Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday, Daiya edition

It seems to me that there are those people who like vegan dairy substitutes and those who don't. My husband doesn't like them, for example, but I do. My favourite product is Daiya's vegan mozzarella shreds. So, I was pretty excited to discover that Daiya has some new products on the market.

First up, I sampled Daiya's cream cheese style spread. I haven't had a morning bagel with cream cheese for years. This product is indeed smooth and creamy as the label says. It spreads beautifully. It's also free of soy. I really don't know how they do it. It tastes pretty good too. You have to keep an open mind if you're going to try it, though. It's not going to taste like the dairy-based cream cheese you're used to.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Parlez-vous fran├žais? (Book Review)

Because French is one of Canada's two official languages, students in our province's publicly funded English-language schools are required to study French as a Second Language in Grades 4 to 8. In fact, my children's school starts French classes in Grade 1.

You would think that would be a good thing, but what my children have come away with so far is an indifference to the language (my daughter) or a hatred of the language (my son). I suspect it has something to do with a natural shyness of speaking a second language in front of classmates. Plus, the pressure to speak and write French in an academic setting (for marks) seems to take the fun out of the whole learning process.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Spelt Banana Chocolate Coconut Muffins

Okay, I'll admit, "Spelt Banana Chocolate Coconut Muffins" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. The thing is, there are so many versions of banana muffins that I had some trouble distinguishing my latest favourite from all the others.

This version calls for light spelt flour, which I use often. It's gentler on some tummies (like mine) than regular all purpose. "Wheat Belly" author Dr. William Davis says spelt, kamut, oats, amaranth and buckwheat are "evolutionary older forms of wheat." He believes that the most harmful glutens are the recent types created by geneticists. He says ancient wheat forms like spelt contain "less destructive" forms of gluten. While he recommends no gluten at all, I think some of us aren't quite ready for that yet.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

She & Him, 30/52

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

She: selling lemonade for charity
Him: practicing his longboard skills

Friday, July 26, 2013

Insta-Friday in Real Life

Time for Insta-Friday once again...simple pics from the week, taken only with a cell phone (or two).

It's Friday! And it's summer! I hope you all have exciting plans for the weekend! Not that I do...but I have exciting plans for next week.

Here's a picture of my son with our Edgefest tickets. My husband and I are taking the boy to his first-ever rock concert. You can see he has his rock face ready. We are looking forward to seeing The Lumineers, Band of Horses, Mother Mother, The Neighbourhood and many others. And, of course, Monster Truck, straight out of our beloved hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. Find out more about those guys here.

There's still time to buy tickets. I hope to see you there! I'll be sure to report back about our Edgefest adventure. I even have a photo pass, so I can give you a peek backstage.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Earthlab Natural Cosmetics (Review)

I buy natural cleaning products, natural shampoo and body wash and lots of organic foods, yet most of my cosmetics are of the conventional variety. I'm not sure why, but I think it has to do with a bad experience I once had with natural mascara. When I applied the mascara, it immediately began flaking and large flakes of it landed beneath my eyes throughout the day. Not the look I was going for.

Probably not a very good reason to give up on natural cosmetics entirely, though, mascara especially. After all, you apply mascara (and eyeliner for that matter) right next to your eye, and some of it ends up in your eyes when you're washing it off. In most cases, that means we are getting toxic chemicals right in our eyes, just like the poor little bunnies they test cosmetics on.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! I hope your week is going well. This What I Ate Wednesday, I'm taking a look at what I ate on Tuesday.

I started the day with this Granola Girl yummy vegan granola, topped with soy milk. I love granola, but I often find there is a slight something I don't like about each one. That wasn't the case with this one. I found it a perfect blend of crunchy and sweet. I got the sample in the July Snackbox. Canadians can enter to win a Snackbox here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Special Snackbox (Giveaway - CLOSED)

With summer in full swing, I find it's helpful to keep the cupboard fully stocked with healthy snacks. With the kids involved in basketball camp, swimming lessons and soccer games, we are always looking for portable, easy-to-pack snacks to pop into a gym bag or purse.

