December 29, 2017

45 Ways to Reflect & Look Ahead to the Future

This time of the year is all about self reflection - looking back on the past 365 days, and getting excited for what's to come in the year ahead. A yearly review is a great exercise to help you do just that. It's a great way to slow down and reminisce about the good, and the bad, to appreciate the little things and to plan and get excited for what lies ahead.

How do you reflect? Plan to make your 2018 a successful one by using these 45 questions to help you reflect on the past and focus on the year that lies ahead.

45 ways to reflect and look ahead

45 Ways to Reflect & Look Ahead

Looking back...
  1. Describe your 2017 in 5 words.
  2. What were your 3 happiest moments?
  3. What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your future grandchildren about?
  4. List 3 new things that you discovered about yourself.
  5. What new things did you try?
  6. What new opportunities were you given?
  7. What was the most important lesson your learned?
  8. What advice would you share about what you learned this year?
  9. What achievements are your most proud of?
  10. What was the best news you received?
  11. What are you most thankful for?
  12. Who are you most thankful for?
  13. What challenges did you overcome, and how?
  14. What healthy habits did you put in place?
  15. How did you take risks and push yourself out of your comfort zone?
  16. How did your relationships with your friends and family evolve?
  17. Who, or what, had the most positive impact on your life?
  18. How did you handle negative energy and tough times?
  19. What was your most comment mental state this year?
  20. What personal qualities, or habits, did you develop?
  21. How did you enjoy the little things?
  22. If asked, how would others describe you?
  23. If given the chance, what experience would you do all over again?
  24. What advice would you give your early-2017 self if you could?
  25. If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently?

Looking forward...
  1. What are you most excited for this year?
  2. How will this year be different than the last?
  3. What is your theme song for 2018, and why?
  4. What/where do you want to see, discover and/or explore?
  5. How will you continue to push yourself?
  6. What new things will you try?
  7. What item is on the top of your bucket list for 2018?
  8. Who do you want to spend more time with?
  9. What do you want to achieve career-wise?
  10. List 3 new skills you would like to learn or improve on. 
  11. What type of energy do you want to give off this year?
  12. List 3 things you would like to learn.
  13. How do you want people to describe you?
  14. What habits do you want to change or get rid of?
  15. List 3 personal qualities you would like to develop or strengthen.
  16. What is one thing you want to completely rid your life of this year?
  17. How do you want to remember the year when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?
  18. What is your #1 goal for 2018? 
  19. How do you plan on achieving your #1 goal?
  20. If you could chose one word to live by in 2018, what would it be?

How do you reflect on the year past, and get excited for the year ahead? I'd love to hear!


December 19, 2017

Weeknights Made Easy

Despite going back to work almost a full year ago, I will admit, that with more of a focus on family than ever before, I’m still struggling to find that new work-life balance.

We all want more time for family. Myself included. But fitting this in often means something else is scarified. 

For my family, that something sometimes means a healthy dinner. 

Don’t get me wrong, we eat dinner. But what we eat may be chosen because it is the most timeliest option, not always the healthiest. 

When I get home from a long day at work followed by picking Morley up at daycare, the last thing I want to do is be stuck in the kitchen cooking and cleaning the rest of the night. I want to be in the living room, playing with blocks or sitting at the kitchen table, colouring as we wait for dad to walk through the front door. With the commute he has, I know he feels the same. We want to be making memories with our toddler, not saying, “I’m busy making dinner” as she’s telling us to sit down next to her.

So, how do we cope?

One thing that has been an absolute saviour, saving time in the kitchen without sacrificing nutrition, is HelloFresh.

HelloFresh is a selection of chef-curated recipes based on seasonal farm fresh ingredients, delivered to your doorstep every week. A subscription works in 3 easy steps: 1. Customize your weekly menu of nutritious and tasty recipes. This includes the number of meals you would like, the number of people you will be cooking for and any dietary needs; 2. Schedule your flexible delivery sourced from trusted suppliers, and based on which night of the week works best for your family; and 3. Enjoy seasonal, fresh ingredients by following the quick and easy recipes, so you can spend your time where it counts, with family.

