April 29, 2016

What I'm Reading: One Breath

One Breath review

One Breath: Freediving, Death, and the Quest to Shatter Human Limits
by Adam Skolnick

"... freediving is both an athletic quest to push the limits of the body and mind, and a spiritual experience." 

As a science nerd, water lover, avid scuba diver and wannabe mermaid, I was instantly drawn to this title. One Breathe tells the story of Nick Mevoli, an award-winning free diver who, in 2013, tragically lost his life doing what he loved most - pushing limits and exploring the depths. 

For those unfamiliar with the extreme sport of free diving, it is where a trained swimmer packs as much air as they can into their lungs and plunges as deep as they possibly can into the sea, often as far as 100 meters or more. There's no oxygen tank involved, just that one breath to keep him or her going throughout their journey. It tests the limits of the human body in the most hostile environment on the planet. As the first athlete to die in an international free diving competition, Mevoli's death brought into question the impact of diving deep on the body and the ultimate risks involved with the sport. Lung squeeze in free diving is comparable to a concussion in hockey or football - completely misunderstood for so many years, but as it occurs more and more, is being taken more seriously. 

In this title, Skolnick dives into our body's physiology and how humans are able to continue to push the limits and dive where no person has dove before. He gives an insight into the sport and its competitive nature, yet shares how everyone involved is very much a family, challenging each other to push their limits and dive deeper. The book did a great job at keeping me intrigued and engaged from beginning to end, alternating between snippets of Melvoli's personal life and his competition life. However, while Skolnick's narrative of this underwater sport makes it sound exhilarating, I think I'll stick to exploring what lies beneath the surface with my air supply strapped to my back.  

T.O. & fro rating: ★ ★ ★ 1/2 out of 5 

Have you ever gone scuba or free diving?

Check out what I read in March here.

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


April 27, 2016

Be You with Mederma®

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyMederma #CollectiveBias

The journey of life can take its toll on a person's body, and they can start to feel less like the "me" they want to be. Mederma® empowers those who feel that their skin imperfections are making them something they're not, restoring their sense of self. Are you bothered by the scars or stretch marks on your body? Mederma® is specifically formulated to reduce the appearance of old and new scars and stretch marks. Mederma® products are clinically shown to improve both color and texture, making scars and stretch marks softer, smoother, and less noticeable. Be the you that you want to be!

Mederma Buy, Snap, Get at Walmart

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April 26, 2016

10 Things I've Learned As a New Mom

10 things I've learned as a new mom

It's amazing to see how much little miss has learned in just 5 1/2 short weeks. Im also amazed at how much I've learned in those few weeks. The learning never stops.

10 things I've learned as a new mom:

one. When baby is hungry, she will go for anything nipple-shaped, including your husband's nose.

two. Coffee, breakfast, lunch and dinner are best served cold.

three. Eau de baby spit up is the new perfume, and is oddly comforting.

four. "Nap when she naps" is easier said than done.

five. There is a cry for "hold me". I sometimes like to call it dramatic.

six. The pout gets you, every. single. time.

seven. Midnight feeds are like a scene from the Walking Dead, minus the blood and guts.

eight. It's appropriate to cry over spilt milk.

nine. Breast pumps are very satisfying.

ten. The birds start chirping at 3:55am.

And one more for good measure...

eleven. Your definition of love and happiness completely change.

This picture makes my heart flutter. 

10 things I've learned as a new mom


April 22, 2016

Broccoli Chicken Mac & Cheese

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DareToPair #CollectiveBias

During our first weeks home with baby, making dinner was the last thing on our minds. Family and friends played a huge role by bringing over food that we could either eat that night or toss in the freezer for a later date. Pasta dishes were key because they were so easy to just pop in the oven and reheat. 

One of my favourite pasta dishes is mac & cheese. Anyone with me on that? However, it's also not exactly the best option when it comes to eating healthy.  So, why not kick it up a notch by adding some veggies and protein?

broccoli cheddar mac & cheese

That's right, a healthier mac & cheese - the sneaky way to incorporate some fibre, protein and essential vitamins into your diet. Same old comfort food we all love, with a little side of nutrition.

Whether you're bringing home baby, know someone who is, or are just on the go with limited time to make dinner, this easy, and freezer-friendly, broccoli chicken mac & cheese is the perfect recipe for you!

broccoli cheddar mac & cheese

Broccoli Chicken Mac & Cheese
Yields: 6-8 servings

  • 1 box Barilla Gluten Free Pasta, such as rotini or penne
  • 1 bunch broccoli, rinsed and cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 cups skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded 
  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup skim or 1% milk
  • 2 1/2 cups reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground back pepper
  • additional 1/2 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta al dente, according to package instructions. Remember not to overcook, as the pasta will soften slightly while baking.
  3. Approximately 2-3 minutes before pasta is al dente, add in the broccoli florets and allow to cook slightly. Drain pasta and broccoli and set aside.
  4. While pasta water is coming to a boil, melt better in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. 
  5. Whisk flour into butter and garlic mixture until combined. Cook for an additional 1 minute, whisking occasionally.
  6. Slowly add stock and whisk until mixture is smooth. 
  7. Slowly add milk and whisk until mixture is smooth.
  8. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes or until mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, salt and pepper.
  9. Pour the cheese sauce over top of the drained pasta and broccoli. Add chicken and toss until everything is evenly combined.
  10. Once combined, pour pasta mixture into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish and sprinkle with extra sharp cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs (optional). 
  11. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until the top becomes slightly crispy and the breadcrumbs are slightly golden. 
  12. Remove from oven and serve immediately. 

If preparing to freeze for later, omit steps 10 to 12. Instead, pour pasta into appropriate-sized aluminium takeout containers. Don't forget to include the reheating instructions on the container - thaw and bake uncovered at 350F for 15-20 minutes, or bake frozen at 350F for 30-45 minutes. Whoever the lucky recipient is, they will be grateful. 

broccoli cheddar mac & cheese

Made from corn and rice, Barilla Gluten Free Pasta has the same great taste and texture as regular pasta, and is suitable for those that are gluten free, egg free, vegan, vegetarian or just looking to eat healthier and be more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies. While we are not a gluten free family (the above recipe may contain ingredients with gluten), what drew me to this product was that it contains no GMO ingredients - something that is very important for my little family unit. 

broccoli cheddar mac & cheese

Barilla Pasta can be found in the pasta section at your local Walmart. Be sure to also look for their Whole Grain, ProteinPlus and Veggie varieties, and check out this Ibotta offer before you shop.

broccoli chicken mac & cheese

What’s your favourite type of Barilla pasta? How do you incorporate healthy into your favourite pasta dishes?

If you enjoyed this post, then you might like: Banana Nut Protein Bites 


April 15, 2016

How To Create the Perfect Gallery Wall

We are currently in a transition phase as we rent a small, one bedroom apartment and patiently await the construction of our condo. But, just because we are in a temporary space does not mean that we can't make it feel like home. Gallery walls are the perfect way to spice up an empty wall in your home and make it feel just that, more 'homey'. 

How To Create the Perfect Gallery Wall

If you have a ton of family photos and the wall space for all your pictures, you should try putting up a gallery wall in your home. While arranging framed photos on your wall can feel like a big project, it can easily be done in less than a day.  Here's how to create the perfect gallery wall, in 6 simple steps:

What You'll Need
  • Photos & prints
  • Frames
  • Newspaper or kraft paper
  • Painter's tape
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer & nails/drill & screws/adhesive tape (depending on the wall)

What To Do

Step 1: Get inspiration
First, identify the wall that needs the oomph. For us, the large wall in our living room is the perfect canvas for our gallery wall. Grab some quick measurements of the space so that you know how many photos you need, sizes, etc.

Gather the photos, frames and other items (such as posters, prints, collectibles, etc.) that you would like to hang. Remember not everything has to match - the most important thing is that the wall represents you! Look for inexpensive and unique frames in unconventional places, such as thrift stores. Ikea also has a great selection of affordable frames in all different sizes and colours. 

I picked up this piece on a recent trip to Hobby Lobby, and it became the inspiration for our wall. We decided to hang photos of our adventures together - from Alaska, to a trip to Hawaii and even our wedding. If you are lacking ideas for what to hang, or how to hang them, check out some inspiration on Pinterest

How To Create the Perfect Gallery Wall

Step 2: Lay it out.
Lay out the newspaper or kraft paper on a large flat surface, such as the floor. Begin to lay out the pieces for your gallery - start with a large centre piece and build out. Arrange the frames how you would like them. Remember, there is no right or wrong way, it all depends on your personal style. You can always switch it up when you go to put it on the wall. Have fun with the layout.

How To Create the Perfect Gallery Wall

Step 3: Trace it out.
Once you have the pieces laid out the way you like them, trace around them with a marker. Don't forget to label each traced frame with a brief description of the photo so that you don't forget when you go to put them on the wall! For ease when hanging, mark where the nail or screw needs to go with an x. 

How To Create the Perfect Gallery Wall

Step 4: Mock it up. 
Cut out the traced pieces. Using painter's tape, a level and measuring tape, arrange the paper cutouts on the wall. Again, it will be easiest to start with the largest piece and build out. 

Once all pieces are on the wall, take a step back. Ask yourself, does the grouping fit with the nearby furniture? How is the height and the space between pieces? Does the gallery fill the space appropriately? Is there room for growth if I would like to add more pieces down the road? This step is optional, but will alleviate the need for patching errors. 

How To Create the Perfect Gallery Wall

Step 5: Nail & hang.
One of the perks of using the paper mockup method is that you can mark exactly where the nail needs to go on the paper (step 3). Depending on what your wall is made of, use either a hammer or drill to place a nail or screw in the marked location. If you are in a temporary space like us and don't want to patch holes down the road, there are many great adhesive products that will temporarily hang your frames. 

Once the nails or screws are in place, tear away the tape and paper. Now the best part - hanging your photos!

How To Create the Perfect Gallery Wall

Step 6: Sit back and enjoy!

How To Create the Perfect Gallery Wall

Remember there are no real guidelines or rules when creating a gallery wall—it's all up to you. Feel free to add or take away pieces as you go on, keeping the artwork relevant to your life. Ours is a constant work in progress, but I am so happy with how it has transformed our space from temporary to home. 

How do you make your space feel like home?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: Do You Have a Home Emergency Plan?


April 8, 2016

5 Baby Products I'm Loving

Oh hey, it's Friday already. Or so my computer tells me...

5 baby products I'm loving

It's amazing the amount of baby products that are out there. I remember the first time we visited Babies R Us to register, it was like being a little kid in a candy store. So many cute outfits, innovative products and fancy gadgets! How's a pregnant woman to decide what's actually worth it and what's just for fun? We constantly had to ask ourselves what do we want vs. what do we absolutely need? 

The things we need are a constant work in progress, but at 3 weeks in to this whole mom & dad thing, we've definitely found some favourites that have made life with baby a little easier on all 3 of us. 

The list of favourite and most-used items will obviously vary from mom to mom, baby to baby and family to family, but here are the 5 baby products I'm loving lately...

5 baby products I'm loving

1  |  The Mommy Hook
Out and about with baby? Do you struggle to find space for your bags in your already loaded stroller? The Mommy Hook is a must have! This extra large carabiner, made from heavy duty aluminum, simply hooks onto the handle of your stroller and can easily be loaded with bags, giving you hands-free control. The Mommy Hook comes in a variety of colours. 

2  |  Carter's Zip-Up Sleepers
Since most of Baby Morley's time is spent eating, sleeping and pooping these days, she has been living in sleepers. With the chilly weather, my favourite have been the fleece zip-ups from Carter's. Carter's also has snap-up sleepers, but when you're exhausted and doing a midnight diaper change, possibly even in the dark, no one has time for snaps.  My husband is the king of speedy diaper changes, and I know he would agree - zipper is better. 

Tip: While Carter's sleepers are affordable to begin with, make sure to hit up the clearance racks, and don't forget to plan ahead for when baby is older. We found sleepers and other clothing items at a fraction ($3-$4 each!) on the clearance rack.

3  |  Sleep Sheep
Does your little one have trouble sleeping? With its hidden sound machine and 8 soothing sounds and melodies (mother's heartbeat, spring showers, ocean surf, whale songs, twinkle twinkle and more), the Sleep Sheep is the perfect companion to help soothe children to sleep. It has a convenient velcro strap to attach to the side of the crib and keep sleeping baby safe. Our apartment can be quite noisy during the day, so I love the Sleep Sheep because it helps drown out noise from outside, other apartments and even my moving around. 

4  |  aden + anais Swaddles
These swaddles are by far my favourite item. The muslin material is durable, breathable and light-weight, and can be used as a stroller cover, burp cloth, nursing cover and swaddle. Morley is not a fan of sleeping on her back, which, at first, made sleep time a bit difficult. We finally learned that swaddling her before bed helps tremendously, and mom and dad are very thankful for that. Swaddles come in a variety of prints. 

5  |  Boon NAKED Two-Position Collapsible Baby Bathtub
Bath time is not Morley's favourite, but the Boon NAKED Collapsible Bathub definitely makes it easier for us. NAKED is the perfect tub for infants to toddlers. Its one piece design makes transitioning between stages easy - reclining to cradle newborns and expanding for sitting babies and toddlers. With this tub, bath time can be easily given on any flat surface, which for us means the living room floor. When not in use, the tub folds flat for easy storage, and has a hook to hang. NAKED comes in blue and green.

Have you tried any of these products? What baby products do you recommend?

Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated for this post, I am simply sharing products I love. If any of these companies would like to provide product for review, I would definitely not be opposed. All opinions are 100% my own.


April 6, 2016

April Showers...

April showers bring..... snow?! Seriously. The forecast is calling for snow this weekend. I'm starting to feel like a chicken, cooped up because Mother Nature can't decide what to do and baby and I can't get outside to go for a walk. Despite the first day of spring officially arriving almost 3 weeks ago, the weather has been anything but spring-like. Par for the course with a virtually snow-less winter, I guess. 

spring bucket list

Luckily, it will pass. And in the meantime, I'll just dream up my spring bucket list...

1. Patio season.
2. Strolls with the fam to Evergreen Brickworks Saturday market. 
3. Bonfires and sunsets by the lake at my parents.

But seriously, how gorgeous is this view?

lake huron sunset

What's on your spring bucket list?

This month's Small Town Sponsor Spotlight is extra special because like me, these two lovely ladies also call the province of Ontario home, and are especially familiar with the crummy weather we've been having so far this spring.

Take it away ladies...

Hey, It's Kate
Finish this sentence in your own way: "April showers..."
... bring a mix of snow and rain with a low of -4. Seriously. Spring in Canada is just one long April Fools joke.

What are 3 things on your spring 2016 bucket list?
Three things on my spring 2016 bucket list are…1. Shave my legs. It’s been a long, cold winter and it’s time to release the hounds. 2. Pack away all of my winter clothes. And by pack away I mean put the clothes in a bin, but keep it accessible because we all know i’ll be pulling out my mitts again by mid-April. 3. Plan an adventure. If there’s anything you need know about me, it’s that if there’s an adventure involved, I’m in. I live in one of the best places in Ontario to go on outdoor adventures, so hopefully I’ll get to go hiking up a mountain or crawling through waterfall caves before it gets too hot to breathe.

New to Hey, it's Kate? Start here:
Find Kate here:
Hey, it's Kate  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest


The Cardinal Press
Finish this sentence in your own way: "April showers..."
...bring cozy days curled up with a good book. 

What are 3 things on your spring 2016 bucket list?
1. Go horseback riding.
2. Learn to play tennis.
3. Learn to Barbecue. 

New to The Cardinal Press? Start here:

Find Nellwyn here:
The Cardinal Press  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Facebook

Make sure to go and say a big hello to this month's Small Town sponsors! Interested in being a part of next month's Sponsor Spotlight? Check out T.O. & fro's sponsorship options here.


April 4, 2016

Bringing Home Baby: New Family Survival Kit

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SkinCareForBaby #CollectiveBias

new family survival kit

Bringing home baby is such a surreal experience. One minute you are a family of two, and then all of a sudden you have a tiny human to take care of. Lots of big changes. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, and slowly, the fog is starting to lift. A huge THANK YOU to everyone for their messages about the arrival of our little beauty, Morley. She may only be 2 weeks old, but she sure is loved.

When it came to 'surviving' the first week at home with baby, there were many items that came in handy. Do you know someone that's expecting? A new family survival kit is a quick and easy way to add some help and cheer to those first few days, or weeks, with baby. Give this kit at a baby shower, take it to the hospital when you visit or have it waiting for the new family when they get home. No matter when you share it, it will be greatly appreciated. Trust me. 

new family survival kit

How to Make a "New Family Survival Kit"

The list of what to include in the basket can go on and on, but to keep it simple and useful, here are a few things to include for mom, dad and baby, and some fun, non-essentials:

Items for mom: Reusable water bottle, nipple cream, sanitary pads, witch hazel, nursing pads, razors, epsom salts

Items for mom & dad: Hand soap, hand sanitizer, hand moisturizer, toothpaste, phone charger, snacks

Items for baby: Sleepers and onesies, towels and baby soap, swaddle blankets, soothers, petroleum jelly, diapers, wipes, vitamin D drops (if breastfeeding), socks, hat & mittens

Other fun, optional items to include: mom & dad coffee mugs, single use coffee pods, journal, nail polish and file, non-alcoholic bubbly, hard books, baby toy

1.  To create this 'survival kit', first find a basket large enough for all of the goodies. 
2.  Add some tissue paper to the bottom of the basket. 
3.  Place larger items in the back, with smaller items towards the front, so that every item is visible. 
4.  Fill any empty spaces with extra tissue. 
5.  Either gift basket as is, or wrap with clear cellophane and bow. 
6.  Feel free to add or subtract items as per your choice and need. 
7.  If you know what gender the baby is, you can always tailor the basket.

new family survival kit

Since Morley was born, we have tried several different diaper brands trying to find "the one". I can truthfully say, Huggies® has the other brands beat. Huggies® Little Snugglers Diapers (sizes N-3) have a built-in colour-changing wetness indicator that lets you know when baby’s diaper is ready to be changed, without having to remove it, and the GentleAbsorb Liner (sizes N-2) has tiny, soft pillows that provide a cushiony layer of protection. The umbilical cord cutout makes them perfect for newborns because they are perfectly shaped to protect healing little belly buttons. I am very conscious of what I put on my own skin, and also want what's best for baby's. I was drawn to Huggies® Natural Care Wipes because they are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, perfect for new, sensitive skin. The TripleClean* Layers are thick enough to handle any mess, with a texture that's soft against your baby's skin. These two Huggies® products are best utilized as one solution to deliver great skin care for baby.

Huggies® Little Snugglers Diapers and Natural Care Wipes
new family survival kit

Huggies® Little Snugglers Diapers (Jumbo Pack) and Natural Care Wipes (64 sheets) can be found in the baby section at your local Walmart. Walmart has a great selection of all things baby - from sleepers and onesies to diapers and wipes - and thanks to their great value, has helped us stock up on all of the essentials. 

Huggies® Little Snugglers Diapers and Natural Care Wipes

Have you used Huggies® Little Snugglers Diapers or Natural Care Wipes? What would you add to a "New Family Survival Kit"?

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