Monday 5 December 2016

The end of an era as we know it.

My house is officially sold. Papers signed, 10 lbs lost thanks to pure adrenaline and stress of "pretty please go through", and she's a done deal. The Princess Palace, my first real taste of adulthood, well she's officially someone else's now. Someone else will make memories in her, deal with and form relationships with all their new interesting neighbors, learn the art of being seen by strata yet not heard, and wrestle with the shower faucet that always squealed until you wiggled it with juuuust the right amount of pressure. 

And you know somethin? For the last few months/year, this place has been the thorn in my side something fierce. Not enough room, too dark, too hot, we live in a fishbowl, too this not enough that - you  name it, we have felt it for this place. Now that we have less than two weeks here? I'll be damned if it's not the cutest place I ever did see. The white shutter door that opens up to our storage under the stairs? It's darling. The paint color with the shade of flooring is so modern and cute, and the kitchen is so quaint! It's like the day before you chop your hair off, and you have the best hair day in months. 

I mean, all I have to do is try to find parking on a busy night, or have a mega grocery shop that entails me making the never ending trip from the car, up the stairs and to the front door to remind me why I'm leaving; however that's not how I'm going to remember this little place years from now. It'll be the cutest condo that I tell our future kids about when they ask about the houses we used to live in. It'll be the spot that from our bedroom window in the mornings, we could count deer on the mountain more often than not, and where I learned many a thing, from how to make baseboard heaters work again (boot it real hard) and how to not hang pictures - my lifelong ban from Jake is well deserved.

This place will hold so many amazing, heartwarming memories for me. It serves its purpose beautifully, and I will always think of it so fondly. But man alive am I relieved, thrilled and beyond excited to set it free and begin our new journey, whatever that may be. 

*these photos were taken by the amazing Jenna Myers of jmy photography - these were taken back in the summer when it was sweltering in my place and I would currently trade gladly. I love that I have these photos to remember what this house encapsulates so perfectly and will continue to for many years: my early-mid twenties, when everything was still perky ;) just (kinda) kidding, these pictures are a treasure of my soon to be "old stomping grounds". 

Thursday 29 September 2016

Achieving Balance

Well, this month is almost over. Hot damn did that fly by! I'm almost not ready to be done yet, as much as I want cake..
I raised well over my goal, I "broke" a time or two. I craved, bargained, and eventually got over my intense craving for cream cheese icing. I created new, fantastic habits ("ugh, you mean you're going to keep eating tofu after this?!" - ever the supportive boyfriend, Jake). I hopefully encouraged good changes in a few people, or atleast made putting your health & well being first in their minds. But what did I receive the most from this month? I learned the art of Balance. Beautiful, freeing, sweet balance.
This meal sounded so much better in my head, but as it turns out, there IS such a thing as too much curry paste. ;)

Something I obviously haven't shared with many is that I have struggled with disordered eating since I was 13. Struggled hard. Sometimes it has won, sometimes I have won. There has been a constant voice in my head telling me how food is the enemy, that I need to limit what I'm eating because I haven't exercised for a while. That even though I enjoyed the fuck out of that burger, I need to obsess and feel guilty about it for the next day or so - while attempting to "balance" out the calories that dirty burger had by depriving myself the next day. That feeling "full" is wrong, and should be avoided. Somewhere down the line in puberty, food became enemy #1 in my psyche. Poor food, what did it ever do to deserve such villainizing!? It's a very real, very constant struggle. One that I have long battled and attempted numerous times to find the magic switch to make it go away, not realizing it isn't that easy. To be very honest, when I told my mom I was doing this month long challenge, she was incredibly supportive.. Until I told her it was centered around food. She was not all that keen about me doing anything that included the word "challenge" with food and me, because she is very aware of how quickly that could become restrictive and toxic. And she wasn't wrong. Her concerns were very warranted, because it not only crossed my mind; in fact, the idea of restricting myself for an entire month for a healthy, charitable purpose.. Excited me. 

However, to my own bewilderment, I surprised myself. As I ate healthier and cleaner, it wasn't the restricting that excited me, it was how good I felt. Amazing even. Food is making me feel good?! Since when did that happen. I didn't want to restrict myself anymore because eating all of this nutritious, good food was making me feel vibrant, and energetic, passionate! And happy. The often glaring, abrasive, loud voice became smaller and smaller. She was replaced with a voice that loved me, that loved the healthy habits she was seeing replacing ones that had enveloped me for too long. She encouraged me, kept that good feeling going, patted me on the back and told me "it's okay, don't beat yourself up; you'll do better next week" when I ate terribly in Vegas. She's the one who replaced the thought of "you need to go for a run to burn off those calories from yesterday" with "remember how great you felt after that run last week?! Remember how your anxiety went away?? Let's do that again" 

This is a very personal post for me to write. I've written and deleted something like this about 10x in the span of this blog. I have wanted to share it, but sharing your very personal secret in this space is hard. It's something I hold dear to me, because it's a vulnerability I haven't wanted to allow others to know about. In telling my story, I've now ensured it no longer has a hold on me; I'm free. The thing with a secret is when you figure out that you're stronger than it is, it no longer has a hold on you. I am not sitting here on my high horse thinking I'm "cured"; but damn it, I've come farther this month than I have in years, and for that I am fucking proud. 

