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Friday, August 28, 2015

Yoga Tips for Moms with Namaste TV {Review & Giveaway}


Life is busy. I've always heard about how hard it can be for people- Moms especially- to carve out some time for themselves. You have to make yourself a priority. Sounds easy enough, but now that I'm there it often is easier said than done.

I love being healthy but admit that exercise is often one of the first things that I forgo when things get busy. As it is I fit my work and the blog around my family, leaving precious little quiet time while the kids are sleeping during the day to do much else than tidy up, prep meals/ snacks, and maybe get some work done. Once bed time rolls around I love to get in a little run or other form of exercise if I have the time and energy, but let's face it, isn't that the time of day when you've got to fit in the things that didn't get done earlier? 

So enough with the guilt and pressure to try and do a million other things. It's time to take some time out for ourselves. Years ago I was an avid swimmer and hope to take that up this Fall when the weather cools off and I'm ok to spend more time inside. But I don't want to wait until then to get more active. Aside from my weekly run I love the idea of doing yoga. I did prenatal yoga while pregnant with Ari and Will does it every morning. I love that it's a form of exercise that helps you re- centre, focus inward, and is soothing for the soul. With all of the hustle and bustle of daily life, yoga helps us to slow down. I've recently been enjoying some yoga DVDs from Namaste TV and not only is my body starting to slowly flex and stretch again, I'm loving the sense of calm and accomplishment I've been feeling because I'm making myself slow down and focus on this one task (find out how you can try out a set of DVDs for yourself at the end of this post!).  


The DVDs feature several episodes, each with an introduction, warm- up, main exercise, and cool- down, and savasana. Depending how much time I've got I'll sometimes just skip to the main workout, which is about 15 minutes long and perfect to slip in on busy days.  

 

I love yoga, but I'm definitely still a novice- I still have to look at the screen to know what some of the poses are- but my flexibility and balance are improving and a couple rounds in and  I can touch the floor again (yay!). I enjoy the challenge of trying to improve upon my last session and perfecting the poses. Some I might never quite pull off as well as the talented ladies in the DVDs, but it gives me something to aspire to.

There will always be something else that needs doing on that never ending to- do list, but you have to make time for yourself and exercise- even just a quick workout- to help way stay healthy (let's face it: we're no good to anyone if we're sick). So make yourself a priority & block off some time each day that you dedicate to yourself (see the tips below to help make this easier), you'll be glad you did.


If you've been wanting to try yoga or get back into practicing since having kids, the workouts that Namaste TV offers are great because you can try them at home when you get the chance/ have the time. You don't have to worry about packing up the kids or organizing childcare so you can fit in a workout. This is also great if you're a little self- conscious about your form and don't feel ready to try a class yet. And just in case you're still doubtful about how successful you'll  be trying out yoga at home, here are some tips to help make the most of your at- home yoga workout:

 Yoga Tips for Busy Moms: 
How to get the Most out of Your Practice 
1.       Create a Sacred Space
It’s hard to relax if everywhere you look you see something that needs tidying up.  Whether it’s your bedroom, your patio or your living room after you’ve cleaned it for the day, try to find a peaceful place to practice your yoga.  A view that connects you to nature is wonderful, but a few house plants, candles or even a special scent can help quiet your mind.
 2.       Shut down electronics
Turn off your computer or sign out of social media. Use emergency call screening so that you’ll only be interrupted by the calls you absolutely need to take.  Everything else – yes even your own mother - can wait for 25 minutes. 
 3.       Make it a Habit
You’ll always be able to find a hundred other things you could do besides yoga.  Make it a non-negotiable part of your day, even if it’s just five or ten minutes.  One great thing about yoga compared to other workouts, is even a few minutes a day can help you relax, re-focus and revitalize.
 4.       Do it first thing in the morning
If you’re struggling to make time for yoga, doing it first thing in the morning can be one of the best times.  You’ll start the day with a calm mind and an awareness of your own body that you can carry with you through the rest of the day.
5.       Involve your kids
So far we’ve talked about making yoga your ‘me’ time, but sometimes that’s just not possible.  Some mom’s find doing yoga with their children around too stressful, but other’s absolutely love it.  At a certain age children love to copy their parents, or you can purposefully make yoga a mother-child activity.  Children are more likely to be active if they see their parents exercising, so you’ll be serving yourself and your little ones.  

