April 29, 2015

Days of the Month: May

may special days of the month

Another month, another 31 days worth of celebrations! Here are May's days of the month and more fun blog post ideas, for those days when the creativity is lacking...

  1. Macaroon Day: What's your favourite sweet treat?
  2. Join Hands Day: Pay it forward and something kind for a stranger today.
  3. Garden Meditation Day: How do you relax?
  4. Oyster Day: Share your favourite seafood recipe.
  5. Cinco de Mayo: Share your favourite Mexican recipe.
  6. National Teachers Day: Was there a teacher that inspired you in school?
  7. National Tourism Day: Be a tourist in your hometown for the day.
  8. No Socks Day: Share your favourite beach vacation.
  9. International Migratory Bird Day: Hand a bird feeder in your backyard.
  10. Mother Ocean Day: Tell us about a time you took a trip to the ocean.
  11. Eat What You Want Day: If you could eat anything, what would it be and why?
  12. Odometer Day: Tell us about your dream road trip.
  13. Leprechaun Day: Admire your own "pot of gold". What are you thankful for? 
  14. Golf Day: What's your favourite sport?
  15. Endangered Species Day: What is your favourite animal, and how can you help protect it?
  16. World Whisky Day: Whisky fan? Share your favourite whisky-inspired cocktail.
  17. World Baking Day: Share your favourite baked treat. 
  18. Visit Your Relatives Day: Take a social media break and visit loved ones today.
  19. Accounting Day: How do you keep your finances on track?
  20. Be a Millionaire Day: If you won the lottery, what would you do/buy?
  21. National Memo Day: Do you have a journal? Why do you write?
  22. Don't Fry Day: What are your favourite indoor activities?
  23. Lucky Penny Day: What is the luckiest thing that's happened to you?
  24. Tiara Day: How do you treat yourself?
  25. Memorial Day: Write a post in honour of loved ones lost.
  26. Blueberry Cheesecake Day: What's your favourite cheesecake recipe?
  27. Sunscreen Day: How do you take care of your skin?
  28. Amnesty International Day: How have you given back recently?
  29. Learn About Composting Day: Do you use a green bin or compost? Why?
  30. Mint Julep Day: Create your own mint julep and share the recipe.
  31. Save Your Hearing Day: Tell us about your favourite concert you've been to.
May is...
BBQ Month - Host a BBQ for friends and family. Share your food, drink and activity choices.
Photo Month - Share your recent favourite personal photos.
Hamburger Month - Create your own hamburger recipe.

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

Happy May!

ps. I've got ONE Small Town ad space left this month and it can be yours for 50% OFF (only $3!!) with code SPRING50.


April 24, 2015

Thicker Hair with L'Oreal #FibralogyWorks

One thing I was never blessed with was thick hair. This thin, straight, mousey mane of mine definitely isn't my strongest asset. But you know someone who does have good hair? Blake Lively.  That girl has it together, and apparently her trick is L'Oreal Paris Fibralogy shampoo and conditioner. So, when I recently received my very first Influenster Voxbox to review, I was beyond excited! The Voxbox contained full-sized samples of L'Oreal Paris Fibralogy shampoo and conditioner, as well as the thickening booster. If this product is good enough for Blake, it must be doing something right.

The Fibralogy product line is L'Oreal's first thickening haircare line. Infused with the power of Filloxane, it deeply penetrates the hair fibre, remaining for up to 10 days. After 5 applications, hair should be fuller and more luscious. 

So what did I find? First of all, this product smells fantastic.  For a store brand, it does not smell cheap or too chemically. After the recommended 5 washes with this product, I noticed a slight boost in thickness and volume after blow drying with a round brush. It also left my hair feeling clean and soft. That being said, the increase in thickness wasn't enough for others to notice. Damn. 

The verdict: While I may not have seen increase in thickness I was hoping for, I am happy with the product and will continue to use it for the smell and how soft my hair feels. It is my goal to incorporate my haircare products into my all natural routine, but at around $5-6 cdn per product, it also fits into the budget. And that, I can't argue.

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are 100% my own. Please remember, what works for me, may not work for you.


