Bookmaking & Birthday Gifts (and an ugly yet delicious cupcake)

I’ve been wanting to blog about my newest favourite creative obsession outlet, but thought it would be better to wait until I had a little more to show you. I wanted to explain the why’s and how’s, give you the soul behind the groove…

But I just can’t wait because it’s so fun!


I am in love with making these notebooks! Don’t you love the unfinished, just raveld enough edges? I think they look so natural. Sometimes I wonder if it’s normal to enjoy sewing into paper so much, because it’s the bee’s knees. I promise a more in-depth post soon, but you know when you’re into something and you just have to share it? This little cupper is actually on its way to a very sweet Birthday Girl. It doesn’t have far to go, but I don’t think it’s going to make it in time. Sigh.

These notebooks have become my birthday gift idea par excellence, and I’m working on a few others right now. I’ve done a pretty good job honoring my Handmade Pledge, and this is a great way for me to send something from the heart and hands. I’ve been using Moleskine (over-priced) and faux-Moleskine (far more reasonable but difficult to find) notebooks, but I’m going to be making my own soon (that’ll be part of the part 2 of this post!).

Rather than typing this post, I should be embroidering this :


It’s going to be for a notebook for my nephew’s birthday. These groovy little carp are from this book :


I bought it last summer when visiting the U.S. I think it’s a great book for embroidery beginners (like me!) because it gives a good explanation of some basic techniques and has some fun project ideas, and though not all of them are really my cup of tea, I’ve enjoyed flipping through the pages for inspiration. I’m excited to use a design from this book for the first time.

I’ll be posting a proper bookmaking W.I.P. soon, promis, juré!

Did you happen to see the whiteout cakes that were taking over the Internet last week? If not you can visit Honey B or Natalia to see how beeeutiful they looked. They got me dreaming of deep, dark chocolate and frosting and since Guppy & I are on vacation, we decided to make some cupcake love…


Clearly not as fancy as it could have been, but very fun to make with Guppy, and even more fun to eat! We just used the chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but I doubled the cocoa (because I’m punk rock like that) and we made a variation on the fluffy buttercream recipe. Betcha want one, too!

Vegan MoFo Day 7 – Animals on my table?

I’ll tell you one thing, this Vegan MoFo posting is a bit like when I first began running…I need to build up my endurance! I’ve never posted 7 days in a row evah! I’m feeling a little out of breath, and my legs are a little shaky, but I’m gaining ground!

Luckily, I have help like this in my kitchen…

These are the only animals you’ll ever see on my table!

Guppy is obsessed with dinosaurs, and animals in general, but really dinos. She knows so many of their names (in both French & English), it’s crazy the way she just soaks it up. M. Fish and I had to study up to be sure we weren’t messing up their names! She can also tell you if they are carnivore or herbivore. She fancies herself a comedian when she talks about Spinosaurus or T. Rex, “They eat other animals…Grrr (imagine the two plastic figures smashing into one another in an epic reenactment of Godzilla vs. King Kong)…but not my dinos. They only eat leaves and no animals!” (the dinos then kiss – SMACK – and proceed to eat imaginary “leaves” suspended in the air. This is all her, by the way. We don’t make a big deal about her diet sans animaux. It comes up, but for now we prefer to live more by example, and talk about the loving bonds ALL families share, regardless of species. Guppy carries her dinos with her in cotton drawstring bag (the mammals travel separately, they are more “snugly” says Guppy), and she brings them everywhere with her. For example, here there are on the kitchen table…

…because here she is tossing a most delicious salad. It’s the “Cabbage and Corn” salad from The Raw Gourmet. (I know, you were wondering where the food was in this MoFo post!). It’s so delicious, and beautiful, too, with the purple and yellow yumminess. It’s really an easy salad, just fresh or frozen corn and purple cabbage with a light vinaigrette – simple, sweet and sublime. I make a double batch each time, because it’s really better the next day once the cabbage has pickled a bit in the vinaigrette.

This salad is also really great wrapped up in a tortilla with some breaded-fish-style tofu. AMAZING! It tastes like the sea shore (without the gritty sand), or vacation, or maybe summer vacation. The crispy warm and the light, bright salad – W-O-W! You gotta try it! I of course have no pictures of that, because when it’s ready I just dive in and sacrifice photographic evidence for culinary satisfaction!

