The 12 Things I Love Most About Fall

As the days get shorter, the bees make their presence known and the air gets cooler, my favorite time of year is upon us. Fall! I have to say that after the hot summer that just passed, I am already loving fall and for more reasons then just the weather. Here are the top 12 things I love about the fall:

1. Visiting the Pumpkin Patch

Visiting the pumpkin patch on a warm sunny fall day is heavenly. It’s frankly my happy place. Nothing is better then the fall scenery, along with a pumpkin patch, tractor ride, farm animals, face painting and of course hot dogs and candy apples! I am thankful I have a young niece I can still tag along with on this excursion as my kids get older and decline my invite!

My kiddos at the pumpkin patch

2. Hats

Soon after fall arrives it’s time to take out my stylish fedoras and rock them before the snow hits. I have a couple of great hats I love to throw on during the fall months, however the window to wear them can be pretty limited, so I need to take advantage asap. I also love a great slouchy beanie hat but those can be worn right into the winter months where as the fedora’s are limited to pre-snow weather and spring for me.

3. Open Windows

After what felt like a long hot summer with the air conditioning on 24/7 I am thoroughly enjoying having the windows open now. Fresh air and a cool breeze flowing through the house is divine. Even the smell of cool fresh air gets me excited, and it makes for a better nights sleep too! (especially when you are prone to hot flashes #this isforty)

4. Outdoor Fires

Although outdoor fireplaces are great during the summer, sometimes the evenings are just too hot to bother. Sitting by the fire in the fall with a blanket and glass of wine and some great tunes is so much better if you ask me!

Relaxing by our outdoor fireplace

5. Hockey Season

Although I usually regret saying this by about January, I do look forward to the kids hockey season starting once again. It’s nice to catch up with the parents and kids and bundle up with a hot tea while cheering on another season. The pandemic will have this season looking a little different but it will be nice to get back to a bit of normalcy.

Getting ready for hockey

7. Jeans and sweaters

I mean, do I even have to elaborate on this one? Throwing on a pair of jeans and a great sweater to head outdoors sans parka is something to take advantage of while we can. Jeans and sweater season doesn’t last long before sweatpants, turtleneck and toque season arrives for us in Canada!

8. Stylish Boots

As soon as fall hits my boots come out of hiding and they are here to stay until about March. I am huge fan of tall boots, and I wear them with everything from leggings, to dresses, skirts and jeans. They are a fall/winter wardrobe staple of mine and are super practical for cold, snow or rainy weather. The only downside is that they take so much more space then a pair of shoes…. making it harder to hide my collection from the hubby.

8. Mums

You know it’s fall when the mums are out front of every grocery, convenience and hardware store! No porch is complete in the fall without a beautiful mum on display along with some fall decor such as a cornstalk, some hay, or a great fall wreath. Fall is like a mini decor practice session before the holiday season arrives!

My front porch

9. Thanksgiving dinner

Honestly, this is by far my favorite meal. And of course Thanksgiving is always a great time with the family, but I mean, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy!? Bring it on! I don’t think there has been a time when I haven’t gone for seconds, and I will buy a bigger turkey just for leftovers alone. It’s a meal that only comes along a few times a year, so I take full advantage and enjoy it to the max!

Family Thanksgiving dinner

10. Latte’s

Of course latte’s are good all year round, but they are even better as weather gets cooler. Plus there are so many new options and flavors that become available once the seasons change. Whether you are looking for something to warm you up, for a caffeine fix, or just to sit and have some peace and quiet in the coffee shop while reading a book, fall is the time and I’m here for it.

Me and my matcha latte

11. Scary Movies

Ever since I was a child I have been a fan of scary movies. My friends hated coming to my house and having to watch all my gory favorites. Although, as I have gotten older I have found that I now have limits regarding what I will watch (cause as an adult you know some sh*t is real!) but I still love a good scary movie! It’s not fall if I don’t sit and watch Halloween, or Aliens at least once!

12. Leaves

I actually have a love/hate relationship with fall leaves. Of course I love how they look, but I strongly dislike raking them!? With many large mature trees in my yard raking becomes quite the task and it seems to go on forever until the last leaf falls. That being said, driving through the countryside, or taking a nice hike in the fall makes for some pretty epic scenery and great photos with the beautiful and colorful leaves.

Do you love fall as much as I do? If so, what are some of the things you love about it? Please share because I would love to hear from you!

A Few of My Favorite Things

A Few of My Favorite Things

I always enjoy trying new things, toying with various styles and learning about new products. I don’t know about you, but I can be easily influenced by some of my favorite people on Instagram or Facebook. I love reading a great recommendation or review, so I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you some of my favorite everyday essentials.

Lululemon Align Bottoms

The Lululemon Align bottoms are a staple of my wardrobe, whether it be for working out, lounging or running errands. The high waist is super flattering and they come in various colors and patterns to suit your taste. They also feel amazing because the fabric is so lightweight and soft, it’s feels like a second skin. I own two pairs of Align leggings, a pair of the Align joggers (which are hubby’s fav!) and a pair of align bike shorts. I style them with a sweatshirt, sports bra, cropped tee or sweater and you are good to go. They are stylish and comfy at the same time! Highly recommend these bottoms as part of your everyday wardrobe.

Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag

I am now obsessed with fanny packs! I have felt the freedom that comes with not having a purse hanging off my shoulder, and I don’t think I can ever go back. Being hands free is so much more convenient, and works out nicely during a pandemic as you don’t have to worry about putting a purse down anywhere and collecting germs. This Lululemon Belt Bag is stylish, affordable and comes in many different colour options, depending on the season or what’s in stock. I have one in black, and green camo, and my prefernce is to wear them crossbody. I haven’t used a purse in ages !

Cotton Undergarments

In an effort to be more concious about what I put on my body and near my lady bits, I have started to purchase more cotton undergarments as cotton is a more breathable fabric and therefore better for your skin. I’m a big fan of Calvin Klein undergarments and have many sets of the underwear, boy shorts and bralettes. You can get them at reduced prices at many of the outlets and even Costco sells both the underwear and bralettes at a great price.

