Category Archives: Travel

Recipes: Chickpea Flat Bread & Basil Pistou

The turn of the seasons means time for new foods.

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.

~ Albert Camus

Holla bloggers! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Grateful as always to be here, I spent the weekend enjoying cooking at home and getting back into the groove in my kitchen. Yes, the dancing shoes were on and everything πŸ™‚

Since utilizing fresh, accessible & affordable ingredients is fundamental to this blog, I am super excited to keep sharing more easy healthy recipes, and what fun it is to bounce off the energy and inspiration collected on my recent holiday.

This (new to me) gluten-free chickpea flat bread is as versatile as it is tasty, and when it comes to preparation, is almost criminally easy.

Paired with a topper like this Basil Pistou, it makes a perfect light lunch or side to a more substantial meal.

A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.

~ Sir Thomas Moore

Before we start, a few thoughts on food…

I’ve been teasing for quite a few posts about the foods we enjoyed while we were away. Of course I’d planned to write about this for weeks, and the truth when it comes right down to it is just this: the food we enjoyed there was dead simple.

We enjoyed amazing produce, and super fresh bread & cheese. My husband barbecued & I made (and ate) salads galore.

There were a few key ingredients that were thoroughly enjoyed to the last drop, like a balsamic vinegar that tasted as sweet as could be, gorgeous raw walnut oil for our salad dressings, delicious mustard that was added to everything, and wonderful staples like fresh bocconcini, tomatoes, sublime melons, and that amazingly fresh bread.

The crazy thing was that in France, and most notably in the countryside, the fresh healthy stuff came wonderfully affordable compared to home.

Upon our return to the Canadian west coast, fresh on the memories of the market in Provence, a visit to our local farmers market revealed that prices are in some cases 5 times what they were in France (and I was informed that the market we visited was the ‘expensive’ one for tourists by a good French friend).

There, baguettes were at the most 1 dollar (85 euro cents). A giant ball of gorgeous fresh bocconcini cost all of $1.15, and a triangle of brie just a paltry $1.96 (precisely). Sweet ripe melons were sold at every market at a mind boggling 3/$5, and two entire days worth of fresh picked fruit and vegetables cost me all of $9 at a roadside stand.

Enjoying regional foods is beautiful no matter where you are, and treating to aged balsamic vinegar (at $15 a bottle), local walnut oil ($5 a bottle), and fresh pressed local olive oil ($6) was a dream, made that much more amazing by the accessibility and prices.

Here at home, the same balsamic once imported would cost $50. Needless to say, I’m back to adding sugar to my dressings, and they taste delicious too πŸ™‚

My return has prompted many new (and renewed) thoughts & ideas about our food here at home and the dream of making delicious, healthy foods available to all.

It was inspiring to say the least, and also eye opening to see such stark differences between the different worlds. So I am back to cooking, and back to work on this project that is so dear to my heart.

I’m so excited to bring you all along, starting with these recipes!

No one has ever become poor by giving.

~ Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

The Less:

Less store bought breads and dips means more taste & freshness without the added cost & waste. Fewer ingredients means easy work of making delicious. Less cost to make healthy goodness means your money can go farther, and who wouldn’t take a bite of that idea?

The More:

More fresh garlic means more taste and added amazing health benefits. More grain free recipes at hand means more options for those who may be sensitive. More easy ways to impress your guests means more smiles at the table, after all, nothing brings a smile like the smile of another.

Chickpea Flat Bread:

  • (1) tbsp good olive oil for oiling the pan
  • (3) tbsp good olive oil for the recipe
  • (2.5) cups chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
  • (3.5) cups water
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (1-2) tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a square or round 8-9 inch cake pan with (1) tbsp of olive oil.

Next, measure the flour into a large bowl. Gradually add the water into the flour, whisking constantly to keep lumps from forming. Add the salt, chopped rosemary, and (3) tbsp olive oil and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden, about 40 minutes. When done, remove the bread from the oven and let cool for a couple of minutes.

Remove from the pan and cut into slices, or, bring the entire pan to the table or serving area and serve straight from there!

This recipe made a generous amount that lasted in our house all week. If you like, this recipe can easily be halved, in which case you could use a regular loaf pan to bake it in.

We ate this with the pistou in this post but also enjoyed it days later fried in salt & olive oil as delicious croutons for our weeknight salads.

Keep any leftovers in the fridge and use within 5-6 days.

Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others.

~ Buddha

I’d love to hear how this goes for those of you who are looking for easy & affordable gluten free recipes to try. It’s so easy and has a lovely digestibility, not to mention the unexpected gentle chickpea flavor. Yum.

Chickpea flour is very affordable and is available in Asian food stores (it is used in Indian recipes) as well as most health food stores.

The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up.

~ Mark Twain

Basil Pistou:

– Adapted from Ina Garten in the Barefoot Contessa

  • (2-4) large garlic cloves (depending on your fondness for garlic!)
  • (1/4) cup tomato paste
  • (24) fresh basil leaves (or about 1 packed cup of fresh basil)
  • (1/2) cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • (1) cup good olive oil
  • (1) tbsp lemon juice
  • (1/4) tsp salt

Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth and well incorporated.

Feel free to start and stop the blender to whirl the mixture with a spatula (always taking care to not do this while it is running, mindfulness with the blender can be a big challenge for me!).

Transfer to a sealed container or jar and keep in the fridge. By adding the lemon juice, this recipe should not discolor, but if you choose to you can cover the top of the pistou with a film of olive oil to keep it from drying out at the top while being stored. The original recipe called for all but the salt and lemon, but I couldn’t resist adding my favorite flavor boosters, and I do think it is more delicious for it.

Use this as a spread for bread, or for pasta, in a sandwich, or as a quick perk up for a bowl of hot soup.

This one might be tough for my vegan readers as the cheese really does carry it, but with all the genius for substitutions out there among all of you, nothing would surprise me at all πŸ™‚

A quick bit of reading on the difference between pistou & pesto yielded some history on the origins of both (both have been around for centuries), and from what I read the basic difference between the two seems to be the absence of nuts in a pistou.

Great news for those sensitive to nuts, or anyone looking to add easy variety to their repertoire.

In my next post, I’ll share the pasta salad I made with this pistou. Garlicky and delicious, it was a perfect combo with these amazingly ripe local tomatoes πŸ™‚

The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

I hope all of you are basking in the glory of September, whether it is Spring or Fall where you are.

Stay tuned for more recipes and some Not So Fast news coming up! We are hard at work this fall and hope to have some fun to share with you all very soon!

  • Have you ever tried working with chickpea flour?
  • Got a favorite pesto or pistou?

I’ve seen a few great posts out there in the blog world using chickpea flour, feel free to share your faves in the comments – I’d love to know if you’ve got a goodie!

