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Sweet Dreams Giveaway

This giveaway is for all you mamas of littles and mamas to be out there! I’m excited to have teamed up with The Handpicked Home to spoil one lucky winner with a nursery prize package worth more than $300! Most of the items included in this giveaway are available in shop, so if you see a brand or product you love, find them online and pop by the shop to check them out in person.

Here’s what’s up for grabs:

Now to get in some entries!

To enter: Follow Our Happy Place and The Handpicked Home on Instagram and like the giveaway image (the one seen at the beginning of this post) + tag 3 friends who you think would love to win. Comment ‘done’ so we can see who’s entered. We will both be posting this giveaway on our Instagram accounts so that equals 2 chances to enter! 

Bonus entries: see the contest widget below for bonus entries + earn a bonus entry for every $100 you spend in shop during this giveaway.

Contest closes at midnight PST on October 24, 2017

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 9, 2017
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The Change in My Reflection: On Body Image and Self Love

body image and self love

I think we all have things about our bodies we don’t love, that we’d like to change, maybe try on a different version if we had a chance. Sound about right? I joke that I wish I had a smaller nose and bigger boobs. Someone got the recipe mixed up when they made me!… or so I joke.

Union Swimwear one- piece swimsuit

Those are the things I’d say I don’t love about my body; I actually considered getting a nose job in my teens, but after a fair bit of consideration opted to keep things the way they are. I figured if I couldn’t accept myself for the I was, then how could I expect someone else to? This especially resonates with me now that I have kids- and especially a daughter who I hope to raise to be confident in her own skin. Obviously there are some things that are harder/ impossible to change without an elective procedure, but knowing I had the option to change my appearance was a tempting one when I was younger and I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t considered getting a little work done when we’re done having kids.

The topic of body image and acceptance spans a variety of areas and isn’t limited to the changes we experience after having kids (both of the things I mentioned above stem from the years before I had kids). And on the topic of boobs, let’s face it: those are never the same after having kids and breastfeeding. I find that these kinds of emotions come in waves, sometimes we feel great and other times things chip away at us, at how we feel about ourselves. But while I  sometimes wish I could change the things I mentioned above (or maybe something else depending on the day), I have also learned to think about things differently: what are the things that I can change for the better – such as my physical health– rather than those that I can’t? For example, one of the major changes my body has gone through since having kids is that my stomach and midsection by no means look the same as they did before.

Union Swimwear one piece swimsuit

I used to have a flat stomach, one that I kept toned and was proud to show off. I liked how I looked in a bathing suit- maybe a little more up padding top would be nice ;)- but I was and still a beach bum in the Summer. Take me to water and I’m a happy girl. But following Ariana’s birth I was left with stretch marks (I figured I probably would since my Mum has them), and no matter how hard I tried, my abs and the skin in that area were not the same. Looking in the mirror that Summer I questioned whether I would still be a bikini kinda gal or make the switch to some of the cute one pieces I’d been seeing. Follow that up with a second child and additional body changes and I was really unsure where I stood with myself when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t hate what I saw, but it took some getting used to, some acceptance, and that took time. Some days I think back on what my body used to look like and sometimes it gets to me, I’ll be honest. For whatever the reason, those things can creep up on us and affect us out of the blue. But that doesn’t mean they’re bad, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. They just are. 

This past Summer I hit up the beach as much as I could, ran around in a bathing suit on the hot days, and enjoyed the bright sunny days of the season while they were here. I still have things about my body that I scrutinize (remember my joke earlier about my nose and boobs?) and I’m picky about photos of myself (selfies still make me feel incredibly self conscious- how do you find a good angle with this nose?!), but I also take pride in the efforts I’m making to feel better inside and out. Running is one of those things, and whether I run for 15 minutes or an hour, the way I feel afterwards is a high that helps diminish any stresses or anxiety I may have been feeling prior. I love how I feel after a run and that positive feeling is an overwhelming one in the best way. 

Union Swimwear one- piece swimsuit

Over this past year I’ve shared about some of the personal challenges I was facing, and also about the addition of running into my routine and upping my self- care game in the hopes that others would be able to relate. As with any journey, it hasn’t been straight uphill but overall it’s been a positive one; I just had to make some changes. It isn’t always easy to face things, the things that really hit home in our hearts, the things that are hard to shake off. But that doesn’t mean you have to rip off a Band-Aid or go from one extreme to the other. It can be small steps. Slow progress is better than none. Learning to love and take care of yourself don’t always come easily, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. 

