Uses for Alexa

Uses for Alexa

Two Christmases ago, I was lucky enough to get an Echo Dot* as a Christmas gift, and I was introduced to Amazon’s Alexa.  Technically, she’d already been a feature on my Kindle, but I’d never found that to be particularly intuitive, much less useful.  But, that’s a story for another day! I was finishing up my degree at the time, and now running a blog, a small press, and my own writing career, I’ve found my own little personal assistant to be a lifesaver.  I’ve compiled some of my favourite skills and uses for Alexa, which I’m sure will come in handy for you, too!

This post contains affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

Note that I frequently refer to my “assistant” as Alexa, but the more accurate phrasing would be Echo, or Alexa-enabled device.

Sleep Sounds*

This is by far the feature of my Alexa that I use most frequently.  I don’t sleep well very often, but I’ve found that sleep sounds–especially thunderstorm sounds!– give me a bit better of a chance of getting a half-decent night’s sleep.

Speaker

This is a pretty basic feature of the Echo Dot (and other Alexa products), but it’s nevertheless one of my favourites. Whenever I want to hear my music (or whatever else I’m listening to on my phone), I can easily connect over Bluetooth to listen right through Alexa!

Spotify

I’m not currently subscribed to Spotify Premium, but when I was, this was probably the most-used command on my Dot.  Alexa, play [Song] on Spotify.  This doesn’t work with free Spotify accounts, but, if you already invest in the Premium option, it’s a great resource.

While I haven’t used it myself, you can also connect to Amazon Music, of course!

Smart Home

This is another that I haven’t tried out for myself (my current space is far too tiny to both investing in smart plugs and the like), but it’s a huge part of many people’s interest in Alexa (not to mention the many commercials for it!).

Podcasts

I recently got back into podcasts for the first time in ages (with a post in the queue featuring a few of our favourites!), and I love that I can listen to them through Alexa! I use Castbox,* but there are plenty of options.

Conversions

This is a huge benefit when cooking–my mom keeps her Dot in her kitchen and it’s perfect for in-the-moment conversions.  Tablespoon in the dishwasher and need the conversion to teaspoons? She’s got your back. And it’s not just recipe-related conversions! Get the right amounts for unit conversions for temperature, currency, and more with just a question.

Meditation

I only recently learned about this feature, but I’m shocked that I hadn’t thought to check for it earlier! I’ve been through an assortment of different meditation programs since I first started meditating, so utilising Alexa’s capabilities to do so is an awesome addition.  Right now, I’m checking out this skill,* from Stop, Breathe, & Think.

Timers

This one’s pretty self-explanatory … it also comes in handy in the kitchen!

Be prepared for allergy season

This is another new-to-me skill! Zyrtec’s Daily AllergyCast* will give you the pollen count for your area, which could be a great help this allergy season.

Calculations

I’ve never been particularly stellar with math, and sometimes I just don’t want to do mental arithmetic. But do you know who will? Alexa!

Learn something

There’s a whole array of different Alexa skills to teach you something new–Cat Facts* is a personal (albeit goofy) favourite!

Flash Briefing

All too often I forget about this feature, but it’s one of the strongest of this device, in my opinion. Not only can you personalise your very own morning news brief (a “Morning Report,” if you will, Lion King fans), but you can add in some fun, like an “on this day in history” throwback or even a Supernatural exorcism, just in case ridding your apartment of demons is on the agenda.

Control your Calendar

Speaking of your agenda, if you use a digital calendar, such as Google Calendar (my personal favourite as of late), you can add events right through Alexa! Want to check what’s on your schedule for the day? Yep, she can do that, too.

Check your Fitbit stats

Alexa, ask Fitbit how I’m doing today. Use the Fitbit* skill to keep an eye on your step count and other goals for the day!

Alarm

Like any good device, you can use it to make sure you wake up on time! Terrified your normal alarm might not go off? I’ve been known to set more than one just in case–set up an alarm clock at 6:00, your phone at 6:15, and your Alexa at 6:30 to make sure you’ll always have something waking you up on time!

Add to your grocery or to-do lists

As you probably know, I love a good list! I keep most of my running to-do lists in my bullet journal, but Alexa is an absolute lifesaver on those rare occasions I don’t have my bujo in hand.  Simply tell her to “add X to my to-do list” and it will be there waiting for you! You can even review your lists in the Amazon Alexa app.

The same principle applies to a grocery list.  This is especially helpful when you run out of an ingredient as you’re cooking–if I don’t make a note at that moment, I’m bound to forget it!

Put the Law of Attraction to work

Check out the Daily Affirmation* skill for some quick motivation to help you improve your mindset (and your life, by extension!).

Play games

I don’t utilise the many games of Alexa frequently, mostly because I don’t often have free time. But, there are so many options! Play trivia games, a virtual escape room, would you rather, and more through just your Alexa device!

