Since I last shared my pregnancy news and the story of our complications, things have been progressing well. I ended up spending a total of 1 month on bed rest before heading back to the office. I took it easy though, since I wasn’t officially taken off bed rest for another two weeks after that. Some of the original concerns seem to have resolved, while a couple of unexpected new issues cropped up that may or may not become problems. Apparently I have a bunch of large placental lakes and the umbilical cord is eccentric, meaning it inserted into the placenta off centre, which can prevent the baby from getting enough nutrients as it grows. The baby’s growth is now being monitored a bit more frequently, but so far he’s doing perfectly well. Yes, I said he! We found out we are having a baby boy at our 20-week anatomy scan.
The ultrasound tech had asked us if we wanted to hear her guess about sex a few weeks earlier, and she told us she thought the baby was a boy. I figured that she probably wouldn’t have given us her guess if she didn’t really know, so we were pretty confident we were having a boy, but it was still fun to get the confirmation at the 20-week ultrasound. I didn’t have a preference at all, but I’m really excited to raise a boy. Growing up with just my sister and mom, the idea of having a little boy in the family seems so foreign!
Earlier this week, for the first time, someone offered me a seat on the streetcar because she noticed I was pregnant, so I think I’ve officially transitioned from chubby-or-pregnant to definitely-preggers. My sister asked me earlier on how I was feeling about my body changing, and then and now I feel pretty much fine so far. I bet I’ll be feeling differently when I’m about to burst in a few months, though. Having clothes that fit comfortably definitely makes all the difference. I grew out of my pants pretty early on, and have been living in my H&M MAMA jeans. All my tops seemed to shrink overnight, so I picked up a few simple ruched tees from Old Navy, which are cute and comfy with my cardigans and jackets. A couple weeks ago I was at a maternity store looking for a dress for a Christmas party we went to, and another girl in the fitting room was just sobbing! Based on what I overheard, it was her first time shopping for maternity clothes, and I guess it wasn’t going well. Hormones, I’m sure. Poor girl
Most exciting of all, I have started to feel the baby kick. I’d been getting uncomfortable stabby pains here and there, which I thought might be the baby (with a butcher knife), but last week I felt legit kicks for the first time. I felt two in a row and then put my hand on my belly and felt one from the outside, too. A few days later, Mike got to feel him for the first time. Especially with concerns about the baby’s growth, it’s wonderful to have a solid indication that he’s been growing bigger and stronger since our last appointment.
Yep, I’m pregnant! I’m so excited to share that our IVF journey has successfully resulted in a pregnancy, with a due date of April 5th, 2017. Unfortunately it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. And not only due to my horrendous morning sickness.
We transferred one of our 4 healthy BRCA- 6-day embryos on July 20th. I was scheduled for a pregnancy test at the clinic 2 weeks later, but I did a home test a few days earlier. The home test came up as a clear positive, so we were excited that the embryo seemed to have taken. The test at the clinic confirmed that result and we were scheduled in for a 6 week ultrasound.
At the 6-week ultrasound we saw and heard the heartbeat for the first time and everything was looking good, so we officially graduated from the fertility clinic and were referred to our new OB. We met her at our 12 week ultrasound. The ultrasound tech showed us the heartbeat again, and we saw our little baby who had its little hand curled up in front of one of its eyes. So cute already We were told everything looked good and we were scheduled in for an appointment with the OB for 4 weeks later. By the next weekend we’d officially made it through the first trimester and we started sharing our pregnancy news with more friends. I even broke the news to my boss at work.
I was starting to feel good and I had actually had a couple vomit-free days and was starting to feel more energetic for the first time in weeks. But then, at 13 weeks 5 days, I had some bleeding. Continue Reading →
These easy DIY escort cards were an inexpensive way to really tie in the theme for our New Year’s Eve wedding. Not only do they help guests easily find their table, but noisemaker escort cards are fun and festive and look super cute with the decor. Plus it meant that everyone had their own party horn for when the clock struck midnight.
