March 31, 2015

Days of the Month: April

Another month, another 30 days worth of celebrations! Here are April's days of the month and more fun blog post ideas, for those days when the creativity is lacking...

  1. Fun Day: What is one thing that you do to have fun?
  2. Tell a Lie Day: Play 2 truths and a lie.
  3. World Party Day: Have your ever planned a party? Share.
  4. Vitamin C Day: How do you stay healthy during cold and flu season?
  5. Read a Road Map Day: Share your most memorable road trip, or plan a future trip.
  6. New Beer's Eve: Have you ever taken a brewery tour?
  7. World Health Day: How do you battle the dreaded winter cold?
  8. Zoo Lover's Day: What is your favourite zoo animal?
  9. Cherish an Antique Day: Share a family heirloom. Why is it important to you?
  10. Sibling Day: Tell us about your siblings!
  11. Pet Day: Show off those furry, finned, scaled or feathery babies.
  12. Walk on Your Wild Side Day: How do you break out of your comfort zone?
  13. Scrabble Day: What's your favourite board game?
  14. Look up at the Sky Day: It's a bird, its a plane... When and where was your last plane ride?
  15. Banana Day: Share your favourite banana recipe.
  16. High Five Day: If you could give one person a high five, who would it be and why?
  17. Day of Silence: Take a social media break. How did it feel? What did you do instead?
  18. Pet Owners' Independence Day: Write a letter to your pet.
  19. Hanging Out Day: Describe your ideal weekend. 
  20. Chinese Language Day: Do you know another language? Teach us some basic words.
  21. Kindergarten Day: What is your favourite childhood memory?
  22. Earth Day: How do you celebrate Mother Earth?
  23. World Book Night: Review a recent read.
  24. Teach Your Child to Save Day: Share one financial tip you could teach your younger self.
  25. Go Birding Day: Hang a bird feeder in your backyard. Take photos of the visitors.
  26. Richter Scale Day: Have you ever been in an earthquake? Share your story.
  27. Tell a Story Day: Whether it is fact or fiction, share your favourite story.
  28. Cubicle Day: Show us where you work!
  29. World Wish Day: If you had a magic lamp, what would you wish for?
  30. Honesty Day: For the second time this month, play 2 truths and a lie.
April is...
Decorating Month - Are you tackling a decor project this month?
Garden Month - If you had a garden, what would you plant?
Couple Appreciation Month - What do you appreciate about your other half?

This is just a small sampling of the many interesting and fun days celebrated in the month of April.  I hope you enjoy this feature, and that it brings your some inspiration when the creative juices just aren't flowing this month.

Happy April!


March 28, 2015

Walk in the Park: SC State House

I was recently down in Columbia, South Carolina for a work conference, and with a few hours to spare over lunch, I decided to take a walk through the South Carolina State House grounds. Strategically centred in downtown Columbia, the SC State House is home to the Governor's office, as well as the House and Senate chambers. 

columbia, south carolina state house

Did you know that Columbia wasn't always the capital of SC? Charleston first held the title, but because Columbia is the geographic centre of the state and the General Assembly wanted a central capital for the Upstate and the Lowcountry, the capital was moved.

The State House building itself has a long history, involving the Civil War, cannons and fires, and as a result, construction lasted half a century spanning from 1855 to 1907. Built primarily out of blue granite, South Carolina’s official state stone, the State House is now completely fireproof allowing it to safely store many important state documents and house two of three branches of state government. While I did't to have time myself, free guided and self-guided tours of the interior are available Monday to Friday. 

columbia, south carolina state house

The building contains several unique architectural features that can be observed from both the exterior and interior, including an outer dome made of copper centred to the outside of the building. From a monument to South Carolina law enforcement officers killed while on duty, those honouring past Senators, to one dedicated to the contributions and history of African-Americans, there are over 30 monuments and markers scattered throughout the State House grounds.

columbia, south carolina state housecolumbia, south carolina state house monument
columbia, south carolina state house monument

While the sun may have been hiding behind the clouds, spring was definitely in the air as I walked through the beautiful gardens. Flowering dogwood, eastern redbud, daffodils and magnolias, were just a few of the beautiful trees and flowers abloom on the grounds.

south carolina state house flowering dogwoodcolumbia, south carolina state house daffodil

Taking a stroll through the SC State House grounds was a breath of fresh air, and the perfect lunch break. It was great to see others with the same idea - reading on a park bench or getting in a few minutes of exercise while walking the maze of paths around the House. 

