Mary Kay Makeovers


You may know that I like to learn about new skincare products and makeup. I can often be found looking up what new products are out there on the market, or what the new trends are.

I believe that if you take care of your skin, it will show.  An important step is to find the right products (cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and an eye cream) that work for you and to make a routine of using them on a daily basis. From there you can add additional products, to target certain issues.

Don’t forget that with the changing of seasons, our skin changes too. The skincare products we used throughout the winter should be switched for lighter versions and our makeup (foundation or powder) may need to be swapped out for a slightly darker shade.

Recently I won a Mary Kay package with a local beauty consultant for a session with several of my friends.  My sister and a colleague/good friend of mine enjoyed a great evening together learning about different Mary Kay products and what products would work best for each of our skin types. It was a hands-on experience, where we each had the opportunity to try a variety of products and ask any questions we had.

A unique experience was we got to try a charcoal mask, which none of us had used before.  It was neat to feel and see it working. It was simple to remove with water and a washcloth. My skin felt and looked great afterwards. Next, we tried some day/night creams to feel the differences of each on our skin, followed by an eye cream.

Now that our skin was super clean, it was time to learn some makeup tricks.  We were each provided with a liquid foundation to match our skin type and colour. I was amazed how easily it blended and perfect it looked (which is not always easy to find). Blush was added to give a bit of colour to my cheeks, followed by two shades of taupe/brown eyeshadow used on my eyes. I asked for something a bit more dramatic, rather than a swipe of one colour, which is what I normally do. It was topped off with a coat of black mascara and a swipe of a coral shade of lipstick.  Voila!  We left feeling and looking great and each of us purchased a few of the products used.

Products I purchased included the deep cleansing charcoal mask from the clear proof collection; perfecting concealer in deep ivory and timewise matte-wear liquid foundation in beige 3.

A special surprise was I was also the winner of a gift basket of goodies for my hands. This prize consisted of the Satin Hands products. These three products leave my hands feeling super smooth and luxurious and the white tea and citrus scent is subtle.


Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with nor being sponsored by Mary Kay.

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Pedalling Pork


‘Keep on pedalling’,  ‘Almost there’, ‘1 kilometre left’.  

These are all thoughts that were likely going through thousands of cyclists heads this past Sunday (June 5th), as they participated in the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s Annual Ride for Heart in Toronto.  It was another rainy day, but that did not seem to put a damper on the riders’ enthusiasm.

I had the opportunity again this year to participate at the event with Ontario Pork’s communications/marketing team and Lime and Lemon Media. I was awake before the crack of dawn to meet my colleagues and head to downtown Toronto. On our drive in we made sure to pick up coffee, to give us the caffeine jolt needed to be ready to serve large crowds. When we arrived, thankfully the booth had been assembled and all of the recipe cards, resources and giveaways had already been set up.

This year, our booth was inside, which was a bit different than previous years. Once riders were finished, they would come into the building, also known as ‘Heart Park, for breakfast and to visit the exhibitors. Rather than serving pulled pork samples, which is our typical go to for large events, we switched things up this year and did a cooking demonstration.

We welcomed participants to the booth where we were preparing Teriyaki Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple. It was a great opportunity to show how simple this recipe is to make at home. As the pork shoulder chops were cooking, riders became eager to try a sample. The anticipation grew, as did the lineup, as the delicious aroma wafted throughout the building. Participants didn’t want to miss out on getting a sample.

During the wait, it was a chance to talk about different cuts of pork and how versatile and easy pork is to cook with. A key message during the event was that all cuts of pork (except bacon and ribs) are heart healthy proteins. It also allowed us to promote buying local at your grocery store, butcher or farmers market. 

In addition to the cooking demonstration, the recipe prepared, the related grocery shopping list and a reusable grocery bag were given to participants. Other recipe cards and nutritional information resources were available.

For about four hours straight we were going non-stop and it is estimated that we served about 425-450 samples.  If you read my blog from last year, this may not sound like a lot (in 2016 we served about 2,000 samples), but this time around we had lots more conversations, rather than just serving crowds. Different approach and both have their own benefits. All in all it was another successful event.

