Thursday, December 21, 2017

Holiday Book Giving Guide (With A Giveaway)


My ideal gift (to receive) is a basket of nurturing items (think candles, chocolates) that includes a good book. I also like to give books as gifts, finding the right book to match the recipient's interests. Even if somebody doesn't read fictional novels, there's a non-fiction or a general interest book out there that's sure to suit. So, without further ado, here are my book giving suggestions for some of the people on your list this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Peach Walnut Muffins (vegan)


My affection for muffins is no secret. I may have mentioned my love for these portable, healthy snacks about two dozen times on this blog. It's funny because I don't really eat bread often. It doesn't excite me much so I see it as a waste of calories. Muffins, on the other hand, are a bread-type product I can get behind! Especially when they are homemade, wholesome and full of fruity goodness, like these vegan Peach Walnut Muffins. These muffins would make a lovely Christmas morning breakfast addition. Munch on them while the kiddies open their gifts. They will also transition well into the New Year, when you're feeling all that post-holiday guilt and looking for healthier snacks.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Festive Holiday Dessert Recipes From The Vegan Holiday Cookbook


Photo by Marie LaforĂȘt

I've said it before (and maybe I was whining a little bit at the time), holiday meals just aren't the same when you're vegan. Not that I have any desire for turkey. I really don't. Quite the opposite - I would be thrilled if everyone at the table was enjoying a delicious, plant-based feast. That's why I said, "Yes please!" when Robert Rose offered to send me a review copy of The Vegan Holiday Cookbook: From Elegant Appetizers to Festive Mains and Delicious Sweets.

For the simple holiday meals that we enjoy as a family of four, we tend to cook a store-bought turkey alternative or we make this easy tofu loaf. But The Vegan Holiday Cookbook, created by Marie LaforĂȘt, has me seriously considering the need to up my holiday food game. So today I want to tell you a little bit about the types of recipes you can find in the cookbook, and share two incredible dessert recipes for you to try out this holiday season and beyond.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ideas To Add Cozy Christmas Touches To Your Bedroom Decor


I'm going to be honest - it's not often that I get around to decorating our bedroom for the holidays - like never, really. I am usually too busy tidying up clutter in the spare room, putting away the Christmas decor boxes and generally lamenting the shopping and baking I have yet to do. My daughter had hopes that we could get the entire house cleaned, organized and decorated for Christmas. But that would take an army of professionals at this point. I need to get to the mall!

I did manage to add some simple holiday decor elements to the master (or principal) bedroom to cozy it up for the holidays. After all, I am planning to spend quite a bit of time snuggled up in bed with a book once the hustle and bustle of Christmas has passed. (That's the plan. We'll see how it develops.) Here's how I added cozy touches quickly, without going too crazy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How To Teach Your Kids To Give As Well As Receive


My kids have two Advent calendars this year. They each have the simple cardboard variety with the chocolates inside. For the past six years, we've also been using my rustic DIY Advent calendar. Each day, the little bags on the calendar offer up two treats, one for each child. Sometimes it's candy canes or chocolate, sometimes it's packets of gum or lip balm or hand cream.

One of my children complained early in the month that there were too many repeats in the calendar bags. I gently reminded my child that these Advent gifts were meant to be small tokens and that the recipient should demonstrate gratitude no matter what she or he might think of the gift. As a family, this got us talking about gratitude and the spirit of giving during the holiday season. My daughter came up with a wonderful idea. We should have seven days of giving prior to Christmas.

A New Year's Eve Black and Gold Chocolate Party #YearofFeasting


With all of the planning, shopping, decorating and baking going on in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I don't know about you, but I often forget to even think about New Year's Eve. My thanks to Dannyelle of Life is a Party for forcing me (haha) to think about New Year's by making it the theme for our final Year of Feasting post of 2017.