Did you know that Monday, March 30 is Take a Walk in the Park Day? Why not plan a lunch break in your local park? Stretch your legs and breath some fresh, outdoor air. It will do your body good.

Do you have a favourite park? I want to hear about it!


March 25, 2015

Whipped Body Butter with Essential Oils

According to the calendar, spring is officially here. But even though the date may be inching closer to April, the weather in my neck of the woods makes it feel like we're still stuck in February. The awkward transition from season to season is brutal on my skin, and just because winter is coming to a close, doesn't mean that my skin won't continue to suffer.

As I continue my journey to stray away from the store-bought lotions and potions, and to instead incorporate all natural products into my beauty routine, I recently stumbled across a recipe for an all natural whipped body butter. After all, the rest of my skin needs some loving too. This recipe is so simple and only contains three ingredients: coconut oil, vitamin E and essential oils. All of which will make your skin sing.

3 ingredient whipped body butter recipe

3 Ingredient Whipped Body Butter

1 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vitamin e oil
6 drops frankincense essential oil
6 drops lavender essential oil

whipped body butter ingredients

1.  In a double boiler on medium-low heat, combine all ingredients and heat until melted.
2.  Allow mixture to cool completely (i.e. place bowl in freezer for 10-15 minutes).
3.  Place cooled mixture in Kitchen Aid mixing bowl.
4. Using whisk attachment, whip on high speed 6-7 minutes or until whipped to a light, airy consistency.
5.  Spoon whipped body butter into a glass jar and cover tightly.
6.  Store at room temperature, or refrigerate if your house is warm enough that it melts the oil.

whip body butter kitchen aid mixer

You can use any combination of essential oils you wish when making your own body butter. However, the combination of lavender and frankincense in this recipe is very pleasing on the nose - almost an earthy aroma, but not in a overpowering kind of way. These oils also come with added health benefits. Frankincense essential oil helps fade stretch marks and scars, has anti-anging properties and is effective as an antiseptic and in reducing stress. Lavender essential oil is effective in treating acne, provides relief from pain in muscles and joints and reduces mental stress and anxiety.  Both perfect additions to your "its no longer winter, but its still not spring" skin care routine.

I recommend applying this body butter right after the shower. It is oily, so allow it to dry on your skin before putting on your clothes. Since running out of my go-to facial moisturizer, I have also started using this body butter in lieu. While it may not be suitable for everyone's face since as it is a little oily, it works on the dryness of mine. Not to mention, when applying makeup, it glides on smooth and evenly, and it almost acts as a primer, setting my face for the rest of the day.

3 ingredient whipped body butter recipe

Have you tried essential oils? What is your favourite scent and use?

Young Living essential oil samples for this recipe were provided by Dwelling Simple Essentials. To learn how to get started with essential oils, check this out, and for more information, go here and here


March 22, 2015

World Water Day: Ice Fishing on Lake Simcoe

What lies beneath the surface of the water has always fascinated me. Slap on a snorkel and mask, or even better, the full scuba gear, and I'm one happy girl. But if dipping below the surface isn't for you, there's plenty of other ways to explore what lies beneath. Like with a rod and reel. Today is World Water Day, and in honour of this special day, I'm sharing photos of a recent ice fishing trip with my husband, brother and sister in law.

Located about an hour north of Toronto,  Lake Simcoe is the 6th largest inland lake in the province of Ontario. In the winter, it freezes over completely. And with an abundance of active cold water species such as lake trout, herring and whitefish, it becomes an ice fisherman's paradise, often giving it the name of the ice fishing capital of Canada.

We spent the afternoon in a comfy hut located just off of Minet's Point Park in Barrie. It was my first time on the frozen ice, and to be honest, I wasn't sure how much I would like. But the hut was comfy, the company was decent topnotch and the snacks and drinks were a plenty. If only I could say the same for the fish. 

I have a pretty good track record for out-fishing my husband. So in true fashion, I had to start running my mouth early that I was going to out-fish him yet again. The bet was set - girls vs boys, with the losers paying for food and drinks after a day out on the ice. Done deal, I couldn't lose.

