Buncha Farmers (or the laundry product I can't live without!)

Buncha Farmers is a Canadian product that I have used daily for the past 10 years. My boys are just that, typical boys. That means ketchup stains on shirts, grass stains on knees and everything in between. I needed to find an effective way of removing stains that was also natural as some of us in the house (mainly me!) have sensitive skin. I was introduced to Buncha Farmers when my mother in law dropped off a stick at my house many years ago. I pick up a few sticks every year (I once had a stick last me 3 years!) from Home Hardware but you can also find them at Wal-Mart (in the laundry supplies section).  

Uh oh. My favourite Vineyard Vines sweater is covered in bacon grease splatters!

This is how I use Buncha Farmers. 

1. Wet the stick
2. Rub on the stain until saturated and/or soapy foam appears
3. Let sit for 12-24 hours
4. Launder as usual
5. No more unsightly grease stains!

Their website has quite a few other tips including melting a piece in hot water and adding to a spray bottle! And because the product is all natural it doesn't stain or discolour fabrics and it smells fresh with no crazy chemical smells. The stain remover bar retails on their website for a little over $4, much cheaper than other stain removers and it lasts longer! Oh, and they are a Canadian company which I gladly support. 

Like I said I have been using the product for 10 years and I've used this little bar on some of the toughest stains - red white on a white shirt (that was me), blood out of jeans (skinned knees, not me), pizza sauce on a light coloured polo (AMH), dried vomit on a blanket (the dogs), tea on a pair of white jeans (me again), the list goes on! There was only one time I had to applied the stain remover twice before the stain was fully removed and it was a blueberry stain that had gone through the dryer. 

I always check the stain when it comes out of the washer to make sure it has disappeared. You do not want to put anything with a stain into the dryer as it sets and makes it more difficult to remove. Although as I say that, I know I have taken things with a stain on out of the dryer, used the Buncha Farmers and laundered again with great success (that blueberry stain I was talking about)

Have you tried Buncha Farmers before? What stain fighters are you currently using?

*Not a sponsored post

{Guest Post} Crystal Reia of Your Health -Your Choice - Mentality & Attitude Will Make Your Workout

Putting on my coach hat today to talk to you all about mentality and attitude. We can definitely be our own worst critics at times, but are you hindering or helping yourself with these thoughts? Let’s face it, we are hard wired most times to think negatively – if 9 out of 10 people give you a compliment, and one person says something negative to you – what do you tend to focus on? I'm willing to bet you’d be focused on that one negative comment. So I challenge you to turn this idea around - what are you telling yourself before, during, after a workout? Are speaking words of positivity? Or negativity? Are you talking yourself up? Or putting down your efforts?

Our own thoughts can have such a huge impact on how we approach a workout, start our day, eating choices etc. etc. So using exercise as an example (which most people hate to do) your attitude and mentality is the very force that will drive you, motivate you, push you through and keep you going when you want to quit or stay home on the couch. Some will go with the intention of “well I will just show up – that’s half the battle”... and yes showing up is great! LOL but if you are only halfway committed in your mind – guess what? Your workout effort will be too. As I tell my clients, we do not “half-ass” anything. Pardon the pun.

So - are you all in? Not everyone has a coach to talk them through it when things get tough – so re-think the things you are telling yourself. Stay positive, get excited! Because taking the time to get pumped up can give you extra energy – My clients who come in to see me with a positive attitude always give me the most energy and effort and get the best workouts. It’s not about being perfect. If you are 110% committed in your mental awareness, your body will follow suit. Instead of saying “I can’t”... start saying “I can.” Sounds cheesy I know. But try it! Our words / language are very powerful, whether you speak them out loud or internally.

So, next time you are on your way to the gym or getting ready for your workout, why not practice a little self positivity; a little pep talk if you will. Go in and be “in the present”, leave your work day or problems outside the gym; commit to the process and know your “why”. Purpose and meaning is everything. If you are “in it” 100% in your mind – I guarantee it will make your workout wonderful and give you a grateful and positive attitude each and every time. Who know’s? Maybe you’ll even fall in love with exercise again! Well a trainer can only hope can’t she? ;)

Short and sweet today! Have a great week everyone!


Crystal Reia
Your Health-Your Choice

Email: yourhealth-yourchoice@live.ca


Movie Travel Inspiration

I spend a lot (like, a lot) of time thinking about travelling. I love to plan out our vacations a few years in advance so that I can have ample time to map out what to see in each location. I don't want to miss a single site! Movies have always been a great escape for me and my family. When I'm looking for a little movie travel inspiration these are the titles I turn to...


