Friday, August 31, 2012

Anything Goes Fruit Crisp

With fall beckoning, my desire to bake has returned with a vengeance.

In my opinion, a sweet, tasty fruit crisp is the perfect end-of-summer dessert. The fruit filling still says "summer," but the warm, baked oat topping is a definite tribute to fall.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, fun with recipes edition

If you are like me, some days you enjoy cooking and/or baking, and some days you would rather clean the bathtub, organize your closet or do basically anything but cook.

Maybe it's the approaching fall weather grabbing hold of me, but, for whatever reason, I felt like trying some new recipes this past week.

It started with Laura's recipe for no-bake Toasted Coconut Brownie Bites (above). They are formed mainly from peanut butter and ground flax, with just a bit of agave for sweetening. They are healthy and yet strangely addictive. I used to love coconut-covered doughnuts. These aren't quite the same, but they are a fun treat nevertheless, and much healthier.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Is It Vintage?

While I have grown to love a nice piece of vintage dishware, I am not a seller and I am by no means an expert.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I get a lot of vintage dishes from my parents. In fact, I rarely leave their home without a box or two.

When it comes to these dishes that I receive as gifts, I usually know with certainty that they are "vintage." My method is simple...if I remember it from when I was young, then it's vintage. Sad, but true.

Hey, at least that doesn't make them antique.

Above and below, some items I received on my most recent visit to my parents' house. Some of them I remember from my youth and some of them I don't. They were likely around, but I just don't remember them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life, basement overhaul week

For those who are new to Insta-Friday, it means sharing simple cell phone photos from your past week and linking them up with Life Rearranged. With our handy cell phone cameras, we take way more pictures than we used to, don't we? Might as well share some.

This week, my daughter (above, right) has been going to dance camp each day with her visiting cousin.

With the little (demanding) one out of the way, I asked my husband to agree to spend two hours each day organizing our basement. Over the whole week, that amounts to 20 man hours...which might seem like a lot...but you haven't seen our basement.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Hurry

One day recently my son woke up and said, "I want to make peanut butter cookies."

Okay by me! Who am I to turn down baked goods?

Do you ever make the super easy peanut butter cookies on the side of the Kraft peanut butter jar? They are true to the "super easy" description, so they are great as a beginner cookie for kids. Plus, they are really fast and take very few ingredients, so they are handy to whip up if you end up hosting a last-minute playdate, or even an adult visitor.

What I Ate Wednesday, on the run edition

The past week has been a bit of a whirlwind, with a lot of short trips here and there. So, meals have been quick and baking has been minimal.

Here is my What I Ate Wednesday look at a few highlights. We had one of our summer staples again, tacos with refried beans. This time, we topped them with sautéed orange and yellow peppers, onions and mushrooms.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Guest Post at The Thrifty Groove

Diann over at The Thrifty Groove was kind enough to allow me to write a guest post for her blog this week. She has been busy this summer bringing her herbs business to festivals and farmers markets.

I chose to write about an outfit that my daughter recently put together using an inexpensive thrift store find.

Diann is an expert thrifty shopper and a creator of beautiful tablescapes. She also hosts Thrifty Things Friday, inviting bloggers to share their thrifty finds and ideas. If you love to live beautifully on a budget, make sure to visit The Thrifty Groove.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life, organization edition

It's Insta-Friday again...time to share a look at our family cell phone photos from the past week (or two in this case).

Everywhere you look, summer seems to be winding down. Children have gone back to school in some areas. People are talking about wanting to wear sweaters again. (Not me.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Don't let the title fool you. We are not going TV-free in this house. Not just yet.

Like many parents, I have a love-hate relationship with the television set. I admit that it has come in handy over the years as a "babysitter" for the kids during busy times like dinner time. I also like to sit down at the end of a long day to watch a show myself. Usually my husband and I watch a movie or catch up on episodes of  TV shows on Netflix. We are up to date with Weeds and Breaking Bad now, and I've been told to move on to The Big C.

