Living with Muskoka Bears


   I live in Muskoka with lots of wildlife, that’s one of the hundreds of  reasons  I love it here.  When I lived in Glen Orchard (a drive thru town near Port Carling) we had a black bear that would walk through the property(5 acres) everyday, she would stop and check out the pool and continue on.  At that time we had 2 small children, lots of beautiful flowers tons of berries and a couple of tomato plants (not much of a gardener) she would just wander through on her regular route  to a small dump area near a resort just up the road.  We never had trouble with this big black bear (guess we were lucky) and I never worried about the kids playing outside, we were walking up the road one day and had seen a cub standing on its hind legs wondering who the heck we were , sooo  knowing mama would be near by we just turned around and went back home and he kept eating…’s part of living in an area like this.  I have seen dumpsters on resort properties and it’s no wonder the bears come to feast,  lids on dumpsters are often not closed and are overflowing with trash.  Not to mention the yummy smells coming from the kitchens.

I had never heard so many stories of bears getting into garbage and entering peoples homes as I have over the last few years, we had always gone camping for family vacations and would go to my grandparents cottage in Collingwood (Loooovvvveeeeddddd it) and never had encounters with bears. We were  taught to watch out for them along with all the other critters as we were taught street smarts growing up in Willowdale.

Every year Northern Ontario areas are becoming more and more of a desired vacation spot then ever before, people are building cottages,bunkies, boathouse , massive hotels and golf courses in areas that are in or near prime bear habitat.  We share our environment with all other living things including bears.  We need to remember that our actions affect habitat and everything that lives in it, we often think that the bears,raccoons etc. are entering our habitat when  really we share it with them . People like walking in the woods, swimming in the lakes, and privacy.  So do the bears.

Bears need to consume large quantities of food in a very short time.  Their natural food varies from each season depending on weather etc.  When natural food sources are hard to find black bears will travel long distances to find a food source, they prefer natural foods but will eat almost anything we eat to survive.

 Bears’ need for food is so great that they will check out smells like grease and food residue left on a bbq.  This instinct to survive drives bears to human caused “unnatural”food sources especially when we’ve had a summer as hot and dry as this one!  Human-bear conflicts are the result of human action or inaction, people can change, the bears not so much.  We have to make sure garbage and bbqs are cleaned up and unnatural food sources are not accessible to bears.

Seed, suet and nectar can attract black bears.

The following taken from Ministry of Natural Resources website –

Be Bear Wise

The Ministry of Natural Resources is committed to reducing preventable causes of human-bear conflict in Ontario.  The Bear Wise Program teaches people about black bears as well as things they can do to keep bears away from urban and semi urban areas.  We work with community leaders to establish local prevention programs. We offer many education and awareness products including a website.  We provide a bear information and reporting line.  We work in partnership with police to respond to human-bear incidents.

 What You Can Do to keep us and the bears safe:

People are reminded to take the necessary steps to help avoid attracting black bears into populated areas.

Garbage, outdoor grills and bird feed commonly attract black bears. Minimize your chances of attracting black bears by:

  • Putting garbage out only on the morning of collection.
  • Storing garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Put away bird feeders and offer natural alternatives like flowers, nesting boxes and fresh water.
  • Clean outdoor grills after each use, including the grease trap underneath.







Fun Friday Cocktail – Winter in Brazil

This divine cocktail is full of decadent ingredients that I love. Bring on the whipping cream.


2 oz Dark Rum

1 cup Hot Chocolate

Whipped Cream

Chocolate  Curl


Make hot chocolate. Pour heated rum into the hot chocolate. Top with whipped cream (homemade is always the best). Garnish with chocolate sprinkles or shaved chocolate.


