Sunday, March 17

Love At First Bite - Sweetness Sundays

Pinaloves Organic Bakery, Cookie Varieties

As a newly born vegan for 2013, I can tell you that the transition to vegan cooking has been a purely pleasurable experience for me. I love getting in the kitchen and being creative. Making hot cereal masterpieces with whole grains and fruits, delicious cold grain salads for lunch with decadent avocados and black beans, discovering a million ways to use my newly stocked spice rack while making slow cooker creations for dinner. It takes me back to all the things that landed me in Culinary School at college, that one year of knowledge has never left me, although I did move on to Nursing, my true passion.

Almond Crescents, Gluten Free, $9.00 USD on Etsy.

The only thing I have yet to attempt is vegan baking. Not because I don't like baking, or because I lack the equipment. Although I must admit that the top of my wish list is a KitchenAid Stand Mixer and a new Cuisinart, as I have neither. What has stopped me is all the ingredients you need to stock up on, many not found in any regular grocery store, in order to make something that is comparable to other home baked fare. I have stocked up on things like Molasses, Organic Cane Sugar, Flax Seeds, Dates, Dried Fruits and Nuts, and Organic All Purpose Flour. I have hunted down Almond Flour, Brown Rice Flour, and Agave Syrup. I have the Maple Syrup and Vegan Margarine in my fridge. I even got the Egg Replacement Mix and a spice grinder in order to make some of the more tricky ingredients. But for the life of me, I have yet to find a recipe to which I can say, "yes, I have all the ingredients I need, let's bake this baby up!"

Gluten Free - Chocolate and Floral Cookie Collection, $32.00 USD on Etsy.

My brother, being super thoughtful, came for dinner a few weeks back and came in with a few groceries I had needed, surprised me with a box of vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies. They were in a shelf stable box, looked pretty decent on the package, I read the label just to be sure they were vegan, and dove in to try one. Well, they were pretty good, not great, not like my mother's baking, which is legend - wait for it - dary. But they were certainly the most treat-like thing I had had since going vegan. The problem, the box contained exactly 12 cookies, no bigger than a dollar Loonie coin, and it cost more than six dollars, with tax included. Twelve tiny cookies, average at best, at that price? It seemed insane to me, I knew that I either needed to find a new source of baked goods, or I had better make them myself.

A Platter of Delicious Cookies from Pinaloves Organic Bakery.

So as I have been collecting up vegan cookbooks, and looking at the list of ingredients I need to have on hand, I have also been spending a lot of time searching the web for a recipe to start out with.  I have been grabbing up the ingredients I find when I shop, and have got a good number of things in the pantry now, but not everything, not yet.

Boxed Love from Pinaloves Organic Bakery.

Now, many of you know I spend way more time on Etsy than is healthy for my pocketbook. I am always on the lookout fabulous items that I then must have in my life. After all, what would Foraging For Fab be without Etsy and all the other handmade sellers of wonderful. So every now and again I have a look for vegan goods, particularly from close locations, and when it comes to edibles, Canadian sellers are a must.  So there I was, searching out vegan sources of yummy, and up popped a new seller. The pictures looked A-M-A-Z-I-N-G to me, and gosh, they were from Montreal, Quebec; right here in Canada. And so I discovered Pinaloves Organic Bakery.

Sunflower Oats British Biscuits - Organic, $9.00 USD on Etsy.

These cookies, or little bites of heaven, as I now refer to them come in a variety of amazing flavors and types, and are made to suit many dietary restrictions or needs, not just vegan.  Pina also bakes up batches of Sugar Free, Gluten Free, and Dairy Free treats, in addition to her Vegan offerings.  The cookies are just like the classic home-made versions you love at Holiday Parties or Special Events, but they are something you can enjoy any day of the week with a cup of coffee or a herbal tea.

Vegan - Fruit & Spice Cookie Collection, $42.00 USD on Etsy.

I ordered up a mixed box of cookies, Vegan Fruit and Spice Mix, which held at least 75 biscuits, and a smaller package of 12 Chocolate Pistachio Squares. I quickly got a message back from Pina saying they would be baked up first thing the next morning and then sent out as soon as possible that day.  I have never ordered bakery products through the mail before, so I promptly forgot when to expect them, and went on with my day.

Irish Coffee Whiskey Sandwich Cookie - Vegan, $11.00 USD on Etsy.

