5/29/2016

my latest adulting experiences


Recent adulting has lead to a number of new keys being added to my key ring! In the past month or so, Cory and I have not only bought our first car but also got the keys to our apartment! BIG THINGS! Of course, life has a way of not going perfectly according to plan, and getting a car wasn't a planned event, but I can't complain. Life is crazy hectic right now, but it's a thrilling roller coaster and I love taking a pause on my blog here to reflect on all of life's happenings.


First adulting experience: car shopping! Cory and I were going to get his parent's old van as our first vehicle, which we were hoping would last us til the winter, but it decided to die quite suddenly and we had to replace it as soon as possible. We ended up getting a wonderful, black 2010 Honda Civic (aka the most common car and colour in my town). The whole process wasn't too painful and it was the first big purchase we made as an engaged (and almost married) couple! We love our new-to-us car and that it's actually our own!


Second adulting experience: getting an apartment! Cory and I started apartment shopping earlier this year and had a place lined up for Cory to move in the beginning of May. We got the keys on the ninth and have been moving our stuff into our place the past while! I always looked forward to moving out and being able to create my own home and special space, so I can't wait to move in and start decorating! Our apartment is quite small, but suits us well for this first phase of married life. It's also nice and close to school where I'll be attending teacher's college starting in the fall. I'll eventually be able to post some before and after pictures of our living space! Stay tuned!


Final recent adulting experience: playing archery tag with a group of awesome people for my friend's birthday! The school year is over and it's starting to feel like summer, which means it's time to do super cool things with your friends, like archery tag! We played a bunch of dodge ball-like games using bows and arrows (with big foam marshmallows on the ends). We all went out for ice cream afterwards and it was a fun-filled evening. Nights like this are what your 20s are for!

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3/30/2016

I quit sugar


Yes, you read that right - I quit sugar! Studies have suggested it takes 21 days to break a habit or make a new one. Of course, other studies have suggested it takes longer, but with the 21 day concept in mind, I set out to go on my own personal cleanse/diet/habit-breaking adventure and I'm here to share the results!

I have tried and failed on several occasions to stop drinking pop (or soda, for you American readers). Pop is so incredibly bad for you and it is also addictive! I decided last month that I was going to take this "no pop" personal boundary seriously and do my best to cut it out of my life for good! It was at this time when one of my classmates told me she and her boyfriend were going a week without consuming sugar.


Diets never really made sense to me. Why diet for a few weeks then go back to your regular eating habits? I'm not going to say I went on a "diet," but the concept of a week without sugar intrigued me because it sounded like the perfect challenge to test my own willpower. I started searching for foods that didn't contain sugar, other names for sugar and meal planning ideas. You'd be surprised the foods that are full of sugar! I had to cut out my usual favourite snacks and make things from basic ingredients in order to ensure they were sugar free!

Somehow I made it over three weeks without eating any sugar! By having to consciously plan my meals around this new restriction, I was able to realise how unhealthy my usual go-to meals were. I began to start my days off with homemade oatmeal (with unsweetened applesauce and cinnamon), and some fruit. The new foods I started eating gave me more energy and I felt fuller longer! Foods with sugar contain so many empty calories that don't energize you!

After making it a few weeks without sugar, I began enjoying a piece of dark chocolate or other sugary item and noticed that they didn't have the same appeal to me they once did - addiction broken! I don't get the same sugar cravings I used, but I haven't completely cut out sugar from my life.

Challenging myself to cut out sugar helped me realise how difficult it is to set restrictions for myself.  I'm very proud of what I learned through these few weeks and I plan on creating different boundaries for myself in order to break other not-so-healthy habits that I have! While this sugar-free challenge had its health benefits, it was also a learning process for me to become accountable with myself! Not as easy as it sounds! For anyone wanting to try and cut back on sugar, Pinterest has some wonderful meal ideas!

Would you try going sugar free?

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3/29/2016

the problem with being busy


If you take a quick step back to observe your daily routine, it wouldn't take long to realise that most of our life is spent figuring out how to get the most things done as quickly as possible. I recently stumbled upon two pieces of internet gold which made me reflect on my busy hustle-and-bustle lifestyle and inspired me to write this post for you.

First: a pin on Pinterest with the phrase "How to Unwind and Relax."
The fact that we need to be reminded how to take time to ourselves and relax is a bit disturbing if you think about it! We're not meant to keeping going non-stop! We all need to take breaks on a daily basis! If you don't, you won't be putting forth your best work - however the word "work" can be applied to your situation. You will have more imaginative thoughts, peace of mind and a healthier body if you make an effort to de-stress everyday. We shouldn't need to read an article on the web to discover how to unwind!

