Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Coconut Date Brownie Bites (raw, vegan, gluten-free)

Coconut Date Brownie Bites - raw, vegan, gluten-free - These Coconut Date Brownie Bites have lots to boast about - they offer great protein from pecans, as well as an abundance of nutrients in the form of delicious, plump and moist Medjool dates.

We went for a mid-winter hike with our friend/cousin Rose the other day. Afterwards Rose put out a plate of delicious and healthy brownie bites. These tasty goodies just happen to be raw, vegan and gluten-free. First and foremost though, they are delicious. I ate a few that day and I was eager to make them again myself.

I asked Rose to share the recipe asap. I made one small change, adding vanilla extract for a bit of vanilla-tasting goodness. These Coconut Date Brownie Bites have lots to boast about - they offer great protein from pecans, as well as an abundance of nutrients in the form of delicious, plump and moist Medjool dates.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Cirque du Soleil's TORUK - The First Flight (Q&A and Ticket Giveaway - CLOSED)

Inevitably as one year ends and the next begins, we look back on the year that has passed and reflect on what we would like to do differently in the upcoming year. I did more reading towards the end of 2015 and I found that brought me a lot of satisfaction. For 2016, I want to read even more and also focus on increasing my exposure to the arts in general - more plays, museum visits and performances.

Fortunately my family and I already have plans to see an incredible show in 2016. I'm beyond excited about this one! From January 7th to 10th, TORUK - The First Flight, a live experience by Cirque du Soleil, runs at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Inspired by James Cameron's AVATAR, this breathtaking show envisions a world set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film.

Laura Silverman, spokesperson for Cirque du Soleil, was kind enough to answer some questions about the production for Woman in Real Life readers.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Book Lover's Christmas Gift Guide: Part II (with a Starbucks e-gift card giveaway!)

As I said in part one of A Book Lover's Christmas Gift Guide, books make the best of gifts. And there's a book that's right for absolutely everyone you know! You simply have to give some thought to their interests, passions and preferences. And don't forget to consider an e-book for those who prefer them. I know my mom has trouble holding books now with the arthritis in her hands. She prefers e-books.

Seeing as I have an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, this second part to my book lover's guide focuses on books for teens and preteens. There are few things that make me happier than seeing a child put aside technology to indulge in a great book! It was my favourite pastime as a child.

Vintage Christmas Albums & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #64

I don't know about you, but I still have a bit of everything to do in preparation for Christmas - a bit of shopping, a bit of cleaning, a bit (okay more than a bit) of baking. I don't think I'll ever be organized enough to have all my tasks done long before Christmas.

You know what helps? Christmas music. Especially old Christmas music. While I was putting together my Book Lover's Christmas Gift Guide, I pushed myself onward by listening to vintage albums - in particular Elvis' Christmas Album and Bing Crosby's Merry Christmas. The uneasy feelings that come from being way behind on your to-do list are reduced by listening to these classic Christmas songs.

Do you have classic Christmas albums? I'm afraid to ask, but are you all ready for Christmas?

Vintage Bliss Tuesdays - Join The Party!

Vintage Bliss Tuesdays at Woman in Real Life

Please grab the code for the Vintage Bliss button and encourage others to join our party! Or you can use a text link instead. Please follow Woman in Real Life on Bloglovin' or Google Friend Connect to be reminded when it's party time. And invite your friends. The more the merrier. Cheers!

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Book Lover's Christmas Gift Guide

I always love to get a book as a gift. There are so many wonderful things about books as gifts. You can find a book to please pretty much everyone on your list. The right choice of book can speak to how you feel about someone. It can bring your gift recipient pleasure, new knowledge and possibly some laughs. And books are affordable - you can get a great book for under 20 bucks.

