Mother’s Day and beyond gift guide!!

This gift guide is not only for all of the moms, stepmoms, mother figures, pet moms, plant moms and any other type of mom but for any time you just need an amazing gift for someone you love.

I myself am a proud pup mom of 3 beautiful English Springer Spaniels (Oliver, Lincoln and Rembrandt and a Mississippi Map turtle (Einstein) and of course anyone who knows me knows I have a forest/jungle of plants too! My boys are my world, I love them so very it hurts and I would do anything for them, they are my kids.

Now onto the gift guide!!!!!

This guide is based on some of my absolute favourite businesses, some are local and others are larger but amazing both for what they have product wise but also what they stand for. In my opinion, anyone getting a gift from these incredible places will be ecstatic!! Please note these are in no particular order of preference, there is no way I could rank any of these amazing brands! Each business title has been linked for you so you can head straight over and check them out!

Pokoloko

If you have been following along with me for any length of time you will know just how much I adore Pokoloko. I first discovered them oh jeez, I want to say close to 8 years ago now (the pandemic has admittedly messed with my sense of time overall but it has been a really long time). They are a company that works with high quality artisans all over the globe and in doing so they are lifting up entire communities, sharing beautiful goods that are handmade and may not otherwise be attainable, they plant 2 trees for every purchase, and they work with communities to build schools and other community programs. They are working towards a more sustainable globe were we are all benefit from what we have and enrich each others lives. 

What drew me to them first was their line of incredible Alpaca products. I am someone who is allergic to wool but always wanted the warmth if a natural fibre so when I came across Pokoloko and their amazing alpaca I gave it a try and have never looked back. 

Their alpaca products hooked me, I have scarves, toques, blankets and an incredible sweater and I use them endlessly. Alpaca is a truly incredible fibre (referred to as the fibre of the gods), for everything you need to know on alpaca check out this post and for all the tips on how to care for it, head to this post I wrote. 

Not only is Pokoloko my favourite place for alpaca, which I am sure you are thinking it is May we don’t need alpaca, save that for winter, you are correct and because of that I direct you to the other wonders of Pokoloko. Like their incredible Turkish towels which are so versatile because they can be towels, scarves, blankets, yoga mats and more. They are crazy absorbent and dry ridiculously fast, they come in an array of colours and patterns to fit any decor and sizes for every room. 

I am also completely obsessed with their Bali bags! My collection is growing but there is always another one that I want. The interior lining in each bag is created from remnant fabric, which is not only more sustainable and reduces waste, it also allows for each bag to be unique in its own way. There are a variety of shapes, sizes and colours to chose from, so one is never enough. They can wildly change the look of an outfit due to their unique woven nature.

Pokoloko also has pillows, home decor, these crazy comfy crinkle cotton sets, dresses and so so much more. You will definitely find that special someone something amazing! 

Pokoloko has a location in Westboro, Gatineau, is available online, and can be found in a number of great shops all over!

(Also, as I have had the privilege of becoming a Pokoloko Partner a couple of years ago, if you use code SIMPLYABOUTME at checkout, in store or online, you can get 15% off!!)

Village Envy

This is a lovely little online boutique that offers a variety of clothing, hats, bags, and accessories. It is a local business run out of Stittsville and it is owned by an incredible women who also runs Ritual on Main coffee shop. 

I discovered Village Envy through the first coffee shop she opened The Thirty Maiden in Kanata and one day was just browsing the new arrivals and came across this vegan ranger hat. Why is this so cool you ask? Well as I mentioned above, I am allergic to wool and most hats of this style are made with wool felt, as are cloche hats, fedoras, wide brim floppy hats and so on. Well wool felt means I can’t have them and I love all of these hat styles and if you can find them not made from wool felt they usually cost a fortune.

So when I saw that these were vegan and it was clear I could have them with no reactions or consequences and they were affordable I was thrilled to say the least. I purchased the light grey version and instantly fell in love!

When additional colours came out I was like oh my gosh I need more and everyone knew it!! Well I have some incredible friends because for Christmas I received the forest green version of the hat and I mean at Christmas time how perfect is that and just recently for my birthday I received the light blue colour which is perfect for spring and summer! So now I have the light grey, forest green and light blue….and there are so many colours to get!!

As I mentioned, Village Envy is so much more than just hats and I am sure that you can easily find so many options here for all your gift giving needs.

Knix

Knix has become such an incredible business, from small to large and expanding everyday. It was started by Joanna Griffiths in Toronto and let me just say she has been completely killing it!

Knix offers bras, underwear, sleep, lounge, activewear, swimwear (which the most recent collection, jaw dropping, it looks just incredible!), robes, tanks and bodysuits, period underwear (ditch those disposables), thigh savers, and maternity and postpartum. I mean the lines are simply incredible. 

I was actually made aware of Knix through some of the people I follow myself on social media and after checking them out and even though I liked what I saw, I admittedly had to decide whether to give it a go or not because I mean I wasn’t in Toronto and so I couldn’t see what I was getting first hand. Well then there was a warehouse sale and I figured this is my sign. I placed and order and I have never looked back from those many years ago.

The underwear is so comfortable, the leakproof is legit (whether you need it or just want the safety of knowing you are protected at any point), saying goodbye to liners and such is just, there are no words. I am also completely addicted to the thigh savers because they do just that, save thigh rub, so bring on the skirts and dresses.

Now you may say, ok I am not getting someone underwear and that is valid but that doesn’t stop you from getting the pjs, the activewear, the loungewear, the swimwear or even just a gift card so they can pick out whatever they want and they will not be disappointed. 

Not sure about sizing either, well Knix offers both in store assistance and virtual fittings with one of their fit specialists for all your fitting needs. These fitting appointments are so easy and so comfortable. Their fit specialists ask all the right questions and help guide you through the process so that you can find exactly the size you need.

They have locations all over Canada and the US with the Ottawa location in Westboro, so check out the website to find one closest to you.

