Friday, May 15, 2015

vacation photos: mexico

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My mom and I recently took a week-long trip to the Riviera Maya in Mexico, which Scott planned as a surprise for me. I had no idea until we arrived at the airport where we were going, which was both thrilling and terrifying. I'd love to share some photos, if you'd like to take a look...

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It was a relaxing week filled with 30+ degree days, ocean breezes, non-stop reading and even a couple of wild animals, more on those later. Our resort, El Dorado Royale, was beautiful and set right along the ocean. We enjoyed strolling through the expansive grounds in the evening before dinner (we ate our weight in fresh fish and platanos, sweet fried plantain). Twelve weddings took place during the week we visited, including the one above. The fairy lights and paper lanterns that decorated the dance floor were so pretty. What a picturesque setting for a wedding!

I always looked forward to seeing the resort's resident iguana, who I named Hector. Mom not so much, always making her way around him slowly as if he was about to rip her to shreds.

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My mom and I had never traveled alone together prior to this trip. I wasn't sure what to expect and was a wee bit nervous but mostly excited. There was no need for concern because, as I quickly found out, we're fantastic travel buddies. Although I'm pretty certain I drove her batty wanting to take pictures of our outfits every night.

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We fell into a comfortable routine of daily rituals: long lingering breakfasts, reading marathons on the beach, afternoon siestas on our balcony which was equipped with a hammock to take in the view, an occasional cocktail (we were neither teetotallers nor lushes), dolling ourselves up for dinner and entertainment "nights out." It was a lovely trip from start to finish.

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Some funny moments:
  • Although the El Dorado was an all inclusive resort, we still wanted to tip the hardworking staff to help supplement their meagre wages. Unfortunately, because this was a surprise trip I didn't get the chance to pick up some American dollar bills beforehand. At the end of our first dinner, we were so embarrassed we didn't have any tip money we ran for the door as soon as our waiter went into the kitchen. Dine and dash Rado & Dajo style! The next day we promptly visited the ATM. 
  • Most of the resort staff spoke excellent English but some things were still lost in translation. One morning my mom was asked by one of the restaurant hostess' what our last name was. My mom replied Fabjanovich and started to spell it, F as in Frank, she began saying. The hostess wrote down Frank as our last name and that's what we called ourselves for the remainder of the trip, the Frankies.
  • Walking back to our room after taking in Wednesday night's entertainment (Dorado Idol), I spotted an animal approaching us and pointed it out to my mom. She responded with, "Oh, that's just a cat. Don't worry, honey." Then it got closer and I realized it wasn't a cat but instead a coati. At that same moment, my mom realized what it was and did a sprint to our room! I've never seen her move that fast. Ha!
  • We didn't do any excursions. When I broached the subject of an afternoon jaunt to Cancun or a catamaran trip to Isla Mujeres, my mom deadpanned, "If we go to Cancun there is a possibility we'll be kidnapped for ransom and if we take the boat to Isla Mujeres there is a possibility we'll be kidnapped by pirates. And if not pirates, the boat could capsize and we'll be eaten by sharks." I realized pretty quickly, during this getaway, where my active imagination comes from (;
  • Check out this tweet. If you didn't know I was a nerd before, you do now. Yep, I brought an NDP sign to Mexico with me just in case they won the provincial election in Alberta. And they did! We celebrated that historical win on Cinco de Mayo which was perfectly fitting.   
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I have to say, I enjoyed spending this kind of quality uninterrupted time with my OBF (original best friend). My mom is such a sweet, thoughtful, funny and gentle soul. It was a joy to have a week of connecting with her. And during this trip, it also hit me (hard) that this lovely lady of mine, who I have always seen as a pillar of strength, is aging. And because of this I need to be more patient with her. Whether it's not charging ahead of her on walks and instead slowing my pace to echo hers or giving her some time to mull things over, I need to be more cognizant of the fact she's slowing down a bit. She is 66 after all, which I often forget because I only see her as my mom and nothing else.

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Overall Mexico was the vacation we both needed - to just laze around, soak in the sunshine, hang out and read. We both felt refreshed and recharged. I didn't realize how much I needed a change of scenery until I got there. My mom feels the exact same way. We both have extra pep in our step since coming home.

Have you ever been to Mexico? Where's your favourite place to stay? And have you ever traveled with one of your parents? I'd love to know.

