Monday 31 October 2011


Yes, today is Halloween, and there will be a full recap of our Halloween festivities later this week, but today I have a little baby shower recap from Saturday. If you remember last week I posted about party planning, and the baby shower I was currently planning. Well, baby Armani's safe arrival was celebrated on Saturday and here's a photo recap of all the love for this little sweetheart.

I made this coconut cake, and it is AMAZING! If you're interested in the recipe I can definitely share!

beautiful Ariana, Armani's Mama

Armani needed another chance to wear her Halloween costume [isn't she a gorgeous Monkey!?!] and enjoyed lots of snuggles from all who came to show her some love!

Armani you are so very loved [as is your Mama!] and I look forward to seeing you grow. Thank you for letting us celebrate you sweet daughter Ariana - she is so blessed to be born into your family. And don't worry Paul, Darius and Eli will protect her along with Crew - she'll have a little army of men to keep her safe.

Did you enjoy any non-Halloween events this weekend? Or has your time been eaten away by ghosts, goblins, and vampires alike?

Thursday 27 October 2011

Pumpkin Love

Have you carved your pumpkin yet? We FINALLY got around to it last night [delaying the boys snoozing big time!] but seeing as we had promised a certain someone pumpkin carving since Sunday, it was time to make good on that promise. [Does that happen for you? Where you make a promise to your kiddos - or friends - sincerely planning on following through, but time just doesn't allow you to in the time frame promised? It seems to happen a lot more now that there are two little munchkins in our roost!]  I was assigned the pumpkin design work, and the incredible Daddy was given the task of carving. I asked Darius what he wanted the pumpkin to look like and he said,"I want a HAPPY pumpkin!"

Daddy tried to talk him into a scary pumpkin [saying pumpkins aren't suppose to be happy] but Darius just threw back his head and laughed. Happy it is!

Eli enjoyed some green shake for supper while Daddy carved away under Darius' watchful eye. Can you see his cute teeth??? This little monkey has teeth number 5 and 6 coming in right now!

After some careful sketching, de-seeding, and carving, Darius had his happy pumpkin! He was so excited we had to light it up right then! I didn't get a pic of it then, so I had my little man-o pose with his pumpkin this morning.

Darius thinks his pumpkin looks like him, in fact he believes this so much he named his pumpkin "Darius Pumpkin." So cute!

Is your pumpkin carved and ready to greet trick or treaters? Or do you carve last minute? Last minute has its advantages [the pumpkin is less likely to be complete mush on the 31st for one!] but I love the festive look of a carved pumpkin on the porch too much to wait!

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Batty Surprise

The other night I spent two and a half HOURS cutting out 75 bats, and sticking them on the wall in a flight pattern for my sweet little Darius. It turns out that Halloween is a big deal this year, and hes been begging for decoration EVERYDAY, and pointing out what areas of the house are lacking the Halloween spirit. To say that my three year old is a task master is an understatement ha!

Anyways, After putting in all that time on the bats, Darius did reward me with a big reaction in the morning. "Oh Mom! It's beautiful!!!.....BUT, the couch is not Halloween." Sheesh. So, we headed off to Fabricland, picked out some fabric, and made some bat pillows to 'Halloween-ize' the couch. With the decor now meeting the very critical standards here's a little peek!

this is what greets you when you walk into our home!

notice the munchkin eating Cheerios? He's so focused ha!

If you'd like to whip up some of these for your couch, check out the tutorial at MADE


Close up of the creepiness! Can you believe Darius picked these out??

These Martha Stewart [found at Michael's] window decals were our most expensive decoration. But, seeing at they're reusable, I thought it was worth the splurge! The web is kindly provided by a neighborhood spider.

Even the table needed to get 'Halloween-ized!'
 Between the cob-webs, spiders, skulls, and bats we're set for a great Halloween - and making one special three year old overjoyed in the process!

Did you do any D.I.Y decorations this year? Did you follow a tutorial? Or did you create your own pattern?

Friday 21 October 2011

Baby Shower Planning

A great friend of mine recently had a baby girl. Ever since July I have been scouting out ideas for a baby shower to celebrate this sweet baby girls arrival, and now the baby shower is next week! When planning the perfect baby shower [or any party for that matter] it is important to consider a few main elements key to a successful party.