In other words, I heart books. Go out and get one for someone you love. There's still time! Here are my suggestions for books to gift to your friends, family and colleagues this holiday season.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Vegan Peanut Butter Squares With Caramel Icing

These Vegan Peanut Butter Squares With Caramel Icing are most definitely special occasion squares - perfect for Christmas! They are chewy and delicious, thanks to the winning combo of cereals and peanut butter. #vegan #glutenfree #xmas #recipes #squares

These Vegan Peanut Butter Squares With Caramel Icing are most definitely special occasion squares - perfect for Christmas! They are chewy and delicious, thanks to the winning combo of cereals and peanut butter. They are definitely on the sweet side - ideal for the person with a solid sweet tooth (and good dental habits!). If you don't like your squares so sweet, omit the caramel icing and drizzle a bit of melted chocolate over the top - just enough to pretty up your cereal squares.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gifts for Her: Beside-U Pretty & Practical Handbags (Giveaway)

A handbag is always a great option if you have a mom, sister, bff or really any woman at all on your Christmas list. This is not dependent on how many handbags she already owns either - because really if she has lots that means she wants even more. It's an addiction. But a safe one.

I recently received two bags from Beside-U. These lightweight, nylon bags are practical and pretty. They are durable for everyday use and ideal for travel. Beside-U bags are made to accommodate all the stuff we travel with daily - including technology. There are plenty of zippers and pockets - the larger bags even have slots for tablets! Here's something else that I think you're going to find really cool - many Beside-U bags have a full zippered pocket inside that is RFID blocking. Don't have a clue what this means? I didn't either, but it turns out it could be important to know!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Vegan Caramel Corn in Festive DIY Paper Cones

Vegan Caramel Corn Served in Festive DIY paper cones. This recipe creates delicious, "buttery" sweet vegan caramel corn. Also included are instructions for making your own festive paper cones to serve your fresh popcorn in. Works well for #Christmas, New Year's Eve or any other special occasion. Even just a night by the fireplace watching movies. #diy #crafts #vegan #popcorn #snacks

I'm not hiding my sweet tooth over here. If I'm given a choice between regular old popcorn and caramel popcorn, I'm going for the latter - 100 percent of the time. So I recently decided to make my own vegan caramel corn. And, it being the holiday season and all, I thought it appropriate to dress up that vegan caramel corn with festive paper cones.

While this caramel corn and festive paper cone combo works great for Christmas, it could work all year round. Just use different paper to suit your special occasion - it could be a birthday, Valentine's Day or simply an evening spent at home cuddling up by the fireplace to watch a movie. These would be fun to serve to guests on New Year's Eve as well.

What I Ate Wednesday, vegan grocery favourites edition

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. I have been so busy making Christmas garlands (and a couple of new recipes for vegan sweets - to be posted shortly) that I haven't kept up my What I Ate Wednesday duties. But today's the day! I'm going to play catch-up by showing you a few pics from the last couple of weeks.

In a vegetarian/vegan household, we have come to rely on certain trusty grocery products that we know and love. In busy times (and when is it not busy?) it's great to have healthy, store-bought products at the ready to help you make a quick meal or snack without sacrificing good nutrition. I thought I would share a look at some of these items today. Plus, we have also sampled a couple of new products lately that I want to tell you about. Likely some of our grocery favourites are your favourites too!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Special Features & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #63

I don't collect vintage Christmas ornaments myself, although I am always tempted when I see the amazing ornaments that others link up at Vintage Bliss Tuesdays. I do have a couple of vintage Christmas stockings in my possession, but they weren't exactly "collected." They are stockings I had when I was a child, making them, sadly, vintage.

Monday, December 14, 2015

9 Holiday Superfoods For a Healthy, Wholesome & Delicious Christmas Meal

9 Holiday Superfoods for a healthy, wholesome & delicious Christmas meal. Advice from a registered holistic nutritionist helps you create a holiday meal that is satisfying and tasty while providing you with healthy nutrients and helping you to avoid holiday weight gain. #healthy #superfoods #tips #vegan #eatright #Christmas

If you struggle to resist temptation this holiday season, it might help to concentrate on abundance rather than lack. “Focus on the hearty seasonal vegetables that add interest, colour and unique flavours to your holiday meals,” says Emily Kennedy, MSc, RHN, a registered holistic nutritionist specializing in waist/waste management and women's health.

