Monday, June 30, 2014

Exploring Toronto By Car

  This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

I love to head into the heart of Toronto on weekends to explore neighbourhoods and visit restaurants. Some of our most enjoyable experiences as a family have come from exploring Toronto neighbourhoods like High Park, Kensington Market, Harbourfront and Queen Street West.

Because we travel by car, our first priority is always looking for convenient, safe and affordable parking. Toronto streets can be quite busy, so it's best to know where you are going before heading out. There are a lot of one-way streets too, so you want to map your route. Before we leave home, I visit the Toronto Parking Authority website and type in the location we plan to visit. This past weekend, for example, it was the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Vegan Strawberry Banana Muffins

I so look forward to strawberry season. Here in Ontario it's just a couple of short weeks in June. Blink and you miss it! In order to pay tribute to this bountiful time of fresh, locally grown berries, I decided to create a new muffin recipe. It's a combination of two of my favourite muffin recipes - these strawberry muffins and these spelt banana coconut muffins. Hence the name Vegan Strawberry Banana Muffins.

The result is a tasty, golden muffin with a pleasant hint of banana and the sweet flavour of delicious strawberries. Serve these muffins warm out of the oven with some vegan margarine and a nice cup of tea. I'm thinking it couldn't hurt to add a spoonful of fresh strawberry jam too. Live dangerously.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday

Here's a What I Ate Wednesday look at food highlights from the past week. Starting with the best highlight of all - sushi! All-you-can-eat sushi actually. My husband had a day off last week during exams and our first priority was a vegetarian sushi lunch.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Buying Better Groceries with the Healthy Shopper

Are you a reader of grocery labels like I am? Do you take forever to pick out your groceries and haul them home? I hear ya. I like to know every ingredient that's in my grocery picks (and check the expiry date too!).

I spend most of my grocery shopping time in the produce section - I know that any fruit or vegetable is a solid choice for good health. My next stop is usually the health food/organic section of the store. This is where I look for healthy refrigerated and dry goods options such as my favourite kamut udon noodles, organic ketchup, organic dry lentils and healthier cereals.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Vegan Orange Flax Muffins

My mom and I shared a vegan orange muffin at a cafe recently. It was a bit too "orangey" for me, but it got me thinking I could make my own muffins with a more subtle orange flavour. So I did. I'm adventurous like that.

I used store-bought orange juice and grated orange peel for flavour. I would tend to look for organic oranges, just because you are actually eating the peel. If you have the time, you could juice your own oranges too. But sometimes you just want a quick muffin.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Beautifying Your Home With Linen Chest (Giveaway - CLOSED)

I love to shop for beautiful and functional items for my home. Dishes, kitchen gadgets, barware, towels, bedding - I adore it all. And you would only have to see my busting cupboards to know it's true! That's why this weekend will find me shopping at Linen Chest. They are opening a new Toronto location and all six GTA stores are set to celebrate with special discounts. The only thing I like better than shopping for my home is shopping for my home at reduced prices. I am eyeing this silicone pancake ring, above, which promises to help you cook perfect pancakes for only $4.79.

What I Ate Wednesday

We have had some crazy weather here these past couple of days. We got our new patio conversation set out on the deck just in time for rain! Oh well, better days ahead. Here's a Wednesday look at some of the foods we've been eating this week, starting with these "Omaha Yakisoba" noodles, made from a recipe in Isa Does It. I rarely make recipes with cabbage (too lazy to shred it) so this took me nicely out of my comfort zone. It features red cabbage, broccoli and corn.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pixie Mood Vegan Leather Handbags (Giveaway - CLOSED)

I spotted an enticing booth at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival last year. It housed the tempting wares of Pixie Mood, "The Cruelty-Free Handbags & Accessories Company." This Canadian company sells designer vegan handbags, clutches, wallets and toiletry cases, all made with animal-friendly materials such as cork, cotton, canvas, faux suede and vegan leather. And all pretty darn cute too.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Products We Love - Boo Bamboo

Whenever possible, I try to use personal care products that are friendly to our health and the earth. Recently, I was pleased to try out products from Boo Bamboo, a Canadian company that creates all-natural skin, hair, sun and baby care products. Boo Bamboo products are cruelty free, vegan, gluten free and enriched with organic bamboo extracts. They are free of sulphates, parabens and DEA too.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Father's Day 2014 Gift Ideas from DK Books

Men are pretty much impossible to buy for, right? Which makes Father's Day a bit stressful for us daughters/sons/wives. But there are always books to buy - with books on pretty much any topic, there just has to be something to please your husband and/or father.