I also just recently purchased La Senza Cotton Remix bras and underwear which are very comfortable and stylish. I purchased a neon pink and neon yellow set and they are my new “go to’s”. Comfortable, yet sexy at the same time. Win!

LSK Beanies

Now that Fall is fast approaching, it’s almost time to get the beanie hats out! Whoop whoop! LSK (Love Squared) is a female owned home based business in the Durham Region that makes and sells headware for the entire family. The slouchy beanie hats are amazing and come in various fun and fashionable fabrics that are perfect for kids and adults. I’ve bought beanies in the past but they never seems to fit as slouchy as I would like, but these ones are perfect! My favourite is a pink ribbed slouchy beanie, and I also have a bunch of cool patterned ones that look amazing dressed up with a nice coat and scarf. And it also feels good to support a small business in the region!

My favorite hat!

Dove Bar Soap

Although there are many delicious, pretty, and scented body washes out there, my “go to” is just a plain old Dove bar of soap. Years ago I came down with a bad skin rash on my arm and when I visited the doctor she questioned what kind of soap I was using. She recommended I use Dove because of it’s simple and gentle ingredients. You don’t often stop to think about the chemicals, dyes and scents that make all those yummy body washes so appealing but could end up causing harm to our skin and body. And the bonus is that Dove is affordable and you can buy it pretty much anywhere!

Collagen

I take collagen on a daily basis because of the health benefits it provides as we age. Not only is it great for my skin, hair and nails, but collagen is a pure protien so it provides support to my joints which aides in my workouts and recovery. I buy the Organika brand from Costco which is a 1Kg tub and it lasts me probably 3-4 months. It’s tasteless so you can put it in pretty much anything. I use it in my oatmeal, smoothies, tea, lattes or water. Anything that helps us age more gracefully!

Buildlife Water Jug

I follow an amazing Instagram influencer (@sashaexeter), and recently purchased a great water jug she recommended from Amazon. I am pretty good at drinking water throughout the day, but still wasn’t sure if I was getting enough. This bottle comes in various colours, and has a cute timeline down the side with positive reinforcement to help you meet your daily hydration goal! I take this with me everywhere, and sometimes add some lemons/cucumber, Mio, or even some BCCA’s to the bottle to help me stay hydrated. I think my next purchase will be the 1 gallon size!

MAC Matte Lipsticks

As mentioned previously, I am a make-up girl, and my lipstick collection is no joke! That being said, I have the everyday casual colours and glosses, but if the mood hits me and I feel like making a statement I reach for my MAC matte lipsticks. I have three go to colours; Candy Yum Yum (neon pink), All Fired Up (a great red) and Flat Out Fabulous (a bright purple). I will warn you that they are super bright and bold, and probably not ideal to wear with a face mask, but if you feel like you need a little pick me up, or something for a special occasion, they are just what you need!

Me wearing “all fired up”
Candy Yum-Yum, Flat Out Fabulous , All Fired Up

Skinny Mixes Sugar -Free Syrups

During quarantine we had to get creative and start making our own iced coffee and matcha lattes seeing as most coffee shops were shutdown. Thankfully at the time I had a couple of sugar-free syrups in the cupboard which we hadn’t used much, but have now become a staple in our house. You can order them online, but I typically purchase the Skinny Syrups at Winners / Homesense for around $5.99/$6.99. Now instead of running to Starbucks we brew our own coffee, put it in the fridge and then when the urge hits we just add some cream and flavored syrup and we are good to go! Currently we have the Salted Caramel, Chocolate Coconut Macaroon, Simple Syrup, and Hazelnut flavors on hand. We also ordered some pumps from Amazon, and voila, it’s like we have our own little coffee bar! They are also great for smoothies, and they sell sugar-free mixes for alcohol as well.

Joe Fresh Crop Tops

This athletic crop is my go to for working out or pairing with bicycle shorts or leggings for a cute athletic look. I love the high neck and it’s got great built in support. Joe Fresh offered it in three great colors this summer – black, lilac and bright orange and I have all of them! I mean at $19 each how can you not??? Unfortunately these amazing crops aren’t available this Fall, but they do offer a similar style this season with a scoop neck, and they are selling out fast. I have yet to even get my hands on one ! Keep an eye out!

Emergen-C

Something I always have on hand is a box of Emergen-C. Each packet contains 1000 Mg of vitamin C, and it comes in various great tasting flavors and mixes easily with water. Seeing as flu season will soon be upon us, I just stocked up with a Costco size pack! Although I take it regularly, it’s also good to take if you start to feel under the weather as the vitamins can help to fight a cold or flu. It also provides you some much needed hydration and energy so normally in the morning I throw a pack into my water jug (usually with my collagen) and I’m good to go.

I hope that you enjoyed this edition of my favourite things!

What are some of your favorite things? I would love to hear about them. Feel free to share in the comments!

When You Hate Coffee What are Some Exciting Tea Options?

Yes, I am a 43 year old working mother of three and I have NEVER drank coffee! Let the judging begin! lol As delicious as a cold coffee looks, or a flavored coffee smells, I take one sip and yuck! I simply have never liked the taste. Plus, from what I hear, it’s highly addictive, so I figure why start now?

Instead, I am a tea drinker. I began drinking green tea many years ago, and now that I think about it I didn’t like the taste at first either but the health benefits are what sold me on it. For years I have consumed several mugs of green tea daily, but have also branched out by trying all different types of herbal teas. I will admit though, tea can get kind of boring after so many years, but thanks to all of the fancy coffee shops out there I have managed to stumble upon on a few great non- coffee options, some of which you can even make at home.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Matcha Latte

Guys, I am obsessed with Matcha Lattes. They make life all kinds of good! You get a hot, creamy beverage, with a caffeine kick and the bonus of some great antioxidants. I prefer mine with almond milk, and a little bit of cinnamon on top and it’s heaven! Like green tea, Matcha is an acquired taste, so adding some sweetener, honey or flavor always helps so it’s not too bitter. I love both the Second Cup or Starbucks Matcha Lattes, but I also make them at home and they are great hot or cold.

