Wedding planning update (& a lakeside photo shoot!)

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We are now just over 5 months away from our New Year’s Eve wedding. Five months is still a good chunk of time, but I can’t believe how quickly this year is flying by! I was feeling a little stressed out last time I posted about the wedding! But we’ve made a lot of planning progress since then, and I’m feeling pretty good, so I thought I’d share a little wedding planning update and some pictures from a fun photo shoot we did recently with Bettina Bogar!

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We still have a few major details to sort out (bridesmaids’ dresses, what?), but at least now we have all of our major vendors booked.

We were especially excited to finally book our photographers, the super talented husband and wife team at Joseph and Jaime Weddings. Every single picture on their website is gorgeous, so I know that they’re going to do a wonderful job at capturing our day.

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Our apartment is also quickly filling up with décor items. While we’re renting our linens, I determined that it would be much cheaper to purchase rather than rent some items, including candle holders and vases. Plus I hope to re-sell some of the items afterwards to recoup some of the costs. Continue Reading

Top Five in Kelowna, British Columbia: Summer Edition

kelowna

Mike’s parents live in Kelowna, British Columbia, and we recently enjoyed a wonderful visit with them. The temperature was around 35C (95F) and sunny for much of our stay, so we spent a lot of time cooling off at the local beaches.

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There is so much to do in Kelowna in the summer for outdoor adventurers and wine aficionados alike. In addition to a photo dump, here’s a recap of my Top Five in Kelowna, British Columbia: Summer Edition.

Top Five in Kelowna

1) Hiking. I’m a big fan of hiking and Kelowna has countless trails for all lengths of hikes and all levels of difficulty. We use HikingAddiction.ca to plan our Kelowna hikes. On this visit we hiked the Bear Creek Canyon, which has a beautiful waterfall, and Rose Valley, which was a more intense hike but rewarded us with the most stunning views. In addition to the great trails and amazing vistas, another thing I really appreciate is that many of the parks have well-maintained washrooms. No squatting in the bushes on these hikes!

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Weekly Meal Prep & Wedding Planning Update

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This weekend was pretty gross and rainy, so it was perfect for getting in some meal prep. While I don’t do this weekly, when I do it really helps keep me on track with my healthy eating goals. Mike and I worked together and stocked the fridge with pre-portioned chicken (3 oz), sweet potato (150 g) and steamed broccoli and carrots (200 g). We also made a dozen muffin-tin eggs topped with cheese, and a week’s worth of green smoothies. An hour and a half on a cold, rainy day and the week’s meals got a whole lot easier.

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Safe cycling in the city

My cycling commute is often my favourite part of the day. It’s a great way to get a little sunshine into my day when I spend so much of it inside tied to my desk. But it can also be stressful, and frustrating, and often even scary. I know lots of people that are too nervous to ride their bikes in the city, especially during rush hour, and I honestly can’t blame them. Toronto isn’t the most bike-friendly city, and even though about 50% of my commute includes bike paths, they hardly seem to offer any additional safety.

So I’ve compiled my tips for riding safely in the city based on the issues I see most often on my commute!

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6 Safe Cycling Tips

1) Slow down. I see so many cyclists that zoom through traffic, but the faster you ride, the faster you’re going to be slamming into that car, door or pedestrian. Slow down to give car drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists a chance to see you. Slow down to give yourself a chance to spot obstacles like streetcar tracks, pot holes and people or pets running out into traffic. I’ll admit I ride my bike really fast on my commute, but once I hit the downtown core, I slow waaay down. There’s so much going on, you really have to watch it!

2) Avoid right-turning vehicles. Wait patiently or carefully pass on the left. Passing on the right of a right-turning vehicle is the #1 stupid thing I see cyclists doing frequently. I’d say the only exception is if you can cross along with a whole group of pedestrians, but even then proceed with caution.

3) You are invisible. Drivers generally aren’t looking for cyclists when they’re looking to make a maneuver like crossing through an intersection or turning into traffic from a side-road, and even though you’re right there in front of them they honestly might just not even register your presence, since they’re looking for other cars (remember that basketball-gorilla experiment?). If possible, try to make eye contact. Even then, don’t assume. This one got me into trouble once. I was waiting to make a left turn onto a main road. A driver slowed way down, and I assumed he was letting me in. Nope. Just as I crossed through, he started to accelerate. I only got tapped, but it was definitely not a good situation. I think he’d actually slowed looking for a street sign and hadn’t seen me at all. Continue Reading

Wedding Stress & Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Smoothie Recipe

banana chocolate oatmeal smoothieLast night, I tossed and turned for hours while I stressed over tiny wedding planning details. It seems like every couple weeks I have one of these sleepless nights when my anxiety completely takes hold before my emotions simmer down again. Things always seem worst at night in the dark, don’t they?

We’re still more than 6 months away from the big day, but there really is so much to do. Other than our venue, we don’t have anything else confirmed! Now, we’ve made significant progress in narrowing down our other vendors, but I know I’ll feel a lot better when we have a few more deposits down and contracts signed.

My sister reminds me that I should spend at least as much time being happy and excited as I am stressed, but it’s really hard! I am so excited to marry Mike, and I know that our wedding is going to be wonderful, but there are just so many things that I need to get into place between now and then that sometimes, like at 4am last night, it all just seems so tremendously overwhelming.

Wedding planning has also been hard because it really makes me feel my mom’s absence. It’s strange, but even now, 6 years after her death, I sometimes almost forget that she’s gone. It’s that momentary urge to pick up the phone to call her, and lately such a strong presence in absence when I visualize my wedding day. To be honest, since my mom died, I don’t really think of her very much in my day-to-day. When she died, everyone told me that she’d always be with me, and would always be watching (kind of creepy!), but I’ve never felt that. I’ve really never felt her with me, but lately I’ve more strongly felt her absence.

This ties into my stressing lately when I have those moments of feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have a mom to help me plan my wedding, and I don’t have a mom to actually step in and take care of things, like moms do. Before she died, I remember talking to her about this. I remember wondering, “But mom, when you’re gone who is going to help me??” And she logically responded that I’d find differently people to help me depending on what it was that I needed help with. Totally makes sense. If I need help fixing the sink, I’ll call a plumber. If I need help with the seating chart, I’m sure I have a friend that will come help me out.

Her response was comforting to me at the time, but now I realize that it misses that moms offer a sort of help that no one else does; it’s that  comfort and assurance that everything will be ok, always. But even when I’m up all night stressing over how we’re going to coordinate flower pick-up, and who’s going to light the candles for dinner, and how we’re going to learn to dance, I do know that everything will be ok, always. I guess way down underneath all that stress and anxiety, I really do have that comfort and assurance somewhere deep within, so maybe that’s how my mom is helping me after all :)

Now I’ll follow that up with a delicious Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Smoothie that is wonderfully thick and creamy and a deliciously indulgent way to start the day!

Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Smoothie
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond milk, divided
  • 1 chopped and frozen banana
  • ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 handful raw spinach
  • ½ cup ice
Instructions
  1. Soak oats in ½ cup almond milk overnight, or for at least 1 hour
  2. Add spinach and remaining almond milk to blender and blend until smooth
  3. Add remaining ingredients and blend, adding more almond milk if necessary

banana chocolate oatmeal smoothie

Sporting Life 10K race recap: 58:51

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On Sunday, Mike and I ran our first 10K, and it was so much fun! We’d already gotten our race kits in advance, as locals are required to do, so we just had to show up shortly before our start time (9AM). We drove up to the start line because it was only 20 minutes away, while taking the TTC would have taken about an hour. I was a bit worried about finding parking, since the race website warned it might be a problem with the 25,000 participants that day, but turns out it was no trouble at all! We parked a few blocks away in a near-empty lot, since we figured we’d lucked out and the closer lots would be full. When we walked up though, the parking lot right next to the start line still had some empty spots!

Everything was pretty well organized, and we didn’t have any trouble figuring out where we needed to be. We got lined up, managed to find my co-worker, Joanne, and were ready to go. We really lucked out with the weather, since during the week the forecast had warned of rain and maybe even thunderstorms. We ended up with a nice, sunny, but not too hot day. I heard from someone that ran in a later wave that it was super humid, but we didn’t find it humid at all, so I think we really lucked out with near-perfect conditions. The breeze as we approached the lake near the finish line was so wonderful.

As I’d mentioned, my goal was to finish in under 60 minutes, but I wasn’t honestly sure that I’d be able to do it. On most of my casual training runs, I was coming in at over 30 minutes for 5K, so it didn’t quite add up, but still, I was determined. My official time was 58:51! Woohoo!

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I didn’t struggle too much physically or mentally during the race, but I definitely did feel my legs start to tire around the 8K mark. My sister and her bf came out to cheer us on and we conveniently ran by her bf’s condo, so they got to see us run by at the 7K mark, and then they came and met us at the finish, too. It was so fun to have them cheering us on, since overall there weren’t a whole lot of spectators on the course. There are a couple designated cheer spots, but most people were just at the end, so a lot of the race was almost eerily quiet. My favourite signs were “Your legs will forgive you” and “Worst. Parade. Ever.” haha.

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I was keeping my eye on my pace throughout the race, so by the halfway mark I knew I was cutting it a bit close for hitting my sub-60 goal. I knew that if I didn’t get in under 60 minutes, it would probably only be by a minute or two, so I really didn’t want to let that happen. I wanted to do whatever I could to achieve that goal if it was at all possible. I knew I was going to feel good about finishing, but I knew I would feel great if I hit my sub-60 goal. So I didn’t stop for water or walk at all. Even though I’d run a 10K distance before, I’d never run it 100% without stopping because of the usual streetlights and all, so I felt pretty proud of that, too.

Mike took of on a sprint in the last 100 or so meters, so I ran as hard as I could. I wasn’t able to catch up to him, but I did run so hard that I definitely felt like puking the moment I crossed the finish line. But the feeling passed, and I felt pretty good, and not too sore for the rest of the day. We took a nice long walk in the afternoon, and I stretched a little, so I’m feeling pretty good today. A little stiff, but nothing major. I’m playing volleyball tonight though, so I’m  not sure I have much hustle left in me.

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It was really fun running the race with Mike and Joanne. We left Joanne behind somewhere around 6K when she stopped for a water break because of my sub-60 goal (and we’re jerks!), but it really helped to have friends to run with. Mike was really funny during the race because he was all, “I’m never running a race again” and then after we finished he said, “ok, maybe I’d run another 5K or 10K sometime” and then by the evening he was wondering when the next race was! I’d like to run another couple races this summer, but my big goal is going to be the Scotiabank Half Marathon in October. While 10K wasn’t too painful yesterday, running that two times over and then some seems pretty crazy right now. But so did running a 10K!

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Sunday is race day | Sporting Life 10K

How is the Sporting Life 10K already here so soon? How is it even May?

On Sunday, Mike and I will be running our first ever 10K race! We’re excited, and maybe a little nervous. We’ll also be running with my co-worker and running buddy from my twice-weekly lunchtime runs, so I’m at least feeling great about running with people that I’ve run with before (and 30,000 other people, what?). We’re sort of all around the same speed, so it should work out ok.

I’ve run a 10K distance a few times now, so I know that I can do it. Now it’s just a matter of how quickly can I do it, and how much am I going to love/hate doing it. My goal is to finish in under 60 minutes, which I think it reasonable as long as I push myself just a little bit. Everyone says that race days are always quicker, and this race is on a slight downhill, so I’m banking on those factors to help me get in under an hour. I know I’ll be thrilled just to finish anyway :)

Earlier this week, we threw some intervals into our lunchtime run, and OMG, it was so much more painful. Ever since my official running group dropped off over the winter, I’ve totally slacked on any of the speed work in the program, so after this 10K, that’s going to be my focus.

I’ve even started thinking about signing up for the Scotiabank Half Marathon in October. It’d be great motivation to keep running consistently over the summer. But I won’t get ahead of myself, and I’ll see how things go on Sunday first!

Wish me luck!

Costa Rica in pictures

I’m back from my girls’ trip to Costa Rica! I’ve been thrown right back into craziness with work and wedding planning, but I wanted to take a moment to share some pictures from my vacation.

Costa Ricapoas-volano-jillCosta Rica  Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica

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Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Hot Sauce

Habenero Hot Sauce | Sweet and Spicy

Some people looove hot sauce. I’m not one of those people. I am ok with spicy things, but I could take them or leave them, and rarely add hot sauce to my dishes. But when you have a big bag of habaneros that are quickly wrinkling up because you couldn’t resist grabbing them from the discount produce rack ($0.22 for so many peppers!), hot sauce seems like a good option.

I’d never made hot sauce before, but it’s actually super easy: wash, chop, blanch, toss, blend, pour, enjoy. The hardest part is getting through it all without crying and coughing once all that spiciness gets all up in the back of your throat, but pro tip: leave the kitchen while your fiancé takes care of the rest.

This habanero chili hot sauce, based on Pepper Joe’s Island Hot Sauce recipe, became Sweet + Spicy Pineapple Hot Sauce out of pure necessity. We ended up with nearly a half gallon of mega-spicy just-a-dab’ll-do hot sauce. We were planning on freezing a lot of it anyway, but we really didn’t need a 10-year supply of hotter-than-hot hot sauce, so I googled ways to bring down the heat.

Adding a big can of crushed pineapple seemed like the most delicious option. So rather than a 10-year supply of hot sauce, we have a large quantity of Sweet + Spicy Pineapple Hot Sauce that we can use a lot more liberally. So far, I’ve enjoyed it tremendously on my scrambled eggs, baked fish and pork chops.

Breakfast Burrito with Sweet and Spicy Hot Sauce | Pineapple + Habenero PeppersHomemade Hot Sauce | Sweet & Spicy

Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Hot Sauce
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8-10 habanero chili peppers
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ tbs salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
Instructions
  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil over high heat
  2. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds (avoid touching eyes after handling peppers)
  3. Blanch peppers in boiling water for 30-40 seconds, remove from water
  4. Add onion, carrots and peeled garlic cloves to water and cook until soft
  5. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth
  6. Store in a glass jar or bottle in fridge, or freeze in batches

Homemade Hot Sauce | Sweet & Spicy Habenero Peppers

Birthday month stalled my weight loss (and why I’m ok with that)

birthday cupcakes boots and bourbon

March is birthday month in my group of friends, so we’ve been doing a lot of eating, dancing, drinking and celebrating lately!

For my own birthday, we went to Boots and Bourbon, a local country bar. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to ride the mechanical bull, but I had such an amazing time with all my friends that came out. I felt so loved. Thanks, y’all!

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The downside of a month packed full of celebratory occasions, is that my weight loss progress totally stalled. It wasn’t just birthday eats, but also some stress-eating during a few emotional low points (wedding planning! work! friends! life!), which sabotaged my weight loss this month.

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But I’m OK with it. I still tracked things pretty consistently on MyFitnessPal.com and stuck with my running program. Rather than letting myself get discouraged because I didn’t lose any weight all month, I focused on the positive progress I’ve been making (running 5K like it’s no big deal now, yeah!). And honestly, just that is progress in itself. Losing weight without being crazy about losing weight is just as big of a goal as dropping those pounds.

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Especially when trying to lose only a small amount of weight, the difference between maintaining and losing is only a few hundred calories per day, so it’s really easy to go over, especially when birthday cupcakes are thrown into the mix. A few extra dinners out on the town and an extra slice of cake can spell the difference between losing weight or not, or even gaining. So while the difference between losing, maintaining, or gaining can be super teeny tiny, the difference between losing my sh*t and just taking it all in stride is the biggest deal ever.

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Some days, weeks and months I’ll be able to stick to my diet and lose weight, and other times it just won’t happen. It could be social events, stress, hormones or a combination of all those things, like it was this month, but life happens and feeling bad about it isn’t going to help anything (and usually only makes things worse!). Weight loss isn’t linear, and the ups and downs are part of the process. The best thing I can do is just keep tracking, and keep coming back to my goals and keep working on my relationship with food.

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Another thing that I’m hoping will help me stick to my goals without getting totally crazy around food is Kimberly Snyder’s new book, Beauty Detox Power! I love her advice regarding super healthy food, but losing weight would be easy if it was JUST about the food.

The reason many of us run into trouble is because our relationships with food are SO COMPLICATED! And Kimberly Snyder’s new book promises to cover so much more about the mind-body connection. Can’t wait to learn more!

Also, with pre-order, Kimberly Snyder is offering the most insane giveaway including a chance to win 15 Vitamix blenders and a trip to Mexico! AND SO MUCH MORE.

Click here for all the details!

birthday flowers

From around the web:

About the psychology of eating.

Got food issues? Sign up for free coaching emails.

A journey towards IIFYM.

An honest post about binge eating.

And avoiding the slippery slope (and more tips).