Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Thursday! It's my BIRTHDAY! To make it feel extra special, I treated myself to a holiday from work. Roger is still away and I didn't fancy spending the occasion alone, so my mom came for a two-night visit. Now that the day is almost over, we are sitting in my living room and reflecting on how wonderful a time we had. We're also very full and feeling extra pampered. I do believe that is what birthdays are all about. We started the morning with Birthday Cake tea, raisin toast, eggs and guacamole for breakfast. What's the deal with pairing raisin toast and guacamole? When you want both toast and guacamole, sometimes you have to go about it in weird ways. It's my birthday--I have an excuse! March 27 - Breakfast After our tea and breakfast, we parted ways to get ready for the day ahead. Unintentionally we chose identical outfits. Like mother like daughter. Neither of us made the other change--that's love. March 27 - Getting Ready We hit the spa for matching pink pedicures and shellac manicures--a present from my dad. Starbucks, as per usual, was a must. March 27 - Spa Day I love "keepsake" gifts--I chose this Pandora heart ring because I know I'll wear it everyday and will remember its significance always. It compliments my forever ring from Roger quite nicely. This is the photo we sent to my dad to thank him for our spa treat! March 27 - Nails A close-up with tea! March 27 - Ring We went for lunch at a cozy cafe. The waitress brought me a complimentary dessert with a sparkler--crème brûléemy favourite! March 27 - Creme Brulee Towards the end of the evening, we had guacamole and champagne for dinner. Oh, and chicken and rice, but that's not important. It's my birthday--I am allowed to have guacamole more than once! March 27 - Guacamole Champagne is a given when you're turning 25! Did I just put that in writing? Eek, I'm officially an adult. Thank you to everyone for the lovely texts, Facebook messages and phone calls... you make getting older feel all the more wonderful! 🙂
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My Favourite Gluten-Free Foods

Happy Sunday everyone! I just got back from the grocery store and felt inspired to write a blog post about food. To put it more precisely, I'm going to tell you about the foods I eat. I follow a gluten-free diet in addition to being severely allergic to peanuts and nuts, shellfish, and chickpeas. I can imagine what you're thinking... if I can't eat wheat, legumes, or sushi, what DO I eat? And how do I manage to order anything at restaurants? It's quite simple: I substitute. Just because I'm gluten-free doesn't mean I can't enjoy bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, or cake. It just means that said bread, pasta, crackers, cookies and cake must be made with rice, bean, quinoa, or potato-based flours. Yes, they might not taste the same as the real thing, but they actually taste better to me because I won't feel sick afterwards like I would with a wheat-based product. Over the past year and a bit that I have been gluten-free, I have tried many different grocery-store brands that boast to be amazing. Some are true to their word and others leave much to be desired. Here are a few of my favourite gluten-free products that taste real, NOT cardboard-y: Kinnikinnick Foods whole grain bread. You buy it frozen and defrost it slice by slice as needed. Taste and consistency-wise, it's by far the best I've had and it holds together quite well for a gluten-free alternative. Even Roger says it's good! March 23 - Multigrain Bread Glutino Pretzel Twists. These are addictive! So buttery and yummy. Never in a million years would I have suspected they were gluten-free. March 23 - Gluten-free Pretzels Mary's Crackers. These seed-based crackers are the perfect compliment for any dip. They are also really yummy with chicken salad and cheese for lunch. March 23 - Mary's Crackers Enjoy Life Granola. Believe it or not, this product is free of wheat, gluten, milk, peanuts, nuts, mustard, sulphites, egg, soy, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, and sesame. I felt like I was in heaven when I read the label. It's expensive, so I only bought it once, but it was divine with fruit and yogurt as a treat. March 23 - Gluten-free, Nut-free Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free Flour Mix. Good things come in small packages. I love that I don't need to add anything to this; you can just use it like regular flour. March 23 - Gluten-free Flour Mi-del Ginger Snap cookies. I could eat these every day with tea. March 23 - Mi-del Cookies And lastly, Breton crackers. Finally they make them gluten-free! Costco sells them in a 4-pack. The garden vegetable ones are not that great; the flaxseed ones are much better. March 23 - Breton Crackers Never do I feel like I'm missing out on a well-balanced diet by not eating wheat. I eat oatmeal with raisins and Greek yogurt for breakfast every morning. If we're craving carbs for dinner, we can buy pre-maid gluten-free pizza dough at the Italian market around the corner. We also eat a lot of rice, quinoa, corn tortillas, sweet potatoes, and spaghetti squash. I really don't find hard to avoid wheat. I have been allergic to peanuts and nuts ever since I was 2, so it gets easier and easier to avoid them as companies introduce more and more peanut-free products. Restaurants are becoming increasingly more cautious as well. More often than not, the chef will come out to either guarantee the safety of a particular dish or suggest another one that can be made entirely peanut-free. Eating peanut-free is second nature to me. If I want dessert, but can't find an allergy-friendly option in store, I'll bake it myself. If I'm ever craving what I imagine peanut butter to taste like, I can always eat Wow Butter! March 23 - Wow Butter I'm ever so thankful that I'm not lactose-intolerant. I think that's where the true difficulty would lie. I love yogurt, milk, and anything with extra cheese on it! Optimistically speaking, being allergic to so many things has been a blessing in disguise. It has forced me to eat clean, prepare healthy meals at home from scratch, and scrutinize labels for "bad" ingredients. I do worry; however, that I'm not getting enough nutrients through food, especially when it comes to the "good" fats found in nuts. I take a multivitamin for that. For anyone Celiac or trying to embrace a gluten-free lifestyle, I hope that this post was helpful! Please feel free to email me if you'd like some more tips/recipes. 🙂
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OOTD: Burgundy Jeans

