Thursday 21 December 2017

Plant-Based... Ish?

Let’s get one thing out of the way right here and right now: I like meat, I really love the enjoyment of a well-cooked steak (rare to med-rare, anything over that is just cardboard) or lamb or a really well marinated chicken thigh. I like meat. I don’t think meat eaters are evil, nor do I think they should be vilified. I think hunted meat is the best option, as it is organic and locally sourced, but I’m not above meat eaters. I’m currently one of them.

Okay whew, got that out of the way.

This summer, most of my province was on fire. I know, wtf do these two things have to do with each other? Wait and see, I’ll join them up. The province was literally on fire, and I've never wished so hard for week's worth of rain in August. This came after the spring, when a significant portion of my region was flooded, like, beyond flooded. While my province was on fire, other places were dealing with “100 year” hurricanes, back to back. This November (November 1st, to be exact), we got over a foot of snow. And within 3 weeks, it was all melted. Since then, it had been warmer than usual for this time of year, only now getting to the -3 to -10 range, and snowing. Meanwhile, California is on fire. In December.  
November 1st.. 

November 25th. 

To be blunt, the weather is fucked. Seasons are more intense, the weather is more intense, everything is ramping up. Climate change is real, it’s happening, we can all see it happening and whether or not you want to agree that it’s happening, science isn’t interested in your opinion. It’s happening, numerous articles & published scientific findings have told us to basically suit up and get used to this “new normal”, and I can’t be the only person terrified. I spent a majority of my summer wondering what I would do if our brand new home burnt to the ground while I was at work and we lost every irreplaceable memory we had. Will I have to spend every summer with this new worry? When we bought our house I was in love with the walls of trees on every side; now I look at them as basically kindling and want to chop them down. What is the future going to look like in 10, 20, 30 years? What will my children’s reality look like; how much different will it be from now?

What does this climate based anxiety have to do with eating meat? Well, among the proven health benefits that come with adopting a plant based diet, from lowering cancer risks to helping curb or reverse heart disease & help with inflammatory illnesses, to name just a very small (but massive) percentage of the reasons, there is so much research to show the positive impact it would have on fighting climate change. That by slowly, meal by meal, adapting to more plant based diet – if not going fully plant based – we alone could do so much good for fighting what is happening to our world. Now, like I said, I love meat. I love a good steak. But what is there to lose by only having meat a few times, or once a week - like our past generations used to? I’ve said for a while (mostly warned Jake) that I’m going to adapt this, so what’s stopping me? Fear that it will be too hard, mostly. And mostly, that’s a selfish reasoning. It will be an adjustment, but not impossible. And if for the small price of going mostly meatless, I can ensure that I’m actively doing my part in helping this planet? Shit, sign me up. I’m already actively going as green as possible and limiting all of the plastic I use (with the hopes that next year we will be a 90% plastic free house), so it feels selfish that by my not wanting to go without the taste of meat, I'm looking at a viable, fairly easy option to help everyone and going “Meh, not my problem. Someone else will do it”.

A few weekends ago, I had the epiphany that I need to be that someone. As I walked around my neighborhood on a bright blue sky day and admired the trees on the mountain behind my house, I thought to myself "please don't catch on fire next year, please stay safe, please don't let some jackass throw a cigarette near you next year". I don't want to spend my life worried and anxious about what's to come, without doing my part to help curb it. And so, in saying this, I have decided I am going to actively work to becoming plant based... ish. Why the ish? Well, for one, I have to consider who I live with. I currently don't use dairy products, and can go days without eating meat. Jake.. cannot. I've joked about it, but I feel like if I sprung this on him and expected him to follow suit, he'd actually leave me. So it's a double edged selfish sword to think that A) I won't do anything to help the planet but B) I'm going to make a massive lifestyle change for someone else without their approval. Also, I don't want to force my family to cook vegan for me when family dinners happen, so flexibility is key. I've been reading a lot about the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, and I have slowly been starting there. And you know what? It's been easy. Actively, quite easy. And tasty.

Now, if you've made it this far and are thinking oh god, she's going to become one of those people. Don't worry, I also think Vegans can go way too far with scare tactics, or to push people onto "their agenda". What the Health attempted to equate eating an egg to smoking 5 cigarettes, but scientists have largely come out to say that the documentary is straight up garbage. So, they mostly mean well, but their tactics can be a bit much. I've done enough critical research and thinking to know what are scare tactics, and what is legitimately evidence backed. I don't believe in a lifestyle that restricts or demonizes food, I believe in evidence. I also know that plant based lifestyles lack in main nutrients that only come from meat products (such as B12), and I already have a hard time keeping up protein levels, so I'm not going to be sacrificing my health for.. my health. And like I said before, I'm not going to be the asshole who expects everyone to cater to me due to a lifestyle choice and not an actual medical reason.

So, what I'm saying is read some of the articles I linked (from verified, mainly unbiased sources), and see for yourself if this is something you could also commit to doing, not just for your health but for the health and future of our next generation, and those to come. We can do it together, and make our own little Veganish crew, the 99.9 percenters, if you will. I'm always down for a good recipe swap.

If you're still reading this thinking I must be going a little crazy, I suggest you go to the naked cafe in Kelowna, and try their "Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwich", that alone may just be enough to convince you.

