follow friday - can you stay for dinner

I find that whenever I'm going through something in my life, the thing that helps me through those challenges is to connect with other people who are also going through the same (or similar) challenges.  

Currently, my challenge is getting healthy.  I don't think that I'm an overly unhealthy person, but I believe that there's always room for improvement.

I don't believe that getting healthy should be negative; I don't want to focus on what I'm depriving myself of (which is nothing, by the way) or stay chained to the scale.  I don't want to be on a crazy "diet" or to kill myself in the gym every single day.  I want to do things that make me happy AND healthy.  I want to embrace my curvy, womanly body - not hide it.

That's why I love the blog Can You Stay for Dinner so much.  This woman, Andie is so positive about living a healthy lifestyle.  I connect with her journey on so many levels and she's truly an inspiration.

Check her out.  She also has some drool-worthy recipes and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.


how to: survive nablopomo

I have to be honest.  I'm kind of really happy that November is almost over.  Not that I don't love it, but by the end of the month, blogging every day gets a little challenging.  Ok, a lot challenging.  So, I figured that I'd share with you my tips on how to survive NaBloPoMo.  Here it goes:


Before November even started, I started scheduling my posts.  You know how whenever you would have to write a paper in highschool or university, you'd always start with an outline?  Well, this is no different.  I like to see what the plan it - what I'm going to be writing about for the month.  It's still organic though; not written in stone.  The outline is just a guideline, it's constantly changing.


Sunday Suppers.  Wordless Wednesdays.  Follow Fridays.  These are the "theme days" that I use during NaBloPoMo (and the rest of the year!) and I find that they really help me out.  They take the pressure off of deciding what to blog about that day.  Plus, the Wordless Wednesdays are a nice way to let your pictures do the taking.  It's an easy blogging day.


Here's my secret: I don't blog every day.  Sure, there's a new blog post each day in November, but I don't sit down and write every day.  I write in chunks; two or three posts at a time.  It's what works for me.  It allows me to have days "off", yet still get all my posts done.  I just schedule the posts to auto-post on the days that I want.  I don't think I could do NaBloPoMo without this.


The whole idea behind NaBloPoMo (and blogging!) is to have fun!  Don't take it too seriously.  If you miss a post, don't worry about it, it happens to the best of us.  Relax and have fun!


travel recap - rome (day 3)

Our third day in Rome was a bittersweet one.  It was our last day in Europe.  The next day we would make our trek home to Vancouver and back to reality.

Determined to make the most of the short time that we had left on the continent, we decided to get up early to squeeze in a few sights before our reservation at the Vatican Museum: the Spanish Steps and the former Roman Baths.

As our hotel was so close to the Spanish Steps, we walked the few blocks to the top of the steps.  Even though the steps themselves are nothing really spectacular to see, we decided that it would be a good opportunity to slow down and drink in the last moments of Rome.  We wandered down the steps and stopped along the way to take a few pictures.  At the bottom of the steps, we did some browsing in the shops and then boarded the metro to take us to the Roman Baths.

 We knew before going that the Roman Baths wouldn't be as impressive as the Colosseum or the ancient ruins of the Forum, however, we decided that they were an "easy" sight to take in.  After a little searching, we entered the church, which used to be the Roman Baths.  You had to use your imagination, however, you really could picture the naked Romans lazing around in the baths.  It was a pretty beautiful church too.

After we were done at the Baths we needed some lunch.  Since all the was around the Baths was a McDonald's, we decided that we'd take the Metro out to Vatican area and grab a bite to eat there.  To keep me from getting too hungry, Hubby bought me a piece of fresh coconut - that made me happy beyond words.

After getting a bite to eat and eating a couple scoops of gelato, we headed to the Vatican Museum to make our reservation.  I have to admit, by this point in the trip we were kind of over museums.  However, we decided to take a leisurely stroll through the museum to view the amazing collection.  I still can't believe the collection of paintings, sculptures, and other valuables that the Catholic church has amassed over the years; it's too impressive for words.

