Let’s have Tea with the Bride to Be

One of my besties is getting married this September so naturally we threw her a beautiful bridal shower. Her two maid of honors spearheaded the food and decor for a tea party inspired shower that was out of a wedding magazine.

The shower took place in a church that was renovated into a home so it was quite beautiful with the open concept design and natural lighting.

As you can see by the images, the attention to detail made the tea party theme come alive. The maid of honors outdid themselves by baking the macaroons for the first time the morning of the shower (incredible!), hand dipped strawberries in pastel coloured chocolate, and personalizing tea bag inspired shortbread cookies with tags for the bride and groom.

The final touches: fascinators and straw hats which helped to transport the theme to an English countryside.DSC_4496DSC_4511DSC_4512DSC_4521DSC_4528DSC_4530DSC_4539DSC_4543DSC_4552DSC_4578DSC_4565

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Photography Newbie

I must confess part of the reason I have stayed off the blog for such an extended period of time is that I wanted my photography to be perfect. Even though I use a DSLR and edit in Lightroom and Photoshop, I felt like a fraud not shooting in manual. Not to mention the level of aesthetic was not where I wanted it to be.

I recently confessed these feelings to blogger Blare June during a media dinner at the resort I work at. She said if I looked at it that way I would never post a thing and that I should just start writing and learn as I go. With these words of motivation ingrained in my mind, I decided it was time to share my thoughts, ideas and images with you all as I continue to work on my skills.

Earlier in April I met up with local photographer Evelyn Barkey to do a mini workshop on shooting lifestyle images in manual. Just sitting down and figuring out the different aperture settings and shutter speed for certain situations helped immensely. We drove out to Algonquin Park and set up a bonfire but Evelyn soon discovered I needed to learn photography basics for manual at home with good ol’ pen and paper and test on my own. I upgraded my lens at Henry’s to a 35mm and could finally lower the aperture past 4, which made a HUGE difference. Now it is up to me to get out there and test what I have learnt by shooting in manual at every opportunity.

I would highly recommend any new blogger or photography newbie to search out a local photographer on Instagram that they admire and set up a half day workshop. I have downloaded online tutorials and purchased how to books yet it never sunk in as well as the in person tutorial did. I believe that in the field experience is incredibly valuable because you see how the different manual settings function.

Below are some of my favourites from my recent photography adventures, enjoy!

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Part 2: Feel the Travel Fear and Do it Anyways

To jump start my travel journey, I ended up saying yes to a flight in a float plane around my lake. With the help of a family friend, a trained Air Canada pilot I felt extremely in control of the situation because I was able to go down when I had enough of being up in the air. Armed with the knowledge that I was able to go up in a teeny tiny float plane, I knew that I would be mentally strong enough to handle a 5 hour flight to Vancouver.

Naturally the night before the flight I barely slept. Alana and I had to get to the airport for 5am, which in hindsight was an excellent time because I had no time to dwell on my fear of flying. Surprisingly, I was extremely calm throughout the whole check in process which I credit to my avoidance of caffeine for the entire week prior. Earlier that summer I had learned caffeine amplified my anxiety.

As I boarded the plane I realized that it was a larger plane than I had envisioned with a third row of chairs in the middle. *starts to panic. This wasn’t what I had planned for. OH GOD how will it get in the air? Deep breath, deep breath, just sit down and start talking to Alana. I sat down and started talking to Alana and pulled out my drawing book. The plane eventually began moving. That was it, no time to escape, you are doing it. Up we went and it wasn’t as bad as I had remembered. It certainly was uncomfortable until the plane leveled out but I did not cry or panic, success! I found focusing on drawing mandala prints and colouring them in while also listening to a movie was a great distraction technique. I also pre-booked an aisle seat so I would have additional leg room and not have to look out the window.

When we landed in Vancouver I felt elated, I had made it! I spent 11 unbelievable full days back in Vancouver and Whistler hiking, biking, visiting with family and soaking up the west coast views (see pics). I even traveled alone from Whistler back to Vancouver when Alana went to her yoga retreat. It was extremely empowering to know that I could handle it, I did not crumble into a ball of nerves.

I was still quite nervous to fly back by myself but I knew if I had gotten here, I could get home. During the flight home I joked with the man beside me about how I was a nervous flyer so I may chat with him, he kindly assured me that would be okay. When the time came for takeoff I was once again focused on drawing and did not need to speak to the man as a result of nerves. I can’t even begin to tell you what an incredible feeling it was to manage a fear that I have been thinking about for years.

