Friday, November 30, 2007

Product Reviews: Makeup

Makeup is a girl's bestfriend! It is mine anyways. I wish I was a natural beauty and could head out with nothing on.....but, I guess that will never happen - no matter how i wash my skin or how many veggies I eat. It just never seems to happen. I've managed to keep the number of products I use to a bare minimum - afterall, they do say less is more. Pictured here is what I put on before starting my day.
1. Kiss My face Liquid Rock: Pros: nice smell & long lasting odour protection. Cons: goes on wet and takes awhile to dry.
I've tried many natural deodorants and this is the only one that I found to keep me smelling pretty throughout the day.
2. Suncoat Natural Eye Shadow: Pros: Made in Canada - YAY!, Herbicide Free, GMO Free, Talc Free, Paraben-Free. Lasts the whole day without fading away. Cons: it is a roll on so it can be tricky to get on evenly. I found putting on my eye cream first helped.
3. AnneMarie Borlind Mascara: Pros: doesn't have any 'junk' in it. It doesn't clump. Cons: the wand is rather small so I find it takes longer to coat the lashes with it. It only comes in a 0.25 fl.oz size so it tends to go quickly.
4. Suncoat Organic Cream Blusher: Pros: once again, made in canada using organic ingredients. Cons: cream blush can be tricky to put on. The blush is fairly hard so I've had to dig below the surface to get the creamy stuff. Not sure if its too old or if this is how it's made.
5. Not shown here, but since I took this picture I bought another mascara: A Suncoat one. I will definately continue to buy this brand of mascara over the AnneMarie Borlind one. BECAUSE, the wand is longer so applying is easier AND its made in Canada. (annemare Borlind cosmetics come from germany).

I'd like to hear what natural cosmetics everyone else uses and why!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tis the season

I pretty much have finished my christmas shopping this year! Now I can spend the month of December enjoying the season. I do not want to have to visit the malls or box stores in December - talk about frantic people. ALSO, I find all the stores just suck you right in - with their cheery music, flashy displays, and ohhhh, the bargains. How can anyone resist??? It makes you want to BUY, BUY, BUY!!! Well, let me tell you - I RESISTED!! It was freakishly hard at the time though. ha ha But the satsifaction that I get from using this resistance is all worth it. I just had to ask myself "do I really need another holiday tablecloth, or a new set of glasses (afterall, our mason jars and recycled olive jars work just fine) or more gift bags when I've got recycled ones left from last years gifts"???? Mmmmmm, no I do not. Christmas time generates a lot of waste and each year it gets worse. Not to mention what sort of expectations our kids have with each year that passes. Where do we draw the line?
These are some of steps we took when doing our shopping this year:
1. Gift Wrap/Bags/Tags etc. - I saved all the gift bags from last years gifts and will be reusing them again this year. I also kept boxes and will reuse them. We have wrapped a few gifts in brown paper bags and then the kids have decorated them with markers, stickers, etc. I kept last years christmas cards we received and will cut them into gift tags.
2. Second hand and thrift stores: I shopped at these places first and got what I could before heading to find something new at the mall.
3. Hand me downs: my kids have some seriously nice toys and clothing in excellent shape that could be passed off as brand new if they had the appropriate box and packaging. (of course I would not be that deceptive) These toys/clothing are not being used here anymore so I will be giving these items away as gifts.
4. If it ain't broke then don't fix (replace) it. I did not make any new purchases when it came to household items, i.e. tablecloths, platters, tree decorations, lights, etc. We have plenty from previous years and nothing needs replacing.
5. Christmas cards: I will be buying the same cards I do every year - 'tree free' cards that come in a reusable tin container.

There are a million little steps we can all take to reduce our impact on the environment this christmas. It just takes a little consideration.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday morning spent in the kitchen

Each Monday morning I get myself all comfortable in the kitchen and set out to prepare some meals for the upcoming week. I also do some baking - a loaf of bread and usually a muffin or loaf of some sort. Plus some cookies. Sadly enough, I usually have to repeat the process by Wednesday as everything is eaten up. ha ha

These are some baked beans cooking away in my slow cooker. Shhhhh, don't tell anyone I took the lid off the croakpot to take this picture. The recipe came out of 'Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker'. We usually eat baked beans with some garlic bread and a big salad.
On the stove is a pot of Leslie's Tofu Noodle soup. We've been eating this soup several times a month for over a year now! We just LOVE it. And where is Leslie anyways? There has been nothing posted on her blog Eat Peace Please since May. I miss her posts!

