Saturday, December 31, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Christmas (Slowly) & Our New DIY Fireplace Mantel

I know from the posts I've been enjoying on Instagram lately that many of us have trouble letting go of the holidays. I often keep my Christmas tree up until the kids return to school in January. This year that didn't happen, only because every single needle fell off the tree. The needles were randomly showering down like gentle rain drops falling for a few days before I finally admitted defeat and removed the decorations.

I think it's the spirit of Christmas that I want to hang onto. Even amidst the (many!) preparations leading up to Christmas, there's a kind of peacefulness that doesn't surround us at any other time of year, don't you think? My compromise on the decor this year goes like this - while the tree is gone, I will continue to enjoy twinkle lights on the staircase, the silver glitter tree in our newly renovated foyer and my brand new fireplace mantel, decked out for the holidays. At least for another week or so. (But string lights can stay up all winter, no?)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

12 Months of DIY - A Year in Review & My Fave Project

12 months of easy and fun diy craft project ideas

This year I embarked on a #12monthsofdiy challenge with 11 other Canadian bloggers. The premise was this: each month we created our own diy projects around a given material. Unlike many of the other participants, prior to 2016 my diy experience was somewhat limited. This fact made the challenge a little bit intimidating and also a lot of fun.

I found some of the materials easier to work with, and knew pretty much right away what I wanted to create with them. Other craft materials had me scratching my head. Those were the really good ones, because they forced me to kick the old brain into action. It might seem like I'm exaggerating when I say that this experience was life-changing, but I really feel that it was. Not life-changing like getting married or having a baby, but life-changing as in pushing me in new directions and in search of more varied pursuits.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cape Breton Molasses Cookies (vegan)

Rich with molasses & cinnamon, these vegan Cape Breton Cookies are crispy on the outside, dense and chewy in the middle. A great addition to your Christmas platter.

Each year when Christmas approaches, I tend to get out all of my little sentimental kind of cookbooks. You know the ones? Collections of recipes put together by church groups and other organizations of women who use their husbands' names, like "Mrs. Gerald Regan." The directions for these recipes are sometimes incomplete. Often two or more recipes are basically the same, with ingredients listed in a different order. But I just love the idea that these women got together to publish their favourite family recipes for some cause near and dear to them.

This week I took out my copy of Cape Breton Squares and Cookies by the Des Barres Chapter of the Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire (I.O.D.E.), Sydney, Nova Scotia. This precious cookbook consists of 21 pages of typed recipes, stapled together with a soft, mustard-colour cover. The recipes are presented alphabetically.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

DIY Chain Yarn Garland #12monthsofdiy

December is all about getting cozy - snuggling up with a faux fur blanket and a hot cocoa to watch seasonal favourites like Elf and Love Actually. It's also the perfect time to pick up your knitting needles and knit something cozy. For me, it was something "warm" for my house - this diy yarn garland in the form of a looped chain. It's like a slightly more complicated version of those paper chains the kids like to make.

For other snuggly yarn projects, such as blankets and scarves, visit the links at the bottom of this post. Once again this month, 12 Canadian lifestyle and d├ęcor bloggers are sharing our diys using a given material - in this case yarn. I'm sad to see our #12monthsofdiy project come to an end. I have had such a great time coming up with crafts for each theme and interacting with the other bloggers and readers.

Our Foyer Makeover Reveal & Holiday Home Tour

Over the past few days I have used muscles that I'm quite sure I had never used before. Not for a very long time anyway! My husband had been installing our beautiful millwork from Metrie whenever he had a spare moment or two over the last few weeks. You can read more about that process and our paint choices in this post.

Then I heard there was an opening in the Canadian Bloggers Holiday Home Tour this week and I thought, "Why not?" As in, why not finish installing the trim, painting the walls and trim, buying and hanging artwork, accessorizing and doing a bunch of little Christmas diys in one short week? Good thinking, right? My husband would definitely not have made that choice. But I kindly made the decision for both of us. So we put up our wallpaper feature wall on Friday night and we worked all through the weekend. Despite my sore muscles, I'm really glad we did! I have to say I truly love our new foyer space.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Our Foyer Makeover - Progress Report

We have been working on our foyer makeover for the past few weeks during evenings and weekends. You can see the "before" pics in this previous post. As I said then, we were looking for a cleaner, more sophisticated look in our large entryway. Considering the foyer is the first space you see when you enter the haven of your home, shouldn't it be a space that makes you feel good?