In closing, food always brings people together!  Pork and pineapple are a winning combination. I suggest you try this flavour duo, your tastebuds won’t be disappointed. Be sure to make lots…there won’t be leftovers.

You can follow the conversation on twitter @HSFRide and/or #RideforHeart

Do you have a favourite pork recipe?  I would love to hear what it is.


Posted in agriculture, events, farming, food, lifestyle, recipes | Leave a comment

Personalizing an Office Cubicle


Hi ho! Hi Ho! It’s off to work we go! If you are like many in the working world, you spend eight of your waking hours, five days a week, in a neutral toned environment, that does not say anything about a persons individuality. It is also important to make sure you have an organized workspace to reduce clutter and the stress it can cause.

I enjoy the work that I do.  With that being said, it is time to inject some of my own personality into my cubicle. It is my hope that adding some personal touches will make it a more comfortable and individualized space to work in. No more grey, beige and black, or at least the amount of these shades will be significantly reduced.

Some colourful and fun items to make a workspace more individualized include notebooks, calendars/planners, picture frames, mugs and water bottles, as well as organizational solutions.

Part of the fun is finding your own personal style and what speaks to you. Colours that I am drawn to when it comes to a workspace include rose gold, blush, gold and white. This colour scheme is subtle and gives off a sense of calm, which is important in a busy and sometimes stressful work environment. Don’t get me wrong, I like bright and bold colours too, but that is not the look I am going for when it comes to decor style, at least not for my work cubicle.

While on a recent shopping trip for the specific purpose of giving my workspace a fresh look, I purchased the following items, from the stores mentioned below.

    • Chapters: notebook, picture frame, pencil case
    • Bed Bath and Beyond: pillow, magazine holder (not shown above) and desk organization tray
    • Staples: colourful binder clips, push pins, paper clips
    • Michaels: glass cup, pink and gold pens/markers

I am eager to get started cleaning up all the paper, magazines and other odds and ends in my cubicle. As it stands right now, my desk is a bit cluttered to say the least. It is time to purge. I am confident I don’t need everything that is currently on my desk. If it is not essential, it will either be filed or discarded.

Moving forward, I am going to make a concerted effort to keep on top of what is on my desk and keep the piles of paper under control. Stay tuned as the office cubicle transformation progresses.

If you are looking for inspiration to get started on workspace personalization, Pinterest has lots of creative ideas, that can help you get started.

If you work in an office (or at home), how do you make your workspace more personal?

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A Day With Farm Writers in Vineland, Ontario


Last week (May 11), I attended the Eastern Canadian Farm Writers’ Association (ECFWA) Annual General Meeting which was held at the Vineland Research Centre in the Niagara region. Approximately thirty farm writers from a cross-section of agriculture industries and professions were in attendance to learn about some of the exciting innovations that are currently underway.

It was nice to travel with two fellow farm writers to the event, and catch up with one another on the drive.  Upon arriving at the venue I enjoyed talking with others (some of whom I hadn’t seen in a while) and hearing what they are up to at their jobs, or on a more personal level. As we are all writers and communicators in the agriculture industry, I find it very valuable to have the in-person connection with this group. This allow us to learn from one another and help tell the stories of what is taking place both on a farm level and as an industry as a whole. There are so many great things happening, it just needs to be communicated more.

The meeting began with business updates and reports from the ECFWA Board of Directors and nominating the 2017-2018 Board of Directors. This was followed by revealing the winners of the photography contest.

As I stepped down from the Board of Directors I was presented with an award, which was greatly appreciated. During my time in the role, I was able to implement and/or improve some of the communication efforts, which was what my goal was to achieve. I look forward to continuing being a member and seeing what the new Communications Coordinator does with the position.

The first guest speaker was Debbie Zimmerman, CEO of the Grape Growers of Ontario, who provided an overview of the grape and wine industry and the innovations being employed, such as technology and the opportunities available. Zimmerman stated ‘We’re not an industry to be ignored.’ With $4.36 billion in economic impact and employing over 18,000 people, this statement rings loud and clear.