What is the date of the party?

How many guests will be invited?

Where would you like to have the party?

What is the theme or color scheme?

How much do you have to spend on your shin-dig?

Since I already knew the answer to many of these questions far in advance, I've had plenty of time to throw into the planning of details, such as decor. Martha Stewart offers up a plethora of decor inspiration [really, she is a genius when it comes to all things entertaining.] Here are the images that grab me the most, and are driving the decor direction for next weeks shower:

Sweet baby Armani [such a cute name!] is going to be celebrated  next week at her whimsy-chic brunch, with pink, yellow, and white as the color scheme. I can't wait to see it come together! If you're curious about the outcome, I'll be posting photos after the party, so stay tuned.

Do you love planning parties? What details do you get obsessed with? Or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pant [ so to speak]?

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Brand New

It's been almost a week since I last posted, [apologies] but I have a VERY good excuse. We moved into our BRAND NEW house on Tuesday, and we've been busy making it our home! Along with all the boxes to move, unpack, sort and organize, comes the marking of territory [so to speak] that my little men must do around their new neighborhood. This process entails hunting down the best parks [there are so many to choose from!] scouting out the best water features [the lake wins in my books - the boys have yet to decide] and making friends left right and center. Why is it that children can make friends so easily??? Darius saw some kids at the park as we played on Saturday evening [and by kids, I mean three 11 year old girls who could care less about my sweet and precocious three year old boy] and stated very matter of fact, "there's some kids Mom! I'm going to go talk to them." Then off he strode to those girls, who proceeded to ignore him until he lost interest in them and challenged me to a race. Thank goodness he's such a resilient little man!

Anyways, with all the bustling about, blogging has been put on the back burner. Now that I'm feeling a little more settled, and am starting to see the light as the boxes empty and retreat to the basement, I actually took the time to go for a run in what feels like FOREVER! My Amazing Husband held onto the monitor [and dutifully folded laundry - thanks Hon!] while I hit the streets for my inaugural run in our new digs. After not running for weeks [packing, cleaning, and moving out take up LOADS of time - time I usually reserve for me haha] it felt good to pound out a 45 minute run with only minor hiccups.

Here's the breakdown:

Distance: unknown
Time: 45 minutes
Speed: actual unknown/ perceived 6.5 mph range

Making the transition from mainly treadmill running back to gravel, dirt and pavement is oddly nice and relaxing. I forgot how distracting the flashing display can be, and how meditative nature [even with roads, cars, and houses crowding around me] can be.

Do you prefer to run on a treadmill? Or do you enjoy fresh air and nature - even if you're in the middle of a concrete jungle?

After my run I enjoyed a large organic carrot and homemade hummus. Hummus is soooo incredibly easy to make that it should be in everyones fridge at all times [personal opinion...but still very true.] My favorite hummus flavors are roasted garlic and roasted red pepper, but I always start with the same base. For those of you who aren't sure where to start with making their own hummus, but whom now believe that maybe they should have some in their fridge right now, here's how to make it happen!

Super Easy Hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed clean
2tbsp tahini [sesame seed butter]
4tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp olive oil
garlic to taste
spices or roasted vegetables to taste, as desired

Blend all the above ingredients in the blender until a consistent, spreadable dip is achieved. Now enjoy!

There are loads of variations on this basic hummus recipe, and while I haven't tried this one I'm dying to try Cheri's Peanut Butter Hummus she posted recently. Doesn't it look Divine?

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Vanilla Pear Jam

Back in March I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Cher Stuff, when she presented a jam that she had made the previous day. My mouth watered as I read the name of the jam, then continued as I read the recipe. Do you have that? Where you can read a recipe and actually taste it? I do, and it comes in handy when looking for a new recipe to add to the rotation. Anyways, this jam had me dreaming of pear season, and when it hit I was ready to whip it up!

Full disclosure: I have never made jam before. This was my inaugural attempt, I was nervous, and I pulled it off all on my own. If I can do it, so can you!