Anyway, hope you've had a good few weeks. It's back to reality for me! On Monday I start the next step in the FET (frozen embryo transfer) process. It involves taking a medication that will shut down my hormonal system and put me in a menopausal state (hot flashes, night sweats & headaches). Yikes. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

thoughts & photos from my 40th





On March 28, I turned 40. And, I have to say, it was one of my favourite birthdays.

The day before, my friend Cathy treated me to an amazing lunch at one of my fave local spots, Canteen. It was my first real ladydate after the egg retrieval so I was beyond excited to see Cathy (and to get out of the house & out of my sweatpants)! If you go, order the fry bread. It's delectable!

Cathy and my friend Ayesha also had Frickin' Delights Donuts delivered to my house that day. Could there be a better surprise than a donut surprise from kick arse friends? I think not.

The next day, Scotty, with the help of my talented friend Christine, threw me a surprise brunch cooking class at The Vitality Kitchen with some of my closest friends (my fave Crave cupcakes were there too). I burst into tears when I walked in and saw all of their faces! Not because I was sad, but because I had never felt so loved as I did in that moment. Best. feeling. ever.

Photo by my pal Christine Shankowsky of Just Bella Blog





The brunch was fun, educational and delicious (plus pretty! C did a lovely job as you can see above). I tried Cordyceps tea (a medicinal mushroom) and cashew cream for the first time and dug them both, while the others gave bulletproof coffee a try (a cup of joe avec coconut oil). We also learned heaps of interesting facts about food and nutrition from proprietress and chef Bianca, who, unbeknownst to Christine, I had already been following on Instagram for quite some time. Serendipity in action!

L to R: Christine, Bianca, me, Kat, Nathalie, Ayesha & Liz. Sadly missed: Rosa, Cathy, Caroline, Misty, Jessica & Malti.




That evening Scott and I had reservations at North 53 because their Rosy Cheeks cocktail, a libation inspired by Persian ice cream, is the most unctuous drink in the entire city. As we were walking towards the restaurant, I caught a glimpse of a man who looked like my brother sitting at one of the tables. Well, it was my brother! Scott had planned for my mom, dad, brothers and niece to join us at the restaurant as a surprise. Boy, do I love that guy! He made 40 very special for me.

My family. I love these people so dang much.

After dinner and dessert (a giant warm maple & chocolate skillet cookie with vanilla ice cream) we all traipsed over to our house to open presents and enjoy more dessert, a delicious white chocolate hazelnut torte made by my mom. We enjoyed the leftover torte the next day at a birthday dinner at my parent's house. Yup, more food! For our birthdays, my mom always cooks our favourite meals. She's the best.

One of the most special gifts I received, apart from Josephine, came from my 11 year old niece Raissa who wrote the loveliest poem about my blog. It was unexpected and so sweet.


The following weekend, my friend Ayesha planned another surprise birthday dinner at The Common with a few of my good pals. I ordered a Lavender Rocks, of course, another top notch beverage. But more important than any libation, I couldn't have asked for a lovelier birthday season or lovelier friends. Only time allows you to collect a quality crew of amazing people like I have in my life. The many texts, phone calls, cards and messages -- my heart was, and still is, so full. Thank you all!


People have asked me how I feel about turning 40 or if I feel differently. The truth is I don't get nervous or scared about birthdays and this one was no different, although it does feel so adult, so official. Most days I don't feel like a grown up at all and I keep waiting for someone to knock on the door and demand I return my adult card. And while 40 feels so big, I'm embracing this decade with an open heart and mind. I have no idea what the future holds but I grew so much in the past decade (mostly in my backside, har har) I'm excited to see what this next decade holds for me.

Here's what I know for certain:
  • Family is everything.
  • I have the best friends I've ever had. 
  • It's okay not to fit in. I don't at times and quite often I get along better with kids. Go figure.
  • Age is relative and totally dependent on your attitude.
  • Confidence comes from being yourself.
  • I'm much stronger than I ever knew. 
  • It's liberating not caring what people think of you. Which goes along with this practical wisdom from a speech John Gardner gave at Stanford University, 61 years after he graduated: "You come to understand that most people are neither for you nor against you; they are thinking about themselves. You learn that no matter how hard you try to please, some people in this world are not going to love you, a lesson that is at first troubling and then really quite relaxing."
  • Just because I'm 40 doesn't mean I should have everything together and that's okay. I'm still learning, growing and figuring things out, like how to stop worrying so much
  • I'm at peace with my body, jiggly bits and all. I talked about that in depth here. That doesn't mean I don't want things to jiggle. It just means I'd rather eat or read than exercise. 
  • Further to that, a good night's sleep, laughter and plenty of water are better than botox. 
  • Life is too short (and precious) to allow drama or toxic people in your life. 
  • There's nothing wrong with setting boundaries, for family and friends.
  • It's perfectly fine to ask for help and support. I did in this post!
  • Pursuing your passion is good for the soul.
  • It's a waste of time to compare yourself to others.
  • And I'll leave you with this, my mom was right about almost everything. She's going to love reading that! And I'm going to love travelling with her this Saturday! Eeek, I'm still vibrating from Tuesday's surprise!

