Thursday, 18 December 2014

On Thursdays I'm Thankful

Do you ever just sit back, take a look at your life and think to yourself "holy crap I am so lucky"? My birthday just passed and once the celebrations winded down (and I recovered from my hangover), I took a few moments to reflect on the amazing life I live. Today I've decided to share with you a bit of what I'm most thankful for. As the holidays approach, maybe some of you will take some time to reflect on what you're thankful for in your own life.

1. I am blessed with the world's greatest and most generous friends.
The neat thing about true friends is that even though you may not speak every day or even every month, and even though you live hours, provinces, even countries apart you always know that you have a friend in them. Since leaving behind my hometown friends to move to university, and then parting ways with my university friends when school finished, I now have friends all over the world who each hold a special place in my heart (you all know who you are and I am so thankful for all of you!) This weekend the girls who got me through 4 years of university, who did my hair before the bar just to hold it back for me after the bar, made a 7 hour trip (one on a plane!) to visit me for less than 24 hours on my birthday. My heart is so full! This is something I am incredibly thankful for; friends like this don't come that easily. These girls are forever friends and I am so lucky to have them in my life.

Four summers ago a wonderful new person joined my life by sheer chance. Today, I call that same person my best friend (and maid of honour!). She's the kind of friend who leaves behind their big city life to hop on a bus for 5 hours to visit you for a weekend in your freezing cold, tiny little Northern town, and sends you flowers (no matter where you are) every year on your birthday. A year and a half ago, I moved to her big city and since then she has become my rock; I have no idea what I would do without her and I am thankful for her every single day.

2. My family means the world to me.
There is no love greater than the love between family members and I am so grateful to have the fantastic and loving family that I do. When you're a bratty 16 year old your biggest dream is to move out on your own. Now, after 6 years of living on my own, I yearn for the days when my brother, sister, and I all slept in single beds under my parents roof. I miss the constant chaos, I miss family dinners every night, I miss trips to blockbuster to rent a movie for the weekend, I miss stealing my sisters clothes and annoying my older brother; I really miss my family and I am so thankful for their unconditional love and constant support. See you all on the beach so soon!

Next year, my family will grow even bigger when Maeghan and I say I do! However, these wonderful people have been part of my family for the past 3 years, since the day Maeghan and I met. They are some of the kindest, warmest, and most loving people I have met in my entire life and I am so grateful that they will soon be my in-laws.

3. I found my soulmate. 
The past three years of my life spent with this beautiful creature by my side have hands down been the best three years of my entire life. I laugh until it hurts everyday, I smile constantly, I'm never bored, and I'm spoiled far too often. Next summer I am vowing to spend the rest of my life with someone; with my best friend and my soulmate...I don't think many people get that lucky. I will forever be the most thankful for my partner and all of the joy she brings me.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, 8 December 2014

December is the prettiest month

Welcome to Maeghan and I's pad! This apartment, which initially felt a little like a place for us to squat for a few months, sort of "happened" by accident. Our first place, a gorgeous 7th floor condo in a brand new building over looking the backside of Parliament and the river, was becoming more hassle than the glass-walled shower, granite counter tops, and walk-in closet could make up for so we had to move. However, finding a new place that could live up to the old one while still in our budget and in the downtown core proved to be quite the task. This place was not on our radar at all and we only visited it (I only visited it to humour Maeghan) to fill time before another viewing. But surprise surprise, the location, the unbeatable price, and the square footage won us over. 

The place more than fulfills our needs and we're slowly starting to add bits and pieces of decor that make it feel more like "us" and home. Luckily, December came quickly for us this year (luckily because December makes having a cute apartment easy). 

About a week back, I came out of the elevator and heard classic Christmas music in the hallway. As I opened the door to our unit, I realized that beautiful sound (can you tell I love Christmas??) was coming from in there. Maeghan had done the cutest thing; she had spent the afternoon searching for the perfect apartment-sized tree and brought it home along with some eggnog, candy canes, and Christmas chocolates. Now it wouldn't be an Emma and Meaghan event if there wasn't a bump in the road. It turns out, our perfect little tree had travelled on a truck all the way from Wisconsin and was refusing to let it's branches fall after being tied up for so long. This meant that we couldn't decorate it yet. So there it sat, for nearly a week, naked (...undecorated).  

