Friday, April 28, 2017

The Power of Change


This week a powerful message I heard really stuck with me: if you don't create change, you will always stay in the same place. Like many valuable pieces of advice, it sounds so simple, but has a huge effect if you take the time to apply it to your life. Whenever we are faced with something we don't like, or a difficult situation, all we wish is that things were different. But how many of us spend as much time trying to fix these situations as we do dwelling on them? I myself am guilty of getting trapped into the latter from time to time, but I like to think that over the last few years I've gotten a lot better at letting things go, and solving my problems in a practical way.


Have you ever heard Albert Einstein's definition of insanity? He literally says "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." I fully agree with this, and I try to keep this quote in mind when I find myself in a funk. You can apply this to any aspect of your life. Think about that girl who always goes for the same type of guy, and is surprised every time he cheats on her. Think about people who always say they want to lose weight, but never actually work out or eat healthy. Think about that person you know who complain about his job, but never actually looks for anything else. I've got news for you: if you don't do things differently, nothing is going to change.


This week, I really tried to pay attention to the changes I wanted to make within my own life. We can't expect these changes to happen all at once, but if we don't take a step forward, then none of them will happen at all. Something I've really wanted to improve in my daily routine is my habit of hitting the snooze button. I'm the type of person who will set my alarm for 6:30 am, when I need to get up at 7, but will realistically end up sleeping as late as 7:30. This week, I managed to kick this habit, and I am so proud of myself for finally making this change happen. So what did I do to create this change? I didn't just promise myself I would get up as soon as my alarm went off, I came up with a strategy.


Over the week, I plugged in my phone near the foot of the bed, instead of keeping it on my bedside table like I usually do. It's actually bad for you to sleep with electronics close to your head, so not only was this effective for waking up, it was also beneficial towards my health. Forcing myself to get out of bed to turn off my alarm guaranteed that I would have to physically wake up. For me, whether I've had a good sleep or a bad sleep, it's the getting out of bed that I struggle with. Once I'm up, I actually feel refreshed and ready to start my day. On top of noticing an improvement in my sleep (I made sure to get at least 6 hours every night too), I found that my mornings more relaxing, as I had more time to get ready. I made myself a smoothie every day, and didn't feel rushed like I normally do. There is nothing more satisfying than noticing the positive effects of the changes you've put into place. Even though the week isn't over, I'm so confident that this habit will stick. And trust me - for this particular habit, if I was able to kick it, then anyone can.


On top of changing my sleep habit, I also worked out more than usual, and willingly kept a clean and balanced diet over the last week. Like I said, not everything is going to come all at once, but when you realize the positive effect that even the smallest change can make, you gain more and more motivation to keep going. Through these changes, I have felt so energized, and have been so excited to share the motivation and strength I've gained over here on the blog.


If you put your mind to it, and get up off of your butt, you can do anything you set your mind to. Do you guys agree with my theory on change? What strategies do you use to keep yourself motivated and to improve your lives? Comment below with all your answers - I would love to hear your thoughts!

All photos by my amazing boyfriend, Sean Vesely.


With love,

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sweet Hart Kitchen

As a blogger and Instagrammer, one of the biggest challenges I face is trying to maintain a clean and healthy diet, while also wanting to experience the many desserts Toronto has to offer. In a city like Toronto, we are blessed to have so many options to satisfy our cravings. Having said that, I've always thought that this city is lacking when it comes to finding healthy, yet aesthetically pleasing treats. With places like Greenhouse Juice and Planta becoming increasingly popular (seriously - have you seen the wait for brunch at Planta?) it's evident that this is a market popular enough to thrive in Toronto.


When I heard about Sweet Hart Kitchen on social media, my first thought was "my how those donuts look good!" After taking a closer look, I realized that they were not just a beautiful dessert, but a healthy one too. The donuts at Sweet Hart are plant-based, gluten free, and raw. Talk about a guilt-free dessert! After visiting this adorable little bakery and sampling some of their treats, I can say that they taste as good as they look.