“Serve foods that are naturally bright in colour - orange, red and dark green veggies are festive - and eat them first. Colour equals phytonutrients, so build a beautiful plate.” Surround your holiday meal's main protein with these healthy, delicious superfoods.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

8 diy Christmas Garlands

8 diy Christmas garlands - make your own simple, inexpensive & festive holiday garlands with these ideas from crafty bloggers! #fun #Christmas #festive #decor #decorating #garland #diy #crafts #kidscrafts #idea #tutorial

Obsessed with making diy Christmas garlands as I am, I turned to some blogging friends to find out what snazzy garlands they have decorated their holiday homes with this season. I found myself newly inspired - as expected they have created some very cute garlands! Best of all, these garlands aren't complicated or expensive to make. I'm sure there's a garland here that's just right for you and your decor!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Loom Knit Holiday Garland Tutorial

Loom Knit Holiday Garland Tutorial - make this festive Christmas garland using a small knitting loom, a hook and any yarn your have around. Simple and fun to do! Great for Valentine's Day too! #knitting #loom #crafts #craftsforkids #decor #xmas

I told you I was garland-obsessed this Christmas! First it was the festive pom pom garland. Then it was the natural dried orange and lemon garland. Now it's this loom-knit red and white holiday garland. I think it's fun for Christmas, but this colour scheme obviously works for Valentine's Day too. A bonus for ya.

I've had the little loom that I made this garland with since I was a kid. It's been rolling around the storage room (literally) for several years, with some of the yarn I used as a child trailing from it. It wasn't until my daughter started collecting all these crafty Darn Yarn kits with bigger looms in them that it occurred to me that I could actually still use my wee loom. I discovered that the process is very soothing and just as fun to do as an adult as it was when I was a child. And nowadays I have more of a commitment to finish a project. So, come on, let's get in touch with our inner children!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Cool Gift for Kids (With a Sweets Kendamas Giveaway - CLOSED)

Last Christmas, one of my son's favourite gifts was his Sweets Kendama. This is one toy that stands the test of time - he still loves to use it a year later. And, as a parent, I love that it's an active and creative toy. The kendama is a traditional Japanese toy consisting of a ken (sword) and tama (ball). The ball is connected to the base or ken by a string. The ken has three cups and a spike that fits into the hole in the ball.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dried Orange & Lemon Garland Tutorial

How To make a garland with dried oranges and lemons. A lovely natural touch of beauty for your holiday decor. Easy and relaxing to do. #Christmas #crafts #garland #tutorial #diy #decor

It's all about garlands around our house when it comes to decorating for Christmas this year. I'm telling you, they're addictive! It started with our homemade pom pom Christmas garland. That was so fun to create (and came out quite pretty if I do say so myself) that we decided to make a couple more festive garlands.

Not that I'm breaking any new ground here, but I decided that a garland with dried oranges and lemons would make a bright and cheerful touch for our holiday decor. There are many (many!) tutorials for this on the Internet, and they all seem to vary with respect to the widths recommended for slicing the fruit as well as the temperature of the oven and the time needed to dry out the oranges, lemons and whatever other fruits you plan to use. (Grapefruit and limes would be lovely too.) I thought I'd share what worked for me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Our Visit to the Toronto Marlies Holiday Bash (with a ticket giveaway - CLOSED)

We headed to Toronto's Air Canada Centre this past Sunday for the Toronto Marlies Holiday Bash and Teddy Bear Toss. The future stars of the Toronto Maple Leafs took on the Manitoba Moose (and quite frankly, gave them a beating).

Santa hit the ice for a competition against one of his reindeer, gifts were tossed into the crowd, the Marlies Dance Crew performed, and best of all, fans tossed stuffed animals onto the ice when the Marlies scored their first goal. My kids and their friends had a great time, particularly tossing their stuffed toys onto the ice. My daughter proudly pointed out that she hit a hockey player in the back of the head. Good thing he was wearing a helmet.  All toys were donated to Yonge Street Mission to help children in need.