Irish Coffee Glass

’98 Chevy Venture Adventure

I have had my most favorite vehicle EVER for a very looonnnngggg time and I love it! However it’s days are numbered.  The body is falling apart, flakes of paint fly off everyday, bits and pieces fall off on my way to work, my drivers side window doesn’t close, a/c blows hot air, I’ve had 2 racoons spend the night and a red squirrel whose chewed one of the back seat belts in half and came for a ride up the road with me until I was face to face with him on my dash, it smells like old socks, the kids have stuffed old fries and McFlurries and who knows what else in the “built in” garbage cans in the back (a moving health hazard), one side door does not open and the drivers side door often doesn’t close properly unless you lift and pull!

I often am the “chosen one”  to drive the kids and their friends to the dances that take place every month (seating for 8)!!! And am politely asked to drop them off a block away!

And the best part is my boss (whose a great guy) doesn’t let me park in the “parking lot” any more because my classic car leaks transmission fluid on the pavement!  He collects classic cars and I don’t understand why he doesn’t appreciate mine?

Well today I have had it I have finally lost my sense of humor, the guys at work one after the other came in and said “Ang can I have your keys your window is down and it’s raining” and I’d say “thanks but the window doesn’t go up anymore”  shrinking further into my seat at my desk.  The neighbour called from next door to tell me it was raining and the window was down and would I like to borrow a towel and suggested since the window didn’t go up anymore to put some plastic up (maybe with red duct tape wouldn’t that be nice).  So at the end of my day I grabbed an old towel out of the shop and prepared for the drive home…Preparing to be dripped on all the way home, water often leaks through the windshield when it rains, I’m used to this,  WELL not only was my seat soaked but my cup holder and the coffee cup I had in it this morning were full of water, I sunk into my seat and proceeded to start my van and drive home, water started pouring in through the little navigator lights on the ceiling and of course when I turned the corner got soaked!!

I have put up with my vans little quirks and smart remarks and stares from onlookers for months and have decided – No more humiliation, no more wet pants, No more 1/2 a head of windblown hair AND No more wildlife!

and have applied for a car loan.

Healing Herbs – Rosemary and Thyme

Rosemary is an analgesic, antiseptic, antidepressant, anti- inflammatory, expectorant, antiviral and disinfectant. Mix it up with garlic for an antioxidant wallop . Use dry or fresh rosemary to make a cough syrup.

THyme has over 35 antioxidants it is also an antiseptic, choleretic and its expectorant properties are good for stomach and toothaches and to disinfect wounds.  It also improves liver and kidney function.


Coconuts are often associated with tropical islands and exotic desserts – But coconuts also have antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and antioxidant healing properties, the clear electrolyte-rich water is yum yum yummy. 🙂

Coconut water matches sports drinks for hydration and physical performance in athletes, carbonated sport drinks are linked with tooth decay and weight gain, coconut water contains medium chain triglycerides, which help you lose weight as you beat the summer heat.

Coconut water helps support your immune system function, protects your liver and reduces lipid oxidation ( the process in which free radicals “steal” electrons from the lipids in cell membranes)resulting in cell damage. and also improves insulin sensitivity.

No wonder it’s called the Kalpavriksha (the all giving tree).

Sit Down to wake up – GYROKINESIS

I try to do this each morning it’s so easy and doesn’t take much time and like yoga I can sit down 🙂

In the ’70’sGyrokinesis was created  by Juliu Horvath, a former ballet dancer from Romania, after he suffered a career-ending injury. While it’s helped many dancers, including Bernard, recover from debilitating injuries, the practice is growing and helping even nondancers. Ten years ago, there were only about 175 studios worldwide offering Gyrokinesis; today, there are more than 2,000–and 6,200 instructors.

Gyrokinesis is more about three-dimensional movements, including spirals and circles,” explains Justine Bernard, DPT, a physical therapist in Washington, DC. These actions better mimic the way your body moves in everyday life to target more muscles–including your deepest abs–and work your joints in a greater range of motion.

Sit Down to Wake Up

Increase your energy levels and shrink your belly in minutes a day with a totally different way of moving

By Alyssa Shaffer

 Workout at a Glance


A stool or armless chair


Complete each series (Abs & Back, Legs & Hips, and Upper Body) 3 times, then move on to the next. Keep the motion smooth and continuous, breathing deeply through your nose.


