Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Is Soup a Meal? (Ginger Carrot Red Lentil Soup Recipe)

Whenever I write out the weeks meal plan and one of the dishes on the menu is some type of homemade soup, I always wonder how Maeghan will react. It's not that she doesn't like soup, it's that my father (who isn't a picky eater either), has a funny reaction when my mom makes soup for dinner. To be fair, my mom is a big soup fan and it does feel like each time I call home during the colder months - which in Northern Ontario is basically 7 months of the year - she is making soup. So for the longest time, I've had a funny memory stuck in my head of my dad trying to bail himself out of a sticky situation by explaining to my mom that he does like her soup it's just that soup isn't a meal. 

Since going vegetarian years ago and recently floating back to somewhere on the "flexitarian" spectrum, I've spent a great deal of time researching and learning about different kinds of protein, fiber, carbs...basically all of the components of a healthy balanced meal. When I plan out our weekly meals - remembering that they will not only be dinners but lunches as well - I make sure each meal is not only balanced, but also has enough protein. With that being said, I think the answer to the my parents debate is: if your soup is hearty and packed with nutritious veggies and proteins that will keep you full and energized, then it is definitely a meal!

I've been on the hunt for new soup recipes since the rainy, damp season has arrived here in Victoria. Recently I came across this delicious recipe for a ginger carrot and red lentil soup from My Kitchen In The Rockies and I can tell you it will definitely be a staple in our winter menu.

Of course Maeghan ate it with a side of 3 English Muffins covered in melted butter, but she was a fan and never once questioned my decision to serve soup for dinner. We highly recommend tossing in your favourite nuts and seeds along with big globs of goats cheese!

Click here for the recipe and cooking instructions, and let me know what you think!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Your Backyard is Beautiful

(Ferry Ride - Vancouver to Victoria)

Someone's going to say I'm cheating since I've recently moved and my backyard is new and therefore more exciting...but just hear me out, okay?

My iPhone is only about six months old and it's already out of space. I have next to no apps, and I only have about 10 songs on there. It's out of space because it's full of photos. The other day I decided to go through them... delete what I don't need, and move whatever I deem precious memories to my laptop. While going through my over 1,600 photos, I smiled, I laughed, I had my eyes fill with tears, and I realized how much I've jammed into the last six months and how fortunate I am. I needed that; I needed that kick in the pants, that reminder that life is (so) good and we need to get out there and enjoy every second of it.

What I also noticed during my walk down memory lane, is that I have seen and done so many amazing new things in the last couple months...probably triple what I did the entire two years I lived in Ottawa. Yes, BC is totally new to me; it's a place I have always wanted to visit, but until two months ago, never had. So it makes sense that my phone is full of beautiful photos of the amazing things I have seen and done here so far; but what I started to wonder is, why didn't I have this many photos of the things I had seen and done in Ottawa? I quickly opened my laptop to the folder of photos from my old iPhone, scrolling until I found evidence of my first few weeks in Ottawa. Again, I smiled, I laughed, and I had my eyes fill with tears; but this time for very different reasons. The photos were all of me and my enjoying a beer on a patio, us eating an Italian deli sandwich in the Market, or us cuddled up on an apartment floor after too many glasses of wine. Those first few months in Ottawa were some of the best months of my life, simply because they were spent surrounded by people that I love. But what I realized is, although Ottawa was brand new to me, I didn't treat it the way I am treating BC.

(Hatley Castle - Royal Roads University Campus) 

During my first week at work here in Victoria, I asked my coworkers to give me a list of things to see and do in town. I told them to give me the same suggestions they would give to a tourist while I noted that I was even considering the hop-on hop-off tour bus. With each person I asked and with each time a new "local" discovered that we were new to town, the list grew. It's been three months since we arrived in Victoria, and from my iPhone full of photos, I can tell you that we're quickly checking things off that list. We've been to the downtown harbour, we've seen the parliament buildings and the oldest hotel in town, we've done a tour of one of the most famous castles on the island, we've been to see the floating homes and fed the seals, we've window shopped in each different neighbourhood, we've hiked countless trails up to the summit of (small) mountains and through some of the island's oldest forests, and we still have so much more to see and do.

(Fisherman's Wharf - Downtown Victoria) 

What I'm getting at here, is that I think we too quickly become "residents" in the cities and towns that we live in and we forget to take notice of all the great "touristy" things our own beautiful backyards have to offer. Don't get me wrong, when I think travel or adventure I think of an international destination - somewhere totally new and different from wherever I call home. But back in Ottawa, when my friends were busy on my days off or we didn't have enough time or money to jet off to somewhere exotic, I would become discouraged - believing I was destined to a boring, adventure-less life - and wind up binge-watching reruns on Netflix from my bed. When in reality, there was lots that my own city - my own backyard - had to offer that I hadn't seen or done yet.

So next time you find yourself wishing you could getaway for the weekend or that you had enough time or money to hop on a plane to somewhere new, try hopping on the internet and finding out what your backyard has to offer! Or better yet, blindly hop on the bus and hop off somewhere you've never been. I guarantee you that you'll find beauty (and adventure!) that you never knew existed...all in your own backyard.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Meal Plan Your Way to an Extra $2600

I'm sitting here thinking of all the things I want to do with my $ go on an extravagant trip or a massive shopping spree. But in reality, that extra cash will go towards something grownup like tuition or a down payment on a house - still good things, but a $2600 trip to somewhere exotic like Fiji or Bora Bora just seems so much dreamier! 

Back in Ontario, Maeghan and I were spending about $120 a week on groceries for the two of us. We always bought food to make breakfast at home each morning, snacks for lunches, and supplies to make a large dinner each night so we would have leftovers for our lunches. Even though our fridge was always stocked with fresh ingredients just waiting to be turned into a delicious meal, each night I always found myself scouring Pinterest for dinner inspiration while staring into the fridge and whining, "we have no food". Not only did this waste endless hours of my time, but each week we would end up spending more on food by running out to get "just one ingredient" - paying a premium price for it at a corner store and ending up coming home with things we didn't need - as well as wasting food that went bad as it never seemed tasty enough to be included in that week's meals. Since moving to British Columbia (where everything is significantly more expensive), we've been spending just $70 a week on groceries and our food wastage has decreased significantly. 

How, you ask? One simple change: we started meal planning. 

Each Saturday, while enjoying my morning coffee, I get out my computer and a pen and paper. I spend the next 15-20 minutes compiling a list of seven different meals as well as all of the ingredients needed for those meals. To save time, whenever I see a recipe or meal idea I cut it out or Pin the link for later. Come Saturday, I can look back on those recipes to quickly build my list without repeating any meals. From the ingredient list, I make a shopping list of all of the items I don’t have in my pantry, and then add to it any extras we’ll need for breakfast and snacks. At the grocery store, I’m in and out in less than 30 minutes with only the items on my list (and maybe an extra treat since it is the weekend after all) and I’ve spent only $70 to feed two people three meals a day for seven days!

When you break down the numbers, the savings will blow your mind!

$120 multiplied by the 52 weeks there are in a year is $6240 that we were spending on groceries (with so much of it going in the trash)! Our now $70 multiplied by 52 weeks is $3640
The original $6240 we were spending, minus the $3640 we spend now, leaves us with $2600 in SAVINGS.

The benefits of meal planning speak for themselves; I have more of my evenings back since I never have to wonder what to cook each night, I spend significantly less time in the grocery store, our food wastage has nearly stopped, and we have an extra $2600 a year in the bank! Now…what snack should I bake tonight? 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

It's The Soul That Needs a Surgery

Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. Let me start by making you really think. When you think of the word health, what do you think of? Most often, our minds probably run to any kind of physical ailment - broken bones, cancer, heart problems, etc., OR, we imagine a state of perfect physical health. But what I think many of us overlook, is mental health. Now, with that being said, mental health doesn't have to mean mental unhealth. That's where stigma comes in. Not only do we, as a human race, often struggle to see mental illness as an accepted ailment or illness, but there seems to be some kind of shame in ensuring we are taking care of our minds, the same way we care for our physical selves.

With the hopes that putting a face to mental illness helps to end some of the stigma, and as a way to encourage you to take care of your minds, I'll share with you my journey as a survivor of mental illness.

