Thursday, November 27, 2014

Escape The Holiday Shopping Chaos as an #AvionVIP

What do you think is worse - a crowded mall before Christmas or driving to that very same mall with a couple of kids? I think it's a toss-up. Last time we drove to the mall as a family, my daughter must have said "Mom" about a thousand times. Yet she somehow still managed to fight with her brother too. (The same brother who was poking me through the space in the car seat just at neck/shoulder level.) The kids are really into "punch buggy no punch backs" right now. And then they fight over who did it first. (Is it just me or are Volkswagen Beetles experiencing a resurgence in popularity? I have the bruised shoulder to prove it!)

It kind of makes you want to give up and do your shopping online. But sometimes (especially with a long holiday gift list) you need to browse shops in person for ideas. And, as Christmas approaches, you might worry about items being shipped to your home in time.

Here's where RBC Avion cardholders have the advantage. The RBC Avion Holiday Boutique at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre is a place that contrasts starkly with the stressful car ride to the mall and the chaotic mall full of holiday shoppers itself.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday

I'm writing this on Tuesday night, having just this evening consumed an all-you-can-eat sushi dinner. My son is away on a school trip for the night and my daughter is at dance classes, so the husband and I decided to visit a fave sushi restaurant. And gorge ourselves to the gills. And then we went to Costco. Where I found it difficult to even look at food, nevermind buy it. But we still managed to spend beaucoup de dollars. Costco is magical that way.

Needless to say, I'm having trouble looking at these food pics, especially the sushi ones that follow. But I will endure. This morning I made some delicious blueberry pancakes using a recipe from Chloe's Kitchen. I love pancakes, but don't want to discuss them for the moment.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Silver Plate Treasures & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #11

As I mentioned in last week's Vintage Bliss Tuesdays post, I came away with a few pairs of matching items on my recent visit to Goodwill. I shared a look at a pair of green vases last week. Here is the second pairing - two lovely aged and silver-plated items.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gifts for Kids: SWEETS KENDAMAS (giveaway - CLOSED)

Sweets Kendamas

Sweets Kendamas

As soon as I mentioned the possibility of doing a holiday gift guide again this year on the blog, my son began his campaign to have me include this very cool toy. To be honest I had no clue what a kendama was. If you are similarly clueless, here it is, straight from Wikipedia: The kendama is a traditional Japanese toy consisting of a ken (sword) and tama (ball) connected by a string. The ken has three cups and a spike which fits into the hole in the ball. Basic kendama tricks consist of catching the ball in the cups and on the spike, however a huge variety of kendama tricks can be performed by juggling the ball between the cups, balancing it in various positions on the ken, balancing the ken on the ball and juggling the kendama.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday

Outside my window it already looks like it's the middle of winter - snow on the ground and no evidence of sunshine. But I can't complain - I hear they're getting hammered with snow in Buffalo today. It's a bit early for hibernation still, but you'll find me staying inside whenever possible nevertheless. Staying inside and eating. But hopefully not excessively.

We have pasta at least once a week in our house. I think my husband had it almost every day growing up in an Italian family. I am good with having pasta regularly, especially if we alter the sauce a bit. One time we might add chickpeas, another time a handful of red lentils. This week I spotted Gardein vegan "meatballs" in the freezer section at the health food store. I'm a Gardein fan so I really wanted to give them a try. The Gardein meatballs are a bit larger in size than any vegan meatballs I've tried before. They are firm and dense and I enjoyed the texture. I spotted some fennel seeds in the mix. Because I chose to cook the meatballs in my sauce, the whole sauce was infused with the taste of the fennel and other spices from the meatballs. I'm not going to say it was my favourite flavour - I'd probably cook the vegan meatballs separately next time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Green Vases & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #10

This is an anniversary post of sorts. I mean, 10 Vintage Bliss Tuesdays already? I had to go back through them to see if I counted wrong. How quickly time seems to pass when you number your posts! Anyway, thanks for partying with me all these weeks. I love checking out the thrifty finds that people link up.

I visited the Goodwill with my husband on the weekend. It was a quick trip round the store about half an hour before closing. Of course I concentrated on the housewares, as I always do. Looking through clothes just seems too overwhelming to me. So much crap to look through to get to the good stuff! I bought pairs of items, all matched in colour. Today I'm sharing a look at the first pairing. One, this cute little green and brown pottery vase.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

GIFTS MADE EASY with Shoppers Drug Mart

I hope you enjoyed a fulfilling October, rich with pumpkin spice lattes, leafy fall walks in the woods and Halloween goodies. Now that this lovely month is behind us, it’s on to the festive holiday season. It’s definitely not too early to think about holiday gift giving. Get the jump on it now so you can enjoy more leisure time with friends and family come December.

This might just be a case of “do as I say, not as I do,” because I’m often dashing off to the store a couple of days before Christmas for those last few gifts on my list. Fortunately, we have a Shoppers Drug Mart just around the corner. It’s open late too, so it’s definitely a convenient place for me to shop, last minute or not.

Still, I’d like to think that one year I’ll get it together and have all my Christmas shopping finished early. Shoppers Drug Mart is once again here to help with its GIFTS MADE EASY in-store and through the online gift finder. Whether for family, friends, teachers, neighbours or school bus drivers, Shoppers Drug Mart has the perfect gift.

What I Ate Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! I'm off to see Ryan Adams tonight - first time I've seen him live - so I'm super excited. Love him. If you don't listen to his music yet, you need to buy this album. What are your fun plans for this week? November can be dull in terms of the weather, so we need to keep it exciting, right?