What’s not to love?

We opted for the Veggie Plan, which contains an abundance of seasonal produce, hearty grains and vegetarian-friendly proteins. 

While we are not vegetarians, we do limit the amount of meat that we consume. This plan includes pre-cut veggies and pre-measured ingredients for heart vegetarian recipes that could be cooked in only 30 minutes. The subscription has showed us creative, nutritious and delicious ways to incorporate alternative sources of protein into our diet. 

Some recipes are favoured over others, but, we really haven’t had one that we didn’t enjoy. And all have been given two chubby thumbs up from our toddler!

Oh and to add to the convenience, they also have an app. Just incase your toddler decides to use the recipe book as her next colouring book. 

One thing that I worried about was the portion size. Sometimes with nutrition, comes smaller portion sizes. But, after our first box, that was no longer a concern. Our subscription included three meals for two people, and when prepared, it actually fed four people for dinner or two people with leftovers the next day. 

In our house, we love burgers and salads. Two of my favourite recipes were ones that I would never think of making at home, but now look forward to having again in the future - the Cannellini Bean Veggie Burger with Chipotle Mayo and Coleslaw and the Roasted Tomato and Mushroom Barley Salad with Fresh Bocconcini and Olives (both pictured below). 

Not only does HelloFresh give us more time together as a family, they have the environment in mind while doing so. They are committed to sustainable business practices and helping home cooks go green. All packaging is paper-based, made from post-consumer recycled fibres and 100% recyclable themselves. The ice packs are filled with a non-toxic salt solution, which can be reused or simply poured down the drain and the packaging recycled. The food is sourced as locally as possible, helping support local business and reducing the distance travelled and overall carbon footprint. Only the exact amount of food needed is included in your subscription, which, accruing to HelloFresh, helps to cut household food waste by more than 60%!

HelloFresh is more than just food. It is convenience. It is nutrition. It is something new. It is good conversation. And, most importantly, it is more time with family.

Try HelloFresh for yourself! Enjoy $25 off your first and second box at with code HF50AFF!

Have you tried HelloFresh? What was your favourite recipes? I’d love to hear!

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. To & Fro received product and/or compensation in exchange for this review. We only share products that we love, and all opinions are 100% those of To & Fro. 

December 12, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide: The Outdoorsy Gentleman

My husband would most likely say that I am the most difficult person to buy for. But sometimes, I really beg to differ. 

Finding that special something for the special guy in your life can be quite a challenge. What do you get the man that has everything? The man that loves to be outdoors, but also lives for a good shave and hair cut? 

Luckily, I've had over a decade to perfect the Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for the Outdoorsy Gentleman

Holiday Gift Guide: The Outdoorsy Gentleman

A good podcast or audio book is a staple on our family road trips. CBC's Vinyl Cafe is one of our favourites (and even where our daughter's name came from). Dave and Morley's Christmas adventures are some of my favourite stories, and we can now enjoy them all year round with the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Pack - a set of 4 audio CDs. Over 4 hours of stories!

Stay connected while you're outside and on the go with these touch screen compatible fleece winter gloves from The North Face. Full palm conductivity allows you to use your touchscreen devices without removing your gloves and exposing your hands in cool conditions.

3. Sock It To Me Men's Fun Crew Socks 
My husband loves a good pair of fun socks to dress up his not so fun work attire. Fun socks are always a go-to when I'm filling his stocking. Look good, feel good, play good, right? Sock It to Me creates fun and funky socks and underwear with dinosaurs, cupcakes, ninjas, sasquatch, unicorns and all things magical. They make make quality products with unique and inspiring designs, all at an affordable price. If you live in the US, Sock It To Me also offers a fun monthly subscription service, delivering fresh, fun socks to your door each month. (Pictured above: Trail Life)

4. Enso Mens Ultralite Silicone Wedding Band
The perfect wedding ring alternative for those that are not able to wear a typical wedding band. If you’re looking for the silicone ring that you’ll forget you’re even wearing, this is it. Enso's ultralite silicone ring is exactly that, ultra and light, and comes in a variety of different colours and styles. Also in women's sizes, styles and colours. 