Except, we all came out losers, or winners if you're the optimistic type. The only fish we caught was right at the beginning of our adventure, on a rod my brother found. We declared it a "neutral rod", meaning the fish didn't belong to the boys or the girls. Oh well, at least the hut was comfy, the company was top notch, the food and drinks were a plenty, and we all had fun.

To end the rather unsuccessful day on the frozen water, we treated ourselves to pizza and a craft brew at Barnstormer Brewing. Nothing like a double IPA to warm your chilled bones, and bruised ego.

And that fish we caught? Just a small taste of what Mother Nature has to offer in our Great Lakes. 

Better luck next time.

How are you celebrating World Water Day? 

Have you ever gone ice fishing?


March 13, 2015

Classic Old-Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

Legend has it, the classic old-fashioned cocktail was invented back in the 19th century as a 'pre-breakast cocktail'. In its infancy, it was known as the 'whiskey cocktail', a simple, no frills drink similar to the old-fashioned we know and love today. However, over the years, bartenders began to put their own twists on the drink, adding fancy liqueurs and garnishes, and turning it into a complicated mixed drink. Eventually, unhappy purists fed up with the complicated drink, began to call for the return of the "old fashioned". And thus, the old-fashioned was born.

I believe that the old-fashioned is an underestimated cocktail. Since the recipe is beyond simple - just three ingredients plus ice - anyone can make it.  Yet, it is sophisticated enough that you won't get tired of it. Like Don Draper, there really is no proper time to drink an old-fashioned - they can be enjoyed with friends around a table, while sitting on a patio, or perhaps to cap off the end of a perfect night. It's cool to be a whiskey drinker. 

Here is a recipe for a simple, yet classic, old-fashioned cocktail...

Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail

2 sugar cubes
6 drops Angostura bitters
1 piece of orange rind
2 oz bourbon
ice cubes
cocktail cherry (optional)

1..  Place 2 sugar cubes in an old fashioned glass and saturate with 6 drops of bitters.
2..  As cubes are soaking up bitters, rub the rim of the glass with a piece of orange rind.
3..  Muddle sugar cubes.
4..  Put slice of orange rind in glass.
5..  Fill glass with ice cubes.
6..  Add 2 oz bourbon of your choice.
7..  Garnish with orange slice and a maraschino cherry (optional).

You can enjoy an old fashioned with any type of liquor. However, the classic cocktail recipe includes American whiskey, or bourbon. Not sure what type to use? Here is a guide on the best and worst bourbons to use in an old fashioned.


Have you had an old fashioned cocktail?


March 10, 2015

Life with an Athlete: Honest 4 in 1 Laundry Packs

My recent journey to an all natural lifestyle has led me to The Honest Company. I love everything that this company stands for - educating, empowering and inspiring people to make better choices for their health & families.  Their products range from diapers and wipes to vitamins and household cleaners, all honestly free of harmful and toxic ingredients. 

Living with an athlete can come with its perks - seeing new places, meeting new friends are just a few. But, at the same time, it also comes with some not so fun things, like stink. Stinky gym clothes and even stinkier hockey equipment to be more specific. When doing the laundry, the last thing I want is to put my nice work clothes in with my husband's stinky gym clothes and have my clothes come out smelling and feeling worse than they went in.  Thankfully, The Honest Company has the solution. Their 4 in 1 laundry packs have true 4 in 1 performance - cleaning, stain fighting, brightening and softening. The innovative blend of plant and mineral-based ingredients are carefully developed to achieve a superior cleaning experience. Proof that you don't need harsh chemicals to get noticeable results.

the honest company laundry packs

These prepackaged, and biodegradable, pods are super convenient. I would much rather toss a few pods in my hamper than have to lug my entire bottle of detergent down to the laundry room. They can be used in all washers, at all temperatures, on all colours and all fabric. They are hypoallergenic with no harsh chemical residues, chlorine or fragrances, which means they can be used on all skin types. Perfect for sensitive skin. Just toss & wash! 

