Three Southern Alberta coffee stops for your road trip this summer

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I am a coffee lover and no, generally the fast-food coffee won’t do. In previous posts I have noted my favourites in Calgary but, there are some great little coffee stops in small towns in southern Alberta. Here are three that I would recommend stopping at on your next road trip!

1. Station Coffee Co. – Medicine Hat

In my few trips to Medicine Hat this year, I have stopped into this coffee shop in the heart of the gas city. I love the historical vibe and the authentic, fresh Fratello coffee. They have amazing lunch and pastries and best of all down town Medicine Hat is just so cute!

2. A River Ran Through It Cafe – High River

This is a new little spot  in High River, with perhaps a very fitting name. But, the coffee is fresh and they offer a full coffee menu. They also have sandwiches that are uniquely created to be spectacular for your taste buds, my favourite is the “mosquito madness” which is their vegetarian version (no actual mosquitoes). They use high quality ingredients and all of their bread is from Cobbs. If you are ever heading south on Highway 2, definitely stop in as it is only about five minutes off the highway.

3. Wildflour Bakery – Banff 

Whenever I am in Banff, I love stopping into this bustling little bakery. They have endless breads and delicately crafted pastries. They also have a full breakfast and lunch menu. It is a delicious coffee stop in the midst of breathtaking scenery, definitely a must stop!

New Food Contributor: Laura!

10368306_10152758821836480_5657189504909508120_oSome exciting news! My good friend Laura has agreed to contribute her delicious recipes to the blog! She is an amazing cook and definitely helped keep me alive when we were roommates in University. It was great to live with her because whenever she would procrastinate doing school work, she would bake. Score for her roommate!

Her food is always spectacular, beautiful and extremely tasty. Everything is from scratch and she makes cooking look so effortless. She is completely self taught and oh so talented. No cuisine is off limits! She makes a mean pad thai and introduced me to the amazing world that is fried cheese aka Haloumi. For me, indulging in healthy and whole food as well as really indulging yourself is such an integral part of my “wholeistic” lifestlye and of course that includes butter and fat.

I am so looking forward to having her contribute food and maybe even some lifestyle posts. Not only does Laura have an amazing palate, she has a keen eye. So, look out for her posts coming up on Thoughts In A Moment. I am so excited for her to share recipes, restaurant reviews and travel diaries! Stay tuned!

So, to kick things off, here is Laura’s creation: Mexican Spiced Chicken with Sweet Potato

Adapted from I Quit Sugar Mexican Chicken and Sweet Potato Boats

IMG_2191Ingredients:

  • large sweet potato
  • chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
  • 1 brown onion, sliced in ¼ inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tspcoconut oil
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 avocado, quartered
  • 1 bunch of kale, stalks removed, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Coat the chicken thighs in ½ tbsp. paprika and ½ tbsp. cumin, salt and pepper. Rub into the chicken. Heat coconut oil in a fry pan. Place chicken skin side down in the pan and cook over medium heat about 7 minutes until fat renders and skin is crispy. Flip chicken and cook on other side until just about cooked through, about another 5 minutes depending on the size of your chicken thighs.
  3. While the fat is rendering from your chicken thighs, slice 1 inch thick rounds of sweet potato. Place on baking tray and season with salt, pepper and a little bit of the fat rendering from the cooking chicken. Put in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
  4. Once both sides of the chicken are cooked, remove chicken from pan and place to rest on a plate/cutting board. Drain the majority of the rendered fat from the pan, leaving about 1 – 2 tbsp. in the pan. Return pan to heat and add onions. Lower heat to low-medium and cook onions slowly until translucent and sweet (about the amount of time it takes to finish step 5). Remember to stir!
  5. Peel skin off of chicken and set aside. Pull chicken off of the thigh bones, tear into strips, and place in a bowl. Season chicken with remaining paprika, cumin, and the chili powder. Toss to coat. Depending on how much spice you like, use less at first. You can always add more/less later.
  6. Add pulled chicken to the pan with the onions and cook for a couple minutes longer to get rid of any remaining pink pieces of meat, if any. Add kale to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, or until kale is cooked through.
  7. Put a round of sweet potato on a plate, place chicken mixture on top, and top with ¼ avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy the noms!

P.S. you can chop up the super crispy and delicious chicken skin and add it to the pulled chicken mixture, snack on it, or chuck it. Up to you!

Benefits of Dandelions

designThere has been a lot of debate about how to get rid of dandelions where I live. People hate them, they are an eye sore, and they won’t go away.