Tomorrow I’ll bring you some quinoa love, because damn it, it’s worth it!

Jen’s Veggie Nori Rolls For Caterpillars & People, Too!

We love bugs. Spiders. Flies. Caterpillars. Ants. (We love them more when they’re outside, of course!)

Kittee, aka Cake Maker to the Stars, has some lovely caterpillar stories & photos and I was sharing them with the Guppy recently since we are apartment dwellers and even at the park it’s hard to find any really cool caterpillars this Spring (global warming…). She already loves butterflies, and when I told her that caterpillars are “baby” butterflies (everything she finds cute is a baby. Elephants are babies. Cows. Bumble bees, etc.) she really got excited.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m having a few issues getting my dear little Guppy to eat anything other than cookies or bread or raw fruit (before she was 2 she ate EVERYTHING). I involve her as much as I can involve a just-turned-three-year-old, and bring her with me to the market square to help chose the veggies, etc.

We were at the marché and I bought some baby spinach leaves and she said, “Hey, Mumma, I want some leaves, just like a caterpillar!”. Remaining guardedly optimistic I rinsed off a leaf with some water and she ate it, all of it, and said “more, please”!

When we got home it was time to prepare dinner, and I wanted to ride this “leaf” thing as long as possible. Most of you crazy kids know Jen of Veg*Triathlete (who will return to kicking athletic ass after recovering from bobos…:( damn IR list anyway). She has such an excellent “Fuel” section on her blog, and I love letting her plan my meals :). She had some lovely Peanut Veggie Nori Rolls posted and I just had to try them, especially giving that we are all about “leaves” and caterpillars right now. They have the added bonus of being a “hands-on” project-type meal, and we’re all about that!

The Guppy is showing us how caterpillars eat.

First we made the marinade, then we washed & dried the lettuce & veggies we’d be using. For veggies we used thin carrot sticks, green onions, thin-sliced red pepper, pineapple, and zucchini. We put them in a large bowl with the marinade & made sure that everything was well covered.

Next came the rolling part. This was the first time that the Guppy was to participate in the rolling of the Nori. She was pretty excited about it, and she kept calling them sushis. Silly kiddo.

Not sure how many of you have done any Nori rolling with a Guppy-aged kiddo. If you’re ok with everything being sort of all over the place (the floor, your shirt, your pants, the table…) then it’s ok. Heck, I’m messy, so I guess it’s normal for a child to get sloppy- and that’s the fun of the project. Nori rolls are like the finger painting of the culinary world. I just thought to myself, be like the lettuce, just receptive and waiting for all the goodness to be bestowed upon you… (so yoga of meself!)

We saved what as left of the marinated and used it as a dipping sauce. Everything went into the fridge until Mr. Fish came home, then we went to town! It was so good! I wish I could say the Guppy ate three rolls and loved them. She had a few bites then asked for apricots. Oh well. I’ll definitely make these again! Go check out the link to get the low-down on these babies!

“C” is for Cookie & “C” is for Céline!

There seems to be a bit of a cookie frenzy in the air, or at least on the vegan blogosphere, thanks in large part to the lovely, cookie-wielding Céline of Have Cake, Will Tavel. I’m all about cookies. Who isn’t? (No, seriously, who isn’t, I want to know as they should perhaps not be trusted…).

One of my faves is the Snickerdoodle. See, I haven’t had one in, uh, I don’t know…a million years, because usually they are full of butter or hydrogenated shortening and well, that’s just, you know, gross. I received a new cookbook over the holidays and I was all excited about a Snickerdoodle recipe in said book because I thought that after long last the Snickerdoodle and the Shellyfish would be reunited.

I tried the recipe. Twice. It was, well, nasty-gross.

I was oh-so-disappointed, as was the entire Fish household, because I had maybe gone on just a little bit too much about how scrumptious the Snickerdoodles are. Then super-chef-extraordinaire Céline posted her becoming-more-famous-by-the-minute Snickerdoodle recipe, and I knew it was time to recreate the doodle-magic.

Me: Hey Guppy, do you want another Snickerdoodle?

