Monday: Confessions of a Shopping Diva

Autumn fall season nature landscape leaf leaves color seasons tree forest  wallpaper | 1920x1200 | 945361 | WallpaperUP

It’s almost Fall y’all, and the countdown to cold evenings and dark colours is definitely on! If you ask me, the brilliant colours of the falling leaves, and the warmth of a wooly sweater, are just a few of my favourite things of the season. So, we need to get “Fall-ified”, and making an Autumn statement at your front door is key to setting the tone.

I have three front door looks for you to guess which is the least, average, and most expensive. It’s up to you to put that shopping expertise to good use, in order to spot the deal!

1.

Neutral Fall Porch Decor with Pumpkins and Cornstalks - Modern Glam

This front door is a modest take on the season, with corn bales and fresh pumpkins. A simple DIY project that will jazz up your Fall vibes.

2.

67 Fall Porch Decorating Ideas - Outdoor Fall Decor

The use of fall florals are an excellent way of glamming your front porch. Including Chrysanthemums into your bouquets will give your arrangements the hardiness it needs to survive the frosty nights, but will also keep its brilliance in colour.

3.

5 Ideas For A Lovely Fall Front Door - She Gave It A Go

Painting pumpkins to match your theme is an interesting way of creating a real sense of style. Adding in props that compliment the colour scheme, such as: Planters, pillows, and doormats can upscale any Fall porch.

Answer key:

Expensive – 2 ($500)

Average – 3 ($300)

Least Expensive – 1 ($150)

If you guessed right, then you’ve got it going on in the world of shopping! It isn’t easy to see the value right away, but if you look at key items that are typically more expensive in stores, then you can usually take an educated guess at total cost. This was fun, right? You didn’t even need to spend any money here to have a good time;) I hope this little challenge gives you some ideas on what your Fall themed porch will look like next month. Until next time, happy Monday everyone!

Sunday: At Home

Front Yard Landscaping Ideas in Burlington & Oakville

It’s all about the lawn today! From the time I woke up this morning, I’ve been listening to the low, hypnotic moan of the lawn mower, which summoned me to yard work right away. Believe it or not, the kids started off with the cutting of the grass, and pulling of the weeds, with a little nudge from me, of course! I continued on with pruning what I call, “The Umbrella Tree,” and more weed-pulling. the weeds have been relentless this year, and if you were not on top of them, they probably ate your lawn alive! I pull weeds when I come home from doing groceries, after my workouts, and even before dinner. I’m sure you get the drift; I pull weeds all the time!!

So, needless to say, when my neighbours walked by today, complimenting how pristine my grass looked, I was truly content! At least someone can see, and appreciate the back-breaking work I put into gardening. Apparently, the city also notices when your landscaping is above and beyond, according to my mother who recently received an award in her mailbox! If you think I am obsessed, you have to meet my mother;) She is on her hands and knees in front of her home night and day. That, my friends, is what you call dedication! I could only hope to be surprised with an award like that one day.

I have also been surveying my eating habits, and decided that I need to incorporate scrumptious salads for dinner for a little while. Yes, everyone goes through that period in their life where they look in the mirror, and vow that they will never eat another bowl of cheesies again! Well, my friends, my day of reckoning has finally come! I decided to start out easy, and made myself a Greek Chickpea salad, which conveniently was big enough to share with the family:) I have to say, it was definitely a hit! If any of you have any legendary salad recipes, I’m all for it! Share your best recipes so that we can all get on the road to a healthier lifestyle! Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday: Reflections

5 Science-Based Ways to Break the Cycle of Rage Attacks | Psychology Today  Canada

I found this picture very amusing, as it is perfect for the topic of “The Road Less Travelled.” I was shopping with my cousin yesterday, and encountered various people who could not keep their temper under control. I signaled to let a man know that I was coming into his lane because mine had ended, and he had choice words for us as he drove up to my driver’s window, just to cut in front of me again! Another guy drove by me in a parking lot, stopped to match my driver side to his, and suddenly threw himself into a reverse. Of course, I didn’t notice this quick movement, so I kept driving past him. He was furious, shaking his fist in the air, cutting me off just to rear end into a spot beside me.

