Summer is in full swing, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve already had the opportunity to enjoy a few fun picnic and barbecue adventures this summer. There really is little better than gathering with friends on a warm sunny day to enjoy the weather and eat delicious food!
My favourite was to enjoy a picnic outside is with lots of little tasting dishes so that you can try lots of new things and spend your time enjoying your company, and not running back and forth to the barbecue or oven to check on food that is still cooking.
Recently we enjoyed the amazing picnic you see above filled with products and recipes from President’s Choice. Some of the items like the PC Black Label White Fox Hard Ripened Cheese, PC Beet Hummus and PC Orange Cream Pie (which tastes like a creamsicle!) require little to no prep cutting down your to-do list before you even get home from the store.
Other recipes like the Pico de Gallo Guacamole and Mango Salsa combine pre-made products with fresh items to create a whole new dish with very little work.
But I think my favourite recipe I made for this picnic was the Thai Mango Salad
or the Sweet and Salty Brittle Bars (recipe found below). The peanut brittle makes these just sooooo crazy delicious.
Not seen in the picnic photo above is the prettiest dish I made – the Grilled Sausage and Potato Salad which is a really interesting new take on an old favourite.
I don’t like traditional potato salad, but this vinegar based potato salad that you could serve warm or cold was really tasty!
I’ve linked to the recipes I used above, except for the Sweet and Salty Brittle bars which were created by Kathy Jollimore which I’m sharing below. I followed the recipe as listed except cut back on the honey (because I ran out) and added 2 Tbsp of hemp hearts to the mix.
- 1 cup PC® Dry Roasted Almonds
- 1 cup PC® Organics Whole Natural Cashews
- 1 cup PC® Dry Roasted Lightly Seasoned Peanuts
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup honey
- 2 tbsp. butter (or coconut oil)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 pkg. PC® Sea Salt Peanut Brittle, roughly chopped
- ½ - 1 tsp. flaked sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line an 8x8” pan with parchment so it hangs over the edge.
- Grease with butter or coconut oil.
- Stir together the oats and nuts.
- Add to the prepared pan.
- In a small saucepan, bring the honey and butter to a boil. Boil gently for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and carefully stir in the vanilla.
- Pour over the nut mixture.
- Stir lightly to combine and press into the pan.
- Bake 25 minutes until deep golden brown.
- Remove from oven.
- Place brittle evenly over the top and press into the bars with a piece of parchment.
- Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.
- Allow to cool. Cut into 10-12 bars. Best packed individually.
- Chef’s tip: Try adding 2 tbsp. of PC® Organics Black Chia Seeds or PC® Organics Milled Flaxseed to boost the nutrition.
These are so tasty – and so full of healthy fats and also pack a good protein punch. But watch out – it’s easy to eat multiple servings of these in one sitting without realizing it (not that I’d know…)!
It’s no secret that I love President’s Choice and PC products, so I’m excited to be able to share some with you! One lucky reader is going to win a $50 President’s Choice Gift Card so that you can pick up some goodies from their Summer Insider Collection for your own picnic!
To enter, find this photo on my Instagram feed
and follow the instructions to enter – good luck!
Disclosure: I was provided with free product in order to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
It’s been a tough summer.
Back on June 5th we lost our sweet, love bug Ollie in a very sad and upsetting way in the middle of the night,
after that night Pekoe was changed. He never seemed really happy again. He lived at my parent’s house for weeks, and continued to migrate back and forth between our houses. And then last week his health really started to deteriorate. And on Thursday, less than 7 weeks after saying goodbye to Ollie, we had to say goodbye to Pekoe as well.
While we are thankful that we were able to make the decision and help him go in a painless way before he suffered too much, doing the right thing still hurts terribly.
After Ollie I was shattered. She was my best friend and sidekick, and not having her has been so very difficult, but at least I still had Pekoe.
And now he’s gone.
And my house is too quiet.
Friends has been streaming on Netflix during nearly all my waking hours I’m at home since Monday because the quiet is too much.
I’ve cleaned up the boxes the kitties slept in and on.
We’ve started leaving the bathroom door open now that there is no worry of a cat somehow getting into something in there.
I bought a rotisserie chicken yesterday and there was nobody there begging for pieces of it when I walked in the door.
There was nobody there at all.
If I was shattered before I don’t even know what I am now. I’m 34 years old and currently sleeping with three stuffed animals at night.
