It’s here! Inside October’s Sweet Reads Box

It’s here! Inside October’s Sweet Reads Box

If you’ve been dying to see what’s inside October’s Sweet Reads Box, wait no more! I just wanted to give everyone who’d ordered one the chance to open it up and be surprised but since they shipped from Ontario last Monday (they go out on the 15th of every month), I think it’s safe to do an unboxing. If you missed last month’s post, Sweet Reads Box is a new Canadian subscription service for book lovers that includes a new novel and some treats connected to the story. Co-founders Kerrie and Mark sent me the October box free of charge to share with you here. So let’s get to it!  Continue reading “It’s here! Inside October’s Sweet Reads Box”

A Canadian subscription box for book lovers: September’s Sweet Reads Box + A giveaway!

A Canadian subscription box for book lovers: September’s Sweet Reads Box + A giveaway!

I remember driving to a party years ago for my hubby’s colleagues and stressing about who I could talk to and what on earth could we have in common. While most of the guests congregated in the kitchen, I spent the first hour or so (or maybe it was a half hour, but it felt like forever) alone in the front room petting the dog. And ‘tho he was pretty good company, I felt pretty lame. Eventually a few people wandered in and stopped talking shop and instead launched into a spirited debate about the merits of different fonts. Reader, I don’t think I’d ever felt so relieved. Finally a conversation I could get in on! I put a tentative toe into the water with a comment or two, and soon found myself in the warm bosom (ha!) of a few kindred spirits. Unfortunately they tired of the topic before me and we couldn’t seem to connect on anything else so it was back to the dog but it was good for a while there — really good! Of course I still overanalyzed everything for the next couple of days (honestly it’s years later and I still worry what they must have thought of me), but I lived to go to other parties and even managed to find a few more kindred spirits. I’m telling you this because I know there’s a lot of you out there who hate small talk and large groups (and maybe even leaving the house, lol) and yet really want to connect. Finding kindred spirits in some of you has been one of the best things that has come from try small things. I feel like I found my people! And since a lot of my people are book people, I know you’re going to love the wonderful surprise that came in the mail for me this week, and could for you too.  Continue reading “A Canadian subscription box for book lovers: September’s Sweet Reads Box + A giveaway!”

Gourmet Trading stocked our pantry with Stonewall Kitchen specialty foods. Here’s how they went over.

Gourmet Trading stocked our pantry with  Stonewall Kitchen specialty foods. Here’s how they went over.

Like a lot of people trying to feed a family on a budget, we tend to stock our pantry with the same things week after week. We know what will get eaten, what probably won’t, and how long our favourite dishes will take to prepare. We shop with a list, pick up what we need, and generally ignore the rest (unless something’s on super sale, which I cannot resist). But when Toronto-based Gourmet Trading reached out to me last month, I was reminded that there’s a whole world of foods and flavours available to explore and enjoy. Gourmet Trading has been bringing that world to Canada for nearly 30 years as an importer and distributor of specialty foods. They sent me a selection of products from one of their top-selling brands, Maine’s award-winning Stonewall Kitchen, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how well they went over. Will they be new pantry staples? Read on and see.  Continue reading “Gourmet Trading stocked our pantry with Stonewall Kitchen specialty foods. Here’s how they went over.”

Because Dads like nice things too: Specter Wireless ELUX headphones for Father’s Day + Win a pair!

Because Dads like nice things too: Specter Wireless ELUX headphones for Father’s Day + Win a pair!

I know my hubby’s not the only dad who gets the short end of the stick for Father’s Day. But it’s partly his fault since he always insists he doesn’t want anything. Unlike me, he’s not the least bit materialistic, and (also unlike me) he’s hesitant to acquire anything new when the old and/or duct-taped will do. Which has forced us to get creative with our gifts. We’ve made personalized t-shirts with iron-on letters, videos with the kids telling him what they love about him, hand and foot prints in plaster (because you can never have too many of those, ha ha) and framed copies of pictures he’d never seen. And they were all well and good and much appreciated, but you know, dads like nice things too. (Well a lot of dads, I’m guessing.) And since his headphones finally bit the dust after years of being held together with duct tape, we’re giving him a new pair. But not just any pair — they’re the Specter Wireless ELUX (clever how that rhymes with deluxe). I received them free-of-charge to try.  Continue reading “Because Dads like nice things too: Specter Wireless ELUX headphones for Father’s Day + Win a pair!”

