January 31, 2015

Not One, But Two

I spent last night being a lady, drinking beer with other ladies. So instead of some through provoking post on this snowy Saturday, I'm bringing you two giveaways for $225 in winnings. Because its much easier on my brain, aaannnddd who doesn't love winning free stuff?! Good luck!

Do you want $125 to spend at StubHub / Victoria's Secret from Venus Trapped in Mars and friends? Winner takes all... PLUS the winner gets to decide how much of that $125 they want to spend on tickets, and how much they want to spend on new gear to wear to the big game from Victoria's Secret.

Constantly Seeking Wonder // Route Bliss
T.O. & fro // A Labour of Life
Hey Kerri Blog // Puppies and Pretties
Just the Elevator Pitch // Life Unsweetened
Hellorigby! // Venus Trapped in Mars

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Show them some love, and get entered below.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


January 28, 2015

What Inspires Your Senses? 0.3 | Best of 2014

Today's What Inspires Your Senses? is all about the best of 2014. My favourite photos that inspired my sense of hearing, smell, feeling, sight, taste and my "sixth sense".

I hope you'll join along... The photos can be ones you've taken recently or those you've dug out of the archives, those you've taken in one location or in several and even those you've taken with a DSLR or on your smart phone. No photography skills are needed, just your imagination and creativity!

HEAR   |  Mother Nature's whispers.

SMELL  |  Crisp fall air.

FEEL  |  Overwhelmed by big city life.

SEE  |  The rainbow sky as the sun sets over Lake Huron.

TASTE  |  The freshness of the sea.

"SIXTH" SENSE  |  A happy heart with my loves by my side.

What inspires your senses?

How to participate:
1| Link up your blog post with your photos, starting at 7:00am EST.
2| Follow your host.
3| Link back to the party in your post, either with text or button below.
4| Check out as many blogs as you can to see what inspires others' senses!
5| Share on social media, using the hashtag #whatinspiresyoursenses!
6|  Link up will be open for 1 week.

t.o. & fro

Show us what inspires your senses here:


January 27, 2015

Let's End the Stigma

Bell Let's Talk January 25

According to the Canadian Institute of Health and Research,  1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life. 

It could be a colleague or close friend, maybe even your mom, dad or sibling. 

It's possible that because of their fear of judgement and rejection, they may be suffering in silence. 

You may not even know. 

Mood and anxiety disorders impact an estimated 22% of the Canadian population, my family included. Two months ago, we lost a vital member of our family to mental illness. An uncle, a husband, a brother, a son and a father. It was a tragic and unexpected loss that my family may never fully understand. However, amongst the grief, it created a conversation within my family. It broke the stigma that had been there for so many years. It created the conversation that mental illness is very real, and it must be talked about.

Whether mental illness somehow has touched your life, or not, there are many ways to help end the stigma that keeps too many who struggle with mental illness from seeking the help they need. Here are 5.

Language matters.  

Words can help, but they can also hurt. Pay attention to the words you use. 

Educate yourself. 

There are many mythes surrounding mental illness that create the stigma. Learn the facts.

Be kind. 

Small acts of kindness speak volumes. Treat everyone like you would want to be treated. 

Listen and ask. 

Sometimes listening speaks volumes. Ask if you can help.

Talk about it. 

Start a dialogue, not a debate. Break the silence and the stigma.

Tomorrow is January 28, #BellLetsTalk DayBell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives for every:

  • Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
  • Facebook image share
  • Mobile and long distance call made (*Bell customers only)
  • Text message sent (*Bell customers only)

Located outside of Canada? Mental illness doesn't have borders. Please help the fight by retweeting,

From my family to you, thank you for joining the fight.


January 17, 2015

Hungover Noodles Recipe

Last week I posted this picture on IG of my delicious dinner. I love being creative in the kitchen, and this recipe was definitely no exception. So, I was happy when I had a handful of people ask for it! Sadly it was downed before I could get a half decent picture (it was that good), but here's the recipe. I would love to know what you think!

