Days of the Month: That's a Wrap!

It's hard to believe that it's been a whole 12 months since I started my Days of the Month series, where I shared fun days celebrated each month and some associate blog post ideas.  We celebrated everything from food and drink, to photo and the outdoors, animals and sharing a little more about yourself.


To wrap up this series, today, I'm sharing my top 5 favourite days celebrated each month... 

January
01  |  New Years Day - What are your resolutions for 2016?
14  |  Organize Your Home Day - How do you stay organized? Share your tips!
19  |  National Popcorn Day - Salty or sweet? Do you have a favourite popcorn recipe?
24  |  Beer Can Appreciation Day - Have you ever taken a brewery tour? Share your fave local brews!
26  |  Spouse's Day - How do you celebrate your significant other? What's your ideal date night?

February
04  |  Homemade Soup Day - Share your favourite soup recipe. 
14  |  Valentine's Day - Pay tribute to your significant other.
22  |  Margarita Day - Share your favourite margarita, or other cocktail, recipe.
25  |  Clam Chowder DayShare your favourite seafood recipe. 
28  |  Oscar Night - Share your 'best dressed' and 'worst dressed' list from the Oscars. 

March
08  |  Women's Day  Tell us about an important woman in your life.
20  |  International Day of Happiness What makes you happy? 
22  |  World Water Day What are your favourite water-related activities?
23  |  Puppy Day Tell us about your furry friend.
30  |  Take a Walk in the Park Day Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Show us your local park.

April
05  |  Read a Road Map Day Share your most memorable road trip, or plan a future trip.
08  |  Zoo Lover's Day What is your favourite zoo animal?
11  |  Pet Day  Show off those furry, finned, scaled or feathery babies.
22  |  Earth Day  How do you celebrate Mother Earth?
27  |  Tell a Story Day  Whether it is fact or fiction, share your favourite story.

May
05  |  Cinco de Mayo Share your favourite Mexican recipe.
07  |  National Tourism Day Be a tourist in your hometown for the day.
10  |  Mother Ocean Day - Tell us about a time you took a trip to the ocean.
16  |  World Whisky Day Whisky fan? Share your favourite whisky-inspired cocktail.
30  |  Mint Julep Day - Create your own mint julep and share the recipe.

June
05  |  World Environment Day How do you celebrate Mother Earth?
08  |  World Oceans DayWhat are your favourite water-related activities?
15  |  Nature Photography Day Show us nature, through your lens.
23  |  Let It Go Day How do you take a deep breath and relax?
30  |  Social Media Day Disconnect and go social media-free for a day.

June is my favourite month for celebrations. Not only is it my birth month, but it was also Camping Month!

July
05  |  Bikini Day - Share your favourite beach memories. 
10  |  Pina Colada Day - Share your favourite summer cocktail recipe.
14  |  Shark Awareness Day - Do you have a fear of sharks? How do you overcome your fears?
20  |  Space Exploration Day - What was your dream job when you were young?
31  |  World Ranger Day - Have you visited a national/provincial/state park? Share your photos.

August
02  |  Sister's Day - Do you have a sister? Share some of your favourite memories.
05  |  Oyster Day - What is your favourite seafood? Share your favourite recipe.
09  |  Book Lovers Day - Review your summer reads.
19  |  Photography Day - Share the personal photographs you are most proud of. 
24  |  Vesuvius Day - Do you easily explode, like a volcano? How do you calm yourself down?

September
19  |  Coastal Cleanup Day - Pick a shoreline and help clean it up! What did you find?
20  |  Wife Appreciation Day - Plan the perfect date night. What is it?
22  |  World Car Free Day - Commute, walk or ride your bike to work today!
27  |  Tourism Day - Be a tourist in your hometown for a day. Where did you go? What did you do?
29  |  International Coffee Day - Coffee or tea? What is your go-to caffeinated beverage?

