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Friday, June 8, 2018

Mental Health Awareness

With a few high profile suicides this week, I felt compelled to lend my voice to the mental health discussion.  I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor or mental health professional, so I will not go too in depth.  The idea behind this post is simply to keep the discussion going.



One thing that seems to happen any time there is a celebrity suicide is that we see a number of posts of shock: "I had no idea", "they seemed so happy", "I can't believe it!".  It emphasizes the point that we don't always know what's happening with people beyond their "public face". 

It is undeniable that depression, anxiety and many other mental health issues are not restricted to certain professions, certain types of people, or any other social classification.  Mental health is something that affects all of us, and while more discussion is happening, we still have more work to do.  Please keep this discussion going. 

If you are battling depression, know you are not alone.   Please reach out if you need help:

- In Canada, you can call the Canadian Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-833-456-4566, or contact your local center - contact information can be found here: https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/

- In the USA, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Monday, March 12, 2018

7 Tips to Making Travel Easier



Travel is honestly one of my favourite topics of conversation.  I'm sure that's not shocking to anyone that knows me and/or has read this blog.  I've been asked before to share some of my tips and tricks for easy travel - here are some of my favourites.  Keep in mind that not all of these are ideal for every trip, so it depends on what kind of travel you're doing, but hopefully you find some good information.

1 - Store your passports somewhere that is easily accessible.... but not TOO easily accessible

  • This seems like a confusing tip, but here's what I mean.  Have you ever been in that moment of boarding and you're frantically searching your carry-ons for where you put the passports?  I've been there.  Those are stressful moments.  You don't want to leave your passports too easily accessible, as they can easily be taken from your bags, but you need them close by, how do you handle that?    I use a carry-on bag that has an inside zipper pocket.  I dedicate that pocket to our passports.  

2 - Keep all of your confirmation numbers together.
  • Hotels, rental cars, airfare, whatever it may be, even if you have never had issues checking in anywhere before, it's a good idea to keep that information handy.
  • If you are someone relies heavily on your phone/tablet/latptop for that information, make sure they are well charged.  Nothing like running in to an issue and realizing your phone is dead and you can't access your confirmation numbers.  Similarly... if the information is stored in an online cloud or email account, make sure internet access won't be an issue.
  • I stay "old school "  with this one and I keep hard copies of all of our confirmations.  In fact,  I make a little booklet with all of our booking information in the order we would be accessing each of them.  I also include any hard copy maps/directions we may need as well.

3 - Keep valuables, a tooth brush, hair brush, and extra pair of underwear (and bathing suit... depending on your destination) in your carry-on.
  • Sure... the valuables seem like common sense.  But when I suggest the rest, people often look at me like I'm crazy.  It seems like a lot, but if your luggage doesn' arrive with you... those items can be lifesavers.
  • Just because you have a direct flight... that doesn't always eliminate the risk of your luggage getting lost or sent to the wrong location.
  • This suggestion leads me to my next tip....

4 - If you can, travel with carry-ons only.
  • This is a tricky one.  You really have to be a skilled packer to pull this one off.
  • Evaluate whether you will have access to laundry facilities on your trip.
  • Pay close attention to the baggge size limits.  Don't risk bringing a bag that's too big.
  • This does mean more stuff to lug around but the payoff could mean having all of your items with you, no lost luggage, no waiting at luggage carousels, no checking luggage. 

5 - Carry some easily stored snacks in your carry-on/backpack/purse.
  • Always handy to have a little snack with you in your carry-on, but make sure your snack complies with airline rules (ie - no liquid treats).
  • This doesn't just apply to flying - bringing a snack on a hike, to a park, beach, etc, can be a lifesaver if you run in to any delays.
  • Granola bars, gummy snacks or crackers are ideal - try to keep your snack nut free in the event that there is anyone with allergies close by.