Midnight in Paris


P.S. I Love You

New Orleans

King Creole

Italy, England, and the Bahamas

Casino Royale


Vicky Cristina Barcelona

New York City

Sex and the City: The Movie


The Goonies


Away We Go


The Thing Called Love


The Bourne Identity




Steel Magnolias


The Holiday

Martha's Vineyard


This is just a small sample of my favourite travel inspiration movies. What titles would you add to the list? 

On The Hunt For Sunnies

Sun's out, sunnies out! Yesterday was a gloriously sunny day (very welcome after the ice storm on Friday). I spent the afternoon at one of our favourite spots in Kitchener, Victoria Park. I remember visiting for the first time over 15 years ago and thinking it was like our little version of Central Park in NYC. There are great bridges and waterways, a historic building that hosts many weddings, a beautiful gazebo for sitting and watching the swans, a boathouse for grabbing a pint and so many seasonal activities. I can't wait to see the festivals they have lined up this summer! Sunglasses were a necessity yesterday and I realized I'm going to need a new (or a few!) pair for this summer. With kids and dogs in the house I try to pick up inexpensive pairs that won't make me cry if a dog chews them. But the dogs haven't wrecked anything in a while (although, I did catch Colton with one of my black high heels yesterday) so I think I'm ready to splurge on a great pair of sunnies! 

The hunt is on! Should I go...

Uber trendy?

All black futuristic?

Retro tortoise?

Full coverage high fashion?

Inexpensive cat eye?

Classic aviators?

Or classic wayfarers?

Which ones are your favourite? Do you have a pair of sunnies you just love?

Here's hoping this summer is full of warm rays and lots of sunshine!

Easter Lilly Pulitzer

Thank goodness the Easter long weekend is finally here! It's officially time to don our brightest Easter Lilly Pulitzer dresses!

The only down side to having Easter in March is the risk of inclement weather. Here in Ontario we are in the middle of an ice storm (can't say I'm surprised, this is Canada after all). School was cancelled yesterday due to the storm and wide spread power outages which my boys were more than fine with. They now have a five day weekend to enjoy all the Easter treats coming their way.

But, I'm ignoring the snow and ice outside and still setting the table as bright as can be. A crisp white table cloth, with my rattan chargers from Target, and all white plates from Restoration Hardware are the perfect neutral backdrop for all the bright Easter themed items from my local dollar store. I picked up lots of spring blooming plants this week at Wal-Mart and I cannot get over how fabulous these blue hydrangeas are! I happened to be there when they brought them out so I was able to pick the best one.

I bought this Lilly Pulitzer Shianne vneck dress in Sea Soiree two years ago and it has always been my favourite Easter present. It's no longer available but I've linked a few of my favourite Easter Lilly Pulitzer dresses below.

Happy Easter!

Teens Touring Europe

Last spring my boys were offered a once in a lifetime opportunity - visit three countries in Europe with their fellow Air Cadets... without their parents (yeah they kind of liked that part).

The boys travelled with EF Tours who is well known for their educational travel experiences. The trip was designed to honour the 70th anniversary of VE Day (the end of World War II in Europe) as well as give them the chance to experience three entirely different cultures.

There was a full year to prepare (ahem, and pay) for this experience but before I get into the particulars, would you like to know where they visited?

First - London, England

...then Amsterdam via an overnight ferry

and lastly, frankly the one that I was most jealous of, Paris, France.

The boys took a night cruise to see the sights, including the Eiffel Tower!

Three very distinct countries, each closely entwined with our Canadian history. Many Canadian travellers are told to display the Canadian flag on their person while in Europe and I have to agree. The boys regaled us with tales of people stopping them in the streets to say how much they love Canada and tell them of the time they visited or met a Canadian. This was especially true when visiting The Netherlands. One of the many special parts of this trip was their participation in the 70th anniversary ceremonies that commemorated Canada's liberation of The Netherlands and the boys said many people came up to them and thanked them and shook their hand. A moment like that sticks with you forever.

A nifty little map of their trip!
EF Tours has webpages dedicated to your selected trip. This was helpful for the boys to research the places they would see and helped us determine what to pack based on the weather for each region. The website also provided a full itinerary, which you can see here. This helped us as parents follow along and know where they were at all times (I will talk a little more about communication with the boys later).

But enough with that, on with the tour! 