This weekend while I did some christmas shopping, Maeghan finished the decorating. How beautiful it was to come home to an apartment lit only by Christmas lights and flickering candle almost made me forget about the parquet floors that drive me wild! 

In another effort to pretty-up our place and prepare for the holidays, I baked and decorated 2 dozen gingerbread cookies. While waiting for Maeghan to come home from work, I thought I would get ahead of the game and bake enough cookies to freeze for Christmas. For those of you who know my fiancée, you know this freezing thing wasn't going to happen. The day after I baked the cookies, Maeghan and I both took a few in our lunches. The difference, however, is that I ate one and shared the rest with my coworkers while Maeghan ate all of them herself. So of course, the cookies are already gone. At least its a testament to my baking skills, right?

For the next few weeks, we'll stick to sipping hot chocolate and eggnog while enjoying our beautifully decorated apartment...and I'll save my baking until the last minute so at least a few treats make it to our families. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Say "Maybe" to the Dress?

You can bet the second my left hand had a shiny rock on it I was calling up bridal shops and making appointments to try on wedding dresses; why waste any time right? Before even setting foot in a shop, I had a Pinterest board totally dedicated to wedding dresses. Majority of the dresses on my board were little lace numbers with revealing backs, no straps, and a figure-flattering shape. So, naturally, when I arrived at the bridal salon on day one of wedding dress shopping I pulled out my iPhone, hopped on my Pinterest board and showed the attendant all of my hopes and dreams. She was great; she hurried off and found 4 or 5 dresses very similar to the ones in my photos. However, what happened when I put the first one on I could have never predicted.

With my MOH, and the 16 year-old attendant (okay fine she was like 18) waiting outside the fitting room, I struggled to climb into a $2,000 dress made of nearly 50 pounds of thick lace. Once the dress was on, I stood alone in front of the 360 mirrors before opening the door and let my eyes fill with tears. I looked hideous. Was this what I looked like in a wedding dress? Maybe I'm not supposed to get married if this is what I look like in a wedding dress? The awful thoughts kept growing and bouncing around in my head until I opened the door, stepped out of the fitting room, and heard my MOH burst out laughing. It was the dress, the dress was hideous and I was not. What a horrible first wedding dress experience, but I'm so glad it happened since it really helped me with the rest of my shop.

The second dress I put on had a trumpet shape to it with a sweetheart neckline and a chapel length train. The dress was stunning and I looked great in it. It became a "maybe"...however, so did the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, get the point. Some of these maybe's fell closer to yes's and some closer to no's, but still, there were a lot of maybe's after 4 trips to dress shops and over 50 dresses were tried on, and none felt quite right.

Disappointed and confused, I took the the internet, and reached out to some of the previous brides I knew to find an answer to the daunting question, "how will I know when I've found the one"? The consensus was exactly what I didn't want to hear; responses along the lines of "you will just know, something inside of you will tell you, and you will just know". How aggravating for someone who has tried on so many dresses of so many different styles and known nothing except that 50 pounds of lace is too much and makes me cry.

(my wedding dress is in that pile somewhere!)

With this new information in mind, I continued to shop. With my MOH, with my mom and mom-in-law-to-be, with some of my other bridesmaids, heck at this point I would have taken input from my mailman. Then, in a bridal shop I'd never heard of until a few days before my appointment in a town I'd never really visited before, it happened. 

