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Friday, July 29, 2016

Life's a Beach: SUP, Sand & Sunnies {+ GIVEAWAY}

How is it almost August already?! Seriously. As usual, our beautiful West Coast Summer is flying by, but there's still plenty of time to clock in some days at the beach. Whether you just like to sprawl out on a towel, chase the kids through tide pools, or jump right into the big blue, there's something about the sun and sand that's hard to resist.

Here on the West Coast we're blessed with natural beauty, with the ocean playing a major part in why we love living here. And if you haven't already, you should add paddle boarding to your Summer bucket list. While we have to treck to Tofino to surf, paddle boarding- aka SUP- has become a popular choice for local beach goers and a big part of what today's post is all about (and yes, there is a GIVEAWAY to go with it!!!).

My friend Piya at The Handpicked Home Shop and I work together on photo shoots fairly often and when she started carrying Proof Eyewear, we thought it would be fun to not only show off these awesome sunnies, but some fun beach- inspired style and the beauty of the beach that's minutes from the shop. And what better way to show off what White Rock has to offer visitors than a SUP session? Thanks to Feral Boardsports us two gals along with the help of my oh- so- awesome brother (thanks again Steve!) spent an afternoon paddle boarding and had a blast shooting photos at the beach decked out in fun threads from All Twerk No Pray and Feral (not only are the clothes offered up by these two collaborators just plain awesome, both have big hearts- scroll to the end of the post to see how they're helping worthy causes). I had a hard time narrowing down the photos to use, so there are quite a few- BUT- I hope they show how awesome some SUP, sand, & sun can be! 

This was Piya's first time paddle boarding and she killed it. Seriously, if you get the chance to go paddle boarding, DO IT! Feral is located right on the beach and offers rentals for paddle boards and other beach activities, including kiteboarding and kayaking (see the full list here) and  their latest venture is offering flyboarding. I don't want to spoil the surprise for you, so you'll have to check out their website to see what this is (it looks AWESOME!!!

And can we give those sunnies some love?! Proof Eyewear makes some pretty sweet styles and we had a hard time picking (Piya is showing off the McCall Wood shades in Mahogany and I'm wearing the Ontario Eco pair in Crystal Kush- both have polarized lenses). Not only does this company offer up some pretty great eyewear  that's made from eco- friendly/ sustainable materials, they give back to worthy causes both local to their home of Idaho and globally (you can check out more info about them and all the collaborators at the end of this post). If you want to pick up a pair locally, take a drive to White Rock and check out the selection Piya has in stock at her shop.

Aaaaand finally, let's just talk about that beachin' style. I went monochromatic with All Twerk & No Pray's 'Straight West Coastin' one piece (I couldn't think of a better suit than this one for this shoot!) and the 'Baecation' tank. I love the cheeky style of this local line and if you want to really have fun, designer Taylor will create a custom design for you. Piya and Steve both got to pick their fave tanks from Feral's in- shop selection (when you visit them on the beach to rent your paddle boards you can shop their tees, tanks, and sweaters- all with a portion of the proceeds going to families affected by Autism). And as the photos show, we had fun showing off for the camera just how much we loved our beachin' style...!!!

So whadya think? Are you going to give SUP a try??? Well how about I make it a little easier for you to get you to the beach in style... the 3 brands who helped us pull this post together have teamed up with me on a pretty sweet GIVEAWAY!!!

Here's what's up for grabs:

- $100 online gift card from Proof eyewear towards the purchase of a pair of sunglasses of your choice
- tank from All Twerk & No Pray (winner's choice of their 'But First Coffee' or 'Sweat Daily' white tank)
- 1 hour SUP session for 2 from Feral Boardsports

How's that for ya??? See all the ways to enter in the entry form below. To learn more about everyone who helped bring this collaboration together, check 'em out below. A big THANK YOU to them and Piya & Steve for helping me pull everything together! See you at the beach!

***Contest is open to Canadian residents only. If the first drawn winner is unable to enjoy the SUP session for 2 from Feral, another winner will be drawn for this individual prize

Collaborator Love

The Handpicked Home

Celebrating it's first year anniversary in August, The Handpicked Home is the passion project of owner Piya, who lovingly selects the products she carries- many of them by local artisans and brands based right here in BC. Everything is handpicked to bring shoppers a curated shopping experience whether they're shopping for themselves, their home, or a gift. Next time you're in White Rock, don't miss your chance to stop in and maybe even find shop pup Colbie- Piya & hubby Pav's Boston Terrier- snuggling up to shoppers.

