Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gifts Outside the Box

The Long and Winding Road   Honour a friend or loved-one while helping to create the world's longest network of recreational trails!  The Trans Canada Trail will extend 22,000 kilometres linking the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans and will support a variety of activities, such as hiking, cycling, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and  canoeing.  Make a gift in tribute to honour a friend, or shop Trans Canada Trail gift shop. Perfect for the outdoor enthusiast or nature lover in your life!

Canada's Most Meaningful Gifts  Giving gifts from World Vision Canada's Gift Catalog has become a regular part of my Christmas celebrations.  For as little as $25, you can buy a gift that will significantly and positively impact the lives of people around the world - or right here in Canada, if you choose. Some of my favorite gift purchases have included the Literacy for Children package ($30), Winter Clothing for Children ($35), a Wood Conserving Stove ($50), Olive Trees ($30), and the Supply a Classroom package ($50).   Make your gift purchase go even further by choosing an item from the "Multiplier" section.  Consider one of the Education gifts to honour your child's teacher. For each gift you buy, you will receive a greeting card to give to your recipient that explains the item you have chosen for them.

Remember Our Furry Friends  We are all familiar with our local animal shelters, who do a fantastic job caring for unwanted and abandoned pets.  But what happens to the larger critters in our midst - farm animals, for example - when they are neglected?  The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada near Guelph, Ontario plays a crucial role in rescuing and rehabilitating donkeys, mules, and hinnies.  Think you don't care?  Go to their site and gaze at those sweet little faces.  Such character!  Such gentleness and furry wisdom!  It makes a person want to bring them all home.  (Do you think my cats would mind...?)  While you can't actually bring them home, you can do the next best thing.  For $50 (or more, by donation) you can sponsor a DSC donkey.  You - or your recipient - will receive a photo of your beloved donkey, a biography, adoption certificate, DSC newsletter, and an annual report.

Give With Love...And A Conscience   For more traditional gift-giving, I recommend the Ten Thousand Villages network of stores and festivals as the place to shop.  Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit, Fair Trade Organization that benefits artisans and agricultural organizations in low-income countries.  You are certain to find lovely gifts for every taste and budget, including spices and chocolate, exquisite handmade stationary, soaps (the cinnamon nutmeg soap is a perfect stocking stuffer for this time of year!), jewelry, keepsake boxes, ornaments and nativity scenes, musical instruments, home decor (love the hammered copper vase), and the list goes on.  While not strictly a Canadian organization, I feel this deserves special mention.  Ten Thousand Villages has 50 retail stores across Canada and an extensive online Canadian store. If you're seeking unique, thoughtful gifts, and want to know your hard-earned money is benefiting people instead of huge corporations, Ten Thousand Villages is a good place to start.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pure Anada Review (Part II) and Contest

Imagine my sheer delight, early last week, at receiving a parcel of fabulous products that Pure Anada's Candace Grenier very generously sent my way.  New products to try!  Very exciting!  Allow me to share with you what I found...

Berry & Bouquet Hydra Cream  This moisturizer surprised and impressed me.  You will recognize and be able to pronounce the ingredients in this cream (how refreshing!) which contains strawberry and has a pleasant, mild scent of rose.  It felt light when applied, and I wondered whether it would adequately moisturize my skin, living in the cold, dry climate of northern BC.  Not only did it moisturize well, but my skin tone looks better than it has for the last 2 years using my usual (absurdly expensive) cream!  Mineral powder foundation applies like a dream after prepping with this.  I was left wondering why so many companies use chemicals in their moisturizers when such a high quality product can be made with natural ingredients.  I also wondered if I will ever be able to buy Berry & Bouquet by the litre...

Cocoa Mint Foot Balm   I defy you not to sigh with pleasure when you inhale the light, sweet scent of this product! This is a rich, intensive balm that works well to soften heels, elbows, and anywhere else that needs some extra TLC.  For a treat, apply at night, pop on a pair of light cotton socks, and marvel at how soft your feet are the next morning. I have a reflexology practice and try a lot of different foot lotions and balms.  This one smells yummy and natural, absorbs quickly, and feels wonderful on the skin.  Looking for a thoughtful stocking stuffer, or an any-occasion gift to make a loved-one feel pampered?  Try this cocoa mint foot balm.
Lavender & Chamomile Calming Cleanser   The first thing that struck me about this cleanser when I applied it was the rich scent and immediate cooling effect it had on my skin.  Sooo relaxing at the end of a long day, like a mini spa treatment for your face and senses.  I typically use a liquid make-up remover at night, followed by a moisturizing cream.  Surprisingly, I found I didn't need to apply moisturizer after using this creamy cleanser.  My skin felt soft, cool, and refreshed.   If you don't enjoy the scent of lavender, you might wish to try one of the other cleansers Pure Anada has to offer.  If you are a lavender lover, however, you simply must have this product!  

