Audrey & Bethany NEED your help meeting a need!

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Every year at Christmas, one of the company I work for (my parent’s company) has a “Food for Friends” drive that pivots around our company open house. Suppliers, trades, customers, friends and even, at times strangers make donations to our local food bank and each year blow our minds with their generosity. It’s overwhelming to stand, at the back of my Mom’s Honda Pilot, looking at the mass amounts of food, diapers and supplies given out of the goodness of people’s hearts.

For Bethany & Audrey, it’s one of their favourite parts of the Christmas season. They love having the privilege of helping us deliver the food to the local Salvation Army and eagerly help load food hampers with us for families in need in out community.

When we had kids, Corey and I set out to raise women who have “Jesus’ heart”, who are kind, generous and loving. Little did we know that HE gave us girls with so much more than we could ever teach them. Their love for helping – whether it’s me in the kitchen or kid who’s sad is such a beautiful thing. They were born with the desire to serve and we try, as often as we can to give them avenues in which they can do it.

Recently, a need in our community came to our attention and its direct connection to our lives & our hearts resulted in all of us feeling like we HAD to do something…and so we are! (secret: We’re inviting YOU to help too!)
Most of you know that a year and a half ago Audrey was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The means that for the safety of her body she can’t eat anything that contains gluten! It will harm her, both in immediate physical symptoms and long term permanent damage to her little body. It was a hard diagnosis to swallow, but one we have grown to appreciate and embrace. It changed her life and it has made us so much more aware of a different kind of need.

Someone with Celiac disease needs to eat “Gluten Free” foods (certified) for their body to function properly and be safe. That means it can’t contain wheat, rye, barley or triticale (among other things), nothing that contains gluten. In general, we have found this to be not so difficult. Fresh fruits, vegetables & meats are all naturally gluten free, as are non-gluten grains (rice, millet, sorghum) etc. Where you run into the cost, and potential problem in this diet is when it comes to bread, dairy products, pasta, cured meats, crackers and canned goods. Many things, MANY of them that you would think are gluten free – like a can of mushroom soup, are not. They are filled with gluten – and there for seriously dangerous to a Celiac.

The items that are gluten free are significantly more expensive than their wheat counterparts and this diagnosis can take a real toll on your grocery bill. For those living on meager means, or needing assistance, this can feel or even be nearly impossible.

See where I’m going with this?

Last week we learned that our local food bank and food banks around Canada have very little in regards to gluten free foods. In fact, the lady I spoke to said there are times they have almost no gluten free foods to offer to a family in need who are facing Celiac disease, or wheat allergy. She said there are times they come and look through the canned foods available and can’t find almost anything safe for them. Unfortunately, the majority of what gets donated to a food bank, the things they are able to keep in stock for families in need are things that are packaged & canned. These are the very things that people like our Audrey can’t have.

When we learned this our hearts broke and the girls were filled with questions – “How did we not know this was happening?”, “WHY is it happening?” and more importantly “How can we fix it?”

The answers are simple – we didn’t know it was happening because we didn’t think to ask. The reason it’s happening is because NOBODY else knows there’s a need either, and what we can do about it why I’m writing this blog post!

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From August 15 – 18 2016 Audrey and Bethany are holding their first ever GLUTEN FREE FOOD DRIVE! And as an added bonus they’re raffling off 2 Chilliwack Chiefs Kids Jerseys (you earn an entry when you donate)
We will be collecting Gluten Free donations for our local food bank, doing our best to not only fill their shelves with foods safe for everyone but also to create awareness in our community, and communities around Canada about a need that needs meeting! This is a problem we CAN fix – if you’re willing to help us.
Here’s how you can help:

  1. If you live in the Chilliwack/Fraser Valley area purchase some gluten free food and contact me. We will have a collection location for you to drop off your food
  2. Tell your friends about Audrey & Bethany’s Gluten Free Food Drive and invite them to participate
  3. If you live ANYWHERE else in Canada purchase a few gluten free items & donate them to your local food bank.
  4. Consider running your own Gluten Free Food drive and help your local food banks
  5. Share this blog post/Facebook event and help spread awareness to a growing need
  6. Leave a comment and share with us how YOU would like to help

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Helping someone else isn’t a chore friends, it’s a choice. Today we care daring you to make a choice to acknowledge a need and do what you can to meet it!