Here is my Matcha Latte DIY recipe:

Starbucks Iced Pineapple Matcha Drink

This is my new go to 2020 summer Starbucks beverage! I was previously obsessed with the Strawberry Pink drink, but I had to try this one out due to my Matcha fixation, and man, it did not disappoint! This delicious cold beverage is made with matcha green tea, a hint of pineapple and ginger, mixed with coconut beverage and ice. It’s refreshing and creamy, and did I mention it has MATCHA?? Win win! It’s my perfect summer beverage.

Cold Green Tea Beverages

Another summer favorite of mine is a cold green tea beverage. Second Cup has a great sparkling green tea lemonade which I love, even in the cold winter months. It’s not too sweet, and the carbonation is nice treat! This I have also DIY’d and will make at home or work when I have a craving. Starbucks also has some great flavored green tea beverages which I also enjoy because they are light, refreshing, low cal and still have caffeine if you need a bit of a pick me up.

Here is my Sparkling Green Tea DIY recipe:

Tetley Boost Peach Ginger & Dandelion Tea with Vitamin B6

This Tetley Tea is fairly new and is part of their “Super Tea” line, with added health benefits. This tea is a delicious peach flavor so when I need a change from the usual it hits the spot. It’s a herbal caffeine free tea that tastes great both hot or cold and also contains 25% of your recommended daily Vitamin B6 value. Steep, let it cool down, throw some ice in there and you have a great refreshing and fruity cold tea!

Peppermint Tea

I love a peppermint tea when I am craving a nice hot beverage, but something that’s caffeine free. Peppermint tea is known to be calming, so it’s also great before bed to get you into sleep mode. It also has too many health benefits to list, but is good for your digestion, your bladder, eliminating headaches, cramps and also has many antibacterial properties. When I’ve taken a pre-workout supplement in the morning, but still want a hot beverage I always grab a peppermint tea to satisfy my craving.

Tetley Cold Tea Infusions

Tetley has just come out with flavored herbal cold tea infusions which are meant to be used with cold water. There are a couple of different flavors such as strawberry/watermelon and raspberry/cranberry, both of which I have tried. They are quite flavorful and great for the summer, however I was kind of hoping that there was a caffeine element, and I was somewhat disappointed that I could only use the bag for one serving. I guess I’m spoiled from using a tea bag for more then one cup of tea, but otherwise it’s still a nice option if you are looking for something cold and refreshing. These are also great when you add some sparking water.

I would love to hear from you if you have any non-coffee favs you would like to share! I’m always on the hunt for new options!

M is for Magnus, our Potcake Puppy

M is for Magnus, our Potcake Puppy

Our girls have asked for a dog more times then I can count and our answer was always the same …NOPE!. I think my eldest daughter even wrote her persuasive essay for school trying convince us, and later a PowerPoint presentation on how we could even foster a dog. My husband and I were united on this front for years and always responded by telling them that three kids was enough work, and that we love to travel so it just wouldn’t be a good fit for our family.

As you can clearly see, we finally lost the long fought battle and gave in. It all happened so fast that I still can’t even believe it?! Although part of it was to satisfy the kids desire for a dog, we really gave in because we met a dog and knew right away that he was meant to be ours.

Magnus is a Potcake puppy who was rescued recently from the Bahamas, and was then fostered at our neighbors house directly across the street. From the second we saw his handsome face, his strong stance and his cool, calm demeanor, we knew he was the one!

So what is a Potcake puppy you ask?

When people ask what breed Magnus is and we reply that he a is Potcake puppy, we have to then explain what that means. And I can’t blame them, because before Magnus I had never heard of a Potcake Puppy either.

Potcake Puppy’s are mixed breed dogs found on Caribbean islands (which we happen to frequent often!) and are named after the overcooked rice that cakes to the bottom of the pot, and is then typically fed to the dogs. Potcakes are known for being extremely smart, loyal and loving. Btw, Magnus is my first dog ever, so I have nothing to compare to, but I would have to say that he definitely meets all of these characteristics.

As you can see, he is a handsome little guy and we noticed right away that he had a very calm personality and that he seemed to interact very well with our neighbors children. And plus, he’s from the Bahamas, which just happens to be one of our favorite vacation spots (see, it was meant to be!). We told our neighbors immediately that we wanted to be first in line when it came time for adoption, a process which ended up happening much quicker then we expected. To make a long story short, we went through the process, were approved, and then picked up Magnus within four days. OMG. What just happened ?? What the heck do I even do with a dog!!??

M is for Magnus

As I mentioned Magnus is the first dog that I have ever owned, so I thought I would share what I have learned so far about having a puppy:

It is like having a another child

Yep it’s true. Having a puppy is a lot of work. It’s like having a toddler all over again. From the minute you wake up, it’s all about the dog. I’m barely awake and I am out the door taking him to do his business. And you can’t take your eyes off him for a second. I’m constantly asking “where is the dog”, “who has the dog”??? And instead of baby proofing, you are puppy proofing. Leave nothing on the floor, or else it’s fair game. Magnus also follows us everywhere. I can’t make a move without him being right behind me, therefore trying to cook dinner is quite the experience now while constantly tripping over him. When he naps, make no sudden movements. See, just like having a baby! I’m sure it gets easier as they get older, but you definitely have to be prepared to put the work in with a puppy.

Kids lie when they ask for a dog and say they will look after it

As mentioned, my girls begged and begged profusely for a dog and said over and over how they would look after it. Well that lasted about five minutes. The kids love Magnus dearly, but seeing as he is the first dog our family has ever had, they are finding it daunting and stressful at times. When my husband and I are at work all day, they are in charge, and that means they have to be on the ball and work together (which is a stretch). It’s a lot of work for me to manage him, so I can’t blame them. I have to admit though that I have been pretty tough with them, reminding them that they wanted a dog so they need to step up and take responsibility. It’s a life lesson right? But when it comes down to it Magnus knows who his mama is, which means he is partial to me of course. I must give off that mom vibe. I did always want four kids….