Do the workout 3 to 7 days a week. It’s a perfect get-started routine for beginners. If you already exercise, you can use it as a warm-up.

Series 1


Tones your core and increases spinal flexibility. Do each exercise 4 times (on each side when appropriate), moving smoothly from start to finish, before going on to the next. Repeat the series 3 times.



Sit with feet more than hip-width apart, toes out, hands on thighs. Inhale and arch spine, lifting chest and gazing at ceiling (A). Keep shoulders over hips. Exhale. Inhale and sit up, lengthening spine. Keep abs pulled in throughout. Exhale and round spine forward, looking at floor about 6 feet in front of you, feeling a stretch in low back (B). Don’t let chin drop to chest. Inhale as you sit up.



Sit tall, hands on thighs. Inhale as you lengthen spine, pulling in abdominals. Exhale and rotate torso to left as far as comfortable, sliding left hand to hip, eyes gazing over left shoulder. Inhale as you return to center. Repeat, switching hands as you rotate to right.



Sit tall with legs wide. Inhale as you lengthen spine and pull in abdominals. Exhale and reach right arm out to side, then overhead, bending to left (left hand presses toward floor). Push left foot into floor, feeling stretch along right side. Inhale as you hold. Exhale and return to center; inhale. Repeat with left arm, bending to right and pressing right foot into floor.



Sit tall with hands on thighs, feet wide. Inhale, arching spine; exhale lower torso toward floor as far as you comfortably can, keeping back arched (A). Round spine, curling up one vertebra at a time (B), as you inhale and lengthen spine, returning to start position.


Series 2


Strengthens your abs and legs and stretches your hips to prevent or reduce knee and back pain. Do all 3 moves first with the left leg, then with the right, 1 time each. Repeat, completing the series 3 times.


Sit tall on edge of stool, feet flat on floor, hands on seat back for support, fingers pointing forward. Inhale, then exhale and extend left leg, foot flexed, knee toward ceiling, heel reaching forward. Hold and inhale. Keep abdominals tight throughout.


From leg extension, exhale and cross left ankle over right knee, keeping foot flexed; place hands on bent leg for support. With abs tight, lean forward, gently pressing on left thigh.


From Cross Over, inhale back into leg extension with left leg, foot flexed. Exhale, bend leg back in, and extend to left side like you’re kicking. Lower flexed foot so inside edge is on floor, knee pointing forward. Place left arm on left thigh, palm up. Reach right arm overhead, palm up, and bend to left, feeling a stretch on right side of torso and left inner thigh. Hold for a second, then return to starting position. Repeat series from beginning, this time with right leg

Series 3


Stretches upper back and shoulders to improve posture. Do each move 4 times, as described, and complete the series 3 times.



Sit tall with legs wide, toes pointing out. Interlace fingers, reaching arms overhead as you inhale, palms facing ceiling, elbows slightly bent, abs tight. Exhale as you bend to right side, keeping arms overhead, and circle forward, rounding spine. Inhale as you circle to left and back, arching spine. Circle 4 times, moving in a fluid motion with abs tight. Repeat, circling in the opposite direction 4 times.



Sit tall, hands on thighs, legs wide. Inhale and reach arms forward and up overhead, palms facing body; gently arch spine (A). Straighten and rotate arms so palms face forward and arms are open wide, reaching toward sky (B). Exhale and circle arms back and down. Do 4 times.

Taken from Prevention magazine.

Dazzle! Whiten Your Teeth With Activated Charcoal

Dazzle! Whiten Your Teeth With Activated Charcoal

crunched by on July 17, 2012
filed under Home Remedies, Natural Beauty Recipes


Today, I’m going to tell you to put charcoal on your teeth to whiten them.