Vanilla Pear Jam

From Cher Stuff with one ingredient switch up

8 cups chopped pears (no need to peel)
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
1 1/2 cups naturally creamed organic honey
1 package pectin crystals

In a large, heavy pot combine chopped pears, sugar and vanilla beans. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until the sugar melts and the fruit can be easily mashed with the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the vanilla bean pods and use an immersion blender to make a fairly smooth sauce.

Stir in the pectin and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Boil for five minutes. Remove from heat.

Fill hot, sterilized jars. Wipe rims to be sure they are clean. Apply lids (that have been simmering in water while you are cooking your jam) and screw on rims. Process jars in a hot water canner for 10 minutes (that is boil for 10 minutes). Remove jars from canner and place on a towel -lined counter to cool. When they are completely cool (after a couple of hours), the lids should be sealed. You can check the seal by pushing down on the center of the lid - if it is sealed it will be slightly concave and solid feeling.

Makes 8 half-pint (or 250 ml) jars.

I made three batches of this delicious jam, and am saving the precious 24 jars for our handcrafted Christmas we're doing this year. I am so excited for our handcrafted Christmas! Just wait until you see all the projects on the go!!

Monday 10 October 2011

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Yes, I have THE perfect pumpkin pie recipe to share with you today. First though, in honor of Thanksgiving [which is today here in Canada] here are a few of the things I am grateful for [in no particular order]:

I am thankful for Darius and his smiling face that greets me each morning

I am thankful for my sweet cheeks Eli - you brighten each day little man!

I am thankful for brothers who love each other - and a stroller that lets me fit running into my busy Mama life!

I am thankful for my amazing husband who not only helps around the house, but is an exceptional father to our little munchins

I am thankful for my house! We move in tomorrow, and I am soooo excited!

I am thankful for my best friend, companion, and partner - I love you Amesome, Amazing Hubby of Mine!

My life is full of goodness, from the people I am surrounded by, to the food in my belly haha. I love you my sweet family - thank you for enriching my life with your presence!

The good food in my belly is all vegan, all delicious, and so wonderfully amazing that I need to share! I've never made a pumpkin pie before. Pumpkin cheesecake yes, but pie no. So, I was a little nervous about making one, but that didn't hold me back from trying! I also wanted to make it gluten free so that my Dad's partner could enjoy some too [she was wonderful and made the orginal recipe pumpkin and apple pies for all those with unrestricted eating habits.] So, here are my pie crust, and filling that wow'ed the crowd! I hope you enjoy fabulous results with this recipe - I know I'll be making it again for my Awesome Husband who is a pumpkin pie lover!


Perfectly Pumpkin Pie


2 cups gluten free "Biscuits and Baking" Bob's Red Mill mix

1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest

2/3 cup vegan margarine, cold

1/4 cup ice water

1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, cold

Mix together the flour, salt and lemon zest. Cut in the margarine until mixture has a crumbly texture. In a separate bowl, combine the ice water and lemon juice. Slowly add to the dry ingredients, mixing gently, just until a dough is formed. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once chilled, place dough on counter between two sheets of plastic wrap, and roll out to 1/4" thick circle which is bigger than your pie plate. Transfer to pie plate, press in [don't worry if your dough breaks, just fill in the gap with some dough and smooth it together] and pinchall the way around the top rim of the pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400F, remove the pie crust from the fridge and place lightly buttered [I used the same vegan margarine as I did in the dough recipe] and place gently in the bottom of the pie. Place DRY beans on the foil [ this will prevent your crust form puffing up as it bakes] and bake for 15 minutes. Then, remove the foil and and beans from the pie crust and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
While your pie crust is cooling on a wire rack, whip up this delcious filling!
Pie Filling
15 oz pumpkin puree [I used canned]
1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup berry sugar [meaning extra fine sugar]
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla bean, split and scrapped
Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl and mix well, about 3-4 minutes. Once combined, pour into prepared crust and bake at 425F for 15 minutes, the reduce the oven tempreture to 350F and bake for another 40 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool. If you are not enjoying the right away, let it cool completed before placing in the fridge.
Happy Thanksgiving!
What are your Thanksgiving traditions? Is there a dish you can't live without? A trip you always take as a family? We try to incorporate some sort of activity into the day - you know, to combat the food como that can ensure when faced with a table full of miraculous food!