That's why I love Snackbox. These curated boxes of gluten-free snacks are shipped across Canada from Vancouver around the 15th of each month.  I recently received the July Snackbox in the mail. This special box was curated by Erin Ireland, a Vancouver local and a contributing food reporter for CTV Morning Live and Shaw TV's The Rush.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Weekend

This weekend was mainly consumed by my son's soccer tournament. I have no thrifty finds today and I haven't prepared a menu plan for the week. We did, however, fit in a quick trip to the mall on Saturday morning and a lovely visit to my husband's cousin's house last night.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

She & Him, 29/52

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

She: goes to the mall hoping to get a muffin
Him: is digging his soccer games

Friday, July 19, 2013

Insta-Friday in real life

A look back at the week using simple, sweet cell phone photos. That's the idea behind Insta-Friday. The "sweet" is optional. While this looks like a pretty scene, above, it's actually our van stopped at the side of the road on the way to the cottage last weekend.

The kids behaved well for most of the trip, but they got a little out of control at the end. When fists start to fly we generally pull over. This time, the husband and I actually got out of the car. (Don't worry, we took the keys with us.) Kids are pretty impatient. We have found they will behave in order to get back on the road.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday

Today promises to be another scorcher. There won't be a whole lot of cooking going on around here. This week's menu plan calls for falafel sandwiches with vegan raw tzatziki sauce today. Cooking will be minimal.

Monday on the menu plan called for rapini pizza and that is indeed what I ate. We also served pasta left over from Sunday. I made a tomato sauce with peas and navy beans. My husband and I enjoyed it quite a bit, but the kids prefer their sauce plain.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Weekend

This weekend was soccer-free and, as such, a great time to visit family members. We started on Friday with a visit to my parents at the cottage.

Here's the World War II airplane that rests outside the nearby Dunnville Public Library. I have to say the little head inside freaks me out just a bit. We always attend the library's annual summer book sale with my mom. Here's what I bought.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Getting My Shopping Fix

When I wrote about how I store all of my thrifted and inherited dishes about a month ago, it really made me think twice about doing any more thrift store shopping. How many dishes can one family use, after all?

This past weekend, I once again visited the small town near my parents' home ("the cottage"). I couldn't resist checking out the local thrift shop, which has all sorts of amazing vintage dishes. But I was strong. I decided anything I bought would have to be useful in some way, and I only bought two small things. I plan to use this pretty dish, above, to hold soap in our master bathroom. It would also make a nice candy dish but candy wouldn't last long out in the open around here. It cost me $2.

Menu Plan, 29/52

I continue to find menu planning helpful. It makes shopping and cooking easier when you know what you need to buy and how you are going to prepare it. That being said, summer calls for flexibility. Plus, the weather is steaming hot, so I don't want to be stuck at the stove for all that long.

That's why this week's menu plan is a bit of a compromise. In other words, while I have indeed created a plan for the week, it's based on easy meals with the help of some packaged foods. Monday's pizza, for example, will be prepared with pre-made pizza dough I bought at the grocery store today. I am topping it with rapini like I did here.

Taco Tuesdays are all about using whatever we have in the kitchen. We take hard and soft taco shells and stuff them with refried beans, some vegan faux ground beef, vegan cheese (or real cheese for the rest of the family), guacamole, salsa and sometimes veggies sauteed in olive oil.

This week I also purchased some falafel mix and pitas to make falafel sandwiches. This vegan, raw tzatziki sauce looks like it would make a nice topping.

I bought fake meatballs to make spaghetti and no-meatballs. Faux meatballs aren't the healthiest of foods, but they are nice for a treat now and then. On Saturday, I plan to make a stir-fry using cubed extra-firm tofu and frozen veggies on rice. The kids like a basic frozen peas and carrots mix.

How are you dealing with the heat?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

She & Him, 28/52

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

She: likes to wear (and often mix) patterns
Him: wearing his new hat

Friday, July 12, 2013

Insta-Friday in real life - closet chaos edition

The weekend is on its way folks! We have had many, many days of rain so we are looking forward to a sunny, rain-free Saturday.

Time again for simple, sweet cell phone photos from our week. I didn't catch any photos of us sitting out in the pouring rain watching soccer, or leaving swimming lessons early because of thunder and threatening rain. I was too busy trying to stay dry. The kids did eventually manage to fit in their outdoor swimming lessons between rainfalls this week fortunately.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Helping Kids with English & Math (Book Review)

It's summertime and, yes, the livin' should be easy. That means it's time for our children to run, swim, play, explore nature and just generally enjoy being kids.

