Thursday, December 20, 2018

Holiday Book Giving Guide (With A Giveaway)

It's crunch time when it comes to shopping for Christmas gifts. Just a few more days! Books are fast and easy to buy and there's a book that's right for every person on your list. Pop a mini book into a stocking or wrap up a coffee table book as a primary gift. Here, my ideas for 10 books to give for the holidays. Be sure to read my last post, 10 Books To Read Over Christmas Break, if you want an absorbing new book to read yourself.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Reading List: 10 Books To Read Over Christmas Break + A Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway

I haven't been reading as much as I would like lately. I'm thinking Christmas break is my window of opportunity. I'm going to aim for at least 20 minutes a day. Christmas falls at the beginning of the break, so I figure when the festivities are over I'll get some time to snuggle up with a great book in front of a blazing fire, cup of cocoa in hand. Sounds good, right? I have a stock of recent releases on my shelves and they all sound so interesting. I can't wait to dive in. So, here are my suggestions for 10 books to read over Christmas break.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Christmas Home Tour 2018

It was summer. And then I blinked. I cannot believe that December has rolled around again and it's time once more for the Canadian Bloggers Christmas Home Tour Blog Hop, hosted by Shannon of Home Made Lovely and Christina of The DIY Mommy. For those who celebrate Christmas, the arrival of December means it's go time. If you haven't yet started all the decorating, shopping, cleaning and cookie-making, it's definitely time to start. But let's not stress. Let's have fun with it. (At the same time, let's be grateful for online shopping.)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Peppermint Candy Cane Chocolate Shortbread Cookies + 10 More Vegan Christmas Recipes

Peppermint Candy Cane Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (vegan)

What's not to love about shortbread cookies? They are simple to make, call for very few ingredients and are sure to be delicious. I have added these Peppermint Candy Cane Chocolate Shortbread Cookies to my Christmas repertoire this year because the only thing that could be better than shortbread is chocolate shortbread...with peppermint candy canes on top. And melted chocolate. It's a winning combination, as my testers can, well, testify. (My testers in this case were my kids, my husband, my niece and my sister-in-law.) "That's the best cookie I've had in a while," my sister-in-law said.

Also, read on for 10 more vegan Christmas recipes from my blogging friends. You can make a whole delicious holiday meal with these recipes, because there are recipes for everything from appetizers to mains to desserts.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

DIY Christmas Napkin Iron-On Designs and How To Use The Cricut EasyPress 2

*This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after following a link, Woman in Real Life may earn a small commission. Your price is not affected.

One of my favourite things about decorating for Christmas is creating our Christmas table decor. It's always fun to go through my dishes and table accessories to decide how to mix and match my cherished items. If you have the time, it's nice to add a few personalized DIY touches too.

I am a big fan of gold glitter, in both cardstock and iron-on materials. But I also like the fresh, crisp look of silver glitter. So I decided to set my holiday table with mixed metallics, using DIY Christmas napkin designs in both warm gold glitter and crisp silver glitter iron-on. It's quite simple to create these holiday napkins. Read on for the tutorial.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

10 Tips To Help You Stay Healthy Through Winter (With Recipes)

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

Compared to the quick and carefree days of summer, winter can feel long and oh-so challenging. The scarcity of sunshine, combined with bitter cold and an abundance of snow, can leave us feeling depleted and down. Plus, we inevitably spend more time indoors in close proximity to othersand their germsso we're at higher risk for colds and flu.

Before we give way to doom and gloom though, the good news is that we can take steps to stay as healthy as possible through the dark days of winter. Play an active role in your health and navigate winter with a more positive outlook. Here are my 10 tips to help.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Fixes For 4 Winter Hair Woes

Photo: Sterling Williams

Just as summer sun can wreak havoc on your hair, winter presents a whole new set of challenges for your tresses. Not to worry. With a little bit of extra care, you can keep your hair looking healthy all winter long. Colour specialist Sterling Williams, an artistic educator for Matrix Canada, offers up fixes for four common winter hair woes.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Room of One's Own - My Living Room Makeover

