Colours of Alaska

Alaska is beautiful. I can't say it enough. And if you've read any of my posts or seen any of my photographs of the great state, then hopefully you agree.

From the aqua blue glacier-fed lakes, to the emerald green mountainsides and cotton candy pink evening skies in summer, in a land where Mother Nature is largely untouched, stunning colours are around every corner. 

Here are some of my favourite colours of Alaska (Thanks for this great post idea Nicole.)...

Green: mountains

Blue: glaciers

Pink: fireweed

Red: fall colours in Denali National Park


Orange: red fox

(That's my boy Mac. Isn't he gorgeous? I miss him immensely.)



Do you ever stop and notice the colours around you?


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Keeping in Touch


Our family and friends are scattered across the continent, from Alaska to BC, Ontario, Texas and beyond. While keeping in touch with family and friends is priceless, having people you love in more than one place often makes it difficult to keep in touch. And I must admit, I'm not always the best at keeping in touch. (I'm sure I'm not the only one in this boat.)

While I love sending and receiving old-fashioned greeting cards, sometimes a trip to the store or post office isn't always feasible. So how do I keep in touch? Enter the power of technology. Here are some thoughtful ways to show family and friends you're thinking of them, using trusty technology:

1. Simple texts to say hello
Something as simple as a quick text message from a loved one saying hi or asking how you are can really make your day. 

2. Phone calls
The most basic way to keep in touch, but also one of the most personal. I love receiving random phone calls from my sister or calling my grandma just because. Hearing a loved ones voice gives you a better connection. 

3. Start a blog
Moving abroad, or just to the other side of the country? Why not start a blog to keep your family and friends updated on your adventures? Oh hey, that's what I did! 

4. Video chat
Talking on the phone and hearing someone's voice is one thing, but being able to see someone's face makes missing them much easier. By having a video chat with friends and family, I don't feel like I'm missing out as much on the important moments, like missed Christmas dinners and baby's first steps.

5. Personalized digital greeting cards
Why not send a digital greeting card from the comfort of your computer, iPhone or iPad? Treat, brought to you by the same people that created Shutterfly, tinyprints and Wedding Paper Divas, makes sending personalized digital greeting cards through their website and mobile app an absolute breeze. Digital cards start at only 99 cents, and you can even set up reminders and preschedule cards so you never miss a special occasion! It's so simple to send a digital card from Treat: pick a design they'll love, personalize it the same way you would a paper card and instantly send it via email!



Voila, thoughtfulness is at your fingertips.


How do you keep in touch?

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Sunday Morning Coffee | 04.27.2014

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 posts of the week, 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..



Lately I,

To be more responsible,

Eco-tip of the week 13. Plant a tree!

If you follow me on Twitter, you would have noticed that in honour of Earth Day on April 22, we gave out 3000 evergreen seedlings at work over Easter weekend. 

The message was, "Plant a tree, save the oceans!


But how do trees help the ocean? It's simple. Like trees, the ocean takes in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The ocean's what us marine bio nerds call an "ocean sink", absorbing over 50% of the carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere.

So what's the big deal? Isn't that a good thing? Yes, the oceans are doing us a huge service by removing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. BUT with a increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to human activity, the amount of being absorbed by the oceans is also increasing, leading to a change in ocean chemistry. One of the profound effects of this change is that it is creating a more acidic environment, which is harmful to all that depend on it, from the animals with protective shells that become weakened, such as coral, mussels, clams and crabs, to the people that rely on the ocean for income, food supply and leisure.

Long story short, planting more trees takes a load off of the oceans. 



The benefits don't stop there. By planting and caring for trees, you help reduce pollution, lower energy costs, improve the appearance of your community and increase the value of your property. 

So, do your part: plant a tree, save the oceans!

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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2 months!

2 months! 2 months! 2 months!

2 months from today, Steve and I will be fully immersed in the Alaskan life we left 11 short months ago. And if you can't already tell, I'm a wee but excited. My heart skips a beat just thinking about it!

While we're making up for lost time in the Land of the Midnight Sun, why not take over t.o. & fro for the day?! 

Interested in guest posting while I'm away? Check out the new option on my advertising page. The vacation guest post option not only allows you to take over t.o. & fro for the day, your pretty face will hang out on my sidebar for 15 days (June 25 to July 10) and you'll get social media love on the day of your takeover.

Guest posts available from the end of June to beginning of July, on specified days. 

Spring Fever



Spring is my favourite season. 

It's never too hot or too cold. 

The sky is always blue, unless it's raining of course.

The birds are always singing, unless it's raining of course.

The air always smells so fresh, especially after a rain.

The grass is green.

The flowers are in full bloom.

The sun is my morning alarm clock.

And it is still up long after dinner.