I tried on a few dresses with huge puffy skirts and glitter all over them to make my guests laugh, and some other dresses became maybe's (including one named Emma!). Then, my longest and dearest friend asked me to try on a dress so different than any of the 50 I'd previously tried. Reluctantly, I climbed into the dress. Holy moly! What a comfortable dress; so light, so moveable, no itching from the material, and it fit me like a glove right off the rack. Without even looking in the mirror I walked slowly out of the fitting room. That same friend, my childhood best friend who knows me better than anyone, smiled from ear to ear and started to tear up. I turned around to face the mirror and my heart nearly jumped out of chest. With my hair in a messy bun, bare feet, and in the middle of a bridal salon, I felt more beautiful than I have ever felt. This dress, the one I didn't want to try on, this was my dress. 

After a FaceTime with my momma, who made sure that I scrunched the material to see if it will wrinkle when I sit down (such a practical lady), I had made up my mind. As I would recommend to everyone, I slept on it. Which meant I travelled back to Ottawa and went to work the next day. Over 24 hours later I couldn't stop thinking about the dress. So, I did what us thrifters do best; I called around to bridal shops in the Ottawa area to find out who had the dress and who had it for the best price. Two weeks after the initial try-on, my dress was ordered from a shop here in Ottawa, and for $200 less than the first shop! 

So I guess the moral of the story here is to be open; of course try on your dream dress that you've had on your Pinterest board for years, or that's been folded up in your wallet since you cut it out of a magazine when you were a kid, but also try on that dress at the back of the rack that's so far from what you imagined you'd wear on your big day. When there are thousands of different dresses, you never know which one is going to look stunning on you!

Happy shopping, or happy dreaming!

Monday, 24 November 2014

It's coming, whether you're ready or not!

By it's I mean the holidays. They're fast approaching and I don't need my calendar to tell me this. The cold and snowy weather, the twinkling lights on houses and in store windows, the festive music on the radio, the packed malls, and the trees for sale outside the supermarket all scream IT'S COMING.

However, this year I vowed to be more prepared. My best friend Pinterest and I have been preparing for months. She's given me so many fantastic ideas for creative DIY decorations and gifts, as well as material gift ideas for those hard-to-buy-for individuals in my life (you know who you are). But today, I thought I would share with you an adorable DIY decoration/gift idea that I used last year.

I assume this post will be most popular with young lovebirds, however, wouldn't it be cute for all of you well-seasoned lovebirds to have a little throwback to your first christmas in your first home or apartment?? You're welcome in advance for the brownie points.

For me, this craft required a trip to Michaels (always) but I'm sure you could find all of the necessary items at places like Walmart, or maybe even a dollar store. I purchased a brick of grey clay (the non-oven bake kind because I find it easier to work with, but either will work), white paint, and some ribbon. I used a paint brush and a black fine print sharpie that I had at home. 

While Maeghan was at work, I cleaned off our countertop (to make sure there wasn't anything that would stick to the clay), and started to shape my clay ornament. I chose to make mine into a heart; however, I saw others had made circles, diamonds, and squares. Once I had the closest thing I could get to a perfectly shaped heart, I used a pen to poke a hole at the top of my ornament so I could string the ribbon through later. Finally, I took my apartment key off my keychain and pressed it into the clay so that it was about halfway through (the clay was coming all the way through the hole in the key). With a butter knife and some very steady hands, I lifted the key out and used my fingers to touch up the edges of my key imprint since the sides caved in a bit while removing the key. 

After letting my ornament dry for a few days (in a drawer so Maeghan wouldn't find it), it was ready to be painted! I chose white, no idea why, but feel free to get creative with your colours, just keep in mind you'll be writing on it after. Once the paint was dry I used my sharpie to write out "Our First Apartment" and then the address of our first place (we don't live there anymore, potential burglars!). Lastly, I cut off a piece of ribbon long enough to make a loop to go around a tree branch, and fed it through the hole I had punctured at the top of my ornament.

I gave my creation to Maeghan as part of her Christmas gift last year, and once it was opened it became the cutest ornament on our tree! Our tree for Christmas 2014 goes up in a couple weeks, and I'm sure this will be the first decoration on it.