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

I'm fortunate to have a dedicated area for work in my home - a room of one's own, if you will. In actual fact, this room is a combination office and living room, but most of our family living is done in the kitchen and connected family room. People rarely sit in the living room. So I have taken that as an invitation to do what I choose with the space.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Bars (Vegan, Gluten Free) + 10 More Peanut Butter Recipes

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Bars (Vegan, Gluten Free)

November is National Peanut Butter Lovers Month. As if we need another reason to eat peanut butter! Peanut butter is not only creamy and delicious, it's also a great vegan source of protein. And it makes the perfect partner to chocolate. Together, chocolate and peanut butter are the foundation of many rich, decadent and delectable treats. These no-bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Bars are one tasty, dessert-worthy example.

Friday, November 9, 2018

40+ Vegan Lentil Soups and Stews (With Gluten Free, Slow Cooker and Instant Pot Options)

40+ Vegan Lentil Soups and Stews (With Gluten Free, Slow Cooker and Instant Pot Options)
Photos courtesy of Happy Kitchen.Rocks, Yummy Mummy Kitchen, Soup Addict, My Darling Vegan

Living in a climate with four distinct seasons, I try to see the best in each one of them. It's not that difficult to see the positives in fall. Cool breezes, richly hued leaves, warm sweaters, steaming mugs of hot cocoa topped with vegan marshmallows...and soup. Ah, soup. Soup can even make winter more palatable. For the first two months anyway.

Soup recipes are usually simple to make. They are frequently free of gluten. They are easily made vegan with the help of a good veggie stock. Soups are ideal for healthy, homemade meals. And many soups can be whipped together quickly. Those that cook for a bit longer allow you time to make other foods (like homemade biscuits!) or tidy your kitchen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

DIY Reversible Floral Tote Sewing Project (& Cricut Maker FAQ)

*This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after following a link, Woman in Real Life may earn a small commission. Your price is not affected.

I wouldn't call myself a sewer by any means. That's part of the reason I was so eager to get a Cricut Maker - the Maker takes care of the cutting part of the sewing equation and that's one big step towards effective completion of a sewing project. Cricut Maker cuts fabric without the need to apply a stabilizer. It also cuts much thicker materials, like chipboard. Check out my "She's Crafty" chipboard sign, the first project I made with my new Cricut Maker.

My second project had to involve sewing, because I was eager to test out the Maker's fabric-cutting capabilities. And Cricut actually sells little bundles of beautiful, coordinating fabrics, making it easy to pick the three fabrics required for this DIY Reversible Floral Tote. (Read on to see the reverse side of my tote.) If you would like to make your own tote bag or gift one to a friend, here's how it's done...

Friday, October 5, 2018

Double Chocolate Berry Muffins (vegan)

Double Chocolate Berry Muffins (Vegan)

When I started to make these muffins, I didn't set out to create a new recipe. I simply wanted to replace the photos in this older Double Chocolate Muffins recipe. (Some of the old photos on this blog just aren't Pinterest-friendly if you know what I'm sayin'.) As I got going on my baking though, I decided to update the recipe just a little bit. I enjoy the classic combination of chocolate and berries. Plus, berries are so pretty! And the gorgeous natural hues that berries display speak to their abundant and health-promoting antioxidant content. Meaning these muffins are health food. Pretty much. If you don't want berries in your muffins today, please do go back to the old recipe (those muffins have lovely shredded coconut in them too!).

Monday, October 1, 2018

Off The Shelf: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (Book Review)

It took me a bit of time to get around to writing this review. Just as it took me a bit of time to read Warlight: A novel  by Michael Ondaatje. It's not unusual for me to come around to a novel slowly. I often find it's around the 100-page mark that I finally get wrapped up in it. Many times I then end up wishing the novel were 100 pages longer. But was that the case here? Read on.

Friday, September 21, 2018

What's Inside A TIFF Celebrity Swag Bag?

