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Materia vegan body care products, a review \\ Les soins Materia, des produits pour le corps véganes, je teste!

(Version en français plus bas!)

My skin is not my friend. As a teenager, I had horrible acne, and my skin is still prone to breakouts, to being oily and just a pain. So over the years, I have tested about all the products that are out there for getting rid of pimples, drying out my skin from excess oil, and re-moisturizing it to avoid it being too dry. At some point, though, I realized that what I was doing to my skin was not making any sense at all. So I tried to find a more holistic approach: I changed my diet, exercised more, drank more and my skin felt better. I also got rid of all my skincare product and turned to the kitchen as my source of beauty products: if it’s good enough to be eaten, it’s good enough to be on my skin! Even though I love my simple and minimalistic skincare routine, it’s good, once in a while, to try out a product that will make me feel pampered and like I’m doing something more for myself. Come in, Materia products.

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I was really excited to stumble upon the Materia body care products on Etsy. I was even happier when I realized that they were vegan, and handmade in Montreal! After I met with Jolyane, the mastermind and maker of these beautiful products, I was more than convinced that they were amazing. Jolyane works with plants as a horticulturist and wanted to create products that matched her views on self-care, but also the environment and animal rights. As I vegan herself, she felt it was important to bring something that used the wonderful properties of plants, while also using cruelty-free ingredients. Fast forward a few years later and Materia was born!

All her soaps, creams, balms, scrubs and bath products (to name a few of the many treasures you can find in her Etsy shop) are handmade with the highest quality ingredients Jolyane can find. She also tries to work with Canadian sources as much as possible. Her attention to details is palpable, and it shows in the great quality of her products. She generously gave me three products to try out, and I have to say they are becoming favourites as I’m using them.

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The first product that I tried out was the carrot and lemongrass soap. Now this smells incredible! The lemongrass makes this soap refreshing and perfect for early showers, while the carrot juice makes it soothing and relaxing. Most of the ingredients of this soap are organic and all feel super luxurious: shea butter and coconut oil leave my skin hydrated and ready for the day, while ginger essential oil makes this soap energizing and zingy. This is really a great soap that will leave your skin moisturized and your mind fresh and clear.

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To follow up on the theme of hydration, I also tested out Materia’s amazing Damascus rose facial cream. Now, I love Damascus rose: it is intensely floral, very soothing for the skin and extremely luxurious. I love using rose water on my face because it helps with redness. So, you can imagine that I was almost jumping up and down in my bathroom before I tried this. Well, I started jumping the moment I opened this little pot: fresh, fragrant and delicious, this cream smelled like a walk in a rose garden. Even if it is formulated for dry or mature skin, it left my combination skin soothed and well moisturized without being oily. It was a perfect night cream. Plus, major bonus points for the fact that it did not break me out. As if organic ingredients were not enough, the packaging of this cream is great: a glass container and a beautifully drawn rose make this a product I like to keep out in my bathroom for everyone to see.

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Finally, the last product that I tested is the Lemonade lip scrub. This is the perfect product for winter time, and I’m really happy to have it on hand for the next few months. Made with sugar cane, this is a serious lip exfoliator that will get rid of all that extra skin. However, because it also contains  rich moisturizers like shea butter, castor oil, and jojoba oil it also leaves the lips feeling soft and hydrated. Lastly, the lemon essential oil makes this product smell like lemon candy which is great! Your lips will feel ready to do anything after this treatment!

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I’m really glad I got to test out these amazing products, and they will definitively be part of my Christmas gift guides (that are coming very soon!). It’s always amazing to find great products made by people who have high quality standards while also being very respectful about their choices. The Materia body products are just perfect. You can really feel that a lot of reflection, thought and passion are being them. I really hope you’ll go visit Jolyane and her Etsy store. You should also fallow her on Facebook because she will be announcing the winter fairs in which she will be participating as well as revealing new products! Exciting!

Thank you Jolyane for letting me test your products!