Second: a thought-provoking quote on instagram (here).
Since beginning my Project Life scrapbooking journey, I started following Becky Higgins on instagram. She posts great photos of scrapbook spreads and photography tips in addition to advice on how to cultivate a good life. This particular quote that inspired me said, "part of cultivating a good life is recognizing that if we're too busy to prioritize God, we are busier than God intended for us to be." What a fascinating yet completely simple concept that I need to remind myself of!

I recently started a new job as a Starbucks barista and have been loving the learning process so far! Things can be pretty hectic and fast-paced though. I've been really encouraged by my fellow Starbucks partners who have been patient with me as I'm learning and who have written sweet messages on my cup at the end of my shifts. Coffee, for me, is a great way to take time for myself to relax and be in the moment by taking a break from the chaos life can bring.

You don't have to be superman/woman. You don't need to get everything done and accomplished right now. Life is short and you should be proud of where you're at during this current stage in your life. Look ahead to what you'd like to accomplish, but know that you can live your best life by moving forward at a comfortable and moderate pace.

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3/26/2016

LUSH favourites 4.0


Well folks, I did it again! Another shopping adventure at LUSH plus some recent gifts from my awesome brother resulted in this awesome new-to-me pile of wonderful LUSH products to tell y'all about! I can't believe how excited I get talking about LUSH! These are my new favourite LUSH products that I'm loving right now...


Bath Bombs
I love that my family knows how much I love LUSH because anything from that store is a fool-proof and always welcome gift to myself for any occasion - especially bath bombs! Who doesn't love relaxing in a warm bath with a fun and colourful bath bomb which could possibly be full of confetti or flower petals!? I'm excited to try these two out. I didn't want to look up the names of these bath bombs because if they do something extra awesome, I want it to be a surprise!

Hand Care
I also got the Golden Handshake Hot Hand Mask which I also haven't used yet because I want to do this mask right before Cory and I get our engagement shoot done soon! (Yes, we've already done an engagement shoot, but since we've switched wedding photographers, we're doing another one with our new photographer just for fun!) To use this mask, you warm some water and melt the bar on the stick by swirling it around before soaking your hands in the nourishing water. To give my hands some extra TLC I have the Salted Coconut Hand Scrub. It's an absolute dream and makes my hands instantly softer!

Since starting my new job as a Starbucks barista, my hands have seen better days. I am constantly washing my hands or doing dishes and using harsh cleaning solutions. I used to keep some LUSH Vanilla cream in my work bag to apply during my shifts, but they're no longer making this lotion and I needed to find a replacement. Sympathy for the Skin Hand and Body Lotion is exactly what I needed! It's a heavier lotion (not as light-weight) but that's what I need to rehydrate at work. My hands are finally on the mend!

Face
I love the LUSH fresh face masks, but they expire quicker than I can use them. When Cory showed my the Cup O' Coffee Face and Body Mask during our last LUSH trip (which is good for four months), I thought it would be a great addition to my face skincare routine. Yes, I was most definitely attracted to the coffee scent, but it's also great because it acts as a mask AND a scrub and leaves my skin extra smooth. It's like giving my face an energizing cup of coffee to start the day off right!

Do you have any new LUSH faves?

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3/15/2016

wedding planning update


Our big day is coming up in less than 5 months! Now that I'm actually typing that out, I can't believe how little time we have left to pull everything together for our wedding day! It's been a bumpy road lately, having run into a few snags and school has also gotten crazy, so staying on top of it all has been a challenge. I wanted to update you guys on the progress of things and what I'm most looking forward to wedding-wise over the next little while!

First off, the bad news... or at least the less pleasant parts of the wedding planning process for us. We had come up with a pretty solid budget plan for how much we wanted to spend on our wedding and how much we'd like to put for each vendor and expense. That budget was working pretty darn well until we met with our caterer and realized we had very unrealistic ideas of how much food costs. Budget broken - immediately! Thankfully we met with our caterer right after we'd set a date, so we knew we'd have enough time to rework our budget and adjust to our exceeded original budget plan. No biggie. We want everyone to be fed! Food and photography were the two things we knew we wanted to invest in to make our guests happy and to remember this day for years to come through photos.

Which brings me to my next point. We just found out that we may need to find a new photographer for our wedding, because the one we had lined up for our big day might be moving to New York for a summer job opportunity. We're really happy for him if he gets the position he wants, but we'll need to find a replacement ASAP if he moves away.