T: The bunting went up and the streets erupted, Kate had her baby! BL: The board is displayed at Buckingham Palace announcing the birth of a girl. BL: Site seeing in London
Their first stop was London and at the time we were all awaiting the arrival of the new Royal baby. When we dropped the boys off at the airport I jokingly said that maybe they will be in London when the baby arrives. Well, not only were they in London, they were at Buckingham Palace that morning!  The boys know I adore Kate so they sent me text photos of all the excitement on the streets the minute they connected to wi-fi, they even managed to get a few pictures of the board being brought out to announce Princess Charlotte's birth. They visited Churchill's War Room, St. Paul's Cathedral and spent time in Piccadilly Circus (they love telling us it's not an actual circus), Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The next day they spent the morning at Bletchley Park before boarding an overnight ferry to Hoek.

The boys were part of the Liberation Day parade and placed Canadian flags at the graves of Canadian soldiers. Something that our Air Cadet squad did that I thought was a great idea is they found local soldiers (from Waterloo Region) who were buried there. The kids were given the name and they had to research as much as possible about that person. On the day of their visit they got to see the grave of the soldier they were paired with. The Oldest was especially humbled by this when he found out his solider had lied to enlist and died at around 16-17 years of age, which was quite common. They also sat with the people of Wageningen during the ceremony that was also attended by our then, Prime Minister Stephen Harper whose speech was broadcast live on tv stations! We PVR'd every news stations feed hoping to spot the boys in the crowd (no such luck). After their time in the Netherlands, which included a trip to the Anne Frank house, a walking tour of Amsterdam and time spent at a dairy cheese farm, they departed for France. (Note - I'm unable to share photos of their time in The Netherlands as they contain their fellow Air Cadets faces. I need to respect their privacy.)

TL: The Youngest on Juno Beach, TR: Canadian graves in The Netherlands, B: Vimy Ridge
Juno Beach was a highlight for the boys, as was Vimy Ridge. You can see in the bottom photo how hilly the ground is. This land is where the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Arras (I was so excited about this as I had just written a history paper on the Battle of Arras!) played out in World War I. Much of the ground here is uneven due to the tunnels and trenches that were dug and bomb craters. Some of the trenches are preserved and you can tour them (which the boys did). There is still the danger of unexploded munitions so large areas of the grounds are closed to the public.

Palace of Versailles
Next they were off to Paris! The Palace of Versailles was an optional add on (re: more money) to the trip. I mean, you are already there you might as well go over the top! The Oldest, my architecture loving kindred spirit, loved the palace. He took many photos of the walls and trim to be able to capture all the little details. I had heard the Hall of Mirrors can become rather crowded and the bottom photo is exactly what I expected. The boys were impressed with the interiors and especially impressed with the exteriors. The gardens at Versailles are stunning!

TL: Boys at Eiffel Tower, TR: Standing on Juno Beach, BL: Picking seashells in Juno Beach, BR: The Oldest and the Mona Lisa
It took a lot, but I finally convinced the boys to snap a few photos of themselves! I really wanted a photo of them in front of the Eiffel Tower and I got what I wanted and a few others! It's interesting to see the Mona Lisa behind all the glass protection. My ocean loving boys found a great spot for picking seashells at Juno Beach. Since they were gone over Mother's Day for this trip, they brought me back a stack of seashells the size of your hand! They spent some time touring the city, including a night time cruise along the Seine and a walking tour to see the famous sites such as Place de la Concorde and Champs-Elysees.

After one last look at Paris, it was time to go home.

With fond memories of countries they had only seen in the movies

And picture after picture of cool cars...

They are boys after all.

So that was the boys' big Europe Trip with EF Tours. They had a great time (well, there was one home sick incident) and for The Oldest it solidified his love of travel. He is headed to Europe again this summer, this time with his school's History club, to tour Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.

So....you probably have a few questions about sending our boys across the ocean, on their own, for this trip. I've received a lot (like, a lot) of questions from friends and family. Here's a small sample.

Q: Were you afraid of sending them on this trip, especially given all the attacks going on in Europe lately? (The Charlie Hebdo attack took place only 5 months prior to their departure)

A: We spent a year leading up to this trip so we had a lot of time to talk about how the trip will play out (mom & dad drop you at the airport with your group, you board the plane with the group, etc.) and spent a long time talking about how to be safe (stick to your brother like glue). Working in a Disaster field does have it's advantages and the boys and I have talked about how to be safe during bad weather and terrorist attacks. This article on Town & Country is a fantastic read. I've always said the best thing to do is maintain a low profile, no lingering, have your papers and anything you need for the day on your person, be prepared, always have your cell phone charged, and if anything happens, you run. Drop as low as you can and just run away from the sound/noise. Holding your brother's hand of course.

