Practicing Safe Skin as Self-Care


*This post is sponsored by Bayer®. To make sure Bayer® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about "self-care" - the things we can do to promote, maintain and manage our own health. As our lives get busier and busier, prioritizing self-care becomes increasingly important.

Many of us think of self-care as practicing yoga, a day at the spa or even spending quality time with friends. While these are great ways to relax, there is much more to it than that.

Practicing Safe Skin as Self-Care

The concept of self-care is about empowering individuals, families and communities to practice healthier habits, prevent diseases and cope with illness or disability to achieve optimum health. Taking better care of ourselves by utilizing the products available to us not only helps Canadians lead healthier lives, it also alleviates strain on our healthcare system. Making a commitment to practice self-care has so many benefits.

That’s why Bayer, a global health products leader, is working to educate consumers on how Better Self-care for a Better Life can make a difference in quality life, while improving healthcare sustainability. 

How do you practice self-care? 

One of the ways I practice self-care is by getting outdoors. Whether it be a trip to the park with my daughter, a weekend-long family camping trip, or even a cup of coffee or tea out on our terrace, being outdoors is my happy place and always helps clear my mind, leaving me feeling refreshed and ready to tackle what lies ahead.

Practicing Safe Skin as Self-Care

In the past decade, I have begun to put a large focus on my skin. I am what you could call a “moley kid”. I’ve always had moles, but they were something that I never really paid any attention to in the past. But, as my skin continues to change so do the number, size and shape of my many moles and freckles.

A few years back, I paid a visit to a dermatologist and was asked if I had ever had a full body scan - a look at every single mole and freckle on my body. Three appointments and eleven mole removals later, I wondered why I had never done it before. I always kept an eye on certain moles - a funky one of my back, a raised one on my chest - but it was a small one on my ankle that I honestly didn’t even know existed that raised the red flag. 

While everything worked out in my favour and it was just a scare, it was scary enough to cause me to start paying better attention to my skin. Besides routinely inspecting the moles on my body, a part of my self-care now includes the sunscreen I use. Especially with the outdoors being my happy place,  sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen is now a priority whenever I leave the house. And not just in the summer. Even in the winter, I make sure to use a facial moisturizer with SPF. 


Practicing Safe Skin as Self-Care

My family’s go-to sunscreen this summer has been Coppertone® WaterBABIES® Whipped Sunscreen (SPF 50). Yes, even mom and dad use it - specifically for the broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and the fact that it is paraben- and PABA-free. The unique whipped formula spreads easily and absorbs quickly, helping leave skin soft and smooth, and it is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes!

I’m slowly starting to incorporate more self-care into my routine and the routine of my family, but as it can be just that, a change in routine, it takes time. Baby steps are key to get where you want to live a healthier, happier life. I can’t be the best for my growing family, if I’m not at my best for my self. 

Practicing Safe Skin as Self-Care

International Self-Care Day is a worldwide campaign encouraging responsible self-care. We use this day as a reminder that the benefits of self-care are life long and can be felt 24 hours a day, 7 days a wee.

In support of International Self-Care Day on July 24th, I challenge you to share your self-care practices with me! To help get you started, Bayer has created a self-care calendar with one tip for each day of the month. Starting July 23, will also be running a Buy 3 for $10 promotion through Amazon.ca on most of their brands! 

Together, we can make self-care a priority for all Canadians!

*GIVEAWAY* 

Over on To & Fro’s Instagram, I will also be giving away ten (10) $15 Amazon gift cards so that you can purchase your favourite self-care products! 

To enter, all you have to do is share how you practice self-care on THIS photo. Tag your self-care practicing pals in the photo comments for more entries.

Giveaway Rules:
  • Giveaway will run July 18 to July 25 at 11:159pm.
  • Ten (10) winners will be selected at random and contacted via Instagram messenger.
  • Winners will have 24 hours to respond with a valid email address.
  • Gift card code will be sent via email.
  • Open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec. 
  • This giveaway is not affiliated with Instagram.

