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Showing posts with label lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lifestyle. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Three Years Ago

Three years ago today I woke up to a stunning view of Niagara Falls in the most expensive hotel room I’d ever paid for. I had butterflies in my stomach and a sense of anticipation like I’d never felt before coursing through me. I wanted to wake up slowly and ease into the day but M jumped out of bed beside me. “There’s no time to waste,” he said, giving me a quick kiss. “It’s our wedding day.”

Niagara Falls //

Three years ago I felt the most pampered I’ve ever felt. Mimosas were poured, hair was curled, and though the room was buzzing with energy, everyone was calm and laid back.

Three years ago I looked at our wedding timeline and realized that we were only running five minutes late, which is pretty much a miracle if you know my side of the family. As my bridesmaids and I walked made our way out of the hotel, I felt like a celebrity. Little girls were oohing and ahhing and strangers were complimenting us as we walked to the limo. It’s amazing how kind people are to you when you’re wearing a wedding dress.

Three years ago all the emotions that were building up inside of me came pouring out the moment I saw M waiting for me at the top of the aisle. I looked around and saw the beaming faces of our family and friends and paused for an extra moment before I began to walk up the aisle. I needed to take it all in. The love was overwhelming.

Niagara vineyard wedding inspiration //
Hernder Estates Winery in Niagara outdoor wedding // thelifestyle-project.comNiagara Falls wedding ceremony //
Vineyard wedding inspiration //
Winery outdoor wedding photos //
Photos courtesy of Dave Biesse

"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same." Emily Bronte

Happy third wedding anniversary to the love of my life. Here's to many more, my sweetheart ♡ xo.
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Thursday, September 03, 2015

An Update on Our Rescue Dog: 3 Months After Adoption

An Update on Our Rescue Dog: 3 Months After Adoption //

Three months ago, my husband and I were able to make one of our dreams come true — we adopted a dog, Lexi, and she’s already brought so much joy into our lives. I never realized how much of a presence a pet can have in your home until we brought this little one into ours.
Between her cute expressions and silly quirks, Lexi honestly makes us laugh every single day. I love having her in our family. She’s increased not only our happiness, but our activity level as well, which is always a good thing :) Lexi came from an abusive and neglectful home (here’s more on her rescue story) but has made remarkable strides in her rehabilitation. 
Some people are turned off from adopting a rescue dog as it can often seem like a whole lot of work, and I understand that. My husband and I had reservations ourselves, so I wanted to write this post to share what our experience has been like for anyone who may be curious about bringing a dog into their home. Here are the most common questions that we’ve been asked about what it’s like to bring home a rescue dog and how she’s adjusting to life three months after adoption. 

FAQs about adopting a rescue dog //

What did the adoption process require? 

We adopted Lexi from our local Animal Control, and because of the conditions in which she was rescued, she was considered “at risk.” This meant that Animal Control required adoption candidates to have an in-home inspection to make sure Lexi would be going to a safe place. The director came to our house, showed us some pictures and videos from when they found Lexi, and looked at where we planned to keep her. We chatted for a bit, completed some simple paperwork, and found out later that afternoon that we’d been approved.

How much did it cost?

It cost $87 to adopt our dog, which included her spaying and rabies vaccination. From Animal Control she was transported directly to the vet, where she received her operation, painkillers, microchipping, and another round of shots for $150. Total cost of adoption: $237.

Was it difficult to go to Canada and get back into the States with your dog?

Fortunately the answer is no, it turned out not to be difficult, but I was pretty nervous. We were driving to Ontario, and to bring your dog into the province you have to prove that it’s not a pitbull and has its official rabies vaccination. I didn’t look up that information early enough, and by the time I called the vet for a copy of Lexi’s official certificate, the office was closed for two days (during the time we’d be travelling to Canada). I found a receipt from when we’d paid for her vaccination and hoped it would be sufficient proof, but as it turned out, the customs officer didn’t even ask a single question about the dog. On the way driving back to the US we passed through Michigan, and the only question we were asked about Lexi was regarding her dog food (no lamb, purchased in the States). Crossing the border, for once in my life, turned out to be super easy!
My experience bringing home a rescue dog //

What was the hardest part about your dog adjusting to your home?

