Thursday, July 30, 2015

Favorite Seasons + Throwback Thursday

After two very hot and humid days here in Ottawa, it looks like things will finally be cooling off a bit thanks to some much needed rain! I love summer, don't get me wrong, but it's actually not my favorite season. If I had to rank them all in order, I would say my favorite is spring, followed by fall, then summer, and finally winter. I know it's early, but I am kind of looking forward to fall already! Since I'm such a visual person, I think spring and fall appeal to me so much because they are such visually stunning seasons. In spring, buds and blossoms appear, and an otherwise dreary landscape becomes full of life again. Comparatively, in fall, the leaves change color from green to shades of yellow and red, and the air becomes cool and crisp. What's not to love? 
In any case, I can't believe tomorrow is the last day of July! We still have a whole sunny month of summer left, but it's already starting to feel like it's slipping away so quickly! I remember when I was a child, how much I used to hate how summer seemed to go by too fast. Even though I was fairly good at my studies, I never much cared for school, so as you can imagine, I lived for long summer days! 
I'm sure a lot of my nostalgia for summer comes from the fact that it usually meant some kind of vacation (since my mum is a teacher with the summer months off from work), and I LOVE vacations. Who doesn't!? Anyway, for today's Throwback Thursday photo, I picked one of me and my mum in a swan boat at Rainbow Valley in P.E.I. As I mentioned in a previous post, we actually went to P.E.I on two separate occasions, and I loved it both times!  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Potted Plants

Yesterday was an incredibly hot day, and today is more of the same here in Ottawa. Summers here can get very hot and humid, so it's important to keep cool and stay hydrated. Most delicate flowers have already come and gone by now, but the heat hasn't affected the success of the lilies in the city! While I was walking yesterday, it got me thinking about what plants and flowers do the best in the hottest of the summer months here in Ontario. I certainly don't claim to be an expert, as my knowledge is basic at most when it comes to plants and flowers, but I have always really enjoyed being outside surrounded by trees and greenery. Once we eventually get our own home, I am very much looking forward to growing my own little garden! 

In any case, since that probably won't be a reality for at least another few years, I've been putting some thought into how to make our apartment a bit, well, greener! I personally love roses and peonies, but keeping fresh flowers like those in the house can be expensive, since they don't last forever and need to be replaced fairly frequently. 
What's really been getting my attention lately have been potted plants! When I was growing up, my grandparents always had a collection of cacti in their dinning room that always fascinated me. Lately, I've been really interested in getting a small cactus (or two!) and a few succulents to decorate our next apartment. They look so fresh and exotic and compared to most flowers, and are fairly low maintenance. I still have to figure out where in Ottawa I'll be able to find some of these little gems! If you've got any suggestions, please go ahead and post in the comments section below! Once I get some, I'll be sure to do a post all about how they look in our apartment and even more importantly, how to keep them alive! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Astronaut Wives Club

Today's post is all about a great new show I've quickly become obsessed with! I first heard about it from Julie, who is also a fan! So far I've seen the first two episodes and it's already got me hooked! I'm hoping to get my hands on a copy of the book at some point, which I found on Amazon easily enough. If you enjoy anything from the Space Age era in the United States, I'm quite sure you'll enjoy watching this show!

The show was developed by Stephanie Savage for ABC, and is based on Lily Koppel's book of the same name. The series documents the story of the wives of the Mercury Seven astronauts, namely: Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, and Deke Slayton. 

Personally, I love period pieces from the 1950s and 1960s. Although I certainly wasn't alive back then, I find the era incredibly fascinating! I've always joked that if I could have lived in any other time period, it would have been then! I love the outfits, styles, and attitudes depicted in the show, and the friendship and sisterhood that has been developing with the wives.  
I've tried to encourage my mum to watch it with my dad since he's interested in NASA and space exploration. I won't deny that the show is geared towards women (after all, it's all about the wives), but that's not to say that it isn't enjoyable for men to watch. The cast is great, and even features two notable actors from Dexter (Yvonne Strahovski, and Desmond Harrington). 

It's a highly entertaining show and I'm very much looking forward to watching upcoming episodes! If you're interested, you can check out the trailer for it right here:

Monday, July 20, 2015


I am officially a married woman! 

After finishing work on Thursday evening, I headed downtown to meet up with my aunt and Ryan for a late dinner and to pick up a few things that my mum had sent ahead with my aunt. We ended up choosing D'arcy Mcgee's, primarily due to it's great location right by the Parliament buildings, and near both The Lord Elgin and The Chateau Laurier. After dinner we headed back to our respective hotels to rest up for the wedding on Friday morning.

