Days of the Month: June


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

JUNE
  1. Say Something Nice Day: Say something nice to a stranger today.
  2. Leave the Office Early Day: What would you do if you left work early?
  3. Running Day: What is your favourite running gear?
  4. Hug Your Cat Day: Show off those furry, finned, scaled or feathery babies.
  5. World Environment Day: How do you celebrate Mother Earth?
  6. National Trails Day: Share a recent adventure on a local trail.
  7. Chocolate Ice Cream Day: What is your favourite chocolate recipe?
  8. World Oceans Day: What are your favourite water-related activities?
  9. Donald Duck Day: What is your favourite Disney character?
  10. Ball Point Pen Day: Write a letter to your future self.
  11. Jerky Day: What is your favourite road trip snack?
  12. Loving Day: What do you appreciate about your other half?
  13. Gin Day: Share your favourite gin-inspired cocktail.
  14. Bourbon Day: Share your favourite bourbon-inspired cocktail.
  15. Nature Photography Day: Show us nature, through your lens.
  16. Fresh Veggies Day: Take a trip to a local farmer's market and share your haul.
  17. Eat Your Vegetables Day: Share your favourite vegetarian recipe.
  18. International Picnic Day: Go on a picnic in a local park and share.
  19. Sauntering Day: Take it easy and relax today.
  20. World Productivity Day: How do you stay productive? Where do you find inspiration?
  21. Daylight Appreciate Day: It's solstice! How are you celebrating?
  22. Onion Rings Day: What is your favourite junk food?
  23. Let It Go Day: How do you take a deep breath and relax?
  24. Swim a Lap Day: What is your favourite way to get exercise?
  25. Colour TV Day: What are your favourite television shows/movies of all time?
  26. Canoe Day: Have you gone canoeing? What are your favourite water-related activities?
  27. Sunglasses Day: How your favourite sunny day activities?
  28. Log Cabin Day: Share a trip to your favourite museum.
  29. Camera Day: Share your recent favourite personal photos.
  30. Social Media Day: Disconnect and go social media-free for a day.
June is...
Camping Month - Share your favourite camping trip.
Great Outdoors Month - What is your favourite outdoor activity?
Soul Food Cooking Month - What is your home-cooked favourite meal?

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

Happy June!

Past months: March  |  April  |  May  

Raise a Glass to the Mint Julep

May 30 is Mint Julep Day - a celebration of this simple, yet delicious, bourbon cocktail. 

The recipe for this summery libation is simple: bourbon or whisky, mint leaf, sugar and ice. It's simple, it's delicious, it's brilliant.

mint julep recipe

Ingredients:
  • Leaves from 4-5 mint springs
  • 2 sugar cubes (or 1/2 oz simple syrup)
  • 2 1/2 oz bourbon or whisky
  • Heap of crushed ice

mint julep recipe

Directions:
  1. Add ice cubes and mint leaves to a glass. Pour in a small amount of liquor to soak sugar cubes. Gently muddle the leaves and sugar. (Muddling opens up the veins of the mint leaves and releases the essential oils for greater mint flavour.)
  2. Fill the glass to the brim with ice (crushed works best).
  3. Add bourbon whiskey.
  4. Garnish with mint spring and enjoy!
mint julep recipe

The original mint julep recipe calls for bourbon, however, whisky will also work just fine. Traditionally they are served in silver or pewter cups and held by the handle or rim in order for the cup to maintain optimum frost, but they work just as well in any tall glass.
Enjoy bourbon? Sad that Mad Men is over? Now you can drink like Don Draper all of the time with this recipe for a delicious old fashioned cocktail.
Do you enjoy mint juleps?

Scars & Hyaluronic Serum


Back in 2009, I had surgery on my elbow that so very kindly left me with a gigantic Frankenstein-like scar. Ever since the bandages came off and those 30 stitches were removed, I have been very self conscious when wearing anything but a long sleeved shirt. And if the appearance of the scar wasn't enough of a memory of the surgery, every once in a while it also brings pain, mostly due to the dryness of the scar tissue, and potentially the arthritis developing.