So, how do you practice self-care? I’d love to hear!





*This post is sponsored by Bayer®. To make sure Bayer® products are right for you, always read and follow the label

The Perfect Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

The Perfect Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

One thing I can bring to the table when it comes to desserts is a crisp. Whether it is an apple crisp in the fall or this strawberry rhubarb crisp recipe in the summer, my crisp game is on point.

In Ontario, strawberries are currently at their peak. If you are lucky enough to have one nearby, now is a great time to visit your local u-pick farm to take advantage of these delicious berries. 

Fruit picking is also a great family activity - you get some exercise from all the bending you’ll do, can teach your kids about where their food comes from and the importance of eating their fruits and veggies and you get to spend some quality time together.

The Perfect Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp


Ingredients
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups + 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 3 cups fresh rhubarb, diced
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup rolled oats

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In large bowl, combine white sugar, 3 tbsp all purpose flour, strawberries and rhubarb and mix well. Place the mixture in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, butter and oats until crumbly. Spread mixture evenly on top of the rhubarb and strawberry mixture.
  4. Bake in oven for 45 minutes, or until crisp and lightly browned. 
The Perfect Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Whether you enjoy eating them plain, or with other ingredients, such as rhubarb, strawberries are an excellence source of Vitamin C, potassium and fibre, and are low in calories, at approximately 28 per 1/2 cup.

Rhubarb is an underestimated fruit and if you haven’t had it before, you don’t know what you’re missing. It is very similar to celery, but treated like fruit and paired with berries, takes any dessert recipe up a knotch. Available from January to June, it is grown both in the greenhouse and outdoors. It is an excellent source of calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and potassium, and while you might not want to eat it raw due to its tartness, it is also low in calories, at around 27 calories per 1 cup diced.

The Perfect Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberries and rhubarb go hand in hand, like two peas in a pod. Delish!

Have you ever made a crisp before? What is your favourite berry recipe?



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Hiking While Pregnant: Tips for Mastering the Trail & What to Pack


Hiking while pregnant can mean different things to different people, and it can also depend on many different factors. 

How far along are you? Are you second trimester and have all the energy in the world, or about to burst and afraid your feet will swell to the size of balloons? Are you leisurely hiking a park trail, or challenging yourself to an uphill climb?

Regardless of how adventurous you are or how far along you are, pregnancy shouldn’t stop you from exploring the outdoors and getting a good workout. Not to mention, getting outdoors is a great way to clear your mind and any anxieties that may be lingering as baby’s due date approaches. 

There are, however, some things to think about before lacing up your shoes. Here are a few things to consider, including recommendations for what to carry in your daypack. 


Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

Cardio exercise is one of the most important ways to stay healthy during pregnancy. For the most part, hiking while pregnant is safe. But every woman is different and every pregnancy is different too. First things is to check with your health care provider before you think about heading out on any adventures. If you're a long-time hiker, hiking is probably safe. But, if you have had a complicated pregnancy or have never hiked before, it might not be your best choice. 

Once you do get the go-ahead, plan the trail accordingly. Keep in mind that even terrain is best. Be sure to always wear appropriate footwear - good traction and support are key. Wearing the right shoes is vital to staying on your feet and preventing back pain. Until you know how your pregnant body handles the hike, start with an easy trail and go from there. 

If you are heading out of town for your hike, take note of the closest healthcare facility to where you’re going. You should prepare yourself for any possible emergencies - it’s good to have a plan in place for how you’re going to get there fast in an emergency. Be sure to hike with a buddy and where there is cell phone service. You never know.  

Don’t carry too much weight. Carrying an extra 20, 30, or 40 pounds of baby weight already can throw off your centre of gravity, putting you at an increased risk of falls. Stick to even, clearly defined trails and only bring enough supplies for the day, packed in a small daypack. Being comfortable is key. 

Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! While pregnant, you’re going to get overheated and dehydrated faster, so you need to drink about twice as much water on a normal day. When you go hiking, you’ll need to up that even more. Staying hydrated will help replenish all the water you lose when you sweat. It will also prevent muscle cramps. Remember, drink only bottled or filtered water. Do not get adventurous and drink from a steam or river you come across as it may make you sick.

Protect your skin. Regardless of the season, your skin is susceptible to the sun’s UV rays. This is especially true during pregnancy, when pregnancy hormones can make your skin sensitive to the sun. Follow shaded trails when possible and always apply a sunscreen with a minimum 30 SPF prior to your hike. 

Keeping your blood sugar up while you’re hiking is crucial too. As soon as you realize you’re getting hungry, have a snack. It can be trail mix or a protein bar. Anything small, healthy, and easy to eat will do.

No matter how far along you are, your bathroom trips are probably frequent. Pay the toilet a visit when you see one, even if you don’t have to go. Pack some TP in your daypack just in case nature calls at an inopportune location. Don’t forget the hand sanitizer and maybe even some baby wipes. 


Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

Stay comfortable. Pregnancy can be uncomfortable enough as it is. Wear loose fitting clothes that will wick away sweat, comfortable shoes and a large sun hat to cover your face, ears and neck. Tucking a small package of baby wipes in your daypack is also handy to help wipe the sweat from your face (and other unwanted places). 

Finally, know your limits. Be aware of over exertion - symptoms include uterine contractions, excessive perspiration and increased shortness of breath. Remember that regardless of the activity, you shouldn’t push yourself while you’re pregnant. Your body is busy growing another human - it needs energy, rest, and relaxation as much as exercise. You know your body best. Listen to your body and what it is telling you, including when you need to slow down and when you need to ‘call it a hike’. 

Tips for Hiking While Pregnant

It’s easy to let people judge what you decide to do during your pregnancy. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re pregnant. Including hiking. Remember to always talk to your health care provider. But, once you do get the green light, get out there and enjoy making memories hiking while pregnant! 

Photos taken on a recent day hike through Toronto's Rouge National Urban Park.

Do you have any tips for hiking while pregnant? I’d love to hear!





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Tips for Hiking while Pregnant

5 Reasons to Visit Algonquin Provincial Park


When you think of the outdoors in Canada, where does your mind go? To the picturesque views of the west coast’s Rocky Mountains? To the shores of the Maritimes? Or, how about to the golden hues of the fall leaves in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park?

While the mountains have my heart, Ontario is where I call home. And to me, there’s not much more stunning (and quintessentially Canadian) than Algonquin Provincial Park. It’s also only 3(ish) hours from Toronto, making it the perfect long weekend escape from the big city. 

5 Reasons to Visit Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Established in 1893, Algonquin was created as a wildlife sanctuary to ultimately protect the headwaters of the five major rivers which flow from the Park. 


As one of the oldest and largest provincial parks in Ontario, Algonquin is diverse, protecting a variety of natural, cultural and recreation features and values. It also offers something for nearly everyone. Whether it be a family camping trip, a back country portage or even just a day hike, there are many reasons why YOU must visit Algonquin Provincial Park. 

Here are just 5 (of many).

Canoeing
Whether you’re an experienced voyageur or have never touched a paddle in your life, Algonquin is the perfect place for canoeing. With 2,000 kilometres of routes and portages, so you can choose something short or plan something epic.

Canoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park

Wildlife Viewing
Having lived in Alaska, we took seeing moose on the daily for granted. In Ontario, that’s not so much the case. Algonquin is not only the perfect place to view a moose or two, but is also home to red fox, grey wolves, river otters, beaver, black bear, white-tailed deer and more. 

Oh, and the sunsets aren't too shabby either. 

Sunsets in Algonquin Provincial Park

Fishing
With 1,500 lakes and 1,200 kilometres of streams, it’s no surprise that Algonquin boasts some of the best brook and lake trout fishing around. Trout aren’t the only fish thought - there are a recorded 54 different species of fish in the park! 

