Category: Lifestyle

Mindfulness at the Park Book Review

Lovable Little Mouse is here to help kids use yoga and mindfulness to solve problems and manage emotions in “Mindfulness at the Park,” the second book in the acclaimed Little Mouse Adventures series from international bestselling author and Kids’ Yoga Day creator, Teresa Power.

About Mindfulness at the Park

Little Mouse and his family live in a cozy burrow nestled in young Tammy McDoodle’s backyard.

Tammy and her mother love to practice yoga and mindfulness together, and Little Mouse loves to follow along!

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, adorable Little Mouse and the wise and lovable lazy cat, Mr. Opus, follow Tammy’s family on an adventure to a bustling neighborhood park filled with new sights, sounds and people, while practicing yoga and mindfulness techniques along the way.

Our Thoughts

Mindfulness is an incredibly important tool for all individuals – where we purposefully quiet our mind and bring calm and focus to the current moment. It helps us to refocus and calm our minds and emotions in the present moment, regardless of what may be happening around us. This skill is so important, they are even teaching it in my son’s school and I have participated in workshops through work.

Little Mouse returns in book two of this adorable series. In this book, Little Mouse is introduced to mindfulness through Tammy and her Mother. Little Mouse goes to the park with Tammy and her family where there is a lot of excitement and new people. The family practices mindfulness and I love the way Teresa coaches us, the readers, through the practice as part of the story. My favourite line was, “Sometimes we have too many thoughts in our heads…focusing on our breath helps to calm those thoughts and enjoy the world around us”. This is so important for young minds to understand, they are full of emotions and can react negatively in stressful situations, it is important for them to know how to calm their mind, focus on the present so that they can be happy and present in any situations. This is such an important life skill that we as parents can give our children.

This is a beautiful children’s book that is fun to read together but also to practice mindfulness together as a family. It gives you great starting tools to begin your own practice as a family and to understand the importance of mindfulness. Combine this with adorable characters and illustrations – this book is a win win!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Teresa Power’s books have sold over 270,000copies worldwide. In her roles as award-winning author, renowned yogaexpert, and keynote speaker, her mission is to share strategies and tips to help children, parents and educators enrich their lives and managestress. Teresa has been featured by Good Morning America, ParentingReader’s Digest, Fox11 LA, Telemundo, and more. She is also the founder of International Kids Yoga Day, which is celebrated annually on the first Friday in April.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century Book Review

Looking for a way to reduce your environmental impact? Find your route to a more sustainable lifestyle with Dick Strawbridge and his son James.

About Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century

We can all take steps to reduce our carbon footprint and be more self-sufficient. For some, that might mean heading to the countryside to live off the land. For the rest of us, the reality might involve smaller, but no less important, lifestyle changes: cutting back on plastic or food waste, growing vegetables, preserving meat and fish, preparing jams and chutneys, baking sourdough bread, making your own plant-based milks, or keeping a chicken or two.

Dick and James Strawbridge know what it’s like to make these changes. Between them, they’ve lived on a smallholding, in a terraced house, and even a chateau. In this updated book, they share everything they’ve learned and give you the tools you need for a more rewarding and environmentally-conscious life. Whether you want to completely revamp your lifestyle or just make everyday changes that will make an impact, Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century is the perfect place to start.

My Thoughts

I have found that the last two months have taught me a lot – one of those things has been my reliance on others (especially when you go to get common grocery items and can no longer find them in the store!). I have wanted to become more self-sufficient for the last few years but the events of the last few weeks really brought home the importance of being self-sufficient.

My favourite part of this book is that it is for all comfort levels – from those of us like me just starting to explore self-sufficiency to those who have been following this lifestyle for a while but looking to expand on their current practices. They cover many aspects of a self-sufficient lifestyle – from in the home to in the yard (which includes gardens and animals). Each section contains many ideas in each chapter, some that you can implement right away and some that may take a bit of work.