Design custom case for your iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, MacBook and more with this easy-to-use online design tool from CaseApp. Upload your own photo, or chose from their design library. For my personalized case, I chose to upload a photo of Morley that we took on our recent trip to Alaska. When I receive the case, I was surprised by the quality of the plastic, as well as the resolution of the photo I chose.

OFFER: Receive 20% OFF your own customized CaseApp case with code 20TOANDFRO (valid until 12/22). 

Stanley is a go to brand on our camping trips, and this flask will be a welcomed addition. Hot toddies anyone? An easy but legendary gift that will last a lifetime. Made of rustproof stainless steel, and BPA free. Comes in a variety of colours.  

7. Dollar Shave Club Subscription
Dollar Shave Club is a subscription-based company that delivers razors and other personal grooming products right to your door on a monthly basis. Quality razors without the high cost. 

8. Fitbit Blaze Bands (8 pcs)
We love our FitBits, and are always challenging each other to up our daily step goals. But sometimes, I wish I could change up the colour of my band. Now you can! Personalize your wristband to match your daily style and outfit with these 8 pack of FitBit Blaze replacement bands. 

This portable charger is incredibly small and light for its capacity, being smaller than a deck of cards and weighing less than a baseball. With its ability to charge your device 3-4 times before it needs to be charged itself, it is perfect for someone that is on the go or even travelling. Compatible with Android, Apple and almost all other devices charged via USB, and comes in both white and black. 

10. Tile Mate
Keep track of your keys, bags or whatever else you can think of with Tile Mate, the little Bluetooth tracker that easily attaches to just about anything. Perfect for the man that has everything, that also loses everything. 

11. Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the West Coast
Does your special someone enjoy spending time in the kitchen? With Lure, readers embark on a wild Pacific adventure and discover the benefits of healthy oils and rich nutrients that seafood delivers. Authored by chef and sustainable seafood advocate Ned Bell, features this cookbook features simple techniques and straightforward sustainability guidelines around Pacific species as well as 80 delicious recipes to make at home. 

The original reusable water bottle from Nalgene is perfect whether you are on the go, hiking in the woods, working out at the gym or even at your desk. It will stand up to any bumps, bangs and drops you throw at it, without springing a leak. Comes in a variety of colours. 

What is on your gift list for the guy that has everything? I'd love to hear!

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for a review, however, all opinions are 100% that of To & Fro. This post also contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links helps to support To & Fro, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your continued support!

December 6, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide: Toddler

Do you have a toddler, and are having a hard time finding that perfect gift? Check out To & Fro's Toddler Holiday Gift Guide - some of Morley's tried and true favourites, plus a few new ones that  we know she is going to love.

Toddler Holiday Gift Guide

Update: Hop over to To & Fro's Amazon storefront where we've rounded up our favourite gifts for the littlest ones in your life. 

While we may have celebrated Morley's first Christmas last year, this holiday season, we are expecting it to be a bit different.

Slowly but surely as she begins to see decorations, trees and even the odd Santa pop up, she is starting to grasp that something magical is about to happen. She knows who Santa is (and oddly is not afraid of him), but not yet exactly get what he brings.

Santa or no Santa, we are excited to celebrate this Christmas through the eyes of our toddler. Including seeing her reaction to some of the pretty awesome gifts waiting for her under the tree.

Do you have a toddler, and are having a hard time finding that perfect gift? Check out To & Fro's Toddler Holiday Gift Guide - some of Morley's tried and true favourites, plus a few new ones that  we know she is going to love.