I watched people lose patience in lineups, with customer service reps, and with each other for really simple things, and I thought to myself, “Is everyone alright?” I mean, have we lost our ability to cope with stressful situations, giving others the impression that we are lunatics! Would it be the worst thing in the world to make room for someone to get into the lane in front of you? To wait until someone drives by before you park? Or to accept someone’s apology gracefully if they accidentally move into your personal space at the store? We are not alone in this world, nor does the world revolve around us. It is important to take the road less travelled, the more kind and compassionate way, even if others take the “shortcut.” Be the change you want to see and make a point to do it right. I guarantee that it will resonate with those who are quick to anger, and they will feel foolish for losing it in the calm and rational situation your attitude creates.

This is a simple topic, one you might already be familiar with, but it is necessary to be consistent. Even on your roughest day, show the world how it is done, one hostile moment at a time;) Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday: The Socialite

This stunning trail in Ontario is home to turquoise waters

The Bruce Peninsula is our next stop on our tour of Ontario, which lies between the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. The peninsula is a popular destination for camping, nature reserves, and a bird observatory. As part of the Niagara Escarpment, it has the largest remaining area of forest and natural habitat in Southern Ontario, and also has some of the oldest trees in eastern North America. The Indigenous nation of the Saugeen Ojibway inhabited and controlled the area until the mid 19th century, with historical proof of their occupation reaching back as early as 7500 years ago.

Everything you need to know to visit Ontario's natural grotto this summer |  Listed
Flowerpot Island Lightstation

When visiting the Bruce, be sure to check out the Grotto Caves, where you find crystal blue waters that is perfect for swimming, or exposed ocean rock to explore. With so many trails and parks to visit, there could never be a dull moment when you take the drive out to a brand new discovery!

Here are a few pictures of our previous night drive to Paris, Ontario:

I have to admit, there wasn’t a lot going on over there at 11pm, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt for such a small town. We did manage to see the dam in the center of the town, but it was a bit tricky to catch on camera;) It’s possible we may have to revisit the town in the day to give it a second chance, but Guelph was definitely more lively around the same time the week before. I guess it all depends on the residential dynamics. We had a good time driving anyhow!

Enjoy your road trip this weekend! Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday: What’s Baking?

Guess what? My chocolate fever has returned with a vengeance, and I am in the mood for deep, rich and delicious! How about some brownies that will blow your mind!! Just looking at the picture makes me want to get a head start in the kitchen, but I will hold back until the weekend;) The idea of melted chocolate bits nestled deep into the center of the brownies, just oozing in chocolatey goodness…well, you get my drift. You’d better get all hands on deck with this recipe, or be prepared to eat the pan all by yourself!

Another recipe for the world’s most devoted chocolate lovers:

Worlds Best Fudgiest Brownies live up to their name! | cafedelites.com

BEST FUDGIEST BROWNIES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup 8oz/240g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (9oz/260g) white sugar
  • 1 cup (7oz/200g) packed light brown sugar
  • 4 (2oz/57g each) large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (3.5oz/130g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (3.5oz/100g) good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 7 oz (200g) roughly chopped chocolate or large chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 175°C | 350°F.
  • Lightly grease an 8×12-inch baking pan* with cooking oil spray. Line with parchment paper (or baking paper); set aside.
  • Combine melted butter, oil and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in colour (another minute).
  • Sift in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined (do NOT over beat as doing so well affect the texture of your brownies).
  • Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate pieces.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly, and top with remaining chocolate pieces.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes for just under-done brownies (fudgier texture) or until the centre of the brownies no longer jiggles and is JUST set to the touch.OR 35-40 minutes if you like your brownies well set and firm.NOTE: Brownies will continue baking and set in the hot pan out of the oven. If testing with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out dirty for fudge-textured brownies.
  • After 15-20 minutes, carefully remove them out of the pan and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing into 16 brownies. They set while they cool.ENJOY!