The Oldest is the most mature young adult I know. He is well travelled, so I felt comfortable. The Youngest was a little young (12) but I knew he was going with this big brother so again, I felt comfortable. And then, dropping them off at the airport, I snapped a last photo of them walking away...

...and started to bawl like a baby. I never cry, it's so unlike me. But my babies were leaving me and I just started to wail. I'm not kidding. People were staring. I cried into The Oldest's sweater and kept apologizing for crying. He took it like a champ. I'm sure I embarrassed them to no end. So, to answer your question. Yes I was afraid (and made an ass of myself). But I trust my boys. And the Air Cadet leaders that went with them. And the tour group they were a part of. They went, had a blast, and came home safe (and mildly mortified of their mother). For me, travelling makes working for a living worthwhile. I'm not going to let a bunch of radicals ruin something that brings so much joy to my family. 

Q: Is it expensive? How do the payments work? What money did they take with them?

A: Um, heck yeah it's expensive. But it was far cheaper to send them on this then try and take the four of us on the same trip. We did a lot of fundraising to help with this trip (which didn't really work out to too much of a savings) but the saving grace is that we had a full year to pay for the trip. We made monthly payments that ended a few weeks before departure. The trip included all flights, transportation, accommodations, admission to sites, breakfasts and dinners. They had to bring their own money for lunch and spending money. We had the boys plan out 30 euros or pounds for each day. They had individual envelopes with the date written on them and each morning they opened the envelope and had their spending money. It was more than enough for food, snacks and trinkets. They both came home with a video game so I'm thinking it was actually too much money. C'est la vie. 

Q: Were you able to keep in touch with them while they were on the trip?

A: Let's just give a big thank you to Facebook and Twitter right now. Oh and wi-fi in public places. When I was 13 and visited Europe on my own the only way to contact my family was by placing a very expensive phone call. The boys messaged us on Twitter when the Facebook app wouldn't load on their phones and when it did, they would call us on the Messenger service. On top of that, our Air Cadet leaders emailed us nightly with details of their day and photos. We also knew if there was ever an emergency we could connect with EF Tours right away. Having the detailed itinerary helped too. We knew exactly where they were at any moment in case anything ever happened. 

Q: Did you buy insurance for the boys?

A: We did opt in for the insurance offered through EF Tours. We also made sure the boys had our insurance providers world assistance cards in their wallet and knew the details of how to connect with our insurance company.

Q: How do you pack for 11 days in Europe?

A: Carefully. We tracked the weather and knew that London was going to be colder than Paris (this was last May). We packed lots of light layers and from their photos, we see that they used them well. A warm vest was provided by Air Cadets and EF Tours gave them all matching red rain coats and Canadian flag hats. A few pairs of jeans, khakis for dinners, walking shoes and one pair of nice boat shoes, and lots of extra socks. I bought them each two new packages of socks as they were not going to have access to laundry. The hotels they were staying at did not have elevators (I've heard this is common) so we tried to pack light as they would have to carry their own luggage. I highly recommend suitcases with the 4 moving wheels on the bottom as they were easier for the boys to maneuver. Also a backpack with two straps, not a cross body. This kept important items near by and allowed them to be hands free. 

Q: How did you deal with the boys getting home sick?

A: The Youngest came down with a case of the missing home blues. I remember being that age and feeling the exact same way. It's different for everyone but we talked over Facebook messenger everyday, made plans to do it again the next day and just tried to be very positive about what they were seeing that day and what to look forward to the next. I also send The Youngest this poem (I'm so glad he doesn't read this blog, he'd be mortified right now) I Carry Your Heart by E.E. Cummings and that seemed to help. It's all part of growing up.

Q: Did they get sick at all? 

A: Luckily the answer is no. The Youngest is prone to headaches and in the past has had ear problems so we sent him and his brother with Tylenol in their carry ons with instructions on when and how to take. We also sent a little care package of pepto, band-aids and the like in their toiletry bag but they never used any of it. 

Q: Did they like the food?

A: They were not impressed with the food at all. They ate out everyday and the dinner restaurants were pre-planned. I'm thinking it's our fault for spoiling them all these years (AMH is a fabulous chef) but they did rave about fast food in The Netherlands (I have no idea why Burger King tastes better there than at home). The Oldest complained about the cost of a pastry and latte in Paris so they only did that the one time. The food was not to their taste but they didn't come home starving so it couldn't have been that bad. 

Whew - we made it through! That was a lot of info! If you have any questions about the trip please leave them in the comments or email me at Celebratingthislife@gmail.com. I'll update this post with any questions that come in.