October
01  |  World Vegetarian Day - Share your favourite vegetarian recipe.
04  |  World Animal Day - What is your favourite animal, and why?
05  |  World Habitat Day - Show us where you live. Give us a behind the scenes tour of your work space.
19  |  Evaluate Your Life Day - Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
25  |  World Pasta Day - Share your favourite pasta dish.

November
02  |  Job Action Day - Give readers a glimpse into what you do for a living. 
05  |  Men Make Dinner Day - Kick back and relax. Let the man in your life make dinner tonight. 
17  |  Take a Hike Day - Go for a hike in your area and share your photos.
19  |  Use Less Stuff Day - Repurpose an item in your home and share!
27  |  Buy Nothing Day - Don't spend a cent today! How did you do?

December
07  |  Letter Writing Day - Write a letter to your younger and future self.
08  |  Pretend to Be a Time Traveler DayIf you could time travel, where would you go?
11  |  International Mountain Day Share your favourite landscape photo.
16  |  Chocolate Covered Anything Day - What is your favourite chocolate recipe?
27  |  Visit the Zoo Day - Have you visited a Zoo lately? Share your favourite photos!


I hope you enjoyed this feature, and that it continues to bring you some inspiration when the creative juices just aren't flowin'!

What are your favourite days of the month?

Did you take advantage of any of the Days of Month for some blog creativity? I'd love to hear about it!


My Outdoorsman Turned 30

Earlier this month we hit a milestone in our house. My husband turned the BIG 3-0. 

But, this post isn't about how he entered the 3rd decade slightly before me, or how he'll be 30 when Baby Wardo enters the world, or even how many gray hairs he has. No, this post is about the wicked awesome party I threw to celebrate.

Lumberjack Bash 30th Birthday Party

During our hockey years, I loved planning get togethers. From girls nights to dinner parties and showers to holiday feasts, bringing together good food, good drinks and, most importantly, good company, was my happy place. It's safe to say party planning has been missing from my life the past few years. So, despite being 34 weeks pregnant, I jumped on the opportunity to celebrate my other half.

Being the outdoorsman that he is, I knew I wanted to throw an appropriately themed party.  And so naturally, I dove head first into Pinterest, searching all things 'Lumberjack Bash'. I'll admit, most of the things that popped up did have to do with a one year old's birthday party, but that's not what's important here. The important thing is that it rocked, and I have totally not lost my party planning mojo.

Here's 5 things that made my husband's 30th Lumberjack Bash one helluva party...

1  |  the photo booth

Because who doesn't love an excuse to throw on some silly props and strike a pose?!

Lumberjack Bash 30th Birthday Party

Props includes (plastic) axes, fake beards and moustaches, outdoorsman hats and more! The backdrop was a very appropriate birch tree forest, painted by yours truly.

Lumberjack Bash 30th Birthday Party

And if you're wondering why there's a giant head cutout in there, that's my sister. Living half way across the country she misses out on a lot of get togethers, so we always make sure to include her.

2  |  the decor

Plaid, burlap, wood and more plaid.

Lumberjack Bash 30th Birthday Party
Lumberjack Bash 30th Birthday Party

The decor even came down to the smell - with a woodfire-scented candle from Indigo. Also included were gummy bears, or 'grizzly bears' to go along with the theme, these cute moose coasters from Hudson's Bay (a Christmas gift to my husband) and an added girly touch, fresh flowers (in manly colours of course).

3  | the food

Food was a high priority, as it is at any party thrown by Casa Ward.

We had meat and cheese platters ("man food"), pulled pork sandwiches and a whole lot of other "outdoorsy-ish" food. Including sushi, because this 34 week preggo craved some veggie sushi.

Lumberjack Bash 30th Birthday Party

Oh and this pasta salad. How stinkin' cute are these noodles?


4  |  the cake

With over a decade of S Ward's birthdays under my belt, I no longer have to ask what he wants for his birthday dinner or dessert. It's always the same - rainbow chip cake with vanilla icing. Seeing as it was a lumberjack theme, I decided to sub the white icing for chocolate and tried to make the cake look more like a log. The cake topper was made in PicMonkey and "evergreen trees" were melted green chocolate wafers drizzled over pretzel sticks.

