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Earth Hour – Please Do Your Part

Earth Hour is today, March 31st begining at 8:30pm (your own time zone) and ending at 9:30.

The Earth really is in your hands.

If I’m not mistaken this will be the fourth year in a row we have participated in earth hour.  I wholeheartedly support the efforts of this organization and think it highly important that we all do everything we can to participate.  It is a great opportunity to educate your children, and spend time with them ‘off the grid.’

I worry a lot about the place that we are leaving for our children, and firmly believe that we as North American’s need to start giving up some of our comforts to benefit the planet.  I realize it will not all happen all at once, but it also won’t happen at all if we don’t.  Something has got to give somewhere or our planet is eventually going to implode.  I also realize that strides are being made every day towards a greener earth, but after how long we’ve been abusing the planet, is it really fast enough?

I have a child with autism.  Autism was 1 in 10,000 20 years ago.  When Ben was diagnosed in 2000 it was one in 170, and today it is one in every 130.  It is reaching epidemic proportions, and while there is nothing to prove my thoughs, I believe there is a genetic predisposition but also that our environment plays a role in onset.

The first year that we participated was the first year we were living in Calgary.  I was mortified the next day when I found out that Calgary was the only city in the world who’s energy useage had gone UP during earth hour!  Unfortunately It kind of personifies the city we live in.  I had more than one person say to me that year when I mentioned it was coming up that they would be sure to turn on every electronic gadget in their house, and that the whole thing was ‘hogwash.’  On the radio I heard a phone call from a woman who exclaimed that it was all just a giant government scam.  Some people really just aren’t getting it.  After the winter we’ve had here in Canada though, I hope things are becoming abundantly clear.

The year after that debacle, I decided to show my kids that to really make a difference we have to get off our butts and actually do something.  So that evening as earth hour began I flipped off the breakers, then I grabbed the kids, and the dogs on leashes and we all started going to the doors of houses who still had their lights on.  We were polite, and just explained that it was earth hour and the reasons behind it, and most proceeded to turn their lights off too!  For the most part people just didn’t know.  In the years since, almost our entire block has remained blacked out for the duration.  The kids are always very proud to know they played a role in educating others.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Winner of the Vera Wang Perfume Giveaway!!!

Congratulations to Anne Taylor for winning the Vera Wang perfume set!  Her entries were verified, and she has contacted me to confirm the win.

With just a little under 4,000 entries the giveaway was a huge success.  Thank you for entering!

Please stick around to see what we have coming up.  I posted a new giveaway this morning and have another to post tomorrow.  There is also still Our J. Edgar Hoover Bluray/DVD Combo pack to enter as well, and in a couple of weeks, when we are back from vacation we’ll be posting the full Vera Wang swag bag giveaway worth more than $350!

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Giveaways

 

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Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil Giveaway!

When I first got word that I would be receiving a quart of coconut oil, I thought, now what the heck am I going to do with that?  Weirdly enough, a couple of days later while I was doing a nutritional consult with my trainer he spent ten minutes telling me how great this stuff is.  It was at that point that I mentioned I would be getting some of it to try.  Now I’m not allowed to say that this stuff is amazingly good for you, so I won’t, but I will say that it leaves vegetable oil in the dirt and you should too.  Leave the veggies in the dirt that is, at least as far as oil is concerned.

I decided to try the oil on my most love/hate recipe to see how it would go.  This is going to sound crazy but despite the fact that it’s a super healthy meal, I don’t make stir fry’s often.  I’ve tried using a dozen different packaged sauces, or just plain soy, and I just can’t find a flavour that I like.  Funny enough, a plain stir fry just tastes too ‘earthy’ for me, and the packaged stuff doesn’t do much to cover that unpleasantness.  This however I loved and will make over and over again.  The coconut oil really made the difference.

When I first received the oil it was solidified, it’s pretty cold here in Calgary, even on a good day, so that is normal.  I just followed the directions to bring it back to a liquid, it took no time and very little effort.

Here are some Coconut Oil facts that may interest you:

Learn about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil
Tropical Traditions Video
How to use Coconut Oil
What is virgin coconut oil?
Popular coconut oil recipes

And our recipe that you might want to try, it was beyond yummy!

Sweet & Salty Coconut Oil Stir Fry

Makes aprox 4 servings, can be stretched with more rice.