I also hate the television and the kids shows that my children watch now that they are a bit older. They are so sarcastic. Don't get me wrong. I like a healthy dose of sarcasm, but hearing those TV voices for more than a short time makes me want to stuff my ears with cotton balls or scream.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

What I Ate Wednesday is here again! Can you believe it is the middle of August?

I am once again sharing some highlights from my last week of eating.

Last night, we decided to try making maki sushi for the second time. We found it easier to roll this time. We had the same fillings as last time, along with sautéed mushrooms. The mushrooms made for a yummy filling!

My husband also made miso soup this time, with chunks of soft tofu in it. It was delicious, and even the kids enjoyed it. They are fairly picky eaters (mostly the girl) but my son loves vegetarian sushi and my daughter is enjoying it more and more each time we have it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Photo Studio in a Box

For my last couple of thrifty finds blog posts, I have been experimenting with a gift that my husband recently gave me for my birthday.

I generally use light coming in the windows for all of my photography of food and dishes. Unfortunately, that can be difficult (or impossible) in the evenings or during a long Canadian winter.

So, my husband thoughtfully purchased this Optex Portable Studio & Lighting Kit to help me with my photography sessions.

Monday, August 13, 2012

More Thrifty Goodies

Last week, in Swimming and Shopping, I showed you some of the garage sale and thrift store goodies I got while visiting the small town near my parents' house.

Here are some more of the little treasures I purchased that day. Above, one of my favourite finds, this sweet little rose jar is now holding cotton pads in my bathroom.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Precious Pictures...a cautionary tale

What’s the first thing you would grab in a fire (people and pets aside)? Chances are that your photographs are at the top of your list.

They are for me. Only, ever since we started using digital cameras, I haven’t actually printed most of our family photos. All of my photos for the past five or six years (I was slow to come around to digital) are on this computer.
So, when a virus attacked my computer yesterday, and it appeared that all my files had been lost, I was beside myself with fear. I had backed up some of the photos on external hard drives, but I kept the hard drives attached to my computer. The virus was therefore able to travel to them as well.

While the drives appeared to be empty when clicked on, I could see that the space on the drives was still occupied. Fortunately, four hours (and a few tears) later, I managed to retrieve the files. The virus had actually hidden them and I used a handy online tool called unhide.exe to retrieve them. Thankfully, there are benevolent computer geniuses out there to offset the evil ones. Thanks to I have my precious photos back.

What is it that makes photos so important to us? I think it’s because they unlock moments that might otherwise stay hidden in our minds. While I was looking through our family photos today, they brought back so many memories.

When my daughter was smaller, she looked like my grandmother, with her curly hair and her sparkly blue eyes. Seeing the resemblance in these photos reminded me of a time that we visited my grandmother in her nursing home one summer in Nova Scotia. My kids have always been mischievous. As we were leaving her room, Nana said, “They’re beautiful…they’re devils, but they’re beautiful.” I think she said it with appreciation, because she had a devilish streak herself.

What parent doesn’t have the photo of the kid with food on her face?

I cherish this series of photos that we took while visiting Toronto’s Kensington Market with friends. It also documents my brief (and probably ill-advised) red hair phase.

There are many much-loved photos of our visits to my parents’ cottage, where the kids play on the very beach I spent my summers on.

And water park delights.

Bicycle adventures in front of our first home.

Among my most cherished photos…those of our summer road trips to Nova Scotia.

I even caught my dad reading my Oprah magazine at the beach in Mabou. He said he had never been to that particular beach before, even though it was a stone’s throw from where he grew up. Interesting how we take travel for granted nowadays, isn’t it?

Here’s a cottage we rented in Nova Scotia one year.

And my little one enjoying her temporary home.

I have lots of saucy face pictures.

Now my task is to create a better system for storing my precious pics. I also want to finally print some photographic highlights and start filling up photo albums.

Do you have a system for storing your photos?