And so, this month has allowed me to finally find & actively pursue the balance in 80/20, with no guilty feelings left over. In eating healthy, nutritious, clean and green foods 80% of the time, you give room for and enjoy the" dirty", fun, delicious 20% of treating yo self - the ice cream dates, the big fat cinnamon buns; the juicy burger & a beer on a Friday night. It's okay to indulge, in fact it's healthy. The balance in knowing that being active because it's good for my body (& is basically free therapy), and knowing that when I "eat the rainbow" and spend time in the kitchen whipping up fun, healthy filling meals, it allows me to fully enjoy the treats that would have left me wracked with feelings of self hatred, insecurity and feeling like a failure for being human

This challenge has changed me. Never will I take my own health for granted. Never will I let my friends and family take their health for granted - quite simply I love them too much to let them. And never will I talk to myself in any other tone but one of love, as though I would my very best friend. 

And with the wrapping of this month, I implore you to do a few things for yourself:    

1. Make an appointment with your doctor. Get a full blood panel, smear (or cough and squeeze boys ;) ), and make sure everything is in tip top condition. Your body does a lot for you, you owe it this. 
2. Be kind to yourself. There is enough outside in this world to tear you down, the voice inside your head needent be one more. 
3. Make some healthy changes yourself. It takes 21 days to make a habit. Replace one you've been meaning to with something beneficial. 

As always, thank you for reading, and allowing my voice to be heard.


Friday 9 September 2016

Week 2, how do you do?

Well it’s officially week 2 of 4 into my September Challenge. I am already almost at my month’s end goal, and I no longer want to kill someone over the sight of a chocolate bar – or put it in my mouth with the wrapper on just to imagine eating it... Not that I did that when my super supportive boyfriend brought home a kit kat or anything... This brings me to my first point of what I’ve learned from this challenge: sugar withdrawals are reeeeal and there is added sugar in damn near everything! I have a sweet tooth for sure, but I naively figured that since I’m not a candy addict or a junk food fanatic, my sugar cravings would be minimal. False. On day 3 they came in fast and furious, and I wanted everything. White sheet cake, chocolate, candy, pop, cream cheese frosting, everything. Even slushies, which I haven’t had the slightest interest in for probably 10 years now looked AMAZING. Jake had a Dr. Pepper in the car on our way somewhere (like I said, either super supportive or just Mr. Miyagi-ing me to be stronger than my willpower generally is), and I literally just sniffed it to get my fix. Thankfully I didn’t get raging sugar headaches like you hear can happen – thank GOD – so I was just crabby. Or if you ask Jake, really crabby. But by about day 6 they were gone. I mean I’m not going to lie to you, I still want cream cheese frosting on top of a big fat cinnamon bun, but I can wait until October 1st now. Or vegan hack a healthy version to satisfy me. I feel as though it’s been half wanting what you can’t have, half detoxing some crud out of my system. Regardless I survived, as did my boyfriend. 
Now that I've survived the detox period? I feel fantastic !! So much energy, and overall just feel light and healthy. Honestly, it's a fucking awesome feeling and I know going forward that processed food is going to be a minimal staple in this house. The way I feel without it is just too good to give up.

We are house-sitting for my parents this month while they embark on an RV adventure, so it’s actually been divine timing as they have roughly 600x the kitchen space that we do, and for this month I’ve quickly learned that food prep is key to success. Making salad bowls or glory bowls (basically a salad with some kind of grain as well) three days at a time has been not only fun, it’s been massive for making the difference to avoid the dreaded:  “ugh, what do I eat today!?” I’m going to Vegas next weekend,so carbo loading on breads to fill me up isn’t exactly preferable when I’ll be donning a bikini for 3 days straight. This means pre-cutting veggies, hard boiling eggs and washing all of the fruits have been my savior. Not to mention, I friggin just love food prepping. I’m an absolute tornado when I’m in the midst of it, but afterwards I feel beyond accomplished and ready to tackle the week, without being hungry.

Just look at that gorgeous organization of color! Just. Look. At. It. 

I have pin pointed a couple die hard favorite items that I've had every day, as well as a little trick for ridding your body of crap - literally & figuratively. But mostly literally. 

First, what I love. Little Creek Dressing, I have been putting that shit on everything. Once I found out it had no added sugar (PHEW) it has become my staple. One thing to learn when you're not eating processed foods is that fat is NOT BAD. Healthy, good fats help keep you satisfied, and they are required for your body to function. So when you look at the label and go "oh shit ! 75 calories per tablespoon?!" Remember that those are HEALTHY fats and your body loves them. As will your taste buds. Cut it in half with lemon juice and it's just a god damn flavour party in your mouth. 

Second thing I love? Sautéed tofu. Jake thinks I am nuts and refuses to try it (so far, muahaha) but it is really delicious. Sauté it with braggs and garlic and I can't get enough. 

Now, on to my tip for the week. Healhy fiber is your friend, right? Right. Well, fiber is only your friend when you have enough water involved for it to do its job. To help it sweep it's way out so to speak. Otherwise fiber is your gut's worst enemy - tmi? Oh well, #everybodypoops. And when I haven't pooped in a few days, it comes out in a real shitty attitude ;). I have been taking a liquid magnesium, calcium and vitamin d supplement before bed, and before I have my coffee in the morning I have a glass of warm water & real lemon - let me TELL YA, hallelujah !! You will never need a laxative again in your life if you include these two procedures in your day to day. Thank me later.  

Friday 2 September 2016

Last step is acceptance.