Even more

Obviously I can’t touch on any and all possible uses for Alexa in this post–it would be hundreds of thousands of words long and no one would want to read! But, there are plenty more uses for Alexa (including lots that are just for fun, like Box of Cats)…and even more if you integrate IFTT!

IFTT is one of my favourite websites (perhaps in need of a post of its own in the future?). By attaching it to various other services, like your social media accounts, Evernote, or, yes, Alexa, you can trigger events to happen when something specific occurs: if this, then that.

For example, I have an IFTT applet set for my Instagram and Twitter accounts–whenever I post a photo to Instagram, it’s automatically sent to Twitter as a direct photo, rather than just an Instagram link. It’s not an Alexa-related trick, but it’s a lifesaver!

What are some of your favourite skills and uses for Alexa?

Uses for Alexa

Free Things to Do This Weekend

Free Things to Do This Weekend

Contrary to popular belief, saving money – or not spending money – doesn’t mean you can’t do fun things. In my experience, finding free things to do can be even more fun!

This post contains affiliate links, indicated by an asterisk.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

Now, we can get into details here: gas costs money, the utilities in your home cost money, etc.. But the free things to do listed here are “free” in the sense that the item itself is free! If you’d rather skip the cost of gas, there are plenty of options for staying at home.

Go to the park

Decent weather? Head to the local park! Most that I’ve encountered have been free of charge, but be sure to check in advance that your park of choice is truly free.

Play a game

Get out a favourite board game (I love The Game of Life* and Clue* – did you know you can get special editions, like Harry Potter* or Game of Thrones* Clue?). Pull out a deck of cards and relearn Go Fish! Pick up your favourite video game. They exist for a reason and chances are you already have a few lying around.

Have a picnic

You can even do it in your own backyard! I’ll bet you have peanut butter (or your favourite allergy-friendly alternative) and jelly on hand, too.

Host a potluck

Call your friends and family and invite them over, on the condition they bring a dish to share. There will be a variety of foods to choose from without spending lots of money and you’ll get to spend time with your loved ones!

Look up at the sky

Sunsets and sunrises are priceless. Go stargazing. A quick Google search will let you know if there are any special astrological events (think meteor showers, eclipses, and the like) in your area!

DIY date night

You don’t need to go to a five-star restaurant for a romantic date night! Chances are you already have food in your home. You might even have some candles!  Combine this one with another item from the list to make a night of it (like a DVD or Netflix favourite for a not-so-classic dinner and a movie!).

Go for a bike ride

If you have access to a bike and know how to ride it, this is a great, frugal pastime!  This is a great add-on to some of the other items on this list, too.

Put in a movie

Pull out a DVD or open a new Netflix window (maybe even a VHS tape if you’ve got it handy!). Put on a movie or your favourite TV show and curl up with a blanket, a pet, or a loved one. Throw in a cup of tea for an extra bit of comfort!

Go to the library

Utilise the free things! Pick up some books, grab a DVD, or check if your library offers any free classes.

Try a new recipe

Head to Pinterest or check out our Food archives for inspiration! You could even find a new favourite meal.

Get sporty

Do you have your old football sitting in a corner somewhere? Pull it out and kick it around the yard or a local park! Not one for team sports? Try a sport like swimming or dance.

Play “Chopped”

Have limited groceries but still want to try a new recipe? Get creative! Pick out a few ingredients and set a timer if you’d like to add a bonus challenge. Make Tim proud!

Check out a local museum

If you live somewhere with museums, there may be one that’s free or that offers free admission days. Our local historical society even has exhibits of its own!

Tackle your to-do list

It might not be as fun as some of the other items on this list, but it’s still something to do. If you’re like me, this might even be a little fun itself. Need to organise your closet (and donate what you don’t wear)?  Tackle it this weekend! Been meaning to go through Uncle Al’s old photo album you inherited three years ago? Bring it down from the attic and get going down memory lane.

Meet your neighbours

This one may be a bit more likely for the extroverts of the group here, but you never know when your newest friend could be living just next door!

Pick up a forgotten hobby

Did you stop journalling for a while? Has it been a while since you picked up the scarf you were knitting? Is your untouched tennis racket judging you from a corner?

Start an online class

I use Coursera and FutureLearn to take open source classes, plus apps like Google Primer, Grasshopper, or Duolingo to learn new skills.

Window shop

If you know you’ll be tempted to spend, this might not be the free thing for you. But I love heading to the local mall or store to check out some items, even when I can’t or don’t want to buy!

Build a blanket fort

Bonus points if you watch Disney movies in it afterwards.

Try a new DIY project

If you look around your home, you probably have a few items that can be upcycled (head to Pinterest for inspiration!). Don’t have anything that seems perfect? Some natural objects can be ideal, like flowers for pressing.