Sweet Hart Kitchen opened its doors a few weeks ago to their little bakery just west of Kensington Market on 68 Wales Avenue. From the fun wall decor to the sunlit, white room, Alexandra and Julia have done such a great job of fixing up this space. Not only is so much natural light good for pictures, but a bright atmosphere also makes me feel so energized and refreshed. If you like taking pictures of your food and bakeries like I do, then Sweet Hart is a must-visit.


Julia helped me pick out an assortment of desserts to sample, and I ended up bringing home some of the snickers bars, donuts, a peanut butter and jam muffin, and a raspberry truffle. My favourite hands down was the snickers bars - I stole Sean's and ate both of ours in one sitting. It actually tasted like there was caramel in it, which gave it an amazing melt-in-your-mouth texture.


The donuts, which were what drew me into the shop in the first place, are good but very dense. For anyone who is new to eating healthy, nut-based desserts, let me tell you that this isn't your average fluffy pastry. If like myself, you are someone who is used to eating these kinds of desserts, you'll know that they make a perfect breakfast or a post workout snack. I kept mine in the fridge overnight and had one for breakfast. After eating it, I was full throughout the whole afternoon, and I actually preferred it chilled as opposed to the warm bite I sampled when I first brought it home. Overall, I loved the desserts (with the snickers bars being my favourite) and I will definitely be back to sample more of their other goods. Next time I really want to try their pizza pockets and hand pies, as I'm so curious to find out how their cashew mozzarella tastes!


My diet always goes back and forth between eating super healthy, and filling my body up with sugar. When I eat healthy, plant-based desserts, I feel so much better and naturally energized. Though you still don't want to binge on healthy dessert options, they are so much better for you than regular pastries. The thick, nut-based texture will keep you full for hours, meaning you are not only fuelling yourself with nutrient rich foods, but you also won't find yourself still hungry after you eat one. If you pay attention to how you feel after eating these desserts, versus how you feel after you eat regular sweets, I think you will notice a definite difference in your energy and body.


Alexandra and Julia (pictured above) are both such sweet, friendly, business owners - and young ones too. I love seeing millennials with drive and ambition who are looking to make positive changes in the food industry. Discovering their store came at the perfect time, as I have been making an effort to eat healthier and make better choices when it comes to my diet. Though I think indulging is necessary every so often, I love being able to eat a dessert without feeling guilty, and that's definitely how I felt after eating my treats from Sweet Hart. Whether you are vegan, celiac, or just enjoy healthy eating, Sweet Hart Kitchen is a place you need to try.


For more information about Sweet Hart Kitchen, visit their Website or Instagram. Just one look at their desserts will make you start craving them!

What are some of your favourite healthy spots around the city? Comment below with your answers! 

With love,
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rain to Shine



My favourite time of year is when it's not too hot for pants and a jacket, but not too cold to show off the outfit you have on underneath. I hate sweaty, muggy summers, but I also don't like freezing cold winters. By process of elimination, it's safe to say that spring and fall are definitely my favourite seasons when it comes to both fashion and comfort.


This coat was a spring gift to myself, and I am so happy I splurged on the classic Burberry trench. When I bought it, I was confident that it would not only last forever, but would also never go out of style. To me, when it comes to making big purchases, a good investment is something that you can wear multiple seasons for years to come. The cost per wear of this coat makes the purchase even more reasonable when you think about how much use you will get out of such a timeless, durable piece.


The Burberry trench is made out of gabardine, a durable water-resistant fabric, invented by Thomas Burberry in 1880. The construction process is incredibly thorough, with the coat being inspected approximately 26 times over a three week production period. Though you have to work a little harder to keep the light khaki colour clean, it's worth it since you can pair it with pretty much every colour. Even with a look that is sleek and fit, there is still plenty of room for layering, making it the perfect three-season coat. I chose the mid-length style because I thought it was more practical for spring and fall, and also more flattering on my figure.


With the weather being so unpredictable lately (seriously, it went from rain to shine almost every day last week) it's hard to know exactly how to dress. I wore this outfit all throughout Easter weekend and I was never too hot or too cold. Whenever I start to feel a little toasty from all the walking I do, I simply throw the coat over my shoulder or tie it in a bow at the back - giving me a perfect excuse to show off the rest of the outfit.