Lexi was incredibly scared at the beginning — new smells, sudden movement, walking from cement to grass, coming indoors — these all caused her to freeze on the spot, no exaggeration, for 10 minutes at a time. The hardest part of Lexi’s adjustment was learning that she could trust us. The first week was trying (she bolted twice!) but after that she began to improve by leaps and bounds. Once she learned that we wouldn’t hurt her, she started to play, cuddle, and share her true personality with us. 

Have there been any challenges with Lexi’s behaviour? If so, how did you handle them?

When we first adopted Lexi, she was dog-aggressive and male-aggressive. She liked to dash out the door but, as mentioned above, hated to walk on grass. We progressively introduced her to other dogs, as long as their owner was right there and the dog was calm. When introducing Lexi to family and friends, we encouraged them to crouch down and allow Lexi to approach them first. I think that taking her with us to Canada and exposing her to so many different experiences helped build up her trust with us and cemented the fact that she’s part of our family unit.
Lexi becoming more comfortable with us has been a double-edged sword, however. She’s overcome her prior issues, but she’s developed others. Lexi is territorial now and tries to bark excessively when someone’s near the door. Her biggest issue is that she doesn’t like children. They’re too sporadic for her, and I can see that she gets nervous and stressed out trying to keep track of their movements. She's particularly bad with little boys and can go from zero to charging in a second. She’s gone after our nephews before, and though she hasn’t broken skin, it’s scary nonetheless. Fixing her child aggression is the biggest behavioural challenge for us moving forward.

What it's like to adopt an abused dog //

Can Lexi do any tricks? Does she have any funny quirks?

Predictably, Lexi didn’t know any commands when we adopted her. In three months we’ve taught her to sit, stay, lie down, shake paws, and we’re in the middle of “roll over” — literally in the middle — she rolls on her back but never quite makes it over. The cool part of training her is that I’ve taught her sign language and verbal commands, which probably isn’t really that cool but I’m proud of it anyway! The funniest quirk of Lexi’s is how often she gives me the stank leg — this girl is a sucker for a good tummy rubbing and is always trying to lure me in for a quick cuddle session.

Any other tips you can share about adopting a dog?

I’d recommend reading about characteristics of the breed of the dog you’re looking to adopt. Lexi is probably a yellow lab, beagle, and rat terrier mix. Labs shed quite a bit, and we discounted how strong that trait would be because Lexi barely shed when we were playing with her at Animal Control. We didn’t factor in that she was dirty and oily which is why her shedding seemed so minimal. Weeks later when we realized how much she actually shed, it was too late, and now we’ve learned to keep multiple lint rollers around the house :P

Do you let the dog sleep in bed with you?

As a first time dog owner, I’ve been pretty adamant about not wanting a dog in the bed. The cramped sleeping arrangements, territoriality, and overall dirtiness had me saying hell no. It’s only been a few months and I’ve already become such a sucker about this! Lexi’s still not allowed to sleep in bed with us, but we do invite her up for a quick snuggle quite regularly.

Puppy love //

FAQs about adopting an abused dog //

I hope I don't come off as preachy, but I can’t finish this post without mentioning that if you’re thinking about getting a dog, please consider adopting one before buying one. If you've got your heart set on a puppy or purebred, there are rescue groups available! It may take a bit more research and time, but there are so many abandoned dogs out there who would love the chance to prove how sweet they really can be.

Have you adopted a dog before? What was your experience like?
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

That Elusive Thing Called Balance

Lately I've been pouring a lot of energy into some new projects, which inevitably has also meant neglecting other areas of my life. 

I know that it’s been too long since my last post when it gets to the point where it feels like words are tumbling out of me and I have to write them down. It may be because it’s the start of my favourite season, because I’m gearing up to pivot/relaunch my business, or maybe it’s just because it’s been so damn long since I was last in the blogging groove, but I’m ready to step back into this online space of mine.

So… let’s catch up, shall we? It’s been four months since I moved to the States. Sometimes I feel like I’m so past the ‘I just moved to a new country thing’ because it’s not nearly as difficult an adjustment as, say, moving to Korea without knowing anyone or speaking a word of Korean. Moving from Canada to the US isn’t that big of a deal, right?