Volunteer

Help others and have something free to do!

Take a walk

There are few situations in which walking costs money.  Are you an avid hiker or live near a great trail? Here’s your chance to get out for a hike! Hiking a bit intimidating? Take a casual stroll through your neighbourhood, or somewhere nearby.

Write a letter

I keep in touch with a few different people almost exclusively through handwritten notes, cards, and letters. You might have someone who’s willing to exchange letters every so often!

Embrace your inner kid

Do you live near a playground? Head to it during an off hour when there aren’t groups of children already there. Remember your favourite equipment from once upon a time? This is a perfect opportunity to rediscover that love! For me, this is the swings—a friend and I used to go pretty often when we lived next to the local playground!

Check out a new podcast

There are thousands of podcasts available – chances are there are a few you’d enjoy! You can likely find one with plenty of episodes existing already, too. I’m currently a little over halfway through catching up on Crime Junkie and I love it.

Take some pictures

You don’t even need a fancy camera – just pick up your phone! Even if you don’t think you have anything to take a picture of, you can find something. Try taking a photo from an unusual angle!  You could go on a journey just to get some new photos.  If nothing else, your Instagram will thank you!

Make a phone call

If you’re able, call a friend or family member to check in! Parents or grandparents will likely be especially overjoyed to hear from you.

Doodle

If you’re lucky and have some art supplies on hand, pull them out—if not, you can get artsy with just a pencil and paper! Search for a tutorial online if you’d like some guidance, or get creative with your own original designs. Don’t worry if you don’t have the “talent” to make the next Van Gogh. This is just for you and just for fun!

Meal plan/prep

Remember those new recipes? Plan out when you can make them and batch cook what you can in advance! Future you will thank you for taking the time out now.

Create a time capsule

Did your school create a time capsule when you were growing up? I don’t remember doing it myself, but it always seems to happen on TV shows! Try this yourself or with the friends and family you might see over the weekend.

Work out

There are seemingly endless free workout routines online!

Do some yoga

This is similar to working out, sure, but there are certainly differences that are worthy of note!  While there are, of course, mental benefits to other fitness regimes, I especially love the mental and emotional emphasis of yoga.  Again, there are plenty of free routines available online if you don’t have a workout of your own figured out already!

Put a dent in your TBR list

I recently catalogued my personal library. . . let’s just say I have a lot of books to read. If you’re anything like me, here’s your chance to work on that list! Check out some of my reviews at Pencils & Pages, or pick up a copy of my poetry chapbook* if you’re looking for something new (and slightly less free)!

Have a night out

…literally. Whether you go camping regularly or you made an optimistic purchase before packing it away, if you have a tent on hand, you can camp in your own backyard (or in a friend’s).

Treat yourself to an at-home spa day

Pull out your stash of beauty supplies or whip up some DIY scrubs to give yourself some at-home relaxation.  Put on some relaxing music (Enya, anyone?) or your favourite ambient or nature sounds and get as relaxed as you possibly can. You deserve it!

Make a batch of cookies

Or bread, brownies, cake. . . bake your favourite thing!  There are so many options for baked goods that only require items that you’re bound to have on hand already.

Learn a new skill

You don’t need to take a full-fledged class to learn something new! Teach yourself a new party trick or a useful skill for your day-to-day life. From juggling or tying a cherry stem to changing a tire or shorthand, head to Google or YouTube and learn something new!

Declutter

You can even make a few extra dollars with this one if you find items that can be sold on apps like Decluttr or at a yard sale! Check out our list of overlooked places to organise if you need some inspiration to get you started.

Make a list

From a standard bucket list to a 101 in 1,001 lists, there are plenty of options for useful lists.  Or, you could try your hand at making a bullet journal lits, like your favourite things to do on a bad day or the things you’re most grateful for.

So, what free things will you do this weekend?

Free Things to Do This Weekend

IM ABLE Got the Nerve? Triathlon

This past weekend, I had the chance to volunteer (alongside my mom and sister) at the 16th annual Got the Nerve? triathlon, put together by the IM ABLE Foundation and some wonderful sponsors.

From the Got the Nerve? website:

The mission of the IM ABLE Foundation is to remove obstacles that prevent people affected by disabilities from being physically active by providing grants, resources, fitness opportunities and motivation. We change attitudes about the potential of disabled individuals by redefining what is possible. The IM ABLE Foundation hosts two fundraising events each year. The Got the Nerve? Triathlon takes place every May and the RU Able Duathlon in September.

IM ABLE founder, Chris Kaag has an inspiring story all his own, too (read more on their website).  His young son gave us volunteers an extra dose of motivation, too. . .  We lost count of how many times he rode past us on his own bicycle and aspired to have that energy!