Lumberjack Bash 30th Birthday Party

And because I didn't think that one cake would be enough, I also ordered these adorable mini cupcakes from a local bakery. I sent them the jpeg file of the cake topper and they were able to customize the cupcake toppers to fit the theme.

Lumberjack Bash 30th Birthday Party

5  |  the people

Our tiny abode was jammed with (maybe too many) people and we may have kept the neighbours up until 2am, but we definitely had some good laughs. Plaid was "strongly encouraged" and it was impressive to see everyone show up in the best lumberjack gear.


Lumberjack Bash 30th Birthday Party

While I may not be quitting my day job to become a party planner, I am so glad that our friends and family could get together to celebrate my outdoorsman, especially before our mini outdoors-person comes along and steals his thunder. 

Now I have to think of a new 1st birthday party theme for our potential future son...


Do you enjoy party planning? What is your favourite type of theme party?





Canadian Pasta Salad Recipe

Canadian pasta salad recipe

If you were following my Instagram last weekend, you would have noticed that a special someone hit the big 3-0. We couldn't go without celebrating, so in his honour, I threw a "Lumberjack Bash". The perfect theme for the outdoorsman. 

While planning, I looked for decor and recipes that revolved around the lumberjack/outdoors theme. From mandatory plaid shirts to a lumberjack-themed photo booth and more, no detail was spared. Including the food. Because good food is extremely important to my outdoorsman. 

Canadian Pasta Salad Recipe

When browsing the aisles at our local Bulk Barn, I came across this dried pasta. How cute is this pasta?! The bear, moose and maple leaf shapes were perfect for my theme. Now all I needed was a pasta recipe to go with.

With the addition of some tasty ingredients, including bacon (because you can't leave bacon out of a Canadian-themed party), I whipped up this delicious Canadian Pasta Salad recipe. Also known as Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.

Enjoy!

Canadian Pasta Salad
Serves: approximately 10 people

Ingredients:
  • 1 package pasta, such as rotini or penne
  • 10 slice bacon, cooked
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp powdered ranch mix
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 can black olives, sliced and drained
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Canadian Pasta Salad Recipe

Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes, and drain.
  2. Cook bacon over medium-high heat, or until evenly brown. Drain grease and chop.
  3. In a large bowl, mix mayo, ranch mix, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Stir in mix until smooth. 
  4. Place pasta, bacon, tomatoes, olives and cheese in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. 
  5. Cover and chill for at least one hour. Toss with additional milk if the pasta seems dry.
Canadian Pasta Salad Recipe

What is your go-to party recipe? Do you have a favourite pasta salad recipe?


You Asked, I Answered

you asked, I answered blog series

Thanks to everyone that submitted a question in my 'Ask Me Anything' series! Do you want to know something about the girl behind T.O. & fro? There's still time - check out the form below!

Here are today's answers...

Jennifer Anne from Jennifer Anne asked, 

Being married to a professional hockey player sounds like it must have been an exciting and glamorous chapter in your life (one that not many people can relate to)! But I'm sure it must have had its tough times. What were some of the hardest parts or unexpected trials that came with a "hockey life"? 

I won't lie, the hockey chapter was definitely a lot of fun - we got to meet many amazing people, see incredible places and most importantly, my husband got paid to do what he loved. However, there were definitely some tough times through it all. For starters, the first 5 years of our relationship were long distance. In university and grad school, I spent many weekends in the car or on an airplane, traveling to and fro. We often went months without seeing each other. 

I still enjoy telling the story about the time I was traveling down to visit him in Florida. I was just about to head to the airport when I heard the news that he got called up to a team in New York. I couldn't have been happier, that's what every professional hockey player strives for! The down fall was that at the same time I was flying south down to Florida, he would be flying north to New York. Luckily things worked out in the end. While we didn't get to see each other that week, his sister was down in Florida visiting also, so I got to spend some time with her. He ended up staying with the team in New York for the remainder of the season, so I made the 8 hour road trip a few weeks later to visit.  

