goodbye 2015!

Wow! What a year it has been! I'm trying to think back to this time last year when 2015 was still a mystery and a blank slate... so much has happened in the last 365 days! Looking ahead to this next year, I couldn't be more excited to see how things unfold! I'll (almost definitely, unless there's a tragic misunderstanding) be graduating from my university undergraduate degree! I'll be getting married - possibly moving away for teacher's college... so many new chapters in my life are waiting to be started! Sure there will be bumps along the way, but I know 2016 will be spectacular!


As much as we try to plan out our lives and live in anticipation for certain events, we are ultimately not in control of it all. That's why life can be so exciting! I'm feeling incredibly optimistic for this new year and all the amazing adventures that await!

I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year!!

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why colouring books are the absolute best

Growing up, colouring was one of my favourite things to do! I was an arts and crafts kid who was constantly looking for ways to be creative. This past year, colouring books geared toward adults became super popular and my heart couldn't be happier! Finally an excuse to colour again! I bought a colouring book for myself last summer, won two more in a raffle this fall and just recieved another as a Christmas gift! I've got plenty of beautiful designs to colour for a long while now! I don't know why advanced level colouring books weren't popular before - I think the majority of adults could benefit from colouring! Here are my reasons why colouring books are the absolute best:

They're a De-Stressing Tool
University and college students need colouring (or something similar) to take time for themselves, relax, listen to some music and de-stress. Writing papers is way easier when you take breaks. That's how the creative juices start flowing again. You'll write your paper faster if you take breaks... trust me!

You Can Take Time to be Creative
When life gets into a routine, it's hard to get inspired and be creative. Colouring is the perfect gateway to thinking outside the box! As soon as adults start thinking in black and white, so many wonderful experiences can be lost! Creativity keeps you thinking in new and fresh ways!

They're  Perfect for Introverts
I'm still getting used to my realization that I am an introvert. When the very thought of going out and socializing makes you exhausted, take some time to yourself and colour! I'm pretty sure colouring (or a similar activity) is every introverts dream! It's so appealing to me!

Colouring books are a wonderful trend that I wish existed earlier on in my university career! I've actually coloured pictures to give my grandparents this Christmas, just like I used to do when I was little!

Have you gotten one of these colouring books?

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boutique 1861 finds

Greetings blogging world! I know it's been a while! What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been! My sister flew in from out west to visit, we celebrated my mom's birthday, I wrote a bunch of final essays... it's been crazy! One of the friends I follow on instagram recently posted a photo of a purchase she made from a little shop in Montreal called Boutique 1861 and of course I had to check out their website! A few hours of online Black Friday online shopping later and I found a beautiful dress, blouse and necklace that I couldn't resist! Check them out below!

As far as packaging goes: A+ for Boutique 1861! I love whenever stores include handwritten notes! And of course, beautiful tissue paper and ribbon are always welcome. I also thought the little box containing a spare button was just the cutest thing! These gals did a great job adding a feeling of luxury to my purchase. It was almost to pretty to open up!

I'm starting to realize I absolutely adore polka dots! I think they're super classy. I bought this blouse to start building my casual work attire wardrobe (which is currently pretty non-existent). The pearl necklace is a great accessory to add a little interest to plain tops. And the dress! Oh man! This dress! I love it to pieces! It fits great and is the perfect length! I bought it with the intention of wearing it to a specific event in the new year, so I'll have to wait a little longer before I wear it, but I can't wait!

I'm so pleased with this clothing store! I love everything I bought, and the employees put in obvious effort to make sure customers are satisfied! Take a peek at their website (here) if you're interested. Fair warning: you may not be able to resist their fabulous pieces!

Did you get any Black Friday deals this year?

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beauty products for fall and winter

Hello blogging world! I know it's been a short while since my last post! A series of unfortunate events led to my computer almost dying forever! Thankfully I have a super tech-smart fiancé who has an abundance of computer knowledge and was able to revive my laptop! Unfortunately I no longer have wifi abilities, so I'm currently in my basement hardwired like the good old desktop days.

I don't know about you, but every year I find my skin struggles during the transition from fall to winter. Living in Canada, fall is often damp and rainy and leaps right into the cold, dry season of snow. I would classify my skin as sensitive, and whenever I find a product that helps me not become a walking piece of sandpaper, I rejoice! Below is a list of products that have been saviors for my skin this fall! I've mentioned some in previous posts but just wanted to emphasize how marvelous they truly are this time of year!

Bumble and Bumble Heat Protective Primer
I first purchased a smaller travel/sample size of this product and loved it so much I got a full size. Not only does this hair primer smell amazing, it has helped me avoid the insane static phase during fall when I typically could not do anything to prevent my hair from becoming a static-y mess! I apply a generous amount to the ends of my hair when I've towel-dried after a shower. Using this product results in a smooth (non-static-y) hairdo after blowdrying!