A group of us did Year of Feasting posts for each season this year. Here are my spring, summer (Canada Day), and fall (Thanksgiving) blog posts. For my New Year's party, I chose a black and gold colour scheme, with a food theme of chocolate. Because chocolate. This theme assumes that people eat dinner before they come to your party. Or maybe not. Maybe they just gorge on chocolate. That would be okay for one night, no? Be sure to read to the bottom of this post to visit the other Year of Feasting bloggers' parties.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Family-Friendly Red and White Scandi Inspired Christmas Table with Cricut Designs


Greetings my friends. Christmas is less than three weeks away! Where did the time go? I will be going to my sister-in-law's for Christmas dinner on the big day. In the meantime, I put together this family-friendly, red, white and natural, Scandinavian-inspired Christmas tablescape for my family of four. We will enjoy a vegan roast and a whole bunch of veggie side dishes here for our own small celebration. I wanted the table to be simple and on the casual side, with some fun DIY additions. I turned to Cricut Design Space™ for some ideas.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas Home Tour


When I made my DIY Santa countdown art in November, I wrote 47 days on it. I felt a bit crazy and also slightly virtuous getting Christmas crafts done with almost 50 days until Christmas Day. Um yeah, as this post goes live, my Santa countdown dry erase art will read 21 days. Gulp. Not feeling so virtuous anymore. As in, somebody needs to go Christmas shopping. And perhaps make Christmas cookies that I actually freeze instead of eating.

On the plus side, joining up with other Canadian bloggers for this week's holiday home tour forced me to get my procrastinating butt in gear on the decor side of things. Not that it was easy. I decided I needed to organize my home "a bit" before decorating. And that was my downfall. I forgot just how long I can take to get organized. After about seven hours of shredding and sorting papers over two days, I realized I was going to have to give up on creating the perfect blank slate for my Christmas decor. That's when I shoved what was left to sort into the laundry room for "later." Okay, let's worry about later later. On with the tour...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Peach Avocado Sushi Rolls With Teriyaki Sauce (vegan)


Over the Christmas holidays, we'll definitely be hitting our favourite all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant...maybe more than once! But the leisurely days of vacation also offer up time for experimenting in the kitchen. It's a good opportunity to make your own sushi rolls (maki) if you've never done it before, or even if you have. If you're new to sushi making, it seems more complicated than it is. Once you get the hang of it, it's an easy and convenient process. Make a little sushi for a snack or a lot for dinner, and get the family involved. Kids can layer the toppings on the seaweed and try their hand at rolling the sushi. Our latest family favourite homemade sushi rolls are these Peach Avocado Sushi Rolls With Teriyaki Sauce. They are simple to make and have a fresh taste that combines sweet and savoury elements.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Easy Cheezy Tofu Loaf (Vegan, Gluten-Free Option)


When you become a vegan or vegetarian, holiday dinners don't have the allure they once did. If everybody else is looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners centred around a big (let's face it, dead) bird, the herbivore might feel a little left out. Whether you are said herbivore or you are welcoming one to dinner (son has a new girlfriend, huh?), this Easy Cheezy Tofu Loaf is a simple addition to your festive food menu.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Grapefruit, Carrot, Ginger Juice Smoothie (Vegan, Gluten-free)


There's a lot of buzz around the holidays already - people are talking about shopping for gifts, making goodies and putting up the Christmas tree. It's exciting, for sure. But the holiday season also comes with a lot of stress. It's a bit of a whirlwind. There are so many tasks to manage and maybe you're preparing your home for company or worrying about spending time with people who stress you out. Cold and flu season is also ahead and all the time spent indoors in close proximity to other people increases the possibility of viruses spreading.

All of this sounds dismal, and I don't mean to take the fun out of the holidays. I just want to be conscious that we need to balance the excitement of the holiday season with the need to stay healthy during late fall and winter. Now is a great time to reduce stress as much as possible and provide appropriate care for yourself and your body. One easy way to do this is to drink lots of fluids, like water and herbal tea. Add good sources of fibre to your diet and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Which brings me (finally) to this tasty and healthful juice/smoothie combo.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Quick Banana Cake With Caramel Drizzle (vegan)


The first thing to know about this Quick Banana Cake With Caramel Drizzle is that it smells sooo good when it's baking. The combo of banana and cinnamon makes for such a lovely, fragrant scent emanating from the oven. It's the perfect antidote for a dreary winter day. It's also packed with nutritious, natural ingredients while still tasting as sweet and decadent as cake should. As with all of my recipes, this banana cake is vegan, meaning no eggs or dairy needed.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Quick Holiday Decor Updates With Cricut & A Cricut Maker Giveaway