The first step in our reno was tearing down the old baseboards and door casing and prepping the walls and doors for our new interior finishings from Metrie. We selected French Curves Scene II 7 ¼-inch poplar baseboard and 5 ¼-inch poplar crown, as well as the matching 2-inch chair rail and 3 ½-inch door casing. These additions alone would be stunning (especially when you consider that we only had small baseboards and casing and no other trim before).

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Easy DIY Christmas Wreath Tutorial

A couple weeks back I felt like I was getting all the things done super early for Christmas. Then the calendar hit December today and I was like, "Wait a second. What happened?" I have a bazillion things to do still to get the house ready for Christmas. Not to mention gifts to buy and cookies to bake.

Perhaps beginning a diy foyer renovation in late October wasn't the wisest idea. (My husband has been toiling away on the trim in the evenings and on weekends.) But the refreshed foyer is sure going to make a serene and lovely backdrop for our Christmas decor! In the meantime, I was able to whip together this Christmas wreath for our freshly painted front door yesterday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pop! Events Toy Sale in Toronto

Christmas shopping for kids can be a lot of work - there are lists to be made, budgets to consider, stores to be visited, wrapping to be done and then there's the challenge of hiding the gifts until it's time for Santa to make an appearance. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, I've got a suggestion that can make your shopping experience easier.

Once again this year, Pop! Events Group is holding their Toronto Toy Sale. Pop! Events Group provides toys for corporate holiday parties. All of the toys that don't get used for these corporate parties end up at the Christmas toy sale at significantly reduced prices (up to 90 percent off). The sale runs until Christmas Eve and new toys are added regularly. You'll find toys and craft kits for kids ages infant to about 12 years.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Vegan Chocolate Pie With Cookie Crumbles (Gluten-Free) + A Sweets from the Earth Bakery Giveaway

This luscious vegan and gluten-free chocolate pie has a cashew cookie crust and a chocolate tofu pudding filling. Serve it right out of the freezer for the creamy taste of a chocolate ice pop!

With the holidays coming up, no doubt you are expecting guests or looking forward to parties with friends and family. Whether you're preparing a dessert to serve after Christmas dinner or bringing a dish along to a potluck party, it's nice to make sure everyone feels included. This luscious chocolate pie is the right amount of delicious and decadent for a holiday dessert. It's also vegan and gluten-free so it's a great offering for vegan or gluten-free friends and family.

An Easy DIY 3D Cricut Christmas Tree Ornament + Giveaway of a Cricut Explore Air 2!

Easy DIY 3D Christmas Tree Ornament (cut with the Cricut Explore Air) - a quick, fun craft project for your Christmas tree

Everyone seems to be getting into the Christmas spirit early this year, don't you find? I think maybe a lot of us are craving the sense of beauty and togetherness that comes with the holidays. My daughter wanted to do all the Christmas decorating this past weekend, but we just didn't have the time - what with a basketball tournament and our continued foyer renovations.

I did manage to find some time this weekend to make these cute DIY Christmas tree ornaments. A deadline always helps to motivate me, and today is deadline day, as I'm joining a group of other bloggers to not only share our Christmas ornament DIYs, but also to give away a new mint green Cricut Explore Air™ 2 machine! I know there are lots of you who would love to get a Cricut for Christmas, so read on to enter below.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide For Foodies (And a Philips Giveaway!)

There was a time when I might have said a gift based on cooking wasn't exactly a gift. Kind of like giving somebody a vacuum for Christmas. I've since discovered that adults often like to cook, bake and, best of all, eat! In fact, baking is now one of my very own favourite things to do. (And a good vacuum is worth its weight in gold!)

DIY Linocut Print Kraft Paper Christmas Gift Wrap #12monthsofdiy

The fact that this is the eleventh month of #12monthsofdiy makes me feel like this year has flown right on by! Do you feel just the same way - like Christmas 2016 felt like such a looong way off, not so very long ago? The holidays will be here before we know it!