For the month of September, I am embarking on a journey that is 100% in the name of bringing awareness and funds to cervical cancer research through the BC Cancer Foundation. I’m embarking on a month long healthy living challenge, including going vegetarian for the month, as well as ramping up my exercise & eliminating processed foods and sugar – unless it’s from a fruit. Myself & an amazing group of ladies are using our voices & social media presence to bring attention to a very worthy cause - go us! #GirlPower, right? There’s more to this, and I urge you to check out my campaign page to hear about all the details, and to pledge a donation if you feel so inclined. Check it out, here Thus far, it has been fun to be creative and avoid the easy option of meat. Keeping my protein levels up has been a bit more difficult, but that just means that more experimenting in the kitchen is called for: my favorite hobby. A challenge like this can’t be too hard when I’ll clearly be reaping the rewards of my hard work, right?

Well, mostly. If you have been following me for a while, you know that I like healthy eating, healthy baking and just health in general. However, there is a girl who lives inside of me, she’s a bit more, curvaceous, shall we say. And she, LOVES shit food. Fucking loves it. Cake in the office? Well, you know who’s starting the train on grabbing a slice or two. Donuts? Forget about it, half the time I’ve eaten two before I even realize what’s happened. Jake ordered poutine, and I ordered a side salad? As if I’m not going to steal a fry or 10. So, while this challenge is rewarding and I feel fantastic, those cravings are still very much there. Very, very much so. The poor girl, I rarely let her eat what she wants and have brain-washed her to think Zoodles are just as good as white pasta, if not tastier. They’re not, we both know it and it’s a serious source of contention for her. Let’s call her, Bitter Betty. 

So last night, I’m looking for something sweet. Something a bit more substantial than a banana or some strawberries, but also didn’t want to veer into the easy choice of toast with cinnamon & earth balance. So I’m rummaging through my pantry and this bag, lights up in the corner of my eye. It has a sunshine on the bag, and it’s looking hella fine. Like, just begging me to take a walk on the wild side and indulge. 

What were the contents of the bag?

God damn Prunes. Yep, the fruit that makes you shit. The fruit that every grandmother keeps in juice form in the fridge. The juice my mother fed me as little infant because I couldn’t manage to poop properly, which led to the infamous McDonalds diaper blow-out of 1990. How the hell they got into my house, in a COSTCO sized bag no less, I have no idea. But before I knew it, I was eating one. And it was satisfying! And then I ate another. And another. 4 down, and my sugar craving was gone, I was satisfied, and speechless.

So, the transition is now complete. I go to sleep at 9:30, I lecture my friends on the importance of health & wellness, I mutter at teenagers and judge their poor outfit choices while I’m driving, and now I eat prunes as a desert like snack. It’s been joked about in the past, and now it is absolutely official: I am Brianne Elizabeth Lutz, the world’s youngest (and childless) grandmother. Nice to meet ya. 

Friday 15 July 2016

To the house that helped me grow.

A love letter, to the house that saw me grow into the woman I am today. 

Jeeze, I'm closer to 30 than I am 17, and yet it still feels so weird to call myself a woman. Like I haven't achieved that title fully yet. Anyone else? Moving on.. 

We all have those periods in our lives, where you look back on now and go wow, have I ever grown since that time. There's the obvious ones: childhood, adolescence, the devil known as puberty, high school graduation, and so forth. Well, what about the stages in life that make you grow, but aren't "landmark"? Those periods that twist you and turn you and mold you into a completely different person? Looking back on myself when I was 18, I'm (THANK GOD) not that person anymore. But looking back at who I was when I was 21, she's like a whole other lifetime to me, too.

We listed my condo this week. The condo I bought when I was just a little baby adult at 21. that was purchased with the help of my parents, and with the help of my late grandmother. It saw me get my first "real job", it saw me unexpectedly unemployed and panicking on how to make ends meet (hint, thank god for serving). It saw me break free from a relationship that wasn't working for anyone, and in those months that followed, it saw me really find my independence and my own voice. I never expected that I would live alone alone ever, but this house and I did it. We paid every bill on time by ourselves, we never asked for help. Sometimes we ate popcorn for dinner, but in the end we did it. I did it. The baby child who doesn't like getting dirty or putting in the hard work, it saw me work hard. But since Jake moved in, well, this little house that could has been outgrown by us. We're yearning to close this chapter in our lives to see how it looks to be real adults with a yard that our future babies can play in. Plus, we want a big fur baby, real bad.

But when I stop and think about this house, it is so bittersweet for me to leave it.
A little 5 year piece of my soul is in these walls, through the laughter and tears, the many many happy memories and some of the different heartbreaks the walls have seen.

 Making a leap from the comfort to the unknown is always scary, and I just want to say: thank you house, thank you for teaching me to get by on my own, thank you for proving that I can. Thank you for not having a dishwasher because damn, I don't think I'll love an appliance more now that I've washed roughly 641,728 dishes by hand. Thank you for not having ac anywhere other than the living room, it made for some great, unbearably hot Okanagan summer forts come August. Thank you for the neighbors we really don't like across the fence, it made for entertaining people watching when they took their embarassing domestics outside. Thank you for the glorious vine that no matter how many times the landscapers got rid of, it came back in all its majestic form.
Thank you for the unreal tattletale strata committee I got lucky enough to be a part of, it taught me the benefits of biting my tongue and picking my battles. Honestly though, no thank you to that god awful lighting you have in the kitchen - that shit is horrific. 

To the house that I hold so much love for in my heart and will think back on you so fondly. Do me a solid and fucking sell - k? 

Tuesday 3 May 2016

What I wore Tuesday.. Only 3 years later.