Ponyback Hats

Ok, so Ponyback hats!! This is one of my favourites because I have been a customer for quite a bit now and have watched this little company ran out of the inventor, owner and operators home (through increasingly larger spaces in the house) to their current location in a full on warehouse in the GTA!

Ponyback is the brainchild of Stacey Keller, a former business teacher, mom of 3, a genius, coffee lover, and an all around incredible person!

Stacey came up with the idea for Ponyback to solve a gap in her own life and from there it blossomed.

So what is a Ponyback hat already?

It is a baseball cap, that looks like a fullback baseball cap but then BAM, the entire back seam opens up and you can pull your ponytail, bun or any combination of hairstyles out of the back seam, style it at whatever height you want from the button at the top through to the bottom seam and the beauty is that once you’ve pulled your hair through the back seam does back up!!!!! Like what?

The seam is magnetic so it just connects back together around your hair leaving this beautiful seamless look for you to rock all day long. No giant hole in the back! And what’s even better is that if you want to wear your hair down, well go for it because it just looks like a fullback hat with the seem closed! One hat to rule them all lol!!

Anyone who is active, loves rocking a baseball hat, a ponytail or bun needs this hat in their life.

They come in a few different styles, the Everyday, the Adventure and the Sporty. Each one has something a little different about it, and the Everyday comes in a variety of incredible colours. There are a wide range of sizes to fit anyone, including youth!!

Stacey also launched some new apparel and accessories last year.

Like I said I have been following Ponyback and Stacey for a while now, I was an early adopter and I love love love my Ponyback hats (because yes, I have more than 1), so when Ponyback launched their ambassador program I jumped at the chance to officially share this incredible company and support this unbelievable entrepreneur!

(Another bonus is that for a limited time there is a 20% off sale for Mother’s Day)

Avène

Avène Eau Thermale is a skincare brand out of France and they are my favourite skincare brand. I have written about them a few times.

I started using Avène over 10 years ago with one product Cicalfate and now I use so many products you could go shopping in my bathroom lol.

Why is Avène so special? Well there are a variety of different reasons, one is the thermal spring water they use in their products that is simply magic, the research and development that goes into each product to ensure it’s safety for all those using it, gentle yet effective enough for even the worst dermatological issues. As someone with sensitive and allergic skin this is incredibly important for me.

Cicalfate for instance in a restorative cream and can be used on burns, cuts, rashes, acne, bug bites, pretty much you name it and it will take care of it.

Have rosacea, well the AntiRougeur line could very well be the answer. I have a friend that has rosacea and it gets so bad that they were prescribed an expensive cream to help. I recommended Avène AntiRouguer and after trying it they no longer need their prescription, the Avène line takes care of their needs completely. This will vary by person of course but it is highly effective for my friend.

Avène products are not only affordable they are effective and feel luxurious. Who doesn’t love getting the gift of skincare? It is one of my favourite things to get because taking care of my skin is so important and honestly I haven’t found a single Avène product that I haven’t loved, nor has anyone that I have hooked onto them as far as I know.

Not even everything I have

Avène can be found at most drug stores, in the cosmetics department. For full details on this amazing brand, check out this previous posts.

One World Bazaar

The One World Bazaar is all of the world brought together in one place. The incredible business has been around for 40 years and just seems to get better and better with each year that passes.

This is another business I have been going to for a number of years, probably 8 at this point and there is always something new to discover. 

They travel the world finding treasures handmade by local artisans and they bring them back to Manotick to share. They have formed incredible relationships with the artisans and the communities they visit and purchase goods from, enabling them to share their talents and help their communities.

They have everything, furniture, textiles, so many wood products like vases, cutting boards, utensils, and more, jewelry, clothing, art, glassware, toys, and the list goes on and on.

The bazaar is only open on weekends a few months in the fall and as a result of COVID it is now also available online! Every year I head to the bazaar ready to find new treasures, I always leave with jewelry because the selection and quality is amazing, and with several gifts for my friends and family, there is so much to choose from. 

I can’t image how anyone could not find something at the bazaar to take home with them or package up and give as a gift to someone they love.

Flowers Talk Tivoli

This is a great little flower shop in Westboro where all your plant dreams come true.

Ok so flowers as a gift so cliche you might say, well this little shop is more than just grabbing some flowers. 

Yes their bouquets are stunning, but they also have a wide variety of plants to fit in any home and they will help you find the right one to fit your needs (safe for pets, care requirements, lighting, size, intent for the space). 

They also have home decor and not just pots for this plants, candles, tea, chocolate, clothing and so much more. 

Still don’t want to get a bouquet or a plant well how about a workshop? They run these amazing workshops that teach you how to make wreaths or a plant a succulent arrangement or put together a bouquet and more. Not only does this give the gift of the plant or flowers but it is the gift of an experience and skills. Something fun to do with other people, a night out to laugh and relax. 

Nordik Spa Nature

Nordik Spa-Nature is located in Chelsea Quebec and it is heaven! 

It has thermal baths and saunas located across the property so you can experience relaxation in a variety of settings, multiple restaurants, a variety of spa services available, the KÄLLA saltwater flotation pool, a variety of Aufguss rituals and more.

With the pandemic it has been a while since I’ve been but it had become a tradition to go every spring with one of my fav people. We would get there for opening and spend the day just relaxing, chatting and enjoying some time to catch up. It would often be dark before we’d head home and we both would sleep soundly when we tucked in for the night. There is nothing quite like a day at Nordik.

They even have accomodations you can book for the night, the weekend, or even a longer getaway.

Whether you get this gift for someone to enjoy solo or together you can’t go wrong! They have so many options!

These are a few of my favourite businesses, brands and people I hope that you check them out and find a gift that is just right for that special person in your life, even if that is yourself 😉

Just remember it’s never about the gift, it’s about the thought and sometimes all that special someone wants is a day with you, to relax, to talk, to eat good food and make memories. 

Happy shopping and Happy Mother’s Day!

sam

Time Flies

Where did 2021 go? I mean where has January even gone already!

I know in 2021 I was super busy. Work started off pretty busy and then continued with a special project that began in March and ended in September and luckily it went great!!