Thank you to my friend Janette of Ava to Zoe for being on this personal ride with me and encouraging me to share more on the topic of self love and body image. And to Union Swimwear for being a company that encourages positive body images in women and helping us share about this topic.

Photography: Akane Kondo Photography

Swimsuits: Union Swimwear

October 3, 2017
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PNE Food: 5 Foods to Try From Classics to Food Dares

It’s that time of year again! The PNE is a Summer tradition here in BC and along with the rides, the animals, the dog races, and outdoor concerts (I know I’m missing some things, there’s just too much to list!), the food is one of the highlights for many visitors. There’s a novelty about the food at The Fair- maybe it’s the atmosphere, maybe it’s the people serving it, maybe it’s the food itself (or all of the above) but it’s definitely on another level than your everyday meals. Add in that some of the items are only available once a year at the PNE and it’s the perfect excuse to try something new (food dares have definitely become an annual tradition for a many, but more on that later) alongside classic favourites like the infamous mini donuts and elephant ears.

Whether you want to go with some classics or go a little crazy (or maybe a try a little bit of everything) you’ll get a sample of of what’s available this year at the PNE to indulge your cravings in this post. There are so many options to choose from it’s hard to narrow down the choices, but I’d definitely suggest trying something new alongside something classic/ familiar. I’ve got a total sweet tooth so I couldn’t resist including 2 sweet options on this list (one’s a classic and one’s new this year), alongside 3 savoury options + I’ve also included some extras at the end that I didn’t want to leave out.

What food are you wanting to try at the PNE this year?

PNE food #thewaffletaco waffle ice cream cone

Waffle Ice Cream Cone aka #TheWaffleTaco- Steve O’s Public House 

Picture a taco made out of a waffle cone filled with ice cream, whipped cream, and finished with your favourite toppings. Need I say more? This is a twist on the classic waffle cone that deserves a place on your PNE food list: the waffle taco is dipped in chocolate, filled with rolled ice cream that’s mixed with your favourite toppings (here’s just a few of the options you can choose from: Oreos, Skor, and strawberries) and topped with whipped cream. Choose up to two toppings to customize your waffle cone and indulge your inner sweet tooth. If you love ice cream don’t miss #thewaffletaco this year!

PNE food Dim Sum Express dumplings 

Dumplings- Dim Sum Express

Want to try something different than typical fair food? If you’re looking for something outside of burgers and hot dogs, dim sum is a refreshing option. Added bonus: you can eat it on the go as you walk around the fair. 

PNE food Beaver Tails

BeaverTails

A PNE classic. What’s a BeaverTail exactly? It’s thinly- rolled dough that’s deep fried and topped with cinnamon and sugar (the classic version) or choose from other topping combos like bananas and peanut butter. If you really want to indulge try the Triple Trip: chocolate hazelnut spread, peanut butter and Reece’s Pieces (shown). Oh em gee so good!

PNE food Jamaican fish and chips

Jamaican Style Fish & Chips- Double Decker Diner

Two reasons not to miss this: 1) Fusion cuisine always produces some amazing combinations and these fish and chips are no different and 2) Everything is cooked and served in a converted double decker bus! This British classic gets an update with Jamaican flavour served alongside hand- cut fries (these aren’t the frozen, out of the bag variety!). If there’s room, eat your meal on the open air patio atop the second level of the bus and enjoy great views while you eat. Come for the food, stay for the bus!

Cricket Burgers & Fries- Gourmet Burgers

Maybe you’re wanting a burger while you’re at the PNE. But maybe you want to take it to a whole new level…? Enter the cricket burger new to the fair this year. Add this to your food dare list but be prepared to enjoy it more than you might think (if you’re willing to give it a try!). Crickets are a great source of protein and while they aren’t a standard burger topping, don’t be afraid of them adding a weird flavour (they don’t). This makes for a great foodie bucket list item to check off and some entertaining photos. Definitely one of the more adventurous items available this year at the PNE and worth a try!

Other foods to check out:

  • Double Bacon Mac N’ Cheese Super Footlong Hotdogs- Super Footlong 
  • Funnel Cake Poutine- Funnel Cakes
  • FOOD DARE: Chicken Feet- Chicky’s Chicken (definitely one of the crazier foods available this year!)    

What’s on your PNE food list this year?

For full details about The Fair at the PNE, check out their website and find them on social media:

Facebook: PNE/ Playland

Instagram: @pne_playland

Twitter: @PNE_playland

#TheFair

August 25, 2017
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Balance: How Giving Up on it Set Me Free

 Balance: How Giving Up on it Set Me Free 

I don’t know if I believe in balance.