Thank you for being part of my journey, too.

Here's to living our lives to the fullest no matter how old, or young, we are! Cheers to 40!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

scott surprised me with a trip to...


I don't know where! Yes, you read that correctly. Tonight Scott surprised me with the news that on Saturday morning, this Saturday, my mom and I are heading somewhere warm for a week of rest and relaxation! AHHH. This guy of mine! My heart has been beating out of my chest with excitement since he told me. 

I have to be honest, as a major trip planner, this is all a bit surreal to me. That being said, I'm glad he gave me a few days to pack, shop (whenever a trip is imminent I freak out and feel like I need to buy ALL the things) and get back down to earth. Hours later and my head is still in the clouds. 

Has someone ever surprised you like this? How did you handle the news? After he told me, I burst into tears of joy and then kept on repeating, "Is this for real?" "This isn't a joke?" "Is this really happening?" Which is exactly what I said when he proposed to me thirteen years ago. Go figure.

Follow along on Instagram and Facebook to find out where the heck we're going. You'll get to find out when I do. I still can't believe it -- what an incredibly unexpected and beautiful surprise! Thank you so much, Scotty!

P.S. The craziest coincidence? I purchased this gorgeous Topshop bathing suit a couple of weeks ago for a song and was bemoaning the fact I had nowhere to wear it. Isn't life funny!?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

a new bike!


Friends, meet Josephine.

Josephine is a Linus Dutchi 3. And I love her!

I've wanted a Dutch-inspired city bike with a basket for years. A friend had posted about her recent Linus purchase on Facebook. Turns out she had bought her bike on sale at Cranky's, a family owned St. Albert bike shop. That same week Scott and I hightailed it to Cranky's. We both test rode the Dutchi and the Mixte. I preferred the 'big bum' seat and the pretty coral colour of the Dutchi so they suited her up with a basket and bell and now she's mine! I'm thrilled with the Dutchi, which is cute, comfy and smooth to ride. She's going to be ideal for farmer's market runs, neighbourhood jaunts and hauling coke slurps from 7-11. I've already taken her out a few times and on each ride, I felt like an eight year old again, hair flying in the wind and not a worry in the world. That's the beauty of being on a bike. John F. Kennedy was on point when he said, "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride."

I also can't say enough about the service and people at Cranky's. On each of our visits, we were super impressed with their welcoming and helpful staff, especially Brad. Highly recommend! As with all my posts, I wasn't paid to write a glowing review nor was my bike comped. This post was sponsored entirely by my favourite dude, Scotty.  

Do you have a bike? Which kind? I'd recommend a Linus if you're in the market!

P.S. With this present, my 40th birthday season is officially over (a post on all things birthday is coming up next Thursday).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ivf update: egg retrieval complete!


Update time! But first, thank you all so much for your supportive and loving comments, texts, emails and messages. You are the BEST people. I mean it, you guys kick ass! I was overwhelmed with gratitude by your response to my last post, whether from strangers wishing us well to people I had known for years confiding about their own struggles with infertility. While reading your comments here, as well as on Instagram and Facebook, I broke down and cried for the first time since beginning this process. Up until that point, I had tried to remain stoic. Your kindness and compassion opened up an entire floodgate of emotions. A friend joked it was the hormones and they may have been a contributing factor, but I also think it was because my silence over our hidden struggle was finally broken. There's so much silence with infertility; talking about it openly and freely has been liberating and therapeutic. No one should suffer in silence. No matter what the issue.

So let's talk...

Since my last post, I completed the remainder of the hormone injections (23 in total!) and last Thursday we had the egg retrieval. I was excited, nervous & anxious as all heck the morning of the procedure. Let me preface this by saying IVF is not for the faint hearted and your ladybits are not your own after a while. See evidence here. Thankfully, Scott was there to allay my fears and make me laugh. Seeing him in scrubs made my day especially! 