As a result of this project I got permanently promoted in the role I’ve been acting in for the last couple of years at work, so hurray for that!! It’s so rewarding to realize what you’ve been working towards for so long!!

There really wasn’t a lot else I had time for during this period so, yep just like that most of the year was gone.

That being said, in July we brought home a new little addition to our family, Lincoln, our beautiful English Springer Spaniel (ESS) pup. He’s kept us quite busy but it’s the best kind of busy.

Oliver (our 11 years old ESS pup) wasn’t quite sure the first couple of weeks what was happening but these two became fast buddies and seeing Oliver so happy again has meant the world to us.

We didn’t stop there though! On the long weekend in September we brought home another little bundle, our sweet little ESS Rembrandt!

These two have kept us incredibly busy and we’ve loved every single minute of it, so has Oliver!! Lincoln and Rembrandt have definitely filled in some of the hole that was left by Oliver’s brother Cooper, whom we lost 4 years ago. I honestly can’t believe it’s been 4 years already without my sweet boy, I still miss him so very much.

The house is full of so much love and joy again. I have honestly had moments where I am just sitting in the backyard, drinking a cup of coffee and watching the boys playing together and I start to cry. I feel at peace and am so happy. I didn’t know something so simple could make me so very happy.

Work has continued to be extremely busy, but I am fortunate to have it and the ability to work from home, so I will count these blessings for sure.

Time seems to have just flown by in 2021, days ending in weeks, weeks flying by and turning into months being over in the blink of an eye.

At the very end of November into December, I became extremely ill.  I woke up the Monday morning feeling a bit off and having a sore throat, I still worked through the day (from home) but by 4-5pm I felt like it was freezing in the house and by 6pm I was laying in bed barely able to move with a fever and chills. It was awful and honestly scary, I was terrified I had COVID despite being extremely careful and fully vaccinated. Tuesday I went and got a COVID test, when my results came in I was so relieved that they were negative. It wasn’t until Thursday afternoon of that same week that I stopped feeling so much weakness in my body. It took another 2 weeks for me to start feeling somewhat back to normal, although I will be honest I am still fairly tired overall.

In addition to being sick for most of December, I have also recently been diagnosed after many, many years of pain, being told it’s nothing or it’s normal and all the possible things with a chronic illness. This validation means so much, now that it is official we can explore the options for managing it. I still have health issues that have not been figured out but I will take this diagnosis as a victory for sure. At the moment I am still going through a bit of an emotional roller coaster about all of this, so once I have settled into all of it, I am hoping to find the energy to share what is happening in more detail.

As a result of December going as it had, Christmas really snuck up on me. Don’t get me wrong I was prepared from a shopping perspective, I always start early, but I wasn’t prepared with my cards, wrapping and the rest. I just had been so sick and lacked so much energy. It was an emotional roller coaster as well because it was Lincoln and Rembrandt’s first Christmas and yet I missed Cooper so very much, he would have adored experiencing the boys first Christmas and all that energy. I just have missed him so much more this year. With the diagnosis, having been sick, oh yeah and not to mention this new COVID variant that is ramping up cases everywhere and has me panicking every now and again, it has all just led to an emotional and mental overload.

I’ve honestly been generally not checking out social media as a result of all of this, I even had to cancel one of my collaboration posts because of being so sick in December and haven’t taken on anything new since. I just haven’t had the energy for social media at all, to create posts and content, to share what is going on with me. I have needed the time to just recover and be with my family. I have felt guilty about this, not being there for my community, not sharing the things I love, especially at around Christmas because there is so much that I love about this time of year, Christmas is my favourite holiday.

We all feel this at times, like we are letting others down when we need to focus on ourselves, our health and welfare. I honestly don’t know why we do it, guilt ourselves into overloading, or working when we need to rest (don’t get me wrong there isn’t always a choice here so I know that can be easier said than done of course). So I am sorry I haven’t been there for all of you, and at the same time I thank you for letting me step away so I can get back to myself, back to a good place.

In 2022, I don’t know if I will set any real “resolutions” or “goals”, I haven’t yet but I will be trying my best to remember that I matter and sometimes that means saying no, taking a day off to recover, making sure I take the time to exercise (not for beauty standards but for my physical and mental health), play with my pups, and accepting that I am not always going to be consistent on social media and honestly that is fine because I want to share myself and my opinions as they come, I want to be who I am, not something always planned.

So all of this to say that in the blink of an eye 2021 is gone, it held some incredible moments, and some not so great. It ended with a whirlwind of emotions and so 2022 has begun with continuing to work through these emotions and that is ok. I will take on each day as it comes, learn from it and work towards what I need and want.

I hope you all had a great 2021, and if it wasn’t a great year know that you survived it, it is behind you and tomorrow is another day.

Here’s to 2022, let it be filled with new adventures, joy, peace and happiness……….and hopefully the end of this pandemic.

sam

2021 to date, a year of COVID, and birthdays

It has been a couple of months since I have been here. I haven’t posted my usual New Years post where I discuss the previous year and thoughts on the new year. Nor did I post anything in February. 

I just wasn’t feeling it. 

Messy bun, oversized hoodie kind of mood

This year hasn’t exactly started so well, I was pretty sick in January, luckily it was not covid and really I didn’t think it would be as we follow all of the rules and I hadn’t even been out grocery shopping for a couple of weeks at the time, but it was still crappy. Let’s face it when is being sick ever not crappy, especially at the beginning of a new year when your hopes tend to be higher in anticipation of the preverbal fresh start.  

Not COVID, thank goodness

Then the water pump for our well broke so that was an unexpected expense and day of no water…in January…..in Canada. Thank goodness for an awesome well guy that had it repaired that evening.

Broken well pump

February was just busy, really busy and so here we are in March and my first post of the year. 

So far this year I’ve really just been trying to take it easy, relax, worry about a lot of things later because really they all would keep so it really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I’ve been focusing on some self-care, spending time cuddling with my pup and trying to find any time I can to recharge.