Pure Hazelwood – Pain Relief & Giveaways!

For as long as I can remember I’ve had trouble with my hips.  Doctors have looked at them, x-rays have been done and the ultimate conclusion is that they probably should have been casted when I was a baby.  Not quite congenital hips but just a step below them.  My Mom was really on the ball, noticing how loose they were but our doctor was never concerned.  It’s just one of those things that happened, because stuff happens.

Anyways, what that means is that they often “fall out” of the socket or at the very least sound/feel like they do.  If I’m sitting on the floor with the flats of my feet pressed together my knees flop to the side.  Riding a bike can often be painful because one or both will slip out of place and I have to manually shift them back to relieve the pain. 

I’ve spent years working the muscles that surround those joints, to strengthen them and while it’s helped they still cause me grief.  

The hardest part – they ache horribly, like the kind of ache you get when you have a fever except it feels deep in my joints. They are the worst at night, especially during my period (you’re welcome) often resulting in lost sleep.

The thing is, I don’t like taking medication.  In fact, in our house we do our best to avoid taking it when at all possible, looking for more natural solutions.  I also don’t tolerate most pain medications well as many of them contain corn as a filler and leave me with a whole different problem.  That being said – there are times I need something to help alleviate the discomfort, which leaves me on the hunt for natural alternatives.

When I heard about the Pure Hazelwood products (for more information check out their website) and their potential to help with so many different ailments, I was intrigued.

For the past 18 years Pure Hazelwood has been pioneering scientific research on hazel wood products, discovering it’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-bacterial potential. They’re products have been credited for helping with a wide range of ailments, teething pain, colic, arthritis (joint pain!), skin problems (including eczema, & psoriasis), digestive problems & even mouth sores.

Of course they had me at joint pain, but then I started looking at their product line and I was pretty impressed.  They have beautiful bracelets, anklets & necklaces for adults & children, as well as moisturizing lotion & zinc ointment.  By using glass beads, fresh water pearls & natural gemstones they have been able to offer a variety of lovely products that suite everyone’s taste.  I chose a fresh water pearl hazel wood necklace – and I LOVE it.  (Pearls are among my favourite things!)

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All of the products are made from 100% natural hazelwood from the Canadian Boreal Forest by a Canadian company, which is something else we love!.  When at all possible Our Family Stone tries to keep it local.  The products can be found in pharmacies, health food stores, baby boutiques and my favourite option – online.

Pretty right?

Pure Hazelwood Necklace

Pretty cool too, no?

My necklace came and it was beautiful, something I could and do wear with just about anything.  I’ve spent the last 2 weeks wearing it every day and watching to see what would happen. 

While I’d love to say it was a miracle cure & all my pain disappeared overnight, you and I both know that wouldn’t be true.  What I can say is that I weathered my period over those 2 weeks (again you are SO welcome!) and I didn’t have to get up in the night to take any pain medication not even once. That all by itself is a huge win!

We will see what the future holds for our family with my Pure Hazelwood necklace.  I have plans to let Audrey wear it and see if it makes a difference for her with her eczema this winter too.  Who knows, maybe I have found the easy & ultimate cure for a problem that can be so persistent, I’ll be sure to report back & let you know.

Now, here’s something exciting for YOU – Pure Hazelwood is giving away 3 fantastic prizes including a $50 gift certificate and a Pure Hazelwood product (valued at $50)!  All you have to do is enter below for your chance to win!

Pure Hazelwood Influence Central Contest

If you’ve tried the Pure Hazelwood products I’d love to hear about it!  Did you find relief, did your kids?  If you haven’t tried, will you?  What ailment are you hoping to find a natural cure for?

If you have any further questions be sure to check out the Pure Hazelwood Facebook page or reach out to them on Twitter!  

“Disclosure: I am part of the Pure Hazelwood Influencer Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Keeping it clean with Garnier Clean+

I have skin issues.  They began some time around 13 and they’ve never gone away.  I’ve had stage 4 acne (complete with boils that left scars), I’ve had back-ne, there’s been dry patches and oil slicks.   At one point or another I’ve been every “skin-type” except normal, with a nice case of sensitive skin to top it off.