On the "good news" side of wedding planning things, I now know exactly when two of my three bridesmaids will be returning home to help out with wedding things! Cory and I have been able to keep wedding plans under control while I have only had one bridesmaid home with me, but starting next month, things are going to pick up and not slow down until the wedding is here and gone! It will be nice to have my girls back! Our wedding invitations have arrived and we'll be having an invitation-assembling party soon. I love stationary and mail and paper goods, so I was really excited to finally see our invites "in person."

Another ongoing wedding project has been my wedding dress! A seamstress friend has been working with my mom and I to rework and redesign my mom's wedding dress for me to wear! It's still quite far from completion, but I can't wait to see the final results. Seeing my completed wedding dress is the one thing I'm most looking forward to right now! I've tried on many wedding dresses in the past, volunteering at local bridal shows, but wearing my very own one-of-a-kind wedding dress on our wedding day will be so special! And with that, I've officially declared no more major wedding planning until I finish writing another two essays and Easter festivities have passed!

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2/29/2016

influenster hair expertise voxbox


Who doesn't love getting free hair products in the mail! I got a box of three L'Oreal Paris products to test from Influenster - I've been using them for a number of weeks now and I'm totally ready to share my opinion with you! My hair type was matched to the L'Oreal Extraordinary Oil line and I think these products couldn't have come at a better time! It's been a dry winter and my hair has not held up well. I was just about to book a trim when I got this box and decided to postpone my split-end-removing haircut in order to see if these products could help restore my hair.


The Extraordinary Oil line claims to cleanse gently, condition for smooth locks, and nourish hair without weighing it down. I'll be completely honest with you - all of those things were true for me!

...and yes, I noticed a difference after just one use! I was amazed! That night I told my mom to feel how soft my hair was because I just couldn't stop running my fingers through it! When I was using the shampoo for the first time, I noticed that the product didn't feel as harsh as my other shampoos. It was very gentle and made my hair feel softer before I even conditioned. The conditioner worked great for me as well, but because I was adding a hair mask into the mix, I had to start a different hair product routine.


In these pictures, you can definitely tell I'm in need of a haircut, but you can also see my hair looks healthier in the after photo. I found that using the shampoo, conditioner and hair mask was a bit excessive (almost too nourishing) so I alternated between using the conditioner and the hair mask, which was suggested in the info booklet I got. I had been interested in trying out a hair mask, but didn't want to buy a tub of it in case I didn't like it. I'm glad I had the opportunity to try out the Extraordinary Oil hair mask and I'll definitely use the whole container eventually.

I started using these products when I was due for a good trim and my hair was at its worst, and I couldn't be more impresses with the results... BUT I'll still be going in for a haircut this week! This line will help maintain my freshly chopped locks.

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2/26/2016

an alternative to wearing a dress to winter formal


Earlier this month, Cory and I attended my last ever Charity Ball at my university! Charity Ball is an event that students always look forward to because it's an excuse to dress up all fancy in the middle of winter and have an amazing night (while supporting a local charity)! The last Charity Ball I went to, I wore a short fancy dress and almost instantly regretted that decision. Like I said... it's a winter event! In Canada! This year we just got a big dump of snow before Charity Ball and it was at least negative 10 (Celsius) so I made a more sensible fashion choice this time around! Jumpsuit + blazer + black pumps = the perfect combination.

I chose to keep the colour pallet pretty basic with just a simple black and white combo. I could've easily made things more interesting by going with some hot pink heels or a bold coloured  belt, but I was already stretching my fashion comfort zone with this ensemble.

Well, let me tell you - I have never been one to get many compliments on my outfit choices, but lots of people (complete strangers included) loved what I was wearing! I got comments all night! And the best part was that I wasn't freezing my butt off on the ride over, during the event, or walking outside to catch a cab home. You don't need to wear a dress to feel fabulous and feminine! I'll totally wear this outfit again. I'm also more likely to choose comfort over strapless bras, double-sided tape and braving the cold in the future!

Would you try the jumpsuit + blazer combo?

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2/17/2016

project life: first impressions


I've always been a crafty person! I love to paint, colour, make cards, scrapbook... but that last one is a rather time-consuming hobby that I have been behind on for quite some time. The last time I created a scrapbook page was two summers ago. I still make mini photo albums after going on trips and stuff, but I had essentially put my scrapbooking on hold indefinitely... UNTIL one of my friends recently showed me their Project Life album and my love for scrapbooking was instantly revived!


The whole idea behind Becky Higgins' Project Life scrapbooking system is to make it easy to document life through pictures in an efficient way. Each album can hold a two-page spread for each week of the year. If you take a few minutes each week to print photos from the past few days, write some comments and put them in your album, you'll never fall behind on family life documenting and you won't end up with boxes and boxes (or multiple memory cards) full of family memories hiding in your basement.