IM ABLE triathlon

Initially, this was largely something that Mom had an interest in–after working with Ragnar and participating in her own assortment of races, she loves to volunteer at these sorts of events whenever she can. I hadn’t heard of IM ABLE, much less the triathlon, but it definitely sounded like fun!

When we arrived in Mount Gretna early on race day (it’s a bit of a drive from my parents’ home, so we got up early, made plenty of coffee, and hit the road as the sun rose!), we grabbed our volunteer t-shirts (admittedly a huge selling point for our participation, though I was disappointed there were no smalls available!) and found our way to the hospitality tent.  Our station prepared drinks and snacks for the participants, like bananas and oranges, bagels, Gatorade, and, of course, water!

We worked with three other lovely women, a mother and daughter pair (like us!) and a young mother who’d done quite a bit of work with IM ABLE and the Got the Nerve? triathlon previously.  The group of us got on wonderfully and worked remarkably well together.  We even exchanged a few book recommendations!

IM ABLE triathlon

As the day went on, I learnt more about IM ABLE and found myself enjoying the day more and more. Their efforts really are remarkable. While my own health issues seem minimal compared to those they work with, I felt a kinship to this activism. I may not be directly impacted, but I can empathise more than most!

What hit me most, though, was that the participants were thanking us. I wanted to scream, “You just did a triathlon!  I just poured some Gatorade!”  Many of these runners/swimmers/cyclists were completely out of breath, but still took the time to say thank you.

I could continue on for thousands of words about the impact this had on me, but I’ll simply say that it was truly an inspiration. As we left, one of our co-volunteers asked if we’d be back next year. And I can say confidently that I think we will!

I hope I can find more chances to help the IM ABLE Foundation, too–starting with sharing them with you in this post!

Be sure to check out the IM ABLE Got the Nerve? Triathlon on their website!

IM ABLE Got the Nerve? Triathlon

Favourite TV Shows

My Favourite TV Shows

Recently, I’ve been working to get caught up on some long-time favourite shows and I’ve started some new ones!  Naturally, I’ve wanted to share my excitement and the idea for this post came into being:  check out my favourite TV shows of spring 2019.

There might be a few spoilers throughout, but I’ll try to keep them minimal! I’ll also come back to add some new (to me) shows as I discover them!

Supernatural

If you’ve been following me for a while, chances are you’ve seen me mention this one before.  I’ve been about two seasons behind for what seems like forever and I’ve only just started to catch up.  I was just about finished with Season 13 on Netflix when they added Season 14–even more episodes to look forward to!

I was devastated when I saw the announcement of this being the final season, but I’m so grateful for what this cast has done, both in the community they’ve built and the good deeds they’ve done! I’ll be sorry to see them go, but I’m so glad I got to experience the magic that is Supernatural.

Where I watch: Netflix

The Act

I’ve been following the case behind Hulu’s The Act since it first broke years ago, so I was excited to see the show announced. It’s hasn’t been free from criticism, especially from Gypsy Rose’s family, but it was fascinating to see this interpretation all the same.

Where I watch: Hulu

New Amsterdam

I’ve never been a huge fan of hospital dramas (I don’t do well with blood!), but New Amsterdam has proven to be the exception. Max & Co. are absolutely inspiring–I’ve been drawn in by the characters and their plotlines from the start!

Where I watch: Hulu

Game of Thrones

You had to know this one was coming!  I’ve been behind on Game of Thrones for nearly as long as Supernatural, but I caught up just in time to catch up with the Battle of Winterfell.  I must say, it’s nice to not have to avoid any and all mention in hopes of dodging spoilers!

That being said, I’m excited to see where the final season brings us.  Who do you think will be on the Iron Throne?

Where I watch: Hulu

A Million Little Things

This show. Oh my gosh. I initially tuned in because I’m a long-time fan of James Roday–aka Shawn Spencer from Psych! Since, I’ve grown incredibly attached to these characters–Gary (of course!) and Maggie are my favourites.

Where I watch: Hulu

Manifest

When I first caught the previews for Manifest, I knew I’d have to tune in.  I love a good drama, and this one has just enough paranormal-y mystery to it to keep me engrossed! I’m a bit behind, but it’s on my list to catch up soon.

Where I watch: Hulu

This Is Us

Would you believe I only started watching This Is Us this season? The Gilmore Girls fan in me is truly offended.

Where I watch: Hulu

Grace & Frankie

This one’s been out for a little while, but I only discovered it shortly before the newest season debuted.  That being said, I technically caught up on this while it was still wintertime.  But it’s a good enough series to recommend regardless!

Where I watch: Netflix

The Handmaid’s Tale

Another Hulu original, I started watching The Handmaid’s Tale shortly after finishing the book (which I loved!).  For the longest time, I held off going past the first season because it lined up well with the book’s end. But, with the third season on the horizon, I’ve finally decided to dive in with season two!