Yes, it's true. There are 47 days until Christmas! Seems like plenty of time to be sure. But one area I like to get a head start on is crafting. If you have any DIY holiday projects in mind, it can't hurt to get going now. Especially if you're thinking about making an Advent calendar. (You can see my rustic Advent calendar in this post.) I made a couple of quick holiday decor projects this week using my Cricut Explore Air™. There are plenty of ready-to-make projects in Cricut Design Space™. You don't even have to think up your own DIY - just get ahold of the supplies in the project description and get to cutting!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Double Chocolate Banana Bread (vegan)

This delicious vegan Double Chocolate Banana Bread is simple to make and would make a lovely addition to Thanksgiving or Christmas Day brunch. #vegan #bananabread #baking #holiday #Christmas #chocolate

Despite having lived in Canada my whole life, I'm always surprised (or maybe disappointed is a better word) when the temperature drops near and below zero. I'm not a fan of the cold weather...at all. Things that get me through winter - roaring fires in the fireplace, cuddly dogs, endless cups of tea and looking forward to Christmas. And baked goods. Plenty of vegan baked goods. Like this Double Chocolate Banana Bread.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

How To Get A Good Night's Sleep


Parents of babies and toddlers know all about sleep deprivation and its negative consequences - reduced mental clarity, lower productivity and sheer exhaustion. But there are many other reasons people can experience difficulty falling asleep or sleeping through the night. Stress, anxiety, a too-active brain and the hormonal and physical changes that come as we age are just a few of them.

Sleep is so important to restoring our minds and bodies. Without proper sleep, we feel grumpy, sore and forgetful. I often go to sleep with achy legs and wake up after eight hours feeling restored. Lack of sleep is thought to contribute to more serious issues too - the sleep-deprived are more prone to obesity, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and high blood pressure.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Our Fall Camping Weekend (With A Free Printable Cabin Camping Checklist)


Are you a fan of fall camping? I have always been attracted to the idea of camping when the air is crisp and the leaves have turned to red and gold, but we've never really done it. Fall is often busy with back-to-school, homework and the start-up of kids' sports and dance activities. But this fall the weather was so amazing and I felt like we best take advantage of it.

So when Kampgrounds of America (KOA) invited my family to camp at the Toronto West KOA in October, we were all for it. We went on the Thanksgiving weekend because Toronto West KOA is not far from where I grew up in Hamilton and was the perfect place to stop for a couple of nights before heading to my in-laws' house for dinner on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Carrot Coconut Soup (vegan, gluten-free)


When my son was a little guy, he loved carrot soup. Those were the days - when I could easily get his toddler self to scarf down bean stews, lentil soups and all kinds of nutrient-dense, mama-made entrees. He's 15 now and he has long been exposed to the wonders (salt, fat, sugar) of takeout food. Still, I do what I can to make sure he eats healthy at home, so I thought I'd try putting carrot soup in rotation again. Worst comes to worst, I love fresh, homemade vegan carrot soup myself.

When I last made this Carrot Coconut Soup, my son may have turned his nose up at it. In fact, he may have made himself a "hashbrown" sandwich, made up of fried hashbrown patties tucked inside a tortilla wrap with a sauce of mayonnaise mixed with sriracha. Sigh. But even if he eats a small bowl of this carrot soup alongside his other meal selections, he'll get a good serving of vegetables.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

10 Simple Tips To Organize Your Home Office and Eliminate Paper Clutter


I don't know anybody who doesn't crave a little more organization in their lives. Even the most organized among us have a hidden junk drawer, a pile of papers at the edge of a desk or an overflowing sock drawer. If you have kids, well, be prepared to double or triple your organizational challenges.

I am into my third year of serious decluttering of this house. Not even kidding. And we still have a basement storage room that needs about 5.5 days of work. But we have many areas that look much better now, and it has given me hope that the whole house will be pared down, organized and run like a well-oiled machine...in about one more year. A big focus this fall has been my home office area. I have written a series of blog posts around decorating and organizing this office space. The first post was about my office decor from Wayfair - a new desk, rug and drapery. The next post was about my new Canadian Tire Canvas bookshelf, which provides (attractive) storage space for office supplies, receipts and motivational books.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Simple, Natural, 3-Ingredient Cranberry Sauce (vegan, gluten-free)

Simple, Natural, 3-Ingredient Cranberry Sauce (vegan, gluten-free) - just about as easy to make as opening a can, and much healthier

