June 29, 2016

What I'm Reading: The More of Less

The More of Less by Joshua Becker [Review]

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own

By: Joshua Becker

Joshua Becker is the founder and editor of Becoming Minimalist, a website that inspires millions around the world to own fewer possessions and find greater fulfillment in life. As one of the leading voices in the modern simplicity movement, he speaks both nationwide and internationally, and has contributed to articles in Time magazine, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and numerous television programs including the CBS Evening News

Wanting to declutter. The story of my life. The reality? Not so easy.

I was instantly drawn to this title because we fit into the category of "too much stuff". I thought it when I lived on my own during University, it showed when my now husband and I moved to Alaska together, it became evident as I cleaned out the room in the house I grew up in as my parents prepared to put it on the market, and finally, it was proven when we were forced to pack three years of our life into the back of our Kia Sorento and drive over 4000 miles from Alaska, home to Toronto. Half of that stuff remains in my parents' attic, never to be seen again. 

In The More of Less, Joshua Becker, helps you….
  • recognize the life-giving benefits of owning less
  • realize how all the stuff you own is keeping you from pursuing your dreams
  • craft a personal, practical approach to decluttering your home and life
  • experience the joys of generosity
  • learn why the best part of minimalism isn’t a clean house, it’s a full life
This book is for you if you are considering cutting down on the amount of stuff you own and just need a nudge to take the plunge. Joshua does a great job at making you feel bad about yourself, but in a good way. In a way that will make you think long and hard before you bring another item home with you. Long story short, this book made me instantly purge my clothing drawers and closet.  While I had a hard time parting with the clothes, by donating them, I knew they were going to someone who would be able to put them to use.

Becoming a complete minimalist may be a little extreme for my husband and I, but we can always take the baby steps required to achieve a more simplistic life style. This book is a great inspiration to get started on that journey. 

"The beauty of minimalism isn’t in what it takes away. It’s in what it gives."

T.O. & fro rating: ★ ★ ★ / 5 stars

What books have you read lately?

Past reads:

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


June 24, 2016

Lessons From My 3 Month Old

lessons from my 3 month old

I never claimed I was a baby whisperer, but before having a baby of our own, I did think I knew a thing or two. Boy, was I wrong. The past 3 months have flown by in the blink of an eye, and in those few short months baby girl has taught us so much. All the books, the hours spent on google, talking to other moms, etc. could not have prepared me for what we have learned. These are her lessons.

People will call your daughter a boy no matter the amount of pink she is wearing....

But, after the first couple of times, you learn to suppress your hormones and laugh about it.

The world is on the verge of ending at least 10 times a day...

But, you are able to swoop in and save it with seconds to spare.

Once a new skill is mastered (like assisted standing) it consumes your day...

But, seeing the look of accomplishment on their face makes not getting anything else done so worth it.

You spend all this money on soothers and chew toys for your teething babe...

But, a clean finger is all it takes.

'Boycotter of naps' is an official hobby...

But, once they are finally down you miss hanging out with them.

Those tears will break your heart...

But, that smile will too.

Your frustration and tiredness levels may sometimes feel like they're at an all time high...

But, remember, you have the best job in the world.

Are you a new parent? What has your child taught you?

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June 22, 2016

Mini Turkey Spinach Meatloaves with Spicy Mayo

I love being in the kitchen, but lately, cooking has taken on a whole new meaning. When you have a babe that won't let you out of her sight for too long, cooking turns into whatever you can whip up at lightning speed. Bonus points if it's healthy and you can make enough for leftovers the next day.

Lately, I've been digging ground turkey. It is a super flexible ingredient and can be used as a substitute for ground beef in your favourite hamburger, taco or even spaghetti and meatballs recipes, reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your meals. Low in calories and high in protein, ground turkey also contains selenium, an important antioxidant.

This recipe for mini turkey spinach meatloaves with spicy mayo can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a mid-day snack, and can be served hot, at room temperature or even chilled. Bingo, my kind of meal! And spicy mayo because, well, spicy mayo is good on just about anything. I could literally eat that stuff with a spoon.


Mini Turkey Spinach Meatloaf with Spicy Mayo

Yields: approximately 10 large muffin-sized meatloaves
Calories: approximately 140 per serving (1 mini meatloaf, without spicy mayo)

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (or ketchup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a large muffin tin and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients thoroughly with clean hands.
  4. Fill individual muffin tins with mixture, patting down the tops. 
  5. Bake until golden brown or cooked through, approximately 25-30 minutes.
  6. As mini meatloaves bake, combine Sriracha and mayonnaise to make spicy mayo dressing.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to rest for approximately 10 minutes.
  8. Remove each loaf from muffin tins and drizzle with spicy mayo before serving.

