Monthly Archives: March 2013

Homeschool Memories: Toronto Trip Continued…


Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2?

Sky Dome Toronto Ontario CanadaThe tour of first post office in Toronto was fascinating. The tour guide there showed us how they folded their paper to make it look like an envelope since envelopes weren’t used back then. It’s a skill that I still use today! For lunch that day we visited the CN tower which overlooks the city and the harbor. It’s a rotating restaurant and in the course of our lunch we did one whole rotation. After lunch we visited the Sky Dome. It’s a baseball field that has a dome over it that can open and close (in case of bad weather for example). Back in the mid-1990’s it would cost $20 to open the dome and take 20 minutes to open completely. To complete our day we visited a nicely restored theatre for a tour.

Bata Shoe MuseumA shoe museum seemed like a funny place to exist, let alone visit, but that was another of our stops on this tour. My favorite shoes in the museum were the ruby red slippers that Dorothy wore in the Wizard of Oz, but there were also shoes from Elton John and many other interesting looking shoes.

Hamilton Royal Botanical GardensThat ended our tour of Toronto, but we still had several places to visit on the way home! Our first stop was the Royal Botanical Gardens. I don’t remember my visit with much fondness as it was inclement weather when we stopped. Also in those gardens resided the largest mosquitoes I have ever encountered in my life. We attempted to look at some of the prettier gardens, but ended up trying to find some hot soup in the snack shop and heading back to the bus to dry off.

One of my favorite stops of the whole tour was the Dollhouse museum. I collected miniatures at that time and I still adore looking at them! This gallery had many different dollhouses in it with lots of unique features. Some of them were: a set of dominoes, a set of playing cards set up to play solitaire, a miniature train that actually goes around on its own track, a saving machine that actually worked, an x-ray machine that was in working order, and a working elevator. They also had dollhouses that you could play with. Needless to say I was the last one on the bus and all the people clapped for me when I finally made it back on the bus!

Corning Glass Center NY

One of our last visits was the Corning Glass Factory. There were many amazing displays of glass objects including some on loan from the king and queen of Denmark. I learned that engraving glass can sometimes take numerous years.

It was a wonderful trip that I made some great memories on! If you have a chance to visit Toronto I couldn’t recommend it enough. What about you? Do you have any favorite trips or vacations that you remember with fondness?


Food Substitute: Soda


flavorPure_imgWhen I was a wee tad I used to love soda. My mom was wise in only letting it be an occasional food, but I still have some fun memories of it.

I used to watch people drink Coke out of glass bottles. Really–I’m not that old, but when you grow up in a third world country cool stuff like that happens! I was never allowed to drink it (and really who can blame my parents? My daughter will be at least 30 plus before I allow her to drink caffeine in my presence!) but I do remember seeing it!

My mom used to take me on special dates. We would walk from our apartment down to the corner Cafe and have a SevenUp. I felt SO SPECIAL that I had time with just my Mommy! The whole time we were there we watched Looney Tunes too. Great times!

Then there was the time we stopped at a cafe to get a SevenUp because I fainted when they were drawing blood. Or the times I was allowed to have soda because it was the only thing I could keep down or my throat was sore (both recommended by our pediatrician!) Not so great times, but soda was definitely a part of my growing up!

During family vacations with my dad’s family soda was all over the place, but we still were limited to one glass–after we drank our glass of milk! I also remember scrapping together pennies with my mom in my teenage years so we could share a Cherry Coke. Living next to a gas station was not the best thing in the world, but the Cherry Coke tasted SO good on a hot day!

As I got older and tried to cut back on sugar soda was one thing that I cut out completely. At this point its been years since I had a soda…but until a year or so ago I still missed the “treat” feeling that a can or glass of soda would bring. Then I discovered La Croix!

La Croix is a sparkling water that has no sugar, no sodium, and no artificial sweeteners or flavors. Yes, I know…none of those, but does it taste like anything? Yes, it does! Their orange flavor reminds me of orange soda! The lemon or lime flavor is delightful when your stomach is a little off and their grapefruit flavor is one of my favorites for just whenever! I find it amazing that there is a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, nut-free actually yummy product that I can enjoy without feeling guilty.

Menu Plan Monday: Detox Week 6


mealplanmonday_v2Week six! The last week of Detox!

I loved having my favorite Portobello Tacos again last week. They are a bit on the spicy side, but they taste so good! Unfortunately, I made the choice to have them on tortilla chips one day and the chips had some oat bran in the them. Yuck! Why is oat bran even necessary to a chip! I am certainly still intolerant as I had a stomach ache for several days. Not a lot of fog (like gluten induced fogginess) or excessive tiredness like encounters with wheat or dairy would cause me so that’s good.