The "hockey life" definitely taught me a lot of things, including patience and understanding.  I also believe that despite the long distance, it brought us closer and made our relationship stronger. Sure we were tested, but in the end, everything happens for a reason. 


Jenn from Lost in the Right Direction asked, 

If you were given the choice to move back to Alaska right now, would you do it, or stay where you are?

This is a really tough question, with a long-winded answer. I think we would both agree that if given the opportunity, we would still be living in Alaska. However, the fact that we're both Canadian and Steve was wrapping up his hockey career at the time we moved back, made staying a bit more complicated. I'd like to think that we would move back in a heart back, and I definitely have my days where I want nothing more to escape the concrete jungle of Toronto for the mountain air, but at the same time, Alaska is very far from home. Now that we are starting a family of our own, I don't think it would be fair to our families to move away, or at least that far, right now. The good news is, we can always go back to visit, and even have a trip planned this summer. Since Alaska has such a big influence on our lives, it is a place we definitely want our kids to experience. 


What made you want to go into Marine Biology? Was there a specific event or is it just something you've always wanted to do?

I grew up on Lake Huron, and from a young age was drawn to the outdoors, especially the water. The thought of exploring below the surface always peaked my curiosity. I was that kid, where from a young age said I was going to be a Marine Biologist. I always pictured myself down south, in the warm water of the tropics. However, during my time in university, I realized that I was also not cut out for field or lab work, which is what Marine Biologists do. I more enjoyed the flip side of things, educating and inspiring others to care for our natural world. And so that's what I ran with, and where I am today. And as a side note, never in a million years did I think the tables would turn and I'd fall in love with the Arctic. 


Thanks for your questions ladies! 

What would you like to know? Fill out the form below!




Come On Baby: 35 Weeks


How far along? 35 weeks.

Due date? Originally March 25, 2016, but doc thinks baby will be making an early appearance. 

Baby’s size? From here on out, baby won't get much longer and is just about his/her birth length at 20 inches. But at 5.5 lbs, still has a bit of weight to gain. Long and gangly, truly 'Awk Ward'.

What’s baby up to this week? Plumpin' up and getting ready to meet the world. Hearing is fully developed, and his/her brain continues to grow.

Gender? Time will tell. 

Names? We've got our top contenders for both boy and girl, but they're being kept under lock and key.

Movement? Space is definitely getting tight in there - the rolls have turned into more defined punches and kicks. It's been interesting to feel baby settle in to his/her own sleeping routine. Baby starts moving around 5:45am (15 minutes before my alarm, how convenient), mid-day around 11:00am and then again right before bed at 9:30pm (again, how convenient). Hiccups occur about 5 times a day, which are still a weird feeling that I could do without. Thankfully, those hiccups reassure me that baby is head down and has been for some time. 

Maternity clothes? There's a few shirts I can still squeeze myself into, but for the most part, it's all maternity. I've been struggling to find an outfit my upcoming shower. Maternity clothes are not cheap and I have a hard time wrapping my head around shelling out the money for a new outfit I may only wear once. 

Symptoms? The word tired cannot be used in this case - I would go more with exhausted, and feel like I can fall asleep anywhere at any time. Insomnia, heart burn, sausage fingers, shortness of breath and general achiness are really fun. 

Sleep? Not enough. 

Aversions/cravings? Still can't do chicken. My salty cravings have flipped to sweet - chocolate is no longer safe and often causes fights in our house. 

How's daddy? Dad has been amazing (when he's not upset that I ate his chocolate) - cleaning the house, helping me put my socks and shoes on and grabbing a drink or snack if I need one, to name a few.

Miss anything? Sleep. And a glass of red wine. 

Looking forward to? Saying adios to public transit and being able to drive to work for my last few weeks, showering Baby Wardo with love in a few weekends and of course, meeting the little nugget in a few short weeks.  