Nubar Cuticle Oil
In my experience, all cuticle oils are created equal. I'm sure some of you may not agree, but for me, I get the same results from every cuticle oil I've tried (and the results are great)! I try and use cuticle oil at least once a day to soften my cuticles and prevent hangnails. My hands are in constant need of lotion during the winter and cuticle oil helps give special attention to my nails!

LUSH Bubblegum Lip Scrub
Exfoliation is key when dealing with dry skin! I love using this lip scrub before I brush my teeth and head out the door for the day. I always keep a chapstick handy during fall and winter months and using a lip scrub works perfectly to smooth out your lips. Applying any form of lip balm after using this scrub feels amazing!

Elizabeth Dehn Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil + Makeup Remover
This product isn't as complicated as its name! I recently switched up my nightly face routine to gear away from chemical rich products to more natural, gentler ones. I've been using this cleansing oil for a few weeks now and I'm loving the results! This is the first cleansing oil I've ever used and I love how soft it leaves my skin. I use less moisturizer now because this cleanser doesn't dry my skin out!

What are your fall/winter beauty must-haves?

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october favourites '15

Alrighty-roo! It's the end of another month! Months always go by faster during the school year! October was full of assignments and good times with friends. Fall is such a wonderful time of year and being in a town full of beautiful trees, the colours can take your breath away! Right now I'm already counting down the month of November because as soon as December hits, school lightens up and festivities begin! Until then, here's a look at what I've been loving this month! My favourites are a bit random and all over the place this time around!

Vanilla Dee-Lite Body Lotion
LUSH has done it again! Another product that fits perfectly into my daily routine! I love this lightweight body lotion and its subtle scent of vanilla. The store I bought if from said they're discontinuing this product, so I'm not sure if that applies everywhere else, but if you get the chance to give this product a try - do it!

Christmas Ribbon
Michael's craft store had a sale on Christmas ribbon this month - not sure why - but I'm loving it! I bought some gold and silver ribbon and have been daydreaming ever since about the beautiful wrapping I'll get to do for the Christmas presents I haven't bought yet! It's never too early to get in the Christmas spirit... right?

Blanket Scarves
I bought the softest most cuddly blanket scarf from Dynamite and it's wonderful! Fall is a great time of year for accessories and cozy items. I love that being warm and snuggly is actually fashionable. Blanket scarves can be worn so many ways - the options are endless!

What have you been loving this fall?

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selp helf book review

As some of you may already know (based on my recent post) I'm a big Mirfanda. I'm a fan of the YouTuber Miranda Sings and thinks she's absolutely hysterical! I should probably preface this post by saying that I'm not sure everyone would appreciate this interesting piece of literature - people subscribed to Miranda's videos will definitely understand the humour and inside jokes throughout the book (and likely read it in a Miranda voice), but someone who happens upon this book in a store might be very confused. With that being said, here are my thoughts on Miranda Sings' book Selp Helf...

I found this book extremely amusing! I saw it in a bookstore shortly after it had been released, and after flipping through a few pages and trying to contain my laughter, I knew I had to pick up a copy! This book is organized into categories including love, talent, career, finances and self esteem. What I enjoy the most is its format. Selp Helf is essentially over 200 pages of very poorly crafted scrapbook pages, full of grammatical and spelling errors and rather useless advice, which is what makes it a masterpiece!  

Selp Helf has already become a New York Times bestseller! When I went to see Miranda's live show, tons of audience members were reading their copy of the book before the performance started. Miranda also shared some of her advice during the show, so it was practically a giant book club meeting, with hundreds of fans dressed like Miranda Sings!

I'm also subscribed to Colleen Evans (who plays the character of Miranda) and she recently made a video (below) answering questions about her book and shared some of the behind-the-scenes / making-of secrets! I love that she got her family and friends to help craft the pages to make everything so unique!

I would absolutely recommend this book to any other Mirfandas out there who don't already have a copy! And for those of you who haven't even heard of Miranda Sings, look up some of her YouTube videos. There's no real middle ground when it comes to Miranda fans - either you love her, or you don't!

Let me know if you've read Selp Helf!

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our engagement shoot + advice

Another wedding update coming your way! I mentioned in a recent post that Cory and I found our wedding photographer first thing after getting engaged. We really wanted to get our engagement photos done before the school year started and the leaves began to change. Fall colours are absolutely gorgeous, but we wanted to keep the background in our photos fresh and green. Take a peak at some of our favourite shots from our shoot and read up on some advice we have for anyone thinking of getting photos done themselves!