The contents of a Toronto International Film Festival Bask-It-Style Celeb Swag Bag
Photo by Kennedy Pollard / Ryan Emberley Photography

Being a celebrity definitely has its perks, and getting loads of free stuff is a big one. In town for the Toronto International Film Festival, celebrities can pop around to different lounges and get treated to anything from food and cosmetics to soaps and footwear. Bask-It-Style, by GLO Communications, offers up a bit of a twist on that scenario, bringing their curated bags of goodies directly to the hotels where the busy stars stay during TIFF. This was the tenth year for Bask-It-Style's annual gifting bonanza and I got a peek at the VIP treats during a media day preview at the luxe Thompson Toronto Hotel.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fall Home Tour 2018

Fall weather arrived unexpectedly last week. Our central air conditioner had given up the ghost a couple of weeks earlier and we suffered through a few extremely hot days, windows cracked to no avail - only heat and humidity flowing through screens. Then, suddenly, open windows meant goose bumps and shivering. That's life in Canada. I am sure there are a few warm days ahead.

All of this is to say I'm not feeling quite ready for pine cones and fuzzy blankets. So I decorated for fall with a light and minimal touch. I shopped only from the abundance of decorative items I already own. And I plucked flowers from the pots on my deck and leaves from my Japanese maple tree. Super simple. For this fall home tour, I'm joining up with amazingly talented Canadian bloggers, including our hosts, Shannon and Christina. Visit the other homes via the links at the bottom of this post for plenty of fall decor inspiration. (Come back each day this week as more tours are added.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

She's Crafty DIY Chipboard Sign and How To Use The Cricut Maker Knife Blade

*This post contains sponsored product and affiliate links. All opinions are authentic and my own. If you make a purchase after following an affiliate link, Woman in Real Life may earn a small commission. Your price is not affected.

I've been coveting the Cricut Maker cutting machine since it was launched a year ago. Yes I have the Cricut Explore Air and I love it (and will continue to love it). But Cricut Maker offers up more cutting options. It has a fast mode for up to 2x faster cutting and writing and an Adaptive Tool System™ for professional-level cutting performance.

The tools that work with Cricut Maker include a knife blade, which makes it possible to cut thicker materials (up to 2.4 mm) including chipboard. So, for my first project with my new Cricut Maker, I decided to go with a fun chipboard sign for my craft wall (which doesn't actually exist yet - this will act as a motivator).

Friday, August 24, 2018

Tips To Get Organized For Back To School (With A Stick 2 Me Labels Giveaway!)

Colorful Stick 2 Me personalized labels on a white background

*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.

There are so many emotions swirling around when it's time for the kids to go back to school - nervousness, excitement, sadness that summer's come to an end. Along with all of those mixed feelings comes a pressing need to get lots of tasks accomplished. Shopping is a biggie - school uniforms or first-day outfits, pencils, paper, binders, indoor and outdoor shoes. And then there's the feeling that our days would flow better and our mornings would run more smoothly if we could just get the house organized. I think we need to put aside perfection or we're just going to drive ourselves crazy. That being said, I have a few tips (learned over years of struggle) to help you get organized for back to school. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Delicious, Healthy Chocolate Date Smoothie Bowl (vegan, gluten-free)

 Vegan and gluten-free chocolate date smoothie bowl with fruit toppings

It's a smoothie. In a bowl. But you already knew that. The smoothie bowl is your morning-time friend - a quick blend of healthy, filling, nourishing whole foods that will help energize you and take you through to lunchtime. Plus, if you do it right, the smoothie bowl is super tasty too. Let's do it that way!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Off The Shelf: Our Animal Hearts by Dania Tomlinson (Book Review)

Summer ain't over yet - there's still time to grab a great book and head for the beach! If you're a fan of sunny, romantic beach reads, Our Animal Hearts, by Canadian Dania Tomlinson, isn't the book for you. But if you want to be caught up in a fanciful, dark, captivating tale that has you reading through to sundown, this is a perfect choice. It's weird, for sure, but weird is good. Weird is different. Weird is something you haven't read before.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Easy As Pie Caramelized Pear and Chocolate Pie (vegan & gluten-free)

*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.

California Pears are in season right now and I took advantage of their abundance to make this "Easy As Pie" Caramelized Pear and Chocolate Pie. I have always been confused by the expression "easy as pie" because pie (particularly the crust) isn't all that easy to make. According to Wikipedia though, easy as pie refers to the act of eating pie. And I think we all agree that's easy to do. (Maybe a little too easy?) I decided to name my new (vegan and gluten-free) pie creation Easy As Pie Caramelized Pear and Chocolate Pie because this sweet, pretty little pie is just about as easy to make as it is to eat. Here's how it's done...