Where I watch: Hulu

Jane the Virgin

This is yet another one that’s been out for a while, but I’ve only just started to watch it myself!  I caught a recent episode while my mom was watching a few weeks ago. For some time beforehand, I was considering starting the show, but tuning in to that episode, I knew I’d have to for sure.

What are your favourite TV shows lately?

Favourite TV Shows

Airtable Review

Airtable Review: Another Amazing Productivity Tool

A while back I reviewed a great time management tool, Trello.  Since then, I’ve discovered Airtable. It hasn’t replaced my using Trello but it has joined it to make me even more productive than ever before. Want to learn more? Read on for my full Airtable review:

What is Airtable?

Airtable is a cloud-based, spreadsheet-style database system.  With gorgeous pre-made templates and the ability to create your own file from scratch, it takes the standard spreadsheet to a whole new level!

If you know me in real life or have been around the blog for a while, you know I love spreadsheets.  I’ve been known to make up new reasons just to make a spreadsheet! That being said, this program was right up my alley.

How do I use Airtable? What can I use it for?

Airtable has, without a doubt, the best tutorial setup I have ever seen on a website.   By following along with their videos, I had a great starting point for using its many features.

About those features: some of my favourites include the ability to link records, switch views (I especially love the calendar view!), and attaching files directly to a cell.

I am fully convinced that Airtable has infinite possibilities. I’ve used it for everything from cataloging my personal library to creating our editorial calendar for here on the blog! Check out their case studies and templates for some more inspiration.

All About that Base

No treble? Well, less trouble (pardon the terrible puns!) Another favourite feature of mine is Airtable’s bases and workspaces. Because I use it for so many different things, I’d struggle to find anything without being able to sort my bases into workspaces – I use titles like “For the Sake of Good Taste,” “Personal,” and “Writing.”

Then, within each workspace, I can add a variety of bases, which act like individual files would in Excel.  You can change the colour, icon, and title of each base, which makes it super simple to identify what you need at a glance!

Final Thoughts

Airtable has seriously become one of my favourite productivity tools! Not only does it keep me organised, but it fuels my ever-present obsession with spreadsheets!  Whether you test out one of their templates or start from scratch to create your own design, you’re bound to find a great use for it!

Have you tried Airtable yourself? If not, has our Airtable review convinced you to?

Airtable Review

Vegan Easter Recipes

Vegan Easter Recipes

Easter dinner is one of those meals that, in my experience, tends to be one that a family has its own special version of. A few more common dishes pop up time and again, but you can always personalise the meal to include your favourites.  Vegan Easter recipes are no different!

Whether’s you’re whipping up a full vegan feast or are bringing a vegan dish to your family potluck, we’ve compiled some of our favourite vegan Easter recipes from across the web.

Be sure to check out our vegan Thanksgiving and Christmas round-ups, too–many of these meals would work for Easter dinner, too!

Simple Raw Zucchini Roll-Ups, Green Evi

This looks like such a fantastic appetizer for Easter dinner! You could even make these to enjoy while waiting for the main meal to be ready–get your veggies in without spoiling your appetite!

Lemon Pepper Cauliflower Steaks, My Darling Vegan

Cauliflower steaks are one of my all-time favourite vegan foods, and this recipe sounds especially delicious!

1-Hour Vegan Pot Pies, Minimalist Baker

Growing up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, I ate a lot of pot pie, both this sort, which is in pie form, and the type that’s more of a soup. Both were long-time favourites and, luckily, both can be easily made vegan!

Fresh Tomato Risotto with Grilled Greens, Lauren Caris Cooks

More veggies? Yes, please!  This tomato veggie is super customizable and sounds like the perfect option for an Easter dinner.

Asparagus and Cashew Cream Tart, My Darling Vegan

I really enjoy asparagus, and this is such a unique way to use it!

Herb-Roasted Tri-Colored Carrots, Averie Cooks

When it comes to potatoes and carrots, I’ve always particularly loved recipes that utilise an assortment of colours and varieties.  These carrots do so beautifully!

Vegan Egg Salad, VegAnnie

Looking for a simple addition to your Easter meal? Ths vegan egg salad is bound to be a hit!

Super Spring Salad, Gathering Dreams

Like its name suggests, this salad absolutely encompasses springtime!

The Incredible Vegan Frittata, An Ode to Mung Beans

Who needs eggs?

Gluten-Free Bunny Soft Pretzels, Fork and Beans

I love a good soft pretzel and you can’t get more Easter-themed than a bunny!

Lemon Olive Oil Cake, Culinary Hill

A lot of the recipes on this list are new to me, but this one is a long-time favourite!  This cake is the perfect balance of the refreshing acid of lemon and the sweetness of the glaze.  It’s relatively simple to make and absolutely delicious!

Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake, Gimme Some Oven

I can hardly believe it, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually tried carrot cake!  I’m on a mission to do so now.  I love that this recipe is gluten-free, too!