Wishing you all a super fabulous week!

Yours in Less,

92 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Not So Fast, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Travel, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Paris: 5 Ways We Did More with (just a little) Less

Slowing down to enjoy the view.

The Seinne in the sun is pure magic.

Make hay while the sun shines, isn’t that what they say?

Hey bloggers!!

Well it’s true what they say, the time does go fast.

It’s hard to believe it is now September, with August behind us and all that it brought. Just a month ago we were putting the finishing touches on our packed luggage…

But with September comes so many good things: back to school, back to work, and back to working on this little blog and all it encompasses πŸ™‚ I hope you’ll all stick around to see what we’ve got up our sleeves!

While we get back to normal life, it’s my pleasure to share in my next three posts a few tidbits from our time in France – starting with a few things that made a big trip not only more affordable, but really, that much better.

Travel is a real luxury, and as you all know it can sure get costly. I hope you’ll enjoy this little round-up of 5 ways we traveled well with (just a little) less.

The mere sense of living is joy enough.

Β  ~ Emily Dickinson

Our favorite statue in the city just up the street from ‘home’.

1. Shack Up

And no, I don’t mean run away with a french man on a motorcycle!

As tempting as that might be πŸ™‚ …but really, I am referring to accommodation, as anyone knows that after flights, the place where you lay your head is likely to be your biggest expense, particularly on a longer trip.

And really, fancy hotels aside (which are sweet if you’ve got the budget) – just how much time will you be spending in said place of sleep?

I referenced the quaint french apartment we took in Paris, and it was just that: small, old, perfectly lovely, and right in the heart of where we wanted to be (for those of you interested we stayed in the Marais district).

After all, this is how the vast majority of people live in big cities like this, so it was fun, and not to mention for the four of us, (just a little) less hit on the budgetΒ  & a whole lot more authentic.

Unlocking the door to the courtyard after another big day.

Everything you can imagine is real.

~ Pablo Picasso

We did just fine cozied up in our tiny kitchen, enjoying simple foods made with basics (my next post).

This was the start of the food journey that has not only affirmed my approach to food more than ever before, but forever reminded me just how simple foods made with quality ingredients are best, and how important it is to enjoy each and every bite.

After all, that is precisely what the people do in France. And it certainly shows!

Our go-to salad for three whole weeks it seems!

2. Eat In

Really!

Part of the fun of having a real place to shack up in is the chance to live like any other person might in that part of the world (at least for me it was and I suspect this would be the case for many of you too!). Cooking in a strange (tiny) kitchen is an adventure, one I was up for, and one we had a blast with.

It was a beautiful thing – heck – I was cooking dinner in Paris! What a sheer delight it was, and one I took with gratitude and pleasure.

I mentioned the produce market that set up literally at the steps to our door twice in the time we were there. I bought melons, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, nectarines, apples & berries. They were all pretty amazing, yes.

The block we stayed on had a store that stocked every fine oil, wine, preserve & jelly you could want, and the boulangerie on our block made just the right baguettes and chocolate croissants for the girls, who enjoyed them daily.

It was good living, as we say.

Not like the one in Provence, but hey – pretty darned good!

Eating in saved us tons of money, and it also meant that the three of us vegetarian girls weren’t struggling with menus (and our French) every night. It also meant we ate like royalty & had plenty of time & money left to hit the streets for some quality sight-seeing, and maybe an ice cream and a night cap (or two).

Of course, we ate dinners out too, and we enjoyed it (just a little) more when we did.

Less really was more here, and it went this way through our entire trip.

The best part? Reserving the majority of our sitting time for chilling at our favorite cafes.

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

~ Dr. Seuss

Cafe life in France, and in Paris especially, is just about the funnest thing you’ll ever experience, as no one is ever in a rush.

The people watching is just about the best in the world, not to mention the goodies you are likely to enjoy. A few days in I gave up my afternoon coffee and switched it to white wine or beer.

And then we simply sat. And watched. And drank. And talked.

Until it was time to be on our way.

3. Set out on Foot

A big city like Paris is (obviously) more than well set up for tourists, and they are pros at handling all those visitors.

There are tour buses, stacked double-deckers, boats, bike tours, and of course, the metro is superb. But nothing is like seeing the city on foot both for your waistline and your wallet.

We walked for hours & hours each day, which many of you know is a wonderful way to get fresh air, exercise, and views that you just don’t get from a tourist bus, or underground on the metro.

Plus, how will you see that top in the window or find that off-the-beaten-track patisserie with the best pastry you ate the whole trip? That gorgeous old cathedral you stumbled on that time you got lost?

Nothing says adventure like traipsing around a city with just your bag, a camera, good company and a good stylish pair of comfortablish shoes.

More on shoes in an upcoming post πŸ˜‰

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr

4. Pack Coffee/Carry Water

Depending on your preference for coffee, this might not apply, but I was glad to have brought along a few bags of ground coffee from home to make French Presses while I greeted the day and acclimatized.

The kids were often tired (especially at the start of the trip), and given my (fairly unreasonable) requirement for caffeine early in the day, I got amped at home before leaving the house.

I’d done quite a bit of research on some coffee places I wanted to hit – places that are doing quality coffee like we are lucky to enjoy at home. My first try yielded a closed sign (Telescope seemed to be closed for the month) and the others were just too out-of-the-way and not convenient to drag the whole brood to.

For a full list of great spots to hit, check out this post on Alice Gao’s beautiful blog here. Alas, maybe next time.

Besides, I see plenty of snazzy coffee shops here (it’s my job), and I realized that day that I didn’t need to travel to Paris to see them there too.

So the home coffee was a major lifesaver, not to mention an easy way to avoid the Oranginas and other goodies you buy every time you sit your kids at a table (cause you know they can’t sit there with nothing).

But believe me, they got plenty of Oranginas. In fact, I am pretty sure we spent more on those drinks then most anything the whole trip. But more on that in another post too πŸ™‚

And bring water wherever you go! All that walking will make you tired, and many places might leave you high and dry (read: thirsty) and succumbing to overpriced drinks you otherwise wouldn’t need.

5. Buy a Museum Pass

Okay. So really. This one made me very, very, happy.

Mu husband deserves the credit here, and this action turned out to be genius.

And not strictly for financial reasons. In fact, all in, we figured that by the end of our week in Paris, we broke even on the cost of this. The real savings, however, turned out to be of the more precious kind.

This thing saved us precious and irreplaceable time. No line ups!

Visiting Paris in August means the height of tourist season there – in fact – there were (what felt like) more tourists than locals, and given the high rate of shop closures for ‘Vacances’, I’d say this was correct.

We bought a one week pass that got us into any museum, sans line-up. A sweet deal considering we packed a good ‘sight a day’ into the itinerary. And did I mention the time savings? Brilliant.