In that spirit, I have another little holiday-type craft to share for November. Our material of the month (for all 12 bloggers participating in the challenge) is paper. A few of us ended up choosing to do wrapping paper, because I suppose we have all things holiday on the brain(s). With our foyer makeover in full swing, I keep envisioning how I'll have a fresh, clean space to decorate for Christmas. Because the foyer colour scheme is black, white, grey and teal, I thought I'd incorporate black into my gift wrapping. Also, I intend for our new foyer space to be more simple, with less furnishings and hopefully less clutter. So I felt that the clean look of kraft paper would be suitable for our gift wrapping.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Simple Vegan Pumpkin Loaf

This Simple Vegan Pumpkin Loaf requires few ingredients and is easy to whip together. Makes a delicious brunch addition or a weekday work snack.

Halloween is over. The jack-o'-lanterns have been tossed into the compost pile. But let's not turn our backs on the glorious pumpkin. Yes, there will be pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving (if you're in the U.S.) and possibly after Christmas dinner. In the meantime, get the antioxidant health benefits of pumpkin in a delicious warm loaf, perfect for a Sunday brunch or a snack to enjoy on a mid-morning work break.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday (in a post-election haze)

How many of you stayed up late to watch U.S. election results? I finally went to bed about 12:20, hoping I'd wake up in the morning to find the results were only a bad dream. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I didn't want Trump to win. Seeing as I'm Canadian, I don't think that comes as a surprise.

As this article shows, 80 per cent of Canadians polled said a Trump victory would be bad for our country. Not that Hillary is our top pick - 34 per cent felt she'd be bad for Canada. But, if we're talking the lesser of two evils here, come on people. You know who is our top pick? First Lady Michelle Obama! I don't even know if she wants the job, but how awesome is she? Sixty-one per cent of Canadians want her to run for president. The fact that she would be the first female president, as well as being African American, is kind of just a bonus, considering she is intelligent, caring, ethical and well-informed. (I don't think you could apply any of those adjectives to Trump.) Too bad we don't have a say.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

10 Cleaning & Organizing Tips From Lifestyle and Decor Bloggers + A Mrs. Meyer's Giveaway

When we flip that calendar page to November, many of us switch to full holiday planning mode. Although I tend to be a rather last-minute Christmas shopper, I do like to think about the state of my house as soon as possible. Because it's not always pretty around here. In fact, if you were to swing by unannounced, there's a strong likelihood you'd note our general lack of housekeeping skills.

Just in case you are hopelessly overwhelmed in the housekeeping arena (ie. with too little time and all too much to do), I offer up some inspiration. I have gathered helpful homecaring tips from knowledgeable Canadian lifestyle and home decor bloggers who probably have cleaner homes than mine. But maybe not. I think most of us are just doing the best we can.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

How To Make An Easy Fall Pennant Banner With Your Cricut (with a free design)

I've had my Cricut Explore Air™ for not yet two months, but I have used it many times already. In fact, I've even had the audacity to offer a couple of tutorials - for my gold foil laundry jar labels and my gift tag ribbon garland made with old Christmas cards. I figure there are many other people out there who are new to the Cricut experience too. Hopefully those of you who are will enjoy learning along with me.

With that in mind, I am offering another fun and easy Cricut tutorial - for a simple yet pretty fall (or autumn) banner. I like to create my own free design whenever possible, and that's what I'm sharing here. For more sophisticated designs, you can also sign up for Cricut Access™ and get unlimited access to images, fonts and projects.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Arugula and Mixed Greens Salad With Avocado, Pumpkin Seeds & Roasted Beets

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

If you're like me, you love beets but you don't often prepare them. They can be messy right!? They turn your hands red. They stain your cutting board and maybe even your clothes. And the thought of storing them in a normal storage container brings visions of a plastic container forever lined with beet markings. But I think we need to give beets a second chance. The pigments that give beets that rich colour are antioxidants that may provide health benefits. Beets are especially great in winter. They are energizing for your body and they're high in immune-boosting vitamin C, as well as fibre, manganese and potassium.

I'm going to tell you how to roast and peel beets with minimal mess. We'll put them on top of a healthy mixed greens salad with other beneficial ingredients like avocado and pumpkin seeds. (Pumpkin seeds provide you with zinc to help you ward off colds this season!) And we'll store our salad in Rubbermaid Brilliance storage containers, which are stain resistant and therefore not afraid of no beets!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Old Antiques Magazines & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #102

Pretty much every time I visit my parents, Mom and I deliver a few things to the thrift shop. Or she gives me things - mostly dishes and other household items. She is trying to de-clutter (as are most of us I think). But last time I visited, she wanted me to toss a bunch of old magazines in recycling. And I couldn't do it. I put them in our van instead. Which isn't ideal, because I really need to de-clutter too. The magazines are mostly old editions of The Antiques Journal from the seventies and eighties.

