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!


marginI often think in life that there are two kinds of people: those who take notes in their textbooks, and those who don't. (These people can also be found in the same category as the people who keep their books pristine for resale.)
Personally, I've always been a page-filler-upper. iBooks and eBooks don't work for me, because I need the tactile contact of excitedly highlighting sentences, circling words, and writing exclamation marks in the margins. It's where argument A and B come together to make magic. When I can't do that, I don't learn as well. It's almost as if I don't function.
Margins were, in fact, invented for that very purpose. For real. Look it up on Wikipedia: they were created in the early 1900s at the request of a judge who was looking for space in which he could comment on his own notes.
When I was a teenager, my youth pastor explained that he was going to scale a few projects back in order to create margins into his life. At the time, I thought it was a strange concept. It was only when I was into the later years of my undergrad — when I was dealing with a lot of turmoil — when that concept resurfaced for me, and I began to find a firmer grasp on the need for it.
During those years, I was working three part-time jobs, balancing an undergraduate degree on a full-time basis, trying to keep a turbulent relationship afloat, and trying to manage family life during the end stages of what would eventually become my parents' separation. Things were messy. And very busy, filled with hurt and stress and awfulness. But mostly messy.
Cue that memory of my youth pastor. I'd been so busy filling myself to the brim with school, work, family, and friends, that I wasn't allowing any opportunity for reflection, intention, or mindfulness. I was just trying to keep my head above water. While it took a while for that realization to take root, that memory began a process of scaling back that's taken years to get the hang of. And to be honest, I'm still working on it to this day. (Which is part of what List30 is all about.)
Whether it's just ten minutes of quiet time before I go to bed or a whole Saturday spent by myself, building margin into my life has made space for me to breathe, think, and grow. It's the place where I can go to create and strategize. It's where I can hear myself work through the confusing bits of life, and to reflect on where I'm headed.
While it's true that not everyone needs a margin for the same reasons that I do, it's hard to argue the function that it serves for most. Whether you're a fellow page-filler-upper or otherwise; what rejuvenating things would you do given some extra margin in your life?
photo via flickr


The resuscitation of reading

I've always been an avid reader. I was the kid who, in family photos, had my nose behind abook at birthday parties. I'd read everything that I could get my hands on. I'd read the back of the cereal box while scarfing down a bowl of Cheerios. When I was done with it, I'd move on to reading the nutritional content. Not because I was health-obsessed, but because it was there, and it was words, so I consumed those too.
My voracity didn't stop when I was in high school; I used to skip class so that I could go to the library to read. Sitting between the stacks, powering through fantasy, fiction, biographies, poetry, history - that was my little piece of heaven. Forget about running for student council, forget the popular kids. Just give me a little section of carpet in the quietest back corner of the library where I could listen to my discman, read the world away, or dream of a time when it'd be my name on the books surrounding me. That was perfection.
Somewhere in between then and now ... things got hectic. Studying replaced pleasure reading; efficiency replaced lingering over delicious metaphor and rich imagery. And now that I've graduated and am between degrees? I can't get myself back to where it all began. I catch myself halfway down a page, not really remembering how the plot got there; I skim articles that I come across with the intention of reading them later (but never, ever do). It feels like life happens too quickly to accommodate the literary digestive satisfaction of a good, thorough read.
I'm sure that I could launch into a rant of the connection between the nature of information consumption, web writing, and what seems to be an ever-shortening attention span ... but I won't. Not today, at least. That's a post for another time.
However, with that, my next addition to List30 is a combination of two things: slowing down and mindfulness as it comes to hobbies such as reading. I'm taking the time to step away from my phone and with it, the mindless scrolling that goes with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. I've been taking time before going to bed at night to read—whether it's been for fifteen minutes or an hour and fifteen—and reading a book. Slowly, being sure to take in each word.
And you know what? It makes a difference. It's coming back.
Which past loves do you want to resuscitate?


Video: What if money didn't matter?

We're bringing up children to live the same kind of lives that we don't want to live in order they may justify themselves by bringing up their children to do the same things; it's all retch and no vomit. It never gets there. And therefore, it's so important to consider this question:

What do I desire?


Introducing The List30

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I tend to give things 110%. Unfortunately, this 110% has been off-kilter for work/life balance for the past ... well, too long. I rarely take lunch breaks; I drink too much coffee; I don't often cook (which results in buying overpriced, high-sodium, high-carb meals in the campus caf); and what's more ... I have a really hard time leaving work at work. I've been known to check my work email from my phone first thing in the morning, late at night, and on weekends.
With that, inspired from a conversation that I had over a year ago, I'm reviewing my goals.
A few years ago, I wrote on the notion that what we give our attention to is what we become. To this day, it's still resonating deep down to my core; my list, therefore, is a tangible reminder of what's important to me.
To start, I'm not going to exhaust myself by starting big. I have a small, measurable way to implement each new direction. From there, I'll build out. Stay tuned, or if you're up for the challenge, join me!
  • Nurture relationships by spending better time with loved ones. Do one thing weekly with a friend or family member that doesn't revolve around sitting on the couch. Bonus points for combining with one of the below items. 
  • Get moving for 30 minutes a day, four times a week. Whether it be just by walking to work, going to moksha yoga, or hitting the gym, getting moving is a key item in my plan due the the bazillion benefits that it provides. Bonus points for breaking a sweat. 
  • Try one new recipe a week. I have a penchant for collecting cookbooks but never using them. I love cooking, but never get around to doing it because I'm too busy being exhausted. Bonus points for veggie recipes. 
  • Show appreciation to at least one person per day. People just don't get told often enough when they're being awesome. Bonus points for reaching out to someone having a tough day.
What's on your list?


Reflections on 30

Having recently celebrated that birthday milestone that's supposed to turn everyone from rational, youthful, fun-loving twenty-somethings to stress-filled year-counting thirty-something-approaching-midlife-crisis messes, take my word for it: your thirtieth is the same as every other birthday.
Maybe I'm being a wise owl, but freaking out over your age seems so not worth it. There are so many other ways to spend your energy
Instead, I've decided to assess where I amwhere I'm headed, and when I'd like to get there.  The morning after my birthday last year, I had brunch and life talks with one of my closest friends and then went for a long, long walk around my neighbourhood. I listened to music, and sighed with happiness as I saw everyday things with new eyes.
A dog! Chasing a ball! In a park! *sigh*.Kids! Playing soccer! They're so little! *sigh*
Perfect amounts of sunshine and clouds! *sigh*The leaves on the trees are perfectly autumny! *sigh*
And I came to a realization that day on the sidewalk. In a lot of big ways, my life was more or less the way I'd hoped it to be when I was younger. And that feeling has stuck with me since that day. Partly because it was so great (really, how many people get to say that?!), and partly because I realized that I needed to make a new plan.
So one year and a few days after this wonderful revelation, in typical me-fashion, I'm crafting a list. A post-30 list, just because it's as good a place to start as any. This week, I'm drawing inspiration for list items from a wide variety of people around me. I'm collecting ideas. I'm getting there.


A few years ago, I made some huge decisions and changes to my life. There was a disconnect from where I'd always envisioned myself while in my mid-20's and, to be perfectly honest, it was really far from where I was.
Since then, I've moved to one of my favourite neighbourhoods, scored a job that I absolutely love, made a surprise re-connection with my high school sweetheart and we're now living our little life in Leaside. Yeah, it's pretty alright.
My goal now? To get myself back into the saddle with the things that I'm really passionate about: writing, crafting, stuff-making, adventuring, cooking, and social media-ing. Over the past four years, I've fallen out of the blogging habit; my writing muscles have been flexed in my day job—but it's just not the same.
So without any further ado, I'm ready. Let's do this.


On the flip side of 2013

Welcome, 2013.
I've never been one for new years resolutions - the cynic in me doesn't see the point of them. Why wait for a new year to make a fresh start? Why put off tomorrow what you can begin today (says mister Mark Twain)?
Instead, I'm greeting 2013 as a continuation of my mind-shift from 2012. Giving my attention to the things that I want to become, rather than the things that sap energy and distract me from where I want to be + go. It's a funny place to be, particularly when my instincts often pull me in different directions, but like everything else in life, this slow process is more than worth it, I'm sure. And writing about it helps to keep me accountable.
List30 is doing well. I've filled the busy holiday season with shopping, baking, and visiting with friends and family. I've been hitting up yoga and the gym at least a 2-3 times a week, and I've been much more intentional on the way that I spend my free time. It's not been easy - there have been more than a few occasions when I've had to re-assess what my priorities were and shift plans around from there. It's funny how it can be so incredibly hard to quiet your soul and stick to your guns, particularly when your knee-jerk reaction is to constantly focus on work-related things.
Speaking of work, I'm back in the office tomorrow. These past three weeks have been great for finding a happy balance when there's been no nine-to-five to throw off the equation. The trick for next week, I think, will be to leave work at work and do something completely different when I get home.
What will these completely different things be?
I've been reflecting on the things that I used to do that I've gotten out of the habit of doing for a wide variety of reasons. A few of these have already been included in my List. But there are a lot more that I'm going to try to integrate in as well, over the next few weeks. Getting my creative on will be one of them. Purging and organizing is another. More to come on both of those as they unfold in my brain.
These next two months are going to be good. I can tell.
What changes or projects do you have coming up?


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