Ma peau n’est pas mon amie. Lorsque j’étais ado, j’avais un acné incroyable, et, encore aujourd’hui, ma peau est encore difficile, tend à être huileuse et est vraiment capricieuse. Au cours des dernières années, j’ai dû tester tous les produits disponibles sur le marché pour me débarrasser des boutons, assécher ma peau pour éviter les excès de sébum et réhydrater ma peau pour éviter qu’elle ne sèche après tous ces traitements. Au bout d’un certain temps, je me suis rendue compte que ce que j’infligeais à ma peau ne faisait pas le moindre sens. J’ai donc cherché une approche plus douce et plus holistique : j’ai changé mon alimentation, j’ai fait plus de sport, je me suis mise à boire plus d’eau et finalement, ma peau a commencé à aller mieux. Je me suis débarrassée de tous mes produits et je les ai remplacés par des trouvailles faites en cuisine : si c’est assez bon pour être manger, c’est assez bon pour ma peau! Même si j’adore ma routine simple et minimaliste, il est agréable de temps en temps d’utiliser des produits qui me font me sentir chouchoutée. Je vous présente les produits Materia.

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J’étais vraiment excitée de tomber sur les produits corporels Materia sur Etsy. J’étais encore plus excitée quand j’ai réalisé que tous ces beaux produits sont véganes et faits à la main à Montréal! Après avoir rencontré Jolyane, le cerveau et les petites mains derrière Materia, j’étais encore plus convaincue qu’ils étaient extraordinaires. Jolyane est horticultrice et passe donc beaucoup de temps avec les plantes. Elle a eu envie d’occuper ses hivers à la création de produits pour le corps qui correspondent à ces opinions en matière de soins du corps, mais également de son amour de l’environnement et de ces convictions en matière de protection animale. En tant que végane, elle trouvait important de créer des produits qui utilisent les merveilleuses propriétés des plantes, tout en était sans cruauté. On zappe quelques années plus tard, et Materia est né!

Tous ses savons, crèmes, baumes, exfoliants et produits pour le bain (pour ne nommer que quelques un des trésors que vous pouvez trouver dans sa boutique) sont faits à la main avec des ingrédients de la plus haute qualité possible. Jolyane essaie également de faire affaire avec des fournisseurs Canadiens autant que possible et la majorité de ces ingrédients sont bios. Son attention aux détails est palpable et transparait dans la haute qualité de ces produits. Elle a été très généreuse et m’a permis de tester trois produits qui sont petits à petits devenus des incontournables.

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Le premier produit que j’ai testé est le savon à la carotte et à la citronnelle. Ce savon sent tellement bon! La citronnelle le rend rafraichissant et parfait pour les douches matinales, alors que le jus de carotte lui donne un côté réconfortant et apaisant. La grande majorité des ingrédients de ce savon sont bios et laissent tous une impression de luxe et de chouchoutage incroyable : le beurre de karité et l’huile de coco laisse la peu hydratée et douce, alors que l’huile essentielle de gingembre rend ce savon énergisant et presque pétillant. Ce savon est vraiment incroyable car il laisse la peau douce et prête pour la journée, et rend l’esprit frais et alerte.

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On continue avec une autre produit très hydratant et très luxueux : la crème pour le visage à la rose de Damas. Alors, déjà, la rose de Damas est incroyable : hydratant, apaisant et incroyablement floral, son hydrolat est parfait pour les peaux irritées ou à rougeurs. J’adore l’utiliser! Vous pouvez vous imaginer que j’étais vraiment excitée à l’idée de tester une crème faite à partir d’un de mes produits préférés. Eh bien, j’ai pratiquement sauté de joie lorsque j’ai ouvert ce petit pot de crème : une odeur fraîche, douce et délicieuse m’a transportée au milieu d’une roseraie. Même si cette crème est formulée pour les peaux sèches ou matures, elle a très bien convenue à ma peu mixte. Ma peau était hydratée, sans être huileuse, et pas de boutons! En fait, c’était vraiment la crème de nuit idéale. Et comme si ce n’était pas assez d’avoir des ingrédients luxueux, de haute qualité et bios, ce petit pot de crème est trop joli! Fait en verre et arborant une magnifique rose dessinée, ce petit pot trône dans ma salle de bain pour être admiré de tous!