In terms of food, I'm not sure it has been the most exciting week around here. But I have been reading my old copy of Raising Vegetarian Children. Whether you are a vegetarian expecting mother or you have a teen that recently went vegetarian, this book is a great introduction to vegetarian nutrition for children. It has some yummy recipes that are meant to appeal to children too. You can buy it in Canada here or in the United States here. I used to read it all the time when my kids were smaller, but I sort of abandoned it for a bit. Now that my son (who is 12) is going through another picky eating stage, I thought I'd have another go at reading Raising Vegetarian Children. I want to make sure he gets the proper nutrition to sustain him as he plays soccer and basketball (and grows taller and taller!). By the way, I don't think this is an issue that's restricted to vegetarians. Some people seem to think your child is all good as long as he eats meat. Not so. Let's hear it for the veggies! The book has a couple of our favourite family recipes, like French Bread (tofu) Pizza. Anyhow, that picture above is of a bean stew with dumplings my husband made on the weekend. We were all fighting over the dumplings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Silver-Plated Cutlery & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #9

Vintage Silver-Plated Cutlery

It's Remembrance Day here in Canada, a day on which we pay tribute to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have died in the line of duty, and also to those who have served our country in the name of peace. I wrote a little bit about my own family's experience with war in this post.

Remembrance Day 2014 comes shortly after the recent tragedies that saw (my fellow Hamiltonian) Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent killed in their own country. We will remember them today along with all the others who have given their lives. Peace to you, my friends.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A New Addition to the Family & How You Can Dare2Give

As a Canadian, I'm fortunate to live in a safe and prosperous country. I believe that Canadians are known for their kindness and compassion too. Certainly most of us want to help others who are less fortunate. Whether we give our time, skills or cold hard cash, we can all help make Canada even better.

This is why I'm thrilled to be involved with a new campaign that sees Canadians daring their friends, families and co-workers to "give" in whatever small (or large!) way they can. Research shows that one of the primary reasons people decide to give is just because someone asked them to. That’s the simple concept behind Dare2Give, the latest in the My Giving Moment Campaign, inspired by the Governor General of Canada.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Vegan Gluten-Free Donuts & The Healthy Shopper (Giveaway)

vegan gluten-free donuts

Maybe talking about donuts is a funny way of starting a post about healthy shopping choices. But the thing is, I like to know what's in my food. When I make my own baked goods, I know that they don't contain any artificial colours or flavours or unhealthy additives. That's where the folks at The Healthy Shopper and I are in complete agreement. The site is a great source for healthy living ideas, recipes, product reviews and more. Plus, they are the people behind The Healthy Shopper coupon book, which happens to hold my very favourite coupons ever. That's because this unique coupon book offers significant discounts on natural and organic products.

Recently I received some happy mail - a box of (healthy!) goodies from The Healthy Shopper - their fall product picks. Among the natural and organic products I received were a couple of Pamela's gluten-free products. I have used and enjoyed Pamela's gluten-free Artisan Flour Blend before, so when I saw this recipe for vegan and gluten-free donuts, I knew that this flour would help me to create the perfect gluten-free donuts. And so it did. The donuts had a great taste and consistency and gave an authentic donut experience with much healthier ingredients.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday, with a Sunshine & Light Orange Kale Smoothie

orange kale smoothie

Well, it's November and the weather is completely unpredictable, A light dusting of snow the other day, rain today. All you can do is cozy up whenever possible with a bowl of steaming soup or a comforting warm meal.

Unless you've got the heat pumped up and you're making a smoothie, of course. I made this quick and simple Sunshine & Light Orange Kale Smoothie this week, Now and again I realize I could be eating more fruits and vegetables. That's where smoothies come in handy - you can pack in fruits and veggies and still feel like you're getting a bit of a treat. This smoothie is perfect for those rushed mornings or for a pre- or post-gym pick-me-up. It's on the sweet side, because that's how I like my smoothies. That makes it safe for those who aren't quite ready for a super-green smoothie yet! The recipe follows.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Vintage Green Fondue Pot & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #8

I spotted this vintage green fondue pot at my parents' house last time we were there. But, with storage at a premium around here, and a lovely vintage orange fondue pot already housed safely in my cupboards in the basement, I meant to pass up on taking this guy home. My attempts at self-control were dashed by my 10-year-old girl, though. She decided that this fondue pot was really cool. So home it came.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Why My New Cellphone Rocks (Giveaway)

LG G3 cellphone

I've said it before - I'm not a phone person. I'd much rather chat over tea and goodies than talk on the phone. I think my limit is about 10 minutes and then I start to get a little bit antsy. I'm not a serial texter either. I think texts are super convenient and, let's be honest, they keep us from having to talk for a really long time on the phone. But you will never catch me texting throughout a restaurant meal or while over at somebody's house for dinner.

HOWEVER, I recently received a new mobile phone and I have to stay it has changed me a bit. My phone no longer rests comfortably in my purse for 23 out of 24 hours each day. "She" pretty much stays by my side. Why the change? Because, until I received my LG G3 smartphone, I didn't even realize my previous cellphone sucked. I kid you not. I couldn't even hear my husband (pretty much the only person I ever talked to) on my old phone. I blamed him. I told him to speak louder. I blamed the service provider. Little did I know it was just the phone. You should be able to hear on a cellphone? Oh.

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