I've tried just about everything to diminish the appearance of the scar, with no luck. From ultrasound to bio oil and vitamin E, I've had to come to terms with the fact that that baby is here to stay. But if I can’t get rid of the scar all together, there must be a least a way for me to reduce the pain associated with it. When recently researching how to reduce the pain and dryness of my scar, I came across OZ Naturals’ natural and organic Hyaluronic Serum.

oz naturals hyaluronic serum

Hyaluronic acid is known as "nature's moisture magnet," an ingredient that can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Don’t let the word “acid” fool you - it isn’t harsh or skin-stripping at all. In fact, it’s the exact opposite – a powerful moisture-binding ingredient that keeps skin plump and hydrated. The sponge-like matrix of OZ Naturals’ Hyaluronic Serum assists in balancing skin moisture levels, speeds up skin-cell turnover, keeping new and healthy skin on the surface, and stimulates collagen, all helping plump the skin and diminish fine lines and wrinkles, as well as scars. 

oz naturals hyaluronic serum

Like all OZ Naturals products, this serum is 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten-free, and GMO-free. Even though you should see and feel 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. Interested in purchasing OZ Naturals hyaluronic acid & vitamin C serum? Click here

If you like this post, check out my recent review of OZ Naturals vitamin C serum

Have you tried a similar product?

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

Guest Bloggers Wanted + Giveaway

I recently came to the realization that for the first time in 10 years, this summer will be different. For the first time in 10 years, we will not have the upcoming hockey season hanging over our heads during the summer. While it makes me sad to think that those days are moving further and further into the past, it excites me because it also means that we can do whatever the hell we want, whenever the hell we want, without having to worry about compromising the upcoming season. In other words, we can go on spontaneous and mysterious adventures. 

As mentioned before, we have a big mystery family trip planned this summer. Destination? Unknown. I can't tell you because I don't want to, but because I actually have no idea where we're going. We're almost t minus 2 months from departure and the suspense is killing me!


Since the destination is unknown, internet connectivity is also unknown. And that is fine with me - 10ish disconnected days filled with family. To fill my absence, I am looking for guest bloggers to take over T.O. & fro! Interested? There will be 4 spaces available on a first come, first serve basis.

Update: All 4 spaces have been filled. Thank you for your interest!

And now, because everyone loves a giveaway and this totally darling flamingo print and monogrammed clutch, just in time for summer....


Now, take a gander at these lovely ladies who are so generously offering you this fabulous giveaway:


 Good luck!


Vegetable Fresh Rolls with Spicy Mayo & Peanut Dipping Sauce

As summer vacation and swimsuit season rolls near, healthy eating is on the mind. Lately these vegetable fresh rolls have been a staple in our house. They are a much healthier choice than their deep-fried counterparts, and the peanut dipping sauce kicks them up a notch. They may be a bit time consuming to make, but sure are worth it in the end!



Vegetable Fresh Rolls with Spicy Mayo & Peanut Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

For the rolls:
rice paper wrappers
rice Vermicelli noodles 
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 carrots, julienned
1 sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1 small can of water chestnuts, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
peanuts (unsalted)
optional fillings: cooked shrimp, bean sprouts, lettuce, fresh herbs (cilantro, basil or mint), tofu

veggie fresh roll recipe

For the spicy mayo:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce

For the peanut dipping sauce:
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

Directions:

For the spicy mayo:
  1. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup mayo and desired amount of sriracha hot sauce.  If you like heat, add more hot sauce.
For the rolls:
  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Boil rice vermicelli 3 to 5 minutes, or until al dente, and drain. Allow to cool.
  2. Fill a pie dish with warm water.  Soak the rice papers for no more than 10 seconds.  Make sure you don't soak them too long, remember they will continue to soften as you work with them!
  3. Remove softened rice paper from water and place on hard surface, such as a clean and dry countertop or cutting board.
  4. Place a little spicy mayo in the middle of the wrapper, followed by the rice noodles and your fillings of choice.  
  5. Once you have added all of your fillings, roll the paper.  Start with the end closest to you.  Roll tightly around veggies.  Fold each end over and then continue rolling. 
  6. Lay completed roll on plate, cover with moist paper towel and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  7. Complete above steps until you run out of ingredients.
For the peanut dipping sauce:
  1. 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.
veggie fresh roll recipe

The great thing about these rolls is that you can add whatever you want! Don't like avocado? No problem! Not a straight veggie person? Add some shrimp or chicken! Watching your carb intake? Nix the noodles. Need more greens? Add some spinach. Get creative and enjoy :)

Side note, this peanut dipping sauce also makes a great salad dressing.


Is this a recipe you'd make?



Thoughts on Being a International Blogger | SCATTERBRAIN

Born and raised in the Phillipines, Jae from SCATTERBRAIN recently made the trip across the Atlantic and now calls the US home. Today she is sharing her thoughts on being an international blogger. Take it away Jae...


When I assessed SCATTERBRAIN's blog stats for my advertising page a month ago, I realized that most of this blog's visitors are from the US and the UK. This didn't exactly surprise me since majority of the blogs I follow and read are US- and UK-based.

