You Asked, I Answered: Part 2



Erika from All Things E asks,

How did you meet your hockey-playing husband?
Steve and I met over 10 years ago in high school, while he was playing junior hockey in my home town. We were good friends in high school, but didn't end up dating until a few years later when I was in university. After junior hockey, Steve pursued a career playing professional hockey in Florida, NY, Pennsylvania and North Carolina (with a few other pitstops in between) and I always looked forward to visiting for a long weekend. After I finished school, the plan was to move in together while he was playing in South Carolina, but an unexpected move took us from the sunny south over 4500 miles from home to Alaska. Long story short, after eight years of dating, countless miles travelled and hockey games played, we got engaged and married this past summer.


Is there a community of "hockey wives" that you've found while moving around?
The hockey world is very small. No matter what city, or country for that matter, that you live in, chances are you know someone on the team from a previous season, or they know someone you know, etc. As a hockey player, my husband spends many hours of his life surrounded by his teammates, both at the rink, on the road and even at home. The guys have a special relationship, but so do all of the women standing beside those guys. Like the guys, we build a very strong bond during the season, and often very quickly. And while the number of women varies per season, for those 8 months we are each other's support networks - we celebrate, we cry, we console. The girls easily spend as many hours together as the guys do, especially when the guys are on the road - you have wine nights, dog and baby play dates, go to the gym, watch the games, carpool to games and even babysit for one another. I have been very fortunate to meet many amazing women throughout Steve's career - some sadly I don't keep in touch with at all, some I occasionally talk to, but also some that I consider lifelong friends. 

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Sarah Grace asks,

What would you recommend someone do/see/visit if they were to spend a long weekend in Toronto? Any recommendations on a central place to stay or favourite spots to eat?
Whether you visit Toronto in winter, spring, summer or fall, the city is always alive with activity. Some of the must sees: CN Tower, Toronto Zoo, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery of Ontario, just to name a few. If you're lucky to visit in the summer, checking out a Blue Jays game in always a good time. Getting from point A to B in the city is easy and taxis and public transit options can be found on every block. Hotels are abundant downtown Toronto, which one you chose really just depends on your budget. Restaurants are also extremely abundant, some of my favourite can be found in the Entertainment District on King St. West. One of my favourite websites to keep up to date with city happenings, including restaurant reviews, festivals and free events, is BlogTO.


How do you keep your passion alive for hockey knowing that at times, the people involved in the sports world are prone to "real people behaviour" that you don't often hear about on TSN/CBC?
I grew up in a hockey-loving family and my brother, sister and I all played growing up. While I don't play today, my passion remains strong for the game because of my husband. My husband started playing hockey at a very young age and today is lucky enough to have made a career out of it. Because of his love for the game, and how happy it makes him to play, I enjoy watching him play. Not only that, it has created lifelong relationships, given us incredible experiences, and pays the bills. It is a HUGE part of our daily lives. At the end of the day, hockey players, and really any other professional athlete, are real people too. It just happens to be that their lives are just a little more public than others.


Ask Me Anything, Part I


Thanks to everyone who sent in questions! Stay tuned for my answers to the final questions next week!


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Sunday Morning Coffee // 2.23.14

Sunday Morning Coffee is the place where I sit down with a big cup o' joe and recap the past week's events - from my favourite blogger posts, to the happenings here at t.o. & fro, and even share my "Eco-Tip of the Week" to encourage you to live a more responsible and sustainable lifestyle. So please, grab your Sunday morning poison and join me...



So I have a confession to make, I stopped drinking coffee this past week. Quit [almost] cold turkey. I'm not quite sure why I decided to make this dramatic decision, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the death of my french press last week. That thing makes a mighty fine cup o' joe. Coffee was always just a morning starter for me - I never thought caffeine really affected me, until I stopped consuming it. I'm not too sure how I feel about it yet. Have you ever tried quitting coffee?

So I apologize in advance for the short coffee talk today - I had to supervise a sleepover at work last night (think 50 crazy/excited school-aged children). So little sleep, combined with my lack of coffee and the fact that I have to stay awake to go to one of Steve's games in a few hours is trumping a quality Sunday morning post. I'll be back next week, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but still, hopefully, minus the coffee. 