Lunch was catered by Grand Oak Culinary Market and Chef Jan talked about how to keep a menu local, based on what is available nearby and what is in season.


After lunch, I learned about ‘Feeding Diversity: Bringing World Crops to Market’ from Michael Brownbridge. Vineland Research Centre is a leader in research on new crop varieties and production technologies.  It was interesting to hear about the changing demographics and that new Canadians (Chinese and South-Asian) will drive 70% of the growth of vegetables and spend more of their food budget on vegetables.

Next on the agenda was a tour of the Canadian Hardy Rose Program, which includes low-maintenance versatile garden and landscape roses.  A very unique rose variety is Vineland’s Canadian Shield rose, which took sixteen years to develop. It is now here to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. While in the greenhouse, a short presentation was delivered about breeding high-yielding, short season sweet potatoes which have been adapted for Canadian production.

The day concluded with a tour and tasting at Dillon’s – Small Batch Distillers. It was interesting to hear about the grain distillation process.  I typically am not a whisky or gin drinker, but I enjoyed the experience to try several variations. I am pleased with my purchase of a bottle of limoncello…a tasty summer beverage.

Are you or have you been a member of a professional organization?  If so, which one(s)? How was your experience?

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A Guide to Vacation Planning


Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go

These lyrics from the Beach Boys hit tune ‘Kokomo’ are stuck in my head right now.  Why?

The past week has been dull, dreary, rainy and down-right cold for this time of year.  It was nice to see the sun today, even though it is still a bit chilly. The drab weather has me itching to go on a vacation (preferably to a beach), but anywhere warmer than here sounds good to me right now.  Mother nature, did you forget that it is May?

I wish I could pack my suitcase and and leave tomorrow for some much needed sunshine.  That is not realistic though.  Planning a vacation doesn’t happen overnight.  There are lots of things to consider and prepare before boarding a plane and taking off to wherever the destination might be.

I have been fortunate to have been on numerous vacations when I was younger, with my family; as well as an adult, with my husband. I know that planning a vacation can be overwhelming, if not done properly.  With that being said, I would like to share some of my advice with you to help guide you through the vacation planning process.


1) I believe the first step is to know your budget. Once this is determined, you can have a better idea of what destinations are realistic within that budget. Determine the length of your trip, best time to travel to your desired location and then start saving, ideally a year (or two) ahead.

2) Decide what type of vacation are you looking for. Do you want to get away to relax? Then a beach vacation might be ideal. If you are looking to explore a place with lots of culture, history and art, somewhere in Europe might be more up your alley.  Maybe you want to be adventurous or are in search of a destination with a unique food scene.  Knowing what you want to get out of your holiday is critical to ensure your enjoyment and come home feeling fulfilled.

3) Narrow down your location and investigate resorts (if you are going to one). There is a plethora of resorts available, so again, knowing what is important to you will hopefully ensure happiness. Factors to consider include:

  • all-inclusive (flight, accommodation, food and drinks) vs. Putting together your own vacation package and paying for meals/beverages separately
  • adults only vs. kid friendly
  • small or large property
  • quiet or party atmosphere
  • food and beverage options
  • club level benefits vs. butler service
  • room categories and views – knowing how each is different and what each means
  • proximity to the airport
  • safety of surrounding area

4) Read reviews about your top 3-5 preferred destinations and compare each of them.

5) Make a decision and contact a travel agent to book your vacation.  Don’t forget to ask them about purchasing trip cancellation insurance and travel health insurance (if you don’t have it through your employer or credit card).

6) Consider the details. Make sure your passport is up-to-date and meets the validity requirements of the country you are travelling to. Ensure appropriate vaccinations have be taken, if required. Arrange  care for your house/pets/plants. Do not announce travel plans or post on social media while you are away.

