Friday, March 30, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life

It was another quiet week around here. So, for today’s Friday look at our cell phone pics, I am featuring sushi…again.

Last weekend, after our shopping trip to H&M, we had a family discussion about what to eat. My daughter favours Thai food, particularly the restaurant that gives her mango ice cream with fresh mango on top. We all thought about Chinese food. Finally, all four of us agreed to a platter of sushi, along with some edamame and veggie fried rice for something hot.

Jolene has been stealing food from the kitchen like crazy lately. The worst part is, it is sometimes still in a plastic bag. She eats it bag and all. So, when the kids are having their after-school snack, we have taken to putting her in her crate beside us. She seems content there in her “safe place.” It appears to shut down her instinct to hunt for food (temporarily anyway).

My feet are so big. Hard to find shoes, especially vegan shoes. I ordered these Converse sneakers, because they come in “unisex” sizes, but I’m thinking maybe they make my feet look even bigger.

My daughter came home from school with this sweet self-portrait. She says it is a picture of her in winter time. I am impressed with her bright, happy look at winter.

I made a simple chana masala the other night, using a recipe from Vegan Express by Nava Atlas.

Yesterday, we got another organic produce delivery. The smaller box was half price, so that’s what we got, but it won’t last us long.

How was your week?
Linking up to: The Hollie Rogue and:

life rearranged

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

10-minute tidy: girl's bedroom closet

We have an ongoing struggle in our house—it involves getting our seven-year-old daughter to tidy up her room. My son has always been on the tidy side. Perhaps it’s a first child thing. He doesn’t actually like to tidy up, but he also doesn’t make much of a mess. My daughter, on the other hand, seems to think messy is best.

I have tried patience and kindness, and then angry outbursts, but usually I end up cleaning her room myself. I read this good piece of advice from organizer Julie Morgenstern recently:

The goal is to get your child to buy into the organizing process—not to steamroll Mary or Frank into cleaning up the room because you can’t stand it anymore. This requires the ultimate in diplomacy and tact. In working with your child, you become the Organizing Consultant. You have to ask questions to find out what is going to work for your “client.” Remember and respect how overwhelming the project can be. Your job is to guide, motivate, and stay supportive—not be critical.

It’s definitely something to work towards. In the meantime, I decided to take 10 minutes today to rectify a problem that I created in her bedroom all on my own.
H&M has a coupon right now for 20% off of children’s clothing. So, I decided to take my kids to get a few new things this past weekend. As we were about to leave, my brother-in-law stopped by with a big bag of hand-me-down clothes for my daughter. I joked that we didn’t need to go to H&M anymore, but my daughter didn’t find that funny.

We found a few items for her at H&M, including this coat, which was on sale and $16 after the coupon. It has been cold the last couple days, so she is still able to wear it. (My son didn’t want anything. He just kept talking about video games.)

She also picked out this dress, sweater and leggings combo on her own.

She got this flowered top, which she paired up with a jean skirt she got from her cousin.

Of course, mommy couldn’t resist a sale. I bought myself a couple of sweaters, including this black and white striped one.

The day after our shopping trip, I fit the new clothes and her hand-me-down lovelies into her drawers and closet. Unfortunately, I have developed a bad habit—when I purge items from her closet, I just throw them up onto the top shelf “temporarily.”

So, my “10-minute tidy” for today involved sorting those discarded pieces and boxing them into sizes 5 and 6. Along with the sizes 3 and 4 in the basement, I plan to sell the good items in lots online.  More work for a later day.

I think my daughter will be happy that she can now actually see her collectible dolls.

A funny side story: My dog, Jolene, follows me around the house, and was relaxing on my daughter’s bed while I sorted the clothes. When I went back downstairs, I heard Jolene upstairs crying. I went to investigate and found this:

She was “trapped” by one small box and a couple of picture frames that I had gathered to remove from the room. Sorry, princess, but I thought you could jump. When we "rescued" her, we thought she was tough. Sure.

(Yep, that’s me in the portrait rockin’ my eighties hairdo. I was a Marilyn Monroe fan.)