Long weekends enjoyed with friends and family.

Farmer's markets are back.

Two words: animal. babies.

Need I go on?



And I'm not the only one crushing on spring...



Andi @ ap loves design: I think I start to get excited about spring once daylight savings time hits. It totally changes your attitude when the sun is still out at 8pm as opposed to it being completely dark when you get home from work at 5. I'm also obsessed with gardening. In the spring you can usually find me at the nursery looking for flowers,  or in the yard planting them :)
Etsy  |  Instagram  |  Facebook



What's your favourite thing about spring?


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Celebrating Mother Nature


April 22 is Earth Day.

Like Earth Days in the past, Earth Day 2014 will focus on the unique environmental challenges of our time. Today, more than half of the world's population lives in cities. As this number increases, and the bleak reality of climate change becomes more apparent, the need to create sustainability communities becomes more and more important.

Here are some activities that you can do at home to help celebrate Mother Nature:

Plant a Tree
Not only do trees refresh the air by taking in the bad and breathing out the good, they have additional benefits as well - they provide wildlife habitat, improve property value and aesthetic, reduce utility bills, prevent soil erosion and provide sound buffers! 

Conserve Energy
Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, take a shorter shower, wash your laundry in cold water, carpool to work, turn off the lights when you leave the room, unplug electronics not in use.  Not only will conserving energy reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it will also save you $$$!

The 3 Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce waste - bring your own grocery bags next time you go to the store and buy a reusable water bottles. Reuse an item - refurnish an old piece of furniture.  Reduce waste - buy products with less packaging or compost organic waste. Do your part by recycling glass, paper, plastic and other reusable materials. Clean out your closet and donate your unused items to charity!

Buy Locally, Cook Seasonally
Visit a local farmer's market or start your own vegetable garden!  Gardening is a wonderful way to gain an appreciate on how much we depend on Mother Nature for survival. Choose local and organic foods that are in season, and support local farmers.Buying local or growing your own is environmentally friendly and will save on fuel and keep money within the community. Growing your own fruits and vegetables is also a great family activity! 

Get Outside! Get inspired!

There is no other way to get back in touch with nature than to get outside and actually experience its many wonders. Go for a walk, ride your bike, grab your favorite book and a lawn chair.  Get outside, breathe in the air, feel the sun on your face and appreciate this beautiful planet we call home. 


Although Earth Day is a great reminder for all of us to be environmentally conscious, don't let your environmental actions stop once April 23 hits. Make every day Earth Day.

How do you celebrate Mother Nature?


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Zucchini Pizza Boats

We've been trying to go meatless lately. We're not ruling meat out completely, trust me, I was born a meat and potatoes kind of girl. It's more that we're trying to save money, and eating meat every night, especially the good stuff, eventually adds up.

Enter zucchini pizza boats... They look like pizza, taste like pizza and you're getting a whole whack of vegetables in one meal!




Zucchini Pizza Boats
Serving size: 2 people (as addition to another meal item)

What you need:
1 medium sized zucchini
tomato sauce
tomoto, sliced
cheese of your choice, shredded (we used a swiss/cheddar combo)
sliced black olives

*Quantity of these ingredients are to your liking.



What to do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Wash the zucchini well and slice lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out some of the flesh from the centre. Leave about one centimetre around the edges.

Place the zucchini on a tin-foil lined baking sheet (it can get messy). Add tomato sauce to the zucchini. Top with sliced tomatoes, shredded cheese and chopped olives (or whatever toppings you choose).

Bake 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly brown. Allow to cool slightly before you take a bite!



I wish I could show you the final product and its melty-goodness, but they were gone so fast I didn't have time to snap a pic.

Enjoy!

Is this a recipe you'd try?

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Q & A with the Mr

When I first started this blog, I was afraid to share it with my husband. Silly me thought he would judge me for it. He is in fact extremely supportive of my little space, and little did I know, he actually reads it! (Pretty sure he has Bloglovin' on his iPad.) 

I've seen similar posts floating around blogland this past week and I felt like I needed to jump on board. What better way to get him more involved then to put him in the hot seat. Today also marks nine years that he's been putting up with my shenanigans, so I figure this is one way I can thank him.


Here goes,

What is the name of my blog?
t.o. & fro

What's the meaning behind the name?
Well, Toronto. It's a play on words.

(He has this look when he's not impressed. If you know him well, you know "the look". I got "the look" when I asked this question.)

What do I write about?
You write about your travels, eco-tips, general interest, your life as a 'hockey wife'.

What is your favourite post that I've written?
All of them? I don't know if I have a favourite. Maybe one of your posts about our adventures. Why? Am I being a part of the blog? 

(He just clued in.)

What are some things we like to do together?
You and I? (Made some comment about the state I was in the other night after drinking a bottle of wine that I cannot repeat.) Do I have to answer this?

