What all women should know….

How to tie a scarf

Awesome video provided by Nordstrom.

I love scarves.  They are so pretty, and they can totally pump up an outfit to the next level.  I find myself often drooling over scarves in stores, admiring their colours and patterns.

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Planning family visits…

It gives me great joy to be able to plan visits for friends and family that visit Canada.

 

This past month my husband’s aunt, uncle and 13 year old cousin visited us from Mexico.  It was going to be a whirlwind trip as they arrived on Saturday night and left the next Saturday morning.  To keep us all organized and now what to expect from one day to the next, here’s what I prepared before they arrived.  We spent our time in our hometown of London, then went to Toronto, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls.  Every two days I emailed them these itineraries so they could get excited about the days ahead.  I enjoy brainstorming and researching restaurants, stores and touristy and not-so-touristy sites for our visitors to experience.  This time around I wanted to highlight Canada’s multicultural flair – at least in the food department.  So each meal we had was from a different country.  We had Polish, Thai, Lebanese, Canadian, British, and Japanese.

Miraculously, for the most part we were able to follow the plans I made.  It was a (delicious and exhausting) success.  Phew.  ImageImageImage

Finding what you’re good at…

We’ve all heard that expression “Do what you love” and the one that your work shouldn’t feel like work. Easier said than done, right?

do what you love

I’ve been struggling a lot with this lately.  I’ve become more aware of time, energy, and my happiness (and my husband’s).  I’ve been more aware of the importance of goal setting.  Which makes me think –  What do I really like to do? What passions me?  What would I love to do every day? Do I see myself doing what I’m currently doing for the rest of my life?  I’ve been teaching for 7 years.  It’s time for a change.

So what I’ve come up with after months of reflection and asking those who know me very well is that I’m an excellent planner.  It seems so natural and innate in me that I have glossed over this skill many times.  Sometimes it’s difficult to answer questions about yourself without seeing yourself from our outsider’s perspective.  It’s difficult to take a step back from yourself.

I love planning trips for my husband and myself.  I love planning our relatives and friends visits from abroad.  And parties – New Year’s Eve parties have become a tradition at our house until we decided spending Christmas in Mexico City and Acapulco may be a tad bit better than dealing with a Canadian winter.

I planned our wedding in Mexico while in Canada.  No, not your typical destination wedding, but a real Mexico City traditional Mexican wedding, and we brought 17 people with me from Canada (on two separate flights) and Norway.  I planned a week of tourist activities for my guests along with transportation, hotel, and food.  The ultimate compliment I heard was “This was a once in a life time experience”.  One day I should blog about our week long festivities.

I’m definitely a logistics person.  I know this has something to do with my personality too. I took a Myer’s-Briggs type assessment  once and the results showed that yes, indeed I am a planner.  So much so that if you give me an idea I’ve already see the end result and the different possible ways it could unravel.  Let me tell you, it’s a curse and a blessing.  Ask my husband, the dreamer.

This year I’m planning the following fun excursions:

a cottage weekend

2nd visit to NYC!

trip to Italy, Spain, and Austria

my Norwegian friends 1st visit to Canada

and I’ve been asked by a friend to plan her annual client appreciation conference. This will be mega cool.  Can’t wait to share more details about this here.

but the biggest thing I need to plan and sort is my life goals.  I think about this daily, but I haven’t put my thoughts on paper or onto a vision board.  It’s always more fun to plan a trip, a party or help someone is their problem, forever forgetting my own life needs some direction.  My discovery of the joy of pursuing planning whether it be logistics or event planning has set the wheels in motion. What’s the next step?

 

 

 

 

Staying motivated…

Since January I have been on a clean eating roll.  I have already eaten healthy and following the clean eating fundamentals, but after spending Christmas in Mexico with my foodie in-laws, I decided I needed to step up my game.

I think I lasted 4 weeks without eating any sugar besides fruit for breakfast and post-workout.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was much easier than I expected.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  I’ve been maintaining my success and sporadic sugar treats. I have steadily been losing 1 lb a week (except for a few weeks where I fell off the wagon).

On a day to day basis I don’t have any issues with eating well.  It’s the social situations that cause me to cave.  Trying to avoid the bread basket at a restaurant, eating food off my husband’s plate when we’re out (sweet potato fries and slices of pizza!), or avoiding bowls of sweets and chips during game night with our friends = D I S A S T E R.

After said disasters, I usually feel so bad.

Last week was one of those weeks.  I ate my meals every 3 hours, and they were all on point, but the week involved the baby shower I threw at my house, leftover cupcake post-baby shower, my mom’s birthday dinner at a buffet, a friend’s birthday and a work event that involved jujubes and chocolate covered almonds.  It was a jam packed week, and my will power got the best of me.

I can be organized with my meals, get every workout in, but sometimes my mind just works on its on and I stuff myself without thinking.  But after, I come back better and stronger back on track.

To get myself back on track I’ve started taking photos of everything I eat and every night make a collage to keep me motivated.  This works as a reminder for myself to now blow my progress, to see how far I’ve come, and to see that, yes, I am eating alot and having great success.

On Tuesday, for example, I trained my legs in the morning which means more more carbohydrates are included in my meals for the day.  Each meal in the photo below is healthy – yes, even the cupcakes!

leg day meals

I know Twenty doesn’t think about any of this food stuff and works out a little in her apartment to Tracy Anderson dvds.  Sometimes she rolls her eyes at me when I start talking food and workouts, and she’s definitely always the first one to jokingly suggest eating at McDonald’s or buying a cinnabon while at the mall.  However, she’s the taller and skinnier sister.  I had the same mentality in my Twenty’s – I worked out rarely and ate anything.  That’s probably why I gained 20lbs while living in Mexico for two years.  I lost the weight quickly when I started working out doing BodyPump, Step, and Cycling classes and paying closer attention to calories.  It wasn’t until my late twenties before my wedding day that I discovered weight training and clean eating and lost 10 pounds.  I was hooked.

I’m looking forward to where saying no to sugar will take me.

 

Flamenco Love

Just over 10 years ago I took Flamenco dancing lessons while studying abroad in Granada, Spain.  I still have my Flamenco shoes in my closet eternally waiting for Flamenco lessons to become available in London, ON, Canada.  It’s been a long wait that continues.  Last night I was able to attend a Flamenco show put on my 4 musicians and dancers who study Flamenco in Sevilla, Spain.  This was my husband’s first time seeing such a spectacle and a great prelude to what he’ll see when we go back to visit Granada in August.   The event was very small; I counted a maximum 50 people.  It was a powerful and intimate performance.  At intermission my husband turned to me with “What do you think?” and I must admit it was great, but after living in Granada (the birthplace of Flamenco) and seeing real gypsies and Flamenco artists perform with the Alhambra in the background – I’ve been pretty spoiled.  Last night I was reminded of my love for Flamenco and the got the push to start planning my August vacation to Italy, Spain, and Austria.

 

 photo(2)

This women was the tallest and most blonde Flamenco dance I have ever see.  It was impossible to take in her movement with my glance.

 

photo

I could not stop staring at the guitarists shoes.  They were black healed Flamenco shoes.  Like this:

Boots-for-men-in-leather-with-nails

They were perfectly worn in, scuffed, and reinforced and looked like they had been dance through and stomped millions of nights.  I may need to investigate this more.

Throwing a surprise baby shower

I love entertaining and throwing a good party especially when there is a clear theme. Today I threw my very first baby shower. It was a small co-ed affair. Even though it was small, I had forgotten how much planning and work goes into organizing something like this. It’s exhausting but so fulfilling.imageI always look for ideas and inspiration on Pinterest. I love to use the secret board option to keep my party planning a secret from my friends who use Pinterest and are likely the ones who attend my parties. Then begins the grocery and party necessities making list. Two days before the event I will begin preparing any food – usually the desserts. The night before I can boil eggs, prep some veggies, make any dips or sauces, plan and set the buffet table, hang decorations, and if time permits clean the house. The day of – you better stay out of my kitchen, I am on a mission and, thanks to my list making, things run smoothly.

Looking at the pictures it looks so easy and effortless, but anyone who has thrown a party knows it’s not.

I prepared:
tzatziki with radish, carrots, broccoli, red pepper for dipping
marinara sauce for meat balls
deviled eggs
cucumber and carrot cream cheese roll-ups
chocolate walnut dates squares
strawberry buttercream cupcakes

Bought or brought by another guest:
mini quiches
meatballs
shrimp ring
Hungarian sausage
timbits and strawberries (I skewered them)
apple pie squares
blueberry pie

Baby shower cuteness included three paper games (word scramble, word search, fill-in-the-blank nursery rhymes) courtesy of Frugal Fanatic, a blind tasting of 6 types of baby food from jars involving the mom and dad to be vs. novice 14 month parents.

Throwing a surprise baby shower

Eye lash growing update

When I last left off in my eye lash growing adventure, I was planning on buying Latisse in Mexico over the Christmas holidays.  Turns out, Latisse isn’t cheaper over there.  Basically, Latisse is the rebranded version of Lumigan.

lumigan

Lumigan is the actual eye drop medicine used for lowering high eye pressure. One of the side effects of using Lumigan was longer lashes.  Latisse ran with the idea, rebranded for just eye lash growth – so instead of putting the drops into yours to cure your high eye pressure, you paint the Latisse formula on your eye lashes like eyeliner.  The magic ingredient in this called 0.03% bimatoprost ophthalmic solution.

An opthamaologist friend of mine claims that the Latisse formula is restructured a bit to better suit eyelash growth.  She says Lumigan will cause your lashes to grow every which way, while Latisse makes them grow straight out like regular eye lashes.

I was able to get Lumigan while in Mexico and began using nightly when I was nearing about 10-15 eye lash extensions left.  I think it’s working.  I completely by passed the horrible post-extension stubby lashes.  When I put on mascara my lashes have never looked better.  Amazing.  Even my husband has noticed.

Lumigan experts at a dermotology office told me that your eye lashes go through a 16 week cycle, so it’s recommended to use eye lash growing products for at least 16 weeks (4 months) to see the effects.  Basically, your eye lashes try to regrow every 16 weeks, so after you’ve been feeding them eye lash growing products and the growth period kicks in you should start seeing major results.

I’ve only been doing this for 4 weeks and I’m already impressed.