All through the museum there were signs pointing the way to the Cappella Sistina (the Sistine Chapel). Even all the "hype" through the museum, and the iconic pictures that I've seen of it over the years couldn't have prepared me for the magnitude of its beauty.  Words can't even describe it.  How that ceiling was painted is incomprehensible.

 After we finished at the museum, we decided that we need a little break.  So, we took a quick trip into St. Peter's Basilica and then hopped on the metro back to our hotel.

Back at our hotel we changed and headed downstairs for some pre-dinner cocktails.  A couple of other hotel guests had recommended a nearby restaurant, so Hubby and I decided to check it out for our last dinner in Rome (and Europe).

We couldn't have picked a better place to eat.  It was friendly, the food was fabulous, and it was the perfect place to celebrate our last night in Europe and reflect on our vacation.  During dinner we talked of all the places we visited, and the adventures that we encountered.  We also talked of everything that we were excited about coming home to: our own bed, our friends and family, and our kitty cats.  We sipped the prosecco and lemoncello and promised ourselves that this first trip would not be our only visit to Europe.

After dinner, we weren't quite ready to head in for the night and decided to make one last visit to the Colosseum.  We wanted to see it glowing against the darkness of the night sky; to soak up the last precious moments.

After our visit was complete and we decided to make our way back to the hotel, I sat in the metro station silently thinking about our trip and how far we'd come - not just in distance, but also in our relationship.

This trip had been more than a trip; it was a chance for us to re-connect.  Not that we were dis-connected, but life just seems to go by so quickly sometimes that it was good for us to be able to spend three whole weeks together, just enjoying us.  We were now closer than ever; we felt more connected.

We learned that together, as a team, we can overcome any obstacles that we are faced with: sickness, language barriers, navigating the confusing roads of the French countryside, catching trains, planes, and cabs.  These were all smaller versions of challenges that we'll face in our life together; we just need to work together and we'll conquer them eventually.

We connected with family and realized, more than ever, that it's not "stuff" that makes you happiest in life; it's your experiences, and the people that you share those experiences with, that will truly give you a fulfilling life.

We learned to slow things down, to stop and enjoy a cold glass of prosecco, or a cup of coffee and a freshly-baked croissant.  It's those small moments that make you appreciate "the moment".

We experienced new and different things; we met new people; we learned to be thankful that we're able to live such a blessed life.  And we can't wait to go back again.


travel recap - rome (days 1 and 2)

We were fortunate to spend our third wedding anniversary in Italy.  We awoke in our room in Venice so sad to leave, but so excited to visit the last stop of our vacation: Rome.

We showered, packed, checked-out, and grabbed the vaperetto to the train station.  We lugged our luggage up the steps, and turned around to get one last glimpse of the beautiful city.  I can honestly say that our hearts were a little heavy, as we didn't know when we'd return to this magical place again.

Once we were on the train, we snuggled into our seats and were ready for our few hours' journey to the eternal city.  Just before the train left the station, another couple asked us if we would mind if they sat with us - being the nice Canadians that we are, we said that we'd be more than happy to share with them.  Actually, as it turned out, they were also from Canada.  We shared some prosecco with them, and talked the whole time until they disembarked in Florence.  They were very entertaining and made our train ride a little more fun.


sunday suppers - turkey corn chili

Let me guess, when you think of football the next thing you think of is probably food and most of all: chili.


saturn return

"Saturn return is...an alleged phenomenon which is described as influencing a person's life development at 27 to 29 or 30-year intervals. These intervals or "returns" coincide with the approximate time it takes the planet Saturn to make one orbit around the sun. It is believed by astrologers that, as Saturn "returns" to the degree in its orbit occupied at the time of birth, a person crosses over a major threshold and enters the next stage of life. With the first Saturn return, a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood. With the second return, maturity. And with the third and usually final return, a person enters wise old age."
Source: Wikipedia

I feel like I'm in a really strange stage of my life right now, as I'm entering my 27th year.