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Adults Want Back To School Stuff Too! (With A Giveaway)

My daughter and her friend were talking about back to school today and they both agreed that the only exciting thing about going back is shopping for fresh school supplies and clothing. I told them that adults still carry that same feeling with them as we head into fall. I guess it's from all the years of preparing for back to school with nervousness and excitement. That's why, when I'm shopping for the kids for back to school, I like to buy a few things for myself and my home office.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Pear Ginger Muffins (vegan)

*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.

One of the many beautiful things about summer is that we tend to crave healthy, natural foods. Nothing is more satisfying on a hot summer day than a piece of ripe, refreshing fruit. I like to take advantage of these warm weather cravings while they last by incorporating fruit into as many meals and snacks as I can. That's why I created this recipe for vegan Pear Ginger Muffins. Not only are these muffins moist and delicious, they also harness the health benefits of fresh California Bartlett Pears.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What Are Your Thoughts On A&W's Beyond Meat Burger? & What I Ate Wednesday (Vegan Eats)

Usually I just eat my vegan food and mind my own business. If people have questions about a plant-based diet, I'm happy to answer them. I can even take a joke or two directed at my diet. But I have been reading some of the debate surrounding the new Beyond Meat Burger at A&W (a nation-wide fast food restaurant here in Canada) and I thought I'd weigh in with my opinions. First off, A&W is not the first fast food chain in Canada to offer a plant-based burger. I have been enjoying Harvey's delicious veggie burger for many years now. (In fact, A&W also has another vegetarian burger. I guess all the hype is because of the Beyond Meat partnership.) But I'm always happy for more vegan options. And I'm also fine with eating fast food from a chain restaurant that also serves meat, because we don't all live in Toronto or Vancouver downtown, with vegan restaurants all around us. My parents, for example, live in a town with no Harvey's. They have a McDonald's of course, but I can't get a thing to eat there. They also have A&W, so hooray. I think that, if we support the vegan options, we'll find more of them available in the long run.

Yes it's kind of odd that A&W launched the plant-based burger through vegan Instagram/YouTube celebs - odd because the burger comes dressed with mayonnaise (which contains egg) and apparently an "Uncle" sauce that also isn't vegan. It would certainly make my life easier if they just made the whole package vegan. I went to A&W to sample the Beyond Meat Burger this past week and the guy seemed confused when I asked for no mayo and no sauce. He told me that would mean no ketchup or mustard either - and we can't have that, now can we? So I'm still not sure what the "Uncle" sauce is or whether I need to avoid it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Dream Basement Tour - Complete With Wine Cellar, Craft Room and Movie Theatre

Photos by Dylan Photography.

This 10,000-square-foot Stouffville, Ontario home - custom-designed by Royal Interior Design - is a carefully crafted blend of beauty, elegance and function. "A lot of people think a beautiful home is not practical or functional for children or everyday living," says Royal Interior Design principal Catherine-Lucie Horber. "I always try to find the perfect balance of beauty and function." The basement is a case in point. With the abundance of trim work, beautiful finishes, dark flooring, plush furnishings and glam accessories, it has an elegance that could easily translate to a sophisticated condo.

Friday, July 6, 2018

New in Nonfiction (Book Review & Giveaway)

Are you a fan of fiction? Nonfiction? Both? I tend to be attracted to literary fiction (especially by women), vegan cookbooks and d├ęcor books. But, let's be honest, there aren't too many types of books I'll pass up. I have received several interesting new nonfiction books over the past couple of months and I want to share a handful of them with you today. I think they all make perfect reads for summer. The great thing about nonfiction in summer is you can pick up a book poolside or at the beach or on a patio or any time you have a few minutes and read one page, one chapter or the whole book - whatever you have time for. It won't require a ton of concentration and you learn as you go, in snippets.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

I'm not a fan of fad diets at all. I believe in a healthy, whole foods diet and moderate exercise for more sustainable wellness. Recently, though, I picked this book off my shelf (I have a lot of books that I haven't read): The Lean: A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss. It's by Kathy Freston, author of Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World and Quantum Wellness: A Practical Guide to Health and Happiness.