Well well well, it's been a while hasn't it? What's new with you? Here's what's new with me:
  1. I got a cat.. Well, inherited, really. She hates me. Okay doesn't hate, but only tolerates me at best, but definitely isn't gonna be cuddling on me anytime soon. Remember when I figured I needed a furry, no nonsense friend named Henry? Yah, not so much. It's a work in progress. I'll post about her soon, little sassy pants deserves her own post. 
  2. House Reno's are underway, and part 1 was completed with minimal damage and f bombs - just kidding my dad had to come in and touch up everywhere I hit my ceiling, which turned out was a lot, and it sounded like a sailor's bar up in here. But we did it, and it's definitely renewed my love for this place. Can't wait to start part 2, aka watch Jake install new countertops & update our tile! He wouldn't let me help with that even if I tried ;) 
    One of my favourite (two) updates to the house: the little accent shelf behind me that used to be a blank and boring wall, and THIS amazing mirror that my parents had in their house that I have LONGED FOR for over a decade. They recently moved and their new decor didn't have room for a gold (I KNOW), Art Deco-esque mirror. Lucky for me, they had two. But I mean, not excited about it at all. 
  3. I got a new job! And I love it! Now, I'm only 3 weeks deep so who knows when the honeymoon phase will wear off, but so far I couldn't be happier that I made the leap to something unknown and uncomfortable (I'm such a creature of comfort at heart - making changes is not comfortable for me, and requires quite a bit of thought first). Now, what brings a new job with a more business casual vibe? A whole new desire to dress up and have fun with my outfits. I was a bit nervous to have to start dressing up again since I have gotten so used to dressing so casually, but after updating a few key pieces: adding in black trousers, floral pencil skirt a white boyfriend blazer & "workhorse" aka wear a million times camisoles; I have actually found it way easier, and fun, than I thought. We'll see how my creativity goes when the heat reaches melting temperatures though. 
So, drum roll please, welcome back outfit posts! Mirror style, circa 2013. 

Alternate title: "I really need a full length mirror"
 Oversized blazer, black silk cami & forest green biker style skinnies. Accessorize with gold watch & black ballet flats. 
White oversized blazer - I wore this 4-5 times in the last two weeks! Love love love this purchase. Paired it with a navy floral cami - one of the workhorse ones I can wear a million ways - and my beloved grey skinnies. Featuring, the cat. Or should I say, Optimus Prim. Told you she needed an entire post. 
 You guys, this Zara skirt is literally amazing. It hits me mid calf, is slim fitting, but has a vent in the back. It is so comfortable and is going to make me so many beautiful outfits.. This skirt is literally why I need a full length mirror. Paired with a lace detailed navy cami, and oh hey again, perfection blazer. 
Parisian inspired, option #1. This ballerina top is probably 3 years old and it's been so well loved, and on its last legs. I am actively searching for a replacement - any ideas? Paired with black slim trouser pants and for a little extra, some chunky heeled leather pumps ;) kitten heels are an office saviour, just FYI. Comfortable to wear all day, but still gives the effect of heels! HG 
HELLO There, blazer. Balancing out the two piece cranberry dress. The hem on this one is juuuust on the line of "is this too short?" And since it's too hot to pair with tights, the larger fit of the blazer tones down the amount of legs.  
Truth be told I definitely wore this with a cardigan over top - no cleavage or not, that's just way too much upper body for an office! - but it's just so pretty it deserved to be seen on it's own ;) with these gorge Stella & dot earrings, this outfit literally just made my day awesome - literally when you look good, you feel good. Not bad for a Monday morning. 

Parisian option #2. How else could I end this post but with an all black outfit? Not quite pictured: the crazy amount of cat hair on all of these outfits.
Until next time ;) 

Monday 14 March 2016

I stand with a Kardashian

Unless you've been living underneath a rock, you were atleast semi aware of the controversy stirred up last week by none other than the queen of infamy herself, Kim Kardashian. Kim tweeted a nude photo of herself with two black bars censoring her bits, with the caption "when you have nothing to wear". Now, OBVIOUSLY, this was for attention. Clearly, we all know this. But, really, posting a selfie of your face is for attention. Posting a picture of anything to do with your life, is for attention - unless every single one of your social media platforms is private - it's for attention in some way or the other. This is not what I'm standing up for. And hey, Kim leaves us no shortage of other things to make fun of her for, I won't deny this. And goodness me, never did I think I'd be standing up for a Kardashian's right to post a nude selfie, yet here I am, and here I go.

What I am standing up for, is the blatant double standard, and the blatant body policing of a grown woman. This has to stop. The constant, incessant criticism of women and their bodies needs to be over and done with. Why? Well, because how a woman feels about her body, and how she so chooses to express that feeling is none of our fucking business, to be blunt.

Let's say that last week, the poster of this photo was Ryan Reynolds. Do you think that for a second, he would have been slut-shamed as hard as she was? Would he have been told he should be ashamed of himself, to have some self-respect, to put on some clothes because he's a father? Of course not, he would most likely have been praised in some capacity and the headlines and comments would have echoed the statements of  "He's so hot/sexy!", "Check out this dad-bod", "What workout gave Ryan those washboard abs!" etc. So tell me, in a day and age when so much light and attention and encouragement has been brought to feminism, to loving ourselves without question and conditions, equality, why does it seem that body-policing and body-shaming of women has never been so high? A woman comfortable in her own skin has never been so critiqued, as though we have the right to do so. Too skinny, too muscular, too curvy, too thick, too much skin, too this too that. It's no wonder we constantly feel inadequate or not good enough.