Facebook: The Handpicked Home
Instagram: @thehandpickedhomeshop

Proof Eyewear
3 brothers started Proof in 2010 after one of them tried to make a bamboo ski pole in his garage. When that didn't work, the idea morphed into creating other products from wood (their Grandfather, Bud, opened a sawmill in 1954) and the business has grown from there. The goal remains to offer handcrafted products made from sustainable materials such as FSC- certified wood, and repurposed skateboards. Proof's eco- friendly products can now be found in more than 20 countries with a portion of profits going to their Do Good Program which helps those in need everywhere from their local home of Idaho to efforts around the world.

Website: iwantproof.com
Facebook: Proof Eyewear
Instagram: @proofeyewear

Feral Boardsports is owned by a husband & wife team, located on White Rock beach offering rentals for SUP, kite boarding, kayaking, and flyboarding (picture jets skies attached to your feet- it looks amazing!). They also host SUP ladies nights and SUP yoga nights. This Summer they introduced an exclusive apparel line which includes items for men and women including tanks, crop tops, tees, and sweaters with a portion of the proceeds donated to families affected by autism in partnership with the Centre for Child Development. Learn more about how Feral is giving back here.  

Website: feral1.com 
Instagram: @feralboardsports

All Twerk & No Pray
Taylor Ellen is a West Coast girl with an eye for cheeky fashion, bringing her fun style sense to her made to order line All Twerk & No Pray. Her black & white threads include swimsuits, tanks, and sweaters, all with an edge of fun along with offering customizable pieces. In addition to her fashion line, Taylor recently dipped her toe into blogging, sharing about some of her favourite fashion brands, beauty products, and people, plus giving attention to worthy causes including animal adoption & fostering (she's the proud mama of a pup adopted from Mexico).

Instagram: @alltwerkandnopray

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TPB Fitness Series: Be More Flexible- The 6 Secrets of Proper Stretching

Years ago- like when there were dinosaurs (ha, not really but it feels that way!)- I was a competitive swimmer. It was the best shape I've ever been in and I miss it. I miss how I felt. I miss being toned and feeling like I could swim a few kms without thinking much of it. There is such a good feeling that comes from exercise. Ah, those endorphins- whenever I hear that word I always think of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde "Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy...", so true Ms Woods, so true. 

But there's one thing I always remember about practice outside of the time in the pool: the stretching. We would spend about a third of practice stretching and warming up/ warming down. It was as important as the swimming itself. Remaining flexible- and going through stretches properly- are important not just when you're pushing your body, but when you're going through day- to- day life. When you're not taking care of yourself- and this includes simple things like stretching- it's that much easier to hurt yourself, and in the long run, you lose range of motion and flexibility. Not so great. I had my kids young so I could goof around with them, and enjoy being a little crazy as a Mom. To be the Mom that can keep up with her kids and chase them around the yard like a mad woman- I want to still be kicking ass when my kids are my age now. That's a life goal right there and I plan to keep it. 

When I saw that Irina's fitness post for the month focused on flexibility and stretching, I smiled. Sometimes the simplest things make so much difference and I love her tips to help us stay flexible. So come on gals, let's get flexible. ;)

Why is it important to be flexible?

Hands up who knows the answer to this question!
While many people know it’s important to be flexible, not many people understand why that is, and even fewer still know how to work on it.

Flexibility gives our body the range of motion it needs to work well on a daily basis. And, when it comes to exercising, the range of motion needed to perform exercises well. As we get older we lose flexibility and our muscles become more rigid. If we want to maintain our quality of life into old age, we can't ignore stretching.

The majority of people fall into these two categories:

  • those who ignore stretching and
  • those who do it wrong

I want you to be neither of these which is why in this article I will share with you 6 secrets of how to stretch properly so you get the most out of your flexibility training.

Secret #1: Do a warm-up before you stretch

Even if your workout is all stretching you still need to start with a warm up. That's because muscles are like a tough rubber band and not very stretchy. Do a quick 5min warm-up (run on the spot, jumping jacks, etc) followed by your workout. You will find that it's much easier to get into the moves. Your body with thank you

Secret #2: Stretch at the end of your workout not at the start

For the longest time people would start their workouts with stretching but science has shown that there is little benefit to be gained from stretching cold muscles. The optimal time to stretch is  at the end of your workout when your muscles are warm and already loose because you just worked them out!

