Categories
Lifestyle Productivity Wellness

How to Build a Digital Vision Board for Spring

Hey friends!

I love putting together vision boards to help set my intentions and goals for the future. Recently, I’ve been updating my vision board seasonally and have been loving it.

Instead of doing the classic magazine cutout method every season (because that’s a lot of work lol), I’ve built my own digital version using Pinterest and Canva! In the video above I’m sharing a tutorial on how I put mine together. See the final product below!

*All images you can find on my Pinterest board here.

If you’re still into the original method of putting together a vision board, check out my blog post about it here.


Categories
Productivity

How to Prep for a Productive Week

We’ve all been there (or currently are here). Every day starts to feel the same, especially during this pandemic. I’ve found myself feeling really unmotivated to start Monday morning. With the weekend feeling like an extension of the work week, but still not feeling productive in the slightest. And then comes more overwhelm because you feel like you haven’t tackled everything you needed to and Monday is here and you have a whole new set of to-do’s to add to your list. Phew. Okay. Take a breath. If you’ve been feeling the same way, here are some ways I’ve found helpful in setting up for a productive and fulfilling week. 

Clear space = clear mind

Managing full-time work and a side hustle means that I need to prioritize where I spend my time. But having a messy space is the #1 thing that sets me off when I’m feeling stressed. All I can think about is the mess around me. A clean space will help to alleviate stress heading into the work week. My goal is to set a specific day every week to get it done. Sunday mornings typically work best for me, but I’m also going to try Saturday mornings. Will keep you posted on what works, but everyone will be unique and what works for one person, may not always suit another!

Another helpful tip is creating a chore/cleaning list with your significant other or housemate. It helps to lay out what you both need to have in your home so that you’re feeling your best and can be the best versions of yourselves. Not the kind who wants to throw out every dish so that you don’t have to wash them anymore……just saying. 

Plan Monday on Friday

Friday afternoons are my admin/CEO days. It’s the time I set aside to sort through my emails, wrap up any tasks, send off any emails I needed to get sent and it’s also the time where I plan my next week. I’ve accepted that it’s just not productive or healthy to stress about the tasks that you didn’t get finished on Friday afternoon. It’s too late at that point and you’ll be worrying about it all weekend. Instead make a plan for the next week! Once I’ve sorted through my inbox, I check my task manager (our company uses Monday.com and I use Asana for my freelance work) and reprioritize my to do list, then have a look at the calendar for the week ahead and slot them in. Then you can relax knowing you’ve got a plan in place to tackle your to do list and it won’t be weighing on you all weekend long. 

Balance your weekend 

This is something I struggle with. I want to do all the things. And then I end up feeling like I’ve had zero time to actually rest and recharge. Setting aside an entire day to relax is just not realistic for me. I encourage you to schedule a slow morning or a Sunday afternoon to spend time doing things that make you feel relaxed. Maybe it’s a Sunday morning yoga flow or perhaps some journaling, or maybe you feel recharged baking on a Saturday afternoon. Whatever brings you joy and calm, make sure you have a solid block of time dedicated to just that. I’ve been trying to keep socializing to one day on the weekend. Instead of making plans for both days, I’ve come to realize I really need that time for myself one day a week. As they say – balance is key!

Social Media Detox

Being someone who works in Marketing and has a Social Media freelance business, I’ve noticed that being tuned in on Instagram, Twitter or TikTok has completely started to consume my day. What starts as “research” quickly turns into *mindless scrolling*. Even during the workday, I am guilty of getting distracted by my phone and constantly checking it. Sound familiar? 

I’m currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and in Chapter 3 we start exploring the concept of cue, craving, response and reward. In one of his examples he uses social media where your cue is a problem like hitting a roadblock in a project, you are frustrated by this situation and to relieve your frustration, you pull out your phone and check social media. Your reward is feeling relieved. But now checking social media is associated with relieving frustration when you hit a roadblock at work. I think we log onto social media for a variety of reasons, whether it be boredom, or wanting to stay up to date on the latest or just feel a sense of connection with others. But a lot of the time you feel worse after scrolling and you feel like you’ve lost 2 hours or more of your life. 