6 - Have a plan.
  • I'm not saying you should plan every minute of your vacation, but having a general idea of what you're going to do and how you're going to get there.
  • While I love technology, it's also good to have a backup plan in the event you don't have access to data/cell service.  Either have some back up hard copies of documents you may need, or have an idea where a library, internet cafe, or other facility where you may be able to access internet if you need to.
  • Now while I suggest that having a plan is good, it's also important to.......
7 - Be flexible!
  • I cannot stress this one enough.  Things may go wrong, it's important to be able to "roll with the punches" and not let a disruption ruin your whole vacation.
  • If you are flying - flights are frequently delayed or cancelled - especially in winter, but even in seemingly good weather.  It's good to keep this information in mind when booking flights.  While it's not fun to spend a couple hours in an airport - it's even less fun to run through a busy airport to arrive at your next gate just to discover you missed the flight.
  • If a flight is cancelled - check with the airline to see when you can be re-booked, and make the most of your delay.  If you're at your home airport - maybe you get to go home and double check that you didn't leave anything unlocked, double check you didn't miss anything being packed in your luggage.  If you're not at home - check and see what kind of compensation, if any, the airline is offering - a night in a hotel?  Food vouchers?  Enjoy what you are offered.  It's just another chapter in your adventure.
  • Check in to your hotel and it's not what you were expected?  Check with the hotel about changing your accommodations, or what cancellation fees may be if you want to change locations all together.  
  • And sometimes, disruptions are just wholly unpleasant.  It's ok to be disappointed or dissatisfied, just look to your next steps and try to move on to something more pleasant.

So those are some of my tips.  Do you have some of your own?  Feel free to share in the comments section or join me on social media to discuss!

Happy travels!


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Life is Hard



The title of this post is hardly a revelation or "aha moment" as some call it.  In fact, many probably read the title of this post and thought "duh... no kidding... tell me something I don't know".  Touché.

I decided to write this post after doing some reminising as I scrolled through some pictures on my social media.  Most of my pictures are of things like beautiful sunsets, fun family vacations, selfies on a good hair day or after a workout, or pictures of school books.  All pretty positive stuff.  Makes sense, right?  Who wants to post pictures of dishes in the sink, the laundry that has piled up, a desk/diningroom table/coffee table after a long night of working, or what you look like mid "ugly cry" when your favourite character dies in the show you are binge watching (sidenote - character deaths affect me way too much... I need guarantees that no one will be killed off the shows I watch).  I digress....

What am I saying here?  What is the point of this post?  My point is that most of us present the positive side of life on social media.  Sure we may share the odd emotional post or rant of the week... but overall... we show the "good stuff... and that's ok.  But this is a reminder that we all have things we struggle with.  Sometimes when I share my school book pictures... I'm actually really stressed about an upcoming exam.  When I share a picture from a hotel room... it may be on a work trip where I'm working long hours away from family.  When I post a workout selfie... it may be the last thing I want to do... but I muster a smile and post anyway.  So why do I do it, you may ask, because those pictures.... despite the fact that there is background stress involved.... remind me that there can be beauty in many moments, even if they are stressful.  They can also act as reminders of how hard I work for the life I have.  They can also push and motivate me to work harder.  And, they can be reminders that we all need a break every once in a while.

So remember... next time you're wondering how someone's life appears so perfect on social media.... we don't know the backstory.  There can be a lot happening "behind the scenes".   We need to be kind to each other, and most of all, be kind to ourselves.

As you may or may not have noticed... I took an extended break from my blog.  Life happens... and the break was necessary.  Posts like this remind me of why I like to blog.  It's therapeutic, cathartic, and helps me gain perspective.

My life is far from perfect, but it's mine and I love it.  Keep following my happy social media posts while keeping in mind that for every picture of a sunset... rest assured there is a full basket of laundry and long hours at the office behind each one.  😀

So as the title says.... life is hard..... but it can also be amazing.  Look for the positive, it helps make the harder moments easier to push through.  And give yourself a break.  No one's life is perfect.... despite what their Instagram account may suggest.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Here's Why I love "Beauty and the Beast"

Ok, I know the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie was released months ago, so it may seem like I'm behind the ball on this one, but as I re-watched this movie, I was reminded of why I love this movie so much.



If you've read through my blog, it's easy to see that I am a Disney fan, but that's not the only reason I love this movie.  I think that sometimes Disney princesses, and fairy-tale princesses in general, get a bad rap.  They're sometimes portrayed as "damsels in distress" and they get criticized for seeking a man's help (more specifically, a prince's help) to get out of whatever trouble their in.  This brings me some of the reasons I love this movie so much, and why I think Belle is one of my favourite princesses.