Enjoying snuggle time with my pup

Taking nice very long baths

It is also kind of odd to think that we are fast approaching a year of this whole covid thing and while generally for me it hasn’t been too bad, I love where I live and adapting to being home more and no commute hasn’t really been much of an issue, but I absolutely miss getting my hair done, my people and every now and then I get the urge to just shop for no reason and I miss all of the celebrations that were to happen that haven’t.

However, there is one thing though that I’ve recently realized really bothers me in all of this and that is in just under a month I will be “celebrating” my second covid birthday. This actually makes me extremely sad!

I love celebrating birthdays, those of my friends and family, and my own. For my own, I love taking the day off and doing whatever I want, it’s a self-care day for me and has been for a very long time.

Not only is it going to be my second covid birthday but it is also the Easter weekend. This does have benefits, like an automatic long weekend which is awesome, but the downside is that every one and thing is about Easter so my birthday becomes an afterthought a lot of the time. This has always been the case when my birthday falls in the Easter weekend, ever since I was a kid. 

Last year because covid had just started the response was we will celebrate later, thinking this would all be over in a couple months at the most, and I mean rightfully so we had no idea things would turn out this way. Needless to say those celebrations never happened and won’t. 

I unfortunately hold no hope for a celebration this year either and well that just makes me sad. 

Get over it you may say, well I will maybe in time but right now it stings and I am just allowing myself to feel that. I’m trying to allow myself to feel more this year, to let myself not have to push past whatever it is that’s bothering me and just grin and bear it because that’s not how I feel. Unfortunately, like many, I am still going through a season of feeling lost overall in my journey of life. 

I honestly don’t know if I’m on the right path, if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, if there is something more for me and I’m just trying to be okay with those feelings. To let them happen because maybe if I accept how I am feeling I can move through it to the other side of it and see more clearly. I know we all experience these feelings and they are perfectly normal and valid so I’m going to stop feeling shame around them. I am exploring new ways to address them and go through them.

Learning to meditate

Anyway, all in all to say that well I certainly didn’t expect a switch to flip and 2021 to be the most amazing year, I wasn’t expecting to be sick, have no water, be run off my feet (figuratively), and to be approaching the one year anniversary of covid and a second covid birthday. 

I know this will all pass but would it hurry up already?

This post is not to complain or to whine or whatever it may be called, just a truth that is my life and my experiences so far into this year. I hope that if nothing else it may find you in knowing you aren’t alone out there, we all have feelings towards a year of covid, we all go through harder times in our lives for so many reasons. But it’s ok to lean into that too, to feel the feels, to process it all so you can move through it to the other side and I hope you find clarity when you do!

Here’s to the rest of 2021 looking up


Much love and here’s to 2021 looking up, and covid getting hit by the door on its way out!


sam 

Caring for your Alpaca

Now that you know all of the reasons why alpaca is so amazing, I thought I would share how to properly care for it so that it lasts for years to come and it’s easier than you think!!!

Don’t know why it’s awesome? Check out my previous post to find out!

So alpaca has these unique antibacterial fibres, which means regular washing is not required. Which is awesome because who doesn’t love less laundry! 

With any new piece you should always wash it before using. This helps to ensure anything from production and shipping are cleaned away (think excess dyes and such).

Washing your alpaca 

The method for washing alpaca will vary based on the item, but there are some fundamentals to always keep in mind:

  • Water temperature, use cold water to avoid shocking or matting the fibres, and shrinkage.
  • Only use a small amount of very mild detergent, like a baby shampoo or product meant for alpaca
  • Lay flat to dry
  • Never wring, squeeze, pull, or stretch your alpaca

So there are three methods to wash your alpaca, let’s look at each option and when you would use them.

Hand washing

This is the best method to ensure a gentle cleaning. You should always hand wash sweaters, scarves, and hats, but not all alpaca has to be hand washed. To wash your piece, place it in a wash bin, gently pushing it into the water to ensure it gets wet. Let the piece sit in the water for a few to thirty minutes. 

Rinse time! Empty the wash water and rinse by adding in clean water and pushing out the wash water; continue until the water runs clear. 

 

Hand Washing underway

 

Machine Washing

Great for items like blankets and socks. Larger items like blankets should be washed on their own, while smaller items like socks, should be placed in a wash bag to protect from rubbing against other items causing the alpaca fibres to mat. Wash on the delicate, wool, or hand wash cycle. Do not machine wash your items if your machine has an agitator, this could damage the item.

Dry cleaning

This is another option but make sure you have done your research to ensure your dry cleaner is capable of handling alpaca properly.

Spot Cleaning

Even though you don’t need to wash your piece regularly, it is important to take care of any spills or stains as soon as they happen. Spot clean the piece with cold water and the same mild detergent used to wash. Push out the excess water and lay flat to dry.

Drying Alpaca

The most important thing is to NEVER put your alpaca in the dryer, got that, ok!

Drying after hand washing

Push out as much water as you can after rinsing. Take a towel, lay it out on a clean surface and place your piece on the towel. 

Place on towel

Gently begin to roll the towel up, the towel will soak up the remaining water from the alpaca. Unroll the towel and repeat if a significant amount of water is left in the piece.

Roll in towel

Once complete, remove the item from the towel and lay flat on a drying rack across multiple bars to ensure the item is fully supported. 

Drying for machine washed pieces

This is easy, take the piece out of the machine and place it on a drying rack.

Time to Dry!

A drying rack provides the best option as air will freely circulate the item and dry it more thoroughly. If you don’t have a drying rack, place the item on a dry towel, on a flat surface, make sure to turn the item over occasionally for even and faster drying time.

Combing your Alpaca

You may find at times some matting has occurred or your alpaca looks a little frazzled. This is simple to correct, take a very soft brush and brush the piece in the direction of the fibres to realign them and prevent further matting. 

Storing Alpaca

Before storing your alpaca, wash it and fully dry, then place in a cotton pillow case. This will avoid dirt, and dust from gathering on the piece. Store away from light and temperature changes, and place some cedar balls or lavender with it to keep pests away, like moths. 