Cory and I had a blast taking these pictures! We didn't have a whole ton of photos together before this shoot, and we definitely didn't have any professional ones aside from the over-posed prom photos we have. This was a special milestone we wanted to capture through photos to keep forever and remember how cool it feels to be engaged! We don't have any regrets about our shoot, but here are some tips to help your future photo session go swimmingly...

1. Know What You Want to do With Your Photos
I think this is the most important thing when planning an engagement shoot. You need to have a purpose and know what you want to do with the photos you're capturing. If you're taking shots just to share with family and to have a really cool photo album, that's great, and there would be a little less planning involved. But if you have a huge long list of uses for these photos, you want to make sure you get the shots you're looking for! Cory and I want to have photos incorporated into our invitations, plus we plan on making a wedding website and Facebook events which could use some professional photos! We knew we'd want a good variety of photos to fit all of our needs.

2. Location!
Photographers almost always know of an abundance of cool picturesque places to take photos, and I'm sure they'll know of a neat spot that could reflect you and your spouse-to-be. We wanted an outdoor shoot and our photographer suggested a really neat meadow where we took our photos. Others may want to find an old barn or field. Others may want to go downtown, surrounded by tall buildings, sculptures and street art - it's up to you! But it's also an important step in determining the vibe on shoot day.

3. Decide on Outfits
Our photographer suggested we pick out three or so different outfits so we could switch things up during our shoot to get a variety of clothing looks. Cory and I went for a more casual wardrobe to keep things informal and fun. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure it stays true to you guys as a couple and plan your outfits together so you don't completely clash! 

4. Have Example Poses/Shots in Mind
It sometimes takes a bit to warm up to the idea of getting your photo taken. Have an engagement photo Pinterest board up and ready on your phone for pose inspiration as you get started. Once things become more comfortable, better natural shots are captured! There were a few pose ideas that we really liked, so we used those as inspiration and ended up with amazing photos!

5. Don't Overthink It!
As soon as you stop worrying about how awkward you might look, you'll get the good shots! Being comfortable and relaxed is key!

Happy photo-taking!

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Toronto adventures

Last weekend was an absolute dream! I went on an adventure to Toronto and got to check out one of the headlining acts in the comedy festival that was taking place! I'd never really been to Toronto before, so this was a whole new experience for me! Lots of walking happened - according to my phone, I took 12,000 steps, which isn't bad when a good part of the day was spent busing to the city and sitting at the show! Check out some of the pics and memories from my day away!

We got to check out Nathan Phillips Square where the big light-up Toronto display was. The sign will be moved to different locations throughout the city throughout the next year. There were also art displays to peruse through. Lucky for Cory and I, there were a bunch of food trucks nearby where we got to grab some street meat for lunch before making our way over to the Sony Centre for our show!

Before I tell you about this very special comedy performance we saw, I'll just comment on the photos above. There are always neat buildings and sights to see wherever you look in Toronto. I almost wish we slowed things down a bit to take in more of the exciting life happening in this crazy busy city. We also got to make our way to the CN Tower. I'd never been so close to it before! Next time I'm in Toronto, I'll make it up the big elevator and see the city from way up high!

Alrighty. I know these photos aren't the best quality - for some reason the lighting made it hard for my phone camera to focus. Regardless. Guys. I got to see MIRANDA SINGS! For some of you reading this, you might not even know who she is, other people who have seen her before might wonder why I would spend money to see her show, but any Mirfandas would understand how incredibly cool this experience was! Miranda Sings is a YouTube celebrity who is a character played by Colleen Ballinger. She's a comedy act and posts videos of her covering songs or doing collabs with other YouTubers. Miranda has been selling out shows worldwide and I'm so lucky I got to see her live!

The show was absolutely hilarious, which was to be expected! So many audience members dressed up as Miranda, and one of the dads in the row in front of us actually let his daughter put a "Miranda" amount of lipstick on his face! Miranda talked a bit about the main topics in her book and performed all of her various talents and skills for the audience. I loved that she invited people to come on stage with her! I WILL see Miranda again, and next time, I'll be getting backstage passes!

Who's your favourite YouTuber?

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do it now!

Happy Wednesday to you all! This school year, I'm really loving Wednesdays! Somehow I lucked out and ended up with no classes every Wednesday for the whole school year - it serves as a great work day to get things done, read ahead and stay on top of things... in theory.

I have a confession to make: I recently got Netflix. I guess that's not really the confession. I started binge watching TV shows and used up all of our monthly internet usage, leaving my house wifi-less for two whole days! MAJOR fail. That's the confession. This Netflix binge also lead to me falling behind in school work after just one week of classes. Time to get my act together!

I don't know how Netflix users have a life! It's so addictive and hooks you in! There are always great things to watch and homework never seems interesting. I'm sure I'm not the only one experiencing this! Unfortunately, I wasted a couple days of my life on Netflix when I could've been proactive, doing things that would actually benefit my student career and future!