It has made purchasing make-up difficult, moisturizers painful and skin cleansers down right upsetting.   I need something to clean away the dirt & grim from the day, remove my make-up and be gentle enough to not irritate my skin.

I’ve tried many cleansers, in fact I’ve reviewed a few of them here but none have completely fit the bill.  It’s an on-going journey, a costly, frustrating journey but I have hope that one day soon I will find one that “does it all!”

Garnier Clean+

Most recently I was given the opportunity to try the Garnier Clean Plus – Clean + Makeup Removing Cleansing Lotion.  It promises to help my sensitive skin “look & feel its best” with customized cleansing.  This particular cleanser was formulated to leave sensitive skin feeling moisturized and protected with the infusion of Plant Extracts.  It’s been Dermatologist, Ophthalmologist, and allergy tested.

The claim is that after one use: “Skin feels comfortable and conditioned and thoroughly cleansed.”  After a week of uses: “Skin feels smoother and softer and looks healthier.”

After almost a week of use here’s what I think:

The first thing I noticed was the makeup removal.  This is the first cleanser I’ve used that took off my makeup (including waterproof eyeliner) without any effort.  I didn’t even need to use my coconut oil to remove the racoon eyes I often have post face wash!  That in and of itself made this cleanser stand out.

Over all it does leave my face feeling smooth & soft.  I don’t get that tight dry feeling after I wash and the smell is quite nice, subtle but clean.  My skin seems to like it alright too, there haven’t been any dry patches or stinging under my eyes, which is a common reaction to many cleansers. 

I have noticed a few more small acne type patches than I normally have but I can’t say they’re directly from using the new product.  It could be hormone related (hello female hormone roller coaster) or stress or the change in product.  It’s simply too soon to tell.

As a whole I’d say the Garnier Clean Plus – Clean + Makeup Removing Cleansing Lotion delivers what it promises.  As long as my skin isn’t reacting to it, I’d also say it’s something I’d purchase again.  I love that it removes all my make-up and would make an excellent addition to my travel/gym bag!

Product has been provided by Garnier Canada, the opinions and language are my own, and in no way do they reflect Garnier Canada.

Mastering your Winter Skin Woes


Over the years I have spent a small fortune on skin care products, the expensive ones & the inexpensive ones, especially the ones designed for my hands. Some of them have worked OK, offering up temporary relief, others have been a complete fail – refusing to soak in causing my hands to remain a constant oil slick, and me unable to open a jar of peanut butter (true story, I couldn’t get it open. I just wanted peanut butter on my apple…).

I bake a lot, which means my hands are in & out of dough, then dishwater, I have kids to bathe & with all the germs said children come with, my hands are also constantly being washed. All the water & outside elements leaves them so dry they hurt sometimes and I was desperate for a solution. A real, solution I could count on. Last Winter I lucked out and found the Jergens Vitamin E Replenishing Moisturizer at my local Shoppers Drug Mart. I had once again been on the hunt for a product I could use on a daily basis that would fit the moisturizing bill without leaving my hands slimy. I noticed the Jergens lotions & remembered my Mom using their lotions when I was little, so I took a chance. It worked great, my hands felt better almost right away, more moisturized but not gooey. I also noticed that I could use the lotion and even after a good hand washing my hands weren’t as painful as before, almost as though they were being healed at the same time.

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Since then I’ve purchased two more bottles of the Jergens Vitamin E Replenishing Moisturizer, which if you visit us you’ll already know as one sits in my living room right next to my chair. The other I keep by my bed and I use it nightly on both my hands & my feet. The girls like it too, and while I have a different lotion I use on their bodies, it’s Audrey’s lotion of choice for her bedtime foot massage. She always asks for the “Mommy lotion that smells good” and a “Thumb foot rub” before she goes to sleep.

Once again, Shoppers Drug Mart has our family’s needs covered. Regardless of what I’m shopping for I know I’m going to be able to find it in my local Shoppers Drug Mart & that when I do find what I need, I’ll also be earning my Shoppers Optimum Points in the process (which I save for me – kinda like my very own “Mommy Reward”)!