I decided to browse through The Lean and I am actually finding it really inspiring. The book calls upon you to make one change each day (maintaining the previous days' changes too) for 30 days. It's a plant-based routine that asks you to cut out dairy, meat and eggs. Seeing as I'm already vegan I was able to easily skip past a lot of the suggestions. The remaining changes are really not a "diet" per se. It's more a sustainable way of eating healthy that so far has me starting the day with a high-fibre breakfast (like the breakfast quinoa, above, made from a recipe in the back of The Lean), eating at least one apple each day, having a handful of nuts for a morning snack, adding two tablespoons of ground flax to my food and drinking lots of water.

Basically it's about getting plenty of fibre and crowding the less healthy choices out with better choices. I'll tell you more about it as I go on, or you can also follow along in my Instagram stories. In case you're wondering, the reason I'm doing it is to tackle my "muffin top," which I earned from having my second child over 13 years ago. But I want to be clear that this is my choice and if you are content with your muffin top, more power to you!

Friday, June 22, 2018

How To Get A Photo Printed On Canvas (With A Giveaway)

Although I'm a big fan of white and light grey paint on walls, I feel it's important to add colour, texture and personality through accessories. I particularly like to liven up our home decor with artwork. My husband and I used to collect all kinds of unique art pieces when we were younger. Since we've had kids, though, we tend to look for art that is more personal and also less expensive (because who has the disposable income anymore?).

Our latest piece of artwork came to us courtesy of the folks at CanvasChamp. It's an image that's special to me because it's from one of my favourite places. I took this photograph on a secluded private beach down the road from the farmhouse my dad grew up in. It's in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, one of the most gorgeous places on earth. Some of you may know that my kids are teenagers now, so obviously this photo was taken a while back. That's parent life, right? We don't get photos printed as fast as we would like. But it's super easy to get your favourite family photos printed on canvas, turning them into personalized artwork for your home. Here's how it's done:

Monday, June 18, 2018

Vegan Burgers and Burritos (Book Review & Ultimate "Meatball" Burger Recipe)

Even for vegans and vegetarians, burgers are a staple of summer. While I admit we often throw pre-packaged veggie burgers on the barbecue, if you have a bit of extra time and energy, making a fresh burger from whole foods is ideal. My family also loves a good burrito. Burritos are versatile and offer up the possibility of tailoring the stuffings to the likes and dislikes of different family members, including picky kids.

When I saw the gorgeous cover of Vegan Burgers and Burritos: Easy and Delicious Whole Food Recipes for the Everyday Cook, I was hooked. A luscious, well-topped burger, crispy fries and a burrito oozing with black beans, tomatoes and rice. Looks like the perfect cookbook for summer!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Making Father's Day Cards With Cricut

I posted these cards for Mother's Day, so you know I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to post about the Father's Day cards I made this year with my Cricut Explore Air™. I made three cards once again - one for my dad, one for my father-in-law and one for my husband. I tried to find appropriate cards for each one of them using the card designs that are ready to go in Cricut Design Space.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

Can you believe that we're almost mid-way through June? "I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June," wrote L.M. Montgomery. And, for many years, this great Canadian author lived not too far from where I'm sitting, so I feel I know exactly what she's talking about. June has so many gifts - blossoms, sunshine, strawberries - and it's our duty to enjoy them while they last.

I try my best to enjoy berries as often as possible while they are in season. For the day of vegan eats I'm sharing today, I started the day with a smoothie of frozen banana, peach slices, pineapple, strawberries, orange juice and soy milk. I didn't add any "superfoods" such as chia seeds because I find they can be tricky on my digestion.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Patriotic Canada Day Ribbon Flag & Canada Day Creations From Canadian Bloggers


Canada Day is coming up on July 1st. The day marks the anniversary of the 1867 enactment of the Constitution Act, which united three separate colonies into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada. But I think what people mainly celebrate on July 1st is the fact that it's warm outside (hot even) and we finally get to enjoy our lakes, beaches, parks and swimming pools. And maybe a cold beverage or two. 