So here’s your friendly nudge to take a day or two off social media. Doesn’t mean you can’t take all the photos and video of the exciting things you’ve been up to. But save them to your camera roll and post them later. Taking some time off your phone and off your apps will definitely help your mental health. During the week try scheduling social media time, or at least set a timer for yourself – it will help with the mindless scroll and make your time on the various platforms more meaningful. 

Make time for FUN

If there’s one thing you add to your weekend to-do list so that you can start your week off on the right foot, please follow this tip. HAVE SOME FUN. As the weather begins to warm up and we’re able to get outside, make some plans to go for walks and connect outdoors! Plan a sightseeing road trip, grab a coffee and sit outside, do something that will give you some joy, while also (and of course) following local health guidelines. Life is so precious, so don’t let the constant pace of life and your to-do list stop you from enjoying it. 


Whether you take all of one of these tips, I hope it helps to set your week up for success. You got this! 

Categories
Lifestyle Wellness

5 Ways I Handle the Spring Forward Time Change

It’s funny. I was born in June, which means I was born when the clocks had already shifted forward, and therefore should be more accustomed to the Daylight Savings Time. I mean, if you believe in that kind of stuff. But there’s just something about turning the clocks back an hour that feels so right to me. So suffice it to say, I’m not looking forward to this year’s Spring Forward. Especially after the year 2020 has already thrown at us. Until the government figures out if Toronto, Montreal and New York will all agree to select a time and keep it there, I’ve come up with a few helpful tips to share so that you can avoid that first week of absolute confusion and not miss out on 1 (or more) hours of sleep. 

1. Go to sleep 15-30 mins early 4-7 days before the time change

While this may not completely reset your natural sleep cycle to adjust for the hour you’re losing, it will at least help lessen the blow by giving yourself some time back throughout the week. Adjusting by 30 mins is more gentle than a full hour. You could even start waking up 15-30 mins early so that you’re balancing out the time shift. 

I don’t know about you, but that first workday morning after the time springs forward is always the hardest. It may be especially difficult now that you’re working from home and rolling out of bed with not a lot of time to spare before logging in. Do yourself a favour and give your body the extra zzz that it will need. I know I definitely will be giving this tip a shot.

 

2. Get outside earlier in the day

…Or, if you’ve been cooped up in your home, get out even a little. Soaking in that vitamin D from the sun will not only improve your mood, but it will help with your circadian rhythm. The earlier you can get outside, whether for a morning or mid-morning walk – the better! 

This one is a hard one for me. I typically have the evening shift with the doggos, so I tend to only get outside around 5pm. In the winter it definitely sucked (unless it was snowy and beautiful and glistening, then it was magical ❄️). 

3. Move your body in the AM

Although we will technically be getting more sunlight in the evening, it’s still a good idea to get your movement in during the morning hours. It’s all about setting the tone for the day, and awakening your body to adjust to the new time zone (since that’s really what it is!). Not ready for a full on HIIT workout? I don’t blame you. Start with some low impact yoga, stretching or even a 20 mins cycle if you have an exercise bike. Once you feel like you’ve adjusted to the new time, then kick it up a notch or two. Bonus points for moving your body even during a pandemic. High five to you! 🙌

Movement is one of those things that I’ve really struggled with during the pandemic (and before that if I’m being honest). We recently purchased an exercise bike and downloaded the Peloton app on our phones and I can honestly say that it’s gotten me back into some sort of physical routine. My goal is to get at least 30 mins of movement in a day (on top of the 45min to an hour walk I have with the dogs). 

4. Take regular scheduled breaks throughout the day

I think back to elementary school and having recess. What I wouldn’t give now to have those mandatory minutes of movement and fresh air. And I thought – well, why not?! I am guilty of not stepping away from my computer (even when I’m not being that productive…). I feel like there’s a weight censored notification button under my seat and if I leave my desk, my boss will know and fire me immediately. Okay…well not that dramatic…but you know what I mean. 

While we’re acclimatizing to a whole new work schedule, give yourself some grace and take those 15 mins to step away from your computer, grab a coffee, go for a quick water break, get outside – or just get out of the area where you work. This is going to be a big area of focus for me. I’m even going to put a lunch break into my calendar so that I won’t be scheduled for meetings to give myself a true rest and recovery period during the day. I highly recommend you do too.  