My Weathered Wood Photography Background & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #62

DIY Weathered Wood Photography background - easy to make and great for photos of food, diy projects and thrifty finds #photography #blogging #tips

A couple of weeks ago, I showed you my new photography table. I set it up with visions of creating several interchangeable wooden photo backgrounds to put on top. My husband had some old wood in the garage and was kind enough to create my very first aged wood background.

He used old 1 by 2 pieces of wood, which he cut to 32 inches in length, just slightly bigger than the bamboo top of my table. He pieced enough wood together to make the finished board 22 inches wide, again a bit bigger than the table. He had formerly used these wooden pieces as stakes to prop up burlap around the cedar trees in the backyard in winter. As they were outside for a few winters, the wood had aged and turned grey.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Our Visit to The Christmas Tree Farm

The Christmas tree farm is an annual tradition for us, and it's one of my favourites. Actually this year we went to the Christmas tree farm twice. The first time was just for show - or more specifically a show. We visited MacPherson Tree Farm in Ballantrae seven weeks ago to be filmed for an Organic Panic Christmas special about organic versus non-organic Christmas decor. We got some strange looks back then as we headed home with a Christmas tree on the car roof. I just know people were thinking, "Do they really think that tree is going to last until Christmas?"

This past weekend we headed back to the Christmas tree farm fo real. This time we went to Horton Tree Farms' Kennedy farm east of Aurora, Ontario. We generally hit up the tree farm the first weekend in December, but end of  November is close enough! Apparently other people agreed because the place was hopping.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

How To Make A Festive Pom Pom Garland

How to make a festive pom pom garland. We used a Christmas color scheme, but this garland is fun for any occasion - birthday, Valentine's Day, Easter - whenever you want really! Features a video demonstrating how to use the easy and fun Clover pom pom maker.  #tutorial #crafts #Christmas #decor #pompoms #diy #kids

I have a strange fondness for festive garlands. At least I know I'm not alone, because I see bloggers all over the web with various colours, shapes and types of garland for all occasions - birthdays, Valentine's Day, Christmas and even everyday garlands. I love the Valentine's Day garland the kids and I made so much that, this year, I really wanted to make a Christmas garland.

I decided to make one using colourful pom poms. Then I began to experiment with various ways of creating pom poms - a fork, my own fingers, a circular cardboard template. None of these methods quite satisfied me. I found it difficult to get the scissors into the fork to cut the yarn. I'm not that coordinated using my hand as a "template." And the cardboard template was just a bit annoying to wrap around.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How I Organized My Books & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #61

Some of you may recall that I embarked on a 4-month purge back in May, with a goal of finally weeding out ALL (or most) of the abundance of excess stuff we have in our home. You might well wonder, if this was a "4-month" purge and began back in May, why am I writing about it still? Good question.

I wouldn't want to say that the purge was a failure, because we actually made great strides, getting rid of an unprecedented (for us) amount of stuff - clothing, magazines, papers, VHS tapes, etc. But progress got stalled somewhere along the way (mainly when the kids were home for the summer) and frankly hasn't picked up all that much since. The really good thing is, though, I have more confidence about my ability to toss unneeded items. I saw some real successes and I am ready for a solid phase two. In that spirit, I want to show you the success that my family had in paring down and organizing our books. Books are a tough category for us, because we hold them dearly in our hearts.

Monday, November 30, 2015

10 Hot Christmas Toys & Where To Get 'Em Cheap in Toronto

If you are playing Santa to a kiddo or two this Christmas, I have an incredible tip to help you get great gifts on a budget. If you live or work in the Greater Toronto Area, get yourself to the Pop! Toy & Party Services Toy & Gift Warehouse Sale. Running until December 24th, this sale features popular toys for kids ages infant to 14 years at significantly reduced prices. Like, if you have $100 to spend, you can get 5 or 10 gifts! To give you a better idea of what you can find, here are 10 hot Christmas toys I spotted at the Pop! Toy Warehouse Sale.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How To Be a VIP At The Mall - The RBC Avion Holiday Boutique

I don't think many people typically like the mall at Christmas time. Stalking people walking through the parking lot in order to get a parking space, wearing (or carrying) an uncomfortably warm winter coat, fielding the kids' constant requests for snacks (or just pleasing your own demanding tummy). Not to mention finding the perfect gift for each person on your list.

