Christmas Gift Guide 2016!

Christmas is coming! After such a grueling month of November, I am overly excited for Christmas. I’m really looking forward to doing nothing over the holidays. Yeah, that’s right, just lounging in my pj’s with my family and my cat. Glorious days are coming!

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Christmas is a great opportunity to give people you love things that they need or enjoy. So, I thought I would give you some recommendations. These gifts are made by passionate people and in ethical ways. I’m also including ideas for your minimalist friends because that’s pretty cool too. My advice when Christmas shopping: don’t go overboard. Keep things simple. I will also be posting a handmade Christmas gift guide pretty soon, so stay posted for that!

Books

You can’t go wrong by giving a good book for Christmas. After all, there is nothing better than staying in bed with some good reading. Here is my selection of great books to give this year!

  1. The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: I love her recipes! Every single one that I tried (and that’s a lot) turned out delicious and crowd pleasers. They are often very simple to prepare, yet extremely satisfying and amazing. I have to say this book is very exciting: beautiful pictures, fun recipes and more down-to-earth advice from the vegan queen Isa Chandra Moskowitz. If you have a cook in the family, this is the book to gift them.
  2. Deliciously Ella Every Day, by Ella Woodward: This is a staple in my kitchen. I love Ella’s plant-based (she uses honey, which I replace by maple syrup) and gluten-free recipes because they are made with whole foods that are easily found. Her recipes are very simple to prepare but always look incredibly sophisticated. I’m really excited to see her next book, Deliciously Ella with Friends, but as it is only coming out in 2017, this one is a great one to cook from as we are waiting.
  3. Wanderlust, by Jeff Krasno: For all yoga or wellness lovers on your list, this book is filled with exercises, mindfulness tips, yoga sequences and very interesting articles written by a variety of passionate individuals. It’s perfect if you are just getting into yoga or want to take your life in a different direction because it offers advice and guidance to find your true self. Sounds like an ambitious project, right? Well, this book is also greatly put together and features wonderful inspiring quotes and photograph. For that reason alone, it makes me feel happy everytime I look at time.
  4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the illustrated edition, by J.K. Rowling: For all the Potterheads out there, this is a must! The beloved story is beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay and is just so wonderful to read. This would also make a great gift for parents of story-telling-aged children. But really, I bought one for myself and love to look at it. They have released the second book, The Chamber of Secrets, this year and the others are coming. You could make this a gift for the years to come!

Art and clothing

Art and clothing, or art for clothing!

  1. Vegan weaving by FarFromtheSeaQc: This Montreal-based visual artist is exploring textures and colours in her very original and fun woven wall hangings. These beautiful and unique pieces are also vegan! They would make a great addition to any decor.
  2. LiveNLetLive T-Shirts: Based in Laval, Quebec, this team makes wonderfully cute t-shirts with the powerful “Live and let live” quote. I bought one last year and love it! I received so many compliments when wearing it. The images are printed on soft coton shirts that are easily washed and so comfortable to wear. Great piece to give to your vegan activist friend!
  3. T-shirt, hoodies or accessories by Anabel Roy: Another Montreal-based artist! Anabel makes wonderfully witty and funny pieces from her drawings. I bought one of her sweaters last year (can you guess which one?), and I love it. It’s my go-to piece for when I’m feeling cold or in need for comfortable and easy to wear clothes. The quality is also very high, but really, will you look at these designs?

For your minimalist friend

Minimalism and Christmas might seem like an oxymoron. However, there are plenty of things you can gift your minimalist (or any, really) friend.

  1. Food: Think fancy chocolates, or a basket of their favorite nuts and spreads. Extra points if you can make it zero waste! If they are into healthy foods, you can also buy them items they go through a lot like a rich raw cacao powder or an extra-virgin coconut oil. They will love these as they won’t be cluttering their homes, and they’ll think of you every time they eat!
  2. Gift cards: Get to know what items they do still consume and get them gift cards to relevant stores. For example, if your friend is an artist and goes through a lot of paper or pens, give them a gift card to an art supply store.
  3. Events: Instead of gifting them something, why not pamper them to the luxury of an afternoon in your company? I have to say, I have a soft spot for this kind of gift because it means that I’ll get to spend time with someone I like doing something fun! Why not channel your inner Dowager Countess of Grantham and try out the afternoon tea at The Parloir? Their vegan option is apparently divine!