Secret #3: Hold the stretch

Another mistake I see people making is holding a stretch for less than 5 seconds. In order for a stretch to be effective, you need to hold it for at least 20s. Anything less than that doesn’t really do anything. I like to recommend a 30 seconds hold to my clients. It might be useful to time yourself the first few times. 30 seconds is longer than you think!

As you hang out for the 30s seconds see if you can get further into the move. You're trying to develop flexibility so see if you can push a little further. It should feel slightly uncomfortable but not painful.

Secret #4: Breathe

Breathing is extremely important when it comes to stretching. It's very easy to forget to breathe when you stretch but your muscles still need oxygen and blood. Moreover, your muscles relax on the exhale - so you need to breathe to get that effect! I like to take nice deep breaths when I stretch. It's meant to be relaxing. I think of stretching as my opportunity to relax and let go of my day. I focus on my breathing and let everything else drift away. For 10 min, it's your chance to live in the moment!

Secret #5: Listen to your body

Stretching is meant to maintain and develop flexibility not to hurt you. Yes, there is an element of discomfort, but you shouldn't be gritting your teeth when you stretch and you shouldn't feel any sharp pains. Being slightly uncomfortable is ok but you should be able to breathe through it and feel relaxed. Stretching should feel like a release. If it feels too intense, back off a little bit and if you experience strange sharp pains you should definitely check with a doctor.

Your body will tell you if something isn't right - don't ignore it!

Secret #6: If it's tight, stretch it

I like to recommend to my clients that they stretch the muscles they worked that day, but also any areas of tightness that we discover together. Any area that is particularly tight should always be a focus when you're stretching. For example, I would still want someone with tight hamstrings to stretch them even if we've done upper body that day.

Typical areas of tightness that I see in my mommy clients are:
  • Neck
  • Lower/mid back
  • Hamstrings/hip flexors (from all the sitting down while nursing)
  • Chest/rounded shoulders


Optimal flexibility is pretty tough to achieve because our lives work so hard against that! But I certainly feel it's worthwhile to try to offset the damage as much as we can! Being able to move and have good range of motion is incredibly important so I challenge you to find at least 5min of stretching in your day. Your body will thank you!

And remember to check out the other posts as part of this series, for more fitness education tips for moms:

About Irina

Irina discovered fitness by accident after having her daughter and started Tone Every Zone out of an overwhelming desire to help other busy individuals such as moms juggle a hectic lifestyle while staying active. Irina loves teaching people about fitness and working with them as a team to make long lasting lifestyle changes.

To get in touch with Irina about her personal training services please email her at irina@toneeveryzone.ca, or get in touch through her website. You can also follow Irina on social media for more great fitness education tips:

About Tone Every Zone

Tone Every Zone is a mobile personal training company servicing New Westminster, as well as parts of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Surrey. Tone Every Zone comes to you, saving you the cost of gym memberships, and eliminating the need to adhere to a schedule set by a commercial gym. To learn more, please visit: www.toneeveryzone.ca

Thank you to these partners for collaborating on this post series:

Photographer: Catherine Hilcove Photography Facebook | Instagram

Workout Apparel:
Underables Shown in this post: GROCERIES workout tee & leggings (worn by Irina)

LNBF Shown in this post: Melissa Light Active Hoodie & Suri Leggings (worn by Katherine)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Creating for Conservation at the Greater Vancouver Zoo {+Giveaway}

How many of us have special memories of visiting the Greater Vancouver Zoo as a kid? I remember getting really excited about the zebras (that hair! those stripes!) and have photos of visiting when I was little. Now we get to make some special memories with our own kids and when we took the kids last year Ari was all about the hippos. I can't even remember what her fascination was with the creatures, but she was obsessed! Even though they were hard to see, half- hidden in their lagoon, she loved seeing them and visiting the not so camera shy creatures and got up close & personal with the giraffe (probably the highlight of the visit for me). 

It's one of those places you can go to over and over again and feel like it's a whole new experience each time you go. We're looking forward to visiting again this Summer and I'm excited to be giving away a pair of tickets plus some LEGO to celebrate their Creating for Conservation event on July 30th. This event will help raise funds and awareness for animal conservation both locally and globally. LEGO enthusiasts are invited to create a sculpture on the theme of animal conservation and be entered to win some great prizes while helping animals in need. Scroll to the end of this post for full event details and to enter for your chance to win tickets to the Greater Vancouver Zoo & some LEGO to go along with your visit!

