Sun-ny-day

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon. I had a late lunch with my mom, sister and niece who just turned 18. Prior to her birthday, I’d considered making her a quilt but decided against it when I figured she wouldn’t appreciate it. However, I changed my mind. I’m going to involve her in the designing of it. I hate how everyone requests money or gift cards these days. I want my niece to have something full of love and effort, something special, not just cash spent on makeup or the latest fashion. She’ll have this quilt for years to come and she’ll remember having a hand in its creation.

After lunch, I showed her a “frog” quilt (and matching pillow) I’ve almost completed.

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I told her if she had old jeans or t-shirts she wanted to donate, I could incorporate them into her quilt in order to make it unique to her. There was plenty of nodding and several ‘uh huh’s but I’m not sure she really understands, or is all that excited about, the concept. My next move will be to invite her to my home so she can explore the myriad of fabrics and denims I have. She can also see the Montreal Canadiens quilt I’m working on for her dad.

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Sometimes it helps a person have vision, and can spark an interest, if they can physically look at, and touch, the raw materials used. Plus, it will be a chance to visit with one another 🙂

I’m really looking forward to this particular sewing project.

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May 30

I sat down this morning with 2 bananas (1 for me, 1 for the dogs) and a bowl of fresh, yummy, juicy cantaloupe (can you tell it’s a fave of mine?). Both my dogs love bananas. It’s the only fruit Leroy will eat actually. Charlotte, on the other hand, eats almost everything in the fruit and veggie department. I decided to answer my own question about just how many bananas would they eat? I had to stop after 5 because it didn’t appear they would although they did slow down. Good grief. Would they have eaten until they were sick? I guess I’ll never know.

We’ve had several serious thunderstorms in the past week. I do believe it’s why Mama Robin is gone. She built her nest during our sunny phase and once the first storm or two hit, she realized her location really was poor. While I no longer have her to worry about, I do worry over my tender garden. Once the sky darkens and the wind begins to whip up, I’m outside covering all the plants I can. A massive downpour, or worse yet, dime-sized hail, would obliterate everything. I have plans for next year that include some sort of removable roofing.

Anyway, my company will be here in 4 hours or so. I better get a move on! I’d rather sit and sew but that won’t get the housework done. I have to also clean the chimney for my woodstove. With the recent rains, the temperatures have cooled as well, and I need a fire to take the chill from the air. I could put socks and a sweater on but I’m usually too lazy to do that. And yet I’ll clean the chimney?? Makes sense doesn’t it?! We all have our quirks 🙂

Bye for now, have a great one!

Friday again. Where does the time go?

Good morning! I’ve been up since 5:30 and have accomplished a fair amount already. Or at least it seems that way. 2 loads of laundry. Done. Roasted cauliflower soup for my sister. Done. I just need to taste test it so I can give it my stamp of approval. Bread fresh from the oven. Done.

I began making bread from scratch last year. And when I say scratch, I really mean it. I don’t use conventional, store-bought yeast. I use a sourdough starter and for those of you who are familiar with such a thing, you know they require tending. I also mill my own whole grain flours. I’m in love with homemade bread. One day I’ll do a post about it 🙂

For now I’ll do a quick update on what’s going on around here. Mama Robin has been incognito for several days. I was worried about her eggs so I climbed a ladder to check her nest and it was empty! Whatever happened will always be a mystery but now I can cut that dang tree down, yay.

My company is arriving tomorrow rather than today. I have more time to get ready! Another yay.

I solved the issue with my Singer sewing machine. The upper thread kept breaking and fiddling with the tension wasn’t helping. It was so extremely frustrating! I finally Googled it and ended up changing the needle. Magic! And a third yay. I won’t do a fourth one, I promise. My Janome is still sitting on the sidelines. . . . I think it may need to be taken in. I can’t sew without my machines. Quilting is on hold.

My garden is doing well although I know now I should have started my seeds indoors way sooner! Okay, I knew that when I started them! Next year will be better. I can’t wait to begin picking baby lettuce. I have 5 or 6 different kinds.

And that’s it. I’ll post my soup recipe if it earns a thumbs up. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! See you again soon!