Holiday Gift Guide: Toddler

1. Valtech Magna-Tiles 48 Piece Deluxe Set 
We first discovered Magna-Tiles at a friend's house, and I instantly knew Morley had to have her own set. I'll admit, there are many toys out there that fall flat. These magnetic tiles were one of the first toys that I have seen her play with that has kept her engaged, for a long time. I guess I could say the same for myself. I was down on the floor engaged with the tiles, and playing with my daughter. It was incredible to watch her little mind work - how to put them together, and then how to break them apart. They are an amazing toy and learning tool! Magna-Tiles comes in a variety of different colours, sizes and shapes, and can be purchased in sets of 32, 48 and 100. 

Toddler Holiday Gift Guide

2. Paw Patrol Soft Potty Seat
Morley has started to become very interested in the "pee pee potty" (but that's another story for another post). So to start the pre-planning, we got her a Paw Patrol soft potty seat. "Paw 'Troll" is one of her favourites, this seat will hopefully peak her interest even more. The removable cushion makes cleanup a breeze, while built-in handles ensure easy transport and comfort for your child.

3. Fisher-Price Little People Travel Together Airplane
What a classic. I have fond memories of playing with Fisher-Price Little People when I was younger, and am thrilled that they are still around. Morley is a big fan of the farm, and I know she will love to ‘hairplane’ too. The variety of Little People toys and playlets make the ideal educational toy and help children explore their creativity and develop social skills like sharing and taking on new roles.

Ok, this one may not be so much for toddler as it is for toddler's mom and dad.  Mabel’s Labels created durable labels for families - baby labels, child safety products, sports labels, household organizational labels and seasonal items. They’re extremely durable, they’re laundry, dishwasher and microwave safe – and they’re 100% guaranteed. To prevent her things from going missing at school, we recently purchased the starter label pack which comes with 24 mini custom name stickers, 8 custom shoe stickers, 42 tag mates stick on clothing labels and 2 personalized bag tags. The labels are customizable with the option to chose your own theme, colours, text and font. 

You better believe Morley will be on her first pair of skates this winter, even if they are just a simple pair to teach her the basics. The skates have two long straps that attach around the ankle and 2 short straps that attach over the foot, with a double blade provides superior balance. Recommended for ages 2 to 5 years, and adjustable for youth sizes 6 to 13. 

    6. cuddle+kind Doll
    I really can’t say enough about cuddle+kind. These dolls are ethically produced, hand-knit dolls that help feed children. And although the price may initially shock you, once you understand what this company is all about, you will be in full support. 

    Morley received Willow the deer (little - 13”) when she was around six months old. She sleeps with her every night, has taken her on the plane and in the car, and as a result, she has been washed multiple times. You could say she’s been around the past year, but is still the same quality as if she were new. 

    Ezpz mat is the original, all-in-one placemat and plate that suctions to the table (as seen on Shark Tank). The mat is made from 100% food-grade silicone that is BPA, BPS, PVC, latex and phthalate free. It is designed for infants and toddlers, age 4+ months. 

    In anticipation of our vacation to Cuba when Morley was 10 months old, I purchased one of the mini mats. I must admit, it was such a smart decision, especially eating at an all inclusive resort where who knows the last time the high chair tray was cleaned properly and all that was available to eat off of were ceramic dishes. 

    8. Melissa & Doug 20 Wooden Animal Magnets
    We have an animal lover on our hand, and now, thanks to these wooden animal magnets, also an animal expert. The variety of domestic, zoo and farm animals allow young children to learn to identify their animals, and even incorporate colours, allowing your child to sort. They are a strong magnetic, and are easily stuck to your refrigerator. This is also key in keeping them occupied when trying to prepare dinner.

    What are your favourite gifts for toddlers? Will any of these be under the tree this year? I'd love to hear!

    Disclosure: I received product in exchange for a review. All opinions are 100% my own. This post also contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links helps to support To & Fro, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your continued support!

