Friday Faves

It’s been a long time since I published a Friday Faves post, and I’m hoping to bring it back at least on a semi-regular basis. If this is where I share some of my current favourite things/discoveries from the past week or so, anything that was given to me as a pr sample will be clearly indicated as such.

Now let’s get started!

My first fave for this week should need no explanation.

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These “Kitty Smarts” BOB by Sketchers shoes were just too much. Nerdy kitty shoes? I couldn’t help myself. And it’s nice that these are part of their BOB’s for Dogs partnership, so for every pair they sell they make a donation to the Best Friends Animal Society to help save dogs’ and cats’ lives. So really, it was mostly a charitable donation ūüėČ

Next up is Coco Rinse Coconut Oil Pulling Kit from kis.met which they sent me to try.

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I’ve tried oil pulling in the past and liked it but stopped because it was inconvenient. I had to do it when I was home and near the coconut oil jar, and then at the time I was always trying to pull for 30 minutes which is quite frankly exhausting.

Oil pulling is used to whiten teeth, healthier gums, improved digestion and many, many more things.

The reason I really like coco rinse is two fold. They come pre-packaged so I can take them with me anywhere and could even do it in the car if I wanted, and because they added the mint flavouring to the oil. While standard oil pulling certainly leaves your mouth feeling more fresh, adding the mint really helps take it up a notch.

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I haven’t use it enough to say that my teeth appear whiter, but as always, the morning after I pull, I wake up with a much fresher feeling mouth, which tells me that the anti-bacterial properties of the oil are doing their job!

A couple things to keep in mind if you are using this or any other oil pulling kit, when you spit out the used oil, spit in the garbage, compost or on the ground – don’t spit in your skink or toilet as coconut oil is a solid at room temperature and you don’t want it to solidify and clog your drains! And secondly, after you spit, rinse your mouth once or twice with water to remove and residual coconut oil, etc.

You can purchase coco rinse directly from the kismet essentials website. The kit sells for $29.99 or you can subscribe and save to get one kit delivered to you each month.

Now let’s talk about coffee shall we? In the summer I mostly stick to iced coffee but with the seasons changing I’m back to brewing my own at home and picked up this Silk Almond Milk for Coffee in Hazelnut flavour last week.

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You guys. So good. So. So. So. Good. Oh my gosh, for realz, if you like flavoured coffee go pick up one of these. They have a few different flavours but I haven’t made it past Hazelnut…

Last week was every girls favourite week – period week (insert eye roll here). I’ve talked about this off and on over the years but I’ve been trying to move more to natural products when I can, I still use lots of things that are full of chemicals but am cutting back where I can, and one of those places is with pantyliners and such. I’ve used a few different brands over the years, and they have all worked decently, but this month Veeda sent me some of their pantyliners to try and they are fabulous!

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Aside from the fact that all their products are made with cotton, have no chemical, synthetics or dyes they actually STICK. So many off the liners I’ve tried have the saddest little adhesive strip and stay in place for approximately 5 seconds. These have been great and haven’t moved around at all! Veeda makes tampons, liners, pads, the whole works and are just getting ready to expand into Canada. As of October 1st they will be available for purchase in London Drugs and are coming soon to Well.ca, Sobeys, and Overwaite.

Y.u can check out their entire product line, and learn more about their commitment to making high-quality, natural feminine hygiene products on their website: https://veedanatural.ca.

And since it’s Friday and¬†I’m getting ready to¬†party (and by party I mean I’m going out for nachos…) I wanted to finish off with the product that makes you feel like you’re at a party every time you use it!

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Optimum Nutrition Birthday Cake protein powder!! This year is¬†Optimum Nutrition’s 30th birthday, and they are celebrating (rightfully so) with cake! To mark the occasion of its thirtieth year, ON is giving some its fans a commemorative edition of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey, in Birthday Cake flavour and I was lucky enough to be one of those fans!

First of all, in case you can’t tell in¬†the photo above it totally has SPRINKLES in it. And everyone knows that sprinkles¬†make everything better.

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Sprinkles aside it smells and tastes just like funfetti cake! I’ve never been one to use protein powder in baking, but I think I’m going to give it a whirl with birthday cake! I’m visioning mug cakes. Protein mug cakes that is. I’ll keep you in the loop and if I create a stellar recipe you all will be the first to know.

In the meantime, help them celebrate by watching their video celebrating 30 years!

And here are a few things I stumbled upon this past week that looked worthy of sharing:

25 Useful Mac Keyboard Shortcuts for Social Media Managers

10 Fall Day Trips Within 2 Hours of Halifax

And possibly the most important – this video of a puppy waking up from a nap.

Have a wonderful weekend friends!

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Rose & Clara Are 5 Months Old!

 

We already knew I was a crazy cat lady, so I decided to REALLY solidify that¬†by taking some 5 month old kitten photos. And since I’d gone that far, I decided to add their current likes and dislikes to the photos like parents of human children often do.

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Because why not.

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They’re so cute. My goodness.

I’d like to say I’ll be posting updated photos and likes/dislikes each month until they are a year old, but I’m not going to make any promises. I’m a bit of a scatterbrain when it comes to things like this ūüėČ but that’s my hope anyway!

I know it’s hard to tell without seeing them in person, but Rose looks so much like a “teen” kitten, while Clara still is a little baby. It’ll be interesting to see if she catches up in size or stays small! ūüôā

Superpower Your Breakfast Smoothie with LeanFit

Welcome back to reality folks. At least that rings true for me, and based on all of the Facebook posts I’ve seen in the past few days about people heading back to work after vacations, my school teacher friends getting their classrooms set up, parents getting ready to get their kids back to school, and I think many of you are feeling the same “it’s time to get back on a regular schedule,” feeling.

I’m always a bit nostalgic¬†about September, even after being out of school for so many years. It always feels just as much of a new beginning as January first does, and that makes it a great time to refocus or get back on track after a few months of summer fun. Normally the summers don’t throw me off much, it’s pretty much the same ole, same ole, all year around but this summer in particular has really thrown me off my game. After losing both my kitties, and later on adopting two kittens, plus travelling and visiting and whatnot, I’ve been off. Completely. But summer is over for me, and starting today I’m working back up to my full class schedule (I’ll be back teaching 10 classes/week next week, this week it’s only 7), so I need to get back on track!

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new (academic) year = new day planner and goals journal

There are a few different ways I’m getting back on track, but today I’m talking particularly about my eating and breakfast in particular. It’s really important to me to eat a really nutritious breakfast because that way, regardless of what else the day holds I know I¬†at least did one thing that will support my body. For me that means having a protein smoothie.

I don’t always use the same kind of protein powder, different times of day and different nutrient needs can call for different products, but I’m all about the all-in-one products at breakfast (and before bed if I’m having one then).

Lately I’ve been trying a new (to me)¬†product: Leanfit All-In-One Complete Nutritional Protein Shake. I am really a big fan of all-in-one¬†products that combine protein with a lot of other nutrition because it really makes eating healthfully easy even when you are rushed or don’t have access to your normal foods/meals (like when you are travelling).

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So what does all-in-one really mean? Well, instead of only being a protein powder, all-in-one products like this one include a lot of the nutrition your body needs each day in an easy to use product. Think of it sort of like a drinkable vitamin – but better! One scoop of Leanfit All-in-One contains:

For my gluten-free friends, you’ll be happy to know that the All-in-One is gluten free, it is also GMO free and hormone free, and as a Canadian it always makes me happy to point out that they are a Canadian company!

Because I normally have a smoothie for breakfast, and another one in the evening, I normally use a half of a scoop of protein powder. Partly because I don’t want to depend too highly on getting my protein in powder form, but also because I’m a bit precious and don’t care for the taste/texture of drinks or smoothies with a full scoop ūüėČ It’s a texture or taste or combination thing for me. But I know lots of my friends can mix a full scoop with plain water and be happy. I’m just not that person.

But when mixed into a smoothie – I’m a happy girl!

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Smoothies for breakfast are particularly great because you can make them the night before and grab it out of the fridge on your way out the door. They are super portable so you can have breakfast while on the go in the car, subway or bus – or even at your desk when you arrive at work. And because of the fibre and protein, you will feel fuller longer and will have a more stable blood sugar so you will be less likely to be searching for that 10am sugary snack to get your through to lunch.

What really stands out about this Leanfit¬†All-In-One product for me is the flavour. It¬†is a NATURAL vanilla, not french vanilla. It’s always been a bit of a sore point with me that every other protein product I’ve ever used had had french vanilla, and not natural vanilla flavouring. I love the taste of natural vanilla, and don’t dislike french vanilla, but given the choice I will always choose natural. There is just something about french vanilla that doesn’t do it for me. I was so excited when the package arrived and I saw that this was a natural vanilla flavour! I know what you’re wondering – can you taste the difference? I certainly can. Maybe not everyone would but it’s like the difference between vanilla ice cream and french vanilla ice cream. If you didn’t even know there were different kinds of vanilla, then you probably won’t care, but if you – like me – prefer natural vanilla you are going to love Leanfit!¬†Anyway, I’m particularly enjoying the Leanfit in my plain smoothies with greek yogurt and milk (that’s how I roll), whereas with the french vanilla varieties I always add a little fruit in there to cover up the taste a bit more. Natural vanilla just feels like an even more blank slate so you can take your smoothie anywhere you like as far as the flavour profile,¬†or keep it simple with the plain vanilla.

Where to Buy:

Leanfit Products are available on Amazon*, at Costco both online and some in store (I just saw the Vanilla Whey Protein at the Dartmouth Costco last week!) and select grocery stores. Visit leanfit.com to find a local retailer near you.

Edited to add: It’s now available in select test Costco locations and on Costco.ca in a new Costco-exclusive size!

To shop on Amazon visit this link*.

In addition to the Leanfit All-in-One they also have Whey Protein, Whey Isolate and a completegreen Protein. That means there is a LeanFit product for a wide variety of lifestyles and nutritional needs.

The folks at Leanfit were kind enough to send me a bunch of samples of their all-in-one protein, so if you attend my fitness classes, leave me a comment below and I’ll randomly select a handful of people to receive a sample or two!
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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Leanfit All-in-One, however I truly like this product and am dedicated to sharing only products I think my readers would like and/or benefit from. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. This post also includes affiliate links (identified by an *), if you make a purchase through one of these links you will be supporting this site – thank you.

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#CanadianEggs – Do You Know Where Your Eggs Come From?

Eggs.

They’ve been a staple breakfast food for centuries, and have been a topic of much debate in more recent years.

Should we all be eating free run or free range eggs?

Are brown eggs healthier than white?

How are the chickens on poultry farms treated?

Are eggs you get in the store full of hormones and steroids?

I could go on and on.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Burnbrae Farms and tour the processing plant, visit three barns all showcase different living systems for the chickens and become an egg-spert on eggs!
Farm Sign w Old Coop from 40's

Burnbrae Farms is located in Lyn, Ontario and is a family owned and operated company that has been producing eggs for over 70 years. Burnbrae Farms is one of Canada’s leading egg producers and has grading stations across the country serving all major retail chains across Canada except here in Atlantic Canada.

We started our day by touring the egg processing plant, which was amazing. I put together a quick little video to give you a better idea of what eggs go through as they are processed. This¬†video doesn’t capture every step, but it’s a nice little behind the scenes look at what goes on:

The plant tour was really interesting, and I was taken a back again and again by how many eggs were there! In each room I would think to myself, “I’ve never seen this many eggs in one place before!” and then we’d move to the next room and I’d think that all over again. It was crazy!

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It was also really impressive how automated the entire system has become over the years.

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Moba Packer

After our tour of the processing plant, we headed to the barns where we were able to view conventional, enriched, and free run housing.

This is where things got really interesting.

Conventional Housing

Conventional House Hens

When it comes to conventional¬†housing, we’ve come to expect chickens being crammed into a tiny cage where they have no room to do anything, and I will admit, seeing into a conventional¬†housing barn with somewhere in the neighbourhood of 55,000 chickens – it’s a bit over whelming. This is the type of housing that is being phased out over the next 20 or so years.

But when you learn why they went to this type of¬†housing it makes a lot of practical sense. They brought them inside to protect them from avian illnesses, they put them in smaller groups (generally groups of 5 or so chickens) to keep the flocks small to avoid hen picking (yes, it’s a real thing) and battles for power. These chickens have access to food and water 24/7, their manure falls under the cage onto a belt (not the cages below) that keeps them clean, and their eggs fall onto another conveyer belt for collection. The cages are arranged in “floors” so to speak¬†(which I think is what makes it appear overwhelming to an outsider), but those hens are well cared for.

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Someone checks on every single chicken, every single day. If they come across a hen who is sick or injured they tend to them. Studies have shown the biggest downfall to this type of housing is that the hens don’t have anywhere private to do their laying.

This housing system provides one of the smallest carbon footprints of any type of animal agriculture.

Enriched Housing 

To address the issue of privacy, enriched, or furnished housing was born.