Just for extra fun, I used scratch-n-reveal stickers for guests to scratch to find their table numbers. Just in case it wasn’t obvious, I created a little rhyming sign which I hung on the mirror above: Take a penny, grab your label, scratch your card to find your table!
Make sure to have coins on hand in a dish or scattered around so guests can scratch and reveal their table numbers.
Our venue had a wooden drawer unit that we were able to use to set up the escort cards, but lined up on a table or hung up would look great, too. One thing to be cautious of is not to line them up too closely or too many rows deep, because you don’t want them getting all knocked over as guests go in to find theirs. I organized mine alphabetically, and if you have a huge guest list, you might want to have signs (A-D, E-G, etc.) to make it easy on your guests.
Hi! It has been a while, but now I’m back to get caught up on sharing some of those wedding details and DIY projects. For anyone planning a New Year’s Eve wedding, it’s probably starting to feel like you’re approaching crunch time. I know this is when I really felt the pressure turn on last year after taking some time off from wedding planning during the summer. But don’t worry, you still have a few months left to plan your special day.
Last year when I was doing my own wedding planning, I shared some of my favourite New Year’s Eve table number inspiration. You really can’t go wrong with glitter and metallic when it comes to a New Year’s Eve wedding. I was leaning towards DIY-ing some sequin wood block numbers (glitter seemed way too messy), but thanks to Pinterest, I came across the idea of including a resolution on each table number sign. As with my fortune cookie favours, I was all about incorporating the NYE theme wherever possible.
Printable DIY projects are the easiest way to add personal touches to your wedding day. No glitter or glue required.
I found these sparkly frames at the Dollar Store for $2 each and after the wedding I sold the frames for 50% off, so the whole project only cost me a few bucks.
I loved that it was a way to have my glitter without the mess. No one wants loose glitter in their food. I simply printed out my table numbers on card stock and trimmed to fit.
Our New Year’s resolutions were:
Approach the New Year with resolve
to find the opportunities hidden in
each new day.
Apologize for what you did wrong and forgive those who have wronged you.
Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Think continually about the things you want, not about the things you fear.
Don’t stress the could haves.
If it should have, it would have.
Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you.
Be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody.
Let your smile change the world, but don’t let the world change your smile.
Learn from yesterday, live for today,
hope for tomorrow.
I shared some progress shots of our bedroom redecorating project earlier this summer, and today I’m excited to reveal the final results!
Before I share the details, let’s take a look back at the bedroom BEFORE. So ugly. So brown.
We went from THAT^^^ to this:
Way better, don’t you think?
Now that the room is redecorated, it feels like a totally different, way prettier space. It didn’t come out anything at all like I’d initially planned, but piece-by-piece it took on a look of it’s own and the space is now so bright and comfortable.
I absolutely love this room. And because we did some major KonMari-ing, it’s always tidy! Since sharing the progress shots, we’ve hung curtains, mirrors and artwork, added gorgeous drawer pulls, repainted the radiator and found a rug and accessories.
I found a perfect spot for our beautiful Ketubah where we see it all the time at the entrance to our room.
Now that the transformation is complete, I feel like I get to sleep in a chic boutique hotel every night. Although we kicked Josie’s cat tree out of the room, she still enjoys hanging out in there. She hops on the windowsill every evening and she likes chilling under the bed now that the bed skirt gives her a little fort.
How well does that art work in this space?! I love it! I’d struggled with what to put up there and had settled on the idea of a large black and white photograph, but then I came across this piece at HomeSense and loved that it incorporated the colours that we already had going on in the bedroom. I wasn’t sure how the square shape would look, but I think it’s perfect.
I found some great knobs that we were initially planning to use on the TV stand in the living room. On that piece, they looked way too big and didn’t work at all. But in the bedroom, these oversized knobs add character to our otherwise boring IKEA MALM dresser nightstands.
I was nervous about drilling into the dresser drawers since I was worried they’d get ruined, but it was a really easy project (especially since Mike did all the drilling)! It would have worked even better to drill the holes into the fronts before the drawers were assembled, but I wasn’t about to disassemble all of those drawers!