    December 4, 2017

    Holiday Gift Guide: Toronto Experiences

    Give memories, not things. A popular phrase around the holiday season, and one my family has quickly come to adapt.

    I will admit, there is nothing I love more than receiving a new pair of socks or a refill of my favourite body wash in my stocking, but when it comes to a gift, I’d much prefer to receive an experience. Something to create memories with my family. 

    Living in Toronto, I can attest to the fact that there is an unlimited supply of experiences - ways to taste, hear, touch, smell and see your way through the city.

    Today’s gift guide includes a round up of five experiences available in Toronto that make the perfect holiday gifts.

    Best of Toronto Experiences

    To & Fro’s Holiday Gift Guide: Toronto Experiences

    Available in numerous big cities across North America, the Toronto CityPASS allows you to see the city’s top attractions, handpicked and packaged together at a significant savings. The Toronto CityPASS admission includes the CN Tower, Casa Loma, Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and the Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre. Purchasing the pass saves you approximately 33% versus buying an individual admission at each attraction. It is valid for 9 consecutive days starting the first day of use, which is plenty of time to see all of the sights at your own pace. 

    Cost: $86 per adult; $58 per child

    Recommended for: the staycationer 

    CityPASS is also available in other large cities - New York, Chicago, Seattle, San FranciscoBostonPhiladelphia, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston

    Get up close and personal with the stingrays at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada! This one-of-a-kind experience allows guests to be in Ray Bay with the cow nose, southern, spotted eagle and rough tail stingrays. It also includes a behind the scenes tour to learn how the animals are cared for and the water is cleaned. 

    Cost: $99 per person (includes admission, behind the scenes tour, backpack, towel, USB flash drive of photos)

    Recommended for: the animal lover

    Oh hey, that's me. As you can see, I can speak from experience - if you have an animal lover in your life, the Stingray Expereince at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is a no bRAYner. (See what I did there?!)

    Holiday Gift Guide: Toronto Experiences

    History buff in your life? This hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour is the best way to see the city from the comfort of a double decker bus. Tickets are valid for up to 48 hours and include a free Toronto harbour and islands cruise. The 21 stops to chose from include the CN Tower, Eaton Centre, Art Gallery of Ontario, St. Lawrence Marker, The Distillery District, Hockey Hall of Fame and more. The informative guides will animate the sights and attractions along the route and are more than happy to give advice on how to make the most of your time in the city.

    Cost: $38.05 per adult; $34.51 per senior and student (with valid ID); $20.35 per child (3-12)

    Take advantage of this 10% discount coupon for hop-on hop-off service!

    Recommended for: the history buff

    The CN Tower EdgeWalk is Toronto’s tallest urban adventure, and the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk. This 1.5 hour experience takes pale on the roof of the CN Tower’s restaurant, approximately 356m or 1,168 feet above the ground.

    Cost: $225 per person (include keepsake video, printed photos, certificate and re-entry to the CN Tower)

    Recommended for: the adrenaline junkie

    The Best Experiences in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Mariposa Cruises Toronto Dinner Cruise
    Enjoy a truly unique evening on the water with Mariposa Cruises. Dine, dance and experience the magnificent scenery along Toronto’s harbour and islands. Watch the sun set on Toronto’s harbour and take in the sights and sounds of the city’s waterfront and towering skyline. Evening dinner cruises depart spring to the end of December and include a delicious buffet-style dinner and fully-licensed cash bar while you cruise from 7-10pm. Mariposa offers a wide selection of cruises, be sure to check out their website for available listings. 

    Cost: $74.95 per adult; $41.22 per child (4-12 years)

    Recommended for: the romantic

    *Fine print: Quoted prices are subject to change, and do not include HST. Be sure to visit the attraction website for more information, including experience policies, availability and how to book. 

    What are your favourite gifts to give and receive during the holiday season? Any favourite experiences you’ve received? I’d love to hear!

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links will help support To & Fro, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your continued support!