Vegan Elderflower Cake with Lemon Curd & White Chocolate Frosting, Wallflower Kitchen

This cake looks absolutely beautiful, and it most definitely has an Easter sort of feeling to it.

Vegan Carrot Cake Truffles, Cinnamon & Coriander

More carrot cake, but this time in the form of a delicious truffle!

“Egg Yolk” Peach Custard Tarts, Nerdy Mamma

No egg here!  But how cute are these tarts?  So festive!

Dark Chocolate Beetroot Cake With Chocolate Ganache Frosting, Quite Good Food

Bunnies. Beets. Baskets. Easter’s as good an excuse as any for Office references, right? Beetroot cake might not be the sort of wording that will slip in undetected when your less accepting family members ask about it, but we’d bet a taste could change their mind!

Vegan Easter Lemon Cupcakes, Wallflower Kitchen

These cupcakes set out to be specifically Easter-y and they certainly succeed!

Fruity Egg Baskets, Elephantastic Vegan

How adorable are these? They’re similar to the tarts above, but use apricots instead of peaches, and have only three ingredients–quick, easy, and oh-so-cute!

Healthy No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Easter Nest Cookies, JoyFoodSunshine

I recently developed a peanut allergy (and I’m devastated!), but I’m sure I could substitute an alternative nut better to try out these adorable cookies!

What vegan Easter recipes will you be testing out for this year’s dinner?

Vegan Easter Recipes

Vegan Easter Candy

Vegan Easter Candy

Easter’s always held a strangely special place in my heart, and I’m lucky enough that my wonderful Mom will still throw together a basket for her grown adult daughter.  Of course, it’s a bit more difficult to find candy to add to this basket (there’s got to be some sort of candy in an Easter basket!) when the recipient is vegan, especially if you want to go beyond the “normal” vegan candy options.  With that in mind, I’ve thrown together some of the best options for vegan Easter candy–go forth and fill some eggs!

Some of these are Easter-y versions of treats you can enjoy year-round and a few are only offered seasonally.  And, in addition to some favourite products, I’ve included a few brands in the lineup with an array of vegan Easter candy offerings!

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

Mini Easter Airheads Bars*

Airheads are a favourite of mind year-round and have been since childhood. You don’t need to be vegan to enjoy these, of course, and it doesn’t need to be Easter. But who doesn’t love an extra excuse to enjoy them?

Moo Free Chocolates

This brand was my go-to while I was living in the UK and I only recently learnt that it’s also available in select spots here in the States. I haven’t been able to pick any up for myself just yet, but I couldn’t be happier to have the possibility on the horizon!

Moo Free makes some Easter-themed chocolates, plus they have some “normal” goodies you can enjoy year-round.  I’m especially fond of the Mini Moos (particularly the bunnycomb–yum!!).  While I haven’t tried the Easter treats myself, the new sea salt & caramel egg sounds amazing!

Sea Salt & Caramel Egg

Rosie Rabbit Bar

Mini Moos Bunnycomb

Lindt Gold Bunny*

The dark chocolate version of this classic gilded Easter goodie is vegan-friendly!

Enjoy Life Foods

This brand is fantastic when it comes to being inclusive of various dietary concerns, and their vegan selections are no different!  Their rice milk chocolate bar is a personal favourite, but be sure to check out their cookies, chips, and other delicious snacks for some great Easter basket additions.

Jolly Rancher Easter Jelly Beans*

Jelly beans are an Easter must-have!  Gelatin sneaks into most brands, I’ve found, but not Jolly Ranchers’s.

Alexander Chocolate

I haven’t gotten to try these specialty chocolates by Alexander Seaton for myself as of this writing, but I’ve gotten to know his company pretty well as of late–we have an interview with him coming soon here on the blog!  His business is relatively new, but his mission and product ideas are amazing.  I’m so excited to have the chance to help spread the word!

His rose chocolate bar is the perfect springtime complement to an Easter basket, and the white chocolate option is uniquely perfect for any vegan!

Rose Chocolate Bar

Odelia White Chocolate Bar

Vegan Collection

Galerie Candy Speckled Eggs

I’m not sure if these are available this season, but they appeared on several lists of vegan Easter candy I came across,  so I’ve included them for good measure!  I’ll leave an update if I come across anything more.

Surf Sweets

Can you believe I’ve been vegan for more than half a decade now and still haven’t tried Surf Sweets? These candies get rave reviews, and they even have adorable bunny lollipops!

Sour Patch Bunnies*

Sure, regular everyday sour patch kids are vegan-friendly too, but the bunnies are extra cute and Easter-y!

Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks*

I have a love-hate relationship with Annie’s brand, mostly because my brain falsely assumes far more of their products are vegan than actually are. But what’s more seasonal than some vegan fruit-flavoured bunnies?