Using up our internet usage was definitely a wake-up call. Screen watching should be used as a way to relax after putting in a bunch of hours of work. So, this Wednesday when my schedule is completely empty, I've made a huge list of things to do to catch up on work and organize my life. I'll save Netflix for those days when I have big time gaps between classes, or just need a movie night. I have big plans this upcoming weekend and I don't want to have to worry about school work when I have fun things to do!

If there's something you want to do, aside from watching Netflix, do it now! If you want to make this school year your best yet, start making an effort today! Somehow, I've managed to quit binge watching cold turkey... anything is possible! Let my unfortunate Netflix binge help you get on track to focus on what needs doing. Netflix will still be there for me over winter break when I'm free from school work... and the grades I get this term will still be there on my transcript whether I do well or not. Prioritize!

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so you're engaged...

Wedding update: Cory and I have been on a wedding planning spree, getting organized and booking as many things as we can before I have to focus all my time on school related things! I love the whole engagement process and have especially enjoyed the planning! I'm sure engagement can be overwhelming for a lot of people, so I'm writing this post to tell y'all to take a breath and take some of my advice on 5 things you should do once you're engaged!

1. Enjoy the Moment
I still can't believe I'm actually engaged sometimes, then certain moments come along and all of a sudden it feels so real! I think being engaged takes some getting used to and it's a phase that everyone should enjoy! Take time to be with your new fiancé and start dreaming about your big day together. When Cory popped the question, I was so excited and wanted to tell everyone right away, but I'm glad we had those few days of camping with our friends before heading back to the real world!

2. Start Spreading the News
Figure out who you want to share your news with and how! Some might want to tell their families in person, or call their closest friends. Consider telling your gossip-loving news-spreading relatives until those closer to you know, so nothing gets on the internet and spread around before you want it to! As soon as we let all of our loved ones know our big news, Cory and I made things "Facebook official" and posted a ring picture for all to see! There are so many cool ways to announce engagement using the internet (see #4.) 

3. Think of Dates
I know this may seem fast, and I just suggested you enjoy simply being engaged, but something to consider is how the two of you will respond to the question you'll be asked a million times, "So, have you picked a date yet?" Cory and I had a date in mind from the start, so we were able to just say we were considering some time around that specific date, but nothing was written in stone yet. If you have no clue when you want to wed, but you can at least narrow it down to a year or season, that response would satisfy those curious family members!

4. Begin the Pin
Pinterest is essentially wedding planning heaven! Whether you want to scroll through the specific wedding category, or search key words based on a wedding theme you like, Pinterest will start to get the creative juices flowing! If you're planning to DIY anything, Pinterest is your place to go. If you have no idea what sort of dress you want, Pinterest is your place to go! There are unlimited images and links to webpages that can help you be inspired and get organized to create your wedding vision.

5. Find a Photographer
This is a more lengthy explanation, because it's a rather big decision! I know it might be hard to come down from that cloud you're floating on, but I definitely suggest finding a photographer before any other vendor. Some may disagree, thinking a venue and date are more important to figure out right away - there's definitely more than one way to go about things! For me, capturing memories through photographs is the most important thing for my wedding day (and budget), so we can look back on the moments captured for years to come! We were willing to move our wedding date idea in order to get a great professional photographer. On our camping trip (when Cory proposed) Cory's best friend and best man, Raf, suggested a photographer friend we may be interested in, so we got that ball rolling as soon as we could! I did research on other local photographers, compared pricing, then arranged to meet with the guy Raf recommended. We were so impressed and went ahead and booked our engagement shoot for the next week! We already have our photos back - but that's a whole different story on a whole new post coming soon!

If you're engaged right now - congratulations! If you're married - congratulations to you too! Comment below if you have any more advice for engaged couples! And if you're single or engagement is totally off your radar, maybe just tuck these ideas in the back of your mind for future use!

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backpack essentials

Tomorrow is my first day of classes for the new school year! I love the whole back-to-school hype. I get excited to meet my new profs, start reading the millions of books I just bought, and to catch up with classmates after a four-month summer apart! One of my favourite things to get organized before classes is my backpack. Is that weird? Am I the only one? I love collecting all the essentials and loading up my backpack so that I'm ready for whatever the school day brings.
backpack essentials | marlee and you

I have a long commute to campus, so once I'm there for the day, I don't have the option to run back to my dorm to pick up something I forgot... I need to be prepared! I always like to have a big 60 piece gum container in my backpack, especially if I have a full day of classes and don't have a toothbrush on me! Kleenex are always useful, especially during cold season - plus they come in cool travel pouches that are perfect for backpacks!