Just remove all of the carpet

Of course puppies are going to have accidents, it’s inevitable. And just when we think he’s having a good day or week, it happens. Magnus also decided his “go to spot” would be our white shag carpet….of course. We only have a few area rugs in our home, and I have no idea why he won’t go on hard floor surface (I’m sure there is a reason, but I’m just a newbie), so good-bye carpets! We have rolled up the carpets and put them in the basement for now, and since then, he’s only had one accident…. on a small bath mat in our bathroom. My bad for missing that carpet…

Dog Shopping

Since Magnus arrived at our house we have bought so much dog gear. Dog beds, leashes, toys, a harness, collars, a personalized dog tag, treats, bones, fake grass, dog shampoo, and I’m sure there’s something I’m forgetting. We have probably gone a bit overboard, but it’s been fun shopping for our newest family member. We are newbies so we don’t really know what we need, but we enjoy it spoiling him and giving him nice things. That being said, be prepared to spend some money on some necessities when you get a puppy. Thank god for Amazon is all I can say!

Find a dog sitter before you even need one

As I mentioned earlier we love to travel and although we won’t be traveling as much now due to the pandemic, we recently planned a few days away up North and then realized that we can’t take the dog?! Uh-oh, what now??? Luckily we have our neighbor who fostered Magnus for a little while and he was able to take him, but we might not be able to rely on him on a regular basis. Eventually we will need to find a dog sitter, even if just for a weekend hockey tournament or quick getaway. I have heard from friends that there are some great apps for dog sitters, and once you find someone both you and your dog like you are set. We need to get on this ASAP.

Get ready to walk

Having a puppy means that they have lots of energy to burn off! And like a child, the more exercise they get, the better they nap and sleep. Having a dog has been great for getting the whole family out of the house and more active. Although we have a large backyard, we have a pool and no grass, so it’s not the best space for him to run. This means multiple walks every day. My husband and I are pretty active, but in the past we didn’t take many neighborhood walks. It’s been nice to get out and explore the neighborhood, meet other dog owners and get the kids outside as well. We have all been stuck inside a little too much these days due to the pandemic so having Magnus has kept us busy and on our toes.

Unconditional love and cuddles

The best thing about having a puppy is that they love you unconditionally! Magnus is always so excited and happy to see us. We could have the worst day and then as soon as we open the door and he comes running with his tail wagging you are immediately in a better mood. Seeing him waiting at the window each time we arrive home is such a nice treat. I have heard that having a dog is great for stress and I think having gotten Magnus during this unprecedented time has definitely helped us all. We are super lucky because Magnus is also very affectionate, friendly and loves to cuddle with us.

Its only been 3 months since we adopted Magus and it feels like he has been with us forever. It’s been hard at times, and we are learning as we go, but it’s exciting , fun and he is a perfect fit for our family! We look forward to the coming months and years with the newest member of our family!

Magnus has his own Instagram page so if you would like follow his journey here is the link:

https://instagram.com/potcake.adventures?igshid=i7i1qdv5hgz7

If you have any tips or for us new dog owners please feel free to share!!!

DIY a Stunning Paneled Wall for $200

Seeing as we had a lot of time on our hands during quarantine, we decided to do a quick DIY project on an accent wall in our dining room. The wall was previously wallpapered and although I actually liked the wallpaper, we recently renovated the kitchen and when we widened part of the dining room wall we didn’t have any paper left to cover it. So after procrastinating for quite some time, we finally removed the wall paper, and surprisingly it was way less painful then I thought it would be, which made me ponder why we hadn’t done it sooner.

I had been searching Pinterest to see if there was anything cool we could do with the wall now and quickly decided that I wanted to do a wood paneled wall, getting my inpso from the picture below. It looked like it would be pretty easy to do and it was only one wall, so I just need the hubby to be onboard with my idea and agree to build it! And of course, he did! My hubby is pretty much the handiest guy I know and can pretty much build anything you want, not to mention he is also easy on the eyes(wink wink). Feel free to check him out @Polished Living or on his Bearded Builder Canada YouTube channel.

My Pinterest inspiration!
Before (please excuse the Costco size box of Fruit Loops)

Materials

Next we measured the wall and my husband sketched everything out to ensure the boxes were square and then determined how much material we needed to order. For our 10ft 1″ x 7ft 11″ wall we purchased the following:

  • 16 Pieces of square molding 5/8″ x 2 1/2″ x 96″ modern mdf painted
  • 1 tube of caulking
  • 1 gallon of paint
Hubby’s sketch

Prep

As mentioned above, we prepped our wall by removing the old wallpaper and then patched and sanded the holes from previous wall hangings. We didn’t prime the wall as it was already just a lighter shade of grey, however you may need to prime depending on your paint scheme. Then you would do the following:

  • Determine the number of boxes you wish to have on the wall.
  • Measure the full length and height of the wall.
  • Subtract the width of the material being use from the length & height of the wall (example: 2 ½’ trim, multiplied by 6 pieces of trim).
  • Then divide the full length or height of the wall (minus the trim) by the number of boxes you wish to have.
  • This will give you the size of each box.
  • Try to work it out that the boxes are close to square as possible for esthetics.

Build

Here are the steps we followed to build the wall:

  • Start on the outside boarder then work your way from the middle to the outsides
  • Start by making the vertical pieces all one length from top to bottom, then cut all the horizontal pieces in between.
  • Use a level (or Laser level) to keep all trim straight.
  • Glue and nail trim to wall.
  • Caulk and wood fill all cracks and holes.
  • Paint desired colour
Work in progress…
Finished product!

The Snowball Effect

After waiting 42 days to have the wood delivered (don’t get me started) we managed to get the wall built in a matter of hours (when I say “we” I really mean my husband!) and then painted it the next day after the caulking was dry. We were so pleased with how it turned out and that it was such a quick and easy project which didn’t break the bank! In total all of the materials costs us just under $200.

When the wall was complete and the paint was dry we then started to move our IKEA sideboard (which we’ve had forever and re-purposed a few times) back in place, but we immediately realized that the sideboard was too dark against the wall and well, it looked terrible !! This is called the snowball effect….and it’s not the first time this has happened, so I should have known better. Thankfully my hubby also agreed that we now needed a new sideboard to properly finish off the wall, so we began to put some funds aside and purchased a new one about a month later. So much better! We DIY’d an amazing $200 accent wall, and then spent 3 times that on a new sideboard! Oh well, sh*t happens!