Oh by the way, how about those Canadians? No matter what country you're from, you have to agree the Canadian athletes have put on a preeeettttttty good show the past few days. See you in another 4 years winter Olympics. #WeAreWinter #HockeyCanada

This week I:

To be more responsible:


Eco-tip 06. Littler-less lunches

Do you bring your own home-made lunch to work? I admit, sometimes I get in a bad habit of not packing a lunch and having to buy. BUT when I do pack a lunch for work, I try to make it as "litter-less" as possible, which means no garbage! Litter-less lunches are gaining popularity in both schools and work environments. At my work, we not only encourage employees to bring litter-less lunches, but it is also highly pushed upon school groups that come to visit as well. Most schools have already adapted the same policy, helping educate children on how they can care for the environment.

The first step to creating a litter-less lunch is awareness. How much garbage do you actually create packing your sandwich, veggies, etc. in plastic bags and using disposable napkins? The answer? A LOT! Every year in Ontario, an elementary school student sends his/her own body weight in waste to the landfill. That's roughly around 67 lbs of garbage per year! Now imagine how much waste an adult, over twice their size, produces.

Why should you pack a litter-less lunch? Well, not only does it divert waste from the landfill, home-made, litter-less lunches are often much cheaper. And while pre-packed food may be more convenient, they often contain higher levels of sodium, sugars and fats, making home-made, litter-less lunches the healthier option as well. 

What will you need for a litter-less lunch? For starters, a reusable lunch bag, reusable glass or plastic containers, cloth napkins, a BPA-free reusable water bottle or drink container and reusable, plastic or stainless steel utensils. 

So, do you part: Take some time to plan your lunch for the next day, and be sure to pack it in reusable containers. Home-made and litter-less is healthier for both you, and the environment.


  • If you have a good tip for greening your life, or even a photo of your living a more sustainable lifestyle, I'd love to hear about it and even feature it as my "eco-tip of the week" during Sunday Morning Coffee! Please leave a comment below or email me at toandfro21@gmail.com with your tips and photos.


Have a good week!




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Celebrate Salty + Sweet

national margarita day recipe


Today is National Margarita Day! Will you be celebrating? 

Since it's beginning, the Margarita has taken on many forms, from on the rocks, to frozen and with the addition of different fruits and liquors.  In honour of the Wardo household's favourite cocktail, I thought I would share one of our "go to" margarita recipes, made with fresh ingredients, because there's none of that store-bought, bottled crap going on here.


Fresh Margaritas

Ingredients:
4-5 limes
1 lemon
granulated sugar
water
ice cubes
Tequila
Grand Marnier
salt

Directions:
Places glasses in the freezer to make get them nice and frosty.

Make your simple syrup: Measure an equal volume of granulated sugar and water into a small saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completed melted. Allow to cool before using. Extra simple syrup can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Break down 4 limes and 1 lemon (peel, remove seeds) and place in blender. Add simple syrup and ice cubes and blend. If you are not a fan of pulp, pour sweet and sour mixture through strainer.

Salt the rim of your now frosty glass. Add ice to the glass, along with 1 oz tequila and 1 oz Grand Marnier. Top with sweet and sour mixture. Add a lime wedge for a garnish. Voila!

*If you prefer sweet and sour mix from the bottle, Costco sells one of the best, and most inexpensive, sweet and sour mixes we've tried.


Now all we need is a tropical beach, or a view like this...




Do you enjoy margaritas? 