Natural Mascara  I almost jumped out of my skin, I was so eager to try this.  Natural mascara?  Really? We have all resigned ourselves to using the usual tar-that-is-mascara, haven't we?  Is there really another option?  Now there is!  Pure Anada's Natural Mascara contains 97% natural ingredients and is pH balanced for eyes.  It is a fantastic option for people with sensitive eyes.  I can vouch for the fact that it performs as well - if not better (no clumps or flakes!) - than any other mascara I've used. It is water resistant, making it durable yet easily removed with a gentle cleanser. There's a reason it is receiving rave reviews at the Pure Boutique! Read more about it here

Velvet Matte Coral Blush  This was another product that surprised me (and in this case, when I say surprised, it means I did not expect things to go well! *L*)  I have never purchased or used a coral coloured make-up.  Having always associated the colour coral with orange, my instinct was to avoid it like the plague.  Clearly, it pays to try something new!  I was pleased to discover that this blush looks natural and flattering on my skin, even with my pink undertones.  Subtle and pretty brushed across the eyelids, too.

Morden's Blush Lipstick and Petal Lip Gloss  These lipsticks and glosses rival any big label lip colour out there.  Pure Anada lipsticks are vegan, go on smoothly, and stay on for hours. I find Morden's blush a pretty shade for the fall and winter, and wear it often.  I am thrilled to report that their glosses are light, creamy, richly pigmented (they cover as well as a lipstick) and are not sticky.  Hallelujah!  It has been years since I have worn lip gloss, finding the majority of them thick, gooey, and not worth the hassle. Pure Anada glosses are perfect!  Highly recommended. If you enjoy wearing lip glosses, please do yourself a favor and try Pure Anada's line.  Neither the lipsticks nor the glosses contain silicones or artificial colourants, and they are free of the chemical taste and smell so often found in mainstream brands of lipcolour.


Please read rules carefully before entering.

Win a $50 gift voucher to be used at The Pure Boutique online store!

NOTE: This voucher applies to the Pure Anada make-up, skin care line, brushes, and bath & body products only.  The winner's order will be shipped free of charge.

Open to residents of Canada and the United States.  Contest ends December 3rd.   If I have not received a response from the randomly selected winner by December 7th, a new winner will be selected and notified.

This contest has now ended.  Thank you to everyone who entered! 

Congratulations to S. Lilley of Woodstock, Ontario.  Enjoy your shopping spree at The Pure Boutique!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pure Anada Cosmetics

Sensitive Skin vs Mainstream Make-up.

Oh, the itchy torture!  Three years ago, after a rather nasty reaction to a major label foundation, I decided to go on the hunt for a line of make-up that would be kinder to my skin.  I found it in Pure Anada cosmetics, a line of mineral make-up manufactured in Manitoba, Canada from natural ingredients responsibly purchased from around the world.  Founder Candice Grenier created this line, free of artificial fragrances, colourants, and preservatives,  in response to her own desire for a line of gentle make-up that she, herself, could use.

The Pure Anada online shop is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and offers a wide variety of foundations, blushes, eye shadows, concealers and lipsticks.  I was hard-pressed to decide which colours - specifically, which foundations - would suit my complexion.  I decided to purchase the Deluxe Sample Pack, and I highly recommend it to other first-time shoppers.  The Deluxe Sample Pack includes 6 small bags of foundation powder and 20 small bags of mineral colour - your choice of any of the shadows, blushes, bronzers, or liners.  This is a fun and cost effective way to try a variety of shades! The pack also comes with a mini foundation brush - essential for the correct application of mineral foundation - and a gift certificate to be used towards your next purchase.  This is a great deal!

I was so pleased with the performance of my sample pack powders, I soon made my next purchase.  My favorite items include...

Latte eyeshadow (matte)   This has become one of my preferred "every day" shadows.  It is very natural looking, feels light, and almost any accent shadow - bright or neutral - blends well with it. I also loved Close to Cocoa (warm brown, satin), Wisteria (sweet lavender, satin) and Cornflower (soft blue, satin) as accent shadows.