Thursday 12 October 2017

Why you need a fitness tracker.

I went to Vancouver a few weeks ago with my mom and my sister; we had lots of champagne, tequila, coffee, good food and laughs, shopping, walking everywhere.. and lots of tracking our steps. Or should I say, these two hardcores were tracking their steps what felt like hourly, comparing, getting competitive over who’s was reading higher, and meanwhile I couldn’t have found it more annoying – although I did like hearing about the calories burnt the one day we tackled 22 THOUSAND STEPS. Whoo Boy – I had a burger that night and enjoyed every single hard-earned bite. Anyway, I found it so annoying and was continually teasing them for being such dorks who obsessed over what their fitness tracker was telling them..

And then three weeks later, I promptly ate my words once I got my own and fell in deep, deep love with being a step tracking asshole myself.

aside - aren't my mom & sister gorgeous?! 

Jake recently got life insurance that included a free fitness tracker band – meant to be an incentive to continue being active & result in lower premiums, however being the stubborn boy he is, was pretty certain he was never going to wear it. Since I wanted to see what kind of steps I was getting in daily, what kind of calorie burn registered just by functioning and what kind of sleep I was getting, I decided to wear it myself and as long as they didn’t realize it was a woman and not a man wearing it, he’d reap the rewards. And oh man, life has been obsessively changed. I fucking love this thing. It stopped working momentarily for a few days and I was pissed because I had some really great active days, and didn’t get to reap the benefits of the app congratulating me. My coworker tried to tell me that as long as I felt proud that was all that mattered. Umm, thank you, I know you’re right technically, but I need that recognition in number form and I was super bitter my little tracker had missed out on recording my 12,000 step day.

I work in an office and sit upwards of 8 hours a day, and I’m a fairly sedentary person when I don’t have a reason to move. I believe the word for that is Lazy? But, I digress. Studies have come out identifying just how horrendously bad this is for your health, and I’d be lying if it didn’t really freak me out. I mean, these days you can just about pick anything and learn that eventually, it’s probably going to kill you if something else doesn’t first. But knowing that my job can shave years off my life, not to mention opens the door to heart disease or possible cancers? Fuck that.  Now here’s the thing: I pride myself on being pretty active, working out 3-4 times a week pretty vigorously, as well as working outside in our yard on the weekends, and going for long walks here and there. So even though my job might be low-key killing me, my exercise at least balances it out, right? Apparently not, because it’s 2017 and we can’t have nice things: these studies have shown that that doesn’t matter, the sitting for these extended periods are quite simply, no Bueno and it doesn’t matter how active you are during your personal time. Talk about a buzzkill/wake up call. Currently trying to figure out a way to get a treadmill desk approved by management.

So, what this tracker does best? It keeps me accountable, and it provides an attainable goal to reach if I just move a bit more than I’m used to. After about an hour or so of inactivity, it beeps at you a warning to move your ass. It continues to do so until you’ve satisfied it and gone for 200 steps, and then it shuts off again. Let’s be honest, how often have you sat at your desk and realized you haven’t gotten up for 4 or more hours!? I certainly have. With this guy, it doesn’t let me unless I ignore it, but then I feel guilty for ignoring it, and I end up going for a walk around the parking lot. This not only satisfies my tracker, it satisfies me. I get some fresh air, it is the quickest tension reliever, and I come back into the office with a bit more pep in my step.

It only took a week or so, but I’ve also become that annoying step tracker like my mom and my sister; I pace while brushing my teeth, pace while my coffee brews, I march in step at the photocopier, march in place while I wash my hands; anything for those steps man, anything. I now park my car at the furthest part of the parking lot at work, or anytime I run errands. I’m realizing now just how few steps I was getting in on rest days, and to be honest it was pretty eye opening. Like I said, this keeps me accountable, but it also shows just how quick & easy these changes are to make, and how they all add up.

This is the particular model I have, here, which is great as a start but it’s not the best. I have to track my workouts through My FitnessPal, because it hasn’t quite figured out my cardio routine yet, and it also doesn’t track heartrate to the extent that I’d like it to. The other day I spent an hour on the elliptical alternating between level 18, 15 & going no lower than 12 – hard as fuck, and makes you go slower because it feels like you’re pushing through sand. It recognized it as a leisurely, slow paced hour long walk for a whopping 110 calories because I was moving slow, whereas the machine read over 600 calories burned. You know, same same, but different.

If you’re looking to take the plunge, there are these options here, here and here. At any price range, having something to keep you accountable and aware is definitely worth it, and in my opinion should be on everyone’s Christmas list. My mom and sister welcomed me to the asshole step tracker’s club, after they (lovingly) made me eat my words. 

Wednesday 4 October 2017

The one in which we subbed pre-marital counselling with puzzles.

Some couples work out their kinks before marriage by going to counselling. Hey, this is no shade, there should be zero shame in going to couple's counselling, or counselling in general for that matter. Personally I love talking & I love plans of action, so counselling is never something I've been ashamed to admit to. So yea, some couples go to counselling to work out the pre-marriage kinks, develop communication tools and conflict resolution skills; sometimes they do it for the sheer fact that their religion kinda makes them do it. Some buy interactive books and do it at home that way; some people go to retreats or seminars. Some people are perfect and don't need anything and just go full steam ahead - sometimes those couples are referred to as liars - I kid, kind of. We here at Casa de Stuch, bought a puzzle. A big ass, puzzle. That was the bain of my existence the second I realized just how fucking hard it was going to be to complete.