There. I’ve said it. I think balance is a cruel word that gets tossed around as we try and convince ourselves that we can do it all in the same day. Someone once told me ‘balance’ is about making choices and being at peace with them, and I’ve reflected on that ever since; on days when I feel like I’m struggling I try to step back and think about what my focuses for that day are and regroup around them, simplify things. I absolutely believe we can do it all– just not all at once. Different days may have different priorities, we just have to accept that there may be/ will be other things that don’t happen- they’ll happen some other time. In other words, I think the concept of balance is more of an outlook than an actual thing we can achieve.

Some days it feels like I can get everything done and I feel like a champion (aren’t those the best!?), and other days I feel like the biggest achievement is that the kids and I make it to the end of the day in one piece (a big, crazy, messy piece). Either way the same thing happens: I go into the day with a list of priorities- this may be a mental list or one I write down and includes things like time with the kids, house work, work, appointments that have to be made, yard work, etc- and inevitably there are usually things that get left for the next day or the next (or the next!)- or if it’s a particularly chaotic day, I throw out that list (unless there’s something that falls under ‘must happen today’), and re- write it for the next. It’s not always easy- some days it feels painful to give up and tell myself ‘it’s not going to happen today’- but I’m learning what’s more important than that to- do list is my outlook towards it. It’s how I think about things and move through the day, not how much I can get done in a day that matters (hands up who else is Type A like me and always tries to cram as much as possible into the day?). Sounds so simple right? But oooooh creating mental habits/ changing your perspective can be just as challenging as changing other habits!!! It takes time and baby steps, and patience, and, and, and…. moral of the story: we have to have patience with ourselves

As I sit here and talk about choices, figuring out priorities, and finding ‘balance’- whatever that means- I don’t think I could do so without talking about one of the things I’ve made a priority over the past year, something I’ve made time for regardless of whatever else is going on. This choice didn’t come out of thin air, I’ve had to carve out the time from other things, but ultimately I’m happy with the choice of how I spend this time. The interesting thing about a year is you have a very distinct start and end point to reflect on, and I’ve been doing that lately as I look back on the progress I’ve made. Some days I’m stressed out about the time it takes, overwhelmed with everything else I have to get done, but ultimately I feel so much better after having made time for it, happy with the choice I made. The choice I’m referring to is exercise, and the time I’ve taken for yoga and running (and swimming when I get the chance).

Balance: How Giving Up on it Set Me Free

It’s been a year since I started running- the longest that I have been committed to exercise in my adult life- and it is something I choose to make a priority (I share more about it in this post). For the most part I have gone on a run every week for a year; there is the odd week that I’ve missed one and  weeks I’ve managed to go for two if I felt like I needed it (even if I’m stressed about finding the time for other things that have to get done, I ultimately feel better/ handle my workload better if I’ve taken some time away to give my mind a break with the added bonus of feeling better physically from the exercise). And before you tell me you don’t know where you’d find the time for exercise, I’ll confess this to you: I don’t have a lot of time for exercise. And I know a lot of other people who feel the same. It may not be exercise for them, it might be something else that they’re struggling to fit into their schedules, but either way finding time for some things is harder than others. The trick is to find it, then the second hardest part is to create a habit/ add it to your routine and then stick with it. 

We all have other things to do, other things that take up our time, we all have our daily mix that fill our days. And in the end we look back on the day and hopefully feel good about what we got accomplished. Taking care of ourselves and our health is something we’re told to make a priority and rightfully so, but as with many things it’s often easier said than done. How many times do you tell yourself I’ll do it today and then brush it off: Oh well, I’ll do it tomorrow… It’s not hard to put stuff off that doesn’t really appeal to us, or that’s inconvenient/ uncomfortable- let’s face it, fitness isn’t usually something people do for fun (even though it can be), they do it to stay healthy. And we tend to lump health stuff under ‘boring’ and ‘have to but don’t want to’ instead of making it something to look forward to (see how a change in perspective might make that more appealing?). But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a priority- that finding some time to take care of yourself isn’t important enough to warrant a little bit of time each week. And that’s just it: even just a little bit of time is better than no time at all. And that’s what I’ve told myself this past year when I’ve wanted to make an excuse to get out of running: it’s just. a. few. minutes. (and for the record, I didn’t let weather become an excuse either, no matter how tempting/ easy it would have been). I don’t always want to, but ultimately I know how much better I feel, how much happier I am afterwards; it’s worth it and something I’m glad I’ve added to my routine, even if it’s at the expense of something else.