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Finalement, le dernier produit que j’ai testé est l’exfoliant pour les lèvres à la limonade. Ce produit est parfait pour l’hiver et les lèvres sèches. Fait avec du sucre de canne, on parle d’une exfoliation en profondeur. Comme il contient également des ingrédients extrèmement hydratants comme l’huile de jojoba, l’huile de ricin et le beurre de karité, cet exfoliant laisse les lèvres apaisées et douces. L’huile essentielle de citron, quant à elle, donne à ce produit une odeur de bonbon incroyable! Vos lèvres seront prêtes à tout après ce traitement!

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Je suis vraiment heureuse d’avoir pu tester ces superbes produits, et ils seront absolument de retour dans mes guides cadeaux (qui arrivent très bientôt!). C’est toujours si agréable de trouver des produits faits par des gens passionnés qui ont de hauts standards de qualité tout en étant respectueux dans leurs choix. La ligne de produits corporels Materia est simplement parfaite. On peut vraiment sentir que beaucoup de réflexion a été mise dans l’élaboration de ces produits. J’espère vraiment que vous rendrez visite à Jolyane dans sa boutique Etsy et que vous la suivrez sur Facebook. Elle va bientôt annoncer ces marchés de Noël et dévoilera de nouveaux produits! C’est pas mal excitant tout ça!

Merci beaucoup Jolyane de m’avoir permis de tester tes produits!

 

 

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Avataq and the most wonderful herbal teas + Giveaway! \\ Avataq et les meilleures tisanes + Tirage!

(La version française est plus bas!)

When I worked at the Botanical Garden, I would often pass through the giftshop to look at the books… and teas. I would often leave with a box of Inuit herbal teas called “Northern Delights”. These were a staple to my tea collection and became usual gifts for friends and family. What I loved about these teas was that they were made from wild plants harvested in Nunavik, the Northern part of Quebec, by Inuit communities. Well, last week, I got to meet with Jeannie Oh at Avataq and she gave me a much broader and larger appreciation for these little tea bags. Let me take you with me!

 

First, it’s important to know that the herbal teas are actually the tip of the iceberg of a much broader project. In fact, Northern Delights Inuit Herbal Tea is produced by Avataq Cultural Institute, an Inuit owned non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and advancement of the language, culture and identity of the Inuit of Nunavik.

 

Avataq receives its mandates from the Inuit Elders Conference of Nunavik, and operates a range of linguistic, heritage and cultural programs. Among others, these include the Inuktitut language promotion and preservation program, genealogy program, Nunavik museum program, Nunavik Inuit art collection, an artists’ support program, archaeology department, documentation and archives center, student assistance program, local cultural committees, traditional skills courses, as well as a research and publications program.

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Among many of Avataq’s projects was one that documented all the wild plants that were used in traditional Inuit medicine. Through this project, several trilingual plant guides were published, and they explained the different uses for the great variety of plants that can be found in this northern region. Flash forward a few years later, and the idea of creating a commercial Inuit herbal tea product that draw upon the knowledge of Inuit Elders that featuring Nunavik wild plants were born.

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The goal of the Inuit herbal tea product is to provide an opportunity for the Southerners in knowing, sharing, enjoying and enriching their discovery of Inuit culture and heritage. All profit generated from the sales of the herbal tea goes back to assisting Avataq in operating the cultural programs. The project also hired local Nunavimmiut (the people of Nunavik) in harvesting and drying the traditionally used plants to make the herbal teas. Five plants were selected and this is the birth of the Northern Delights Inuit herbal teas. Let me take you through each of these wonderful blends.

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The Labrador tea blend is rich and very relaxing. This plant is rich in vitamin C and was traditionally used for breathing problems and as a general health booster. It’s incredible to think that such a modest and common plant has wonderful properties.

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The Cloudberry tea blend is quite energizing and was traditionally used a tonic. This plant has a rich and layered flavour that is soothing and energizing at the same time. I love to drink this tea when I’m studying or correcting because it really helps me sustain my work.

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The Ground Juniper blend is my favourite. Juniper is quite an intense plant with a complex aroma that changes in intensity as you drink it. It has quite a distinctive flavour that can remind you of a soft mint or light bergamot. I love to drink this when I’m working on something complex because I feel like it helps me focus and stay on task.