I have a weakness for magazines. (I recycled over 300 in the past year and it was hard because usually I read them before tossing them - I had to let that go quite a bit.) And these old antiques magazines are so cool. The subjects are fascinating. Since it was Halloween last night, I thought I'd share a bit of the October 1974 edition of The Antiques Journal, with a section devoted to witchcraft antiques or "antiques of the occult."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

DIY Gold Foil Laundry Jar Labels (#DIYMyWay)

Organize open laundry room shelving using glass canisters and DIY gold foil labels (using a Cricut or other cutting machine)

We are planning a few "weekend warrior" style renovations for our home over the next six months or so. While we are currently working on our foyer makeover, I have also been thinking about how we can overhaul our laundry room on a budget. The laundry room is on the first floor of our house, which is convenient, but it is tiny. Like a tiny box...with three doors in it - one to the garage, one to the house and one to the outdoors! We're thinking of stacking the washer and dryer to free up some space for built-in storage and seating. And we'll likely put some rustic wood shelving over the sink.

If we're going to have laundry essentials on open shelves, I'm going to want them to look nice. I'm the kind of person that likes things to be stored out in the open as much as possible (or at the very least in labelled boxes so I don't forget where I put stuff) but I also get overwhelmed by clutter. So out in the open but still pretty is my ideal. For the autumn edition of's #DIYMyWay challenge, I was tasked with finding a unique way to use glass canisters from the Wayfair Basics line of wallet-friendly household essentials.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Our Foyer Makeover - The Before + Mood Board

Foyer makeover for a sophisticated black, white, gray and teal entryway. Do you have visions of a more sophisticated, brighter, cleaner foyer? Take a look at this pre-renovation foyer and the vision that will guide the decor transformation.

We have lived in our current home for 9 years. When we moved here, the kids were 3 and 5, still just little tikes really. We moved from a decent-sized, semi-detached house to a bigger, detached home with plenty of space and storage. (And then we proceeded to fill that storage up, but that's a story for another day.) Over the next couple of years, we installed hardwood flooring throughout the main level and we painted most of the rooms. (The previous homeowners liked clay and ochre colours. We were going for something lighter and brighter.)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

DIY Gift Tag Ribbon Garland Made With Old Christmas Cards #12monthsofdiy

Okay guys, remember when our #12monthsofdiy project was vinyl? And I made hand-cut vinyl decals for my kids' memory boxes, whilst not-so-secretly coveting a Cricut cutting machine? Yeah, well I won a Cricut Explore Air™ at Blogpodium! Yay me. (I realize it's kind of annoying when other people boast about things they've won. Thank you for your patience.)

If you have one of these machines or if you plan to get one, then yay to you too! I've had so much fun with it in such a short time. My daughter and I have been sticking vinyl lettering on travel cups, banners, pumpkins and laptops. We can't be stopped. Today's #12monthsofdiy project revolves around ribbon, however I also did part of the diy using my new Cricut. You see, obsessed with garlands as I am, I decided to make a garland using old Christmas cards. We have Christmas cards going back about 20 years. Rather than throwing them out completely (Konmari style), I decided to honour the spirit that people intended when gifting us these lovely holiday cards by re-purposing them into something that we could use and admire. Hence my DIY gift tag ribbon garland made with old Christmas cards.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Vintage Country Chic & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #101

We celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving just over a week ago. October has been a whirlwind so far and I didn't even get a Vintage Bliss Tuesday post up last week. We had a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner at my sister-in-law's house. She has so many sweet vintage touches in her rural home that I thought I would share a few pictures today. Her home has such a warm and comfy feel. The emphasis is on family (four kids, two dogs, one cat, two turtles, many chickens and a few ducks) as well as food (she's Italian after all!).

Friday, October 14, 2016

Easy Weeknight Baked Tofu & How To Cut Tofu Into Triangles

This Easy Baked Tofu is a great main dish for an easy weeknight meal. side dish for a potluck or even a protein for the veg folks at a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Trust me, add some baked sweet potatoes, creamy mashed potatoes and sweet natural cranberries to your plate with this tofu and it will make for a festive vegan meal.