I fell in love with Project Life and thought it would be the perfect way to document all the fun events leading up to our wedding this year, including our wedding photos! Once we get our wedding photos, I'll just need to get them all printed and into this book so I can simply bring my photo album to family gatherings to show everyone. Then I can keep it on a shelf in our living room for easy access and reminiscing in the future!


What's special about Project Life is that it's pocket scrapbooking. You get an album to hold the 12x12 photo sheets, then fill up their pockets with pictures and comment cards. No glue. Minimal design planning. Pure genius. I got a multi pack of photo sheets with various design layouts, but if there's a specific design you prefer, you can get a full pack of just one layout. I started off buying the Midnight Edition Core Kit and Good Times Mini Kit of card inserts. I'm keeping this album simple with mostly black and white inserts so the photos really pop. So far I've only done a few pages, but it's been so straight forward to do - it's great!

Becky Higgins has a wonderful website to guide you through all things pocket scrapbooking related. Project Life items can also be bought online on Amazon or at Michaels (and Michaels always has coupons)! If you check out the Becky Higgins website, you'll be inspired in a heartbeat! I'm super happy I found our about Project Life and I can't wait to get started putting together our wedding album!

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2/07/2016

one month yoga challenge: the verdict


(pin)
I talked about trying to do a one month yoga challenge in one of my posts last month, so here's your follow up! Just to fill you in on my own yoga background, I really don't have one. I enjoy doing workouts at home using free weights and cardio circuits, but I'd never really committed to regular yoga until January. I decided to challenge myself to do a yoga sequence every day for the whole month. They say it takes 21 days to either break or make a habit. So here's my experience...

The month started out strong as I was just getting back to school with a new course timetable which made it easy to find a time to do yoga everyday. Unfortunately that ideal time was during my nighttime routine, which also meant that some days I was just so tired I didn't want to do it.

I started a yoga Pinterest board to compile beginner yoga positions and stretches (because I had no idea what I was doing) and within a few days I had come up with my own sequence that I stuck with for the month.

The results? Although I was starting from square one with zero flexibility, the positions became a lot easier by the end of the month! Yes, I can touch my toes with ease now! Doing yoga has also helped with my bad posture and back issues which were a result of a typical student lifestyle (sitting at a desk for hours on end). Now I have a handful of not-so-beginner yoga moves that I'd like to learn! On to phase two!

My next challenge is to master two-person yoga positions! Have you seen any YouTubers try to do couples yoga? It's hilarious to watch! Yoga with two people requires a lot of balance and strength - it's all about counterweight! Cory and I tried to do a few two-person yoga pins we saw... let's just say that experience involved me falling down a lot. I'm not going to set a one-month challenge deadline for this one - we'll see how long it takes!

I challenge you to try yoga for a month!

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1/31/2016

chunky sparkle nail design


This past weekend I went to my very last Charity Ball event of my university career! How bitter sweet! Every year my school throws a big party and raises money for a different local charity. It's always fun to have an excuse to dress up during the dull winter months! Which also meant I had an excuse to paint my nails all pretty! It might take a bit of time to achieve (having to wait for each layer to dry) but the results are beautiful!


Step 1: Essie First Base Base Coat
Always always always start off with a base coat - especially when using a black polish!

Step 2: Essie Licorice Black Polish
It normally takes me one thick coat or two thinner ones to achieve optimal blackness!

Step 3: Nicole By O.P.I. Be Awesome Glitter Polish
For this step, instead of painting on the polish, I used a toothpick to individually place each diamond sparkle... I know this sounds extremely meticulous. You can apply the sparkle polish any way you'd like! I just found the polish-to-sparkle ratio in this bottle was a little off.

Step 4: O.P.I. RapiDry Top Coat
Finish off with a top coat to seal in those sparkles! Because the diamond-shaped sparkles are so big, it would be easy for them to chip off without a top coat!

Would you give this design a try?

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1/27/2016

the near future...


I always find this time of year to be difficult. School things start to pick up, the weather is typically dreadful and spring always seems so far away. I've definitely got my hands full (balancing school, work, tutoring, babysitting and wedding planning) and I find it helpful to just list off things that I'm looking forward to in the near future. There are so many great things that will happen in a short amount of time, I just need to tough it out for the next little while! Here is my current list of what I'm looking forward to:

(photo)

-The day after Valentine's Day. Cory and I don't really acknowledge Valentine's Day. We normally find a cool meal to make, we cook it together, watch a movie and call it a night. We do, however, go out and buy cheap chocolates the next day. Chocolate is my weakness.