I personally don’t have a problem with the things. They aren’t that ugly to me and I don’t get the obsession with a perfectly manicured lawn anyway. But more than them not being an eye sore in my opinion, they are actually really beneficial to our ecosystem and our health.

Also, killing them with toxic chemicals is just a terrible idea for our health and the health of our environment so please, if you want to kill them, do so using a natural method (vinegar) or by pulling them by hand. 

Here are some of the benefits of dandelions: 

  • They are good for the bees! With the bee populations declining, dandelions provide pollen for the bees which in turn helps us by keeping these pollinators around to help grow our food! (This is such a “no brainer” to me…)
  • Dandelion root is good for detox and cleansing the liver
  • Purifies the blood
  • The leaves have many vitamins such as A, C, D and B
  • The leaves also contain iron
  • Good for female organs
  • Helps to detox and with UTI’s
  • The root is a great coffee replacement
  • And so much more!

I know a lot of people desperately hate these yellow wild flowers (I don’t like to call them weeds) but they are actually a vital part of the ecosystem and have so many nutritional benefits! Leave the dandelions alone!

Source: Wellnessmama.com 

Three blogs I’m reading right now

I always love discovering new lifestyle blogs to read! Here are a few that I am enjoying right now!

1. Little Lights of Mine

Ok, so I am a Steph Curry fan and I am so excited for the game tonight! (NBA finals). I was so happy to stumble upon this blog by his wife, Ayesha Curry. On her site she talks recipes, faith, fashion and family. Her vlog series on YouTube features lots of recipes, healthy eating tips, and other lifestyle information and it is so well done. Go Warriors Go!

2. Northern Style Exposure 

This fashion/lifestyle blog is a must read! Kira is a Canadian mommy from Edmonton and her blog offers great style, beauty tips and inspiration as well as recipes and baby essentials. I love all of the photos to scroll through and her website is just gorgeous. Give it a peruse, you won’t be disappointed and will probably come away with so many outfit ideas and a big shopping wish list! P.S. her snaps are awesome too!

3. North of Bloom 

Looking for amazing, tasty and super healthy recipes? Look no further than North of Bloom. Created by an aspiring holistic nutritionist, this blog offers great information on incorporating superfoods into daily meals. She also talks toxin free products, home decor and travel. Every recipe she posts I cannot wait to try to make myself because they are always so good and so healthy.

Q & A WITH LOCAL JEWELRY DESIGNER AND OWNER OF SALT WATER TEA

LOCAL JEWELRY DESIGNER, NICOLE BRACEY TALKS LOCAL FOOD, EVERY DAY INSPIRATION AND OF COURSE HER AWESOME DESIGNS

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A few months ago, a friend and I were browsing through a local, independent market in the city called Market Collective. The market occurs on one weekend every two months and its purpose is to promote local arts and culture, and to engage and empower the community towards positive growth. The market has grown over several years and you can find many local artists, designers and food vendors sharing their products with Calgarians in the three day event. It really is where Calgary’s local art and culture collides for three days and it showcases some amazing local business owners. If you haven’t been, I would highly recommend it.

It was at this Market Collective, back in March, that the Salt Water Tea booth caught my eye. I had been curiously perusing the many isles of handmade goods going back and forth, telling myself I could look but really didn’t need to buy anything, except, well maybe coffee, that was a must. After scanning some of the jewelry booths, something caught my attention at one in particular.

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I have always loved the natural look and had a sincere appreciation for jewelry with stones and subtle statements. Nicole Bracey, local Calgary designer and owner of Salt Water Tea jewelry had such an elegant display and her agate pieces on simple chains really grabbed my attention. It was a tough decision but I finally made up my mind. Now, the piece I bought a few months ago (pictured above) from Nicole is a staple in my every day outfits, no matter if I am going to work or just to the grocery store.

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I think it is so awesome, the great talent and culture that is present in Calgary, and I wanted to share a little bit about Nicole and her designs.

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Nicole Bracey, designer and owner of Salt Water Tea started her business in 2014. She graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design with a degree in fine arts in 2013, with a major in drawing. Originally, Nicole had started out sharing her drawings and sculptural work but decided she wanted to take the leap and get back into jewelry. Her designs can now be found locally and in various stores in Canada as well as on her Etsy store. 

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Q & A WITH NICOLE BRACEY, DESIGNER AND OWNER OF SALT WATER TEA

To start, a few fun questions to get to know Nicole:

Q: What is the first app you check in the morning? Instagram, Facebook, Email, Etc. and why?