Interested in ordering more than one Honest Company product? Honest Bundles are the way to go! Get premium, eco-freindly products conveniently delivered to your door each month, saving you time and up to 40%! Take advtange of 35% OFF your first bundle order at Honest with code MARBUNDLES35OFF[Please note this can only be applied to first time bundle purchases. Discount does not apply to Add & Save Items. Offer valid March 9-15.]

the honest company bundles

*I am an Ambassador for the Honest Company. This product was provided in exchange for an honest post. All opinions are 100% my own. This post does contain referral links; your continued support of T.O. & fro is greatly appreciated!

Have you tried The Honest Company?


March 8, 2015

Asian Salad with Peanut Dressing

asian salad with peanut dressing recipe

Have you ever looked into the produce drawer of your fridge and wondered what to do with the random assortment of vegetables? Ya, that was me last night. So trying to be resourceful, I pulled out the variety of bell peppers, carrots, onion, cucumber and Napa cabbage that needed to be consumed pronto, and I chopped them all up. Instead of our regular and boring oil and vinegar dressing, I thought I’d try something different. This peanut sauce recipe is one of our go-tos in the summer with a nice grilled flank steak, and with the addition of a little more liquid to thin it, turns out it also makes the perfect salad dressing!

Not to toot my own horn, but this may be one of the best salads I’ve ever had. And will definitely continue to make a regular appearance at dinner. 

Asian Salad with Peanut Dressing
Serves: 4

For salad:
2 whole carrots, shredded
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced 
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
4 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
1 avocado, sliced
sesame seeds 

For dressing:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp hot water
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all of the vegetables in a bowl, and toss to combine.

In a small bowl, add peanut butter, vinegar, lime juice, oil, soy sauce, honey and sugar. Whisk in hot water. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes and combine.

If serving right away, drizzle the peanut dressing over top and toss. Garnish with avocado and sesame seeds. Otherwise, serve the dressing on the side so the salad doesn't get soggy.

Would you try this recipe?


March 5, 2015

Happy Wednesday Giveaways

Happy Wednesday friends! Mother Nature gave us a glimmer of spring yesterday with temperatures above 0 celsius. But then in the blink of an eye, she took it all away. Right back into winter. 

To lift everyone's spirits, today I have not one but TWO awesome giveaways from some pretty awesome ladies. I think a new spring wardrobe is calling my name. Don't you agree? Good luck!


First off, it's Mason from Wetherills Say I Do's birthday! In honour, I'm teaming up with Mason and some other amazing bloggers to give one lucky winner the chance to win $200 PayPal cash!

Betsy from Heavens to Betsy | Mandy from Mandy Living Life | Mar from T.O. & fro
Nina from Flowers in My Hair | Daisy from Simplicity Relished | Katie from Hot Tea and the Empty Seat
Britt from My Little Sunshines | Becca from Becoming Adorrable | Helene from Helene in Between
Katie from Twin Stripe | Grace from Grace Cho | Susannah from Feast + West
Hayley from A Beautiful Exchange | Jenna from A Savory Feast | Madison from Wetherills Say I Do

Enter below to win! Giveaway ends March 12th at 11:59pm EST. Be honest and follow the requirements for each entry, they will be verified!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if the cash money isn't enough, I am also teaming up with The Nashvillian and friends to bring you a chance to win a $40 Nordstrom gift card! 

This prize is made possible by these lovely ladies:

Enter now! This giveaway is run via rafflecopter. All entries will be verified. A winner will be selected at random and contacted via e-mail two weeks after the giveaway begins. If the winner does not claim the prize within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


March 4, 2015

Batty's Bath: Mineral Cream Concealer [Review]

This month I'm welcoming a familiar facback to T.O. & fro! Batty's Bath is a botanical skin care and soap company based in southern Ontario and every. single. product. is lovingly hand-crafted using planet-friendly, people-friendly and animal-friendly ingredients. 

My sister-in-law and I have been using Batty's Bath products for 8 months now and continue to see results of the shift from the store bought lotions and potions to Batty's all natural products. One of my new favourite products that I have recently started using is Batty's mineral cream concealer. In a nutshell, this wonderful addition to my makeup routine is 100% natural, won't clog pores, is safe for acne prone and sensitive skin, contains light sun blocking ingredients and is conditioning and moisturizing. 