I don’t know if you’re struggling with dry skin, but I’m going to guess if not you, someone else in your house is. On top of that I’m betting that your needs in a lotion aren’t necessarily the same as mine. The team at Shoppers Drug Mart knows that too & they understand that their large selection of products designed to keep our skin healthy this winter can be slightly (or completely) overwhelming. As always, knowing the needs of your family & mine they took care of details:

-The Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Experts offer complementary in-store skin consultations, using the beautyRx tool

– During your Skin Analysis the consultant will measure the hydration levels of your skin using the Moisture Checker. They will also use a Video Microscope to magnify your skin’s surface by 30 TIMES to help diagnose your skin type!

– Based on your readings, and preferences they will work with you to recommend the appropriate skin care products.

Whether you’re looking for luxury products like Clinique, Estee Lauder & Biotherm for specific skin ailments or a more broad spectrum product like I was, with Jergens, Nivea & Vaseline, I’m confident Shoppers Drug Mart will have it. After my great success finding what WE needed, I can’t recommend enough that you visit your local Shoppers Drug Mart. If you’re uncertain what to buy, take them up on the complementary beautyRx Skin Analysis and then purchase your products with confidence (and Optimum points)!

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Although this post has been generously sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart, the opinions and language are my own, and in no way do they reflect Shoppers Drug Mart.

Packing it in – Eating on the Run

Over the years, as my food allergies have increased, the ability to eat out has dramatically decrease.  The addition of corn and ALL its many bi-products to the majority of the food we consume has meant that even a simple tossed salad or a cup of tea can become a dangerous and painful venture for me. 

Restaurants try to disclose their ingredients, labels give vague details of what’s included (ever wonder, “What are natural flavorings?  And why not use the real thing?”) and “pre-washed” vegetables taunt me in the grocery store aisles. 

After years of trying and failing when it comes to eating out, of severe reactions and painful hours after I have basically given up eating out.  If I want to fuel my body when I’m on the road, I need to pack the food (and most often before it’s packed I need to bake/make it) and bring it along. 

In general, as frustrated as I am about the garbage they’re putting into our food, and the fact that it leaves me without options, I’m also ok with it.   I’m not really spontaneous by nature, I like to plan, I like to be organized (list writers unite!) and I like to consume healthy foods.  So, planning & packing food isn’t really a problem for me.

It also great on our pocket books.  For the most part if I’m already packing myself food, I pack things for my family as well.  I like knowing what they’re eating and the savings of packing your own lunch/snacks vs. purchasing them can be huge!  Don’t get me wrong, they still eat out at times, and I totally think treats are fun – I just like to find the balance.

For me, the part I find most frustrating about the packing of food process, is the container, containment!  It’s a thing, really. 

You see 4 people + snacks + lunch = a WHOLE LOTTA containers.  Now, I have a minivan and it does have a lot of room, but I’d prefer to not use up all that space with our containers. 

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As part of the same opportunity I had to try out these storage space saving Rubbermaid containers, I was also given the opportunity to try out the Rubbermaid LunchBlox Sandwich Kit containers.

These containers have been designed to be a lunch packers dream!  The containers are perfectly portioned into different sizes, with a Built-In Blue Ice pack, and the lids/containers all snap together.   I think the fact that they all lock together is my favourite feature.  Since we are often times on the move driving while I’m eating, having everything together as one means I’m not chasing flying salad & cashews across my van.

The Built-In Blue Ice means that my daily salad & dressing, along with the girls’ cheese & crackers stay cool for longer.  Warm lettuce makes me gag and squishy cheese is nasty!  They’re also large enough that I’m able to pack things for more than just one of us to eat.

So far, I’m really impressed with these containers, not just for my lunches but in the girls’ school lunches too.  We can separate out a few containers each and they still lock together.  Then when they get home, I’m able to toss them into the dishwasher (or microwave if we’re warming up what’s left) without having to worry!

Packing lunches & snacks whether you’re facing food allergies like I am or just trying to make better choices for your family is easier with the Rubbermaid LunchBlox Sandwich Kit!

If you’re already packing lunches, do you have these fantastic containers to work with?   What do you pack?

If you don’t pack lunches, I’d love to urge you to give it a try – you’ll be surprised at how easy & beneficial it is!

“Disclosure: I am part of the Rubbermaid Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Keeping the Joy this Christmas with GIFTS MADE EASY


With Halloween finally over with (hallelujah!) we’re now on a clear path straight for THE holiday season.  Sure the year is filled with many holidays, but this is the mother of all holidays, the one that is so significant, so spectacular that it has earned the right to be lovingly referred to as THE HOLIDAY SEASON – Christmas! 