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The Crowberry blend has the most amazing violet colour which goes great with its crisp flavour. I love to make this as an iced tea during the warmer months because of it’s beautiful colour. Its flavour is very fruity and reminds me a little of blueberries or jam.

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Finally, the Arctic blend feature Small Labrador Tea is the spiciest of them all and will please cinnamon lovers. This is the perfect herbal tea for a cold Fall evening spent sharing stories.

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I love that each one of these blends features plants that are used in the traditional Inuit herb lore. It is so important to preserve and promote this knowledge in every culture as it holds so much history and possible solutions. Another thing that is great about the teas is that because they are Avataq’s baby, they are made with a desire to involve and give opportunities to the Inuit communities. Each batch of tea is harvested by hand and dried by the local community, and the transformation process is closely overseen by Avataq to ensure that it respects fair trade and equity principles.

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Because these teas are too great not to be shared, Jeannie and I have decided to organize a giveaway. Three of you will receive a five-blend assortment box so that you can try all five amazing flavours and decide which one is your favourite. To participate to this giveaway here is what you need to do:

  1. Live in Canada
  2. Write down a comment below telling me which flavour of tea you are most excited to try out.
  3. Name of the communities living in Nunavik.
  4. Come back on the blog in a week to see if you won! The winners will also be announced on Facebook.

I really hope you take a minute to participate because these are such wonderfully yummy teas with a purpose. Not only are you discovering and appreciating wonderful local plants, but you are also encouraging the preservation of a rich cultural heritage. Cheers to that!


Lorsque je travaillais au Jardin Botanique de Montréal, je passais régulièrement à la boutique pour regarder les beaux livres… et les thés. Je repartais souvent avec une boîte de tisanes inuit appelées Délice Boréal. Ces tisanes sont vites devenues un incontournable dans ma collection de thé et ont souvent figurées parmi les cadeaux que j’offrais à ma famille et à mes amis pour Noel. Ce que j’aimais le plus de ces tisanes, c’est qu’elles étaient faites avec des plantes sauvages récoltées dans le nord du Québec par des communautés inuit. La semaine dernière, j’ai eu la chance de rencontrer Jeannie Oh aux bureaux d’Avataq. Cette rencontre m’a donné une nouvelle et plus grande perspective par rapport à ces petits sachets, et je dois dire que je les apprécie encore plus maintenant. Laissez-moi vous amener avec moi à la découverte de ce magnifique produit.

En premier, il est important de savoir que ces tisanes sont en fait la pointe de l’iceberg d’un projet beaucoup plus large. En fait, les tisanes Délice Boréal sont produites par l’institut culturel Avataq, une organisation sans but lucratif qui a pour mission de protéger et de promouvoir la culture, l’identité et la langue des Inuits du Nord du Québec, le Nunavik.

Avataq reçoit ses mandats de la Conférence des Aînés du Nunavik, et coordonne plusieurs programmes linguistiques, patrimoniaux et culturels. Ceux-ci inclus par exemple le programme de promotion et de préservation de la langue Inuktitut, un programme de généalogie, le musée Nunavik, la collection d’art inuit du Nunavik, un programme de support aux artistes Inuits, un département d’archéologie, un centre de documentation et d’archives, un programme d’assistance aux étudiants, des comités locaux, des ateliers d’artisanat et de savoirs ancestraux et également un département de recherche et de publication.

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Parmi ces nombreux projets, on en retrouve également un sur l’herboristerie traditionnelle des Inuits, où l’objectif était de répertorier les plantes utilisées dans la médecine traditionnelle inuit.  Par la suite, plusieurs guides trilingues de plantes médicinales nordiques ont été publiés et on y retrouve les différents usages médicinaux d’une grande variété de plantes qui poussent dans le Nunavik. Quelques années plus tard, l’idée de créer une ligne de tisanes commerciales destinées au grand public bourgeonne. Ces tisanes s’appuieront sur le savoir traditionnel inuit et tisseront un pont entre les peuples du Nord et ceux du Sud.