Is cranberry sauce a must-have on your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table? It is for me. I love the fresh, tart contrast it gives to more subdued holiday dinner fare like mashed potatoes. Canned cranberry sauce can work in a pinch, but it's so easy to make your own fresh, natural cranberry sauce that I think that's the better way to go. And you can make cranberry sauce a couple of days ahead too, to save time on meal prep once the big (busy!) Thanksgiving or Christmas meal day arrives.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Simple Thanksgiving Tablescape #YearofFeasting


Our Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up on Monday and I know I'm not alone in thinking that it came around so quickly this year. We had warm weather through most of September so it felt just like the summer we didn't get in July and August. Nevertheless, Thanksgiving is just about here and it's the perfect time to gather with family and friends to express thanks for all of our blessings. Family is the biggest blessing of all, and thanks to my wonderful in-laws, I'll be enjoying an incredible meal that I don't have to cook. However I thought I'd set a simple, pretty Thanksgiving table and have a nice pre-Thanksgiving meal with my immediate family. We like to make an easy tofu loaf or cook a store-bought Tofurky roast to have alongside mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce.

I'm also grateful for the wonderful women in the Year of Feasting blogging group. Today's post marks the fall edition of Year of Feasting, when the bunch of us, led by Dannyelle at Life is a Party, share our ideas for seasonal party decor. Find more decor ideas through the links at the end of this post.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Master Bedroom Mini Makeover Part 3: New Bedding


You might recall that we recently gave our principal bedroom a bit of a makeover. First, I shared The Before, Wallpaper & Painted Dresser here on the blog. Next I revealed our new king-size bed and mattress. But I was still looking for the right bedding - comfy, cozy sheets and a pretty and peaceful duvet cover. I turned to Canadian company QE Home | Quilts Etc, which is based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, to find the quality pieces that would complete our newly revitalized nesting spot.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Fall Home Tour


It's a little bit summer and a little bit fall. Okay, it's a lot summer (it was 31°C/88°F here today!) and a smidgen fall. But you wouldn't know it inside my house. The air conditioner is pumping and I'm joining a whole load of talented Canadian bloggers for the Canadian Bloggers Home Tour, Fall 2017, this week. There will be new bloggers sharing their home tours every day this week, so be sure to come back and find them via the links at the bottom of the page. Thanks so much to Shannon and Christina for coordinating the whole lovely tour!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

DIY Burlap & Floral Fall Wreath


I have started decorating my house for fall this week, in preparation for the Canadian Bloggers Fall Home Tour going on next week. In planning my decor, I thought, "Where better to start than the front door?" In the past, I have only put a wreath on the front door for Christmas. Check out my DIY Christmas wreath in last year's Christmas home reveal. This year I've been inspired to create DIY wreaths for all seasons. You can see my simple spring himmeli wreath (which I mounted on the inside of the front door) in this post about my pink and gold themed spring home tour.

For this lovely fall season, in which we pay tribute to nature and all its warm, bold colours, I made an easy yet pretty fall wreath using a burlap-wrapped wreath form and a few types of faux flowers and berries. Read on for full directions for this quick DIY wreath project.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Garage Organization - DIY Pegboard Tool Organizer & Folding Workbench


Like so many other families, our summer to-do list was loooong. After a lengthy, cold winter, we come alive in spring and summer and we want to get ALL the stuff done! So many things around the house to spray paint, beautify and organize, organize, organize. One of the biggies still on our list at the end of August was the garage. It was a little piece of not-so-hidden chaos that was painful to look at. And embarrassing. Who wants to open the garage door to neighbours and passersby when the space is crammed to the door with junk? Whenever I see neighbours with tidy, organized garages, I think, "How do they do it?"

Well, I guess all it takes is a little planning and some effort. It was time for us to take up the challenge! Our kids are 12 and 15 so I'm thinking they don't need a hundred toys in the garage at this point. Our goal was to organize our 2-car garage in such a way that we can get the cars in it this winter - well, at least one car anyway. What does that mean? It means finding other locations for the bikes, outdoor furniture and assorted sporting and camping equipment. And it means creating organized areas within the garage that harness the ample vertical space rather than taking up the floor.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Decor Books To Help You Cozy Up Your House For Fall


With all the talk about pumpkin spice lattes this week, I think most of us are ready for fall. Beach days, sandals and picnics in the park are pretty much behind us, and we're thinking about autumn walks through the woods, creamy soups and cozy throw blankets. Not that we won't miss summer!