I consider myself a bit of a tofu expert. Well maybe tofu enthusiast is a better description. How about tofu advocate? It looks unassuming - some would even say gross - but tofu, also known as bean curd, is a versatile and healthy protein option for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike.

Look for organic tofu to avoid GMOs. Tofu is made from soybeans and many soybean crops are genetically modified. Also, look for tofu processed with calcium to up your calcium intake. Finally, go for extra-firm tofu if you are just starting to explore this handy plant protein. Softer tofu is more of an acquired taste.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Vegan Apple Crumble Muffins

These apple crumble muffins are non-dairy (vegan), moist and delicious. A great way to use up your store of fresh-picked fall apples!

It's time to take advantage of all those fresh, crispy apples available to us in fall. As we do each September, we recently visited our favourite apple orchard to pick delicious, crunchy apples right off the tree. Apples truly are one of Mother Nature's wonders, providing us with benefits such as soluble fibre and disease-fighting antioxidants. Plus apples are highly portable and hardy, making them an ideal snack to take to park, school or work. Of course, you could also turn them into an equally portable and possibly even more delicious snack, like these Vegan Apple Crumble Muffins.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday, With A Trip To The Apple Orchard

If you live in a four-season climate, you know that fall is the best of seasons. It's a welcome respite from the hot and humid days of summer. Mainly it's a hell of a lot better than the freezing cold winters! Cool breezes flow through open windows, leaves begin to turn yellow and orange, and, yes, apples abound on trees. A fall visit to the apple orchard is a necessity - these are the moments that will keep us sane as winter's long months drag on.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

100 Vintage Bliss Tuesday Posts!

Today is Vintage Bliss Tuesday linky party #100! One hundred weeks of sharing our treasures. For me, it's been (lots of) plates, pillows, cutlery, mugs, drinkware, blankets and even a couple of wardrobe additions. And I've enjoyed browsing through the vintage, thrifted and inherited goodies that have been linked up by other treasure hunters.

Some of you have good fortune finding unusual jewelry pieces, like this snake jewelry that Stories of Objects linked up last week. Some of you have incredible booths where you resell your awesome finds. (I think I need to do that to free up some space in this house!) Check out Melissa's southside booth. Others share my fondness for vintage books, like this lovely pink 1965 Nancy Drew book that Dianne linked up last week. Be sure to head over and find out why the cover is pink.

Monday, October 3, 2016

A Black Forest Chocolate Cake Facial Mask Recipe & The Compassionate Chick's Guide to DIY Beauty (Book Review, Recipe & Giveaway)

Make the kind of decadent facial masks you see at LUSH, right in your own home. Here's a recipe for a Black Forest Chocolate Cake Facial Mask & a review of The Compassionate Chick's Guide to DIY Beauty, with amazing vegan recipes for skincare and cosmetics that are safe for you and animal-friendly!

I've been a vegetarian for over 20 years and my interest in healthy, cruelty-free lifestyle products has developed over that time period. I confess, however, that I have still relied on a few conventional products over the years. For example, I finally got tired of struggling with rosacea and took a prescription from the dermatologist for some (no doubt toxic) mess that did eventually clear up my rosacea (in about three months).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Prep Your Car for Holiday Road Trips (aka I Changed My Cabin Air Filter and So Should You!)

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

Your car's cabin air filter is a line of defence against dirt, dust and allergens! Change it once a year to keep your family safe and comfortable. Here's how... (it's easy)!

When I was growing up, I remember my dad was often out in the driveway doing maintenance and repairs on his cars. When he wasn't at work or watching hockey on the tube he was wearing his hospital electrician's uniform and working in the shed or under a car hood.

My siblings and I didn't pick up any of his car-related knowledge, and I’m sure we weren't even interested, caught up as we were in our everyday dramas. But I remember admiring my friend Lynn. She had her own car as a teen - a little Chevette - and her dad had her out in the driveway changing the oil and the tires. I have often wished I knew more about my own car. One thing we all can do (I know because I've done it!) is install a new cabin air filter. Did you even know there was an air filter inside your car?

Mikasa Cheers Glassware & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #99

I haven't done any thrift store shopping the last couple of weeks. But my mom did give me these beautiful Mikasa Cheers highball glasses last time I visited. These glasses are tall and thin, and etched with dots, lines, and swirls. I think they'll look lovely with a nice girly pink cocktail inside. Mom got the Mikasa glasses as a gift from the Niagara Fallsview Casino.