Thing I want to remember? 
Buying diapers. Doc told us to get our hospital bag packed, which means I had to go out and buy diapers. Pretty sure I looked like a deer caught in headlights standing in the diaper aisle. Too many options, and man, diapers are expensive! 

My surprise work baby shower. My coworkers completely surprised me with a baby shower yesterday. I had no idea, and thought that I was going into a meeting about lion fish in the Caribbean.  I have very convincing coworkers, and I won't lie, was kind of excited about the meeting. But a baby shower was SO MUCH better! Baby Wardo is so spoiled. 

These boots. These have been my go-to boots because they zip up and are easy on, easy off. That is, until the zipper fails and you waste all of your energy trying to get it unstuck that you just end up cutting them off. I did, for a small minute, contemplate keeping them on until Steve got home from work at 11pm, but then I remembered I needed to shower. Tear. 


My husband's 30th birthday party. Planning a big party at 34 weeks pregnant was not an easy feat, but I must say, the Lumberjack Bash was a success! Glad we could celebrate before the tiny human steals his thunder. 


Come on baby!
From the looks of this closet, you'd think we were having a boy. I've been drawn to the animal-themedclothes, and sadly, those are mostly boys' clothes. Nothing wrong with a little girl wearing blue.

15 weeks   20 weeks  |  25 weeks  |  30 weeks


Quick Hiking Essentials

Hiking Essentials

The title of my post kind of makes me giggle. Quick hikes do exist for all you non believers! But I guess you can leave the definition of a short hike up to you. To me, it's a morning or afternoon hike that takes a couple hours. Not an all day outing or overnight outing. Thing is, even short hikes need to be taken seriously. Anything could happen.

These are a few of the items I find essential for said day hikes... 

Hiking Essentials


Water Bottle/Bladder: Staying hydrated is the most important thing ever! Even if it's just a quick hike. Check out this to find out how much you should be drinking.

Backpack: You have to carry your stuff somehow! A good supportive backpack is very important.

First Aid Kit: Safety first! I always like to throw some duct tape in there as well in case I get any blister.

Boots: Proper equipment makes all the difference. If you're going on a well maintained trail short boots should be just fine. When we are hunting or going off the beaten path I lace up with some solid Danner Pronghorns.

Camera: I always go through a debate on whether to bring our sports camera or my DSLR However I find that our sports camera kicks butt, it takes really good pictures surprisingly. Plus I never have to worry about it falling or getting wet. That camera has been through some tough times and still looks almost perfect.

Snacks: Just like staying hydrated you have to stay energized! I'm slightly obsessed with KIND bars and granola. They're a perfect go to and fit perfectly in your pack without taking up much room.

Sunscreen/Bug Spray: Pretty much self explanatory and a must! No matter what season.

Knife: I never go anywhere without one unless its prohibited. The knife I linked is kick ass because its does almost everything you would ever need. There's a reason it's called a survival knife. May sound drastic but this could be life or death if you find your self in that sort of situation.

Toilet Paper: When nature calls, it calls. Lately I have been replacing toilet paper with baby wipes though. You can use them to clean your skin if you need too. Dual purpose rocks and can save you room in your pack.

Extra Socks: I always have these, no matter how long my hike is. Sometimes your boots will rub you wrong and you're gonna need to double up as a quick fix. Or your feet may get wet from the elements or sweating. Wet socks are never a good thing!

What do you guys like to bring with you on your hikes?


This Big City guest post was written by Mae from Mae There Be Adventure

Mae There Be Adventure


New to Mae There Be Adventure? Start here:

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A Weekend of Celebrations

TGIF, it's finally the weekend I've been waiting for for months! This weekend is a big one - jam packed with celebrations, which means lots of good food, good drinks and good company (and hopefully enough sleep). The perfect recipe for one happy girl. Here's what's going on...

1. The big 3-0. The outdoorsman turns the big 3-0 tomorrow and we're celebrating in style! I started the planning early because I knew that at 34 weeks pregnant, the only thing I would want to do was lay on the couch. Really patting myself on the back for that one because I am one exhausted girl! The party is not a surprise (there is no keeping secrets from him), but the theme is a surprise. Make sure to check out my Insta to see what the theme is. I can't wait to share!