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Ce faisant, Avataq se munie d’une opportunité de plus pour partager la culture et l’héritage inuit au travers de délicieuses tisanes. Tous les profits générés par ces ventes reviennent à l’organisation et servent à subventionner leurs différents programmes. Le projet créé également de l’emploi dans les communautés des Inuits car on a besoin de Nunavimmiuts (les populations du Nunavik) pour récolter et préparer les herbes qui serviront à faire les tisanes. Suite à un processus de recherche, cinq plantes sont sélectionnées et les tisanes Délice Boréal voient le jour. Laissez-moi vous présenter ces merveilles.

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Le mélange du thé du Labrador est riche et relaxant. Cette plante riche en vitamine C était traditionnellement utilisée lors de problèmes respiratoires et comme tonique général. Il est incroyable qu’une plante aussi modeste possède de si grandes propriétés!

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Le mélange de la ronce petit-mûrier est énergisant et cela s’explique puisque cette plante était également utilisée comme un tonic. Sa saveur est riche et a beaucoup de profondeur tout en étant réconfortante et requinquante à la fois. J’adore savourer ce thé lorsque j’étudie ou lorsque je corrige car il m’aide vraiment à passer au travers de mon travail.

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Le mélange au genévrier est mon préféré. Le genévrier est une plante au goût intense et avec un arôme complexe qui passe par différents niveaux d’intensité au fur et à mesure de chaque gorgée. C’est un goût vraiment unique qui peut faire penser à une menthe très douce ou à de la bergamote. Je bois également ce thé lorsque je travaille sur une tâche difficile car il m’aide à rester concentrée.

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Le mélange à la camarine noire à une couleur violette qui est parfaite pour aller avec le goût acidulé et frais de cette tisane. Ce thé est parfait pour l’été en thé glacé. Il est également très fruité et me fait penser à des bleuets ou à de la confiture.

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Finalement, le mélange arctique contient du petit thé du Labrador et saura plaire aux amateurs d’épices et de cannelle. Parfait pour une longue soirée d’automne à se raconter des histoires!

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Chacun de ces thés est unique et met en vedette une plante tirée du savoir traditionnel inuit. Il est crucial de préserver et de promouvoir ces connaissances car elles sont porteuses d’histoires mais également d’inspirations et de solutions pour le futur. Comme ces tisanes sont le bébé d’Avataq, elles sont faites avec le désir d’impliquer et de donner des opportunités aux communautés du Nunavik. Chaque lot de thé est cueilli à la main et séché par les communautés, tandis que le processus de transformation est étroitement contrôlé par Avataq pour assurer que les principes d’équité soient respectés.

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Parce que ces thés sont trop bons pour ne pas être partagés, Jeannie et moi avons décidé de vous organiser un tirage. Trois d’entre vous recevront un assortiment des cinq saveurs. Vous pourrez ainsi choisir votre favorite! Pour participer à ce tirage vous devez :

  1. Vivre au Canada;
  2. M’écrire un commentaire ci-dessous pour me dire quelle saveur de tisane vous intrigue le plus;
  3. Me nommer une des communautés du Nunavik;
  4. Revenir sur le blogue dans une semaine pour voir si vous avez gagné! Les gagnants seront également annoncés sur la page facebook du blogue.

J’espère que vous prendrez tous une minute pour participer car ce sont vraiment de très bonnes tisanes! Vous découvrirez de magnifiques plantes locales tout en encourageant la préservation de l’héritage culturel inuit. Quoi demander de plus?

 

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Busy long weekend and Giveaway!

This weekend was a greatly busy and productive weekend. It started off with a great plant sale at the local plant store, which meant that we spent a lot of time gardening! We also had the urge to sand out patio and restain it. Lots of dust and sweat where involved.

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We hurried along with a really fun hike leading to a great view that brought us back home to do some meal planning and cooking for the week.

