Monday, April 29, 2013

Thrifty Fun

While I was picking up half price green finds at the Salvation Army store, I also spotted a couple of lovely items that weren't included in the sale.

Let me just say, I don't know much about the value of things when I'm shopping at thrift stores. I am not buying to resell, so I just buy what I like, as long as it seems like a bargain to me.

I liked the rustic charm of this wire egg basket, above, but I wasn't sure if I should bring home something quite so rusty. I decided to go for it. I can't quite remember how much it cost, but I believe it was under $2. I did some research since then and found out that similar egg baskets are priced at $30 or more.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Junction

Now that spring has truly arrived, I am looking forward to spending more time exploring some of Toronto's lovely, artsy neighbourhoods.

Last weekend, we hung out with my husband's cousin in The Junction, an "up and coming" area of the city that sits near the junction of four railway lines. Regular readers will know that I was drawn to the area by a desire to go to Bunner's vegan and gluten-free bakeshop. My travels are often inspired by food in some way. If we are going on a trip, I will google vegetarian restaurants before I even look for flights or hotels. I'm greedy like that.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

She & Him, 17/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

She: provides the dog with a steady stream of crumbs
Him: has a really sweet side

Friday, April 26, 2013

Insta-Friday in real life

Happy Friday! I hope you are looking forward to a fun-filled weekend, light on laundry duties.

My husband is playing in a volleyball tournament tonight with other teachers, which means he will likely spend tomorrow complaining of sore muscles (and possibly bones). Once you reach a certain age, sports don't come easy. But hey, he's trying. My son has a soccer game tomorrow afternoon. At the age of 10, I'm sure he'll recover nicely. The most exercise I will get is cleaning a bathroom floor by hand or passing laundry from washer to dryer.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Banana Muffins With Vegan Mayo

Nasoya sent me a couple of bottles of their vegan sandwich spreads recently. I tried the new NayoWhipped on my veggie burger and found it added a nice, tangy taste. Overall, though, we tend to use vegan mayonnaise more in the summer months, when I like to make potato salad for gatherings.

In the meantime, Nasoya pointed me to the recipes on their website for ideas as to how to use my new sandwich spreads. I am a big fan of muffins, so I was immediately drawn to the recipe for vegan banana muffins. I already have a favourite banana muffin recipe, but I thought perhaps I should be a bit adventurous and try another recipe.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday

It's been a week of simple eats - which is just fine with me. 

One of my favourite quick meals is a Sol Cuisine gluten-free, vegan burger, topped with pickles (gotta have my pickles), ketchup and mustard. That's what I had for lunch yesterday, along with rice chips and hummus. Dinner was sushi, picked up while I shopped at the grocery store. I then stopped in to borrow a book from my sister-in-law. They were having dinner and her hubby gave me a lovely mix of potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as broccoli. My timing was good.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Keeping it Green, part two

As I mentioned in my first "Keeping it Green" post, the local Salvation Army Thrift Stores came up with an ingenious concept for this eco-friendly month. For two days, all green items of any kind were half price. Last week, I showed you the bigger pieces that I bought, mainly serving dishes.

This week, I am showing off the smaller gems that I added to my cart that day. Even a touch of green made it half price.

Isn't this a sweet little pitcher and saucer set, above? I have so many decorative items in my home that I no longer have shelves or tables to place them on. Or so I thought. Then I realized that the spare bedroom is hardly decorated. That's where this little duo ended up.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Celebrating Earth Day, part two (Book Review)

In part one of "Celebrating Earth Day" I discouraged buying more "stuff" today. But, if you are going to buy something, go with a book. Take this opportunity to educate yourself and your family about the beauty and wonder of the world we live in. It's really quite extraordinary if you stop and take notice.

Lately, I have been focused on finding out what topics interest my children. I hope to gently guide them toward learning more about subjects that appeal to them. While my son sometimes finds it difficult to stay focused in school, he certainly has no trouble focusing when he finds a topic he's curious about.

So, my two kids and I recently selected books from DK Canada's "Earthly Pleasures" boutique. Until April 25th, all of the books in the boutique are 30% off. The boutique has some fascinating titles on everything from gardening to sharks to bugs to organic living.

Celebrating Earth Day, part one

Happy Earth Day!

My email inbox is full of "Earth Day" offers today. Special offers on women's clothing, kids' clothing, shoes and eco-friendly cleaning products. These companies entice us to "show the planet some love" by giving them our money and adding more "stuff" to our lives.

I have an alternative for Earth Day. Let's educate ourselves about the earth, our animal friends and our commitment as human beings and stewards of the earth.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Menu Plan, 17/52

Before I get to my meal plan for this week, I would like to review some highlights from last week's plan. I deliberately made it a pretty simple cooking week. Although it's still cold here and we had some snow yesterday, I like to pretend it's spring. Once warmer weather comes, we will have lots more simple meals, like our Friday night treat, above.

We enjoyed Sol veggie burgers, Alexia waffle cut fries and rapini sauteed in olive oil and garlic. I also tried a  (tasty) vodka beverage called Sucking Lemons. I can only have one though, because I find this type of drink hard on my stomach.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

She & Him, 16/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

She: is my constant companion
Him: reading Horton Hatches the Egg

Friday, April 19, 2013

Insta-Friday in real life

It's Friday and time for a look back at the week using simple cell phone photos. Follow me on Instagram if you like (@ziajojo).