Since June I feel like I’ve become the queen of distraction. When some people turn to food, or drink in times of grief, I turn to craft supplies. I’ve made more trips to Michael’s than I can even count. Every free moment I have been filling with busy work. Painting, colouring, creating.
Friday night at Michael’s we saw a gift card box that said, “Crafting is cheaper than therapy,” Lisa said she thought I needed it. I said, “I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m certainly putting that theory to the test.”
It was such impeccable timing when my first Caring Crate box showed up right after Ollie’s death, and then I was delighted a few weeks ago when Janelle sent me a second box to let me know she had been thinking of me. I was so surprised and touched that she did that for me.
I was so excited to see a cute stitch art kit in there, as that is the perfect kind of distraction project, so earlier this week I had a chance to make it
and loved the way it turned out so much that I went to the i heart stitch art etsy shop and ordered myself two more kits!
This past week The Bloggess also launched her new book for pre-order. A book that came to fruition in a way thanks to her anxiety disorder. A book that will be perfect for Suzi’s who love colouring and keeping themselves distracted. So I pre-ordered it. And then on Friday, she announced that not only had it made it to #2 on Amazon, but that in thanks she had created a drawing for us. A drawing that isn’t in the book but just so happens to have two kitties on it. A drawing that I immediately loved and downloaded. If you’d like to see it and/or get it for yourself you can do that here.
So pretty much that’s what I’ve been doing. Trying to stay on top of work (sorta), colouring and painting and stitching while I’m home, and spending way too much time (and money) at Michael’s and the other 6 stores we have left here in the valley.
Another thing that became a big issue after losing Ollie was sleep. I haven’t been able to go to sleep unless I’m listening to something on my iPod or Netflix, which has led to some pretty terrible night’s sleep. It also didn’t help that Pekoe had been getting us up two or more times/night for weeks (months? years?) so Thursday night was the first time we went to bed not having to worry about a kitty waking us up in the night.
I was afraid I wouldn’t sleep so I took some Tylenol (my fibromyalgia has been a bit out of control thanks to all the stress) and put lavender from my Duckish Lotion bar on my chest and then took a few big inhales of pure lavender oil that Lisa from Horn Rimmed Harriet had sent me as well as added a few drops to a wool bead to make it easy to breath in more during the night if needed. I’m happy to say that the lavender has really been helping and I’ve been sleeping a lot better since I started using it.
The small sample sized bottles are perfect for keeping right on my nightstand for use at night without taking up too much space. And I’ve found the wild orange to be the perfect scent for my diffuser recently as it is a very happy scent, and we are in need of a little extra happy!
I know that most of my readers are animal people and therefore understand what I’m going through, but for those few who have made it this far and don’t understand why I’d be so upset over “just a cat”, I’m sharing this article I came across a few weeks ago, which hit me hard then, and hits me even harder now.
Grief is grief, and I don’t pretend to think that my loss is the same as that of a parent who has lost a child, or losing a spouse, parent, etc. I don’t see why we should try to undermine one person’s sadness with the thoughts of how much worse it “could” be. So the next time a friend or family member loses a pet they were close to, be kind. I’ve been very fortunate that everyone has been amazingly sweet and supportive of me during this time, but I know that isn’t always the case.
Grief is grief, and there is no need to compare. Kindness is kindness and always goes a long way.
And please, take a few extra minutes to hug and kiss all your furry friends for me tonight.
It seems a little odd to be posting a book round up (or any kind of round up for that matter) before the month is actually over, but since I’m only sharing the health/fitness related books I’m reading and I know I’m going to be reading what I lovingly refer to as “fluff” for the next few weeks, I think it’s safe to post this a bit early. 😀
The first book I read was The Complete 1-Day Detox Diet Plan & Cookbook by Karen Barnes, MSc, ND.
I’ve read a lot of different detox plans and books over the years, including those with a lot of scientific merit, to those which sounded more like a good way to make yourself ill than anything else, and I’m glad to say this book falls in the scientific category.
Even if you have no interest or intention of completing a “detox” this is a fantastic resource for learning about environmental toxins – what they are, how we are exposed, and what they can do to us, food allergies and sensitivities, and then the detox plan itself as well as 150 recipes (which take up approximately one half of the book).
I found the section on food allergies and sensitivities particularly interesting. I have a serious intolerance for MSG, something that many people scoff at and say that it hasn’t been proven that such a thing exists. Those are the people who haven’t witnessed me writhing on the floor in pain and then vomiting all over kingdom come after unknowingly eating MSG. In this book Karen has a whole section on MSG Toxicity Reactions and even sites research proving that it IS a thing (I don’t know why I seem to be diagnosed with so many health issues that people disbelieve actually exist, luck I guess…).