Linking up to: The Hollie Rogue Photo Friday

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, quick meals edition

By now, we all know how important it is to eat breakfast. I don't know about you, but sometimes I just don't feel like eating first thing in the morning. So, I picked up a box of these healthy organic food bars from Taste of Nature (at Costco). They make for a simple, portable breakfast snack with protein, fibre and all natural ingredients including nuts, raisins, sesame seeds and agave nectar. And, they taste good too!

For my birthday, my parents generously gave me the money to buy this Keurig platinum edition coffee brewer (also from Costco). I don't really drink coffee, but I will have the occasional decaf, and this machine can be used with many kinds of tea as well. So, I can now pair my quick food bar with a very quick tea! Today I enjoyed a Chinese green tea.

The kids and I enjoyed a quick lunch at my parents this weekend. I made a simple vegan pizza using spelt dough and pizza sauce I got at the health food store, topped with Daiya vegan cheese. The kids had tortilla chips baked with real cheese and dipped in salsa. I added leftover tofu that I had baked in teriyaki sauce and olive oil the night before, along with some baby carrots (which my daughter will only eat dipped in honey).

I had lunch with friends on Monday. I went for a vegetable soup with pesto, which came with potato chips (which I haven't eaten yet). My friend bought me the root beer for my birthday.

My husband made me a vegan chocolate cake using light spelt flour and topped it with some vegan buttercream icing. It's hard to tell in this photo, but the icing is pink. It clearly came out a little thin, but I never think that's much of a problem. We just put extra icing in a little jug and poured it on our individual slices.

For our anniversary, my husband gave me a bag of treats, including these Kinnikinnick Foods chocolate sandwich cream gluten-free cookies. I was skeptical at first, but they are actually completely delicious and taste much like those other famous sandwich cookies. These ones are dairy-free and nut-free to boot.

Do you eat your breakfast? What`s your favourite quick meal or snack?

Linking up to:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Swimming and Shopping

 This weekend, we visited my parents, who live next to Lake Erie.
 We did a bit of swimming. Boy, the water was warm.
My sister came to visit too. So, we also did a bit of shopping. My parents live 10 minutes from a small town. Small town seems to mean small prices. We stopped at a garage sale, and I got this covered dish for $2.
 I also got this bowl for $2. My sister thinks it has the look of coral.
 I picked up this coffee pot (also $2).
 And this pretty Wedgwood platter (for $3).
We also went to a lovely thrift store that had lots of dishes. Because my birthday was the next day, my kids wanted to pick out something for me. My sister helped them cash out so they could surprise me later. My daughter went with this Leaning Tower of Pisa cheese shaker.
My son got me this pretty jar. I actually told him to make sure somebody got me this. I want to put buttons in it (or maybe jelly beans).
I rarely leave my mom's house without taking home some of her old dishes. This time, I came away with this vintage fondue pot.

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life

Happy Friday! I am once again sharing a look at some of our family's cell phone photos from the past couple of weeks.

I asked my son to get his hair cut because it was covering his eyes (making soccer play difficult). He refused. That is, until I suggested a fauxhawk. That changed his mind and he was off to the salon that very day. He has been styling his own hair ever since.

We decided to catch the Picasso show at the Art Gallery of Ontario for a second time. This time, my husband's sister and her girls came with us.

Trying to photograph four children can be difficult.

We headed back to the AGO for Family Sunday. One niece tagged along. Here she is demonstrating "planking" on a bench in the gallery. I had never heard of this.

Wikipedia says Planking (or the Lying Down Game) is an activity consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location. Both hands must touch the sides of the body. Having a photograph taken of the participant and posted on the Internet is an integral part of the game.

I'm not sure about the arm rule, but I guess I have helped them with the Internet part of the game.

Here is my daughter planking.

They created Picasso-inspired art.

And saw some other cool art. (The images are painted on these TVs.)

We had a great time, and my niece was inspired to do some more research at home.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Linking up to:

life rearranged

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