Sunday, November 2, 2014

Advent for Grown-Ups

I've set myself a near impossible crafting challenge and am putting an advent calendar together for a 35-year old man.

I admit this isn't as selfless as it sounds. It's all part of my grand plan to get my partner, Gareth, to like Christmas as much as I do.

Half of the challenge is to find 24 gifts that:

  • Are small enough to go in the envelopes I've bought.
  • Are suitable for a man of 35 and won't end up cluttering the house afterwards.
  • Aren't all edible, because that's boring.
  • Don't break the bank - the cost of these things add up and quickly!!

Here's what I've gotten so far:
  • A pencil sharpener shaped as a knight from the Tower of London.
  • An eraser in the shape of a monkey.
  • His favourite biscuits.
  • A bar of posh chocolate.
  • A flannel - one of those that you have to put in water to make it expand to regular size.
  • Some paperclips in the shape of bikes.
  • Cute felt owls (hope he doesn't like these as I want them).
  • A mini wooden puzzle.
  • A packet of gourmet popcorn.
  • A pen holder that clips onto a book.
  • A token he can trade to get out of doing the dishes for a week.

The plan for the rest:
  • A novelty USB stick.
  • Lottery scratch card.
  • Cufflinks.
  • Some sort of alcohol miniature.
  • Lego.
  • Mini notebook.
  • Samples from the mens range at Kiehls/Clinique or similar.
  • Miniature honey jar.
  • iTunes gift card.
  • Packet of seeds for the garden.

This still leaves me a bit short - any ideas??

Are you doing a similar project for someone in your life this Holiday season?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apple Pie Energy Balls

When you're in the mood for a healthy treat, Larabars are a go-to for many people - they're one of the few snacks that are gluten free, vegan, paleo, raw and actually taste good.  Apple Pie was always my favourite flavour of Larabar, when I used to buy them, but unless they're on sale, I rarely buy these anymore.  Firstly, because it's really easy to make your own, and secondly, because their parent company opposes GMO labelling. There are dozens of Larabar copy-cat recipes out there on the web, and so many different ways of achieving a common goal!   I've seen recipes made with apple sauce, apple chips, apple rings, and actual apples - but this is my way of making Larabar copy-cats.  These are great little snacks for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or even for an on-the-go breakfast.

Recipe notes:  My brand of apple chips was simply Fuji apples and cinnamon.  Try to find apple chips with as few ingredients as possible, or dehydrate your own apples.  If your chips don't have cinnamon, add about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to the mix.

As far as dates go, I've used all different types of dates with success.  Medjool, Algerian, Deglet... they're all good!  There are subtle differences in flavour, so if you prefer one over another, use whatever you like.


  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 1 cup apple chips
  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • optional: cinnamon, splash of vanilla

1. Add dates to food processor or magic bullet and pulse until they're finely chopped.  Add the nuts and apple chips to the food processor.  Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped and the mixture holds together when you mould it in your hand.  (Don't allow the nuts to form into a paste/nut butter).  You should still be able to distinguish small pieces of nuts and dates in the mixture.

2. Prepare a dish with some coconut flakes (about a half cup)

3. Form the mixture into small, 1-1/2 inch balls.  Roll the balls in the coconut flakes.

These should be okay to keep covered on the counter for a few days, but any longer than that, you should store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Yield: approx 15 balls

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Paleo Peach Crisp for One (or two!)

Living on my own, I don't always get to my produce when it's in the best shape for eating raw, so when I was faced with a giant peach that smelled delicious, but was slightly soft, I thought I could either cut it up and mix it into my yogurt, or I could make myself a delicious Sunday morning treat.  With no grains/gluten and no refined sugar in the house, this was pretty much a no-brainer.  I dug through my pantry and fridge, and came up with a recipe that I think will become a staple in my kitchen (I plan on replacing the peach with apples in the fall - yum!)

Paleo Peach Cobbler for One


Peach mixture:
  • 1 ripe peach, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 a vanilla bean 
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Crisp mixture:
  • 3 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of sea salt
  • slivered almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place peaches in a bowl.  Scrape vanilla beans on top of peaches, add cinnamon and combine.
Place the fruit mixture at the bottom of a small oven-proof dish (I used a 23cm dish) or individual ramekins & set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine flax, almond flour and coconut until blended.  Add the wet ingredients & spices, and mix until combined.  

Top the peaches with the crisp mixture.  Add slivered almonds if desired.  

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is a light golden brown.  

This makes an awesome breakfast when served warm... or throw some homemade vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt on the side for a quick and easy dessert.  

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sept 2 - Art Drop Day

Did you know that today is Art Drop Day?  This is a great concept thought up by Jake Parker, and you can read all about it at his site.  It's basically an open call for artists of all kinds to create a piece, and leave it for someone to discover in a public place.

I love this idea so much - sharing art with strangers! It's a wonderful concept, and a great way to connect to people in your neighbourhood.  Add some contact info to your art, and maybe you'll make a new friend!

Will you be participating in #ArtDropDay? Pin It

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Toronto: Taste of the Danforth 2014

Toronto is a city that is full of things to do - especially in the summer.  One of the more popular events, the Taste of the Danforth street festival is currently celebrating its 21st year in action.  At the Taste of the Danforth, you'll be able to try all sorts of different foods - ranging from the typical Greek fare found on the Danforth, to Thai, North American cuisine like wings, hot dogs and burgers, and then some.