Even though I love the feminine look, it took me a little longer than most to get on board with the whole ruffle trend. Since I'm bigger on my top half and more petite on my lower half, tops with a lot of ruffles don't really flatter me. When I saw these pants at Zara, I knew they were the perfect piece to incorporate the spring trend into my wardrobe (plus how could I say no to anything so adorable and pink!)


With a light blouse on top, and some classic wedges, this is the perfect outfit for work, brunch, running errands, or any daytime function. At 5'4'' I'm really not the tallest girl, so wedges give me a nice height boost, while being comfortable enough to walk in all day long. I've had these shoes for years, and actually became friends with the person who sold them to me, so not only do they have sentimental value, but they've also lasted me a really long time.


This Prada bag was another new addition to my wardrobe this season, and another classic piece I had been eyeing for a long time. The Cammeo shade is perfect for spring and summer, and much like the khaki Burberry trench, the colour goes with almost everything. I've had this bag for over a month now, and though I had my doubts about getting this light colour, it's stayed remarkably clean. Since it's a popular shade, it can sometimes be hard to get your hands on, but I promise you it's worth the wait!


Light, pastel colours are what I'm naturally drawn to, and I love how many opportunities we have to feature them in spring. I find these shades look so classy and timeless, which is mainly what I strive for when it comes to crafting my personal style. As nice as it is to change up your look on a daily basis, there's also something to be said about finding a new go-to outfit. Every item in this look makes me feel comfortable inside and out. Believe it or not, I almost didn't get these pants since I was unsure if they even looked good on me or not. I'm so glad I took the risk, as I am so in love with them now!


Shop the Look: Trench - Burberry // Pants - Zara // Top - Set // Shoes - Tory Burch (similar, similar) // Purse - Prada (similar)(Small Version)

What is your favourite rain to shine look? Do you agree on spending more when it comes to investing in classic pieces? What is your favourite way to incorporate the ruffles into your outfit? I would love to hear your thoughts on all of these things! Comment below with your answers.

With love,

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Happy-Go-Lucky

"You're always so happy!"
"You're never in a bad mood!"
"I don't think I've ever seen you without a smile on your face."

Time after time I have heard people from all the corners of my world express this to me. I have a natural happy-go-lucky personality, and over the years I have learned that this is something to be grateful for. Being so stress-free and positive, I even find it hard to relate to people who are consistently in bad moods or who are easily stressed. I like to think of myself as a pretty humble person, but if there's one thing I'll brag about, it's my attitude.

I remember it being brought to my attention and really sinking in for the first time when I was in high school. When I went away to boarding school in grade 10 (something I promise I'll elaborate on in a future post) I remember my house mom constantly expressing how she couldn't believe how immune I was to stress. Ever since then, I became aware of my behaviour and began to realize how lucky I was. It's hard to step back and assess why we are the way we are, but if I had to take a guess at it, I would say this: I find it a lot easier to lead a happy, stress-free life than I do to be angry and negative.

My philosophy in life is simple. If something doesn't make me happy, I eliminate it. Now, this is obviously easier said than done, but it's also not as hard as people make it out to be. Minimizing stress in your life can be done in a multitude of ways, and I've decided to share a few of mine with you. I was going through old albums the other day, and found some old pictures that brought a smile to my face. Since this post is all about how I've always been happy and positive, I thought that this would be the perfect post to share a few of them. So with the help of some of my embarrassing childhood photos, here are a few tips I like to apply to my own life when it comes to being stress-free and positive.

1. TURN YOUR BACK ON NEGATIVE RELATIONSHIPS


This one is huge. The last few years have been huge stepping stones in my life when it comes letting go of negative relationships. The hardest part about this one is when close friends, and people you never suspected, end up being the culprits of negativity in your life. It's pretty easy for me to brush of anything an acquaintance or somebody I'm not that close to says or does, but in my experience, it was close friends that were causing me so much frustration. At first it didn't occur to me that cutting them out was even an option, but when I sat down and was honest with myself about the pros and cons of these relationships, it shocked me that I had kept certain people in my life for as long as I did.

