The past week and a half have been a bit of a doozy, but not in a good way. In case you missed my post on Instagram, just over a week ago we suddenly lost my sidekick and furry best friend of 12 years Ollie.
We are heartbroken, and I spent 3 days doing nothing but crying. I’m starting to get back into my routine and am able to keep the crying down to one or two outbursts/day, but that coupled with some other bad news/situations we’ve had over the last week has really sent me into quite a sad place. So it was really wonderful timing when I received the very first subscription box from Caring Crate last Tuesday.
Caring Crate is a new subscription box created for those dealing with mental health issues, chronic illnesses – or anyone who needs a little extra self care. Because I’ve been feeling pretty low, just seeing this box arrive at my door made me feel a little bit better. Once I opened it I definitely perked up even more!
The first item I pulled out was this Potting Shed Creations Garden-in-a-Bag for growing lavender. I’ve been wanting to grow my own lavender for quite some time so I was really excited to see this! I’ve since had a chance to plant my lavender seeds so I’ll let you how that goes once it starts sprouting – fingers crossed I don’t kill it!
The next item was this lemon and lavender body balm from Fable Naturals. The lemon lavender scent is AMAZING and I’m very much looking forward to using this! I love body balms like this so I was pretty happy about receiving this item too!
The third item was this Scratch and Grain Muffin Mix which is really neat. The ingredients are all individually packaged making it different from your average mix, and I am very much looking forward to making these one day soon!
Next up was this Spa Day tea (not pictured is the After Dinner Mint tea I later found when I was emptying the box) from Pluck Teas. Pluck Teas only uses ingredients from organic and sustainably-managed gardens to make their custom-blended small batch teas. As a tea fiend you know I’m going to be drinking these!
And finally, I received the Mindful Mandala Cards. These and the lavender are tied for my favourite items in the box.
Inside the bag were a stack of original mandala cards, complete with a proverb printed on the back of each card. These cards are printed on heavy card stock so they won’t bend and tear with use. And the kit also comes with a small tube of coloured pencils with a built in pencil sharpener allowing you to take the whole kit to colour on the go.
In the summer we like to go to the Drive-In, but when we go, we have to go an hour or so before the movies start in order to get a decent parking spot. That leaves a fair amount of time to kill and these small cards make for the perfect project to work on while waiting for the movies to start. And their simple designs make them more fun than some of my more intricate colouring books. Sometimes simple is better, and in times of high stress I think that is especially true.
Also included with the box is a card listing all of the boxes contents telling you a bit more about each of the products, something I always appreciate, especially if there is an item you aren’t entirely familiar with an item.
As I mentioned above this was the very first Caring Crate box, and as someone who has been a subscriber of many different subscription boxes in the past I can honestly say this have been on of my favourite. I will use everything I received (which is not something I can say about many boxes I’ve received in the past…) and it really did make my day – and week – a bit cheerier.
Unfortunately, we are moving into the summer months which are a slow time for fitness instructors so I’m not going to be able to keep up with this subscription for the next couple months, but I really hope that once I get back to a full schedule in the fall that I will be able to because not only did I love getting it, but it’s a new Canadian company and I love to support Canadian companies I love when I can.
If you are interested in learning more about Caring Crate and how you can get a subscription for yourself or someone you love at Caring-Crate.com. You can also follow them on social media on Instagram @caringcrate, Twitter @caring_crate, Facebook.com/caringcate, and on Pinterest @caringcrate.
Disclosure: I received my Caring Crate free of charge but what you have read above is my honest review of the product.
June is well underway, and we’re finally seeing some nice hot summery days here in Nova Scotia. The first of which were back at the start of May when I was road tripping to Moncton. During the trip I wore a sundress and shorts and realized just how sad my skin was looking. Number one, I’m so pale I nearly glow in the dark at the best of times, and secondly my skin was so so dry and scaly I looked part reptilian! Clearly some summer skin prep was in order before shorts and sundresses became a mainstay in my wardrobe!
I’ve written numerous times in the past about my dry, itchy skin. I’ve read numerous times that there is a correlation between fibromyalgia and itchy skin, but I don’t really know if that is my issue, or if I just plainly have chronic dry skin. This past winter I had been using a shea butter on my legs because it is thick and moisturizing. While I really enjoy shea butter, but I do find it takes quite a long time to absorb, and since I normally moisturize just before going to bed I fear some of my moisturizer was treating my sheets more than it was treating my legs.
Fortunately for me, just prior to my trip I had received a trio of products from Intega Skin Sciences’ Ureadin line to try out on my dry, itchy skin to help me get my skin summer ready and looking it’s best!
The three products I received were:
Podos: A hydrating gel moisturizer for your feet that repairs and hydrates dry and cracked feet, with the first results noticeable in as few as three days! It uses ingredients like shea butter to help improve roughness. It also exfoliates with lactic acid and provides intense hydration for 24 hours without leaving a greasy texture on your feet.
Ultra10 Lotion: This is their maximum strength, intense hydration lotion which repairs and hydrates very dry and flaky skin. It helps to relieve itching and irritation, provides intense hydration and protects the skin’s moisture barrier and can be used to aid in the reduction of scaling, roughness, redness and cracking.
Lotion Spray: A spray lotion suitable for all skin types, which absorbs instantly keeping your skin smooth and moisturized all day long. This is a light lotion with the HydroISDIN system, hydrating and protecting your skin while providing an antioxidant effect (learn more about the HydroISDIN system on their website)
Because my skin was so parched, I started out by diving into the Ultra10 Lotion. While at first glance you’d expect any lotion with a name like “Ultra10” to be really thick, this isn’t. You know how some lotions are so thick it seems like they take forever to absorb? This isn’t like that at all. When you pump it into your hand you can tell that it’s different from your run of the mill drugstore body lotion. It feels more like an oil lotion if that makes sense. It absorbs really quickly and while you certainly can feel you’ve applied lotion, it doesn’t leave a lotion-y film on your legs. Have you ever put lotion on, then scratched your leg and ended up with a bunch of the lotion under your fingernail? No? Just me? Well it’s annoying, and Ultra10 does not do that.
I immediately felt a difference on my skin, and after only a couple days the scaliness went away and I was left with my still super-glow-in-the-dark-white skin, but at least it once again looked like human skin and not that of a lizard!
Once I’d crossed the initial hurdle of dryness, I started using the Ultra10 just at night, and using the Lotion Spray in the mornings/after my bath or shower. Because it is lighter and absorbs even more quickly, it is great for when you are in a hurry, and I absolutely love lotion spray like this because you can turn them upside down and any direction you need to apply them. So super handy. This is my go-to for post bath/shower because I find thicker lotions have a more difficult time absorbing into my skin when it has just been exposed to water, and this absorbs quickly.
I wish I were able to get a decent before and after shot for you, but because a lot of the difference is in how my skin feels, and less in how it looks, it’s hard to capture that in a photo. In person the skin on my legs especially is so much more hydrated in appearance, and feels so much better (no more constant itch), but you’ll just have to take my word for that.
The Podos might be my favourite of the three products. As I mentioned above, it’s a hydrating gel oil and comes in this tube with a tiny little applicator. Basically you apply it to your feet and rub it in, then apply a bit more to the extra dry, tough or cracked areas. I have a pretty thick callus on the side of my big toes from all the lateral movement I do teaching classes and dancing. When the Podos arrived, I stopped using any other foot creams, lotions, scrubs, (including my pumice stone) to see how this would compare.
A few days after I started using it I noticed one night in the tub the side of my toe (where the callus is) looked a little odd, I rubbed my finger on it and a piece of the callus FELL RIGHT OFF. What!? I checked the other side, and was able to easily remove another piece just by rubbing my thumb once or twice along the side of my foot. Since then, that happened yet again. And while I certainly still have a callus on both of my big toes, they are each a lot smaller than they once were. I knew that Podos was suppose to boost exfoliation, but I wasn’t expecting that kind of results! The thing with calluses is, while in my case they are necessary, they can also be painful, so removing even part of them has made my feet so much more comfortable. And that is something I’ve found difficult to accomplish with all my other potions and lotions.
I did get before an afters of my feet, so below I’m showing you the side of my toe(s) before, an after, and a second after which was taken immediately after I’d applied Podos. I don’t like it when you can clearly tell in an after photo that the person has just put moisturizer on because I don’t feel it paints a “real” picture of the condition of the skin, so I decided to show your my feet both ways.
I apologize that the lighting is clearly different between the before and after shots. I took them in the same place with the same camera settings to try and create the same lighting, but obviously the afters were taken on a sunnier day. But hopefully you can still tell that my feet are clearly looking a lot better in the afters!
What you may not know about me is I am really not a fan of looking at feet. Like I refused to wear sandals for a good 10+ years because I hated looking at feet. And I still don’t want anyone to touch me with their feet, ick. Anyway, because of that I really try to keep my feet in the best condition I can – all considered. Knowing that, and knowing that I have exclusively used the Podos for over a month now, it should tell you that I really like this product and am happy with how it has been helping my feet! Over the past month I’ve moved from sneakers to sandals in day-to-day wear, and I’m so pleased that the Podos helped me get my feet sandal ready!
They are still preparing to launch their online shop, but in the meantime you are able to contact them regarding purchases directly through their website (http://integaskin.com/isdin/ )
If you are having problems with dry, itchy skin, or dry cracked feet and want to feel comfortable and confident in your skin all summer long, I hope you’ll check out Ureadin and the whole line of products from Intega. I’m certainly going to be sticking to these products all summer long!
Disclosure: I am part of the Intega Influencer Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
This isn’t something I often do mostly because I tend to read a lot of “fluff” and YA books that I don’t feel are really appropriate to share here, but this month I’ve found myself reading a lot of health and wellness books and thought I’d share those with you.
I am a book nerd for sure, so I love checking out cookbooks, fitness and lifestyle books so that’s what you’ll be seeing in this round up post!
First up is 200 Best Smoothie Bowl Recipes by Alison Lewis.
I’ve seen lots of smoothie bowls on the web 😉 but had never really had one myself prior to getting this book. I didn’t understand why you’d want to eat a smoothie out of a bowl instead of drinking it…but now I get it. Smoothie bowls are make to be a thicker consistency so that it’s easier to eat it like a soup rather than drink it. Plus when you make a smoothie bowl you get to add all these fun toppings and make it look pretty!
(my topping game still needs a little work)
As a very frequent smoothie drinker, now understanding the hows and whys behind smoothie bowls has opened up a whole new side of smoothie making! I even find myself looking for toppings when I’m grocery shopping to decorate them. Alison’s book is a great how-to guide on not only smoothie bowls, but smoothies in general. With delicious recipes like Bananas Foster, Upside-Down Apple Pie, Chilled Tiramisu, Peach Paradise and so many more my summer smoothies are going to be amazing!
The second book I read this month was Juice Guru by Steve and Julie Prussack. I’ve been juicing off and on for years, but it’s always fun to check out a book like this to help reinforce why juicing can be so great. Juice Guru is packed full of recipes/juice combos and really walks you through why juicing can do for you, how to choose a juicer and all of the specifics. Generally speaking I find myself going for smoothies more often than juice, and that is a lot to due with how annoying the juicer is to clean. But when I’m having an IBS flair or a general upset stomach, I find juices a much easier way to ensure I’m getting some nutrition without upsetting my system. It just so happened that this book arrived when I was in the middle of an IBS flair up so it definitely came in handy and helped to keep me feeling nourished while on a pretty bland diet of toast. :/ If juicing is something that you are interested in, but have no idea where to start Juice Guru would be that place. It seems crazy that you can start to transform your life by adding one juice a day, but not only is that true, and this book gives you a 21-day plan that kick start you on your way to healthier you!
Changing gears a bit here, the next book was Cure Back Pain 80 Personalized East Exercises by Jean-Francois Harvey, BSc, DO. I know, it doesn’t sound like a very light read does it? But as someone with scoliosis, and who teaches fitness for a living, making sure I know a lot about the spine, how it should and shouldn’t move, what is safe and what isn’t is very important to me. And knowing what is safe for one person, doesn’t mean you know what is safe for another. Understanding different spinal problems and knowing when it is okay for me to give someone a few stretches or exercises to resolve an issue, versus knowing when to refer them to someone else is even more important. Cure Back Pain offers a complete range of tools to help make our backs feel good, regardless of what shape we are in. Jean-Francois draws from pilates, yoga and physical therapy and based on the principles of osteopathy, biomechanics and kinesiology to bring a holistic approach to good posture and a healthy back.
Of the books I read this is my favourite. It hits so close to home and what I do on a daily basis it’s hard for me not to love a reference book like this. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t benefit from the information in this book. Even if your back/spine/posture is perfect, the more you know and understand about this critical body part, the better off you’ll be in the long run. From basic exercises, flexibility, mobility, breathing, posture, strengthening, balance, and full routines this book has it all.
The last book is one I finished just last night. On The Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine by Cara Bradley is a book about learning to be “on the verge” in those moments when you are not quite in the past, and not quite in the future. It’s about learning to be more – not do more. Cara is a mental strength coach and author who has over 35 years experience teaching fitness and yoga. She wrote On The Verge to teach readers how to have more energy, enthusiasm, clarity, and confidence on a daily basis by learning to shift beyond their busy minds.
I related to this book so much. I definitely suffer from a busy mind, and easily find my fingers taking me places on my phone and on the computer I don’t need to be. I have a hard time turning my mind off at night so that I can sleep, and it’s easy for me to get caught up in “busy” <– whether it’s true or not. I am trying to get better at all of the above, but it’s a work in progress.
After taking us through the principles of living On The Verge, Cara goes one step further and sets readers up with verge practices to help us calm our busy minds and tune into our natural state. I found this title to be an easy – but empowering read, and really enjoyed going through all of the principles and practices. Some of them were things I was already familiar with and do from other trainings, but there were some new ones in there as well that I’ve already started to play around with incorporating in my day to day life.
There is really so much I could say about this book, I found myself nodding my head and agreeing with so much she said throughout the book. I could go on and on, but I want you to go pick up a copy for yourself. Just in the few days since I first picked it up, I already see so many small ways I am learning to live On The Verge. And I like it!
As I mentioned above I just finished On The Verge last night, and it inspired me to get back to my meditation practise. Something I’ve let slip terribly over the past few months. If you are like me and suffer from a very busy mind, you should check out this book (you can also find Cara on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily doses of inspiration!
You can find all of the titles above by clicking the links below:
- 200 Best Smoothie Bowl Recipes: Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
- Juice Guru: Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
- Cure Back Pain: Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
- One The Verge: Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, thank you for helping to support this site. The titles above were given to me free of charge, however these are honest reviews – I do not review books I don’t enjoy.
The Friday before the long weekend in May seems like the perfect day to talk about healthy summer drinks don’t you think? I know a lot of my clients find summer a difficult time to stay healthy, with so many barbecues, campfires and get togethers it certainly can be a time where we all get derailed.
One of the fastest ways to fall down a rabbit hole of unhealthy habits is to dive head first into all the sugar-filled soda, juice and cocktail options that seem even more plentiful in the hot summer months than during the winter.
I get it – there isn’t much better than a nice delicious cold beverage on a hot day! But you don’t have to rely on unhealthy options to cool down. Iced tea is the perfect option for those looking for something delicious and healthy. But I’m not talking about the iced tea you are thinking of – that stuff is scarcely better than soda!, I’m talking about real iced tea.
All my friends know I’m a tea addict. Hot in the winter, iced in the summer – I just love it! But while I like to make mine from loose tea leaves when I have the chance, I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea (har de har har), and it can be a bit inconvenient when you are out on the go. That’s why I like Pure Leaf Unsweetened tea. It comes pre-made in the bottle, is brewed from real tea leaves picked at their freshest to deliver a genuine tea experience. And because it is unsweetened and brewed from real tea leaves, it has no sugar, artificial sweeteners, zero calories and zero compromises!
That’s what make Pure Leaf the perfect partner if you’re looking to lighten up this summer without sacrificing flavour. It’s the perfect beverage to go with lunch, brunch, dinner, cocktails, get togethers with your friends, post-workout rehydration – whatever your beverage needs.
Pure Leaf comes in three great flavours: Unsweetened Black Tea, Unsweetened Lemon Tea and Unsweetened Green Tea, and the best part about using real iced tea is that you get to tweak your tea to suit your tastes!
Tweaking your tea is all about adding flavour combinations you love to your Pure Leaf tea to make it even more delicious! The best part? You can add your ingredients right into the bottle and let them sit so you have no extra dishes to do!
Is it really that easy? Yes, it absolutely is! Today I want to share with you three of my favourite combinations for tweaking my tea – hopefully they will inspire you to try a few combinations of your own!
My absolute favourite is raspberry-lime iced tea. To make this flavour all you have to do is add some raspberries (I crushed mine before I added them, but you don’t have to), and the juice from one lime into a bottle of Unsweetened Lemon Tea and let it set for at least 30 minutes to let the flavours mingle.
I’m also a sucker for berries and basil so another of my favourites is strawberry-basil iced tea. This time I sliced frozen strawberries and tossed those along with a few fresh basil leaves into a bottle of Unsweetened Black Tea and let it sit again for at least 30 minutes (noticing a trend there?). In an effort to make this one feel a bit more like a cocktail I rimmed a martini glass with berry basil rim trimmer from Epicure.
If you want to be extra fancy you can add a sprig of fresh basil as a garnish! Enjoying a nice iced tea outside while reading a book in the summer – what could be better!?
And the final combo you got a little sneak peek of up above – mango ginger green iced tea! Frozen sliced mango and grated ginger helps give the natural Unsweetened Green Tea a nice sweetness with a little kick. While you can also use fresh fruit, I enjoy adding frozen when I have it as it adds flavour while helping the drink to stay cooler longer.
I hope you’ll agree that enjoying healthy drinks doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless. These tweaked iced teas really are flavourful, fun and let’s face it – pretty fabulous. I doubt anyone will miss those sugary sodas if you serve iced tea at your next get together!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Pure Leaf Unsweetened Tea, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
When I think of spring cleaning for some reason the picture that immediately comes to mind is that of Laura and Mary Ingalls (from the books, not the TV show), cleaning out the whole house while their mother was gone somewhere. How they changed the hay in the mattresses and cleaned all the bedding and clothing and scrubbed the floors on their hands and knees. No wonder the idea of spring cleaning has always felt a little over whelming and tiresome. Ha!
Today is our local clean-up day. The day where we can take the bigger items that we no longer need or have use for (like old mattresses, broken furniture, etc.) out and the lovely garbage men will pick them up and haul them away along with our garbage for free. So it was inevitable that this past weekend I would have to tackle some form of spring cleaning.
Because a lot of my spring cleaning consisted of breaking down and then bundling up cardboard for the recycling, I’m not going to bore you with a bunch of pictures of that. Instead I want to share my three 15 minute spring cleaning projects that left me feeling pretty darn pleased. I find that while big jobs (like my cardboard grand canyon) can take some time and muscle to contend with, some of the ones that make me feel the most accomplished – really take virtually no time at all. Those 15 minute (or less) jobs really can make a big difference!
Like my up-cycled cabinet down in my laundry area. It had become a dumping ground for miscellaneous things, and while I wasn’t feeling up to tackling the job of repainting it just yet (that seems like more of a summer job 😉 ) organizing it was well past due, and something I was willing to tackle.
I started out by taking all my plants that have been sitting on top all winter outside. I’m too lazy to plant my calla lilies each year and dig them up in the fall so I just leave them in the pots and bring them inside each winter.
Why does the bottom part only have one door? I have no idea. But I don’t have the missing door so I grabbed a screw driver and removed the remaining door (and the hinges that were weirdly still attached on the other doorless side) to make it appear like purposeful open shelf space.
The top shelves were full of wooden coat hangers and a couple pairs of shoes. Coat hangers I haven’t in probably 3 years, and yet, here they sat taking up half of my cabinet. It was time for them to go. So I packed them, and all the stuff on the bottom shelves up, cleaned the shelves and sat back to figure out what would be the best use of the space.
I decided I needed to get some containers in there for organizational help so I grabbed my Snapware home storage containers to start organizing! I had 4-Smart Store 14”x6” Orange Containers, and 4-Smart Store 14”x9” Orange. These Snapware storage containers are perfect for areas like this because you can see what’s in them, they easily stack, and the covers literally SNAP on so you know when your belongings are sealed away from dirt and dust. I’m using the 14″ containers here, but they come in a variety of sizes to fit all shelves. Especially in an area like the basement where things often go missing, using clear storage containers can save a lot of time when you are out searching for that one particular thing!
I sorted out all the things I wanted to keep in the cabinet into the containers. Since I’m not running on any regular basis this year, I’ve stored my sneakers in one, my winter boots in another, and some miscellaneous sports and cleaning things in two others. Check out the before and after:
Can we talk about how much space I was wasting with those darn coat hangers? Geez.
On the bottom shelves, I’ve dedicated one whole shelf to basketballs (two of which are currently missing). Why do boys need so many basketballs? If I ask that, I’ll have to answer why girls need so many yoga mats…
And on the bottom shelf I’ve stored some plant pots and our “yard sneakers”. Another before and after:
All in all it took me less than 15 minutes to reorganize it, and I was as proud as a peacock about it, haha. As I mentioned above, I still need to repaint the unit, and I have shelf liner to put down, but as far as the cleaning end of the job goes, I’m pretty pleased. And finding things in the top of the cabinet without worrying about sending all those coat hangers flying is quite enjoyable.
Once done, I realized I still had two containers left (one 6″ and one 9″) so I took to my bathroom closet where I wrangled up all my cleaning cloths, etc. into one, and extra shower curtain and bathmat into another. Small things have been falling through the shelves for years, so it was again oddly satisfying to put everything in a container so I don’t have to go searching from one shelf to the other to find things now. And once again, since the containers are clear, I can easily see where things are stored – bonus!
And because I was on a roll, and three’s the charm, I headed to my bedroom to reorganize my closet. We have a small closet, so the shelves that hold all my jeans, T-shirts and “street clothes” (AKA not fitness clothes) easily get rumpled up. With a few minutes of work I tossed everything on my bed, refolded and put them away nicely. This also gave me the opportunity to look for things I no longer wear, or are stained/torn to toss out. When you’ve only got a small amount of space you have to be a bit more ruthless! No Snapware used here, just some good old fashioned folding (though it’s likely not up to the Ingall’s standard 😉 ).
In less than 1 hour I tackled three different areas of my house that were in need of a little TLC, and let me tell ya, that can really make a girl feel accomplished!
Snap Ware wants to help you with your spring cleaning and has offered to send one of my readers four Snapware home storage containers like those I used in the post above:
Who is Snapware®?
Snapware is the modern & innovative brand of everyday storage that delivers easy organization solutions in order to embrace your life in motion. Only Snapware home storage is:
- Innovative with sizes to fit any shelf depth
- Durable with reinforced corners built to last, resist splitting and chipping
- Solution focused by being designed for both storage and organization
- Functional with containers that snap and stack
Snapware home storage is:
- Modern and innovative: designed for today with clean lines, see-through vessels with vibrant and colorful lids.
- Simple and durable: well-designed products are easy to use and built to last.
- Real solutions: designed for everyday activities and optimized for storage and organization.
- A SNAP! The lids snap on with an audible “snap” that tells the user the lid is secure, and containers have a modular stackable design so they stack easily.
- Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty.
The 12”, 14” and 16” series containers include an easy-carry handle.
To enter please follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget below:
Giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the USA. Giveaway ends on Friday, May 20th @ midnight!
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by World Kitchen/Snapware. World Kitchen/SnapwareFrom bakeware, dinnerware, kitchen and household tools to range-top cookware, storage and cutlery, World Kitchen, LLC., and its affiliates manufacture and market brands known and trusted around the world. World Kitchen brands include Corningware, Snapware, Pyrex, Baker’s Secret, Chicago Cutlery, Corelle, and more!