And lastly, here is a loaf of homemade whole wheat bread and a carrot loaf. The carrot loaf recipe is from How it all Vegan - it is listed as a carrot cake. But I use whole wheat flour, less sugar and bake it in a loaf pan.
I've got the bread in a plastic ziploc bag. (I reuse ziplocs over and over and over again) But I was wondering if there was a way to keep my bread fresh without resorting to plastic. Any suggestions? Also, the plastic container beside it is the only survivor left from my plastics collection. I've been slowly replacing all plastic with glass containers.
I'm waiting for a cup of pumpkin to thaw so that I can bake some pumpkin oatmeal cookies. You'll have to wait to see those!

What's in my pantry??

Fellow bloggers seem to be posting pictures about what's in their pantrys. So I thought I would do the same thing - however, be prepared to be disappointed. For one, I do not have a pantry - we live in a small home. Second of all, I desiginate one cupboard to food and two exterior shelves - that's it. We shop and eat by the week around here which means in an emergency we will be fubar'd. I need to start stocking up. We don't have a COSTCO here so buying in bulk that way isn't possible. I try to shop the sales but......I just don't have any excuses. Sooooo, what you see here on the top shelf are my jars of beans, lentils, rice, popcorn and arrowroot powder. Bottom shelf is canola, coconut, and olive oils; sprouting seeds, pastas, and cooking stuff. i.e. raisins. Putting my dried beans, lentils, pastas etc into jars has been a terrific way to recycle glass jars. I've used applesauce jars, pasta sauce jars, olive jars etc. Some you see are mason jars we've bought for preserving too. Using jars is so much easier than having a million bags scattered all over the shelves. And this particular shelf is above the stove so it's a pain in the a$$ when trying to retrieve stuff out of it. I'm 5'7 and I still need a stool to reach the stuff on the top shelf.

We put these two shelves up because of the lack of cupboards in our kitchen. They come from IKEA. On the first shelf is my Cuisinart blender/processer combination, and canned goods/milks etc. Second shelf are my cookbooks and some more jars with sugar, oatmeal, pasta, and homemade cereal (posted that cereal recipe a few weeks back).

Sorry to disappoint you all - not much to see in this house regarding food. ha ha

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions AND Spiced Pita Crisps

This picture doesn't do the dish justice. It was excellent! I have never made caramelized onions before and they will now be a favourite around here. The rice/lentil combo was waaaaay better then most I have tried. I was skeptical about the cinnamon and allspice in it - as we don't tend to like sweet dinner dishes, but the kids loved it. I'm happy I cut the recipe in half as it made lots for the 4 of us - with leftovers for tonight. You can also see the Spiced Pita Crisps - they were a nice addition to the meal. What you don't see here is the steamed kale - it was still on the stove. The lentil/rice dish has to be served warm or at room temperature so I let it sit while I made the pitas and kale.

This meal is definately a keeper around here!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Veganomican Baby!!

I'm just giddy right now - I got my copy of Veganomican. I know, i know, I'm the last vegan to get one. But better late then never I say. After going thru it from cover to cover I thought I would get my feet wet by starting with Chickpea cutlets. It seems like alot of others in the blogosphere have started with that same recipe. ha ha They were easy to make - had simple ingredients - and tasted good. My kids and I like the recipe so much we had it again the next night. I paired it with lemon roasted potatoes and broccoli. The second night was the same thing but with cauliflower. I even used the leftover broccoli and cauliflower to make a creamy potatoe soup for lunch the third day. (sorry no picture)
And tonight from Veganomican I am in the process of making the Lentils and Rice with caramlized onions and spiced pita crisps. I will post about that tomorrow.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"How does your body sort all of that out"?

That is what my dad likes to know of anyone taking this many supplements. ha ha And I'm not sure how to answer that. All I know is that each of these are vital to me. Or I like to think so. I'm always looking for new ones to take. So I'm open to suggestions. I find that I take more supplements in the winter months to keep a strong immune system. And so far, so good - no sniffles yet. Now we all know since I made this statement something will hit me tomorrow morning! ha ha Sorry for the blurry photo. But starting from the left:
Ester-C: I take these in the winter months.
Super Enzymes: I take one a day at dinner time but it says to take with each meal.
Spriulina: I put a tbl in my morning smoothie - gives me extra energy and 'green' goodness.
Vega Wholle Food Smoothie Infusion: I put a scoop in my morning smoothie. It has yellow pea protein, organic hemp protein, organic sprouted flax seeds, organic brown rice protein, organic green food blend (spirulina, organic wheat grass, organic alfalfa grass, organic barley grass, organic spinach, organic sprouted broccoli, organic kale, organic kelp, organic dulse), inulin (from chicory root), natural flavors, xanthan gum.
Organic Flax Meal: I use this is if I'm out of the Vega stuff or just want a change.
Aloe Vera Juice: I take a few 'shot glasses' worth when I take all these vitamins. It's supposed to help the body absorb the vitamins better.
Probiotics: I take with my main meal - but there again - it's supposed to be taken with each meal.
B12: us veg heads need this one daily.
Zinc: I take during cold and flu season.
Nu-Greens Profile: It is a green supplement. I take 15ml each morning on an empty stomach. I love that I only have to take a whiskey shot glass worth each day. LOL No pounding back a glass full of yucky green powdery stuff. I've tried them all and couldn't find one I liked.
Vitamin D: I take during the winter months due to the fact that Northern Ontario, Canada doesn't profide adequate amounts of sunshine from Nov-April. ....sigh....

