Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happy Pyrex & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #41

There is something so lovely about using Pyrex bowls and dishes for baking, cooking and even serving up salads and desserts. It makes me feel all cheery inside. (It's the little things!) Some of the "regular" bowls I use for baking are just boring in comparison. I think part of it is stirring up that muffin batter or pancake mix in a bowl that has a sense of "history" - a connection to women who have prepared tasty goodies for their families before us. Essentially using a Pyrex bowl turns you into a domestic goddess, no?

Do you use your Pyrex regularly?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Step-by-Step Cake Decorating (Book Review)

Twice a year, when my kids' birthdays roll around, I have visions of making amazing homemade birthday cake creations. More often than not though, I end up buying a cake or making a simple round cake with a plain icing.

I guess I'm a bit intimidated (okay, more than a bit) by cake decorating. Fancy cakes look so complex, and I imagine the decorating takes some artistic talent. For inspiration for future birthdays, I ordered these two DK cake decorating books.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday, Father's Day edition

Happy Wednesday! The kids are in school for just one more day, so I'm busy trying to organize the house. I figure if we start off clean there may be some small hope that I can keep things tidy...for a couple of days anyway. We are holding a family meeting to begin summer vacation, because mama needs to discuss how people need to tidy up after themselves - I think a chores chart may be in order too!

But right now I'm supposed to be discussing food. This plate above represents the Father's Day brunch I put together on Sunday. My husband had his on a tray in bed, and it looked much nicer than this, but this is the plate I sat down with. Vegan blueberry pancakes, scrambled tofu with mushrooms and salsa, Yves veggie sausage, strawberries and peanut butter banana muffins.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Vintage Books & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #40

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I suffered a bit of a setback recently in my 4-month purge. I was working on my books category, already a challenge because my husband and I have hundreds of books between us. (I'm doing the kids' books separately later.)

My husband mentioned casually that there were "a couple" of boxes of books under the work table in the storage room. I dug them out and found that there were actually six more boxes full of books! Prior to that moment I thought I had the books well in hand, but this presented a challenge. After a brief moment of despair, I decided that this should prove to be motivation to purge even more freely.

But I digress. I plan to post a separate post about my book organization later. Really I just wanted to show you a few of the vintage books I uncovered in those six boxes.

Monday, June 22, 2015

5 Vegan Cookbooks To Try

Whether you're thinking of going vegan or just want to eat more healthy, meatless meals each week, there are a wealth of vegan cookbooks out there to inspire and advise you. I should know, I think I own just about all of them! Here are 5 very different cookbooks, all of them vegan and each of them with their own cooking (or not cooking) styles.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday

This past weekend we went to see a play at the Shaw Festival in lovely Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. On our way back home I insisted we check out vegan restaurant Rise Above in St. Catharines. And I'm glad I did. The whole family enjoyed the food at this lovely little restaurant in the downtown core.

I was immediately drawn to the Chickpea Melt, a warm flour tortilla filled with creamy mashed chickpeas, Daiya vegan cheddar cheese, fresh romaine lettuce and chopped tomatoes. I would love to make this at home. The server told me the chef guards the recipes closely, but I suggested maybe they could do a cookbook one day (pretty please?). In the meantime, those in the Niagara area should head to Rise Above asap to try this delicious, filling and healthy wrap.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Our VHS Collection & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #39

I'm afraid I am guilty of adding to my VHS collection long after it was sensible to do so. But I would spot a great movie for just 50 cents or a buck at a library sale or a thrift store and I couldn't resist! As I'm now midway through the second month of my 4-month purge, I spent some time on Sunday going through our VHS collection.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Vanessa and Her Sister (Book Review)

If you are compiling your annual list of summer reads, be sure to include Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel. This book is like a fun little literary vacation - it transports you straight into that legendary inner circle known as the Bloomsbury Group. The novel covers the period from 1905 to 1912 and is written mainly through diary entries from Vanessa Bell (née Stephen), painter sister of celebrated writer Virginia Woolf.