After changing into my peek-a-bum gown, Heather, one of the fantastic nurses at the clinic, gave me an Ativan to calm my nerves, hooked me to an IV with antibiotics and then led us into the procedure room. I felt a bit of pain during the procedure so they gave me additional pain meds and then, poof! everything was awesome. The retrieval took about 30 minutes because I had 27 follicles. Even when it comes to IVF, I'm an overachiever (; 

Once it was over, I went into the recovery area for about 90 minutes where I ate snacks and chatted with Scotty and Heather. At least that's what Scott tells me, I don't have any recollection of that conversation which is probably for the best. On our way home, I started to feel a bit woozy and ended up throwing up on our lawn and then three more times inside (this time I made it to the bathroom). I was also very sore, like I had done hundreds and hundreds of crunches. In reality, I have no clue what that actually feels like, har har. After taking an extra strength Tylenol, I crawled into bed and remained there in a coma-like state until later that night when I woke up craving bbq t-bone steak with blue cheese crumbles. In total, it took me four days to recover from the egg retrieval and its accompanying cramps, soreness and bloating. It pains me to say this, but sweatpants were my best pal during those days, along with my bubu bag


Egg retrieval was an interesting procedure to say the least. Interesting as in your girl was a drugged up loopy mess (see exhibit A. above). Oh, the things I said! Scott remembered them ALL. Here are a few for your reading pleasure:
  • I sang/rapped 2Pac's Baby Don't Cry, specifically this line: "Even when the road is hard, never give up. Baby don't cry." 
  • I named two particularly painful eggs after politicians I'm not particularly fond of: Harper and Prentice.
  • I told the entire medical team, nurses Carrie and Megan, embryologist Ryan and Dr. Motan, that I loved them. Because that's how we do.
  • When Dr. Motan left the room at the end of the procedure, I hollered, "Peace out, Motan!"

In the end, Dr. Motan was able to retrieve 21 eggs! Not bad for a geriatric patient. From those 21 eggs, 18 were mature and 16 fertilized. Yesterday we received the most wonderful news from Ryan: all 16 of our embryos made it to the blastocyst stage! We're so happy and relieved. Now, we'll wait for my body to return to a balanced state and a few cycles from now I'll start prepping for a frozen egg transfer. Our journey is only just beginning. {Backstory: because I was showing symptoms of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and had extremely high levels of estrogen, Dr. Motan decided it was best to do a freeze all, which means they freeze all retrieved eggs and do a transfer at a later date. When the nurse first told me, I burst into tears. Rationally, I knew it was the right thing to do, but my heart just wasn't quite there yet. After leaving the clinic, I talked it out with Scott and a few girlfriends, went to HomeSense in search of a rug, ate a DQ cookie dough blizzard and had a good night's sleep. By the next morning, I had made peace with it.}
You will get there when you are meant to get there and not one moment sooner. So relax, breathe and be patient. -- Mandy Hale
I'm going to take the next little while to take care of myself and prepare for the transfer -- exercise, acupuncture, volunteering, cooking, spending time with friends and family and continuing to blog about and Instagram the things that make me happy: fashion, style, interior design and decor, and food, of course, lots and lots of food. My life isn't just about trying to have a baby. And thankfully it never has been. There's so much I want to do, see & make. Plus, I have a 40th birthday to celebrate this Saturday! And that means cake. 

To anyone else going through this process, I wish you mountains of luck and a happy ending. Hang in there! And remember, you are stronger than you think. If you need someone to talk to, email me: dajanaf@yahoo.com. I'm here for you! xoxo

P.S. There are two Facebook support groups I highly recommend: IVF Support Canada and IVF Support, the international version consisting of women from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, where British ladies sometimes pepper their sentences with words like fortnight and stone, to describe their weight. Cool ass language aside, both forums have been a godsend to me these past few weeks. I'm with my people (which is the way I felt when I went to my first NDP meeting, haha) and the women participating in both groups are strong, open, lovely and brilliant. If forums are more your thing, this one's helpful. Familiarize yourself with this handy abbreviation guide first. Best of luck! I'm rooting for you.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

staying hopeful through infertility

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This may well be the most challenging blog post I've ever written. No, scratch that. It was fairly easy to write, but it took some time to gain the courage to hit the publish button. Thankfully, I'm braver today than I was a few years ago when infertility entered our lives like an unwanted house guest not willing to leave. It's important for me to share my story and help others learn that they aren't alone. By speaking out, I'm also hoping to lessen the stigma and shame associated with infertility.