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pucker Up Baby - lipbalm review

A girl needs lots of lip balms for those smooooooocy moments in her life. I personally keep one in my purse, my car, my bathroom, and of course, my bedroom. From the left:
Eco Lips in berry flavour. Love the consistency of this one.....the taste.....everything.
Badger Lip Balm. Another one with a good smooth consistency.....good orangey flavour.
Peacemaker Eco balm - good consistency, terrible, terrible flavour. It tastes like rancid oil. It is a mint one.
Alba lip the flavours I've tried so far...coconut, pineapple quench etc. However, the consistency isn't the greatest. It causes my lips to flake.
And lastly for those cold sore issues: a traditional herbal medicine - Korners Cold Sore Remedy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

VeganMoFo: Lemon Garlic Pasta & Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns - YUM YUM

This came from ED&BV. I have never made it before. I LOVED it - the rest of the family did not. They all thought it was too sour. So for next time I'll have to adjust the amount of lemon juice in it. It was even better as my lunch today.

This morning I made a batch of Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns. YUMMY! They were so moist.
As you can see I couldn't wait to dive into is missing. ha ha
I don't usually work on Fridays so my wknds are longer then most. So I won't be posting about food till next week. I'll post a few product reviews over the wknd. Have a good one!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

VeganMoFo: Veggie Potpie

VeganMoFo: So, I made the pot pie in 'Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker' for the first time. It was good. The kids and I enjoyed it, but the hubbie did not. He doesn't like anything with chickpeas, so I will definately use another bean in it next time. But he said it wasn't the chickpeas - it was the whole thing he didn't like. I don't have a pic because it wasn't picture worthy at any stage. I find stuff in the croakpot is 'messy' looking. ha It'll probably be a long time before I try it again. you win some, you lose some.
I made another batch of Tomato Macaroni Soup from 'Kitchen ramblings from a fairly odd tofu mom's blog. My oldest likes to take soups to school. I have been using macaroni in fun shapes for it. It's a big hit around here.
And I can't wait - this morning I'm going to make the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls recipe I got off of "Don't eat off the sidewalks" blog. So i gotta run, i'll post back on how they turned out! Yum yum.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Product Reviews and some baking

Sorry for the shady picture. I'm still getting the hang of my camera. At least I have pics on here now. LOL

These are some of the products that I am 'currently' using. I say currently because I have never been too faithful to any one product. Meaning - I don't tend to buy the same thing twice. I guess I figure there's always something better out there to try. Starting from the left you will see my toothbrusth and toothpaste.

The toothbrush is a Radius one. I love the fact that all i have to do is replace the head - it pops right off. The handle is made from recycled yogurt containers.

The toothpaste is made by The Green Beaver. When we lived in Eastern Ontario this company was local to us. But now that we are on the opposite end of Ontario - that be it Northern Ontario - it isn't local. But, I love their products. No sulfates or fluoride in it.

Next to that is another Green Beaver product - their winter lotion. It is soooo thick - its great for winter chapped skin. I can't say that I like the smell though - it doesn't really have one. Then comes the Burts Bees facial scrub and face cleanser. I love the smell of both and they work great EXCEPT they have caused my ezcema to flair up. Soooo, both have to go bye bye. I'm currently using some samples from the Health Food store to figure out what to buy next. Next in line are the shampoo/conditioner made by Desert Essence. It is the italian grape one. Wonderful!!! I can't say enough good about them. They smell like grape bubblegum and are free from sulfates, parabens, etc not too mention they are organic. I've always had a love/hate relationship with so called natural shampoos. Its hard finding one that doesn't have some sneaky junk in them and that actually work. Case in point: next to them are two shampoos that are just about empty. The first one is made by Avalon Organics - it just did nothing for my hair - left it dry. But it smells great. The second one is by Pureology. I saw them on They were promoting their products on one episode of her web show. So I went out and bought the shampoo and conditioner. We loved them - they smelled great and made our hair feel great. However, the price was a bit much AND they do have some parabens in them. But they are vegan and are promoted as being zerosulfate.
That shower curtain you see is the hemp one I bought last spring. Also next to the shampoo is the hemp face cloth that came with some hemp soap I bought. All this stuff I got online at The hemp soap isn't pictured because we used it all up. Lately I've been buying our soap from a local family that makes it.