 

Now wasn’t that easy? It may seem like a lot of work to keep your alpaca in great shape, but it really isn’t and with proper care alpaca really is something that you will enjoy for years to come!!!!

Time to enjoy your alpaca!!!

 

I hope this helps you get the most out of your alpaca pieces and that you enjoy them as much as I do.

sam

 

This post is in collaboration with Pokoloko and the sweater shown was gifted. 

Can’t do wool, there is a solution for that!

As September is upon us and summer is quickly coming to a close, our thoughts start to wander towards fall and all things warm and cozy.

When I think warm and cozy, I think of sweaters, blankets, thick socks, scarves, hats, and mittens of course. A blanket to cozy up with while reading or watching tv on the couch is an absolute must for me! The problem is so very many of these cozy items are wool or contain wool and for someone like me this is a no go.

As far as I know I have always had issues with wool, as soon as I touch it my fingers get tingly and itchy and if for some reason I am in contact with it for any length of time I will develop a rash and so forth. Not so cozy!

I know I am not alone in this as many people experience issues with wool. While it seems that true allergies are rare and most people are not actually allergic to wool or the lanolin (which is a substance that coats each wool fiber) but rather are sensitive or hyper-sensitive to either the wool, the lanolin or even both.

So what do you do if you are like me and can’t do wool but want a natural, durable, sustainable and cozy fibre? Well you fall in love with alpaca!

So Why Alpaca?

Alpaca is a beautiful fiber because it is actually warmer than wool due to the structure of the fiber itself, it is hypoallergenic (no lanolin), is naturally water-repellant and has great breathability, whereas wool can suck in water which causes it to create discomfort against the skin. It also is a much softer fiber than wool. Wool can vary in its texture based on the quality (measured in microns) of wool being used for a piece, the smaller the microns the softer the wool. Often alpaca is directly compared to merino wool or cashmere. Alpaca also comes in 22 natural colours and can be dyed, and I have seen some extremely vibrate colours that are just incredible.

Look at these gorgeous colours!!

 

What else makes Alpaca Unique?

Other fun facts about the advantages of alpaca, from an environmental perspective alpacas actually do less harm to the ground they walk on because their little hooves are padded which results in a lower impact on the earth itself. They also only eat the top layer of grass they are munching on; what this means is that they aren’t uprooting the grass, it can simply keep growing, they are just cutting the grass not ripping it out. They are light eaters and do not consume a lot of water either. Through these little characteristics they are not causing soil erosion and don’t consume large levels of resources. Plus in my opinion, alpacas are cuter too!

 

So What Is In My Alpaca Collection?

A couple of years ago I discovered alpaca and took a chance on it being something that would provide me with all of the things that I was looking for. I started with a simple scarf, I am obsessed with scarves, I can never have too many. Ok, I’m not going to lie, I can never have too many of any of my cozy things!! This scarf was simple, has a classic design, is lightweight, warm and so very soft.  It is perfect for casual or professional looks as well. With this scarf I was hooked on alpaca and the next fall I just bought more!

My Scarf

So Cozy!

Ready for the office!

I proceeded to purchase a hat and an absolutely luxurious blanket. The hat is so gorgeous and reversible so with the colour combination I choose it can be more understated or so beautifully coloured. I adore it!

Who doesn’t love a bright blue hat?

Or maybe you prefer navy

Or a little of both!

The blanket is a double wide throw, which means it covers my queen bed and I am totally and completely in love with it. It is lightweight, so warm and cozy. I have a huge blanket supply, I mean I can never have too many blankets, seriously! Since I purchased my alpaca blanket though it has become easily my favourite blanket (with the exception of my quilts from my grandma, they will always have my heart), I reach for it everyday!

Such a great size

So cozy, I could curl up with this blanket all day long!

 

So Where Do I Get My Gorgeous Alpaca From?

Pokoloko is my go to for all things alpaca! They are a local Canadian company out of Hull, Quebec and they are all about sustainability, ethical practices and ensuring that the whole supply chain meets high standards. Pokoloko works towards enriching communities through fair trade and ethical practices not only for their alpaca lines but for everything they offer.

Their alpaca blankets, scarves, socks, hats, and sweaters are all beautifully crafted, come in a variety of patterns and colours and will easily fill your home with warmth, comfort and coziness. The next item on my list is one of their glorious sweaters, like the Jacquard or Cartier! These pieces are made to last, they are made for life.

If you are looking for the perfect cozy items this fall and winter make sure you consider alpaca. I have fallen so in love with alpaca that I have begun buying it as gifts for my friends and family as well to spread the coziness around.

I hope that this has helped you discover a new option and even if you can do wool, why not switch to alpaca for all of the amazing benefits!!

 

Have a wonderful day and stay cozy!!

sam

 

This post is in collaboration with Pokoloko 

Let’s talk summer, dresses, skirts ……… and thigh chafe!

Ok, summer is not over yet so let’s get into it and talk thigh chafe. 

If you think that thigh chaffing  is only something that happens to only certain people, those of a particular size or shape, you’d be very wrong. Thigh chafe happens to people of all shapes and sizes, it doesn’t discriminate (and neither should you). 

This is a huge problem particularly during warmer months when it is beautiful and warm outside and our wardrobes include more skirts and dresses unaccompanied by nylons and tights. 

I have always had this problem and I have tried several things to deal with this problem. What are the main ideas I’ve tried, well here we go: 

– Anti-blister/chafing sticks. These are actually quite effective, they provide a layer of “lubricate” (for a lack of better descriptor) that provides a frictionless surface for your thighs that are rubbing together, which does work quite effectively. The problem is that it requires a lot of reapplication throughout the day which is just annoying and requires an ‘excuse me’ to the washroom to reapply and adds extra bulk in your purse and it cannot be used on any broken skin. I do however swear by this for breaking in new shoes, it is fantastic for that!

– Athletic shorts under my skirt/dress. They do the job, however, they are generally thicker (especially the waistband) and can cause extra bulk and sometimes heat, this is based on the fact that they are a thicker layer. 