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In enriched housing systems the chickens are in larger cages with more chickens (around 16-17 chickens/cage here), they have a private area where they can do their laying (if you look in the photo above, it’s on the top left side, those red strips that look like a cash wash close off a section of the cage), and perches. In these cages they still have food and water 24/7, their manure falls beneath them onto a belt keeping the cages clean, and you can see the eggs fall onto a separate belt.

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In these systems there are a few more issues with hens fighting over pecking order due to the larger number of chickens/cage, but they are still in relatively small social groups, they have more room to express natural behaviours like nesting and perching. This type of system takes a bit more time to care for compared to the conventional, but overall it is still a clean, safe system for the farmers.

Free-Run Housing

Before heading into the free-run barn I had an image in my mind of what I was expecting. With all the open space I expected hens to be all spread out enjoying the extra room and having a grand time.

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In reality, the chickens do have more room, but they still stick together in little flocks and aside from the chickens on the floor and a few that were moving about, most of them seemed to be pretty happy hanging out in one spot – which isn’t much different than the other systems.

Aviary Hens

Ramps have been installed in the aviary because hens would rather walk up and down than fly!

These chickens also have access to water and food 24/7, perches they can use (the barn we were in even had a little chicken swing installed!), private nesting areas, but also offers the ability for the chickens to take dust baths

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and allows them lots of room in which to move around. One of the interesting things I learned is that chickens really aren’t all that interested in moving around all that much. When they are placed in the system, they will stick pretty close to their “home” unless something scares them. So while these ladies have more freedom than others, I’m not entirely sure they are all that interested in using it, they still appeared to really stick to their flock.

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Of the three housing systems, I saw more evidence of feather picked chickens in the free-run barns, where the struggle for power in the pecking order is more prevalent. The birds were all still in good condition, but it was easier to see who the lower order birds were.

It’s also easy to see how this is the¬†dustiest system as they are unable to keep the manure completely separate from the birds, and with the chickens all out in the open, is is more difficult for the farmers to care for them, as chickens will flock together and even climb on top of one another out of curiosity when the workers are in the barn.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that this type of system has the largest carbon footprint of the three.

Free Range Housing

There were no Free Range housing systems at the location I visited so I didn’t get to tour this style of housing. Here the barns are open concept allows the hens the ability to go outside weather permitting.

Chicken & Egg Facts

No matter where you shop in Canada, the eggs you are buying are local and fresh and make their way to the store in less than 5 days!

Brown eggs and white eggs are exactly the same nutritionally. The only difference is the breed of the chicken who laid it.

In nature, chickens are found in flocks of around five.

Chickens are tropical birds and therefore prefer a warm, tropical climate.

The colour of the yolk is directly related to the hen’s diet.¬†Wheat-based diets, which are more common in the western provinces, make pale yellow yolks. While corn-based diets make for a darker coloured yolk.

Eggs contain 6 grams of protein and 14 essential vitamins and nutrients.

Eggs are always free of added steroids and hormones.

Canadian eggs are produced according to some of the highest on-farm standards in the world.

Most of the nutrition¬†is found in the yolk – don’t skip the yolk!

Liquid eggs are REAL eggs! They’ve simply been shelled to¬†give you the added convenience¬†of not having to deal with messy egg shells. {I’ll admit I was guilty of being skeptical as to how “real” liquid eggs are!}

More resources you can check out:

What are my thoughts after visiting the farm…

I often get¬†eggs from my friend who does have a flock of her own chickens, and have for a while felt myself drawn to the free run, or free-range eggs when in the store when I am purchasing. But after being to Burnbrae farms, honestly I don’t think I’m going to worry¬†about that anymore. I’m not convinced that the free-run or free range eggs in the store are that much better, or that the hens themselves are treated or live that much better of a life. I can see why they are moving away from conventional housing, and I think we’ll see many egg producers moving to the furnished systems as they look to upgrade to meet the new requirements. And I’m okay with that.¬†
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One thing I will look for is eggs with added omega-3’s (from chickens who have been fed a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids). Prior to this visit I figured the difference between regular and omega eggs was too little to make any real difference, but you really can make a sizeable difference in your omega-3 intake by incorporating these into your diet. And for those keeners who know that flax is rich in ALA which our bodies have to convert to EPA and DHA (and that conversion rate is only 5-10%), when flax is fed to chickens, they convert it to EPA and DHA at a higher rate than we do, making it a better return on Omega-3’s than if we were to consume the flax ourselves.

For all things eggs (recipes, tips, tricks, and information) please follow @Eggsoeufs on Twitter and Instagram and like Get Cracking on Facebook.

Thank you to the Egg Farmers of Canada and Burnbrae Farms for inviting me to learn more about the entire egg process, it was a really interesting and informative day!

Disclosure: The Egg Farmers of Canada invited me to Burnbrae farms and covered my transportation expenses. I was not required to write this, or any other post about my trip, but genuinely wanted to share what I learned with you all. All opinions are as always, entirely my own.

Introducing… Rose and Clara

This post is two weeks late, but today was the first time I had time to sit down and get it written out.

Summer 2016 has been tough. I’ve written and talked about it many times here, on social media, and real life, but the night Ollie died our lives crashed.¬†That little kitty was my side kick, my best friend, and losing her so suddenly broke me in a way I never knew losing an animal could. Everyone was devastated, Pekoe included. He moved next door to my parent’s house for a few weeks because he was so stressed being here without her, and while he eventually came back home, my parent’s house remained his security blanket so we let him go stay there anytime he wanted. And then four weeks ago yesterday, we had to say goodbye to him as well.¬†

For the first time in 30 years, I didn’t have a pet. I didn’t have a furry friend and our house seemed so empty. I spent as much time as I could away form home doing things to keep my mind off how sad I was, but since the day Ollie died I had cried at least once every day.

We discussed it, and though we were both still very upset about losing our kitties, we knew we needed to get new ones. The empty house, the sadness, it was all too much. No kitty will ever replace Pekoe or Ollie, but we knew there were lots of kitties out there who needed a loving home, and we could give them that. So we started looking. And basically I became obsessed with finding the right kittens.

Then out of the blue two weeks ago yesterday the perfect pair showed up on our local SPCA site.

I’ll spare you the drama of how worried I was that someone would get them before we could go lay claim, how my husband had to go fill out an application on his way to work to put them on “hold” without even having had the chance to meet them, and how I cried about 8 times in the span of 20 minutes when I went down and met them.

You may have seen their photos in my post from earlier this week (or if you follow me on the socials, you have certainly seen them), but if you haven’t let me present to you Rose and Clara

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Rose is the grey and white kitty, and Clara is the blank and white kitty.

They are sisters and were 4 months old when we got them. Both have double paws. One of their parents must have been a Russian Blue and the other a black and white tuxedo kitty as all of the kittens in the litter were either grey/grey & white/ black & white. Of course after Ollie I really wanted another Russian Blue as they are so lovey and I’m so happy we were able to get a pair of sisters with Russian Blue blood. ūüôā

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Rose is definitely the love bug of the two. She has no concept of personal space and likes to sleep right up in your face, which is adorable and lovely – until she give you a love bite on the chin or nose.

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Clara is quite a bit smaller, and is our adventurer. She doesn’t like closed doors and has to inspect every nook she can find. Clara also is like Pekoe in that when you scold her for doing something bad she gets upset and goes and hides (so then you have to find her and tell her it’s ok), whereas Rose is not bothered in the least at being told to stop doing something.

There are so many echoes of Pekoe and Ollie in these two it makes me feel like they talked to the girls or have a little of the spirit of both kitties in them.

At first I had a really hard time, I was happy to have them but was worried that Pekoe and Ollie would think we were replacing them and forgetting about them, but I know in my heart they would be happy that we have two new kitties to love us, and for us to love.

Many of you either already know, or may have guessed that the names Rose and Clara weren’t chosen out of thin air. It’s well enough known that we are a bit on the nerdy side ūüėČ that we wouldn’t choose such normal names without there being something behind it. I had come up with the names Luna and Lily (Luna Lovegood and Lily Potter) but when we discussed it via text and J said he had thought of the names Rose and Clara I thought they were perfect.

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Their full names are Rose Taylor and Clara Oswald, and of course Doctor Who fans have already figured this out. When Doctor Who rebooted, Rose was his first companion, and Clara has been his companion for the last number of years leaving last season.

Rose has always been my favourite of his companions, likely because I liked Billie Piper back when she was a British popstar. ūüėČ Anyway, Rose is a bit goofy, caring, and extremely loyal which seems fitting of the silly kitten we named after her who has all those same attributes.

Clara on the other hand, is much¬†more posh and put together, she’s smart, quick and adventurous – much like our formally dressed little kitten Clara.

SO you’ll have to excuse me if I post more kitty pictures than usual on Instagram/Facebook for a while, but when you have two little furry kitties as cute as this, it’s hard to resist the temptation!IMG_0486

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TGIF friends, I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!! <3

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