I love the massive celebration of what Christmas really means, the sparkling lights, gingerbread men, Starbucks red cups & Mariah Carey on the radio (every 5 minutes).  When November 1st hits each year I’m a little happier, a little more excited and visions of the holiday fun begin to dance in my head. 

The trouble is, when I pull out my life line – aka my day planner, I also start to feel a little bit of panic.  I have SO many things I have to do, SO many things the kids need to do, SO many gifts to find and SO few hours to get it all accomplished.  It can be overwhelming and I was already starting to think that if I didn’t find a solution quick it was all going to swallow me whole and steal some of the joy out of this holiday season.  

Then I made a discovery – everyone else is just as busy, apparently it’s a “busy-ness thing” and it’s all the rage.  It’s also what can incite Mommy Rage, so…. in an effort to help the people at Shoppers Drug Mart have come up with some holiday solutions!   

To begin with they’ve created a GIFTS MADE EASY online destination that will allow us to sort through hundreds of gift ideas by price, category and/or the type of person you’re shopping for.  (CATEGORIZED LISTS!  Can I get a fist bump from all my Type A organizers out there!)  For me this means being able to go through my list of “to buy for” loved ones, source out what I’m looking for and find it within my budget all before heading out the door, making my shopping a little less stressful and a lot more time efficient. 

I already have some great gift ideas for our “minis” from the Cool Kids & Trendy Tots sections of the online gift finder: 

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  • For my Audrey, there is the LeapFrog My Pal Scout, the perfect companion for her little friend Violet. 

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  • For Bethany, the Disney Frozen Olaf, because Frozen and…Olaf.  Do you want to build a snowman? 

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  • Then I saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Combat Gear that I’d love to give to the local toy drive this year.  My brother loved TMNT stuff when we were kids and the idea that some other little boy could be enjoying them just as much makes me all warm and fuzzy! 

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  • The Modern Man section is going to be great when it comes to my Dad (he who’s affectionately known as “IMPOSSIBLE” to buy for) with a Gillette ProGlide Holiday Pack, Shoppers Drug Mart gift cards and a Sony Micro Hi-Fi Stereo.    

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  • Where Corey is concerned, I might just hit up The Entertainer section, filled with sweets, chocolate treats & Hershey Kisses Milk Chocolate it’s perfect for my sugar loving sweetheart. 

 

From November 12-December 25th, Shoppers Drug Mart will have in-store sales, promotions & exclusive holiday gift sets to help maximize your savings.  They’ll also be launching gift guides like the “Give Beauty, beautyBoutique by Shoppers Drug Mart” which are already available and the “Get Set for the Happiest Holidays” coming on November 15th.  Then keep watching for 3 additional gift guides/beauty books late in November & December for those final stocking stuffers & “oops I forgot” gifts.  And don’t forget the fact that most Shoppers Drug Mart locations are open late and you can earn Shoppers Optimum Points on almost all your holiday purchases.   Meanwhile along the way you’ll also be able to join the conversation at #giftsmadeeasy.  

You’d think with all that awesomeness they’d be done there – but like those crazy infomercials THERE’S MORE!   Except instead of just doubling what you’re already buying, Shoppers Drug Mart has come up with something new & even better – stuff you can win! 

From December 1st to 24th 2014 visit the Shoppers Drug Mart website and play the Unwrap to Win game for a chance to win fantastic prizes from beauty, fragrance, skin care, toy sets, gift cards and electronics.  They’ll be giving away 15 prizes a day with 360 chances for you to win! 

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Finally, to ice the cake, you can head over to Twitter and join in on the #SDMHolidays retweet to win contest for a chance to win 1 of 10 $100 Shoppers Drug Mart Gift Cards. I wouldn’t wait, this contest ends November 21 2014 at 9:00am EST!  You could use them for some of that holiday shopping or maybe for a little “I survived wrapping it all” gift for you! 

You guys, Shoppers Drug Mart has really done an outstanding job of thinking of US this holiday season.  Head over to the GIFTS MADE EASY website, do some shopping, ENTER to win gifts, ENTER to win a gift card and then enjoy the time you’ve saved with your family.  After all, that IS what this Holiday Season is about anyways! 