... And just in case I haven't got you convinced to make some time for yourself, how about a little giveaway for incentive: Namaste TV is offering up a set of their yoga DVDs for one lucky TPB reader to enjoy some yoga at home! Go to the blog's Contests page to enter. Good luck!
       


Visit the Namaste TV website & check out their Youtube Channel for more great tips and videos. You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter

August posts sponsored by


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Testing out Bottles with Playtex {Review}

When it comes time to give your baby a bottle, how do you choose? I know friends who tried what seemed like every bottle out there trying to find one their picky bumpkin would take. And of course, there's the dreaded bottle strike: just when you think you've got it all figured out, your little one decides to refuse the bottle. Oh geeze....


Just in case you're needing a laugh when it comes to nursing ;)


We've been using Playtex products in our house for a while and they've been a hit. A little while back I got the chance to try out their Playtime Cup (see that post here) which are great for little ones making the transition from bottles to cups, but they've also got a great variety of bottles & related products for when you're ready to try a bottle with your baby and/ or are unable to breastfeed. One of my friends has a little lady who was a tough customer when it came to bottles and I thought her little critic would be perfect to help with this review on some of the bottles and nipples they offer.

If you're doing some research into the bottles available on the market or are trying to find ones for your picky little one, I hope you will find this post helpful. A big thank you to my friend Leanne & her little lady for helping with this post!



VentAire Bottle 


Photo: Playtex


Product Info:
- designed to reduce colic through the unique bottom venting system to help reduce baby ingesting air
- angled bottle design promotes a semi- upright feeding position (recommended by paediatricians to help prevent ear infections- I learnt something new!)
- compatible with all new Playtex nipples

Our thoughts:
- easy to use
- doesn't leak (perfect for toting in purses and for when baby pushes it aside)
- good for upright feeding, which is good for babies taking bottles because it helps them differentiate from breast and bottle (breastfeeding-lying down in football hold, bottle-sitting upright) 
- helps babies become comfortable with both methods and more accepting of the bottle as an alternate route when mom isn't available (baby learns one position means Mom, one means friend or family)
- easy for older baby to hold
- variety of nipples that fit to help Mom find one(s) that baby likes (more about them below)
- great value for money when bought as a gift set (shown) 

Drop-Ins Bottle Liners

Product Info:
- designed for busy Moms on- the- go
- disposable & pre- sterilized liners make bottles easy to use & clean
- provide a comfortable feed for baby 
- as baby feeds the soft liner gently collapses to prevent air mixing with milk to stop it getting into baby's tummy & causing gas pain
- works with all new Playtex nipples 
- designed to mimic breastfeeding
- used for generations
- BPA free

Our thoughts:
- good idea for dealing with colic/ gas by keeping air out
- if you have a gassy baby they're worth a try
- can be a little bit messy/ not incredibly user friendly- prefer to use the bottles without the liners
- throwing out the used liners = not very environmentally friendly

Nipple Variety Pack



Product Info:
- available in slow & medium flow
- compatible with Playtex's VentAire & Nurser with Drop- Ins Liners bottles
- NaturaLatch Nipple made specifically for babies switching between breast and bottle & made to mimic average nipple size
- Breastlike Nipple designed with a slope around the nipple to mimic the slope of a breast
- Angled Nipple designed to allow for upright feeding & made to mimic average nipple size
- Fullsized Nipple designed for babies with wider mouths & made to mimic larger nipple sizes
- in a study of 350 moms, 96% found a nipple their baby liked & 97% would recommend the Playtex Nipple Variety Pack to other moms
- BPA free

Our thoughts:
- great idea for new moms starting out not knowing what nipple baby will prefer
- great way to save money as you can try out several nipple styles with one purchase instead of purchasing several bottle/ nipple combos from  variety of brands (see gift set  with the VentAire bottle, above)
- the Angled Nipple is good for upright feeding
- Breast- Like Nipple- my baby preferred this one out of all of them and was indifferent to the Fullsized and NaturaLatch
- good quality and the seals well onto bottle

We hope this post helps you narrow down your choices when it comes to trying a bottle with your baby & makes it an easy transition! If you would like to learn more about the products included in this post, visit the Playtex Baby website.