For your pampering-obsessed friend

  1. Soins Materia: I raved about these products a few posts ago, and I’m still completely obsessed with them. Very luxurious and incredibly rich, these products are made locally and are completely vegan! Cheers to that!
  2. Outer Happiness: These products are so much fun and completely vegan! I raved about them too, but since then, new amazing products have been created! The bath salts are incredible!
  3. Northern Delights herbal teas: Because there really isn’t anything better than lounging in a hot bath with a good book and a cup of herbal tea. Especially when the tea is made locally and fairly by Inuit communities. These are incredibly delicious and come in beautiful wooden boxes that are perfect for gifting.
  4. Oneka products: If your friend is a shower-lover, why not try out Oneka products? Again these are locally made and completely vegan. They are also made by the cutest couple in a beautiful village. Make a day out of it! I really love their shampoos, but they have just came up with new soap bars, so that’s something new to try out!

I hope this list gives you some gift ideas. If you are looking for greeting cards, I’ll be selling some at the Concordia Greenhouse this Wednesday, but also on Etsy starting next week.

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Fun holiday times! Remember that time and attention are the greatest gifts there are and don’t go overboard!

 

 

 

Deliciously Colorful Root Salad

Beets! Beets! Beets! They are so beautiful, and they are just coming in season in Montreal. They are so wonderfully sweet and crunchy; they are the best addition to any salad! I love that I can find different colors to add some ‘wow’ to simple dishes. Beets are not only beautiful, they are also very nutritious and packed with vitamins and minerals to get you running around. I can’t get over how beautiful they are with their little bull’s eye pattern in the inside. So cute!

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This salad also features carrot ribbons. Now, if you don’t make out ribbons out of your carrots, you are missing out! I love preparing raw carrots this way because they are crunchy without being too hard, and they add an amazing splash of colour. They are also very quick to prepare, so why not?

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Here is what you need:

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbs pumpkin seed oil
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs tamari sauce
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbs hemp seed hearts
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce

For the salad:

  • 1/2 head chicory lettuce
  • 6 small beetroots of various colours
  • 6 carrots of various colours
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds

Here is what you do:

  1. Mix all the dressing ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
  2. Using you potato peeler, peel the carrots (if you prefer) and continue peeling the entire root to make ribbons. Set aside.
  3. Peel the beetroots (if you like), and cut them into thin slices width-wise. You can use a mandolin or a knife for this. Set aside.
  4. Roughly cut your chicory and toss in a salad bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything together until well covered in the dressing. Enjoy!

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I ate that salad with some remaining turmeric pancakes, and it was amazing! The perfect balance of sweet, savory and hot while being a feast for your eyes.

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It’s a breeze to prepare, but it’s so beautiful to look at and delicious to eat! It’s the perfect addition to your next picnic or BBQ! Let me know if you try it out!

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!

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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Oneka Shampoos, a product review

If you have been following me for a while, you know that my favourite place to go is probably Beat et Betterave in the beautiful Frelighsburg village. Well, my friends Eloise and Ludo are not the only ones to have taken this tiny village as their playground.

Two doors away, you can find the Oneka headquarters. Another family business, Oneka offers a range of shampoos, creams, lotions and soaps. I tried their shampoo first last June while visiting the Beat, and thoroughly fell in love with their Cedar and Sage scent.

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After briefly meeting with Stacey and Phillippe at their farm over the summer because of a Joel Salatin workshop, I never looked back. These are two of the most authentic and rigorous people I have met, and it shows in their products.

The shampoos are wonderfully scented with natural, local and organic plant essences. They also do not contain any environmentally damaging chemical components which means that they are good for you, but also for the waters in which they end up.

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As if this was not enough, you can also refill your plastic bottles in different health food stores around the city of Montreal. This is a big thing for me because the use of plastic was one of the reasons why I abandoned traditional shampoos for shampoo bars.

Now the real deal: are they actually good for your hair? YES! These shampoos make my hair soft, cleaned but not dry, and oh so light! I really like how gentle they are, and how they don’t weigh my hair down. As a result I have a ton of volume, and my hair is more manageable. Also, because they all contain rosemary essential oil, these shampoos will help your hair grow strong and healthy. I have seen a real difference in the growth speed of my hair.

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I really enjoy the three scent they offer, but usually use the Goldenseal and Citrus one during the summer, and the Angelica and Lavender during the winter. As for the Cedar and Sage one, I just grab it whenever! Because my hair tend to be dryer during the cold season, I also like to use their Angelica and Lavender conditioner at the tip of my hair. I leave this is as a mask for a few minutes before rinsing, and my hair is much softer! However, if you don’t like scented products, they also have an unscented range.

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So, big love for Oneka products, and to the creators of this great line for making products that are respectful of the environment and people. How amazing! Seriously, you need to smell these!