What are your favourite vegan Easter candies?  Will any of these make it into your basket this year? Or do you have a go-to that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Vegan Easter Candy

Vegan Treats Review

Vegan Treats: A Vegan Bakery Review

A few months ago, I found out that there’s a vegan bakery not too incredibly far from my parents’ house. In fact, it’s just a few blocks from one of the branches my mom visits fairly regularly as part of her job as a banking executive! Vegan Treats is a small shop, and easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, but it’s definitely worth the effort!

I’ve had the opportunity to try a few different vegan treats from Vegan Treats, but my favourite is definitely the donuts.  I missed eating donuts that I haven’t haphazardly fried up with some accidentally vegan dough.  I’ve got many fond memories of visiting Dunkin’ with my family growing up and I’ve longed for that sort of nostalgic goodie.

The first time we stepped inside, I was blown away.  I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few all-vegan spots now, but this was the first time that there was this much variety front-and-center, and not just on a menu.  I’ve been to many regular bakeries and for the first time, I didn’t have to examine everything hoping to find the one (typically disappointing) vegan option.

vegan treats - display case

I’d been particularly reminiscing over Boston cream donuts in the weeks prior to that first visit, so naturally I had to try their version.  It wasn’t exactly like the version I remembered, but it was absolutely delicious nevertheless, and satisfied that craving perfectly.

vegan treats - boston creme filling

I got to try a cannoli, too, another treat that I’d been dying to try veganised. Neither the cannoli itself nor the powder sugar it was coated in disappointed!

vegan treats - cannoli sugar

My mom and sister came along on this trip and each got a goodie of their own: a filled pumpkin donut and a personal chocolate cake!

 

vegan treats - pumpkin donuts

vegan treats - chocolate cake

It was right around Halloween, too, so the festive, spooky decorations were a great bonus!

I got to finish off Mom’s donut (she says they’re too rich for her, even on a cheat day–I suspect she might just know they make me happy) and try a few bites of Rachel’s cake.  I’m happy to report that they were both absolutely delicious!

Now, these are rather rich, and very sweet, especially if you don’t indulge in these sorts of goodies very often.  Personally, I don’t find either of these qualities to be a detriment–it just helps me to savour them even more!

As I said, the bakery isn’t far from one of Mom’s branches, so I’ve had the chance to try a few more goodies. Mom brought home an assortment of donuts on another trip!

vegan treats - donuts

She picked out the sprinkled donut especially for me as I’d said a few times that that was the next one I needed to try–I missed the rainbow sprinkles of childhood donuts!  She ate the coconut one herself (I’m not much of a coconut fan myself), but I got to try the chocolate, too (and a few bites of the pumpkin again–she’d liked it so much the first time that she got it again!).  As expected, all three were absolutely delicious.

Most recently, she surprised me with a whole spread of vegan treats.  Not only did she bring another box of donuts, but she brought this adorable Easter-y cake, too! His wing got a bit knocked off in travel, but he was delicious (and adorable) nevertheless.  He was gluten-free, too, which made it even better!

chick cake vegan treats

The donuts included another sprinkled and chocolate, a jelly-filled, and a s’mores. For me, the highlight was hands-down the jelly!  I didn’t realise just how much I’d missed jelly donuts, nor just how long it had been since I’d had one. The jelly was smoother than those I remember, but so good–the raspberry and powdered sugar combination was as wonderful as I remembered!

donuts 2 - vegan treats

I can’t wait to try even more of these delicious Vegan Treats!  They have some gorgeous soft-serve that’s high on my list, plus a “chicken” and waffles concoction that looks absolutely mouth-watering.

vegan treats - chicken and waffles

Of course, I’ll keep you updated as I try more goodies from Vegan Treats!  If you’re ever in the Bethlehem area, be sure to stop by and check it out for yourself.

Vegan Treats Review

My Travel Bucket List

My Travel Bucket List

Despite my love for it, I’ve had remarkably few travel opportunities in my life.  To satisfy that wanderlust, I’ve made the best of things by keeping a pretty lengthy travel bucket list over the years.

For the sake of this post, I’m only sharing some highlights (trust me, the full list would take far too long of a post for anyone to read).  I’m also only sharing those places that I haven’t already visited. There are lots of places that I hope/plan to revisit over time, which I’d consider bucket-list worthy.  Perhaps a reverse bucket list in the future sharing those? Let me know in the comments if you’re interested!

I’ve also included lots of international spots, as well as some places here in the States.

Reykjavik, Iceland

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to see the Northern Lights.  I suspect this might be tied to reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series growing up, but regardless, it’s been a desire of mine for well over a decade.  And, at some point, I came to the conclusion that I’ll someday do just that while visiting Reykjavik.