Fiou! Busy, busy, busy! And sticky and dirty… which was actually a great excuse to test out Oneka‘s goldenseal and citrus body wash.  Now, you know I love Oneka shampoos. They are incredible! They make my hair soft and shiny, and they smell amazing. It also gave me an excuse to go visit my friend’s café in the very cute Frelighsburg village and to revisit the Oneka store. It’s so nice and beautifully decorated with wooden furniture and panels. Plus, I got to meet with Philippe and Stacy, the owners and founders of Oneka, and take a few pictures. How Fun!

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See? Oneka products make people happy! Thank you Philippe and Stacy for your generosity and for creating such amazing products!

 

The body wash has the same fresh and fruity scent as the goldenseal and citrus shampoo. It felt really great after long days outside playing in the dirt or in dust. This body wash also leaves your skin feeling soft, clean and so wonderfully scented. It’s like having a trip inside the most incredible orange… not in a weird way! I love the fact that this body product is cruelty-free, made with local plants and is completely biodegradable. It’s also great because you can refill the bottles in many stores around Montreal. Great! Plus, it’s always a good idea and fun to support local entrepreneurs. Anyways, when I visited Oneka, they were kind enough to give me two bottles of this wonderful body wash: one for me, and one for one of you! If you want to participate in this giveaway, here is what you have to do:

  1. Like my facebook page;
  2. Follow me on Instagram;
  3. Comment bellow and tell me what’s your favourite outdoors activity;
  4. Live in Canada or in the U.S..

I’ll randomly choose the winner for this next Monday and contact them through a private message (make sure you can be reached) to send them this wonderful shower product. Good luck to everyone!

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Terra Nova Burgers, a rave review

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Terra Nova burgers at my then local natural food store. The packaging of these is just so gorgeous, you just have to stop and look at it. I feel like this is sometimes lacking in the vegan world: great packaging. Everything is green and brown for some reason. Anyways, after I was done batting my eyelashes at the packaging, I realized these burgers were something completely new to me: lupine burgers? This is really interesting because the lupines I knew were beautiful flowers. I realized that lupines are all part of the legume family, but some actually produce beans. Yum! So I quickly brought some of these burgers home, and I was really excited to try them out.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. I contacted the founder  of Terra Nova and asked if I could write this review. He kindly accepted and gave me all three flavors to test out. This is how I prepared these wonderful burgers. Overall, I have to say that they are a really nice change to other vegan burgers you can find: they are gluten-free, have amazing flavors and colours, and their texture makes them very versatile.

  • Aztèque/Chipotle: Corn and Millet Flavour: terra-nova1These were the first ones that I tried out. I thought I’d go with the Mexican theme and use them in tacos. Great idea! I pan fried the burgers and crumbled them in the pan until I had nice golden flakes of goodness. I paired them with a simple tomato salsa, a cucumber salad, some greens and hot sauce. It was so much fun to eat these! The lupine crumbs were nicely toasted and had some heat to them, while also being crunchy and delicious. A completely delicious way to destroy burgers! terra-nova2

 

  • Nordique/Quinoa: Kale and Beet Flavour: terra-nova3Now, this is probably the one flavour I was crazy excited to try out simply because of the wonderful colour. I mean, who doesn’t want to have a nice bright pink burger? It’s so pretty! I kept this one really simple: some garlic sautéed mushrooms with a sweet mustard sauce in a bun. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! My boyfriend ate his and was so disappointed that there wasn’t more. The burger is nice and moist and stays together well when cooked in the pan. Of all three, I think this one is my favourite. terra-nova4

 

  • Indienne/Sweet Potato: Spices and Rice Flavour: terra-nova5Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for the last few weeks, you know that I have been waiting for my fridge to come in. We do however have a mini-freezer. So in the freezer these burgers went! When I was ready to eat them, I placed them directly in the oven. They came out nice and golden on the outside, and tender on the inside. Perfection! The Indian spices gave this a really special and wonderful flavour. We really enjoyed this one as well. I paired this with some corn salad and bread, which my boyfriend turned into a very beautiful open sandwich. Yum!terra-nova6

I’m really glad I got to test out these wonderful burgers! I know that the recipes are still being tweaked because they are not completely satisfied with the textures, but I have to say I really enjoyed them as they are now. I find them very tender and full of flavour. I also enjoy that you can transform them easily to make up different recipes depending on your mood. Of course, I’m very curious to see how they evolve and become even more amazing. If I were you, I would keep my eyes open for these pretty burgers. They are available around Montreal right now, so go try them out!