Friday 7 October 2011

Fast and Frenzied

This week and next are stacking up to be crazy! We move on Tuesday, and so this week is packing, buying appliances, and more packing. Oh, and Thanksgiving. Which means company. Yikes! With all this on my plate, I have just spent an hour researching Christmas projects (have I mentioned that we're doing a handcrafted Christmas?) instead of packing, cleaning, or baking ahead of time...oh well.

When life seems to pick up speed, I respond by finding ways to fit in exercise, me time, and healthy eats, in a shorter time allotment [which is why we had leftover brown rice, steamed broccoli, and brown beans for supper - a winning combo for all!] The following workout took me 17 minutes to complete. Then I wanted to puke. Consider yourself warned.

5 rounds of 5 repetitions of each exercise

Push Ups
Diamond Push Ups
Dive bombers
Sit Ups (no bracing)
Leg Levers
Flutter Kicks
Lunges [5/leg]
Broad Jumps
Sumo Dead Lift High Pull [SDLHP]
100yrd Sprint [one sprint per round]

For a breakdown of what each exercise is, reference the SEALFIT site that this workout comes from. My Amazing Husband put himself through the paces with this workout at work, then came home and challenged me to do the same. He did 10 rounds of 10 reps each, but seeing as time is of the essence, he suggested sticking to 5/5 and it was killer! With only preforming 5 repetitions, it allows you to push yourself beyond capacity [which is where the after-puke affect comes into play.]

Follow up your workout with dry heaving a cool down and stretching, before diving into one of these

or these

or even one of these

What are your Thanksgiving Weekend plans? Any big dinners? or guests? Thankfully our move occurs after the craziness of the weekend, so we'll be able to enjoy vegan pumpkin pie and roasted vegetables all the same! Either way, I'll be enduring enjoying this workout again this weekend!

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Grandma Bread

My Mother in Law is amazing. Seriously. On top of being amazing, she bakes wonderful, fluffy, whole wheat bread full of flavor and bursting with goodness. Everytime we are visiting and my MIL is baking bread, I watch carefully, often getting in her way as she putters around the kitchen, and try to replicate the miracle of bread at home. While I have made a mean loaf in my day, my bread is not a consistent hit, so I took it upon myself to truly crane my neck, write copious notes, and snap too many pictures all in the pursuit of moan worthy bread. My oh my was it worth it! If you are in search for whole wheat bread worth baking, look no further - MIL will show you the way.

Grandma Bread

6 cups pretty warm water
13 cups (roughly) freshly ground whole wheat flour
4 cups white flour
1/2 cup - 2/3 cups honey
3 tbsp fast rising yeast
2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup freshly ground flax seed (measured before grinding)
2/3 cups millet
2/3 cups sunflower seeds

Before you begin, grind all the flour and flax, and bring all ingredients you will need out to the counter.

First, put the pretty warm water in your mixer. Add honey, and yeast, and 6 cups of fresh ground whole wheat flour. Pulse your mixer three times or so, then set it to mix on low speed for 30-60 seconds.

Stop the mixer and add the eggs and salt. Blend.

While blending, add the oil.

Stop the mixer and add the flax, millet, and sunflower seeds. Blend.

Continue mixing and add 2 cups fresh ground whole wheat flours. Blend until smooth.

Add four 4 cups white flour (my MIL has found that this is what makes her bread so fluffy. If you wish to omit the white flour, your bread will simply be denser, and not rise quite as high.)


Now, add fresh ground whole wheat flour until mixer begins to 'whine' a bit. This will come with practice, and also patients. Add 1 cup at a time, allowing time for the flour to work into the dough. Whole wheat flour absorbs more moisture as it works into the dough, so if you add flour too rapidly it will end up making a very dry dough, and yucky bread. Patients is key!

My MIL ended up adding 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour during the space of about five minutes. Hit the sides of the bowl while its mixing to help the dough pull away.

If it is still really sticky and wet, add some more whole wheat flour.

Once the dough is right, let the mixer knead it for 10 minutes. VERY IMPORTANT - this works the gluten in the flour and the yeast in the dough. Both need time to be activated and help the bread to raise and be a nice and fluffy loaf when baked.

Once the dough has kneaded, lightly oil a clean counter and let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes. After the dough has rested, it feels less tacky. When sliced with a knife, it doesn't stick to the knife. Then slice in half, and each half into thirds, making six loaves.