For more family-friendly meals, check out this recipe for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Taco Bowls

What is your go-to family dinner?

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June 20, 2016

Must-See Phenomena in Alaska

Happy Summer Solstice! Today is one of my favourite times of the year because it means one thing... the longest day of the year! So, make sure to get outside today and enjoy the sunshine.

The world is an incredible place, filled with many incredible natural phenomena - from days like today when the sun barely sinks below the horizon to that rainbow spanning the sky following an afternoon rain. However, a lot of what we see in the natural world is taken for granted, or goes completely unnoticed. Nature can be pretty impressive when you know where to look. 

From shaking earth to dancing light, the great state of Alaska is no exception to nature's incredible creations. In fact, many of the natural phenomena that occur in Alaska are rare (or infrequent) in other parts of the world, making it an extremely special place.

Today, I'm sharing 5 must-see phenomena in Alaska, with hopes that you will be inspired to visit the great state and witness them for yourself.

5 Must See Phenomena in Alaska

Midnight Sun

Alaska receives more sunlight in spring and summer than any other state, and many other parts of the world. At the equator, the sun rises straight up from the horizon and sets straight down to it. However, at northern latitudes, such as in Alaska, the sun travels in a slanting 360 degree circle in the sky. So, even if it is below the horizon, it's barely below it for a long period. And while the sun isn't visible at that time, there is still a very bright twilight. On summer solstice, the city of Anchorage receives 19 hours of sunlight (as opposed to 6 hours during winter solstice). Whereas communities above the Arctic Circle, such as the northernmost Barrow, receive a full 24 hours of sunlight (as opposed to 0 hours during winter solstice)!

Bore Tide

The "bore" is a tidal phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide clashes with the flow of the outgoing tide to form a wave that travels up a river or narrow bay. These tides, which can reach 40 feet, come in so quickly that they sometimes produce a bore tide wave that can reach 10 feet high! Alaska's Turnagain Arm and Knik Arm, that surround Anchorage, boast the second highest tides in North America (after the Bay of Fundy). While bore tides can be extremely dangerous, adventurous locals have taken to riding this wave out on a kayak or board.

Sun Dogs

Parhelions, also known as sun dogs or phantom suns, are the result of ice crystal clouds that form a halo around the sun and either reflect or refract light from the sun. If light refracts through it, the sun dog appears as a rainbow, whereas white sun dogs are caused by reflecting light. Sun dogs mostly appear when the sun is "near" the earth, or below a 61 degree angle relative to the horizon. In most parts of the world, this is at sunrise and sunset. However, they are more commonly seen in Alaska during the winter months when the sun is always low in the sky. 


Aurora Borealis

An aurora is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions. In the northern hemisphere, it is referred to as the aurora borealis, and in the southern hemisphere, aurora australis. The beautiful green, red, or blue lights that you see dance across the sky are actually charged particles (typically electrons, but occasionally protons as well) colliding with the gases in our atmosphere. The resulting aurora's colour depends on which gas the particles collide with. Green and yellow are the most common colours, which is the result of the particles colliding with oxygen.

See also: 15 Things to Know About the Aurora Borealis



While most people would be terrified of an earthquake, people that live in Alaska are quite used to them since the state averages about 100 per day! However, most people don't feel any of these earthquakes because of the sheer size of the state and size of the earthquakes. Most are so small that they barely register on the Richter scale. An earthquake is the result of a rapid release of energy in the Earth's crust. This energy creates waves or jolts that are called seismic waves. The epicenter (point on Earth's surface directly on top of the underground release of energy) occurs where two plates meet. If the epicentre is located on the ocean floor, it often results in the creation of a tsunami.

See also: Fears: My Earthquake Experience

Alaska is on the top of many's bucket lists and these amazing phenomena give you 5 more reasons why you MUST visit the great state! But, if you still need a few more reasons, check these out:
Wildlife Viewing in Alaska
Iditarod: The Last Great Race
Floating the Kenai River
Prince William Sound
Kenai Fjords National Park

Have you ever visited Alaska, or witnessed any of these incredible natural phenomena?