When the package arrived before lunch time, just 3 days after my order was placed, I was doing a little happy dance in my apartment. They looked absolutely lovely, just as they were pictured in the Etsy Listings. There was even a little surprise inside the box, a new sandwich cookie recipe a Vegan Irish Coffee Whiskey delight, just in time for St. Patrick's Day. It was all so perfectly packaged, I even took some pictures with my phone to show my friends and family, or make them drool, either way I was too happy to notice.

Vegan - Chocolate Pistachio Squares, $9.00 USD on Etsy.

I decided to try one of the Chocolate Pistachio Squares right away. I am not very good at delaying gratification when it comes to cookies, or most other things to be honest. I was hooked from the very first bite. These cookies are special, they have that perfectly home made love baked in feel to them. They taste delicious, they look so pretty yet in-perfect, the way homemade cookies do, and they just hit the right spot with all that I was looking for in a vegan treat. I had to read the label again to be sure it was in fact a vegan product, it was just too much like a crumbly buttery chocolate refrigerator cookie from my pre-vegan days.

Love Lemon - Gluten Free Sandwich Cookies, $11.00 USD on Etsy.

I quickly headed to my office so that I could leave feedback for Pinaloves Organic Bakery on Etsy, just too happy to wait a minute longer to tell everyone how very special these cookies are. I also checked out the Pinaloves Organic Bakery Website and Shop, where I got even more thrilled to learn about all the other wonderful things going on at Pinaloves, and got a lot of great information from the shop's FAQ page. There is very specific information about the ingredients and the different dietary specialty cookies that they bake, among other yummy looking cakes and pastries. There are different package sizes, box combinations, and varieties available to suit any need.

Gluten Free - Chocolate and Floral Cookie Collection, $32.00 USD on Etsy.

I then caught a ride over to the shop's Etsy Page, and left a little thank-you note with Pina and company, just so appreciative of the speed and professionalism ascribed to my order, and the joy these cookies brought me.

Cholesterol Free, Low Fat Vegan Chocolate Loaves with Chocolate Ganache

I think the best thing about these cookies and treats is that they cater to some very specific dietary needs, but they are so delicious that everyone will love them, and no one has to feel left out. The Diabetic can have their Biscotti with morning coffee. The individuals with  wheat allergies or Celiac Disease, can have their pick of amazing cookies and treats. Those who are Lactose Intolerant or have milk allergies can indulge without fear. The Vegan can have her cookies and love every single cruelty-free and nutritious bite!

Spelt Hazelnut Almond Cookies - Gluten Free, $9.00 USD on Etsy.

Now, before you get all suspicious about the excessive compliments I am sending the Pinaloves people, I will balance things out a little by saying that these cookies are not free, they are priced in my mind accordingly for the quality of the ingredients, and the time and love put into every one.  They are likely not the thing you will be able to have on hand just for nibbling on any old day of the week. They would make perfect hostess gifts, and would be an impressive thing to put out at parties. The smaller packages of a dozen or so cookies are more likely to an indulgent weekday treat for you and a friend or two, the boxes are a brilliant luxury for special occasions. If you happen to live in Montreal and can get access to these cookies without having them delivered, I think you will find yourself making frequent trips to get your cookie fix.

Sugar Free Biscotti by Pinaloves, $14.00 USD on Etsy.

The only other issue is that these cookies are just to good to last for long in your home. While my large order of goodies lasted about a week, shared with company and my sweet-tooth aside,  they are hard to resist or put away, they are just too delicious, and my sweet starved inner vegan-child pretty much dictated how many of these delicious bites I dove into at a sitting. It is best I not mention that, it's embarrassing how little self-control I have most days.

Gluten Free - Pistachio Cookies, $9.00 USD on Etsy.

Don't let that stop you from ordering them though, and don't delay in checking out Pinaloves Organic Bakery's Website, Etsy Shop, or Facebook page to catch even more pictures of the delicious offerings available freshly baked and directly to your home. I can assure you they will be baked and shipped with all the love and care you could hope for, and they will become fast favorites of anyone who is lucky enough to sample them.

Vegan Rosemary Raisin Sables, $9.00 USD on Etsy.

You can either buy through Etsy, or shop the online store, whichever mode you happen to prefer.  I have every reason to believe that the service and kind customer care that you will receive, even if it is just asking a question, will surpass your expectations. If you have a local vegan or specialty bakery, by all means give them a visit, the point is to support the small bakeries that are working very hard to establish themselves and serve quality goods made with care, conscious, and attention to detail, and stop buying shelf stable and overpriced goods where possible. Going local isn't just about produce at the farmer's market, it means buying things that are made close to home to avoid all the damage that can be done to the environment by shipping boxes of boxes from country to country over land and sea.