-March 1st. Not only is March 1st Cory's birthday, it's also the day I finally get to find out if I've been accepted to teacher's college! That's also when I'll be deciding if I'll be staying in my hometown or moving away! Big adult life decisions coming up!

-Spring! It's my favourite time of year! The days have already started to get longer, but it doesn't feel like spring until the snow is all gone and the outside world starts to look alive again.

-My birthday! I'll be turning 22 the end of March. This birthday will be a lot different than ones in the past (not having one of my bestest friends and my sister here to celebrate), but it falls on Easter weekend, which is also one of my favourite times!

-June 1st. The day my chummy comes home from a year studying abroad in England! We've got lots to catch up on! Although my computer doesn't like it when I use Skype and we don't message each other everyday, I know when we're reunited, we'll be able to pick up where we left off and I can't wait!

These are the things coming up in the near future for me. Of course, there will be a big wedding day later in the summer and all the huge life events that will lead up to that. But for now, this list is what I'm most looking forward to. I just gotta make it through the next little while, which won't even be so bad!

What are you most looking forward to right now?

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1/17/2016

bridal show tips


Cory and I ready to model last weekend
Bridal shows (or bridal expos) are an awesome place to start your whole wedding planning process! They're where you can find local wedding vendors all under one roof: photographers, caterers, cake bakers, DJ's - the works! I've actually volunteered at a bridal expo in town for ten years now, modelling and helping out with the wedding fashion show! It's so much fun and has its benefits when you or someone you know is planning a wedding! Over the years, I've come up with a few tips for any bridal parties planning to check out a bridal show!

1. Have a Game Plan
Already have a photographer? Save time by passing by the photography booths and focus on the services that you still need! I know this sounds pretty obvious, but bridal shows can be overwhelming! People are handing you business cards, brochures and free samples left, right and centre! Stay focused by letting your team know your purpose for going to the show and who you'd like to talk to. You might not have a specific goal other than to be inspired and that works too!

2. Keep You Bridal Brigade Small
Depending on the size of your bridal party, you might want to go with just your future spouse, your maid of honour and your parents. The more people you bring, the harder it is to make your way through the rows of booths and the inevitable crowd.

3. Prep Your Inbox!
A lot of companies at bridal shows have some sort of prize draw where you'll need to write your name, phone number and email address down on a ballot in order to enter. These prizes are super appealing - of course you want to win! Some brides will make labels with their info on it to just stick on the ballots and save time from writing out their details at every booth. It's also often suggested for couples to create a wedding email address to keep wedding planning emails all in one spot. Just note that even if you don't win those draws, the vendors now have your email address and you'll likely get a promo message from them in the future!

4. Wear Comfy Shoes
These shows are all about walking around! No one will judge you for wearing a sensible pair of running shoes. The vendors are the ones trying to impress you! You wouldn't want to leave the show early and miss out on finding the perfect wedding favours just because you wore four-inch heels!

5. Bring Snacks
There will most likely be cake samples, but you'll definitely be glad you brought water! Try and prevent any potential bride-zilla moments by making sure you grab a bite before you plan on checking out the show!

Have you been to a bridal expo before?

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1/06/2016

refresh: 2016


It's a new year! So many possibilities! Everyone loves a fresh start, and the mystery of a whole year ahead can be exciting and even scary. This is the time of year when people share their resolutions, swarm the fitness centres, go on juice cleanses and slowly revert back to their old ways by Easter (or even Valentine's Day). I've never been a big fan of resolutions... sure I've made them in the past, but unless I was constantly reminded of what I resolved to do, it would never happen. A video by Mr. Kate gave be a bit of inspiration this time around. It's not fair to yourself to make resolutions just for the sake of making them. I think goals are more important because there's something about resolutions that seems so finite. I can set a goal for myself that doesn't have a deadline or cut off date like a resolution does. All this to say, I'm going to share with you my goals for 2016 and I hope the video below can also inspire you to refresh this year!

This year, my number one goal is to focus on my own well being. I anticipate lots of life changes, stressful situations and times of frustration in the year to come. So many new chapters will begin in my life and during those times, my first instinct may not be to take care of myself: my mental state, my health, my passions... Cory always reminds me that in order to be able to help people to the best of my ability, I need to make sure I take care of myself first. I want to take care of myself by practicing yoga. I'm going to be doing my own yoga thing every day this month (I'll check back in February on that), just to get into the habit of taking 15-20 minutes a day to relax. I also want to be more diligent in expressing myself by journaling. There are lots of amazing times to be had this year, and I want to document them all!


Have you set any goals this year?

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