Friday, August 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals - August!

      I can't believe that this is the last week of summer!  It just so happens that Fall is my favorite time of the year, but I'm not ready to say good-bye to summer yet.  I mean, I know that Fall doesn't actually start until September 22nd or something like that but I'm an RECE and summer is over when the children go back to school.
   On the flip side, being the end of August means that it's reveal day for us Foodie Pen Pals!  And that's definitely something to be excited about.  This month I was paired up with Erin who sent me a lovely package (which I will reveal in a moment) and also with Stephanie who I sent a package to.  If you'd like to see what I sent her you can check out her website (after this post, of course!) which I will link up as soon as I know which site she's posting on.  (She has about 4 different websites!) UPDATE:  Check out Stephanie's fab blog @ One More Bite
  For now, let's check out the goodies!
The Lean Green Bean
   Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a reminder of what Foodie Pen Pals is all about or visit Lindsay's website after you're done here.

Onto the Goodies...

 This package actually made it into my mailbox!

 The goodies, along with a kind note from Erin.

Lara Bars!  I rarely (if ever) buy these but I love them.  I ate the apple one almost immediately!

I love pretzels and have always been curious about these Gluten free ones.  I think Erin might be a mind reader.  Although I loved that these were gluten-free, I have to admit that I prefer the plain old pretzels to these.

This is something else I never buy but I'm so excited to use it!  Actually, most of my spices are 'Simply Organic' so I love that Erin chose this brand. Again, I think she is a mind reader.

I think it's hilarious that she edited the directions in the back!  She crossed out the word 'beef' and replaced it with the word 'veggies'.  Too funny!

 I'm not a huge Green Tea drinker so I'm going to figure out a creative way to use this.  I'm excited for the challenge!

This mix is super delicious!  My favorite thing about this is that it's totally nut-free.  Which is a bonus for me because that means that I can take it to work without having to worry!

And now for a recap about what Foodie Pen Pals is all about:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

Thanks again to Erin for sending me this fabulous package!
Oh, and TGIF!

Ves xx

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Creamy Dreamy Avocados!

   I've been a bit obsessed with avocados recently - okay fine, I'm always obsessed with avocados! (It must be a California thing?)  Lately I find myself buying them in bulk and having one (or more) a day.  I usually put them in my salads and wraps, as is, but I also love to make guacamole and other dips with them as well.
   I came up with this recipe in a pinch when my sis-in-law was coming over.  I had cut up a bunch of veggies and realized that I had nothing to offer as a dip.  Not everyone enjoys dipping their veggies in mustard or salsa the way that I do!  Anyway, I've been making this dip a lot lately and I'm not even close to being sick of it yet!  
Read on for my super yummy (and easy!) recipe...

Creamy Dreamy Avocado Dip
Makes about 4 cups
2 Organic zucchinis, chopped
1 - 2 avocados (depending on the size)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 - 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbs. raw tahini
3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
pinch cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/4 cup of water (optional to thin it out, if needed)

Cut the avocado in half, peel it and chop the flesh into pieces and put it into a blender.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.  This is not a thick dip which makes it perfect as a dressing in salads and wraps as well.

Perfect for dipping veggies and crackers!

So yum!

Sweet potato fries?  Yes, dip them!

So good in Romaine Wraps!
Ves xx

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peaches & Cream... Or Maybe just Cookies!

   I love peaches and I was so excited when a friend of mine gave me a jar of peach jam.  Since I don't actually eat toast that often anymore and I didn't want to embarrass myself by eating the jam straight from the jar, (what, you don't do this, too?) I decided to make some cookies.  Thumbprints to be exact!
   For some reason Thumbprint cookies actually remind me of Christmas time so it felt a little odd making them.  But, at the same time, I didn't want to make any other kind of cookie.  So, Thumbprints it is!

Here's my super simple recipe...
Thumbprint Cookies w/ Peach Filling
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup Earth Balance butter, room temperature
1/2 cup organic powdered (icing) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup - 1/2 cup Peach Jam
Whisk the flour with the salt in a separate bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute).  Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about two more minutes) Add the vanilla extract.
Stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.
Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the middle of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place them on the baking sheets about an inch apart.  Using your thumb make an indentation into the center of each cookie and fill it with about a 1/2 teaspoon of jam.
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned.
Cool on a wire rack. 

Ves xx

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Holiday's Over...

   So I usually do these Monday "pick me up" posts for you guys because let's face it: no one likes Monday!  But this week it's me who needs the "pick me up".  I arrived home from Nova Scotia last night and am not feeling ready to return to work.  Sometimes I feel like I need a vacation after the vacation!  Know what I mean?
   As usual, I was looking through the adorable animal pics and videos that are on the web when I came across this one.  It really makes me happy to watch and I hope it makes you happy too!
Check it out...

Have a wonderful Monday and an incredible week!

Ves xx

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

WIAW # 11 & My Vacation in Pictures!