Organic Product Review Numero Uno

Despite being a household of only one, I cook and bake a lot. During the winter months, it can be as much as every day. Spring and summer are considerably less with the garden occupying my time. I absolutely adore trying new and interesting dishes. Like sewing or wood working, it’s just another way to nurture my creativity. I even enjoy making the same old same old 🙂

Over the course of my adult life, my eating habits have evolved to where they are now. And thank goodness for that! I shudder to recall the “low-fat, no-fat” phase I went through. It was definitely not nutritious! My sister and I even traveled to the U.S. for products we couldn’t find here in Canada! Crazy, huh? We were in heaven over fat-free Twinkies and fat-free Cool Whip. I wouldn’t touch them now if you paid me. At least where food is concerned, I HAVE gotten wiser as I’ve gotten older.

Today I aim for whole foods, 100% organic and nutrient dense. Having gone vegan in the last 2 years, I’m eagerly exploring a wide world of new recipes. Seitan. Amazing stuff. Sweet potato and black bean burgers. Yum. Textured soy protein. Oh yes. It’s the focus of my inaugural review.

I’m lucky that the kitchen is a favorite place to be. I can literally be in there for up to 8 hours and be happy (if I ignore the dirty dishes! ugh). Fortunately, my sister and her husband are willing recipients of my efforts or I’d be overrun with food. My freezer can only hold so much. Believe me, I know this for a fact.

Last Saturday, while making a large pot of mixed bean chili, I had a brilliant idea. I make everything I consume (okay, okay, almost everything) from scratch, so I have an extensive pantry. I also eat 100% organic when at home. It took me over a decade to convert every item in my kitchen to organic. It’s a gradual process, simply start with one thing and go from there. Eventually you’d be where I am. I’m a firm believer in, and supporter of, the organic industry. I know many people think, “Pfft, it’s a bunch of hooey”. That’s my fancy word 🙂 But if you do your research, and do it well, you’ll understand.

Anyway, I’m digressing! I use many, many different organic products in my ‘from-scratch’ endeavors. Unless I’ve fallen off the wagon, I rarely buy processed (junk) foods. I thought I could begin a semi-regular product review. Surely even just one or two individuals will find my information useful. And even if no one does, I had fun writing it.

So here goes, my first review. . . . drum roll, please (jk)

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NOW Real Food Certified Organic Textured Soy Protein Granules

I’ve only used this for chilies (black bean and mixed bean) so far and really enjoy it.

  1. it picks up the flavors of the dish you cook it in
  2. it’s suitable for vegetarians/vegans
  3. it’s ONE ingredient (no chemical additives)
  4. it’s an excellent source of protein
  5. it’s very easy to use
  6. it’s non-GMO (all organic stuff is actually)

I haven’t always been a vegan and I’m certainly not telling anyone else to be. It’s just healthier to eat a predominantly plant-based diet. If you’re skeptical about trying this product, I’d recommend using it in something like a chili to begin with. I don’t pre-soak the granules as the package says to although I did the first time. After that, I realized the liquid in the chili was sufficient enough.

I’ve also used this product in nugget form (I can’t get it anymore or I’d still be using it). I made a fantasic “chicken” stew over mashed potatoes. Don’t be afraid to give the nuggets a try too!

Okay, I’m done. I think I did a fairly quick and simple review. I suppose I could be wrong 🙂 If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer! Now I’m off to prepare for my company that’s arriving tomorrow! Yikes. I won’t be cooking today but roasted cauliflower soup and ginger carrot soup are on my very-soon-to-do list!

Good plan

The mosquitoes are much less active almost nonexistent early in the morning. I was out at 6 a.m. to see if I could achieve more than yesterday’s 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there. At one point I counted over a dozen mosquitoes on one forearm alone! Never mind the ones buzzing around, and landing on, my head and every other exposed inch of skin. It was maddening.

However, my plan to be out as soon as I woke up today worked. I was able to putter away for an entire 45 minutes bothered by perhaps a half dozen mosquitoes total. What a difference! Then it was time to wash the dog’s feet (dewy grass + dirt = filthy paws) and come in for breakfast. I’m a big believer in the first meal of the day. Are you? You should be 🙂

On the sewing front, I’m still finishing up the organization of all my denim. I need another clothing rack. Four years ago, when I developed this grand idea of making quilts, I bought 3 metal racks from Canadian Tire. They’re functional but will bow if I burden them too much. I realized I can build a better, stronger (very weird, I wanted italics but it made the word disappear unless I used bold also) rack out of 2 x 4’s! If only I’d thought of it 4 years ago! I would have saved over a hundred dollars! Ah, well, at least I will save now. I have all the supplies necessary except maybe for some screws. I have to place this project at the very top of my to-do list! Er, okay, right after completing the garden. . . . . 🙂 It’s so easy for me to get distracted. Haven’t I said it before? Focus, Jodie, focus.