Hungover Noodles
Serves: 4

1 inch-long piece of ginger
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 medium-sized head of Chinese cabbage
1/2 bag (250 g) frozen broccoli
250 g noodles (of your choice - udon or egg work well)
1 package (200 g) snow peas or mangetout
4 large eggs
olive oil
chilli sauce (sriracha) 
whole hot pepper, frozen

Peel the ginger and garlic and finely grate into a large bowl. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil and mix to make a dressing.

Trim and shred the cabbage.

In a large pot of boiling water, add broccoli, cabbage and noodles. Cook for around 3 minutes. Add snow peas for final minute. Drain well and toss in bowl of dressing.

Meanwhile, fry the eggs in a large non-stick frying pan until cooked to your liking. 

Divide the noodles between bowl and place an egg on top. Drizzle with chilli sauce. For a garnish, finely grate a frozen hot pepper.

Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver.

Is this a recipe you'd try?


January 15, 2015

2015 Word of the Year

I have never been the type for resolutions. There is always something that I can do differently, or be better at, but I shouldn't need a resolution in order to make that happen. I know we are already 1/24 of the way through 2015, but this year I'm going to switch it up. Instead of making useless resolutions, this year I have picked a word to live by.  I have seen this idea floating around for a few weeks, and think it is so clever, and much much easier to stick to.

This word, although simple and only 5 letters, holds the power to define how I want to live 2015. 

My word for 2015 is ENJOY

2015 word of the year: enjoy

In 2015, I want to enjoy every moment of my life. I want to, 

enjoy... the small things.
enjoy... my surroundings. 
enjoy... what I have. 
enjoy... changes to my routine.
enjoy... family time.
enjoy... new opportunities.
enjoy... growing together in marriage.
enjoy... the changing seasons.
enjoy... weekend escapes. 
enjoy... me time. 
enjoy... having an open mind. 
enjoy... small victories.
enjoy... learning something new.
enjoy... being kind of strangers.
enjoy... kindness from strangers.

What is the word that will define your 2015? I'd love to hear!


January 10, 2015

oh hey... Saturday!

Happy weekend! I hope 2015 has been good to everyone so far. Just wanted to pop in to say howdy... and take care of some housekeeping/play catch up. I'm a day late on my 5 things, but here goes...

1  |  New year, new blog to sponsor? If you haven't taken advantage of T.O. & fro's ad sale yet, you only have 5 days left! Use code WELCOME50 for 50% OFF all ad space! I've got something for everyone, and they start at only $1 per month! Do it. Now.

2  |  I don't know about your part of the world, but up here in good ol' Canada, it's pretty frigid. I'm a popsicle. But, I must admit my winter gear is pretty top notch. Stylish and warm. 

3  |  I have declared 2015 the "year of local travel". Now that we're back in the groove of living at home, I would love to be able to explore our little corner of the world more. Last night I booked a quick getaway trip to Ontario wine country to celebrate Steve's birthday/Valentine's day and I am beyond excited! His birthday and Valentine's day are back to back, and sadly every year one usually  gets thrown to the curb. This year we're going to celebrate both in style. He's been adjusting to "normal life" like a pro, and I also think that's a reason to treat ourselves. We've been to Niagara many times during the summer months, so it will be amazing to take it all in during the winter months. Being able to taste local wine is also a bonus :)

Small Talk Vineyard

4  |  Our condo is officially 10% paid for. We are officially even more broke, but getting that much closer to taking ownership.

Putting a dot on it.
5  |  Last, but definitely not least... My monthly photography link up "What Inspires Your Senses?" will be back on January 28! If you're not familiar with WIYS, on the last Wednesday of every month, I will challenge you to select 5 of your favorite personal photographs - one that best describes each of your 5 senses: see, smell, taste, touch and hear. As an added challenge, come up with one for the "sixth sense", an open-ended category to interpret your own way. The photos can be ones you've taken recently or those you've dug out of the archives, those you've taken in one location or in several and even those you've taken with a DSLR or on your smart phone. No photography skills are needed, just your imagination and creativity!