Another day I will post about my makeup and kids products.

Now onto food: This morning I made a few things to get us through the week. I made a homemade bread, a pumpkin loaf, and three jars of La Dolce Vegan's Creamy Tomato Basil soup.
Tomorrow I plan on getting out the slow cooker and making a pot pie from 'Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker'. So check back later to see how it turned out!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A weekend meal

Weekends around here can be both hectic with errands and lazy at the same agenda and no meal planning. On week days I make every meal from scratch with whole ingredients. Soooo, on wknds I like to take a break and keep it simple. An example of a simple meal is burgers. I have tried them all! And as most of you will know, some meatless burgers are cacka, some are so-so, and some are fantastic. In my tastebuds opinion Amy's are the best of the bunch. To accompany this burger I usually make some potatoe spuds and a large salad. I put every topping imaginable on my burgers.....condiments, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, and sprouts to name a few. And speaking of sprouts, in a previous post I mentioned how I was sprouting. Since then I've read online somewhere that growing wheatgrass indoors makes it susceptible to mold. I've never seen any on mine, but it still makes me leery. Soooo, I'm continuing to grow sprouts, just NOT wheatgrass. I'll leave my wheatgrass on our table top as a decoration. Until its spring and I can grow wheatgrass outside, I'll stick to buying frozen wheatgrass juice as pictured below.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The endless & thankless task of LAUNDRY!!

Ahhhhh, the subject of laundry. It is one of those tasks that never goes away. When we get through 3 loads, the next day there is 2 more. It is thankless and endless. Now I say this, but I actually don't mind doing laundry. Never have. Even when we lived in apartments for 5 years and I had to lug it all the way down into a dank, dark basement and pop change into a machine, I didn't seem to mind.

Ever since having kids I've used detergents that were 'free' of all scents. This was for their benefit and I figured the less junk in it, the better for the environment. Then a few months back I got the idea from walk slowly, live wildly's blog to make my own detergent. She had a link to a website After reading through several websites they all seemed to have the same 'recipe' for a homemade laundry detergent. It is as follows:

1/2 cup Borax

1/2 cup Washing Soda

1 cup grated soap of your choice (as you can see from the pic, I use Ivory...that may change)

Mix all together. Use 1 tbl for a regular load and 2 tbl for a large load

I grated the soap with a cheese grater (that I obviously never use for cheese) and mixed it all up and put it into an old blueberry container. When doing a load of laundry, I put 2 tbl of the mixture into the smaller container shown and add some hot water to dissolve it before adding it to the machine. Apparently washing soda doesn't dissolve too well in cold water washes. And I wash everything except towels in cold water around here.

What I have learned from this experience: make a couple of batches worth. Despite the fact that you only use 2 tbl per load, it seems to go quick. It doesn't take too long to put it all together - but still - more work means less enthusiasm. I've questioned how 'natural' and 'green' this concoction is. It is obviously better all around then Tide or Sunlight for example, but I've recently read that even Borax is quite toxic. As well, I'd like to find a more natural soap to grate too. The biggest advantage of this task (other than personal satisfaction for one's green effort) is the $$$$ savings. The ingredients above cost me $10 and that was 3 months ago. And laundrying a family of four costs far more than that for 3 months. I wish I had tracked the number of loads I've been doing - that would give me a more accurate amount. I'm not even half way through those two boxes either! So it's definately a money saver.