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Cookies, $9.00 USD on Etsy.

I am now going to resist temptation and skip ordering another batch of Pinaloves goodies, at least for today, no promises about tomorrow though. Maybe one day, when I have been making my own vegan baked-goods, I can hope to be as good as the crew at Pinaloves Organic Bakery. If not, well, I am going to get very friendly with the mail-person bringing me boxes full of love on a regular basis. Hope you enjoyed your own Sweet Sunday!

Pinaloves Organic Bakery, Logo & Website Address.

Friday, March 15

Shadow Play - Found On A Friday

Le Grand Carnival, Shadow Box Diorama Frame by LaBoom, Etsy.

Paper is such a wonderful thing, it can become so many different things in as many different hands. When we are children, we are given paper and crayons or finger-paint, and let loose to make a mess. When we learn to look at books, we can see magical images on the same flat plane of paper. When we begin to read and write, we form letters and numbers with pencils and pens and begin to express ourselves in a non-verbal way that other people can understand. But by far, my favorite use of paper is to alter it from it's usual one-dimensional form, and to create something entirely different.

3D Pedestal Display - A Day In The Island - by LaBoom, Etsy.

By layering, gluing, scrunching, folding, cutting, painting, and any other number of manipulations, we can turn paper into magic. We see the world in dimensions, though we may not be as aware of it as we are when we sit in a movie theater looking at that flat screen with those goofy 3D glasses on. There is perspective all around us, some things are closer, some things are farther away. When light moves over the land, be it natural or artificial, different things are highlighted. We see shadows, we see new items illuminated that we didn't notice before, and everything can change in the span of a few hours. Think about your favorite place to be, it looks different based on how much light there is, and where you are in that space.

Handmade 3D Display - Ludella On Stage - by LaBoom, Etsy.

Shadow boxes and dioramas are becoming a lost art, and that is a true shame. Children create their art on a tablet or computer screen, and it never achieves the same quality of a hand made work. If you never play with sizes and shapes of cut out paper arranged closer or farther from your eyes, and with different light sources, you will never fully understand the magic of perspective. No matter what technology comes along, there is nothing that can beat a plain old arts and crafts kit full of scraps of paper, trims and findings, glue, paint, and colour.

3D Shadow Box Frame - The Journey of a Teapot -, With a Light by LaBoom, Etsy.

Today I stumbled upon the most magical of things, a wonderful Shadow Box Diorama created by the very talented hands of Tatiana Kontouli. Tatiana's Etsy Shop, called LaBoom, contains a bounty of wonderful examples of 3D sculpture, shadow boxes, dioramas, lighted boxes and other magical hand crafted paper creations. Tatiana's creations vary in price quite a bit, from $12.00 US for smaller shadow boxes, to $55.00 US for her most intricate creations. This makes them affordable for almost anyone to add to a collection of curiosities, or as a perfect gift for that person that is impossible to buy for.

Handmade 3D Frame Display - Miss Nagg's Kindness Spirit - by LaBoom, Etsy.

Comprised of vintage ephemera, paper cutouts, fabric trims, wire, glitter, cardboard, and illusion, Tatiana's work is fascinating to look at, and really makes you want to take a closer look inside the box.  From grand multi-figure displays, to simple seeming light boxes, each piece is so very special. You can see the careful combination of elements, the thoughtful placement of text and hidden creatures, and the small touches of magic that make these more than just crafty little items, it makes them something very special indeed.

Handmade Shadow Box Frame - Peachy Wonderland - by LaBoom, Etsy.

A close look at the individual listings I have selected to show you, or any of the dozens of others in the LaBoom shop, will show you different angles and close-up views that will enchant you utterly. Tatiana Kontouli's "whimsical wonderland" ships all the way from beautiful Antiparos, Cyclades in Greece, one of the most magical and mythical places on the planet. It all just makes the story come together for me, Greece is the seat of a great deal of the historical evolution of sculpture and art.

Light Box Diorama Display - Watch Out Girls - , Light Off by LaBoom, Etsy.
Light Box Diorama Display - Watch Out Girls - , Illuminated by LaBoom, Etsy.

I urge you to take a closer look at LaBoom, and hope you see something so special you simply must bring it's whimsy and magic into your home. If nothing else, it will have you heading into your old scrap box of bits and bobs, grabbing an old cigar box or cardboard frame, and planning to spend a little time with a glue-stick and some newsprint in the near future. Dioramas should not be on the endangered list of folk arts, too many things have already gone that direction.

