Wednesday, 25 March 2015

(Vegan) Blueberry Scones



One thing to know about me is that I love blueberries. Love. Love. Love. I'll eat them frozen or fresh, anywhere, anytime, any place, any form. Dare me if you wish! Another thing to know is how much I love wheaty products. I don't really include wheat (anymore) as a regular staple in my diet, but I don't avoid it like the plague either. I'm always down for a big batch of waffles or cookies or cake or cupcakes or... You see the point. But I know I do feel better when I eat it less often so I adjust my diet. 

There's a restaurant/bakery down in Venice, Florida with the best scones. I could write a novel about how delicious every single item on their menu is (like their wraps, coconut cake, and...everything else), but for now I'll stick to the scones. They seriously are a gift to the world. People will wait outside before open to grab a batch and the kitchen often runs out of them. My favourite is the blueberry scone with Devonshire cream and it is always served fresh and warm. 

Around last semester I sort of stopped buying and eating dairy products (for me that included milk and yogurt), so I've been looking for ways to make some vegan-ish foods. I religiously check Minimalist Baker - I wish I could eat their pictures (that sounds strange... I know). But there are some recipes I love that I don't want to change or substitute for a different recipe, so I've been playing around with other ingredients. 



Over the summer I made an amaaaaazing blueberry scone recipe and today I veganized it! It turned out exactly like the original and I kind of want to eat all of them now... There are 16 scones though so I suppose it may be best so save them for finals. 

Ingredients

4 C flour
6 tbsp sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C and 2 tbsp Earth Balance cold
2 flax eggs (*see below)
3/4 C almond milk
1 C blueberries (fresh or frozen, but do not thaw if using frozen)
2 tbsp almond milk

*1 flax egg is 3 tbsp water mixed with 1 tbsp ground flax. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.

Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Combine (sift) the dry ingredients in a large bowl until fully mixed. Cut in the cold butter and mix with hands until the mixture resembles crumbs. Whisk the milk and flax eggs together. Add egg-milk mixture to the large bowl and mix until the dough is just moistened (you may need to use it all, or you may not - pay attention!). Do not over-mix the dough and stop when it is just moistened! 
  • Add the blueberries gently so that they don't break. When I use frozen, they almost always dye the dough blue but they still come out fine - don't worry! 
  • Flour a surface and break the dough into two balls. Place the balls on the floured surface and knead into circles. Cut the circles into 8 pieces and place onto a greased pan or one lined with wax paper. 
  • Use the 2 tbsp of milk to brush over the scones gently. 
  • Pop them into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden around top and/or edges (mine took 20). Allow them to cool for just a few minutes and enjoy!!

They would also be lovely with powdered sugar or a lemon glaze on top!

This recipe was adapted from Taste of Home's Blueberry Scone recipe

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The Bucket Bag


This bag seems to have come and gone lots over the past decades. I've loved the style since I first laid eyes on it a few years ago. 

If I get a new bag (which is not very often), I make sure it will last me a while. There is a plethora of cheaper, but still cute, handbags out there but I don't want to get something I know won't make it past a few years. I think this style is one that will always stay classic, even when no one is sporting it... It has come back many times so I think a purchase of a good quality, versatile bag is one that may be worth the investment. 

Having said that, most of the ones that I have listed here are still probably too much of an investment for me... 



1. Gigi New York - Jenn Bucket Bag (pictured above too)
The stone colour is neutral (and could be considered plain), but the embossed leather adds an unexpected detail that makes the bag anything but plain. A shorter strap is also great to have the option of tossing is across your body or hanging it on the shoulder.
It comes in other really great colours too! I love the Desert Rose equally as much as the Stone :)

2. Mansur Gavriel - Bucket Bag
So I must have been living under a rock when this design duo came out because I've only recently discovered their bags. I would take any one of their bags, but the bucket bags are my favourite. 
The style is just so minimal and feminine. Every single colour is gorgeous and I had a hard time deciding which one just to post! You can also choose which interior colour you want, so there are plenty of options. I'm sure these bags will last for a very long time (they're also a big investment...), the only trouble is actually getting your hands on one!

3. Elizabeth and James - Cynnie Mini Bucket Bag
Getting up into the investment piece price tag... I love basically everything that they design. I think Elizabeth and James (aka the Olsen twins) do a great job at channeling a "cool girl" look, but still feminine, classic, and easy to pair with. This bag also has a shorter strap, which I like :) Another cool, though maybe less versatile - it depends on your wardrobe - and for sure an investment, is the Crocodile version in Sun.