And I have company arriving in 2 days. Yikes. Maybe I should write that to-do list on actual paper rather than having it in my head. I tend to forget what really needs to be done when I’d much prefer doing things I enjoy. Being a major procrastinator doesn’t help matters!

Alright, I’ll make that list as soon as I publish this post. Have a happy Tuesday everyone! Come back tomorrow for my very first product review. I know. I know. You can barely wait. It will be so riveting (ha ha).

May 25th. . . . 7 months to Christmas!

Good morning! I’m going to make this post a quick one! Often I sit here for half an hour or more when I’m composing what I’d like to write. But I have too many things to get going on and little time for this today.

We had a couple thunderstorms over Saturday and Sunday, the second one quite harsh and it would’ve demolished my tender seedlings in the garden had I not been able to cover them all with various clear containers. It reminded me of a hail storm we had years ago. I came home from work and found my garden literally in shreds. It was very upsetting. Everything bounced back though!

I still have several piles of denim all over my sewing room but the resulting organization of placing dozens of pairs of jeans in the proper spot feels good. I’ll begin sewing again once I’m totally done. I’ve decided to finish the Montreal Canadiens denim quilt I’m making for my brother. As long as my sewing machines cooperate!

This is what I have so far, it’s roughly 3 feet by 4 feet. My brother is tall so I have a fair amount of work yet to do. I’m looking forward to his reaction when he gets it.

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Yesterday I had this wonderful idea to review different organic food products I use. I cook and bake frequently (always from scratch) so I have an extensive pantry. It occurred to me that I actually have some knowledge worth sharing! 🙂 Keep posted for my first review later this week.

For now, I’m signing off. I managed NO computer only until 3 p.m. yesterday. . . . pretty good but not perfect. It’s difficult because I also watch “tv” on my computer (Netflix). When I’m sitting at my sewing table cutting up jeans (or working on a quilt), I like to have my current favorite tv show on, Damages with Glenn Close. I’m missing Downton Abbey and look forward to the arrival of season 5. Come on Netflix! Get it!

Okay, seriously, good bye now 🙂 Have a fantastic day everyone!

Busy, busy, busy

Warm again already this morning. We had a brief storm yesterday after dinner but no thunder or lightning. The wind just stirred up incredibly strong while I stood fretting over Mama Robin in her nest. I wanted to go and shelter her somehow! Obviously I didn’t and I know I can’t but I really, really wanted to. She’s fine, still doing her sitting on her eggs duty. Since my tree overhangs the neighbor’s yard, I need to put a sign on the fence to make them aware of Mr. and Mrs. Robin’s presence. Weeds and grass in their yard is about a foot and a half high. I don’t want them to be weed eating the same day baby birds are learning to fly!

And speaking of weeds, I did major weed removal in one corner of my garden yesterday. It was way easier than I thought it would be! There’s something to be said about letting the weeds grow big before pulling them 🙂 All work halted however when Charlotte joined me and plopped down directly in front of me. The cool dirt must have felt good on her. She’s so darn cute I let her stay! And because I hate the guilt of telling her to go away, I eventually said “Let’s go get a treat!” and off she went, lol.

We never did go get a treat.

But anyway, back to my garden beds. They’re raised. The dirt in my yard is clay. So when I decided I wanted a garden some 15 years ago (OMG! Has it been that long??), my bf at the time built the most wonderful raised sides from steel I beam. . . . I’m not sure if that’s literally what it’s called. It’s just what I call it. We filled those beds with a wonderful mix of compost, black dirt, sand, peat, perlite, all kinds of stuff and I now have, and have had for a long time, the best dirt! How do I know that? It’s full of worms which are a sign of healthy soil. I’m proud to say it’s also 100% organic. I’ve never used chemical fertilizers or pesticides and NEVER will. They’re not necessary and why would I want to poison my food and the environment??