My husband was home for the summer, and we spent a lot of time on the house, decluttering and tackling projects in various rooms. It felt really good to clean out and go (a bit) more minimal. We have loads of books and collectibles, but my goal is to have them all neat and tidy and in place, without clutter on counters and floors. We're not quite there, but I feel more confident that it will indeed happen. As we worked on our house, I browsed some decor books to keep me motivated. Here are a few that I found really inspiring. I think you'll like them too.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How We Are Prepping For Back-to-School (With Canadian Tire & Sport Chek)


The summer has flown right on by! We will squeeze in a couple more fun activities between now and Tuesday, the first day of school. For the last couple of weeks, though, our minds have been partly occupied with preparing for back-to-school. I'm sure many of you are in the same boat - squeezing out the last few drops of summer fun while thinking ahead to school supplies, clothing, backpacks and school lunch planning (always a stress, right?). My family had some help preparing for fall from two of our favourite stores - Canadian Tire and Sport Chek. Read on to see all the fab finds that are helping us to get organized and on track for back-to-school.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Picnic Pesto Pasta Salad & Food For Your Car Too

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



Fresh, homemade pesto is much easier to whip together than you might think. Mix it into cooked pasta and add a handful of sliced cherry or grape tomatoes and you have a delicious, natural pasta salad that's perfect for picnics and beach days. Read on for the recipe and to find out how you should feed your car for summer road trips.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Vintage Style Dress For Summer & Fall


I don't often wear dresses. Chalk it up to laziness (you have to shave your legs) and a lack of dressy yet comfortable shoes in my closet. But - as we're out and about more in summer and early fall - I like to have a dress or two at the ready - pieces that are comfy, versatile and easy to wear.

I have several dresses from eShakti.com and I really like them all. eShakti sells unique, vintage style clothing for women in a range of sizes (0-36W) or in a custom fit. My latest eShakti dress is this black and white contrast banded stripe cotton knit belted dress. Let me tell you why I love this dress.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My Home Office Makeover, Before & After


As back-to-school time approaches, I'm looking forward to returning to my regular work-from-home routine. I'll miss the easier days of summer and the warm weather outings with the kids, but I also crave the renewed sense of focus that fall brings. You might have noticed my reduced presence on the blog and in social media. That will change! In preparation for a productive fall of freelance writing and blogging, I gave my home office a lovely overhaul, with the help of Wayfair.ca.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Making Cards With Cricut's New Anna Griffin Patterned Cardstock


We have several family birthdays in the fall, including those of my mom and my mother-in-law. My daughter also has a few friends with birthdays in August, September and October. Crafting buddies that we are, she and I decided to make these special people some lovely handmade cards with our Cricut Explore Air™.

When I saw the range of new and beautiful deluxe patterned cardstocks available on Cricut.com, I knew they would be perfect for creating feminine and fancy homemade (with love) birthday cards.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How To Keep Your Kids Safe Around Pools & Lakes


Growing up, I learned to swim just by practicing in the lake at our cottage. As a result, I can swim, but I don't have a high level of confidence in my abilities. When my own children came along, I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure they were strong swimmers. When they were small, I worked with a woman whose grown son drowned while swimming in a lake with friends. I can't even imagine the nightmare of that.

Canada is such a wonderful country to live in. We are blessed with bountiful natural resources and plenty of water. Whether you swim from a dock in Muskoka, a rocky beach at Lake Erie, the Cape Breton shoreline or your own swimming pool, make sure you and your children have every possible safety advantage.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Master Bedroom Mini Makeover Part 2: The Bed & New Douglas Mattress (giveaway)


A couple of weeks back, I shared the first part of our principal bedroom makeover - the wallpaper statement wall and the painted dresser. Today I want to show you the rest of the sleeping end of the room. (There is a sitting area that we will address in the future.)

We have long been wanting to switch from a queen bed to a king. The inspiration for our mini room makeover came when I was invited to review the new Douglas mattress from Novosbed. It was the perfect time to finally switch to a king bed. We had already purchased an inexpensive bed frame, sheets and a duvet cover. And my mom gave me a duvet she got as a gift at the casino. So, when our mattress arrived, we were fully ready to give our bedroom a quick refresh. Here is what the sleeping area looked like before:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Seahorse Cupcake Wrappers & A Big Cricut Explore Air 2 Bundle Giveaway (CLOSED)

These adorable seahorse cupcake wrappers can be cut in any color with your Cricut cutting machine.