Oh Virginia. I confess that, although I studied her novels in university, I didn't know a whole lot about the life of Virginia Woolf. I knew that she killed herself in the end, of course, but I had no idea about the challenges she created in her circle of family and friends in her earlier years. Brilliant, captivating, attractive and struggling with mental illness, she had quite an effect on those around her.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Father's Day Gift Idea - Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow

I've said it before - men are hard to buy for. Unless you have loads of money to buy them some fancy new big-screen television or a shiny set of golf clubs, you're probably pretty much screwed. If you're sticking with a slightly smaller budget (like mine), I have this suggestion for you. As one of his Father's Day gifts, my husband is getting a copy of Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! This is a very busy week in our house, with soccer games, dance rehearsal, dance recital and a planned outing to a play. It seems like springtime is meant for making up for all we didn't do in winter. Something - maybe all the activities or our crazy changeable rainy weather - has left me with a bit of a migraine today. So I'll make this brief.

I'm starting What I Ate Wednesday with a pic of one of my breakfasts this week - Nature's Path buckwheat wildberry waffles topped with maple syrup - fruit on the side. Quick, easy, tasty and healthy. Head over to this post if you'd like to win some yummy Nature's Path products.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Soup Tureen & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #38

As my 4-month purge continues, I am unearthing items that I had forgotten about. That's a clear disadvantage of having too much stuff - you don't get to actually use a lot of the things you might otherwise enjoy. Like this soup tureen my mother gave me. I think it was made by patients at the psychiatric hospital she used to work at. It's pretty and I like the idea of using it, yet I never have.

I'm sure professional organizers would say I should discard it, as it hasn't been used in the past one year, two years...but for now I am holding onto items like this that I would like to one day use. If I can get rid of enough other stuff - like the hundred VHS tapes I have now put into one big pile for sorting - then maybe I can access and use the other things that bring joy.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

This Mother's Child

My baby boy turns 13 today. Imagine my surprise. When he was just six months old, I used to hold him in a standing position and say, "Look, you're standing up!" with all kinds of enthusiasm. I'll never forget the smile on his sweet face - he looked so proud. It feels like it was yesterday.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday

Summer is almost upon us - and with it comes picnics, parties on the deck and lunches at the beach. We had a taste of things to come two Saturdays ago when we attended a family barbecue and potluck. I wanted to share a look at what I brought along, particularly the Composed Bean Salad with Basil Vinaigrette from a recipe in EatingWell magazine. It makes a great big dish to share with others on a warm day and there is not much prep work to it at all. Who wants to turn the oven on in summer after all.

I also made a simple fruit salad with fresh strawberries and blueberries. For dessert, I whipped up a pan of these no-bake chocolate nut butter cereal bars. They are simple to make and boast one of my favourite combinations - chocolate and peanut butter (or whatever nut butter you favour). The dishes I brought to the party are all vegan and also gluten free without trying to be (as long as you use gluten-free cereals in the dessert bars). With so many different dietary requirements nowadays, it is always nice to bring dishes everybody can enjoy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Using The Good Dishes & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #37

On my about me page I note that I'm all about using the good dishes every day. I do have a set of "regular" dishes from Costco that we tend to use most often, but I like to mix in vintage serving dishes and also pull out our various china place settings whenever I think of it.

Three weeks ago, I showed you some of the china patterns that I have in my cupboard. I mentioned that my grandmother's good china was also passed on to me. This past weekend, I decided to get it out of the dining room armoire for our Sunday brunch. I like the feeling of continuity and sharing in family history that comes with using my grandmother's china. When it was given to me, much of it was badly cracked or chipped. I made the difficult decision to toss those pieces right then because I knew they would never be used. Even if we don't have a full set now, I can mix these pieces with other patterns (like the big fancy plate that I served biscuits on).

Monday, June 1, 2015

My Spring Kitchen Clean-Up

A really good spring cleaning can be daunting. So much to do - and wouldn't we all rather be outside enjoying the sunshine? But the end result of all your work can't be beat. Lovely fresh clean surfaces and neatly organized cupboards. How wonderful.

When I have a big clean-up to do, I like to think back to the wisdom found in Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance, A Daybook Of Comfort And Joy:

For what is the purpose of cleaning this room? Is it simply to pick up trash and dispose of yesterday's newspaper? Or is some inspired action at work here? In the process of transforming this room into a safe and serene haven where my family can come together to enjoy the comfort of each other's company, am I not changing the perception of my work?

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