Keeping with the cold season concept, Advil and hand sanitizer also come in handy! You never know when they'll be needed and I can assure you, your campus pharmacy has jacked up prices! To go along with the hand sanitizer, hand cream is necessary if you're like me and have dry, sensitive skin! Soaps and sanitizers are often harsh on your hands and lotions are a great way to counter that!

Just a few more must-haves that I always keep in my backpack: extra pens/pencils, a secret cash stash and my agenda! I always bring a pencil case with me, but if I happen to forget it at home, it's nice to have a back-up in your backpack at all times! Same thing goes for my wallet: I always have cash on me, but if I misplace or forget my wallet, I've got to have enough money on me to be able to get dinner and bus or cab home if need be! And lastly, my agenda! It was part of my August favourites and is a crucial part of my daily planning and time management. I like to bring my agenda to school to stay on top of deadlines and also be able to plan things with friends without accidentally booking something the same day I work or have a big project due! I know a lot of people like using their phones for their planner, and that works too! Alright! Let's do this! Time to learn!

Did I miss any backpack essentials?

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summer bucket list '15: revisited

Well, this post was inevitable, but it's making me sad that I have to write it so soon! I can't believe summer is winding down and I'll be starting classes this week! Looking back, I had a wonderful summer! So many adventures and wonderful times! I loved that I made a summer bucket list - even though I didn't complete as many of the tasks as I would've liked to, it was the unplanned events that made my summer so special! One item that didn't get crossed off this list was to make a quilt. Good news though! I still have four more days before my first class, and I AM going to finish up that huge summer-long project! Check out what I got to cross off my list this time around:

summer 2015 | marlee and you

- go to a farmers market
- do some gardening
- see a drive-in movie (July 30)
- go to a karaoke night
- go camping (August 4-7)
- have a girls' night out
- unplug for a day (June 30)
- check out garage sales (July 18)
- do more DIYs
- go paintballing with friends
- try archery
- make a quilt
- go on a day trip 
- read 12+ books
- spend an afternoon poolside (July 17)
- go-carting 
- host a pool party (July 18)
- go bowling (August 13)
- wash the car
- play tennis (June 29)
- have a campfire (June 23)
- explore downtown festivals (July 12)
- have a water fight (July 17)
- get slurpees (June 5)
- make rootbeer floats (July 28)

I'm excited for the school year to start, as much as I would love for summer to continue on through September! The start of a new school year is always an exciting time, and it kicks off a whole new season of sweater weather, pumpkin everything and beautiful nature scenes! Goodbye summer! It's been a slice!

What's your favourite summer memory?

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august favourites '15

Wow! It's August 31st! I can't believe how fast this month has gone by! I'm pretty sure I say that every month - but I mean it! So much has happened since my last favourites haul! I went camping, got engaged, my sister moved out west... some pretty exciting things happening over here! It was quite simple choosing my favourites for August this time around. Check out what I've been loving this month!

august favourites | marlee and you

The Phenomenal Postcard Book
As I just mentioned, my sister moved out west! That's huge! Today I mailed her a fun Where's Waldo postcard to test out her new mailing address and send warm greetings from home! I love sending mail to people because I love getting mail so much! Two of my best friends will also be moving out of town shortly (one to England for the year, the other to Toronto) so I'll continue to make good use of these fun cards!

O.P.I. This Color's Making Waves
I love nail polish! This was the colour I bought at the beginning of summer as my designated "summer polish." I love how it's metallic and looks like different colours depending on how the light hits it. I've worn this polish on my fingernails and toe nails and absolutely love it! This colour will forever remind me of summer!

Ban.Do Party Dots Agenda
I got my 2016 agenda started this month and I've never felt so organized! I know a lot of people like using their phones to keep track of important dates, but I like writing things down! This agenda will be crucial for wedding planning this coming year and it's already been super helpful so far. I love that it's a hardcover and also a nice small size so I can pop it in my purse if need be. I've also been a fan of black and white prints lately, so of course I had to choose this agenda!

What have you been loving this month?

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a back to school money-saving tip

It's already back-to-school time and I've started my shopping to prepare for the next university year ahead! One of my favourite things about starting up another school year is getting new books. My novels and textbooks always get me excited for my courses! There are lots of ways to save money when buying your books for the year, and here is one of the ways I saved big buying new books this time around!

school books | marlee and you

I'm sure you all have a favourite book store where you shop around to find items to pleasure read in your spare time. For me, that store is Indigo. I mostly study English and French and Indigo often has the novels, plays and textbooks I need for my courses - at reduced prices! My campus has a book store and posts your booklist with the prices of each book beside it. This made it really easy to compare campus prices with Indigo to see how much I'd save by buying online instead of on campus. Most of the Indigo prices I found were even better than the used price offered at my school!