I can solve some of these problems for you. Well, I'm not actually going to solve them, but I will tell you about a luxurious service that can. Once again this year my family and I will take a break from holiday shopping in Toronto's busy Yorkdale Shopping Centre by hanging out in the RBC Avion Holiday Boutique. How does this solve our shopping woes? I'm gonna tell you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

5 Tips To Expertly Light Your Room (and a Parrot Uncle giveaway - CLOSED)

5 Tips to Expertly Light Your Room - Lighting is so important in creating a pleasing mood in your home. Here are some useful tips for what lighting to choose and how to arrange it to best effect. With amazing lighting examples from Parrot Uncle. #decor #lighting #design #home #idea

Lighting is so important in a room, both for atmosphere and for practical reasons. The floor lamp we have in our family room recently broke (the base cracked and it wouldn't stand up anymore). My husband had to take it out of the room to fix it. That's when I realized how deficient the room was in terms of lighting.

When I sit down in the family room to read or watch TV in the evening, I don't like to turn on the room's overhead light - it's too bright (and too yellow - yuck). We don't have table lamps in the family room at the moment. Without the floor lamp, I was lost.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Food Photography Table & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #60

Granted my food photography table is sort of an odd item to feature for Vintage Bliss Tuesday. It's brand spanking new after all. But I bought it with my assortment of vintage and not-so-vintage dishes in mind. Rather than keeping the mismatched plates and cutlery mixed in with the daily family dishes, I wanted them to be kept separate and handy for food photos.

I bought the cart for something like $90 plus tax at Costco recently. I had looked at a number of other kitchen carts with a couple of desirable features in mind - particularly wheels so they could be moved around and shelves underneath the table top to hold a selection of plates, cutlery and cloths. I opted for this kitchen cart/chef's table for two reasons - because it is cheaper by at least half than the others I saw and because it has a solid bamboo top, meaning it provides a nice surface for pictures.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

3 Awesome Craft Books for Families

3 Awesome Craft Books for Families from DK Books; sewing, knitting and paper crafting ideas that appeal to kids and their parents. Great step by step tips for beginners. #knitting #sewing #crafts

Winter is on the horizon and that means I'll soon be spending quite a bit of time hibernating. While evenings spent in front of the fireplace with a book and a hot cocoa sound pretty good, eventually all that time indoors (especially with kids) leads to boredom. That's where these books from  DK Canada's Craft Boutique come in handy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday, a day of vegan eats

Thinking about going #vegan or even preparing more vegetarian meals? It doesn't have to be difficult. Check out a day of easy, #healthy vegan eats!

Happy Wednesday! For those of you thinking about going vegetarian or vegan or perhaps even enjoying "meatless Mondays," you might worry that vegetarian meals are laborious to prepare. And I'm not gonna lie - they definitely can be so. There is sometimes a lot of veggies to cut, tofu to press, lentils to cook and assorted things to sauté.

But we all have those nights when we don't want to spend two hours in the kitchen making dinner. I have days where I feel really energetic and motivated to try recipes and create something great. But not as often as I'd like. More frequently I just want to get something reasonably healthy on the table as fast as humanly possible. If you're the same way, then I hope my What I Ate Wednesday posts can provide you with some helpful suggestions for quick and healthy vegan options.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How to Clean Silverplated Flatware Quickly & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #59

I have quite a bit of silverplated flatware, given to me by my mom. I haven't thus far used much of it for actual eating purposes. A lot of it was tarnished in what some people (including me) might consider kind of a beautiful way. But some of it was tarnished just a wee bit too much, even for those "rustic" food photos where we want a bit of tarnish to remain.