A: Definitely email. I’m always checking to see if any new markets have sent out vendor calls, or if any other opportunities have presented themselves.

Instagram comes next. It is such a great networking opportunity. I check for markets and check and see what my fellow artists and friends are up to!

Q: Favourite restaurant in Calgary? 

A: Dairy Lane Cafe! My boyfriend and I go at least once a week.

(I couldn’t agree more! It’s one of my favourites too! Go there!!) 

Q: Favourite travel destination? 

A: My favourite place I’ve been so far is definitely Australia. But, I love going to BC to visit my best friends.

Q: After a long day crafting your jewels, what do you do to unwind or relax? 

A: I binge watch Netflix with a cup of tea and cuddle with my dog!

Now, more about the business and designs:

Q: What is your source of inspiration? 

A: I’m mostly inspired by nature, the mountains and the natural shapes and colours of gemstones.

Q: The name, Salt Water Tea, is there a specific meaning behind it? 

A: Yes! One of the ways you can cleanse gemstones is by steeping them in salt water. (Although I do not recommend this process for your jewelry!)

Q: Can you explain a little bit about the types of jewelry you design and what materials you use? 

A: I like to make jewelry that everyone can wear! I want you to be able to dress it up and down. I want the design to be a little different, something trendy and unusual, but suitable for every day wear. I love using crystals, chunky chain, rope and brass accents to create my pieces!

Q: Do you have any favourite materials to use? 

A: I guess overall I would say gemstones and crystals are my favourite materials. I also tend to go through phases when I work, so each collection is a little different. Right now I’m loving cotton rope!

Q: What started you on the path to designing your own jewelry to sell? Was this a lifelong dream or did you kind of stumble into it?

A: I’ve always made jewelry in some form or another. I have bead work from when I was a little girl. When I went to ACAD I took a few silversmithing classes, but wound up majoring in drawing. After graduating, I did a couple of exhibitions showing some drawing and sculptural work, and I just wasn’t happy. I started expanding back into jewelry and it just clicked for me!

(She is also launching a men’s line, this year!) 

Q: You travel some, to showcase and sell the jewelry you make, are there any favourite spots or markets that you have visited? 

A: I do a lot of markets in Calgary, but I often go to Edmonton for some of their markets including On the Spot Pop Up and this winter I’ll be doing my first Make it, which I’m REALLY excited for! I also recently went to Kelowna for their Craft Culture show, which was a great experience. But, I do I feel super fortunate that we have so many amazing markets here in Calgary, like Market Collective!

Q: Where can people purchase your jewelry? 

A: Online in my Etsy store (saltwatertea.etsy.com), in the Crafted Truck, Peacock Boutique, Rewind and Fallen Angel in Calgary. My designs are also in Make New in Halifax and Olive & Elle in Kelowna! My website also always has an updated list of which market or festival I’m going to be at next as well!

*All photos supplied by Nicole Bracey of Salt Water Tea.

My favourite less toxic, skin perfecting products

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As I have talked about in previous posts, my skin is not exactly perfect. It has been a struggle to find products that actually help it instead of harm it. It has been hard to find products that will help to hide some flaws on my face without having to pile on so much make up only to have it get stuck in my pores or scarring, making it look so much worse. I also don’t want products that contain too many toxins and I always opt for more natural products, where possible.

I think I have finally found the best combination for me in addition to what I use to cleanse my face.

Read about my favourite skin care products, here. 

Previously, I have written about The Natural Art of Skin Care Spa in Calgary. This is where my healthy skin journey began. The routine facials have done wonders for my skin and being introduced to the Eminence Organic Skin Care line has been a life saver. More recently, I was struggling with my make up clogging my pores but my skin could also look oily if I used a liquid foundation, and good luck finding one of those that is more natural (there are a few, but tough to find). I had used Jane Iredale products in the past and I really liked them. They are a bit pricey, and as a university student, it was hard to justify. I decided to go back to them though, knowing the foundation a better choice as far as toxins go and the company really values creating less toxic, more natural, quality products.

So, I thought I would share a few of my favourite products that I use every day to try to get my skin to the best place possible.

1. Eminence Organic’s Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer. I find not only does it moisturise it works to heal and detox my skin in between facials. Since using it I have noticed less black heads and my skin’s overall appearance has seen an improvement. It isn’t exactly an every day product but I tend to use it every other day alternating with another Eminence moisturizer. The Eminence skin care products are super high quality and are mostly plant derived from the company’s gardens in Hungary.