Hope your holiday preparations are going well, friends!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The best "yes" I'll ever say

(of course this glamour shot is from our engagement session and not the rainy evening it happened)

When it comes to Maeghan and I, I am hands down the mushy, over-emotional, sappy, romantic one. However, Maeghan went over-the-top romantic the night she proposed to me. 

On a surprisingly cold and windy Friday evening early in May, Maeghan told me she'd be late coming home since she was having after work drinks with a friend. That was fine since I'd made plans to hangout with a friend after work as well. My friend Bryan arrived at Maeghan and I's apartment and was in the strangest mood but I didn't think anything of it. He was insistent that we go for a walk even though it was freezing cold and raining. Somehow, after 15 minutes of arguing, he convinced me to go. 

When we started walking Bryan turned to me and asked, "where's your car?". Slightly confused I responded, "obviously in the parking garage". He began begging me to go upstairs and get the keys so that we could drive to where he wanted to go for a walk. At this point I'm so annoyed but for whatever reason I oblige without assuming anything is out of the ordinary. After getting a little lost, and with the wind picking up, we pulled up to a hiking/biking trail near the Ottawa River. We parked the car and started to walk. Bryan was so incredibly preoccupied and hardly listening to me but still, I was more annoyed than confused and had no idea what was about to happen next. 

As we continued, I noticed we were headed towards one of my favourite spots; the trail we were on crossed this beautiful abandoned train bridge that spanned the Ottawa River from Ontario to Quebec. A bit happier with the walking trail he had picked, I turned to Bryan and asked if we could walk down the bridge; he stood silently, smiling ear to ear. When I turned back around, I noticed a person surrounded by candles standing a few meters down the bridge. My heart dropped, and my eyes filled with tears as I began to recognize the red shirt the beautiful girl on the bridge was wearing. The girl, that girl, was my girl and she was waiting in the freezing cold for me.

I began walking slowly towards Maeghan (slowly so I could work on catching my breath and wiping the tears from my face). As I reached her, she held out her hand, pulled me in, and hugged me. She told me some of the most heartfelt and wonderful things while I cried and laughed, and all of a sudden she was down on one knee 50ft over the Ottawa River asking me "will you marry me?" I nodded and knelt down to her level to give her a kiss and tell her what will forever be the best "YES!" I will ever say.

(a real photo from the night it happened!)

Just when I thought it couldn't get any sweeter, Maeghan hustled me back down the trail to our car as there was a table waiting for us at our favourite restaurant (that doesn't hold tables by the way - thanks Gemma!)

After a few more tears were shed during telephone calls with our parents and siblings, we made our way to the restaurant. Maeghan explained that Katherine, my best friend, sends her apologies that she won't be able to make it out. Then, that little romantic did it again; as I strolled into the restaurant, eyes down staring at my shiny new rock, I heard a familiar voice squeal. It was Katherine, and she was waiting at our table with a bottle of champagne ready to celebrate the happiest night of our lives with us!

Remembering that night makes my heart beat out of my chest, and I'm pretty darn sure it always will. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Is bumbleberry pie a thing?

Quite often I get the urge to bake late into the evening (usually around the time I should be thinking about going to bed) and I get an idea in my head about what I want to bake before I even make sure we have all of the ingredients. This was the case last night when I decided to bake a "mixed berry pie" at 9pm.

I knew we had a bag of mixed berries in the freezer that we bought months ago for smoothies that we never made, and a left over pre-made pie crust from the last time we made quiche. So, with this in mind I set off to make us what I thought was called a mixed berry pie. Shortly into my preparations, I was informed that the proper terminology for mixed berry pie is in fact "bumbleberry pie". Which Wikipedia (my go-to for factual information) explains as a pie that contains at least 3 different types of who made this up and why are they so strict? Regardless, I was making a mixed-bumbleberry pie and the clock was ticking!

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret. I hate making homemade pie crust; I suck at it and it never tastes as good as the store-bought stuff. So, all of my pies have store-bought crusts and crumble topping. But for this pie, the crumble topping, that's where it got interesting.