Petal blush (luminous) Possibly my favorite of all the products I have tried from Pure Anada Cosmetics so far.  I am pretty devoted to this blush.  I reviewed it on site, describing it as, "..a very light, fresh, young pink that is perfect for Spring and Summer. Being in my mid-30's, I wondered if I could pull off this kind of pink but it has turned out to be rejuvenation in a jar in terms of how refreshed my skin looks when I apply it."
Glow Minerals Finishing Veil  Think air-brushing, but in person!  This product can be applied over your make-up for a translucent effect that softens fine lines and pores.  A very nice touch when heading out for the evening with that special someone, attending a party, or other special occasion.  The Mineral Finishing Veil can also be used on its own for a clean, polished look with the added benefit of natural SPF 10 skin protection.

Natural Oval Fluff Brush  Made with 100% natural bristles, this is my preferred eyeshadow brush.  I have had mine for two years, and with proper care, it still looks - and performs - like new.  Also great for applying concealer.

Saffron Colour Corrector  I admit, my first reaction when I opened this jar, was an astonished, "Whoa!  I don't think so!"  It is a matte, fine, very yellow powder and I assumed there was no way this would blend with my other make-up or look natural on my skin.  I am happy to report I was wrong, and it has proven to be a good product to help conceal dark circles under the eyes and redness around the nose or chin.  Best suited for light complexions.

Need some help deciding which colours would look best on you?  Check out the Photo Gallery to see models with a range of skin tones wearing Pure Anada cosmetics.

The application of loose mineral make-up is a bit different from what you may be used to.  This helpful guide will get you started off on the right foot and looking fabulous in no time!

Pure Anada Cosmetic's Youtube Channel, which includes make-up tutorials and information about the line.

"Be Mine" Princess Gift Pack - If there is a little girl in your life who loves shimmer and sparkle, this kit, containing Cinnamon Smooch Lip Shimmer and Be Mine Shimmer Powder, is for her! Products are made from natural and organic ingredients and have just a hint of colour, suitable for little princesses.  Best of all, ALL profits from the sale of this pack are donated to Compassion Canada's Haiti Relief fund. What a perfect holiday gift!

Pure Anada cosmetics can be purchased at select retailers and online.  A variety of other products, including fragrance, skin care, and a bath & body line, is available through the site, as well as gift vouchers, international shipping, and the option of creating your very own wish list.

I would love to read your comments!  Is Pure Anada new to you?  What products would be on YOUR wish list at The Pure Boutique?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lady Dragon Glass Pendant Giveaway!

I'm excited to launch True North Treasure's first contest!  Enter now to win one of two Lady Dragon Glassworks pendant necklaces (each valued at approximately $25 CAN).

Entering is easy!

Step 1: Complete the entry form below. 

Step 2: (Optional)  Subscribe or become a Google follower and receive an extra entry in this contest. Subscribing is a great way to keep track of posts and upcoming contests!

This contest has ended.  Thank you to everyone who entered!  

Congratulations to P. Gilman of Campell River, BC and D. Markarian of central Illinois, USA.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rapid-Fire Faves: NOSH

Bliss in BC   Did I mention I love chocolate? Denman Island Chocolate (BC) specializes in high quality organic and dark chocolate.  My favorite is spicy Gingerama. Other delectable choices include Toasted Hazelnut, Espresso Chunk, Razzle Dazzle (with raspberries), and Holy Molé ("spiked with chipotlé" - this one I haven't sampled yet, but am intrigued!)  Feel good about indulging in this chocolate, as the company contributes 1% of gross income to local groups that support environmental conservation.

Sprinkle This on Everything  For a truly flavorful alternative to salt, I enjoy this chili lime seasoning by Epicure Selections. Delicious on vegetable dishes, pasta, and creamed soups.  I am ordering several bottles in my next order... I always run out so fast!  Epicure Selections prides itself on being a 100% Canadian-owned, family-owned, women-led company.  Visit their site for information on how to purchase this product.

Say Cheese!  I love Fox Hill Cheese. Based in scenic Port Williams, NS, the Fox Hill Cheese House produces a variety of quality cheeses, gelato, and yogurt.  My favorites include the dill Havarti, cranberry cheddar, and ANY of their fresh quark (a German cheese similar in consistency to ricotta.  Great as a spread, tossed in pasta, or even as an ingredient in casseroles.  So good, I just eat it with a spoon!). You can find their products throughout Nova Scotia.  Better yet, visit the farm and cheese house yourself, sampling some of their offerings.  Custom gift baskets and gift certificates are available. Excellent customer service.