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Although this post has been generously sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart, the opinions and language are my own, and in no way do they reflect Shoppers Drug Mart. 

Erasing the Damage with Fructis


My hair is an oxymoron. Most days it’s a greasy, dry mess of long frustration. Over the years it has been many things, it started out thick & straight, then puberty hit and it began to get a little wave, two pregnancies (and their lovely hormones) saw it lean hard towards wavy and then, when those ended, it seemed like 1/2 of it fell out and what was left had a mental break.

My hair isn’t nearly as thick as it used to be, the waves/curls didn’t return, nor did the straight hair – instead I have greasy roots and dry ends which result in a big batch of frizz (if left unattended).

I have spent a lot of time & money on different hair care products. Often times the ones for dry hair leave me with this nasty oil slick on top and the ones for fine, limp hair result in more damage on the ends and this bizarre lions mane of a “do” – either way it feels like a fail.

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Lately though I’ve been seeing the Fructis Damage Eraser products shining their bright orange selves off the shelves of the hair care section. I’ve stopped once or twice to read the packages but I wasn’t sure if these products were made for bipolar hair like mine. Then I was given the opportunity to try them out and I jumped on it – what could it hurt to try!

I love trying new hair & beauty products & I was stoked when I received my sample pack. Inside were 10mL samples of the Fructis Damage Eraser Shampoo, Conditioner and Repairing Mask – approximately the amount I would normally use in 1, maybe 2 washes. While my hair may not be as thick as it once was it’s still long and normally requires a fair amount of product. I was unsure that there would be enough to see a difference but in good faith (and slight excitement) I headed off to the shower.

Before I let you know what I think let’s go over what Garnier has to say about the products. The Fructis Damage Eraser products are the newest in “hair care innovation” from the Garnier Fructis team and promise to reconstruct hair’s strength by up to 90%! It’s been designed for us “Damage Criminals” who put our hair through some serious blow drying, hair straightening, heat styling boot-camp on a regular basis. You know all the things that leave our poor strands dry, damaged & stressed out. Its purpose is to strengthen our hair from the root to the tip, taking the damage worry out of heat styling.

Sounds pretty good right?

 

Now it’s my turn.  Here’s what I think:

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First off I’ve got to say they surprised me, these products seem to be the definition of “a little goes a long way”. I’m on my 3rd shampoo with the Fructis Damage Eraser Fortifying Shampoo and still have enough left for at least one more wash. I literally used 1/2 of what I normally do when it comes to shampoo, it lathered nicely and when I rinsed my hair felt clean.

repairing-conditioner-bigThe same can be said for the Frustis Damage Eraser Repairing Conditioner, which contains their Phyto-Keratin® Complex and plant based proteins. It went in easily with less than I would normally use and washed out quite well, without leaving a residue feeling.

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My favourite by far though is the Fructis Damage Eraser Repairing Mask. Unlike other hair masks and deep conditioners it felt like this went into my hair strand to work, not on top of it. When I rinsed it out after 3 minutes there was no film left making me feel like my hair was slimy. I even conditioned afterwards, and when my hair dried post shower it wasn’t greasy or slimy at all – something that can’t be said for other damage controlling products. I also love the smell! It must be the fruit concentrate in the formulas but it’s light and reminds me of something (that I can’t for the life of me figure out) from my past. Every time I lather it makes me smile.

My hair is softer over all, something it hasn’t been in a while. I haven’t used the product line long enough to say I’ve seen all the benefits that it is said to offer but I have seen positive changes in my hair and I will probably give this one a purchase when the samples run out to see what happens over time.

Check out the Garnier website for more details on the NEW Fructis Damage Eraser line as well as to take advantage of the great trial offers available. For a limited time you’ll be able to try out these products too, and I’d LOVE to hear what you think of them!

 

This post was brought to you by Garnier L’Oreal Canada via SheBlogs. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Garnier L’Oreal Canada

 

 

Shoppers Drug Mart – Gifts Made Easy

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I have a confession to make – I am a Christmas Shopping Procrastinator (CSP for short). I’m the one in the stores the last week before Christmas “finishing” up my shopping, bumping into other CSP’s, smiling at the dude with the “Bah-Humbug” expression and humming along to the 5th version of Silent night I’ve heard in the past hour.