If you’re looking to go fishing in Algonquin, spring provides some of the best fishing opportunities of the year. Don’t forget your license!

Fishing in Algonquin Provincial Park

Hiking
There are 19 interpretive hiking trails, each allowing you to explore a different aspect of Algonquin’s natural environment. Interpretive trails are open year-round, clearly marked and easy to navigate. Be sure to pick up a trail guide booklet, found at all trail heads and park bookstores, before you start. 

And if you're not into hiking, there are also several beaches, such as the one at Canisbay Lake Campground, to explore. Which when you have a toddler, totally counts as a hike. 

Hiking in Algonquin Provincial Park

And last, but definitely not least…

Camping
Camping is one of Algonquin’s most popular activities. Camping opportunities are grouped into two main categories based upon the mode of transportation to get you to the camping location - drive to camping and backcountry camping. Drive to camping includes developed campgrounds (aka those with sites), yurts, ranger camping, RV camping and lodges, whereas backcountry camping includes portaging, backpacking and paddle in campsites. 

In Algonquin, you can camp (just about) anywhere. First, pick your ideal type, then pick your location. If you are keeping it safe with car camping, you have 9 different locations to chose from. Our personal favourite is Canisbay Lake, located at km 24 of the park. It offers an access point for portaging, paddle in campsites and a developed campground (with sites that can accommodate both tents and trailers). 

Word to the wise, start planning early. You can reserve your spot up to five months in advance on the Ontario Parks website. The good ones go fast!

Camping in Algonquin Provincial Park

You may also like >> Disconnecting in Algonquin

Did you know, Ontario’s provincial parks are turning 125 in 2018?! And it all started back in 1893 with the creation of Canada’s first provincial park, Algonquin. Today, Ontario Parks protects 340 provincial parks, which encompasses just under 8% of Ontario, an area larger than Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined.

Make 2018 the year to visit the stunningly beautiful landscapes of our province, carry on traditions and make new memories. I highly recommend starting with Algonquin. 


Have you explored Ontario’s Parks? Which one is your favourite? I’d love to hear!


Simple DIY Mountain Wall Mural


When designing our toddler’s first “big girl” bedroom, we knew it had to be special. We knew that if she didn’t love it from the get go, the transition to her own room and her own bed would be much more of a challenge. 

Inspired by our love of the outdoors, we decided on an outdoor-themed bedroom

Initially we were going to add birch tree wallpaper to one wall as an accent, but seeing as wallpaper can be fairly tedious (and, ahem, I get frustrated easily, ahem), we instead opted for this simple DIY mountain wall mural.

How to Paint a Simple DIY Mountain Wall Mural

Below is the list of materials we used and complete step-by-step instructions on how you too can create this simple and inexpensive DIY home project. No art skills required.  

DIY Mountain Wall Mural


Materials

  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint in four (4) colours (*colours and amounts used listed below)
  • Large roller
  • Small roller 
  • Small sponge brush
  • Paint trays
  • Damp cloth

Tips for Choosing Paint:


  • Main wall: lighter than mountains, but darker than peaks
  • Forefront mountains: darkest colour
  • Background mountains: lighter than front mountain, but darker than back wall
  • Mountain peaks (optional): lightest colour, or even pop of colour for an accent

The amount of paint you need depends on your wall size, but this is what we used for the 10’x10’ room (and similar-sized wall):

  • Main wall: 1.5 gallons used on entire room
  • Forefront mountains: 1/2 gallon
  • Background mountains: sample size
  • Mountain peaks: sample size

Note on amount: We really didn’t end up using a lot of paint for this project. Because we were painting our entire condo at the same time, we were able to pull paint from other rooms to use. For example, the colour of the peaks is our master bedroom colour and the background mountains are the same colour as our living room. The only additional paint we had to buy was the forefront mountains (1/2 gallon).

When selecting paint, we opted to use BEHR PREMIUM PLUS® Interior Eggshell Enamel paint, from The Home Depot Canada. This paint plus primer is self-priming over properly prepared uncoated and previously painted Interior surfaces. The soft, subtle sheen of the eggshell enamel resists dirt and grime, so it's perfect for all of your home's busiest rooms, including toddler destruction.