We started to tackle some of the easier ideas in the book, such as choosing low energy light bulbs, reviewing our current electricity costs (and where we are wasting hydro like when we leave computers on standby) and checking all of our windows and doors. My husband loved the section on setting up a workshop – it gave him great ideas on how he can rework the space we have already set aside for him in the garage. Our goal this summer? Create an earth oven! I can just imagine how delicious pizza would be made in one of these ovens.

We don’t have a lot of outdoor space but what we do have we have converted to raised vegetable beds. In the past I have only grown tomatoes but this year, we started from seeds the following vegetables: cucumbers, squash, spinach, green onions, peppers, tomatoes and strawberries. They have just been put in the raised beds (that we made ourselves from wood we already had) and I am so excited to watch them grow. Our youngest has taken to helping me water and ensure the area is kept weed free.

This is an excellent resource for all levels of self-sufficiency – whether you are just starting on this journey or are a seasoned veteran of this lifestyle. There are many tools and ideas that you can implement and change right away, and many more that you can use to plan out over a period of time. There is something for all comfort levels – a win-win for all.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Chapters Indigo.

About the Author

Dick Strawbridge, a retired lieutenant colonel and former army engineer, has always been fascinated by how things work. His desire to lead a greener life led him to put his practical and leadership skills to use in converting New House Farm in Cornwall into an ecologically friendly, but completely modern, place to live. The family’s journey to a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle was documented in the BBC series It’s Not Easy Being Green, which ran for three seasons. Dick cowrote the previous edition with his son, and is also the author of It’s Not Easy Being Green (BBC Books, 2009). His most recent TV project is the BBC series Escape to the Chateau (March 2018), now in its fifth season, which has been renewed for another season in 2019.

James Strawbridge, Dick’s son, has inherited his father’s enthusiasm for inventing and DIY, and cohosted It’s Not Easy Being Green. After cowriting the previous edition of Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century and It’s Not Easy Being Green, James and his father hosted other popular series, including The Hungry Sailors (ITV 2012, 2013) and Saturday Farm (ITV 2013). James has also cowritten a series of books on artisan crafts, preserving food, and traditional skills: Made at Home (Octopus, 2012). He currently lives in Cornwall.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Whole-Ass: Stop Living a Half-Assed Life and Enjoy an Extraordinary Existence

Do you have that nagging feeling that there is more to life, but you just don’t know how to access it?

About Whole-Ass

Most people crave a life of plenitude and peace, but they are living way too half-assed to ever actually experience it.

Being Whole-Ass is giving absolutely everything you’ve got, while going beyond all perceived limitations, defenses, fears, hesitations or doubts.

Discovery, growth, accomplishment, joy, connection, and feeling life coursing through your veins are all habits that you can develop and this book will show you how.

Being Whole-Ass is the way to be, not only to empower your life into extraordinariness, but it is how we all need to be for humanity to make this world the place we know it can be.

My Thoughts

Sometimes we need a reminder that we are just getting by in life, we are not really living but instead just going through the motions. We need a kick in the arse to wake us up, refocus on our passions and start to live again.

I love the way the book is written, it is a guide but it is also a personal conversation with Maharani (so grab your favourite cup of tea or coffee, curl up in your favourite spot and get reading!). I never felt that I was being judged and in many parts of the book I recognized myself in Maharani. She spoke about her past openly and honestly – regardless of what people may think of her actions. You will likely find yourself as she explains her teen and early adult years, the uncertainty, experimenting, relationships and so much more. She writes with honesty and humour, which was a great balance to the seriousness of the topic. It encourages you to be open and honest with yourself because there is no judgement, allowing you to be open to recognizing our faults, actions that are preventing us from living fully and how we can change this.

We started off by identifying our ‘ass-type’ and I found the two that fit me perfectly. I am a bit of a perfectionist (okay a lot) and I tend to take on more than I can handle at times (I always find it hard to say no, despite not wanting to add anything more to my plate) and find it so hard to balance it all. I also noticed some of the other listed traits in others around me, incredible how at the end of the day we are all so similar. We then jump in and learn how to identify our passions and what makes us happy at a high level before diving in to how to go after this whole-ass.