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Kale + Quinoa Patties Recipe

Kale is a fan favourite in our household. A few weeks back I shared why everyone should eat kale and how to incorporate it into smoothies. Another way we have incorporated kale into our meals is by mixing it with another healthy treat, quinoa. Quinoa is high in protein, a good source of riboflavin, a complex carbohydrate, low in calories and gluten-freeKale and quinoa patties are not only a match made in healthy heaven, they are an easy and delicious addition to any meal.

kale and quinoa patties recipe


Kale + Quinoa Patties
Serving size: Approximately 12 small patties

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken/vegetable stock or water
4 eggs, whisked
1/3 cup Parm cheese
1/2 small white onion, minced (or 3 green onions, sliced)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup steamed kale, chopped (about 6 leaves)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp olive oil
toppings: salsa, avocado, garlic aioli 

kale and quinoa patties recipe

Directions:
Cook the quinoa: Rinse 1 cup of quinoa thoroughly. Place in a medium saucepan with 2 cups of low sodium chicken stock or water. Allow to soak for 15 minutes. With lid on, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until tender and liquid absorbed. Allow quinoa to cool.

Steam the kale: Fill bottom of steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to boil. De-rib kale. When water comes to a boil, add kale and cover. Allow kale to steam for 5 minutes.

In large bowl, mix together quinoa, parm cheese, onion, garlic, salt, kale, breadcrumbs and eggs. Let everything sit for a few minutes to allow liquid to be absorbed. You want mixture to be moist. Form patties with hands.


kale and quinoa patties recipe


Heat 1 tsp olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to the skillet and fry. Do not overcrowd the skillet. Cook for 7-10 minutes on one side, or until brown. Flip and cook on the other side for 7-10 minutes. Let rest on cooling rack. Top with topping of your choice, and enjoy!


kale and quinoa patties recipe


Is this a recipe you'd try?

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You Asked, I Answered: Part 1




Jenn at A Country Girl's World asks,

These three Alaskan cities are on a cruise itinerary we are looking at: Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Have you ever been to them and if so where is a good place to eat or something neat to see?
First of all, I am so excited that you're going to be visiting Alaska! Even with living in Alaska, taking a cruise is still on my bucket list. It would allow me to see the great state in an entirely different way. Unfortunately, during our time there, we did not get down to the southeast to visit those cities. However, I have only heard some great things. Make sure you check out the Mendenhall glacier in Juneau and try some of the amazing craft beer and fresh seafood, such as salmon and halibut, that Alaska has to offer.

What do you miss most about Alaska?
I miss... everything. But in all seriousness, the thing I miss most is our friends. While we were there we met some incredible people - we saw them every single day, we celebrated and shared milestones with them and they provided support when we needed it. They became our family and not seeing them every day has been a very difficult adjustment. I do also miss the beauty and the convenience of getting outside. It was so easy to hop in the car, go for a short drive and be in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing but nature. The scenery in Toronto been a difficult adjustment - in the matter of a few months, we went from looking out our window and seeing the tall mountains and moose walking down our street like they owned it, to tall buildings, concrete and cars.


If you could move anywhere in the world for a period of time where would that be?
This is a really difficult question because I'm always up for an adventure. For a short period of time I would love to live in Europe, the west coast like Vancouver, Seattle or Portland, some place warm and on the ocean like southern Florida or a Caribean island, and I'd move back to Alaska in a heartbeat. But, that being said, at the end of the day I am very much a homebody and need to be around family. 

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Are you happy home in Toronto, or itching for another adventure abroad? What things do you do now to scratch the itch (if you have it of course)?
While I love being at home, and being able to see my family more than I have the past three years, I am always itching for a new adventure. City life has been a difficult adjustment, and I must admit, I'm not sure it's entirely "me". I definitely want to live closer to family, but not in an urban area like we do now. As for combatting the itch, the hockey schedule doesn't really allow for trips during the season, so I'm always looking forward to summer and planning excursions. This summer we will be going back to Alaska for 10 days, with a quick stop in Seattle on the way home. Not only has planning for this trip helped with the itch, it has helped with the winter blues as well. That being said, making the best of the situation always helps as well. Toronto is a huge city, and while it may not have the amount of green space I crave, one thing I love about the city is that there is no shortage of festivals, concerts, markets, concerts, etc. to take advantage of. 