To avoid splitting, it’s suggested that you clamp the piece to another piece of wood as you drill into the front. Since we weren’t able to do that, the backs did not look great. To hide that mess, I found jumbo washers at the hardware store, and now no one would ever know. Not that many people see the inside of my drawers anyway 😉
The rug was also a HomeSense find. Large rugs can be so expensive, so I’d read a great tip somewhere online that suggested placing a medium-sized rug horizontally under the bed. Since the bed covers up so much of the rug, rotating it this way gives you more visible rug while still giving you something warm and soft to step onto as you roll out of bed.
The only thing that I might like to do is replace the light fixture. It’s just one of those typical rental apartment fixtures, so I wouldn’t mind giving it an upgrade. Not sure what would work in this space though. Thoughts?
But for now, I am really happy to have checked this project off my list. The kitchen and living room are nearly complete, so I hope we can get those ticked off the list soon, too.
When it comes to wedding favors, I think most couples have gotten the message by now that most people probably don’t want that personalized (to the couple) tree ornament or picture frame. All the weddings I’ve been to in the last several years have had edible favors, a donation in-lieu, or foregone the tradition altogether. Candy or dessert bars with take-home baggies are another really popular option. I’m all for these options because they’re not overly costly, and you’re not sticking your guests with dove salt and pepper shakers that they will accidently-on-purpose leave behind.
I liked the idea of favors just because I knew I could come up with something fun that tied in with the New Year’s theme.
Chocolate-dipped fortune cookie wedding favors seemed like a great fit for a New Year’s Eve wedding! I ordered my custom fortune cookies from KCFortuneCookieFactory.com. I was really happy with the whole process and customer service was super responsive when I had questions. The chocolate-dipped fortune cookies stay fresh for up to 6 weeks, so we ordered ours to arrive 2 weeks early, and they came right on schedule. The cookies were well packaged and not a single cookie arrived broken.
But the most important thing was that these were some decadent fortune cookies. These weren’t your usual, stale Chinese take-out fortune cookies. Nope. These cookies were thicker and sweeter than the typical fortune cookie, and they were coated with a nice layer of thick chocolate.
Bonus? Including shipping to Canada, each fortune cookie favor came out to only $0.77 each. Even individual truffles can’t beat that deal!
But what made these fortune cookies really unique was that we were able to create our own fortunes with a personalized message on the back. We printed Thank You tags on cardstock and stapled them to the packages.
The back of each fortune read: Best wishes from the new Mr. & Mrs. Love, Mike and Jill
We included our wedding date as the ‘lucky numbers’.
And the fortunes we came up with were:
You’re going to have the best year yet. Happy New Year!
A thrilling time is in your immediate future! Cheers!
2016 or bust! Happy New Year!
Great things await you in 2016! You are wonderful! POP! FIZZ! CLINK!
Great things await you in 2016! Your future is sweet as a cookie. POP! FIZZ! CLINK!
2016 is your year! You have the attitude of a winner. Happy New Year!
Just be yourself. You are wonderful! Cheers!
Something wonderful is about to happen. Happy New Year!
Fortune in love favours the brave. POP! FIZZ! CLINK!
Do it now! Today will be yesterday tomorrow. Cheers to 2016!
Stop waiting! Buy that ticket. Take that special trip! Happy New Year!
Your ingenuity will bring fine results. Cheers!
You are the life of any party! Eat, drink & hit the dance floor. Cheers to 2016!
You give power to what you give attention to. POP! FIZZ! CLINK!
I’m back from vacation and here today with some living room before pictures. And they’re a wee bit scary.
We’ve nearly put the final touches on our bedroom re-do, so I want to share pictures of that soon, but we’ve since gotten going on redecorating our living room, which desperately needed a makeover.
I’m really excited to redecorate this room because it’s where we spend the most time at home. But for that same reason, I want to tread carefully and make good choices.