2 boneless skinless chicken breast(optional)
1 ½ cups rice – 3 cups cooked
1 head of broccoli  cut into florets
¼ head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 red pepper cut into bit sized pieces
1 medium sized onion
4 medium sized carrots cut julienne
2 TBLS coconut oil
1-2 TBLS Reduced sodium soy sauce (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

After the chicken is defrosted, cut into bite sized pieces.  I used about a tablespoon of coconut oil to sauté until fully cooked.  Once chicken is cooked, set aside.  Add the other tablespoon of coconut oil and sauté veggies starting with the harder to cook like cauliflower, and adding the lighter stuff as you go.  Sauté veg until warm but still crisp.  Once veggies are cooked to your liking re-add chicken and then add soy sauce.  I also add a touch of soy sauce to the rice.  Serve stir fry over hot rice.

While I don’t find coconut oil actually tastes of coconut but the oil gives a wonderfully sweet, yet mild, taste to add to the salty flavour of the soy sauce.  It makes a blah stir fry into a fabulous and healthy meal for the family.  My hubby doesn’t like the taste of coconut so I didn’t tell him what was in it, he loved it 😉

TIPS:

I am not an advance planner, which anyone will know if they’ve been paying the least amount of attention to my posts. My dinners each and every night are decided on generally at the very last minute. We do not have a microwave, and even when we did I hated defrosting stuff that way. My solution to this, at least for chicken breast that I need to cut up is to put them in the skillet with a lid and leave them on the minimum heat for about 10-15 minutes. Works like a charm to defrost those babies.

Another thing I do that might help you save time, is instead of spending 15 minutes cutting up carrots into tiny pieces, get yourself a good peeler. Peel the tough outer layer off the carrots then over a bowl ‘peel’ the rest of the carrot in short even strokes. You will end up with pieces not quite as uniform and pretty but they are roughly the same size, and cook just as quick. The middle core that you can’t quite shred gets saved for a snack the next day.

I’ve also been using the coconut oil as a replacement for any margarine I would normally use.  It’s funny how chemistry can alter the flavour of a dish, but it does!  I used it last night to cook some eggs, and with a touch of salt it tasted more buttery than if I’d used actual butter, I’m not kidding!  I also used it in a quick sauté for a side dish of broccoli and carrots, and once again it added flavour to what would normally be pretty blah.  I will say that I’m not a fan of how it smells while you’re actually cooking with it, but thankfully the results are so much tastier than the smell.  I’m not one who’s big on trying new things when it comes to food, but I’m so glad I gave Tropical Traditions Coconut oil a try, because slowly but surely I’m getting hooked on this stuff.

Win it!  Tropical Traditions has been kind enough to offer one of our readers 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!  That is a value of $40!

To enter the giveaway please go to this link on Facebook – Tropical Traditions Rafflecopter Giveaway  In order to provide you with the convenience of rafflecopter entries we must install the widget on facebook, as wordpress free blogs do not have the capabilities.  I would however appreciate if you could bookmark this page to do your daily entries.

If you are interested in ordering from Tropical Traditions please use this link – Tropical Traditions.  I will receive credit for referring you, and you will receive a free cookbook!  They have much more than just coconut oil there, it is all certified organic, and a great place for ingredients if you are going gluten free.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

 

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Run From Fear – Book Review

Book #1

The first time in a long time that I’ve read anything that wasn’t paranormal in some way.  I used to read the popular murder/mystery books, you know like James Patterson, Sue Grafton, etc, but after a while they get boring, not a lot of individuality in those books. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been away from them long enough to enjoy the mystery again, but I really liked these books.  They combine a good mystery, horror, and suspense with steaming hot romance.  I was pretty amazed at how much was jammed in them.

Book #2

They are all very well written, with clear, concise plot points that leave a trail of breadcrumbs for the reader to follow.  I also love the idea of how this trilogy works.  Generally a series will follow one main character and their exploits, this trilogy centers on the bad guys and the cause and effect relationship of their actions, it’s the glue that holds the three books together.  It was a unique and interesting difference.  The main characters are all somewhat related but again it really counts on the over all big bads in this world and how they cause so much pain for so many people.

Book #3

I’m a romance girl at heart, I have to have it, but I refuse to read general romance because it bores me silly.  You get nothing but book after book of happily ever after with not much difference to how each and every couple gets there.  I need plot with my romance, and this trilogy delivers in spades.  We get three completely different couples that are unique individuals with their own path to happiness, as it would be in the real world.  They each have their own demons to bear, and go about life in their own ways.  I very much appreciated three books that even though they followed relatively the same formula, didn’t feel at all stale considering I read all three back to back.

I am now a huge Jami Alden fan and plan to read everything she’s ever written!  I had a feeling some of the men we met during book three had previous stories and when I looked into her other books, sure enough, there they were.  See the beginings of Danny, Ethan, and Derek in the Gemini Men trilogy by Jami Alden.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Cruise Day Countdown – Less Carbs = No cravings!