But this is my husband we are talking about. I married him for a reason, or two πŸ˜‰

On our ‘must-see’ cultural list was: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Les Invalides, Versailles, The Pompidou Centre, and of course, the Eiffel Tower (which we did not go up as one of the lifts was broken) – there are quite a few more amazing sights to see, but traveling with a young one allows only so much, and these kids were stimulated to the max.

Truthfully, they were amazing. As was my husband for buying this pass. Brilliance.

Β  Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Commitment is a line you must cross….it is the difference between dreaming and doing.

~ Bernie Fuchs

Looking back, it seems crazy that all that is behind us now. Time really flies.

True to one of my fave Dr. Seuss quotes, I’ve got to tell you that I’m pretty darned glad we did that, and my smiles feel pretty darned wide.

I’ve since returned home to enjoy the blessings we enjoy here, such as good great regional food, clean tasty water, and truly great friends.

Yes, this is where I give a shout out to all of you – whether you wrote me a text to read when I landed, a thoughtful & genuine blog comment, an email, FB message, or straight up picked up the phone and called (you know who you are), you all made coming home that much sweeter, and I have big love for each and every one of you!

Thank you all for being here with me!

Looking forward to all that is to come – and next I’ll get to those top foods – I promise πŸ™‚

  • Got any tips to add to this from your travels?
  • If you could travel anywhere tomorrow where would it be?

I’d love to add any wisdom from all you fine readers out there – and let us know your thoughts and whatever might be on your travel wish list!

Looking forward to a fab fall with all of you!

Yours in Less,

56 Comments

Filed under Family, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Rejuvenation, Shopping, Success, Travel, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Provencal Tomato Basil Scrambled Eggs with Garlic

Home is always where the heart is.

It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.

~ Lou Holtz

Here we are! Hot off the heels of our trip, we made it safely home here in Vancouver Monday afternoon. There really is no place like home!

Since then, you can imagine the marathon of unpacking, catch up phone calls & texts, as well as mentally preparing for all that is on the imminent horizon. Yes, it is time to dig back in to real life, and I am excited to be back!

Given the massive range of experiences that are still being digested, I figure it is high time for a recipe, and what better way to start than with a yummy & authentic way to get a taste of two of the most delicious, and most used ingredients in Provence (or anywhere for that matter)…. garlic and tomato!

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.

~ Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.

~ Babe Ruth

First, a few quick words on eggs, as this is the first time they have been prominently posted here on IPOM. Eggs seem to be (IMHO) really one of those foods that either sit well with you or they don’t.

In my early years as a strict vegan, I will never forget the day my body craved eggs. I was pregnant, and well, (just a little) hungry. Though it had been years and I’d never been a giant fan of eggs, I knew my body needed to be listened to, for I do believe (still to this day), that the body ultimately knows better than the mind ever can – if only we just tune in & really listen, and for anyone out there who has ever had pregnancy cravings you know what I am talking about (winky face).

And as each of our bodies is different, so is each of our minds.

Never mind my own personal views on eggs, these guys are inexpensive, easy sources of energy & protein.

They are also the food of choice (hard-boiled) used at the inner city Breakfast Program offered through one of Not So Fast’s partner’s in feeding people – for their high protein content and grounding nutritional quality.

It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.

~ Mother Teresa

The Less:

Less boredom when it comes to cooking eggs means tastier ways to enjoy them. Less sugary, sweet breakfast foods means more garlicky, savory goodness. Less cream, milk, and cheese added means cooking up eggs is light and simple, not to mention tasty, inexpensive, and oh so good!

The More:

More inexpensive hearty protein means you can get by with just a little. More fresh tasty recipes means more simple, yet delicious meals. More uses for all those ripe tomatoes means they’ll never go to waste, so you can enjoy them at just about any meal.

Provencal Tomato Basil Scrambled Eggs with Garlic:

Adapted from ‘Provence’

  • (5) fresh eggs
  • (1) tbsp good olive oil
  • (2) medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • (1) clove fresh organic garlic, minced
  • (1) bay leaf
  • (1/4) tsp salt plus more to taste
  • (2) tbsp cold butter
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 6-10 fresh basil leaves

Start by peeling & seeding the tomato: put up a small pot of water to boil while you prepare the garlic and other ingredients. Once the water is at a boil, add the whole tomato and turn it in the water to cover all the skin. Leave in the water for 30 seconds or so and then turn the heat off. Remove the tomato from the hot water and allow to cool. From there, the skin should simple peel off the outside of the tomato! Next, open up the tomato and quarter it. Carefully remove the seeds with a spoon and discard. Chop the remaining tomato flesh and set aside.

When you are ready to cook, heat a deep skillet and add the olive oil over medium to low heat. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring until just fragrant (but not turning brown). Add the tomato flesh, the bay leaf, and the salt and bring to bubbling on medium heat (turn it up slightly). Once the tomatoes are hot and start to bubble, return the heat to a lower simmer temperature and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon for 15 minutes. This will smell so good!

While the tomatoes are cooking, combine the butter, a pinch of salt, ground pepper to taste, and the eggs in a mixing bowl. Use a fork to cut the eggs and only mix them until the whites and yolks are mixed (but don’t go crazy on them).

Turn up the heat of the tomato pan again to medium high to cook the eggs. Remove the whole bay leaf from the pan and add the egg mixture. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches a beautiful, creamy texture.

When ready, remove from heat and continue to stir the eggs in the pan as the absorb the leftover heat. Tear the basil pieces over the mixture with your hands and stir in just before serving.

Serve from the pan onto plates with anything you desire – we enjoyed this with baguette but a lovely salad would be delicious!

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

I am quite certain my vegan readers are already thinking about how to make this perhaps with tofu instead of eggs (which would be delicious!!), and as always, I encourage any number of creative ways to make this yours!

Of course, since we arrived home I am also on the hunt for the best baguette in town, as once you get used to that delicious bread (which my body has no issues with but that is another post), it is hard to go without!

But alas, I will be fine πŸ™‚ Better than fine, really.

I know I said in my last post I’d be sharing a list of our top foods that we enjoyed on our trip, and I’ll be compiling some thoughts on food in addition to that, as the take-aways for me are still percolating.

Returning home is wonderful, and while I was treated to some beautiful goodness away, I am also grateful to live here where that goodness is still abundant as the growing season is still well underway here at home.

I’ll be headed to our local Farmer’s Market this weekend – I’ll let you know how that goes in comparison to France! As for now, I am still sifting though photos and editing when I can (mostly in the middle of the night when the jet lag has got me). Here are a few gems of the beloved Champs Elysees as seen from the top of the Arc…

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

~ Dr. Seuss

I am looking forward to catching up with all of you and getting started with this brand new season that is upon us, and of course sharing loads of good stuff from our time away.