4. Roots - Roxi Bag Prince
Roots is just an awesome Canadian brand that has been around forever. I'm sure almost every woman, or man for that matter, will have at least 1 Roots bag in their lifetime. They last forever - I know many friends who have inherited their mothers' from when they were our age - and only get better with age. Great functionality and style is what makes me love Roots so much! 

5. J.Crew - Downing Bucket Bag
When talking about J.Crew, I don't normally put it in the "affordable" category. Yes, they have great pieces that will last you a number of years. But, for most people it isn't a brand to stock up on every weekend. However, this bag is quite affordable. It's actually the least expensive one on this list! I like the navy the best, but the other colours are nice too! 


Here's hoping I can invest in one soon! (which basically means "Here's hoping I make money this summer and don't see anything else I like so I can buy one of these without feeling like I could've spent it on clothes!")

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Looking Ahead (It's Kinda Scary)

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It really does feel like only a short time ago when I was choosing to go abroad for my last year of high school. I know that I have changed since that January I applied four years ago, which is how I know it really was so long ago, but I remember the process vividly. I couldn't believe that I would possibly be heading to Switzerland that September. But then came the acceptance and I was soon on my way. That seemed far. That was me looking way too far ahead and such a big change was incomprehensible. 

Now, in my second (or third, technically) year of university, I am looking toward to the end of this chunk of my life. I am closer to graduating university than I am to my high school graduation. I wear my grad ring like it came in the mail a month ago and I think about trips that I went on or fun nights as though they are recent. In relation to my life at the moment, they are not. Now, I'm thinking about courses that will fill my requirements; how to fit in two minors that I really (but do I really?) want to fit in; what other courses and subjects interest me and fitting those in (like French); volunteering to juice up my CV; scheduling plentiful amounts of appointments for advisors; and then coming to the conclusion that I need to work my ass off even more than I had before regardless of what I do because I think I want to go to grad school (but still, uncertainty there too). 

I was recently offered an exchange position for the winter semester next year and while it is all very exciting, I'm having to think that much father into the future. I've always been that person anyways. I'm constantly re-evaluating things when I see the long term implications, good or bad. 

I struggle with keeping my mindset in the present. Yes, looking to the future is important. But it often distracts me from what is going on around me now. This includes school work to. Sometimes I get so anxious and wound up about thinking into the future (near or distant) that I push away studies because I can't think about anything else. 
I'm getting better though. And I know I'm not the only one - that would be all too naive of me. But I'm just trying my best to think about how things that I push aside will actually help me in the long run, and it is pretty huge. 

The upcoming weeks (and this past week) will probably see me in this mindset. So, so much to deal with - but it is good. It is exciting. Heck, I'm going to be in ENGLAND this time next year! There will be loads and loads and boat-friggen-loads more to do until that time comes, but it will be all forgotten once I reach that point I am looking to (and then again when I look to graduation, etc.). I hope I graduate happy with my GPA and my degree and my time in school. Right now, I am 99.99% sure I will (I'm hardly certain about anything). But first, I will focus on what I need to reach now

Monday, 9 March 2015

Some Monday Music

I'll admit it: I'm not a huge music person. I do LOVE music. But, I just never keep up to date with it. I listen to whatever I find or what is recommended to me, but I'm never the first person to say: "Hey listen to this awesome band!" Just not me. But here are some cool music videos that have been making the rounds on the web this week:

1. Hozier - Someone New
Okay, so "Take Me to Church" - who doesn't love that song? Yeah, it's been played a ton over the past two years to so. But it is awesome. All of my friends love Hozier's album, but, personally (and somewhat ashamedly), I've never listened to it. But I have been playing this song repeatedly over the past week and probably won't stop for a while. Also it has Natalie Dormer (Margery) from Game of Thrones! On a harder note, the music video highlights the actual depressing context of the lyrics. Nevertheless, it is a really beautiful video!



2. Mumford and Sons - Believe
Let's get real. Who isn't a fan of Mumford and Sons? No one? Good, lets move on. So this song is quite a departure from their other albums. It is different, but still just as great. It reminds me of Coldplay a little. I am STOKED about their new album and I'm also hoping that I can catch them when they start their new tour! I went to one of their "stopovers" during their Gentlemen of the Road tour and it was one of the most amazing weekends and definitely the best concert I've ever been to. 