Now after all this, don’t think I can just easily hop on a plane and jet set across the ocean. The fear is still there. I will always have travel anxiety, I just have a few more tools to deal with it. Luckily the urge to travel and see the world is also there so I will continue to push myself. A quote that helps describe this feeling best is “Feel the fear and do it anyways”. I never want to let fear win.

Have you ever been anxious to travel? How do you cope?

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Part 1: Feel the Travel Fear and Do it Anyways

It has been awhile since I have last posted…almost 1.5 years to be exact. A lot has happened! I got an awesome job in beautiful Muskoka, moved out of my parents place and managed to challenge the anxious thoughts around travel.

Anxiety about travel? Yes it exists. I know it can sound weird to someone who has grown up flying to new locations every March beak or family holiday, but to someone like me it was a constant worry. My family never traveled growing up, aside from a road trip from Toronto to Florida when I was in grade 2. We spent all of our free time at the cottage year-round, which I am still extremely grateful for.

My anxiety around travel ironically started while traveling during a six week post graduate trip backpacking out west in Alberta and B.C with friends when I was 22. It was my first time on an airplane, and I could not keep still during the hours before takeoff. We crammed non-stop hikes, sight-seeing, little sleep and lots of partying into those six weeks and as a result I experienced my first panic attack. I had no clue at the time that the feeling of dizziness, ringing in my ear, nausea and out of body experience was actually a panic attack and continued pushing myself until we flew back home. My left ear did not pop from the flight home for 3 whole months due to sinus congestion and as a result I experienced severe dizziness/vertigo which in turn continued to fuel my anxiety.

In combination with the stress of finding a job after graduation, my ear not popping and the feeling that an anxiety attack could happen at a moment’s notice I began to associate travel with uncertainty and anxiety. During the next 2 years I worked hard to understand anxiety and sought out natural ways to manage it such as yoga, meditation, essential oils, rescue remedy, avoiding caffeine and talking with friends and family. As I began to find my career path, these natural remedies became a staple in my life allowing me to push forward and manage my anxious thoughts.

I knew if I wanted to get over my fear of travel (especially in an airplane!) I had to literally do the thing I feared most, fly out west again. So with the help of my friend Alana, who was on her way to a yoga retreat in Whistler we planned an epic adventure. And the most frightening part, I would be flying home from Vancouver to Toronto alone!

Read part 2 here.

I’ve been off the blog grid

It has been approximately 1.5 years since my last post.

It is safe to say I have been off the blogging grid before I even got started. As you can imagine, a lot has happened in that time span. I challenged my anxious thoughts, switched jobs and moved from the GTA to beautiful Muskoka. Probably one of my greatest decisions.

I now work in the tourism and hospitality industry and boy is it ever fun to do media relations for! I am even fortunate enough to photograph for social media, so to catch you up on what beautiful Muskoka has to offer take a look at some of my favourite captures from all four seasons.

I’ll be back blog word, I haven’t forgotten about you!

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Protein Energy Bites

For the past two weeks I’ve been eating these little protein energy balls before or after a strenuous workout with my trainer and they seem to do the trick! It makes for a nice change from protein bars since they are filled with nutritious super foods like flax and chia seeds….oh and they are SUPER easy to make!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use plant based brand Vega One)
  • handful of goji berries
  • handful of dried cranberries

Directions

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl; mixing dry ingredients into the peanut butter and honey. When mixed place in fridge to chill for approximately 30-45 minutes (or until you remember). Remove from fridge and shape into small balls.

1-2 balls/serving should help provide you with the protein and energy you need for your workout or last minute breakfast. I find the chia, flax and oats help make it chewy enough so that I am satisfied with a smaller portion. I estimated 3-4 points plus values per ball depending on size.

tortellini soup

Quick Tortellini Soup

Generally, when I come home from the work or the gym I am hungry and I want something FAST!

This easy weight watchers soup sure does the trick and is perfect for leftovers throughout the week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg of prepared cheese tortellini
  • 1 can of diced or crushed tomatoes (low sodium is recommended for the weight conscious)
  • 1 pkg chicken or vegetable broth, fat free, low sodium
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2-3 cups spinach
  • 1-2tbsp garlic
  • oregano seasoning
  • Italian seasoning

Directions:

Brown garlic in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray on medium-high heat for approximately 1 minute, then add chopped onion until softened for another minute.

Add broth and tortellini; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes as pasta cooks.

Add spinach, tomatoes and seasonings to taste and simmer for another 5 minutes.

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Yields 1 cup per 4 points plus serving