She even mentions a study that suggests MSG and aspartame (another substance my body reacts pretty negatively towards) may be linked to fibromyalgia pain, and that eliminating both from your diet has some potential for results with those with fibromyalgia. Interesting. Now I can’t really tell you if I feel an increase in fibromyalgia pain when I consume MSG or aspartame, but that I only because I’m too busy feeling like someone has ripped my entire abdomen into pieces and replaced it with an evil hot air balloon to notice. I do find it very interesting that two things I know to be an issue for me are thought to also disrupt fibromyalgia.
The other section I really enjoyed was the section talking about Oral Allergy Syndrome. I’m sure I’ve talked about my mysterious oral allergy here before. The one that pops up from time to time swelling up my lips and leaving me with a very sore rash all around my mouth? This has been going on for a few years off and on, and last summer I noticed it happened immediately after eating a raw zucchini and wondered if I could possibly be suddenly allergic to zucchini. Well, according to this book “Oral Allergy Syndrome is a reaction to certain fruits, vegetables and nuts that occurs due to a cross-reactivity between proteins in fresh fruits or vegetables and pollens in trees, grasses and weeds. In 50-75% of adults in the US who are allergic to birch pollen, oral allergy syndrome is present.” And the symptoms? An itchy mouth or swelling in the mouth when eating an uncooked food. Sounds familiar.
More interestingly is that I was diagnosed with seasonal allergies as a teenager, but was never sent for testing to find out what exactly I was allergic to. Under the heading for Late Summer and Fall Ragweed Pollen Allergy – zucchini. There are also foods in that list I’m not aware of causing me any issues (like watermelon and potatoes), so whether or not I have Oral Allergy Syndrome or not it was a very interesting read about something I had never heard of previously.
I don’t think you need to be interested in detox plans or recipes to find this book really interesting. I’ve already told you two small sections of this 300+ page book that I found interesting, and neither are things you would expect to find in a 10-Day Detox Book. I highly recommend this one, especially if you have food issues that you are still trying to sort out as it goes over many different types of allergies and intolerances.
You can purchase The Complete 10-Day Detox on Amazon here.
The second book I want to talk about today is The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga by Amy Ippolitit & Taro Smith, PhD
It’s not often you find a book that talks specifically about the business of teaching yoga – or fitness in general, so I was really interested to see what this title had to offer. I know that I am part of a minority as someone who started off with a strong business background who moved into the work of teaching fitness.
It’s nice to have my business training to fall back on, knowing how to do accounting and marketing and all of that have been really helpful for me over the years, and then when I moved into blogging that gave me hands on experience with web design, social media, etc. That’s not to say that I went into this book thinking I know it all, I generally like to assume I know nothing, that way I am always ready and looking to learn. And I can honestly say that I did learn form this book. Teaching yoga is such an individual thing that I believe every instructor who reads this will take different things away from it, but I do think that anyone who teaches fitness classes could benefit from reading it. While there are certainly parts that direct specifically to yoga, much of the book can be used as a guideline for any type of fitness instructor.
What’s more, is I feel like the ideas presented in The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga helped me to reconnect with the reason I started teaching yoga in the beginning. It is so easy to lose your why in the daily shuffle of life, so I really appreciated that I was able to bring that back to the surface and the forefront of my mind moving forward.
If you are an instructor – especially of yoga – whether you run your own classes or teach through a gym or studio, I feel certain there is still a take away for you to be found within these pages, or through the offerings on their website 90Monkeys.com, I definitely suggest checking out at least one or the other!
That’s it for my reading roundup for June & July. Summer tends to be when I do more “enjoyment” reading versus learning reading, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was my last round up until fall when I get back to the book learning 😉
Disclosure: I received both of these titled from their publishers free of charge. The above reviews are honest and entirely my own.
A few weeks ago Atlantic Canada got it’s first Kiehl’s location, and to kick off the grand opening they hosted a Blogger Breakfast Event which I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend.
I had only experienced a couple different one-use Kiehl’s samples in the past so wasn’t super familiar with the brand or it’s products, but was really excited to learn more about them, as well as to get a customized skin consultation.
Of course a breakfast event in the city means an early morning for this valley girl, so bright and early on June 29th, Zoe and I headed into the city to make our way to Halifax Shopping Centre where the new store is located.
The store is beautiful, and the display of breakfast goodies that were awaiting us didn’t look too shabby either. 😉
We arrived a little bit early so had a chance to have a quick look around before the event started.
After a brief welcome, we were split into groups – one group went for skin consultations while the other had a store tour and learned a bit more about the history of Kiehl’s.
For those of you who, like me, are new to the brand, Kiehl’s was founded in New York’s East Village 160 years ago as an old-world apothecary. In the early 20th century they were a full-service pharmacy, offering homeopathic and herbal remedies, essential oils, over-the-counter drugs and the first Kiehl’s products. In the early 1960’s, their pharmacists continued to develop the Kiehl’s product range, utilizing expertise gained from their experience in pharmaceutical manufacturing and chemistry. Today, Kiehl’s is dedicated to serving it’s customers a quality product through its extensive line of skin and hair care formulations.
The Kiehl’s experience supports an active healthy lifestyle and have tested many of their products in extreme conditions (including Mount Everest!).
One of the most recognizable thematic elements of the Kiehl’s stores is the company’s collection of vintage motorcycles on display in their freestanding stores for customers to enjoy.
And it’s no mistake that the motorcycle is located directly across from the men’s section of the store. 😉 Way to get the dudes in a skin care store!
The two groups then switched off and I headed over for my skin consultation.
After some testing it was determined that I have both oily and dehydrated skin – which was of no surprise to me, and I was then given a personalized skin care protocol to best suit my skin type and came home with this amazing collection of goodies!
I waited a few weeks to post this recap because I wanted to have time to try all the products before posting so I could tell you which ones are my favourites. I have been using the Calendula Deep Cleansing Foam Face Wash, Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner and Skin Rescuer in place of my usual Clinique 3-step system and have been enjoying the Kiehl’s products so much more! It wasn’t until I went on vacation and took my travel sized Clinque products with me that I realized how much of a difference there was. Even after only washing my face with my Clinique Extra Mild Cleanser my face felt so dry and tight – nothing like how the Calendula Face Wash makes it feel. And since they both cost approximately the same amount that is going to be a very easy switch for me to make! I really like the toner and moisturizer as well and plan on making the switch there as well.
Zoe was telling me on the way to Halifax how much she loves the Midnight Recovery Concentrate and I have to agree, it’s pretty lovely. I haven’t used the Daily Reviving Concentrate much yet as I’m terrible about a morning skin care routine, but I the few times I did use it I was equally as impressed with it.
I’m just going to go ahead and tell you that there have been no products that I’ve tried that I didn’t like. I really enjoyed the Amino Acid Shampoo and Conditioner, I have really oily hair and these did a great job of keeping that oil in check, and the Creme de Corps moisturizer works wonders on my skin.
But I need to take a moment to talk about the Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, because this stuff is amazing. I get really dry skin on my eye lids, especially in the summer, they often are noticeably red and can have skin peeling – not something you really want to have. I’ve been using a combination of eye creams from Biotherma and The Body Shop, and while the rest of my eye area stays well hydrated those stubborn patches on my lids just wouldn’t go away. I used the Creamy Eye Treatment TWICE and they were gone, and have not yet returned. I’ve been using this every day now for 2 1/2 weeks and it was just the other day that I finished using the product that was on the inside cover of the bottle. That is how little of it you need, it is completely crazy. And I’m in love.
The other product I am dying to go back and get my hands on is the Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter,
it smells so amazing, and I think all of us who tested it that day are planning to go back and pick it up. And in case you are wondering, yes this smells differently than the Creme de Corps moisturizer I have. That too smells lovely, but not as lovely as this!
Something else to love about Kiehl’s is their “Try Before You Buy” policy, not only are there lots of “try me” products on display within the store, but anyone can get a personalized skincare consultation and receive samples of some of the products recommended for you to try at home!
With Halifax Shopping Centre being one of main shopping destinations in not only Halifax, but Nova Scotia, Kiehl’s has chosen a fantastic location for their first Atlantic Canada store. The next time you find yourself in Halifax, why not pop in and take a look around, and see all this wonderful new store has to offer.
I can assure you – I’m making Kiehl’s a regular stop on my Halifax Shopping Centre shopping list!
Not in the area? Don’t worry – you can still shop Kiehl’s online.
Thank you so much to Kiehl’s for inviting me to the Blogger Breakfast event!
