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.

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