As always I am ever so grateful to all of you for reading and sharing this journey with me (and in this case my family too!)

Many wishes, kisses, and blessings to all of you for a fabulous start to September!

  • What is your favorite way to eat eggs?
  • Have you ever experienced pregnancy cravings?

I know there are some funny ones out there….I’d love to hear yours!

Yours in Less (from back home),

62 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Feeding, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Travel, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Market Day in Provence: A Picture Journey

If only the world could stand still a moment.

β€œLet us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”

~ Susan Polis Schutz

Alas it does seem a while since I posted, bonjour everyone!

Truth be told, it’s been somewhat challenging to blog from the road here, as time inside is limited and my mind is flooded with new sensations, views, ideas, and inspiration, none of which have solidified enough to properly put to words.

It is also (put more simply) that I am (and for the first time in a long time and maybe actually ever) in pure honest vacation mode, and my mind has turned off (mostly) everything.

All to make room for the new.

Here, in Provence (where we arrived Friday after a few glorious days in Burgundy), I was treated Sunday to my very first Provencal market experience, and what a treat that was!

The adorable and ancient village where we are based, called L’isle Sur La Sorgue, is somewhat popular for its markets, most notably antiques.

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Provence itself as a much larger area, (I just read in my French history book) has been celebrated since the Roman times for its particularly good fresh produce.

With the area being somewhat continually drenched in hot sun (it has been between 35 and 40 degrees steady since we arrived), one would think it obvious that this food would be good, and I had heard that indeed, it was.

But I was not prepared for this.

There are simply no words that could adequately describe the taste of the food that grows here, for this is (for any fruit and vegetable lover) a total mecca.

So in the absence of new recipes, I do hope you’ll enjoy a little tour of the town and the market with me here – as I’ve tried to do it justice, but I’ll let you be the judge πŸ™‚

Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.

~ Eckhart Tolle

I am quite sure I read there were over 300 stalls at this market on Sunday, and judging by the fact that we couldn’t even see it all, I believe it.

This little village, with its narrow ancient streets, transformed into a bustling shopping zone with sellers & producers offering everything from soap, to clothing, records, antiques, jewellery, shoes, bags, scarves, spices, and of course food.

Oh, the glorious food.

Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

~ Unknown

Forget every stereotype you’ve ever heard about the French being anything less than polite. Here, they are warm, and excited to see visitors delight in their hard work. In fact, here in the south, the people are downright wonderful.

There are so many characters in a small village like this. And their food, their food.

It is truly sublime, not to mention very cheap (I’ll share more in my next post on just how inexpensive it really is).

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

~ William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets

In my next post I’ll tell you the top foods we’ve been enjoying here, especially since arriving here in Provence where we’ve got a full functioning kitchen, a barbeque, and an outdoor eating area to enjoy the food and the company under the open skies.

After Paris, and then a few days in hotel in Beaune, we are happy to be enjoying a lovely amount of space here, and are taking advantage of the fresh food & views available right around the corner.

L’espoir fait vivre.

~ French Proverb, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

We’ve got just a few more days here, so the likelihood that I’ll get another post out before the end of this trip is quite small, but you never know – I’ll have months of inspiration to share and enjoy from the perspective of life at home.

But not just yet!

From here, we head south for a night to enjoy the ocean before returning to Paris for the last two nights – we head home Monday. I hope you all are enjoying the final weeks of summer, and I’ll look forward to catching up soon!

  • If you traveled to Provence, what would be on your list to eat?

Let us know, and thanks for joining me!

Yours in Less,

65 Comments

Filed under Aspirations, Children, Cooking, Family, Food, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Rejuvenation, Salads, Travel, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Feeding the Heart & the Soul in Paris

Here we are. On this day, in this moment.

Take rest. A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.

~ Ovid

Here we are! A long way from home, here in Paris, enjoying what we knew would be a fabulous time away together as a family.

I mentioned in my last post about our quaint French apartment (read: tiny), and it has been the perfect place to lay our heads each night after the massive days we’ve had soaking it all in (it will be absorbing for months to come too).

We’re having a ball, and as you can well imagine, the photos are piling up faster than I can ask (politely in English) for another glass of white wine.

With that, dear IPOM readers, I figure pictures can do the noble work of talking here, as we’ve got another 2 incredible days in the city before we head south to the country.

And it all starts with a good cup of coffee (from home).

Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.

~ Margaret Fuller

I am thrilled to report that after the jet lag, and most importantly the perspective shift, life here is actually becoming beautifully relaxed.

Instead of afternoon coffee, I have a glass of wine, and in place of my daily run, we walk all day long until dark. Dinners are simple (both out and in), breakfast is had in before we head out, and the family feels closer than ever before.

This part of town is amazing, and we’ve got a produce market twice weekly just outside our door. The produce is almost as incredible as the bread & cheese, and cooking here in this kitchen has been a blast.

A place for everything, everything in its place.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.

~ John De Paola

From the lover’s bridge (Pont Des Arts) to Notre Dame to the classical beauty that is the Luxembourg Gardens, we’ve covered pretty much everything we set out to do so far.

True to the plan, we hit one (or in some cases two) major sight see a day, which is plenty considering we are traveling with an eight year old. Notre Dame, Pompidou Center, Luxembourg Gardens, Versailles, The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower were tops on our list.

We’ve shopped (just a little, especially on account of many shop owners closing shop completely for the entire month of August), walked (a whole lot), and have truly lucked out with the weather (which has has been beyond spectacular).

I hope you’ll enjoy (just a little) of where we’ve been so far.

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.

~ Spanish Proverb

Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.

~ Andre Gide

As is inevitable, I arrived on this holiday knowing nothing but my current perspective at the time. Loaded with responsibility, and driven by projects, it is immensely difficult at the time to truly imagine letting go.

But it happens, because it has to. And it feels so good, and is completely necessary in every way. I am so very fortunate and blessed to have this time to enjoy with my loved ones in quite possibly my favorite place in the whole world.

On another note, you will now see at the bottom that I am testing out the WordAds program with WordPress. I’m fairly particular about the esthetics on this blog, but if there is a way to generate revenue for Not So Fast, I thought it was worth a try, so please note that all proceeds from any advertising done (now or in the future) will go directly towards charity and we’ll see how it goes!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and on anything you see in this post that you fancy. Also, with so many photos, I’d love to hear what you want to see as we wind up the first leg of this trip in the next day or so! As you can also imagine, I’ll be somewhat absent in my blog reading and commenting this month – rest assured I’ll be back.

As for us, it’s Sunday, and the shops are closed. We plan to hit the Arc De Triomphe before hitting the banks of the river for ice cream and a stroll. I love that they close the shops here for a day, I think these people might just be on to something good πŸ™‚

Thanks for joining us!

