Pages

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Kinin Bioactive Aromatherapy: Product Review


I am embarrassed to admit something about the back story to this product review. Initially, the Kinin company contacted me, and asked if I would be interested in reviewing their aromatherapy pens. I thought they meant writing pens that contain essential oils. So, you know, you're sitting at your desk working, or writing out your to do list or grocery list and relaxing with a lil' aromatherapy. Um, no, they meant pens like a vaping type device that you inhale. Oh, that kind of pen! 😜

I was a little suspicious since vaping is not really my thing, um, at all. I even contacted them just to confirm there is no tobacco or nicotine or anything in them. They assured me that there is none. The pens contain safe, organic, essential oils that the pen simply vaporizes and you do, indeed, inhale.

As you know, I am very scent-ual...as in, I love perfumes, and scented products! Though I would not say I regularly practice 'aromatherapy', I do see its value. Even research has supported the link between certain scents and our moods. Things like peppermint and citrus can invigorate, while lavender can enhance relaxation. In fact, I keep lavender essential oil at my counselling office and sometimes sprinkle a few drops around because of its therapeutic benefits.

Anyways, back to Kinin.

The company sent me a selection of their pens:

1. Focus - Nootropics, Cinnamon, Tangerine
2. Relax - Kava Kava, Valerian, Copaiba
3. Recover - Eucalyptus, Peppermint Clary Sage

Apparently these products are generally safe for everyone though their website warns:

We recommend that women who are pregnant or nursing, or people who have specific allergic reactions to any of our listed ingredients avoid our products. There is no age requirement, but if you’re under 18, you should check with your parents.

I had never heard of nootropic before but apparently it is a general term for cognitive enhancer, which could mean anything from caffeine to ginko biloba to prescription drugs. The fact that they don't give any more info about this ingredient is a bit worrisome to me.

Copaiba is another plant derived stimulant.

Apparently clari sage has a myriad of benefits including anti-depressant, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, blood pressure lowering, anti-anxiety, and ability to improve mental function. Not a ton of scientific research to back this up, however.

I found all of them pleasant smelling. I would describe the physical experience when you inhale as similar to when you first pop a piece of strong minty gum into your mouth and you get that cold, fresh burst.

My first thought is that this might be a good replacement activity for people trying to quit vaping or smoking. You get the same action with your hands and mouth, and none of the detrimental health effects.

Does it work? Who the heck knows. I suspect it works if you believe it does. But hey, even placebo effect is real.

Do I recommend them? If you believe in the benefits of aromatherapy and essential oils, or are looking  to quit smoking/vaping or for healthier ways to get a boost (instead of sugar, coffee, weed, etc.) than absolutely. It is kind of a cool concept. Its also good as an aromatherapy-on-the-go tool, though you might get strange looks if you pull it out on the subway and start inhaling from it.

The pens are $22 USD, and for $45 they are coming out with a refillable/reusable one.

Disclosure: The company sent me the pens but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Dead of Winter Favorites 2018

If you get SAD in the winter, than you know how important it is to find joy in small pleasures. Here is what I am loving right now...

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick

My lips always feel dry in winter (along with my hands!), so I have to have something moisturizing on them, but I also like lipstick when I'm going out (to make me look a wee bit presentable). All of the lipsticks I've tried up to now, haven't moisturized enough. So ironic as it is (isn't Florida like the most humid place in the U.S.?), I picked up this Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick and adore it. It is super moisturizing and I love the colour I picked up! Of course, as my luck would have it, I don't think its available in Canada 😭

Old Navy Mesh Compression Leggings


I have bought many brands of compression leggings, and though these are the least expensive, they are also THE BEST! As a petite woman, I also love that the XS size actually fits me, and is the perfect length!! Oh, and I may or may not wear them to work sometimes...

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden



I just finished this book and it was hilarious. I read so much heavy literature, that sometimes reading something funny is essential. This fit the bill perfectly. Its as clever as it is funny. I loved his first book too, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.


Hot Lemon Water


I have already told you how addicted I am to drinking cold lemon water throughout the day right? Well its awesome hot in winter too! I discovered hot lemon water when pregnant with both girls. I couldn't stomach coffee or regular tea, so this was my warm beverage of choice and I really enjoyed it. Afterwards, I went back to drinking coffee and teas and kind of forgot about it. But lately I just find that aside from my morning coffee, drinking coffee or tea later in the day gives me a dry mouth and an unsettled tummy. Hot lemon water warms me up without those nasty side effects. The only trouble is, even in winter, I don't need much warming up. I am a human radiator, as always, and it seems to be getting worse as I get older 😱😅

If you can't escape the winter or you're feeling low, pamper yourself with little pleasures until the sun comes back out.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Grace Foods Product Review




You know I love strong flavours and heat in my food, so, of course, I am a big jerk chicken fan (or jerky chicken as my kids call it). Its such a delicious, aromatic, punchy spice combo, there really isn't anything else quite like it.