I'm not saying because a friend makes you angry or gets you stressed out every so often you should immediately end things. What I'm referring to is people who consistently impact your life in a negative way time and time again. It's not always easy to say goodbye, but if your friends are doing you more harm than good, then you have to ask yourself the question: are they even good friends? When I let go of people who were bringing grief and negativity into my life it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. In doing so, it made more time to spend with people who were actually good friends, positive influences and shared the same attitude and respect towards relationships as I did.

2. STOP CARING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK


I know what you're thinking - doesn't being a blogger rely heavily on the opinions of others? Yes, it does, but it's up to you to you choose what to do with these opinions and how you let them affect you. In my personal experience, blogging has opened me up to a community of encouraging people with similar interests, and I haven't come across many haters or negativity at this point. Although I've always cared about people thinking I'm a good and nice person, I've never really cared about anything else. My opinion is that when you stay true to yourself, your beliefs, and your interests, you will attract people who feel the same way. Anyone else who feels otherwise simply isn't worth your time or worth stressing over.

3. CREATE A ROUTINE THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY


In going from a public school, to a boarding school, to having total freedom as a student, I've learned that I work best with structure and routine. I used to be so against having a 9-5 office job, but it turns out that it was exactly what I needed in my life. Even when I worked full-time at a restaurant last year, the place I worked at was closed on weekends, so I always had those days off to look forward to no matter how tough the week was. Right now, I work two jobs that I genuinely enjoy most of the time - which is also a key factor in avoiding stress and unhappiness. It's not hard for me to get up in the morning, and I don't come home miserable after work. I work Monday to Thursday at my full time job, and I usually work 1-3 times a week at my second job. Since I always know what I'm doing in advance, it helps me mentally prepare for anything that might be frustrating or difficult.

4. ALWAYS MAKE ROOM FOR 'ME TIME'


I'm definitely somebody who cannot survive without my 'me time'. Whether it's diving into a good book, binge watching a show on Netflix, sitting down at my keyboard or taking a long walk around the city, I need my alone time to decompose. My schedule has grown to be pretty jam packed, especially since I've started blogging, but I think time to relax is crucial to living a happy, stress-free life. Sometimes it seems hard to fit in time for yourself, but it's something you'll always be thankful for when you do. If I don't have time to myself over the course of a week, I will literally have a mental breakdown. Without this time, the millions of thoughts I have running around in my mind never stop. The wheels don't stop turning. Everybody needs a break, even the busiest of people. If you're feeling stressed and unhappy, ask yourself: when was the last time I dedicated an afternoon or night just to myself and my own wants and needs? Trust me, this time works miracles.


5. BE KIND TO OTHERS


They say that the best way to make your day better is to brighten someone else's. There's no greater feeling than putting a smile on someone else's face. The other day, my boyfriend's dad was saying that he loves to cook and bake for others because it makes him happy to be preparing something for them. If he were doing it for himself, the same amount of love and satisfaction wouldn't be there. There's nothing better than knowing you were the reason behind someone else's smile and happiness, and I think it's something we need to remind ourselves of. There's a Dalai Lama quote I love that says "Our prime purpose in life is to help others, and if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." This is something I always try to remember. Whether it's giving someone a person to talk to, lending a helping hand or smile, or doing a random act of kindness for a total stranger, it will help both of you to have a happier day.

What it all comes down to is focusing on the things that make you happy and ignoring the things that don't. I'm aware that some negative things are unavoidable, but I try as hard as I can not to let those things bother me. In being appreciative for all the good I have in my life - especially the little things - it helps me forget about all the bad that is out there. Some people would call me naive, and though they are entitled to their opinion, I know that I am not. I choose to see the world through rose coloured glasses, and let me tell you, it's a beautiful life.

I'll leave you with one last photo, which is proof that we all look better with a smile on our face (and that I also have my bad days too.)


What are some of your tricks to staying positive and stress free? Comment below with all your answers!

