FabFitFun Editor’s Box Review

Have you received any box subscription? I had seen FabFitFun box advertisements for almost a year now and even had them on my Christmas list as a possible gift idea.  I had read reviews and seen promo codes and always thought it was something I wanted to try.  If you don’t know what they’re all about check out there website here.

Another neat thing about the seasonal boxes is that you are able to shop ‘add ons” to add to your box.  These are companies that partner with FabFitFun and offer their products to members at a discounted price.

 

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Recently I saw that there was a promo going on for more discounts on a subscription in addition to the promo of $10 off that I have seen all over the internet.  I knew that with more savings it was the time to make my move.  Since I was signing up before the Spring Box was due to be sent out I was gong to be receiving an Editor’s Box first, which is a collection of past box favourites.

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This past Monday I was super excited to receive my box in the mail.  I am generally really happy with what I received.  It contained 9 items valued at $257.98.  All the items were full size, not samples, and I am quite pleased with the colours of things I received, as I have a hard time pulling the trigger when looking at lipsticks.  Here is a peek at what I received!

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Blanket Scarf from Modcloth: I like that this scarf is neutral and Modcloth can be expensive to buy in Canada.  I already have a ton of blanket scarfs due to last the blanket scarf debacle of 2015 (i got 6!!) but I have someone in mind who would appreciate it and has a birthday coming up.

To-Go Coffee Cup from The Created Co.: This is my favourite item in the box and I was holding my breath in hope that I would get it in my box. I love coffee, I love handwritten goodies and I love graphic print anything so this is just perfect!

Colouring book and Pencils from Pencils for Promise: Love the pictures in this colouring book- a mix of intricate and larger area images.  The coloured pencils don’t work that well but I can look past that because a) I got a pack of 100 for Christmas (thanks to my awesome Mother-in-Law) and b) the company is a charity that donates money to educate children in developing countries.

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ORG Skincare Mineral Peel: I have not had a chance to use this yet as I am in a really good skincare routine groove but I will probably try it soon.

Manna Kadar Liplocked Priming Gloss Stain: I.Love.This. It is the perfect colour for me and it goes on so nice and doesn’t scream LOOKATMYLIPSTICK but still helps me look put together.  And the retail price is $24! I would never have paid that for a lipstick…

Zoya Nail polish in Rue: Another homerun! I would have bough this shade for myself and I have used Zoya in the past so it is a nice addition to my (ever-growing) nail polish collection! Check two pictures down for a glimpse of the colour.

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Necklace from Jook and Nona: Another item that I am in love with! I saw that this was available as a Spring Add-On and considered adding it and was so surprised to see it came in the box! It is dainty and gold- two things that I love!

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Marrakesg Argan and Hemp Hair Oil: I was happy to receive this as I had been contemplating adding a leave-in conditioning treatment to my routine and was pretty much paralyzed by the vast amount of choices out there.  I was glad to have someone else make the choice for me, really.  I used this after my most recent hair wash and was pretty pleased. My hair is noticeably softer and not greasy.  The smell is pretty good too!

Anderson Lilley Beach Butter Body Cream: Another hit! I love the smell of this and I think I am quite picky when it comes to smell. I also like that this is super hydrating and not greasy- because I think I am quite picky with how a cream feels too. I have super cracked and dry hands and feet right now from our rollercoaster water and since using this for the past three nights I have actually noticed a big difference in my hands.  Another product that is beyond the price that I would have paid for it blindly.  I see it is sold out on the website right now for Spring Add-ons and I completely understand why! I think I will try to nab it in the summer though! 

 

Because I was technically between seasons with my sign-up, I should be receiving the Spring box in the next couple weeks.  That is partly why I signed up when I did, plus the additional discount.

 

#Iamwhole30!

I am so proud of myself!

I don’t get the opportunities to say this often so I just really wanted to start off with that. I went 30 days without eating added or natural sugars (besides fruit), alcohol, grains, dairy and legumes- hello- no cheese, peanut butter, wine or chocolate!! And I drank so.much.black.coffee…

 

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Before starting the Whole 30 challenge I was so skeptical. Skeptical that it wouldn’t have any difference on my life and skeptical that I could even do it.  Both of those fears were blown out of the water after the first two weeks.  I had no idea the effect that food could have on my body- how I felt and my energy levels, until I got into a pretty steady groove with Whole 30.  Two weeks in I had so much energy by the time my kids went to bed I was floored! I also noticed that my Rheumatoid Arthritis pain and stiffness got better and better until at the two week point I woke up and thought ‘I actually feel no pain at all’.. two more weeks later and that is still the truth! (Now I don’t want to go making false promises to anyone, I am not an expert, but this is my experience and I am so grateful for some light at the end of this long tunnel!)

