April 18, 2019

Satisfying Our Wanderlust, Through Our Bellies

We didn’t take a big vacation this year. Between a new babe and a new house, it just wasn’t in the cards. And we’re ok with that because instead, we decided to keep it local, with a couple of day outings and weekend trips here and there. A stay-cation, if you will. 

*Disclosure: I’ve partnered with YMC and Moneris and have received compensation for this post. As always, all opinions and experiences are 100% that of To & Fro.

Despite enjoying our stay-cation, you could say we’re itching for an adventure. But, until we can get away (I’m looking at you Alaska 2020), one way that we satisfy our wanderlust to it revisit memories of trips from the past.

While we’ve had some great adventures, one trip that sticks out in our minds is from 2012, when we ventured to Kauai, Hawaii for our friends’ wedding. We spent 10 whole days exploring, and eating and drinking our way through, the island. It was definitely a memorable one.

Calii Love balloon mural

Now when I say we revisit memories from past trips to curb our wanderlust, I don’t mean we just look at photos. One of our favourite ways of “taking a trip down memory lane” is to also eat the food that we enjoyed while we were there.

Living in the big and diverse city of Toronto, almost any type of food you crave is essentially at your finger tips. (Ok, maybe not salmon straight out of the Kenai River in Alaska, but that’s why I said almost.) So, when we crave the poke bowls like the ones we had while relaxing on Hanalei Bay beach in Hawaii, we don’t have to travel far.

Calii Love King Street West Toronto Ontario Canada

On one of our more recent day outings downtown Toronto, we discovered Calii Love, on King St West. I have walked past it many times before (and have seen their unique insta-worthy photo ops all over social media), but had never ventured in.

Calii Love is a California- and Hawaii-inspired healthy lifestyle hub for all. It started from the idea that a grab and go food place could be more than just your everyday salads and bowls. They decided to take that experience and elevate it with positive emotions, wellness and a sense of community.

Vegans, vegetarians, chicken lovers, fish lovers, whether you’re dairy intolerant or gluten intolerant or simply want to enjoy a great coffee or latte, you will find something you enjoy at Calii Love. And enjoy we sure did.

Calii Love angel wings mural

With every offering on their menu named after a feeling, they literally allowed us to “eat our feelings” of our trip to Hawaii. I enjoyed the “Amazing” signature poke bowl - filled with fresh tuna and salmon - while reminiscing about how much of an amazing vacation it really was.  

You know what else I love about this place? Every decision made at Calii Love starts with a respect for the ingredients, the purpose for those ingredients and where they come from. This includes mindfully sourcing ingredients to meet sustainability standards. As someone with a deep respect for the environment, and especially the ocean, I love that they only use sustainably harvested Ocean Wise-certified seafood in their bowls.

Calii Love Amazing Signature Poke Bowl
Calii Love King Street West Toronto Ontario Canada

Not only did Calii Love allow us to eat delicious, fresh food and relive some great memories from our time in Hawaii, visiting also allowed us to support a local, small business. Supporting our local business owners has never been more important. You know who else is committed to supporting local? Moneris. They are here to make transactions easy for both merchants and retailers, thanks to their payment solutions for every type of business.

Ok, so it may not be exactly the same as sitting on a beautiful beach, watching the waves crash against the sand while enjoying a fresh poke bowl, BUT Calii Love did allow use to relive those memories, while eating local and enjoying a delicious lunch with our little family. And that is something I can support.

I would love to hear - what are your favourite ways to satisfy your wanderlust?


April 16, 2019

Baby Feeding Favourites: 8 Months

It’s been approximately three months since we started little sister on solid food, and two months since I shared my baby feeding favourites for six month olds.

Man, oh man, time sure flies.

baby in Peg Perego Prima Pappa Zero 3 highchair

Now that the little one is eight months old, her feeding habits have definitely changed.

We’ve gone from strictly breast milk to adding cereal and purees to now teaching her to self-feed with baby-led weaning.

I will admit, baby-led weaning can be scary for parents - not knowing how baby will react to feeding themselves, if they’ll know to chew or not put so much in their mouths, etc. But, nervousness aside, it is also a great opportunity to develop their hand-eye coordination, independence and confidence while eating. While the mess they make may not be fun to clean up, it is fun to watch them discover this new “skill” of feeding themselves. 