It’s not that I don’t like to go Christmas shopping, in fact it’s the complete opposite – I LOVE shopping for Christmas and I like to stretch it out as long as I can. Well, that and also the fact that I have a few people on my list who are impossible to buy for. You know the ones – they either have everything, are of a different gender (those chromosomes really mess a girl up ya know) or are so awesome you don’t want to get them the “wrong gift”. I love each and every one of them but at times, the “perfect gift” feels like an impossible feet.

This year I’m planning for things to be a little different. While I still plan to be shopping the last week of Christmas, because I want to be – I’m aiming to make it slightly less “I’m never going to find the right gift” worrisome and make it a whole lot more “this is awesome and so is that, there bought, wrapped, done” and I’m enlisting Shoppers Drug Mart to help me do it.

From now and carrying through until December 14 2013 Shoppers Drug Mart will be releasing their Gift Guides and Beauty Books. These books will be filled with something for everybody on our Christmas shopping lists from the easy little ones (little girls are so EASY to buy for at Shoppers – can you say beauty buys?!) to the tricky 20 something brothers in law (hello, electronics!).

The in store sales and promotions, make it even better. Who doesn’t want to find great gifts at a great price? Then the next best part, the points. I love collecting Optimum Points on almost all my purchases over the holidays. It usually makes for some fun new make-up & a foot soak set for me when the holidays are over.

I’ve already got my eye on a few exciting gift ideas for this year:

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Gosh Nail Set – A new exclusive 5 Oh My nail lacquers set. These will be perfect for our two little beauties who love getting their nails done.

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Cadbury Holiday Gift Box – Milk Chocolate Wafers (300g), for my Cadbury loving husband. (ps – I may have to sample 1 or 5…you know to make sure they’re good enough for him!)

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Axe Men Gift Bag Phoenix – Shampoo (355mL), Shower Gel (473mL), Anti-Perspirant (76g), Body Spray (113g) all set with a premium toiletry bag. What 20 something guy doesn’t need a little help in the “smell department”?

The list is endless with Play-Doh Candy Canes, Sony Wireless headphones and Fragrance Sampler & Certificate for Him (and her) also in the mix. To ice the cake select beauty products will have a free gift with purchase! So visit your local Shoppers Drug Mart while quantities last – nobody wants to miss out on something Free. I’m absolutely certain by the time Christmas Eve rolls around my shopping list will be demolished and my wrapping pile will be HUGE.

Once you’ve made your shopping list, before you head out the door don’t forget to check out the Shoppers Drug Mart Facebook page, for 12 days starting on December 2nd they’ll be having a contest that will give away multiple prizes to some lucky winners. Don’t forget, when you find that perfect

something send them and me a shout out on Twitter (using the #giftsmadeeasy hashtag), let us know what you bought and who it’s for!

So this Christmas season whether you’re the early bird getting the worm or a procrastinator like me keep Shopper Drug Mart in mind. They’re usually only a short drive away from home, with lots of parking and open late, they’ll have what you’re looking for and even more. Not sure where your closest store is? Check out the Shoppers Drug Mart Holiday Page for locations, great gift ideas and all the exciting holiday catalogs!

Disclaimer: I received compensation for writing this post, however all views & opinions are my own. We patron Shopper Drug Mart on a regular basis outside writing this post and are happy to share a company we support.

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Christmas Cards done the Minted Way

In case you haven’t heard the awesome news – Halloween is over and CHRISTMAS IS COMING!  Starbucks has pulled out the Red Cups (!), Costco is bring out bathing suits (OK, so not yet but I bet they will soon) and I’m starting to think about Christmas cards.

I love Christmas cards, I don’t always so much love the addressing and the mailing part but I love all they hold.  The photos, the sentiment, the reminder to stop and tell someone you love them, also the glitter, the colors and the cute little snowmen – it’s just a little bit of awesome mixed in with the mail.

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My favourite Christmas cards are the ones with photos, the ones that are photos.  These photo cards & family photos we receive during the holidays fill a bulletin board in my kitchen that year round reminds me to be thankful for those people and to pray for them.

This year Minted is going to be helping us design our Christmas photo cards.  I’ve spent the last hour browsing through hundreds of beautiful, classic designs envisioning the perfect card to wish our family & friends a very Merry Christmas.