So, you know how every couple has a thing that they do? It's just their "thing" they do as a couple. Maybe it's hiking, maybe it's cooking together, maybe it's splitting the paper on Sundays, or playing cards, or dancing in their living room. We don't really have a "thing" specific to us. Well, that's not true, we chirp each other like we're on a hockey team and try not to burst out laughing when we land a really good burn. BUT, I refuse to accept that that is our friggin' thing. It's not, so shut up everybody reading this who is nodding their head thinking uhhh yes it is so your thing. You just zip it.

Jake works long hours, and often when he comes home he's exhausted. I've been really wanting us to get in the habit of doing something together, that doesn't solely include laying in bed on our phones or watching a show, showing each other funny/cute shit, and sneaking a kiss or an arm rub intermittently. I want something we can do together that encourages dialogue, and is unplugged in nature. In short, I'm getting sick of social media or television taking up our rare private time together. However, making someone who's just worked 13 hours go for a walk is an easy recipe for a not good time.

Enter, puzzles. Yes, like the ones your grandma used to do.

I won't take credit for this at all, one of our couple friends mentioned that they do puzzles and the next day we happened to be in a toy store getting a birthday present for our nephew, and there was a whole wall of puzzles! So, we decided to become puzzle people. Did we start off by buying a relatively easy, 300 piece puzzle to get our feet wet?
Of course not! We bought a 2,000 piece puzzle, of Cinque Terre and all of it's beautiful, varied & colorful condos! Because: "That's where we're going to honeymoon! Omg, it's a siiiign!" SUPER EASY. Not at all like learning how to swim by jumping into the middle of the ocean. Not at all like learning how to cook by preparing a souffle for the Queen. Nope, super simple. 

Well, let me tell you something. I did not pull the team here. I dragged down the average, so hard. One thing I didn't anticipate about being a puzzle person is that 2,000 piece puzzles are god damn hard. Here I am, "OMG Babe! I just got thee pieces in row!! Look!" And meanwhile Jake is casually finishing up his 30 piece spree like it's no big deal. Then he points out that my piece doesn't actually fit there. "It's not hard babe, it's just like math. Easy!" So basically, the hobby of my anxiety ridden nightmares. Why didn't we decide to become living room dancers!? I'm a good dancer, ish.

Here's the thing. We both have our shortcomings. Jake, while he is so many wonderful things, is not a teacher. He tries, but god love him, the man is just not a teacher. Or at least a patient one.You should've seen him explaining football to me!  And me? I do not take criticism well, constructive or otherwise. Or even semi decently, especially depending on the time of month. I instantly get my back up and get defensive. Criticism to me instantly reads as judgement against me personally. I know, it's bad, I'm working on it. So what do you get with not a patient teacher, and someone who bristles at criticism? Harmonious hobbying, obviously. The first few nights of puzzle making was a lot less romantic comedy montage of laughs, kissing & wine while a Michelle Branch song played in the background, and a lot more "Stick to your side, this is my side! I had that piece! What the fucking fuck this is so hard why did we pick this stupid fucking puzzle!?" " Sorry, I wasn't yelling at you I was yelling at this STUPID PIECE WHERE DO YOU GO". It. Was. Special.

And you know what happened? It kinda became Jake's hobby for a good two week span, because I hated it and I hated how frustrated I would get at my lack of ability - so to avoid fighting or being snappy, I just left it alone for a while. I would hang out with him, put a piece in here or there, but generally I hung out at the table doing my nails, writing lists or asking him questions while he worked on it. Was it being done the way we originally imagined? No, no it sure wasn't, but we were still spending time together without technology, and we were still talking without being overly distracted.
We figured out my niche was: getting the little condos together,  picking out the pieces Jake needs, and mostly just sitting there keeping him company while he blasts through the puzzle. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and as it turns out, puzzles that have every variation of orange, yellow and blue are not my strength, but they are for Mr. Details. My strength was lending him company, and taking the opportunity to talk to my slightly distracted fiance about the burning questions like:
"How will we schedule time for the two of us when our life gets overwhelming?"
"When and if we encounter possible financial/career troubles, how will we work through it together?"
"What are the pink jobs, and what are the blue jobs?" "No, all the pink jobs can't be the gross ones, you need to do gross ones too, that's the whole point"
"How often will you bring me flowers home without having to be subtly reminded first?"
"How much money would I have to bribe you with to go vegan for a month?" - that's the kind of stuff relationships counselors ask, right?

Who needs pre-marital counselling when you have THIS on your dining room table teaching you how to work together, communicate and conflict resolution? Are we geniuses? No, no we're not. We're two overachievers who jumped into a hobby at the expert end of the pool. By the time Jake had done most of the really hard stuff, is when I came back in to help out, and together we finished it. It was the most exhilarating few hours too the night it was finally complete, when everything just started fitting into place, and we were working together. "Is this piece the one you were looking for? Here you go." "Look babe! I just nailed that entire chunk! Look at us go!"  See? Teamwork makes the Dreamwork. Always, even if half of the team jumped ship for a while and sat on the sidelines maintaining the role of Cheerleader.

After we finished and admired our work, Jake goes "Okay so how about the next one we go for a 5,000 piece?" and then we laughed and laughed until Jake passed out because I was choking him :)

Friday 8 September 2017

Project : Working OFF the "Summer Bod"

For months and months (and months) leading up to June, we are always inundated with articles, inspirational memes and constant reminders to be getting that summer body ready. “6 weeks until summer! Are you ready!?” “Your 8 week summer slim down plan!” “Squat your way to that bikini booty!” and so on and so forth. I fall victim to it no doubt; we have more social events in the summer than we do all year, and most of them require bare arms (my LEAST favorite body part) and legs; I want to be confident strutting around in bare minimum clothing, and though I’m happy with my body most of the months out of the year, I’m not immune to wanting to be tighter and leaner when the mercury rises.

But let’s explore the side effects of all those social events, shall we? Drinking more than I ever do, resulting in more day after’s wanting to stuff my face with bread/pizza/pasta/anything to make my stomach feel better, eating more and less healthy than normal, and losing gym trips to after work dinners/BBQs/social gatherings. This means that by the time September long weekend comes around, my skin is looking worse for wear with blemishes and a duller appearance due to all the built up toxins letting themselves be known through my pores, my body feels sluggish and bloated, and all around I’m not feeling in tip top shape. By mid-August, I’m ready for Fall, I’m ready to get back into the swing of things and I’m ready to get back to normal. In short, I’m ready to shed my summer body. But, keep my tan for as long as humanly possible.

So, September always marks my “detox” month, to allow my body to feel better and perform better. To reintroduce eating health 80-85% of the time, and giving pizza a break from being a once/twice a week meal to being a treat. However, I neither want to starve myself, feel as though I’m restricting myself, nor do I want to lose 10 lbs. I’m a fairly small person to begin with, so this is more about feeling better overall, not shedding tons of weight. Below are the steps I started taking September 1st in order to get back to the glowing, vibrant & healthier Brianne and away from the “okay, is this just perma bloat or is this early pregnancy?” Brianne. Look, I’m 9 months out from my wedding day, this is a legit ongoing concern ;)

  •  Drink more water. Super riveting right? Bumping from my usual 1 L a day to minimum 2.5-3 L. This not only helps flush lots of the shit out of my cells, it helps with unnecessary snack attacks, as well as helps clear up my skin. Will also reintroduce chlorophyll into the mix, for an extra boost. 
  •  Simple snack swaps. Here’s the thing, if I’m watching TV or reading, or in front of a computer, and have a snack in front of me, I’m going to finish it regardless of what it is. So instead of the chips/guac, pita bread & tzatziki pairings, cut up some veggies and pair it with hummus. Or cut up some fruit like an apple or handfuls of berries. I’ll mindlessly eat it anyway, so it’s an easy swap I barely notice – but my waistline does. One thing I won’t mindlessly eat though? Almonds. Healthy, yes. Calorie bombs? Also, yes.
  •  Make treats a treat. Our house is right by a convenience store that during the summer serves ice cream cones. So it’s extremely easy for us to go numerous times a week when normally I wouldn’t eat ice cream more than twice a month. Time to retrain myself to have self-control and keep treats as a rarity. Also looking forward to getting back to being dairy-free, but damn those ice cream cones! As if I’m going to say no to those.
  • Veggie soup. For a few a years now my mom and I have made a massive batch of veggie soup in the fall, and I eat it 4-5x a week for lunch. One serving will literally yield 4 servings of vegetables, its filling and I always mix red curry powder in to give it tons of flavor. Recipe goes like this: Mainly tomatoes, and add as many vegetables as you can to a large pot with garlic and onion, add water & some veggie stock and boil down. Blend with immersion blender and package away. It’s an easy base soup that can be accessorized with deli meat, goat cheese, croutons, etc. Also extremely cost efficient; one batch which yields about 10 large yogurt containers costs under $20 of fresh, local veggies. 
  • Swap bagels/bread for rice cakes. My favorite pairings are: Avacado, hot sauce & chicken; hummus, deli meat & banana peppers, peanut butter & bananas/berries, deli meat, mustard, tomatoes and avacados, etc. The possibilities are endless and those buggers are filling.
  • The “Are you hungry enough to eat an apple?” game. This was my mom & dad’s game when we were little and wanted a treat because we were “sooo hungry”. The other night I was so hungry, but only for some form of salty carb. Bread, chips, pizza; I was craving it so hard I could cry. But when I asked myself, okay well if you’re so hungry why don’t you eat some carrots? Shocker: they weren’t appetizing to me. Which tells me right there, you’re not hungry, you’re having a craving; those two are not the same. This is my favorite game to play, because generally it decides pretty quickly if I need a meal or if I need a distraction or a big glass of water. 
  •  Exercise. Like I said I’m not looking to trim down massively, and my “wedding bootcamp” won’t start until next year, so for now I’m just keeping up my regular 3x a week with a good walk on the weekend, and making sure to really sweat each time. Flush that shit out.
  • Have a plan. It’s hard to not order take out when you get home from work to find your fridge basically empty and anything dinner ready is frozen. Planning our meals out on Sunday and being prepared accordingly saves money, and saves a bad decision.
  •  Meal prep! Goes hand in hand with the above, it’s hard to make a poor food decision when everything is in ready to go containers and sliced up. We like to do “glory bowls” for dinner so I like making sure all of the ingredients we’d want on them are chopped, washed and packaged up.
Lastly, don’t beat yourself up. My tummy/legs are slightly jigglier than 3 months ago because I just spent 3 months not caring as much & enjoying good company alongside good food. I also enjoyed shenanigans that were fueled by alcohol and I wouldn’t give those up to see my abs instead. So I will employ the above tips to feel better overall, but I certainly won’t spend any more time making myself feel bad than I already have. That’s why tunics & high wasted leggings are around. 

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Lot 18 with the Lighthouse

My cabin is magic. I have been coming out here every summer ( & spring & fall) since 1998, and it holds so many memories for me that I can’t even begin to list them. I grew up here; I have numerous scars from my clumsy adventurous youth, and I lived out most of my teenage rebellion there - which lets face it, with the exception of getting lost in the woods, it's safer to do it here than in town; not that that made my parents any happier about it at the time.  It is always the one spot on earth where peace just follows me. We have running water and limited electricity so it’s not totally of the grid, but cell service is scarce and TV is replaced by card games, Yahtzee, and reading. When was the last time you read a book in a day?! I don’t remember myself, until last weekend. It’s close enough to civilization that you don’t feel completely off the grid, but far enough into the woods to breath fresh air and to enjoy just the noise of.. noisey nothingness.

I say it every time I come out, this place is magical. Whether its Jake & I who've managed to sneak off for a weekend, or with my parents, or for our Mother Daughter getaway. My mom and I have done an annual girl’s trip out to my cabin for the past 6-7 years, give or take. Every time, it is the most relaxing, refreshing and recharging weekend of my summer. My mom and I are two peas in a pod, she is absolutely one of my best friends, and while we never (EVER) run out of things to talk about, we’re just comfortable to hang out in silence, her knitting and me reading. I cherish these weekends with all my heart. We packed up and headed out Thursday evening last week, truck packed full with drinks, healthy food our men would not willingly eat, lots of sunscreen and bathing suits – and of course our other favorite girl, Molly. 
sporting her "summer" look. between you & I, I prefer her e-wok fluffball style better, but I always make sure to tell her she's perfect anyway. 
Between wedding planning, maintaining an entire house/yard mostly solo due to Jake’s long work hours, increasing work stress and some other little stresses that have been piling on, this weekend could not have come at a better time to just chiiiiill out and for a blissful 72ish hours, forget that I had any responsibilities waiting for me. The idea that my only chore this weekend was to work on my tan made me literally giddy. And let’s be honest, it’s always nice to be missed – cue the “I can’t sleep without you here, when are you coming home again?” texts from Jake that were just the icing on the cake.
The type of meal that makes me eat without stopping to breathe, and Jake would consider pure torture. 

The first morning we set out for a hike, which turned into laps around the village due to some cougar sightings, and while Molly is adorable and thinks she’s ferocious, she’s basically cougar hors douerves. Realizing I had forgotten any sort of magazines, cross stitching projects or anything to keep me off my phone, we popped into the Queest Library, a shanty little well-kept up shack I hadn’t gone into since I was probably 10 when we would spend weeks at a time out here with my mom while my dad worked, and she would take my brother & I there every few days to return what we had read and pick up some new goodies. I browsed through the Romantic novels, the sci-fi horrors, and decided on a classic, John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief. If you haven’t before, you must read it; I devoured it and am now anxiously trying to find the movie adaptation, missing the days of movie rentals!

The remaining days were spent paddle boarding up and down our end of the lake, admiring the familiar views from a different vantage point, my mom pushing food on me as if I was somehow starving, lots of laughs, lots of future talk, and lots of sleep. We’re both girls who love our sleep, so both of us going to bed at 9 was no big deal, and so lovely. One thing you can guarantee at the cabin: you’re going to sleep like a log. I slept until 7:30-8 every morning without even trying. God I love my sleep.

Not a stitch of makeup was worn all weekend & my hair had gotten to the point of playing the "is it greasy or is it wet" game - which is why we didn't take any actual pictures of us, and by the last day we both determined that we were sufficiently stinky and greasy and our guys would be horrified if we returned like that, so lake baths it was. Have you ever had a lake bath? There is nothing, nothing, like it. I dare you to challenge me on that one, or find anything more refreshing. 

It’s coming on 20 years now and it’s slowly becoming more of burden to keep up for my parents than it used to be, and the talk of selling it has been high up there for a few years now. I wish I had the opportunity to buy it from them, so that Jake & I can eventually raise our kids with the same amazing memories and amazing experiences that I got to enjoy. It breaks my heart to think one day soon it will be a reality that it won’t be ours anymore, so I make sure to soak up every little bit of feeling and emotion I experience while I’m out there, every smell, every sound and every view. Along with the heartbreak and sadness, I am so excited for the future new family to experience all of the magic for themselves for the first time too. Dear future Lot 18 residents: promise me, you'll keep the magic alive. 

Thursday 27 July 2017

Hey so, Pinterest is a bit vague.

A wedding update! A wedding planning update, and really, an excuse to dump just a whole bunch of our engagement photos we got done that are just making my life. Seriously, I’m wondering how much restraint I can show to not put up 4-5 framed photos in every room of my house. And to avoid spamming people like my male cousins who couldn't give a shit, I'll post them here! Our photographer, Marnie with Honey Deer Photography did some straight up wizardry with these, and blew my awaaaay. 

So, wedding planning. My go – to phrase for the planning process has been “Oh, I don’t care”, which is really not a helpful statement when you’re somebody who really does deeply care; kind of makes things difficult. But it’s true. Basically, if by the end of the evening I’m Mrs Brianne Elizabeth Stuchberry, then the night was a success! I could get married in the parking lot of the McDonalds, as long as I'm married by the end of it. The rest of it is just little details that people get soo caught up in, and while most would think I would be a massive Bridezilla jackass (myself included, full disclosure), I just haven’t been. Atleast, not yet. As one of my bridesmaids lovingly said when I told her I wouldn't be an asshole: "Oh don't worry, you will be at one point, but I'll still love you". I know my day will be beautiful, and I am hiring professionals to take care of it for me so that I don’t need to get caught up in the details such as “Who will be pre-filling the water glasses?” did you know that was a real question!? Neither did I.  I kept thinking to myself, “Okay, I know what I want to wear & my look, I know my colors and my general ‘theme’, I know what color I want Jake to wear, and I know what my bridesmaids are going to wear – I’m pretty much done! That was super easy.”

Come on now, everybody! HAHAHAHAHA OKAY BRIANNE.

Hahaha*help me pinterest didn’t let on that there was so much more detail involved* hahaha

Yeah, it’s way more difficult than that, even if you’re someone who generally doesn’t give a flying fuck what your guests eat, as long as they don’t get food poisoning. I wanted a smokey/burger bar because I love smokies unnecessarily so, but that was promptly shut down as tacky. Not by me, or the Groom, but by one of the many who have opinions on this day. Ohhhhhh, the opinions. I have found that while everyone who offers opinions mean well, it’s like asking when you’re going to have kids: don’t do it unless the topic is brought up by the person in question. Like, unless I ask you: “what color should my napkins be?” don’t tell me what color you think they should be. Or what color brings out your eyes best for the linens. Or what your third cousin did for their table scape that was just so darling and that we should definitely do. And especially, please don’t get offended when I tell you that’s probably not the direction we’ll be taking. This is not to say that some opinions haven't been bangers, I just did not expect the sheer volume I'd be receiving.  

Overall, we’ve been pretty good about the planning and being on the same page. Namely, we were insistent that we were not going to go over our budget, we were not going to borrow money to pay for the day with say a line of credit etc, and we were not going to lose sight of what the day was: the beginning of our marriage. Will it be gorgeous, extremely romantic and a super fun party? Shit yea, but all of those things will not add up to digging ourselves out of debt afterward. I asked Jake from the get go: How much or how little do you want to be involved in the planning? His response was “let’s go with ruffle, cammo & machine gun theme” so you know, he wanted – and received! – very little input into the minute, nitty gritty details, but as we do with everything, I ran the bottom lines past him before making a decision. Teamwork makes the dreeeeam work. Truth is, I have the most talented (in my humble opinion) wedding décor/planner extraordinaire helping me, so that’s really helped with the blasé attitude. I know Sara is going to absolutely rock the shit out of this, so why be concerned? She’s my people, she swears like a sailor and I love her for it. Fun fact, when Jake & I first started even talking, she was the first person I told. It happened to be when she first began Top Knot Events, so our joke for a while was “K well I’m doing your wedding then obviously” and finally, I get to use her magic myself.

All of the major vendors are nailed down, minus floral, which I’m really working hard on that whole “Oh, that’s okay I don’t care about that, we can just DIY if we have to”, but really, I do care about that and would very much love to get that nailed down. I texted Sara, “On a scale of 1-10, how ghetto is it to have silk bouquets instead of real flowers?” Her: “Ummm, no fucking comment”. Like, see?! That honest opinion with a solid fuck thrown in for good measure? Refreshing. She makes me want to have several vow renewals at interval anniversaries.

Hahaha just kidding, No, she doesn’t. Nothing could make me want to do this more than once. Big picture person who's bad at details trying to figure out how many outlets the venue has? You figure out how well that’s going down. That being said, the more things are getting nailed down, and the more the months fly by - no really, they are fly-yy-ying, my butterflies just get bigger and bigger. I may not want to do this more than once, but you bet your ass I'm going to enjoy the absolute hell out of this one <3

But like, seriously, Pinterest, we gotta talk. False advertising.

Monday 17 July 2017

Love Letters; house edition.

Dear Trumpet Vine, aka the Weiner Plant,
Thank you for coming back to life, even though for a solid three months you looked so dead I was sure everyone was lying to me to have faith that you would resurrect. You’re super pretty, and your buds looking like little wieners right outside my front door made me giggle for a solid immature week.

Dear Raspberry Bushes,
You neglected massive things you, you sure know how to make my heart and wallet happy. In a week’s time, you’ve filled 3 freezer bags FULL of pure money as far as I'm concerned. You’re in the shittiest spot possible, and because of that I can only reach half of you without scratching my arms but you know what? For you, I’ll endure the scratches. Love is pain.
Dear Marble Sink,
Nope, still dislike you. In the summer your water puddles turn goopy frighteningly fast and they smell. But everyone who comes here is still charmed by you, so whatever I guess. Once I ever figure out how to successfully get you out of the house without breaking everything, watch out. 

Dear (front) Landscaping,
You get your rock accessories this week and then you are done! We’re so happy with how you look, and it’s been so fun learning how to do everything, and what plants work best where. I now have hydrangeas, lilac bushes AND peonies surrounding my house, which of course means I’m never ever moving; and while this may pose a space problem down the round, at least we’ll be a cramped house surrounded by pretty flowers. Sacrifices can and will be made.

Dear Tom & Linda (our ADORABLE neighbors)
To my newly appointed surrogate grandparents (were you not aware you inherited a new granddaughter? K well you did), you’re so wonderful and I promise to love the little lilac bush you gifted me with with as much as green thumbiness as I can muster up. I don’t have luck with well, keeping anything green thriving, but it seems to be doing okay. Same with the peony bushes you said I could thin out. You’re just the bees knees. & yes, I am making sure to help myself to the rhubarb and cherries while you're gone, you friggin angels you.

Dear Home,

You still make our hearts so so happy, especially the fact that it’s been 30+ degrees for weeks and you stay so cool (AC free!) that we can still sleep in polar fleece sheets without hating life. This is an exceptional bonus because I’m quite lazy and don’t feel like changing them. I enjoy being chilly and you just get that, ya know? You just get it. We love you, every little bit of ya. We can’t wait to keep growing with you. 

Friday 9 June 2017

To quote the great Basic Bitch(es), I can't even deal.

Hi there! Every once in a while I like to put on my entitlement pants and hop up on my soapbox. Today is one of those days. Please keep the eyerolls until the end, if you could be so kind.

Okay. This has been bothering me for quite some time now, but I didn't want to rant about it on Facebook, and had definitely WAY more to say about it than could be done in 140 characters, so hello blog post! My heart hurts, and I'm going to tell you why, and plead that if you're one of these people, you take a second to think about your actions next time. Or you know, just stop doing this.

The internet, what a melting pot of clusterfuck hey? You got your grumpy cats/bear waving (personal FAVORITE)/puppy/heartwarming videos, your engagement posts & baby announcements, your memes and any news article you could ever want, PINTEREST, and literally everything you could ever wonder is just a google search away - sorry Bing but like, let's be real. Case in point, today I learned what "Predatory Lending" was, and the other day I googled "Executive Privilege", not to mention went down a rabbit hole of old Hollywood feuding. The internet is great.

You know what else? The internet is the fucking WORST. You don't need to look too far to find your dirty pond scum section where racists get together and flick their teeny weiners over the injustice of equality, or misogynists come together to discuss how we weak women want our voices heard and how this all started with that damn Wonder Woman, god we are just such bitches for expecting respect, am I right!? #sitthefuckdown. The internet is the new wild west, where everything can be found, good bad or extremely horrendously ugly, and you get to find out which of your relatives and those in your personal circle were secretly totally prejudiced all these years! Supes fun.

But one thing is increasingly becoming too much for me, and that is: videos, GIFS or memes that blatantly embarrass/shame/mock a person, a human being, unbeknownst to them. They're embarrassing, humiliating, and my heart literally breaks for the poor person who was caught on camera doing whatever, and is now being laughed at/shamed all over the world. I HATE being embarrassed or the butt of someone's mean joke,  I absolutely loathe it, and more than that I HATE feeling second hand embarrassment. It's one of those things that stays with me for days after. There are literally TV shows and movies I won't watch if I have to feel someone else's embarrassment because of it. I'm a very empathetic person, and I just can't handle it.

I feel like it speaks to a bigger issue, the lack of compassion in our world these days. It's so easy to click "share", that it's so easily forgotten that on the other end of that share is a person, a real life functioning member of their own society, who had the grave misfortune of being caught in a less than flattering position. That poor woman a few weeks ago caught picking her nose & eating it on camera at a sports game? Was that gross as hell? Totally. Did she then deserve to be virally shamed ALL ACROSS THE WORLD?! Absolutely not. Just last night I was on Twitter (because, duh, #ComeyDay), and a video was being shared of an older man in the UK who missed a high five and was being laughed at. That man was already probably feeling embarrassed as is, but to then be the next 15 minutes of fame star for that little cringe inducing moment? It's rude. It's mean, it's rude, and we should know better. That's what embarrassing animal fail videos are for, leave people out of it.

So, in conclusion. If all of my empathetic, compassionate people of the world could unite and just inject a little bit of that into everyone, maybe we can stop with the unnecessary public shaming? I say unnecessary because there are definitely exceptions to every rule, but keep in mind the old saying you learned in kindergarten: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Like, here's the thing, our world is in a bit of a shortage of human decency (it seems, not everyone or everywhere, but there's definitely no shortage of horrible examples if you really want to fuck your day up), and I want to believe we still have a lot of compassion and kindness in our tanks to give away. Prove me right, please. If you feel compelled to share a GIF/meme/video that is not putting someone in a nice light, or is solely existing to shame someone, put yourself in their shoes. Do you want that kind of notoriety? I know I certainly wouldn't wish that on anyone, not even to the assholes who I feel like could stand it. If I was the reason someone was shedding extra tears in their day, well then that's reason enough to change my actions. I hope you do the same, 20 people on my Facebook list that read this. <3 thanks peeps.  

*personal thank you to the amazing, endless supply of Real Housewive's GIFS because no group of ladies does reaction shots quite like these ones do. #neverchange

Friday 12 May 2017

The Accidental Gardener

Our house has made me a gardener & a weekend yardworker. Nay, it has forced gardening upon me. You may be thinking “you bought a house with a yard, what did you expect?” well, I’ll tell you this much: I sure as hell did not expect to like it. Dare I even say, love it*?

*I’m in the honeymoon stages right now, ask me again in a year’s time how much I still “love” my yardwork and I will most likely be whistling a different tune. Humor me.

I have a theory about how the previous owners viewed the landscaping they did. I feel like 6-7 years ago, they planted a shit ton of perennials with no real plan or future contemplation, and then it was “fuck it, we’re done”. No annual cutting back, no weeding, no thinning out; the more the yard resembled a jungle, the better. Our neighbors asked me when we moved in: “Are you a gardener? Oh.. well, you’re going to be!” Thankfully they’re sweet as pie, so I harbor no resentment that they were the messengers to that little truth nugget. This garden has been serious work since the snow melted, and it will continue to be serious work for quite a few weeks/months to come to get it into decent shape and have an actual theme to it. Worth it. 

Now, I say I definitely did not expect to like it, because I have never liked yard work of any kind. While some have green thumbs, I have grim reaper thumbs – I kill all plants, regardless of how hard I try not to. And I am lazy as fuck when it comes to this stuff. Lazy, lazy lazy. So, some history: The house I grew up in and lived until I was about 14 when we moved had a massive yard/gulley. The yard was MASSIVE and the yardwork was never ending. We would have work bees on the weekend with my parents and my brother, and I would cry, beg, barter, complain, and literally do anything I could think of to get out of it. But damn it, my parents didn’t want to raise no assholes, so they ignored all of it and forced me outside because we are a team! And I would complain and carry on no matter what my job was (literally collecting leaves? Like? God I was insufferable). I would take no less than roughly 30 “bathroom breaks” where I would tool around for at least 10-15 minutes, and sometimes I would just hope they would forget about me and continue on. But again, no lazy little assholes for my parents, so I was always retrieved, given back my rake and to my delight, they had left my section untouched, waiting for me. Sometimes I would win the battle and they would just let me be, but that was scarce. Hey mom & dad, for the 23,457 time: I’m sorry I kind of sucked when I was younger.  Thank you for not entirely holding it against me. Thank you for also reminding me of how terrible I was infront of people like my future husband and in-laws; keeping me humble <3

So, given the backstory here, it’s no more surprising to anyone but me that I am actually enjoying myself, and look forward to the next little job I am going to tackle off my list. There was a soggy, nasty leaf/ moldy apple orgy happening underneath the apple trees underneath the snow, and I was stoked to get a rake to those bad boys and make some piles. Piles full of decaying apples, bugs and soggy ass leaves. WHO AM I.

Give me a pair of gloves (because I’ve grown up, I’m not gross and above ruining my nails), and I loved shoving those into a bag and feeling it squish in my hands. Cutting back all of the dead vines/shrubs around the house to discover the succulents sprouting underneath was so satisfying; I’m seeing mystery flowers budding up and I look outside my window every single morning to see if new things have bloomed yet – specifically my amazing LILAC trees that my mom pointed out to me; besides peonies, lilacs are my favorite flower EVER. Above mentioned apple tree? Full of little tiny pink buds waiting to bloom – I will have BLOOMING APPLE TREES SOON!

Spending a Saturday bent over bushes for hours at a time is so exhausting I want to go to bed at 6, but so rewarding to see everything come together and look good. Jake and I have been so pumped on our weekly trips to Canadian Tire to get more gardening/yardwork/outside supplies, and we literally fist bump at our job well done, both so tired and feeling so accomplished.  By the end of summer, I cannot wait to see what we’ve done and how we’ve transformed parts of our space. Like, in a few months I’m going to be a gardener with a legit garden. Unrelated: anyone know what veggies/herbs are invincible?

First “big job” up on the docket is re-doing the L Bend in the front of the house,  which is currently 25% plants that were planted there on purpose, 30% weeds & 4500% MINT, aka the most invasive plant known to man. Like, honestly, who plants mint as a filler plant!? Garden terrorists. If anyone needs 5 lbs of mint for their summer cocktails, hit me up I have roughly 500 plants in various locations. And counting.  Anyway, that is the first official project, to take it more from “So, what’s happening here?” to an actual symmetrical theme – with no fucking mint.