We have to get this out of the way – at the very beginning – so that no one reads the first four lines and goes, “Okey-dokey, Jimbo, open up that thar bar-BE-que ‘n let me fish out a brick ‘n shove it in meh mouth. Crunchy Betty said to.”


Stop it.

We’re not talking about charcoal. We’re talking about activated charcoal. Huge difference. And if you don’t know it, you should definitely read on. Before you wobble over to the barbeque and end up with a mouth full of stinky soot.

We’re clear, right? Not “charcoal” – but activated charcoal for teeth whitening. Right! So, let’s keep going. And it goes a little something like this:

Never before I have regretted not taking “before” pictures so much. See, I started using activated charcoal to whiten my teeth about three weeks ago, as an afterthought. My bag full o’ blackness had sat on my counter for a month out of my lumpy laziness, and one day I just dumped a little in my mouth and held it there. Just to see what happened. You know, experiments and all.

IMMEDIATELY, there was whitening. Immediately, after rinsing out all the black.

I was hooked. But not convinced.

For the first two weeks, I did this religiously, every night after brushing my teeth. My teeth are whiter than they’ve been since I was a teenager. For the last week, I’ve only done it three times. I’m thinking even two times a week as a “maintenance dose” will be perfect.

So, instead of showing you a before picture of my dingy before coffee-stained teeth, I’ll give you one better. Me, with activated charcoal IN MY MOUTH. Just keep learning, and you’ll get to the awesome, flattering picture.

Activated Charcoal – Why It Works to Whiten Your Teeth

Before I tell you why it does this, let’s talk about what the difference between activated charcoal and regular charcoal (or even just burned stuff) is.

Regular charcoal – and we’re even talking about those burned up chunky logs in your fireplace – contains a whole host of impurities. It’s not as porous, and it’s pretty disgustingly covered with stuff you wouldn’t want to put in your mouth. Ever. Blech.

Activated charcoal (also called activated carbon) on the other hand, is really just charcoal (burned stuff) that’s been treated with a few gasses to purify it completely and turn it into a powerhouse of porous material that sucks in impurities from the environment around it.

This “sucking in” is a very rough way to describe what it actually does, which is adsorb materials. Adsorption is different than absorption, and what it basically means is that the porous surface of activated charcoal attracts (mostly unwanted) material a bit like a magnet and holds it in its pores. This leaves the area around it clean.

Activated charcoal isn’t just used for teeth whitening, though. It’s stocked in many emergency rooms, ready for people who’ve overdosed on things like drugs and alcohol. In fact, you should never, ever take activated charcoal with your prescription medication, because it WILL render your medication inert and totally useless.

Any good water filter will use activated charcoal as one of its filtering methods. AND, it’s a pretty well-known home remedy for avoiding a hangover if you sail a little close to three sheets to the wind (but you have to take it before you go to bed, or it won’t work).

Many people take activated charcoal often, to “detox,” but the jury’s still out on whether or not it also adsorbs things like vitamins and vital nutrients, so – personally – it’s not something I would take internally on a regular basis.

But how does it work on your teeth?

The answer is: Activated charcoal LOVES tannins.

And tannins (found in MANY foods, coffee, tea, wine, etc., and ad nauseum) are typically what cause staining and dinginess of the enamel of your teeth. It loves the tannins, and the tannins love it more than they love your teeth, so off they’ll go. Hopefully.

However, and here’s the good part, activated charcoal doesn’t adsorb the calcium salts tooth enamel is made of. It’s almost like it was made to whiten. And brighten. And do no harm.

So How Are You Going to Whiten Your Teeth With Activated Charcoal?

If you do some hunting and pecking, you might be able to find some toothpastes that still use activated charcoal as an ingredient. It used to be all the rage.

However, I have a feeling that with the hubbub about hydrogen peroxide as a tooth whitener, and the fact that it doesn’t look as mind-numbingly scary as activated charcoal in your mouth, the charcoal wasn’t as easy to market, so the idea died out a little.