How’s your spring cleaning going?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grocery List, part one

I have been a vegetarian for almost 18 years, and I can tell you through experience, you can do it the cheap way or you can do it the expensive way. And, either way can be healthy.
I started out doing it the cheap way, as a university student in my very first apartment. I was earning an MA in journalism while my husband worked at the campus library. We ate lots of pasta with tomato sauce and chickpeas, burgers made from textured vegetable protein and Asian noodle dishes with stir-fried veggies and tofu. We spent about $35 a week on groceries.
Over the years, I gradually started to lean more towards the expensive way. I love food…and if it’s healthy that’s even better. As you know, sometimes these healthy products come at a higher cost, but if you pick them right, they are worth the added expense.
I have tried many natural and organic products over the years, and I have settled on quite a few favourites. I want to share some of them with you so maybe you can discover a few new items without wasting your money on less palatable ones first. These products are tried and true.
Experts tell us that steel cut oats are a less refined, healthier form of oats. Problem is, I just don’t feel like taking the time to cook them in the morning. That’s why I love these Country Choice Organic Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats. Once the water boils, they are ready in less than five minutes, and they are great with some fresh fruit, a little drip of maple syrup and some non-dairy milk.

Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins cereal is obviously meant to be eaten at breakfast, and that is how my daughter eats it. I, on the other hand, eat it throughout the day for snacks (sans milk). These little nuggets are tasty! They are made from natural ingredients and low in sugar and fat.

Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips are gluten-free, high in fibre, certified vegan and, as the package says, they are a cracker as well as a chip. Use them with salsa, hummus, whatever you like…they are delicious. Even my mom loves them, and she isn’t a granola cruncher like me.

If you are trying to reduce your intake of regular wheat products like I am, I highly recommend these Sobaya Kamut Udon noodles. They cook up just like pasta—no rinsing needed! They are great for Italian or Asian dishes.

In terms of spelt pasta, one of my favourites is Pantanella Spelt Pasta, which I buy at a local bakery. This pasta doesn’t create a nasty film in the water like some spelt pastas do. Not sure how easy it is to find in general.

MI-DEL Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps are a great little treat with tea. And they are gluten-free. What more can I say?

Taste of Nature’s Organic Food Bars are delicious, high in fibre and contain no additives, artificial flavours or sodium. Just yummy vegan, kosher, non-GMO ingredients like nuts, fruit, seeds and agave nectar. My current favourite flavour is Quebec Cranberry Carnival.

While it isn’t a food, Emergen-C is a staple in our kitchen. It is a powdered mix that fizzes up in water. Each packet contains 1,000 mg of vitamin C as well as antioxidants, electrolytes and B vitamins. It works wonders if you feel a cold coming on and is also, I’m ashamed to say, a great hangover remedy.

I gave a packet to my sister to test out. She was astounded to find that her hangover was gone soon after drinking this mix. Next time, I told her, she can even drink one the night before, prior to consuming alcohol and then more the next day. Of course, even drinking water will help alleviate some symptoms. I give this to my kids when they aren’t feeling well too, just in smaller doses. A note to my fellow Canadians: if you are visiting the U.S. anytime soon, buy your Emergen-C there. It costs about half the price.

Except for one time when my daughter was really ill, I have never given regular cough syrup to my children. (By the way, the one time I did, she got worse and we had to go to the hospital.) For a mild cough, we have found that Boiron’s Stodal homeopathic cough syrup helps to reduce symptoms and help them sleep.

I can’t forget the humble apple as both a nutritious natural food and a remedy for what ails us.

I got an organic fruit and veggie delivery this week, and it was a fun treat, like unwrapping a Christmas present.

Aren’t the fruits and veggies naturally beautiful? What are your favourite natural products?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A cracked plate

“Put me down easy, Janie, Ah’m a cracked plate.”
When I read this line recently in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, I couldn’t help thinking of all the lovely dishes I have inherited over the years. Some show their age with delicate fine lines, while others are so cracked they can no longer be used for their original purpose.
I suspect that many of you, like me, still see the value in these aged little darlings, making it hard to think of tossing them out.
As I mentioned last week, I have a couple more thrift store finds to share with you, but I also want to show you some items from the collection of dishes I have accumulated over the years.
In addition to the cute retro poncho I got for my daughter at The Salvation Army store, I found this sweet little purple vase for $2.99. It is not vintage, having come from a floral delivery service, but it is charming nonetheless.

I filled it with some inexpensive flowers from the grocery store. I tend to like a combination of purple and yellow, I think because it reminds me of the wildflowers that grew in the grass at our cottage when I was a kid.

The flowers further inspired me to take my tea and ginger snaps on some pretty dishes that my mom and dad gave me.

The tea cup and saucer are mismatched, but I think they look like a happy pair anyway.

