March 30, 2016

What I'm Reading: Wellth

I am a horrible reader. Not in the sense that I can't read, in the sense that I don't really enjoy reading. Lately, my idea of reading has been checking out the latest celeb gossip on my iPad before bed. In an effort to read more, my goal is to start small, with one book per month - beginning with Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Resume. Read on for my review of this memoir from founder Jason Wachob.

Book Review: Wellth, by Jason Wachob

Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Resume /  Jason Wachob

Eat. Move. Work. Believe. Explore. Breathe. Connect. Love. Heal. Thank. Ground. Live. Laugh. In this memoir full of personal experiences, stories, weigh-in from expert voices and motivational quotes, Wachob highlights his failures, findings and successes based on these 13 building blocks of wellness or "wellth".  He redefines successful living and offers readers a new life currency to build on, one that is steeped in physical and emotional health and wellbeing, and shares why it's important to make frequent deposits into our own ‘wellth' accounts.

I picked up this title at the perfect time in my life - when we are saving for the final payment for our first home and recently welcomed our first child. Also known as the time when we are dirt poor but full of happiness. And, at a time that our emotional and physical health and wellbeing is also most vulnerable. I will fully admit, this book was a little difficult for me to read, especially as a first to ease myself back into reading. I like books with more of a story line, and action. However, Wellth really did make me think about what is important in life. This includes remembering that while, at times, things may be difficult, we need to live the "good life" - forget the money and material items, and focus on finding success by sharing experiences and creating memories with my new family. 

If you feel that your life is in fast forward and you need to slow things down to enjoy the moment, or are even just a fan of, I definitely recommend picking up this book.

T.O. & fro rating: ★ ★ ★ / 5 stars

How do you create a "wellthy" life?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are 100% my own. 


March 23, 2016

Life Lately

If you follow me on Insta, you probably noticed it was a BIG weekend in these neck of the woods. Little miss Morley made an appearance a week early, but at just over 8 lbs, I am completely fine with that.

We are still in the "get to know each other" phase - her learning voices, deciding if she likes dad's beard and figuring out the whole sleeping and feeding thing, among many other challenges. One thing is for sure - just like her mama, she is becoming quite the stubborn little lady and loves her sleep. But when she's hungry, watch out, girly gets hangry! 

Keeping the gender a surprise (which was so worth it by the way), we knew it was a 50/50 chance we could have a girl, and did not care one bit what the gender was. BUT I will admit, we're just still in shock she is a she. I was so convinced Baby Wardo was a boy, and in the words of my husband, "had everyone brainwashed" into thinking so as well. Word to the wise - do not google "what does a boy ultrasound look like".  

So, while I continue to navigate the new mama waters, I'll leave you with not one, but TWO, awesome giveaways from some fabulous ladies. Enter below for your chance to win your choice of  $115 Paypal cash/Sephora gift card/Target gift card and a $100 Starbucks gift card! Both of which I could use right now because I can already tell this little beauty is going to be a handful...

Happy Wednesday! 


Giveaway is open internationally for those over 18 years old. Winner gets to choose to receive $115 PayPal cash, a gift card to Sephora, or a gift card to Target.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


$100 Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway


March 21, 2016

How to Take Easy Silhouette Maternity Photos

Silhouette photos are incredibly powerful and eye-catching images. They add drama, mystery and interest to a photograph, emphasizing the shape of the subject. Perfect for maternity photos! 

Looking to document your growing bump? This tutorial will help you take easy silhouette maternity photos from the comfort of your own home.

How to Take Easy Silhouette Maternity Photos

Steve and I have been together for over 10 years, and in that decade, we've taken hundreds of photos commemorating special moments and preserving memories. However, when taking photos, I am usually the one behind the camera.  Sometimes I need to remember that it is also important to be the one in front of the lens - like when you are about to have a baby and want to remember your days with ‘the bump’ and your last days as a duo. 