Once the pie filling was made and in the shell, I realized we had run out of butter earlier in the day. Now, an important thing to know is that Maeghan and I live RIGHT downtown. One block from a Quickie (corner store) and 3 blocks from a 24 hour grocery store. However, I do not believe in leaving to get an ingredient, I believe in the internet and alterations. That's a lie I was just lazy.

So,  picture's almost 10pm now, the oven is ready but the pie is topless because we have no butter. Then, I wonder "what do vegans make crumble topping out of?" (the answer is vegan butter by the way). But! I go where probably no skilled baker has ever gone and I make my crumble topping out of vegetable oil...don't judge me.

Once the pie was in the oven, I of course turned on the oven light and sat down near the window to watch it bake. Soon, the brown sugar in the makeshift crumble topping started to dissolve into the pie filling and I became increasingly worried for the fate of our late night snack. However, no need to worry because the pie turned out to be delicious and the crumble topping was arguably the best part.

Since my pie was a hit (with my fiancée that is...) I thought I would share my creative recipe with all of you!


1 store-bought pie crust
1 cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup flour
3 or 4 cups of frozen mixed berries
Squeeze of lemon juice

For the crumble topping:
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup of oats
½ tsp. cinnamon
3 ish tablespoons of vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a glass bowl or measuring cup defrost the berries in the microwave. 
  3. Mix the flour and sugar in with the berries. Add the squeeze of lemon juice. Now you've created your pie filling. 
  4. Pour the filling into the pie crust. 
  5. To make the crumble topping, mix all of the dry ingredients together. Once combined, add the vegetable oil. Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top of the pie filling.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes. 
  7. ENJOY! (After letting it sit for about an hour, or don't let it sit and you'll be eating berry soup)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Bridesmaids or Bride's Maids

When I asked my wedding party to be a part of my special day I wanted to make sure that each of them felt just that, special and hand-chosen. I spent hours (ask Maeghan) scouring the internet for inspiration and assistance in this task. Finally, I came across the cutest cards from marrygrams on Esty.

These cards were both the perfect inspiration and addition to my bridesmaid ask. On the outside they read "something old, new, borrowed, blue...and most importantly I'll need you!" and on the inside "will you be my bridesmaid?". However, you can have the shop insert whatever title you'd like inside! For $13 for 4, these cards are a steal and really made my maids smile!

This project also called for a trip to Michaels (what project doesn't, really?). There I found this adorable card stock with various types of vintage-y designs on it. I used the card stock to write personalized letters for each of my wedding party attendants; embarrassing stories, sappy memories, and funny inside jokes quickly filled the card stock! Upon receipt of their snail mail, each of my maids called to tell me how happy, honoured, and excited they were. However, I'm not sure how many of them realized that along with being exciting, being a bridesmaid can sometimes be a tough job!

Maeghan and I's wedding will be totally DIY wedding and we need all hands on deck to make the day perfect. That's why I sometimes refer to my Bridesmaids as Bride's Maids...since they're kind of like my slaves some days. I drag them to tons of dress shops and confuse them immensely when I change my mind about a few thousand times. I overwhelm them with my excessive pinning and bug them to pin more! I demand that they hoard all of their tin cans and wine bottles (most of them inside their tiny apartments). I make them listen to me while I ramble on about menus, seating, table runners, thank-you gifts, and so many other tiny details that I shouldn't even be worrying about yet. On top of all of that, I force them into slavery and have them decorate endless mason jars with steaming hot glue. And we still have 276 days to go... (but who's counting?!)

But even when I'm boring them to death, or forcing them to waste days off or trips to visit me touring around or DIYing, they do it all with a smile on their face. Seems like I've chosen the best Bridesmaids, no?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

DIY Center Pieces: Part 1

I think I got my love of thrifting and DIYing from my parents. My father is the world's thriftiest man, I promise you, and my mother is Wonder Woman when it comes to DIY projects. So together they make the perfect team!