7) Create a loose itinerary to make sure you do any excursions/ visit any sights/landmarks that you don’t want to miss or forget about while on your vacation. This also should include knowing when to be at the airport for allow sufficient time to clear security and customs on all flights.

8) Pack for your vacation! I recommend preparing a packing list, to make sure nothing is missed.  Know the weight and size restrictions for luggage, based on the airline.

What considerations do you make while planning a trip?

Happy and safe travels


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Another Completed Piece of Artwork


If you have been following along with my blog the past couple of months, you probably know that one of my goals for 2017 is to be more creative. I have found that adult colouring has been a great outlet for me to relax and unwind after a busy and sometimes stressful day at work.

I am very pleased to share with you my most recent piece of artwork…a rooster from Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom: Deluxe Edition. 

I am very proud of how this piece turned out!  I might even get it framed and hang it up in my colouring nook as inspiration.

Countless hours (probably 30 or more) were put into this single page! Each element of the rooster was carefully considered before putting pencil (crayon) to paper. I had a general idea of what I wanted the bird to look like, but I wouldn’t know exactly the result until it was completed.

I could have coloured an entire section in one single colour, but that would be easy.  I wanted to challenge myself and think outside the box for this piece.  How could I make it unique and interesting?

I am aware of how shading can transform a piece and is a simple technique artists use.  What a difference it made! Some areas were kept faint while others more pressure was applied for a darker look. The important part was knowing what areas required which. To me, the contrast is what makes the rooster ‘pop’.

Another key technique utilized was layering colours. This is something I haven’t experimented with in the past, so I was taking a bit of a chance. As a basic rule of thumb, start with a light colour, and build darker colours on top. This probably goes without saying, but it is easier to add intensity (make colours darker), as you can’t lighten it after the fact. If you can, that is something I would like to learn how to do. Colouring layering is a technique I would highly recommend, as it adds depth and interest to a piece of artwork.

I am not sure what my next colouring project is, but I am excited for whatever it will entail.

Have you joined the adult colouring craze? I would love to see what you have been working on and hear about products you would recommend and techniques you find useful.

You can join the conversation on social media, using the following hashtags. #adultcolouring #coloringaddiction #milliemarottasanimalkingdom #colormehappy #colormecalm

Posted in arts & crafts, colouring, general, lifestyle, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Protecting Our Environment on Earth Day and Every Day



Today (April 22, 2017), many of us think about our actions and how they are impacting the Earth a bit more than we normally would, because it is Earth Day.  Going green is easier than you think.  Little things we do every day can be changed slightly to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and leave a less harmful impact on the environment.

Below are some ways that my husband and I are doing our part to conserve and protect our planet:

  1. It is important to me to know where my food is coming from. I am not afraid to ask questions regarding where the products were sourced and how my food was raised. With this in mind, we buy our groceries from smaller grocery chains, farmers markets and butcher shops to support local food products whenever possible. This reduces the fossil fuels required to import from outside the local area and encourages sustainable food production. It is important to us to support the local economy and who doesn’t love the taste of fresh food?
  1. On evenings and weekends we try to use our vehicles as little as possible When we are doing errands we use our smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle and we plan our trips. This will minimize our fuel consumed as we go to several locations in one outing.

    On the topic of transportation, if we are travelling to Toronto (or another city) where public transit is available; we favour taking the train, or a bus, to limit our environmental footprint.

  1. Over the past couple of years I am proud of the improvements we have made in our home that are helping the environment. We have replaced all of our light bulbs to LED versions and we also installed a SMART/programmable thermostat. These are two small changes that are making a significant difference in our energy consumption and utility bills.
  1. To conserve energy, we make a conscious effort to turn lights off when they are not being used and run our dishwasher and do laundry during off-peak times including evenings or on weekends. We also regularly clean/replace our air air filters so they aren’t being overworked and inefficient.
  1. Something that I used to overlook was what type of cleaning supplies I was buying.  Whenever possible, I now try to purchase gentler formulas that are safe for the environment but still do a good job and cut through dirt.

What steps have you taken to help protect our planet? 

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