/////

Carolyn E asks,

What animal do you miss the most from the Zoo? Do you work with any animals in your new job in Toronto and if you do, what kind if your favourite?
I miss all of the animals at the Zoo, from the ones that I worked with every single day, to the ones I just said hello to in passing. Spending time with the great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, northern goshawk, red fox, porcupine, dall sheep and muskox girls was part of my daily routine.  I had a strong relationship with them, they were excited to see me and they even showed affection. My new job is quite different, and not as hands-on as the Zoo. We have many different types of fish, from fish you would find in the Great Lakes to sharks and rays, and even two sea turtles. The animals I worked with at the Zoo were a bit quirkier, and similarly, the animals that are my favourite at the Aquarium, aren't your typical fan favourites either. I do adore the sharks, the stingrays and even the turtles, but I also enjoy the smaller fish that most people pass over. Some of the smaller fish have amazing, and unique, behaviours and survival techniques that are very interesting to learn about.



Thanks to everyone who sent in a question! Stay tuned for more answers next week.


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Do You Enjoy Learning?

This post is in no way sponsored by Coursera - I simply just want to share a great, and free, opportunity with others. All opinions expressed are my own.

I finished my undergrad over 5 years ago. But, just because those days are over, doesn't mean that I don't enjoy learning anymore. So call me a nerd, but this month I started a FREE, ONLINE course from Coursera. Call it "professional development" if you will.

Haven't heard of Coursera? Well, I recommend you check it out.  Coursera's philosophy is simple and one that's hard not to agree with - they believe in connecting people to a great education so that anyone around the world can learn without limits and aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families and the communities they live in.


Whether you're looking to improve your resume, advance your career, expand your knowledge and personal interests or just "kill some time", there is a course, or two, for you on Coursera. Signup is simple and there are a range of topics to chose from - from biology and life sciences, to communications, humanities, history and finances - all offered to you by accredited institutions such as Duke, Princeton and Brown, just to name a few. Courses range in length from a few weeks, to a few months, and have different start dates. If there is a course that interests you, but isn't available at the moment, you can be added to the "watch list" and will receive notifications when start dates are announced. And if it doesn't sound amazing enough already, upon completion of Coursera courses, you will even receive a certificate! For a small fee of $50 (hey, compared to a regular university course that's pretty small), this certificate can be verified by the institution leading the course, making it legit.

Courses I'm currently signed up for are,
+  Marine Megafauna: An Introduction to Marine Science & Conservation (Duke University)
+ Animal Behaviour (University of Melbourne)
+ Animal Behavior & Welfare (University of Edinburg)
+ Using the Next Generation Science Standards for Student's Deeper Understanding (Rice University)

By signing up for a free, online course from Coursera, not only am I completing a course in my field, and in something that greatly interests me, I am connecting with others across the globe that share similar passions with me. After all, you're never too old to learn.


Do you believe in continued education? 
Have you ever heard of Coursera?

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Sunday Morning Coffee // 2.16.14

Sunday Morning Coffee is the place where I sit down with a big cup o' joe and recap the past week's events - from my favourite blogger posts, to the happenings here at t.o. & fro, and even share my "Eco-Tip of the Week" to encourage you to live a more responsible and sustainable lifestyle. So please, grab your Sunday morning poison and join me...


We celebrated Steve's birthday this past week. And while I understand that 28 is nowhere near old, we're also not spring chickens anymore. As part of our tradition, I bake him a cake every year - rainbow chip (confetti for the Americans), with vanilla icing. Even with our busy schedules, this year was no exception. I was determined to make him a cake, and so I did. The only difference this year was that it turned out looking like this,



Please notice the large chunk in the bottom right corner of the photo. Thanks to his large sweet tooth, he was a good sport about it. It's the thought that counts though, right? At least it still tasted delicious, even if you had to close your eyes to eat it.

This week I:

Give it a look:
  • Jessica shared her favourite colour palates, and I have to admit, they make me drool. Now that I can wear whatever the hell I want to work, when shopping, I am more aware of different colour palates and how I can mix and match different pieces.
  • Christina shares a tutorial for basic DSLR camera settings, a must read for any DSLR beginners. 

To be more responsible:

Eco-tip of the week 05: say NO to palm oil

Palm oil touches our lives every time we take a trip to the supermarket. It can be found in every room in our homes, from your cosmetics bag to your kitchen pantry, and is often disguised under many different names.

Palm oil is created from the harvest of oil palm trees that grow in warm countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, where rain forests are prevalent. It's popularity comes from its low cost and the fact that it is considered a highly saturated fat. However, to produce palm oil, each year, vast areas of pristine forest are cut down and burned to make way for oil palm plantations. This large scale deforestation is pushing the animals that call them home to the brink of extinction. 

While some companies are beginning to take steps to address this problem, none have yet adopted or fully implemented adequate measures to eliminate conflict palm oil use. These companies, and even you as the consumer, have the power to drive a transformation in the way palm oil is now commonly produced. Increased consumer and citizen pressure on these companies is a key ingredient for success

Even though rain forests feel like they're half a world away from your corner of the Earth, they touch our lives every. single. day. And in those rain forests, animals such as orangutans are making their last stand for survival, all in the name of tasty food and beauty. So do your part, say no to unsustainable palm oil, because what's a world without orangutans?

//via//

  • If you have a good tip for greening your life, or even a photo of your living a more sustainable lifestyle, I'd love to hear about it and even feature it as my "eco-tip of the week" during Sunday Morning Coffee! Please leave a comment below or email me at toandfro21@gmail.com with your tips and photos.


Have a good week!

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What does family mean to you?


Monday is Family Day here in Canada. Yes, we actually get paid to take a day off and spend time with our family. How awesome is that?!

Over the years, my description of family has changed quite a bit. My brother, sister and I have all moved away from home, with different time zones, career schedules and long drives and travel days separating us. Milestones and holidays are no longer spent together, and time is now juggled between jobs, significant others and in-laws. Simple get togethers or phone dates have to be planned around time differences, work schedules and rush hour traffic. But, despite these challenges, one thing that has not changed is how important my family is to me. 

In the past few years I have been lucky to watch my family grow, from my mom, dad, brother and sister to include sister-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and even close friends. Today, family is not just about the people that raised me, or the people that I share blood and a name with. To me, family is now about love, acceptance, kindness and support. It is about the people that you love and that love you back despite your flaws, that support you, that want nothing but the best for you, that don't judge you and that will always have your back. I am so lucky to have such a large family.

Family is a single word, with many different meanings. And while defining the word "family" may not be an easy task, and may vary from person to person, I think one thing we can all agree on is that family are the people, maybe even pets, that are extremely important to us. 

Today, these two lovely ladies are also sharing what family means to them...


Jess @ Stamp in My PassportTo me, family is more than just those people God and biology has assigned to you. Family includes all of those who love you in spite of your flaws; they laugh with you, cry with you, rejoice with you and hold you accountable. Miles cannot keep you apart and even if you have not been around one another for a long period of time, you pick right back up where you left off. After moving away for college, I had to learn to create a second family and the friendships I made there will last a lifetime.

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Andi @ ap loves designWhen I think of family I feel blessed. Family is always there for you. Supports you through the good and still loves you unconditionally when you've made mistakes. When I'm with family, I'm definitely my happiest!


If you would like to learn how to be a part of t.o. & fro's monthly features, visit my sponsorship page. Until the end of the holiday weekend on Monday, ad spaces are 14% off with code LOVE14.


Now it's you're turn... 
What does family mean to YOU?


Winter Love


Today I'm cohosting Photography Friday with the lovely, and fellow Canadian, Jessica from This Analog Adventure. So, without further ado...

Welcome to the Photography Friday Blog hop! This is a blog linkup that focuses on Photography, at any skill level or experience. Each week we want to encourage you to get out and take some photos! It doesn't matter what Camera you have - an iPhone, a DSLR, a film camera, an instax - Just get out and press that shutter! Blog about your photographic awesomeness and link up here to share it every friday. If you'd like feedback on something, leave a comment asking what you'd like to know and your host will be happy to provide you with some.


And now, for some pretty winter pictures...
There's no denying that I love my little corner of Lake Huron. And while I much prefer it in the summer when I can lounge on the beach, it's pretty beautiful in winter too. Don't you agree?




Each week we will choose a new Photographer to be featured! To be considered for next week, please link up your photography post below and make sure you are following your hosts & co-hosts. These two things will qualify you for being a featured photographer!


Robert Shared some gorgeous photos from his trip to Paris not long ago. I'm pretty sure that it would have been cold and miserable, but these photos make it look beautiful and mysterious. Thank you for sharing, Robert!
001. Please follow your host/co-hosts and featured photographer!

002. Link up your blog post instead of your main blog URL.

003. Please link back to this link-up in your post, either with a text link or a button. The more people who link up each week means more people see your work, so please help us out any way you can :)

004. Visit and check out as many blogs as you can! Leave comments and love. This link-up is about community, so make some friends!

*NEW!*
Click Here to grab a different button!








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Sunday Morning Coffee 02.09.14

Sunday Morning Coffee is the place where I sit down with a big cup o' joe and recap the past week's events - from my favourite blogger posts, to the happenings here at t.o. & fro, and even share my "Eco-Tip of the Week" to encourage you to live a more responsible and sustainable lifestyle. So please, grab your Sunday morning poison and join me...


Did you tune into the opening ceremonies of the Winter Games on Friday? What was your favourite,  or least favourite, part? My favourite part was the Parade of Nations - there is something nostalgic about seeing all of the athletes representing your country, decked out in your country's colours, waving your country's flag with pride. To be honest with you, aside from the Parade, the rest of it kind of made me bored... 

Speaking of athletes, I kind of did something crazy the other night... I signed up for the CN Tower Stair Climb in May. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is exactly what it sounds - you climb the stairs of the CN Tower, all 1776 of them. This isn't something I would consider "fun", and the more I think about it, the more and more I kind of regret the decision to signup. But, at the end of the day, it's for a good cause and one close to my heart. All funds raised benefit WWF so that they can continue achieving major conservation victories such as protecting iconic species and spaces, educating for change and helping to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. Let the training begin!

This week I:
  • Started planning our trip to Seattle this summer and shared my Seattle Bucket List.
  • Shared photos from a recent winter walk through High Park.
  • Announced I will be having an AD SALE for one day only, on Valentine's Day. Use the code LOVE14 for 14% off all ad spots. (Ad spaces are reasonable enough already, so you don't want to miss this.)

Give it a look:
  • Nicole from Treasure Tromp shared her #nature365 January photosShe started this project was started as a way to push herself to spend more time outdoors, and includes taking a nature-inspired photo every single day for a year. I'm a little late to the party, but I think this is just what I need to reconnect myself. Make sure to check out my #nature365 photos on my Instagram
  • Christina from Route Bliss shares her favourite workout gear, something I should probably invest in, especially for my "stair climb training".

To be more responsible:

Eco-tip of the week 04. Eat seasonally.

To the optimistic, winter will be ending in 6 short weeks. And with the end of winter comes the beginning of spring, meaning farmer's markets and the opportunity to eat seasonally. Here's why we should all strive to all take advantage of seasonal produce...
  • To celebrate the changing seasons and the bounty your community can produce.
  • To support local farmers and the local economy.
  • Purchasing food that is in season means you are purchasing food that has traveled less, reducing your carbon footprint.
  • To avoid prices associated with foods that have traveled a further distance.
  • To reconnect with nature's cycles.
  • It allows us to get creative and try new recipes using only what is in season.
  • Fresher food lasts longer.
  • Fresher = Tastier = More nutritious.
Knowing where your food comes from connects you to the people who grow it and creates a sense of community. It's not only better on the wallet, it's better for your health and the environment. So do your part, learn what is seasonally available in your area, find your nearest farmer's market and enjoy Mother Nature's creations. Oh, and don't forget to bring your own bags!


  • If you have a good tip for greening your life, or even a photo of your living a more sustainable lifestyle, I'd love to hear about it and even feature it as my "eco-tip of the week" during Sunday Morning Coffee! Please leave a comment below or email me at toandfro21@gmail.com with your tips and photos.



Have a good week!