This photo has nothing to do with this post, but who doesn't love a cute owl photo?! This guy's name is Peabody. He's a fan of selfies. 
2. The weather. Here in southern Ontario, we've been 'spoiled' all winter with no snow and mild temps, but this weekend it's supposed to feel like -30 C (-20ish F). Right outside the door of our new apartment, we have an amazing trail that follows the Don River down to Lake Ontario, where urban meets nature. Our Friday night routine usually includes a nice long walk (or until baby tells me I need to call it quits), but tonight, I think I'll stay inside. The couch is looking pretty comfy. 


3. Valentine's Day. Since my husband's birthday falls the day before V-Day, we usually don't celebrate both. Valentine's Day always gets the boot. Sundays are also both of our Mondays, so I think this year we'll be staying in, possibly with one of these at-home date night ideas

4. NBA All Star game. I'm not the biggest basketball fan, but this weekend, athletes and celebrities have descended on the city for Sunday's All Star game and the festivities leading up. This is the first time that the game has been hosted in Canada, so Toronto is doing it up BIG. My eyes will definitely be peeled for celeb sightings around the city. Fun fact if you're still looking for tickets - a ticket in the nosebleed's for Sunday's game at the Air Canada Centre will cost you $600 and a seat at the VIP party will set you back a small $15,000. Oh to be a fly on the wall at that party...

//via//
5. Family Day. Last, but not least, in Ontario, Monday is a stat holiday called Family Day. Apparently back in 2007 it was decided that Ontario needed a February stat holiday, so Family Day was born. I'll take it.  I will definitely be enjoying lots of family time this weekend as we celebrated Steve's entrance into the world 30 years ago. Oh, and it's the Grammy's. 

So, that's my busy weekend in a nutshell. 

What are you up to this weekend?



Date Night Ideas // Sponsor Spotlight

10 At-Home Date Night Ideas

When it comes to date night, simple is key. No need for flowers and jewelry. Whether it is a movie night in, or making our favourite dinner together, it's the simple things that make me one happy girl. 

In honour of upcoming Valentine's Day, T.O. & fro's Small Town sponsors and myself are sharing our perfect date night ideas, starting with some of my favourite at-home date night ideas.

10 At-Home Date Night Ideas:
  1. Recreate the meal from one of your first dates.
  2. Have a candlelit dinner.
  3. Enjoy a local beer or wine tasting.
  4. Dream together. What will life look like 5, 10, 15 years from now?
  5. Learn a new together hobby together.
  6. Have a 'Chopped' competition. See who can make the best dish from items in your fridge or pantry.
  7. Make popcorn, snuggle up on the couch and have a movie marathon.
  8. Create a playlist of songs that remind you of when you first started dating.
  9. Play a board game or do a puzzle.
  10. Go camping in your backyard.

What is your perfect date night?

Route Bliss
What is you perfect date night?
Dinner and conversation + a fun activity like bowling or putt putt where we can get to know each other better for the first few dates.

New to Route Bliss? Start here:
Getting Started as a Hobbyist Photography 

Find Christina here:
Route Bliss |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin

--------------------

Dash of Herbs
What is your perfect date night?
My perfect date night would probably be an easy meal cooked at home - like this easy and quick chicken fried rice - and then a game night with my husband.  We both love playing games (he got me hooked on Battleship).  Possibly ending with a great dessert - like this vegan chocolate pudding.  Something low key and chill, but still where we are able to reconnect with each other and just have fun.

New to Dash of Herbs? Start here:
Slow Cooker Apple Cranberry Oatmeal
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Find Kristyn here:
Dash of Herbs  |  Bloglovin  |  Pinterest  |  Twitter


Interested in being a part of next month's Sponsor Spotlight? Check out T.O. & fro's sponsorship options here.

Don't forget - there is still time to 'Ask Me Anything'!