OPTIONAL ADD INS:

  • Crushed walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pecans, etc. Chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, shredded coconut, dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, etc)

STORING:

  • Store at room temperature for 3 days, or refrigerator for up to 5 days. These brownies can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving OR reheat in the microwave.

NOTES

*For thicker brownies, bake in a 7×11-inch pan for 40-45 minutes. For thinner brownies, bake in a 9×13-inch pan for 18-20 minutes.PLEASE NOTE: An 8×12-inch pan bakes the most perfect brownies — thickness and texture.TIPS AND TRICKS:

  1. Do NOT over beat your batter once the flour and cocoa powder are added. That creates air pockets in the batter which will give you cake-like textured brownies.
  2. Please try not to over bake them. Set a timer if you need too. I like mine at exactly 23 minutes in an 8×12-inch pan. You can go a little bit over if you like them set a bit more, but I don’t recommend it if you’re looking for the fudgiest brownies in the world. Remember, they will continue to bake slightly in the hot pan once pulled out of the oven,
  3. I bake my brownies on the top shelf in the oven. I find the middle shelf cooks them a lot faster, slightly burns them on the top and dries them out.

*Recipe taken from cafedelites.com

If you plan on baking this work of culinary art, please set aside one more plate for me! I will never say no to chocolate! I hope you all enjoy your evening, and happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

This Luxe Hotel Group Has Launched In Jordan So Start Planning A ...

For those of you who haven’t had the luxury of a hotel room in a very long time, this one is for you! I don’t know about you, but the hotel bed is one of my favourite things I look forward to when the room is ultra luxe! There is nothing better than a well-made bed with all the trimmings done right. This is an art, let me assure you, with many steps in the process. Every step is just as important as the next in making the perfect place for slumber. I thought we could explore the process of building the bed of your dreams together, from the mattress pad all the way to the duvet.

*Video taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KQHXc4cBvQ

Basics needed to make a hotel-style bed:

Feather bed

Feather bed protector

Sheets (loose)

Duvet

Large Shams

Pillows/ pillow cases

Sham-covered pillows

Decorative pillow

Runner/Throw/Bed scarf

It may cost a little bit to achieve the look and feel you’ve been dreaming of, but it will all be worth it in the end. The feather bed seems to be one of the fundamental pieces to the bed, as it gives it the height and fluffiness that true luxury provides. You may have an issue with your fitted sheet over the feather bed and mattress, so I recommend you use a loose sheet that is one size up from the mattress. That way, when you are tucking in the sides there is more than enough room to make it tight. Play with colours and textures when it comes to shams, and reciprocate the style and/or colour with that of the throw at the end of the bed.

Now, you will finally have rest that is fit for a king/queen in your bed made for the ultimate comfort! Share before and after photos of your well-dressed bed, so we can see the difference. I hope you have a great time making the bed of your “dreams.” Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday: What’s for Dinner?

Chinese Take-Out Menu Translator

What should you do when your heart says your in the mood for Chinese, but your head says that you need to make a healthy choice? Go Vegan, and make your favourite takeout option a cleaner one. My personal favourite is General Tso Chicken, with vegetable fried rice, and sauteed broccoli. Who says that you can’t have the best of both worlds? The trick is to prepare everything in your own kitchen in order to cut some of the fat out. I know you’re thinking,”Why Vegan Lisa?” but the truth is that I am secretly diving into the world of Vegetarianism, just to see if it is doable for even a chicken-lover like me;) Trust me, if this recipe doesn’t make the cut, you will be the first to know!

