Vaguely kicking off 2014: projects, non-resolutions, and plans

I can't stand new years resolutions so I avoid making them.

This year, however, is slightly different. I've got ideas marinating in my brain – and they just happen to coincide with January 2014. Does that make them resolutions, then? Maybe I'll just call them projects.

Project 1: Wedding Planning
It's only fair to call this a project, since it's already taking up a lot of my mindspace. Since my post in November, I've voraciously researched and planned aspects of the event and have (so far) been able to stick with our budget.

We found a cute little Italian restaurant called Caffino in Liberty Village: it fit perfectly with what I'd been looking for aesthetically and has mostly great reviews on Yelp. What's more, Rosa — the owner — has been wonderful to work with: she was flexible with making adjustments to the dinner service to accommodate us. Double win.

Pretty sweet, right?

Next up will be confirming with our officiant, who will hopefully be one of the former pastors at the church where we first met; figuring out our flower situation — which, as it stands right now, will likely be all DIY with some expertise from a florist friend of a friend and a wholesale order in August; and locking in a photographer.

My main idea for the wedding is based around the concept of our story and our family, so I'm doing my best to look into the past to weave in elements of our individual family histories and traditions. I also want to include the present and, importantly, the future, so I'm always on the lookout for opportunities where we can include our guests in the memory-making process.

(Want to follow along with my brainstorming process? Check out my board on Pinterest.)

My sister is also engaged, so I'll be helping to plan her wedding as well. More details on that for another post.

Project 2: Le Shop
It's been more than a few years since I made the decision to close up shop on Etsy, but I miss it and have been planning some shifts in focus for 2014. With that, I'm excited to announce that I'll be reopening in the late spring with a new focus. Stay tuned for a sneak peek and a more official announcement in posts to come.

Project 3: Get Crafty (Again).
Tied with Project 2, I'm getting back to my crafty roots. In the past few years, I've wandered away from them and tried a few other things, but it's proven to me that the heart always finds its way back. For me, my heart is always happiest when it's being creative.

To get started, I've signed up for a 6-week photography course to fine-tune some of my skills, have a slew of home decorating projects marinating in my head, and am planning two weddings. I think it's fair to say that I'll have plenty of opportunities to work an above-average amount of craftwork into my life.

2014 is shaping up to be a wonderful year.

What do you have planned?  


And now for something completely different: a wedding!

I'm engaged. Which, to be honest, is such a strange, surreal feeling in a lot of ways.

While my summers for the past few years have been filled with attending friends' weddings and the past ten months has been spotted with venue-shopping for my sister's upcoming nuptuals, I somehow never really considered how different the experience of pricing things out for my own event would be a different experience.

Kind of crazy.

In any case, I've been poring over resources, online fora, and yes, Pinterest, to get some ideas about what I'd like for our own little ceremony. And there's so. much. out. there. To be honest, it's borderline overwhelming.

But with the help of some friends and family, I'm looking forward to planning something that's budget-friendly, unique, DIY, and smattered with our personal touches. In the end, I want to keep our focus on the fact that it's not the event that makes the marriage; it's not having reclaimed wood tables, linen table runners, paper lanterns, and the picture-perfect colour combos (even though goodness knows I'm into that).

It's celebrating a lifelong commitment in front of our family and friends. And, if we can negotiate a good price, having a bite to eat with them all afterwards.

Now I just need to follow the biggest piece of advice that I've received from other frugal former brides: stay away from the wedding magazines. They might be great for gathering ideas, but it's often hard to draw a line between reality and industry hype.

So. We're going to be decisive about elements that are important to us: a simple ceremony followed by tasty food, plenty of dancing, and time well spent with the people we love.

And, if we can swing it, a pretty venue that can accommodate us.


Recipe: Berries and lemon muffins

Getting some inspiration back, even if it's just one recipe at a time.

My beans turned out ok - my concern was that they wouldn't be soft enough, but as it turns out they softened quite a bit while in the slow cooker (so much so that they were a little bit more on the mushy side). Next attempt, I'll shorten the soaking time and ease up on the boiling/simmering time.

Today, I tried out a modification of a Martha Stewart muffin recipe to use up the last of my berries. I had to do some modifications based on what was in my pantry, but they turned out surprisingly moist for a low-fat option. 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt (I had vanilla yogurt in my fridge, so I used that)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
  • 2 eggs
  • 10 ounces fresh raspberries and blueberries 
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together brown sugar, yogurt, oil, and eggs in another large bowl. Add yogurt mixture to flour mixture and gently mix until just combined. Fold in berries with a rubber spatula.
  2. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Transfer muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Next time, I may try slightly reducing the amount of berries to the recommended 8oz; additionally (and this is hard for me to do, especially when I'm keen to try out the finished product), make sure that the muffins are cool before you try to remove the muffin paper - not to mention the fact that the lemon flavour is more noticeable once the muffin is cooled.
This week: soupe aux pois, or split pea soup. A facelift for a curbside night-table score. Purging and de-cluttering that final stretch that's been lingering since we moved in here -- Apartment Therapy's Small Cool contest is always an inspiration that helps me get my butt in gear!


The great 2013 bean debacle. Maybe.

After having just returned from a wonderfully relaxing weekend at Brian's new place in the Rideau Lakes, I'm looking forward to getting my act in gear this week with some new recipes and finding more ways to stay active throughout the day.

Last night, I tried out a recipe for my first-ever batch of baked beans—which, as it turns out, don't soften very quickly when being cooked from dried. After having had 8 hours (and counting) in the slow cooker, I've got my fingers hesitantly crossed that they'll soften up as much as I'd like in time for dinner tonight.

Full disclosure: does the fact that I want them to be as soft and mushy as they are when I buy them in a can of Heinz make me a bean commoner?

To be honest, I'm not really feeling very culinarily inspired this week. Or many weeks, at all, in the recent past. Even my go-to habit of mindlessly scrolling through my Pinterest recipes has yielded very few results. Instead, I'm asking for people's go-to recipes. 

What do you cook when all you want is mindless, moderately healthy comfort food? 

Soupe aux pois is another item on my hit list this week, but I'm welcoming other recipes to try out. Link them to me in the comments! 

photo cred: here


Time flies in spring 2013

It's been an unbelievably busy few months.

TEDxYorkU happened back at the end of March [recap: I'm the marketing & communications director for the event] and I have to admit - it's been so rewarding seeing how much it's developed since its inception in 2010. From the very basics of the planning process all the way to the video quality of our talks, TEDxYorkU has definitely grown up. 

It feels like we're at that point where many of our developments from here on out are just a matter of fine-tuning, rather than making giant leaps and bounds. That being said, we still have to lay the groundwork for the 2014 event; we seem to have a tendency to outdo ourselves, so it's anybody's guess at this point.

Interested in participating? We haven't started the team planning/applications yet, but you can always shoot us an email or FB message to get in touch. 

Also, I spoke at a conference, stressed about speaking at said conference, and then was relieved that the speaking gig was over. I was also totally stoked that I did it; public speaking isn't my favourite thing to do, but has been on my suck-it-up-and-grow list for a while. Self-five.

There's also been the ideation, creation, launch, and wrap of our community photo project, not to mention a bit of hangout time with the family. Not as much as I'd like, but a little bit to keep me sane and grounded.

Things are going to keep being busy at work, but I've got a slew of new projects that I'm itching to start on soon. Plus a trip and another conference talk in Vancouver this June. Can't wait. Here we go!


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