I am linking up with some of my crafty Canadian blogging friends today to share our most recent projects made with the Cricut. Many thanks to Ariel from PMQ for Two for hosting and also hooking us up with a special Cricut giveaway. (Enter to win your own shiny new beautiful Cricut cutting machine and a whole bunch of other amazing things below!)

My daughter and I were browsing the latest designs in the Cricut Design Space™ and her eyes lit up when she saw the lovely seahorse cupcake wrappers. Like me, my daughter enjoys baking. Cupcakes are one of her specialties. On the day we made these cardstock cupcake wrappers, however, we were light on time, so we bought cupcakes at the store. I'm actually happy we did, because I think this scenario better illustrates how you can buy simple cupcakes at the grocery store and whip together a few of these wrappers to make them look special. (Maybe you can even pass them off as homemade? I won't judge.) I want to show you just how we made the seahorse cupcake wrappers in case you would like to make them yourself.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Book Club Meeting Vegan Brunch Menu & What I Ate Wednesday


In case any of you still think vegan food is boring, I wanted to give you a peek at a recent book club brunch that I hosted. Our book club group is very small. Like just three of us to be exact. But we like it that way. Because our book club meetings are all about the food and we are all on the same page when it comes to the menu.

We have been meeting for many years - me, my sister-in-law Connie and our friend Sarah. Only we hadn't met at all for the last few years, mainly because we weren't all three able to read for various reasons. Missing our book clubs, I proposed that we have a book club meeting without the book. The best part is the conversation anyway. (And the food. Always the food.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A DIY Cricut Cuttlebug Feather & Foliage Mobile

A fun DIY feather and foliage cardstock mobile using the Cricut Cuttlebug

Crafting has become a whole lot more fun since I got a Cricut Explore Air cutting machine. And recently I added a Cricut Cuttlebug® machine to my crafting arsenal for a whole new range of DIY possibilities. For my first Cuttlebug project I decided to celebrate beautiful, glorious summer with an abundant, colourful, nature-inspired DIY mobile.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Why We Chose To Send Our Kids To Catholic Schools


Within our family, I did not attend Catholic schools growing up, while my husband did. My older brother attended a Catholic elementary school, but my mom decided to send my sister and me to the public school next door. Mainly her choice was related to the facilities - the Catholic school had open-concept classrooms at the time and she felt this was a distraction. I believe there was also a fee for attending Catholic schools then. Fast forward to today and the difference in facilities is not a factor. In fact, in growing areas like ours, there are many beautiful new Catholic schools.

Here in Ontario, we are fortunate to have options when it comes to where we send our children to school within the public school system. Both public and Catholic elementary and secondary schools are widely available in many areas, including here in the Greater Toronto Area.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Master Bedroom Mini Makeover: The Before, Wallpaper & Painted Dresser


After the spring One Room Challenge, for which we renovated our dining room over a 6-week period, I swore I was going to take a break from beautifying our home. But then I got an opportunity to review a new mattress and that got me thinking it was time to do a mini makeover of our neglected and "tired" master bedroom (or principal bedroom if you prefer, because it sounds less like the woman is there to serve).

I opted for a "mini" makeover because we have one of those ridiculously large suburban bedrooms with room for a sleeping area, a sitting area and then some. It would take too much time and resources (including my limited mental resources) to tackle the whole space right now. With a new mattress coming, we decided to tackle the sleeping space in the room.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What I Ate Wednesday


Cooking hasn't been a high priority around here lately. For one, it's summer. Who wants to cook in summer? For another thing, we have been decluttering, decluttering and decluttering. We have lots to get rid of and I have to say it feels good to see things go. We are hoping that, by the end of summer, the house will look much more free of stuff. In the meantime, meal prep has to be as easy as possible.