Minted 4I love how they think “outside the box” with these Holiday Minibooks.

Not sure where to start?  Check out their Inspiration Boards!  I love how I can browse through the great ideas, and beautiful collections to find ideas of my own.  Which, when you’re design challenged like I am is a very helpful feature.

Keep in mind that Christmas is less than 2 months away, which means you need to order your cards soon to allow time for them to arrive.  Minted’s estimated shipping times to Canada are 3-5 business days regular shipping and 1-2 days priority, which means if you order them today you’ll have them in hand with plenty of time to get them out to your family & friends before Christmas.

So, now it’s time for me to ask you for a little favor.  I have a few favourite designs and I just simply can’t choose the right one.  Take a look at the 3 designs below and let me know which one you like the best.

Minted 2Design #1Minted 1Design #2

Minted 6Design #3

Personally I think I’m leaning towards Design #3.  I love how different and cute it is – not to mention how curious I am about what the girls would like to “say” in their little bubbles.

I am SO excited for all the festivities of the holidays to begin and ordering my Christmas cards feels like the perfect way to kick things off.

Disclaimer: I have received compensation for this post but all opinions & views are my own.  I love the beautiful quality of the Minted products!

Snack back up with Kellogg’s

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Packing school & work lunches isn’t really the worst thing ever.  Actually, I kind of like doing it.  I love getting to be creative with what everyone is getting to eat, making new things, playing around with “imagination sandwiches” shapes and sneaking little bits of love into their bags.

I love hunting through Pinterest (which is my restricted screen time, a girl could get lost – LOST in the land of the Pinterest!), flipping through magazines and coming up with my own ideas & recipes to make lunches both fun & nutritious.

That being said, there are times when a day gets too busy to be creative.  When I haven’t had the time or the weather’s been too hot to bake and what I really need are snacks that are easy, quick and not completely nutritionally void for our family.

When a box from our friends at Kelloggers Team arrived a week before school started I excitedly dove in to its contents.  I needed “back up” snack options, and they needed to know what we thought of their new products – it was perfect.

Here’s what we received:

Special K Popcorn Chips:

These Popcorn chips are only 80 calories per serving and come in both Butter and Sweet & Salty flavours.  They’re created to “Satisfy your love of buttery popcorn and still stay on track”.

Corey, the girls and my Mom all tried out these chips and had mixed reviews.  None of them really enjoyed the Sweety & Salty flavor, none of them said there was anything wrong with these chips, it just isn’t something they enjoyed.

The Butter flavour was met with a little more enthusiasm.  The girls in particular liked these chips.  They seemed to have a good crunch and the recommended serving of 20 chips was more than enough to satisfy them.   Which is a big bonus when it comes to chip like foods.  I often find chips are one of those things it’s hard to stop at just a few with.

Vector Protein Chewy Bars:

The Vector Protein Chewy Bars come in two flavours – Peanut and Mixed Nut (which contains almonds & peanuts) and are designed with nutrition & athletes in mind.  They’re design to offer “A high performance snack to help fuel your active lifestyle”.  Boasting 11g of protein and 5g of fiber per bar these are a great snack to help carry you through a long day or as a post workout re-fuel.

Corey and Audrey tried both bars and quite liked them.  Corey mentioned that they were slightly dry ( a common complaint in bars high in protein) but he liked the flavor, and the little bit of chocolate dipped on the bottom of each bar.

All-Bran Blueberry Brown Sugar Flavour Cereal Bars:

A great tasting, easy way to get fibre on-the-go” is the promise of these, yummy Kellogg’s All Bran Cereal bars.

These were by far Audrey’s favourite part of the package!   They have become a real treat to her (Corey mentioned they had an extremely sweet, almost candy like flavour) and she’s had more than her fair share of the package.  We will probably keep a box of these handing little snacks on hand for Audrey.

When it comes to back to school the team at Kellogg’s has you covered.  Whether you’re looking for a yummy breakfast cereal (we’re Brown Rice – Rice Krispies and Special K lovers over here), protein bars (an essential nutrient for muscle & brain function) or grab & go breakfast bars, like the All Bran Blueberry bars you can trust that Kellogg’s will have what you need!