There are other times though where I’m like, damn girl, take a second to acknowledge where you are (<— talking to myself, of course). There’s obviously going to be an adjustment period with living and building a future here. Sometimes it seems like there’s still so much to do in terms of making connections all over again and feeling truly settled in. This Canadian girl now lives in a suburb outside of Nashville, TN, where I see jacked up pickup trucks, cowboy boots, and soldiers on the regular. It’s quite an interesting mix!

We’re renting a cute townhouse and I have my own home office which is pretty rad. I still need to finish decorating in there — nothing is hung on the walls and I’m failing miserably in my search for the perfect accent chairs. The space is more than functional, though, and I really do enjoy working from home. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to supplement our income with my freelance projects, but lately it’s become more apparent to me that my heart isn’t into freelance writing and editing anymore. Though I’m so grateful for the clients I’ve had, that type of work involves a lot of things that, to be honest, no longer excite me. Finishing my projects and figuring out what’s going on with me career-wise has been another big part of adjusting to life in Tennessee. Do I want to go back to full-time traditional employment, maybe something related to my degree? (I have a bachelor’s in criminology and psychology.) 

Or… should I listen to this little voice that’s telling me I could start my own business and do something that fulfills me creatively? 

Travel inspiration from

I’ve been so inspired by podcasts lately, particularly the Being Boss podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I listen to episodes in the mornings when I walk my dog and it’s a great way to start the day. I’ve turned my dreaming into planning and soon I’ll be ready to share more, I promise. In the meantime, I’m so so sorry for doing that damn blogger thing of referring to something obscure in the vague future! I think that writing about this venture is my way of putting my intentions out into the world... let’s hope good things happen :)

But, back to life as it stands right now, I’m being sensible and striving for that elusive thing called balance. I’ve decided to apply for part-time positions and build up my business on the side. I’ll see about full-time transitioning either way when/if I get there, but this is what feels right for now. 

I’m excited. In a tingly, can’t-stop-smiling kind of way, and that’s when you know it’s something really special.

This summer has been good to me, but whenever these cooler temperatures hit I’m always reminded of how much I love the fall. It’s a new season (the best season — hello layers!), a time for change, and a time for growth. 

What are you up to now that summer’s coming to its end?
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Friday, July 24, 2015

My Dentist was on The Bachelorette & other bits of life lately

Wedding Guest Outfits //

+ I’ve been a vacation pro lately. It’s a hard job to have, I know, but what’s a girl to say when family wants to come visit or friends invite you to celebrate their wedding in Canada? Yes, you say! Yes to road trips, doggy play dates, and eating bacon every day. Yes to not only going to but actually hosting the after-party even though you know that hangovers at age 28 are a two-day affair. Yes to afternoon naps and late night dancing and everything in between. Carpe diem, right? 

Vacation photo diary: Nashville, Tennessee //

+ I shot an AK47 recently. Two, in fact, plus a whole bunch of other guns. Excessive? Perhaps. Fun? You bet. My family didn't grow up around guns at all, so with my sister and cousin visiting last month, having a shooting day was first on their bucket list. 

+ As much as I’m enjoying finally being able to live in Tennessee, the summers here are no joke. It’s hot down here, a lingering, humid kind of heat, that I’m not used to on a consistent basis as a Canadian. Central AC (which we finally have now that we’ve moved into a new townhouse) is my best friend. Living in a newer place is a luxury I’m particularly grateful for as in the past I’ve always rented older apartments.

+ Lexi, our rescue dog that we adopted two months ago, has been doing so well! We took her with us on our road trip to Canada and loved introducing her to our family and friends up north. It was adorable to see her being friendly with everyone and playing with other dogs. Lexi has already overcome a lot of her barriers and quirks, but we’re still working on things (our big problem right now is how much she dislikes children). Next month I’ll be doing a full update on her and how we've been adjusting for anyone who's interested.

Funny dog photos //

+ A few weeks ago I learned that my dentist was on The Bachelorette. I haven’t watched the show since Trista and Ryan — do you remember them? The original bachelorette and the firefighter? I think they’re the only couple who’s still married from that franchise, but I care way too little to google it. Anyway, shortly after moving to Tennessee my husband and I received a promo card in the mail for a new dentist who was starting up nearby. M booked his exam first. His only feedback after the appointment? “Our dentist is exceptionally good looking.” I snorted with laughter as it’s so unlike my husband to say. “Okay hun, thanks for the heads up,” I sarcastically replied.