Please note I am doing my best not to spoil the movie for those who have not seen it, but I can't guarantee that you will not see things that you didn't know about the movie.

1 - Belle is a polite and caring person.  As she walks through the village in the opening seen, she is faced with people calling her peculiar, strange and even rolling their eyes at her.  But she greets everyone with a smile and a polite greeting.  Please don't mistake this to think I mean we have to accept people being disrespectful to us, but I think a smile and a greeting go a long way.  Belle goes on to show a little girl how to read, even though it is not an activity that others in the village believe that little girls can do.

2 - Belle is imaginative and creative.  Not only does she imagine the world outside of her little village, but she puts her creativity to work to come up with a washing machine for herself.  Very clever!

3 - Belle recognizes there is more to a person than just outer appearance.  Gaston may be handsome (and he definitely is in this movie), but his personality is not so attractive.  While others fawn over him, Belle is not taken in by his outward appearance and recognizes his unattractive personality.  And ultimately (SPOILER ALERT) she falls in love with the Beast for who he is on the inside, not his outward appearance.

4 - Belle is brave and strong.  While initially frightened of the Beast (and who wouldn't be scared of this towering creature that has captured your father and locked him away), she is not afraid to stand up to him.  She speaks her mind and openly disagrees with him.  And it goes without saying that when she volunteered to take her father's place as prisoner, that showed the ultimate courage.

5 - The visual effects in this movie are out of this world.  The colours, and the way Disney brings the objects like clocks, candelabras and even a wardrobe to life are amazing.

6 - Le Fou.  Le Fou is sometimes underrated, but there are a few reasons I like Le Fou, and I actually prefer the version of Le Fou in this live-action version of Beauty and the Beast over the cartoon one.  Le Fou holds Gaston in high regard, as many of the villagers seem to, which even results in a song dedicated to Gaston (one of my favourites in the move).  Despite the pedistal that Le Fou places Gaston on, he also has a conscience.  As the movie progresses Le Fou makes a transformation from a follower of Gaston to someone that starts to value himself and recognizes the error of Gaston's ways.  I love this transformation.   And finally, Le Fou injects some great humour in to some darker scenes of the movie, he has some of the funniest lines in the movie.

I could probably expand my list well beyond 6 reasons that I love this movie, but I will leave it there.  If you have not seen the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, you really should.  If you have seen the movie, do you agree with my list?  What did you think of it?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section, or connect with me on social media to let me know what you think:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Product Review: Bare Blossom Skincare & Organics

I've mentioned before that I haven't traditionally been the biggest beauty product or makeup user.  But in recent years, my skin has changed and I need to take care of it better than I have been.  This is where Bare Blossom Skincare & Organics comes in.  They offer a range of skincare and other organic products that are locally made in my home province of New Brunswick!

I decided to give these products a try after seeing a few posts on Facebook about them, and that they offered a "sample pack", which offered some sample sizes of a lot of their products, so it was an opportunity to try a number of products without committing to full size.

The first product I tried was the "Goddess Face Mask".  The texture is very similar to "mud".  It can dry out a little if not used right away, but just adding a tiny bit of water and working it through gets it ready for application.

You don't need much, but just apply to your entire face.  It goes on pretty dark, but it dries to about the colour in the picture below.


When it was time to remove the mask, it came off pretty easy.  My skin felt soft and moisturized.  This is my "after" picture:


The Goddess Mask is one of my favourite products.  The full size will last a long time as it is not a "daily use" product.  At the time of publication, the full size of the Face Mask is $25.

Next, I tried the Body Scrub.  This product comes in a number of different scents including Vanilla Cupcake, Coconut Crumble and Coffee.  I picked the Coffee Scent.  I LOVE the scent.  So energizing!

The scrub is granular, similar to a sea salt texture.  It doesn't take a lot, but you can take some in the palm of your hand and rub it on your body.  You can tell by the texture right away that you're getting some great exfoliation!


This is a picture of the product inside the package:


My skin is always dry and it felt great after using this product!  Just a heads up that if you're using this product, I would use it in the shower, as some does fall to the ground.  It would be messy if you used it prior to getting in the shower.

Next is another one of my favourite products - bath bombs.  There is a great variety of these bath bombs.  Not only can you get different scents, but you can get some for you and/or some for your kids!  My daughter's personal favourite bath bombs are the Poke Bomb and the Bling Bomb.  The childrens bath bombs have fun surprises in the middle!  They also smell great and don't irritate your child's skin.