Super easy on the scale from difficult to super easy is ordering Chinese takeout, above. This place had vegan "chicken" in sauce and faux shrimp. I wasn't a big fan of the gelatinous texture of the shrimp but the faux chicken was nice.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Simple Summer Rice Salad (vegan, gluten-free)


Summer is officially here and it's time to bring on the salads! Pasta salad, green salad, noodle salad and, of course, rice salad. I envision a summer of stocking the fridge with neatly stacked clear containers full of all kinds of easy-to-make, healthy salads to grab on the go. Off to the beach? Have a sesame noodle salad at the ready. Pop it into a cooler with a refreshing spritzer, a variety of fruit and a batch of homemade Coconut Date Brownie Bites and you'll be ready for a picnic at the beach or park. Because, if you're anything like me, preparing for a day trip is all about the food!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Vegan Morning Glory Muffins

These vegan Morning Glory Muffins are hearty, healthy and filling. Packed with nutritious ingredients like carrots, raisins and coconut. Great for grabbing on the run in the morning.

These Morning Glory Muffins remind me of my mom, because when I was little she used to say, "Morning glory" as a "good morning" type of greeting. I also remember I really liked these muffins, jam-packed with ingredients, as a teen. Still do. Recently I started thinking about these muffins again. And I wondered where the original Morning Glory Muffin recipe came from.

The now-famous muffin was created by chef Pam McKinstry when she owned Nantucket's Morning Glory Café. Chef Pam's Morning Glory Muffin recipe was published in Gourmet magazine in 1981 and became quite popular. Morning Glory Muffins are packed with ingredients - like carrots, raisins, apples, coconut and walnuts. They offer the spicy, warming taste of cinnamon. They are fittingly glorious to eat in the morning - pleasantly tasty with filling, nutrient-dense ingredients.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Canada Day Party Ideas & A Family-Friendly Strawberry No-jito Recipe #YearofFeasting


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

Summer is just about here and I am once again joining Dannyelle from Life is a Party and other Canadian bloggers to celebrate the season with a party. Last season, my party was a Celebrate Spring Party with a veggie burger toppings bar and vegan root beer floats.The idea is called "A Year of Feasting," and it involves holding one themed party per season in order to spend more time with family and/or friends. As Canada Day falls on July 1st, and it's the country's big 150th birthday party this year, we decided to theme our parties this month around Canada Day. Hopefully you will take away some ideas you can use to celebrate Canada Day in style. If you are American, just convert the maple leaves to stars and you're good to go! Be sure to check out the other bloggers' party ideas via the links at the bottom of this post. Such fabulous ideas!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What I Ate Wednesday


It has been gloriously hot outside this past week and my thoughts (and cravings) have turned to fresh fruits, salads and veggies. We had our first barbecue of the season this past Sunday. My husband barbecued sweet potatoes, asparagus, zucchini, peppers, potatoes, veggie hotdogs and veggie burgers. That's my plate, above. I opted not to have a burger because I just really enjoyed all the veggies. And I ate my hot dog without a bun because I feel like eating "lighter" when it's warm outside.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Canada Day Mantel With Two Cricut Projects

Canada Day maple leaf garland and framed art cut with Cricut Explore Air

July 1st, 2017 is not only Canada Day, a federal holiday on which we celebrate the anniversary of the 1867 enactment of the Constitution - this year it's also an extra-special celebration, because Canada is now 150 years young. People throughout the country will be celebrating the holiday with parties, outings and beach days. No doubt many will be decorating their homes in red and white, the colours of the Canadian flag. As the central portion of the flag features a red maple leaf, the maple leaf is also prominent in Canada Day decor.

To celebrate, I decorated our diy fireplace mantel for Canada Day with two projects - a Canadian flag garland and a framed maple leaf print. These are both simple yet festive projects to make with your Cricut Explore Air™ or other Cricut cutting machine.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies (vegan)

These vegan Carrot Cake Oatmeal cookies are all good things - like scrumptious, soft and chewy, moist, a little puffy and cake-like. With raisins and a hint of cinnamon, these cookies are pumped with yummy carrot cake-like flavor. dairy-free, eggless

I feel that now is just the right time for a tasty little treat. I can say this with confidence even though I don't know what day or time you're reading this post - because it's always a good time for a tasty treat, no? Also, considering that these vegan Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies are made with shredded carrots, flax, oats and raisins, they are healthy enough to be breakfast food in my opinion. These easy oatmeal cookies are also great for a mid-morning snack, a mid-afternoon snack and/or a dessert in the evening.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

