Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pumpkin Banana Date Loaf

It's definitely fall now. I can't pretend to be in the last lingering days of summer anymore. 

So, let's embrace this new season...with cozy sweaters, a nice blaze in the fireplace, a forest walk among changing leaves...and something pumpkin-based to eat.

Consider starting with this yummy loaf. It features the comforting taste of pumpkin, along with the additional flavours of banana and sweet dates.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life, casino fun edition

It's Friday again, and that means Insta-Friday. It's all about linking up with others and sharing cell phone photos from your week.

This week, I noticed the limitations of my cell phone camera a couple of times. You'll see.

Before I get to all the fun photos of the Niagara Falls trip my mom and I took this week, I have a couple of other photos to share.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, carb crazy edition

I am a carb lover. The thought of a low-carbohydrate diet is simply ridiculous to me. Carbs make me full, comfortable and happy.

Sometimes, though, it would be nice if more of my carbs came in the form of vegetables. I used to visit a naturopathic doctor who told me she ate protein and a sweet potato for breakfast...every day. No bread, no fun.

On Monday, I ate a quick breakfast of spelt bread with peanut butter and jam. I decided to jazz it up a bit by washing it down with a homemade soy milk latte.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


"If you want to be happy, be." Henry David Thoreau

Don't you find that contentment comes easier when you are outside, in nature, where you can simply "be" instead of thinking about what's to do next?

This past weekend, we decided to go apple picking. I checked the website of our local organic farm and found that their apples had come to fruition early. They also had half of their usual annual crop. So, we arrived at a time when the pickings were slim.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life: office overhaul edition

Now that I'm into the second week of using my new phone, I am not so photo crazy as I was last week.

That also has to do with the fact that we didn't do much for excitement this week.

Nevertheless, here is my Insta-Friday look at my family's week via cell phone pics. You can also follow me on Instagram @ziajojo.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Off the Shelf: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

My husband and I own hundreds of books. We started collecting them in high school, and we just keep adding more. We find it extremely difficult to weed any of them out. Because, you know, that hardcover Chaucer book from university is going to come in handy one day. Well, it cost me (my parents actually) $75.80. So, it's staying.

Having kids around isn't generally conducive to reading. That's my excuse anyway. I'm sure watching the entire eight seasons of Weed over a three-month period doesn't help either. 

The point of my story is, I have decided to do a semi-regular "Off the Shelf" post here on the blog in order to inspire me to read some of these books on my shelves.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, vegan fudge cake edition

I'm not sure what the weather's doing at the moment. One day warm sun, the next cold rain. That's September around here, I guess.

Anyway, for today's What I Ate Wednesday, I am looking back at a week of eating that included a lovely end-of-summer barbecue. Maybe we will get a few more barbecues in (with my husband wearing a coat out on the deck and me watching from inside).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Decorating on a Budget

In order to save money and minimize the clutter in my home, I have taken a bit of a break from thrift store shopping. I have so many vintage dishes from my parents, along with others I have purchased at thrift stores.

So, to satisfy my urge to shop for vintage wares, I decided to shuffle around my own stuff instead. With a new season approaching, it's a great time to consider making a change to your surroundings.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life, new phone edition

I actually have my own cell phone. With a real plan!

I have had cell phones before, but they were pay-as-you-go and I used them basically for emergencies.

No data plan yet, though. Don't get crazy now.

A new cell phone means more photos for Insta-Friday...which is all about capturing simple moments from your week via your cell phone cam.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vegan Double Chocolate Muffins (An After-School Snack)

It's just week two of back-to-school for my kids, and I'm already running out of good ideas for healthy (to reasonably healthy) after-school snacks. The kids come home from school super hungry and don't want to wait even a second longer for something to munch on. If their snack isn't on the table when they get in, they start pulling random things from the fridge and the cupboards - and that probably won't turn out to be the most nourishing option. In fact, as soon as my son gets off the bus, he says, "What are we having for snack?"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, more fun with cooking

It's What I Ate Wednesday! I am sharing a look at some foods that my family and I have enjoyed over the past week.

I am continuing to have fun trying new, simple recipes. I don't go for anything too complex. If I do, I get hot and irritated by the time I put the food on the table. And that's no fun for anyone.

One night, I paired an old favourite, Tina's delicious lentils and rice, with a new recipe for rapini with rotini. The lentils and rice recipe is great for parties because it makes a lot. When I am cooking it for my family of four, I often have trouble. You can cut the recipe in half, but NOT the water amount. So, this time I tried six cups of water, and it worked out great.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vintage Decanters

Thanks to my mom and dad, I have more vintage decanters than I could ever possibly use. During our recent basement overhaul, I found a way to store them all, so I don't feel so guilty about keeping them.

As you can see, I own decanters in a variety of shapes and sizes. Even if I don't end up putting any alcohol in them, I will admire them now and again.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life

Happy Friday!

For those with little ones who returned to school this week, I hope everything went well. And to my teacher friends, I hope you are not too traumatized.

I am once again sharing cell phone photos from the past week. I don’t have many. I will have more in the future, since I finally ordered my own cell phone, so I don’t have to use my husband’s anymore.
My phone arrived today…and left again. Why is it that the courier ALWAYS comes during the one hour you leave the house? Does this happen to you too?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lentil Burgers with Vegan Gravy

With fall approaching, I have been craving warm, healthy whole foods. Recently, I decided to make an old favourite that I had long forgotten about: lentil burgers with vegan gravy.

These healthy burgers take some time and care to prepare, but they are lovely served with a nice, easy vegan gravy.

The recipe makes a large quantity. Feel free to freeze some of the burgers, uncooked, using layers of wax paper to separate them. Pull them out of the freezer on a busy day. Then, all you'll have to do is whip up some more quick gravy, fry the burgers and enjoy a healthy, fast meal.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday, fall foods edition

Even though fall has not quite arrived, I have been feeling the urge to enjoy warm, nurturing comfort foods.

This weekend, we were so busy organizing the house for back to school, that we decided to order Chinese food one evening rather than cooking.

We order the exact same selections from the same restaurant every single time. In fact, we just tell them to give us what we got last time. That would be: vegetarian fried rice, vegetable lo mein and tofu in garlic sauce. No MSG.

So delicious. I want it again right now. And that would be my rum and coke on the right. House cleaning is hard work.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Break Time's Over

With all four of us home for the summer, this house got a lot of use. And, a lot of use means a lot of...mess. It's a full-time job keeping up with the kids, particularly my daughter, who trails stuff behind her like a shopping bag with a hole in it.

My husband and I tried to focus mainly on summertime fun, while ensuring that we also took care of some necessary household projects once in a while.

But, the to-do list is never-ending. So, this labour day long weekend, with a whole summer behind us and the first day of school looming, we diligently worked together to make sure the house was nicely organized and presentable, thus ensuring a smoother transition back to work and school.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kids in the Kitchen: Watermelon Fun

In July, I received an email from the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPD) inviting me and my kids to participate in the first-ever kid-tastic Watermelon Blogger Challenge.

Categories include: best original kid-tastic watermelon carving; best re-creation of a NWPD kid-tastic watermelon carving; and best original kid-tastic watermelon recipe.

I asked my kids what they thought about the whole thing. They immediately (and enthusiastically) said yes. My son also immediately said that he wanted to make watermelon sorbet. Don't know where that came from, but it sounded good to me!

To get us started, the NWPD sent us a fun kit, including aprons, a watermelon knife, two cutting boards in watermelon colours, a party tub and, yes, a watermelon. (It was a large box.)

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