We’re keeping the couch, dining table (it expands to seat 8!) and chairs, and already replaced the old MCM TV stand with this dresser I found on Kijiji. Other than a few treasured keepsakes, we got rid of everything. Even the couch and chairs are due for new covers, so we should have a brand new living room by the end of this!
I did like our living room, especially in the evenings when it felt so cozy, but the two-tone paint job had to go and the room was really due for an update. It had been pieced together over time, but never with any real intention.
The first step was doing some major de-cluttering. I used the Kon Mari method (like I did on my closet) and was able to part with SO MUCH STUFF. Even those items I spent a lot of money on at one time, and those gifts that I hung onto just because they were gifts, and even some items that I really, really liked, but just didn’t have a place for.
You can see how much de-cluttering I did, from these pictures, since when it occurred to me to take some before photos, half of the room was taken up by things that we rounded up for our yard sale (no, we didn’t regularly keep a Keurig in the living room!).
Yes, our living room was kinda cluttered, but definitely not typically this full! Look beyond the piles of yard sale stuff and I think you can see what we had going on.
Even before I took those photos, we got rid of this oversized chair that no one sat in, but took up a lot of room. Covered in fur (blanket and cat) is the ottoman that doubled as a coffee table using a tray, which I also sold on Kijiji because it took up so much room.
The first coat of fresh paint is up now, and once that’s done, I’m hoping to find a few new pieces that will make the space feel larger and lighter.
And for a way back throwback, this is my living room from back when I lived with roommates, didn’t watch TV, and thought painting my walls burnt pumpkin orange was a good idea.
Although our new bedroom was almost done, one major thing left on my to-do list was to purge and organize my closet. It just seemed like a daunting task, so I kept putting it off. This weekend, I finally decided to tackle my closet and about 3 hours and 2 large trash bags later, I happily crossed that chore off the list.
Nothing in this book is entirely new or mind-blowing, but the author, Marie Kondo, has a way of putting things that just really makes sense and helps to provide that little push to get rid of those but-maybe-I’ll-need-it-somehow-someday things. She promises that one proper and complete cleanout is all you will ever need to become and stay organized for the rest of your life. Since starting her book (I’m only about halfway through now), I’ve thoroughly enjoyed applying the KonMari method in every nook and cranny of our apartment. We’ve made numerous trips to drop off donations, we had a massive yard sale and we’ve filled bins and bins of trash and recycling.
I literally KonMari’d my “craft closet” into a single small craft supply box. I downsized two tool boxes to one. My piles of papers have vanished. And most recently, I cleared out an entire dresser and at least half of my closet. With every load I haul out of my apartment, our space becomes lighter and more comfortable. I didn’t realize how suffocating my stuff was until I got rid of it.
People joke that KonMari is a cleaning cult, and when I found myself raving about the KonMari method to friends over brunch this weekend, I knew I was completely and happily brainwashed.
This weekend, as I cleaned out my closet, I leaned heavily on these three principles from the KonMari method.
1. Take everything down.
This one is huge and its importance cannot be overstated. The KonMari method requires that you take down all the items and put them on the floor. For example, take all the books off the book shelf, all the dishes out of the cupboard, and all the clothes out of closets and drawers. As I got started on my closet, I gave this principle a thought and decided, “That just makes so much more work. Is it really necessary?” YES. Yes, it is. See that picture above? That’s my closet after I ignored KonMari’s rules and pulled items I wanted to get rid of off the hangers. See that pile? Not bad, right? WRONG. At this point, it occurred to me that if I was going to do this, I should do it correctly. She has these instructions for a reason, so I decided I would just trust the method and see what happened.
So I pulled every item off its hanger, every piece off its shelf, and every article from its drawer. And I get it! Making the decision to keep an item is entirely different than making a decision to get rid of an item. When a perfectly good shirt is hanging comfortably on its hanger, it’s easy to let it hang. When you pick that same shirt out of a pile on the floor you’re not just simply deciding if you want to leave it be. You’re forced to actively decide whether to keep it or not.