I like it Raw  Whether you're a raw foods purist, or are simply making a conscious effort to 'eat clean', Real Raw Food (Naramata, BC) is worth your attention. The mission of this family business is to provide "unheated, non GMO, pure organically grown foods at a fair price".  I have placed several orders and have not been disappointed.  Their mango slices and raw cashews border on addictive.  Prompt shipping.  Minimum order is $100, so shop with a friend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Testing, Testing, 1 - 2 - 3

Just a little test of the subscription feed, folks...returning to regularly scheduled programming in a jiffy :-)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lady Dragon Glassworks

 Following a week of wild laughter, sight-seeing, and long girly chats with my friend in Toronto, I was on the hunt for the perfect thank-you gift. After a fruitless 3 hour search, it was with reluctance that I entered one last store to try my luck. Near the cash, a small basket of charming glass pendant necklaces caught my eye. That was it!  My selection made, I wrapped the pendant, mailed it to my friend, (she loved it! :-) and in the next few months bought several more.

Based in Victoria, British Columbia, Lady Dragon Glassworks founder Vanessa Gaudet hand sculpts these unique glass pendants, and her creations cover the whimsical, elegant, and abstract. Of the designs she offers, I have seen up close (or purchased!) the Frog, Seahorse, Spirit Bear, Starfish, Turtle, Ghost, Flower pendants, Fireworks, Mermaid, and Goddess. All are beautiful, but my favorites are the Ghost, Seahorse, and Frog. The Frog is extremely cute (as you can see!), contentedly gazing up from his "lily pad", and appears to be on the verge of speaking at any moment! I frequently receive compliments wearing Vanessa's pendants, and they have proven to be appropriate gifts for all ages. I have given a flower pendant to a young friend, and a ghost pendant to Mom for her 65th birthday. Both adored their necklaces!

Lady Dragon pendants are sold in various boutiques across Canada and can be purchased online at the business's web site, which features an interactive gallery showcasing all the designs.

Stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway...!  ;-)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bring Out Your Inner Nymph!

Confession... I am one of those seemingly rare and elusive creatures known as, Woman Who Hates Clothes Shopping.  I do not delight in adding new pieces to my wardrobe, or in finding the 'perfect shade of blue to match my eyes'.  Racks upon racks of  newly arrived stock do not inspire endless possibilities for self expression, but a sense of being utterly overwhelmed.  I can practically hear my neurons short-circuiting when confronted with this scenario.  And the sizing - how can I be a "petite extra-large"?  Why must the cuffs of my sleeves reach my knees in order for tops to properly fit around my, uhm...upper torso?  Illogical. Crazy-making.

With this in mind, you can imagine my astonishment at discovering clothing that instantly inspired joy, curiosity, and admirationMahaDevi Design (Vancouver, BC) offers locally created, sustainable clothing made from natural fibres including hemp, bamboo, wool, and soy.  The clothes are, in a word, magical.

Freyja, founder of MahaDevi Design, and her business partner, Jules create pieces "inspired by patterns from nature and goddess energy".   Yoga enthusiasts and dancers will find many of these pieces fashionable, comfortable options to wear.  For the men in your life, a line of hoodies and tanks.

Adorable baby clothes are made-to-order by Freyja from the softest bamboo blends and merino wool.  Check out the unique accessories, particularly if you have a flair for the whimsical or dramatic! You can find MahaDevi pieces at select retailers in British Columbia and the United States, or orders can be placed through their website.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Earth Elementals Soaps

My teeth hurt.  Earlier this year, I became painfully aware that neither the sensitivity I was experiencing in my teeth nor my receding gums were going away any time soon. Following some online research, I set out to find a Canadian company that sold a natural, fluoride-free "tooth soap" product, similar to those I saw available on several American sites.  To my surprise - and disappointment - I was unable to find one.  Making a list of the tooth soap's basic ingredients, and began emailing various soap makers here in Canada.

I felt like I'd hit the jackpot when Lynn Cummings, owner of Earth Elementals Soaps in Hammonds Plains, NS, responded to my inquiry.  Not only did she not think I was nuts for requesting a soap suitable for brushing teeth, but she did have just the soap, with the pure, non-toxic ingredients I was looking for.  (Coincidentally, the soap is called, "The Basics"!)

Containing nothing more than saponified oils of olive, coconut, and palm and distilled water, this seems about as pure as a soap can get.  It even smelled remarkably clean. A redundant thing to say, I suppose, when describing a cleaning agent!  What I mean is there was a pleasant and distinct lack of the chemical scents I usually associate with soap.

I encourage you to visit Lynn's lovely website.  In addition to offering a wide variety of scrumptious smelling soaps ("Harvest Moon Pumpkin" gets rave reviews), she carries lip balms, eco-friendly biodegradable laundry powder, scented spritzers, coco butter bath melts, body creams, and even a 100% natural dog shampoo, inspired by her black Labrador retriever, Raoul!  All Lynn's products are simply and tastefully packaged.