(By the way, in case you are in need of a definition for "silverplate" as opposed to silver, it's basically "a thin layer of silver electroplated or otherwise applied as a coating to another metal.") Recently, as I was setting up my new food photography table, I decided to take a stab at quickly cleaning my silverplated cutlery in preparation for future photos. Too lazy to polish each piece with some fancy store-bought silver cream, I decided to use this quick and inexpensive method for cleaning silverplate.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thug Kitchen (Book Review)

Vegan Cookbook Review - Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook #vegan
sitting on the shelf at a book store, I confess I was a bit turned off by the title. Not that I'm against swear words - where I come from they are used quite liberally actually. (Do I sound like Drake, trying to pretend I'm from the 'hood? I hope not - I'm from Hamilton, Ontario and I think swearing is akin to breathing there.) Anyway, I had the same kind of turned-off feeling I had the first time I heard about Skinny Bitch - like they were just deliberately trying to be shocking in order to sell books. (BTW, Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook is a great vegan cookbook.)

All doubts aside, I picked up that copy of Thug Kitchen and perused the recipes. They are vegan recipes, but they aren't really presented that way. It's suggested in the intro that the book is about eating healthy - giving up drive-thru dinners and adding more veggies to our meals. It's a book for ordinary folks. "We are your next-door neighbors and somewhere along the way, we learned to eat right," say the authors. "And you can too."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday

It's Remembrance Day in Canada and together we will share in an 11:00 a.m. moment of silence to honour our military, past and present. Here are some interesting points to note on this solemn day. With Canada's newest Defence Minister, Harjit Sajjan, being a Sikh and a former soldier, this exhibition that highlights the contributions of Sikh soldiers over the years is timely. And I love this sweet, multi-flag tribute to Canadian veterans. It's difficult to comprehend how many people have lost their lives to war, but this video honours a few loved ones who paid the ultimate price. Peace to you, my friends.

On to What I Ate Wednesday. Today I'm looking at my food consumption from yesterday, beginning with my breakfast, above. I started my day with banana, raspberry, cherry "nice cream," with a few chocolate chips on top. (Because why not?) It's pure fruit, so you need a bit of fat on top. That's my thinking anyway.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thrifted Coats & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #58

Regular visitors will notice that this post is a bit of a radical departure from my usual Vintage Bliss Tuesday posts. I confess I actually went to Value Village to look for EVEN MORE plates and cutlery (see last week). But the crafty people at Value Village put the coats right near the entrance, where this coat-addicted gal couldn't help but run her fingers over them.

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Andros Island Bucket List

Andros Island - the largest, most untouched island in The Bahamas #travel #TheBahamas #ItsBetterintheBahamas

Guess what? Before you know it, winter will be here! Did you hear that ominous music just then? Winter around these parts is loooong. Come fall, I start dreaming about an escape. I have been doing some research and I think I have found just the place to retreat to in winter (or right now for that matter).

It's called Andros Island in the beautiful Bahamas and it's an actual paradise right here on Earth. Andros is the largest of the Bahamian islands (at 2,300 square miles), yet it is also the most sparsely developed. That makes for an abundance of natural beauty, perfect for nature lovers. This island gem boasts the third-largest fringing barrier reef in the world. It is home to miles of deserted beaches and freshwater lakes with countless species of wildlife, marine life, flora and fauna.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Toxin-Free Home (Book Review & Giveaway - CLOSED)

I like to read books that provide tips on organizing and cleaning our homes. Probably more than I like to actually organize and clean. Definitely more. My latest read in this regard is The Toxin-Free Home: A Guide to Maintaining a Clean, Eco-Friendly, and Healthy Home by Alison Haynes.

The Toxin-Free Home guides us as we create a "clever house" - a house that's healthy, doesn't take an undue toll on the environment, is comfortable and safe, is reasonably affordable to maintain and is run efficiently. Sounds like a tall order, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday

Lentils and Rice from Woman in Real Life; one of my fave recipes of all time! #vegan

Happy Wednesday on this important day for Canada, as we swear in our new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and his cabinet ministers, 15 of whom are women (16 men). Clearly he's not just good looking, he's smart too. My only complaint is the Canada Goose coat he wore on Halloween. Is fur a thing again? I hope not. Do people know these coats have coyote fur collars? Here's an article about the true cost of these fur-collar coats.