Before I share our baby feeding favourites for eight months, make sure to check out my breastfeeding journey (and how we taught our toddler what it means) hereI know I’m not alone in the struggle, and am thrilled that my second time around, I have been able to breastfeed this long. But, I am also glad food has now been introduced, because mama (and her boobs) need a break!

Baby Feeding Favourites: 8 Months

Ok, and now to the point of this post…

When it comes to feeding the babe, the products you use are definitely important to making it a comfortable and positive experience for both the feeder and the eater. 

I am not an expert. Every baby is different. What we do and the products we love may not work for others. Because of that, this post does not contain advice on how to start eating solids. Instead, this post contains the current products we use and love for feeding our eight month old.

Baby Feeding Favourites: 8 Months

While this drying rack has an almost permanent place on our kitchen counter, when not in use, it folds for easy storage. It is also easy to clean. Since the babe doesn’t really use a pacifier anymore or take bottles (it’s a real struggle), we mostly use this for drying sippy cups, toys, etc.

This handy dishwasher caddy fits pacifiers, spoons,nipples and bottle tops, sippy cup lids, etc. so that they don’t get lost in the dishwasher. It comes in blue, pink and green. Like the drying rack, we mostly use it for zippy cups, spoons, toys, etc.

This highchair offers offers convenience and functionality in the form of an ultra-compact high chair. It fits perfectly in our small space because when not in use, it  folds compactly and with little effort. It can be used from birth because of its full recline and the 7 height positions enable the high chair to grow with child. The removable tray cover is also dishwasher-safe, which is key for the self-feeding babe.

This all-in-one placemat and plate suctions to the table, and is perfect for the self-feeder (age 6+ months). It is made from 100% food-grade silicone that is BPA, BPS, PVC, latex and phthalate-free. One of the things I love about it is that portion sizes (i.e., the eyes and smile) are catered to infants at 2oz, 2oz and 4oz. It also comes in a variety of colours, and fits most high chair trays. We use the mat at home (to try and keep things a bit tidier) but we have also used it at restaurants and at a resort on vacationto help keep food off the table.

The babe is not a fan of bottles, so when she started drinking water, we moved right to this spout cup (for babies 6+ months). This BPA-free spill-proof 7 oz. sippy cup comes with soft touch handles that make it easy for your little one to comfortably take their first sips without the mess. The handles are also good to chew on for that teething babe.

Whether your babe is eating purees or finger foods, these bibs are handy to have around. They will keep clothes clean, have a handy pocket to catch the castaways, are easy to clean and can be rolled up to be packed away in the diaper bag.

These infant spoons contain the patented White Hot System - the spoon tip turns white when baby’s food is too hot so you know exactly when to feed and when to wait and let it cool. The tapered spoon bowl is comfortable for little mouths, and the soft tips are gentle on gums. These spoons are BPA-and phthalate-free and top rack dishwasher-safe.

The lid allows us to pack food in the diaper bag without having to worry about spills.

9. Baby Mum Mum Rice Rusks 
These “cookies” are not only a snack for the babe, but also help with their hand-eye coordination.

10. Gerber Puffs
An alternative to the rick rusk cookies, these puffs are good to help develop hand-eye coordination, and some in a variety of different flavours. 

And since babes learning to self-feed aren't the tidiest eaters, you may also want to invest in this upholstery cleaning tool that we swear by to clean up after both the babe AND toddler.

baby in Peg Perego highchair

What Is She Eating and How Much?

I have had a lot of people ask what she is currently eating at 8 months old. Let's just say, she has a pretty hearty appetite and palette to go with it.

Here is what she is currently eating:
- Avocado
- Banana
- Blueberries
- Broccoli
- Carrot
- Cauliflower
- Chicken
- Corn
- Cous cous
- Egg (scrambled or hardboiled)
- Mango
- Oats
- Pear
- Peas
- Quinoa
- Rice noodles
- Salmon
- Star pasta
- Strawberries
- Sweet potato

When we are at home, I have moved away from purees. Usually I will save those if we go out for dinner, to make less of a mess. When I cook the food for her, I will usually make enough to last a few days, and store it in small containers in the fridge. I don't have a set menu for her, I kind of just pick and choose at meal time, making sure to switch it up each time. She is eating three times a day - around 8am, 12pm and 6pm, with breastfeeding sessions before nap and bedtime and puffs/rice crackers as snack in between.