So I was more than happy to review some of Grace Foods jerk products. Unfortunately, whoever delivered the package, dropped the box too hard on our front porch, and the bottle of jerk paste smashed. It leaked out of the box and made one heck of a mess! This totally sucked, because aside from having to clean up the mess, I have tried their jerk paste and love it. In any case, I still had their jerk marinade and barbecue sauce to try, and several cartons of their coconut water.

One hint I have for you about something as concentrated as the jerk paste, is that a little goes a long way! For that reason, I was eager to try their marinade, that I could use more liberally in a recipe (recipe is forthcoming). I used it to make a jerk chicken stew, and it was fantastic! Just enough heat, and the perfect amount of jerk flavour. Though I didn't use it as a marinade, more as a simmering sauce, I can tell it would be great as a traditional marinade for meat, or even vegetables or tofu.

The barbecue sauce I have not tried and probably won't. Why? Because like most commercial barbecue sauces it contains a ridiculous amount of sugar. I either buy sugar-free ones, or make homemade. I suggest you do the same.

I am not at all a coconut water fan, and neither are Adam or Little A, but Big A was happy to try it, and declared it great and very refreshing. I also took one of the bottles to work for my clients and it disappeared quickly, with many being thrilled to have it as an option besides our usual offering (plain water).



My personal philosophy on coconut water is that while it may be better than pop, its still unnecessary liquid calories. Unless you are exercising in extreme heat or doing intense endurance activity, water will do you just fine.

So, do I recommend these products? I absolutely recommend the jerk paste and marinade, but forget the bbq sauce, and only drink coconut water if it is truly necessary, otherwise just turn on your damn tap.

Disclosure: Grace Foods sent me these products, but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Monday, January 15, 2018

SPFX Kids Summer Camp


Summer. Oh summer. While it might be the time of year kids can't wait for, its often a parent's nightmare. If your kids are of school age, then they will have, or soon will, get bored of daycare and you will have to look for other options for your little ones. We still have to work, after all!

In Toronto, getting your kids into their desired camps has become a blood sport. You have to show up early and on a mission. Otherwise, everything will fill up before you have a chance to fill out a registration form. Even if you have the whole sign up thing aced, if your kid is picky, you can end up struggling to find a camp he/she will enjoy.

Well now there is a new, unique option for kids in Toronto, SPFX Kids Camp! It teaches kids aged 9-13 all about special effects makeup, something I think most kids would totally dig (my kids will tell me dig is a lame term no one uses any more, but I don't care!).

SPFX Kids has been created by Misty Fox, a model, single mom, and celebrity make-up artist, who I just happen to know. Big A and her daughter danced together for a few years. Before ever talking to her, I referred to her in my head as, "The mom who looks like a model", which I found out later she was 😝. I remember for the girls' dress rehearsal, she was kind enough to help me with Big A's stage makeup and hair (since the dance school has strict guidelines around this).

Anyways, when I found out she was running this camp, I thought it was a brilliant idea. But I don't want to tell my children about it, because we have already registered them for camps for next summer (I wasn't kidding when I said you gotta be early!), and I think the girls might both be interested in it.

Its held at the esteemed Artscapes Youngplace building, which happens to be just a few blocks south of our neighbourhood.

5 day weekly sessions cost $400+tax, and includes a T-shirt, framed picture, kit and materials which children get to keep. Definitely toward the higher side compared to other camps, but not likely a camp you would put your kid into for the entire summer.

As most parents know, the trouble with a lot of summer camps is they end before the typical workday. SPFX Kids ends at 4pm, but has optional extended attendance until 6pm for an additional fee.

Visit the website to enroll your kids now!

Monday, January 8, 2018

One (Bar) Wins, the Other Loses

One of the 'processed' foods I do have in my diet are protein bars. I love them. I am not perfect. I can live with that.

For years I've eaten Quest bars, but lately have been sticking to the protein bars from Costco, because the ingredients and macros are similar, and they are WAY CHEAPER!