Perhaps 10 days in of eating Whole 30 dinners, my husband (who is a farmer and pro-eatingwhateverhewants) said to me, “I didn’t think this diet was going to have any effect on me, but I feel amazing!” That right there friends should be enough encouragement for anyone to start Whole 30!

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It isn’t to say that I didn’t have challenges- I sure did want to eat chocolate after supper and have wine on Friday nights. But I knew that it was worth trying and in the end I am glad that my willpower allowed me to complete this! In the 30 days, I was faced with:

4 family dinners

1 potluck

2 weekend activities that included drinking

1 birthday (with the most delicious- looking cake)

1 skate on the canal that included Beaver Tails

All of these would have been perfect circumstances for me to just say ‘forget it’ and eat the pasta my mother-in-law made, or have a glass of wine, or justify that our only family trip skating deserves me a Beaver Tail…and all the work in the preceding days would have been down the drain.

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I persevered and now I can say that I am Whole 30!  Look for future posts where I share some of my favourite recipes- many of which will be in our meal planning rotation for dinners to come!

Have you tried Whole 30 before? What did you find difficult or easy about it?

 

 

What I did this week instead of blogging- a memoir

Hello Friends! It is Friday and here in Ontario it feels like Spring! Well, to be honest, today feels like Winter but yesterday was 12 degrees and tomorrow is supposed to be 16 degrees and the snow is melting away and the birds are singing.. heck, I even had the windows open yesterday!

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This week has been a great one for me personally, but as far as blogging goes, this is the first time I have looked at WordPress all week! But I think I am ok with it. I blog because I like writing and I like having an outlet for anything creative I want to do – which is quite little, but hey! at least it’s here.

So this week instead of blogging I actually was able to get quite a bit done, including:

-Coursework for my Masters- I am quite ahead now and there is just 3 weeks left this semester!

-Spending lots of time at my family’s Sugar Shack. It is maple syrup time and everyone is working hard to stay on top of it!

-Cleaning my house and purging unwanted items. This felt glorious as I am someone who tends to feel suffocated by clutter and ‘stuff’.  This was also a February goal so I am glad I got it done!

-Grocery Shopping and errands.

-Walking (outside!!)

I did have some time this morning to sit down and plan out my March posts and I am really looking forward to getting those posts written!

What did you spend your week doing?

How Whole 30 is Affecting our Budget.

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One of my February goals was to do Whole 30.  Currently, I am on day 18 and actually (very surprisingly) loving it! I am starting to see some changes in my energy, skin, joint pain and how my pants fit. All great things!

I was hesitant when I started because I was worried that by eliminating grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, alcohol, etc. from my diet, I would have to spend lots of money on specialty ingredients (like almond flour and health-food section items) and that I would have to make two sets of meals- one that is compliant for me and another for the rest of my family that they will actually eat.

I could not have been more wrong about this and I am so excited to admit it! What is great about Whole 30 is that once you get used to grocery shopping and meal planning, there is actually a lot of things you can eat that are ‘normal’ ingredients.. it just takes a little playing around and label reading to understand what you can do within the parameters of the program.
Some staples in my shopping and meals have been eggs, avocados, salmon, fresh veggies, butcher shop meats and balsamic vinegar.  I am someone who doesn’t mind eating the same thing for a few days so I have embraced repeat recipes to use up all my ingredients.  We have had very little food waste, very tasty dinners and my husband has even remarked how easy it has been to accommodate this lifestyle change.

I have noticed that since I am sticking to the plan of Whole 30, I am not eating any ‘treats’ or takeout food while I am in town.  Since I live in a rural area it takes a bit of effort to get into my car and grab something to eat so that wasn’t really a concern before, but I was certainly working Quesada and Starbucks into my errands and treating myself with sweets in my grocery cart. I have found that our grocery bill (while still a lot higher than I would like, is reflecting the veto-ing of these treats).  I have also noticed that a lot of my personal spending money goes into Starbucks lattes and lunches out while running errands. When I am not spending money on food…I am actually spending personal money on very little else! I am excited to see the exact numbers but know that my bank account will actually be in a better place at the end of February.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the results of this Whole 30. I was skeptical at first for a bunch of reasons.  This added bonus of saving money is a fantastic incentive to keep going!

Have you done a Whole 30 before? I would love to hear any tips you have for me!

Non-Elaborate Valentine’s Day Plans for the Whole

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This is one of those ‘holidays’ that people find pretty contentious.  Some people complain it is too ‘commercial’, that it was invented by greeting card companies, etc.  In my opinion,  I think it is important, especially these days, to show people you care by going a little bit out of your way to spread kindness.