If you want to try out the products mentioned in this post, you can purchase them at well.ca & have them shipped right to your door! :)


Image Sources:
Breastfeeding cartoon- EveryDay People Cartoons

August posts sponsored by


Friday, August 21, 2015

Made in Canada Back to School Fashion for Kiddos

Who's got a bumpkin starting preschool or kindergarten this year???
Get 'em ready to start their school years in style with these great Canadian made brands!
(Most of them offer items for both girls & boys, so make sure to check out the links if you like what you see).

'Madame' Sweatshirt- Little Citizens 
Je T'aime Flat Brim Cap- Whistle & Flute
Glitter Hair Bow- Cutie Pie Boutique
Sid Boot in 'Princess Pink'- Native Shoes
Muddy Munchkins Boots- My Mayu Outdoor
Necklace- Glitter & Spice

Arrow Sweatshirt- Whistle & Flute
Leather Bowtie in 'Stallion'- Minimoc
Sid Boot in 'Bart Yellow'- Native Shoes
Owl Baseball Shirt- Jill and Jack Kids
Arrows Infinity Scarf- Lille Mus

Happy shopping!

August posts sponsored by



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Music Together of the Fraser Valley Fall Semester GIVEAWAY!


Looking for some activities to do with your kids this Fall?

Music classes are a great way to get them up and dancing & singing and introduce them to a variety of musical instruments.

The classes offered by Erin at Music Together of the Fraser Valley are grown- up friendly (Mom & Dad can participate) and there are classes especially for babies and toddlers- a perfect fun activity for the cool Fall months ahead. Ari & I had so much fun when we went (see that post here) and Erin is a wonderful & passionate teacher (learn more about her in this post).

Enrolment for the Fall 2015 semester is open now & Erin is offering up some free demo classes in the first few weeks of September.  These free demos are a great way to see what the classes are like and to ask Erin questions. 

Free Demo Classes:
Sept 8th at George Preston (Langley), 10am
Sept 9th at Creative Outlet (Chilliwack), 10am
Sept 10th at W.C. Blair (Langley), 9:30am
Sept 12th At Langley Centennial Museum (Langley), 10am

Please email Erin at eparr@shaw.ca to register

And how would you like to win a semester at MTFV for free?
 Erin is offering up free enrolment for a Fall music class to one lucky TPB reader!

Visit the Contests page to enter. Good luck & happy music making!


To learn more about Music Together of the Fraser Valley & upcoming classes, visit their website and find them on Facebook.


September posts sponsored by




Monday, August 17, 2015

Yummy Mummy Monday: Dairy Free Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

Hands up who loves fresh Summer corn??? I love how amazing this soup turned out & I credit it to the amazing local corn I picked up from my fav farmers market. If you don't have fresh corn the canned version will do, but I definitely recommend taking advantage of using fresh while it's in season. Serve as an appie or as a meal in itself, this soup is hearty & filling, perfect to make ahead to freeze & enjoy in the cooler Fall & Winter months. If you have the time, it's worth it to allow it to cool & let the flavours come out over night before blending into a chowder. Added bonus: whip this up in the slow cooker  to enjoy as an easy meal after a busy day of work. Yum!