5. Have a morning routine you’re excited to wake up to

We’ve checked off movement and sunshine for our morning to-do’s and although those are great, they may not be the thing that gets your butt out of bed in the morning. Find out what that is and incorporate it into your morning routine. 

I’ve been experimenting with different routines and trying to find one that sticks. Something that always gets me out of bed is… coffee. Yup. My husband is the earliest of early birds and brews coffee when he wakes up, and that smell definitely gets me out of bed. I try to sit down with my coffee (water first, obvs) and journal or read something inspiring on one of my favourite blogs or even watching one of my favourite YouTubers for a quick 5 min video. That piece of my morning makes me happy and it’s something that energizes my day. 

Find what works for you – and yes, it may take a few tries to figure it out, but that can also be exciting! 

I wish you all of the rest and ease heading into this spring forward period. I know it can be a challenging transition for some or a love/hate relationship for others. Whether you’re team #SpringForward or #FallBack (I’m camp Fall Back, that’s for sure!), I hope that you find these tips helpful. 

Categories
Lifestyle

5 Things You Can Do With Your Dogs During Social Distancing

Our two dogs, Ace and Koda, have been especially happy that both my husband and I have been home for the past month. Even though it’s been so nice to snuggle them and keep them (us) company all day, I have to say, it’s been challenging to keep up a routine that we’ll also be able to stick to when hopefully this is all over with. Our dog Koda, was particularly sensitive as a puppy and had bouts of separation anxiety, so routine is very important for us. If you’re looking for some ideas about keeping a routine and things to do with your pups during this time, I’ve put together a few things you can do with your pups while social distancing.

1. Groom, Trim, Bathe and Brush Those Teeth!

Just like humans, dogs need some self-care too. Specifically if you have a breed that needs daily brushing or maintenance. I shared a video of my husband and I blow drying and brushing Ace a few nights ago and had a few people reach out thanking us for the inspiration. It’s not an easy job. And with dog groomers closed, now is a great time to start doing something at home. We’ve also got into the habit of brushing the dogs’ teeth every evening. They both have plaque build-up (gross, I know). But it’s something that we need to manage and being in lock-down means we really have no excuse.

2. Daily Walks

Now this is obviously something you should be doing every day anyway, but my tip is to keep the timing of the walks consistent with your typical daily workday. If you usually walk the dog at 7am, try to keep that time frame. Same thing goes for daily feeding routines. The more you can keep consistent,  the better for you and your pet.

3. Subscribe to a Monthly Box

If funds allow, consider subscribing to a monthly box for your doggo. Something like Woof Pack could be a great way to get monthly treats and new toys without having to leave your home. These boxes also help to support local vendors in your community.

4. De-clutter Their Toys

We have a massive, massive, toy bin for our dogs and they probably play with 4 toys (2 of which are the exact same). Anyone else? Well…there’s a cute game you can play with your dogs to de-clutter. Pull a toy out one by one with your dogs, shake it or squeak it – anything to get their attention directed towards it – if they grab it and play or seem interested, it stays. If they couldn’t care less, it goes in the ‘wash and donate’ pile. Toss whatever is ripped or too worn.

5. Keep Their Mind (And Yours) Busy

This is a great time to teach your pet new tricks, work on existing behaviours and introduce new stimulating games. My absolute favourite game to play with the dogs is hide and seek. In our 2-bedroom apartment, we don’t have that many places to hide, so we have to get a bit creative. I have the dogs sit, stay and wait. I go hide and then give them to command to “find me” (once only). If you have another person in the house, as an added stimulant, you can get the dog to smell a piece of the other person’s clothing to pick up their scent. It’s so funny to watch them run around the house looking for you. Even better? Do this when it’s dark out and lights off (obviously don’t have any dangerous things laying about…).

What other ways are you keeping busy with your pups?

Categories
Inspiration Lifestyle Wellness

My Favourite Journal Prompts for Gratitude

As I mentioned in my previous post, being “temporarily” laid off has actually been a positive – or at least I’m choosing to look at it that way. I’ve always been the type of person who was busy doing something. I worked full time in retail, while I was studying full time completing my undergraduate degree, I was singing on the side, trying to have a semblance of a social life, stay connected with friends and family, think about building my future, etc etc etc. There’s not a moment where I thought all of it would stop. And yet, now it has. I’m still obviously thinking about my future, but I’m living each day now kind of excited to do things. I’m excited to have my morning coffee and write in my journal. I’m excited that I’m trying out intermittent fasting. I’m excited that I get to walk the dogs when it feels like a good time to walk them. I’m excited about creating content like this. Of course there’s still grief, worry and anxiety during this uncertain time… but it seems like priorities have immediately shifted, and I’m choosing to see the positive in this.

When I think back, I was happiest when life was simpler (wasn’t everyone?). Creating vlogs before vlogs were a thing, re-designing my room every September because I loved the feeling of a fresh start, researching because I was curious about the world and not because it was assigned to me. Simple. This pandemic and what’s happening in the world is terrible, frightening and worrying. But when reflecting on what brings me joy (courtesy of Rachel Hollis’ #Next90Challenge), I realized that when things are a bit slower paced and I am able to really connect with myself, my family and nature, that I am much more fulfilled. I think a big part of this realization though was facilitated by finding and writing down gratitude in the little things. I know that there are plenty of resources on gratitude practices (heck, I’m following one right now), but I figured it could be helpful to share some questions to ask yourself to find gratitude in your day, even if it’s small. So if you’re writing down things you’re grateful for (and if you aren’t, you should) and you need a bit more guidance than just “things you’re grateful for” prompt, then take a look at some questions I find helpful below.

1. What inspired you today?

Ask yourself this question: What inspired your today? Did something bring you joy? Maybe instead of asking what you’re grateful for, you can ask what inspired you. Did you see something on social media? A hilarious meme? An encouraging message?

2. Who did you connect with today?

Just because we’re social distancing right now, doesn’t mean that we can’t connect. Did you reach out to virtually network? Did you have an amazing team meeting? Who did you chat with that brought you joy?

3. What had a positive impact on you today?

Think about an action, task, comment — literally anything that had a positive impact today. Did you try a new at home work out? Did you make a delicious and healthy breakfast? Did someone pay you a compliment? Did you journal or practice some self-care?

4. What is something small that happened that brought you joy?

It can be as small as having a clean kitchen, to watching the sun rise. Ask yourself: what is something small that happened that brought a smile to your face? I must say, having a clean kitchen and tidy space had brought me a lot of joy during this period.

5. What action did you take today?

Maybe you made coffee this morning with your favourite creamer. Perhaps you went for a long walk. What is something that you personally did – for yourself or others – that made you feel gratitude.

These are some of the prompts I ask myself when writing 5 things that I’m grateful for each morning. It’s easy to say “having a roof over my head” and sometimes, yes, given these uncertain periods, it’s absolutely something to be grateful for. But I think you can dig deeper and find the little hidden gems in your daily life. Sometimes rephrasing the question and looking at it through a different lens is what you need to truly see the good that’s in your day.

Graditude Prompts_pinterest

 

What are some things you’ve been grateful for during these crazy times?

Categories
Baking Inspiration Lifestyle

Getting Back Into Writing + Blueberry Scones

First things first. I am not a professional baker but I love to bake and I figured during my temporary unemployment, this would be a great time to start sharing some things that I love on this platform again. Plus, I have to keep my writing up to snuff during this time, or I’ll literally spend majority of my time binge-watching HGTV.

For those of you who may find yourself in a similar situation, I hope that you’re also doing something to keep you inspired. It’s hard right now. So if some days you feel like couch surfing all day, then do it. I know that I’ve had my mix of feelings since this pandemic started – fear, sadness, anxiety, worry. But I figured this was finally the time to start things back up that I’ve been passionate about — I’ve wished for more time and now I have it. Maybe not quite the way I wanted it, but it’s all about shifting perspective.

So with that being said expect more content on here and I hope that it brings you some joy and inspiration during this hectic time in our world.

Recipe Review – Fraiche Food Full Hearts

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Inspired by my lack of baked goods readily available, and determined to become a decent cook by the end of this isolation period, I decided to try out the Vanilla Cherry Scones recipe from Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer’s cookbook, Fraiche Food Full Hearts. I’ve actually made a few of their recipes during this social distancing period and I can say that I’m pretty impressed, and I really love the plant-based, dairy-free options.

I’m a cherry fanatic. I love them. Some of my fondest memories of my summers at my Grandparents house is sitting with a bowl of cherries with my grandfather. However, frozen cherries (since they aren’t currently in season) aren’t great in my opinion. My husband also happens to dislike cherries, so I figured it would be a good idea to swap them out for frozen blueberries this time around.

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Overall, the recipe is quite easy and calls for few ingredients. The only part I struggled with was shaping the dough. This was my first time making scones, so I learned the hard way that flour on your hands is a good idea. Also, the least amount of handling, the better as the blueberries were starting to burst and melt as I continued shaping the disk.

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They aren’t overly sweet, but I do wish there was a glaze or topping recipe for this. Luckily, my best friend, Lindsay over at The Lekker Kitchen, is a formally trained cook and gave me some insider tips to make this recipe even better. AKA lemon glaze. Yes. So much yes. Check out her latest amazing creations over on her site!

Regardless of the topping you choose (or don’t choose) I would definitely recommend trying out this recipe – even if you’re new to baking! Makes for a yummy breakfast or snack option. And it’s probably worth doubling up if you have more than just two people in your household. 😉

I’d love to know — are you doing anything new or picking up an old hobby during this time?

Stay healthy friends!
xo

Categories
Lifestyle

Vision Boarding 101

I’m back after a very long hiatus. When you write and create content for a living, it’s hard to then come home and write more content for you. In reflecting on my blog thus far, I realized that this blog is more of a day in the life of yours truly. It was such a nice way to remember things that I’ve done in the last couple of years. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m not accomplishing as much as I would like, personally or professionally. Maybe that’s a side affect of not being in school, or learning anything new in a structured way. But I’m craving something new. But, with that crave, comes waves of insecurity and fear that I won’t succeed. This has been a challenge my entire life. Before I jump, I want to make sure I can jump well, high, and with a successful landing. But life doesn’t actually work that way. Sometimes you have to jump – even when you aren’t ready.

This is what has inspired me to write my first blog post in almost a year. When I’m craving change, my first instinct is to sit down, evaluate and make some goals. I’m more of a visual person, so vision boards work well for me! I only put mine together a week ago, and things are already starting to happen. Call me crazy, but I truly believe that what’s meant to be will be and that everything happens for a reason. However, without a vision and a plan – dreams are just dreams. You still have to take steps (even baby ones) to make your dreams come to life. Here are my 6 best tips for creating your vision board and start making your dreams a reality!

1. Don’t think – just cut

Pull out all of your old magazines that you were planning on recycling anyway and dive straight in. Don’t think too much about this process, just start cutting out pictures, words, phrases, etc that speak to you. You know, kind of like the KonMari method – if that picture sparks joy, cut it out and put it in a pile. You don’t have to use all of the images you select, but it allows your mind to just focus on what truly matters to you.

If you’re doing this online (Pinterest is a great platform for this), then just save as many photos to your board as you can. You’ll reassess afterwards.

2. Tidy your space

Clear space = clear mind. Your working area may have become a bit messy with all the magazine pages. Take 5 mins to clear up your space and get ready for the next part of the process. Gather your board, markers, glue stick, stickers, quotes, inspirational scrap-booking papers, etc that you’ll need to start putting your masterpiece together.

3. Talk is out

I did my most recent vision board with a few family members and friends, and loved having people there talk out why I found my images inspiring. I realized once I went through my photos and starting talking about why I selected it, it made more sense and my goals were becoming clear. If there were photos that I wasn’t as excited about, I ditched them before they made it onto the board.

I realized I had cut out a lot of outdoor photographs and found some really great quotes to conveyed the feeling of being more connected with nature. I always feel so much more energized and clear headed after a walk with my two dogs, and usually end up going out for much longer than intended.

Again, if you’re doing this online, talk through the photos that you’ve saved. You can even make a note on each photo about why it speaks to you as a reminder for later. Delete the photos that don’t bring you excitement or inspiration.

4. Put it together!

Assemble your masterpiece. Now that you’ve edited, and talked through your images, it’s time to start securing the pictures onto your board. I like to layout my images before gluing them permanently down. Play around with it – there is not right way to do this step! Everyone’s board will look different. I like to make it more of a collage, but I’ve also seen some people segment the board into different themes like fitness, health, career, personal, etc. Whatever makes the most sense to you, do it.

5. Add dates, numbers, actionable words.

This is a step I used to skip. I didn’t want to put actionable numbers or goals because then I would have to strive to reach them. (Yes, I know how counter-productive that is to make a vision board and just hope it happens). So this time around I put my money where my month was. When you have a date, you have to make steps towards that goal. It gives you something to envision and also gives you a time frame.

For example, I have a picture of a Before and After shot of a house. I know that whenever Adam and I buy a place, that it will likely be a fixer-upper (because Toronto is not affordable and we’re not interested in moving that far away from the city). So this photo represents our journey to home ownership. I put the year 2022 right beside a quote that says “focus”. I know that if we really crack down on our spending and paying off debt, that we will reach this goal – or at least get pretty close to it.  Another number I included was ‘300’ – which is the deadlift goal I’ve set for myself to hit by the summertime. I’ve also included the word “Summer” with a picture of a mic and stage, as that’s the time when I want to go solo and really get my singing going again.

6. Put it somewhere you’ll see it often

My final tip is to put your vision board somewhere where you will see it everyday. Don’t hide it away in your closet or let it get lost in a room you never go in. If it’s online, take a screenshot and save it to your desktop background or phone background. Look at it with intention, smile, close your eyes and give yourself some grace knowing that you’re working towards this. It’s not meant to be a board of what you’re lacking – but of where you’re going.


With that, happy vision boarding! It’s never too late to create one and whatever season of life you’re in, I can guarantee you’ll benefit from having it.

Have you ever created a vision board? Did it work for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Categories
Decor Lifestyle Photography Wedding

Our Wedding Day

The long awaited photos are finally here! Our wedding day was a beautiful warm sunny day on October 21st, 2017. We decided to host our wedding at Serenity Cottage with a waterfront view of Georgian Bay and a gorgeous 2 acre lot. It was really important to us to have our wedding be casual, relaxed and most of all a nice mini getaway for our guests. I think it perfectly sums up our style and our dreams for the future. The first thing Adam and I dreamed of together was having a cottage someday where we could overlook the water with our dogs and relax with friends and family – so being able to get married in this type of setting was truly special.

Special thank you to @MagicinColoursPhotography and Kevin Davis Photography for their amazing shots! I am so happy that my Dad and sister were able to capture our special moments! Also included are some great moments from our #DavisOBrienWedding hashtag on Instagram!

 

 

Love,

Stephanie

Categories
Lifestyle

New Year’s Resolution: How to Budget and Actually Stick to it

It’s that time of the year again – time to make some goals and (hopefully) stick to them. I realized I have quite a few goals in mind for this year. 2017 was a huge year for me: got married, got a second puppy, left retail, started CrossFit, lost 20 pounds, posted non-singing related videos to YouTube…just to name a few highlights! I’ve felt more like “me” this year than I have in a very, very long time and it feels great. Now that I’ve had some down-time and an actual “Christmas Break”, I’ve been able to sit down and really think about what I want to accomplish this year. It is crazy how much your body needs decompression time. Time to just figure -ish out, without distractions.

While I have some lofty goals this year, one that I really want to tackle is more of a challenge. I’m going to challenge myself to have a No-Spend January and see how I do! Don’t worry – I’m not going to leave our household to go starving or without the necessities. But that’s just it – we’re only spending on things we absolutely need. Crazy, I know. Here’s some tips and strategies on how to knock this challenge out of the park!

1. Set a Budget

The most important part to this challenge is setting a budget and sticking to it. Make some ground rules for what you are willing to be flexible on and ensure (if there’s more than one of you doing this) that you both have set limits to what you can spend and on what category.

I made a list of negotiables and non-negotiables. This helped me prioritize what was actually a necessity and what was more of a luxury.

Then, I took the income that both my husband and I will be making for the month of January. We both get paid bi-weekly, so I made the budget based on what bills were due and how much money we needed to set aside for that.

