Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gifts That Give Back

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favourite "gifts that give back".

Looking for a unique and memorable gift for the gardener in your life?  Consider adopting an heirloom seed variety into the Seeds of Diversity seed library. A full adoption is $250, but partial adoptions can be made in any amount. The gift recipient's name will be permanently listed in the seed library for partial adoptions of $50 or more.


The purchase of these scarves and treats results in a generous donation to the Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary or the Dachshund Rescue Team, both in BC. I chose one of the scarves for a friend, and it was a hit!

The WWF Wildlife Adoption kit is a perennial favourite for young and old alike. There is a wide variety of animals to symbolically adopt, and each kit comes with an adorable plush toy, an adoption certificate, a paper gift bag, a species poster and information pamphlet.


Who doesn't love to sparkle?  Pure Anada Natural Cosmetics offers a line of subtle, non-toxic products made especially for little girls.  Profits from the sale of their Princess Packs ($15 each) go to Compassion Canada.  Each pack includes a lip shimmer balm, roll-on sparkle, and a water-based, non-toxic nail polish.  A special gift for birthdays, the holidays, or "just because"!

Gift ideas from the Trans Canada Trail, The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, the World Vision Gift Catalog, and Ten Thousand Villages are all featured HERE.

Earth Elementals natural soaps, clothing, plush toys, stickers, artwork, animal sponsorship packs, and the first four seasons of their very popular TV show are among the items that can be purchased in support of Hope for Wildlife in Nova Scotia.  Shop their gift section HERE.

Recently featured on Dragons' Den, the youth of Hope Blooms sell salad dressings made from produce grown in their community garden. Proceeds go towards their community scholarship fund. Currently, the salad dressings are only available in Halifax at the Seaport Market, FRED Salon and Cafe, Local Source, Local Joe’s, and Saege Restaurant. Cases can also be preordered within HRM.

Hope Blooms' appearance on Dragons' Den can be seen in the last segment HERE
If you can not yet purchase their salad dressings in your area but would like to support Hope Blooms, donations can be made from the link on their home page.

Nurtured Sew Naturally donates partial proceeds from the sale of their wool dryer balls to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. I bought six of these dryer balls this time last year, and haven't used commercial dryer sheets since. Love them!  Read the details under "CHARITIES" in the top menu, then click "SHOP" to get started.


Give the gift of giving!  You can purchase gift cards (quite nice looking ones, too!) from CanadaHelps that allow friends and family members to donate to their favourite charity or cause. This is a great idea for last minute gift-giving and the "person who has everything".

The holidays wouldn’t be complete without festive music!  A New Kind of Light is an album of Christmas classics and originals in support of Maritime food banks.  It sold out when first released in 2007 and has become a seasonal favourite.  CDs are $20 each and can be purchased online.  All proceeds go to FEED NOVA SCOTIA.  Ships internationally.  Shipping within Canada is only $2.20 per CD!

An indulgence for those wine connoisseurs among you: consider a Case of Compassion!  Every year, four varieties of red and white wine are available in cases of twelve.  FEED NOVA SCOTIA receives 25% of the proceeds of sales.  Download the order form HERE to view the varieties offered, or email for more information.


Calling All Cat Lovers!

If you plan on shopping for music, books, and DVDs on, please do so via this portal!  When you do, the Feline Diabetes Message Board receives a small commission at no cost to you.  These commissions help keep the message board free to those who need it.  Thank you! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Earth Elementals Soap's Sixth Anniversary! (Giveaway)

A fantastic giveaway from Earth Elementals Soap, one of my favourite Canadian small businesses, has been posted! 

From their Facebook page, the entry point for this giveaway:

This fall marks Earth Elementals' sixth year in business, and we'd like to thank our loyal customers and facebook fans...You are the best! To celebrate, we are excited to announce a giveaway contest that will award one lucky winner an EES gift pack valued at $100. Please feel free to share our contest with your friends and spread the love!

*Contest ends November 30/13, 12:00 Noon, Atlantic Time. One entry per person. Canadian residents only.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Heirloom Seeds - The Populuxe Seed Bank

It's never too soon to plan for next year...!  

For most of us, gardening season has sadly come to an end. Still, I wanted to tell my fellow green-thumbs about an independently run Canadian heirloom seed bank I recently learned about.

Heirloom seeds can be requested from The Populuxe Seed Bank. They are free - only a small fee to cover mailing costs is charged. Please read the details in the section, "Current Seeds For Distribution".

Saving some Black Krim seeds

If you currently grow heirloom varieties and have plenty to spare, The Populuxe Seed Bank gratefully accepts donations of seeds as well!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Rapid-Fire Faves: Childhood Nostalgia (giveaway)

Robertson’s Candy These treats are the taste of my childhood, associated especially with the Christmas holidays.   Chicken bones, maple kisses, “uglee” mints, and sponge toffee (Dad’s favourite).  Glass toy candy was a special treat we would buy at the end of a day of Christmas shopping, heading home to wrap gifts.  I still find them beautiful  - try a quick search through Google Images to see what I mean.  As delicious a treat as they are, one word of caution: do not attempt to enjoy one while wrapping gifts...    