Guppy: (laughing) They’re not sticky-noodles, Mumma, they’re cookies!

What is great about Ms. C’s Vegetarian Times recipe-redoux is that she created the perfect sized recipe for a small little school of fish like ours- there are only 3 of us, and so either we a) pig out on cookies as they are cooling because they are so difficult to resist and swear off cookies for a few weeks… or b) see “a”. So it’s OK to eat them all! Really, you can, don’t worry. I got about 8 cookies the first time I made them, and the second time I doubled the batch, which still only made about 14ish cookies. Perfect!

Why are you still reading? Click on the above link to Céline’s recipe already! Go, go, go!

Cobblers & “Picniks”

The philanthropist & all-around-cutie Katie (or Special K) aka the Chocolate Covered Vegan posted her Little Vegan Crumble recently and it spurred daydreaming about summertime picknicks and BBQs with friends, light breezes and kite flying…you get the picture. The Guppy has been a bit slammed with a late-season cold, and was feeling a wee bit down about being stuck in the house with the sun beaming outside, so, I thought the moment for Katie’s Crumble had arrived, only, unbeliveably, I found myself oatless in the kitchen! I’d already promised a baking project to the eager Guppy who was already sitting on her knees on one of the kitchen chairs, playing the drums with a spoon and some mixing bowls, so my mental-roll-a-dex was spinning- what to make?

We’d already set the apples on the table, and I thought, hey, cobbler is yummy, too! And voila! Afternoon project and yummy snack rolled into one!

This recipe is adapted from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, which as I’ve said before, is such a great Vegan resource. It’s not as sexy or hip as some of the newer books on the market (first edition published in 1975), but that’s what I love – you don’t need any fancy ingredients to make any of the recipes (and the pictures are so darn hippy-retro-cool!).

Fruit Cobbler

for the fruit filling :

  • 6 large apples (cored & sliced or chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • a little water

Sauté your apples in a skillet over low heat for 5 minutes, adding a few soup spoons of water from time to time to keep from sticking (the original recipe calls for 3 Tbsp margarine, which you could use rather than H2O). Add the sugar and cinnamon, and cook apples until they are pretty tender, about 5-10 minutes more.

for the batter :

  • 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (I don’t even use WW pastry flour & it turns out fine)
  • 3/4 AP flour (the original recipe calls for 1.5 cups AP flour if you don’t want to use WW, but it’s good!)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup oil (I don’t use that much, I don’t fill it all the way…)
  • 1 cup “milk”
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Sift together the dry ingredients, then slowly add the wet until just mixed. Put in enough batter to cover the bottom of your pan (recipe suggests 8×8 square, I used a round, I’m a rebel), then add the apples. You’ll have very little batter left, it’s normal, just scoop it onto the apple layer in little splotches – it will seem like there isn’t enough, so don’t stress. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350F. You could top it with anything, obviously, but we like to add a little cashew-vanilla crème sauce on top:

And now for the “Picnik” – you may have noticed my playing around with the pics in this entry. Being one of the only bloggers on the planet to not have any photo editing software, I try to do what I can with light, etc., when taking my pictures, but could never crop or correct anything…until now!

Going through some bookmarked blogs I revisited Full Circle, which is a great blog (there are so many fabulous ones out there!) that has a huge amount of universal appeal though it is a self-described homeschooling blog. Seriously, go check it out! I may be one of the last to hear the news, but thanks to Full Circle I’m in the loop because she introduced me to Picnik, an amazing – and free – photo editing tool! I haven’t had too much time to play around with it, but it is just fabulous!


NB: I know that yesterday was Mother’s Day in North America, not today (don’t worry, Mum got her card on the right day!).

The idea of Mother’s Day is a rather complex one for me to actually write about, because it brings up many feelings and emotions rather difficult to articulate in the short space of a blog entry. I also couldn’t even contemplate the holiday without having zillions of images of my grams whizzing about my head and through my heart. This made me rather melancholy and waxing nostalgic, because, well, she’s gone and I miss her so, so much. Thus, I decided I would not blog about M day, having wished my mumma a happy day via telephone. Curiously, however, as day turned to evening, I found myself rummaging around for pictures of my mum, and specifically trying to find pictures of my grams with my mum, and becoming increasingly frustrated because the pictures I was looking for were not to be found.