What Inspires Your Senses

How to participate:
1| Linkup your blog post with the photos that inspire your senses.
2| Follow your host (T.O. & fro) & monthly cohost.
3| Link back to the party in your post, either with text or button below.
4| Check out as many blogs as you can to see what inspires others' senses!
5| Share on social media, using the hashtag #whatinspiresyoursenses!

t.o. & fro

Stay warm ya'll!


January 7, 2015

Four Facts

New year, new blog to sponsor? Use code WELCOME50 for 50% off all ad space! That means they start as low as $1!!

As we enter 2015, I thought I would take the time to reintroduce myself to all of my readers. Thanks for the fun idea Kaelene :)

For those of you new to T.O. & fro, my name is Mar. I am a small town-raised, big city-living girl meant for the simple life surrounded by Mother Nature. My happy place is being outdoors and living in the concrete jungle of Toronto comes with its challenges. I love to blog about life as an environmental educator, and my love for animals and nature, food, photography and travel. Enjoy getting to know me a little better...

Four names that people call me other than my real name:
1. Mar
2. Mars Bar (in elementary school)
3. The General 
4. Marg (because the truck blue tooth doesn't recognize Mar)

Four jobs I’ve had:
1. Golf course receptionist
2. Grass cutter
3. Nature interpreter
4. Marine mammal trainer
My favourite job was while we were living in Alaska.
Four movies I’ve watched more than once:
1. The Little Mermaid
2. ET
3. Home Alone
4. Harry Potter series

Four things in my work bag:
1. 2 iPhones - work and personal
2. Hand sanitizer (the subway is icky)
3. The morning newspaper and pen (for the crossword)
4. Toiletry bag of "just in case" items (advil, hair ties, extra contacts, etc.)

Bonus fact:  My husband recently retired from a seven-year long professional hockey career. He did amazing things in both his professional and junior hockey career, and as his #1 fan, I can't be more proud of him.

Four books I’d recommend:
1. The Hunger Games series (Suzanne Collins)
2. Divergent series (Veronica Roth)
3. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth (Chris Hadfield)
4. The Glass Castle (Jeanette Walls)

Four places I’ve lived:
1. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
2. "Part time" in Reading, Pennsylvania
3. Anchorage, Alaska
4. Toronto, Ontario

My current home, Toronto
Four Places I have visited:
1. Churchill, Manitoba
2. Kauai, Hawaii
3. Andros Island, Bahamas
4. Homer, Alaska

Bonus fact: This handsome fella below's name is Titus. We got him when my husband was playing hockey in Pennsylvania, so we joke he has dual citizenship. His name suits him well, as he most definitely has small-dog syndrome. But in his seven years, he has brought us so many laughs.

Four places/things on my bucket list:
1. Iceland
2. Galapagos Islands
3. African safari
4. Diving with sharks

Four places I’d rather be right now:
1. At my cottage, with a crossword and glass of wine on the deck
2. Scuba diving, with my sister and dad
3. In our new [yet to be built] condo
4. Hiking/camping in the mountains

Four things I don’t eat:
1. Warm tomatoes
2. Mustard
3. Cooked peppers
4. Shellfish 

Four of my favorite foods:
1. My homemade fettucine alfredo
2. Sushi (hold the shellfish)
3. Kale salad
4. Fresh salmon

Four TV shows I watch:
1. The Walking Dead
2. Big Bang Theory
3. The Newsroom
4. Modern Family

Four things I’m looking forward to in 2015:
1. Family vacation in July
2. Seeing my little sister in May
3. Paying off a chunk of our condo
4. Slowing down and exploring the city I now call home

Now its your turn - play along and tell me some facts about you! 


January 5, 2015

15 Blog Post Ideas

New year, new blog to sponsor? Use code WELCOME50 for 50% off all T.O. & fro ad space. That mean spaces starts at just $1 per month! Check out the options here

Looking for a little inspiration as we enter 2015? Look no further. Today I've got 15 blog post prompts for 2015...

