Friday, May 18, 2018

Off The Shelf: Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes (Book Review)

I was drawn to Women in Sunlight: A Novel for a few reasons. For one, sunlight. We didn't have much of that over (a very long) winter and the more sunlight in my life right now, the better. Even if I'm reading about it. Two, the novel's author is Frances Mayes, who wrote the bestselling memoir Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy, which I actually haven't read. But I've watched the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, featuring the lovely Diane Lane, several times. Because Tuscany. Italy is my third reason for reading Women in Sunlight.

The story sees three American women at crossroads in their lives, deciding between a comfy but potentially boring retirement community for seniors and adventure in Italy. Spoiler alert: they choose Italy. Their stories parallel and intertwine with the story of poet/author Kit Raine, another American who has made her home in Italy. Kit shares her story in the first person while the third-person narrative takes us through the other three women's adventures.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

New Gardening Books for Spring 2018

I'm going to admit right up front that I don't have a green thumb. It's not that I kill plants - it's that I have little to no experience with growing them. At the moment we have (count 'em) three lonely plants in our house. One is a pot of lavender I bought very recently. The other two are succulents that (fortunately) thrive on neglect. Outdoors my husband takes care of any planting that goes on. And there hasn't been a whole lot the last two years, despite my visions of ripe red tomatoes and thick, leafy kale. I'll take it as a hint that I recently received all these lovely gardening and plant-related books to review. I need to set aside a sleepy weekend afternoon to read through these instructive books in more detail with a glass of iced tea in hand. And then maybe get to planting?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

May is always the busiest month in our house (and I know it's the same for lots of other households). We Canadians come out of hibernation when the snow ends (this year in April!) and then it seems we have to fit all the events in over four to six weeks. Dance competition season is over seemingly as quickly as it began. We were fortunate that my girl's ankle healed (well enough) for her to compete in two out of three of her competitions. Now she just has recital in June.

Basketball season also ended for my son this past weekend with a trip to Ottawa for the year-end tournament. Then, I put my daughter on a bus for her Grade 8 trip to Ottawa this morning. Shockingly she didn't want me to go along as a chaperone. This upcoming May long weekend we actually don't have an event planned. We are dog-sitting so we're staying close to home and hopefully getting lots of de-cluttering and gardening done.

In terms of recent meals in our home (the rightful subject of this post), I'm showing highlights from the past two weeks, starting with these incredibly delicious Carrot Cake Pancakes, above, from a recipe in Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week. The kids said these pancakes really do taste like carrot cake, but they didn't eat a lot of them so I guess the carrots smacked of health food. More for me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Making Mother's Day Cards With Cricut

Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday and it's time now (if we haven't yet) to think about how we are going to celebrate the moms, mothers-in-law, grandmothers and mother figures in our lives. Cards are always a nice way to share sentiments. And homemade cards are even better.

A couple of years ago, my youngest child stopped making Mother's Day cards at school. I have to say I have missed the little homemade crafts and cards the kids used to bring home. But kids who are too old to make crafts at school are old enough to make (more sophisticated) cards with Cricut. And that includes adult children, like me. This year, I made three (easy) homemade Mother's Day cards with my Cricut Explore Air™. The Cricut does all of the cutting for you (even the envelopes) so all you have to do is glue pieces together! And compose a really great greeting, of course. Here's a closer look at the cards I chose to make.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

I'm on a real juicing kick of late. For the past week or so, I've left my juicer out on the counter and I make a tasty blend of fruit and vegetable juice to start my day each morning. I generally put in carrots, celery, apples, an orange and a chunk of cucumber. I've been able to continue the practice largely because I'm committed to cleaning the juicer right away after making my juice.

In the past, I've tended to give up juicing after a couple of days because of the inconvenience of cleaning the machine. But it's really not so bad if you do it relatively quickly. At least give it a quick rinse and you can clean it more thoroughly later. I feel like, since spring is finally here, it's a good time for a rebirth of sorts, ie. getting lots of fresh nutrients into this just-out-of-hibernation body. Exercise wouldn't hurt either. But that's for another day...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

Spring is here in earnest now, with some warm days, some rainy days and lots of worms making their appearances on the driveway. Perhaps that wasn't a good transition into noodles? What I meant to say is it's a transitional time with regard to food. You have those cool and rainy days when a bowl of soup is much appreciated. And those warmer days when you just want to throw a veggie burger on the grill. For just about every darn day, noodle and rice bowls work. Change up the toppings and sauces depending on your cravings and what you have in the fridge and pantry. Above, we had udon noodles with peanut sauce, sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, tofu and sesame seeds.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Marinated Tofu Cubes With Roasted Veggies

Whether you're 100% vegan or eating meatless meals a few times a week, it helps to have some simple, plant-based meal ideas in your repertoire. Tofu is an absolute essential in our house. It's a great source of protein and it readily takes on flavour from seasonings and spices. In the case of these marinated tofu cubes, I have flavoured them with a marinade of soy seasoning, nutritional yeast, sesame oil, lime juice, garlic and ginger.

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