Thanks to them, Maeghan and I inherited a MASSIVE box (it took both of us to load it into our car and then into our apartment...) of vintage mason jars that we're incorporating into our center pieces for the wedding. I'm sure most of you have got the vibe already, but Maeghan and I are so excited about our vintage-rustic theme, so these mason jars are the perfect treasure. Along with the jars, my mom sent us home with a bin full of lace, beading, and twine that she inherited when my grandmother passed away many many years ago. Luckily, a few months earlier Maeghan and I stumbled upon and purchased a huge sack of burlap at a garage sale for five bucks!

With all these crafting supplies filling the far corner of our apartment, I convinced my wonderful maid of honour to spend the entire day with me re-purposing the jars. She even came prepared with OJ and champagne so we could sip on mimosas while we worked! We laid out the supplies, plugged in our hot glue guns (which in hindsight we should have placed on some scrap cardboard...sorry Maeghan!) and we were set to decorate!

After a few hours, a few mimosas, and when we'd run dry on creativity we had re-purposed over half of the jars we will need for the center pieces! Of course we had to place tea lights in all of them and light them for a true visual...

Hopefully even after all of the finger burns from hot glue I can convince my MOH to help me finish...

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Ultimate Black Bean Burger

Burgers remind me of summertime. Growing up, my siblings and I would spend our days scorching our pasty white skin in the warm August sun, splashing around in the cold water of the northern Ontario lake at the cottage, and snacking on nothing but orange pop, salt and vinegar chips, and fun dip from the little general store down the road. By 6 o’clock when we could hear the clicking of the BBQ lighter and immediately smell the charcoal heating up, we were starving and seriously hoping someone was grilling up some burgers.

In my opinion, one of the best parts about burgers is the endless variety of toppings you can add to them. Think of your favorite gourmet burger joint. They probably have a list of over 100 burger toppings much more creative than the usual lettuce, tomatoes, and onions; toppings you’ve never even begun to imagine on a burger like red pepper jelly or deep fried pickles. But what many of us burger lovers don’t stray too far from is the original burger patty taste. No matter what toppings we put on top of that warm, plump, flavourful, burger; we want that authentic burger taste.

Four years back when I vowed to help my sister transition into vegetarianism (as she was about to embark on a series of journeys to places without much meat and needed to prepare her body for this), I didn’t realize it would last more than a few months. But here I am, and four years have passed since I have had one of those juicy ground beef hamburgers fresh off the BBQ at my family cottage. You can wipe those tears off your face that you were shedding for me, as this black bean burger is BETTER than those all-meat patties my dad used to grill up. And actually, easier to prepare than a homemade beef patty and requires so many less tools.

After all of that suspense, and now that you’re day dreaming of a warm summer evening and a delicious burger, I am so happy to share this recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon with you.

(Photo from

You will need:

- food processor (or a really powerful blender…imagine making hummus, we’re talking that kind of power)
- can opener and strainer
chopping knife and cutting board
frying pan 
- spoon or spatula 

1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (for frying)
- 4 burger buns
- desired burger toppings


1. Pulse the onion and garlic in your food processor about 5 times
2. Add the black beans, oats, spices, and salt and pepper to the food processor and
pulse another 5-10 times, or until the consistency of a really thick hummus
3. Remove the top from your food processor and add the bread crumbs to the
mixture. Stir the crumbs into the mixture with a spoon or spatula
4. Form the mixture into equal sized patties (I usually make 4 or 5 patties
depending on how big the buns I have are)
5. Heat your oil in the bottom of your frying pan (around medium heat)
6. Place your patties into the frying pan and cook them for about 5-7 minutes per
side (they should be browned and crispy on the bottom)
7. Remove the patties from the pan (pat down with paper towel to absorb some of
the excess oil if you like), and place the warm, mouth-watering patties onto their
fresh buns
8. Assemble your burger with whatever toppings you choose! (I usually go with
mustard and ketchup, tomato slices, cheese, avocado, and lettuce)
9. Enjoy and be amazed

Happy burger eating!