Kim looks damn hot. She looks good, and yes it was an old picture, but it was one where she was owning her body, and was proud of her body and comfortable in her skin. She is a woman in her 30's, she is not a 16 year old girl, and she is comfortable in her skin. Now, you can have your opinions on whether or not that needed to be posted, of course you can! But the influx of making her feel belittled or stupid, reminding everyone that she got famous from a sex tape, telling her she should be ashamed, that she shouldn't feel empowered or feminine? That's just ridiculous. She said it made her feel empowered, so who the f-ck are you to tell her that that's wrong? She didn't say she did it to make someone else feel empowered, she did it for her. In a society where your stock as a woman is oftentimes dependent on your waist size, seeing someone who is a not a size 2 absolutely owning the shit out of her body is empowering, and it is no one's place to say it isn't. If your concern is that underage girls are looking at this picture and thinking this is the only way they can also feel empowered, that is not on Kim Kardashian - or ANY woman - to tell her otherwise, that is on the parent to let them know that being smart, being a good person, and feeling good about her body to the point where she can feel sexy (when it is appropriate AND if she so chooses) are not things you need only choose one of. They are not mutually exclusive and I refuse to be told otherwise.

"Nudity empowers some, Modesty empowers some. Different things empower different women and it is not your place to tell her which one it is"

So, give it a rest. If you don't like what you're seeing, look away. But don't you dare help contribute to a society obsessed with telling a woman that somehow loving her own body is wrong.

Tuesday 1 March 2016

The 5th anniversary says Silver.

So do you think painting my downstairs grey will suffice? How about throwing down some swanky new granite countertops to replace the 1993 glamour edition that currently resides? Laminate "granite" obviously because hahha, I wish the real deal was in my budget. 

February 28th was the 5th anniversary of buying my own home. Mine. 5 years, holy smokes man. I was just a little baby, only 21! The eff was I thinking? Best, most terrifying -at times- decision of my life though, I must say. This place has seen me be unexpectedly unemployed in the early days, it's seen me be dead broke, it's seen me heartbroken and it's seen me deeply in love; and every time, it's seen me grow into a stronger person through every stage. To me, and please excuse the cheese for a moment, but this house to me embodies my early-mid 20's and the growth that happens in that time period, which thank god for me was a lot. The laughter, tears, kitchen mishaps, kitchen miracles, wine nights & overall good times this place has seen will definitely become some of my most fond memories. Once I give this place the old heave ho that is, hopefully in the near ish future. Mine or not, communal parking lots are a bitch. And any place that doesn't allow me my dream dog due to silly ass strata rules, well, our days are definitely numbered. 

When I first got her (all of my inatimate objects are female, FYI - including Vivica the VW & Consuela the Credit Card), she had previously been owned by an elderly woman with a penchant for macramé
hanging plants in every room & chain-smoking inside her house. It has 20+ steep ass stairs to get to the front door which probably forever put my name on the black list for the moving company I used, and I will attribute to a semi perky booty - especially when hauling groceries. 

I've done the odd decor changes to it since then & paint job, but the time has come to really bring her into her own. To grow out of that awkward "I don't know how to dress myself" stages of young adulthood and blossom as a modern, stylish abode. For our 5th anniversary, I'm giving my lady a makeover. 

A modern, clean and bright, semi bohemian makeover. And I can't, fucking, wait. 

At this moment it is still in the fun stages of Jake & I going to Home Depot to brain storm and decide on colors/material, cruise etsy for new wall prints (purchasing downloadable pdf's are my jam - get them printed yourself for half the cost!), and just fantasizing about how to redecorate our space.. Okay fine the last part is mostly me. Stay tuned for the final reveal, in about 6 months ;) 

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Girls just wanna have fun

If that didn't instantly put Cyndi Lauper in your head, I don't think we can be friends. Side story: I've been going to the gym a lot lately (like, 4-5 times a week, who the f-ck is this person!? her buns are getting nice though;) ) and my main cardio tunes are these: gangster rap, hair metal and 80's lady power ballads. So in the span of a 45 minute treadmill ride from hell, I go from Wu-Tang Clan, to Quiet Riot, to Pat Benetar, and then back again. Very motivating stuff, not going to lie.

Anywho, back to the girls. If you think Valentine's Day is a day solely for relationships, well then you are seriously wrong, sorry to break it to you. How boring would that be!? Not only that, there are many ladies I know who's husbands work out of town and won't be around on Sunday, are they just expected to twiddle their thumbs and sit around, being lonely? I think not.

Enter Galentine's Day, (part 3)

Galentine's Day, February 13th, coined by the amazing Leslie Knope (aka Amy Poehler) is the day for women to celebrate women! The day to go out for an amazing hike with your mom or girlfriend, to meet up with your sister for a delicious latte and exchange chocolates, to gather all the girls up and go for a dinner filled with wine and laughing - and definitely dancing. To lift all the women up in your life to the point where you forget what Valentine's Day even is. Because let's be honest, as women where would we be without our crews? Whether you are like me and have just a few select really good girlfriends, or you are the social butterfly with more ladies than you can count, these friendships mean way more than we sometimes give them credit for, and they deserve to be celebrated just as hard as your romantic ones! Look at it this way, when your relationship goes through some messy times, 9 times out of 10 who's there to help you hash it out and listen to you vent?