2. The Jane Iredale Super Pressed Mineral Foundation. I find it hard to find a clean foundation but Jane Iredale offers some stellar products. I love this super pressed mineral foundation. It is light with amazing, even coverage and it is rated a 2 on the EWG Skin Deep database which is pretty good. It also includes an SPF, which is key.

3. Jane Iredale Smooth Affair Facial Primer and Brightener. Primers make all of the difference in my make up routine. If I don’t have a primer on, it is easier for my pores to be clogged by the foundation and throughout the day my makeup gets into the scars and pores on my face making it look uneven and just nasty. A primer is really the first step (after moisturizer) to a flawless face and the Smooth Affair Facial Primer and Brightener helps to give me a bit of the dewey look.

This one isn’t perfectly non-toxic but it is definitely a better much better option than others out there.

4. Jane Iredale Botanical Brush Cleaner. If you’re looking for a quick way to give your brushes a quick clean up each day? This brush cleaner is awesome. It smells like grapefruit and a few quick sprays and a few dabs on a paper towel are all you need. It helps to keep bacteria off your brush which could be causing break outs. It’s a great option in between thorough brush cleans.

5. Tata Harper Very Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tint. I’ve been using this product for quite a while now. I love it. I love that it can be used on both your cheeks and lips and that it is easily blended into your cheeks. I love the subtle colour it can add to your cheeks or you can make it more of a bold pop. The best part is scores a 2 on the EWG Skin Deep database.

My Top 3 Favourite Pieces from Stella and Dot’s Fall Preview Collection

Stella and Dot’s new Fall Preview Collection includes many versatile pieces which stay true to the Stella and Dot design. They continue their commitment to providing customers with the ability to wear their jewellery multiple ways. This new preview has a lot of elements that are nautical-inspired for the fall, which for some, leads into the cruise/winter vacation season. Pieces such as the Pave Triangular Ear Jackets remind me of anchors, the Voyager Cuffs, and the Madison Tech Wallet in the Navy Breton Stripe, each give a nod to the seas with their nautical vibe.

What I love about Stella and Dot is that so many of their pieces can be layered, worn together, or are versatile in the sense that you are able to adjust the pieces to different lengths and style variations to change their look. Also, with Stella and Dot there is a certain element of knowing what to expect regarding their pieces. Their designs usually have a timeless feel and the styles adjust slightly for each season while keeping the same versatility and timelessness that you come to know from Stella and Dot.

I have quite a few Stella and Dot pieces that I have had for years and still love.

From this new collection, which was released just on June fourth, I have picked out three of my top favourites! As a bonus, read below for how you can get these pieces for less or even for free!

Crystal & Lapis Stone Element Necklace in Gold

1. The Element Necklace – This necklace is a deep navy blue combo of semi-precious lapis stones and pave crystals. It is essentially two necklaces in one as you can wear the two strands for a layered look or just wear one for a more simple, understated look. This necklace would go great with a casual t-shirt and jeans look with a blazer, or you could even wear it as an accessory to a cocktail dress for an evening out. I love its geometric simplicity while still able to make a statement as part of any outfit.

Stella & Dot Voyager Cuff - Anchor
2. Anchor Voyager Cuff – I love a nice cuff and this one adds a nice pop of colour with the simple anchor detail. This would work great with a causal outfit and it would be great paired with a simple gold necklace, such as the Trinity Pendant or the On the Mark Gold Necklace. You could also layer this cuff with some other great Stella and Dot cuffs and bracelets.

Stylish Indigo Capri Wrap Scarf | Stella & Dot

3. Indigo Cari Wrap – Everyone loves a great scarf, right? I find scarves can really make a plain outfit sing. This one is a great pop of colour around the face but it can also be worn as a beach cover up this summer, or on your next getaway!

Sign up as a Stella & Dot Stylist today
This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Exciting news! If you sign up as a Stylist with Stella & Dot between 6/1-6/30, you’ll receive a $199 rebate when you hit your Quickstart goal ($1000 in sales in the first 30 days)! That means you can earn back your Starter Kit and get hundreds in free accessories!

There are so many great reasons to become a Stella & Dot Stylist, including:

  • You get to build a fabulous business
  • You have the ability to work from home and earn extra income sharing the jewelry that you love with others
  • Training and support from amazing and successful women are readily available to you
  • You get free jewelry, as well as significant discounts
  • You’re given your very own personal website and online business center
  • and much, much more!

To learn more and sign up, go to Stella & Dot June Stylist Special