– Shapewear. This works of course, however, I find they leaves me warm, doesn’t breath and after a little bit can get uncomfortable overall due to the compressive nature of them.

– Nylons that have had a run in them. Ok this may seem like a weird one of course but I have repurposed nylons that have obtained a run in them, cut the legs off of just to have the top and thigh sections, generally they work but the legs tend to roll up and not always stay in place. (no pictures on this one, as I haven’t used it in a while)

As you can see all of these options can work but they all have flaws, so which option works best?

Switching to Knix Thigh Savers that’s what! I recently gave these a try and I have been very pleased with the overall performance.

Now before I go further, I want to be very clear that I am a Knix Partner, however, this post is not sponsored or an ad. I purchased my Knix Thigh Savers before becoming a partner and all of the opinions of and feelings towards them are my own. I am always 1000% honest with all of you regarding the items I post about because that is extremely important to me.

Okay so what are Knix Thigh Savers and why are they so much better than any of the above options? These AMAZING things are a product offered by a Canadian, female founded and inclusive company called Knix. They are a a little short that you would wear under your skirt or dress with or without underwear based on your personal preference of course, they are thin and breathable, yes they breath, and because they are thin they don’t add any extra bulk to your outfit so you will get exactly the look you are going for without compromise or thigh chafe.

Thigh Savers 6″ inseam

Take a peek in action 😉

Want more great features?

– They come in two inseam lengths (6″ and 4″) so you pick the best one for you and the skirt/dress hem length, which is perfect because personally I hate the idea of someone being able to see my undergarments through the slit of my skirt. 

– They come in a variety of nudes as well so you can also pick the best colour to go with your skin tone for a seamless look if you have a Marilyn Monroe moment.

The Nudes Collection
Photo courtesy of Knix

 

So I’ve made the switch to Knix Thigh Savers for my summer thigh chafe issues and I really think you should too, you won’t regret it! Head over to the Knix Thigh Saver page and check them out!

Knix also offers a full range of underwear, bras and tops, postpartum items, leakproof pieces, sleep and loungewear, and swimsuits. They are all about women feeling comfortable in their own skin at any size, shape, or age because everyone deserves to feel beautiful.

Want more incentive to make the switch, use my links and my code Knixpartner10 for $10 off your purchase!!

When you get yours, comment here and let me know, or tag me on Instagram @simplyabout and let me know your thoughts of your new Knix!!

I hope this helps you in finding a solution to your thigh chafe issues so you can enjoy your summer fully and rock whatever you want to wear!!!!

 

sam

Unprecedented times

We are living in unprecedented times right now.

Everything has changed, everywhere.

As the world experiences this global pandemic there is so much that is uncertain, there is so much fear and anxiety and we are all trying to navigate it in the best way that we can or know how to.

I have been thinking a lot about all of this and determining how I feel, what I think this all means, how I feel the world is handling this situation and it’s hard, everything is upside down and inside out. Many of us are now working from home, so very many are out of work, businesses are trying to figure out how to survive. It is scary and people are trying to find their feet.

I wanted to write about how I am and well I am feeling mostly ok, mostly.

What I worry about right now –

I worry the most about some of my family that are more vulnerable and what might happen if they get sick and all of the time I am missing getting to spend with them because of physical distancing.

I worry about my friends that are far away from their families during this time and how hard it is being away from them.

I worry about all of the amazing businesses, big, medium and small, that are impacted by this change. The tough decisions they have had to make for their business, their staff and future and what that all means for the economy at the end of the day.

I worry about those right in the thick of it all, putting themselves at risk every single day.

I really feel like there are so many more things that I worry about, so very very many. There is so much going on and the impact is felt differently by everyone and it breaks my heart to think about all of these things and I have to choose to shut it down at a point for my own health.

What I a grateful for right now –

I am grateful for the ability to work from home, my work is required and while there are some challenging and long days, I am grateful for the work and daily routine.

I am grateful for more time with my pup! This extra time is so valued as I love him so dearly.

I am grateful for extra time with my hubby. I am so fortunate to have such an amazing partner in my life and having extra time to spend together is amazing.

I am grateful for the ability to move my body and have some extra time to focus on physical wellness. Getting active has never been easy for me but I know how good it makes me feel and having the opportunity to spend time doing this has been wonderful.

I am grateful for too many projects. I have so very many projects that I want to get done that there is no way I could get bored being at home. Having time to accomplish some of these just feels good.

I am grateful for technology because I am relying on it to keep me connected to family and friends.

I am also grateful for the wonder that is the planet’s amazing ability to recover because we are all home.

I am so immensely grateful for the community coming together to help each other every single day in so very many different ways.

I can’t express enough how grateful I am for the front line workers in so many fields putting themselves, and by default their families, at risk every day to take care of us, feed us, and nurture us body and mind remotely. These people are heroes!!

There really are so many more amazing things to be grateful for during this time.

 

So the mostly ok covers all of the things I am grateful for, plus I live in the country so in many ways my neighbourhood is much the same as usual which brings a sense of calm, as does being surrounded by nature.

The parts of me that are not ok relate to all of the things that worry me, the fact that I am not sleeping well (my mind goes a million miles a minute when I go to lay down for the night, my home work chair is hurting my back making it difficult to get comfortable and so forth), the urge I have to want to just shop despite the fact that I want to be mindful of spending right now as this situation changes rapidly and that could affect me in ways I haven’t even thought of yet (I just want new fun things to arrive to play with and explore) and things like this.

I know that this will all pass, we are doing absolutely what we need to be right now and we will all find our way through it to the other side. We will come out of this stronger, closer and and hopefully wiser than when we went in. So while things may look grim right now, there will be light again.

I have accepted that I will have days where none of it makes any sense and I will be less ok than the day before or the next day that comes and that is perfectly fine. Everything that I am feeling, good or bad, is completely valid and I am allowed to feel that way, to cry when it all is a bit much and to find joy in even the simplest of things.

Any advise I would give others is to:

Know that you are enough right now! Give yourself grace and understanding.