I enjoyed every moment of this bold, humourous, honest book that really helps to give you the kick in the butt you need to get moving in a positive direction, to live your life fully and to give yourself fully to what makes you happy. This is so important in times like this, when we can feel like giving up or not having enough to give, to refocus on what is the most important to us and how to give ourselves fully to this. You will learn a lot about yourself and give yourself tools to move forward living fully in the moment.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Maharani is a monk and international meditation teacher. She is a passionate explorer of human nature and our relationship with each other and the world. She is a true lover of life and tacos (not necessarily in that order).

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Mini Pop Kids: Bright Lights National Tour!

Get ready to dance, sing and have loads of fun with the whole family at the Mini Pop Kids National Bright Lights tour.

Many of you may already be familiar with the Mini Pop Kids from your own younger days, as they have been covering the top hits since the 1980s! The Mini Pop Kids returned in 2004 and have seen many great successes. They have quickly become Canada’s number one children’s pop group, with millions of albums sold and topping the charts.

It is very easy to see why – these kids have so much talent! They can sing, dance and are full of positive energy. They are a positive influence on kids, which is so important. You want your kids to enjoy music and dance, but in a fun, age appropriate manner. Not familiar with the MPK? You can learn more about each MPK kid on their website here.

We were super excited to attend their Bright Lights tour in Brantford over the past weekend and the atmosphere is almost too hard to put in to words. Before the show even started, kids were dancing and singing in anticipation outside of the auditorium. This did not even come close to the excitement once the group took the stage! Both adults and kids alike were dancing in their seats (one even took to the aisle – it was so sweet!), singing at the top of their lungs while a fantastic light show that helped bring the show to life. I love how they also included local dancers as part of their show, as well as bringing back a former MPK kid whose act was incredible.

I cannot even begin to express the talent of these young children – their voices held so much power and strength. I was blown away by their talent, not to mention ability to maintain such high energy and dance moves while singing! During the concert, they even had a competition for the Dads and a competition for the Moms – hats off to the amazing Mom and Dad talent (and courage to stand up in front of the large audience). I loved how the MPK even took the time to shake hands during the concert with their fans (I even heard one say she was never washing her hand again!). It really adds that personal connection to them, which I strongly feel is why they have such a huge fan base.

We were able to attend the meet and great after the show and our youngest could not get over how young they were in person. They have such a strong presence on stage that you expect to meet someone older. They were such a lovely young group of individuals who truly made their young fans day that day.

Here is a sampling of their Who You Are original song, from their newly released album:

Looking to attend their live tour? Make sure you purchase tickets here now. Several shows are already sold out! Their Bright Lights Tour stops include:

January 18 – Sault Community Theatre, Sault Ste. Marie ON
February 2 – L’Olympia, Montreal QC
February 8 – Grand Theatre, Kingston ON
February 15 – Fraser Auditorium, Sudbury ON
February 17 – E.S.C. Theriault Auditorium, Timmins ON
February 22 – Living Arts Centre, Mississauga ON
February 29 – Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, Halifax NS
March 1 – Casino New Brunswick, Moncton NB
March 3 – Fredericton Playhouse, Fredericton NB
March 7 – Georgian Theatre, Barrie ON
March 8 – Capitol Centre, North Bay ON
March 14 – Kamloops, BC
March 15 – Kelowna Community Theatre, Kelowna BC
March 17 – The Port Theatre, Nanaimo BC
March 19 – The Royal Theatre, Victoria BC
March 21 – Abbottsford Entertainment Centre, Abbotsford BC
March 22 – Centennial Theatre, North Vancouver BC
March 23 – Northern Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton AB
March 27 – Keyano Theatre, Ft. McMurray AB
March 28 – Southern Jubilee Auditorium, Calgary AB
April 11 – CentrePointe Theatre, Ottawa ON
April 16 – E.A. Rawlinson Centre, Prince Albert SK
April 18 – Vic Juba Theatre, Lloydminster AB
April 19 – Conexus Arts Centre, Regina SK
May 9 – Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto ON
May 16 – Mile One Arena, St. John’s NL
May 17 – Gander Arts & Cultural Centre, Gander NL
May 24 – Centennial Concert Hall, MB
July 4 – Scotiabank Centre (Fallsview Theatre), Niagara Falls ON