Next came the groceries. Since we are both heading into the New Year with nutrition being our resolution, groceries are going to be a much easier budget to manage. I just purchased The Everything Guide to Macronutrients by Matt Dustin, that has so many great recipes. So the goal is to pick out recipes each week and only purchase the ingredients required. This is not only going to cut down on our food waste, but it’s going to keep us on track (both nutritionally and financially). This is what we are spending our money on this month:

  • Bills

  • Groceries

  • Pets (Yearly shots + food)

  • Transportation

Those are the only categories that we will be spending on this month! Scary. I know. But since we wrote down our list of priorities and we know within each other those categories how much we will be spending, we will be able to manage. Keeping the categories broad also helps to keep spending more flexible, which will be easier to stick to.

2. Eliminate Temptation

I’m the type of person that goes into the store for one thing and comes out with ten other things and forgets to get what I came into the store for in the first place. Sound familiar? I am soooo tempted by the shiny packaging or the feeling of a new piece of clothing. I will 100% convince myself that I need something – when I actually don’t. So to fight this, I’m going to be completely avoiding stores/malls all month long. Now that I’m out of retail, this is going to be easier for me than in the past.

I’m also going to go through and organize what I already own so that I have plenty of options. However, I’ve recently been ordering more and more from online and it’s so dangerous. To tackle this, I’m unsubscribing from email lists from stores that I love to shop at so that I won’t be tempted by a deal. Out of sight, out of mind kind of deal.

3. Make your own coffee

This has to be one of my worst habits. I really love lattes and fancy coffee drinks that are $$$$$$ expensive. That daily coffee adds up. Even if I switch to just regular coffee, the cost that I spend on coffee per month is embarrassing. I’m lucky enough to work in an office that has a pretty great kitchen and coffee is made every morning. If you don’t have that luxury, then grab some re-usable mugs (I purchased the Starbucks reusable cups and LOVE them – they are lightweight, and super inexpensive), brew some coffee in the morning and take it to go! Trust me, if you track how much you spend in one month on coffee, I know you’ll be shocked!

4. Bring your lunch!

There are so many amazing recipes and meal prep ideas for lunch now-a-days that there really isn’t any excuse not to bring your lunch. I realized that I was spending all of this money on groceries and then turning around and spending more money on more food. Not only were we being wasteful in spending extra money, we were being wasteful with our food, since what we didn’t eat in the fridge went straight to the garbage. Sometimes it feels weird being the only person at your work or school to bring food, but ultimately it is so much better for your wallet and for your body!

5. Cash, only.

Once you’ve set your budget, take out the cash you’ll be spending. This way you literally only have the cash that you have on you and will need to stick to your budget. For some reason, I am so much more conscious about how I am spending my money when it’s cash. The bigger the bill – the better! Anytime I would get money as gifts, it was always so much harder for me to spend larger bills, so I would ultimately just put them into a savings jar (a good habit, that I want to continue doing!).

 

It can seem really daunting not spending any money or sticking to a budget. I’m doing this because when I dug into the last 3 months of my spending – it was shocking. I was spending way too much money on things I did not need. This challenge is to really see what I can do with less and be happy with what I have right now.

What are some of your resolutions for the new year?

 

Categories
Holidays

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

I had never really been a fan of Gingerbread anything (sorry!)…I always found the spice was a little too nice and it never really tasted that good. I’m realizing as I’m getting older (sigh) that my taste-buds are changing and things I never used to like, or be drawn to, I’m giving another try – and liking them! To my surprise this Christmas season, Gingerbread Cookies happened to be one of those things.

Follow along to see some snaps on making and decorating the Gingerbread Cookies! The recipe below was adapted from Gimme Some Oven. I didn’t include the icing sugar recipe, since I prefer to use the already pre-made and pre-coloured icing from the grocery store or bulk barn!

A very special thank you to @MagicInColours Photography for the great shots! You can follow her on Facebook to see more of her work or if you’re in the GTA and want some shots taken – get in touch with her there!

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Ingredients:

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • Icing + Sprinkles/Decorations

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs and molasses, and beat on medium speed until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.
  3. Divide the dough into two equal portions, and form them each into a ball.  Then flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  4. Heat the oven to 350°F.  Unwrap the dough and place it on a large, lightly-floured hard surface.  Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough evenly until it is approximately 1/4-inch thick.  Then use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes, re-rolling the dough as needed to cut out more.  Transfer to parchment-covered baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Once the cookies are room temperature, DECORATE!

 
Don’t have the time to whip up this recipe? Check out my fast (and easy) holiday baking favourites here!

Merry Christmas!

lxiv