Here's the thing about the women in your life, and I'm talking you true blues, not the acquaintances you see at the odd wine night. No, I'm talking the ladies you talk to daily, the ones you ask for advice, who you go to when something good/bad/funny/sad happens, and they lean on you as much as you lean on them. They're there to offer a tampon in dire straights, they're around to let you know that an extension clip may be showing (now there's a bff), or you have lipstick on your teeth, or daaamn girl you look hot today! Long story short, they have your back, in good times and in rough times. Sometimes, your gals have your back more than your man might. So take today to celebrate them! Send a loving text or a funny meme that sums up your relationship if you can't physically see them that day, or if you can make a date to go for lunch or go to Sephora and scam a free makeover together, and then go for dinner! Have a chick flick marathon accompanied with different wines per movie, I'd go with Pretty Woman and a fresh Gewurztraminer, Legally Blonde with a Pinot Gris, and onward ;) Disclaimer: Galentine's Day may come with a hangover.

In conclusion, take it away Les

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Champagne Dates on Ginger-Ale Budgets

Happy Tuesday! Welcome back to work for those of us that had the beautiful (made up in my mind) day off thanks to Family Day, a holiday I'm pretty sure was made up by people wanting an extra 3 day weekend somewhere in the early New Year, but I'm certainly not complaining! Did you all watch the superbowl, or were you like me who was way more interested in the Super Bowl snacks? Something about Football really brings out the naughtiest, yummiest appies, am I right!?

Anyway, back to our series on Valentines, today is part 2: how to have an amazing Valentine's Day without killing your wallet.

Now I mentioned in Part 1 that I would rather shave my boyfriend's legs than go out for dinner on Valentine's Day, reason 1) being that I used to be a server and reason 2) I've been a patron on Valentine's Day and to be honest, it can kinda suck. Every major restaurant has two set seatings, usually one at 5:30 and one at 7:30. This means that if you chose the earlier time slot, you're literally on the clock, and have to be wined, dined and out before 7:30, because your table has been already been booked for someone else. That, plus the fact that it's usually a set menu and you can't even choose something else you may want instead. It is one of the busiest days to eat out of the year, so unfortunately your food is not going to be as amazing as you expect it to be because the kitchen staff is working their bags off, and quite honestly, eating out on Valentine's Day is the same to me as going to a big party on New Years Eve: So much hype, very little follow through. I have served many a Valentine's Day gong shows and have experienced many fights, tears, let downs, mediocre dates that were assumed to be amazing, and yet never once a proposal! I'll never forget the Valentine's Day where one of my tables was having such an intense fight that I had to wait over an hour after the bill was given for them to pay, and myself and the other servers just watched in awe at how spectacularly shitty this night had gone - funny for us, not so much for the couple. In my opinion, save the big dinner out for a night when you can take your time, pick whatever you want off the menu and don't have to shout to your date because it's so packed.

So, what do you do instead? I'm so glad you asked! Jake & I are definitely not in a place in our lives where dropping $150 on a dinner is something we do, so we get creative with our dates to maximize the meaningfulness of them, without squeezing our accounts dry. Here are my top 5 ideas for an amazing date, on a budget.

1. Maker dinner together. Do you both love Thai food? Are you more pizza fanatics? Meat & cheese charcuterie boards your absolute passion? Go on pinterest or Google and find a recipe that fits your skill level, then go to the grocery store to find the ingredients - make sure to buy a bottle of wine too - and prepare it together! Put on some nice easy listening music, pour yourselves a glass of wine and enjoy preparing something together. go the extra mile by setting up your coffee table with pillows around it to have a more special experience than the regular old dining table - and don't forget candles!

2. Fort, Netflix & Take-Out. We did this in the summer and it was honestly unreal, I loved it so much. Jake hauled the mattress from our guest bed downstairs into our living room, he tacked sheets to the ceiling, and inside was a dome of pillows and blankets. We watched a couple movies, had some Thai takeout, and it was wicked. It was the grown-up version of all the living room forts you made in your childhood, not to mention a primo make-out spot ;) Be extra fancy and hang up your white Christmas lights to make it feel extra enchanted and guaranteed you'll soon forget you're actually at home and not in your own little world.

3. Spa Night. Go to your local Lush (or any bath store) and stock up on bath bombs, bath melts, massage bars and massage oils, maybe even some face mask stuff (neutral smell so your guy doesn't choke), grab some champagne and have a luxury night at home! Run a nice bath and light candles, drop a bath bomb in and soak and talk, then take turns giving each other a massage. Relaxing, romantic, & private.

4. Ice Skating. It is getting to the end of the season of ice skating, and boyfriends you will gain some mega brownie points if before the season is over, you take her ice skating for an hour followed by some hot chocolate in the local cafe. I don't know what it is about ice skating but it's really such a magical date, I don't know any girl that doesn't love skating with her guy. It could have to do with the fear of falling so extra hand-holding and support is needed, however that might just be me ;)

5. Games Day. Valentine's this year falls on a Sunday, and I've already requested that we go to our local arcade and spend the day playing mini golf, arcade games, etc. We did this is in the beginning of our relationship, and getting competitive with each other in a really juvenile setting is quite fun - so long as you don't get too caught up in the spirit of competition. Make bets, say the loser has to buy lunch or the winner gets to choose the next game, and the grand winner gets to choose dinner that night; something to keep the spirit going without losing site that this is a date!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go sharpen up my putting skills ;)

Tuesday 2 February 2016

When you know, you know.

Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away, but I'm sure that the 23 million jewellery, hallmark and hershey's kisses commercials reminded you of that already. Now, generally blogs like mine are littered with gift guides for Valentine's for him & her, or what to wear guides for lingerie and clothing, but really how many variations of pink, red and black lace teddies and assortment of bodycon dresses do you need to see? Not that I won't do one too, but generally we get the jist by now, right?

I figured that instead of focusing on the commercialized aspect of Valentine's day which I've never really bought into, I am going to use this blog for a 4 part feature on what makes the day so fun all around: it's about Love, the big ol' L O V E. It's so easy to get caught up in what Valentine's day has become and lose sight of what it's actually about. Sure, you shouldn't need a specific day to treat the person you're with with all this love and affection, or to let them know how special they are to you. But what the fuck else does February have to offer except snow and slush? I'll take some hearts, thanks. After years of working Valentine's day at restaurants, you couldn't pay me to go out for dinner at a restaurant on the 14th, and I don't need presents from my guy this month to know that I'm loved - but babe just a hint, no lady is ever mad when they receive chocolate ;). Instead we do a nice fancy dinner at home, curl up with some wine and it's the one night a year he'll watch a real romantic movie without complaints, he even battled through the Notebook with me, tears and all - whatta guy.

*disclaimer: If you are a) bitterly single, b) declarations of love make you sick or c) you're just a grumpus, stop reading now and go away. you've been warned.

Part 1: when you know, or the story of when I knew I was falling in love with Jake.

Ever since I had started seeing Jake, I knew he was different than anyone else I had been with. Our first date was 3+ hours of just talking and laughing, to the point where our server came up and was like "hey I really don't want to rush you but if you could just settle with me, that would be great". I remember leaving that night with crazy butterflies and a mega watt smile plastered across my face, giggling about all the random things we had in common. This was in the middle of October, and from our first date I just had a feeling this guy was going to be a big deal in my life, whether it was for a short time, or the long haul.

Fast forward to December 16th, 2013 my birthday. We were going for dinner in Kelowna, to my favorite restaurant to begin with, Twisted Tomato. The car ride wasn't necessarily eventful, just signing a long to the radio etc. When we parked, as I was unbuckling my seat belt Jake was racing to get out of the car, and next thing I know he's at my side of the vehicle opening the door for me. Now, Jake is many things, but admittedly he is not the most romantic of sorts, at least not in your typical classic way. So him opening the door for me was such a sweet gesture to begin with, it set the mood for the rest of the night.

Once in there our dinner was a lot like the rest of our dates, him making me laugh until my cheeks started to hurt, humoring my really dorky sense of humor that I find seriously hilarious, and excitement over the most random things, not to mention so much talking. However, the icing on the cake was when we realized that to make my birthday even more perfect, we were seated beside what had to be a first date directly from the reject pages of Tinder. We're talking serious WTF. Picture a really scrawny geeky guy with a bottle-blonde girl dressed to the nines for a night of bar-hopping with really bad extensions, and no more than maybe two sentences between them. It was awkward, it was hard to watch, and it was hilarious. We were far enough away to make our own commentary on the date and how we thought it was going, and we kept giggling at how unbelievably mis-matched this couple was.

There was never this moment of angels singing, halo's dancing around his head, smack me in the face realizations that I was falling for this guy, I would just look over at him smiling at me and my heart would swell up and feel so full. It hadn't felt that way in a really long time, and I don't know if it ever felt the way it did with him.

The rest of the dinner went amazingly, I've told him before and I stand to it, it's the best date I've ever been on. Maybe it was because my birthday is my favorite day, but hands down it's the best one yet. As we held hands back to the truck, and he again opened the door for me, the second I sat down in the seat and watched him walk to the driver's side I just knew, "I'm falling hard for you kid, and I really hope you're feeling the same way."

Jake came into my life when I was least expecting him to, and honestly when I was the most ready to be swept off my feet, whether I knew it then or not. And I must say, he did a magnificent job. <3

Tuesday 26 January 2016

And now, the most classiest of all the recipes

Everyone has their own version of their household, no time to cook real food staple, right? Like maybe you're a god damn wizard at making a casserole out of the random bits in your fridge, or a veggie soup on the fly is your jam. Mine? The most ghettoist of the recipes: Classed up Ramen. Like, the cheapest item to buy in your grocery store Ramen, the package that all the cool kids crushed up and ate raw in elementary school - my mom never allowed us such luxuries, apparently neither did Jake's; "it's not healthy and literally just pure salt", as if that meant anything to us in our green-eyed jealous state back then. I'm pretty sure my mom also had me convinced that eating it raw would give me tummy worms, however this is also the woman who had me convinced that water was "tap juice" and ovaltine was real chocolate milk. What a saint.

But I digress.

Ramen is a favorite staple amongst those in college or freshly moved out of mom and dad's, living with roommates and are flat broke, why? Well, because on a good day you can score 5 packages for $3.50, that's why. When I was living alone and would have max $75-100 at the end of each paycheck to dedicate to food, gas, savings (hahahaha in those days?! as if) and luxuries, I had to learn really fast how to stretch my dollar; enter Ramen, or Ichiban - I wasn't picky, clearly. Sometimes my groceries would literally just consist of half&half cream, coffee, versatile veggies (spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, green onions, cucumber) and a shit ton of Ramen. Staples. Problem being is that it can get hella boring, hella fast - not to mention grossly unhealthy for you. So I had to be creative and start making this staple a gourmet treat so that night after night, I wasn't getting crazy bored and or crazy mal-nourished by solely surviving on MSG & sodium. I had to find ways to turn it into something somewhat nutritious, but also satisfying. Intrigued? I can tell.