3D Shadow Box Frame - Party Dog -  by LaBoom, Etsy.

So hit up the local craft shop or dig into your old stash of findings and create your own shadow box, and include the children in your life in the process, they will be enchanted by the magic that can be found in paper. Don't let them think of paper as relegated to school work and books alone, as much as I love books - they need to learn to see possibility in all materials, and not just take them for granted. In the time before television, computers, and video games,it is too easy to forget about real creativity.

Shadow Light Box 3D Frame Diorama - Hippolyte - by LaBoom, Etsy.

Where will our future sculptors, crafters, designers and architects be without knowing the magic that can be found in 3D? I am so glad I found Tatiana Kontouli's Etsy Shop, LaBoom on a Friday, and now you can be too. Have a great weekend everyone, do something creative with paper and rediscover the magic.

3D Shadow Box Frame - Fox In The Woods - by LaBoom, Etsy.

Wednesday, March 13

Keeping Me In Stitches - Wacky & Wonderful Wednesdays

Can you identify these stitched up quotes and sayings? Are you ready to take a little quiz with me here at the 'Fab'? Put on your thinking caps, or tinfoil anti-alien helmets, and get a pencil. Each numbered image is a quote from a Television Show, Broadway Spectacular, or Movie. How many can you identify all on your own, no cheating - close that Google tab down!





Are you a movie buff, a pop-culture vulture, or a chic geek? Do you quote famous lines of dialogue, get all those obscure references and 'in' jokes? Do you have a catalog of expressions that comes in handy in almost any situation, giving you instant hipster cred? There are 24 fabulously stitched up quotes in this quiz, so you are bound to know a bunch of these.





Sometimes the best way to find a kindred spirit in a crowded room, at a party, or on the first day of work or school is to go with an inside joke that only those in the know will appreciate. Some of them are stolen from TV, Movies, or Broadway, but they all have one thing in common. Said in the right place at the right time they are absolutely hysterical and instantly bring to mind the scene of the line, the origin of the speeches, if you will.





OK, enough with the puns and on with the fun, here are a heap of awesome quotes, all you have to do if figure out where they are from. They come in one of my favorite forms of geekery, crochet and cross-stitch. A very traditional medium with a very modern twist, it is the hipster equivalent of chalk and cheese, at least in my way of thinking.  Two things that are different, particularly two things that are superficially alike but very different in substance, or rather the opposite. Two things superficially different, but somehow alike in a hipster substance kind of way. Never mind, it's hard to explain. It just works.




I have numbered the images, the answers to the question "where did this quote come from?" can be found at the very bottom of this post, along with links to the fabulous Etsy shops where you can snap up these little bits of wonderful. Some of these hoop sayings are ready made, some are made-to-order, and others are patterns for you to download or receive and stitch up yourself. So read the individual Etsy listings to find out for sure what form of funny you are checking out.





Whether hanging in a group on the wall near your entertainment section, or placed on a side table with your favorite family photos, you will surely have room in your home for a little awesome in an embroidery hoop. Now get cracking at my little test, and let me know in the comments just how many of these quotes you identified on first reading.