April 22, 2015

Earth Day: 18 Hours of Change

Simple changes to our daily lives can actually reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, shrinking our carbon footprint and helping slow climate change. Imagine what the planet would be if we all made just one simple change?

This Earth Day, be the change you want to see in the world. Challenge yourself to change one thing about your daily routine to reduce your carbon footprint. 
Here are 18 simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint throughout the day:

6am: Hands off the hot water.  It takes energy to heat water, so turn down the shower temperature.

7am: Be water wiseWater the lawn in the am hours when there is less a chance of evaporation. 

8am: Leave the car at home. Car pool, take public transit, bike or walk to work instead.

9am: Turn it down. Use a programmable thermostat to turn off the heat/AC while out of the house.

10am: Unplug your gadgets. Unplug any unused electronics while our of the house.

11am: Go reusable. Bring a reusable mug on your morning coffee run to minimize waste.

12pm: Go litter-less.  Pack your lunch in reusable containers to minimize waste.

1pm: Go double-sided. Save trees and money by reducing your paper consumption.

2pm: Ban the bottle. Take advantage of the tap water by using a filter and a reusable bottle or cup.
3pm: Recycle! Find out what can be recycled in your city, and properly sort to reduce waste.

4pm: Turn it off. Turn your computer and other electronics off before leaving the office.

5pm: Buy local. The shorter the distance from farm to table, the less fuel consumed.

6pm: Ban the bag. Carry a reusable shopping bag in your purse to reduce plastics in the environment.

7pm: Go meatless. Processing livestock takes a great deal of resources, including fossil fuels and water.

8pm: Compost. Add your dinner scraps to the city green bin or garden compost bin to divert waste.

9pm: Check your bulbs.  Change all light bulbs to LED, which consume less energy and emit less heat.

10pm: Turn it off. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.

11pm: Utilize off peak hours. Run your dishwasher and washing machine while you sleep.
Simple, right?

What will you be doing to help Mother Nature?


April 18, 2015

Vitamin C & Your Skin

While we know it for helping kick the common cold, did you know that vitamin C also plays an important role in maintaining healthy, resilient skin? This powerful antioxidant works by ridding skin of free radicals and protecting it from environmental aggressors like pollution, stimulates the synthesis of collagen and helps minimize scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. 

I will admit, I was no stranger to the tanning beds in my younger years. Even though I've always been, as my mom would say, a "moley kid", I thought I was resilient and would never see the effects down the road. Was I wrong. Over the past couple of years, I've started to see the repercussions of sun worshipping on my face, with a new freckle or dark spot popping up every once in a while. Freckle is just a nice word for sun damage folks, and I don't like it one bit. 

oz natural vitamin c serum

I was clueless to the fact that vitamin C plays such a huge role in healthy skin. Sure, I take my daily multivitamin and vitamin C pills, but applying a topical vitamin C serum to the areas of concern, never crossed my mind. I was recently provided with a sample of OZ Naturals vitamin C serum, and it has quickly become part of my daily skin care routine. When you think serum, you often think thick and sticky, but this serum is the exact opposite. The serum goes on evenly and smoothly, and once dry, can be applied under your daily moisturizer. OZ Naturals combines the highest quality Vitamin C and Hyaluronic acid to create a potent antioxidant that helps protect and brighten your skin throughout the day. It works deep down below the skin's surface to aid your skin in naturally producing more collagen, something we lose as we get older. In addition, hydration is improved thereby plumping up skin cells to minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles. While it is still a little too early to see any changes in skin tone or elasticity, I'm liking what I'm feeling so far. 

oz natural vitamin c serum

This product is 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten-free, and GMO-free. Even though you should see results right away, give the serum 30 days to work its magic. This product is safe for use on all skin types and will not clog pores. It does not contain an SPF and should not replace your daily sunscreen. Interested in purchasing OZ Naturals vitamin C serum? Click here

*The product featured in this post was provided to me for review and Powered by BrandBacker. All opinions are 100% my own.


April 12, 2015

Quinoa & Bean Salad

Being on a budget means that we often need to get creative in the kitchen. Playing our own version of  the TV show “Chopped” is one way we challenge ourselves to create a meal out of the ingredients we have. It limits the amount of food that goes to waste, saves us time by not having to run to the store keeps money in our pockets, and when the recipe turns out, can be a lot of fun. 