Next Tuesday when my appointment rolled around, I may or may not have taken a few extra minutes to put on some mascara (I’ve been using this Younique fibre mascara lately and it rocks). When I signed in with the receptionist I could tell she was eager to share some office gossip. “By the way, someone around the office might look very familiar today,” she teased.

“Umm… okay,” I replied. She looked at me expectantly. Clearly I didn’t give her the response she was wanting. “Why would this person look particularly familiar?” I offered.

Well that was all the goading she needed. “Have you heard of the TV show The Bachelorette?” the receptionist asked. She went on to tell me about Dr. Cupcake and how the staff at the office were all Team Chris. I didn’t say anything to him when we first met, but you can bet I went home and googled his ass. I watched the premiere — he showed up in a cupcake mobile! He went in first for the kiss! — and seriously debated cancelling my appointment the next week for a cavity filling. 

“I don’t know if I trust his professional judgment anymore,” I joked. But clearly I couldn’t cancel the appointment or else I’d lose my photo op, so off to the cavity filling I went. What’s a dentist appointment without photos of your hot dentist who likes to burst into song and make out on reality TV, right? 

My dentist is on The Bachelorette //

(We’re both better looking in person, I swear.)

And that's what life's been like lately.

Dr. Cupcake from The Bachelorette sobbing gif

(Sorry Chris, I had to!)
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

An Adoption Story: Our Family of Three

Yes, that is totally a clickbait title but it is in fact true — we’re so excited to announce that we’ve added a third member to our family! 

Everyone say hi to the sweetest girl with the softest ears in the world, our little Lexi.

An Adoption Story via

Lexi is a rescue pup who spent the first year and a half of her life in a wooden box. It’s hard to believe that I just typed that sentence but unfortunately there are some horrible people out there who are not fit to own pets. A neighbour reported Lexi’s abusive owner to the police after she witnessed dogs in the yard who were chained up outside throughout the entire winter. 

Animal Control was finally able to save Lexi on a cold February day. It was 12F (-11C) and Lexi was alone in a simple wooden box without any source of warmth and without any food. She had a five gallon bucket of water that was obviously completely frozen over and she was shivering so violently she had trouble standing.

Stories like hers are what made my husband and I want to adopt in the first place. Once I learned that I was moving to the States and we’d be getting a townhouse, we knew that we wanted to bring a dog into our family but we didn’t know how we wanted to do it. Going through a breeder has its advantages depending on what you’re looking for but the more I researched local rescue groups and shelters the more I knew that adoption was the right choice for us. 

Last week we decided to spend an evening at the county animal shelter. It was my first experience at the pound and I had no idea what to expect. We signed in then were free to roam the kennels by ourselves.

We stumbled upon Lexi hanging out quietly in her crate. We were immediately drawn to her energy. All the other dogs were (understandably) freaking out — pacing, whining, barking to get our attention. But there was Lexi, sitting and alert, with a tail that wagged excitedly the longer we stayed by her side. 

We could tell that she was not only shy; because of her beginnings Lexi is a scared and timid girl. It’s part of what comes with adopting a rescue dog, I suppose. We didn’t want to overwhelm her so it was perfect timing that a volunteer walked in right then (side note: the volunteers at Animal Control were so knowledgeable and passionate about their work — thank you for being awesome!). After some time hanging out with us and people that she knows, we were able to build up her trust enough to lead her outside for a short walk. Lexi warmed up to us quickly and we were thoroughly charmed by her sweetness, her story, and her eager-to-please disposition. 

Between my husband and me, I’m the more analytical one, so I was willing to visit other shelters and take some time to deliberate. Before going to the pound, we took the pressure off ourselves by agreeing that we were in no rush and wouldn’t come home with a dog that night.

Monday, April 06, 2015

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Beat the Winter Blues

3 Things You Can Do To Beat the Winter Blues (when you can't just pick up and travel)

At just about this time every year I get to a point where winter feels neverending. Gone are the days when a chill in the air is described as refreshing. Snow, once novel and pretty and dare I even say even fun, now elicits a groan when it makes yet another appearance. “But it’s so cold outside,” becomes the default answer to socializing after 7 pm. 