I am Filipino, and I used to blog from the Philippines until I moved to the US a little over a month ago. I'd like to think that my location is irrelevant to these results, but then I also realized how being an international blogger drives people to my blog. I've decided to share with you today my thoughts on being just that.

Diversity

I think being a Filipino itself is already an advantage. I'd like to believe that being exposed to the Eastern culture all my life is what makes me different from and interesting to other people. This allows me to share varying points of view from a pool of ideas and experiences. Diversity calls for a celebration of each other's differences because it makes one stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Capacity to Write in Two Languages

This actually falls under both pros and cons of being an international blogger, but I consider it more of a blessing than a curse. Filipinos are fortunate to have English as their second language. I could write blog posts in Tagalog, too; however, I avoid posting in our native language simply because I want my readers to be able to relate to me. I believe that posting in languages other than English can be a drawback from driving traffic to your blog when people are unable to understand what you're saying.

Feeling Like You Don't Belong

Have you ever been to a party where you don't know a single person? For that reason alone, you feel utterly out-of-place? This is probably the major pitfall of being an international blogger.

Being different could also mean missing out on a lot of things. It could be a major blog conference that will be held in another city or worse, abroad. You lose the ability to actually meet other people and expand your network.

Another significant downside is losing potential clients and/or collaborations in the process. I can't begin to tell you how many marketers I've turned down in the last six months. I wish it were simply because their brand or product didn't adhere to the blog, but because I was based outside the US.


I could come up with a long list of pros and cons of being an international blogger, but in the end, it all boils down to doing what really matters. Don't be disheartened! Improve your craft, and work on developing your voice. Being an international blogger should not hinder you from being yourself. When you love what you do, you'll eventually find your special place in the blogging industry.

What are your thoughts on international bloggers like myself? Do you follow a lot of them? Or are you fixated on reading only those from where you live?

Find Jae here: Blog  |  Bloglovin  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  


Camping with T.O. & fro!

Camping season is officially upon us! Did you know June is Camping Month? I truly believe that spending time outdoors cleanses the soul. I encourage others to get outside as much as possible and explore the beauty of Mother Nature and one way to do that is by going camping!

Do you have a trip planned this summer? We will be making our annual trip up to Algonquin Provincial Park for a little canoeing, fishing and good times. Let's just hope those mosquitoes don't get the best of me again this year.


In honour of Camping Month, next month T.O. & fro will be loaded with all things camping. Do you love camping? Whether you're a seasoned back country camper, prefer the comfort of an RV or just like to read about others' camping experiences, this series is for you. Please complete the form below to tell me what you'd like to see, learn and hear about, and I will do my best to share my camping knowledge and experiences with you.




Do you have a camping trip planned this summer? I'd love to hear about it!


Where Urban Meets Nature


Trails are a great way to be active, get around and explore the city you call home. Toronto may be considered a concrete jungle, but there are still quite a few places where you can go for a long walk among the trees. Where urban meets nature. 

Only steps from our front door is one of Toronto's many trails - the Betty Sutherland Trail. This particular trail follows the meanders of the East Don River in the northern part of the City. Named after Betty Sutherland, a former member of City Council who championed parks during her political career within the former municipality of North York, the Betty Sutherland Trail is a fast and easy one - perfect for an after dinner walk.


At the entrance to the trail by our house, you'll find the ruins of two small buildings, of which is little known (or could be found online). They clearly have some history to them, and while it was sad to see these mysterious ruins plagued by vandalism, it was interesting to see how nature has tried to reclaim the landscape. 

We continued along the well maintained trail as it meandered along the river. Despite the distant hum of the traffic on Ontario's busiest highway nearby, walking along the East Don River was extremely peaceful.


After exploring the 1.85 km trail for about an hour, we were spit back to the reality of urban living.


Spring was definitely in the air - the foliage was lush and green, the flowers were blooming, the birds were chirping and the animals, including two white-tailed deer, were loving life. I was also loving life - it always amazes me that in the heart of such a big and busy city there are so many of these little 'pockets' to be enjoyed.  I can't wait to explore more of the city's hidden gems this summer.

Do you have any trails close to your house?

Check out more of Toronto's green spaces:
Toronto Islands Pt 1
Toronto Islands Pt 2
Evergreen Brick Works

Summer Wanderlust // Sponsor Spotlight


Can you believe that were in the double digits of May? Spring is flying by, and while I hate to see my favourite season pass by in the blink of an eye, I'm super excited for what summer will bring.