   It's been pretty silent around here lately and I apologize for that but I have good reason, I promise!  Last week my mind was preoccupied with not "letting the cat out of the bag" and ruining our surprise for my mom's birthday.  I've been a little busy being super sneaky with my sis.  We flew out here to Nova Scotia for our mom's birthday and succeeded in surprising her with our visit.  On top of that my mom's brother and his wife (aka our Aunt and Uncle) from Vancouver showed up on the same day to surprise my mom as well!  It's been a crazy few days and I haven't properly sat down in front of my computer to do anything let alone type.
   We've been doing a lot of catching up, sight seeing and eating!  Unfortunately, I've been taking pictures of everything else except my food.  Oops, sorry!  But, I do have a couple of shots of food to go along with some sightseeing photos.
 First things first... the food!
My Summer staples:  Salads, Wraps, and Dips!:
{Dreamy Creamy Avocado Dip!} Stay tuned for the recipe.
{Lettuce Wraps} - So yum!  Stay tuned for the recipe.
{Nori Wrap!}
{Nori Wrap} cont'd!
{Nori Wrap - all wrapped up}.  I was trying to be fancy with the "plating"!
{Chopped salad with sweet potatoes and roasted veggies}
{Kale salad, sweet potatoes, and roasted veggie couscous}
And now for some "touristy" pics...
Downtown Digby looking out to the bay.

Health food store in Yarmouth.  I love visiting health food stores (and this one was fab)!
The ferry that will take us across the Digby Neck.
One of the many lighthouses in the area
A little cafe located outside the ferry line-up
Our ferry - the Petit Princess - how appropriate! 
   I hope you've enjoyed some of my food/vacation pictures!  I will post more photos of my vacation later this week.

Until then...
Happy WIAW and Enjoy your week (I will)!

Ves xx

Monday, August 20, 2012

Puppies and Surprises!

   Greetings from Nova Scotia!  So I'm back in Nova Scotia, this time with my sis, and we're here for my mom's Birthday.  We didn't tell her we were coming and totally surprised her!  I'll give you the full story later this week, but for now I leave you with this adorable video.
Check it out...

Have a wonderful Monday!
Ves xx
PS:  Happy Birthday Mommy!  I love you so much! xoxo

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bath Time!

   Happy Monday everyone!  I saw this video the other day (and replayed it 3 times) and HAD to share it with you guys.  This is how I imagine my dog Bailey enjoyed bath time over at Pet Smart... because when we had to bathe her at home there was A LOT of whimpering and crying wolf going on.
   I mean, this dog is in heaven!  At first I was thinking that the poor dog's eyes were going to burn from the soap but, as you can see, this dog is far from hurting.  Talk about relaxation!  Lucky dog.
Check it out...

Have a wonderful day!
Ves xx

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A Dirty Dozen For Your Skin

   Yes, you read that right.  We all know about the EWG's Dirty Dozen shopper's guide to pesticides in produce (if you're unfamilliar with it click here) but did you know there's one for our skin?  Well thanks to the amazing David Suzuki (remember him?), there sure is!
   You already know how I feel about using natural products on my skin and hair so it's no surprise that I'm in love with this list.  And I'm thrilled to share it with you. 
The Dirty Dozen...
1. BHA and BHT
used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. 
2. Coal tar dyes
P-phenylenediamine is used in some hair dyes; other colours are used in a number of cosmetics.
3. DEA
Used in some creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos.
4. Dibutyl phthalate
Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. 
5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics.
6. Parabens
Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives.
7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)
Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics — even in some products marketed as "unscented."
8. PEG compounds
Used in many cosmetic cream bases.
9. Petrolatum
Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers.
10. Siloxanes
Look for ingredients ending in "-siloxane" or "-methicone." Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten.
11. Sodium laureth sulfate
Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath.
12. Triclosan
Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants.

To download the PDF version of this list and to learn more, click here.
Worried that you won't be able to remember those ingredients?  Don't be!  Purchase products with as few ingredients as possible and as close to natural as possible and you'll be fine.
Keep it simple and love the skin your in.

Ves xx

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

WIAW #10 OR Summer Lovin'!

   I love that it's Wednesday already but that the work week just got started.  Did I mention how much I love long weekends?  I also really love doing these WIAW posts and this month is probably going to be my favorite.  The theme for the month is Summer Staples and there is nothing I love more than Summer!  (Except for maybe Fall... oops!)
   Let's focus on summer for now.  I have so much to share but I'll spread it out throughout the month.
Let's get started... 

Salads:  Featuring... Tomatoes and Avocados!
   I know I eat salad ALL of the time but I love them the most in the summer time.  I keep them light and fresh with usually only lemon or lime juice as the dressing + some seasoning.  No oil for me thanks!  And the star of the salad show is always tomatoes and avocados.
{spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, chia seeds}
{tomato, avocado, basil, lemon}
{black kale, spinach, tomato, cucumber, avocado, nori, lemon, lime, nooch}
+ Guacamole!

   And lots of it!  Gotta stay hydrated in this heat... and as always, gotta add some liver cleansing lemon!

   I love cherries but I think my sister loves them the most.  Every time she comes over she brings me another bag of cherries.  I love it!
{summer in a bowl}
   I really don't need to say much about watermelon - just slice one open and it smells like summer. (Don't forget to eat it!)
{summer on a plate}

 Big Brother!
   Nothing says summer like watching Big Brother!  As soon as the weather starts to get a teensy bit warm, I start to ask, "When does Big Brother start?"  I love this show, it never get's old.

And last but not least...

 Arctic Rush!
       I can't watch BB without sipping on one of these!  They're full of sugar and artificial flavor but who cares when they taste this good? 
{lemon-lime and blue-raspberry are my favorite flavors}
   Stay tuned next Wednesday for more food + drinks, some of my favorite beach reads, and of course dessert!

Til next time...
Happy WIAW!
Ves xx

Monday, August 06, 2012

I Love Holiday Mondays!

   There is nothing better than waking up on a Monday morning and realizing that you don't have to go to work.  I love my job but nothing beats a "free" day off every once in a while.  It puts me in a great mood and so do these:

Happy Holiday Monday aka Civic Holiday...
Enjoy your day!
Ves xx
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