If you’re eager to naturalize your first aid kit, Burlington, Ontario’s eScential Wellness delivers in all departments. Since 2005, founder Nancy Scott has been blending essential oils with morals. She sources fair-trade and certified organic ingredients when possible, and the small-batch line is petroleum-free, toxin-free and science based with no animal testing.
The former medical laboratory technologist found instant chemistry in her pursuit of creating salves and butters with nature’s pharmacy. Scott is now a certified reflexologist, certified aroma health practitioner and member of the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists.
The Gardeners Hand Salve is a genuine treat for the senses. Lavender, rosemary and geranium essential oil mixed with sunflower oil and beeswax offers instant restoration to bare-handed gardeners. This salve was also tested firsthand after a master bath reno left our skin raw and irritated from painting baseboards, mixing grout and laying tile. It was the same kind of sigh-inducing relief that comes with a completed renovation. eScentialwellness.com
Crescent Lufkin Tape Measure
You will be the envy of any work site when you pull out a Lufkin. The Shockforce and Shockforce Nite Eye have upgraded this essential tool with a superior design spin. The two-sided blade makes the tape readable from a standing position or for those contortionist supine positions under the kitchen sink. Whether you’re in the blaring July sun or the “romantic” (dim) lighting of a basement root cellar, the Nite Eye’s high-visibility, no-glare green on matte black and large font size make the tape legible, even if your reading glasses are out of reach. Want to measure how far away those glasses are? The Lufkin has a 14-foot standout, while the 25-foot tape has an even 3-inch adder for quick math. Regardless of your project, you’ll want to play with the unique tether-ready feature that allows you to scribe a circle. And a circle will gather around you to check out all the tricked-out elements! The diamond-coated, 360-degree end hook has 50 percent more gripping power. It’s also drop-tested to 100 feet—though that end hook is not guaranteed to keep you tethered. This tape measure is available in metric and 16-, 25- and 35-foot options. crstls.co/shockforce
Esther the Wonder Pig
Esther was supposed to be a “micro piglet”—and she was until she grew into her 295 kg (650 pound) adult self. Owners Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter never imagined how macro their lives would be as a result of this little piggy. Inspiring three New York Times bestsellers and a social media following bigger than Brie Larson (1.4 million on Facebook alone), Esther will be receiving the celluloid treatment this year. The Donners’ Company, which produced Free Willy, is developing Esther’s story for Hollywood’s red carpet. Two years after Esther’s arrival in 2012 (and her subsequent growth spurt), Jenkins and Walter established the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary in Campbellville, Ontario. They now rescue and rehabilitate abused farmed animals. When Esther seemed off her game and was in need of treatment, a medical roadblock was met. There was no way to examine Esther in Canada, and a trip to the U.S. would necessitate a quarantine, among other legalities. Esther fans ponied up and more than $750,000 was raised to purchase a scanner, the first in Canada to hold a pig of her girth. The scanner was priceless: Esther was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was successfully resolved with surgery. Aside from creating a reliably fun and colourful Facebook feed, Esther and her owners are establishing a legacy. Happy Year of the Pig, Esther! happilyeveresther.ca
I remember buying an air plant from Towers or Woolco when I was a kid. I was desperate to have one during my “exotic things” phase (I’d just discovered Mexican jumping beans at a local variety store). They seemed so jungle-like, so unlike my Brantford, Ontario, surrounds. They were typically sold clinging to interesting pieces of driftwood with the promise that you only had to mist them once a week—that was it!
Air plants (a.k.a. Tillandsia) are the goldfish of the plant world. They are resilient and the perfect option for those who like to travel or who live in sunlight-reduced basements or condos without a balcony. Air plants have had a popularity surge as DIYers have discovered the playful nature of terrariums and the cool factor of a Tillandsia as a wedding favour. At downtown Toronto’s Succuterra, you can order air-plant party packs (of five, 10 or 20 plants) or individual species like the surreal striped Medusa or the Xerographica, the king of air plants. If you order the jumbo size, buyer beware. As the online order form warns, “These babies are HUGE. Way bigger than your face with tendrils reaching out at least a foot in length when stretched.” For those who desire a little colour, the sturdy, silvery green Capitata Peach unexpectedly blooms into a soft peach colour.
Succuterra will satisfy all your succulent, air plant and terrarium needs. The blog space offers helpful tutorials for newbies, too! succuterra.ca
Jules Torti’s resume reads more like a well-folded treasure map. She has been a canoe outtripper, outdoor educator, colouring book illustrator and freelancer. Jules has volunteered (and eaten all sorts of questionable things) in the soupy jungles of Costa Rica, Uganda and the Congo. Her work has been published in The Harrowsmith Almanac, The Vancouver Sun, The Globe & Mail, travelife, Canadian Running and Coast Mountain Culture. She actively feeds her blog, Alphabet Soup, with posts on books, birds, burgers and beer (in no particular order) across the latitudes from Zanzibar to Iceland. Closer to home, she was grandfathered into the Galt Horticultural Society, was the caretaker of a 155-year-old stone heritage cottage and has chronic fantasies about church conversions, beekeeping and owning llamas. She has been known to slam on the brakes for photo ops of saltbox houses, saddle roof barns, snowy owls and sunflower fields. As editor-in-chief of Harrowsmith she is thrilled to be able to curate, write and read about the very best things in life.