The picture above is of me being my usual goofy self holding a model of a uterus with my feet up in stirrups in a waiting room at the Regional Fertility and Women's Endocrinology Clinic this past weekend. Scott and I were there to find out if, after trying for three years on our own, we were getting the green light to begin in vitro fertilization (IVF).  To pass the time, because there is a lot of waiting with infertility appointments, we took silly pictures. This is the only one you're allowed to see. I mean it (;

We did end up getting the go ahead from our doctor and I'm now the proud owner of more than a dozen needle marks on my stomach. That's the first part of the process: self administering hormones to stimulate the ovaries. I'm deathly afraid of needles so Scott, who I'm calling my hunky Florence Nightingale these days, has the job of jabbing me. I joke with him that his EMR training is finally paying off.  Secretly, my heart gushes with love for this man who supports and loves me and is so careful not to hurt me.

I'm not going to get into the entire process of IVF here, just know it's involved, invasive and expensive. It was a decision we took a lot of time to make and I'm glad we did. I don't feel like we're in limbo any more. When you're struggling with unexplained infertility, every month is an emotional roller coaster of hope and anticipation, followed by heartbreaking disappointment and frustration. With IVF, I'm trusting in my doctor and my body and letting the rest go. I haven't always been so zen about it but I've come to a place in my life where I've chosen to move forward with hope and positivity. I'm also using this breathing method to help me through my anxiousness during ultrasounds (which I now call dildo cam time, haha!).

Now more than ever, I'm grateful for the good people in my life. It means so much to get a phone call or text from a friend or family member simply asking, "How are you doing today D?" It makes me and Scott feel supported, loved and not so alone in all of this.

If you have a friend who is going through infertility issues, acknowledge how much it sucks and then hug, love and support them. They need you more than you know.

As for me, I have five more days of injections left until the egg retrieval process. Please send your positive thoughts and prayers. It's the one time in my life I'm asking for support. Not pity or sympathy, just love <3

Friday, February 20, 2015

the best cinnamon-sugar donut muffins you'll ever eat






Do you remember eating cinnamon toast as a kid? I loved it. This recipe is an ode to those nostalgic days (makes me feel like I'm 7 again!) and is also the perfect comfort food. You'll end up feeling warm and cozy, no matter what the weather.

I made these sweet cinnamon coated cakey donuts yesterday and posted the recipe today. This lack of procrastination is testament to how bonkers delicious they are and how badly I wanted to share them with you. Plus the recipe comes together easily and will fill your house with the most heavenly scent.

The hardest part is waiting for them to cool so you can dunk them in the melted butter and cinnamon sugar and eat 'em. Consider yourself warned: your patience will be tested but it's well worth the wait.

Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Muffins
Makes 12 muffins or 24 mini donuts
Adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Here's what you need to make them:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons buttermilk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs

For the doughnut coating:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

To make the muffins: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray 12 large muffin cups with vegetable oil spray OR if making mini donuts, lightly spray two mini donut pans.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cardamom. In a medium bowl, combine the milk and buttermilk.

In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, cream the butter for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the speed to low and gradually add the sugar. Continue to mix until the mixture lightens in color. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until combined. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk mixture, mixing just until smooth; do not overmix or they will become dense.

With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them approximately two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are firm to the touch and lightly golden. Please note: I used a teaspoon to fill the mini donuts pans and the mini donuts were done after about 17 minutes.

While the muffins bake, set up two bowls to dunk them in. In one bowl you will have the melted butter, and in the other bowl you will have the cinnamon sugar.

Let the donuts cool completely on a wire rack (waiting is the hard part!). Dunk them in the melted butter, then coat them with the cinnamon sugar. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Enjoy!

Notes:
  • Please don't omit the cardamom. Although it's only a teensy amount, it makes such a difference in flavour and aroma.  Trust me, it's worth seeking out. 
  • With the batter, I made a combo of 12 (very large) mini donuts and 5 muffins. 
  • The Back in the Day Bakery is my new favourite cookbook. I bought if for myself a few weeks ago but hadn't made anything yet until last weekend when one of my friends made the Buttermilk Biscones (a cross between scones & biscuits). They were amazing! Tasting those tasty biscones inspired to try something from the book too. Highly recommend! 
  • The winner of the Duchess Cookbook giveaway is revealed here. Congratulations to the lucky lady! And thanks to everyone who entered.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

valentine's day as a single lady

Fourteen years ago today, I was feeling hopelessly single and wondering if I'd ever meet my soulmate. Didn't seem likely. I had gone on a bunch of unsuccessful blind dates (online dating hadn't quite yet taken off at that time) and one day I found myself discussing the topic with a close friend. Her mom, who was listening in on our conversation, quickly piped up and told me the reason why I was single is because I talked too much. "Men don't like that," she added.