*Always remember, to check with your family physician/paediatrician before you start feeding your baby solids.

Am I missing anything? What are your favourite baby feeding essentials? I’d love to hear!

And as always, if you have any questions about what she is currently eating, etc., please reach out!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. View To & Fro’s full disclosure policy, here.

April 12, 2019

Raising a "Condo Kid" in Toronto

I grew up in a small(ish) city in southwestern Ontario. My backyard had tall trees and a play structure. There was enough space that it was host to some pretty epic soccer games in the summer, and a homemade ice rink in the winter. It was far from the big city of Toronto, in more ways than just distance.

Raising a Condo Kid in Toronto

We knew shortly after getting married that Toronto would be the place where we would set our roots. When we moved back to Ontario after years of being away, the big city had welcomed us with open arms, to family and new jobs. It was the city of opportunity, and essentially, unlimited possibility. 

What is wasn't, was the city of affordable homes. Especially for these two first time home buyers. 

But that didn't mean we were completely out of the home buying game. Instead, we turned to something more affordable. A condo.

I will admit, at first, buying and living in a condo seemed foreign to me. It would be a much smaller space than we were both used to, and it would be lacking one thing... a backyard. How could we raise our future children without a backyard? How could we raise a "condo kid"?

Raising a Condo Kid in Toronto

When we set out on the “great condo search”, we had a few big criteria. The condo had to be in a good neighbourhood, with good schools. It needed to be walking-friendly. And, probably most importantly, it needed to be close to parks and green spaces that were kid-friendly. If we weren’t going to have that big backyard, open green spaces needed to be close by. 

Bottom line, it needed to be family-friendly. 

Turns out, we were not alone in the condo search. There are more families living this way than you may think. Nationally, one in eight households lives in condos or apartments (*according to the 2011 National Household Survey). In Toronto alone, 66% of households with children lived in condos or apartments in downtown Toronto, and 32% throughout the whole of the city. And today, I’m sure that number has only grown.

Raising a Condo Kid in Toronto

So, with our family-friendly criteria in mind, did we find what we were looking for? 

You bet we did. 

We’ve been in our condo for just shy of a year now. When we bought, it was just the two of us, with only one child in mind. Fast forward a few years, and now there are four of us are happily calling our family-friendly abode home.

>> You may also like: The Story Behind the Move or The Stress of Moving

The building itself checked all of this growing family’s requirements off the list. We absolutely love the neighbourhood, and our oldest has already started pointing our her "big girl" school just down the street.  In 10 minutes, we can walk to the grocery store. And in 20, we're at the beach. Access to public transit is mere steps from the front door. 

We have a generous-sized terrace that is large enough to function as an outdoor room. It provides an extension of our living space and a play space for the girls, with sight lines from the kitchen, living room and master bedroom. It may not be a backyard but it is a safe and convenient way for them to access fresh air. It is also home to two large garden boxes, which this spring and summer will allow us to grow our own food, further providing an opportunity to connect our children to the outdoors while living several feet off the ground.  

Raising a Condo Kid in Toronto

The condo’s large rooftop patio gives us a great place to host family gatherings or just relax, while enjoying an elevated view of Toronto’s beautiful skyline. I’m especially looking forward to being able to see the Canada Day fireworks over the lake this summer, without having to leave our building and face the crowds at the boardwalk. Tending to our plot in the rooftop community garden will be a great way to get outdoors in the spring and summer. It will not only be another opportunity to harvest our own produce, but also a way to teach our oldest where our food comes from. 

The park across the street has a baseball diamond, public pool and large play structure. It is filled with dogs, and in the winter months, avid tobogganers. When the weather warms, it will be host to many picnics with the girls, and, like my childhood backyard, maybe even the odd soccer game.

So, we may not have the backyard I had imagined in our first home, but I would say the outdoor opportunities our condo provides are pretty damn close. And after the past 11 months we’ve had in our first home, raising a condo kid doesn’t seem so scary to me anymore.

Raising a Condo Kid in Toronto

So if you're in the market for a new family home in Toronto, but are scared away by both price and availability, I recommend looking into a condo. As Toronto’s overheated real estate prices keep young families and first time homebuyers out of the market, many are looking to condos as an alternative. Toronto builders recognize this and have begun offering more. 