Scroll down to step 6 to see what Behr Premium Plus paint colours we used.

How to Paint a Simple DIY Mountain Wall Mural

How to Create Your Mountain Mural


Step 1: Paint the room.
First step is to paint the entire room, your colour of choice. We opted for a light grey colour so that the mountains stood out. When it comes time to reveal your mural, this colour will also act as the space between the forefront and background mountains (if you choose to leave a space). 

How to Paint a Simple DIY Mountain Wall Mural

Step 2: Tape out the forefront mountains.
Start by deciding how many mountains you would like, and whether or not they will stay on one wall or onto surrounding walls. We decided on three forefront mountains on the main wall, and then carried them onto the surrounding two walls to give the mural a bit more dimension.

Using the painter’s tape, we created the outline for the forefront mountains. You can always draw out the mountains ahead of time, or just freehand them, which is what we did. It is very important that you are using good quality painter’s tape, such as FrogTape, which will prevent paint bleed and give you cleaner lines. It will also be easier to remove the tape when the time comes. Spend a few extra dollars on the good stuff, it's worth it.

When taping the mountain outline, carry the tape all the way down to the baseboard.

When you have taped out your forefront mountains, take a step back and make sure you like them. This is the time to adjust the tape if needed. For example, at first attempt, our mountains were too symmetrical, so we adjusted the tape to change the height and width of each mountain. 

How to Paint a Simple DIY Mountain Wall Mural

Step 3: Tape out the background mountains.
After creating your forefront mountains, tape out the rear mountains. Be sure to make them different heights and widths, and vary the number between forefront mountains.

Step 4: Tape out the forefront mountain peaks.
Using smaller pieces of tape, tape out the peaks of the forefront mountains. This step is completely optional, but adds some dimension to the mural. 

Trim the tape where needed.

Step 5: Go over the tape with a damp cloth.
Using a damp cloth (and I mean damp, NOT sopping wet), go over the tape. This will help give you the most crisp lines and further prevent paint bleed. 

How to Paint a Simple DIY Mountain Wall Mural

Step 6: Paint the mountains.
Using a large roller, we first painted the forefront mountains. The background mountains were painted using a small roller and the peaks using a small sponge brush. We opted to add peaks to the forefront mountains, but left the background mountains as is.

By the time we had painted the background mountains and peaks, we were able to do a second coat on the forefront mountains. 

Colours Used

*all Behr Premium Plus Interior

  • Main wall: Behr Sterling (780E-3)
  • Forefront mountains: Behr Shark Fin (PPU24-19)
  • Background mountains: Behr Silver Mine (PPU26-18)
  • Mountain peaks: Behr Silver Polish (BL-W13)

How to Paint a Simple DIY Mountain Wall Mural


Step 7: Remove tape and do touchups.
Allow paint to partially dry, approximately 30-60 minutes. Do not let the paint dry completely, it may cause some of the paint to lift when removing the tape. Carefully remove the tape. 

If needed, go back over the edges by hand to clean up the lines.

Optional: Fill in any gaps.
We liked that there was a gap where the tape was, between the forefront and background mountains, so we left as is. However, if you don’t like the gap, you can always go back and fill it in with the background paint colour. 

How to Paint a Simple DIY Mountain Wall Mural

Project Budget


Item
Quantity
Cost
1
$11.47
1
$39.97
1
$19.97
BEHR Premium Plus Interior Eggshell Enamel - sample size
2
$9.94
Performance Select Silver Paint Kit (5-Piece incl. tray, roller, cage)
1
$11.97
1
$7.97
1
$1.08
TOTAL COST
$102.37

*based on materials listed above, with paint for entire room

** prices subject to change

How to Paint a Simple DIY Mountain Wall Mural

The Result

This was such an simple, quick and inexpensive project to tackle, and one that added a pop of character to our little gal’s first big kid bedroom. 

We couldn’t be happier with how our mountain mural turned out, and we're happy to see that Morley’s a big fan too. Little gal is sleeping as snug as a bug in the mountains every night. 

Now if only hanging the decor was as easy as this mural...

Stay tuned for the entire room reveal, coming soon!

Have you tackled a recent DIY home project? I’d love to hear about it!






Disclosure: To & Fro worked with Home Depot Canada to create this special space. Product and/or compensation was received in exchange for this post, however, all opinions are 100% that of To & Fro. This post also contains affiliate links.

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How to Paint a Simple DIY Mountain Wall Mural



The Adventures of Moving with a Toddler


This spring and summer are ones full of transitions for of our toddler. Not only is she going through the usual “two year old phase” - finding her attitude, her likes, her dislikes and her independence, we’re throwing a whole whack of new changes at her that many other two year olds may not experience. At least, not all at once.

Tips for Moving with a Toddler

On top of getting a new brother or sister this August, earlier this month she said goodbye to her favourite teachers and first friends at daycare, moved into “Morley’s new house”, got her own bedroom and her first big girl bed and (finally) got off the bottle. She also started at a new school, with new teachers and new friends. All that’s left to add to the list is potty training (which, is a whole other story). 

Holy moly, right?!

Tips for Moving with a Toddler

So, I know you’re dying to know - how did she do?!

I tell ya, while set in their ways, toddlers are pretty damn resilient.

We've been in our new house for about two weeks now, and while she occasionally (heartbreakingly) asks to go back to “Morley’s ’notha house”, I can successfully report that she has slept in her new bed from day one, frequently talks about how much she likes her new house (and the park and dogs that she thinks came with it), weaned her own self off the bottle and jumped head first into a new group of friends and teachers. Like a champ is a safe way to describe it. 

Baby girl continues to amaze me.

Tips for Moving with a Toddler

And while I don’t want her to grow up any faster than she already has, I now believe that being able to check these transitions off the list in one giant swoop has made things much easier than anticipated. We started a totally brand new routine (for all three of us) all at once, rather than in baby steps. Like ripping off a bandaid. 

I will admit, we didn't just jump in blind. She did have some help from mom and dad along the way. There was a bit of planning and plenty of Googling “moving with a toddler” prior to. And while it worked for us (for the most part), tackling it this way may not work for others. I’m sure there are things that we could have done differently, but considering our fairly laid back parenting style (at least that’s what I like to believe), these steps worked for us.

Some steps that worked for us include, 
  • As we packed up our belongings, we constantly talked about “Morley’s new house”, in hopes that it would get her excited.
  • She recognizes places that we frequent, so seeing as our new house is right around the corner from grandpa, we would drive past during construction, pointing out where we would be living (including Morley’s new park across the street).
  • When it came time, we took her with us for the pre-inspection and finally to get the keys, which allowed her to see the space when it was empty.
  • We kept her in school for a few days after getting the keys, allowing us time to get some errands and the majority of painting done. 
  • We pulled her out of her first day care two weeks prior to starting her new daycare. This allowed her to have some “down time” at home with us as we set up the new house. (It also saved us two weeks’ worth of daycare fees.)
  • The first project we tackled was her bedroom, painting her walls and assembling her new bed. All that’s left is to hang some decor. (The BIG reveal to come soon.)
  • During the whole moving process, we made sure to take some time to relax and enjoy the new space, including morning trips to the park and walks to Starbucks (yes, those frequent locations we visit that she now knows include Starbucks).

And while it has gone as smooth as we could have hoped, it hasn't been all rainbows and unicorns. There have definitely been some challenges, including expressing her attitude and pushing the boundaries of what she is allowed to do and not do in her new house. But to be expected, she is only two after all. 

Now on to Googling the next big change - how to introduce a toddler to their new sibling without them hating him/her. Wish me luck. 


Have you moved with young children? Any tips or tricks? I’d love to hear!