I was out this morning finishing prep on the one corner planned for the remaining pea shoots when a little toad huddled under the edge scared me! I’m sure I scared him too. I quickly scooped him up and relocated him. I have toads all over my yard, some as big as my fist, others small enough to sit on a Toonie. In fact, every night before it’s dark, I go out and fill various lids and plates (because they’re shallow) with fresh water for the toads. I’ll be doing it until October!

Wow. Apparently I’m in a mood to write even though I know most people are not in a mood to read, lol. I’ll say it again. I’m so new to blogging, right now all it really is for me is another form of journaling. I’m okay with less than 10 followers 🙂

I moved the furniture in my sewing area last night. And I’m glad I did! I think it will provide a more functional work space. I’ll continue on with organizing my denim, packing up my Kijiji room, weeding the garden (if the mosquitoes leave me alone!) and any of the one hundred other things I have to do!

Enjoy your weekend! See you back here on Monday. I’m taking tomorrow off. NO computer. At all! If I tell myself this enough times, maybe I’ll actually accomplish it. What the heck did we do before we ever had computers?? We survived. One day should be a breeze.

Denim Disaster

It’s already 18 degrees this morning (10:30 right now, it will be later by the time I post this). The thundershowers we keep expecting just never happen and that’s fine by me. Lightning accompanies thunder and that’s disastrous for the forest fire situation. Obviously I have concern for the people and properties affected by fire and my best wishes for safety are always with them. Being the “odd” person I am, I also think about those poor critters unable to escape: baby birds that can’t fly, toads that just can’t hop fast enough, bumble bee nests, all of it. And I’m bothered again writing about it! Subject change.

My living room is a disaster area. What began as a simple task of cutting up jeans turned into a mission to go through every bin I have (of jeans) to organize them once and for all. I’ve actually made some progress but the scene will get uglier before I’m done. I literally have hundreds of pairs of jeans. I found the cutest Winnie the Pooh pair and now have to make a shopping bag using them! I have Winnie the Pooh flannel too! It’s perfect. And you can see how easily I get off track. . . . check out the snap on that pocket!

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Okay, I’ll dial down my excitement a touch 🙂 I managed to put 12 of 25 pea shoots into the garden. I ditched the planter idea. I’ll get to the remaining shoots today. I’ll carry on with the denimolition too. I also need to rearrange furniture and pack more stuff in my “Kijiji” room. Yes, I have a small, spare bedroom I actually call my Kijiji Room. You guessed it. It’s FULL of things to get rid of. I admit I am a pack rat. The craft supplies alone boggles my mind.

But I won’t get started on that topic. I’ll leave it for another post. Yipee. Bet you can’t wait! Have a fabulous Friday everyone!

Leave well enough alone!

Oh brother. I had some technical difficulties this morning. When I came on to do a post, my site was blank! Talk about having a minor heart attack. And then all I could see was smiley faces, pictures, blog titles, links and italic and bold lettering. Everything else was gone!

Naturally, I searched for an answer why.

I found a section that mentioned static front pages. . . . and fiddled around where I maybe shouldn’t have. I’m tired, my eyes are burning and I’ve developed a crick in my neck somehow. So not in the mood for fixing things, or messing up my site more than I just did. I should have left it alone to begin with. Don’t you just hate it when you know better but still ignore your instincts?

Our weather forecast is promising a blazing 25 degrees this afternoon. Too hot for this chick! Don’t get me wrong, I like the sun, enjoy it even (under the right circumstances). I am a gardener after all and we need it but I don’t prefer heat. A blue sky and sunshine on a crisp fall day is more to my liking. Winter is even better!

But before I become sidetracked with other topics, I will say my plans for today are cutting up jeans (because my sewing machines are still problematic) and transplanting my pea shoots. I’ll also hopefully make a wonderful chole palak for my sister. It’s a spinach and chick pea dish, very yummy!

See you all tomorrow! 🙂 I wish everyone a lovely day!

Vegan, 100% whole grain, raisin bran muffins

It’s a glorious sunny day and I’m in a sharing mood 🙂

Since I became a vegan, and because I adore cooking, I’ve also become a fan of scouring the internet for new recipes. A while back a friend had mentioned a liking for bran muffins. So the search commenced! Vegan bran muffin recipes (that suited me) were actually quite difficult to locate. I finally found this one on a site called “Fueled by Plants”. I absolutely want to give credit to the owner and have included a link at the bottom of this page.