Now for drying our clothes. I don't use dryer sheets - never have. We don't seem to get static cling or any of that hassle so i've never had to deal with that. From May thru September I hung all our loads (except towels) on a homemade clothes line outside. Some may find this task labourious, but I l.o.v.e.d hanging my clothes on the line. It seemed meditative for me. Sorry I do not have a picture of it. It is November and in Northern Ontario hanging laundry outside from October thru April is not possible. Soooooo, I hange a few things on an inside contraption shown here:

The only problem hanging things indoors offers is the stiffness and the extended drying time. But hey, it's all worth it!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A cold, wet, & blustery day

Somehow this title puts me in mind of an episode of Winnie the Pooh. It was just the type of day where you want to stay inside under some warm thick blankets....and we did just that. AND, to keep in mind that we're participating in VeganMoFo here is what we had for the day:
We started our day with some warm thick porridge. I always sprinkle our hot cereals with ground flax and sesame seeds (ground by yours truly) and a dollop of almond butter.
For lunch I made the Spicy Tomato Peanut & Kale Pasta out of La Dolce Vegan. It sounds like an oddball combination but it was decent and the kids enjoyed it. I was skeptical that they would. Maybe it was the penguin and snowflake shaped pasta I used. I saw this pasta over the wknd and bought it with the upcoming holidays in mind. But I just couldn't resist and ended up tearing into it already! Ha Since we had such a hearty lunch I thought a bowl of soup with a homemade bread for dinner would be appropriate. I made a 'hearty seed bread' in my bread machine - which was ready just in time for dinner - nothing beats a slice of warm homemade bread. I made the Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup from LDV. I left out the curry paste as the kids were eating it. I LOVE this soup - I've made it often. Someday I'll have to try it with the curry paste - when the kids won't be eating it.
To end this comfortable day inside I made Dreena's Jamprint Cookies from her latest ED&BV. We ate them with a big hot mug of Yogi Bedtime tea.
ahhhhh, comfort food.......

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Vegan Month of Food

I'll be participating in this! And to start off please read my last post! I'm starting off with the first meal of the day - Breakfast!

Breakfast cereal anyone??

Do you ever walk down the cereal aisle at the grocery store and feel very overwhelmed? Whoa! I'm an ingredient label reader so having to go through box upon box of cereal to see which one is appropriate for us takes too much time. Even the organic health section has got its fair share of cereals. I want a tasty cereal with low sugar and low sodium. When I find a low sugar one - it has lots of sodium - and vice versa. Soooo, I started making my own. And I'm not just talking porridge or rice pudding - those are great - but lots of times we just want a quick cold cereal. I tried making a few granola recipes and "I" quite enjoyed them - but the kids weren't too fussy on them. Then my grandmother turned me onto puffed rice cereal. My grandfather has Celiac Disease - and finding an inexpensive boxed cold cereal for him wasn't easy. So she started making her own with puffed rice. So I snagged the recipe, made a small batch and voila, the kids loved it! It has no sodium and is fairly low in sugar. But weight watchers beware, it does have some hefty oil in it.
I'll share the recipe with you:

9 cups of puffed rice (is usually sold in bags)
1 cup of shredded coconut
1/2 cup of sesame seeds (you can get creative and replace with other seeds/nuts)
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
Mix all together.
1/2 cup of oil (i use canola oil)
1/2 cup of honey alternative (i use agave nectar - adjust the amount to suit your taste)
1/2 tbl vanilla
Mix together and add to the dry ingredients.
Bake at 300 degrees for a half hour and stir at 15 minutes.
Once cooled stir in a 1/2 cup of raisions OR dates OR any other dried fruit.
Store in a sealed container.

Don't forget to use organic ingredients people!!

Friday, November 2, 2007


A few years back when I was in our local health food store I came across a section for sprouting. It had seeds, soils, cannisters, books, you name it. There was a pamphlet style book there called "The Wonders of Sprouting" by Lucie Desjarlais. I picked it up in hopes of learning how to grow my own sprouts. However, at that time in my life it seemed too complicated and I just never ended up trying it. That changed a few months back when I visited my new neighbourhood's health food store. The owner there is soooo helpful and full of information. She was telling me how she was doing it in mason jars at home. For some reason just hearing this gave me the confidence to try it out. I bought a bag of seeds from her and off I went. I dug out the pamphlet from a box of books in our basement and proceeded to learn how to sprout. I started out using mason jars with nylons & an elastic covering the opening. This worked well and within a few days had some awesome looking sprouts! Just like the ones we pay $2 for in the grocery store. My son puts them on his sandwiches. He even mentioned how they gather a lot of questions from his peers at his school. ha ha Since then, I've gone out and bought the biosta sprouter. (it's made in canada - who knew!!!) This sprouter has made life easier. No more handling rubber bands and mason jars upside down. I've also moved on to growing wheat grass on my sushi plates (looks cute - i'll post a pic someday). I'm still experimenting with sprouting different beans/grains and trying to find a favourite. I wish I could juice my wheat grass. Apparently you need a special kind of juicer to juice grasses. That will be a purchase for another time.