Forgoing sadness, I opted to share a little mumma-love on the blogosphere, because I love my mumma to pieces, and really, moms rule, and IMum on left, Grams on Right, moi in the middle don’t think that I understood just how intense and complicated the job description was, until I myself became a mom. The above picture is of ma maman with Grams (her mom), on her right, and our Auntie Lorraine on her left. I’m fairly sure that the baby with all that hair is my sister Tam, latter half of the groovy 70s.

Here on the right is my still slim & sassy mum after her third kiddo (3 more to follow…). My Grams is on the far right with my Uncle who would kill me if he saw this but doesn’t read my blog, my sis Tam on Mum’s lap, and yours truly in the middle trying not to open my present until Dad has snapped the pic.

I love this picture, taken during my mum’s recent visit. The Guppy is blurry because she was cracking up laughing, not because she was being tickled, I think we were being silly, a hobby around here. I value the picture’s eloquence, so telling with the juxtaposition of the wild frenzy of love from the Guppy and the calm, loving smile of her Pamma.

The mother/daughter relationship is such an interesting one, often mirroring each other from one generation to the next. My contemplating a blog entry gave me pause to reflect on the similarities between Grams and Mum, and it didn’t take me long to find my answer : unconditional love and support. I announced I was becoming vegetarian at 16, mum bought more fresh fruit and veggies. When I got my nose pierced way back when I knew everything in 1990, my mom was less-than-thrilled, though she held her tongue. In tiny-town rural-ville, I blended about as well as Ziggy Stardust at a Rotary Club luncheon. A visiting Grams said without hesitation she’d pierce her nose, too, if it would help calm down the parents- and she was serious. When the first tattoo followed a month later, she swore she would also get a tattoo to show her solidarity if need be. Now that I see the dynamic between my own daughter and my mom, I can see the same sort of complicity between them, and while piercings and tattoos are rather passé, I am sure that whatever challenges the Guppy brings my way, her Pamma will be there to help balance things out.

Now that I’m the Mumma around here, I frequently find myself filled with doubt concerning my parenting: am I a good mom? Could I be doing this better? What would Xena do in this situation? (kidding). The crushing feelings of self-doubt are often harder than the actual mom-duty, and I know that both my mother, and hers, delt with it. To all you ladies out there (because biological mother or not, we women are the mothers to our students, neighbors, sisters, brothers, etc.) I hope you had a great day. My Mother’s Day is in 2 weeks…

The Bunny!

I woke up and wanted to hurry to get out for my run, when I heard squeals of joy emanating from the living room…

the-egg.jpg oeuf.jpg

The Guppy knew that today was “Bunny Day”, and she was up and in the living room standing before her basket, repeating excitedly, “Mumma, Mumma, look!”

rouge.jpg jaune.jpg

rose.jpg tada.jpg

How exciting! Baby felt bunnies hatching from vegan chocolate eggs!


Madame & Monsieur Lapin (Monsieur is easily recognizable by his little French moustache and pink attire…because male-folk do wear pink!) were my first attempts at sewing with a machine (more on that another day…). I followed the free Wee Bunny pattern from Wee Wonderfuls. Monsieur Rabbit was my first attempt (er, pas terrible or not-so-great as we say in French), but Madame Rabbit is much cooler (and looks darn good for just having a brood of felt bunnies!). The little felt bunnies are from the cutest book in the world which I want to blog about when I get the time so I won’t steal the thunder from a future post.

The Bdefilles.jpgunny of Spring didn’t forget me, as I found this beautiful book in my basket and cannot wait to start a billion projects…

Back From Five Freezing Days In The South of France


This is one of my favorite paintings by Toulouse Lautrec, the French painter who took the name of the beautiful city of Toulouse as his pseudonym (he was not in fact from Toulouse, but Albi, a gorgeous medieval city about 60k from where I was – Saint-Sulpice – very near Toulouse). This really hasn’t much to do with our trip, but since we were near Toulouse, and we went to Toulouse often during our visit…er…ok, anyway…


Spring has most definitely spring down there, there were blossoms and flowers and buds galore…but with the exception of my daily runs and literally running to the car or to the house to escape the hail and pelting rain, we didn’t really get to be part of the beauty outdoors. You can see my brush with the elements here.