I picked out two books for my husband from DK Canada's Father's Day boutique. The books in the boutique cover topics such as cooking, sports, sailing and wine. And they are 30% off right now, which is always nice.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday

Happy What I Ate Wednesday! Yep, that's a picture of me in one of my happiest moments - they generally occur when I'm eating at a restaurant. Especially if it specializes in vegan food. It's nice not to have to skip most of the menu!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Berry Banana Frozen Pie (Gluten Free)

Of all the gadgets and tools in our kitchen, the Yonanas healthy dessert maker has been our favourite of late. Not so long ago, I was sitting next to another mother at my son's basketball game when we began talking about food (pretty much my favourite subject). She showed me a picture of a frozen dessert pie that she had made for her health-conscious daughter using a Yonanas treat maker. It looked so good that I became obsessed with getting myself a Yonanas to create frozen fruit desserts of my own.

With Yonanas, you can take frozen bananas and other frozen fruit and turn them into a tasty treat similar to soft serve ice cream or frozen yogurt. It's completely made of fruit, yet it feels like a decadent dessert. If you don't believe me, ask my kids. They now ask me for Yonanas almost every single night. You can get the same effect without purchasing a Yonanas machine simply by blending the frozen fruit in your food processor.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Thrifty Finds - Vintage Travel Bar Set

While I do love thrift store shopping, searching the basement at my parents' house is even more rewarding. In fact, that's where I have discovered most of my vintage style stuff - vintage board games, vintage dishes, old toys and other treasures. These discoveries have the added benefit of being infused with nostalgia. And, of course, they are free. That never hurts.

While browsing the basement a few days ago, I spotted a little vintage suitcase. I thought I had unearthed all the treasures in the basement by now, so I was a bit surprised I hadn't seen the suitcase before. Opening it up, I found a nice surprise inside. This case houses a vintage travel bar/liquor set so you can take your bar supplies on the road. It's a tiny liquor store in a box!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday, casual meals

While I spent a few weeks cooking all sorts of recipes from various vegan cookbooks, this past week was all about casual, impromptu meals. Lots of wraps, quesadillas, quick noodles and that sort of thing. Like this bean burrito with stir-fried veggies and guacamole, above. We had mashed sweet potatoes on the side.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

5 Fruity Vodka Cocktails for Summer

Ah, summer! Pool parties, sunshine, sand, late nights, picnics, casual entertaining cocktails. There's something about sitting out on a deck or patio that's enhanced by a little summer cocktail. While I am a big rum and coke fan, I can't drink more than one before the sugar and caffeine from the cola starts to affect me negatively.

That's why I decided to seek out some cocktails involving vodka and summer-appropriate fruity flavours, such as watermelon, strawberry and pomegranate. While I was on the hunt for alternatives to rum and coke, I came across these five must-try, yummy-sounding, fruity vodka drinks. A little bit of natural Vitamin C with your alcohol is always a good thing!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Silver Jewelry From Wantable

I have a confession to make - I don't like shopping. There was a time when I did (I think it was back when my mom paid for everything), but now I have to be careful with my money (boring), look for those special shopping deals and buy for three other people and a dog. Long to-do lists and whining children take the fun out of shopping, don't they?

That's why I love the idea of the monthly accessories box from Wantable. It's not a huge budgetary commitment (in fact, I would opt to ask for it as a birthday gift!), it's a treat just for me and there is no mall shopping required. You simply indicate your preferences one time on Wantable's online shopping website and they send you a customized box of discounted fashion jewelry and other accessories in the mail. No need to head out to the jewelry stores! There are subscription boxes for intimate apparel (think sleepwear, loungewear, bras) and makeup too.

My May accessories box was very clearly based on a silver colour scheme. Makes sense, because I had indicated that I don't like gold tones. I also noted that I "love" Boho style, while I "like" glam and rock 'n roll. You are likely to get the stuff you "love" and "like," but will never receive the items you "dislike."

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