Yours in Less from Paris,

78 Comments

Filed under Family, Happiness, Inspiration, Photography, Rejuvenation, Travel

Recipe: Fresh Coconut Pulp Chocolate Torte & Thoughts on Hope

More fresh ways to get creative in the kitchen.

The greatest thoughts come from the heart.

~ Vauvenargues

It’s true! We are here!

The family made it to Paris, and after a typical long travel day, we arrived yesterday to a bustling busy city at the height of tourist season. As I write this, I’ve got a fabulous internet connection in my quaint french apartment (which will be home for the next week). French press coffee at my side (brought from home), and sleeping children in the room adjacent.

Life is good, and I hope to share it as I am inspired over the course of the 3 weeks we’ll be away here.

Of course the blog will look a little different from here, and to me this is exciting, as who knows what might inspire me? There is surely no shortage of material, as I learned from the first time I visited this beautiful city just two years ago.

Today’s post is the follow-up from the recipe for Homemade Fresh Coconut Milk, which I am quite certain a few of you will attempt, if only to get to this dessert.

Nothing is impossible for a willing heart.

~ French Proverb

Taking inspiration from this popular IPOM recipe, (remember those insanely delicious Rice Krispie Treats?), I knew there had to be a most delicious way to take advantage of the by-product from making coconut milk, and after all that work, I surely wasn’t going to waste a single morsel.

And it is so delicious, that would have been absolutely criminal.

When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”

~ Author Unknown

As it happens, last week was also fun as I was nominated in a blog relay about hope by a fellow favorite blogging chum Cara at Fork and Beans (love this girl).

This ‘relay’ asks bloggers to touch on the topic of hope, an interesting word if there ever was one. I could write a whole essay on this topic (as I am sure some of us could), and hope is a funny thing, as surely we all hope, and in turn also have hopes.

To me, I think hope is the feeling we have when we simply want something to go our way. Hope is also the deep belief & longing that helps us get through the toughest of times.

Simply put, the notion of hoping always reminds me that certain things are in our control, and others simply are not. The things we can control are often the hardest to do.

Things like how we feel & think, how & what we eat, how we behave with others. Hoping is the first step in simply doing. By doing, I believe we can get closer to actually realizing our hopes and dreams.

As a hope without action is simply just that, nothing more than a thought, or a desire. By doing, we become.

And as for the things that are beyond our control? The quote below pretty much sums it up for me.

Where hope would otherwise become hopelessness, it becomes faith.

~ Robert Brault

Here are the next few bloggers tagged in this relay – I’d love to hear what these lovely ladies have to share with us as I always enjoy their unique perspectives on food, life, art, travel, and all those hopeful dreams of ours πŸ™‚

Spree at Cooking Spree, Marina at Marina Chetner, Syders from This Sydney Life, Sharyn at the Kale Chronicles, Ishita at Ishita Unblogged. Have fun with it ladies!

The Less:

Fewer ingredients makes for simple, easy working. Less heated dessert foods means more intact enzymes and less baking in the heat of summer. Less heavy, flour-based baked goods, means less allergens and less gluten, so these treats can really be enjoyed by all, no matter where you go, or who you go with.

The More:

More uses for by-products means less waste and more value. More healthy chocolate treats means more feeling good about eating them. More easy simple recipes means more incentive to get the job done, so killing two birds with one stone just got easier. Not to mention delicious, healthy, and fun too.

Fresh Coconut Pulp Chocolate Torte:

  • leftover pulp from (1) recipe Fresh Homemade Coconut Milk you should have about 2.5-3 cups (the pulp of one coconut, or feel free to sub shredded coconut for the pulp, though I suspect the result will be much drier)
  • (2) cups chocolate chips, for melting
  • (1/3) cup almond butter, raw or roasted
  • (4) cups rice krispie cereal
  • (1) tsp vanilla

Optional Topping:

  • (1) cup chocolate chips
  • (1/4 1/3) cup shredded coconut

Begin by melting the (2) cups of chocolate chips using a double boiler, or by putting the chocolate chips in a stainless bowl (use a bowl big enough to mix the whole recipe if you can) over a pot of boiling water. Once the chocolate has melted completely, remove the bowl from the heat.

Add the almond butter and vanilla and stir. The heat from the chocolate will help the almond butter to soften without heating the almond butter over heat itself (particularly good if you are concerned about this and are using raw almond butter).

Add the coconut pulp to the chocolate-almond butter mixture and mix well. The coconut will cool the hot chocolate and bring the temperature down a little. Next, add the rice krispie cereal to the mixture, and mix well with your hands, ensuring it is even.

Line an 8 inch round or square pan with wax or parchment paper and press the mixture into the pan, using your hands to get it as even on the top as possible. Put the pan into the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

The mixture will harden and become very firm to the touch. Remove the firm torte and with your hands take out the parchment paper, holding it in your hands carefully. Place the hardened torte back in to the pan.

From here, you can enjoy as is, or if you want to get creative or fancy (like I did), simply melt an additional cup of chocolate chips and spread over the entire cooled torte, topping with shredded dried coconut as garnish. Place the pan back in the fridge to harden the chocolate.

Serve in slices with optional fruit (raspberries are delicious!), and perhaps some ice cream or whip. You can also cut and enjoy through the week as a snack.

Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier.

~Author Unknown

This dessert made a fabulous treat for a group this week as I said good-bye to my co-workers before my holiday. One good-bye was a little harder than the others.

It is rich while still being light on the tummy. A true feel good dessert!

Hope never abandons you, you abandon it.

~ George Weinberg

Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.

~ Robert Ingersoll

It is my sincere desire that anyone reading this post today can feel hope in knowing that deliciousness is never far away, and that in all of our hands is carried infinite possibilities for action of all kinds.

Whether it is cooking, writing, or any form of art, it is the hands that carry out the work of the heart and the mind.

Here’s hoping we can all enjoy some of that. I’ll be seeking in the coming weeks here from France what has begun as a fabulous time in a most beautiful place. Here’s to infinite possibilities!

  • What are you hopeful for today?
  • Got a favorite no bake dessert to share with us?

More to come readers, stay tuned! Off to see the sights as I’ve officially had enough coffee…

Yours in Less,

67 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Hope, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian

Taking Cues from Country Folk & Removing My Shoes

Start by removing all pretense, then your shoes.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

I went, I saw, I ate, I reveled. I went home.

Freshly back from a visit to the country, my senses are still reeling from the sights and sounds of water, birds, soft grass, good clean food, laughter and plenty of pure unadulterated stillness.