With love,

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Lemon Blueberry Pop Tarts


In my household growing up, you would never find Fruit Loops, Pop-Tarts, Dunkaroos, or any popular junk food snacks. My mom was (and still is) a health nut. In retrospect, this was a great thing, but as a child I constantly yearned for those sweet treats that the other kids had in their lunches.  When I was finally old enough to buy my own snacks in high school and college, I went crazy with the convenient store hauls. It wasn't until I learned to bake that I realized all the chemicals those processed junk foods contain.

Now, I know you're probably going to jump in and say that just because pop tarts are homemade, doesn't mean they are healthy. I agree with that 100%, but I also think it's nice to make your favourite treats from scratch while also being aware of every ingredient that goes in them. You want less sugar? Only add as much as necessary! You want whole wheat flour? Substitute the refined stuff out! 

I also find it fun to experiment with different flavours. This was my first time making pop tarts, and I wanted the flavour to be light and spring-like, so I decided to go with one of my favourite combos: lemon and blueberry.

The recipe I adapted called for store bought lemon curd, but after searching in five different grocery stores I had no luck in finding any. It turns out that lemon curd isn't actually that hard to make, so I ended up making my own with the help of the ever reliable Martha Stewart. 

Whenever I'm making a recipe for the first time, I always get worried it won't turn out, as I did while making these pop tarts. This time, my nerves paid off (and were totally unnecessary) because everyone who tried them yesterday loved them! These make a perfect late night snack, dessert, or if you really wanna treat yourself, you can even have them for breakfast. 


Blueberry Lemon Pop Tarts
Makes 10 - Prep/Cook Time: 3 hours
Adapted from www.bromabakery.com

Ingredients:
pop tarts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup salted butter, cold
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 cup lemon curd (recipe here)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, for brushing
blueberry icing
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried blueberries, finely crushed
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, thawed and rinsed
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • dried blueberries, for garnish
Instructions:
dough
1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut butter into small cubes, then work butter into flour mixture using a pastry blender or large forks, until it resembles a corse meal.

2. Pour in heavy cream and 2 tablespoons ice water, then mix everything together using your hands. Work quickly as to not melt the butter. If dough is too dry, add in another tablespoon of water. Form dough into 2 equal sized disks and wrap each with plastic wrap. Place in fridge for at least 1 hour, but up to 2 days.

*If you are making your lemon curd from scratch like I did, prepare it right after you put your dough in the fridge. That way it will have enough time to chill!

to assemble the pop tarts
1. Remove one of the doughs from the fridge. Place a large piece of saran wrap over a work surface, then sprinkle flour over it. Flour a rolling pin. Working quickly, roll the dough out into a 10"x13" rectangle.

2. Using a ruler and a long knife, cut your dough into a perfect 9"x12" rectangle. Then, cut your rectangle into 9 equal pieces, each 3"x4".

3. Lift a corner of the saran wrap up off of your surface to help gently release the 3"x4" rectangles from their place. Transfer to a large, parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between each rectangle. Once all 9 rectangles are moved onto the baking sheet, place the sheet in the freezer while you repeat the rolling & cutting process with the second half of the dough.

4. Once all of your dough is cut, preheat your oven to 350°F.

5. Remove the baking sheet from the freezer. Brush the edges of each of your 9 pop tart bases with a heavy cream wash (this will help the dough to stick together).

6. Spoon a rounded tablespoon of lemon curd into the center of each pop tart base. Spread it slightly, but not too close to the edges.

7. Place the remaining dough over the filling of the pop tart. Press down on the edges slightly to seal the dough together. Then, using a fork, create indentations around the entire pop tart.

8. Brush the remaining heavy cream wash over the pop tarts, then use your fork to create 4-5 airholes on the top. Bake for 30 minutes, then allow to cool completely.
make the icing

9. Once the pop tarts are baked, it's time to frost! Using the whisk attachment of a hand mixer, mix together the powdered sugar, crushed dried blueberries, frozen blueberries and heavy cream. Spread the icing over the pop tarts, then sprinkle with more dried blueberries!

If you try them, let me know how it goes! After making these pop tarts, I definitely want to try making them in different flavour combos. What flavour of pop tart would you like to see next? Comment below with your answers!

With love,
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