If you can get yourself past the weird mouth look as you’re treating your teeth, you’ll be just fine. Activated charcoal is far less potentially irritating to your gums than hydrogen peroxide. And it’s not as tough on your mouth, in total. Plus, you might get a little tongue detox going on, as your tongue is a place that tends to hold quite a few toxins, if you’re not careful.

So, how are you going to use it? You could add a sprinkle to your toothpaste, or make some tooth powder and use it as an ingredient. But, for me, since I don’t really know what its “scratchiness quotient” is on the enamel of my teeth, I make a tiny little activated charcoal slurry and hold it in the front of my mouth, up against my front teeth, for about 5 minutes after brushing.

Again, you can do this however you want to. Activated charcoal has been used, for at least a century, in things like toothpastes and tooth powders. But, for me, just because I didn’t know 100% for sure whether or not it would scratch my enamel, I wanted to go the safe route.

Here’s how you do the activated charcoal tooth whitening slurry:

  • Brush or clean your teeth as normal.
  • Mix together a scant 1/2 tsp activated charcoal powder with about 1/2-1 Tbsp water (exact measurements are not necessary, but I do recommend mixing it with the water first, or else you might accidentally inhale some activated charcoal powder and cough for a while).
  • Swish it around in your mouth for 15-30 seconds.
  • Hold it in front of your front teeth for 3-5 minutes.
  • Rinse your mouth – very well. You’ll see why.

Now, as promised, here is an activated charcoal embarrassing picture of me, so you can see how it looks and why you’ll want to rinse your mouth out well (but don’t worry, it doesn’t stain)!

It’s funny; I realized today that I haven’t used a “live, demonstrating” picture of myself on a blog post in MANY, MANY months.

And THIS is how I choose to remind you what I look like:

A mouth full of sunshine right there, I tell you.

But not to fret. I took a picture of my teeth (so I can show off how white they are!) following this picture, right after I rinsed. See? SEE HOW WHITE MY TEETH ARE? LOOK AT THEM. JUST LOOK AT THEM.


I don’t usually tooth smile for pictures … but I think I’ll change that habit right now.

And now you know. Activated charcoal: It just might whiten your teeth until they’re so bright, everyone around you’s gotta wear shades.

Activated Charcoal – How to Buy It

Quickly, because I know this is going to be a huge question. Where and how should you buy activated charcoal?

Well, my favorite way to buy it is in bulk, but the store that carries it is out of it right now and has been for about a month. You can do a Google search to see if you can find bulk, bagged activated charcoal, but for some reason it’s really difficult to find (and it’s often out of stock, so I’m assuming it’s really popular).

You do have two other very viable options, though.

  • Activated charcoal capsules
  • Activated charcoal tablets

If you buy the capsules, all you have to do is open them up (and one capsule is just about the PERFECT amount of activated charcoal to use on one tooth treatment) and then pour one into your water. If you buy the tablets, you can smash them into actual powder.

Having activated charcoal in these forms might actually be a little more handy for you in the long run, if you want to use them for other things, like detoxing or overindulging at the office Christmas party.

Either way, they DO sell activated charcoal capsules AND tablets at Vitacost. Here’s the obligatory link to Vitacost that will save you (and me) $10 on your first order for signing up.

But you can also find activated charcoal capsules just about anywhere these days. Your local natural foods store, many grocery stores, and even Walgreen’s.

Go Dazzle ‘Em With Activated Charcoal!

Oooh. Before I forget to mention, because I know that picture of myself with the black teeth was probably scary …

Not only does activated charcoal NOT stain your teeth, but it won’t stain anything that can’t be washed off with water. When I moved a few months ago, I found a hidden area of my wall, behind my “Crunchy Corner” where a good deal of activated charcoal had spattered the very white, very textured wall behind. It was there for at least 6 months. All it took was a super wet, warm sponge and a few swipes, and it was gone.


Have you ever used activated charcoal to whiten your teeth? If not, have you found a “home remedy” that HAS whitened your teeth? Share it with us!