Ryan and I both woke up fairly early on Friday morning, so we had plenty of time to relax and get ready at our leisure. Since we were staying at the beautiful and very swanky Chateau Laurier, I certainly wanted to make the most of it! Ryan had picked up a bottle of champagne the night before so we got to enjoy a glass (well, two for me!) before heading over to the courthouse to meet our families.

The civil service was just lovely, and our officiant was so kind! She did a wonderful job at relaxing us both with her funny sense of humor! The room was just the right size to fit in both our of parents, and four brothers. After we said our vows we had our mothers act as witnesses and that was it! We were officially married!

Since we had about an hour and a half before our lunch reservations at The Lord Elgin, we all headed over to the park across the street to take some photos. We were joined by Ryan's grandparents and two of my aunts at this point. 

About half an hour into taking pictures, I realized that in all the excitement, I had completely forgotten to bring my bouquet! Luckily, the hotel wasn't too far away, and our brothers all volunteered to go pick it up for me. Once they returned, we were able to finish taking pictures..this time with the beautiful bouquet! 

Just before noon, we all walked over to The Lord Elgin for lunch, where they had set up a private room for us. The decor, service, and food was amazing! I had the butternut squash ravioli and Ryan had the duck poutine. We heard lovely heartfelt speeches, followed by a fun game of "He Said/She Said", and got to enjoy lots of quality time with family! After our main courses, Ryan and I got to cut the cake as tradition dictates. 

We had dessert and coffee, and then it was time to thank everyone and say our goodbyes for the day. After everyone headed home, Ryan and I went back to the hotel for one more night before checking out on Saturday morning. Everything was just perfect and we are so thankful for everyone's love, support, and generosity! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Spa On A Budget

So it's only two days until my wedding, and I wanted to write a little blurb about how to have a relaxing spa day (or couple of hours) on a budget. Since our ceremony is first thing in the morning, I'm planning on taking an hour or so today, and an hour or so tomorrow to get my spa on! 
Instead of paying the big bucks and having a facial at a professional spa, I'm doing a simple at-home facial, using a single-use package I picked up from the drugstore. Before applying my mask, I used St Ives Green Tea Exfoliating Scrub, to unclog my pores and buff away any dead skin cells. After rinsing, I applied my stress-relief mask and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Using cool water, I rinsed off my mask and applied a simple witch hazel toner. To finish, I applied Nivea eye cream and CeraVe moisturizer.

Mid-range suggestion: Caudalie Instant Detox Mask ($39.00) or GlamGlow Flashmud Brightening Treatment ($76.00). Both available at Sephora

Last night, when I got home from work, I used some AG leave-in conditioner on my hair and let it sit overnight. Since I have fairly thin hair, I didn't apply the conditioner treatment to my roots, and instead focused on my ends. This morning, I used Herbal Essences Mint cleansing shampoo & conditioner to make sure I didn't have any leave-in conditioner residue on my hair. My plan for tomorrow is to use my Kevin Murphy purple toning shampoo, followed by my Kérastase Chroma Riche hair mask, so that my hair will be soft and shiny for Friday!

Mid-range suggestion: Living Proof Restore Hair Mask ($52.00). Available at Sephora.

Before getting in the shower to rinse off this morning, I applied a home-made body scrub (honey, brown sugar, and olive oil) to exfoliate my skin. Since I'm using a self-tanner, I made sure to focus on scrubbing my elbows, knees, and ankles. Once I rinsed off, I applied my Jergens Natural Glow self-tanner and let it dry a bit before getting fully dressed. 

Mid-range suggestion: Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish ($45.00) and Tarte Braziliance Face & Body Self Tanner ($47.00). Both available at Sephora.

So, I have to admit that I will be getting my nails done professionally tomorrow morning. I had originally planned to do them myself, but decided that ultimately, I really wanted to have at least one pampering service done for the big day. After all, I'm getting married and that's not something that happens every day! If I were to have done my nails on a budget, I would have used my sugar scrub to exfoliate, followed by coconut oil as lotion, and I would have applied my nail polish myself. 