Answers and Links To The Etsy Listings:
  1. Suck It, Trebek. [Quote from SNL Skit, Will Ferrell as Sean Connery on Celebrity Jeopardy Parody, 1999] Embroidery Hoop, Blue Fiber Art Home Decor, 4" Hoop by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  2.  Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. [Quote from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean Luc Pickard] Cross Stitch PDF Pattern by BetaStitch, LadyBeta on Etsy.
  3. Suck It, Nerds. [Quote from Liz Lemon, 30 ROCK] Simple Home Decor, 3" Art by StitchCulture on Etsy.
  4. Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner [Quote from Dirty Dancing, Johnny Castle played by Patrick Swayze] Beautiful and Charming, Hand Stitched, Ready-To-Hang Dirty Dancing Quote by My Heart & Anchor on Etsy.
  5. I Gave Her My Heart, She Gave Me A Pen. [Quote from Say Anything, by Lloyd Dobler played by Jon Cusack] Embroidery Hoop Art. Embroidered Quote, Ready To Ship by Gracey May on Etsy.
  6. I Saved Latin. What Did You Ever Do? [Quote from Rushmore, Max Fischer played by Jason Schwartzman] Embroidered Wall Art. Movie Quote by Gracey May on Etsy.
  7. There's No Basement At The Alamo! [Quote from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Movie, voiced by Tina played by Jan Hooks to Pee-Wee played by Paul Reubens] Hand Embroidery Hoop - Pee-Wee by moxiedoll on Etsy.
  8. Does Barry Manilow Know You Raided His Wardrobe? [Quote from The Breakfast Club, John Bender played by Judd Nelson] Quote Framed Cross Stitch Sampler by Snarky Little Stitcher on Etsy.
  9. Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica. [Quote from The Office (US), voiced by Jim Halpert impersonating Dwight Schrute] Pop Culture TV Quote Hand Embroidery Hoop Art, Office Decor Wall Art by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  10. Stay In The House, Carl. [Quote from The Walking Dead, said by pretty much every other character on the show, but he never stays in the frippen house, does he?] by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  11. You've Got Red On You. [Quote from film Shaun of the Dead] Halloween Hand Embroidery Hoop Art, Zombie Blood Movie Quote Home Decor, 3" by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  12. I'm Not Crazy. My Mother Had Me Tested. [Quote from The Big Bang Theory, said by Sheldon Cooper played by Jim Parsons] Hand Embroidery Hoop Art - Television Quote Comedy Hoop by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  13. I Don't Have A Square To Spare, I Can't Spare A Square. [Quote from Television Comedy "Seinfeld", Episode 'The Stall' #76, dialogue between Elaine Benes played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jane played by Jamie Gertz] Cross Stitch PDF Pattern by BetaStitch, LadyBeta on Etsy.
  14. No Day But Today. [Quote from the Broadway Musical "RENT" by Jonathan Larson] Hand Embroidery Hoop - Another Day by moxiedoll on Etsy.
  15. I Am So Smart. S - M - R - T. [Quote from Television Animated Comedy "The Simpsons", Homer Simpson voice by Dan Castellaneta] Embroidery Hoop - TV Quote - Funny Television Home Back To School Dorm Decor by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  16. You're A Virgin Who Can't Drive. [Quote from the 1995 film "Clueless", said by Tai Frasier played by Brittany Murphy to Cher Horowitz, played by Alicia Silverstone] Hand Embroidery Hoop Art - 1990s Teen Movie Bright Pink Home Decor: Hoop Art by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  17. Clear Alcohols Are For Rich Women On Diets. [Quote from TV Show 'Parks and Rec.', uttered by Ron Swanson played by Nick Offerman] Hand Embroidery Hoop Art - Parks and Rec TV Quote: Kitchen Home Decor by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  18. And I Thought They Smelled Bad On The Outside. [Quote from STAR WARS: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, said by Han Solo played by Harrison Ford] Star Wars Embroidery for Tauntaun Lovers by Water Penny on Etsy.
  19. As You Wish. [Quote from the modern classic movie "The Princess Bride", uttered repeatedly by Westley played by actor Cary Elwes] Cross Stitch Quote From The Princess Bride by (not so) Modern Millie on Etsy.
  20. There's Always Money In The Banana Stand. [Quote from TV's "Arrested Development" yelled by George Bluth at his son Michael Bluth, Season 1, Episode 2.] Cross Stitch Quote From Arrested Development by (not so) Modern Millie on Etsy.
  21. You Stay Classy, San Diego. [Quote from Comedy Film "Anchorman" starring Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy. This is his classic signature sign-off at the end of the News Broadcast.] Personalized Hand Embroidered Hoop Art - Customize to Your State, Home Decor by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  22. Do Or Do Not. There Is No Try. [Quote from STAR WARS: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, said by Yoda, voiced by Frank Oz, to Luke Skywalker played by Mark Hamill] Hand Embroidered Hoop Art - Yoda Movie Quote/Motivational Embroidery Home Dorm Decor by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  23. You Rush A Miracle Man, You Get Rotten Miracles. [Quote from "The Princess Bride", uttered by Miracle Max, played by Billy Crystal] The Princess Bride Embroidery Hoop - Philosophical Movie Quote Home Decor - Made to Order by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
  24. My Name's Not F#@!ing Warren. [Quote from 1995 Teen Flick "Empire Records", said by "Warren" played by Brendan Sexton] Embroidery Hoop - Empire Records Movie Quote Home Decor/Mature by Stitch Culture on Etsy.
How did you do kids?  I had to look up five of these classics myself, though one of them was on the tip of my tongue and I was so close to getting it. Meanwhile, looking up all the details for you made this one of my most research dense Blog posts yet. Who loves you? This Gal! Have a fabulous Wacky & Wonderful Wednesday everyone.