Recipe: note that not a measuring cup nor spoon was ever used, this is a dash & pinch recipe if you will ;)

Package of ramen - my favorite is the spicy chicken
Either peanut butter, almond butter, miso or tahini - whatever you have in your fridge and thanks to my parents living in AZ half the year and giving me their condiments when they left, I always had one or the other.
Chose as many as you wish of: Green onion, shredded carrot, spinach, broccoli, celery or pepper
Fish sauce
Lime Juice
Sriracha - KEY ingredient, but the spicier the better in my opinion
Seasoning packet - now as a blogger and lover of generally everything healthy I shouldn't be admitting to using any of it, but fuck it if MSG & sodium aren't delicious. There, I said it - you know we were all thinking it anyway.

Make the ramen as usual, and towards the end add the veggies, unless you're using broccoli in which case cook it for the same amount of time to ensure it's nice and soft at the end (cook it all with the noodles)
drain a bit of the water making sure not to lose veggies (green onions love to slip out) - as little or as much of the water to drain, whether you want it soupier or more like a stir fry consistency
Take it back to the stove or counter and add a good spoonful of your nut butter, a healthy splash of fish sauce, lime juice and sriracha and mix it really well. Add as much or as little of your seasoning packet as you wish, and combine everything together. Finish with bean sprouts if you have them, and adjust the seasonings if you want - I usually throw more lime juice into the mix.

Now, I no longer live alone and thankfully am lucky enough to no longer be flat broke either, but I'll be damned if I don't pick up atleast two packages any time I grocery shop. Old habits die hard! I'll make this for dinner when Jake is working late or away and I don't feel like putting the effort in of making myself a more legitimate dinner. However, I made it the other night when Jake was home and was like, here try my invention it's been my staple for years now, thinking he would hate it as he generally does with my "inventions" - chickpea blondies being the most recent.. Aaand long story short he ate the entire bowl - I have converted him over to the dark side ;)

I mean, it was bound to happen. The amount of trailer park boys lingo that's entered my vernacular because of him is just embarassing.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.

Hello again! Happy 2016, Merry Christmas, & all other sorts of greetings since its been a good few months since I last blogged! Whoops. It actually just occurred to me that I never shared these unreal pictures we had taken by a very talented little lady back in December, and well, there's a story attached that I just have to share.. 

So back in October, I signed Jake & I up to be a part of a styled wedding shoot that my girlfriend was organizing. By "signing us up" I said that Jake would just love to be part of it, and figured I'd just suck up enough later for him to agree to it willingly-ish. What can I say, he's dating someone who's a big ol' whore for pretty pictures ;) Well, it then turned out closer to the day that it was literally going to be a wedding shoot, aka they were shooting an "elopement", and all pictures on social media had to say that, not that we were acting it out or that this was styled, no it was going to be literal elopement. I may have forgotten to mention that until we got there. I also may have forgotten to mention that the shoot would be taking place during the Patriots game and he was going to have to miss it. Girlfriend of the Year over here! It had been gorgeous weather all week with bright blue skies and warmer than normal temperatures, of course until the day of when it just decided to POUR RAIN. Like, we're talking that by the end of it, both of our heads were dripping with water, I looked like a drowned rat, and we were so frozen I could barely get my jacket zipped up. However, the pictures turned out gorgeous (when I can share them I will), only 4-5 people thought we got married for realsies, and the Pats won - everyone was happy. However, I really wore out my welcome for signing my boyfriend up for photo shoots, especially the fact that on any given day, he'd rather scrub our toilets than take a whole wack of pictures. 

Until December that is. Alexa had approached me about collaborating on some pictures and ideas she wanted to shoot, and truth be told when she told me her ideas, I totally skimmed over the part where one of her ideas was "a couple's shoot" and was just like "yep, sign me up!" I'm always down for a pretty facebook profile pic ;). And then truth be told it kinda left my mind. So fast forward a few weeks, and Alexa texts me and says "Hey girl, what time are you and your man available for a shoot on Sunday?" And I'm instantly thinking, oh fuuuuck. Did I mention we had gotten into a little argument earlier that day that for sure did not put me on the right foot to ask him about this? Worst timing ever. Regardless, against better judgement I texted her back going "What's required of him? Can he wear his own clothes? We're in!" Long story short, I'm lucky I'm cute. 
And well, a killer smile, banana bread, and with some sort of voodoo magic he not only agreed to it, he seriously brought out his best Derek Zoolander because these photos were so gorgeous I wanted to bang my head against a wall when she sent them to me - she's a god damn wizard with a camera. 
AND, it rained almost the entire session. Like I said, it's a really good thing he loves my cute face :) 

Looking at these pictures were kind of a wake up call for me. In any relationship, there's so much give & take and it can be really easy to get into the frame of mind that you are always the one giving, while the other is always taking. But, all I have to do is look at these with the knowledge that the only reason he did it was to make me happy, and I realize that I have it so good, and am so lucky that this person who sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out, is mine all mine, and I'm all his. But, I'll probably spare him another photoshoot for a good long while.

If you want to have some Alexa Grace Photography wizardry photos for yourself, check her out here. And sorry boyfriends/husbands, but if my photo-adverse boyfriend can do it for a couple hours  - with a smile even, so can you. Ladies, my parents read this blog so I'll spare the details, but we all know how to get our way when it's really needed ;) Ohhh my.