Yummy Mummy Monday: Dairy Free Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

Ingredients:
8- 10 ears of fresh corn, shucked & sliced off the cob 
(or use 3 cans of corn & reduce water by 1 cup)
2 white onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 leeks, sliced into 1/4 slices (whites & greens only)
3 red potatoes diced into 2" chunks
1 tbsp olive oil 
8 cups water or soup stock 
1 tsp each:
Smoked paprika
Ground chipotle pepper
Salt
Pepper (add more of these to taste)

Directions:
1. In a frying pan, heat oil & cook the onion and garlic (approx 3- 5 minutes)
2. Add all of the ingredients into your slow cooker and stir well
3. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours (Tip: time permitting, allow the soup to cool & store in fridge over- night for the flavours to come out)
4. Turn off the heat & scoop portions into a blender; pulse until smooth/ free of lumps and transfer to a large pot (allow extra room for steam if pulsing while hot)
5. Combine all of the soup & re- heat if necessary.
6. Serve & enjoy! (would be delicious served with a nice salad in the Summer or roast ham in the Fall/ Winter.


August posts sponsored by


Friday, August 14, 2015

Easing 'That Time of the Month' with ElleBoxCo

Hands up, who loves that time of the month? Depending on how much you suffer leading up to & during your period, it's safe to say it's probably not your favourite thing in the world. Enter ElleBoxCo, a monthly subscription company started by 3 local ladies that delivers feminine products alongside treats such as tea, candles, and bath products to make those days of the month a little less undesirable. And get this: they were inspired by gourmet bacon. Yes, bacon. See below for more info & the rest of the story behind ElleBoxCo from the ladies themselves (plus get an exclusive PROMO CODE towards your first subscription!).



A little about the ladies behind  ElleBoxCo
Taran: Law student, coffee lover, travel obsessed
Bunny: Accounting student, cheeseburger fanatic, travel enthusiast
Jessica: UBC Kinesiology student, adrenaline junkie addicted to the outdoors

It all began with gourmet bacon
The inspiration behind ElleBoxCo: Gourmet Bacon. Let us explain…

All of our parents are entrepreneurs, and we always knew individually that we wanted to have our own businesses. The three of us have always discussed quirky business ideas, half jokingly, half seriously, until one day we heard about a company that sells a convenient monthly subscription of gourmet bacon delivered to your door step. This got us thinking about our biggest inconvenience as women and immediately we thought of one that just happens to occur each month... so we created ElleBoxCo.

About ElleBoxCo
ElleBoxCo provides the convenience and comfort that we all want during that time of the month. The aim of our company is to revolutionize woman’s periods and provide a premium monthly subscription box to pamper, comfort, and alleviate period symptoms (who doesn’t love tea and chocolate?). Best of all, no more awkward checkout lines at your local supermarket (perfect for young ladies just starting out- Mom can help them pick out the products they need in the comfort and discretion of home). Each subscription is customizable by brand, cycle date, and number of pads and tampons. In addition to feminine hygiene products, we also feature hand curated comfort goods created  by local venders such as candles, scrubs, face masks and more.

As well, we also want to help combat the stigma of talking about periods, by talking about them.
This worked recently when Canadian women petitioned the government to remove taxes on pads and tampons, which are a necessity in comparison to other items which are not taxed, including cake decorations and exotic meats… like gourmet bacon.

As part of our initiative at ElleBoxCo, we will be donating partial proceeds from every box sold to local women’s causes, including the Vancouver Bank; all women NEED feminine hygiene products, which are the least donated items to Food Banks in Canada. 



Price Points
-       Necessities Box $16
-       Comfort Box $24
-       Luxury Box $36

Price includes shipping for the Lower Mainland


If you are interested in learning more or subscribing, visit the ElleBoxCo website or contact them via email at info@elleboxco.com. You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter.