See those large bags below? That’s what I was able to eliminate using this approach. Compare that to the tiny pile above. Once I tried it, I got it.
2. Put everything in one place.
KonMari strongly encourages you to collect all like items in a single place before starting your purge. This is another principle that kind of had me saying, “Why bother? I know what I have.” Here’s the thing though. Imagine you’re clearing our your kitchen junk drawer and find 3 highlighters. You might decide to keep 1 or 2 of the 3. Then on another occasion you tidy out your office and find another 7 highlighters. So you keep another 2 or 3. Then another day, you’re cleaning out purses and book bags and come across a few more (I’m a researcher and spent a lot of time in school, so I’ve accumulated highlighters, ok?). Individually, you’ve done a great job of purging, but you still end up with 10 highlighters when you only needed a couple. That’s the importance of gathering all like items.
My closet and dresser are located in our home gym (Mike uses the closet in our bedroom). But we also added small 3-drawer dressers as nightstands when we redecorated our bedroom, with the plan that we’d eliminate my dresser in the gym. I use the top drawer of my nightstand dresser for my makeup (since I got rid of my vanity), so I wasn’t sure how I’d possibly downsize from my overstuffed 5-drawer dresser to 2.
But KonMari insists that you’ll always have exactly the right amount of storage once you have exactly the right amount of stuff. So I went ahead. I gathered all the items from my closet, my gym dresser and my bedroom dresser. I pulled the jackets off the hooks on the backs of doors and sweaters off chairs, and coats from the hallway closet. Then one item at a time, I started to go through my giant mountain of clothes.
3. Hold each item in your hands.
As a professional organizer, Marie Kondo is in a bit of a love affair with items. She whispers sweet nothings to them and thanks them for their service. I haven’t gone that far, but I’ve taken to heart her requirement to hold each item in your hands before making a decision about whether it should stay or go. I’ll give an example. I looked at a particular sweater in my pile of clothes. A light knit, pink, with white polka dots. I’d worn it often enough this past winter and it was in perfect condition. I’ll keep it, I thought. Then I picked it up. And with it in my hands, I immediately recalled how I felt when I wore it. It was a tad bit short, slightly itchy, and I just didn’t really love it. So into the ‘donate pile’ it went. That was the magic of holding each item. I didn’t try anything on as I went through this closet cleanout, but as I picked each item up in my hands, I was easily able to decide to hang it back up, slide it into the drawer, or say goodbye.
I now can easily see everything hanging neatly in my closet and my clothes have room to breathe, avoiding wrinkling. And I did manage to clear out that entire dresser, reducing to only two drawers in my nightstand with room to spare. And that’s the magic of tidying up!
Have you tried the KonMari method? Is your closet due for clean out?
When we were planning our wedding, it was important for Mike and me to have a wedding that truly reflected us. Neither of us are particularly religious, but we both wanted to include traditions that were meaningful to us and our families. I’m Jewish and Mike is Christian but neither of us wanted to be married in a church or synagogue. Just to keep things simple logistically, we decided early on that we wanted to find a venue that could accommodate both the ceremony and reception (which we did at The Rosehill, Toronto).
I was out to brunch with a couple girlfriends when I mentioned that we were still looking for an officiant. One of my friends then told me that her father actually had started officiating weddings when her older sister, also a Jew marrying a non-Jew, was having trouble finding someone to marry them. How perfect is that? He specializes in ceremonies for interfaith couples just like us. It turned out to be great because he was really familiar with all the Jewish wedding traditions and he spoke Hebrew, but he also understood how to create a nice balance. When we met with him, he took us through many of the Jewish traditions we could consider and we just picked and chose the ones we liked. Drinking wine? Yes, please. Walking around in circles? No, thanks. 7 blessings? We’ll take it. Breaking the glass? Mazel Tov!
Once I started researching, I realized that so many Jewish wedding traditions are already part of the traditional Christian wedding…the veil, the white dress, the rings. So that made it easy enough to plan an interfaith ceremony that felt right for us.