We only have one week to go until we leave, actually it’s 8 days but who’s counting?  I am determined to get as many workouts in as I can this week and the half of next that we’ll be here.  So far I’ve done three days in a row, and plan to attend class again tonight.  The workouts are getting so much easier as I go.  That’s not to say that they’re actually easy, just easier in comparison to that first week.  That first week I felt like I would never be able to get through an entire class, not to mention barely being able to walk the next day.  Now I can pretty much get through the entire thing with very few modifications.  I love the idea that both Chelsea and I are getting stronger and it shows.

I won’t be weighed again until Saturday, as I refuse to watch that scale every day but I have no doubt that I will have lost at least another pound or two.  That doesn’t sound like much until you think of a pound of butter, and then it’s kind of gross.  On top of the amount I’m losing I have to remember that I’m also gaining a ton of muscle, which weighs more than fat.  I did however take my measurements again and was able to say good-bye to another inch around my waist!  That’s more than three inches total in as many weeks.  I’m wearing clothes I haven’t worn in years and it feels fantastic.

Original Current (After 3 weeks)
Body Fat – ??? 42% Last Saturday Body Fat – 40%!!!!
Weight – ???  – 175 Last Saturday Weight – 171.8!!!
Waist – 41” Waist – 38”

*That’s another three pounds this week, and a gigantic 2% of my body fat GONE!  I am thrilled!

Other than the workouts one of the most helpful things our trainer explained to us this week is the process of carbs, insulin, and how they relate to cravings.  People generally eat three meals a day, and during those meals they tend to eat a fair amount of carbs.  Carbs are responsible for increasing the amount of insulin your body produces giving you highs, and pretty big lows throughout the day.  Those lows are what are responsible for your cravings.  During the first couple of weeks I was working out I wasn’t watching my diet as carefully as I should have been.  I thought I was doing well by staying away from takeout and high fat items, but by the end of the day my cravings were so bad I generally caved in.  After the process was explained to me, I got motivated to cut back on carbs and I honestly can’t believe how much of a difference it’s made.  I fill up during the day with veggies, protein, and fruit, and by night time I have absolutely no interest in gorging, usually I’m not even very hungry at all so my night time meals are miniscule.  In comparison to those first couple of weeks, it really has made the world of difference.  Give it a try for a day or two and you will see what I mean!!!

The nerves are really ratcheting up now that we are so close to leaving.  I feel like we’ve been waiting forever, but now that it’s almost time, I feel like I have a million things to do and no time to do them in.  Figures!  How do you get ready for a vacation?  Lists, organize to death, or fly by the seat of your pants?  I’m also still looking for cruising tips for all you more experienced travellers!

Oasis of the Seas, this is the boat we'll be on in one week!

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Health and Beauty

 

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This Weeks Book News

SQUEEEE!!!!  As nervous as I am about this book, it kind of surprised me at how excited I got when I saw the cover reveal for it.  Karen Marie Moning’s ‘Iced’ cover looks fecking amazing!  The book will be released October 30th, 2012.

Fever series, Book 6, Iced.

I did hear back from KMM when I posted on her FB page asking how old Dani will be in the series.  She responded that only a day will have passed between the end of ShadowFever, and the beginning of Iced.  That would make Dani 14 years old for these books.  I then proceeded to ask if that meant the books would be more urban fantasy based than Fever as they had a healthy dose of romance to them, and she sort of side stepped the question by telling me to think of them as the same as Fever with a different narrator.

Thea Harrison also revealed the cover for the latest in her Elder Races series.  I’ve only read the first book so far, but it’s a fabulous PNR, and the covers for the latest two are superb, so I’m anxious to get on with the rest.

Click book cover to go to Thea Harrison's blog

Another series that’s on my TBR list that I’ve heard great things about is The Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane, who’s latest, Sacrificial Magic, was just released a couple of days ago.  I’m hoping to get to this one soon too.  So many good books so little time.

Click book cover to go to Stacia Kane's web site.

One of the most exciting releases this month though is the 10th book of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward.  As with Iced, I’m really not sure of how I feel about this instalment of the series.  If you’ve read the BDB, you know that this is Tohr’s book, and you will know what Tohr’s history is.  At the beginning, in Dark Lover, none of us would have ever dreamed that Tohrment would be getting his own book.  Later events proved the necessity, but I really didn’t think it would come about so soon.  More than that, the pairing that’s been worked out for him doesn’t really interest me.  We got to know No’one a little in the last book, and I just don’t see how she could be a good match.  My suspicions were confirmed when I read Under The Covers review of Lover Reborn.  While I still love the books, the romance in the last book didn’t do anything for me, and I’m expecting the same here, which  Now having said all of this, I still need my Brother fix, so I’ll be reading it anyhow.  I just hope JR Ward being the master storyteller that she is, will make it up to us.  Lover Reborn was released March 27th, have you gotten your hands on it yet?  What did you think?