When Sending Your Child Off To School Is So Hard



My daughter was just 3 years old when she started Junior Kindergarten. She would turn 4 in October. Sending your little one off to school for the first time is stressful for a parent no matter the child’s age, but when they seem so teeny-tiny, it’s all the more anxiety-inducing.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What I Ate Wednesday


I'm finally back with a What I Ate Wednesday post. If you normally visit the blog for vegan food ideas, thanks for sticking with me. I was caught up in the busiest of springs. We were beautifying our dining room over a 6-week period for the One Room Challenge. You can see the big dining room reveal here! That's in addition to all the parenting stuff that comes along with spring. It feels like winter is for hibernation and we try to fit EVERYTHING into the short weeks of spring. Basketball tournaments, dance competitions, birthday parties - it's all good fun but it doesn't exactly leave time or energy for the greatest meals.

To tell the truth, not much of our food over the past couple of months felt photo-worthy. And time for picture-taking was at a premium. Not that I'm creating genius meals now. I fully believe that vegan food preparation can be easy and quick. Certainly you can prepare more elaborate dishes (with lots of vegetable cutting involved!) when you have the time and energy, but on regular days, we keep it simple. Here's a sample day of easy vegan eats - what I had this past Monday actually. The kids went off to school and I just thought, "pancakes." Why not make a stack of pancakes to enjoy all by my lonesome? Right? A perfect way to ease into Monday. So I made vegan pancakes with a light touch of cinnamon and a bunch of berries. And then I drowned those pancakes in maple syrup. Because that's the way to do it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why the Tech World Needs More Girls & A Level Up Kids Summer Camp Giveaway


I'm guilty. Guilty of steering my 12-year-old daughter towards a love of reading and writing and photography - all of the pursuits that I enjoy and have always believed I'm good at. Recently she told me, "I actually really like science." Alarm bells went off in my head. I was happy to hear she liked science. But a realization dawned on me - had we done nothing to encourage her to explore pursuits such as science, technology and math? Sure she has had a science kit or two, but did we ever sell any of these traditionally male subjects as career options? Fortunately there's still time. I would love to see her take courses exploring coding, science and math.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How To Learn a New Language Easily & Affordably


I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I can't speak any Italian. No more than a few words anyway. Why is this born and bred mangiacake embarrassed? Because I've known my husband almost three decades. Which means I've known his Italian-born and raised parents for almost three decades. And they speak Italian at home. We went to Italy on our honeymoon. I sat in silence as my husband's lovely family members attempted to make conversation while my husband translated (reluctantly I might add).

But this isn't a story about me and my ignorance. Rather it's about my 12-year-old daughter. I begged my husband to teach the kids some conversational Italian when they were little. "Even just at feeding times," I helpfully suggested. That way they would learn Italian words related to food. And we all know those are the most important Italian words to learn. But it didn't happen.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What materials can I cut with the Cricut? & A Canada-inspired iron-on tank top & tote


This upcoming weekend is the unofficial start of summer here in Canada. My Canadian friends and I call this long weekend “May two-four." For one thing, Monday is Victoria Day (this year on May 22nd), and the birthday of Queen Victoria fell on May 24th. For another thing, the long weekend launches cottage/camping/party season and many "two-fours" (24-packs) of beer will be consumed over the next three months (starting this holiday Monday no doubt). I thought it would be fun to mark this distinctly Canadian holiday by making a couple of Cricut iron-on projects that celebrate our much-beloved country.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One Room Challenge Dining Room Makeover Week #6: The Big Reveal!


Six blog posts. Five weeks. A completely different dining room. I'm not going to say it's been easy. Spare time was hard to come by. And I picked up a cold at dance competition this past weekend (tight quarters in those dressing rooms!), so I'm writing this with itchy eyes and tissue in hand. But our One Room Challenge dining room makeover is done! And we love our new dining room space. We might actually eat in there now. (Or at the very least, not pile random items on the dining table.) Let's have a wee look at the before and after pics to see how far we've come.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

One Room Challenge Dining Room Makeover Week #5: Crown Moulding & Cabinet Paint

The "Before" - this room is long gone now!

It was glorious to have a whole weekend to dedicate to our One Room Challenge dining room makeover this past weekend. No sporting events to take the kids to - just uninterrupted painting and installation time. (Okay it wasn't entirely uninterrupted - that would be impossible - but we got in a good stretch of work hours.)

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