I think we have had all four seasons of weather in the last week or so. We had snow just last Thursday. Then, last Friday, we had icy rain.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Cleaning Made Easy (Book Review)

We are finally seeing signs of spring here in the Toronto area. The tulips are boldly emerging from the ground. I awoke to the ferocious sounds of thunder early this morning. And we even have sunshine...occasionally.

I can't help but associate spring with organizing and cleaning. After hibernating throughout the winter, it's nice to crack open a window, let fresh air blow through the house and take a new look at our surroundings.

Yes, there is a sense of renewal that comes with spring, but I'm afraid I still need some help when it comes to taking on all the tasks needed to get our household in good order. I am breaking my spring clean down into four parts: organizing, cleaning, maintenance and decorating.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday with a pink pear smoothie

Happy Wednesday!

I have been trying to eat "cleaner" this week. While my eating habits are pretty good overall, I do have a wee bit of a sugar addiction. So, this week I am getting my sugar in the form of fruit, starting each day with a smoothie of some kind.

If you are looking for smoothie recipes, visit my post about the pineapple spinach smoothie I made the other day. That day I happened to have fresh pineapple in the fridge. Another day we had a few pears lying around getting soft, so I decided to put pear in my smoothie.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Menu Plan, 16/52

Last week, I went without a menu plan for the first time in several weeks. How did it go? Well, I definitely am more inclined to cook if I have formulated a plan and bought all the necessary ingredients (or most of them anyway).

On the other hand, it was a nice little break just deciding what to make at the spur of the moment. And my husband did more of the cooking than usual. Even better.

Left to his own devices, he made pizza one day. This is my vegan pizza with Daiya cheese, mushrooms, zucchini and olives, above.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Keeping it Green

The Salvation Army Thrift Stores came up with a nifty concept for Earth Month. For two days this week, all green-coloured items of any kind were half price.

So, on Friday I bought some green stuff (dishes and clothes) and saved some green stuff (yes, that would be money). Technically I wouldn't have bought anything if they didn't have the sale, so I didn't really save any money, but at least I'm reusing. Thrift store shopping is one great way to help our environment, after all.

I got this large Bowring serving dish, above, still in the box, for $3.50. Doesn't it just say "spring time?"

Pineapple Spinach Smoothie

In anticipation of the spring weather that doesn't seem to be coming around here, I have been consuming a lot of morning smoothies. Generally, I use whatever fruit I have in the fridge or freezer on any given day.

I happened to have some pineapple one day and I thought it might add a nice tropical touch to my smoothie.

I threw about five chunks in a Magic Bullet cup and added a banana, a handful of frozen strawberries, half of an apple and some orange juice.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

She & Him, 15/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

She & Him: decided to make a video with him wearing a banana costume

Friday, April 12, 2013

Insta-Friday in real life...snow day edition

For those of you in warmer climes, yes, you read correctly...snow day edition. I'll get to that in a second.

Here's an Insta-Friday look at the week using simple cell phone photos. First, a couple pics of what Jolene the beagle mix and I did on Monday.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Around Here

After a very busy weekend away, it was nice to return home on Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, we had taken some time to tidy up before we left. Nothing worse than coming home to a giant mess.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday

I'm flying by the seat of my pants this week when it comes to meals. When we returned from a weekend away, I didn't have the energy (or the groceries) to put together my usual Sunday menu plan.

This vegan Tofurky roast and vegetables dinner, above, was on the last menu plan. We enjoyed it last Wednesday evening, having neglected to prepare it on time for Easter supper.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Weekend

We had a very full and happy weekend. In fact, I didn't get around to doing my meal planning post this week because we were so busy. On Friday evening, we left for a basketball tournament in Burlington, Ontario, which is just minutes away from our hometown of Hamilton, where my in-laws live.

We asked them to watch Jolene the dog while we stayed at the hotel with my son's teammates. Of course, Nonna fed us dinner when we dropped off the dog. That can't hurt, can it?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

She & Him, 14/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

She: watching basketball
Him: resting between basketball games

Friday, April 5, 2013

Insta-Friday in real life

Happy Friday! I am sharing a look at our week using Instagram photos. Well, it's not really our week, it's more like last weekend. Once the work week hits, there isn't much to photograph around here, except me at the computer and Jolene lying on her dog bed.

So, last Friday I told you how the family and I went on a little cleaning spree around the house. I rewarded them (and let's face it, me) with a sushi party. Above, the house is (mostly) clean, the table is set and I am waiting impatiently for sushi. Hence the Instagram photos to kill the time.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday...Easter weekend edition

What is it about sushi? Seriously, do they put something addictive in those little rolls?

You're with me on this, right? Every time I have it, I just want it again. Like, when I look at these pictures, I want to order sushi. And it's 9:00 in the morning!

Anyway, Happy What I Ate Wednesday! I am looking at some highlights of our food from Easter weekend, starting with our Friday night sushi party.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Menu Plan, 14/52...with quinoa cashew pilaf

I hope you had a wonderful Easter. I am late with my menu planning post because the family and I were enjoying a very relaxed Easter Sunday, playing games, watching movies, walking the dog and eating a healthy, vegetarian Easter meal. Of course, the kids ate all kinds of chocolate too, but I avoided that (for the most part).

Now for my review of last week's menu plan. Monday's Black Bean and Avocado Rice Salad was a tasty little number and it stayed fresh for a couple of days, making for nice leftovers.

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