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
Fashion Lifestyle Photography

Winter Outfit Idea

This outfit is the perfect shine meets casual look for the winter season. I love pairing blouses with denim – it’s my go-to outfit no matter the occasion! Take a look at the outfit below with our pups, Ace & Koda. You can follow their adventures on Instagram here.

Here we took the pups for a nice little stroll before it got too dark outside. This was a little time ago at the beginning of November when Koda was so much smaller! She is almost 4 months now and a lot more light in the face! She’s growing into her paws and we are so curious if those ears of hers are actually going to stand up! And not pictured here – it was 3 degrees and cold! That scarf kept me nice and toasty, but my nose was chilly by the end of it!

Special thanks to Christina Davis of Magic in Colours Photography for the mini-shoot! Check out her social pages here: Instagram and Facebook link above!

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The Outfit:

  • Coat is from Forever21 last season, find a similar one here from the Gap
  • Blouse from Anthropologie
  • Denim from the Gap, similar pair here
  • Chunky Infinity Knit Scarf from the Gap a few seasons ago, similar one here (right now under $12!!)
  • Necklace from Anthropologie, similar one here
  • Shoes from Call it Spring, similar ones here

What are some of your go-to winter outfits? Let me know in the comments below!

Love,

lxiv

Categories
Lifestyle

Easy Meal Prep Ideas for Lunch or Dinner!

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Yesterday I participated in my first ever CrossFit Competition for our box, CrossFit Canuck, who turned 5 years old today! The gym hosted a in-house competition, “The Canuck Games”, in true CrossFit fashion to celebrate this milestone!

The Canuck Games was an all day event with 5 partner WODs total and let me tell you – it was HARD. I would consider myself fairly athletic, but I was never part of any sports teams during High School or University (even though I was asked to join a few). Instead, I focused on Student Council, my singing and my studies. I never thought I had time to work out or join a sports team. But since I’ve been doing CrossFit, I can’t tell you how happy I am! Sure, there are bad days and good days like anything else, but I can’t explain how wonderful it feels when you lift something above your head that you never thought you could. The strength portion surprises me every time I step up to the bar.

I’ve been a little more aware of how I’m fueling my body since joining CF. I knew before joining CrossFit that I didn’t feel like I was getting the proper amount of nutrients (honestly, I still don’t feel like that 60% of the time) and I’ve been putting in a lot of time into researching this and ensuring that I’m nourishing my body properly! Meal prep has been a savior for me since I’m a very busy person and want to do a million things all at once. If I don’t meal prep,  I am so so guilty of picking up fast food because with a billion excuses like “time is of the essence” and/or “I’m too tired (or lazy) to whip some actual food together”. This is a continual challenge for me and something I will keep working on!

Since I’ve been doing so much research myself, I figured I would share with you my meal prep for this week. Mind you, it isn’t everything that I will eat all week and I did make some Healthy Oatmeal Cinnamon Cookies to go with this that I will post in a later blog post, but it does give you an idea of some of my go-to favourites for meal prep.

The amount of food I made today will last my hubby (I can finally say that now!!) and I about 2-3 days of lunches or dinners. I usually will pre-pack the food and then leave some extras in separate containers to mix in with different meat or different sides for variation because I can get really bored, really fast and I am definitely the type of person who will leave food in the fridge for months because I didn’t feel like eating it….

IMG_0259On the menu this week was Italian seasoned Chicken Breast with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Carrots with Green Beans. For snacks this week I packed Veggies with Roasted Red Pepper Hummas, some Dark Chocolate and Cherry Kashi Granola Bars, Vanilla Greek Yogurt and Fruit!

IMG_0260I used the Club House Italiano seasoning blend as a dry rub on the chicken breasts and cooked them in the oven first. Then for the sweet potatoes and carrots, I peeled them and diced them, used about a tablespoon of olive oil and seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper. My favourite way to prepare the sweet potatoes is by Grocery Girl. I season the potatoes differently and add other vegetables, but the cook time is how I prepare them! Finally, nothing fancy for the green beans – they are boiled and seasoned with salt and pepper. You could easily add some Parmesan and Garlic for some extra taste.

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I usually roast beets with the sweet potatoes and carrots, but opted to boil them this time and then peel the skin off. I seasoned them with garlic, salt and pepper, diced them and put them in a separate container in the fridge to grab as a side for any other meal.

IMG_0262Below is the recipe breakdown for how I made our meals this week.

Italiano Chicken Breast

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • Club House italiano seasoning
  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place chicken breasts on sheet and season both sides of the breast evenly.
  3. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, then flip the chicken and place back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. The time may vary depending on your oven!
  4. Allow to cool, and cut into desired sizes for meal prep!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  1. Peel and dice the potatoes and carrot.
  2. In a bowl, mix the potatoes, carrot, olive oil and seasoning until well combined and all of the vegetables are coated.
  3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  4. Ensure all of the vegetables are flat on the baking sheet and ensure you don’t overcrowd the veggies!
  5. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, then give them a little mix with a spoon for even baking and bake for another 10 minutes. I usually test the vegetables with a fork to see if they are the right tenderness for me, so adjust your cook time for your preference!

 

What are you go-to meal prep foods? Share them with me below!

lxiv

Categories
Lifestyle

Gettin’ Cozy

What a crazy year it has been! Our wedding was last weekend, and we had the most amazing weather. Hard to believe last weekend was sunshine and 20 degrees when today it is 6 degrees and rainy. Now that things have settled down for us, I actually have some time to get back into blogging. My goal is to blog at least once or twice a week! What better way to get this started than to jump right into the cooler weather and talk about how to achieve “cozy” when the temperature starts to drop!

We picked up our newest furry addition, Koda, to our family on Monday and with taking her out 1000 times per day, I am definitely embracing layers and cozy scarves. This is truly what has inspired me to start blogging again, so you’ll see a lot of her on this blog! In the meantime, you can follow Ace and Koda’s adventures on their Instagram here!

Follow on to see my best tips for getting cozy!

Add a blanket or a layer. There’s nothing better than being able to curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket. Here are a few of my favourite picks right now.

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 1.23.10 PM1. Faux Mongolian Throw Ivory
2. Hudson’s Bay Company Polar Fleece Throw
3. Madeira Chunky Knit Merino Wool Throw

Puppy with toy and Hudson's Bay Blanket.

Light a fall scent to get you feeling cozy. My favourite right now is the Pumpkin Soufflé candle from Anthropologie. It fills our apartment up with warm yummy scents that puts your right into the cozy spirit.

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Create a cozy vignette! Add some shine to the abundance of cozy faux fur and pillows in your home for a nice contrast. It adds such a nice touch when the candle light catches the glimmer from the shine.

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Last but not least, warm up with your favourite hot beverage. I ususally buy Apple Cider around this time of the year, but I love a good Hot Chocolate too!

Let me know in the comments below how you get cozy during the late fall/early winter months?

Categories
Lifestyle

Recipe: No Bake Energy Protein Balls

Hello again!

I’m sorry for neglecting this blog. Life has been busy planning for the wedding and keeping busy this summer. I’ve also been dedicating quite a bit of time to eating well and going to Crossfit (which I am totally loving by the way!). I have seen what a huge difference eating well and exercise has on your mental health along with your physical health. It has not been easy, that’s for sure. And according to the scale, I haven’t lost too much. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing since I can see changes in my body and that I’m gaining more muscle. I will more than likely share some of the things I’ve been doing to help guide me on a healthier lifestyle! For now, here’s a recipe I made a long time ago but never had the time or drive to post. Follow along below to see the full recipe!

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What you’ll need:

  • 1 Cup of Oats
  • 1 Cup of Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup of Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey (not pictured)

The beauty of this recipe is that you can add/subtract whatever you want from the ingredients!

Mix all of the ingredients together, roll into balls and refrigerate! I typically will place them in smaller containers or little bags so that they are ready for me to grab and go!

More to come on this little blog of mine, and I will promise to try to post more regularly! I have a lot of content ideas and can’t wait to share!

Let me know below if you’re going to try this recipe in the comments below.

Happy Healthy Baking,

lxiv

Categories
Lifestyle

Recipe: Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Last week, I was in the mood for baking! I feel like after Christmas time everyone goes on a baking hiatus from sweet baked overload. Now that the spring weather is slowly creeping in, it felt like the right time to make something yummy.  After searching Pinterest for what seemed like hours, I finally found this recipe: Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Um, yes please! I used Sally’s Baking Addiction’s recipe, but did change a few things.

For instance, I used Funfetti Cake Mix instead of vanilla and did not add white chocolate chips. I didn’t need to chill the dough either, it was thick enough that I was able to just roll the dough onto the baking sheet. However, Sally’s technique with rolling the dough more vertically worked really well and I will definitely continue doing that in the future! A couple of additional tips: If you’re using the funfetti cake mix, don’t use as many sprinkles! And two, use parchment paper instead of just an ungreased cookie sheet. The cookies came out much more fluffy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 and 1/4 cup Funfetti cake mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, cake mix, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. Mix the melted butter and sugars together. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  3. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and sprinkles. Mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough!
  4. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Scoop rounded balls of dough onto baking sheet. *This is where you can see Sally’s Baking Addiction’s great tip!*
  6. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until edges are slightly browned.
  7. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Happy Baking!

lxiv

Categories
Decor Lifestyle

Bedroom Refresh: DIY Wall Art

Hello!