I'm at a really strange point in my career.  Outgrowing my current position, but not yet quite ready for the next.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to take on the challenge of being a parent, but I ache to be a mom.

I'm on the precipice of my first Saturn return; I'm moving from childhood into adulthood. But right now I don't quite fit into either stage; I'm in between.  There are so many changes on my horizon, but I'm not sure if I'm ready for them.  I'm. Scared. To. Death. I'm scared of the unknown.  I guess this is all just part of growing up.


follow friday - what's hanging

I love clothes and shopping.  I mean, what girl doesn't love clohes and shopping?

This is why I love Robyn's What's Hanging blog.  Robyn is the QUEEN of putting together stylish and affordable outfits.  She makes it look so effortless and inspires me to have another look at all the clothes I own and try and match different pieces together to create new and fresh outfits.

Added bonus?  Robyn is also participating in NaBloPoMo!

what's hanging in my closet
Inspired by Robyn, I put this outift together for my firm's upcoming holiday party.  I don't have a lot of red in my closet, so that's the main reason that I gravitated towards this dress.  Plus, I love the fact that the cranberry colour is perfect for the holidays.  I also love the touches of glam that the sparkle-y belt and gold shoes give the outfit.  Ces't parfait!

dress: Top Shop  tights: H&M  shoes: Nine West  belt: Dynamite


eight days

Only eight more days.

Only eight more days until the 'mo gets shaved. #movember

Only eight more days until I no longer have to blog every.  Single.  Day. #nablopomo

Only eight more days until a new David's Tea shop opens right beside my work. #obsessed

The countdown is ON!


america, eff ya

Oh, America.

The land of the free.  The land of the brave.  And the land of the discount shopping.

This past weekend, my mom and I went on a girls' shopping trip down to the states.  This usually consists of shopping until we're exhausted, eating at the olive garden, and searching for new and fun foods to bring back to our boys in Canada.

It was a great weekend filled with quality mother/daughter time.  I needed it.  It was nice to re-charge with my mommy.


travel recap - venice (day 3)

On our third day in Venice, we decided to take a trip out to the Island of Murano; the Island famous for its beautiful glass work.

We hopped on the vaperetto and sailed out to the nearby Island. Once we got off, we started exploring the hundreds of glass shops in search of some beautiful gifts to bring home to our family. We strolled though the streets, hand in hand, and admired the beautiful work. The vases, jewellery, and chandeliers were all too beautiful for words. I dream that we will have a Murano glass-chandelier in our home one day - but for now they're out of our price range.

We finally decided on some purchases to bring home and conversed with some of the local shop-owners. A necklace and bracelet for Grandma S, a bowl for our Parisian hosts, and a pair of earrings for me - little tokens of a city we hold so dear to our hearts.


sunday suppers - mushroom risotto

Hubby and I miss Europe. We want to go back, like, right now. Almost every day one of us will say "I miss Europe, let's go back tomorrow". Sigh. If it were only that easy.


travel recap - venice (days 1 and 2)

We awoke at 3 am in our hotel room in Munich.  Half asleep we showered, dressed, and packed our bags ready to travel to Italy.  We stopped by Mom and Oma's room to say our goodbyes, called a cab, and headed to the airport.  It was bitterly cold in Munich that day, with the first fog of the season rolling in.

We arrived at the airport, checked in for our flight, had some coffee and played cards, and soon boarded our plane.  Before we knew it, we were up in the air over the Dolomite Alps, and even sooner we touched down in Venice.

As we walked down the steps of the plane, we could immediately smell the salty, ocean air; so comforting for those of us that live near the ocean.  We got inside the airport, grabbed our bags, and waited to board our bus that would take us into the heart of Venice.


follow friday - adventures in paris

Ever since returning from Europe a little while ago, I find myself dreaming of Paris.  Out of all the cities  that we visited, Hubby and I both agreed that Paris is the city that we would most like to live in.  Paris is such a beautiful city; with amazing architecture everywhere you go and a certain easy elegance that you can't help but admire.  I love this city.

My love for this city is why I love the blog Adventures in Paris so much.  It's written by an American girl who has moved to the city of light and the adventures she encounters in doing so.

on my own adventure in paris


homemade cleaning supplies

For a while now I've been wanting to try my hand at making my own, natural cleaning supplies. Something about clenaing our home with chemicals and cancer-causing ingredients just didn't sit well with me. So, when I needed to mop our floors this past weekend, and I realized that I didn't have any floor cleaner on hand, I decided that now would be a good time to give this a whirl.

I found a recipe on Pinterest for a "heavy duty floor cleaner". Perfect. Thanks, Pinterest!

I found that this worked so well that I wanted to try other stuff.  So I tried a tub/shower cleaner recipe that also works great.  Both recipes are below if you're interested.


I love this recipe.  I found that it didn't give my floors that nice shine (my tile turned out dull), but they just feel so clean underfoot that I'm willing to live with dull, but super-clean, floors.

1/4 cup bakings soda
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon dish soap
2 gallons hot tap water

Combine all ingredients in a bucket.  Mop away.


This takes not time at all to make, and it's so easy to use.  I keep it in my shower and just clean in while I'm in there on the weekends.  That way, it takes no time at all to keep our showers and tub looking spotless!  Note that the wand you buy should not be one with an abrasive pad, otherwise, you'll ehnd up with scratches on your tub and/or shower.

1 soap-dispensing dish wand
white vinegar
dish soap

Fill the wand half and half with vinegar and soap.  To use, wet the surface, scrub, and rinse.  It's that easy!


how to: organize

I'll be the first one to admit being a total organization freak.  Seriously.  You have no idea how excited I was when I recently bought some under-bed storage bins from IKEA.  They basically made me as happy as I was on my wedding day.  I. Am. A. Loser.

Hubby went away for a weekend a little while ago and left me home all alone; what did I do?  I organized our office/guest room.  It was one of the best weekends of my life. 

all the clothes from my dresser - in a large pile
While thinking about my love and appreciation for organizing, I came to the realization that not everybody shares my love for this wonderful thing.  I know, it really shook my world too.  How could somebody not love organizing?!?  I think that people don't like it, or find it annoying, because it can be very overwhelming.  I get it.  There's a lot of stuff.  Where do you even begin?  Let me break it down for you!


travel recap - munich (day 2)

I have mixed feelings about our second day in Munich, for this was the day that we visited the Dachau concentration camp.

remains of the train rails that brought the prisoners into the camp
Hubby, my brother, and I took a train and then a public bus out to the camp. When we got there, everything was eerily quiet. Despite the many, many visitors, all you could hear was was wind in the trees, and the gravel crunching underneath the feet of those paying their respects to the lives lost.

the sign on the camp's entrance door: work will make you free
We started by wandering around for a little while and then took in a short video at the camp's theatre room.  There were many moments in the video where there was nothing but silence and horrifying footage on the screen.  There are images that I saw that I will never, ever be able to forget.


sunday suppers - penne rosa and meatballs

Boys' nights.  Are these a thing in your house?  They are in mine.  They're exactly what you think they are; Hubby gets dressed up and goes out with the boys for a Saturday night on the town.


travel recap - kaltenbach (day 5) and munich (day 1)

Black Forest from the tower
 We woke up late on our fifth day in Germany to a cold, drizzle-y day in the Black Forest.  A little hung over, and a little sad that this was our last day in Kaltenbach, we had a quiet morning together.

map on top of the tower showing all the towns
 After lunch, Oma said that she'd like to take us to "hike the Blauen"; specifically, a tower on top of the Blauen mountain in the Black Forest.  At first, I didn't climb up the observation tower - I preferred to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.  Sure, it doesn't look like it's that high up, but it was.  And the observation tower was built in 1895 - I didn't really trust it, to be honest.