10 Suggestions for Savouring The Summer

We are just over mid-way through our summer break here in Ontario and I know it sounds cliché but time really is flying by. I treasure this time at home with the kids and we’ve been enjoying a good mix of lazy days by the pool, playdates and fun family getaways (of course punctuated by a few “I’m bored’s”, toddler freak-outs and overblown sibling fights just so I don’t get too comfortable ; )

I’m planning to make the most of this last month and to be in the moment as much as possible. Trust me, this is no easy feat for a worrier like me (I’m already fretting about the fall) but I don’t want the time to disappear without savoring these long warm summer days. So for inspiration as the glorious month of August stretches out in front of us, I thought I’d share a few things that have made this summer pretty darn good so far:

1. Darien Lake– I have been vacationing at Darien Lake since I was a little girl and I still get wildly excited as our yearly summer stay draws near. It’s loud, crazy, cheesy and tacky and I enjoy every minute of it! There is nothing like a couple of days at an amusement park to make you feel 10-years old again and I love watching the kids whooping and screaming on the roller coasters and thrilling rides. And what set’s DL apart from other theme parks? A few things – a cool variety of on-site accommodations that allow you to chill in your own space, walk to the park and have a roaring camp fire at night , a wicked laser/water/music show each evening with fire works and my husbands favourite part – you can walk around the park with a cold beer in hand! Fun, fun, fun!

darien lake

2. Food Bloggers – despite my well-intentioned attempts at recipe creation, I wouldn’t actually consider myself a natural cook. And because summertime is more unstructured and easy going, I just haven’t felt inspired to whip up many new dishes and so I’ve been loving getting amazing ideas from other food bloggers. I mean seriously – some of these people are really freakin’ talented! And the food combinations and dishes that they dream up and then photograph beautifully are amazing. Check out some of my favs: Healthy. Happy. Life., Oh She Glows, Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen, Honk if You’re Vegan, Jaclyn Desforges and Live Blissful.

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3. Green Beaver Sunscreen– As a society we’ve been taught to  avoid the sun which helps our bodies naturally produce Vitamin D and  instead slather on chemical-laden lotions in hopes of reducing one type of  cancer (skin) that’s not commonly fatal. As a result, North Americans are now vitamin D deficient, which can lead to a multitude of health problems. According to the Environmental Working Group, allowing our skin 20 minutes of direct sun exposure is generally a safe practice and beyond that we should cover up, stay in the shade and eschew traditional sunscreens with questionable toxic ingredients and instead opt for “physical” sunblocks that use zinc oxide or titanium oxide as a base. In my family, we love Green Beaver brand the best.

green beaver

4. Coconut Water Lemonade– wanna stay hydrated in the summer heat? Whip up this drink in your blender to quench your thirst. It’s sour, sweet and delicious and even the kids loved it. I might also add that I slipped a shot of gin into my own glass from my latest batch and it made a lovely summer cocktail.
2 cups of coconut water, 2 cups of regular water, the juice of 4 lemons, 6 tsp of powdered stevia, a dash of sea salt and a tray of ice cubes. (1 shot of gin optional)

lemonade 2

5. Kindle App for Iphone and a few awesome reads– Thanks to a great tip from my sister, I am absolutely loving the Kindle App on my iPhone. I don’t even own a Kindle but this app allows me to buy books from the Kindle store on Amazon and then read them on my iPhone or iPad. We are smack dab in the middle of a rough sleeping patch for my little man (no napping, no more soothers, night terrors, yeesh!) so it’s super handy to have a book that I can read in the dark (the iPhone is backlit) and I’ve read some fantastic novels in the last few weeks. If you want a good read – check out The Middlesteins, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Me Before You, This Is Where I Leave You and Defending Jacob.

me before you

6. Jim Gaffigan – Mr. Universe– I was sorely in need of a good laugh recently and my husband suggested a stand-up comedy show on Netflix. We stumbled upon Jim Gaffigan’s show Mr. Universe and we honestly laughed our heads off from start to finish. He speaks to parenthood, working out, junk food and many other everyday topics in such a witty and hilarious way – it’s a must see! Check out a little clip below to get a taste of his style (email subscribers – go to www.lorileighwilson.com to view the video)