You’ll notice a few differences in my recipe and the original. I often fiddle with a new recipe to accommodate my pantry and/or my preferences. I’m not in any way, shape or form saying my version is superior. You’re at liberty to make these muffins however you like.

I omitted the molasses as I only have blackstrap and find it’s too strong of a taste for me. I used maple syrup and light brown sugar instead, a mere 7 tbsp. of sweetener in total. I decided 1 tbsp. of flax seed wasn’t worth it when divided among 12 muffins. I reduced the baking soda from 2 tsp. to 3/4 tsp. and the salt from 1 tsp. to 1/4-1/2 tsp. to cut down the sodium count. I also use weights rather than measurements (I do provide both however). Over the years, I’ve discovered that this is the best way to be consistent.

I’ll be the first to admit these are not the world’s most wonderful muffins but the health benefits make up for any shortcomings. Light and fluffy? Sorry. Vegan? Refined sugar free? Oil free? 100% whole grain? Loaded with dietary fiber? Today’s your lucky day! Shame on all of you who are thinking these are probably taste free too.

I’ve made these muffins many times and they’ve always worked well for me. In fact, when my sister requests baking, these are in her top five picks. I do sometimes use different whole grain flours and have used partial oat bran (when I don’t have enough wheat bran) but so far that’s it. I plan on trying frozen blueberries rather than raisins in the future. Any substitutions you make are at your own risk 🙂 Please feel free to let me know about your successes (or failures) in the comments section though. I’m always interested in how one recipe can be adapted into several options.

You must excuse my pictures. I don’t have a fabulous and beautiful food blog like so many others do. I don’t even have a plain food blog 🙂 I just decided, spur of the moment really, to share this recipe today. Tomorrow I’ll be occupied with another subject. Such as my confounded sewing machines giving me grief again. Argh.

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I’ve shown the Earth Balance Organic Traditional Spread just in case any of you were thinking “Hey! She’s not vegan! She has butter on that muffin!”. If you’ve never tried EB, I highly recommend it. You’ll be surprised at how good it is! And no, I’m not receiving any perks for expressing my opinion 🙂 I just really love EB!

Recipe: makes 12 muffins

  • 274 g wheat bran (3 cups)
  • 160 g applesauce (2/3 cup)
  • 472 g non-dairy milk (I use unsweetened almond)
  • 68 g maple syrup (1/4 cup)
  • 36 g light brown sugar (3 tbsp.)
  • 160 g raisins (I’m not sure what this is in cups, I reduced it from 1 1/2 cups)
  • 120 g spelt flour (1 cup)
  • 60 g whole wheat flour (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. sea salt

As I typed that out I realized the theme I chose for my blog does not offer a “Print recipe” option. I apologize to anyone who feels annoyed at having to reach for an old-fashioned pen and paper.

Mix the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside 15 minutes or more. I’ve left it as long as an hour without any problems. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 6 ingredients. Set aside also. Prepare your muffin pan with liners or with oil and flour, or however you normally do it. Now this may be where you have issues. . . . I don’t know. I don’t use a muffin pan or muffin liners. I detest non-stick bake ware. Liners (the environmentally-friendly ones) can be expensive. Plus they’re just more waste and they often stick to the muffin anyway.

I use 1 cup wide-mouth canning jars. I rub a thin layer of coconut oil inside them and then dust with flour. They work great! I made this discovery after unsuccessfully searching for a glass muffin pan 🙂

I preheat my oven to 350 degrees while preparing my jars. If you’re using a pan with liners, you’d have preheated your oven much earlier. Once my jars are ready, I mix the dry ingredients into the wet and stir well, no need to be gentle. You will then divide the batter evenly between 12 cups (jars in my case and I use my kitchen scale for truly equal muffins). I should also add I cool my jars (prior to oiling them) in the fridge slightly if the weather is quite warm. Melted oil is the least preferable state your oil should be in; hard(ish) or a bit soft is easier.

Bake 31 minutes. I understand that different ovens may function slower, faster, cooler or hotter. SO check your muffins (you know, with a toothpick) around the 25 minute mark and go from there. Once done, remove to a baking rack to cool. I take mine out of their jars within 10 minutes and then allow them to cool completely on the rack. In my opinion, these are better the next day.

https://plantfueled.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/recipe-whole-wheat-low-fat-vegan-bran-muffins