, moist, a little puffy and cake-like. With raisins and a hint of cinnamon, these cookies are pumped with yummy carrot cake-like flavor. dairy-free, eggless

I feel that now is just the right time for a tasty little treat. I can say this with confidence even though I don't know what day or time you're reading this post - because it's always a good time for a tasty treat, no? Also, considering that these vegan Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies are made with shredded carrots, flax, oats and raisins, they are healthy enough to be breakfast food in my opinion. These easy oatmeal cookies are also great for a mid-morning snack, a mid-afternoon snack and/or a dessert in the evening.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

When Sending Your Child Off To School Is So Hard

My daughter was just 3 years old when she started Junior Kindergarten. She would turn 4 in October. Sending your little one off to school for the first time is stressful for a parent no matter the child’s age, but when they seem so teeny-tiny, it’s all the more anxiety-inducing.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What I Ate Wednesday

I'm finally back with a What I Ate Wednesday post. If you normally visit the blog for vegan food ideas, thanks for sticking with me. I was caught up in the busiest of springs. We were beautifying our dining room over a 6-week period for the One Room Challenge. You can see the big dining room reveal here! That's in addition to all the parenting stuff that comes along with spring. It feels like winter is for hibernation and we try to fit EVERYTHING into the short weeks of spring. Basketball tournaments, dance competitions, birthday parties - it's all good fun but it doesn't exactly leave time or energy for the greatest meals.

To tell the truth, not much of our food over the past couple of months felt photo-worthy. And time for picture-taking was at a premium. Not that I'm creating genius meals now. I fully believe that vegan food preparation can be easy and quick. Certainly you can prepare more elaborate dishes (with lots of vegetable cutting involved!) when you have the time and energy, but on regular days, we keep it simple. Here's a sample day of easy vegan eats - what I had this past Monday actually. The kids went off to school and I just thought, "pancakes." Why not make a stack of pancakes to enjoy all by my lonesome? Right? A perfect way to ease into Monday. So I made vegan pancakes with a light touch of cinnamon and a bunch of berries. And then I drowned those pancakes in maple syrup. Because that's the way to do it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why the Tech World Needs More Girls & A Level Up Kids Summer Camp Giveaway

I'm guilty. Guilty of steering my 12-year-old daughter towards a love of reading and writing and photography - all of the pursuits that I enjoy and have always believed I'm good at. Recently she told me, "I actually really like science." Alarm bells went off in my head. I was happy to hear she liked science. But a realization dawned on me - had we done nothing to encourage her to explore pursuits such as science, technology and math? Sure she has had a science kit or two, but did we ever sell any of these traditionally male subjects as career options? Fortunately there's still time. I would love to see her take courses exploring coding, science and math.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How To Learn a New Language Easily & Affordably

I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I can't speak any Italian. No more than a few words anyway. Why is this born and bred mangiacake embarrassed? Because I've known my husband almost three decades. Which means I've known his Italian-born and raised parents for almost three decades. And they speak Italian at home. We went to Italy on our honeymoon. I sat in silence as my husband's lovely family members attempted to make conversation while my husband translated (reluctantly I might add).

But this isn't a story about me and my ignorance. Rather it's about my 12-year-old daughter. I begged my husband to teach the kids some conversational Italian when they were little. "Even just at feeding times," I helpfully suggested. That way they would learn Italian words related to food. And we all know those are the most important Italian words to learn. But it didn't happen.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What materials can I cut with the Cricut? & A Canada-inspired iron-on tank top & tote

This upcoming weekend is the unofficial start of summer here in Canada. My Canadian friends and I call this long weekend “May two-four." For one thing, Monday is Victoria Day (this year on May 22nd), and the birthday of Queen Victoria fell on May 24th. For another thing, the long weekend launches cottage/camping/party season and many "two-fours" (24-packs) of beer will be consumed over the next three months (starting this holiday Monday no doubt). I thought it would be fun to mark this distinctly Canadian holiday by making a couple of Cricut iron-on projects that celebrate our much-beloved country.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One Room Challenge Dining Room Makeover Week #6: The Big Reveal!

Six blog posts. Five weeks. A completely different dining room. I'm not going to say it's been easy. Spare time was hard to come by. And I picked up a cold at dance competition this past weekend (tight quarters in those dressing rooms!), so I'm writing this with itchy eyes and tissue in hand. But our One Room Challenge dining room makeover is done! And we love our new dining room space. We might actually eat in there now. (Or at the very least, not pile random items on the dining table.) Let's have a wee look at the before and after pics to see how far we've come.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

One Room Challenge Dining Room Makeover Week #5: Crown Moulding & Cabinet Paint

The "Before" - this room is long gone now!

It was glorious to have a whole weekend to dedicate to our One Room Challenge dining room makeover this past weekend. No sporting events to take the kids to - just uninterrupted painting and installation time. (Okay it wasn't entirely uninterrupted - that would be impossible - but we got in a good stretch of work hours.)

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.

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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 womaninreallife.com. 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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