Lover Reborn, book 10 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Tropical Traditions Super Sale + March Freebies & Deals

I will be doing a review and giveaway of Tropical Traditions coconut oil next week, but by then this sale will be over.  It’s such a ginormous deal that I thought I would pass it along.  Hurry though, it’s only on for two more days!

Virgin Coconut Oil, Gold Label, 2-jar pack – 2 quarts – BUY 1 GET 1 FREE!

Not only is it buy on get one free, but the original price is slashed in half so if you buy 2 quarts you’re only paying $40, instead of $160!  That’s a savings of $120!!!!

A couple of other freebies I’ve come across over the last little while that you might be interested in.

 

 

Kinder Canada is giving away 100 free Kinder Eggs every day.  Get a free Kinder Egg by following @KinderCanada and using the hash tag #HaveYouPlayedToday when prompted, the first 100 to tweet using the hash tag will get a coupon for a free egg.

Dempsters is giving away 1,000 buy one get one free coupons daily on Facebook.  They go quickly so keep an eye!

Like Finish Canada on Facebook to get one of 50,000 free samples of the dishwashing soap.

John Freida is giving away coupons for a free Precision Foam Hair Color product on Facebook, like them for your shot, and keep an eye out for the code.  That’s a $15 value!

If you’ve come across any great deals or freebies, please feel free to pass them along for me to post!

 
 

Safe Travel for Women

With only two weeks until we leave, friends are sending me tons of links on how to stay safe while travelling. One in particular is an extensive guide for women travelling alone. It burns my butt that such a thing is necessary, but unfortunately it is.  Being prepared could save you a lot of grief.

Some of the highlites:

-Know where you’re going. Research any challenges you might face for that particular country so you can be prepared.
-Leave copies of important travel information with someone at home. Passport, itinerary, ID, and important numbers.
-Also leave copies of those important documents in your suitcase in case of theft or loss.
-Get Travel Insurance, some provinces plans do cover you abroad so check with your local government office.
-Consider taking a few self defence courses. We all should do this anyhow, but it is even more important while travelling on your own.
-Register your trip with Canadians Travel Abroad. This is a registry to keep you connected to Canada in case of any disasters or problems.
-Leave as many valuables at home as you can, and do not wear your bling whenever possible. This will attract the wrong crowd.
-Always carry with you an emergency contact index card with your personal information, as well as the contact information and address, with directions, for your country’s embacy.
-Keep your luggage with you at all times to avoid tampering, and turn your luggage tags backward so prying eyes can not see your information.
-Criminals will often target women travellers, be warry of overly friendly locals.
-Set a contact schedule with friends or family back home. Use it to check in regularly so they will know if something is wrong.
-Only use reputable marked taxis, and do not get into a car if the driver has approached you.
-Know the culture of the country you are travelling to, and try to blend in. Some actions that are perfectly reasonable at home may be offensive to another culture and draw attention to yourself.
-Travel with sanitary products, simple medications like ibuprofen, anti nausea, or anti diarrhea, and condoms, these may not be readily available in the country you are visiting.
-It is a good idea to get a check up before you leave and discuss your trip with your doctor. They will know of any current health risks, shots, or other medications you might need.
-If you are single, wear a fake wedding band to thwart unwanted advances.

While chances are that none of these things will be necessary, there is no harm in being prepared. I will be travelling with my teenaged daughter, and will darn well be sure to know everything I can to be sure I keep her, and myself safe. Since we will be on a boat for the most part, most of these risks are very minimal, but that does not mean I shouldn’t try to reduce as much of it as I can. A little knowledge goes a long way.

One other thing I learned from a travel agent that should be a no brainer, but really never occured to me.  When you are researching your destination country, try to use only government and official tourism sites.  These sites will be the least biased and offer you a more true vision of the place you will be visiting and what it has to offer.

As it turns out, before I read the guide, I hadn’t even thought about travel health insurance. It was one of those forehead smacking moments, but on doing a little more research it seems that Alberta does cover many services outside of Canada. I am going to look into supplemental insurance anyhow, but it was a relief to know that for the most part, we are already covered. Be sure to check with your province, or state, and know what you need before you call for a quote.  The cost for emergency medical insurance while we are away is a whopping $57 for both of us.  I was having visions of thousands of dollars, this amount is negligeable and totally worth it for the peace of mind.