My husband and I have never been ones to go all out and celebrate in a big way, but we have always taken the time to do something a little big special for one another.  In the past we have done dinners out or cooked something special together at home, seen movies and went out on other special dates.

This year with two kids and my doing Whole 30, there will be no special ‘treats’ and no going out, however, I am still going to cook a nice dinner and give my husband and kids a little something special.

Something my husband and I have learned to embrace since having two kids is what I like to call ‘DIY date nights”.  After the kids go to bed we will have our own dinner, or even just watch a movie or a couple episodes of whatever show we are watching while enjoying a Mug cake.  (Find the best ever recipe here)

Some other ideas for enjoying Valentine’s Day and not breaking the bank or raising expectations for next year..

Enjoy an outdoor/seasonal activity together. We have lots of snow here and it is very cold.  Yesterday as a family we went skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.  It was a perfect opportunity to embrace the weather and enjoy doing something a little bit different together.  You could try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.  Maybe try a picnic outside if you live somewhere warm or an outdoor movie projected at home.

Bake a special Dessert. Kids in the kitchen can sometimes be a crazy nightmare.  I like baking with my daughter and she LOVES helping but it can get a little overwhelming. I try to stick to simple, non-labour-intensive recipes (like premade cookie dough or mixes) so that the hard/messy steps are already taken care of and the results are kind of easy to anticipate.

Family Movie Night with Special Snacks. There are a lot of kid’s movies out there that have a lot of value added for parents.  Pop in a family-favourite or a new movie and snuggle up together.  Adding some smarties or other little chocolatey treat to popcorn is a delicious and fun way to tie in the Valentine’s Day theme.

Read Valentine’s Books Before Bed. Tonight before bed, I plan to read some books from our Valentine’s- themed Book Basket. Some of our favourites have been Where is Baby’s Valentine?, Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George, The Giving Tree and Babylit’s Romeo and Juliet. 

-Take time to do small acts of kindness for one another. This is so simple and should not be limited to Valentine’s Day.  If you husband always takes out the garbage and you notice it is time again for it to be taken out, do it for him, or have your children help you and explain how it is kind to do this for daddy.  If your children are artistic or enjoy coats or colouring, have them make a Valentine’s card or picture for one another and explain how making things for other people is kind.

 

What are your Valentine’s Plans? Do you go all out or prefer a more simple approach?

 

Homemade Baby Food

I have been finding that with my second child I am looking for ways to take shortcuts. How can I do x,y and z quicker/better/not at all… One thing that I have not opted out of for Baby boy is making my own baby food.  I did this for my daughter and really liked the process and the results.  Now with a preschooler, a baby and a Master’s degree and a blog al competing for the same 24 hours each day it could be quite easy to throw up my hands in defeat and buy it each time I go to the grocery store.  But I am not doing that.  I enjoy playing with flavour combinations and textures and just knowing what is going into the food I am making (I have no problem whatsoever with the baby food sold in grocery stores and I have bought it a few times for baby boy already, I am not saying that there is any reason not to buy it premade!). 

I thought I would give you a run down of my process, my tools and my favourite combinations, in case you might be interested in making your own.  I am by no means an expert but I have made quite a bit over the past 3 years, perhaps I have a little insight or experience to share.

Tools:

For AB’s baby food, I used a Baby Bullet and it worked great, although I did not find it held up to extended use and now it is no longer suitable to use.  I now use a regular blender and find the results to be pretty much the same in consistency and texture, but I do have to let it run a bit longer.  I also use baby cubes (found here), the 6 baby bullet containers that came with the blender, the frozen batch container and small mason jars (similar to these). (disclaimer: be careful when freezing glass containers!)

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Process: 

The first thing I like to do when preparing to make baby food is to write down what I want to make.  I list what combinations and what single-flavour purees I want.  I do this for two reasons. One, once water gets boiling and things get blending it can be hard to remember what to do next, so I find having a plan helps me know what to do next.  Second, I like to make sure that I am not planning to do combinations that will result in all the same coloured purees (think all orange, or all green). I don’t know if this is true but I heard/read that feeding your child too many orange foods can result in orange skin- who knows!? But it’s good to keep in mind!

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Next I cook the foods until they are very soft- I know when they are soft enough when I can cut them open just with a fork.  I bake squash in the oven (350 degrees for 90 minutes) but the rest of fruits and vegetables I steam in a steel strainer over a big pot of boiling water. Softer foods like bananas and avocados do not need to be cooked first.