The beauty we did get to enjoy was inside the toasty-warm walls of my in-laws home. We had such a wonderful time- especially the Guppy who was so excited to have other people around from the moment she woke up (we don’t get to see much of our families & extended families so this was a very special treat).

My in-laws have a beautiful home and they had a roaring fire going at all times keeping the house feeling very cosy and homey, and they were so great about my vegan dietary considerations. During their visit to our house during the holidays I had cooked up a vegan storm, wielding whisk and spatula to make satisfying meals for omnivores (and to charm the in-laws of course!). So it was only natural that they suggest I help cook up some dinners- because creating healthful, varied, vegan meals takes some planning and experience, and if you’re not used to it, well, it may seem a bit daunting.

The really big hit dish of our vacation was this fabulous recipe for orange chicken-style tofu. I have seen this recipe floating about all over the blogosphere, and it has lots of variations, but this is a great “base” recipe that you can easily expand on. For example I use way more orange juice – at least a cup – which means that you need to add more corn starch or arrowroot to compensate for the added liquid. I also usually add at least 1 red and 1 orange pepper, an entire sweet onion, and chunked pineapple.

My super-sweet 19-year-old nephew proved to be a wiz in the kitchen! He not only helped me make the orange-tofu, but he was also my main helper when rolling the 49 spring rolls for our final dinner there (my fingers were all puckery when I was done!). He was also amazing with the Guppy who just fell in love with him. He was so great with her, very intuitive for such a young guy, knowing if she needed a juice box or some applesauce, etc., and had no problem letting her jump on his bed or “hang out” with him while he was playing guitar (he even played on demand for her…)

It was also so fun to hang with my sister-in-law, L. She is so handy and crafty- a real inspiration with so many great ideas for various projects. She graciously donated a skein of yarn and some needles and showed me a great pattern for a skull-cappy-chuky thing, which I need to make time to finish. Plus she gave me various huge fabric scraps to amuse myself with.

Now if only we could find jobs down there…we’d pack up and move in a flash!



Rockin’ Raw “Not Peanut Butter Cookies”


I’d like to preface this entry with the following disclaimer: I don’t know much at all about Raw Cuisine. I don’t mean raw as in, hey let’s have a plate of crudités with our lunch or have an apple, it’s raw…I mean Raw Cuisine where you use romaine lettuce leaves as “bread slices” for sandwiches or marinara sauce that is never warmed in a sauce pan. I would love to get more serious with raw foods, but I can’t afford a juicer (though I would love one, so if you have an extra one lying around…), don’t have a food dyhydrater, and the tiny appliance I lovingly refer to as my, ahm, food processor, is really great, but it’s not got a great deal of power, and I can’t ask too much from it. So, that out of the way, I do seem to manage to make raw desserts pretty well with my limited equipment.

There is something so wonderfully decadant about raw desserts. I admit it’s not always as sinfully satisfying as a big slice of lemon cake with vegan buttercream icing or a gooey, delicious vegan brownie, but at least you know that you’re not mindlessly consuming empty calories, and there is no “guilt hang-over”, that icky feeling of “gee, did I really eat 3 cupcakes all by myself?


Last year a friend sent me Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People by Jennifer Cornbleet. It’s admittedly the only raw cookbook I have, so it’s my primary reference (though there are obviously tons of resources on the net!). One of my “go to” recipes is the “Not Peanut Butter Cookies” because it’s really quick, I almost always have the ingredients in the pantry, and it’s so delicious. Because I’m not a raw foodist, I do sometimes use peanut butter (like today).

adapted from Not Peanut Butter Cookies
from Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet

  • 1/2 cup nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut, hazlenut-my favorite)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, or rice syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I use a tablespoon)
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ (my addition)
  • 1 tablespoon coco powder (my addititon)
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (or wheat germ) to roll them in
  • almond slices to decorate

Put it all in your food processor and whirl it together (sauf the 1/2 cup of almonds or wheat germ for rolling) then freeze it for about 1/2 an hour (so you can handle it more easily). When you take it out break off about 1-inch hunks and roll them in the almond/wheat germ, and flatten them out a little. Freeze four about two hours before serving.