I won't "sugarcoat" it and I'll get right to the point; I am battling an eating disorder. This is by no means breaking news. I have been battling (and winning!) against this monster for the past 10 years. I can't tell you how it started. I'm sure it was a combination of many things including my brain's susceptibility to mental illness, but I can tell you it started when I was 13 or 14. The little girl in that photograph grew up in a middle-class, value-based, love-filled home, and she was not subject to abuse (short of minor childhood bullying), yet she struggled to fit in and find her place. The teenager between that little girl and the young woman in the photo, went to war with herself each and everyday in an effort to feel beautiful. 

For the past 10 years, I've had my highs and (at times extreme) lows, and my eating disorder has come in many forms. And despite the fact that I am sitting at a healthy weight and am doing better than ever, I still battle each and every day. You can't see my mental illness, and you wouldn't assume I am or ever was a survivor of mental illness from my upbringing or my current lifestyle, and that's what causes stigma. I am not ashamed of my illness, or it's story. I am, however, ashamed of myself for not always taking better care of my mind.

Of course, when your illness has you completely wrapped up in what feels like a choke hold, you aren't able to admit that you're struggling and need help. But when help is offered, or you reach out and decide to begin taking better care of your mind, the biggest hurdle can be stigma and shame. And I think it's time that ends. 

There is absolutely nothing shameful about taking care of your mind, whether you are battling an illness or not. 

Life's tough. At times, it can feel as if way too much is being asked of us; there's a lot on your plate at school, your kids are growing and developing and need your constant attention, you're battling with the rest of the country to find a job that pays the bills, society is telling you that you need to be perfect, and it's all too much. But that's okay, there's a solution to that! If the stress from life caused your back to ache, you would see a chiropractor, or caused your heart to beat irregularly, you'd see a cardiologist. But for whatever reason (maybe because it's unseen and "unfelt"), we sometimes neglect to notice what the stress is doing to our minds and how badly we need healing.

Taking care of (or healing) our minds doesn't have to have it's own type of specialist or remedy, it can and should be entirely up to you. Really, often all it takes is finding time to do what makes you happy, and time to relax your mind. For me, when I seem to be struggling more than normal, I do rely on a "specialist" (therapist) for extra support, but most often, I practice my own healing. What makes me and my mind happy and healthy are simple, everyday things like: frequent exercise, adventuring to new places, crafting/creating, writing, watching movies, long chats with good friends, hugs and kisses from my wife, snuggles with my cat, and of course, a nice glass of wine. So when I feel as if my mind could use some taking care of, I make time (or more time) for some of the things on that list.

So this weekend, while you're being thankful for all that you are surrounded by, make some time to do something that makes you happy. Your mind will thank you for it in more ways than you know!

Monday, 5 October 2015

When Life Gives You (lots of) Rotten Lemons

It's been way too long! Life (mostly wedding planning, oh and moving across the country too, I guess) got the best of me, but now I'm back. So to recap, WE GOT HITCHED! Almost two months ago on August 15th at 4:00pm (just kidding, a bit later since I was late to the ceremony), Maeghan and I said our "I Do's" and partied our butts off with our closest friends and family. Like everyone says, it really was the absolute best day of my life. What more could a person want than to be surrounded by the people who love them most in the entire world, enjoying good food, too many drinks, and seeing nothing but smiling faces, hearing constant laughter, and feeling such an immense amount of love?? 

Here's some photo evidence: 

When Maeghan asked me to marry her back in May of 2014, she told me that if she were going to spend the rest of her life being unlucky, she would rather spend it being unlucky with me. I think I was both laughing and crying when I heard those words, but nonetheless, I was definitely nodding since I agreed that we've always seemed to have awful luck. After that day, it was like a switch flipped and for the next year or so Maeghan and I's bad luck seemed to disappear. It isn't as if we started to have some unnatural kind of good luck where we won the lottery, or constant uncannily-good things happened to us, it's just that the constant string of bad things ended and life in general seemed to become easier.