A typical weekend visit to the family home means (weather permitting) farmer’s market visits, long runs in the quiet breezy air, and plenty of ocean-side time to the sounds of lapping water and the odd speed boat off in the far salty distance.

There, my phone doesn’t work, and neither do I.

This time of year, there is bounty in the gardens. Meals come from the yard and ingredients are picked not days, and not hours, but just minutes before preparing (and eating of course!).

Back home during the growing season, planning meals is as much about what is ready as it is about what your appetite tells you (actually quite a bit more).

Peas come and go for three weeks only, the strawberries show their bright faces only long enough to remember their soft red cheeks, and (thankfully) the kale grows for many prosperous and green months on end.

It’s a different (and refreshing) way to look at food.

I hope you’ll humor me as we walk through the garden and take (just a few) extra moments of island time.

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.

~ Chinese Proverb

I always start by removing my shoes. The grass feels better that way, and somehow, everything seems just that much more beautiful. And real. Something about dirt in my toes.

Sometimes there isn’t an entire pints worth of strawberries left to pick and you have to enjoy what there is (these were the last ones saved for my daughter to pick).

This simple example (to me) embodies the ‘less is more’ lifestyle with crystal clarity – enjoying what there is when it is and making it last.

I won’t try to deny these strawberries were most thoroughly enjoyed. Yes, all 5 of them.

Whenever you are sincerely pleased, you are nourished.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A quick (slightly disappointing) visit to the local grocery store offers a stark contrast to the bounty that is seen on display at the Farmer’s Market.

There at the market you can meet the guys who make your white chocolate scones and work through the night to make your loaf of daily bread.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

~ Michael Pollan

It brings a new appreciation for where your food comes from – to see the hands that create the food for your nourishment and to lay eyes on the mouths that smile from a life of honest work.

For those of us who are blessed to live where produce grows in abundance, it seems an easy choice to buy (and eat) local.

Here in the city if I miss the Farmer’s Market, I’ve got a great grocery store in just about every neighborhood I can hit up as I need.

In many smaller communities this often isn’t the case. So more and more communities are relying on themselves, and on each other.

There are many communities across the globe who don’t have this…..yet.

After a visit like this, I return feeling more resolved than ever to work towards ways to bring food security to everyday people. Like me, (maybe) you, and (maybe) our neighbors.

There is just too much capability for abundance not to.

It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.

~ Aristotle

It seems so easy.

1. Grow food.

You need soil. You need seeds. Add a little sunshine and diligent watering and watch it grow.

I didn’t get my veggie garden in this year, as I mentioned there is just so much abundance all around me, there is no urgent reason not to support those who are working hard to produce amazing food for the region right now. It’s on the list, but for now I am happy to support those who are already in the game.

2. Cook it.

Prepare your meals with love. Plan around what there is. Use what you have, and what you can reasonably afford.

Maybe even tuck (just a little) away for someone else. Who knows? It’s all up to you, and to us as a whole, if we decide.

3. Eat it.

Eat with mindfulness if you can. Chew with gratitude. Swallow with awareness, and look your meal-mates in the eye. Talk with one another. Fully be. Wherever it is you may be.

4. Be nourished.

Being nourished is about so much more than just good food. Start with a helping of healthy, homemade vegetables & proteins, add a generous sprinkle of gratitude & and a moderate side of humility, and enjoy the fruits of your (or someone else’s) labor. After all, it is surely delicious. Isn’t it?

These are the simple things we can do.

From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.

~ Arthur Ashe

I want to take a moment to thank all of the supporters of this blog. Having such a supportive group of readers has made this whole project take on a completely new life. This isn’t just my project anymore – I really feel that it’s ours.

I have been touched to receive notes from a few of you looking to connect about health topics ranging from the importance of fitness to a holistic lifestyle (so true – link to Susan’s site here) – to the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle for those living with terminal illnesses such as cancer (link to Jillian’s blog here).

All of you have such amazing stories to tell and I am happy to do what I can to bring awareness to wellness initiatives everywhere.

But for now, let’s eat, and take off our shoes.

We all have things we do to escape and break what can seem like difficult patterns or routines we are stuck in – or simply just to get away. I’d love to hear what you do to step away.

  • Are you a garden lover?
  • Where do you take your shoes off and really relax?

For now, let’s eat well, and enjoy!

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

~ Muhammad Ali

Next up I’ve got a super delicious chickpea salad in the wings – you’ll want to catch this one it is that delicious! Wishing you all a super fabulous week!

Yours in Less,

68 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Family, Food, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Rejuvenation, Salads, Travel, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Paris, Provence, Planning, and the Importance of Being Here Now.

Leaving on a jet plane..

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.

~ Seneca

Okay, so it’s true. All true!

We leave for our family trip to France in just over a month! After spending the entire year looking ahead, the time has now come to get serious.

This means list making, packing, planning, renting obscene numbers of subtitled french films, and generally totally freaking out. We have precisely 21 sleeps to prepare for, and our stay will begin and end in Paris, which is so far my favorite place in the entire world.

My first visit was just two years ago, a quick 4 days there alone with my husband on a whirlwind first jaunt across the pond for me (my hubby visits Europe on business often and lived 3 years in France in his early 20’s).

I knew it would change my life, but I didn’t yet know just how much.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

Β  ~ Henry Miller

After a week in Paris, we’ll hit Beaune (in Burgundy wine country where the husband lived in the late 80’s) for a few days, and then cap off the holiday with a week in Provence (pinch me).

We are taking our two daughters, and at 14 and 8, they are not only excited, but also adding to the general feeling around here about, let’s say it again, generally totally freaking out. It’s a once in a lifetime trip for us as a family.

So how do we plan for a ‘less is more’ trip of this scale?

With all the thrill & excitement that comes from planning a huge trip like this, preparing for the sensory overload is key, and being realistic about how to handle it all is also just as key.

Here are a few things we’ll be doing to try to stay, and enjoy, each and every quality moment. I’d love to hear how you’d add to my list!

1. Pack light

Packing is a post in itself, and I may share more as we progress.

For now, we’ll begin the list making. As a family with at least one pro traveler (the husband), our philosophy on packing for air travel is simple. Light. Carry on if you can. For a trip of this length, we’ll be checking bags, but the goal is to bring only what we really need.

I’ll pack the usual leggings, a couple sweaters, a light rain jacket, one pair of jeans. A light summer dress or two, a bathing suit. Tank tops, shorts, lots of easy thin layers. Runners.

Plus, I need to leave room for (just a few) things I might acquire, right?

2. Eat in.

We’ve got apartments rented for both Paris and Provence, each for a week. This means market shopping!

This could be the thing I am most looking forward to, preparing salads and meals from simple market freshness, instead of relying on restaurants for all of our meals.