Canadians don't tend to display the national flag on our porches as often as our American neighbours, but our red and white flag does make a strong appearance on Canada Day. The inspiration for my patriotic Canada Day ribbon flag was in fact a DIY American ribbon flag I saw on Pinterest. I googled "patriotic Canada ribbon flag" and came up with nothing but a bunch of plastic flags for sale, no DIYs. So I thought I would create a DIY ribbon flag tailored to the celebration of our beautiful country for Canada Day. Anytime we're celebrating a special event, it's nice to get together with friends. Today is no different. I have six Canadian blogging friends joining me to share their creative ideas for Canada Day food and decor. See them via the links at the end of this post.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Don't Sweat It! Fixes For 4 Summer Hair Woes

Sun, sand and surf - summer is synonymous with outdoor fun. But summer fun also means perspiration, chlorine and harsh UV rays, and it isn’t always kind to your hair. Don’t sweat it! Colour specialist Sterling Williams, an artistic educator for Matrix Canada, offers up these fixes for four common summer hair woes.

1. Damaged, Dry Hair

Time spent in the blazing sun can lead to dry, brittle hair, split ends and frizziness. To minimize damage, allow your hair to air-dry rather than using hair dryers and other hot styling tools. “Embrace your natural texture,” Williams advises. The less-is-more approach applies to washing hair too. “I don’t feel like anybody needs to wash their hair every day,” she says. “It’s not necessary and it’s not good for your hair.” Wash your hair two to three times per week. Apply a leave-in conditioner or primer to towel-dried hair. “Look for a product that adds both moisture and UV protection,” Williams says. Use a hydrating hair treatment once a week to replenish lost moisture. Use silk scrunchies and a silk pillowcase to reduce friction and minimize breakage of hair strands.

Hair Helper: Maurizio’s Hydrating Hair Mask helps restore moisture and shine to damaged hair.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

I'm not one of those people who buys 10 pounds of bananas and four watermelons each week (and good for you if you are). But I do like the occasional plate of fruit in the morning. It makes for the perfect light meal when you're not quite hungry yet. And nothing says summer like crisp, fresh, juicy watermelon wedges! I had this little fruit plate, above, after cutting up watermelon for the kids to take to school this morning.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

It's officially nice cream season! If you don't know what nice cream is, I'll tell you. It's basically just blended up frozen fruit, usually with banana. The banana makes it creamy. If you're skeptical, you should give it a try. My kids love it. (I could tell you that I love it but we all know kids are more picky, so their endorsement speaks volumes.) Start with this Strawberry Maple Nice Cream and then move onto this Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Nice Cream. I was cleaning out my freezer this weekend and realized we have an abundance of frozen fruit, so I made a big batch of strawberry/banana/cherry nice cream (above) for the family. If it feels a little too virtuous for dessert, go ahead and add the chocolate chips.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Quick Vegan Cinnamon Raisin Soda Bread

Considering that I'm half Irish (the kind that has never been to Ireland) you would think I would have made soda bread before now. According to this history of Irish soda bread, this quick loaf was created out of necessity. For poor people with few resources, you couldn't ask for a bread that requires fewer ingredients. Flour, salt, baking soda (in lieu of yeast) and sour milk (or buttermilk). That's it! I have veganized the traditional recipe by using non-dairy milk mixed with vinegar in place of buttermilk. And this particular variation also calls for cinnamon and raisins.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

This mason jar full of orange-hued juice is starting to look familiar, huh? The good news is I'm keeping up with my (almost)daily juicing. The bad news is my What I Ate Wednesday posts are getting a bit repetitive. This week's day of vegan eats starts with the usual juice - a blend of carrots, apple, orange and celery.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Off The Shelf: Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes (Book Review)

I was drawn to Women in Sunlight: A Novel for a few reasons. For one, sunlight. We didn't have much of that over (a very long) winter and the more sunlight in my life right now, the better. Even if I'm reading about it. Two, the novel's author is Frances Mayes, who wrote the bestselling memoir Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy, which I actually haven't read. But I've watched the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, featuring the lovely Diane Lane, several times. Because Tuscany. Italy is my third reason for reading Women in Sunlight.