You know how it is. 

You get slow. You get sluggish. Somehow it becomes so much harder to come up with reasons why you should be productive and get up early and throw off those (warm and snuggly) covers with gusto every morning. 

You know what’s happening, right?

The winter blues are taking full effect.

Winter feels like a particularly long season for us northerners. When Instagram is filling up with cherry blossoms and stores are bringing in their spring lines, when the concepts of warm weather and exposed ankles don’t even seem like remote possibilities, and when you don’t have enough money or time to fly away to somewhere warm, it’s easy to fall into the winter blues. 

I don’t know about you, but after a season of grief, indecision, and feeling lost in limbo, I’m ready for spring to show its pretty face. Until it does, here are three things I do (and you can do too!) to beat the winter blues when you can’t just pick up and travel. 


This blog actually originated as a winter hobby a couple of years ago (read my first post). Over the past few winters I’ve made it a point to grasp a new skill so that my brain doesn’t become jelly after binge-watching every series I can find on HGTV (what can I say – I feel the urge to decorate my nonexistent home!). Spanish lessons, SEO techniques, photography classes, and business courses have kept me busy over the past few years. Winter is the perfect time to master something new, especially if it’s from the comfort of your own home, or try out a new hobby that’s piqued your curiosity.


What does a traveller do when they’re not travelling? Plan for future trips, of course! I am a firm believer that everyone, yes everyone, can travel. It doesn’t have to be international, it doesn’t have to be transnational, and you don’t have to do it with another person. Solo travel isn’t nearly as intimidating as people make it out to be. On those nights when all you want to do is stay curled up on your couch, put those Pinterest skills to good use and start researching somewhere that you’ve never been before. There’s always somewhere new to explore and new adventures to be had! Here are a few ideas to get you started.


This is a technique I picked up after reading The Happiness Project when I was in Utila, Honduras last year. Admittedly, I’m not as regular as I used to be but when I began this practice I’d wake up each morning and before I started my day, before I turned on my computer, before anything, I’d write out three things for which I was grateful. These days I no longer write out a list but I still take a few minutes every morning to acknowledge three good things in my life. When I move to Tennessee I’m going to start a good things jar which is basically the same concept but allows me the opportunity to read through my lists at the end of the year. Have you thought about a good things jar or gratitude journal? Seriously, you should try it. Positivity begets positivity. 

Do you also struggle with staying happy despite the long-term effects of blah weather? What are some things you do to stay on the bright side of life when the winter blues start to bring you down? 

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Secret to Making Your Long Distance Relationship Survive Long Distance

The Secret to Making Your Long Distance Relationship Survive Long Distance //

When my husband and I first started dating we were in a long distance relationship for over two years. We met in the spring before my fourth year of university when I was a student in Ottawa, Canada. I was a dreamer who was finally able to become a planner and wanted to move abroad after I graduated. A working holiday visa in New Zealand and teaching English in Korea were my top two choices. 

Little did I know that at 21 I would fall totally in love with the man I would eventually marry, and I can especially tell you that I didn’t expect him to be a US Marine who was stationed in North Carolina. The distance from Ottawa to Camp Lejeune proved to be a challenge, but one that we were able to overcome. I juggled a co-op placement and full course load while M was training full-time, but he would fly me down every month or so and we would hang out like a “normal” couple, both of us trying to enjoy the present and push away that gnawing feeling of a looming departure date. Airports were our best and worst friends.

Soon it was time to make post-graduation plans, and though we’d been in a relationship for almost a year and I loved my boyfriend, I wasn’t willing to put my travel dreams aside. M found out he was going to be deployed later that spring on a seven month anti-piracy mission. I decided to move to Korea then travel around South East Asia.

Fast forward to today: after living together for four years (and being married for two of them) somehow my husband and I find ourselves again in a long distance relationship as we wait for my US immigration visa to be approved. This time we have it easy compared to before, something I try to remind myself whenever I get discouraged – we both have access to cell phones, cheap long distance plans, reliable internet, similar timezones, and the luxury of an occasional visit. 

In all of this time of being apart from the one I love, I’ve grown to consider myself an unwilling expert in doing the long distance thing. It really does take time, effort, money, and a deep sense of partnership to nurture LDRs, but the kind of communication skills you develop are invaluable in getting to truly know your partner and building a solid foundation of trust for your relationship. 

So, what can you do to help your long distance relationship survive long distance?

3 Tips to Help Your Long Distance Relationship Survive Long Distance //


Text messages are cute and emails are great, but ideally these should supplement, not replace, your Skype/FaceTime/phone conversations. Just as you would in a “normal” relationship, connecting regularly about your day, your feelings, your plans, etc. is an important part of involving each other in your lives. If your partner is deployed, for example, and not able to interact this way, consider writing letters for him to open at a later date. I have a stack of envelopes comparable to Allie’s in The Notebook from when M was deployed. The excitement you get when you receive letters in the mail is pretty amazing, not to mention all those love notes are adorable to flip through in later years.


The same way you’d schedule one in person, put aside a block of time for a virtual date night. For some, this means syncing up your favourite TV shows and “watching” them together, for others it’s hanging out on Skype while cooking dinner and drinking wine. If you usually talk on the phone, try to turn your video on for date night so you can actually see your partner’s cute face, funny mannerisms, etc. It’s a nice treat :)


This goal, to me, is imperative to figure out before you even agree to be in a long distance relationship because what’s the point if you can’t be together in the end? On the second day that M met me he told me he’d move to Canada when his contract with the Marines ended... I just needed to wait two years. I told him he was batshit crazy. He replied that we had something special that was worth pursuing and he would do everything in his power to make that happen. Sometimes when you know, you know. 

What about you – have you ever been in a long distance relationship? What advice do you have for couples who are living apart?
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recharging My Creativity

Do you have any of those friends who you can always count on to be your cheerleader? Who always encourage you to stand taller and dream bigger? Hopefully you’re fortunate enough to have many of these people in your life. They always help me to feel happier, more empowered, and creatively inspired when we hang out.

Over the past month, I’ve been lucky to get in lots of face time with some truly awesome friends who always make life a little bit a lot more fun. 

So, as you’re reading by now you might’ve noticed that The Lifestyle Project has a brand new design! My friend Tracey, a photographer based in Ottawa who takes the most beautiful wedding and lifestyle photos, visited me last week. We inspire each other/work together really well and, as many good ideas tend to happen, we were halfway through our first bottle of wine when I mentioned to her that lately I’d been thinking about going through another blog redesign because I wasn’t feeling inspired by my site anymore.

While I was chatting away, Tracey opened up Photoshop and Illustrator and began to make the little watercolour splotches that I’d envisioned in my head come to life. Clean, modern, and fresh were words that kept getting repeated. Soon after we had a mockup for a new look, which led to creating all of the images, which led to numerous Google searches beginning with “how to…”, which inevitably led to a few “oh shit!” moments, but ended with a gorgeous and refreshed site I’m proud to call my own. (Granted, there are still a few tiny tweaks to be made, so please be patient. Sometimes done is better than perfect.)

The funny part is that undergoing a redesign wasn’t something I was expecting to tackle until later this year. That’s the thing, though, about connecting with fellow creatives – they challenge you, and inspire you, and sometimes when an idea pops up you just have to run with it even though the timing may not be perfect.

Lest you think all I did was force my friend into slave labour while she was here, we also indulged in a much-needed sushi date, pedicures, a movie night complete with pizza and wings, and went exploring with our cameras on some nature trails. 

The beauty of southeastern Ontario, Canada

Add it to your wanderlist - Ontario, Canada
Capturing the beauty of Ontario in winter
Funny story – at one point we found ourselves lost in some hilly trails where, as fate would have it, right after I took the photo above I accidentally dropped my lens cap and watched helplessly as it tumbled down the hill beneath us. It got caught in some underbrush and Tracey wasted no time – she immediately slid down the muddy slope in a hilarious but successful attempt to rescue the cap. Here’s to friends that always have your back!

Capturing laughter via

If you’re reading today’s post via email or my feed, hop on over to the site to see my updated design!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

4 Things That Will Help You Get Shit Done in Coffee Shops

4 Things That Will Help You Get Shit Done in Coffee Shops via

What to wear when you're sitting at a desk all day

Black oxford high heel booties

The idea of working from home is glorious. Not having to “get ready” in the morning, zero commute time, and the privilege of elastic-waist pants sound oh so very promising. But for those of us who get distracted easily or are prone to procrastinate, working at home (especially when you live with others) presents its own set of challenges. 

If you’re having one of those days where the concept of productivity might as well be a bubble floating in circles around your head, switching up your scenery and getting out of the house. For me, these are the days I make an effort to get dressed in “real clothes” and do my hair and makeup. If you work from home or have an employer that’s flexible with office hours, try these four tips to help you stay focused and master the art of getting shit done in coffee shops. 


My husband can totally vouch for me on this subject – I’m one of those people whose temperature fluctuates wildly in a day. One minute I’m boiling and the next I feel like the coldest person in the world. That’s why layers and a bit of stretch are so important – staying comfortable throughout the day means you can keep working away. I received this scarf as a Christmas gift and love how it’s thin enough to wear indoors but long enough to wrap around multiple times so I stay warm even in the middle of the arctic temperatures. 

Cozy mustard sweater + patterned scarf + rings
Target mustard cardigan (similar) / H&M patterned scarf (similar) / Bebe bootcut jeans 
American Eagle oxford booties via Payless (similar) 


Sometimes the "coffee shop buzz" is the perfect ambience, but other times the background noise can get too distracting (that’s when I go into people-watching mode). If the conversations around me keep catching my attention, time to pop in my earphones and retreat back to writing world. This week I’m on a Sia kick – what’s your favourite type of music to work to?


We all know that it’s important to drink lots of water throughout the day, but what do you do in coffee shops that want you to… you know, keep on buying more coffee? If they don’t have a self-serve water station, I confess: I save money by bringing my own bottle of water (or two) stashed away in my purse.


Another tip to save money while working in coffee shops is to eat before you go. Of course, if you're camping out for the entire day you're likely going to buy a meal while you're there. But if you're working for a shorter chunk of time, it's usually healthier and cheaper to make food yourself beforehand. Plus, if you’re anything like me, it’s also easier to resist the sugary treats that silently call your name from behind the counter (I can’t be the only one this happens to! haha). With a full tummy and lots of water throughout the day, you’re more likely to stay on track and keep getting shit done!
Are you a fan of working in coffee shops, and if so, what tips do you recommend to stay focused?

PS: See how I wore this mustard cardigan last fall + these black jeans for an office-appropriate look.

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

2015: Currently

Oh hello 2015! I had a hard time seeing you with a scarf wrapped around my face to save me from these brutal arctic winds. I’m happy you’re here though as I have a lot of big things planned for you. 

It’s weird to think that one year ago today I filed the first part of my US immigration visa (which I still haven’t received) and arrived in Honduras to begin a three month long backpacking adventure. January 8, 2014 was a pretty big deal! And though I’m currently  not doing anything nearly as exciting, today is still a good day, and I choose to believe that 2015 will be an even better year.  

So with that being said, let’s catch up! Here’s what I’ve been up to lately…

Skeleton Lake, Muskoka, Ontario

Scenery in Muskoka Lakes, Ontario

Black and white photography - cozy fireplace in the winter

Reading >> o-m-g I’ve been reading all the books. I love reading and it’s also been my way of coping with feelings of grief and sadness. A healthy-ish form of escapism, if you will. After Christmas my husband and I drove up north to my best friend’s cottage in Muskoka (which is a gorgeous area in Central Ontario that’s filled with lakes, wildlife, and beautiful scenery). When we weren’t playing games and drinking copious amounts of wine, I was curled up next to the toasty fireplace reading away (if you look closely in the photo above you can even see my Kindle tucked into the armchair). The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty and Wild by Cheryl Strayed are two recent novels that I enjoyed and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is next on my list.

Binge watching >> House of Lies, which I only just realized is like a “brother show” to House of Cards. Both are Netflix, both are raunchy, and both have powerful male protagonists who do the time out thing and address the audience directly. If you like Don Cheadle (and who doesn’t), you just found yourself a new show to watch over the winter season.

Smelling >> a new candle that I got for Christmas from Bath & Body Works. It’s called Ocean Driftwood and has a musky, masculine scent that reminds me of my husband. 

Looking >> at all the silly photos that were snapped over the holidays. I’m so blessed to have the best group of girlfriends and such a supportive family.