On to What I Ate Wednesday. My son requested lentils and rice for dinner one day and I was happy to comply, as it is one of my fave recipes of all time. I also smashed some potatoes with minced garlic, olive oil, salt and fresh parsley. This pic, above, is my next-day lunch leftovers. I made eight potatoes but this is all that was left. The kids said they prefer mashed potatoes over smashed but that didn't stop them from eating the potatoes up!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Thrifted Dishes for Food Photography & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #57

Yesterday I bought a small table (chef's table/work surface) to help me with my food photography. It's going to sit under my kitchen window, but it has wheels so I can move it around to catch the light (which is becoming increasingly more scarce as fall progresses). Under the bamboo tabletop there are wire shelves that will hold some of the plates, bowls, napkins and cutlery that I like to use in my pictures. (We don't have the table put together yet, but I'll be sure to show it to you when we do.)

I used those new shelves as an excuse to stop off at the Salvation Army thrift store after I purchased the table. Because I am trying to limit the items that I bring into the house, I restricted myself to looking for small dishes and cutlery. The great thing about using small plates for food photos is that you can purchase just one of each style - you don't need to find matching sets. I found these three plates, above, two for 99 cents each and one for $1.99. I also found a few pieces of cutlery for 25 cents each.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Trip to Bard Valley in Search of Medjool Dates + 6 Vegan Recipes Using Medjools

Medjool Dates Harvest in Yuma, Arizona 2015 #medjooldates #travel #Arizona

Last month I was among a group of 14 lucky bloggers invited to attend the Natural Delights Medjool Dates Blogger Summit in Yuma, Arizona. I jumped at the chance for a number of reasons, first and foremost because I am a big fan of Medjools and I was eager to see these natural, sweet delights growing right on the date palm trees in the hot, hot, heat of Arizona.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday

I'm starting off today's What I Ate Wednesday with this wonderful sandwich that my husband made recently. It's a thing of beauty, don't ya think? Tofu slices cooked in barbecue sauce, topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions. A little bit of lettuce and a sauce of ketchup and vegan mayo with a dash of Bragg's Liquid Aminos. And a delicious ciabatta bun. Simple (especially when you didn't make it yourself), vegan and delicious.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Owl Lidded Dish & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #56

Sorry I crapped out on last week's Vintage Bliss Tuesday. My family and I were being filmed for a VisionTV Christmas special! I can't wait to tell you more about it (like when you can watch it - gulp). More later. In the meantime, let's get on with the Vintage Bliss Tuesday fun, shall we?

My sister very thoughtfully picked up this lidded dish at the thrift store for me recently. She knows how much I like owls. In fact, I recall having some other dishes with this pattern when I was younger. I don't know if I eventually broke them or decided to donate them, but it's kind of fun to have this pattern around again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Products We Love - Delicious Medjool Date Rolls from Natural Delights

Delicious Medjool Dates made by the folks at Natural Delights. A great, healthy snack on the run (or sitting with a cup of #tea!). #vegan #glutenfree #pumpkin #medjooldates #dates #healthy #groceries #productswelove

When I travelled to Yuma, Arizona last month for the Natural Delights Medjool Dates Blogger Summit, I had the opportunity to sample some of Natural Delights' delicious date rolls. At that time, I told the group of bloggers and Natural Delights reps assembled that I really hoped my kids would enjoy the date rolls. They would make a wonderful, healthy after-school or on-the-run snack. I myself really love the taste of the date rolls, but you know how kids can be - the more you want them to love something, the less chance they actually will!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Vegan and Gluten-Free Thai Red Curry Tofu & Bok Choy Stew (with a Saffron Road giveaway - CLOSED)

Thai Red Curry Tofu & Bok Choy Stew - #vegan and #glutenfree - Get a healthy dinner on the table in under 30 minutes with the help of Saffron Road's all natural simmer sauce.

It's a constant challenge at our house to plan and prepare easy weeknight meals that are also healthy and tasty. In this way I'm sure we are no different than most busy families! With evening sports activities and music lessons to get to, plus homework to be done, how many of us have the time to create complex meals on a daily basis?