 Balance: How Giving Up on it Set Me Free

I’m still working on calming down about all the things I want to get done in a day, letting go and really thinking about what I consider a priority- in other words, I’m still making peace with imbalance (see what I did there? πŸ˜‰ ). But one thing I’m glad I did, even though I’ve had to choose the time to make it happen this past year is to stop making excuses for getting in some exercise each week. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I have your life all figured out and how easy it is to make changes, to make time for these things. It’s rarely, if ever, that simple. But it is about re- thinking your priorities, re- thinking the choices you make and asking yourself ‘Is this making me a better or worse version of myself?’. We’re grown ups, so obviously things like bills and mortgages aren’t going to go away and make the choice to work less any easier (oh adulting…), but for the things on a simpler level, those things we have within our control, it’s amazing the difference a few different choices and a change of mind set can make. I’m not any less of a to- do list loving person than I was a year ago, but I’m chipping away at changing my outlook on things (instead of thinking ‘these are all the things I didn’t get done today’ turning it around and thinking about all that did get done), letting go, and not making excuses for things that should be more of a priority/ deserve more time. I’m responsible for two little people and keeping them happy and healthy, and at some point I have to make sure I’m doing the same for myself. It’s the choices I make and the perspective I have that creates the happiness and inner peace that I think ‘balance’ is supposed to bring- and it’s not a perfect one- size- fits- all solution- but just making the effort alone has been a big step forward for me. Exercise has been ‘my thing’ this past year that I’ve made a priority, now I want to know: what do you want to make more time for?

Photo credit: Kristy Powers Photography

Outfit:

Canada 150 Leggings- Kristina Benson Art

LOVE tee- Try on Love

 

August 22, 2017
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5 Adventures in Metro Vancouver {+ Giveaway}

Canada Day might be over but it’s still the year of celebration for Canada’s 150th birthday. I wish I could say I’ve seen more of it than I have- insert bucket list suggestions!- but I’ve only ventured as far East as Alberta and I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of all the amazing places here in my home province. Here in BC we’re surrounded by plenty of natural beauty and in the Lower Mainland we’re spoiled with a wide variety of places to go, things to do, places to eat… you get the idea. Whether you like the beach, mountains, city, country- it’s all here.

Last month I shared 5 ideas for every occasion in Metro Vancouver on the Impressed App blog (see the full post here), and I’m sharing a few of the highlights here today along with a giveaway to help you save some of your favourite memories from the Summer. You know all those photos you have saved on your phone or on Instagram and never print? Now’s your chance to take them from the screen to your gallery wall: Impressed App will be giving one lucky reader a credit for 24- 30 prints so they can take their favourite photos from their phone and enjoy them in person- simply upload to the app and order! See below for some of my favourite local spots and enter to win from Impressed App!

5 Adventures to Take in Metro Vancouver– Highlights from this post published last month on the Impressed App blog. These are personal suggestions and I was in no way compensated financially or otherwise by any of the businesses included.

Date Night

You’ve got a night to yourselves but can’t think of where to go? Dinner at the Washington Avenue Grill-aka the WAG-  in White Rock is our favourite place. We ate here the night we got engaged and it’s our favourite date night spot (the lobster ravioli is my favourite, but I’ve never had a meal there I didn’t enjoy). The food & service is amazing and there are ocean views from pretty much everywhere in the restaurant. They also make a wicked martini and have live music throughout the week, so no matter when in the week you visit you’ll have a good time. Make reservations just in case!

Girl’s Day/ Night

I don’t know about you, but nothing says time with the girls like a little shopping! My favourite haunt is The Handpicked Home and it’s the perfect stop for decor, apparel, gifts, kid’s items, etc. I met the owner, Piya, when the shop first opened and she’s one of my favourite people and I now count her as a dear friend. Treat yourself or someone else and pay this shop a visit next time you’re in the South Surrey/ White Rock area. If you like to support local this is a great shop minutes from the beach and Piya stocks it with a curated selection of items that highlight many talented locals. After you’d indulged in some retail therapy, stop in at Islands Cafe down the road for some Hawaiian coffee & treats. They ship in the coffee from Maui weekly and their Poke bowls are YUM (their Acai bowls are next on my foodie bucket list and look amazing as well).

DIY Eat & Drink Local Tour 

Love to #DrinkLocal and enjoy fresh, seasonal eats? We’ve got plenty of choices in the area whether you’re a beer or wine lover (or both πŸ˜‰ ), but we’ve also got a cidery in the area as well if you’re looking for some new to try! Fill up on some good food by starting in Fort Langley at Trading Post Taphouse & Eatery and take a scenic drive along the back roads towards Langley and the wineries along 16 Avenue. Enjoy a few glasses of wine along the way and end your day in Langley at Fraser Valley Cider Company. Throughout the Summer and September they’re hosting a variety of different events including a BBQ, long table dinner, and pizza nights. Their craft apple ciders are made from heritage apples grown on the property and in the Okanagan, with 5 flavours currently available. They’re a great gluten free drink option for those limited with beer options, and they’re refreshing served alone or with your favourite Summer meal.