The story sees three American women at crossroads in their lives, deciding between a comfy but potentially boring retirement community for seniors and adventure in Italy. Spoiler alert: they choose Italy. Their stories parallel and intertwine with the story of poet/author Kit Raine, another American who has made her home in Italy. Kit shares her story in the first person while the third-person narrative takes us through the other three women's adventures.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

New Gardening Books for Spring 2018

I'm going to admit right up front that I don't have a green thumb. It's not that I kill plants - it's that I have little to no experience with growing them. At the moment we have (count 'em) three lonely plants in our house. One is a pot of lavender I bought very recently. The other two are succulents that (fortunately) thrive on neglect. Outdoors my husband takes care of any planting that goes on. And there hasn't been a whole lot the last two years, despite my visions of ripe red tomatoes and thick, leafy kale. I'll take it as a hint that I recently received all these lovely gardening and plant-related books to review. I need to set aside a sleepy weekend afternoon to read through these instructive books in more detail with a glass of iced tea in hand. And then maybe get to planting?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

May is always the busiest month in our house (and I know it's the same for lots of other households). We Canadians come out of hibernation when the snow ends (this year in April!) and then it seems we have to fit all the events in over four to six weeks. Dance competition season is over seemingly as quickly as it began. We were fortunate that my girl's ankle healed (well enough) for her to compete in two out of three of her competitions. Now she just has recital in June.

Basketball season also ended for my son this past weekend with a trip to Ottawa for the year-end tournament. Then, I put my daughter on a bus for her Grade 8 trip to Ottawa this morning. Shockingly she didn't want me to go along as a chaperone. This upcoming May long weekend we actually don't have an event planned. We are dog-sitting so we're staying close to home and hopefully getting lots of de-cluttering and gardening done.

In terms of recent meals in our home (the rightful subject of this post), I'm showing highlights from the past two weeks, starting with these incredibly delicious Carrot Cake Pancakes, above, from a recipe in Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week. The kids said these pancakes really do taste like carrot cake, but they didn't eat a lot of them so I guess the carrots smacked of health food. More for me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Making Mother's Day Cards With Cricut

Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday and it's time now (if we haven't yet) to think about how we are going to celebrate the moms, mothers-in-law, grandmothers and mother figures in our lives. Cards are always a nice way to share sentiments. And homemade cards are even better.

A couple of years ago, my youngest child stopped making Mother's Day cards at school. I have to say I have missed the little homemade crafts and cards the kids used to bring home. But kids who are too old to make crafts at school are old enough to make (more sophisticated) cards with Cricut. And that includes adult children, like me. This year, I made three (easy) homemade Mother's Day cards with my Cricut Explore Air™. The Cricut does all of the cutting for you (even the envelopes) so all you have to do is glue pieces together! And compose a really great greeting, of course. Here's a closer look at the cards I chose to make.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

I'm on a real juicing kick of late. For the past week or so, I've left my juicer out on the counter and I make a tasty blend of fruit and vegetable juice to start my day each morning. I generally put in carrots, celery, apples, an orange and a chunk of cucumber. I've been able to continue the practice largely because I'm committed to cleaning the juicer right away after making my juice.

In the past, I've tended to give up juicing after a couple of days because of the inconvenience of cleaning the machine. But it's really not so bad if you do it relatively quickly. At least give it a quick rinse and you can clean it more thoroughly later. I feel like, since spring is finally here, it's a good time for a rebirth of sorts, ie. getting lots of fresh nutrients into this just-out-of-hibernation body. Exercise wouldn't hurt either. But that's for another day...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day of Vegan Eats)

Spring is here in earnest now, with some warm days, some rainy days and lots of worms making their appearances on the driveway. Perhaps that wasn't a good transition into noodles? What I meant to say is it's a transitional time with regard to food. You have those cool and rainy days when a bowl of soup is much appreciated. And those warmer days when you just want to throw a veggie burger on the grill. For just about every darn day, noodle and rice bowls work. Change up the toppings and sauces depending on your cravings and what you have in the fridge and pantry. Above, we had udon noodles with peanut sauce, sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, tofu and sesame seeds.

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