As we are on a budget, instead of hiring an expensive photography, I decided to take my own maternity photos at home with the tools I had available. I quickly realized, it is a lot easier than you would think. 

Here's how you can take easy silhouette maternity photos at home.

Equipment You’ll Need:

How to Take Easy Silhouette Maternity Photos

What to Wear:

  • black tight fitting top (i.e. sports bra or tank top)
  • black leggings
  • hair with texture or shape (i.e. curled, in pony tail or messy bun)

You want your silhouette to be as simple and clean as possible. Try to wear clothes that eliminate lines and bunching. Show off those pregnancy curves!


  1. Set up your camera.
  2. To create a silhouette, place your subject (that's you!) in front of a light source, such as a window with sheer curtains. Remember: you always need to shoot into the light for silhouettes.
  3. Optional: If using a second model (aka your partner) have him/her stand in front of the window to frame your shot. Keep the frame simple, you are the focus of the photograph.  
  4. If using your camera’s automatic setting, make sure to turn off the flash.
  5. Set your camera to the appropriate remote control or timer setting. If using the camera timer, make sure to give yourself plenty of time. 
  6. Focus on the lightest part of the photo (i.e. area just above the shoulder) to set the exposure for the brightest part of the scene. By exposing the bright sky behind, the areas that are not so bright in the foreground will appear under-exposed or darker than normal, giving you a more dramatic silhouette.
  7. Step into the frame and strike your pose. 
  8. With the help of the remote control, snap your shot. Make sure the remote is hidden when the camera goes off! (I used a remote shutter instead of the camera timer. I found it gave me more time to set up, and I was not rushed to 'get into position’, but it is personal preference.)
  9. Check your shot and adjust if needed.
How to Take Easy Silhouette Maternity Photos

Tips for Posing:

  • Stand sideways and not straight on. Shooting straight on will lack detail. It looks best when you can make out the outline of limbs, faces, etc. 
  • Stand in a way that creates some shape to the photo (i.e. place your hands on your belly, bend a knee, etc.). 
  • If posing with a partner, make sure there is space between you and your partner, otherwise the silhouette will end up looking unrecognizable. Try turning sideways and facing each other. 
  • Do some research beforehand and create a pose list. Pinterest has a lot of great options.

Tips for Editing: 

  • Most of the time, silhouette photos are beautiful without any heavy editing. 
  • Usually a simple adjustment of brightness and contrast in your favourite editing software are all that are needed to finish the photo. 

There is no right or wrong way to create a silhouette. It really comes down to personal preference.  And the great thing about digital is you can take as many photos as you want to capture the perfect shot. Have fun and experiment!

How to Take Easy Silhouette Maternity Photos

Issues You May Face:

1. If you don’t have a tripod: Instead, place two equal-height chairs back to back. Place a small pillow or folded piece of clothing, towel, etc., on top of the chair backs to help balance the camera. It doesn't have to be pretty, as long as it is balance.

2. If when reviewing your photos, you notice a reflection in the window: First, evaluate the items that are in front of you. For example, when I first started taking the photos, I noticed the reflection of something white in the window. Turns out, it was the white duvet on the bed. To minimize, either remove the item creating the reflection or cover the area with a dark item (i.e. black shirt) and it will remove the reflection from the photo.

3. If your sheer curtains won’t stay closed: Either move the frame of your shot so that it is only in front of one panel, or use a cloth clip to fasten both panels closed. Preference would be to place at the clip at the very bottom or top so that it is not in the shot. However, if the clip is placed more in the middle of the curtains, be sure that you are standing in front of it when taking your photo so that it doesn’t show. 

Silhouette Maternity Photo Tips

I am in love with how these photos turned out. They were exactly what I was looking for - something simple to remember the days leading up to Baby Wardo's arrival. 

Update: Thank you for making this one of the highest viewed posts on To & Fro! As we are now expecting baby #2, check out my newest silhouette photo documenting my growing 21 week bump. 

Sometimes it is the simplest pictures that work best.

Have you ever taken your own photos to document a special time in your life?

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you.

March 18, 2016

5 Ways to Live a More Sustainable Life

Tetra Pak

Living a sustainable lifestyle is extremely important to me, both at work and in the home. In celebration of International Happiness Day on March 20, I encourage everyone to make simple renewable lifestyle changes to live happier, while protecting our planet. 

Here are 5 ways to live a more sustainable life

1. When grocery shopping, choose renewable packaging. Help preserve our precious natural resources by looking for products with renewable packaging, such as cartons.  Tetra Pak's Tetra Recart (the packaging featured below) is the first carton package designed for shelf-stable products traditionally filled in cans, glass jars or pouches. This innovative carton package is mainly made from paper, a renewable resource that can be naturally replenished, and takes up 30-40% less space in your pantry.

5 Ways to Live a More Sustainable Life

Don't just stop at what the items are packaged in, take it one step further with how you bring these products home. At checkout, skip the plastic bags, which are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. As an animal lover, banning the bag in our house is a no brainer. When the the lightweight plastic bags end up in the environment, they pose a serious danger to birds and marine mammals that often mistake them for food. Keep a stash of reusable shopping bags in the car so that you’re always prepared for the next grocery trip. 

2. Take shorter showers. Taking a nice long, hot shower can wake you up and make you ready to tackle the world. The problem is, they can also do a real number on the planet’s freshwater supply. I’ll be the first to admit, taking a shorter shower is a real challenge. A few things to help reduce your shower time are to set an alarm on your phone for the desired shower length, creating a playlist that's as long as your desired shower time and keeping tasks such as brushing your teeth, etc. for outside of the shower. Remember, the only water we will ever have is what we have now.

3. Bike or walk whenever possible. Living in a big city, walking, biking and even carpooling and taking public transit are heavily relied on to get to and fro. For me, I take the subway to and from work every day. Trains are relatively energy efficient modes of transportation, using far less fuel per passenger mile than cars. Not only do I avoid traffic and the pain of having to find a parking spot downtown, my subway time is a chance to relax, catch up on the news and people watch.

Tetra Pak

4. Swap your paper coffee cup. For me, this is one of the easiest challenges because making coffee at home and taking it to-go in a reusable travel not only saves resources, but also money and time when you’re in a rush to get to work. Don’t just stop with your coffee, keep hydrating throughout the day with water in a reusable bottle or Tetra Pak carton. Need a mid day caffeine boost? Make sure to have your own ceramic coffee mug at work. 

Tetra Pak

5. Take the Tetra Pak Happiness Quiz. Protecting the planet means protecting natural resources—and that’s sure to make you happier. Do your habits make you happy? Take Tetra Pak’s short quiz to find out how your daily choices impact your mood and the planet.

Challenge yourself! By adopting simple lifestyle habits, like those above, you can make a big impact on your life and the world around you. It takes approximately 28 days to form a habit, so what are you waiting for?!

Learn more about how Tetra Pak is working with suppliers, manufacturers, brand owners, NGOs and others to expand attention from the mid and end of the packaging life cycle to the beginning, here

How do you live a more sustainable life?

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


March 16, 2016

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

We have way too many apples in our house. It seems that every time we go grocery shopping, apples seem to make it on the list and into the cart. I know "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", but two people can only eat so many apples. So naturally, I decided to bake something to use up the apples before they went bad, or before our next grocery trip. 

While apples & cinnamon may be associated with fall, these apple cinnamon muffins are the perfect  year-round breakfast treat.  Not only are they full of apple cinnamon flavour, when baking, they will fill your house with the most wonderful smell. Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Muffin Recipe

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
Yields: 12 large muffins (or 1 loaf)

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease your muffin tin, or add liners.
  3. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) mix together white sugar and butter until smooth.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla. Continue to beat on medium speed until combined.
  6. Add flour, baking powder and milk. Combine.
  7. Add half of the batter to the muffin tin (only fill about 1/3 of the way).
  8. Cover the dough with chopped apples. Using clean fingers or the back of a spoon, pat the apples into the dough.
  9. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  10. Repeat steps 8 & 9 so that the muffins are layered.
  11. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  12. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before eating. Enjoy!

Note: If muffins aren't your thing, this recipe can also be made as a bread. To make the bread, simply sub the muffin tin for a 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes.

Is this a recipe you would make? What's your favourite kind of muffin?

Apple Cinnamon Muffin Recipe


March 14, 2016

Me Time with Essie Nail Colour

In my opinion, there's nothing beautiful about being 38 weeks pregnant - I'm swollen and red, wheezing and sweating like I just ran a 5K and twinging in pain every other minute as baby prepares to make his/her appearance any day now. Not pretty. 

One thing that makes me feel pretty? Some much needed mama-to-be "me time", which recently included a fresh new 'do and a little mani-pedi.

Essie Voxbox review

My luck, I was recently selected to review the Essie Voxbox from Influenster Canada. My Voxbox contained 4 items - Essie Millionnails treatment, Essie Good to Go top coat, Essie nail polish in Bahama Mama (#400) and Essie nail polish in Topless & Barefoot (#665).

Essie Voxbox review

A brief description of each product...

millionnails (fiber shield + iron strength) - Fortified with iron, amino acids and kevlar, each bottle contains 1 million fast acting molecules to help resist peeling and splitting for visibly stronger nails.

good to go (rapid dry + shine) - Sets nail color in seconds and creates a brilliant shine. formulated with fast-acting drying agent so you can finish first.  

topless & barefoot (a barely there soft beige pink) Revel in the nude with this barely there soft beige pink nail colour. Perfect for an effortlessly beautiful, beachy look.

bahama mama (a warm, rich, creamy deep plum) - Anytime is the right time for warm deep plum polish. Creamy and rich, this tropical beauty works winter, spring, summer or fall – gorgeous is always in fashion.

I have always been a fan of Essie nail polishes, and these products did not disappoint. With the fast-drying top coat, bahama mama lasted about 4 days without chipping. Into day 4, they still had a high shine to them as well. And for those brittle pregnancy nails? I definitely recommend million nailsWithin just a week of use, I noticed less peeling and splitting.

Essie Voxbox review

When choosing a nail colour, I tend to gravitate to the pink shades. I was a little hesitant about trying the darker plum colour (bahama mama), but of the two colours I received, it was definitely my favourite. Topless & barefoot was just a little too light for my liking. My poor 38 week pregnancy hands are red and swollen, so right now, the pinks are not doing me any favours. I could definitely see myself wearing topless & barefoot on my toes in the summer, with a tan. 

Besides the affordability, great quality and variety of colours to chose from, the thing that I love most about Essie polishes are that they are DBP-, toluene- and formaldehyde-free. Now you don't have to worry about what you're putting on your nails, just what colour to choose. 

Essie Voxbox review

What are your thoughts on Essie nail products? Have you tried them? 

I received these products complimentary from Influenster Canada for testing purposes. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you Influenster Canada for giving me a chance to try such great products! #essienailedit


March 11, 2016

Home Stretch: 38 Weeks

Yesterday was my last official day of work before baby. Technically, I've been off since last week as per the doctor's recommendation, but yesterday I went in to hand things over and say my "goodbye, see you in a year". Yes, in Canada we get a year maternity leave. It was kind of a surreal feeling - it's one thing to leave a job and move on to another, but to leave a job knowing you'll be back in a year ,and knowing you're leaving to start a little family unit, is a whole new feeling. 

38 week bump date

Baby Wardo, we are so ready to meet you.

Since baby's arrival is very near, instead of doing the tradition "bump date", today I've decided to share 5 things I'm looking forward to...

1  |  the answer to the burning question: who will baby be? It's inevitable that babe will be a blue-eyed blonde, but will he/she be a mini Mar or a mini Steve?

2  |  new family roles. Lots of new roles in my family, not just first-time mom and dad. Baby Wardo is the first grandchild on both of our sides, so we have new aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas (and a great grandma on my side). 

38 week bump date

Baby's arrival also means a visit from my little sister, who currently calls the Canadian west home. I haven't seen her since our family vacay to Italy about 7 months ago, so I'm pretty pumped to spend time with her and see her in action as Auntie. 

I'm also curious to see how the family dogs will react, since they are used to getting all of the attention around here. Titus gets frustrated because his normal comfy spot on my lap has been taken over by a moving round ball and he gets in trouble when he steals baby's stuffies thinking they're for him. I know my parents'  dog Lola will be like a protective older sister, but I think Titus will ignore the baby, at least a first. A thing with hands that can't scratch him? No interest. 

38 week bump date

3  |  sleep. Ok, so obviously sleep with a newborn will be limited, but as a former stomach sleepover, I am just looking forward to not having a basketball-sized lump in the way and not waking up roasting. 

4  |  having my body and brain [somewhat] back. Being 38 weeks pregnant is not beautiful - I'm slow moving, wheezing and sweating like I just ran a half marathon and my hands and feet are so swollen that they look like a rubber glove filled with water. I couldn't imagine being pregnant in the summer. Would not be pretty. 

Despite knowing that I am growing a living being inside of me, gaining the amount of weight that I have has not been an easy concept to grasp. It's taken a huge toll on my body, and I look forward to be able to regain what I can back. Not to mention, get rid of the baby brain and clumsiness. I've broken something in the kitchen at least 3 of 5 days this week and have had some real doozies when it comes to forgetting things. At least, that's what I've been told. I can't remember. 

38 week bump date

5  |  buying 'normal' clothes. Goodbye expensive maternity clothes, hello spring wardrobe! Have you seen the spring Joe Fresh line? I don't know a whole lot about fashion, but it is filled with light fabrics, colourful patterns and is mucho affordable. I pity those that don't have a Joe Fresh near them (or like me, in their local grocery store = deadly). Can. not. wait!

What are you up to this weekend?


March 9, 2016

Things I Can't Live Without

Everyone has that 1, or 2, or 3, things they can’t live with in life - those items that make the good day even better, or turn that bad day into one that is in the least, tolerable. 

As we anxiously await Baby Wardo's arrival (really, any day now), we've been going over and over, and over again, the list of things baby absolutely needs. While cute outfits, blankets and stuffies galore are "nice to haves", there really are only a handful of things baby couldn't live without. We figured out that it really comes down to 3 things - something to eat (check), a place to sleep (check) and a way to get around, safely (check). 

T.O. & fro March Sponsor Spotlight

So it got me thinking - what are my lifelines? What are the 3 things I couldn't live without? If only it were as simple as baby's needs.  

The 3 things I couldn't live without include...

My camera. Pregnant or not, I love photo-documenting life. Sometimes, maybe a little too much. Whether it is my DSLR or iPhone, I've always got a camera by my side. (By the way, have you followed T.O. & fro on Instagram?)

Coffee.  Cutting back on my caffeine intake was not an easy feat when we learned we had a little one on the way. I knew that there was no way I could go cold turkey, so I have continued to drink it (in moderation) throughout my pregnancy. I often think my husband lives in fear when he knows I haven't had my morning cup. The morning truly doesn't begin until I've had my caffeine boost. 

My husband. I know, this seems like an obvious choice, but it is very true, especially during pregnancy. He is the only person that would put up with rubbing my swollen feet and actually admits that he enjoys cleaning the house. Which is a bonus for me, because I'm starting to believe this whole 'nesting' thing is a load of crap. 

What are 3 things you couldn't live without, and why?


March 7, 2016

S'mores Indoors

S'mores are a go-to treat on our camping menu. The good news is, they no longer need to be limited to weekend wilderness adventures. With the same great taste as those you would make over the campfire, now you can make them at home any time of the year!

s'mores indoors recipe

Enjoy this quick, easy and just plain delicious recipe for s'mores, indoors.

S'mores Indoors
Serves: 6+ people

  • 2 cups milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bag large marshmallows
  • graham crackers 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, add a layer of the chocolate chips. Arrange the marshmallows on top of the chocolate chips.
  3. Bake in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the marshmallows are lightly toasted.
  4. Serve with graham crackers for scooping.
s'mores indoors recipe
s'mores indoors recipe

Do you enjoy eating s'mores? Would you try this recipe at home?


March 5, 2016

Iditarod: The Last Great Race

Visiting Alaska in the winter may not be everyone's cup of tea, but in my opinion, it is one of the best times to visit the Last Frontier. Sure it can be cold and dark, but it is also the time of year when the animals are decked out in their winter jackets and loving life, the Aurora shows it beautiful face and the Last Great Race on Earth has everyone cheering. 

Iditarod Sled Dog Race, Alaska

This weekend marks the start of the 44th Iditarod.  Beginning in 1973, the Iditarod, also known as the   "Last Great Race on Earth", is an annual sled dog race running from Anchorage to Nome, AK. Every year, an average of 65 teams take part in the ceremonial start on 4th Ave, downtown Anchorage, on the first Saturday in March, with the official start taking place the next day in Willow, AK, about an hour and a half north of the city.  The race ends approximately 9 to 12 days later when the last musher and his/her team of 12-16 sled dogs reaches Nome.  

Did you know? The word "Iditarod" comes from the Ingalik Indian word "HaIditarod", which was the name for the river on which the town was built. It means distant place.

Iditarod Sled Dog Race, Alaska
Iditarod Sled Dog Race, Alaska

The Iditarod trail is composed of two routes: a northern route (run on even-numbered years) and a southern route (run on odd-numbered years). The total distance of the race is officially set at 1,049 miles, which honours Alaska's status as the 49th U.S. state. Along the route, there are several checkpoints where mushers must sign in. Some mushers prefer to camp on the trail and immediately press on at the checkpoints, while others may chose to stay and rest. Items such as food, extra booties for the dogs, batteries, tools, sled parts, etc., are repurchased in Anchorage and flown ahead to each checkpoint.

Iditarod Northern Route
Teams frequently race through blizzards causing whiteout conditions, sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds, which can cause the wind chill to reach −100 °F (−73 °C)!  The tough terrain and conditions the racers face along the way definitely gives you a deeper appreciation of this sport and the great state.

Interesting fact: Anchorage is so snow-starved this winter that they had to bring in 7 train cars of snow to line the streets for the ceremonial start. On top of that, the usual 11 mile start will be reduced to only half the distance. 

Iditarod Sled Dog Race, Alaska

Dog mushing has been part of life in Alaska since its earliest days. Today, dog teams are not just used by Iditarod racers, but also by rural residents who rely on teams to hunt and travel and by weekend hobbyists who enjoy exploring the backcountry with man’s best friend. 

And if you're at all concerned about the care of the dogs during the race, The Iditarod Trail Committee takes great pride in its role of providing excellence in dog care, not only during the race, but through an extensive program of pre-race vet­erinary screen­ing. Basically put, the level of screening and health care these dogs receive is better than the majority of the human population! Before entering the Iditarod, a musher must complete approved qualifying races.  Generally, it takes a minimum of two years to prepare for the experience as it simply is not possible for someone to participate in the Iditarod without having made a substantial investment of time, effort and understanding of how to properly manage and care for their dogs.  

Iditarod Sled Dog Race, Alaska

Experiencing the Last Great Race on Earth was something on our bucket lists from the day we moved to Alaska, and now, having stood at the ceremonial start, cheering on the racers with thousands of others, is something we'll never forget. 

To follow along with the Iditarod, check out the standings here.

For more on planning a visit to Alaska, check out my travel planning resources and how to pack

Have you ever gone dog mushing? What is your favourite winter sport?

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