Dinner is always our highlight while on the road, and we plan to pick up breakfast and lunch snacks here and there as we crave them (honestly I could picnic on baguette and fresh fruit in the Luxembourg gardens everyday if I had my choice).

Simple, beautiful things excite me, and I cannot wait to live like a local in one of the most beautiful food countries in the world.

I just hope the purveyors at the market don’t mind my charming English.

A market shot in the Marais.

3. Take cash.

It’s no secret that I adore nice things, I am sure there are more than a few of you who are with me on that!

On my last trip to Paris, I didn’t shop all that much. Part of it was being overwhelmed. Another part of it was being with my husband (mine has about a 5 minute life span inside a women’s boutique). Another part of it was I waited until Sunday (for anyone who has been you know what I am talking about).

I left with a second-hand top and a trove of gorgeous memories. I’ve got zero complaints.

But this time, I am planning to treat myself to a few special things while I am there (insert justification here). To avoid over spending, I’ve been saving. I’m taking my spending money in cash. No secret credit cards. No regrets. Just fun.

4. The ‘one per day’ rule.

While not a big rule person, it is important when planning to not overwhelm the travelers. When planning, we’ve got a rule that we will focus each day on one major sight see, particularly in Paris. There is nothing worse than over planning and running out of time to see and do all the things you wanted ‘to check off’.

Want to feel like a failure? Over plan. I’m not competing with the clock am I?

After all, I don’t recall seeing the French rushing around trying to catch everything all at once. On my last trip, I noticed quite a few local folk with plenty of time to chill on a terrace, enjoy the company of friends, and enjoy a moment (or two) to relax.

So if we miss a line up at a museum and instead opt for a stroll through the Marais with an ice cream in hand, you won’t hear me complaining. I don’t think the kids will mind too much either πŸ™‚

5. Be here now.

Perhaps the single most important rule of all.

Planning such a big trip means spending a lot of money, and it is tempting to try to cram in too much. After all, you’ve got to get your money’s worth right?

As with anything in life, I try to see the beauty of the moment that is in front of me, and I want to teach my children to do the same. I know that the rooftop view from our apartment in Provence is likely to be one of the most beautiful things I could ever enjoy. I know there is a clean river to swim in nearby. I know there are markets and a whole town to explore.

My first ever meal in Paris. The Salad Nicoise. Veggie of course. And the waiter could not have been nicer!

This is where I’ll be instead of jumping in a hot car to drive to some other (equally spectacular) place. I don’t want to miss out on the moments and what is right in front of me, because I am seeking the ‘next big thing’.

So no matter where we are, that is where we will be.

Whether we are on the road to our next destination, or in the kitchen preparing a feast from our trip to the markets that day, that is where I will be.

With all my heart, my soul, and my mind.

Be Here Now.

~ Ram Dass, Be Here Now

With that, I’ve officially begun the countdown. It’s the start of summer, and the beginning of a truly special one.

I am overjoyed to share this experience with my family, and as I said earlier, a very special treat for all of us, as kids grow up. It’s not for forever these years, and they are both the perfect age.

My first visit to the Luxembourg inspired the digging up of my front lawn upon my return. Yes, I had gravel installed. The only thing missing is the guards.

I’d love to hear your tips on travel from a less is more perspective, and your special place in this world.

Spend the afternoon.Β  You can’t take it with you.

~Annie Dillard

Mine is here, right now. But when I’m there, that’s where it will be. The memories of those moments will be with me and my loved ones forever. Wherever we may go in this life.

And that my friends, is the most special gift I can imagine. Right now. At this moment.

What’s yours?

Yours in Less,

68 Comments

Filed under Children, Family, Food, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Shopping, Travel

On Road Tripping and (just a little) Time to Breathe.

Anyone fancy a road trip?

Life is a journey, not a destination.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Holla friends and bloggers! It’s so great to be baaaack!

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful few days over the weekend! As for us, we took a few extra days to enjoy the Canadian holiday that just passed and celebrated with the first road trip of the summer season.

We love to road trip!

Ah, open space, open roads, and open minds.

Road trips are not for everyone, and I know a few people who simply don’t enjoy time cooped up in a car for hours on end. With that, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ‘more’ ways to make road travel (just a little) ‘less’ stressful, and maybe (just a little) more enjoyable.

Of course, if you are a lover of the open road like we are, I’d love to hear your tips!

Here are a few of our faves…

Eat breakfast. Eat it before you go, or pack it and take it with you.

Just as you wouldn’t set off for the highway without a full tank of gas, its important to start the trip with a good full tummy!

So whether it’s a bowl of oatmeal, a piece of toast, or a yummy green smoothie (my next post), enjoy it before you head off.

Or, simply throw your smoothie into a clean mason jar and you are good to go for whenever you do get hungry!

The only journey is the one within.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Pack plenty of food. The key to a good time is always good food, and the car is no exception!

Easy to eat and clean up healthy snacks are best – and are always appreciated as well!

Our faves are lots of raw veggies, PB&J sandwiches, bagels, jujubes, and easy fruits like apples and oranges.

Nothing feels as good as being prepared, and I love pulling the good stuff out of the bag and smiling while they chow down πŸ™‚

Take lots of fresh water. Staying well hydrated anytime is key, and especially on the road (even if it does mean more annoying pee breaks).

Keeping hydrated ensures you arrive at your destination fresh and ready, instead of dry and wilted.

Water helps with alertness too (for the driver). So pack lots of the cold stuff just to be safe, and pee breaks are always a nice excuse to hit another view-point!

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Cover your bases. Before leaving for the road, make sure you’ve got enough supplies to keep everyone happy….toilet paper, paper towel, tea towels for extra spills, plastic bags, hand sanitizer, gravol, and pillows & blankets for those who might sleep in the back…..or the front….always me on the way home!

Remember to love the driver. I made a rule years ago to honor the driver that got me somewhere. It’s super corny, but I know my driving hubby likes a little of that love, and I like to give it.

The open road can be harsh, and driving is stressful. I try to remember the driver, to thank them, and to take care of them. So whether it’s a little neck massage, an arm scratch, a well-timed Altoid, or even just a genuine ‘thank you’ – a little goes a long way, even if it is just a little gesture.

I wonder if she is practicing mindful breathing?

Take the opportunity to breathe (or not). Anyone tried mindful breathing on the road? It’s a great time to focus on breath and calm the self for the long road ahead. Just a few deep breaths to start the trip and you might relax (just a little) more.

Now wouldn’t that be swell?

Smile, breathe and go slowly.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Get ready to be inspired. My favorite part of the open road is the possibility ahead, especially at the start of a trip!

With all the promise of a few days away, comes an unknown that brings us joy and maybe (just a little) hope. Hope that we’ll see and do things that will bring us joy.