Some of the books I ordered, I only saved less than a dollar on, but others I saved over twenty! By comparing the total costs of campus bookstore prices with Indigo prices, buying online becomes an obvious way to save! First, I saved $14.56 for being a Plum Rewards member, which covered the cost of tax ($13.80). My online order total ended up being $290.19 with free shipping. I love that the books will show up at my doorstep and I don't have to make a special trip to find each book on a shelf! If I bought everything on campus it would have cost me $361.80 for the same products! That's over $70 in savings - it really adds up!

If you live in a college/university town, another great idea is to check out the local used book stores for textbooks! A lot of people don't wish to keep their books when they're done their classes, so used book stores are often full of good finds!

Do you have other ideas to save money on textbooks?

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operation organization: earrings

I posted my first Operation Organization post about my choice to recycle my DVD cases in order to store all my movies in a tiny case to save shelf space and minimize the volume of my stuff for when I move out (and into a tiny apartment) next year. That was a long sentence! I've continued to keep this mindset, trying to find other ways to downsize the space my belongings take up. Here's my idea for keeping earrings organized - it's so simple, but very effective!

earrings | marlee and you

My mom had two of these plastic sheets that she wasn't using, so I thought I'd put them to good use! If you want to have a good idea of how much space my earrings were previously occupying, take a look at the American Eagle earring package in the right corner... I kept all of my earrings on sheets like that! Just in terms of surface area, I'm sure you can tell my earrings are making much better use of space now! I transferred all my earrings to these sheets and recycled and disposed of the individual sheets they came on!

The perks of this earring organization solution? You can see the earrings you have, all in one place - I forgot how many options I had! I also never lose the backings to earrings and this big earring holder makes changing my earrings more convenient so I don't stick with the same studs every day.

I still keep my fancy gold earrings in the boxes they came in, but I think this is a great solution for saving space when it comes to everyday earrings! I no longer need the box that held all the earring packages. I now only need a small little square space in one of my shallow drawers. I love that all my earrings are now in one place!

 Would you give this solution a try?

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an EXCITING announcement!

If you read my last blog post, you know I have a special story to share today! I mentioned that while I was camping an event took place that I was completely unable to prepare for. Well, I'm sure y'all could figure it out by now just by taking a look at the photo below... I'M ENGAGED! It's been almost two weeks since it's happened and it still feels weird to say out loud! I plan on keeping you guys in the loop this upcoming year on all things wedding, so what better way to start than by sharing our engagement story!

engagement | marlee and youCory and I got invited to go camping with a group of friends, which apparently changed his whole proposal game plan! We had both been planning towards engagement, so I knew it was coming eventually, but truly had no idea when he'd actually pop the question. I unknowingly set him up perfectly, in a way that would make everything a bigger surprise for myself...

We started our camping trip on August 4th (exactly four and a half years since Cory and I started dating). It had been raining when we were setting up camp, but things eventually cleared up in the evening when we all gathered by the fire. I just so happened to look up at the sky at the perfect time to see a huge shooting star, which made me want to go find a big opening in the trees of the campground in order to stargaze some more. I asked Cory to go for a walk (which was what he had planned to do all along). But first, he had to go back to his tent to "get a flashlight."

We finally found a good spot to look at stars and were enjoying the moment when he put his arm around me and commented on how nice it was to go on this camping adventure, and how much he enjoys our time together. He asked me if I would want to do these things with him forever, to which I responded "of course!" The next second he was on one knee and asked me to marry him! I was so shocked, I forgot to say yes! He had made my ring box so that it would light up for me to see the ring! This was his plan all along!

Honestly, right now I still can't believe it's happened and that wedding planning has already begun! The best part was going home after our camping trip to spread the news of our engagement! We're so excited for this next step in our relationship and we can't wait to share these special moments with our loved ones!

This next year, I'll be posting wedding planning updates along the way, with tips and advice for any future engaged couples out there! Cory and I are younger than the average engaged couple, so we'll be doing things a bit differently - key word: frugal. Check back to my blog under the newly established Wedding category to follow us on this crazy exciting journey!

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live and learn: camping tips

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm home sweet home after four days of fun-filled camping adventures! This camping trip was definitely a learning experience because the majority of my friends who went (including myself) had never done the whole tenting thing! I thought a great follow up to my last post would be to list off a few live-and-learn lessons from my time in the wilderness (aka a provincial park). Check out my advice for any of you campers out there!

camping | marlee and you

1. Research the Area and Fun Things to Do
A lot of campgrounds and provincial parks have websites with maps that you can see before you even hit the road! The park where we stayed was rather large, so it would've been good to get familiar with the area surrounding our site in advance. We were given a park map when we arrived and were able to plan out how we'd do a beach day, go canoeing and do a hiking trail. There's always so much to do while camping - make the most out of your time!