Actually she has passed a few gifts she got at the casino on to me - a soft robe, a king-size duvet and a wireless indoor/outdoor thermometer set. Mom hasn't been able to get to the casino as often lately, so she didn't get invited to her usual VIP September birthdays celebration this year. Which means no gift for her...and therefore no gift for me, haha. We do have one night at the casino resort hotel booked for October, so we'll be enjoying a little overnight in Niagara Falls. And maybe Mom will get a gift at Christmas? May I suggest some Mikasa Cheers white wine glasses?

Have you been to Niagara Falls? How about your local casino? I'm not a gambler myself (can't stand to lose money). How about you?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Strawberry Maple Nice Cream

This Strawberry Maple Nice Cream is a healthy, vegan alternative to ice cream. It is made with fruit, maple syrup and hemp hearts. It whips up in seconds and is creamy and satisfying. Gluten-free too!

Okay, guys - my dear friends, my peeps - if you haven't made yourself nice cream before, I insist you do it...pretty much right now! I know we are leaving summer behind, but this particular healthy yet sweet and delicious snack will serve you well all year long. And you can whip up this cold, satisfying frozen treat in mere minutes. Seconds really.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday (aka abdominal complaints part III)

I feel like I'm becoming a big ole snooze! Please attribute it to the fact that I can't eat as much as I want. I'm afraid that, given this post is about food, I need to continue talking about my tummy woes. Two weeks ago on What I Ate Wednesday I told you how I had pain and bubbling in my stomach. In last week's post, I told you how I was chugging back probiotics, and that the doctor had told me my gallbladder might be an issue. Well, the fun continues. I am awaiting my appointment for ultrasound and x-ray. In the meantime, I had a terrible attack of pain on the weekend. Like, writhing around and begging my husband to find me some kind (any kind!) of meds that might help. That passed after a couple of hours but I have been super cautious about what I eat and how much I eat since then.

So, this day of eats starts with my "safe" breakfast of Daiya black cherry vegan greek yogurt alternative. Perfect to satisfy hunger without creating much stress on the digestive system.

DIY Fall Floral Log Centerpiece With Tea Light Candles #12monthsofdiy

I once had a boss who was obsessed with faux flowers. She had plastic flowers in shades for all seasons, and she put them all over the office. They were ugly. And dusty. I was not a fan. But I now know that not all faux flowers are created equal. I have had a blast participating in the #12monthsofdiy project thus far. Our group of Canadian decor and lifestyle bloggers has focused on materials like vinyl, felt and spray paint. The challenge of creating a new project with a given material each month has been good activity for my brain.

This month's sponsor is Afloral, makers of gorgeous "silk" flowers and greens and also preserved flowers and grasses. You really need to check out Afloral's incredible variety of silk wedding flowers. You won't believe the kind of amazing bridal bouquet you can create with silk flowers!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

10 Inexpensive Ideas To Prep Your Home For The Holidays (with Groupon Coupons)

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are authentic and my own. Thank you for supporting the awesome companies that partner with Woman in Real Life.

Saving money is in my blood. I come from the kind of home where large quantities of toilet paper and cans of soup (purchased at a discount, naturally) are piled high in the basement. I carry on that tradition. Just visit my fruit cellar on a typical day and you'll see - it looks like I'm preparing for a disaster!

When you have a desire to save money, planning ahead is key. That's why I'm hoping to get a head start on my holiday preparations this year. Like right now. I'm not ready to turn on the Christmas music yet, but it certainly can't hurt to start tasks like organizing and beautifying the guest room. Wouldn't it be nice if your guests arrived to find a clean, welcoming room with fresh, new bedding and a tray of goodies?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! Let's start this week's WIAW with donuts, shall we? I mean, who doesn't love donuts? Actually I first shared this picture on Instagram and a couple of people commented that they're not big donut fans. Who would have guessed?

What I love about these particular donuts is that they are vegan donuts. I got them at my fave annual event, the Toronto Veg Food Fest, this past weekend. These donuts are from Through Being Cool Vegan Baking Co. They are big, chewy donuts with a lovely texture. I liked the sweet toppings, but I would have liked to taste a little more sweet in the donuts themselves.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Things To Do This Fall & Winter (With Deals From Groupon)

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are authentic and my own. Thank you for supporting the awesome companies that partner with Woman in Real Life.