I treated myself to the Orange Creamsicle bath bomb.  I have also tried the Peppermint bath bomb.  They both smell great, but the scent is not overpowering.  

The Bath Bomb in its package.

Bath Bomb - ready for use.

The bath bomb dissolves well and left my skin feeling clean and soft.  At the time of publication, bath bombs were $5 each, or 4 for $20.

The next product I tried was one that was a little strange using for the first time.  The Bare Blossom Whitening Toothpaste uses activated charcoal to help whiten your teeth.   I wasn't sure if this would work for me given that I have sensitive teeth and soft enamel and have been unable to use whitening products in the past.

A word of advice, this is a little bit of a messy process (at least in my experience), so have some cleaning products near by to clean your sink.

You only need a little to brush on your teeth and it stays on for 1 to 2 minutes.  Here's a look at what it looks like with it on your teeth:



I had no pain or sensitivity with the paste on.

When it came time to take it off, it does take a little bit to get it all completely off your teeth.  It does leave a little mess in your sink, but I just took a cleaning wipe and wiped it all up.

I saw immediate results.  Not dramatic results, but results none the less:


I am looking forward to using this a few more times to help whiten my teeth further!

At the time of publication, the price of the paste is $12.  This will last you a while because it's not for daily use.  My understanding is that the price will be going up, so act fast to see if you can still get it at that price!

Finally, I also used the Grit & Bare It face scrub.  For that review, watch my video below:


This is just a small sample of some of the products I tried, there are many, many others.  Check out the Bare Blossom Skincare & Organics webpage to see more of the products offered and to order!  https://bareblossomskincare.com/

Bare Blossom Skincare & Organics ships within Canada and to the United States!

As a bonus, I am giving you an opportunity to win a sample pack of Bare Blossom products!  Unfortunately, this contest is only open to Canadian residents.  Enter through the form below.   The Sample pack contains sample sizes of many of the products offered by Bare Blossom as well as a full size lip balm.

Enter to win the sample pack.  Open to Canadian Residents.  Contest runs until September 15 at 11:59 PM Eastern.


If the entry form doesn't load, you can also visit: http://giveawaytools2.com/share.php?giveaway=68330191821 to enter.

As a bonus, check out the Bare Blossom Skincare & Organics Facebook page for an AMAZING giveaway that they are running until September 21!  You could win $1000 worth of products!  Wow!!


Friday, July 28, 2017

You Could Win a $150 Nordstrom Gift Card!

When it comes to shopping for Fall, the focus is always on kids and their "Back to School" items, but sometimes Mama needs some new clothes too! I love Nordstrom because they have some great items, with many different brands and styles. There's something for everyone!
Don't need anything for yourself? They also carry men's clothing, children's clothing, beauty products and home decor. So much to choose from! That's why I've teamed up with some fantastic bloggers to give you all an opportunity to win a $150 (US) Nordstrom Gift Card! See below to enter!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS
Prize: $150 Nordstrom Gift Card
Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 8/18 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.
Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Why Are You Posting Sweaty Selfies?

The title of this post is a question I actually was asked a couple weeks ago.  That's when I started posting post workout pictures on my Instragram (and sometimes my Twitter and Facebook pages).  It's a strange thing to do, I know.  But I thought I would share my thinking behind it.



One of my many Instagram posts. 

In January, I went though a time that I was working out a few days a week, and felt like I was on a role, then I took a break for a few days, that turned in to a week, that turned in to a month... you get the picture.  So, when I decided to get back on track this month, I tried to think of ways to keep myself accountable.  Weight loss group meetings don't work for me, as I find it challenging to get there with my school, travel and mom schedule.  And asking my husband to check in with me to make sure I've exercised probably wouldn't end well.  So, I decided to post a bit about my fitness journey on social media, and it quickly became something that was motivating me!

I know there is likely no one that's going to message me to say "where is your sweaty picture today", but the idea that I post one most days of the week has been enough of a motivation to keep me going.  In my own mind, I have to post a new picture most days of the week.  It may seem like a strange way to motivate myself, but it's working for me.

How do you motivate yourself to stay active?  Feel free to share in the comments section, or connect with me on social media: