December 21, 2018

Did You Know? Fun Facts about Reindeer

When people think of reindeer, they often visualize Rudolph and his team of friends flying through the midnight sky pulling the big man's sleigh. But, there is so much more to these fascinating Arctic creatures than stories have told. 

How much do you really know about this northernmost deer species? 

Here are 10 Fun Facts About Reindeer to impress your family and friends this holiday season.

In North America, reindeer found in the wild are actually called caribou. The word reindeer is only used to describe those that have become domesticated, or live close to people (such as Santa). However, in Europe they are all reindeer regardless of living in the wild or captivity.

Caribou are the northernmost deer species, found in the Arctic tundra and northern forests of North America, Europe, Asia and Russia.

Male caribou are called bulls, and as an adult average 350-400 pounds. Mature females, called cows, are smaller and average 175-225 pounds.

Caribou have the longest documented migration of any terrestrial animal. Like most herd animals, they must move to find adequate food, often traveling up to 3,000 miles or 5,000 km between summer and winter ranges in a single year. 

Caribou are a members of the deer family (which also contains elk, deer and moose). However, unlike other members of the deer family, both male and female caribou grow antlers. Antlers are made of bone, and when they are growing have a fuzzy covering, called velvet, which contains blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients for bone growth. When the velvet dies, the blood supply to the bone is cut off, causing the antlers to shed. This happens yearly. (As opposed to animals with horns, which grow with the animal throughout their entire life.) 

Caribou shed their antlers at different points in the year based on their sex and age. Adult bulls generally shed their antlers in late fall, early winter, after they have mated. Adult females and younger caribou carry their antlers much longer, often throughout the winter. Females' antlers don't fall off until after Christmas, which means Santa's reindeer are most likely all female. 

Caribou are built for the cold. They have a short, stocky body that helps conserve heat, and long legs to help move through the deep snow. Their winter coat contains hollow hair which traps air and provides insulation from the cold. 

Caribou are ungulates, which mean they are cloven-hoofed and chew cud. Their feet are built for walking in deep snow, as they have large, concave hooves that spread widely to help support them in snow and soft tundra. Their feet also function as paddles when they swim and as a scoop when looking for other lichens and plants in the snow.

Their scientific name is Rangifer tarandus, which comes from the Old French rangier, meaning “reindeer” and ferus ¸which is Latin for “wild and untamed”. The name "caribou" is French, and comes from the words "Mi'kmaq qualipu" meaning “snow shoveler,” referring to its habit of pawing through the snow for food.

Caribou are traditionally vital to indigenous northern people throughout much of their range. They are often hunted for subsistence and provide a rich source of red meat, a high protein food supply, and materials for the manufacture of handicrafts and artwork. Their hides are also uses for warmth, and often made into blankets and various articles of clothing.

Did you learn something new about reindeer? I'd love to hear your favourite fact!

*All photos property of To & Fro.

December 11, 2018

6 Tips for Winter Self-Care

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

Winter is coming... in 10 days. Can't you believe it? 

With the change in the calendar, comes the change in cold weather. And that cold winter air can be pretty harsh on our bodies - itchy skin, dry eyes, chapped lips and a stuffy nose are just the start of winter woes. Check out these 6 simple tips and tricks to beat the harsh effects of the coldest months.

6 Tips for Winter Self-Care

6 Tips for Winter Self-Care

1. Don't forget to moisturize.

From skating to snow shoeing and snowy walks, winter is full of fun activities. However, we all know the cold can take a toll on our skin. In the harsh winter months, you should be paying more attention to your skincare routine. Try exfoliating more, limiting hot water and using a moisturizer. DERMAL THERAPY® body lotion is one option to help relieve dry, cracked, and itchy skin. With alpha hydroxy acids, it helps to replace old dry skin to reveal new skin and will help keep your skin smooth during the winter.

6 Tips for Winter Self-Care

2. Stay on top of dry lips

Like your skin, your lips can also take a beating. Exfoliate your lips twice a week to help prevent chapping. You can do this at home with a simple homemade sugar scrub (sugar plus olive oil). Before you go to bed, make sure you apply a thick lip balm to bring back some of the moisture you may have lost during the day. 

3. Fight congestion

A stuffy nose and cold weather go hand-in-hand, and this can really dampen your day. Sleeping with an extra pillow to elevate your head, using a humidifier and taking hot steamy showers can help clear your congestion. You can also try a nasal spray like hydraSense® Medium Stream (100mL), which works by flushing out recessive mucus accumulation, relieving congestion caused by colds, allergies, environmental pollutants or upper respiratory tract infections. hydraSense is made from 100% naturally-sourced seawater and is free of any medications or preservatives. 

6 Tips for Winter Self-Care

4. Stay hydrated

You may be great at staying on top of your water intake during the summer because of the heat, but it is just as important to stay hydrated during the winter. Don’t forget to carry around a water bottle and drink regularly throughout the day.  Don't enjoy drinking water? Add some fruit or (my personal favourite) lemon slices for a bit of flavour. 

5. Combat dry eyes 

Cold winds and dry indoor heating are a recipe for eye discomfort. Make sure to give your eyes breaks during the day by looking away from your electronics or wearing glasses instead of contacts. hydraSense® Advanced for Dry Eyes Long Lasting Relief (10mL) is one option for effective, long-lasting relief for your irritated eyes. It is preservative-free and contains sodium hyaluronate, a clinically proven naturally sourced lubricant.   

6 Tips for Winter Self-Care

6. Get your rest

Less sunlight and the chaos of the holidays can often make you feel tired, so getting a good night’s sleep to restore your energy is especially important during this time of year. Try your best to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. If you have a hard time getting to sleep, try a relaxing night time routine, such as reading a book or gentle stretches. 

With fun outdoor activities and the holidays, the winter is an exciting time of year! Don’t let the harsh weather hold you back from doing what you love. 

What are your best winter care tips? 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


Winter Self-Care Tips


December 6, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide: (Almost) Every Type of Guy in Your Life

Is there a guy in your life that you’re having a hard time finding that perfect gift for? Check out To & Fro's Holiday Gift Guide for (Almost) Every Type of Guy in Your Life - a few of my husband’s tried and true favourites, plus a few new ones that I know he is going to love.
Holiday Gift Guide: For (Almost) Every Type of Guy

Lets face it, guys are hard to buy for. Period. And when it’s a guy that has everything, well, the bar has been raised.

Does this sound familiar for that guy in your life?

To help you out, I’ve sourced a mix of unique products and gadgets that will suit all of the dudes in your life. Whether he loves music, fashion, getting outdoors or anything in between, I've got you covered. You’re (almost) guaranteed to find something for the hardest person on your list below in the Gift Guide for (Almost) Every Type of Guy in Your Life.

You may also like these Gift Guides:
Toronto Experiences
The Outdoorsy Gentleman
Baby Sleep Essentials
Animal Children's Books

Holiday Gift Guide: (Almost) Every Type of Guy in Your Life

The Music Lover: FABRIQ Riff Speaker

The FARIQ Riff packs incredible sound in a fashionable, functional WIFI or Bluetooth-enabled speaker. Connects with Amazon Alexa at the tap of a button and can work with multiple FABRIQ speakers throughout your home to create the ultimate sound experience. 

Approximate retail value: $49.99 USD

The Fashionista:  Conscious Step Socks

Available at Ten Thousand Villages, Conscious Step makes fair trade organic socks with an artisan partner in New Delhi. The company was created to bring more awareness to the problems faced by the world today and the organizations fighting these problems. Their Socks for a Cause campaign matches a sock design with a non-profit organization, including planting trees and sending children to school). (Picture below: Socks for Oceans)

Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.

Approximate retail value: $20.00 CDN (through Ten Thousand Villages)

The Outdoorsman: Kamik Hudson5 Boots

Kamik’s Hudson5 men’s boots are a three-season boot perfect for city life. Their timeless, outdoor-inspired look coupled with the 3M Thinsulate insulation for warmth make them perfect for our Canadian winters. Feet will stay dry thanks to the weatherproof leather uppers and waterproof, lightweight rubber bottoms. The outsoles offer superior traction and maximum stability in all conditions, perfect for shovelling the driveway or playing outdoors with your kids.

If you love Kamik’s boots, then you’ll also love their new initiative - #FreeYourPlay. The #FreeYourPlay movement is Kamik’s invitation to encourage parents to step outside the overcrowded repetition of their family’s daily routine and to rediscover an offline-no-agenda creative balance with their kids! Learn more about it, here. 

Approximate retail value: $150.00 CDN
The Unreleased Stories is a special, all new collection of 13 stories by the beloved – and greatly missed –Stuart McLean. Laugh along with audiences from across the country as they enjoy stories about Canada’s favourite fictional family: Dave, Morley and the kids.

Approximate retail value: $32.80 CDN

The Adventurer: Knockaround Sunglasses 

Knockaround Sunglasses are perfect for the weekend adventures weekend adventurer who wants to be hard on their gear, but not on their wallet.

Knockaround is an industry leader that pioneered the affordably priced, high-quality sunglasses category more than ten years ago. The company offers superior value by providing products of comparable quality to premium brands at a much lower price. They are the perfect crossover shades, designed to integrate with an active lifestyle and take the wearer from fishing and hiking, to running and climbing, to cycling and paddling, to camping and hunting. Their eight stylish frame shapes just as easily segue into a day at the beach or a Sunday backyard cookout. They’re constructed from super lightweight, polycarbonate material and all feature FDA-approved, impact resistant lenses with full UV400 protection.

Approximate retail value: $10.00-$30.00 USD, depending on style

The Family Man: Other Life Lessons

In the picture book series, authors and Canadian moms Meaghan Hadwyn and Niki Snjaric tackle tough topics such as grief, entitlement and working moms. Their hope is to have a positive impact on children’s mental health by introducing difficult life lessons early on. They believe that life is a crazy, beautiful and incredible adventure but there are speed bumps along the way and moments that can be hard or unexpected. With their honest children's books, they share with children, as well as adults, the often-unspoken truths and struggles all of us face as we grow. Because if life is an adventure, we’re all exploring it together.

They are also donating a portion of all profits from the books to children’s mental health initiatives.

Approximate retail value: $11.99 CDN each or $30.00 for bundle of 3

The ConnoisseurPremium Cocktail Kit - The Old Fashioned

This handcrafted cocktail kit makes the perfect gift for any occasion or celebration. It's not just a gift, it's an experience. Each kit contains the premium ingredients needed to prepare six perfectly tasting Old Fashioned cocktails.

Approximate retail value: $28.99 

The Foodie: Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Food Meat Thermometer

Take the guesswork out of grill mastery with this thermometer that’ll let you track temps on your smartphone. The ThermoPro TP20 wireless remote thermometer with dual probes monitors food and/or oven/grill/smoker temperatures up to 300 feet away, enabling you to enjoy your company without continuously excusing yourself.

Approximate retail value: $59.99 

The Kodiak Plus Ultra is a waterproof, dust & dirt resistant, rugged power bank for your electronic devices. Your phone, GoPro, or other small electronics can get that additional power without the need to find a wall outlet. Additionally, the built-in 100 lumen LED light system has a hi-beam, low-beam, and SOS/strobe mode to help illuminate pretty much any situation. It's the perfect accessory to your digital life.

Approximate retail value: $69.95 USD

What are your favourite gift ideas for the guys in your life? Will any of these be under the tree this year? I’d love to hear!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

December 4, 2018

Our 24 Days of Kindness for Preschoolers Challenge

As parents, one of our greatest hopes is that our kids will turn out to be good people. But, how exactly do you get started in teaching your little ones about the importance of being kind? Check out this 24 Days of Kindness for Preschoolers challenge.

24 Days of Kindness for Preschoolers

If you follow me on Instagram and watch my IG stories, you would have heard when I announced that we were joining Kate and Emmett from Emmett’s ABCs in their 24 Days of Kindness for Preschoolers challenge.

Copying those around them is what toddlers do best. And since being kind is a learned behaviour, we as parents can do our best by practicing kindness ourselves. When it comes to teaching kindness, we have the powerful opportunity (and responsibility) to lead by example. 

Kate and Emmett developed their own list of daily challenges to complete between December 1 to 24, which can be found here. However, as Morley is not currently in school, we slightly adapted our daily challenges to fit our current lifestyle. 

Here are our 24 Days of Kindness:

  1. Smile at someone new.
  2. Share a toy.
  3. Share with mom and dad.
  4. Give someone a compliment. 
  5. Write a kind note to someone.
  6. Give a friend or family member a hug.
  7. Let someone have the first turn.
  8. Help give a younger sibling a bath.
  9. Tell a store cashier that you appreciate them.
  10. Buy a toy that you would love and them donate it.
  11. Take food to the dogs at the local shelter.
  12. Wish someone Happy Holidays.
  13. Make a handmade gift for someone you love.
  14. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  15. Pick up a piece of trash.
  16. Hold the door for the person behind you.
  17. Talk to someone new (with mom and dad’s ok).
  18. Give extra snuggles to your family pet or sibling.
  19. Let your sibling play with one of your favourite toys.
  20. Tell your mom or dad something you love about them.
  21. Help make dinner.
  22. Make a bird feeder and put it up.
  23. Choose three toys that you’d like to pass along to another little boy or girl.
  24. Recycle.
24 Days of Kindness for Preschoolers

Not only will these daily challenges help to teach our toddler kindness and its importance, but it will also to help develop her social skills. She’s an extremely social little girl (when she wants to be and around “her people”) but this challenge will break her out of her shell and force her to interact with strangers (with mommy and daddy's ok), of all ages. There are also lots of days that involve sharing, because as a toddler, that's not always easy thing to do. 

We may already be a few days into December, but it’s never too late to start or to practice kindness.

Start them young. Together, we can make the world a better place with acts of kindness both big and small. 

How do you teacher your children kindness? I’d love to hear!

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