Welcome to 2019!

Happy New Year, everyone! Can you believe another year has come and gone? As a friend said recently, “I’m not sure how we survived 2018, but I’m just thankful we did.”

As we come up with goals and resolutions for this year, let’s remember that the new year signifies a fresh start. If there’s something you’d like to change about yourself, such as a certain habit, mindset, or perspective, there’s no better time than today – the first day of 2019 – to make that change. As 2018 reminded us, life can be short, stressful, and often unfair. There’s no point in waiting for the right moment to better yourself, because that moment may never come!

To use a cheesy (but still relevant) quote from Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” So what are you waiting for? 🙂

An Autumn Hike in Northumberland Forest & Scenic Drive Through Cobourg, Ontario

Last Sunday, my parents and I went on a pre-Thanksgiving hike to get some exercise and enjoy the beautiful colours of autumn here in Ontario. We decided to check out Northumberland County Forest, situated near the town of Cobourg, which is about an hour’s drive from Toronto. Northumberland Forest offers over 45km of hiking trails as well as routes for snowshoeing, horseback riding, hunting and ATVing. Having never been there before, we weren’t sure where to find the hiking trails; vague road signs led us to Morris Trailhead, a series of trails located in Northumberland County (which is about 15km north of Cobourg). The first thing we saw was a massive warning sign for black bear sightings in the area! This freaked me out more than I’d like to admit, though you can’t really blame me given this terrifying Leonardo DiCaprio VS Bear fight scene from The Revenant that was recently burned into my brain.

Surprisingly, we hiked about two hours (7km) without running into a single creature, bear or otherwise. Two ATVs whizzed passed us and we heard the occasional hunting rifle go off, but apart from that we saw no one else on the trail. I strongly believe in safety in numbers, so little wonder I was so jumpy with the three of us walking through a secluded forest in the middle of nowhere! My heart skipped a beat every time a twig snapped, but eventually I realized that the recurring sounds of dirt bikes and hunting rifles would likely keep bears away from the trail during the day.

I really enjoyed the relative quietness of that trail. We’ve hiked many a time up north in Algonquin Park, and although the scenery and colours were always unreal, the trails could get a little crowded. There was something special about the feeling of being removed from the hustle and bustle of Toronto while we walked through Northumberland Forest. The colours weren’t too shabby, either:

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5 Important Reasons to Start Wearing Sunscreen Every Day

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The statistics may not always be the same, but the message is – you need to take care of your skin. Source: http://becancerpositive.org/wear-sunscreen/.

Show of hands: how many of you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body? Now, did you also know that the sun’s powerful rays can cause irreparable damage to your skin, sometimes resulting in skin cancer? Yikes. I’m all for soaking up some vitamin D, but for the sake of your own skin, make sure you do it wisely! A general rule of thumb is that you should apply sunscreen if you’ll be out in the sun for more than 20 minutes, and that it should have an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15. Here are five super-important reasons to reach for the sun cream on a daily basis:

1. It’s one of the best ways to prevent skin aging. According to skincancer.org, “Sunscreen is one of the keys to radiant, youthful-looking skin…an estimated 90% of skin aging is caused by the sun.” 90%?! That fact alone should be enough to make us want to apply sunscreen every day! If you have sensitive skin or wear makeup on a daily basis, try to find a daily moisturizer or foundation with built-in SPF. That way, you’ll get sun protection without the shine or residue that can come from heavy sun creams. Bonus points if your sunscreen is all-natural (find some here)!

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Try This: 30-Second DIY Organic Lip Scrub!

Every day, people spend thousands of dollars on haircare and skincare. We buy shampoo, body lotion, Q-Tips, hair gel, razors, antiperspirant, etc…virtually every part of our bodies is covered. Surprisingly, lip care products are seemingly less abundant. There are a ton of lip balms and lipsticks out there, but I’m talking about lip scrubs – i.e., products that actually help plump and smooth our lips by gently exfoliating off old skin. From what I’ve seen, when drugstores and beauty stores do offer lip scrubs, they’re priced somewhere between $20 and $45. For a lip scrub. Isn’t that a little much?! They’re also loaded with scary and hard-to-pronounce ingredients that have no business being on our lips. Continue reading

I Made Almond Butter for the First Time, and Here’s What Happened

Here’s the first thing you should know about almond butter: if you’re going to make it yourself, you need to be patient. It is not a short process. It took me a good 25 minutes to make a smooth butter out of just 1 cup of almonds, and although it was worth it, I started to get a little frustrated towards the end! I wish I had documented the process for you all, but since I didn’t, here is a step-by-step process of what to do and how to do it. The best part is that you don’t need to add salt, sugar, oil or any of the other ingredients that you may find in prepackaged nut butters. Homemade almond butter is a simple, healthy spread – literally just blended almonds!

The second thing to know about almond butter is that it’s a great alternative to peanut butter if you have certain allergies or taste aversions. In terms of nutrition, they both offer tons of protein and fibre, but almonds provide a slightly higher dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They also have quite a different taste to peanuts, which was why, after hearing about it so often, I really wanted to try it. Continue reading

Try This: Healthy & Creamy Vegan Pasta Sauce!

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The pasta sauce tastes like cashews and potatoes – a winning combo.

I’m not vegan, but my body thanks me when I eat like one.

Veganism (refraining from consuming animal products such as meat as well as animal by-products such as dairy and eggs) has become quite trendy over the past few years. Many clothing stores now sell graphic shirts containing quotes about being vegan, while some restaurants seem to advertise their vegan food options in order to attract more customers, rather than because they believe in those principles. But for those who sincerely follow the vegan lifestyle, their drastic diet changes have appeared to make noticeable differences to their health, weight, skin, hair and even mood. This, combined with my mild lactose intolerance to things such as cheesy pasta sauces, is why I decided to try out my very first vegan recipe: vegetable- and potato-based pasta sauce. Continue reading

Struggling With Thinning Hair? Read This.

Happy Thursday, readers! Let’s get straight to business. Today’s topic is a touchy one: hair loss. Whether you recently underwent chemotherapy, have alopecia areata (bald spots) or are experiencing genetic hair loss, you know how tough this issue can be to resolve. In my case, my parents noticed I was losing hair along my hairline when I was about 15 years old. As the hair loss continued into my late teens and my medical tests still came back normal (other than a discovery of anemia), doctors and dermatologists put me on countless pills and serums that were supposed to increase hair growth. Every professional I went to suggested it was caused by stress, even though I didn’t think I was more stressed out than other kids my age. I waited around for some miracle cure to fall at my feet, but it never did. Recently, it has dawned on me that the only person who can help me is me, whether that means fixing the problem or simply covering it up (keep in mind that new hairs usually take a long time to grow back).

With that said, this post is not an opportunity for me to ramble on about the woes of having thinning hair. Instead, it’s an opportunity for me to help those of you with similar problems as I understand how embarrassing, frustrating and intimidating hair loss can be! Apart from exercising more, getting enough sleep, applying castor oil to my scalp, and taking biotin pills, all of which have actually led to new hair growth, I’ve been using a product that mimics the appearance of a full head of thick hair.

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