More delights...  Salt-water taffy is a Maritime confection I bring back to BC whenever I visit family in NS.  The Satin Mix of hard candies reminds me of old "Mr. Gordon" who lived up the road and who was kind enough to help us "city folk" learn the ins and outs of farming, draft horses, and old school veterinary care.  And at this very moment, I am having an absolutely wild craving for toasted coconut marshmallows with tea.  (What have I started?!)   All of Robertson's factory-made candies are free of peanuts and gluten.  Check out their selection of natural candies for treats without the guilt!  Available throughout the Maritimes, and orders can be placed online.

 Sharon, Lois, and Bram - Apologies 33 years after the fact to music teacher Mrs. Kemp and my grade 2 teacher, Mrs. Lewis, at The Halifax Grammar School for having had to endure my constant renditions of Cookie Jar and Skinnamarink!  I loved Sharon, Lois, & Bram.  This Canadian musical trio’s songs were a constant in the soundtrack of our early elementary school lives.  I have a distinct memory of Mrs Lewis remarking, with a mix of affection and tested patience, “You sure do like to sing, don’t you, Dawn?”  Yes, and dance.   I should have had an agent.  But I digress…   

If you are looking for lively children’s music that incorporates elements of jazz, calypso, rock, and folk don’t miss out on Sharon, Lois, & Bram.  Fair warning, though…don’t blame me if you’re caught singing Peanut Butter and Jelly full force in the produce section while trying to find the perfect grapes.  *cough*   The tunes are extremely catchy. Available through iTunes or your favourite CD retailer.

Woozles – My brother and I were frequent visitors to Woozles back when “Choose Your Own Adventure”  books, Judy Blume novels, and the Usbourne’s How to Be a Detective/Spy series were all the rage.  Woozles is a wonderful gem, one of the few remaining independent children’s bookstores. (They have a great selection of toys, too.)  This space has such a warm atmosphere, friendly staff, and it holds great memories for me.  The heartwarming “Woozles Memories” section of their website, tells me I am not alone in my affection for this store. The bright yellow, wolf-whistling budgie I received for my 11th birthday was named after Woozles.  Now that’s devotion!   Visit Woozles on Birmingham Street in downtown Halifax, or order through their website.

Dulse –“Uh, what are you eating??”, my boyfriend cautiously inquired the first Christmas my parents sent a care package to me from Nova Scotia.  “Dulse!”, I exclaimed gleefully, grinning ear to ear and exposing a mouthful of purple-flecked teeth.  “Would you like to try some?  It’s really good!”  He politely declined, but his face had, “This must be another weird Maritime thing.” written all over it.

Dulse is a red seaweed that grows in the North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific oceans and is typically harvested June through September.  Dulse harvested off Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy is said to be the best in the world. Once harvested, it is sun dried (turning dark purple), packaged, and sold to be consumed as a snack or condiment.  We would typically munch it straight out of the bag (a healthy alternative to chips that satisfies one’s salt cravings), or toast it lightly in a cast iron pan or on the wood stove. Dulse flakes can also be purchased.  The flakes are nice to sprinkle in salads, on fish chowder, roasted potatoes, or California rolls. Dulse is low in calories and is an excellent source of vitamin B6, B12, iodine, iron, and other minerals.  It is common to find it in grocery stores and farmers markets on the East Coast, and in health food stores across Canada.   To purchase it online, check out Real Raw Food.  To learn more about dulse, or to make wholesale inquiries, check out Atlantic Mariculture, Roland's Sea Vegetables, and Fundy Dulse.

The Plaid Place - Ciad Mile Failte!  
I was always drawn to this shop, even as a young child.  It felt like home.  Colourful tartans, shelves of books, cozy Fisherman’s Knit sweaters, silver jewelry bearing Celtic designs in gleaming display cases.  Traditional music playing in the background while customers browsed.  This is where we bought our family clan badges for the kilts my mother and I wore.  The Plaid Place is a wonderfully Scottish piece of real estate in an already strongly Scottish province! 

Browse through their online shop to find a wide variety of tweed caps, Irish knits and linens, Buchan pottery, fine Celtic jewelry, shortbread molds, rugby shirts, CDs, tartan dog collars and leashes.  Children’s wear (the child's tartan poncho is my favourite item), Highland dress, and kilts (custom made and ready-to-wear) are offered in over 500 Scottish, Irish, and Canadian tartans.  The Tartan Finder will help you select your preferred tartan.  Beautifully packaged imported treats abound, including vanilla fudge and whiskey cakes, butter toffee, shortbread, and Edinburgh Castle Rock (a soft, crumbly, and highly addictive confection).

My personal wish list includes this gorgeous lambswool blanket and any one of the engraved silver quaichs pictured on The Plaid Place's Flickr photo album.  Either would make a spectacular and treasured wedding gift for a loved-one.

If you would like to see many more photos of The Plaid Place and some of the wonderful items they carry, I encourage you to join their Facebook page.  To shop The Plaid Place, drop by their store on Barrington Street or order online.


Enter to win Sharon, Lois, and Bram's, "One Elephant, Deux Éléphants".  

This CD features 35 of their best-loved songs and playground chants.   

One entry per person.  Entry period ends 11:00pm PST June 6, 2013.   

The winner will be selected using and has 48 hours to reply to my notification.  If no reply is received, another winner will be randomly selected.

This contest is open world wide.

Note  In order for comments to be counted as bonus entries, please assure that the name used in your comments matches the name you submit in the form belowIf posting under a different username, indicate your name or email address at the end of your comment.

This giveaway has ended.  Congratulations to Stacey K. of Edmonton!