Making >> an official business plan (thanks Regina for these tools).

Feeling >> how chapped my lips are because of the cold!

Playing >> the Kings of Leon album “Only by the Night.” It reminds me of my university days.

Missing >> my friends and family in Tennessee. I think I’ll be getting my green card and moving to the States some time in February.

Dreaming >> about getting a puppy when my husband and I are finally settled in together! We’re thinking medium-sized, medium-energy, and hypo-allergenic. Any suggestions? Currently a mini golden doodle is at the top of my list, but we’re totally open to adopting too.

Remembering >> my first day of kindergarten. I made this ornament twenty-something years ago and my parents still put it on the Christmas tree every year. Look at that hair!

DIY Christmas ornament for young children

Enjoying >> late mornings and a quiet house.

Drinking >> water, water, and more water. Trying to be healthy blah blah blah.

Eating >> fruit, fruit, and more fruit. See above.

Thinking >> about this recent blog post from Kathleen about choosing 2015. I really connect with the idea of being intentional and choosing how we’re going to carry on with our lives every day instead of just shuffling through the week.

Wanting >> to go snowboarding soon! It’s been two years since my last ride and I can’t tell you how much I miss that feeling of coasting through fresh powder. I want to make the most of this winter (but… not right now. I'll wait for these temperatures to calm down). 

What’ve you been up to in the first days of 2015? 

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Why I Decided to Get a Job After I Started Freelancing

Every week when Friday rolls around, I get much too ambitious about how much work I think I can accomplish that weekend. I’m going to clean the bathroom (including the tub!), go on a long walk, write a blog post or two, update my business plan, achieve inbox zero (yeah right) and watch only that one hip documentary that teaches me something so it’s practically educational instead of just bingeing on Netflix, right?

When I realize how easy it would be to check everything off my to do list if I actually just focused and made shit happen, I decide to bribe myself into my weekend of productivity by starting with an incentive of sorts. The documentary on Netflix, naturally.

So here we are emerging on Monday with this blog post being one of the few things I have to show for this weekend (unfortunately going down the TV rabbit hole and all those hours spent watching The Good Wife and analyzing whether Julianna Margulies gets botox don’t seem to count). 

Funny gif: The Good Wife
For the record, this is exceptional eyebrow/forehead movement
Anyway, I’m happy I made myself sit down at a proper desk and get back to blogging. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve last posted here and, if there’s anything I’ve learned as a writer, it’s that it’s much easier to produce content when you’re in the habit of writing daily instead of waiting for the perfect moment of inspiration to strike.   

Last month I mentioned that I started a new job. It’s a seasonal merchandising position that has me working up to 30 hours a week as I wait for my green card for the US to be processed (no update yet). It’s nice to have some guaranteed cash flow during the holiday season, the job isn’t stressful, and I figured it looks good on my immigration application that I was able to land a position so quickly after returning to Canada. It’s important to look employable, right?

I wrapped up my latest freelance project last week and I think that’s the last one I’ll take on for 2014. I want to spend the rest of the year looking introspectively at what I’ve accomplished as a solopreneur and planning where I need to adjust so I build my business in 2015.

At a certain point we can all acknowledge that work is work, but it makes a huge difference in perspective and motivation when I’m doing that work for myself. If I don’t hustle, nobody else will. I love being passionate about what I do, but I need to take some time and plan my next moves. My ultimate goal is to become entirely self-employed (which doesn’t sound as ludicrous in blog world as it seems to in “real life”), but I have a lot of work to do before that happens.

Even though this seasonal position is taking up a solid chunk of my time, it’s also given me the proverbial kick in the pants to continue pursuing all the ideas I have buzzing around in my brain.

Inspirational quote: Don't downgrade your dream
via Rachel Gadiel

And since this blog is the telling of not only my projects but my life as well, I’d be remiss not to mention that from a personal perspective I’m still struggling with moments of grief after losing my grandmother in November. Just as I’m writing this post, The Prayer by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion, the same song that was played during her funeral, came on the radio. For some reason it was followed up by Puff Daddy’s I’ll Be Missing You, which I feel is a private cosmic joke because how can you still be sad when Puff Daddy pre-Diddy is rocking the mic. You can’t, that’s how. 

Sometimes you just have to smile. 
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