Summer 2014 was an eventful one, taking us back up to Alaska, with a pit stop in Seattle on the way home. This summer will be equally exciting in terms of wanderlust. We have a big family trip planned, but I can't tell you where we're going. Not because I don't want to, but because I actually have no idea where we're going. As a celebration of my dad's upcoming retirement, my parents are taking me, my siblings and our significant others on a 'mystery vacation'. We're almost t minus 2 months from departure and the suspense is killing me!

Aside from this exciting trip, we'll be carrying on the tradition of our annual camping trip to Algonquin Provincial Park with family and friends and hopefully many trips to the Lake. Maybe even throw in a scuba diving trip or two, if my husband completes his certification we're lucky.

T.O. & fro's Small Town sponsors share my travel itch. This month, I have five lovely ladies sharing their spring/summer travel plans. [Interested in being a part of the T.O. & fro's monthly sponsor spotlight? Learn more about the Small Town ad space here.]

Where is your spring/summer wanderlust going to take you?

Do you have any spring or summer travel plans?
A pretty big roadtrip is coming up in the next couple of months that I've been planning for months! I don't want to jinx it by talking about it too much, but its a lot of national and state parks + a major city I've wanted to visit for a long time!

New to Route Bliss? Start here:

Find Christina here:
Blog  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin

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New to Something Saturdays? Start here:

Find Elizabeth & Luke here:
Blog  |  Bloglovin  |  Twitter  |  Trover

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Do you have any spring or summer travel plans?
Japan and Ecuador! Japan will involve purely tourism; I'm so excited to see the traditional side of this fascinating country, and to eat lots of sushi. In Ecuador, we will be volunteering with street youth in the capital, Quito.

New to Simplicity Relished? Start here:

Find Daisy here:

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Do you have any spring or summer travel plans?
My husband and I are headed to Hawaii in 2 weeks. We're traveling to Maui and then Honolulu. It's my second time visiting and I can't wait for that Hawaiian sunshine!

New to Seeking Sunshine? Start here:

Where to find Annessa:
Blog  |  Bloglovin  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

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Do you have any spring or summer travel plans?
This summer I'm going to Dublin (if you have any suggestions for things to do let me know!) In July I'll stay in Ireland for a yoga teacher training at the Cliffs of Moher. After that, I'm heading back to Korea for a few weeks to pack and have one last hurrah before moving to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

New to In Some Places? Start here:
Find Brittany here:



Mussels with Garlic Wine Sauce

Canadians love their seafood, but sadly, overfishing is the biggest threat to the health of our oceans, and the seafood we love to eat. The world's marine life is quickly being depleted, with an estimated 90% of all large, predatory fish, including sharks, already gone from the world's oceans. A recent study predicted a world-wide fisheries collapse by 2048. Scary, right? 

It's not too late to effect change, to turn back from the brink and begin consuming seafood in a sustainable manner. One way to do so is by consuming only sustainable seafood - species that are caught or farmed in a way that ensures the long-term health and stability of that species, as well as the greater marine ecosystem. 
mussels in garlic wine sauce

In honour of sustainable seafood, I am sharing one of my favourite seafood recipes - mussels with garlic wine sauce. Farmed mussels, especially those grown in suspended culture such as blue mussels, are an excellent sustainable seafood option. Some people are intimidated over cooking with mussels, but they are cheap, sustainable and surprisingly simple to cook. Minimal ingredients are needed to create this tasty mussel dish. Enjoy!


Mussels in Garlic Wine Sauce
Serves: 3-4 people, as appetizer 

Ingredients:
  • 3 lbs (1 bag) blue mussels
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • garlic toast, or slices of french loaf

Directions:
  1. Clean mussels thoroughly and remove all beards (the brown wispy bit hanging out of the shells) by scrubbing. Discard any dead mussels (one that are open or with broken shells).
  2. Once cleaned, set mussels aside in a bowl of ice.
  3. In a large pot, heat butter over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add broth, wine, salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium and bring to a boil.
  5. Add mussels and cover. Cook for eight to ten minutes. Shake pan every few minutes to move mussels around.
  6. Pour into bowl and garnish with parsley. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread to sop up garlic wine sauce.
mussels in garlic wine sauce

For more information of blue mussels and other sustainable seafood options, check out OceanWise, a a national sustainable seafood initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium that recognizes this problem and aims to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood, working directly with restaurants, markets, food services and supplies ensuring that they have the most current scientific information regarding seafood and helping them make ocean-friendly buying decisions. When the Ocean Wise logo is found next to a menu or seafood item, it is an assurance that the item is a good choice for keeping ocean life healthy and abundant for generations to come.