I nearly got the chance to make this one a reality while I was still living in England, but the plans fell through at the last minute. Nevertheless, I’m determined to make it back someday!

Verona, Italy

Could I really call myself a fan of Romeo & Juliet if this weren’t on the list? Casa di Giulietta is at the absolute top of this list (future husband, take note).

As a bonus, my mom has always dreamt of visiting Italy. I’ve told myself throughout my life that I’ll know I’ve “made it” when I’m able to take her on that very trip.

Key West, Florida

This is probably the most recent addition to the list!  One of my best friends lives in Florida and recently visited the Hemingway House.  He quickly recommended it to me, too.  I’ll admit, it’s long been a spot at the back of my mind, but I’d never given it too much thought.  But, he made three very good points:  cats, books, and history.  As expected, he’s correct–that’s the most compelling combination you could probably put together for me…ever.

Paris, France

Cliché, yes, but having studied French in high school, there was always an expectation in mind that I would one day make it to Paris. Throw in the infinite list of pop culture references I could make and I’m sold.

If absolutely nothing else, my love for the Lost Generation writers is motivation aplenty!

Salem, MA

Ever since I first heard of the witch trials, there’s always been a part of me that’s wanted to visit for myself. I couldn’t tell you if that was more the appeal of history or spookiness, but it’s there all the same.

Galway, Ireland

Confession: this one was sparked entirely by the song “Galway Girl” (the non-Ed Sheeran version, though his has increased it a bit since).  Dublin’s also on my list, of course, but Galway’s always edged it out just a bit.

Fall River, MA

Entirely my desire to tour the Lizzie Borden house? Yes.

Barcelona, Spain

Another Ed Sheeran song!  But, more importantly, I’ve wanted to visit both Madrid and Barcelona since I was a kid.  I have family near Madrid and have always wanted to meet them in person.

This is another one that didn’t quite work out while I was living in England, so I’m especially determined to make it happen someday!

Warren’s Occult Museum, CT

One last stateside spooky spot! From even before my time as a paranormal investigator myself, I’ve been intrigued by the Warrens and their legacy.  The museum is currently closed while looking for a new location, but I’m determined to make it there once they do!

Are any of these spots on your own travel bucket list? What others are you dying to see? Let us know in the comments!

My Travel Bucket List

Statement Made Jewellery

Statement Made Jewellery

The products featured in this post were gifted to me by Statement Made Jewellery.  As always, this post reflects only my honest opinions of the product and brand. 

Statement Made Jewellery* recently posted on Twitter that they were looking for bloggers to work with their brand.  I’d browsed their site* a while ago and knew I liked some of their pieces already, so I reached out!

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

A few weeks passed and I’d almost forgotten about the connection I’d made…until my mom asked me if I was awaiting a package from England.  I have friends back “home,” so it wasn’t a far-fetched concept at all, but no one had mentioned sending anything my way.  But when she specified it was a package with jewellery, I knew just what it was!  I don’t often rush downstairs, but this was reason enough to do just that.

I opened the package and was immediately struck by the beautiful packaging.  With a note, a certificate, a scratch-off coupon, and a jewellery bag tied with a ribbon, all packed safely in an envelope, it was immediately clear that Statement Made cares about the products they ship out and the customers who receive them.

statement made - packaging

When I’d initially reached out, Statement Made had asked for my birth month.  I forgot about that detail, too, until I pulled out the beautiful necklace they sent me.

The golden unicorn pendant (on a matching gold chain) is accompanied by a single pink stone.  My October birthday means one of my birthstones (the most common one I’ve found in jewellery especially) is pink tourmaline. This little detail made such a difference–the extra bit of personalisation is such a lovely touch.  Plus, this fit in especially well with their lovely aesthetic overall as a brand.

The unicorn itself is a bit larger than I’d usually wear, but I can say with full honesty that I don’t really mind.  The piece is beautifully made!

statement made jewellery - unicorn

An extra special touch for me, which they had no way of knowing, was a bit of personal symbolism.

Growing up, one of my favourite ways to bond with my grandmother was reading.  She’d often recommend some of her favourite titles and authors, and Phyllis Whitney’s The Golden Unicorn was one of these. It’s been years since I last read the book, but I couldn’t resist a few snapshots of the two together.  And I know I’ll have to read it again soon after this burst of inspiration!

thegoldenunicorn

I’ve only worn my golden unicorn a few times so far, and primarily around the house (perks of working from home). But so far, I absolutely love it!

Each time I wear this necklace, I try to remember to wipe it off. That way, none of the oils from my skin affect it. You can find some detailed descriptions on Love and Care on the Statement Made site.

If you’re interested in picking up a golden unicorn for yourself, or in checking out the rest of Statement Made Jewellery (there are so, so many gorgeous pieces!), head to their website* and place an order. I promise you that you won’t be sorry!

Statement Made Jewellery