    December 1, 2017

    Favourite Outdoor Spaces in Anchorage, Alaska

    When people hear that we lived in Alaska, their initial response is usually shock. They picture it to be this exotic, yet cold and dark, place and me to be this insane person for choosing to live there and loving every minute of it.

    Let me tell you a little secret - it's not so remote a place. Yes, at times it can be dark and cold, but I wouldn’t necessarily use the words exotic or remote. At least, not where we lived in the largest city of Anchorage. For a city of 300,00(ish) people, despite being well over 4500 miles from what we call home, it does have all of the modern conveniences of home - Walmart, Costco, Target, to name a few. 

    Popular Outdoor Spaces in Anchorage, Alaska

    What is different than life in the concrete jungle of Toronto is that Anchorage is home to some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces we have ever seen, both in the city and just outside. You can drive a mere five minutes out of the city and be, well essentially, in the middle of nowhere.

    And while we loved to explore outside of the city, we also enjoyed frequent afternoon trips to the more local outdoor spaces. Today, I'm sharing some of those popular outdoors spaces in Anchorage, Alaska with you. 

    Flattop Mountain, Anchorage, Alaska
    An oldie, but a goodie. The first time we climbed Flattop, circa summer 2011.

    Flattop Mountain
    Flattop is easily Anchorage’s most identifiable peak because of its  well, flat top, and is also Alaska’s most visited peak. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can ascend the 1.5 mile, 1,350 vertical foot trail to the rocky, football field-sized summit in about an hour and take in panoramic views from Denali to the Aleutian Islands. And when I say ascend, it is not a simply foot path. The last part of the climb involves a bit of skill. If you want vistas without the challenge, you can walk the short path from the parking lot to the overlook. 

    If you don’t have a car, Flattop Mountain Shuttle has a service that transports you from Downtown (at 4th and C Street) to Flattop. And, if you are driving, visitor beware, the parking lot does get crowded in the warmer months. There is also a $5 fee per car, or you can purchase an annual State Parks pass.

    Kincaid Park, Anchorage, Alaska

    Kincaid Park
    Kincaid Park offers the easiest way to get outside right in the city. This 1400-acre forest sits atop an old glacial moraine and offers one of America's top trail systems as well as Anchorage's largest moose population. The park is home to a maze of walking, biking and skiing trails, including the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail which connects Kincaid to downtown Anchorage. Be warned, if you visit in the winter, a lot of the trails are designated for skiers only. Be courteous of their trails. 

    This park is also home to Anchorage’s only sandy beach, a secret to most. It holds a special place in our hearts, but you can read more about that here.

    Potter Marsh, Anchorage, Alaska

    Potter Marsh
    Potter Marsh, part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, is one of the most accessible wildlife viewing areas in Alaska. The marsh is a rest area for migratory birds including trumpeter swans, and is a year-round home for beavers, moose and bald eagles. Occasionally, you may even spot salmon spawning in the deeper water. You can get close to the marsh without getting your feet wet by walking the 1550-foot boardwalk, complete with interpretive signs and spotting scopes. Flanked by the Chugach Mountains on one side and the Turnagain Arm (and Seward Highway) on the other, this area provides excellent photo opportunities without leaving the city.

    The Alaska Zoo, Anchorage, Alaska

    The Alaska Zoo
    It might not be your conventional way to get outside, but it is still outside none the less. The 25-acre wooded hillside setting of the Alaska Zoo allows visitors to get up close views of many animals that call the great state home, as well as some from other like-climate parts of the world. What started as a home for an elephant named Annabelle who was won in a contest, has evolved into a home for orphaned and injured wildlife from across the state. Today, the non-profit Alaska Zoo is home to 100 animals and is dedicated to promoting the conservation of arctic, sub-arctic and like-climate species through education, research and community enrichment. 

    It holds a very special place in our hearts, but you can read more about that here

    Have you visited Anchorage, or live in the area? What are your favourite outdoor spaces? I’d love to hear!

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