Know that you are not alone right now! Reach out and talk to someone, including me.

Know that you can make a difference for someone else, even if it seems small, it will be appreciated!

Find peace and joy in your day to day, share it with others.

Check in on your friends and family and make sure they know how you are feeling and listen to how they are feeling.

 

Do I know what will happen, no. Do I hope for the best, yes!

Take care of yourself and each other!

sam

Coffee, yes please! A review

Right off the bat I think it is important to note that I am a HUGE coffee fan, I love the smell, the taste, the varieties available and all of the many different ways you can enjoy it. It wasn’t always the case though. I remember when I was a kid I used to hate the smell of the coffee brewing in the morning, until one day I didn’t anymore. I am not really sure what happened but I feel like I just woke up one morning and it had changed and ever since that day I have had a passion for a good cup of coffee.

I also have the benefit that to date I don’t seem to be affected by caffeine or sugar (*pause while I knock on wood), which is amazing because I can have as much as I want and I don’t have the ups and downs usually associated with caffiene.

I love all types of coffee, a regular cup, an espresso, a latte, cappuccino, macchiato or anything in between. I am constantly learning about the different ways to make coffee and right now in my house the only way that coffee is made is either with a French press or my espresso machine, so delicious coffee every time.

When I moved into my current home, one of my friends (knowing my coffee obsession) got me a coffee grinder that could grind from course to fine and I was pretty excited because it meant I could buy whole beans and grind fresh for every cup!

Throughout the use of my grinder I did notice that it wasn’t always consistent in its grinds, so I once again began to research the world of coffee. To my interest I found out about the burr mill and the fundamental differences between a grinder and a burr mill and with that discovered that I wasn’t getting all I could out of my cup of coffee.

So what’s the difference anyway? Well in a quick and basic way to explain –

Grinders chop up the beans with blades but in the process they can also burn them with the heat that gets generated in the process, this in turn damages the bean and the flavour that one experiences.

A burr mill, essentially crushes the beans at various speeds to obtain the desired grind which does not affect the beans flavour profile as the bean doesn’t get heated.

I decided that I needed to replace my grinder with a burr mill and use my grinder for other things, like herbs and dried peppers. This wouldn’t be an immediate purchase however, as burr mills are considerably more than a grinder.

I discussed and expressed my desire for a burr mill to friends and family and well one Christmas I got my wish and received a Bodum Burr Mill!! I was so excited I couldn’t believe it and also couldn’t wait to make my first cup of coffee with beans freshly ground from it. Well it didn’t disappoint! The coffee tasted sweeter, cleaner and fresher, not to mention the heightened ability to detect the various flavour notes in the different blends.

Bodum Burr Mill

This burr mill can grind from course to very fine with a simple turn of the hopper to the desired grind and it has a timer you can set based on the amount of beans you have in the hopper and it all collects in a Bodum glass container. The timer has a max of 20 seconds which I find is pretty much the perfect amount of time if you are grinding espresso for 2 shots.

Grind Collection

Grind Settings

Hopper

I have become very accustomed to the perfect amount of beans in the hopper, and the time required to grind them every time for whatever I am grinding for and for how many people. The hopper in quite large, for me it is larger than I would ever use as I grind just what I need for what I am making at the time.

The Burr

The mill is easy to clean, I do recommend occasionally using some canned air to really blow all the grinds out of the machine, additionally a little burst to help tidy up is also advantageous. The Bodum collector container and bean hopper can just be popped into the dishwasher or quickly washed out by hand.

If you love coffee and making a cup yourself, investing in a good burr mill will change your coffee experience, I have had mine for about 3 years now and it is still perfect. I highly recommend the Bodum Burr Mill be a staple in your kitchen!

Happy coffee drinking everyone!!

sam

 

What is family really?

With Family Day just around the corner, I thought I would reflect on what family actually means, at least to me anyway.

Have you heard the expression that “You can pick your friends, not your family”?

I have and once upon a time believed it too, but I no longer do and haven’t for years.

I much prefer the expression “You can pick your family, not who you are related to”, which is actually something my husband once said to me.

This really got me thinking and it is so true!

How many people consider their best friend to be more of a sister or brother, and their in-laws to be more mom and dad than your actual parents (like I do, I haven’t spoken to my actual parents in over 7 years, see my previous post for details on that one). What about people who have been adopted, their parents/family are not their blood but they are family, or those who have lost all of their blood relations.

To me family are the people who are there for you always, in good and bad, they accept you for who you are and love you regardless of your eccentricities.

These people don’t need to be related to you.

In the same vein, being related to someone doesn’t mean you owe them, it doesn’t mean you are obligated to take care of them or give them money or anything. In my own experiences, people have told me, ‘they are your parents, you must….’, well no I don’t, after everything I don’t. Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away. Who you are related to does not define who you are!

Sometimes family are those we are related to and that’s ok too, that’s awesome  actually! When you can have both related and unrelated, when it expands to the rest of who we consider family, it can make our lives so much richer.

I hope this family day you spend it with the people you love, whoever they are, related or not and cherish them and the memories you make together!!

sam

New Year’s, Realizations, Truth and Moving Forward

Every year I write a post for the new year and usually is goes along the lines of mentioning how I want to really discover myself, figure out who I am and what I want and pretty much I never do. It is just the same routine, I fall into / stay in the same rhythm and haven’t been able to pull myself out. 

So this year do I want to the same things? Well to a certain extent yes and then on the other hand no but that’s not a bad thing, I just want different things. 

So what has changed? Really it began with simply following some new people on Instagram, it started with one person and they led me to others. Through my time following these people, I have done some deep thinking and have been realizing that there are a few things I need to do before I can really start moving forward. One of things is being completely honest and start sharing my story, in hopes that I can acknowledge it, release it and that it may in turn help someone else, just as those I have been inspired by have done.

What does that mean exactly, well I hope you keep reading to find out.