The good news is that, with a little planning in advance and a thorough shopping list, we can make healthy family meals in under 30 minutes. Like this vegan, gluten-free Thai Red Curry Tofu & Bok Choy Stew. Put some brown rice (or whatever rice you favour really) into a rice cooker or pot and whip together the stew while it cooks. In under half an hour you have a lovely entree complete with protein and veggies in a delicious sauce.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday, with our vegan Thanksgiving dishes

We are still enjoying the loveliest of falls. I have been regularly reminding myself of how much joy I got from this beautiful season when I was younger, until the fear of winter took hold of my heart. I'm trying my hardest to live with gratitude in the moment and see the beauty in each cool fall day without focusing on what's to come.

Part of what makes a day particularly beautiful for me is warm muffins and hot beverages, like my breakfast of vegan berry muffins and decaf coffee with coconut creamer, above. A cup of tea never hurts either. Lately because I have a bit of a cold, I've been easing my throat with hot water with fresh lemon juice and a squeeze of agave for sweetness. For a nice hot chocolate after a long woods walk, try this vegan warm cocoa recipe that my family enjoys.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Blue and White Floral Baking Dishes & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #55

I hope that all my Canadian peeps enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving long weekend. We certainly did. We started off by visiting the drive-in movie theatre on Friday night, for not one, not two, but three movies! I actually managed to watch the third movie, but only because I slept a bit during the first. We hadn't been to the drive-in this year and we figured this past weekend would be our last chance. We had to turn the car on now and then for a bit of heat but other than that it was good. We also had two Thanksgiving dinners this weekend, one at my parents' house and one at my in-laws' place. Lots to be thankful for!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Apple Picking Fun & 5 Vegan Apple Recipes

apple picking at Avalon Orchards (organic) in Innisfil, Ontario

Oh wonderful, wonderful fall, if you could please stick around just a teeny bit longer! More sunny, bountiful days with trees full of ripe apples might just be enough to get me through winter. We were fortunate to have some free time to go apple picking with family and friends a couple of weeks ago. We headed to Avalon Orchards in Innsifil, Ontario, where you can pick your own certified organic apples.

apple picking at Avalon Orchards (organic) in Innisfil, Ontario

It was a nice outing for us all - including the kids, their cousins and a friend. Everybody pitched in to fill our bags with gorgeous organic apples.

apple picking at Avalon Orchards (organic) in Innisfil, Ontario

How beautiful are bunches of fresh apples on the tree?

apple picking at Avalon Orchards (organic) in Innisfil, Ontario

Here's my boy with his eldest cousin. There is a four-year age difference between them, but they get along famously, partly because they both have fun, mischievous sides.

apple picking at Avalon Orchards (organic) in Innisfil, Ontario

One of my husband's lovely sisters.

apple picking at Avalon Orchards (organic) in Innisfil, Ontario

apple picking at Avalon Orchards (organic) in Innisfil, Ontario

apple picking at Avalon Orchards (organic) in Innisfil, Ontario

apple picking at Avalon Orchards (organic) in Innisfil, Ontario

My girl and her new braces. (Two kids in braces now - equals a monthly payment that could buy a car!)

apple picking at Avalon Orchards (organic) in Innisfil, Ontario

I am missing Avalon Orchards already. I think it's time to search out a great pumpkin farm where we can stroll through fields, hopefully enjoy a bit of sunshine and pick out the perfect pumpkins while soaking in nature's beauty.

5 vegan recipes featuring apples - use your abundance of fresh-picked #apples to make a wonderful dessert or a #healthy #juice. #vegan some #glutenfree

If you find yourself with an abundance of apples following your visit to the apple farm (or the grocery store!), may I humbly suggest making one of these five vegan recipes with apples? Clockwise from bottom left (above), try this healthy Pom Pom Juice with apples, pomegranates, cherries and plums; a Pineapple Spinach Smoothie benefits from fibre-rich apples; this decadent Apple Fritter Cake is a tribute to my favourite donut; freshly juiced apples are the base of this Strawberry Lemonade Juice recipe; this Apple Crisp with a Twist pairs apples and strawberries for a yummy yet healthy dessert.

Have you been apple picking this year? What do you like to make with apples?


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