7. Traumeel, Arnica Gel and Lavender Essential Oil – summer always seems to come with a fair share of bumps, bruises, bites and tears and l like to have something on hand to ease the pain and/or the itch. I have been using the homeopathic cream “Traumeel” since my oldest was a toddler and it works so well on sore spots that we call it “magic cream”. I also love soothing Arnica Gel for bumps and bruises and a couple of drops of lavender oil on a cotton pad works wonders to remove the itch from nasty mosquito bites.

traumeel

8. Avocado Oil Potato Chips – friends popping by for a little visit at the last minute? No problem! I always keep a chilled bottle of Prosecco in the fridge and a few bags of Avocado Oil potato chips on hand to satisfy the munchies. Although these babies are far from healthy, they are a healthier option when it comes to chips and taste amazing!

avocado oil chips

9. Despicable Me 2– I have to admit that I’ve been to the movie theater to see this particular animated gem twice now and I enjoyed it both times. Even my 12-year-old found it funny and the 3-year-old sat through it without making a peep. I absolutely love the new character Lucy voiced by the hilarious Kristin Wiig and the kids got a real kick out of the crazy antics of the Minions. A great family outing for a rainy day.

despicable me

10. SloPro App– thanks to a great tip from SavvyMom, we are addicted to the free SloPro app on my iPhone that takes any video and turns it into a slow motion clip. Suddenly, cannonballs and cartwheels are much more entertaining when they are slowed down and we can laugh at each and every detail (including how funny and deep voices sound when they are slowed way down.)

slopro

I hope your August is filled with lots of family time, vacations and wonderful memories! And don’t forget to put down the camera, take a few deep breaths and enjoy the moment.

How do you savour the summer?

Why I Love My Vitamix and a Starter Green Smoothie Recipe

I took a vegan cooking class a few years ago and in the course of preparing the food, the instructor was extolling the virtues of her high-powered blender called a Vitamix. I clearly remember thinking at the time that anyone who would spend $600 on a blender was certifiably nuts and I would never make such a foolish purchase.

vitamix 1

Fast forward to today and I seriously can’t imagine my life without my beloved Vitamix blender. I use this thing at least twice every single day and often three and four times. I make smoothies, lattes, sauces, hummus, batter, soup, ice cream, salad dressings  and more. Heck – I even travel with it when I can (yes my family was actually vitamixing green smoothies in our hotel room at Darien Lake this past summer! Hey – we needed something to balance out the Dippin’ Dots and kettle corn ; )

vitamix green smoothie

It is so much a part of my everyday life and so vital to my plant-based diet that I would seriously break down and cry if I had to go without it. This little baby pulverizes greens so that a kale and banana smoothie is green, chunk free and delicious. It can blend nuts to liquid in seconds, turn garlic cloves to smooth mush and break down a whole apple – core and all- in under 30 seconds. I’ve even heard it can crack through avocado pits but I haven’t personally put this to the test.

And as if this wasn’t enough – I am now even more in love because after an accidental tumble off of our counter and a resultant crack in the pitcher base – the lovely folks at Vitamix graciously sent me a brand new carafe for free!

So am I telling you that you simply must buy one? Well kind of. Trust me I get it – this is a big purchase.  And for a blender?! Seems nuts eh? But it can and will change your life if you embrace the power of this mighty little machine. And FYI – Vitamix has a travelling road show at Costco locations in Canada year-round so if you are lucky enough to catch them while they are in your local store you can get $100 off of the regular price.

If you decide to take the plunge and purchase a Vitamix or if you own one but you haven’t dusted it off for a while, here is a basic recipe for a Green Smoothie that we make a variation of in our house every single morning. I rotate the greens, fruits and veggies but I always like to start my day with this nutrient-packed beverage and I insist that the kids down them too….even if we are about to ride the Viper at Darien Lake. Happy blending!

Basic Green Smoothie

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4-6 cups of packed spinach
1/2 of a cucumber
1 ripe banana
1/4 of a medium pineapple
3-4 cups of frozen strawberries
Enough water to cover

Blend for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Enjoy!