June 15, 2016

Last Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas

Watching my husband with our daughter melts my heart. The two have a bond that is extremely special. He sure loves that little girl. From late night feedings and messy diaper changes to watching sports and swimming lessons, years from now I look forward to showing Morley all of the moments her and her dad shared. 

My husband doesn't get the credit he deserves for being an amazing husband and extremely supportive partner. Just because I’m the mom doesn’t mean I’m the parenting leader - we’re on equal footing here. While he should be celebrated every. single. day. for being a great husband and amazing father, I am so excited to be able to dedicate this Sunday, his first Father's Day, solely to him. 

Last Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas

Did you know that on July 19, 1910, the governor of the U.S. state of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first “Father’s Day"? Surprisingly enough, it is older than Mother's Day, which didn't become an official holiday until 1972. Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts!

Looking for a last minute gift for dad? While I'm sure any dad would be happy with a homemade card, a giant hug or just some time with the family, here are some last minute Father's Day gift ideas for every type of father - from the craft beer aficionado to the outdoorsman.
1. Stanley Classic Vacuum Beer Growler (64 oz) lets you transport your favorite brew in fully functional and iconic style. This vacuum insulated body and foam insulated lid keep beer cold 24 hours. The growler comes with a rugged handle for easy carry and one-handed pouring, and the wide mouth allows for quick filling, sharing and cleaning. Perfect for the one trying to hone his craft!

2. Grillbot is the world's first automatic grill robot! Simply place the device on the dirty grill, press a button and let the brass brushes do the work. No more wasting time scrubbing the grill. Comes in several different colours.  Perfect for the grill master!

3. Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch is as stylish as it is smart. Comes with many incredible features including measuring all day fitness (steps, distance walked, calories burned, etc.), ability to connect to GPS to track workouts, long battery life and various accessory bands and frames, among other features. Get fit in style! Perfect for the health-conscious dad!

4. Game of Thrones (DVD Packis a story of duplicity and treachery, nobility and honor, conquest and triumph. And if he's not already on board with the show, he should be. Filled with drama, action and lots of blood and guts, it's also the most watched series in HBO history and  probably the talk of his office every Monday morning.  Perfect for the homebody and TV lover!

5. The North Face Base Camp Duffel is not your average duffel bag! Made from a durable weather-resistant material, the Base Camp Duffel is amply resilient to be roughed around in-flight, or to be transported up a mountain. The adjustable straps allow the bag to be carried as a duffel or back pack. Comes in small, medium and large sizes. Perfect for the travel enthusiast and outdoors lover!

If you enjoy making homemade gifts for dad, check out this DIY footprint mug

How will you celebrate your dad or husband this Father's Day?

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June 13, 2016

The End of a Decade

Time sure does fly. This past weekend I said adios to my 20s. It was goodbye to the end of a decade full of new adventures and new experiences. To a decade where I saw growth not only in myself, but also in my relationships. To a decade that made my heart grow 10 sizes.

Another birthday always means the chance to reflect on the year that just passed. Except this time, I am reflecting on the entire decade...

20 & 21: I gained many valuable lessons and experiences as I completed my undergraduate degree in Marine & Freshwater Biology. 

22:  I graduated from university and pondered what was next in life.

23:  I decided to go back to school and landed a summer job that I had only dreamt of as a child.

24:  I completed my graduate program, got my scuba certification, landed a competitive internship that made me realize what I didn't want to do in life and said "Let's do it!" to a move to Anchorage, Alaska with my then hockey-playing boyfriend.

My 24th year was the start of this little blog, which was then titled "Our Alaskan Staycation". My how it has grown.

25:  I started my dream job and took a once in a lifetime trip to the polar bear capital of the world. 

26:  I went from girlfriend to fiancee, saying "yes!" to the perfect proposal

27:  We said "Goodbye for now!" to Alaska, took the ultimate road trip home to Toronto and got married.

28:  We took a trip back to the land that we love and bought our first home

29:  We found out we were having a baby, took a surprise vacation to Italy with my family and welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world.

The perfect end to my 20s.

When I list out all of my successes, failures, accomplishments and experiences over the past decade, I can't help but smile. I always thought that Taylor Swift had it right when she said, "I'm feeling 22." And while 22 was a good year, I can already tell 30 is going to be so much better.

Adios 20s, hello 30s. Bring it on!

A big THANK YOU to everyone that helped me celebrate this special day, and to all of those for their wonderful birthday messages.

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June 10, 2016


I have my parents to thank for my love of travel and the outdoors. From a young age we were jet-setting to places like Calgary to visit family and Disney World to experience the greatest place on Earth. As my brother, sister and I got older, we ventured a little further to the sandy beaches of St. Maarten and Aruba, just to name a few. When not at soccer tournaments, summers were spent at the family cottage where you couldn't get us indoors no matter how hard you tried. And when my parents were feeling especially brave, we went on long distance road trips, crossing provinces and states off the list. 


Experiences stay with us. We are the accumulation of everything we’ve ever seen, heard, smelt, tasted, and felt.

Hours at the lake sparked my love of the water. Those tropical beach vacations spawned my curiosity of what lies beneath the surface. Camping trips and nature hikes at the cottage sparked my love of the outdoors. And sharing these experiences with my family led to a passion teaching others about our natural world. Experiences such as these not only shaped my childhood but also who I've become today. 

Now that I have a daughter of my own, it's my turn to pay it forward. 

At 6 weeks old, she went on her first road trip to grandma and grandpa's. Earlier this week I took her to the Aquarium. And later this month, she'll be taking her first plane ride. 


While she may not remember any of this later in life, it's never too early to start gifting experiences.

I may not be able to tell my daughter what to do, the decisions to make or what career to choose, but I can give her experiences that will help shape the person she becomes, like my parents did for me. 
When you think back to your fondest memories, what are they? Did they help shape who you've become today?


June 8, 2016

10 Ways to Celebrate the Ocean

Whether you live on the coast, or thousands of miles inland, the ocean plays an important part in our daily lives. It provides the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat, regulates our climate and provides us with hours of relaxation and enjoyment. Protecting this natural resource is essential to our well-being.

10 Ways to Celebrate the Ocean

Today, June 8, is World Oceans Daya holiday designated by the United Nations to help us remember we are all connected to the oceans no matter where we live. This year's theme is "healthy oceans, healthy planet", encouraging people and organizations to specifically work toward eliminating plastic pollution from our waterways. 

In honour of this special day, I'm sharing 10 easy ways to celebrate the ocean, today and every other day of the year. I strongly believe that in order to protect something, you must first love it. But in order to love something, you must also have a connection with it.  Building that connection starts with #1...

10 Ways to Celebrate the Ocean

Take some time to learn about the ocean, the animals that call it home, and how it affects our daily life. There are many websites, books and publications to read. 

Go to the beach
What better way to celebrate the day then to go straight to the source. Taking a trip to the ocean will give first hand experience and that connection you need to start protecting this precious resource. Not near the ocean? Then find the nearest body of water and enjoy a relaxing and inspiring day along the shore. 

Visit an Aquarium
If you can't get to the beach, then visit your nearest Aquarium to learn all about the species that call our aquatic environments home! Aquariums allow you to experience marine life that you wouldn't otherwise encounter, and have graet research and conservation programs to protect our marine resources. In order to protect something, you must love it, and in order to love it, you must first have a connection with it. Experiencing the creatures of the ocean first hand at your local Aquarium will help foster that connection.

Organize a shoreline cleanup
Aquatic debris is one of the biggest threats to our oceans and waterways. Help keep the marine and fresh water environments clean by rallying up members of your family, friends and local community and participating in a shoreline cleanup! Programs like the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF's Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup are a great start to take a stand against shoreline litter.

Conserve water
In addition to saving money on your utility bill, water conservation helps prevent water pollution in nearby lakes, rivers and local watersheds. So, take a shorter, cooler, shower, turn off the tap when you're brushing your teeth and only run the dishwasher when its full.

Ban the bag
Plastic bags are a convenient way to carry our purchased goods when we go shopping, however, this convenience also carries with it a very high cost to the environment. Because they are so lightweight, plastic bags can travel long distances by wind and water. They litter our landscapes and pollute our waterways, and as a result, are often mistaken as food by animals, such as the jelly fish loving sea turtle. Once they get into our waterways, the petroleum-based plastic bags do not truly degrade, but instead photo degrade  What does occur is that when out in the environment, the plastic breaks up into tiny little pieces that end up in the ocean to be consumed by wildlife. Today, there are an estimated 1,000,000 plastic fragments floating within every square mile of our world’s oceans!

Enjoy sustainable seafood
Making sustainable seafood choices is about supporting solutions for healthier oceans. This doesn't mean we need to stop eating seafood all together, but we can make sure the seafood that we do eat is caught in a sustainable manner. Sustainable seafood is seafood fished or farmed in a manner that can maintain or increase production in the long term, without jeopardizing the health or function of the web of life in our oceans. Check out programs like the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society's SeaChoice, Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch and Vancouver Aquarium's OceanWise to make sure the seafood you enjoy eating is sustainable!

Go reusable
We use a ton of plastic - it's in everything from packaging, toys, clothing and vehicles, and the majority of discarded plastic ends up in the oceans. In fact, 8 out of every 10 items collected on the beach is some type of plastic product. Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead photodegrade, breaking down into tinier and tinier pieces that remain in the oceans and are often mistaken for food by marine life. They also contains toxins which are harmful to the marine environment and can entangle wildlife. So, do you part and ban the use of one-time use plastic bottles and shopping bags. Go reusable!

Support organizations working to protect the ocean
From universities to non-profits, many institutes and organizations are fighting to protect ocean habitats and marine wildlife. Find an organization and consider giving financial support or volunteering for hands-on work or advocacy. If you live near the coast, get involved in projects close to home! Similarly, support businesses that sell ocean-friendly products.

Spread the word on the importance of our ocean's health! Remember that healthy oceans mean a healthy planet. 

How are you celebrating the ocean today?


June 6, 2016

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Taco Bowls

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

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Taco Bowls

I grew up in a house where sitting down around the table for dinner as a family was extremely important. It not only brought us together, but allowed us to unwind and discuss our day and the week ahead. Now that I have my own little family, I look forward to continuing this tradition. However, with busy, and sometimes opposite, work schedules and long commutes, doing so is sometimes easier said than done. So, when we do get the opportunity to enjoy a meal together, it is especially cherished. 

One of our favourite summer family activities is to visit the local farmer's market. My husband and I love creating new recipes made with only the freshest, local ingredients inspired by our market visits. We can't wait to introduce our daughter to this summer activity and create recipes that, in the future, she enjoys to eat as well. 

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Taco Bowls

One of our favourite family cuisines is Mexican. Not only is it simple to make (perfect for this busy family), it is so varied - from tacos to enchiladas to rice dishes - and is often accompanied by fresh produce. On a recent trip to the market with my little family unit, I was inspired by the locally grown and raised onions and pork to create these delicious pulled pork taco bowls. If you're into fresh ingredients, supporting local, slow cooker meals or just trying something new, this recipe is for you. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but trust me, using the slow cooker makes it easy - just set it and forget it - giving you more time to enjoy with your family. 

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Taco Bowls

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Taco Bowls
Serves: 4 

Pulled pork:
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 127mL can of OLD EL PASO chopped green chillies
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock

  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 2 limes, sliced into wedges
  • green onion, cilantro or parsley (optional garnishes)
  • 8 OLD EL PASO tortilla bowls

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Taco Bowls

  1. Combine the seasonings (chilli powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper) to make a dry rub. 
  2. Pat dry the pork and rub on the seasoning mixture.
  3. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet on high heat. Brown the pork on all sides.
  4. Immediately after removing the pork from the pan, deglaze with a bit of stock or white wine. Add the deglazed bits to the slow cooker.
  5. Add minced onion, green chillies, chicken stock and pork to the slow cooker. Set on low heat and allow to cook for 6-8 hours. 
  6. Once pork is cooked, use two forks to shred. Toss shredded pork in liquid to combine. Keep warm in the slow cooker.
  7. Meanwhile, combine mayo and sriracha to make a spicy mayo sauce. 
  8. Warm OLD EL PASO tortilla bowls in the microwave for approximately 10 seconds to soften.
  9. Assemble the bowls by layering pulled pork, shredded cabbage, sliced avocado and drizzle of spicy mayo. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped green onions, sprig of cilantro or parsley and wedge of lime.
  10. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Taco Bowls

I like to use pork tenderloin in the recipe because it is a relatively inexpensive cut of pork. However, it is also very lean, which means you may need to add additional liquid (stock) to the slow cooker throughout the cooking process.

OLD EL PASO tortilla bowls can be found at your local Loblaws in the Mexican food aisle. They are easy to fill and eat, and can be used for a variety of recipes and meal occasions - perfect for bringing the entire family together!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Taco Bowls

What is your favourite family meal? What would you add to OLD EL PASO tortilla bowls?

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