The Daniels Corporation is one of those builders. They are creating amenities that people will actually use, with an array tailored specifically to families - including kids play zones, innovative outdoor space, mega gyms, co-working spaces, arcades, climbing walls, expansive green spaces that allow kids to run around, garden plots and communal areas to foster a sense of community. And it doesn’t just stop there. They have suites designed specifically with families in mind - from 2 bedroom to 3 bedroom + den layouts, with open concept living spaces, there is plenty of room for growing families. Family-friendly living at its finest.

Whether you live in a condo or a house, what are some of the must-haves you look for in finding a family home? I’d love to hear!

*Disclosure: I have participated in a paid partnership with Daniels. Opinions in this post are my own.

April 9, 2019

Getting Outside for Maternal Mental Health

Chasing after littles all day can be exhausting. Am I right?! So much so that the thought of self care often slips from your mind. Your own maternal mental health no longer seems like a priority. But, it absolutely should be.

Read on to learn one of the ways that I make my mental health a priority, without sacrificing the time spent with my kids.

Getting Outside for Maternal Mental Health

I am a homebody. I enjoy a good couch sit and TV binge session like the next guy. BUT, I also know that getting outside is good for you. The outdoors is my happy place.

One of my favourite ways to take care of my mental health is to get outside with the girls.

But, it never was that way.

When our second gal came along, it took me a while to reconnect with Mother Nature. Getting myself dressed, baby dressed and (fighting to get) our “three-nager” dressed was a chore. It was just easier to stay in and avoid Mother Nature all together. 

It took days, maybe even weeks, of my husband asking where we were going to walk that day, reminding me to get dressed, pull my shit together and go outside. Staying indoors just wasn’t me. Avoiding the outdoors wasn’t who I am. And he knew that.

So, I finally snapped out of it. I finally remembered how much the outdoors makes me happy and realized that getting outside is worth it because in the long run, I feel better. 

Getting Outside for Maternal Mental Health

In today’s day, psychologists and health researchers are finding more and more science-backed reasons as to why we should go outside and enjoy the natural world. A simple visit to the outdoors, whether it be an afternoon walk or an overnight camping trip, can do wonders for relieving anxiety, stress, and depression. 

Just a few minutes outdoors and you’ll discover yourself that nature has a positive effect on your mental health. What you see, hear, and experience in nature can instantly improve your mood.

Exactly what I need with two small children who (lovingly) suck the life out of me.

Getting Outside for Maternal Mental Health

As I mentioned before, one of my favourite ways to take care of my mental health is to get outside WITH the girls. 

Most days, we go for a walk - a win win for all of us. When we go for a walk, the girls get to take a nap (an extended one, if I’m lucky). And for me, it’s not only a way to clear my head but pushing a double stroller is a bit of a workout. 

Getting Outside for Maternal Mental Health

When I’m out for a walk, one of my favourite things to do is to put on a pair of headphones and listen to some tunes or even a podcast. But what if the girls wake up or need something, you wonder? Well, I’ve got that covered with my AfterShokz Trekz Air headphones

Seriously, these headphones are a total game changer. They use bone conduction technology to deliver music through your cheekbones, ensuring your ears remain completely open to hear ambient sounds. 

At first, I was a little hesitant. It felt weird not having something in my ear. But, after a few minutes, I was used to being able to hear the ambient nose of the cars passing me and the neighbourhood dogs barking as I walked down the sidewalk and through our local park. And, when you’re walking down a busy street, with a toddler who asks for a snack every 4 seconds, being able to hear is definitely key.

Getting Outside for Maternal Mental Health

AfterShokz Trekz Air headphones come in four different colours (slate grey, forest green, midnight blue and canyon red) and retail for $189.95 Canadian. Learn more abut AfterShokz Trekz Air here.

So, it may have taken a few months postpartum with baby number two, but I’ve finally realized that not only does my mental health matter for myself, but my mental health also matters because without tending to it, I can’t be the happiest or healthiest that I can be for my family.

A mother’s mental health is everything. It’s time to start focusing on yours.

Follow #ShokzSquadCAN on social to see what the rest of the review team is saying about these headphones!

As a parent, how do you tend to your mental health? I’d love to hear!

Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with AfterShokz and PTPA Media. I have received products and/or compensation in exchange for this post, however, all opinions and advice shares are 100% that of To & Fro.