So onto our plan for this last week of detoxing!

Breakfast: Fried Eggs, strawberries, biscuits, hot cocoa
Dinner: Garden Enchilada Bake, tossed salad
Supper: pickles, popcorn

Rest of the week:
Banana “Oat” Pancakes
Banana Apple Buckwheat Muffins
Kale Red Pepper Fritta
Coconut Milk Smoothie or Sweet and Sour Grapefruit Smoothie

Fish of some sort
Dijon Rice with Broccoli (from “Everyday Happy Herbivore” cookbook)
Tuna Apple Salad
Spicy Squash Nuggets with Honey Lime Dipping Sauce
Apple Carrot Ginger Soup (with Chicken nuggets and French Fries for the troups)
Zucchini & Potato Bake
Pizza, Salad
Smoothie, Popcorn (Most likely this “smoothie”)

And of course…LEFTOVERS!

Homeschool Memories: Toronto Trip Continued


Casa Loma TorontoOne of my favorite stops was Casa Loma. It’s a huge castle in Toronto with 98 rooms, 33 of which are bathrooms! The owner, Sir Henry Mill Pellant, was extremely rich and extravagant in building his castle. He was the owner for less than 10 years. It took 300 men nearly 3 years to complete the building. Unfortunately, Sir Henry lost most of his money in the stock market crash and was never able to finish all his ideas for the inside of Casa Loma. The bank repossessed the Casa Loma and sold most of the things inside it to try and help recoup some of its money. Sir Henry died in the 1940’s.

Casa Loma TorontoI saw many ostentatious and fantastic things in Casa Loma. Sir Henry had two secret passageways from his study. One was to the upstairs and the other was to the wine cellar! His extravagant (never finished) swimming pool was lined in marble and had gold swans all around it. He also highly valued his horses. When one of his horses had teeth problems he had the vet replace the horse’s teeth with gold dentures!

We also visited Fort York. Our tour guide was a British soldier dressed as they would have been when Fort York was in use. He told us that Lake Ontario used to come right up to the edge of Fort York until it was pushed back. We learned that the officers were treated a lot nicer then the common soldier. We were also treated to a sugar cookie that they were making in the kitchens. At the end of the tour the British soldier/tour guide walked us through loading a musket and then he shot it off for us.

I was terrified that I would get seasick, but enjoyed the harbor cruise with no trouble at all! From our boat we saw swans and their five cygnets. They had a nest in the Toronto Islands. The people who lived on the islands owned their houses, but had signed a lease with the city for the land that the houses were on. After 99 years the city can repossess the land. The ferry that goes across the harbor takes 32 seconds to travel from the islands to the mainland.

City Hall Toronto CanadaOne of our free evenings we went to a mall across from our hotel. There were many different stores then I was used to in our mall back home. My mom and I each got a set of earrings. I chose a set that had a dangling mouse on one side and a triangle of cheese on a post on the other side. I still have them and still get comments on them. Some people try to tell me that I’ve lost one earring and others just laugh when they see the mouse perpetually chasing the cheese on the other side of my head!
To be continued…
Read Part 1!
Read Part 3!

Taste Memories: Strawberry Shortcake


Gluten Free Dairy Free Strawberry "Shortcake"

Gluten Free Dairy Free Strawberry “Shortcake”

You know those wonderful desserts that you feel like you could make a meal off of? However, you are always disappointed because they come at the end of a meal when you are already full! My mom figured out how to fix that! Usually a couple of times a year she would serve a dessert for dinner with a side of hot dogs or some other protein. One of my favorite early summer desserts was strawberry shortcake! I always wished I could have a strawberry shortcake for my birthday cake, but alas, my birthday came at the end of the summer.

My mom would bake two shortcakes, carefully slice them in half and butter them. Then she would layer sugared strawberries, whipped cream, and cake until we had a towering dessert that was the best thing you ever ate! Unfortunately, I can no longer eat shortcake like she made it and I can’t have whipped cream like that either. However, in my quest to make food that I can eat that tastes great I concocted a substitute.

Shortcake isn’t hard, but its something I don’t find time to make. For a quicker way to feed my cravings I make a gluten free biscuit that has a bit of suger in it to make it sweeter. I use the “Biscuits Sumpreme” recipe from the “Better Homes and Gardens” cookbook (the 1950’s edition), substituting gluten free flour blend for the flour called for in the recipe and earth balance sticks for the butter. Then I usually skip the sugar on the strawberries because they’re usually sweet enough. Then for the whipped cream I use coconut whipped cream! Did you know that if you put a can of whole fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight in the morning you can scoop out the solid part (save the liquid for something else) and whip it with some sweetner and it tastes, looks, and acts like whipped cream? It’s amazing.

To assemble your individual strawberry shortcakes you slice the biscuit in half and butter (use earth balance for dairy free treat!). Then layer…really however you like. I usually do something like this: Biscuit, whipped cream, strawberries, whipped cream, biscuit, whipped cream, strawberries, whipped cream. Can you tell I like whipped cream? Sometimes I just eat it and sometimes I pour a little almond milk on top to help if the biscuit turned out a little dry. And there you have it…Gluten Free Dairy Free Strawberry Shortcake! A wonderful treat, and an even better breakfast!

Menu Plan Monday: Detox Week 5


mealplanmonday_v2 I can’t believe it! I’ve made it five weeks! I will be writing a post soon about the things that I’ve learned, but for now let’s get on to this week’s plan!

I think the highlight of last week was probably the gluten-free sugar-free blueberry muffins. I couldn’t believe that they were sugar-free they tasted just like the sugar laden muffins of my past. They are quite expensive to make though…coconut flour is not found around every corner and I went through a dozen eggs just to make a double batch! However, they aren’t as addicting as most muffins so 12 or so last quite awhile. I have some stashed in my freezer for this week! I didn’t get a picture of them though so here’s a picture of one of my leftover nights: sautéed kale and mushrooms with a veggie burger!

sautéed Kale & mushrooms with veggie burger and homemade ketchup!

Sauteed Kale & mushrooms with veggie burger and homemade ketchup!

So here’s the plan for this week:

Breakfast: Strawberry “Shortcake” with coconut whipped cream
Dinner: Veggie Burger with steak fries, roasted broccoli, and homemade roll
Supper: Sardines and maybe crackers, olives, and pickled beets or pickles or maybe just popcorn again! (Sunday nights are random!)

Rest of the week:
Toasted Coconut Museli with a muffin probably
Banana “Oat” Pancakes
Scrambled eggs with fruit and maybe some muffin or bread
Shirred Eggs with fruit and maybe some bread

Fish of some sort
Tomato Avocado Salad
Quick & Easy Creamy Tomato Pasta
Chickpea of the Sea
Portobello Tacos (from “Quick Fix Vegan”)
Pizza, Salad
Smoothie, Popcorn (Most likely this “smoothie”)

And of course…LEFTOVERS!

Looking for more menu ideas? Head over to Organizational Junkie where I’ve linked up with hundreds of others!

Homeschool Memories: The Toronto Trip


My mom is an amazing person. Not only did she cook meals, do laundry, and bandage scraped knees, she also homeschooled 3 kids for almost 13 years of schooling each! In addition, when money was tight she also somehow handled a part-time job here and there when we were older. One of her part-time jobs was a tour guide/planner. At the beginning of my ninth grade year she had to get trained on doing overnight tours. Her training tour was a several night trip to Toronto, Canada and she could bring one guest with her. She elected to bring me and I had so much fun! Here are my memories from that trip:

Niagara FAlls (2)The first afternoon we stopped at Niagara Falls. It was a 30 minutes photo stop and it was quite breezy that afternoon. We weren’t that close to the falls, but I remember getting wet from the spray getting blown over us. We just had time to get some postcards for my collection before getting back on the bus. It blew my mind that people actually went over the falls in barrels.

One of the first things we did when we got to Toronto was we took a bus tour of the city. People in Toronto seemed to have an interesting, but fun sense of humor. One of the newspaper offices we drove by had a regular sized truck coming out of the side of the building. The name of the newspaper was: Breaking News. We also saw a sculpture which was entitled “Two Large Objects.” And that’s exactly what it looked like…two large objects.

TorontoMany of the bank buildings in Toronto seemed to be in a competition. One bank was the tallest building in the city. Another bank wanted to be outstanding, but couldn’t be the tallest building because of a law that passed limiting the height of buildings. To remedy that they put gold dust in the window glass so it could be the prettiest bank. Another builder wanted to build two bank buildings 48 stories high, but couldn’t because the law limited them to 32 stories. Since there was a church across the street that wasn’t planning on building any higher the builder bought the air from on top of the church and moved it across the street so he could make his buildings higher than the 32 stories dictated by the law. The church used the money to restore the church and it is very beautiful.

Toronto Old City HallThe first City Hall was another high point on our bus tour of Toronto. The builder Edward Lemas underestimated the cost of the building and the city council required him to pay the rest of the money to finish the building. He was so annoyed he had a stone carver from Italy come over and engrave 12 ugly gargoyle faces of the city council member’s on the sides of the building. Edward also had the sculptor add a nice gargoyle face: one of Edward himself!

To be continued…
Part Two!
Part Three!