Do you like seafood? How will you be celebrating our oceans?


The Importance of Self Care | How to Make a Life

Hello T.O. & fro readers, I am Sheryl from from How To Make A Life. By profession, I am a counsellor and life coach and my blog is where you can find me focusing upon finding inspiration and motivation for a healthy, happy and beautiful life.
twitterheaderHTMAL (1)
One of the most important topics I focus upon is self care. Self Care is hard and I believe that we each struggle with finding and keeping balance in our lives. As I began to write more about the topic, I established a weekly series Self Care Saturday. Each Saturday I discuss and provide simple tips and suggestions that can and will hopefully make self care an easier subject for you.

Self care Saturday

If you haven't had an opportunity to check out any of my Self Care Saturday posts. I wanted to give you a brief introduction and share a few of my most popular posts.

What Is Self Care?  //  This post began the weekly series. I discover that many people feel that self care is selfish and there isn't time for it. My goal is to help people realize that self care is something that needs to be done daily and includes regular routines such as sleep, the clothes we wear and how we organize our day.

What Are You Saying To Yourself?  //  Do you say things to yourself that you wouldn't say to a friend? Believe it or not, most individuals say extremely negative thoughts. Self care begins with how we view ourselves and the comments we daily make.

A Space of Your Own  //  Is there a space in your home that is your own? It doesn't matter how small or large your space is, it is important to have a spot that is comfortable and your own. That can be a favorite chair, a renovated closet or a bedroom made into your office. Take time to create and establish your own space.

Scheduled Yourself on Your Calendar  //  You schedule work meetings and your children's activities, but do you schedule time for yourself in your life? Self care begins with making sure there is time for the things you want to do and that can range from making your hair appointment to scheduling a night out with friends.

How To Protect Your Time  //  This post was inspired by a Facebook status by a dear friend who is a motivational speaker and trainer. She acknowledged she turned down two paid speaking engagements because they were set to be on days she had blocked out as self care days. This is a woman who works circles around everyone I know. However, she understands that without blocking out time, she is unable to do the work that is meaningful to her. Do you give up time that you have set aside for yourself?

How To Take A Deep Breath //  Breathing is something that we do naturally but the stress and busyness of our daily lives changes the quality of our breath. Do you find yourself sighing? Are your shoulders tense. This post will walk you through very quick and easy ways to take a deep breath and you will immediately feel a difference.

Permission for Self Care  //  Do you feel like you need permission to practice self care? This post is simple and reminder that I will gladly provide you with permission to do whatever you need to do for your self care practice.

I would love to hear from you in regards to your own self care practice and hope you will place Self Care Saturday on your regular reading list.

Connect with me through Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin, or Pinterest and let's have a self care conversation.


A Lake Huron Breeze & #VacayEveryDay



vacay every day palm breeze

Living in a big city can be exhausting, especially for this nature lover. At the end of each work week, I am in desperate need of a vacation. But like all realistic people, I don’t have the time, or funds, to hop on a plane to some far off destination every time I need to unwind. Instead, I escape the concrete jungle by hopping in the car and taking the 3 hour journey west to my parents’ Lake Huron home. It may not be the tropical beach or mountain trail that I often crave, but being on Lake Huron is like being on a vacation every day. 

vacay every day palm breeze

Last weekend we made the ever so familiar journey down the highway to celebrate family - a special lady’s 80th birthday, big moves and first homes, the warming weather, and just being together.  It was the perfect vacation away. All the things that make me one happy girl - good company, good food, and good drinks thanks to the new Palm Breeze sparkling alcohol spritz. The delicious tropical flavours of Ruby Red Citrus and Pineapple Mandarin Orange helped me forget the hustle and bustle of the work week ahead, and instead enjoy the moment, surrounded by family, with beautiful scenery, the fresh breeze off the lake and the sun shining down. I could get used to that.

vacay every day palm breeze

Now your very own #VacayEveryDay is only s sip away. Palm Breeze is a flavoured malt beverage, which means it’s an alcoholic drink made with a malt base, kind of like beer. It is the perfect beverage for sipping on girls' night, during outdoor activities, while soaking up the sun, or like me, for spending time with family. Now available anywhere liquor is sold in the US.

palm breeze in store

If you live in San Diego, DC, Dallas or AustinPalm Breeze invites you to enjoy a fun girl's night with Blo Bar. Free food, drinks and pampering with your best girlfriends, all courtesy of Palm Breeze. [Click on your city to RSVP.]

Have you tried Palm Breeze? I’d love to know what you think!

How do you make every day a vacation?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.