I know I am unfortunately not alone in some or all (I am still only just barely scratching the surface as the story runs far deeper and will take much more time to unfold than I am going into today) of what I am about to share and I know that some people may not consider it that bad compared to what others have gone through, but that doesn’t change the affect on me and my life. Our experiences and how they shape us should not be compared to each other, it is not a competition about who has had it worse, it is about how we take what we have and move past it, use it to fuel us towards something better and help others.

Ok, so this is scary, deep breath, there are people who know me well that already know these things about me and people who are close enough with me that are aware of some of the high level details, but sharing it like this on this platform is a whole other thing, but here it goes anyway. 

I am a survivor of trauma. This is a recent realization for me, even after having spoken to professionals over the years not one of them have identified my experiences as traumas, but that is what they are.

My trauma began when I was still very young, I don’t remember exactly my age but it was pre-grade two for sure when it all began. 

The traumas I have experienced involve – never being a child (a child by age but nothing else – I will elaborate on this), threats of physical violence, emotional abuse, battling with anorexia and body dysmorphia, and constantly being told and shown that I was not good enough; to provide an overarching summary. 

Okay, so what does all of that mean? Well, I grew up in a home with a family that was manipulative and corrosive. My parents are essentially con artists and mentally ill, and this was something that I bore the brunt of. They had a way of pulling people into their lies and onto their side, including my older sister. 

This all started when I was very young as I mentioned and my mother announced she was going to walk across the highway near our home and get taken out by a truck. This was one of many suicide threats or suicide attempts that I would have to deal with or stop. As a child I stopped my mother from attempting suicide multiple times and have heard countless threats from both of my parents as this was always an option for dealing with their problems. Please don’t misunderstand me, mental illness and suicide is a serious matter, it is just not one that a child should have to manage for their parents. I had to grow up at a very young age in order to be able to take care of myself, my older sister and my parents.

I began working at the age of 12 and contributing financially to the household because my parents would blow money like nothing and needed help paying the bills. I’ve seen them go through bankruptcy multiple times. Since I was old enough to operate the vacuum and washing machine I was required to take care of the house when coming home from school (before even being allowed to do my homework), I paid for my own clothes, I cooked, I cleaned, and I worked. This was just my life, I was a servant and provider to my parents. My father had a bad temper and it was nothing for him to get pissed off and punch a hole in the wall beside my head or raise his hand to hit me, one thing I will say he didn’t hit me but the emotional and physical stress of not knowing whether or not at that moment would be the time, was possibly worse I think. 

If I didn’t do something right or meet expectations for school, cleaning, providing money or whatever I heard about it. I was never good enough, my marks were never good enough despite always being on the honour role. There was constant manipulation around money and not giving them enough. I never gave them my full pay checks, as I kept savings for myself in order to move away as soon as I could.

In high school things got much worse, I was going to school full time, working 3 part time jobs and began my journey into anorexia. My mother constantly belittled me about food and told me I was fat (up until a few months ago I was the heaviest I have ever been in my life). I took this to heart, she was my mom so I began dieting and exercising and dieting led to not eating as it didn’t seem to be enough, I was still fat and reminded daily of it. There were weeks where all I had was coffee, that’s it, that was what I had for nutrition for the week. All of my friends at school were worried about me but I just told them I was fine and just not really a lunch person, because I never ate lunch, but that I had a good breakfast and dinner so it was all good. That of course was a lie, there was no breakfast ever and no good dinner. So this also led to my wildly incorrect vision of myself, how I looked, how big I thought I was and what others must think. I was a mess, going down a path that could have led to some very serious consequences.

Luckily, also near the end of high school I met some people from the other high school in the area and we became friends. Why does this matter, because one of those people would eventually become my husband. Again, you might ask why does that matter? It was when we began dating, after being friends for a couple of years, and I began to hang out with his family that I discovered what I had grown up with wasn’t remotely normal or ok. I had always thought it was normal, what I experienced and that other kids were spoiled maybe or that I was grateful to know why I couldn’t have something, we were a team right, a family, we took care of each other that was totally normal, right? I was so wrong and just didn’t know it.

When I was 18 my parents kicked me out, they didn’t like that I had developed a life, they didn’t like that I wasn’t handing over my whole pay checks and they didn’t like the hours I kept, I wasn’t home much between work and spending time with friends,  so they kicked me out and if I wanted to stay I had to pay more money, do more chores, and be home by 12:30am everyday no exceptions. One phone call to my boyfriend (now hubby) for some help and everything changed forever. His family took me in and got me heathy, they nourished not just my body but my heart, mind and soul. I was able to go to school and get a degree and make a life for myself because of them, they still don’t believe they have done anything special, but they saved my life really. 

All of that being said, I still struggle every single day with body dysmorphia, I don’t believe in myself the way I should because it was so engrained that I wasn’t ever good enough. I constantly compare myself to others and wish for what they have because I have a hard time not wanting more and to be more, to matter, to make a difference. There are so very many things in my life I am forever grateful for and so very lucky to have, this I know, even the facts of what I have been through has contributed to who I have become but it doesn’t come without costs.

So one thing that is different from last years New Years post, is that in 2019 I have been grateful to hear from others struggling, to know that I am not alone, to know that I am enough, to know that I can be what I want to be and it’s ok to both be ok and to not be as well. I will not let what I have been through keep me down and leave me a victim. I continue to learn from it, grow knowing I am more than my past and I am going to release this, move forward with my head high and become the person I want to be.

I hope that in reading this you may understand me a little better, you may find hope and comfort knowing you aren’t alone either and that together we can create better tomorrows for ourselves and for others by sharing our stories. 

I hope that you find joy in 2020, I hope that you find yourself and you remain true to who that is, even if you don’t fully know who that is yet. I hope that you never have to experience what I have and that if you are going through it right now that you know you are not alone, it can get better, there is a better tomorrow.

I would really like to thank all of you that have bravely shared your stories and through your actions created a supportive community that has helped me so much already.

Thank you to all of you who have read this all the way through, your support is very much appreciated and I look forward to continuing to connect with you.

Here’s to 2020, I have so many new goals and dreams for the future and all of its wondrous possibilities.

sam