2. Think of Food and Refrigeration while Meal Planning
By the end of this trip, I was known as Meal-Plan-Marlee! I got to do the grocery shopping and meal planning for our trip, which was actually a little more challenging than I anticipated. Because we were tenting, we didn't have a stove, microwave or fridge like most trailers do, so we had to get creative! We brought with us a big cooler for drinks (chilled with bags of ice each day), a big Rubbermaid tote to store all of our breads, snacks and utensils, and an electric cooler/fridge which we used for all of our dairy and meats. If we didn't have that electric cooler, we would've been eating PB&J all week!

Bonus Food Tip: Don't leave ANY food out and keep on top of garbage disposal (for obvious reasons). Although we all knew this basic camping tip, some racoons or squirrels still got lucky, getting away with some butter tarts and peaches!

3. Wear Sunscreen
Yes, this tip is a bit of a no-brainer too, but here's where I went wrong... when we had our beach day, it was unseasonably chilly, so as soon as the sun came out, I just wanted it to warm me! I didn't end up going in the water or anything, so I was covered up in shorts and a t-shirt, but of course, I still got burned! My neck wasn't protected by my shirt, so it's still lobster red and rather sore! Oops! Wear sunscreen at all times - especially if you're going to be on a beach all day!

4. Plan for All Weather Situations
Remember when I just mentioned that the weather was unseasonably cold? Yeah... the nights were rather frigid! I wore sweatpants, long socks and a sweater to bed, all bundled in my warm sleeping bag and I was still a little on the cool side when I was trying to sleep. Make sure you pack a wide variety of clothes for all weather! We also experienced a bit of rain on our first day, and we were so thankful we brought tarps, rope and bungee cords with us! We set up tarps above our tents and were able to stay dry!

And there you have it! Just plan ahead, be safe and be smart! And like Scar from the Lion King says, "be prepaaaaared!" And as much as I thought I was prepared for this trip, there was one event that took place that I could never have been prepared for! Stay tuned for a special camping story in my next post!

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gone camping

After my two week long road trip earlier this summer, I thought I was done with the whole camping thing for the year, but almost as soon as I unpacked my road trip suitcase a group of friends wanted to throw together a four day camping adventure - and so the planning began! This experience is going to be a lot different from my camping trips in the past...

gone camping | marlee and you

Growing up, "camping" meant driving an hour away to the same campsite every summer, staying in cabins (with electricity and stoves) and playing on the swings all day. Then my recent RV trip was a bit of an adjustment because of the cabin lifestyle I was used to, but that was practically a warm up for this coming week. I'm officially "camping camping" aka just tents, a fire pit, and nature.

I didn't realize how much planning went into these sort of trips! Thankfully there are enough tents and camp experts among us to provide supplies and knowledge. Booking the campsite wasn't much of a chore (but we'll see what we signed up for when we get there!)

I'm really excited for this trip, mostly because I took on the responsibility of FOOD! I love food and getting creative with recipes! I've made a big long grocery list and meal plan (thanks Pinterest), so hopefully all works out nicely! I can't wait to hit the road, hit the beach, hit those hiking trails... bring it on! I'm sure I'll have stories, photos and tips to pass on to you future campers when I get back, so stay tuned! Until then, I'm gone camping!

Enjoy these beautiful summer days!  

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pinterest challenge: july '15

Nothing like some food, a nice workout and something crafty to top off a wonderful summer month! This time around for my monthly Pinterest challenge, I was rather successful! These pins have been on my board for quite some time now and I'm glad I finally got myself to do them! That's the whole point of this monthly challenge - to steer clear of the pin-and-forget mentality and to get out and just do it!

pinterest challenge | marlee and you
Original Pin (top), My Results (bottom)

One of my all-time favourite foods is pizza. I love pizza and practically every variation of it (calzones, bagel bites, pizza pops) but I wanted to try this recipe for when I have my typical pizza craving and want to make a pizza equivalent at home. I've made pita pizzas before, which were a huge success, but I liked this quick element to the pizzadilla idea. It literally takes three minutes on the stove and you've got instant pizza delisiousness! I also love pizza sauce, and dipping the pizzadilla in sauce was a great decision!

pinterest challenge | marlee and you
Original Pin

I've been trying to switch up my workout routine by focusing on different muscles each workout. I always find ab exercises difficult and most of them irritate my back. This pin was a new oblique exercise and I found it very effective! I don't own a workout ball like the one on the picture, but Cory does, so I've use his. BUT you don't even need the ball to do this move - keeping your legs straight and together has the same effect and is even more challenging. I definitely recommend trying this pin if you want to strengthen up your core!

pinterest challenge | marlee and you
Original Pin (top), My Recreation (bottom)

I originally pinned this idea because I was pin-spired by the finger painting technique! What a fun and visually appealing way to paint and decorate something! I bought a bunch of big canvases from Michael's when they were on sale and I've been wanting to get crafty ever since. Although I didn't exactly recreate what is featured in this pin, I did what I intended to do when I pinned it in the first place: success!