3. Carly Rae Jepson - I Really Like You
I'm sure if my sister reads this she will shake her head and do a major face palm. Here's why: I'm not a huge Carly Rae Jepson fan. I don't know if it's because I associate her with Bieber or what, but I've just never felt her vibe. This music video is on the list purely for Tom Hanks. That is all I need you to understand. Nothing against her or the Biebs, but I just don't love their stuff. But if she keeps popping out music videos with awesome stars like Forest Gump, I will be watching. He's just so darn adorable! But I still am trying to figure out why he did this music video...

Music homework for the next month: filter out junk music (seriously, junk - stuff I skip every single time it comes up on my iPhone) and download stuff I actually enjoy listening to. You'd think it would just be common sense. It really, truly is. I'm just a little to lazy to do it... Or buy it. (I'm reminiscing about the days of Limewire. Anyone remember that??)

Have a wonderful week! This music is setting me off to a good start :) 



Thursday, 5 March 2015

Still Alice

Oh, where to begin. 

Since TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival), I have been eager to see Still Alice. Julianne Moore is just so incredible and different in everything so she was an immediate draw. Then, the poster came. The picture isn't complicated. It is just a simple shot of a woman. No fake smiles or photoshopping or obvious green screen. It looks like an image captured in real life. It just looks true.





All of the awards stuff made me even more intent and eager to see the film, though it was not in any theatres. Whaaaat? I mean, they are films - they last forever so, really, what is the rush. But when so many things (such as awards) are happening around you, it makes you want to know what everyone is gushing about! 


I saw the film last night and it lived up to every expectation I had and more. It wasn't even really a film. It was better. It was a transformation in front of you. It made me forget about any crappy film I had seen (or avoided for that matter...) and made me realize the power of film when done right.


If I hadn't known better, I'd say it was seniors night at the theatre. There were a few young couples and girls similar to my age, but most of the audience was 60 and above. 


(Side note: I want to read the book this summer as well. I'm trying to read more books this year and this in on my list!)

The film was an emotional journey, and definitely something that everyone can relate to, even if you have no experience with Alzheimers. You can connect to any one of the characters - Alice, the successful professor happily married with 3 adult children; John, her equally successful husband dealing with his wife deteriorating beside him; the three children losing their mother while growing up, never expecting that she would be absent in so many events in their lives, such as grandchildren (the children are what I connected to); or those she meets along the way or whom she has to disclose her illness to. 

I encourage everyone to see the film! While I think it does highlight Early Onset Alzheimers well, it also leaves you with a feeling of gratefulness for those around you in good health. 

I am in Awe of You, February

Hello again blogosphere! Its been a little while right? 



I had three posts written out in drafts during February but I never got a chance to actually send them out. I would start one, get busy, forget about it, and then something else would catch my mind so I would start a new post. It was a vicious cycle (I'm kidding). 

February was crazy. Crazy crazy crazy. But good! Every student knows the February madness. Nonstop assignments and midterms. I honestly have NO clue how people could go to the Caribbean or wherever because you would be doing work ALL THE TIME. 

Since February is also the shortest month, combining that with school work and reading week, I wonder at times if February even existed. 

So though it was chalk-filled with school commitments, it was also an exciting month! Lots of planning for the upcoming year (jobs, future school stuff), and getting home for reading week! 

It was wonderful to be home for reading week. We went up to Blue Mountain for Family Day weekend. I've been skiing to many other cool places, but never to Blue - it was very fun! Though cold. Can NOT forget the cold. The village is so cute and the hills are not mountainous by any means, but they are nice sized! If I had more time there, I would have loved to do some pottery too :)

February was also the birthday month for both my parents. Somewhat inconveniently, reading week also lands smackdab in the middle of both. So while I miss their special days, I can still celebrate both at home! 
For my dad's belated birthday treat, I made an Angel Food cake. I made one last year too, but it didn't rise well at all.... Basically we ended up with a super thick pound cake. Taste - great. Texture - well, could've been lighter. This years turned out MUCH much better!
For my mom's early birthday treat, I made a Caramel Chocolate Tarte. Delicious. So delicious and rich. My mom is a carameloholic (me, a chocoholic - though you could argue my mom is both. I inherited my sweet tooth from her!!1) so I try to always make something super caramel-y for her. 


Here's to a slow March!