Make sure to follow the Mini Pop Kids on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to keep up to date with the latest tour info, happenings and more.

Were you a Mini Pop Kids fan as a kid?

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Cherish Family Moments with Medieval Times #MTCelebrate

The holidays are a hectic time of the year. This busy schedule starts in November and goes right up until the last present is opened. There are tears, frustration, success, happiness, lots of food and more. The only downfall? Not enough time to just spend together and focus on your family. There is always something else to bake, wrap and another party to attend and sometimes the true reason for the holidays is lost.

The kids were about a week into their school holiday, the Christmas get togethers were done and we strongly felt that we needed a day to focus on our family. We wanted no cooking, no cleaning and no technology to disturb us – just laughs, quality time and fun.

What better way to achieve all of this then to travel to the Middle Ages with Medieval Times?

Not only was it a break for Mom and Dad from cooking and cleaning, the entertainment and education value for the kids is superb (honestly as a Mom, this is a huge win for me if I can get my kids learning without even realizing it). A complete win-win for every family member!

We did a bit of research on jousting and a medieval feast, starting with the Medieval Times website and then doing our own searches online. Our youngest was really curious about how the jousting happened, if they would really injure each other and how a winner was chosen.

I strongly suggest arriving at the Medieval Times castle prior to the doors opening (roughly seventy five minutes before the start of the show). We were greeted by Lord Cedric and the Queen and welcomed into her Castle in true royal style at that seventy five minute mark and it was worth waiting for. I was a bit nervous on how they would assign seats, but they have a truly efficient system set up that moved the flow of traffic from the front doors into the great hall quickly while still enjoying the atmosphere, allowing you to take photos and take in the design of the castle and pictures with the Queen.

We really wanted our younger kids to fully immerse themselves in the experience and purchased the knighting ceremony add on for them. Both of the kids were made a Princess and a Knight of the Realm in a special ceremony in the Great Hall prior to the start of the show. The looks on their faces was just priceless. The Queen knighted them and presented them to all of the people in attendance for their great acts of courage battling a dragon.

We were then allowed to wander the hall until the show started. We found swords, a falcon, and so much more. Once we were allowed to sit, the excitement level went through the roof! Between the lights, sitting in the benches, cheering for our knights with the serving wenches and the realization that they get to only eat with their hands, the anticipation and excitement was incredible.

The show itself has something for everyone – an incredible falcon show (the falcon flew so close to us, our youngest was convinced it hit one of the crowns), the horse display and then the knights. It is hard to pinpoint one part that we loved the most – it was all executed so well with such great attention to detail. You truly feel as though you have stepped back in time.

The knights were fantastic to watch as they completed challenges and then jousting. Our yellow and red knight started off very strong but was ultimately defeated. They were animated, full of strength and bravery – they were truly a pleasure to watch as they performed.

Ready to plan your visit?

Head over to Medieval Times now to book your trip – right now you can save 40% on adult tickets and 20% on children tickets using the code USF4020. The code is valid until September 30, 2020 so you have a lot of time to take advantage of this fantastic deal. Make sure to check on the extra add ons for your trip (they are well worth it).

Feeling lucky? Enter to win tickets now here (good luck!).

What would you celebrate at Medieval Times?

Make sure to follow Medieval Times on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with promotions, giveaways and more.

Disclosure: I received tickets in order to facilitate this post, all opinions expressed are my own.

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