That being said, it doesn't hurt to take a few minutes every day to reinforce the concepts they learned in school last year and prepare for their studies next year. For assistance with my children's summer learning projects, I turned to DK books.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday

One great thing about having a party is party leftovers. We had friends over for our "A Turtle's Tale 2" preview party on Saturday. Although we had clean-up duties on Sunday, we also got a break from cooking. We ate leftovers like lentils and rice and chickpea salad, above.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vegan Strawberry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

The first step in Operation "Use Up 10 Litres of Strawberries" was Breadmaker Strawberry Jam. Next up on my list was vegan strawberry ice cream. There are several tasty vegan ice creams at the supermarket, but they tend to be expensive. Fortunately, with the help of an affordable home ice cream maker, you can whip up a simple, inexpensive vegan ice cream in no time at all using canned coconut milk.

I always keep the bowl of the ice cream maker in my downstairs freezer so it will be ready if the urge to make ice cream hits. The ice cream is ready just as soon as the ice cream maker stops, however it will likely be a little soft at that point. You can freeze it for a bit to harden it. Be forewarned, though, once it's frozen overnight, it will be extra-hard and you'll have to leave it out for a bit to let it soften.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vintage Books, part two

Last week, I showed you the vintage books hidden away in my son's closet. I really enjoyed hearing about all of the classic stories that made an impression on you guys as children.

Some of you expressed an interest in knowing what books were hidden behind the books in the front rows of my son's bookshelves. So, here they are. I see why these ones were tucked in the back - because I've never read most of them! Many, like these ones above, are adventure stories - dare I call them boys' books?

Dive Into Adventure with #TurtlesTale2

We are big on family movie nights in this house. Watching a movie on DVD makes for a fun and inexpensive evening of entertainment that's suitable for all ages. Of course, if there's food involved, that's even better!

Recently, my family got a sneak peek at A Turtle's Tale 2 - Sammy Escapes From Paradise, set to be released on DVD July 9, 2013. Summer calls for celebration, so we decided to build on our usual family movie night by inviting friends over to watch A Turtle's Tale 2 with us.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

She & Him, 27/52

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

She: helped decorate for her brother's birthday party...and munched on chips while the boys partied
Him: brought out his goofy side for friends

Friday, July 5, 2013

Little Literati

You know I love books. I do. I love them. My love for them is irrational. I continue to covet them, collect them and display them even though I already have waaaay too many - way more than I could ever possibly find the time to read.

But rarely have I been so excited as when a package arrived at my door recently from Gibbs Smith. I know that some of you are already familiar with the BabyLit series. When I posted a photo on Instagram, some of you told me how much you love the collection.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

She & Him, three/52

This year, I have been participating in Che and Fidel's 52 Project, sharing one photograph of each of my children on the blog each week. As we are halfway through 2013, Jodi at Che and Fidel has invited us to share our three favourite photos from the year so far.

I am sneaking in the photo from 15/52, above, because it was a rare and beautiful moment of sibling peace and cooperation. Together they decided to make a video with him wearing a banana costume. One of those moments that warms a mother's heart. You can see how much she adores him.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday and a Snackbox

Happy Wednesday! Summer is here and that means time spent on beaches, in parks, on golf courses and just simply resting your butt in a lawn chair whenever you get the chance. All that time chilling means you need a bunch of easy, portable snacks to throw in your tote bag as you prepare to head out the door.

This What I Ate Wednesday, I have a few such snack suggestions for you.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Reading: The Chaperone (Book Review)

Whether you're on an airplane, a sunny beach or just lounging in your own backyard, there's nothing like sipping on a beverage and reading a good book to pass the summer hours. The perfect summer book is engaging, interesting and readable (ie. not too challenging - in case you need to keep an eye on the kids while reading).

Have I got the perfect book for you! The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty, is indeed interesting and engaging. I read it in two days, which is saying a lot because I haven't been reading all that much in recent months. It's also readable, yet "deep" enough to avoid bringing out the book snob in me.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Vintage Books

Tucked into my son's closet, between his bath robe and his t-shirts, is one of my favourite collections -  the books I enjoyed as a child.

We put them on a bookshelf behind closet doors a few years ago. I didn't want to box them and forget about them. I wanted to share them with my kids when the time was right. But, we had to keep them out of sight for the most part because our kids tend to destroy everything in their paths.

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