This little dish is one that my mom gave me recently. It is Ucagco china, made in Japan. My parents have collected all kinds of dishes and furniture over the years, from auctions, estate sales, flea markets and yard sales. Luckily for them, one child out of their three likes to inherit these items. Luckily for me, the other two children don’t!

On the same visit to The Salvation Army, I found this picture frame. Obviously, I was in some sort of flowers and vases mood. The sunny frame calls for a sunny photo, so I chose a picture of my daughter on the beach in Florida last year.

This week, I also unearthed this set of china from a box in my fruit cellar. My aunt and uncle picked it up at a church sale, thinking that the dishes matched a set I inherited from my grandmother. Turns out they are different, but I couldn’t resist keeping these ones too.

The pattern is “Old English” by Johnson Brothers, and I think the colour combination is perfect for spring!

How about you...any lucky finds this week? Any cracked plates you just can’t part with?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Insta-Friday in real life

Happy Friday everybody! Hope you had a great week.

I am once again sharing a few of our cell phone pics from the week.

This week has been relatively uneventful. I guess the major story around here (as with many places) has been the weather.

We have had a few unseasonably warm days, one of which seemed more like a day in July. It has been enjoyable and scary at the same time.

I guess the week wasn’t so uneventful in my daughter’s eyes, as you can see from this photo of her at the dentist. She was not too happy, and for good reason I think.

See how her fingers are crossed? I wonder what she was saying to herself?

But things picked up for her. Here she is enjoying some time at the park.

Here she is with brother on the bike ride to the park.

My daughter also persuaded me to buy her a build-a-bear kit this week. Turns out, the work was all mine. Thankfully, it is sewing for dummies, because that is about my level of skill.

I now have one more creature to babysit while my daughter is at school. I have to give them regular snacks and report back to their mommy at the end of the day.

The kids wanted spaghetti tacos this week. Something they saw on iCarly. Does anybody else think this show is getting a little steamy for the kids?

We thought we would try a fire bowl in our yard this year. Hopefully nobody calls the fire department. It happened at my sister’s house. Probably shouldn’t have played Mony Mony that third time. I think we irritated some neighbours. Anyway, my daughter helped my husband put the thing together. Here she is reading the instructions, or “constructions” as my son used to call them.

Jolene is enjoying the warm days, hanging out on the back deck in whatever beam of sunshine she can find. Today it’s raining, so she is sleeping in front of the fireplace. The warmer the better for this dog.

Linking up to The Hollie Rogue and:

life rearranged

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Give me excess of it - Staple Maple Cake With Penuche Icing (Vegan Recipe)

If music be the food of love, I’ll take cake instead.

Give me excess of it.

Not that I don’t like music, but cake is…cake.

Celebratory and sweet, cake is the perfect companion for a spring day, and the ideal delicacy to share with your friends and loved ones over a cup of tea.

Today, I decided to make a quick and delicious maple syrup cake. I call it Staple Maple Cake because it is so good it could just become a staple in your household. Perfect for unexpected guests or for an easy homemade treat to go with your coffee.

Eat it on its own, dusted with a little icing sugar, or add some special sweetness with Penuche Icing. I highly recommend you do the latter.

This simple icing makes a delicious topping for all sorts of cakes, including oatmeal, banana and, of course, maple. It is a cross between an icing and a glaze.

You might find that the icing drips gracefully down the sides of the cake. I say so be it! It tastes just the same.

You can even do as I do, and pour it over your own slice using a lovely little creamer jug.

Staple Maple Cake with Penuche Icing

by Joann MacDonald
Prep Time: 10 minutes (more for icing)
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert snack nut-free vegan vegetarian cake

Ingredients (1 small cake)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I use light spelt.)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp powdered egg replacer mixed with 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup soymilk (or other non-dairy beverage), mixed with 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup light oil
For the Penuche Icing
  • 1 1/3 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soymilk
  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg replacer, sugar, soymilk mixture, maple syrup and oil.
Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Pour into a greased bundt pan (or an 8"x8" square baking pan).
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
After a few minutes, turn out of the pan to cool on a rack.

Prepare the Penuche Icing
Combine the icing ingredients in a small pot. Don't use non-stick if you want to beat the icing right in the pot.
Stir over low heat, and then bring rapidly to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Beat for about five minutes. Leave it to cool more, until desired thickness is reached. Put cake on serving dish and pour the icing over it. Or, if you are more particular about the final look of it, you can put the cake on a temporary dish, pour the icing on, wait for it to set and carefully move the cake to your serving dish.
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