Have you put any pins into action this month?

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july favourites '15

Wow this summer is flying by! I can't believe I'm already rounding up my monthly favourites again! July has been full of fun with friends and family PLUS the fun of snagging a summer job! I've celebrated someone's birthday, gone on coffee dates with friends, checked out a local summer festival, did a fun run, had a fish fry, saw a movie - it's been none-stop fun! Check out what I've been loving this month...

july favourites | marlee and you

LUSH Charity Pot
As I just mentioned, I got a job! I'm working at a local frozen yogurt shop (any girl's dream)! It took only one shift to notice how often I need to wash my hands and use cleaning products throughout the day, which of course has caused some sensitive/dry skin issues. I've been bringing my LUSH Charity Pot lotion to work with me to rehydrate my hands during my shifts and it's working great for me!

instax mini 8 camera
I brought my new mini poleroid camera with me on my recent road trip and have been using it to capture memories all summer! I love taking pictures and this camera provides a cool new way to save these moments! The instax cameras come in all kinds of colours and you can even get cool photo refills that have coloured borders instead of the simple white. I've got a bunch of poleroids hanging in my room now and they're also so easy to add to a scrapbook page or album. The best part is that it's instant instead of having to go and get your pictures printed!

3D Minion Goggles
My chummy and I are major minion fans! We've loved everything Despicable Me ever since the first movie came out - we both have matching minion shirts! That is why we had to go see the latest prequel, Minions, together and see it in 3D AND get the amazing 3D minion goggles! I absolutely loved the movie and now I have super cool goggles for whenever I'm feeling particularly despicable!

What have you been loving this month?

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5k foam fest fun

We did it! This past Saturday my friends and I completed the 5k Foam Fest Run! As some of you may know, I've been running all summer to prepare for this crazy fun event, and let me tell you - it was totally worth it! This run was truly like no other, featuring obstacles all up and down a piece of my home town that has some rather steep hills! This event was unforgettable and what made it extra special was getting to do it all with friends! Yes, I had some stiff muscles the day after, but that made it all the more rewarding!

5k foam fest | marlee and you

Here you can see the MC that got everyone pumped up before their heat time! There was a bit of a pre-run dance party happening and you could feel the energy in the air! There are also two obstacles above: a giant slip-and-slide and the "Body Washer" obstacle which was an absolute blast! My favourite obstacle was the "Lily Pads" (below).

5k foam fest | marlee and you

That first photo is me photobombing my two friends after they wiped out on the "Timber" obstacle! Next is Cory owning the "Lily Pads" as he literally ran on water! And of course, our victory group photo taken right after we crossed the finish line! We all got medals and a Foam Fest t-shirt PLUS  a refreshing popsicle to cool us off after our run! We all appreciated the "shower" station where we got to hose off our foamy/muddy selves before packing up and heading home. We finished our day with a nice pool party before the rain came - couldn't have asked for a better day! So many memories were made!

Have you done a fun run this summer!?

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my "unplugging" experience

unplugging | marlee and you
One of the to-do items on my summer bucket list this year was to unplug for a day. I tried doing this last summer, but had a difficult time being able to completely distance myself from the internet, my phone and TV for a day. On my recent RV road trip, I "unplugged" fully for one whole day and partially for the entire trip. This was a really positive experience! I enjoyed certain elements of my day and learned a lot about my dependance on technology.

When I was unplugged, I found I had more time to do things. It was hard at first because all I wanted to do was check my phone and see if I had texts or what was new on instagram, but as soon as you actually turn your phone off and leave it somewhere out of reach, things get a lot easier. I noticed that I constantly use my phone to check the time. I know a lot of people do that, but it was especially nice while on vacation to just forget about time and go with the flow of the day.

I kept my phone off for the majority of the trip aside from the times when I texted my mom updates about my day. The lack of technological distractions lead to some awesome conversations with people and my desire to stay unplugged grew.

The biggest benefit from consciously trying to avoid my cellphone was the fact that I now don't depend on it as much. I've been home from my trip for almost two weeks now and I still find myself wanting to avoid constant cell phone checking and facebook scrolling. I actually spend less time online and more time reading and enjoying my hobbies distraction free. I know unplugging while I'm away camping might not count as a true unplugging experience because I was away from most of life's conveniences, but it's inspired me to be more present in everyday life. This won't be the last time I unplug!

Could you live without your cellphone?

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