I have always wanted to try One bars, but they are equally as expensive as Quest bars, so I didn't think there was any use getting hooked on them. While we were in Florida over Christmas, however, I purchased a few just so I could see what all the fuss is about. I got one in Birthday Cake flavour, which I have heard tons of raving about, and one in Maple Glazed Donut.

The One bars are similar in size and macros to Quest, but overall, the One bars, at least these 2 flavours, are softer and sweeter than the Quest bars I have tried.

I tried the Maple Glazed Donut flavour first and was surprised by how much I love it. Unlike most people, I don't like bars that are too soft, but I really enjoyed this one, and because I love maple flavour so much, I thought it was delicious.






The Birthday Cake one, however, was very disappointing. It was equally soft and pretty sweet, but I found the flavour lacking. It is just kind of bland. Also, the neon sprinkle things on top fell off and made a huge mess while I ate it (okay, perhaps I shouldn't have been eating it at my desk, but seriously, have you ever tried to get sprinkles out of a keyboard before??).


So will I be buying them again? No. Too expensive. But if money wasn't an issue, I would for sure stock up on a few boxes of the donut kind!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018


Happy New Year and Welcome to 2018!

If I had to sum up what 2017 was like for me, I would say pretty great on a personal level but horrendous on a global level. Though there is obviously overlap. The political is personal.

This is a health blog, but I could totally write a daily blog blathering about politics and existential issues. In fact, I would be lying if I didn't admit this is what is on my mind most of the time these days.

Unfortunately, it feels like there were so many horrendous events over 2017 that I've lost count. The one that put me over the edge though, was Charlottesville. I felt a deep anxiety beginning after that, that just seemed to get more overwhelming as time went on.

A few months afterwards, my friend gave me the novel, The German Girl, to read. It is historical fiction set around the St. Louis tragedy. The St. Louis was a boat full of almost 1000 Jewish Germans seeking refuge from Hitler in 1939. Cuba initially promised they could come, but when the ship arrived, Cuba refused all but a few. The ship sailed around the world looking for a country to take the refugees, but they were refused by all (including the U.S. and Canada) except for about 200 that settled in England. The rest were forced to return to Germany where they were all sent to concentration camps and murdered.

This story was not new to me, I wrote a paper on the St. Louis for a history class in 2nd year university, but for some reason, because of the current political climate, it really struck a chord. Every time I picked up the book to read, I started having a panic attack. But I had to keep reading (yes, apparently I am a masochist!).

Finally, in a meeting with some of my fellow therapists one day, I asked if I could bring something up that was weighing heavily on me. I started trying to describe the events around the St. Louis and became so emotional that I broke down sobbing. It took a long time for me to get the story out because I was so overwrought. My colleagues listened with empathy and concern as they saw my distress. At the end I explained that I had a growing terror of what was in store for us given the terrifying events emerging around the world, ones suggesting a normalization of hate, fear mongering, racism, anti-semitism and bigotry. They all got it and handing me tissues until I had gotten my emotions under control. At the end of this episode I was quite shocked and a bit embarrassed by it. Until that moment I hadn't realized quite how upset I was.

I guess the good news is, that I walked out of that meeting feeling much lighter and more optimistic. Why? I don't know, but obviously I needed to get that off my chest.

A few weeks later I attended a viewing of the documentary Germans and Jews that was held by our synagogue. This was also helpful for helping to rebuild some optimism for me, as it focuses on the reparations that have gone on in Germany following the Second World War. Seeing how a Jewish community is now flourishing in what was Ground Zero for the Holocaust was comforting.

I don't make new year resolutions but one of the goals I have for 2018 is to help fight this awful growth of hatred and intolerance that has emerged, and also to help with the #metoo cause and put an end to sexual violence against women. I encourage you too to ditch the juice cleanse and commit to something far more important. I promise the outcome will be far better for all of us!


Friday, December 22, 2017

Break Time






I don't know about you, but I really need a break!



Fortunately, we are on holiday as of tomorrow. My priority is going to be SLEEP and resting, mentally and physically. About a week ago, I started to feel super physically and mentally burned out. I love my job as a psychotherapist, but mental burnout is a big risk, so a week or so off is a good thing right about now. I've also been pushing myself physically the last couple months, because, well, I could. I've been feeling great and really strong and energized, so on top of amping up my workouts, I was also riding my bike to and from work as often as possible (until the snow hit). I was planning some workouts for while we are on break, but now I will just have to see how I feel. As I said, rest is the priority.



No matter what holidays you are observing, I hope you have a safe and happy time and I will be back in 2018.