"Ha," I thought indignantly to myself,  "I'm not changing who I am so I can meet a man."

And I didn't. Because I'm stubborn like that and even back then, I knew my worth. Not too long after, I met Scott. That first night we talked for hours (take that friend's mom!). Goes to show that you just never know what's right around the corner. And that, as corny as it sounds, you should never change who you are. 

Hope you have a wonderful day with the people you love. Scott and I are having an at-home date night and we'll be chowing down on these (can't wait!).  xoxo

P.S. Six ways to keep the sparks flying in your relationship.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

6 ways we keep the sparks flying



Scott and I have been together for 13 years, 8 months and 16 days. After spending that much time as a couple, we've reached a level of intimacy I never knew existed. While there is something to be said about being completely comfortable and intimate with each other, it's also important to be reminded of the butterflies we had when we first started dating. The bonus is that butterflies usually lead to flirtation and sexy-time. And who doesn't want sexy-time?!


Here are a few things we do to keep the sparks flying in our relationship:

  • Meet separately at the restaurant. I always get excited when I meet up with Scott at a restaurant or bar. I love that moment of anticipation as I scan the room to find him! There's nothing quite like seeing a handsome man and then realizing it's your handsome man to stir up the butterflies. That is such a lovely feeling and it makes me feel fun and flirty. Meeting separately also gives me the chance to see him not just as the person I share my home life with, but as the person he exists beyond that. 
  • Keep phones off the table during meals. I've been known to take photos of our food, but I've started to do less of that (you might've noticed this if you follow me on Instagram). The time I spend with the people I love has become much more valuable. 
  • Hold hands at the table (but really, hold hands every chance you get). Scott and I do this all the time, whether we're on a fancier dinner date or just having some pho at our fave Vietnamese place. So simple but it sets a special mood.
  • 5 minute make-out sessions. One of us just asks "Wanna make out for 5 minutes?" and it's nearly impossible to turn down or be turned down. Everyone has five minutes for a little old school making out, right? Sneaking in a kiss each day that lasts longer than 5 seconds takes me back to the early dating days. Sometimes while we're watching tv, I'll plank on Scott. Sounds bizarro, I know but it's our special thing. And no, it's not sexual, dirty birds. I'm always fully clothed while planking (;
  • Ask each other out on dates, don't just plan dates. I'll text or call Scott and ask if he'll go on a date with me and then plan accordingly and vice versa. Again, it adds just enough of those same butterflies.
  • Scott purchased this book for us recently. Whoa, spicy. I'm thinking an entirely separate blog post might be in order here (;
These are all little things, but sometimes life is about the little things, right? What funny little things (or big things!) do you do to keep the sparks flying in your relationships? I'd love to hear...

(Photo by Harry Benson)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

duchess cookbook & treats giveaway!

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Duchess Bake Shop has had my heart since it opened its doors in the fall of 2009. It's one of my favourite spots in Edmonton to grab a delicious French pastry and then sit, eat & chat with friends for hours. If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that last statement couldn't be more true.

When I found out Giselle Courteau, the shop's co-owner, was writing a cookbook I was elated. Its release date, November 12, was a happy day for me and I wasn't disappointed in the least bit. The book is a true keepsake with stunning photographs and invaluable accompanying step-by-step instructions. This is the first time I've owned a cookbook in which I've sampled most of the recipes (which makes owning it that much more special).

You can probably tell from the picture above that I've already tried many of the recipes (& also have a hard time keeping cookbooks clean, mine are almost always covered in batter & flour), including our family faves: double ginger cookies and raspberry white chocolate scones.

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I'm happy to report that Giselle has generously provided a signed copy of Duchess' cookbook as a giveaway for one lucky reader. Also included in the giveaway: a package containing the shop's beloved salted caramel sauce (which I used to make these), hot chocolate, raspberry rose jam and a Theo gingerbread milk chocolate bar.

For a chance to win, please visit Duchess' website and then leave a comment below with the name of the baked good you'd like to try making at home. For additional entries, follow all kinds of lovely on Instagram and Facebook and comment on the giveaway post/picture. 

Entries must be posted by Friday, February 13 at 9am MST*, and one winner will be chosen at random.

Best of luck!

You can also purchase the cookbook in Edmonton at Provisions or online. Highly recommend!

Contest is now closed. Congratulations to Brie of A Slice of Brie! Thank you to everyone who entered.

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