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Mathilde, a Ladurée Tea

The last time we visited some family in France, I got the chance to raid a Ladurée store. Now, if ever you are going to Paris, I highly recommend visiting one of their uniquely cute pastry shops. Mind you, they don’t have a huge selection of vegan treats, but the feel of the store is so luxurious and Parisian that it’s worth it on its on. Splashes of happy colours are arranged in a very tasteful and delicate way to create an atmosphere of calm and pleasure. So, I was admiring their cuteness when I spotted rows of colourful boxes: TEAS!

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To my boyfriend’s dismay, I flew right in front of them and started smelling the most wonderfully scented teas: magnolia, jasmine, orange blossom, cinnamon, strawberry, raspberry: there is something for everyone! I think I was very reasonable and selected two teas: the house blend and the Mathilde.

 

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Le thé Mathilde, so fresh and delicious!

 

The Mathilde has probably become my favourite tea of all times. A mix of Chinese green and black teas with a generous side of orange blossom. That’s it.

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I love how simple the scent of this tea is: it really allows the different aromas from the green tea and black tea to shine through while leaving you with the feeling of having walked in the most magical orange tree orchard. It’s sophisticated without being heavy, scented but not fake.

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If ever you have the chance to visit Paris, or have someone you know going, you must try this tea out. It’s perfect for every occasion, so tasty and tasteful, and so delicious!

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Because Outer Happiness is pretty great!

A few days ago, I contacted Outer Happiness, an Montreal-based Etsy store specialized in vegan body products like bath salts, body scrubs, masks and even candles. The products looked really cute, and the scent combinations sounded amazing! Marina, the shop owner, was kind enough to give me a few samples to try out: how exciting!

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I took advantage of the rainy week-end to pamper myself. It is so important to take a break from time to time and just take care of ourselves! The first product I tried out was the white tea and ginger revitalizing boy scrub.

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Now, I have to tell you the smell of this is INCREDIBLE! The ginger makes this scrub super energizing and fresh. Made with Himalayan and Dead Sea salts, this is a perfect body scrub as it is quite chunky. Enriched with vitamin E, avocado oil and almond oil, it is also super hydrating and soothing to the skin. It left it smooth and so soft!

After that amazing scrub, I relaxed a bit with a strawberries and champagne bath. Doesn’t this sound amazing? Well it was!

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The smell of this is wonderful: you feel like you are bathing in a giant strawberry candy! Made with Epsom salt and bicarbonate of soda, this bath salt is super detoxifying and relaxing. I felt like my muscles were unclenching one by one. It was great!

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Once out of the bath, the Argan oil left my skin soft and hydrated. Plus the strawberry smell lingered too, which was fun! I can’t wait to use this salt in my bath again! It’s so great!

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If you like pampering yourself, I really encourage you to try out Outer Happiness products because they are AMAZING! The packaging is reusable and super cute, and they really make you feel like you are using luxurious products, while not breaking your bank. These little wonders are very affordable and are also helping the world be a better place as one dollar per sale goes to Save the Children. How great? I will totally be buying some of her products in the future as I think they would make perfect gifts. Marina is super friendly so don’t hesitate to get in touch with her if you have an idea for a custom order. Make sure to go check her store out! It’s amazing! And support her amazing work by liking her Facebook page. Let me know if you try out some of her products!

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Iceplant and Salicornia, two market finds

This week-end we went to the Laurier Farmers’ Market, as usual. We found some pretty unusual greens: iceplant and salicornia!

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Both were really fresh and super tasty. Salicornia is an old favourite. It grows along the shore of the ocean or rivers so it takes on a really salty taste. It is super crunchy, and frankly it eats itself up in a flash! I love munching on salicornia on it’s own: it’s so fresh and marine. It makes me feel like I’m on the seaside, which is great!

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If you are interested in looking at more wild plants, I really suggest checking out Forêts et Papilles. They prepare amazing teas, seasonings and sugars with wild plants. They also have amazing fresh produce every week at the market. Worth checking them out!