Hope in the memories we’ll make and the sights that we’ll see. Notebooks, cameras, books and music. Anything to inspire and delight!

The world is ours to see.

Strong and content I travel the open road.

~ Walt Whitman

With this view, I am sure you can imagine we didn’t leave much, and arriving there was pretty sweet indeed.

We had a great time with old friends, and it was surely worth the drive.

The meals weren’t half bad either, as you can see from these shots of the wonderfully bustling farmer’s market πŸ™‚

  • An inspired vacation salad..

    Are you a fan of travel or road trips?

  • What are your favorite travel snacks?

In my next post I’ll be sharing with you my latest green smoothie (pictured here today), and I am so thrilled to have heard from those of you who had success with some of the recent IPOM recipes!

Thank you for your wonderful comments, support, and feedback – I always love to hear from you πŸ™‚

Wishing you all a super wonderful week!

Yours in Less,

54 Comments

Filed under Children, Family, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Rejuvenation, Travel, Vegetables

On Toronto, Coffeeshops, and Cooking Together

Sam James Coffee Bar on Harbord. A seriously ‘Less is More’ aesthetic and killer coffee.

Travel is always an adventure, right?

While it may have been work travel, it’s still pretty sweet to get out and enjoy a new city when the opportunity presents itself, especially when it’s a gem like Toronto.

I grew up visiting family in this city (I have always been a West Coast girl) and have many fond memories of it.

Toronto is where I got my ears pierced (behind my parents backs), where I first rode public transit on my own, and where the many colorful stories of my immediate family history originated (of which there are so, so many).

Turns out it’s still a pretty cool place. It may not have the hills, the ocean, and the ozonated air like home does (how many great cities actually do?), but it’s got its charms.

Sam James sidewalk.

Having visited a lot of coffee shops in my life (what can I say – it’s my job!), Toronto has a little something special going on as far as the local coffee scene.

Add to that the bustling, gritty charm of Kensington Market, the gorgeous grounds of the University of Toronto, and the many great restaurants that pop up out of no where, and downtown is not a bad place to traipse around.

Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.

~Frederick B. Wilcox

Sitting pretty at Kensington Market.

IPOM is certainly not a travel blog, but it is a place to celebrate the little things, and traveling is a bit of treat (IMO), whether work related or not (unless it isn’t).

Here are just a few of the moments I snuck in between more serious tasks.

Thanks for joining me, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

As always, I am a total nerd for market style food shots. Lettuce and live herbs outside the convenience store on College Street? Why not?

If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.

~ Unknown

The same goes for these apples, proving there is always a healthy alternative within reach in big cities.

It’s not Whole Foods, but it might just be as good (or maybe better).

A stroll through Kensington yielded a visit to a very inspiring and beautiful store called Good Egg.

I could have spent a week in there looking at food, cooking, and agriculture (the list goes on) books, drooling over their refined selection of kitchen stuff, and generally trying to memorize everything about it so I could open my own here at home. I am always dreaming.

Listen to the color of your dreams.

~ The Beatles

Seriously. I was so, totally in love.

I’ve said before that grocery stores are my happy place.

Well, I’d like to take that a step further and say that outdoor vegetable markets are my ultra happy place!

Baskets of gorgeous, bright fruits and vegetables are always a feast for the eyes and this stall at Kensington Market was no exception.

My husband thinks I am downright nuts on account of this (always has).
I maintain that’s just a part of my charm.


Cruising the University (cutting through from Yorkville to Little Italy) – I got a nice hit of charm from the gorgeous buildings and green everywhere. All these years I’d never seen this.

It was gorgeous, and a breath of fresh air in the middle of town.

Artisans are everywhere in this city, from behind the espresso machine, to behind the roaster, to behind the glass windows of the local flower shop.

I am a sucker for roses, especially this antique pink. This lovely arrangement stopped my breath at a little shop called Jaiden’s Petals on Ossington, I loved the sparse interior and the taste of the flower selection and merchandising in there.

Are you a sucker for flowers like me?

Catching a spot of sunshine was easy on the patio at Mercury Espresso bar in Leslieville.

Just looking at the seats made me happy. Imagine once I sat down πŸ™‚

We also visited Te Aro, a new roaster from New Zealand doing superb things with coffee here in Canada.

I was so inspired there I bought myself a Chemex coffee maker and risked the trip home in my luggage (not that I couldn’t have picked one up here at home).
It totally made it unscathed – and I am now on the hunt for the right filter (thinking of the Coava cone) and a new grinder (considering a hand grinder for this).

Visiting the Junction, we headed to Crema Coffee, and a stop at a little shop getting a tremendous amount of buzz from locals and folks here at home – Mjolk – I’ll let you discover them here – is a pretty amazing store.

Honestly, I wasn’t feeling rich enough to afford anything in there (and if I could have would not have risked trying to get it home unbroken), but it’s worth checking out if you are at all interested. These guys have a totally cool blog too, that is super styley and worth a look at if you are inclined!

Of course looking at these gorgeous wooden cups now, I am kind of wishing I brought one home after all. At least they have an online store!

The street art is pretty prevalent, and I love the bright vibes and loose feel to this. Kinda makes you want to dance in the streets a little!

Dance is the hidden language of the soul.

– Martha Graham

Me and my buddy dressed identically.

Imagine us looking each other up and down at 8 in the morning. Ridiculous.

There were a lot of super fun highlights. Great dinners with great company at Delux and Gusto, and proof that I am not the only vegetable nerd around that loves a good raw kale salad and shaved brussels sprouts with vinaigrette.

My fave moment of all?

Training for Paris, of course!

Returning home has been fabulous, and the weekend was spent enjoying the pleasures and comforts of home, complete with plenty of time in the kitchen πŸ™‚

On that note – I’m going to leave you with an invitation to a little party coming up!

Annie over at an unrefined vegan has completely blown me away by arranging a blogging feast for this coming Saturday, May 12th.

Many of you are attending, but for those who wish to join us for the feast, there will be 60 bloggers taking part with 60 vegan dishes prepared just for the party – not all of the bloggers are strict vegans (including yours truly) but the deal is the dish for this little shindig has to be.

So watch for it! I am looking forward to it and am super excited to see what everyone has in store (and I am pretty excited to share mine!).

Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?

~ Frank Scully

So thanks to Annie for her amazing effort in putting this all together, and to all the blogging buds far and wide taking part!

Here’s wishing you all a super fab Monday!

Welcome to all the new IPOM readers this week, I am so happy to have you here, and I hope you’ll join us in the conversation too!

  • Are you a potluck fan?
  • What’s your favorite potluck dish?
  • Anyone out there from Toronto (I know a few of you are!)
  • Anyone make the kale salad over the weekend?

Let us know how you all are doing!

Your comments are always welcome here with open arms.

Yours in Less,



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