If you follow me on social media you already know that last weekend I took to the mud and participated in Mud Hero 2016 at Ski Martock here in Nova Scotia. This was the third mud/obstacle race for me, and while I want to give you a bit of a recap of the day, I also wanted to share with you some important advise on how to keep your shoes on your feet while trudging through mud and muck. There isn’t much worse during a mud run than losing one of your shoes – especially since you may not be able to find it again!
So let’s talk about your shoes before I head into my recap shall we? Keeping your sneakers in your feet is all about how you tie them, and it is easier than you think. What I’m going to show you is called a lace lock, or heel lock.
Have you ever noticed that second hole at the top of your laces? You know, the one you probably have never used and never understood why it existed? We are about to use it!
Step 1: Start with your sneaker on your foot, laced but untied.
Step 2: Loop the end of your lace and thread it through that top hole, making a a loop on the outside of your sneaker. Repeat on the other side.
Step 3: cross your laces and thread the end of each lace through the hole on the outside on the opposite side.
Step 4: Pull the loose end of your laces downwards to start to tighten the lock.
Step 5: Pull up on the loose end of your laces and continue moving them up and down until you get your desired tightness.
Step 6: Tie your laces. I like to first knot them to ensure they don’t come untied, but that is optional.
The lace lock keeps the top of your sneaker tight around your ankle so that your foot won’t slip out, but you are able to keep the rest of your laces/sneakers a bit more lose so you don’t feel constricted while walking or running making losing your shoe one less thing to worry about on race day!
Now let’s move on to my re-cap!
I wasn’t planning on participating in Mud Hero this year, but a few weeks back I was contacted by Columbia Sportswear (who is one of the main event sponsors) to see if I was interested in participating as one of their influencers. Well I’m a sucker for punishment so I jumped at the chance to have a little fun in the mud!
Because I’m taking a break from running this year, I knew I wasn’t going to try and “race” the event, instead I was going to walk the course and have fun completing the obstacles, so I recruited my friend Catherine to come along with me and keep me company.
As a Columbia Influencer, I was sent an AMAZING package of gear to choose from when it came to the day of the race.
As the day drew near, the weather forecast was a bit up in the air, it was calling for maybe rain, maybe sun – but fairly cool temperatures so I decided to wear both my tank top and long sleeved half-zip since I know I get cold easily.
Did it make me nervous to think about wearing all BRAND NEW gear in a mud race? Yes, yes, it did. Even my husband said it made him want to cry a little thinking about me wearing those brand new hiking sneakers in the mud. But that was the whole point, that Columbia gear is #TestedTough4MudHero so I was really going to be testing that theory! Though when it came down to it, the thought of wearing my beautiful white hat or headband in the mud made me cringe so I was happy when I got to the race site to find out that our “bibs” were actually headbands so I opted to wear that instead of either headpiece from Columbia.
The “before” – looking all cute and clean!
The weather turned out to be perfect for us. We both wore tank tops with another shirt over top and I was the right temperature throughout the race. Not too hot, not too cold. And as it turns out, I was less concerned about getting my sneakers dirty than getting that beautiful light blue long sleeve! But oh boy, did it get dirty.
The race photos came out on Wednesday, and my bib number didn’t pull any but I did find this gem of us on the slide just as we were about to get down. The photo speaks for itself I think, hahaha.
There were some new obstacles this year but instead of talking you through them, I may as well show them to you. Here is the video walk-through Mud Hero posted on their Facebook page before the event as well as a recap they posted after the race showing you a bit more of the muddy situation I was in by clicking here.
It was certainly the muddiest mud event I’ve been in to date. Oh my, the mud, the mud, the MUD! And needless to say, by the end I was covered from head to toe.
For your viewing pleasure, I saved my SnapChat story from Saturday so you could hear more about the experience!
But let’s talk about how my gear held up in clean up. I didn’t do anything fancy, I came home and cleaned them the best I could with the garden hose, then tossed them in the buckets you saw in the video full of water and a bit of dish soap overnight. Sunday I took them out and put the clothes through one wash in my washing machine (on a cold cycle) and rinsed the soap out of my sneakers and left them outside to dry.
That’s it. No stain remover, no scrubbing, nothing fancy at all.
The verdict? Not a single stain, tear or indication that anything had been literally through the mud pit. I am really impressed! #TestedToughForMudHero indeed!
Thank you so much to Columbia Sportswear for sponsoring me to do Mud Hero this year, it was so much fun and everyone I’ve talked to has been super impressed at how well my gear all held up!