How to Take Care of Your Maternal Mental Health


April 5, 2019

Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

Being on maternity leave is a wonderful thing. You have the opportunity to bond with your baby in a way you never could if you were working. But on the other hand, being on maternity leave can also be isolating. I won’t sugarcoat it. Being at home all day with someone who is constantly eating, sleeping, pooping and who doesn’t talk back, can be lonely.

Yes, even when that constant eating, pooping and sleeping machine is as cute is the little gal below. 

Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

So, how do I pass the time? How do I break up the monotony of eat, sleep, poop?

I binge watch my favourite Netflix Canada shows.

I know, I know. That kind of makes me sound like a couch potato.

“Shouldn’t you be doing other things while your baby sleeps, like laundry or dishes?” you may think. Not a chance. After being awake multiple times per night, when babe is asleep, the last thing I want to be doing is wasting what little energy I have left. Instead, I sit in my recliner and relax. 

If you ask me, I deserve it - the relaxation, the “me time” while babe naps. And if you’re on maternity leave and are feeling the exact same way, SO DO YOU.

Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

So that brings me to the point of this post. Looking for a new show to binge on Netflix? Here’s a list of my current favourites.


Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

Remember innocent Dan from Gossip Girl? Well, after watching You, you definitely won’t look at him the same way. Dan (or in this show, Joe) is a charming bookstore manager obsessed with an aspiring writer, who goes to extreme measures to insert himself into her life. In the age of social media, this show will leave you cringing at how real it is and how easily something similar could happen.

Workin’ Moms

Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

Probably one of my favourite Canadian TV shows. I first started watching when I was on maternity leave with my first, and now I can’t stop. It is so raw and so real, and doesn’t hold back. It will take your hormonal body through all of the emotions as you follow the lives of four moms as they return to work while navigating kids, bosses, love and life in modern-day Toronto. Like I said, all of the emotions - I bawled my eyes out at the thought of going back to work when I first started watching.

Dirty John

Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

First, watch the real-life documentary. And then, once you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor, watch the series based on Debra Newell's real-life relationship with John Meehan. Seriously, how can someone be such a psychopath?!


Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

Dynasty is an American prime time television soap opera reboot based on the 1980s series of the same name. While I have never watched the original, I can tell you that this one is full of drama and rich girl whininess. Yes, you will probably despise Fallon Carrington and her privilege, but the drama will keep you hooked. 


Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

My high school experience was definitely nothing like Archie, Betty, Veronica or Jughead’s, that’s for sure. Murder, sex, conspiracy, drugs – there’s something for everyone in this teen drama. Considering it’s about high school kids, I feel a little too old/creepy to be tuning in each week, but I can’t stop watching. 

Selling Sunset

Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

If you loved watching The Hills or even Laguna Beach back in the day, then you will surely love Selling Sunset. Think of it as “the grown up version” of The Hills. Still so out of touch for us regular folk (seriously, what are you doing to be able to buy a $4 million dollar house for your first home?!), but fun to see how the other half lives. Full of girl power and so. much. drama.

Friends From College

Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

The premise of this sitcom is that twenty years after graduation, a tight-knit group of college friends reconnects and discovers that love hasn't gotten easier with age. While I am only a decade out from graduating from university (holy hell, it’s been 10 years already?!), I can relate to some of their antics - friends getting married, job changes, decisions to have babies, etc. We’re definitely not in university anymore…


Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

Oh, the drama! This darkly comic series is about a con artist that lures her targets into marriage and then takes off with their fortunes. At first, I thought it was a “chick flick” type show, but I totally got my husband hooked. We burned through the first season (and currently the only season) on Netflix super quick. I think it’s because we felt so bad for the poor guys…

Life Below Zero

Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

This reality adventure series follows individuals who've chosen to live in the remote Alaskan wilderness, miles from civilization. Obviously the Alaskan piece of my heart is obsessed with this show. I get it is a bit of a different choice to binge on, but still one filled with drama. Will they catch enough caribou to survive the winter? Will a bear or wolf attack? Oh, the suspense! For all of the Alaskan reality shows out there these days, I find this one the most realistic. And it’s a National Geographic Emmy-winning reality series, so you have to give it some credit.

And there you have it, my recommendation for shows to binge watch while on maternity leave. Or any time you're in need of a little couch sit/background noise...

What are some of your favourite Netflix shows to binge watch? I'd love to hear! I'm always looking for new ones to add to my "must-watch" list.

*photo credit: Netflix


Netflix Shows to Binge During Maternity Leave

Blog Design Created by pipdig