The dessert options are also plentiful.  There are traditional Greek desserts like baklava, but you can also try some macarons, crepes, cupcakes, ice cream, gelato, waffles... pretty much anything your heart desires.

There's even some healthier options.  My personal favourite being this awesome pineapple juice... IN A PINEAPPLE!  The same vendor offered coconut water (in a coconut!).  And I saw some pretty cool looking avocado chocolate popsicles.  There were lots of freshly squeezed organic juices.

Plenty of ways to eat well and also follow the paleo diet, for sure! Lots of meat on sticks.  Lots of fruits and veggies.

There's also entertainment, taking place along three different stages.  At 8pm last night, I watched the opening ceremony of the Taste of the Danforth, which featured all of Toronto's mayoral candidates, as well as premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne.

Throughout the weekend, you'll be able to catch various musical and performing acts from 12pm until 12am today (Saturday), and 12pm to 8pm on Sunday.  Check the official site for the schedule.

To round out the events, there's a kiddie midway, plenty of free treats handed out by various companies (I noticed Excel Gum, Nature's Path Organics and Astro Yogurt, among others!) and lots of contests and events being held.

The Taste of the Danforth does attract a lot of people, so be prepared to battle crowds and wait in line.  If you pack a little bit of patience, you'll be sure to have a good time!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

ModCloth 70% off sale is happening again!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  Christmas in July!  No, not really... but my favourite site to shop at, is having a 70% off "So Long Summer" sale... this is the best time to score great deals on some super pretty clothes and accessories.  Because it's 70% off, most of the deals are final sale, so I would recommend reading the reviews and knowing your measurements well before ordering - or having a friend that is a similar size that you might want to swap with later!

Oh, and by the way, I don't get any sort of commission or kickback from this... I just really love this site - but I sure wouldn't mind if someone gifted me one of the items on this list!

Here are some of my favourites:

Brandon Bird's Astonishing World of Art (book - on sale for $4.99)
Rockin' and A Bowlin' (earrings - on sale for $5.99)
Watch and Glisten (necklace - on sale for $8.99)
Follow My Footsteps in coral (shoes - on sale for $10.99)
Destined to Dream (necklace - on sale for $10.99)
Simply Scout in peach (top - on sale for $10.99)
It's Bow or Never (top - on sale for $13.99)
Beloved Barista (top - on sale for $14.99)
Stopping for Fro Yo (hoodie - on sale for $14.99)
Retro Radio Personality (dress - on sale for $16.99)
Delicate at Dawn (top - on sale for $16.99)
Golly Good Time (top - on sale for $17.99)
Skull House Rock (top - on sale for $17.99)
Dance on Air in cherry (shoes - on sale for $19.99)
Up for Adventure (top - on sale for $19.99)
Partake in Peppermint (skirt - on sale for $20.99)
Fateful Timing (dress - on sale for $21.99)
Home Sweet Homey (dress - on sale for $25.99)
Yesteryear's Finest (dress - on sale for $26.99)
Classic Stunner (dress - on sale for $29.99)
Elaborate Effort (dress - on sale for $29.99)
Tie it Together (dress - on sale for $32.99)
Sultry Songstress (dress - on sale for $40.99)
Sure Hits The Spot (dress - on sale for $43.99)
Pearl, You Know It's True (shoes - on sale for $47.99)
All That and Demure in midnight (dress - on sale for $56.99)

I could definitely go on and on, but those are a few of the super stand-out items for me - what about you?  Did you see anything you love? Making any purchases?  Leave links in the comments!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Gander, Newfoundland: frozen in mid-century time

Gander Airport 6I recently had the chance to travel to Newfoundland for work.  I stayed in Gander, which is a small town in north-eastern Newfoundland.  Gander became a popular travel hub around the 1960s as a refuelling port for transatlantic flights, which earned it the nickname "the crossroads of the world".  However, as airplane technology became more efficient, it became less useful as a refuelling point, and these days, though the international/secure area of the airport is still in use, it is much less frequent than it was back in the mid-century.  As such, the international area of the Gander Airport is like a time capsule, frozen in mid-century goodness.

My coworkers and I were able to take a private tour of the international area and I was in heaven.  Everything is beautiful and clean and pristine.  The security guard who showed us around has been an employee for many years, and he had all the inside information.  He even took us into the ladies washroom, and showed us where Queen Elizabeth sat, applying her makeup.  (Yup.  There was a section with chairs, a long mirror and a ledge for make-up applying!)

  Gander Airport 5 
  Gander Airport 2 
  Gander Airport 1

Albatross Hotel
You can also see the mid-century influences in various buildings around town - which is a little slice of heaven for someone who loves the 1950s & 60s as much as I do!   The Albatross Hotel (left) is located on the Trans-Canada Highway and looks super cool from the outside, architecturally.  (I didn't actually walk inside, but from reading reviews on tripadvisor, unfortunately I don't think the mid-century theme continues inside - if I owned a place that looked like this, I would totally play up the furniture and art on the inside to make it all seamless!)

Hotel Gander Over at the Hotel Gander, my coworkers and I had some dinner (or supper, as Newfoundlanders like to call it!) in the hotel restaurant before we took in a little comedy show.  I was super in love with this aviation-themed, mid-century style artwork on the walls.  Wish I could've taken these home with me!

Overall, I found Gander to be a quaint little town, but with not too many entertainment, shopping, or food/patio options.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly what the locals do for fun.  But they are all SUPER friendly.  And the mid-century feel to this town was amazing!

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