And as TPB readers you can enjoy an exclusive discount with EllBoxCo!
Receive a 10% discount code for first time subscribers: Use promo code    WITHLOVE10 at checkout.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Keeping the Romance Alive: Our Okanagan Anniversary Getaway

This Summer Will & I have been married for 5 years. When did that happen??? A house & mortgage and 2 kids later and here we are, pretending we're grown ups (who else feels this way?!). As they say, marriage takes effort, and you've got to keep the romance alive. We've had a lot going on in the past few months so we've been craving a chance to unwind and with it being our 5th anniversary I really wanted to do something special. I haven't been away since having kids and even though Liam is only 3 months old, he takes a bottle well and is in a good little routine, so I knew if I pumped enough milk he'd do ok (I pumped my little heart out for the month leading up to our night away to make sure I had enough- a lot of work, but so worth it for a night away). Even if you don't have a ton of money and/ or only have a small window of time to work with, you can make the most of it if you plan ahead- and keeping the romance alive is something you can't forget to make time for. 

I started thinking about what we could do a few months back, but didn't want to set anything in stone until baby #2 arrived and we knew what we were in for. Once Liam was born and I started to settle into life with 2 kids I felt we could pull off a night away and after thinking through our options decided on a one night getaway to the Okanagan. One of my friends suggested some of her favourite wineries on the Naramata Bench in Penticton and I loved the idea of a getaway that involved wine. After looking into which wineries offer accommodations & reading reviews I decided on Quidni Estate Winery at the southern end of The Bench. A boutique winery, producing only 1,500 cases of wine every year, Quidni Estate Winery has 3 guest rooms for visitors looking to enjoy a few nights away in the heart of Okanagan wine country. Thanks to this lovely venue our 24- hour mini getaway was everything we hoped it would be, with some fun added bonuses thrown into the mix. 

The night before I prepped snacks for the drive up, stocked the kid's overnight bags, and made lists of last minute things I had to do the morning we left (I can't function without writing lists!). That way all I had to do when we got up was get dressed, pack the car & go (we actually hit the road on time, when does that ever happen???). Will & I arrived mid afternoon, ready to enjoy a wine tasting and some R&R. Right off the road, the winery is easy to find and when you enter you're greeted by a 2- storey wine wall that showcases the wineries' selections (so pretty!). The friendly staff made sure we had everything we needed and got us settled into our room so we could get right to the highlight of the trip: the wine!



We booked the vineyard view room, but enjoyed views of the adjacent farm and Okanagan Lake in the distance as well; who needs TV when you've got such natural beauty right outside to enjoy? Our room was beautiful. Clean, cozy, and exactly what you'd hope for when you book a romantic night away. The property has been decorated in a modern rustic style, and it's exactly what I pictured a winery to be like. It was like a high- end B&B that happened to be perched on a vineyard overlooking the lake- what more could you ask for?



Once we had unloaded the car & settled, the fun began, starting with a wine tasting & tour (we were only away for 24 hours, so didn't want to waste anytime!). The lovely Ema brought us into Quidni's wine tasting room and went over the wines we would be tasting. The winery produces 8 varieties of wine, of which we got to try 6 (3 whites & 3 reds). We were treated to a complimentary bottle (I picked their 2014 Viognier) and we bought a few bottles to enjoy during our visit & to take home. At $13- $28 per bottle, these wines are delicious without breaking the budget. 




After the tasting, Ema took us on a tour of the wine cellar and told us about the history of the winery and how their wines are produced. We got to sample some wine right out of the barrel (a Port to be released this December- Will loved it!) and check out the grapes growing in the vineyard- I'm a bit of a foodie/ wino at heart and loved seeing the grapes that will be used for future wines.

Under the new owner the winery has been transformed into what it is today, complete with its renovated facilities and guest accommodations. Quidni's wines are produced by award- winning wine maker Todd Moore, who combines traditional & modern techniques to produce the winery's 8 varieties (see more about him at the end of the post). And while you can't purchase their wines in BC liquor stores given their limited production runs, you can purchase them from the winery's website (I'm a fan of their Gewurtztraminer & Viognier and love that they're an affordable way to enjoy BC wines). Yum! 