Since there were many guests who weren’t Jewish, I was excited about being able to share some unique traditions. Our officiant did a great job of explaining everything, so no one was left wondering what the heck was going on.
One of the most obvious characteristics of a Jewish ceremony is the Chuppah. This canopy represents the home that the couple is establishing together. Nowadays people have the most elaborate and gorgeous Chuppahs decorated with flowers and silks and ribbons and whatever else the couple likes (seriously, so gorgeous!).
For our ceremony, we went ultra simple. Chuppahs are commonly free-standing, but we loved the idea of using the traditional Chuppah poles, which Mike’s Best Man and groomsmen held.
The canopy can be made of any type of material, but we used a tallit (prayer shawl). My dad brought his beautiful tallit from France, but it ended up being too small so our officiant provided his.
This is where the wine comes in. The officiant recited a blessing over the wine and then we each took a sip from the same cup.
“All the sweetness life’s cup may hold for you should be sweeter because you drink it together; whatever drops of bitterness it may contain should be less bitter because you share them.”
The 7 Blessings
During this part of the ceremony, 7 blessings are recited. Our officiant recited some contemporary blessings in English, which included wishes and hopes for us as a couple.
“May you respect each other’s individual personality and perspective, and give each other room to grow in fulfilling your dreams. May you find happiness together in adventures big and small, and something to celebrate each day of your lives.”
Signing of the Ketubah
Traditionally the Ketubah is signed before the ceremony, but we chose to sign it during the ceremony along with the marriage license.
For more, I described the whole Ketubah thing, a Jewish marriage contract, in a previous post.
I’m really glad I decided to splurge on a stunning paper cut and gold leaf Ketubah from Jessyjudaica.com because we’ve recently hung it up just at the entrance of our bedroom and I love to see it every day.
Breaking of the Glass
This is the most fun part of the ceremony for sure. All the formalities are over, the couple is married, and it’s time to break the glass. There are a few different explanations, but the groom stomps on a glass which signals the end of the ceremony, the beginning of a marriage and the start of the party.
After the glass is broken, everyone shouts Mazel Tov and the couple kisses. (Top secret: instead of a glass we used a light bulb, placed in a pouch to avoid shards of glass all over the place. The light bulb is easier to break and has a better pop!)
“We are reminded of the fragility of life and how good it is to share moments of joy and connection.”
This is a great tradition. After the ceremony, the couple is supposed to go into seclusion. It was so nice to escape downstairs for a little while as everyone was enjoying cocktails upstairs. We nibbled on hors d’oeuvres, finished off the little bottle of wine from the ceremony and just had a moment to chill on a whirlwind of a day.
And no Jewish wedding is complete without one of the best Jewish wedding traditions – dancing the Horah! We had to hold on for our lives as we were hoisted up in the chairs, so that was a little terrifying but the energy was so high and we loved sharing these moments with our friends and families.
As we put the final touches on the bedroom re-do, I’ve started looking for some living room décor inspiration. We spend most of our time in there, so I’m really excited about transforming it. The last of my roommates moved out a few years ago, and long gone are my student days, so it’s time for my living space to reflect that.
As I try to figure out how to grow-up my living room, I’ve been spending time browsing through The HighBoy.com. Mixing vintage and antique finds in with thriftier, more generic pieces (Hi Ikea!) can help elevate the space. The HighBoy is a fantastic online marketplace for antiques, fine art and a huge selection of furniture. My favourite feature is that you can search the site by style from French Country to Victorian to Mid-Century to whatever pulls at your home décor heart strings. The Weekly, The HighBoy’s editorial journal has gorgeous interiors and some great home style tips.
For the living room, new pieces I’m keeping my eyes out for include an accent chair, narrow console table, lamps, coffee/end tables and a new rug. With those items in mind, I put together an inspiration board with my fav finds from The HighBoy to go along with a couple of our existing pieces (the Ikea couch and gold-framed mirror).