+ Who inspires you?
+ What makes your feel powerful?
+ What's your weekday morning ritual?
+ If you took a solo vacation tomorrow, where would you go?
+ What's one news headline that caught your eye today?
+ Do you have any new secret obsessions?
+ What's your theme song of the week?
+ In a hundred years, how would you like to be remembered?
+ What's the biggest lesson you've learned in 2014?
+ What's one habit you'd like to break?
+ What's your favourite new discovery?
+ If you could have anything you wanted for lunch, what would it be?
+ If you had an extra $100 in your pocket, what would you do with it?
+ What did you check off your to do list today?
+ What are you currently reading? Give a review.
+ What's your go-to work outfit?

This post was partially inspired by Our Q&A a Day: 3-Year Journal for 2 People.


January 3, 2015

My 2015 Travel Wishes

2014 was kind to us in the way of travel. Steve had his normal hockey travel schedule, which in 2014 had him bouncing on and off buses from Ontario to Texas and back. And when he was on the road, I had my own road trips down to my parents' house on Lake Huron. Despite being only 3 hours west of Toronto, it was a welcomed "vacation" from the busy city life. Missing our Alaskan adventures, we  disconnected and went canoe-in camping in Algonquin Provincial Park. And last, but definitely not least, thanks to all of that crazy hockey travel the past few years, we were gifted with enough air miles to fly us back to Alaska, with a quick pit stop in Seattle on the way home. 

Seattle, the [Un]Rainy City  |  Seattle CityPass Review

Now that hockey doesn't dictate our schedule 8 months of the year (which I'll admit, I'm still a bit sad about), I would love for 2015 to be filled with many small weekend trips and staycations. 

Here is where I hope travel will take us in 2015...

[image credit]
Collingwood, Ontario - As a hockey player, my husband was focused on one sport and one sport only every winter and was never able to go skiing or snowboarding. This winter, if we ever get enough snow in Ontario, we're hoping to change that. The mountains in Collingwood may not be what we were used to in Alaska, but at just over an hour from Toronto, we'll take it.

Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario - We had such an amazing time on our canoe-in camping trip to Algonquin last summer that we plan to make it an annual event. Just hoping we can convince our urban friends to trade in their iPhones for the sounds of loons and a crackling fire for a few days.

Family Cottage, Ontario - It's sad to think that in the past 5 years, I can count the number of times I've been up to our family cottage on one hand.  I'd like to make a trip or two up this summer, maybe even throw in a little scuba diving at Fathom Five National Marine Park if I'm lucky.

If time and funds allow, I'd like to take a few trips outside the Ontario border...

Panorama, British Columbia - If time and funds allow, I would love to go back and visit my sister in BC before her gypsy soul takes her on her next adventure. Maybe throw in a little skiing on a real mountain as well. But, if I don't make it back out there, I will just make sure to kidnap her when she's home in May so that she can't leave again.

[image credit]
Montreal, Quebec - I'm kind of embarrassed to say I have never ventured east of Ontario. I would love to road trip to the East Coast of Canada one day, but until then, I think a weekend trip to Montreal will have to do. At just over 5 hours drive from Toronto, it makes the perfect long weekend trip. Plus, we're planning on working on our French, so its very fitting.

[image credit]
Nashville, Tennessee - This trip may not happen for a few years, but I can dream.

And one guaranteed trip that I am beyond excited for...

Mystery Family Trip - My dad is retiring this summer, and to celebrate he's taking my mom, us kids and our significant others on a mystery vacay. They have done such a good job of keeping it a secret that I don't even have a sniff of where we might be heading. Which is also driving me nuts.

Sadly, the only thing that is not on this list is Alaska. But we'll save that, and our pennies, for 2016.

What's on your travel wishlist for 2015?

Linking up with Runawaykiwi, Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes and Adventures of a London Kiwi.

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