I’m going to give tofu a facelift by making it General Tso-style:

Tofu Cubes Topped with Spicy Sauce & Sesame Seeds on White Rice

General Tso’s Tofu

Ingredients

For the general Tso’s tofu

  • 10 ounces firm tofu (275 g), cubed
  • 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tbsp cornstarch
  • Oil of your choice, I used extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

For the sauce

  • 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar, see notes
  • 3 tbsp vegetable stock or water
  • 3 tbsp cane, coconut or brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

Instructions

  1. Place the tofu cubes in a bowl or shallow dish.
  2. Add the marinade ingredients (2 tbsp of tamari and 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar), stir and let rest for at least 5 minutes, preferably overnight.
  3. Drain the tofu and discard the marinade.
  4. Transfer 1/3 of the tofu cubes to a freezer or plastic bag with 2 tbsp of cornstarch and toss to coat. Repeat this step with the rest of the tofu cubes and cornstarch. Add more cornstarch if needed.
  5. Once the tofu cubes are coated with the cornstarch, heat some oil in a skillet and add the tofu cubes. I used extra virgin olive oil, but any oil will do.
  6. Cook the tofu cubes over medium-high heat until all sides are golden brown. Remove the tofu from the skillet and set aside.
  7. Add the garlic to the skillet (add more oil if needed) and cook over medium-high heat for about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently until golden brown. Set aside.
  8. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl (tamari or soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, vegetable stock or water, sugar, cornstarch and red pepper flakes). Set aside.
  9. Add the sauce to the skillet where you had your cooked garlic and cook over medium-high heat until it thickens, stirring frequently. 
  10. Finally, add the tofu cubes, stir and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes.
  11. Serve with some cooked white rice and garnish with some sesame seeds and chopped chives (optional). Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • Depending on your taste buds and the type or brand or vinegar you’re using, you may want to add less vinegar to the sauce. Some readers love the recipe just like this, but others prefer the sauce with less vinegar. Add only 1 tbsp of vinegar at first and add more vinegar if needed.
  • I never press my tofu because I prefer to save some time and also think it’s not necessary, but it’s up to you. I just drain the tofu and discard the liquid.
  • Firm or extra firm tofu works great. I’ve never tried to use soft or silken tofu myself, but I don’t think it’s going to work.
  • If you don’t want to use a freezer or plastic bag, just add the cornstarch to a shallow dish, then the tofu cubes and toss to coat.
  • If you don’t eat soy, you could use cauliflower instead. I’ve seen some recipes online, but I’ve never tried it myself. Tamari or soy sauce can be replaced by coconut aminos.
  • For an oil-free version of this recipe, bake the tofu at 350ºF or 180ºC until golden brown.
  • Feel free to use any type of vinegar, starch or sugar you have on hand.
  • The amount of sodium is not accurate, as you’re going to discard part of the tamari or soy sauce of the marinade.

*Recipe taken from simpleveganblog.com

Believe me, I’m not trying to convert you all, but I want to know if it’s really possible to enjoy all the dishes I love as a Vegan option. In order to switch over permanently, I have to feel confident that I have supplementary dishes that tastes just as good, or even better than the real deal. I’m just being truthful when it comes to the question, “To be, or not to be Vegan?” Let me know how well your dish turned out, or if you have a favourite Asian-inspired Vegan dish that you would like to share. I am all in for that! Until next time, happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday: Confessions of a Shopping Diva

I’ve been doing my leisurely look through Zulily, just to see what’s new and exciting, and boy is there much to show and tell! For those of you who don’t know, Zulily is a website that showcases vast brands, and various types of merchandise for your one-stop shopping convenience. There, you could find anything from cooking utensils to running shoes, all in one convenient, online shopping space.

Here are a few of my favourite finds that I think you might love too:

Brown Leopard Contrast-Trim Open Cardigan – $28.99

Navy Chunky Collar Wool Coat $173.99

Black Paisley Microfiber Six-Piece Sheet Set $27.99

Black Seven-Branch Baracoa Candleholder $60.99, and Milano Geometric Picture Frame $22.99

Brown Metallic Craighton Glass Bottle Vase – Set of Three $111.99

Southwest Geo Toilet Seat Decal $11.99

Tan 14.5-Oz. Bergamot Amber Everyday Luxe Candle $12.99

LEGO® Ideas 21320 Dinosaur Fossils $76.99

PUMA Ignite Pink & White Color Block Windbreaker – Girls $22.99

So much to see, so hard to resist pulling out the credit card! The list goes on and on for the very best deals, so take the time to browse and compare prices – you may be surprised with what you find. Another successful shopping day, and I am pooped;) Until next time, happy Monday everyone!

Friday: The Socialite

Photo Friday | Blue Mountain Village—Collingwood, Ontario | where.ca

Instead of our Friday night drive this week, we decided on a Saturday morning trip to Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood. A friend recommended it as a beautiful place to picnic and relax with the family for the day, so that’s what we intend to do. Collingwood is approximately two and a half hours north of Toronto, situated on the southern part of Georgian Bay. It is home to Scenic Caves, Sunset Point Beach, and the Blue Mountain Resort.

Blue Mountain Resort’s main attraction is skiing in the winter, and the Adventure Park in the summer, which is filled with activities such as mini-putting, and tree trek climbing. Unfortunately, if you are thinking of visiting Adventure Park this summer, they are no longer selling tickets due to the high number of visitors. However, you are free to shop, hike, and dine at your leisure, enjoying every square inch of nature’s majestic beauty.

We are planning on heading out early in order to beat the crowd, and to secure a great picnic spot. Their picnic areas are scattered, so it will be a bit of a scavenger hunt when we get there. Otherwise, it will be a sunny, and fabulous day out with friends and family. I hope you all enjoy your day. Make plans to be out tomorrow because there are only a few great summer days left in the year. Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday: Do it Yourself Challenge!

DIY Shelves that I've built in My Home — The Decor Formula

I am sold on the functionality, and flair of floating shelves! They provide essential storage, but are also home to cute knick knacks that you may find on your weekend visit to the local flea market. Shelves are versatile because they can play a room up or down, depending on the mood you are trying to convey. Floating shelves are surprisingly tough! They can hold a reasonable amount of weight if they are installed correctly, which can accomodate your favourite dish set, and show off your flashy stemware.

Here is a DIY floating shelf project that you can try at home. Take a look:

DIY Floating Shelves

This easy tutorial will show you how to build these DIY floating shelves. Just follow the free printable plans and how-to video. You can click the link below to download and print the full set of plans!https://www.shanty-2-chic.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/DIY-Floating-Shelves-Free-Plans.pdfKeyword: diy floating shelve, free plans

Supply List

  • 1 1x10x8 Pine or Whitewood
  • 2 2x3x8 Framing Lumber
  • 1 4’x4’x1/4″ Hardwood Plywood
  • 3 1x4x6′ Pine or Whitewood
  • 1 1/4″ Brad Nails
  • 2 1/2″ Pocket Hole Screws
  • 3 1/2″ Wood Screws
  • Wood Glue

Instructions

  • Cut List
  • Screw the three 7 3/4″ pieces to the back 32″ piece.
  • Locate your wall studs and transfer the locations to the back piece. Pre-drill two holes at each stud location and use 3 1/2″ wood screws to attach the shelf to the wall.
  • Add the bottom 1/4″ plywood. this piece and the rest of the project will be attached with wood glue and brad nails.
  • Attach the top 1×10 shelf.
  • Attach the side 1×4 trim.
  • Attach the 1×4 front trim. Now you’re ready to tape off the walls, sand and finish.

*Instructions taken from shanty-2-chic.com

Wherever you decide to put these shelves up, they will definitely give your space the added touch that you’ve been looking for. Have fun dreaming up the possibilities! Happy Wednesday everyone!