Creating for Conservation 

When: Saturday, July 30, 2016, 8:30- 11:30am
Where: Greater Vancouver Zoo, 5048- 264 St, Aldergrove, BC

Drop off your LEGO sculpture at 8:30am and enjoy a morning at the Zoo, then return at 11:30am for judging and prizes.

Every participants will receive $5.00 Trader Bucks from Toy Traders and winners will have the chance to have their structures displayed at Toy Traders.

Your ticket price includes entry to the Zoo as well as a $10 donation to animal conservation projects.

To register, click here.

Want to win tickets to the Zoo and some LEGO?! Enter below!
This contest is now closed

For more info about the Greater Vancouver Zoo, visit their website & find them on social media:
Facebook: Greater Vancouver Zoo
Twitter: @GVZooChat
Pinterest: Greater Vancouver Zoo

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I'm Batman... Cup!

First- who doesn't hear Will Arnett's voice from the LEGO movie when you hear the words 'I'm Batman'? Just sayin'. I couldn't resist having a little fun with the title of this post! ;)

There are lots of milestones when it comes to kids, from the first birthday, first tooth, and first word to other, smaller ones that still mark a special moment in time- like that transition from bottles to 'big kid' cups. And with it that feeling that your baby isn't such a baby anymore (insert crying eyes emoji). We've been giving our little dude cups for a while, and we recently made the leap to this more grown- up/ sporty style cup. He loves it, I love that it's bigger and doesn't leak, and can take the abuse of a semi- toddler. 

Whether we're eating at the table, playing in the backyard, or on the go, I like having cups, bowls, etc that are durable and don't break/ crack. Bonus points for being spill/ leak proof too (especially with this messy little guy!). Both kids have grown up using Playtex cups (you can see the other cups and bottles we've used here and here) and so far they've survived the tantrums, throwing, and dropping that two rambunctious kids have put them through. Some days these cups put up with the kids better than I do!... insert wine joke. ;)

Ari wasn't too challenging when it came to getting her to drink water, but it took a bit more effort with Liam. Now that he drinks it no problem- and especially with the heat of the Summer- I take water with us everywhere (I've even stolen sips from theirs when I've run out! ;) ) and this sports- style cup is getting well- used. It's insulated so it keeps the water cool, which I appreciate when it's a hot day, and like the other cups from Playtex we have, it's easy to clean- just pop everything in the dishwasher- and has seen it's share of abuse in the short time we've had it. I've even forgotten to put the straw in it once or twice and Liam can still drink from it spill free by tipping it. Yay for Mom- brain- proof products! 

Even though the kids aren't heading to preschool or kindergarten just yet, I think these cups would be great to pop into backpacks and come in a variety of cute designs (including Superman- not going to lie, I had a hard time choosing for Liam but the LEGO movie helped me decide, even if it was just because I could hear Will Arnett's voice in my head when I saw it- lol the things that make me laugh these days...). Playtex has served our family well with it's variety of cups that grow as your kids do, and it's been fun picking out things for Liam that aren't hand- me- downs from his big sister, including his new Batman cup.

Check out below for some photos of my little product tester and for more info on Playtex's Sipsters®  Starter Cups.

Product Info

Stage 1- for age 4 months+; 6 oz
Stage 2- for age 9 months+; 9 oz
Stage 3- for ages 12 months+; 9 oz
Stage 4- for ages 24 months+; 12 oz

Available with different lids: spout, straw, spoutless, and sport (like the one we have)

Variety of designs featuring favourite characters including My Little Pony, Superman, Batman, and Thomas & Friends

Available at major retailers across Canada including Amazon.ca and Toys R Us for a suggested retail price between $5.99 to $10.99.

More About Playtex Sipsters®  Starter Cups

The Playtex Sipsters® Starter Cups were created with your child in mind and their ergonomic design makes it easy for those little hands to hold onto. The cups come in four stages, starting at 4 months to 24 months and up, to meet your baby’s needs as he or she grows. To ensure that your little one can enjoy play time and stay hydrated without any spills, the cups are 100% spill-proof, leak-proof and break-proof. Stage 3 and 4 cups are also available in all new designs, including Batman, Superman, My Little Pony and Thomas the Tank Engine, so your child can take their favourite characters with them wherever they go.