Spray six loaf pans with PAM, then put shape dough so that the top is smooth, and put into pans. Let the dough raise in the pans until roughly 2" above the rim of the pan (approximately one hour, depending on the heat of your home.) There is no need to cover the dough with a towel.

Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes [this is the same if you've making buns, however I find that 25 minutes is ussually sufficent for bunms.]

Tip: Pans make a difference! Old pans bake bread more evenly, and can often be found at garage sales for a steal of a deal. The size you are looking for is 8 1/2"x 4 1/2" across the top inside rim of the pan.

Tip:Buns are a great option if you don't have enough pans! Follow the directions as noted, but instead of shaping into loaves, shape into little buns, place on pan, and let rise for an hour, then bake as directed.

Monday 3 October 2011


What do you think of when you picture tomatoes? Is it a salad? A plant? The sauce on your favorite pizza? [or all of the above] I love tomatoes and will often add them to recipes that don't call for them simply for their fresh flavor and burst of color. We all know that food is not only savored in the mouth, but also in presentation so try to add color however you can! And so there I was, standing in front of the fridge, quinoa cooking on the stove, and wondering what to pair with my tomatoes and quinoa. What resulted is a salad that I've made a few times now, each time having been met with delight from all that savored the experience. Try it, love it, and relish the thought that it not only looks and tastes wonderful, but is wonderfully healthy too!

Basil Tomato Quinoa Salad

2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
dash of maple syrup
dash of coarse sea salt

Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl and serve. It really is that simple!

This salad is a great post workout meal, main dish, or potluck addition. Don't be afraid to tinker with the measurements in this salad, and make it your own. Oh, I'd also try this out with whatever your favorite bean is...the possibilities are endless!

Saturday 1 October 2011

Captain America

* sorry for the delay in posting - blogger has been acting up on me, but I think it's all sorted now!

Darius gets REALLY into character when playing games. I'm talking, voice altering, mask wearing, story believing INVOLVED. We have been assigned roles in each of his make believe worlds. At times I am Wonder Woman, and at others I am Wasp. Today, my little Captain America was watching The Avengers [because that's what you do during your superhero downtime - you watch 'instant replay' of all the action] and I just have to share a few of the moments.

These are Darius and Daddy's cards - Darius knows all the superheros and super villians, and is teaching his slow to catch on Mama

When this grim charater appeared on screen, Darius pronounced very matter of factly, "And of course, there's Uncle Brayden."Someone needed to be the bad guy, and Brayden is such a good sport!

If you caught my post showcasing all my projects on the go, then you might have noticed this:

Well, all those pieces have now transformed into this:

My little Captain America is requesting the red gloves and boots, as well as the black belt and letting me know each time he dons his Halloween costume that it is not done. There is no rest for the Mama!

What are your little kiddos going to be for Halloween? Are they excited for all the candy? Or is the costume paramount?

Eli is going to wear the Batman costume that Darius wore for his first Halloween. Darius and I took it out today and hung it in the boys closet, as Darius is on full high alert already, and needs costumes at the ready!

What is your favorite Halloween treat? Do you have and Halloween traditions? You know, besides sending your kids out to ask strangers for candy? [sort of kidding on that last one...but seriously, it's a bizarre custom when you think about it.]

Here's my favorite treats:
I have a bag of these out in the deep freeze, and every now and then I find my hot Hubby sharing a little bag with Darius...Man I wish Coconut M&M's were vegan!

Coconut Creme Hershey's Kisses are soooo not included in a plant based nutrition plan...but I have a stash in my freezer, and I can't part with them, despite not having enjoyed even one little morsel since July.

Anything from this little table would suit my fancy [just looking at the table and how beautifully all the candy is presented is satisfying my sweet tooth]:

I had a candy bar at my wedding reception, way back before anyone else was doing it [besides Martha Stewart of course] and mine looked more like this:

And there you have it! I like coconut chocolates, and candy bars - is anyone really surprised? Maybe Captain America and I will come across a coconut chocolate candy bar when we're out knocking doors on October 31st! If we do, I may have to remove my vegan status for an hour or so...maybe more ha!