Other fab things about Earth Elementals Soaps...
  • Earth Elementals Soap use only plant-based oils and butters, essential oils, herbs, and botanicals.
  • Absolutely no synthetics, dyes, petroleum-based products or artificial scents are used
  • Soap labels are printed on 100% recycled paper
  • Two varieties unscented soap and a laundry detergent are available, suitable for very sensitive skin
  • $1.00 from the purchase of every dog shampoo bar goes to the Nova Scotia SPCA. 
  • $1.00 of every bar of Treehugger soap (pictured here) will be donated to the Hope for Wildlife Society
  • Products are available to purchase through the Earth Elementals Website, shipped across Canada and internationally.  Customized gift baskets are available.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I have been using The Basics as my tooth soap since March.  I won't ever ever love the taste - after all, soap tastes like soap!  The benefits, though, have been worth it.  There has been a definite improvement in tooth sensitivity and my gums appear healthier since starting to brush with The Basics.   My dental check-up this summer went smoothly, and I was told, "Whatever you're doing, keep it up!"  I had a bit of a giggle imagining my hygienist's reaction had I sprung my secret on her.

Note: This is NOT a recommendation that anyone toss their usual toothpaste and start foaming at the mouth with soap instead.  Please do your own research before deciding whether to try alternative dental care methods.  Better still, consult with your naturopath or dentist.  And NEVER use standard commercial soap for this purpose.

More toothy goodness in an upcoming blog....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chocolate Bliss in The Maritimes

Ahhh, chocolate....  I simply must begin by blogging about one of the most divine substances on earth.  Where would we be without chocolate to make life's sweet moments sweeter and to help lift us out of our blues?

The Appleton Chocolate Company, based in Wentworth, Nova Scotia, produces my hands-down favorite chocolates on the planet.  These nuggets of Heaven, double-dipped in French or Belgian chocolate, are literally the first things I buy when I am in NS visiting family (usually either at Jennifers of Nova Scotia, on Spring Garden Rd, or Sweet Retreat in Park Lane Mall).  A variety of flavors are lovingly created by hand, featuring sweet ingredients that are abundant in the province (e.g., wild blueberries, cranberries, and maple syrup).  They are wrapped in colourful foil and sold in packets of 6 or 8, enough to share with your very best friends, or squirreled away to savor later by yourself, if you prefer. (And I often do. With a piping hot cup of tea.  Did I mention I'm a Maritimer?) They are also available for purchase through the company's website loose, in charming decorative tins, or elegant boxes, perfect for gift-giving. And who wouldn't be thrilled to receive a gift of these mouth watering sweets!  Upon request, customized wedding favors can also be created for your special day.

Do take a moment to read the "Who We Are" section on company website.  My family knew Alan, the founder of Appleton Chocolates, when he was still making chocolates as a hobby!  It has been wonderful to see his business flourish, and though I haven't seen him in almost 15 years, I remain a loyal and satisfied customer.

For an alternative chocolate experience, try "raw" chocolate.  I discovered Rawthentic Chocolate last summer at the Historic Keith's Brewery Farmers Market last summer. Co-owner Reynard Bockart, decked out in snazzy Willy Wonka attire (including top hat), handed out product samples, answered questions, and genuinely enjoyed every minute of interacting with the public!  Part of the attraction of raw chocolate, in addition to the intense, pure taste, is that it is made without milk, making it a suitable treat for the lactose intolerant.  It's main ingredient, cacao, is said to be one of the highest sources of antioxidants and is a good source of magnesium.  Cacao is often reported by raw chocolate enthusiasts to induce a mild, natural "high".  Could just be hype.  All I know is, after eating the Rawthentic Fudge (it's made with coconut butter, and is my favorite of his products), I felt a fantastic surge of energy.  Not your average sugar buzz, which always seems to have an edge to it, but a feeling of bliss and well-being.  I'm not kidding. This is good stuff.  

Other Rawthentic Chocolate products include chocolate bars, Sun bars (including ingredients like sunflower seeds, goji berries, honey, and cacao nibs), Kapowie bars (which consist of a plethora of raw, nutrition-packed ingredients), heart-shaped chocolates, and macaroons.

Rawthentic chocolate can be purchased at the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market at pier 21 and also at the Historic Keith's Brewery Market (Halifax).  Please contact Reynard through his website or by calling (902) 455-5153 with inquires re: online purchasing and shipping.