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The second find is something completely new and unknown to me, grown by the Jardins d’Ambroisie: iceplant. Apparently, this plant has been traditionally used in the southern part of France, but it was rediscovered by famous chefs in recent year. Well, I can see why! The main thing about this plant is its crazy texture: as it is a succulent the leaves are quite thick and chunky. The fun thing is that they are covered in little bubbles filled with a salty and sour liquid. Sounds alien, right? Well it’s wonderful!

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This plant has a a rich salty and sour taste that is so refreshing. I love how the little bubbles just explode with every bite. It’s truly something to try out!

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If you don’t feel like munching on these just like this, you can chop them up and add them to any salad. They can easily replace salt and vinegar in any dressing. It’s amazing! If you have a chance you should really give them a try! Let me know if you have any market finds I should be on the lookout for!

 

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Floramama and beautiful organic flowers

In my ideal world, my house would be filled with flowers all year long, in every room, multiple bouquets per room, in all colors, all the time and for no particular reason but to enjoy them. Flowers are so wonderful in their variety and simple elegance. I feel that adding flowers to any room suddenly makes everything more fun and lively. However, even if all flowers are beautiful, they are not equal when it comes to their environmental footprint. Think of it a minute. Flowers are plants, cultivated in fields and are therefore treated in ways similar to ‘regular’ agriculture and all that implies. That’s why I try to buy local and organic flowers when I can. And, luckily enough Floramama is here to save the day!

Floramama is a flower farm in the Eastern Townships that has been created a few years ago by Chloé, a passionate young farmer. Since then, she has put a lot of time and energy into producing exceptional fresh flowers. I have a particular soft spot for her ranunculus and anemones.

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She too brings her flowers to the Laurier Farmers Market every week. Check out her facebook page to see when she’s coming and also have an idea of the flowers that will be ready for the market. I love her flowers because they have a simple charm to them: I don’t know if it’s because they are not your typical flowers or if it’s because they are so fresh, but they make me feel shabby chic just looking at them. They also keep a lot longer than most flowers you can find at your florist.

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If you fall in love with these beauties, Chloé offers a ‘basket’ option where you get to support her farm through a CSA kind off system: you can subscribe to receive bouquets every week or every two weeks. I did this last summer and loved it: fresh, beautifully composed flowers every week! What a dream!

I really suggest checking her out if you are in the Montreal region, or if you love flowers! Even if it’s just to take a look at her wonderfully colourful market stand, you won’t be disappointed. And, as you will probably succumb to the temptation and buy a few flowers, take a minute to thank Chloe for her amazing work. It’s so inspiring!

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Yorkshire Gold, a breakfast staple

I have mentioned before that I have slight tea addiction. Well, it’s not getting any better because I have discovered a new must for difficult mornings: Yorkshire Gold classic black tea.

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This is a very classic tea, and for a good reason! The taste is rich, deep and slightly bitter. No fruit, no flower, just pure tea leaves: a blend of Assam, Ceylon and Rwanda leaves give a very strong aroma and a round feeling to this straight tea.

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This is the perfect morning tea as it is quite strong. It also perfectly complements a sweet breakfast or desert, like my raspberry-chocolate tart. I think the strong flavour would also make this tea perfect to make London Fogs. Yum! Let me know what your favourite breakfast tea is!

Fruit Salad for Lazy Suppers

When I am home alone in the evening my first instinct is just to lounge around with my computer, let myself die of hunger until it is unbearable, and then just grab whatever is available.

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Tonight, I had a lot of fruit on hand, so I made myself a lazy fruit salad with bananas, strawberries and grapes. Very simple. So I decided to add a little bit of peanut butter, and my secret ingredient: Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste.

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Oh my. This is incredible! It made my fruit salad taste like shortcake and rainbows and everything in between. Seriously, it adds so much flavour! This is what I have been using in my overnight oats as well. It adds a little bit of sweetness and a very intense vanilla flavour which is quite incredible. I really like how you can see the vanilla bits in the paste: this makes me feel very fancy and chef like! It is such a beautiful product for the same price as pure vanilla extract. Why not give it a try?