Then, as if we had licked the last of the good luck off of each other's lips when we sealed our marriage with a kiss, our bad luck picked right up again. It all began with having no hotel room for our wedding night as it had been given away, and carried on throughout our trip across the country including awful occurrences such as a flat tire, having our car broken into, and nearly not making it through the mountains due to engine troubles. When we finally arrived in Victoria - so worn out physically, emotionally and financially - we thought we would start to catch a break. But sure enough, the bad luck continued continues on with silly things like all of our mail going missing, or fighting through hiccups with the insurance company that cause hefty fees, and finding out our professional wedding photos are...disappointing to say the least.

Now I'm going to be honest with you, this outlook that I'm about to share with you did not come easily to me. For the first few days in Victoria, I spent more time crying than not, and I was constantly asking myself (and poor Maeghan) "why me" and "what did we do to deserve this". Then a few days ago, with lots of support from my fantastic wife, I made the decision to begin to think more positively, despite the constant negative or unlucky things that continue to occur. I decided that rather than sit around waiting for life to at least give me fresh lemons so I can make some frigging lemonade, I'll take my truck load of rotten lemons and compost them to make mulch for my garden and grow my own lemons.

Okay, so obviously I don't actually have rotten lemons, and I definitely do not know anything about turning them into compost and growing my own lemons, but what I do know is how to get back into the driver's seat of my own life. I can't help that for whatever reason "bad things" may continue to happen in my life, but I can cope better. I can work on reminding myself that those "bad things" in my life are relative, and probably measly compared to many other people's "bad things". I can resist the urge to ask "why me" while getting sucked into compiling a mental list of all of the negatives, but rather work towards finding a solution to my problem and take a moment to reflect on all of the positives in my life. And lastly, I can create my own good luck.

It would be nice if I could create luck like choosing the winning lottery ticket this week, or ensuring no one I love ever gets cancer, but that's not how life works. What I will do, is choose to acknowledge the small things; the little lucky things that go unnoticed each day, and make them outweigh the seemingly large pile of unlucky things.

This past week's list includes:
- my new iPhone not smashing when it went bouncing down the cement side walk
- my favourite tea being on sale right when I wanted to buy it
- a great volunteer organization having availability to take me on as a volunteer immediately
- our new dryer not shrinking any of my clothing
- having our cat escape and not run away
- Mcdonald's not having any ice cream, causing us to find a delicious local ice creamery and being able to try nanimo bar flavour for the first time

See, let's imagine for a moment that my iPhone had smashed, or my dryer did shrink my clothing, I would have been devastated and wondering "why me". However, not smashing my phone or having my clothes shrink doesn't just mean I've evaded bad luck, it means I was lucky! Who's to say that we can't rejoice because our favourite tea was on sale when we wanted it, or because our indoor cat was only hiding in the bushes a few feet from the door? These are instances of good luck, and I'm not going to let them go unnoticed anymore!

So along with doing more things that make me happy, like becoming a mentor or joining a new gym, I'm going to be that girl signing Queen's "We Are The Champions" at the back of the store because I found the last medium in the sweater I've had my eye on...but my question is, will you be singing too, or will you be drowning in your pile of rotten lemons?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Pancakes and a Lesson on Cooking For One

This past weekend I spent the entire weekend alone. It was the first time in a while that I had to think about how to spend all of my free time and what I was going to cook each day for just one person.

Growing up in a family of five, we almost never had to think about how to cook for just one or two since more often than not we were cooking for 10 to ensure there were leftovers. When I started to date Maeghan, and later moved in with her, learning how and what to cook for two was one of my biggest hurdles. After a few months, cooking for just the two of our little tummies became the norm. But cooking for one? Who even has the motivation to cook for one let a lone a stack of recipes for just one serving?

Refusing to order-in or cave and eat a bowl of cereal for every meal, I set out make myself something to eat for Friday night dinner. I whipped up what I thought was going to be a small helping of vegetable fried rice. You can imagine my reaction when I ended up cooking more than I would have if I was aiming to cook for two...I think there was enough to feed about 6 big eaters.

Saturday morning I slept in and when I woke up I had a craving for pancakes. For the second time I set out hoping to make just a few pancakes for just one person, and low and behold I was left with a giant stack of pancakes and no one to share them with. Don't worry, over the next couple of days I ended up polishing off every last one of those pancakes, and since they were so good I'll share the recipe with all of you!

But before the recipe I'll give you my thoughts on cooking for one... it's just not possible.