We enjoy making good food and drinking good beer and wine. We love the outdoors. We like hunkering down on the couch, picking a new series and watching a few episodes at a time.

What do I do while you're on the road?
This year? Or the past three years? The last couple of years you've gone through different stages of "trinket" making. I really don't know. Not much?

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I just like to relax. I have to be mentally and physically sharp during the season, so when I get down time I like to turn everything off and do nothing.

What is the most annoying thing I do?
How much more space do you have? I try to be very neat and tidy and like being organized, and you do not. I like getting rid of everything, you like keeping everything. I like vacuuming and I still don't think you know what that is.

What is your dream vacation?
I don't think I have one yet, I haven't been to enough places. I just want to travel everywhere. But it probably would include a lake and a cabin.

What's your go-to outfit?
My Lulu Lemon dress pants are the most comfortable thing I own.

What's our favourite meal to make together?
I don't think we have a favourite. We like making new things. But if I had to chose, I do enjoy your fettucine alfredo.

What's your drink of choice?
A nice strong IPA, old-fashioned or single-malt scotch.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Just for the record, I didn't know I was being interviewed until half way through this interview.


Happy 9 years to my one and only! (Can I say 9 years, or do you hit a restart button when you get married?)

I hope everyone has a good long weekend. My eco-tip of the week will be back on April 26.

Happy Easter!


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Introducing Batty's Bath

Growing up I definitely had my awkward moments, especially 1999-2000... the year of the glasses, braces and thick caterpillars creeping across my forehead. Makes me cringe just thinking about it.

Even though perfect teeth and vision weren't in my favour growing up, one thing I was blessed with was good skin. Throughout elementary school, high school and even into university, I could put whatever crap I wanted on my face, go to sleep without washing it off and not suffer any consequences. I really didn't know how good I had it.

As I get older, my skin has definitely begun to change and is no longer as forgiving. Hormones, stress, the humid summers and harsh winters have all taken a toll on my skin. 


Jamie, aka 'Batty', has her own story about her skin struggles. Growing up with acne, she decided to do her own research to find a solution becoming a 'self-created skin care expert'.  She took her thousands of hours of research and started Batty's Bath, a botanical skin care and soap company based near my stomping grounds, London, ON. Batty crafts every. single. product by hand in her two-room home laboratory, and uses fresh herbs grown with love in her very own garden and other organic and ethically sourced ingredients. All products are vegetarian friendly and certified "cruelty free" by the Leaping Bunny Program & by PETA. This girl is committed to planet-friendy, people-friendly and animal-friendly ingredients.

Some of Batty's current top sellers:



Patchouli & Grapefruit Olive Oil Facial Soap for Acne Prone Skin 
If you often have break outs and are looking for a soap to help you get your problem skin under control - this is the soap for you! If you're looking for a soap to keep your skin clean, controlled, smooth, and soft - This is still the soap for you! ($7.00 CDN)

Patchouli Facial Moisturizer 
Infused with Patchouli Essential Oil, this formula is specifically made for sensitive and problem skin. Patchouli Essential Oil is known for it’s unique ability to combat skin irritations, acne and inflammation. ($12.00 CDN)

Soothing Eye Gel 
Batty’s Soothing Eye Gel is a natural wake me up for the delicate skin around your eyes! It is loaded with skin supporting benefits thanks to carefully hand picked ingredients including antioxidant packed extracts of carrot, coffee, green tea, cucumber, and apple, plus soothing rose hydrosol (floral water) and skin protecting vitamin E. ($11.00 CDN)


Make sure to go check out Batty's Bath for more great products. And while you're shopping, stop by her blog, where she gives a behind the scenes look at the love that goes into her products. Sign up for her skin care videos and inspiring how-to's and you'll receive a coupon for free shipping off your first order!


Find Batty and her fabulous products here:
Shop  |  Blog  |  Instagram  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest 

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Sunday Morning Coffee // 04.13.2014

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 posts of the week, 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...


This Week I:
To Be More Responsible:
Eco-tip 12. Keep your car tuned.

Spring is officially here, and with the warmer months comes one of my favourite vacations, ROAD TRIPS! But, before you hit the open road this summer, make sure your car is properly tuned.


Keeping your car tuned can make a big difference on how much gas you use and help reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. With a few easy steps, you can save more than 15% on fuel and reduce your impact on the environment!
  • Keep your tires properly inflated. Tires that aren't at their proper pressure produce more drag and cause your vehicle to burn more fuel. Keep a tire gauge in your car and check the tire pressure monthly. 
  • Have your alignment and balance checked regularly. Correct alignment and balance prolongs the life of your tires and vehicle and improves fuel efficiency. 
  • Perform regular maintenance checks. Ensuring that all vehicle systems are running efficiently will keep your fuel consumption down. 