Nature Walk

We’re spoiled in the Lower Mainland by all the natural beauty that surrounds us and there are plenty of places to go for scenic walks. Living in Delta our local favourite spot is Burns Bog, just minutes from our home and easily accessed from any direction (just park at the ice rink when you come off the highway/ Perimeter Road). You can walk or bike through and there are several options depending on how long you want to spend (don’t miss the sunken tractor!). Pack a picnic and enjoy enjoy unwinding in the fresh air and soak in some nature. The bog is the largest of it’s kind in North America and you can even book a tour if you want to learn as you go- great for the kids! If you want to make a day of it, bring a picnic lunch and enjoy eating in the fresh air. There’s a gem of a place in Delta called Altmaerker German Deli that offers up sandwiches and other deli fair that will leave you more than satisfied (seriously, they’re amazing and you’ll probably want to stock up again on the way home). Salted pretzels, fresh buns, and other German deli favourites are served alongside ham, pepperoni, and other staples that are perfect lunch fair. Stock up for a European- style picnic lunch and enjoy!

  

To view the full list , visit this post on the Impressed App blog.

About

Impressed App allows users to take photos from their phone and turn them into prints, photo books, wall decals, and framed canvases. Simply download the app, select which photo product you wish to order, choose your photos, and order. Available for iPhone and Android. Click here to download.

In celebration of #Canada150, Impressed App has created a series of printable travel guides so visitors can live like a local. Each Canada Travel Spots guide contains a map and a list of suggestions based on the theme of the guide, such as Vancouver’s Craft Brewery Scene. To learn more click here.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Thanks to Impressed App, one lucky reader will be receiving a credit for 24- 30 prints to help them save some of their favourite Summer memories! Enter below for your chance to win & add to your gallery wall!

Open to Canadian & US residents.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Like the ideas in this post? Save it for later!

July 13, 2017
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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

It’s here! This year’s Mother’s Day Gift Guide has been a labour of love and I’m so excited to finally share it! My blogging partner in crime, Janette from Ava to Zoe, and I have been working hard on getting this gift guide put together over the past couple of weeks and enjoyed coordinating it as a collaborative effort between both of our blogs. We wanted to share some gifting ideas for those special ladies in all the forms of ‘Mom’ they come in, whether for yourself, your own Mom, or the mamas- to- be, and women who are hoping to one day be Moms themselves. We have gathered a group of brands owned and operated by some talented ladies, many of whom are mothers themselves, and we feel that we’ve got something special within the pages for everyone. 

Mother’s Day is a chance to show our love and appreciation and we hope you find some ideas in this gift guide that help you show some love (or find some ideas you love for yourself so you can drop some hints). As an added bonus, a selection of the brands included have offered a 15% discount code so you can enjoy some savings while you shop. As moms, we often forget about ourselves or have a hard time finding ‘me’ time while taking care of others, but when you get the chance it’s that much more meaningful. We hope you can find a few minutes for yourself to make a cup of tea (or pour a glass of wine!) and have a look through. Whether you treat yourself, drop some hints, or find something for your own Mom, we hope you enjoy reading the 2017 Mother’s Day Gift Guide it as much as we enjoyed bringing it together.

Click on the gift guide below to see the brands featured- enjoy!

 

Photo credit: Captured In Squares

Like what you saw? Save it for later!

April 12, 2017
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Pay it Forward: #Joygiver Campaign

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What was the last thing someone did for you that made you smile? For no reason other than to make your day better? It could have been as simple as holding a door open for you, or paying for your coffee in the drive through. Random acts of kindness don’t have to be grand gestures and can sometimes be the turning point in an otherwise not- so- great day. And when we get these little opportunities to brighten someone else’s day, why not act on them and pay it forward?

You never know what’s going on in someone else’s life, and I’ve had days when a kind word from a stranger or a simple smile have turned my mood around. The world isn’t a perfect place, there will always be things going wrong, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take little opportunities to make it a better place, to insert more positivity into it. And the added bonus is that we tend to feel better ourselves when we’ve done something nice for someone else. Win- win at it’s finest.

So on that note I’m happy to share about the Joytv #Joygiver campaign that runs until March 1st. The goal is to encourage individuals and communities in the Greater Vancouver Area and Fraser Valley to spread joy through random (or not so random!) acts of kindness. When you do something kind for someone, Joytv is also sharing the love, and giving away seven $100 gift cards for gourmet coffee when you share about your act of kindness on social media and enter on joygiver.ca to encourage others to take part and spread happiness (winners will be drawn the first week of March). It’s the chance to make someone smile, make their day a little better, and maybe get treated yourself. So now the question is: who would you do something for- whether a stranger or someone you know, this is a great chance to pay forward some positivity and kindness.

Stuck for ideas? Here are a few suggestions:

  • call a friend just to say and remind them they’re important to you
  • compliment someone- love their shoes? awesome bag? beautiful smile? 
  • make a donation to a charity you care about
  • drop off some food and/ or clothes at the local food bank
  • buy the person behind you in line their morning coffee
  • hold the door open for someone (bonus points if you smile when you do it)
  • buy a $5 or $10 gift card and slip it into a loved one’s wallet with a note to surprise them (or leave in a random place for a stranger to find)
  • leave an extra big tip for your favourite server (throw back to my serving days & how much this brightened my day)

See Joygiver.ca for more ideas to pay forward a little kindness

Visit Joygiver.ca by March 1, 2017 to share your random (or not so random) acts of kindness with the hashtag #Joygiver for your chance to win 1 of 7 $100 gift cards for gourmet coffee.

For more info, visit joygiver.ca and find Joy TV on social media:

Facebook  | Twitter  | Instagram

#Joygiver

 

February 21, 2017
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Don’t Go to Bed with Your Makeup On! {Review}

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Two weeks ago I teamed up with Ciny & Kaite from Rodan & Fields to share 5 Skincare Tips, and #5- never go to bed with your makeup on, is something I’ve been guilty of a lot lately. Oops. I know it’s not good for my skin and I have no excuses, I’m really just being lazy at the end of the day And I definitely notice the difference when I skip removing my makeup. My skin feels less than fresh the next day and it’s texture goes from smooth and soft to broken out and bumpy. Not so great.
I tend to wear lighter/ more natural makeup, but that’s still not an excuse to skip washing my face and caring for my skin. But still, I’ll totally admit most nights I’m just too tired to spend the few extra minutes to go through my skincare routine. When I was chatting with Kaite and Cindy about this as we organized our collaborations, they mentioned a product perfect for those nights when you’re feeling lazy, but know you shouldn’t go to bed with your makeup on: Rodan & Field’s Eye Cloths. Even though they’re formulated to remove things like eye liner and mascara, the ladies suggested trying them on my whole face and putting them to the test, so I did just that. In the photos below you’ll see before & after photos- I removed the makeup from the left side of my face to show the difference- plus what the cloth looked like after removing the makeup from just one side (put it this way: it was a good reminder why I shouldn’t be lazy with this part of my beauty routine!). See my review of the R&F Eye Cloths below.
My makeup routine: I use a little bit of concealer to even out skin tone, mineral powder and bronzer, plus a highlighter on my skin; mascara & sometimes eyeshadow for my eyes; and brow pencil to fill in my eyebrows. 

The eye cloths come in packs of 30 and are recommended for use after cleansing your face. To test and show how well they worked, I skipped cleansing before I used mine.


On the left side of my face I started by removing my eye makeup, making sure to remove all of my mascara (my favourite item in my makeup bag! πŸ˜‰ ), then used the cloth to wipe off the rest of the makeup on my skin on that side of my face. The cloth was soft on my skin and I didn’t have to work hard for it to work effectively. I was grateful for this since I find the skin around my eyes can be quite sensitive.
This is the first ‘after’ photo- if you look closely you can see that the skin on the left side of my face is slightly lighter (bye bye bronzer!) and the length of my eyelashes is different on each side with the mascara removed from the left side.

A closer view of my skin & eyes sans makeup

This is what the cloth looked like after cleaning off just the left side of my face…

... and here’s another view so you can really see what the cloth removed. I can see why my skin isn’t so healthy after a few lazy nights with my skincare routine.

The Eye Cloths from Rodan & Fields claim to be dual- purpose, helping to reduce signs of aging as well as removing makeup. While I didn’t address that aspect with this review, I was really happy with how they worked when it came to removing my makeup. I appreciated how gentle they are while being strong enough to remove everything from mineral powder to mascara. When I rubbed the cloth over my eye there was no irritation or stinging as I’ve experienced with other products, and they didn’t irritate the sensitive skin around my eyes. The rest of my skin felt clean and fresh, and I loved how quick and simple the cloth made removing my makeup. After using, you don’t rinse with water, simply follow up with a moisturizer and/ or eye cream. For full product details, see this page on the R&F website. If you have any questions about the product reviewed in this post or are curious about R&F, see contact info below to get in touch with Cindy & Kaite.

Want healthier, happier skin this Fall (+ year- round)? See this post with 5 tips from Kaite & Cindy.


About Rodan + Fields
Rodan + Fields offers dermatology- inspired skincare from the founding ladies behind Proactive. The company offers full- face solutions and strives to help it’s consumers find the products containing the right ingredients for their skin type to create a regimen suited to their skincare needs. 
About Kaite & Cindy
This two- lady team each came to work with R + F for different reasons: Cindy, a mother of 3 was looking for help with her tired, dull, and wrinkling skin. With a daughter in need of 24- hour care, Cindy’s skin reflected the stress in her life and she found R + F after complimenting a friend who had struggled with acne for some time; when she discovered the quality of the products, and how effective they were, she decided to pursue R + F professionally herself. Kaite on the other hand hadn’t struggled with skincare issues (except maybe enjoying a little too much time in the sun!), but became interested after hearing about the company from Cindy. After learning about R + F, it’s products, and speaking with Cindy, Kaite decided to team up with her to help others find solutions for their skincare needs. For both ladies, working with R + F has been transformative, allowing them to find solutions for their own skin, help others with their needs, and pursuing careers they enjoy in the process.
To learn more about R + F, and to find products suited to your skincare needs, get in touch with Kaite & Cindy:

Click here to visit their R + F page

Find them on social media:
Facebook: Rodan + Fields Trailblazers
Instagram: @loveyourskin3
November 18, 2016
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Ari Update: Reintroducing Foods to My Daughter {+ Giveaway}

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OK parents, hands up how many of you are always looking for snack ideas for your kids? No matter if it’s for at home or you’re packing them up to go to school/ daycare/ grandma’s, sometime you just need something quick to grab (I know I did this morning with Liam- the kid doesn’t stop eating!). If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you know that dietary restrictions and food sensitivities have had a big influence on what we eat, just like many other families. It can make things interesting for parents trying to navigate what their kids need to thrive and can limit food/ snack options, among other unique challenges that arise when your kids can’t eat certain foods (‘they have it, why can’t I?’). Allergies/ sensitivities have become a major conversation as they seem to become more common, and it can be hard as a parent to know what to do- scary, even, if your child has a severe allergy- and sometimes it really comes down to trusting your gut instinct.
As of the beginning of September we started re- introducing foods back into Ari’s diet after more than a year and a half of her going without things like dairy, peanuts, and almonds. Her stomach and digestion had been doing much better, so it came time to try some of the foods we’d been keeping out of her diet. Knock on wood, so far, so good. Going dairy and gluten free had the biggest impact on our family, so I tended not to talk about certain other foods, like nuts, that we also removed from her diet, but I know this is another common allergy/ sensitivity. I’m not going to pretend to understand all the finer details of allergies/ sensitivities, but when removing food from her diet I also learned how sensitive someone can become if they’re never exposed to that allergen again; the body may develop a stronger reaction when it’s not exposed to something for a long time, and peanuts/ almonds had me a little nervous when it came time to give them to her again. Luckily, we didn’t have a problem, but it reminded me of the nerves that come with introducing foods to a baby for the first time- it’s exciting, but you’re also nervous to see if/ how they react. 
Now that she’s eating almost everything again (she’ll stay gluten free for the foreseeable future), it’s been fun trying foods and snacks that she wasn’t able to have before now. I know that foods like nuts, eggs, wheat, and milk can be biggies when it comes to allergies, but I’ve also learnt that completely avoiding them may not be the answer either, especially when it comes to introducing babies to foods that are common allergens (again, things like nuts, egg, wheat, milk, etc). This is a tough area for a parent to figure out, and I know our family sure has had some interesting experiences when it comes to food. But that doesn’t mean you have to be scared to try foods with your kids/ babies. There are now studies showing that introducing rather than avoiding common allergens can help children grow up without allergies to foods like peanuts (I know this might sound counter- intuitive/ confusing). But by speaking with your paediatrician or family doctor/ naturopath, you might find out that you’re able to give your child certain foods, even if you have concerns and/ or a family history of food allergies (please know I’m not trying to give medical advice, just a friendly suggestion as Mom who’s gone through a lot with her own kid’s health). And if you’re a parent with a baby about to start solids or just looking for some tasty snacks for your kids, it’s good to know what options are available. 
In the past I’ve shared about some of the snacks we’ve tried (convenience always seemed to be my biggest challenge when it came to gluten/ dairy free ideas), and we’ve recently been enjoying trying out Cheeky Monkey’s Peanut Butter Puffs with the kids. These were actually the first peanut- containing food that we gave Ari since adjusting her diet, and they were a hit with both her and Liam. Sure, I was nervous, but I also knew we had to see how she’d do; she was never diagnosed with a severe allergy, just a strong sensitivity so I was cautiously optimistic that she’d be fine with them (and she was, yay!). 
I understand that peanuts pose an interesting challenge when it comes to packing lunches for school/ daycare, but I love having these as an option when we’re at home or on a play date with friends, and even for taking to visit the grandparents. Both kids love them- who doesn’t love puffy snacks?- and I like the attention to the quality of ingredients (they’re 100% organic and non- GMO, and gluten free for starters). As we enter this new foodie phase in our house, I appreciate that fun snacks like this exist and that it’s a convenient option I now have that isn’t loaded with added sugars, weird ingredients, or preservatives. Somedays you just need something quick and easy, and these check all the boxes in my books. 
What I love about them:
– 100% organic & non- GMO ingredients
– gluten free
– no added sugars
– high protein
– baked, not fried
– no flavour extracts or trans fats
– no chemicals/ preservatives
If you want to find out more about introducing the ‘Big Eight’ foods known to cause allergies to your kids, check out this website for more helpful info. I know this can be a hot topic, so I’d love to hear how you handle(d) food allergies/ sensitivities with your kids. If you’re curious about Cheeky Monkey & trying their snacks with your kids, visit their website to learn more.
…And speaking of trying out these tasty snacks with your kids- Scroll to the end of this post to enter to win a case of Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs (12 bags) for your kids! Nom nom, happy snacking!

Visit the Cheeky Monkey website for more info & follow along on social media:

Facebook: Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs
Instagram: @cheekymonkeypbpuffs
Twitter: @cheekymonkeypb

#EatTheEight
Learn more at www.eattheeight.com

November 16, 2016
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Easy Chocolate Layer Cake {Gluten Free}

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Does anyone else crave comfort food this time of year? For me that’s carbs (well, I pretty much crave cabs all year, but let’s not go there right now…) and sweet things like baking. If you saw my post last week with The Sweet Life Apparel, you saw the chocolate cake Ari and I whipped up together. It was one of our messier endeavours (and crankier- at least in the beginning- for Ari), but we ended up having a blast and the cake turned out amazing (sprinkles EVERYWHERE!). While we still make everything gluten free, I’ve been able to add dairy back into what we eat since the end of Summer, re- introducing it in meals and baking. I’m not going to lie, I’ve missed cooking/ baking with butter. And milk. But that’s not to say this recipe wouldn’t turn out if you used a dairy- free milk, I just enjoyed the chance to try it out (this is the first cake I’ve made with milk in a long time, yahoo!). It’s about as easy as it gets, with simple ingredients, and if you’re like us, the decorating is at least half the fun (and most of the mess πŸ˜‰ ). If you want a sweet treat for holiday parties, why not whip up this baby? Enjoy. 

Ingredients:

2 cups gluten free flour (I used 1 cup brown rice flour & 1 cup coconut flour)
use an unbleached or all- purpose flour if not gluten free
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Decoration ideas:
– frosting (I cheated and used the store- bought stuff)
– sprinkles
– toasted coconut
– fresh flowers
whatever you like! πŸ˜‰

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cake pans with parchment paper- use two 9- inch pans for 2 layers, or four 6- inch pans for 4 layers

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Tip: to help make it lighter- especially if making a gluten free cake- sift the dry ingredients to aerate them.

3. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients and slowly add to the dry mix, stirring to avoid lumps as you go.

4. When combined, pour the batter into your pans, distributing equally among the 2 or 4 that you’re using. Bake for 30 -35 minutes until you can insert a toothpick into the centre and it comes out clean. If baking four 6- inch cakes, bake them two at a time.

5. Allow to cool before removing from pans. Use frosting between the layers and frost the outside however you like. We went more for a naked cake look (at least that’s what I”m calling it!), but pick an icing/ decoration that you like. This is a nice, moist cake that’s not too rich/ heavy so there’s lots of options.

6. Decorate to your heart’s content!

What we’re wearing:
Check out the full line by The Sweet Life Apparel on their website and get the latest news on social media:
Instagram: @thesweetlifeapparel 
Photo credit: Akane Kondo Photography
Instagram: @akanekondophoto

November 14, 2016
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