Batty claims this concealer provides medium to full coverage, and she is spot on. Finding a full coverage concealer has been tough for me, so when I came across this product, I knew I had to try it. This girl can have serious dark circles some mornings. However, since shaking up my makeup routine with this product, I have not had to worry about walking into work looking like a zombie... the dark circles are gone. While the concealer is thick, it applies smoothly and evenly, and does not leave the areas applied feeling dry. Another great thing about it is that it lasts throughout the day, I don't have to worry about reapplying. 

Application is easy. After washing my face, I apply Batty's Bath facial primer & daily detox moisturizer. Next, with a concealer brush or clean finger, I gently apply the concealer under my eyes and on other facial problem areas. After applying concealer, simply continue your makeup routine with a foundation and/or finishing powder and you are ready for the day. Only a little is needed per application, so the entire jar will last you a few months. The concealer comes in two shades: warm sand (light) and cocoa cream (medium), and is vegetarian and cruelty free (but not vegan - it does contain beeswax, which is sourced from local, ethical beekeepers). 

Batty's mineral makeup doesn't stop at concealer. Make sure to check out the other products in her makeup line, including the newly released lip colour and mascara.

Interested in trying some of Batty's Bath skin care products? Sign up for the Batty's Bath newsletter to receive a free shipping code! Or, start shopping here to receive 15% off your first order. Stay tuned for her North American free shipping day on March 20, 2015.

Previous Batty's Bath posts and reviews:

Where to find Batty: Shop  |  Blog  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

*This is a sponsored post, however, I truly believe in this shop/product or else I would not share. All opinions are 100% my own. This post does contain a referral link. Your continued support of T.O. & fro and sponsors is greatly appreciated!


March 1, 2015

Days of the Month: March

Way back when I was in university, theme parties were a staple in my group of friends. One of the themes that stands out in my mind was a "dress as a day" party. I was "Pancake Tuesday". I slapped a bunch of pictures of pancakes on my shirt and carried around a bottle of maple syrup all night. Trust me, it wasn't pretty. But that's beside the point...

I am so excited to announce my new monthly feature - "Days of the Month". On the last day of each month, I will share interesting days of the month to come and include a blog post prompt for those days. Perfect for when the creativity is lacking.

So, without further ado, here are the days to note for the month of March, and some pretty fun blog post prompts:

1 - World Compliment Day: Compliment at least 5 people today and share. 
2 - Fun Facts About Names Day: How did you get your name?
3 - Mulled Wine Day: Share your favourite drink recipe.
4 - Grammar Day: Do you have any grammar pet peeves?
5 - Cheese Doodle Day: What is your favourite junk food?
6 - Day of Unplugging: Take a break from social media, and then blog about how it felt.
7 - Be Heard Day: Tell a story that you want heard.
8 - Women's Day: Tell us about an important woman in your life.
9 - Get Over It Day: What is one thing you wish you could get over?
10 - Pack Your Lunch Day: Show us what's in your lunch.
11 - Registered Dietician Day: Share your favourite healthy recipe.
12 - Girl Scout/Guide Day: Were you a Girl Scout/Guide? Share your favourite memory.
13 - Open an Umbrella Indoors Day: Are your superstitious? 
14 - Pi Day: Share your favourite recipe for something round.
15 - True Confessions Day: 'Fess up.
16 - Lips Appreciation Day: Lip stick or lip gloss? What's your favourite?
17 - St Patty's Day: Show us your green and gold. 
18 - Awkward Moments Day: Share an embarrassing moment. 
19 - Poultry Day: Share your favourite chicken recipe.
20 - International Day of Happiness: What makes you happy? 
21 - Memory Day: What is your favourite childhood memory?
22 - World Water Day: What are your favourite water-related activities?
23 - Puppy Day: Tell us about your furry friend.
24 - Chocolate Covered Raisins Day: Salty or sweet?
25 - Waffle Day: What is your favourite breakfast recipe?
26 - Make Up Your Own Holiday Day: What and how would you celebrate?
27 - Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day: What is your favourite song? And why?
28 - Something on a Stick Day: Share your favourite fair food. 
29 - Smoke and Mirrors Day: Do you know any magic tricks? 
30 - Take a Walk in the Park Day: Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Show us your local park.
31 - Crayola Crayon Day: Pick your favourite colour Crayola crayon and tell us why.

What do you think about this new monthly feature?

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