I have a slight obsession with quinoa, and without fail we always have quinoa in the cupboard, and a surplus of produce in the fridge. Toss the two together and you have the perfect, and healthy, salad. So, whether you are looking for a new lunch idea, or perhaps a side dish for dinner, this quinoa and bean salad provides a complete protein that will fill you up. 

Quinoa & Bean Salad
Serves: 8 

For the salad:
1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
1 190z can of beans, drained and rinsed
1 12 oz can of corn
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
kale, thinly sliced (optional)

For the dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

+ Bring two cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa and turn heat to low. Cook covered for 12-15 minutes.
+ Remove from heat and fluff with fork. Allow to sit covered for an additional 5 minutes.
+ While quinoa is cooking, chop vegetables. 
+ Make the dressing by whisking all dressing ingredients. 
+ Mix the cooked quinoa with other salad ingredients and dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
+ This salad is equally good cold or warm. Keep leftovers refrigerated.


What's your favourite quinoa recipe?


April 9, 2015

Journal Swap Creative [Linkup]

This month I joined the Journal Swap Collective, from Love the Here and Now and Now and Sage. I was partnered with Rebecca from The Adventures of Bug and Boo, a former expat and new mama of 2 beautiful girls.

Since I don't get out into nature as often as a I wish, Rebecca brought a little piece of nature to me with this beautiful green tree embossed journal. Her card said it all, "Mar - here's hoping that when you're not surrounded by nature your heart still sings all the same. I thought this journal would bring a little piece of the outdoors inside. Happy writing!" Rebecca captured who I am and what I'm about in this journal perfectly.

journal swap creative

There's no arguing that I've struggled moving from a city where in five minutes you could be roaming free, to a city where the only place you can roam in five minutes is surrounded by concrete. Despite the differences and the longing to be outdoors as much as possible, I think I've done pretty well. So, this journal will be all about gratitude, reminding myself that even though there will be challenges, be gracious for what life has given you. I am gracious to have had the experiences I have had, and to be living, working and playing in such a great city.  

The first entry? My current view - sitting outside on my parents' back patio, listening to the sounds of the birds in the trees and the frogs in the nearby pond, all while watching the sun set over Lake Huron, with a glass of red wine in hand. I am gracious for this peaceful, relaxing and drop dead gorgeous escape. 
journal swap creative
lake huron sunset

"Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better." - Albert Einstein

Joining a creative like this one is a great way to meet like-minded people from across the world. It is also a great way to expand your blogging community, and your creative side. A big thank you for Rebecca for sending me this beautiful journal, and to Anne and Cassie for starting this creative collective.

Love the Here and Now

Do you have a journal?


April 5, 2015

Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, SC

April 8 is Zoo Lover's Day, and it's a no brainer that I fall into that category. A recent work trip down the Columbia, South Carolina included a day at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. The Zoo offers a world-class recreational and educational experience for the entire family with more than 2,000 animals that reside in natural habitat exhibits, making you feel as if you are part of the experience.

riverbanks zoo, columbia sc

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is dedicated to protecting the earth's wildlife and wild places by increasing awareness and appreciation, providing the highest standards of care and by conducting scientific research that benefits both captive and wild populations. Since opening in 1974, Riverbanks has become one of the most successful mid-sized zoos in the United States.

And now for a whole bunch of ridiculously cute animal photos.

meerkat at riverbanks zoo
elephant at riverbanks zoo
giraffe at riverbanks zoo
flamingo at riverbanks zoo
siamang at riverbanks zoo
feeding the lorikeets at riverbanks zoo
tortoises at riverbanks zoo

And an animal selfie compilation, just because I could.

So if you're a zoo lover like me and happen to find yourself in Columbia, SC, make sure to check out Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. Here's some info to know before you go:

Location:  500 Wildlife Parkway – just off I-126 at Greystone Boulevard, Columbia, SC
Hours:  Open daily 9am-5pm, except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
Admission (USD):   $13.95 for adults; $11.55 for children ages 2-12; $12.95 for Military and seniors

Check out the website for timed feedings and educational presentations

What zoos have you visited? Do you have a favourite zoo animal?

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