I posted this outfit on Instagram a week ago, but I thought I'd share with you again because it's a good go-to for chilly mornings. Colourful pants? Check. Warm boots? Check! Big cozy sweater? Check. Scarf? Check. Sometimes it's hard to find tops that go well with bright coloured pants. I remember when I first tried these on and the salesgirl rhymed off all the colours that would complement them: Royal blue, yellow, green... All I could think to myself was "Oh no, no, no, no. You should not be giving fashion advice." White or cream is always a good choice. Grey or black works too. Perhaps you could even try a graphic tee on top to spice things up. This is my Winter look for these pants. As you can probably tell, I can't get enough of this knitted sweater. Sorry for the blurriness... this was taken on a day when I was in a hurry to get out the door! March 16 - Burgandy Pants March 16 - No Scarf With the weather we've been having in Canada lately, the scarf was an absolute must. I paired the outfit with a black one on this occasion, but I've also worn it with a cream-coloured one to match my sweater. This OOTD is very comfy and easy to put together in a pinch!
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Popping Question #2 with Sangria and Drunken Gummy Bears

What's the typical etiquette for asking someone to be your Maid of Honour? Do you wait until you pick a date for the wedding? Should you send an invitation and wait for a response? What if they are standing right in front of you? What's the protocol then? My cousin Tiffani visited me two weekends ago for a girls' night. There we were chatting in my kitchen, me sipping on sangria while she chopped vegetables and prepared our post-gym snack. I laughed and pointed out how ridiculous it was that she was doing all the work, to which she replied, "That's just my personality." She then asked if I thought about who might be in my wedding party. Inside I'm thinking, "Oh, Tiffani, only since I was 11..." I refilled my glass and popped the second biggest question of my engagement: "Will you be my Maid of Honour?" Cue hugs and more sangria sips. She said yes! March 16 - Cousins Not only will she be the most fun, coordinated, and drama-free Maid of Honour ever, she knows me better than I know myself sometimes. We're cousins, but we've always been more like siblings. She taught me all the swear words and introduced me to the concept of French kissing before I even wanted to try it. She's been my confidant through every relationship and every heartbreak, offering brutally honest advice that only a true sister could provide. She was one of the very first people to get the juicy details on my mysterious new man. We were poolside in Dominican the week after I met Roger for the first time. Somewhere between the Coco-Locos, Strawberry Daiquiris and Mama Juana shots, Tiffani and I came to the agreement that I absolutely had to see how this love story played out. It was an exciting moment in my kitchen. To celebrate, we sipped on more sangria and threw in a couple gummy bears for good measure. March 16 - Sangria Saturday There's only one thing better than wine-soaked fruit... wine-soaked gummy bears! March 16 - Sangria Now that I have an official Maid of Honour the wedding planning can (almost) begin! Roger and I are waiting for the right time to start the official Excel spreadsheet-a-thon and when that time comes I will also be breaking out this guidebook: March 16 - Wedding Book This book is amazing! My former coworkers gave it to me as a gag gift last year, pre-engagement. I had it hidden in the depths of my bathing suit drawer for months. It includes everything you need to know about planning a wedding--how to budget, what to wear, who pays for what, photography tips, procession lines, best practices for addressing invitations, seating plans, how to plan your honeymoon, etc., etc. It's like Pinterest in hard copy. IMG_1166 I'm so happy to have Tiffani by my side as my Maid of Honour! 🙂 I promise not to be a Bridezilla and I vow not to make you wear a dress you don't like. I cannot make any guarantees on abstaining from midnight phone calls; you always have been and forever will be my sounding board when I need your advice!
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