I personally think that it is incredibly important to set aside time to relax and recharge. Treating yourself to a few spa hours every now and again is great, but it doesn't mean you should have to shell out hundreds of dollars either! That's why I love all the creative budget spa ideas out there! Of course, splurging a bit here and there is fine too, but if you're having a facial every week, the cost can add up really quickly! Thank goodness for DIY scrubs and affordable spa products at the local drugstore! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Hairstyles

Continuing on with talking about hair, I thought I would write a quick post about my favorite summer hairstyles. Depending on where you live and the type of hair that you have, certain styles may work better for you than others. Since it's too hot to blow-dry my hair every single day (although most days I can handle it), I tend to opt for a few no-heat styles to make my life easier!

My Favorite Down Hairstyles

Arguably the epitome of summer hair, beachy waves are always a great option! Luckily, my hair has a natural wave to it, so all I tend to need is a bit of serum to fight frizz. Another great option, is a side braid or clipped back bangs. I tend to like my hair down, so in order to keep cool, I like being able to pin some hair away from my face. Finally, if your naturally dried hair needs some help, I've found that braiding (dutch works better than french for this) a few sections of your hair gives it a nice wavy style. You can always use a flat iron on low heat to add a bit of curl to your ends. 

My Favorite Braids

Braids are always a fun way to style your hair. Because of my layers, I tend to gravitate towards side braids. The beauty of a braid is that it tends to look best when it's been a bit tousled and has a few pieces of hair out of place. If I'm in a rush, a simple side braid is my go-to style, while a half crown side braid and bun are reserved for if I've got a bit more time on my hands!

My Favorite Ponytails 

When it gets really hot outside, styling your hair into a ponytail can often be the best way to stay cool and still look polished. You can keep your hair's natural texture in the ponytail itself, while using a bit of serum and/or hairspray to slick down any unruly pieces. Adding a bit of volume at the crown is a great way to add a bit of glamour to a simple ponytail.

My Favorite Buns
Finally, there are buns! What I love about a bun, is that even though it's a fairly simple style, it can be customized and adjusted to suit whatever your style may be. Low, soft, messy buns can look effortless and chic, while I slicked back ballerina bun looks sophisticated and pulled-together. Top-knots are a great go-to for easy, on the go hair, although they can also be dressed up with the right outfit, makeup, and accessories!

If you're looking for inspiration, I highly recommend checking out these two blogs! They are both really great at teaching step-by-step braiding techniques! You can access them HERE and HERE.

Monday, July 13, 2015

I Need Your Help Choosing My Wedding Hairstyle

Lately I've been putting a fair bit of thought into hair. I guess it all started when I realized that I am completely torn between wearing my hair down and wearing my hair up for my wedding this Friday. Wearing my hair down is definitely more in my comfort zone, but the style of my bridal outfit would look really lovely with an updo. Since our ceremony is first thing in the morning, I'll be having to style my hair myself, which ultimately means I'll need to decide on a style that isn't too stressful or difficult to achieve. 
On a daily basis, I usually wear my hair down, which means that I don't have a lot of practice doing updos at all. That being said, I have been putting a bit of practice in lately, and experimenting with low buns and dutch braids. There are so many things to consider, like whether I should do an off-center or a middle part, loose or tight curls, incorporate flowers or no flowers. One thing I absolutely need to keep in mind, is that it is going to be HOT. I've checked the weather forecast and as of right now, it's going to be about 30 degrees, and as usual here in Ottawa, quite humid. 
I will be completely honest and admit that whenever I see women walking around with silky smooth straight hair in the summer, I can't help but feel envious! There are plenty of things I love about my hair, but the way it tends to look after an hour or so in the heat, is not one of them.
In any case, all this adds up to is a bridal hairstyle that has a very big job to do! 
  • If I wear my hair down, it'll be easier and less stressful to achieve, but will it stand up in the heat and humidity?
  • If I wear my hair up, will I be able to make it look just right within the limited amount of time I have to get ready before the ceremony? 

Luckily I still have a few days to experiment and figure out exactly how I would like to have it on the big day! 

I would love any suggestions so please feel free to post your suggestions in the comments section below!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday + Wedding Prep

Me and my mother 
For today's Throwback Thursday post, I wanted to have a picture of me and my mum! Judging by all the red we are both wearing, I'm guessing this picture was taken at my grandparents house over the Christmas holidays. The doll I'm holding must have been a freshly opened gift I imagine! 

I was very lucky to have my mum drive up from Kingston yesterday morning to spend a few hours here in Ottawa with me and Ryan. After she arrived, we had some tea and chatted a bit while we unpacked some of the things she had brought up for us. My mum is really quite skilled at sewing, so for as long as I can remember, I've gone to her for anything sewing related! Given my affinity for fashion design, I've had my mum's help with sewing on many, many occasions! 