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Once all the foods are soft enough I put the steamed/soft food in the blender with a bit of water. It can be tricky to know how much water to add since the water content of different foods vary.  I like to err on the side of less is more and always add water if it isn’t blending smooth enough.  Avocados require lots of water to get blending.  Squash requires little water because it is runny enough.  Tip: if your purees come out too runny in the end you can add rice cereal to thicken it up!

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Finally, when the puree is smooth (my son is still eating very smooth, texture-free purees- your child might prefer more chunky or thick) I pour it into individual servings while still hot and freeze right away.  One exception to freezing right away would be if you planned to use it up quickly.

Favourite Combinations:

I like to play around with mixing different fruits, vegetables and grains to get my son the most options possible. Some favourite ‘recipes’ include banana and peanut butter mixed with Gerber oat cereal, pear-carrot, apple-broccoli, pear-broccoli-carrot, sweet potato-apple, squash-pear, avocado-apple.  I sometimes look to the pouches (similar to here) in the grocery stores to see what combinations I can try to re-create at home.

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And that’s it! It really isn’t too hard and does not take too much time! I find it quite rewarding and because I try to relieve inconveniences in other areas, I just feel really good about doing this!

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Do you have any tips for me?  Any combinations? Anything I am missing? I would love to hear any suggestions in the comments!

 

 

 

Leading Ladies- Interview #2

It’s that time again! Another post about another awesome lady who kicks butt at her creative pursuit.  Check out my first interview here if you missed it!

I would like you all to meet Jen.  I have known Jen since we were both very young.  We did figure skating together through our childhood and went to high school together.  I took English classes with Jen late in high school and I could tell then something great was going to come out of her knack for writing.

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“With several years experience working in the fashion industry, Jen made the choice to switch gears and work from home as a freelance digital content writer. Working for clients across Canada and internationally, Jen regularly writes blogs, website content, press releases, white papers, and more for a variety of clients in a variety of industries.”

Q. How would you best describe what you do?

A. I’m a freelance digital content writer, so I write blogs, web pages, press releases and more for a variety of clients. I also work as a community manager for some businesses, managing their Facebook and Twitter channels.

Q. Describe the path that led you to your current work.

A. I had a great job as a booking agent for a modeling agency. Since I was a kid my goal was to work in fashion, but once I achieved my goal I found that it wasn’t really making me happy. I loved the company, the models, my coworkers, my boss, but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I knew I had to do something for me. So I took the jump and decided to do something that related to my journalism diploma, and decided to write. I kind of fell into freelancing.

Q. On average, how much time would you say that you work each week?

A. It really depends on the month, things kind of ebb and flow, but in the past year I’ve been able to turn freelancing into a full-time gig. I’d say I have at least 30-40 hours of work per week.

Q. What are some important skills that you have that make you well-suited to your work?

A. I’m very motivated and disciplined. Every day I give myself a small goal, say, writing 10 pages, and I don’t stop until I reach that goal. I’m also crazy organized, which is important when you have several projects on the go.

Q. What is the best part about your work?

A. I really love how my work is very laid back, I accept the amount of work that I want to do, (which is usually a lot because I like to hustle) and from there I can do what I want. For example, if I want to spend an afternoon working on a creative project, I can hustle all morning to get my real work done and then leave the afternoon for me-time.

Q. What ‘Big Things’ are on your horizon?

A. This year I recently registered as an official business, which was a big goal for me. Right now I’m feeling really content, but I think I would like to work on collaborating a little more and just expanding on the work I’m doing right now. Taking more time for things that I love is also a big goal for me because right now I’m pretty focused on work for other people.

Q. In what ways does your work challenge you?

A. I love that my job challenges me to be creative and learn things really quickly. For example, I may get an order in for a series of blogs about a topic I’ve never heard of before, so it’s my job to research like crazy and become an expert on this topic in a short period of time. That part is challenging, but it’s usually the most fun!

Q. What inspires you to keep going on the hard days?

A. Sometimes you feel a little stir-crazy working from home and not really having a lot of contact with the outside world. On days where I feel bored or lonely, I just think about how lucky I am to make my own hours and do my own thing. If I want to work in coffee shop for the day, I can. If I want to work in the evening and spend the day outside biking or paddleboarding, I can. The flexibility is amazing and I just remember how lucky I am to have it.

Q. What aspect of your work takes the most time?

A. The work in itself is pretty time-consuming. Making sure the content sounds good, that it’s correct, edited properly, and formatted the way the client needs it to be. Sometimes if I’m writing about a really dry topic, it’s hard, but writer’s-block is not an option because I’m usually working on pretty tight deadlines.

Thanks so much, Jen! It sounds like you have really found a life that you love and you work hard to do the best work you can and to make time for personal ventures and fun! Check out Jen’s business website here