Fall is the most beautiful time of year, isn't it? Mother Nature is dressed in her finest and Instagram is chock full of photos of picturesque lakes reflecting the glorious burnt orange leaves of the surrounding trees. You can hear angels singing really. But wait...listen you hear the roar of the Abominable Snow Monster far off in the distance too?

I spend a fair bit of time hibernating in winter, but that's just depressing after a while, isn't it? A better strategy is the one I usually employ in fall and give up around January - thinking up all the fab activities you can do to enjoy the season to the utmost. In fall, that's apple picking, hiking, exploring the pumpkin patch. Maybe catching a couple of football games (not me, but somebody)?

Thrifted and Inherited Dishes & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #98

I am always on the lookout for pretty small bowls. They are great for eating decadent yet healthy peanut butter "nice" cream or this peachy dessert parfait. And, as I've said before, a petite bowl makes photographing food easier. (Fits in the camera frame better and requires less food).

Recently I found two of these pretty pink and yellow floral bowls at the thrift store. They'll be great not only for pictures, but for snacking on my fave raisin cereal in the evening too. They say yingzhouzhengdong on the bottom. I attempted to do some research, but even when Google translates the page from Chinese I can't really get a meaningful idea of what it says.

Monday, September 12, 2016

What I'm Taking To Blogpodium (With Help From Minted)

blogger business cards by Minted

I'm so looking forward to attending Blogpodium this week. For those of you not familiar with it, Blogpodium is a conference for design and lifestyle influencers. We're going to attend some informative sessions, hear from wonderful speakers and meet with sponsoring companies. Best of all, many of the bloggers from my #12monthsofdiy group will be there. Most of them I'll be meeting in real life for the first time.

Read on for a list of what I'll be taking with me to Blogpodium. At the top of the list is business cards. It's essential to have business cards handy for a blogging conference, to share contact information with potential future sponsors and also to keep in touch with the other bloggers you're sure to meet.

I chose business cards from Minted. Not only is Minted one of the sponsors of Blogpodium 2016, but they also make gorgeous stationery. I have gotten children's art from Minted in the past, as well as beautiful stationery and party decor.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday

It's actually not a great time for me to be writing about food. Why? It's mid-morning and I haven't eaten. I'm hungry, but I've had a fair bit of pain, burning and bubbling in my stomach (actual stomach, not colon) over the last week. I've had temporary relief from apple cider vinegar, digestive tea and even over-the-counter medicine, but today I'm playing it safe, giving my digestive system a bit of a rest for the morning.

Looking at the picture above, I feel that I could eat pancakes though. You can always eat pancakes right? I enjoyed these pancakes and vegan sausage a few days ago. The pancakes were made with brown rice protein, using a recipe in Protein Ninja: Power through Your Day with 100 Hearty Plant-Based Recipes that Pack a Protein Punch.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

An Addiction to Thrifted Plates & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #97

I have a weakness for plates. Plates of all colours, shapes and sizes. My cupboard tells the story. Instead of tidy, cohesive piles of plates, there are wobbly stacks of oddly sized plates leaning at precarious angles. When my daughter empties the dishwasher, she fits the plates together in order of size on the counter top before putting them in the cupboard. When my son empties the dishwasher, it's another story. Let's just say you have to take care when opening the cupboard doors.

I recently spotted these peach-coloured plates with pleasant little fish around the edges at the thrift store. I don't have any plates in this colour, I rationalized. And the fish are so cute!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Ontario Teachers & Social Media - What Parents Should Know

For teachers and other professionals, being online is the same as being in public. Here, how Ontario's College of Teachers advises teachers with respect to online interaction with students

With the popularity of social media today, our children are exposed to a wider circle of people and influences via their Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat accounts. Besides personal safety issues around encountering strangers online, kids are in danger of being "unfriended," "blocked" and bullied even in the confines of their own homes.

While we as adults are rightly concerned about how social media affects kids, I think we sometimes forget that the pitfalls of social media and electronic communications affect us too. Have you ever sent an email or text to the wrong person? Or accidentally forwarded information you didn't mean to share? I certainly have. And it's even worse when you do so at work.