Preview! Can't give away the whole
look before the big day!
The project my mum came all the way to Ottawa for was particularly special, since it has to do with my bridal outfit for next Friday! Rather than buy a pre-made bridal belt, I wanted to do a DIY project and pick out the sash color and embellishments myself. I can do a few basic stitches, but without my mum and her sewing skills, I can honestly say, my bridal belt would never have turned out! Along with sewing my bridal belt, my mum also brought up my bridal skirt, which I am SO excited about! I ordered it online so I wasn't sure about how it would actually look in person, but I was not let down at all! 

Even though it was only a short visit (mum left at 2 pm to drive back to Kingston), it was a really lovely way to spend the morning! I love that we live fairly close to both my parents and Ryan's parents, but it's still such a treat when we actually get the chance to spend time together! Getting my bridal outfit ready with my mum was really special to me and I am so happy we were able to do it together! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Healthy Summer Meals

There's just something about summer that completely changes my cooking habits. Of course, the change from fall and winter, to spring and summer always means different fruits and veggies are in season, but there are other factors involved too, like the weather or how hot you're willing to get in your kitchen. 
Unless you've got a really amazing central cooling system in your home, you're probably not going to be too psyched about cooking something like turkey and mashed potatoes! A great solution to hot kitchens in the summer, is to simply move things outside and use a grill or BBQ. If you think the grill is something reserved only for backyard parties with hamburgers and hot dogs, you are quite mistaken. In fact, you can grill everything from chicken and steak, to corn on the cob and zucchini!

Even without a grill, there are plenty of great summer food options out there to suit a variety of tastes. Eating in the summer doesn't have to mean sticking with salads and sandwiches! There are plenty of ways to spice things up in the kitchen without breaking the bank or using too many rare and exotic ingredients. Of course, all of the recipes listed below are customizable, so feel free to add, subtract, or substitute ingredients to create a dish you truly love!

1. Moroccan Quinoa Salad

This salad is amazing! It's the perfect blend of flavors and textures and will absolutely fill you up! You can get the recipe here!

2. Grilled Asian Chicken Wraps 

These wraps are both tasty and refreshing! I love cooking with sesame flavors, and these wraps are packed with plenty of flavor. You can get the recipe here!

3. Grilled Shrimp and Couscous 

This recipe is so delicious! I personally love shrimp, whether they are grilled or served cold! The mint, feta, and garlic add a whole lot of really great flavor, while the couscous and zucchini anchor the meal. You can get the recipe here!

4. Pork & Noodle Stir-Fry 

A stir-fry is one of the easiest and most delicious things anyone can cook in my opinion. The beauty of a stir-fry is that it's completely customizable! The sweetness of the pork works perfectly with the heat from the chili, while the vermicelli noodles are nice and light for summer. You can get the recipe here!

5. No Bake Granola Bars 

I personally love to bake, but sometimes it is just too hot in our apartment (we do not have central air unfortunately). So naturally, anything that has "no-bake" in front of it, instantly catches my eye! These granola bars are so tasty and as a bonus, also happen to be quite good for you too! You can get the recipe here!

6. Fresh Fruit & Smoothies 

Of course, one of the most refreshing things you can enjoy quilt-free throughout the summer is fresh fruit. You can either enjoy it in its natural state, or blend a few different fruits together in order to make a smoothie. If you're interested in a few smoothie recipes, I've got two great ones here!

Friday, July 3, 2015

A to Z Survey

Good morning and happy Friday!

Today I'm doing an alphabetical survey I found on Julie's blog that I thought would be a fun post for the end of the work week!

Feel free to post some of your own answers to the survey in the comments section below!

A (age): 24.

B (biggest fear): Losing a loved one. 

C (current time): 10:11 am.

D (drink you had last): Coffee, although I'm still drinking my second cup as I write this!

E (easiest person to talk to): Ryan

F (favorite song): This is tough! Depends on my mood! Whenever I'm feeling down, Ryan always plays "I see the Light" from Disney's Tangled, and I almost instantly feel better.

G (grossest memory): Hmm..growing up with two younger brothers you would think I would have plenty to choose from but I'm drawing a blank. 

H (hometown): Kingston, Ontario!

I (in love with): Ryan of course!

J (jealous of): People who don't seem to have to worry about money. Come on! Who wouldn't want that?!

K (kindest person you know): My mother.

L (longest relationship): Well, I've been a daughter to my parents for 24 years, does that count?

M (middle name): Emma. 

N (number of siblings): 2 younger brothers, although they are now both much taller than me!
Two very goofy younger brothers!
O (one wish): To live a happy and fulfilling life surrounded by the love of my family and friends.

P (person you spoke to last on the phone): Hmm..I guess that would be my brother Monty on Canada Day. I tried using Face Time for my first time ever, and honestly, I prefer either having a regular phone conversation without video, or a video Skype call instead. 

Q (question you're always asked): How's work going? Or, of course, some wedding related inquiry! 

R (reason to smile): So many to choose from! I'm going with waking up beside my fiancée Ryan every morning!

S (song you last sang): I wouldn't call it singing, but I have been humming the Jurassic Park theme music A LOT lately!

T (time you woke up): Well, I was awake at 6:00 am but I didn't get out of bed until 8:00 am

U (underwear color): Strange question but I'll go along with it..that would be navy.

V (vacation destination): So many great choices! Ryan and I would like to go to Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA for our honeymoon so I'll pick those two. We also would really love to go to Hawaii at some point too!
Charleston & Savannah

W (worst habit): Picking at my cuticles. It's a silly habit but I wish I would just leave them alone!

X (x-rays you've had): Whenever I'm at the dentist, as well as when I broke my collarbone back when I was in grade 4. 

Y (your favorite food): For a long time it was shrimp and chicken wings, but I guess my favorite food indulgence is chocolate.

Z (zodiac): Gemini

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Canada Day Celebrations

Hello there and Happy (belated) Canada Day! It was VERY rainy here in Ottawa yesterday, which I must admit, certainly put a bit of a damper on the celebrations. Still, rain or shine, people still gathered together around the city to celebrate our beautiful country in true Canadian style!
Since it was so stormy out, Ryan and I didn't really spend as much time outside as we had planned to. Instead, we spent most of the morning watching episodes of House Hunters on Netflix. I personally love checking out the different kinds of houses on the market and the (sometimes very odd) things that people tend to be looking for when they're house hunting.
Rainy day shenanigans!
After awhile, we were both getting a bit stir-crazy from being cooped up for so long, so we got our rain gear on and headed outside! Our original plan was to walk to the Nature Museum, but when it started pouring rain like crazy about 10 minutes into our walk, we decided it was time to turn around. It was certainly nice to get a bit of fresh air, even if it was only for a short time.
Second try..Less silly this time!
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and catching up with family, either over the phone or via Skype. Even though we all live fairly close to each other, it's not always easy to get together. 

At about 9:00pm we left to find a spot near Parliament, and after working our way through the crowds, we managed to find a place to stand near Sparks Street. We arrived in time to hear Magic! perform two songs, one of which was the song Rude. The fireworks started right at 10:00pm and were very entertaining to watch! There were plenty of red fireworks throughout the 15 minute show, although my favorites were the big purple and blue ones, as well as the rose-gold sparkle ones. The crowd was mostly young people, with a few families and older folks scattered around. Ryan and I both agreed after seeing people struggle to maneuver with strollers that we would rather avoid having to do that once we eventually have kids. Once the show ended, it took a few minutes to get a bus, although, thankfully the Ottawa transit administrators had prepared for the event and had plenty of buses lined up for people to take home. 

Happy (Belated) Canada Day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Jurassic World..Again!

I unexpectedly had the evening off on Tuesday night, so Ryan and I decided to go to the movies. I had really been wanting to see Jurassic World again, so it didn't take any time at all to decide what we were going to see. Oh. My. Goodness! I can't believe how great Jurassic World is! 

Even though we had already seen it, I was no less entertained the second time around! The movie is incredibly exciting from start to finish and if you get a chance, I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen while you still can! Watching Jurassic World (like the other three films in the series) is a bit like riding a roller coaster. It's an incredibly exciting and terrifying adventure, with plenty of action, bits of comedy, and a hint of romance. I won't spoil it by saying when, but there was even a part in Jurassic World where I felt my eyes tear up with sadness.

Much like its cinematic predecessors, the importance of humility and respect for nature is at the heart of Jurassic World, yet it never seems to come off as preachy or condescending. As I said before, when I saw the movie for the first time in June, Jurassic World is an incredibly entertaining film, which manages to stand alone, while still staying true to the cinematic style of the previous three films. It is by far, one of the most entertaining movies I've seen in a very long time!