Now that you’ve gotten all those little niggly things out of the way, you can truly relax and enjoy your vacation!!!

You can read the full guide here, Her Own Way

Some other helpful links.

Wear a Fake Wedding Band.
Canadians Abroad
Healthy Travel Abroad
Check your Provinces health coverage outside of Canada.

 

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Cruise Day Countdown – Is it Time Yet?

Less than two weeks until we leave on our first ever vacation!  I’m beyond excited.  It’s also just a little over two weeks since we started our journey to a new and more healthy life.  Yesterday we signed up to continue on with our program, and just signing that paper made me feel better.  As the start to our new program, we took our weight, body fat, and I took my measurements again, and this time I’m going to suck it up and post just a few markers to keep track of what’s going on.

Original Current (After 2 weeks)
Body Fat – ??? Body Fat – 42%
Weight – ???  – 178 Last Saturday Weight – 175
Waist – 41” Waist – 39”

That body fat count made me cringe.  42%, yikes!  That’s almost half my body!  It’s a good thing I’m already working towards changing it.  I feel good, and I know it won’t be long until that body fat count is long gone.  Just those two little inches around my waist has made the world of difference in my motivation.  Since we took those stats last Saturday my decisions regarding food have been so much easier.  I’m to the point where I don’t want to sabotage myself anymore.  So last week Chelsea and I went out to the grocery store and bought everything we’d need to eat healthy this week.  As I said last week, planning ahead is key.  We purchased tons of raw veggies and enough ingredients to make sure that our healthy meals would be easy decisions throughout the week.  I will be weighed again today and have no doubt that I will be able to say goodbye to at least a pound or two.  ***  Update – I was weighed yesterday and found out I lost three pounds this week!!!  ***

I also just received my coconut oil to review.  Funny enough, without knowing that I was getting some my trainer had been touting the benefits just the day before.  It’s pretty amazing stuff and I can’t wait to try it out.  We’ll have some recipes for you next week, and a review giveaway in the next couple.

The problem I’ve had this week is that work is interfering with my classes.  With the amount of hours I’ve been putting in, sleep has suffered, and making sure I get my butt in there hasn’t been as easy as I would like.  I have gotten in four times this week, which is the goal, but I will need to figure something out if I’m going to continue to do it.  Our trainer has equated a getting to a healthy lifestyle with starting a fire.  To get a fire going you need, fuel, oxygen, and a spark.  To achieve you goals in fitness, you need good nutrition, plenty of sleep, and a mixed cardio/weight program, if any of those are not in play things fall apart.  I need to get things straightened out before things fall apart, it’s back to that planning ahead thing.  I am going in this morning, but I’m going on 2 nights in a row of only 4 hours sleep.

If anyone is in the Calgary area and interested in the program I’m attending, there is a free trial period, and if you go through me we can also get you a deal if you sign up.  It is a wonderful program with caring trainers, two locations, and tons of choices for class times.  Give me a shout through our contact page and we’ll hook you up.  I would love to see you there!

With under two weeks left until we leave both Chelsea and I are getting nervous.  I think I mentioned before that I know my nerves are due to never having done anything like this before.  To help with that, I will be doing some posts throughout the next two weeks spotlighting the ports we’ll be visiting along with some travel tips.  Please join us!

**** Don’t forget to enter our Vera Wang giveaway! ****

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Health and Beauty

 

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Pale Demon – The Hollows #9

There have been some good books in this series, some not so good too, but the good far outweighs the bad.  I had heard good things about Pale Demon, but after not liking book 7 very much I wasn’t sure what to expect.  This was by far the best in the series so far, I absolutely loved it, devoured it in one day.  The last couple of chapters still have me squealing.

Rachel has been shunned by her own kind, not only shunned but the governing body is out to get her rather than going through the trouble of giving her a fair trial.  Being shunned means that no one will interact with her, and as if her life wasn’t already hard enough, simple thing like buying groceries, or taking a plane trip become impossible.  She has three days to make it cross country to her trial and get the shunning removed, or this would be her permanent new reality.

By some odd coincidence, Trent also has only 2 days to make it the same distance and after a lot of back and forth Rachel agrees to accompany him, by car.  Of course Jenks and Ivy are along for the ride.  It’s the great American road trip, Inderland style.  Dodging the coven, and Trent’s helpful contributions make things very interesting.

There were some fabulous moments in this book, a ton of action, a lot of ‘Holy Crap,’ as usual, and a tiny bit of romance there at the end.  Finally.  Can’t wait to see where it goes!  I am so glad I don’t have to wait for the next book

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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