After the wine tasting and tour we were off to enjoy some  relaxing 'us time' on the shore of Okanagan Lake. It was a quick 10 minute walk to the beautiful & quiet 3 Mile Beach (where we got the bonus of seeing a gent rockin' his birthday suit and later learned it's home to a nude beach!), and enjoyed a lakeside siesta complete with wine (hey, we only had 24 hours, so we had to make it count!). It had been a long time since we've enjoyed some time with just the two of us, and we relished the chance to relax on the beach and go for a swim without the distraction and noise of having the kiddos in tow. It was blissful

The nice thing about where we were is that you're far enough away from the busy- ness of Penticton's touristy spots to relax, but still close enough to drive to anything you need. For dinner we headed into Naramata (about a 10 minute drive from the winery) and did it in 2 parts (not on purpose, but let me explain...). The first place we tried ended up being a bit of a dive; the service was slow and the food and drinks weren't great. The winery staff had recommended trying the local pizza place (Real Things Pizza- if you're ever in Naramata I totally recommend it) and since we'd been planning on ordering some as a late night snack anyways, opted to pick some up to enjoy back at the winery as dinner attempt #2. All I can say is this:  oh. em. gee. I picked the 'Traindock Loaded' pizza and it's one of the best pizzas I've ever tasted (sorry there's no photos, we ate it that fast). 

Thanks to that pizza, dinner was salvaged and then some; we took it back to enjoy for a late sunset dinner on the winery's large patio with wine (what else??) and followed that with a twilight walk on the nearby trail & enjoyed more beautiful views of the lake before turning in for the night. Because we had to pack up and come home the next day, we didn't have a lot planned for the following morning; we had thought of going paddle boarding but opted not to to avoid feeling rushed. We just enjoyed the view from bed with a cup of coffee and the ability to relax and chat without having to hop out of bed to tend to the kids. Ah, how you enjoy things so much differently after you've had kids! ;)

We came home feeling de- stressed, calm, and relaxed thanks to our little getaway. And of course, as soon as we picked up the kids it quickly shifted back to reality, but we were happy and grateful for the time together to reconnect. If you & your hubby are trying to carve out some alone time in the chaos of family life, I hope this shows you that it's not how much time you've got together, but the quality of the time. Will and I have both been reflecting on our little getaway and are so glad we jumped at the chance. The chaos & craziness of daily life can be tough on a marriage, and it was nice to remove all that temporarily just so we could reconnect and feel like 'us' again. 

A huge thank you to Quidni Estate Winery & it's wonderful staff for making our 5th anniversary getaway so wonderful. We have some beautiful memories to look back on.




If you would like more information abour Quidni Estate Winery, to book a room, or purchase wine, visit their website. You can also find them on social media:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

For anyone passionate about wine, here's more about Todd Moore, the Wine Maker behind the delicious wines at Quidni Estate Winery:
- Began his nearly three- decades career making wine in 1987 at Lewis Brothers Winery in Grande Prairie, Alberta
- Has worked at several wineries, including Quail's Gate, Cherry Point Vineyards, and Quidni Estate Winery over the course of his career and has earned awards for vintages he helped produce, including a Gold Medal at the LA County Wine Competition for Quail Gate's 1993 Gewurtztraminer
- Has worked with respected wine makers including Elias Phiniotas and Jeff Martin
- Learned hot climate techniques from esteemed Wine Maker Colin Glaetzer at Barossa Valley Estate Winery where he  travelled to work during his time at Quail's Gate
- Joined Ian Mavety at Blue Mountain Vineyards for the 1994 Harvest & helped process the grapes in what has become one of the best vintages on record in BC
- Became a member of the VQA Tasting Panel in 1995, where he has become one of the most experienced tasters on the panel given the duration of his participation 
- Took a position in 1998 at the BC Wine Institute Technical Committee (responsible for determining VQA standards in BC) and was elected Chairman of the Technical Committee from 1999- 2000 where he was instrumental in developing the Ice Wine Standards that are in place today
- Todd turned to consulting following his role as Wine Maker at Cherry Point Vineyards & has helped new/ struggling wineries establish cost effective production facilities based on their winemaking style and transform them into respected, prosperous operations (most recently winning Best of Category at the All Canada Wine Championships & Pinot Noir Gold at the North West Wine Summit) 


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