Playtex Baby Canada is now on YouTube! Subscribe and take a look at what kids have to say about their videos here

Disclosure: I received compensation and product in return for this blog post and review. All opinions are my own. 
This post contains affiliate links. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Date Night at Theatre Under the Stars

I'm going to start this post with some love for this place we call home: How lucky are we to have so many amazing things to do and see locally? I love Summer in BC and have a local 'bucket list' of all the things I want to enjoy in this province we call home. I was born and raised  here and I still feel like I have so much to see and do- being a tourist in you own backyard is all sorts of fun and gives you a fresh appreciation for where you live. If you're like me and are just looking for some fun local things to do or are visiting from out of town, going to a performance at Theatre Under the Stars in Stanley Park deserves a place on your Summer to- do list and here's why...

Will and I had the chance to have a date night on Saturday and enjoyed a beautiful evening in Stanley Park at Theatre Under the Stars taking in their production of Beauty and the Beast, one of 2 productions they're running this season for their Summer of Love (West Side Story shows on alternating evenings). I was looking forward to the show, but I'm not exaggerating when I say it surpassed my expectations. By a lot. It was such a fun evening and the show was AMAZING. 

I was so excited to get tickets for one of the shows and left it up to Will to choose (I love that he chose Beauty and the Beast but if WSS is anything like the show we enjoyed, I don't think you'd be disappointed with either choice). We opted to go without the kids so we could enjoy some one- on- one time, but I'd love to bring Ari (and maybe Liam); I think she would have loved it. We saw other families there with young kids- and a few little girls dressed up in princess dresses!- and I thought that would make such a fun family night out, especially since the show is an adaptation of a Disney favourite (not going to lie, I was really excited for 'Be Our Guest' and it was the highlight of the show for me).

Since TUTS is an outdoor theatre and like no other theatre production I've gone to before, I asked another blogger who I know had gone for tips of what to expect. The first thing on her list: bug spray. OK, check (and yes, a very good idea). Anything else? You can also bring in your own food and drinks, which is great to save money and it makes for a fun picnic. Other things to bring: blankets, a sweater, pillow(s) if you want to lie on the grass (like we did), and a rain poncho in case the weather is questionable (the show must go on, even in outdoor theatre!). 

When we got to Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park we had planned to sit in the seats we had tickets for, but when we saw that there was a grassy area off to the right of the stage where others were setting up blankets, we thought it would be a unique/ different way to take in the show. This turned out to be a lot of fun and when we take the kids this is how I'd love to watch future shows. It just added an element of fun that I haven't experienced before at a show and I loved the novelty of it. And before I forget, I want to mention how awesome the staff were. Everyone I encountered were happy, friendly, and smiling; such good (contagious) vibes!

And I can't talk about the night without actually sharing a little about the show, can I?! As I mentioned before, it was amazing. Way beyond my expectations. To say the cast did a great job doesn't do their work justice. Everyone was perfect for their roles (Gaston, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Featherduster, and Mrs Potts were like just out of the Disney movie) and they brought to life characters and the story many of us treasure from our childhoods, along with inserting some laughs into the mix. The energy from the cast was contagious and favourite songs including Gaston, Be Our Guest, and the title song put a huge smile on my face (did you know Beauty and the Beast was the first Disney film to make it's stage debut?). And on a side note: the costumes were just as amazing. If you're into fashion/ costumes, this will elevate the show for you; everyone looked amazing (how many times have I used that word in this post?!?). I'll warn you: your hands will be soar from clapping. It's really that good. If you get the chance, going to a TUTS performance is a fun way to spend a Summer evening here in YVR and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we did.

I had never been to TUTS before, but I hope to make this an annual Summer tradition, bringing the kids along when we can so they grow up with an appreciation for the arts (I can't sing or dance to save my life, but I love watching those that can!!!). This year's season runs from July 6 until August 20, with the shows running on alternating evenings (click here to view the 2016 show schedule and for ticket information). 

A big thank you to Theatre Under the Stars for such an amazing evening!  

For more information about Theatre Under the Stars and this year's shows, visit the TUTS website and find them on social media: 

Instagram: @tutsvancouver 
Twitter: @TUTSVancouver

Production photos: Tim Matheson, courtesy of Theatre under the Stars

Disclosure: I received tickets to the performance featured in return for this blog post but all views and opinions are honest and my own.