Thank you for all patiently waiting as it has been quite some time since I have blogged. Not going to lie, I felt a little uninspired after Christmas and didn’t quite know what to blog about. With the weather getting warmer (It’s currently 12 degrees here in Toronto!!), I felt inspired to change some things up in the house to give the space some new life.

I am not an artist by any means – I couldn’t draw to save my life, but being crafty – well that I can do! I’ve been searching for new art to put in our apartment to give the space some life, but haven’t found anything that I loved. I’m also incredibly indecisive when it comes to decor, so spending upwards of $200 on a canvas that I wasn’t head over heels about was just not realistic. The one thing I knew for sure was that I loved water colour! Light bulb moment – I could DIY that myself. See the photos below to see how it turned out!

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Originally I had the grey pillows on the bed, but to pick up more of the blue from the canvas, I switched them out for the baby blue pillows that you see in the other photos!

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All you need to recreate a similar DIY is:

  • Canvas
  • Acrylic paint
  • Water
  • Paintbrush

I mixed 1 part paint with 3 parts water in a cup and painted! I was still able to get deeper saturation of colour by simply adding more paint directly on the canvas where I wanted it, then used water to blend it out. I’m no expert at water colour painting, but there are plenty of tutorials online. I just kept painting until I was happy with the final product. There was truly no rhyme or reason for how I achieved the final look.

Happy Painting!
lxiv

Categories
Decor Holidays Lifestyle

12 Days of Christmas: Oh, Christmas Tree

Can you believe only 5 more sleeps until Christmas? How has December flown by this fast? And, only 5 more days left to post for the 12 Days of Christmas!! I hope you’ve found some inspiration and joy from the posts so far. A huge thank you to those of you who have been following along! For today’s post, I will be sharing our Christmas Tree and some of the ornaments I added to our collection this year.

img_2056_2img_2057img_2059_2img_2062img_1814Our theme this year was metallic (lots of warm golds, bronze and silver) with classic red and green plaid with flecks of gold.I purchased the ornaments (in order) from Anthropologie (both “Merry” and “falala”), Urban Outfitters and Winners! The Christmas tree is from Canadian Tire from a few years ago.

I feel like everyone puts on their ribbon differently on the tree and at different times of the entire decorating process. I started my decorating by placing the ribbon, then adding the shiny, matte and sparkly ball ornaments and then added my special pieces in areas that were highly visible! I continue layering until I like what I see…it’s never about making it perfect – trees should be unique!

As you already know from previous posts, I love sparkle during the Holidays. It reminds me of the look of freshly fallen snow on a crystal clear night that sparkles when you look at it. I’ve also come to realize that Winter is my favourite season…Don’t be too mad at me for that!

What’s your favourite theme/colour story to decorate for Christmas? Let me know in the comments below!

Merry Christmas!

lxiv

Categories
Decor Holidays Lifestyle Photography

12 Days of Christmas: The Toronto Christmas Market #tcm16

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I always found it so interesting that people tend to already live in such amazing cities or towns but choose to travel around the world. I have lived in Toronto my entire life and have to admit that I do not know my city very well when it comes to what makes people want to travel here. I’ve been making a serious effort to explore my city and to visit some amazing places at home! This year, I was determined to go to The Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District. So, my finance, fur-baby and I ventured out on the coldest night (so far) and explored!

I was so happy to discover that dogs are allowed and welcomed at The Christmas Market! Ace was definitely a crowd pleaser in his cute little Christmas sweater. We couldn’t get very far without stopping for people who wanted to say hello to our handsome little fellow.

Our first stop (no doubt) was a Grilled Cheese station. I can’t even express in words on this blog how yummy our grilled cheese was. We ordered “Christmas Dinner” grilled cheese, which was turkey, cranberry sauce and brie. I promise to post about how to make this amazing sandwich. I have a few favourite food groups and grilled cheese is absolutely one of them!

We wandered around some more, looking at the different markets and new light displays. Overall it was a beautiful sight. I just wish there was a few more things to do…as it got a tad boring by the end and only ended spending just over an hour there. I think it would have been too cold to stay any longer anyways!

But, it’s definitely worth checking out and will certainly put you in the Christmas spirit!

Next on my Christmas Market list is Nathan Philips Square (somewhere I also have never visited!!).

Take a look at some of the photos I snapped (in between trying to keep my fingers warm – I definitely need the touch gloves for Christmas).

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What are some of your favourite places to visit during the Holidays?

Merry Christmas!
lxiv