Flotation therapy: good for body and soul #isospa

Flotation therapy: good for body and soul #isospa

A long hike in the forest. A good laugh with a friend. A fresh mani-pedi. All things you might enjoy from time to time that are good for the soul. Today I want to introduce another soul-lifting treat: flotation therapy. Last week my friend Sophie and I met up at Ottawa’s ISÖ Spa for a complimentary hour in two of the spa’s four float tanks. You strip down to your birthday suit and step into a space-agey pod filled with 1,000 litres of body-temperature salt water. (Warning: there may be naked pictures of Sophie in this next section.)  Continue reading “Flotation therapy: good for body and soul #isospa”

Behind the brand: Mellow Bath and Body + A giveaway

Behind the brand: Mellow Bath and Body + A giveaway

“When you know better, you do better.”– Maya Angelou • The more we learn about the harmful effects of the ingredients in many of the mainstream products we use every day, the more we look for healthier, greener alternatives. And when it comes to bath and body products, the choices available seem to be growing exponentially. New to the market is Newmarket, Ontario’s Mellow Bath and Body. The company recently sent me two of its all-natural products to try, including this wonderful handmade body scrub (oh if you could smell it!) made with freshly ground, organic and fair trade coffee, organic raw cane sugar and shea butter, and a pepperminty soap made with activated charcoal, and I was curious to learn more about the maker behind it. Here’s my chat with Melody Rattanavong, Mellow Bath and Body’s creator and maker.  Continue reading “Behind the brand: Mellow Bath and Body + A giveaway”

Be your own Valentine: small gift ideas for your big heart + A giveaway ❤️

Be your own Valentine: small gift ideas for your big heart + A giveaway ❤️

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day at a posh restaurant with a tall drink of water or at home with your cats and a tall bottle of red, there’s no better day to treat yourself to your heart’s desire. Even if it’s just a little something to say to yourself, “Self, you are loved.” Here are some of my favourite little sumthin’ sumthins for Valentine’s Day — all treats you can pick up last minute or order online for a delightful delivery later in the week. Love is all around but some of the Valentine-themed gifts won’t be around forever.  Continue reading “Be your own Valentine: small gift ideas for your big heart + A giveaway ❤️”

DAVIDsTEA’s feel-good collection + A giveaway!

DAVIDsTEA’s feel-good collection + A giveaway!

Why don’t the Maple Leafs drink tea? Because the Canadiens and the Red Wings have all the cups. (Ba-dum-bum-chuh.) Little seasonal tea humour for you there. (Hey, we’re in the thick of winter. We need all the laughs we can get.) If you’re a die-hard hockey fan, you’ll know the joke’s not even true: the Leafs have won the Stanley Cup 13 times over the Red Wings’ 11. (Don’t be impressed — I totally Googled it.) But we’re not here to talk hockey. Let’s talk tea! Pull up a chair and let me pour you a virtual cup from DAVIDsTEA‘s new feel-good collection. The company sent me its five new limited-edition teas to try and I’m curious to know which one you’d like best. (Or maybe you already have a favourite. Do tell!)  Continue reading “DAVIDsTEA’s feel-good collection + A giveaway!”

A gift guide for girlfriends. (Also me. I love everything here too.)

A gift guide for girlfriends. (Also me. I love everything here too.)

For Christmas I like to treat my girlfriends to a little luxury — not necessarily something expensive, but something they wouldn’t buy themselves. With that in mind, here’s my gift guide for girlfriends. (And also me: I love everything here for me!) The gifts range from $8 to $105 and are all available online.  Continue reading “A gift guide for girlfriends. (Also me. I love everything here too.)”