Just as parents and teachers guide children around cyber safety, the Ontario College of Teachers advises teachers about the appropriate use of electronic communications and social media. The College’s Advisory on the Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media alerts teachers to potential issues that may result from interacting with students online.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday

My green smoothie habit was going strong there for a while. I started each day with a green smoothie for a few weeks in a row. Only over the last couple of days have I not felt like drinking my usual smoothie. Partly I think I'm just tired of doing dishes. With four people home, it can feel like the dishes never end. And that blender is a pain to clean!

Anyway, whatever the reason, I'm afraid yesterday (the subject of this What I Ate Wednesday day of eats post) saw me starting the day with iced tea and a couple of peanut butter protein cookies. Not the healthiest breakfast, I know. But did I mention they were protein cookies? That makes it all good, right?

My daughter and I have been making iced tea regularly in the small iced tea maker I bought at Teavana. I had asked my family to get me one for my birthday, but the iced tea makers were all sold out when they went. On a later visit (mainly I sample teas in the store's doorway) I spotted this smaller version on sale. There are similar ones (like the Takeya Flash Chill® Iced Tea Maker) available online. I like that you brew the tea right in the pitcher and then remove the tea basket and pop the pitcher in the fridge.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Made in Mexico Blue Floral Mugs, Questions For You & Vintage Bliss Tuesdays Linky Party #96

I took an unplanned, two-week hiatus from Vintage Bliss! There are a couple of reasons for that - one, there are just too many other things distracting me in summer with the whole family home - and, two, the last Vintage Bliss Tuesday party was a bit of a dud. I think people may have been on vacation and didn't have posts to link up. And there wasn't the engagement on the post that I normally see. So I thought I would allow August to (mostly) pass before looking for other vintage enthusiasts to link up once again.

Truth be told, once the family is back at school and I go back to more thorough planning of posts, as well as a bit of a blog re-design, I'll be thinking about whether I should continue the Vintage Bliss Tuesdays party. Let me know what you think, pretty please. Would you miss it? For those of you who link up your thrifted finds, have you seen any engagement from it? Any suggestions for bettering the posts? If it isn't desirable or useful to many, I may move on to other things.

In the meantime, I'm sharing a look at a couple of the small thrift store finds I have picked up on my summer travels. I certainly don't need more mugs, however, I'd like to replace our ordinary, kind of boring mugs with mugs that put a wee smile on our faces. I think these blue floral (with birds on the other side) mugs do the trick. They say Mexico, lead-free on the bottom. It hadn't occurred to me that they might contain lead actually, until I read that. Does anybody do lead testing on their thrifted and inherited vintage dishes?

What have you been up to this summer? Have you visited garage sales, auctions and outdoor flea markets? Or maybe you've been hanging at the beach instead?

Linking to Vintage Charm.

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' to be reminded when it's party time. And invite your friends. The more the merrier. Cheers!

Monday, August 29, 2016

End of Summer Checklist & My Birthday Excursion to Port Dover

How do you feel about summer winding down? I confess it saddens me. Summer never feels quite long enough. I'm fine with returning to the routine of school and work. I just think it would be great if it were warm enough to hit the beach after school or have a gathering on the deck with some fruity summer cocktails, just for maybe two more months. As the end of summer approaches, I always think about whether we did everything we planned to do.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Off The Shelf (My Book Recommendations)

Before you read my book recommendations, I should tell you that I've been accused of being a "book snob." I studied English lit and I like to keep a certain standard of reading even today. But I'm not reading Shakespeare or Chaucer, friends. I like to find books that are equal parts entertaining and artfully written. And I think these three books fit into that niche.

On the scale from pure entertainment to complex literary tome, none are anywhere near the Harlequin book (which I consider the far end of the scale of pure trashy reading). But they vary from clear page-turner to more introspective. Let's look at my three recent reads individually.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday

The blog has been very much on a loose summer schedule lately. Actually I have been on a loose summer schedule - staying up late watching episodes of The Fosters on Netflix and waking up late in the morning. I will hate (with a passion) to see summer go, but I always enjoy the return to a more solid routine.

I'm happy to be back with another What I Ate Wednesday post today. I'm doing a "proper" What I Ate Wednesday - a look at a full day of eating, starting with the breakfast smoothie above. Even though I've been waking up late, I'm still not really hungry in the mornings. I prime the pump with a green smoothie with kale and peanut butter on most days.

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