Raspberry (or any berry/fruit/chocolate) Pancakes

You will need:
- 1 and a 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 and 1/4 cups of milk
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons of melted butter
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla 
- optional additions such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, chocolate chips, etc. 

- Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
- Slowly add the milk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and whisk together until all of the ingredients are well combined and have created a smooth (lump-free) batter. 
- Add your berries or chocolate and mix well into the batter.
- Heat your skillet or pan over medium heat. Once heated, add a small amount of butter or cooking oil to the pan. 
- Pour your desired amount of batter (about 1/4 of a cup) into the pan in little circles. Flip the pancakes once little bubbles begin to form and pop throughout the batter. 
- Stack, cover in syrup or any other toppings, and enjoy! 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Could making pizza "from scratch" be any simpler?

Each time I think to myself, "I deserve pizza tonight", instead of narrowing down which pizzeria I want to order from, I open up my pantry to ensure I have flour and a can of tomatoes and then move on to the check the fridge to assess my cheese and assorted veggies supply. With those few ingredients, and a shockingly small amount of time, I can make my own pizza from scratch for a fraction of the cost of a pizza from a pizzeria.

Along with being an equally tasty yet inexpensive alternative to pizza from a pizza place,  you can be as creative as you like when you make your own pizza and use up whatever ingredients you have on hand as toppings! This time we went totally vegetarian, however, the time before we had some leftover sausages that we BBQ'd the day before so I cut those up and tossed them on.

I'll share with you my sauce recipe as well as my yeast-less, no-rise dough recipe, but if you're crunched for time or feeling especially lazy, a store bought sauce would work just fine!

You will need:
- 1 can (28 oz) of tomatoes (I find whole taste the most fresh...if you can even say that about canned tomatoes, however, if you don't have an immersion blender crushed will work just fine)
- 3 cloves of freshly grated garlic
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped onions
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

1. If you're using whole or diced tomatoes, blend them until slightly chunky using an immersion blender.
2. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil, onion, garlic, and spices over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes to the pan, mixing all of the ingredients together. Turn the heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Yeast-Less No-Rise Dough
You will need:
- 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon banking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/4 cup of melted butter

1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Slowly add the milk and melted butter, mixing with a dough hook or by hand until the ingredients create a ball.
2. Sprinkle flour onto your rolling surface and rolling pin. Roll out the dough to about a 1/4 of an inch thick.

Putting it all together:
- On a pizza stone/pan or a cookie sheet, lay out your freshly rolled dough. Cover the dough with your desired amount of sauce.
- Toss on your toppings of choice (we usually go with mushrooms, onions, peppers, sliced tomatoes, spinach and possibly some kind of meat)
- Cover with cheese! Of course mozzarella is the most popular pizza cheese, but we usually use marble since that's what we always have kicking around.
- Bake at 450F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

DIY Wedding Prep - Removing Labels from Bottles

You know, I don't think many DIY brides have any idea how much work their totally-DIY wedding is actually going to be until they are up to their necks in it. This was most certainly the case for me; it was all fun and games pinning adorable photos to my Pinterest board, but the fun began to fade a little when it came time to execute many of these tedious DIY projects.

A lot of our wedding decor involves wine bottles (good thing we love wine!), but leaving the labels on the bottles just wasn't an option for us. While staring at a giant box filled with over 40 wine bottles with labels on, I began to wonder how I would get them off without damaging the bottles, or my hands.

I came across this recipe and how-to-guide that I altered a little and hoooly did it ever work well! For that reason, I am passing along this how-to-guide to all of you!

What you will need:
White vinegar
Baking soda
Dish soap
Lots of warm water
An old butter knife
Rubber gloves
A scouring pad or brush

1. Depending on how many bottles you have, fill your sink or tub (I used my tub) with warm water.
2. While the water is running, place all of your bottles into the warm water, submerging them so they fill with water and stay under the surface.
3. While the water is still running, add 2 tablespoons of dish soap to the tub (1 tablespoon if you're using your sink).
4. When your sink or tub is full, turn off the water and add 2 cups of vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda (half these measurements if you're using your sink).
5. Let the bottles soak in the mixture for at least 2 hours, longer if you can.
6. Remove the labels. Some will just fall off, others will need a little help from a knife or scratch pad/brush, but for the most part this should be an easy task.

Let me know how it goes, or if you have any other DIY hacks to share! 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The BEST Quiche EVER!

Quiche has always been somewhat of a cop-out meal in my world; it's something that I make when I'm feeling lazy or I'm crunched for time. I whisk together some eggs and milk and throw whatever veggies and cheese I have in my fridge into a pre-made piecrust with the eggs. It always tastes fine and Maeghan loves it (mostly since she can coat it in ketchup...). But! As of last weekend, my quiche cooking has been forever changed, and all thanks to my sister! 

"Family Day" (a relatively new holiday here in Canada), is an important holiday for my family. Despite all of us living in various cities across the province, we try our best to all make it home to Mom and Dad's to spend the day together. This past family day fell on one of the coldest weekends we have had all winter, with temperatures reaching -45C with the honestly felt the water in your eyes freezing when you stepped outside...For this reason, my family decided to skip the outdoor activities and spend the weekend doing what we do best: cooking and eating.

See, I come from a half Italian family so I'm sure you can understand our deep love of home-cooked food. The weekend was full of delicious meals such as hand-made gnocchi with fresh sugo (Italian pasta sauce), gourmet home-made Italian pizza (of course on from-scratch secret recipe dough), and to finish the weekend off, a DELICIOUS quiche made solely by my sister. 

When I entered the kitchen and noticed her thinly slicing raw sweet potato into the bottom of the pan, I'll be honest, I was a little concerned about the fate of my lunch. However, what she created out of random ingredients from my parent's fridge turned out the be the BEST quiche I have EVER had. No word of a lie.

She was kind enough to remind me of the ingredients and the process to make this mouth-watering meal, and I am so happy to be able to share it with all of you!

1 whole sweet potato, peeled and sliced thinly (about 1/8 of an inch)
5 eggs
1/3 cup of milk
Your choice of chopped veggies (we used spinach, tomatoes, onions, peppers, left over roasted veggies such as zucchini and mushrooms, and olives) but you can add to or omit from this list to suit your taste buds!
Your choice of cheese (we used feta, but cheddar or another type of mild cheese would be delicious!)
Your choice of meat (optional, but we added Italian sausage on half)
Fresh ground salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions:
1. Place the thinly sliced sweet potato coating the bottom and edges of a well-greased pie plate (this acts as the crust, so keep this in mind while laying down the potato slices)
2. Bake the sweet potato crust at 400F for 15 minutes or until the potatoes have softened a bit.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk, adding in the salt and pepper as you whisk.
4. Mix the chopped veggies and cheese into the egg mixture. If you wish, keep some of the veggies, cheese, and meat to lay on top (shown in the photo with the sausage and tomato slices).
5. Pour the entire mixture into the pie pan with the sweet potato crust.
6. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean from the center.
7. Let the quiche rest for 10 minutes before serving.
8. ENJOY! 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Getting Crafty and Sentimental

I'm back! It's been a while and things in my world have been super hectic but I'm back! Maeghan and I are up to our necks in wedding planning; our apartment's wedding "corner" is now beginning to take over our entire apartment and there are to-do lists everywhere. Although stressful and hectic at times, we are having so much fun with it all and are still remembering what this day we are planning is all about.

For all holidays and celebrations between our engagement and our wedding, Maeghan and I decided to spend little-to-no money on one another and put the cash towards our wedding and honeymoon. So for Valentine's Day I had to get creative and crafty in order to come up with a gift that was thoughtful, not too cheesy, but really showed Maeghan that I love her.

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the "52 (or) 365 Reasons Why I Love You" gift (52 usually being written on playing cards and representing the number of weeks in a year, and 365 for the number of days). For my Valentine's gift I used this idea and put a wedding spin on it.

February 14th marked 182 days until Maeghan and I's wedding, and with the chaos of wedding planning filling our every day, I thought giving Maeghan a jar full of reasons why I want to marry her would be the perfect gift. So for the next (now) 174 days, Maeghan gets to read one reason why I can't wait to marry her and be reminded why we are planning this huge party in the first place!

Do you and yours skip V-Day altogether, go for material gifts, or try to cheese-it up as much as possible?