Nope, not gonna work.. sideboard has to go!
Much better !
Now if only I could find a painting to go above it ….

I hope that you enjoyed this DIY project and have found some inspiration for your home!

What Quarantine Has Taught Me to Appreciate

Having been off of work now for almost 4 months, I’m starting to prepare myself to re-enter the world and workforce. COVID-19 has had such an impact on us all and I know there isn’t much good that has come from it, but I personally always try to look at the positive. I have to be honest and say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at home and the break from work. Although I am so very thankful to still have a job, I am not quite sure how I am going to handle going back to reality.

After some serious reflection on my time at home, quarantine has taught me to appreciate so many things. Here are few that come to mind:

Family Time

Of course this one is a no brainer. Aside from maternity leave (times three) I have never had this amount of time off! And the fact that we are all home together with nowhere to go, well it’s never happened and probably won’t ever happen again. It was such a treat just to be able to enjoy each other’s company and not deal with the usual daily hustle and bustle. From daily walks with my youngest daughter, teaching my middle daughter to cook, and driving lessons with my son, it’s time that I will always cherish! The one thing that stuck out after being home for a while was that we were actually sitting down to the dinner table together every night! In the past this was unheard of, as there was always somewhere to be. Whether it was hockey practice, tutoring, medical appointments etc., we were always on the run. If there is one thing I could keep as we slowly head into our new reality, family dinners is the one!

Fitness Schedule

As mentioned in my previous post, my workout game has been stronger then ever since I have adapted to home workouts. It is the highlight of my day right now because it gives me a goal to strive for, it’s great for your physical and mental health, and what else do I have to do? Fitness has always been a priority for me so that won’t change, and I don’t need to work out 6 days a week, but I would like to continue a similar cadence. I must say that I have loved working out at a more reasonable time of day. Work outs before the crack of dawn have become a distant memory and I’m not even sure how I managed them all those years. I have made the decision to stick to the home gym for the foreseeable future, which should definitely help me to eliminate the excuses and save on travel time to the neighbourhood gym. That being said, I fear I might have to start up the early morning routine again to get it in, which is fine because I prefer to work out in the morning, but it’s definitely going to hurt a little at first!

Sleep

There not much to say about this one, except that I will miss it dearly! Getting at least eight hours of sleep over the last four months is nothing short of a miracle! For the past 22 years I have woken up between 4 and 5:30 am for work / gym, and let me tell you, 6:30 or 7am is a sleep in for me !! Trust me, I have taken full advantage of the extra sleep and resetting my internal clock. Needless to say going back to work is going to be tough. I might actually need to start drinking coffee . . .

Saving Money

Prior to COVID-19 I don’t think we had a penny saved. Now we can’t really pat ourselves on the back for our current savings because it’s really all COVIDS doing. Not being able to do the things we used to do has really made all the difference to be honest. I won’t lie, we live a pretty comfortable lifestyle. We enjoy life and love to travel, have nice dinners out, weekend getaways, shopping etc.. Not to mention the costs associated with work (gas, lunch, coffee) and of course the kids activities which have been put on hold. This has been an important wake-up call for us. It’s amazing how you adjust and realize you can do without. Quarantine has taught us just how much we are able to save if we cut out some of the unnecessary spending and change our lifestyle habits. I’m hoping we can continue with this mindset once things start returning to normal so that we can better manage our money and spending.

The Outdoors

I will firstly admit that I am not necessarily an outdoorsy type. Usually my husband and the kids do all the outdoor chores while I stick to the indoors ones. Of course I enjoy time by the pool in the summer, but if you are commuting and working 10 hours everyday, then running the kids around in the evening, there is little time to spend outdoors if you don’t make the effort. Over the last four months I have enjoyed a daily morning walk around the neighborhood and have tried to get outside in the backyard every afternoon with the kids, or just by myself to get some vitamin D. Guys, you have never seen me with such a tan!! And those who know me, know it’s a rare sighting unless it’s been sprayed on! I think we have pretty much found a solution to spending more time outdoors in the future seeing as we recently adopted a puppy! Having Magnus in our life now has forced the whole family to get outside on a more regular basis.

Time

Having the time to do things you never get to or procrastinate about has been a godsend! I mean who wants to clean out the cellar on the weekend or your day off? Not me! My house has never been so organized and tidy! And If it were not for this precious time off, this blog would not even exist! I had been using the excuse of not he having time to start it for the last year, and now I have all the time in world. If I can’t pull it off now, it’s never going to happen. When quarantine first began I was so torn. Should I use the time to rest and recharge? Or should I be more productive? (and that was before we knew how long this would last). It’s amazing how fast the days goes by once you fit in a workout, breakfast, shower, pick up groceries, tidy up and by then it’s time to get dinner ready. I made a strong effort to put in some self-care time, while still being productive. I am super proud of what I have been able to accomplish during my time at home and need to remember it’s all about having balance.

I recently found out that I have two weeks remaining at home. It’s bittersweet because I am so thankful to have a job and excited to head back to work and see my colleagues whom I’ve missed! Plus I get to leave the house, get out of my yoga pants and put on something a bit nicer for a change! However it’s going to be a big adjustment for both me and my family. Frankly I’m nervous about how it’s all going to work, but these are the cycles of life and as usual we adjust. As they say, change is good! Over the next two weeks I plan to enjoy every minute of my time and reflect on what I value most in life.

What You Need to Know About Breast Implants and Breast Implant Illness

I have been wanting to write this post ever since I started my blog. This topic is near and dear to my heart, so I wanted to take my time and do it right. I also didn’t want to write a novel, so I will try to keep this as short as possible and apologize now it’s lengthier than my usual posts.

The Decision

In 2018 I made a rash decision and decided to get breast implants. I’ve had 3 kids and I’m a curvy girl (all bottom half) so I guess I figured implants would even me out and enhance my overall look. Honestly, I didn’t think it was big deal. I figured that I work hard to keep fit, I’ve nursed three kids, I’m getting older, so why not. Plus the hubby was definitely onboard! And seeing as it was the number one surgical cosmetic procedure in 2018, with a total of 313,735 breast augmentations performed in the US, it must be safe right ?