One metric tonne of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere for every 390 litres (103 gallons) of gasoline used. To put that number into perspective, one metric tonne of carbon dioxide is produced to meet the average monthly energy demand of the typical North American household. That's a lot of greenhouse gas emission just to get ourselves from point A to point B! Proper vehicle maintenance could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 million tonnes per year.

So, do your part - a simple vehicle tuneup improves fuel efficiency, vehicle longevity and reduces your impact on 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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Alaska Travel Planning Resources

alaska travel planning resources

Planning a trip to any foreign destination can often be intimidating, especially when that place is commonly referred to as "the Great White North", "the Last Frontier" and my favourite, "Land of the Midnight Sun".

Are you planning a trip to Alaska this summer or in the future? With a bit of advanced research and planning, you'll be better prepared for what you will experience during your Alaska travel. Whether you plan on taking a cruise, going on a fishing or hunting trip, or road tripping it through the great state, here are some of the best tried, tested and true Alaska travel planning resources.


Alaska Travel Planning Resources



The Milepost trip planner is the ultimate Alaska travel guide to highways, roads, ferries, lodgings, recreation, sightseeing attractions and services along the Alaska Highway systems within the state and surrounding Canadian provinces. It shares hidden gems along the roadways and bits of history as you explore the last frontier. It is the best $34.99US you will spend if you plan on doing any driving while visiting Alaska. (This 800-page book was a lifesaver on our 2 week ultimate road trip home from Alaska this past summer.)

alaska travel planning resources
Travel Alaska is the official State of Alaska vacation and travel information website. It provides information on things to do, places to go, where to stay, getting to and around, package tours, planning help and maps of cities, towns, villages, parks and public lands. Order a free copy of the official vacation and travel planner to be mailed to you before your trip!

alaska travel planning resources

Driving to or from Alaska is the ultimate North American road trip, and North to Alaska is designed to offer planning suggestions as to where to go, how to get there, what to see, and what to do. The website includes maps and routes, points of interest, tips, distances and more! Order a free guide to help facilitate your journey and ignite your sense of adventure.

alaska travel planning resources

Alaska.org provides local expert advice for planning your trip to Alaska. From destinations, to things to do, maps, transportation, cruise and land tours, backcountry and more! Order a free copy of the travel planner or check out the Alaska Activity Guide and Activity Map

alaska travel planning resources

This FREE download brought to you by Alaska.org is the official mobile guide to Alaska's best destinations. Whether you're visiting Alaska or live there, The Alaska App is your ultimate interactive Alaskan discovery guide.  

alaska travel planning resources

Visiting the great state with your family? Make sure to check out AKontheGo, the only website dedicated to Alaska family travel. AKontheGO tells the story of Alaska destinations through cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities appropriate for children.

alaska travel planning resources

While there are plenty of other resources available online to help plan your trip to AK and get you better prepared for what to expect once you arrive, these are my favourite and ones I've used in the past.


Have you been to Alaska, or are you planning to visit? What resources do you like to use when planning a trip?



Waimea Canyon

Hawaii is to Alaska as Mexico is to Eastern Canada. We knew we needed to go.

Waimea Canyon, on Kauai's west side, is described as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific", stretching 14 miles long, one mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep. The canyon was formed by a deep incision of the Waimea River arising from the extreme rainfall on the island's central peak, Mount Waiʻaleʻale, which is among one of the wettest places on earth. The name Waimea, Hawaiian for "reddish water", references the erosion of the canyon's red soil.  

Waimea Canyon was a must-see on our Kauai bucket list.

A 10 mile long curving, and sometimes nauseating road, winds its way up to the top of canyon. Several lookout points provide stunning panoramic views of the canyon and the beautiful island of the Kauai and Pacific Ocean. Apparently even chickens live at 3400 feet.


When you're up on top of the Canyon looking over the beautiful island of Kauai, you feel on top of the world. Waimea Canyon is truly a dramatic sight to behold.


We decided to continue our excursion past the lookout and explore Waimea State Park a little more. We picked up a relatively easy trail that took us along the edge of the canyon, giving more spectacular views, and ultimately leading us to a tiny waterfall, where we cooled down before making the trek back to the car. The adventurer didn't skip the opportunity to pull out his binocs...



Being on the West side of the Island, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to stop and enjoy the Hawaiian sunset on the drive back. As we watched the summer sun sink into the Pacific, we were so thankful that we had the opportunity to visit the beautiful island of Kauai.



For more on our trip Hawaii, check this out:
A Trip to the Garden Island - Kauai, HI
Paradise on Earth - A Catamaran Cruise Along the Napali Coast


Have you visited Waimea Canyon?

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