After doing some googling I found a plastic surgeon nearby who promised a quick recovery with his unique surgical technique. It was important to me that I not have to take a ton vacation time to recover, as vacation time is typically set aside for the family. Also, I was getting implants for myself, not for anyone else, so I really wanted them to go unnoticed. I went to the consult and met with the surgical assistant who was great and super informative (she also had implants) and then met the doctor, who had a very quiet and calm demeanor. During the consult the doctor suggested a size that was proportionate to my body and I was even able to try on a few options. I ended up choosing a modest size, and with the blink of an eye I was booked for surgery in March.

Surgery and Recovery

Surgery day soon arrived and I had my first ever surgical procedure. I was in and out of the hospital within 3 hours, which might be the norm for elective surgeries, but I kind of felt like it was pretty much a boob factory… one patient after another and out the door you go.

My recovery went fairly well. I was never in pain, but I was quite uncomfortable for about two weeks. I felt like the implant on my right side was about to bust out of my chest at any moment (which I was told was normal) and I also couldn’t bend my right arm and stretch it up to my head all the way without pain. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the mental recovery. The surgical assistant probably regretted giving me her cell number because I texted her often with question after question. Is this normal? Is that normal? Should I be feeling this way? In hindsight, I realized that I regretted getting them almost instantly, something which my husband had picked up on as well. Having foreign objects in my body just did not sit well with me from the get go. So much so that I kind fell into a bit of a depression.

The Health Issues Begin

Three months following my surgery I had finally adjusted to my new friends, and they seemed to have settled into position. I must admit, they looked great, but this is when it all started to go downhill. As mentioned in a previous post, I was the picture of health prior to having implants. I visited the doctor only once a year for my physical, as I just wasn’t the “sickly” type. It began with severe bladder issues and at the very same time my eyes were sore and my lips tingly. Little did I know that this was just the beginning and over the next six months I would be at the doctor, seeing specialists, and working with a Naturopath on a regular basis.

My bladder issues were severe and the symptoms mimicked Intersistial Cystitis (painful bladder syndrome) and basically caused me chronic and unbearable pain. Some of the other not so dominant symptoms I had were; dry sore eyes, blurred vision, fatigue, hormonal/menstrual issues, breast pain, tingling limbs, dizziness, depression and anxiety. Focusing mostly on the bladder, I had several tests done over the course of a few months. I had blood work, an ultrasound, urinalysis, swabs and scope and all of the test results came back just fine. They couldn’t find anything wrong with me. I know it’s TMI, but I actually had grey tissue like matter coming out in my urine! But nothings wrong ? They didn’t know how to help me, because they couldn’t find anything wrong. I basically survived each day by popping T3’s every four hours and just praying today was better then the last.

Google is a Blessing

Seeing as the doctors couldn’t provide me answers, I then had no choice but to become my own advocate. I googled day and night trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Did I have some kind of autoimmune disease ? Was it painful bladder syndrome? I became obsessed. Then one night I somehow stumbled upon an article written by Crystal Hefner about how her breast implants had made her sick. I think I came across it because one of her symptoms was listed as “burning bladder”. This prompted me to search further on the topic and it lead me to a website that would save my life- Healing Breast Implant Illness. Thank you god !! This site provided information about something called Breast Implant Illness (known as BII) and also directed me to join a private Facebook group of the same name which had 50,000 members. I joined immediately and learned that these 50,000 women who all had implants, were also sick with various and similar health issues. It all made total sense! Why did I think it was safe to put two bags full of toxic chemicals in my body to rest on my most vital organs??!!! I even had a friend who once asked if I thought my implants could be causing my issues and I replied “I don’t see how they could?”. DUH. I pretty much decided within 24hrs after that , that I was going to get these toxic bags the hell out of me! After speaking to my husband he agreed that whatever the cost and whatever it took he would support me.

Preparing for Explant

Having found what should hopefully be the key to my health issues was nothing short of a miracle. Major anxiety now set in as I needed to choose a plastic surgeon for explant. As an FYI, the same surgeons who put them in and tell you that they are completely safe, are the same ones who take them out. Not to mention it’s not just as simple as taking them out. The recommendation is that all of the scar tissue (capsule) that forms around the implant must also must be removed as it becomes contaminated with the chemicals found in the implant. If it’s not completely removed you could still experience the same symptoms even though the implants are no longer there.

I needed to now find a surgeon that I was comfortable with and would take my concerns seriously. I ended up meeting with three doctors including the surgeon who did my initial surgery. When he asked if I was part of “that Facebook Group”, I decided he was a hard no. I chose a surgeon who seemed very sincere, was familiar with the proper explant procedure and did believe in Breast Implant Illness. I was booked for explant surgery in 6 weeks and it couldn’t come soon enough!! I was still terrified and anxious about having the operation and that it be done properly, as there is no guarantee the doctor can get all of the capsule out. But I knew the sooner they were out of my body the better. I had also accepted that if explanting didn’t solve all of my health issues, I was ok with that. I was better off in the long run to get them out of my body now knowing the damage they were capable of causing.

Explant Results…WTF

Thankfully my surgery date came quickly and everything went well. I was told I had very little capsule (scar tissue) seeing as the implants were only inside my body for 8 months, and that he was able to get it all out. Then came something I hadn’t been expecting… one of my implants was ruptured. Say whatttt???!! I mean I only had them 8 months!? Weren’t they supposed to last years? WTF. I’m guessing mine had to have ruptured very early on, perhaps even when they were put in? I would also assume that could be why I got ill so quickly. The capsule is meant to protect your body from the implant, and if I didn’t have much capsule were the chemicals in direct contact with my body? It all made total sense! Thank god I listened to my body. Always listen to your body !!

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My ruptured implant!

Explant Recovery

Recovery was great in the sense that there was little to no pain. The worst part was the annoying itchiness that lasted for several weeks afterwards. Many women claim that immediately following surgery they wake up and the majority of their symptoms have already disappeared. That wasn’t the case for me. As I mentioned earlier, one of my first symptoms was dry sore eyes, which almost all the women complain of. This symptom was intermittent for me over the eight months, however the day after surgery my eyes were so sore and dry, and continued that way for 3.5 weeks straight until I started a detox with my amazing Naturopath (shout out to Dr. Chanderbahn!!). It was so bad that I had to buy eye drops. Perhaps a result of the chemicals being stirred up in my body when they were removed? It took time and constant detoxing for me to feel better and is still an ongoing process, but I’m happy to say that today I don’t have the severe chronic bladder pain I had 20 months ago! Completely gone!! Also gone are the dry eyes, blurred vision, breast pain, depression and anxiety! And I can stretch my right arm over my head without pain !! Whoop whoop!!

BII Awareness and Informed Consent

I’m so very thankful for the Breast Implant Illness & Healing by Nicole website as well as the Facebook group and all of the brave women who share their stories every day! It breaks my heart that so many are affected by Breast Implant Illness and many of the women have far worse symptoms then I had and have suffered far longer. As I mentioned earlier the Facebook group had 50,000 members when I joined in September 2018 and today there are over 118,000 members! All day long women now post their stories of explant and healing. Social media win!

The word is spreading and the media is also listening as you will see from the videos I have posted below. The FDA has also recently changed it’s guidance towards the labeling of Breast Implants in an effort to improve patient communication:

Breast Implants – Certain Labeling Recommendations to Improve Patient Communication Draft Guidance

The draft guidance, Breast Implants – Certain Labeling Recommendations to Improve Patient Communication, provides recommendations for the form and content for certain labeling information for saline and silicone gel-filled breast implants, including:

  • Boxed warning
  • Patient decision checklist
  • Materials/device descriptions, including types and quantities of chemicals and heavy metals found in or released by breast implants
  • Silicone gel-filled breast implant rupture screening recommendations
  • Patient device card

(Ref. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/breast-implants/risks-and-complications-breast-implants)

It’s all about informed consent, and women such as myself are not properly informed of the risks associated with implants and certainly not told about Breast Implant Illness. I also want to be clear and say that perhaps not everyone who has implants has these issues, but some of us just can’t handle foreign objects in our bodies. The bottom line is we should all be provided the proper information, including the risks, so that we can make an informed decision.

For me, the one thing that I thought would make me feel complete did the exact opposite. I’ve never felt more complete having those foreign toxic bags out of my body and made me realize that love every bit of my all natural self!

If you or anyone you know has questions or would like to speak to me about my experience I would be more then happy to share!

DIY – How to Make the Perfect Wall Art

DIY – How to Make the Perfect Wall Art

If you are like me and struggle to find the perfect wall art to match your décor, I have a great DIY project for you! After stalking Homesense on multiple occasions and not being able to find what I was looking for, I turned to printables to save the day! Printable wall art is an easy and affordable way to personalize your décor. To find the perfect printables I turn to Etsy, an online marketplace where people make and sell unique items.

Here’s how printables work:

1. Purchase your chosen artwork

2. Receive an instant download of the file

3. Download the file to your desktop, phone or tablet

4. Have your files printed

I recently made use of wall art printables for my newly renovated make-up / dressing room. Below are the steps I took to bring my vision to life:

1. I searched Etsy for “make-up” wall art printables. I highly suggest you narrow your search by adding specific colours or themes otherwise you will be looking at printables for days!

2. I chose and purchased four separate prints to look like a set, all from the same vendor. You will notice that some are sold as sets and others as separates. I typically dump a bunch in my cart before I decide which ones I want so that I can review them altogether and look at the cost differences.

3. I then received the files via direct download to my Etsy account, where I chose the size I needed and saved the files to my phone

4. Using Costco’s online photo centre I had them printed in 8×10, using matte paper. I avoid using glossy paper so that it looks more like an art print, versus a photo. Each 8×10 print was $1.49

My prints

5. Meanwhile , I spray painted four 8×10 spare black frames that I had lying around

Cost of this DIY project was under $40

6. Once I picked up the prints and the frames were ready I assembled them and below is the finished product!

My make-up table & wall art printables!

I hope this DIY project helps to bring your home décor vision to life!

My Skincare Obsession and Clean Product Line Up

Skincare has always been a huge priority for me. Since a young age I was always interested in make-up and skincare products, an obsession that has grown substantially over the years. What can I say, I’m vain and I’m at an age now where I feel like I need to hit the anti-aging regimen hard! It’s a now or never type situation if you know what I mean.

I love trying new products and can be heavily influenced by a good review or recommendation. Somedays I feel like I should steer clear of Instagram for this very reason! I also have an amazing Naturopath who specializes in skincare and gives me great advice and product suggestions. Although I do tend to have a lot of product on hand (as you will see), I try not to break the bank and make choices that are affordable. I mean I would love to buy the $150 face cream that the celebrities rave about, but I just can’t bring myself to spend that kind money, as I have always been a bit of a “diva on a dime”. That being said I would consider spending a little more on something if I found it provided significant results, but I still have my limits.

After seeing first hand the reaction your body can have to chemicals, I made the switch to clean skincare products. I am really trying to be more mindful of what put on my skin and into my body. I would like to avoid options such as Botox or fillers for now, and prefer to go the all natural route. I’m still learning and trying various brands and luckily there are a lot of great products out there right now as more people lean towards clean beauty.

Here are a few of my current clean skincare favs:

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% +B5

This product is fantastic for hydrating, especially if you are prone to dry skin. I apply a few drops in the AM and PM, along with my other water based serums and it keeps my skin hydrated and fresh!

The Ordinary Argireline Soloution 10%

This serum is great for reducing fine lines. I apply to my forehead, corners of the eyes and laugh folds twice daily. It’s super light weight and seeing as you are only using a drop, the bottle goes a long way.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

This serum is great for acne prone skin, and has even banished my hormonal acne! I use it twice daily, but you can also use it as a spot treatment for your blemishes when needed.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane

This serum contains pure Retinol to reduce skins aging. I use this once daily as a final step after I apply my water based serums and moisturizer. I understand that Retinol can cause irritation to the skin when you start to introduce it, but I have had no issues with this Retinol 0.2% and plan to move to the 0.5% next.

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

This toning solution provides a mild exfoliation to the skin and gives you that glow! I use in the AM and I’m always amazed by the dirt that still comes off onto the cotton pad from the day before. (yuck)

AlumierMD Sheer Hydration Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40

I try my best to use sunscreen all year round in an effort to save my skin from the sun. The previous mineral sunscreen I tried left my face with a white chalky film afterwards, while this one is light and smooth and goes on well under my make-up. Not to mention that it’s also packed with antioxidants which nourish your skin at the same time. (BONUS!)

Living Libations Best Skin Ever Seabuckthorn

This oil is a great all in one face and body moisturizer and it also smells amazing! Its all kinds of goodness for your skin and I will use it to cleanse my face, wash it off and then re-apply as a moisturizer. It’s also great to use if your are treating yourself with a Gua Sha facial massage!

The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost Instant Smoother

I absolutely love the silky smooth finish this product gives your skin. I use it in the AM just before I start to apply my make-up (or even without make-up) and it leaves my skin so bright, soft and smooth.

Spectro Gel Cleanser

I have been using this drug store blemish-prone skin cleanser for as long as I can remember now. It’s lightweight, fragrance free and great for sensitive skin. I use it both in the AM and PM to cleanse my skin, as do my teenage children.

I hope that you enjoyed this sampling of some of my favourite clean products. I always have a wishlist on the go with other products that I am interested in trying, but I prefer to finish what I have before buying more. And plus I can only hide so much from my hubby, who already thinks our bathroom looks like the Loreal counter!?

I will continue to share as I try new products and I would love to hear about your favourite clean skincare products and brands as well!

43 make-up free me!

Why I Now Love Working Out at Home

For the last six years I have had a gym membership and was working out anywhere from four to six days a week. On a weekday I would arrive at the gym at 4:30am to get in a hour long workout before the workday began, and then at a more reasonable hour on the weekends, depending on the kids activities. Going to the gym has become habit for me, to the point of feeling guilty if I miss a workout. Exercise is a big part of my self- care routine and it’s something that I truly enjoy.

When things came to a hault in March due to COVID-19 and the gyms suddenly closed, panic set in for me. What am I going to do now??!!

Luckily, I found that that we had kept a bunch of gym equipment from when I first started exercising in our basement, so we were able to quickly convert our spare room into a little gym. You don’t know how thankful I am for not purging that equipment long ago! My little workout haven consists of the following; a spin bike, a few sets of dumbells, two kettlebells, a medicine ball, some resistance bands, core sliders, a few plates and a barbell.

Surprisingly, my workouts have changed for the better and I’ve realized that I love working out at home! Here are a few reasons why:

Sleep (first and foremost!)

Not having to get up at 4am to squeeze in a session before work has been a game changer. Getting up a 4am for so many years had created sleep issues for me and I was struggling with insomnia and typically waking several times before my alarm. My preference has always been to work out in the morning because with three kids and afterschool activities I find the evenings too busy to fit it in. Morning workouts ensure that I get my “me” time and help me to stay energized through out the workday. During the last three months I have continued to work out first thing in the morning, but a more reasonable hour, which has definitely allowed me to reset my internal clock and get my sleep back on track. Win!

Change is Good

After so many years at the gym I felt as though I was starting to hit a plateau. I think I was relying on the machines a little too much and I just wasn’t feeling as motivated or seeing the results I wanted. Working out at home has really pushed me to change it up and do more cardio and body weight exercises seeing as my equipment is now limited. Using resistance bands, doing core work and getting back on the spin bike has been just the change I needed and has given me new motivation.

The Outdoors

When I first started working out I used to take long walks outdoors all the time as part of my cardio routine, but I had stopped making the time and effort (plus I tend to avoid cardio like the plague! ) Since quarantine began I have taken a walk outdoors every single morning with my daughter. It’s great for the mind, body and soul to spend some time outdoors and it also makes cardio seem a little easier and a lot more enjoyable. Plus it’s something we can do as a family and the kids get some active time away from their tablets!

Money

It’s always great when you can save a few dollars and with three gym memberships in our household it adds up! Not only do I have everything I need for a great workout at home, but it’s free! Plus with the money we are saving we can now invest in some new equipment. We have actually made the decision to cancel our memberships for the time being so that we can catch up financially, and perhaps when we decide to do something outside the home again we could look at some other fitness options. I used to frequent hot yoga and I loved it but I couldn’t justify paying both a gym membership and hot yoga membership at the same time, so perhaps now I will have the opportunity to get back into it.

Time Saver

As mentioned earlier, I would typically workout four to six days a week, usually three weekdays, Saturday and Sunday. Since March I have been working out six days a week consistently because it’s so much more convenient to just change into sweats and walk across the hall! It’s great not having to pack your gym bag the night before and jump into the car at 4:30am barely awake to drive to the gym. I know this might not last forever, but for now I am taking advantage of the extra time!

Dance Party Anyone?

Now this is probably my favorite part about working out at home. . . I can get my groove on whenever I like! I’m the type of person who cannot workout without music (and I mean hardcore energetic tunes), which of course leads to some pretty serious dance moves in between sets. I mean no one is stopping me from doing this at the gym, however I feel a little more comfortable letting go in my own home. A little dance break here and there keeps me energized and adds a little more fun to my workout!

Resources

Although I have learned a lot over the years and can manage to put together a workout on my own, I love to learn new moves and change things up. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut and just keep doing the same things over and over, which is why I think I had stopped working out at home in the first place. I just got bored. But these days there is SO much available right at your finger tips via social media. I find great information and videos on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook. I love to follow fitness coaches and trainers on Instagram as they are a great resource and really inspire me.

Here are a few women that I follow on Instragm:

https://www.instagram.com/paigehathaway/

https://www.instagram.com/emilyskyefit/

https://www.instagram.com/fitgurlmel/

https://www.instagram.com/sashaexeter/

Also, here a are a couple of great workouts that I have just recently added to my weekly routine: