Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Hey guys!

Over a month ago, I had a strange craving for fried chicken. I have no idea where it came from. I haven’t eaten KFC in well over a decade and I’ve never made it from scratch until…I found the following recipe.

This recipe is amazing and pairs very well with crunchy pickles. Yep, pickles! Julien suggested it and I didn’t understand the link but he was totally right. They paired so well together since the pickles cut the grease.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

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Ingredients

Marinade

  • 2 cups of buttermilk
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 cup of fresh chopped herbs (parsley, tarragon and thyme)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2lbs chicken pieces with skin (we like to use chicken quarters and separate the drumstick from the thigh)

Coating

  • 1 cup of GF flour (or regular flour)
  • 1 tsp each of dried oregano, chili powder, sage, marjoram, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 1 tsp paprika (or more if you like paprika, like us)
  • 2 eggs

Directions

  1. Mix all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl, adding the chicken last. Pour into a large ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight for a minimum of 12 hrs.
  2. For the delicious coating, mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. When ready to cook, strain the chicken and marinade into a bowl. Get rid of about 3/4 of the liquid and whisk your eggs in the remaining 1/4.
  4. Coating one piece of chicken at a time, dip your chicken in the marinade and then toss in the coating, making sure to cover the entire piece. 
  5. In a large and deep cast iron dutch oven, slowly heat a couple of inches of peanut or canola oil, over medium heat and bring it to 350 degrees.
  6. Fry a few pieces at a time, for approx. 8 mins per side or until golden.
  7. Once fried, remove chicken pieces one at a time and place on a wire rack over on top of a baking sheet covered with a Silpat.
  8. Then serve with your choice of yummy sides, eat and enjoy!

*Original recipe from glutenfreeclub.com!

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The final product is delicious! It’s crunchy on the outside and SO juicy on the inside. 

 

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I hope that you guys give this one a try and that you enjoy it as much as we do! If you do end up trying it out, please let me know what you think.

For those fried chicken lovers out there, I would love to hear about your favourite fried chicken recipe since we’d love to try a new recipe next time a craving comes along.

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! Talk soon.

Ash

Fun at Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush!

Hey everyone,

Hope you’re all well and trying to stay positive despite the chilly weather we’ve been having here in Ottawa. Can you believe that we’re going to be getting a dump of snow this weekend? When will it end 😉 I’m hopeful that this will be the last of it and, on a more positive note, we will be very thankful for spring/ summer this year.

The last two weeks have been spent enjoying lots of time with family and trying to enjoy the great outdoors 😉 Today, I’ve decided to share with you our recent visit to Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush.

 

Fun at Fultons Pancake House and Sugar Bush

It’s been years since I’ve visited a sugar shack. Maybe even a decade. My mom called us a couple weeks ago and suggested that we take the kids for breakfast and a tour of the sugar shack. Of course, I thought that this was a fabulous suggestion since we hadn’t been in years, since our littles have never been and since the weather was cooperating so we wouldn’t freeze our butts off.

We made sure to arrive for when they opened at 9am so that we could beat the breakfast rush. So happy that we did since although the restaurant was full, it wasn’t filled to capacity so we were able to sit down and enjoy our cafeteria style breakfast. I don’t know what I was expecting but it was a cafeteria style meal. I have to say that this made it even more special 🙂 plus quick and easy for the kids! We were able to see our food options, choose what we wanted, pay for it and eat it right away.

We ended up trying a little bit of almost everything. Julien and the kids shared some pancakes, apple pie, beans, and breakfast sausage and I had their gluten-free (GF) waffles. Like any new GF dish, I didn’t know what to expect but for my GF readers, I’m happy to report that they were DELICIOUS!!! Seriously, they tasted like the real thing. We also had hot coffee and juice for the kids. Felt like we were eating breakfast at a very casual 😉 ski resort.

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Breakfast!

After filling ourselves up with sweets, we toured around the property. First on our to do list was a tour of the Heritage Maple Path which brought us to a cool teepee shelter, which the kids loved, and a cozy fire where an employee was explaining all of the old tools and techniques that were used to tap maple trees.

 

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We continued along the trail and there was a beautiful display of more of the old harvesting tools:

 

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Did you know that according to Iroquois legend, maple syrup was discovered by accident? To find out more, read the sign below.

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The sugar shack also offered a live demo on how they produce their maple syrup, they had a park for kids and sold delicious treats like cotton candy and maple lollipops. They also had a small shop where you could buy all sorts of maple syrup infused items such as bbq sauces, marinades, sweets and beauty products.

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Maple Shoppe!

I have to be honest here. I saw their beauty products but I wasn’t drawn to them until one of the employees recommended that I give their lotion a try. I’m so glad that I did because not only did it smell delicious, it was also super hydrating.  I was sold! I liked it so much that we ended up picking up a bottle of their lotion and a body scrub for my mother-in-law’s birthday.

Overall, our visit to Fultons was so much fun! The kids had a blast and it was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. If you’re looking for something different to do this weekend, I highly recommend that bring your family and/or friends to Fulton’s for breakfast and to tour their properly.

I know that visiting the sugar bush is an annual tradition for some. If you are one of those people, I would love to hear about your favourite spots so please let me know.

That’s all for now! Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

Stay warm 😉 xo

Naturally Vain – local and natural beauty products!

Hi everyone,

I hope that you’re as excited as I am about it being the long weekend!!! What do you have planned for your weekend? We plan on spending lots of time with family celebrating a couple birthdays and Easter!

I’m both happy and excited about today’s post. Have you heard of Naturallaturallyvain.ca/lovelylife? If not and if you are a lover of natural beauty products and supporting local businesses, you have to check them out. They are an Ottawa based company that makes handmade and natural beauty products.

I don’t know about you but when I was younger, I never really paid attention to whether or not the products I was using on my body were natural, let alone healthy. As I’ve grown older (they do say that you become wiser with age ;)) and gained a greater respect for my body, I’ve been more aware of what I not only put in my body but what I put on it.

One of the many cool things about Naturallyvain.ca/lovelylife is that it started as a small family business. The owner’s mother (side note: you know how much I love and support moms ;)) became concerned with the products that her family was using since they contained chemicals and preservatives so she decided to create her own line of shampoos and soaps using the best natural oils and butters available.

Her passion for creating healthy and natural beauty products for her children was then extended to friends and family. Soon after, she began selling her products locally at trade shows and in small boutiques and due to the increasing demand for her products, her daughters created NaNaturallyvain.ca/lovelylife.

The business stays true to its original intent, which was to create handmade and natural beauty products that families around the world can feel good about using.

So what do they make? Well, they offer incredible soap and bath products as well as products for your body, face, and hair. They also offer aromatherapy products but I haven’t yet had an opportunity to try them out.

So far, I’ve tried the following products:

Bright Eye Dark Circle Reducer:

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I don’t know about you but I ‘ve been struggling to find an effective eye cream to help with both my puffiness and dark circles. I’ve tried eye creams made by Khiels, Olay and many others but haven’t found one that I love. I’m happy to report that I’ve been using this eye cream, twice daily, for about a month now and love it. There are many pros to this product, besides being all natural, vegan and cruelty-free. This cream goes on SO well! It’s not only light but it has both a soft and cooling effect to it and it doesn’t leave your skin feeling sticky. It’s also sold for only $30 and the container that it’s sold in is generously packed with this beautiful cream.

I have to say that I’m super pumped about this product. I’ve noticed a definite improvement in my under eyes. Specifically, my puffiness which is now gone. I still have my dark circles but I don’t think that those will disappear in a month 😉 I look forward to continuing to use this product and I’m happy that it’s become a part of my beauty routine. For those who struggle with dark circles or could use a little pick me up ;), you should definitely give this product a try and check it out at naturallyvain.ca/lovelylife.

Next up is their Vitamin C Fix (anti-aging cream)

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This multipurpose cream is great for your both your face and body! Especially this time of the year when our skin needs a great moisturizer. The vitamin C and E in this anti-aging cream rejuvenates tired-looking skin and the rosehip refined carrier oil improves the look of any scars or stretch marks that you may have. I’ve always had sensitive skin and struggle with acne scarring so I have to be very careful with what I put on my face. Typically, I only use Clarins since I react to everything else, however, I didn’t react to either of these products which is impressive. I’m convinced that it’s due to the fact that the ingredients used in them are all natural. Another pro is that this anti-aging cream is also sold for only $30 a bottle. SO affordable, right!? Make sure to stop by their website at naturallyvain.ca/lovelylife and try it out.

Last, but not least, are their bath bombs. You have to check them out!!! They sent me their peaceful zen bath bomb and it was such a relaxing treat and I mean that. It smells so good, you want literally want to eat it. They offer over a dozen bath bombs, each made with a variety of essential oils that are good for your skin. Even better, they only cost $7 each so go ahead and treat yourself. You and your skin deserve it.

Overall guys, I’m very impressed with this local business and their products. Not only do they smell delicious, their products actually work at keeping your skin both hydrated and rejuvenated. I highly recommend that you give their products a try and that you support this natural, local, Canadian company.

For those who have tried their products, what are your favourite ones? I would love to hear about them so please leave a comment below.

That’s all for now. I hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter long weekend and that its filled with visits with friends and family, fabulous food and lots of choco treats ;).

Talk soon,

Ash xo

 

 

Make time for yourself! Go on, give it a try.

Hey everyone,

Hope you’re having a wonderful week! How fabulous has the weather been 🙂 I tell ya, I’m #grateful for the milder weather. Here’s to hoping that it’s here to stay and that we have an early spring ;). As for my post’s featured image, it has nothing to do with the topic being discussed here today. I just thought that it was pretty so wanted to share it with you!

So, did any of you happen to make a new years resolution? If so, what was it? To travel more, to register for that creative painting class you’ve been thinking about, to read more or working out? Now that it’s the end of February, how’s that resolution going? 🙂 I’m not one for making a new years resolution but this year I did decide that I would try to make some time for myself and workout a few times a week.

Like all other parents, once you have a couple kids and re-join the workforce, things get busy. Between going to and from work, dropping and picking kids up, making meals, playing, bath time and preparing for the next day, there’s little time for yourself. I love every busy moment of my life 🙂 but I had been missing something lately and that was working out.

I’ve always enjoyed exercising. Obviously, some years more than others but being active has always been a big part of my life. Even when we were young. As kids, we used to spend most of our time playing outside with friends and family. Once high school hit, my sister, mom and I all joined the same gym and they continue to work out together today.

As most of you know, I’ve had two kids in the last 4 years, which has kept us pretty busy ;), and as for the last year, it was fabulous but also challenging so my workout regime changed. During the first half of my last maternity leave, I didn’t work out at all and as for the second half, I managed to make a few yoga classes a week, which was both relaxing and incredibly therapeutic. I continue to enjoy the benefits of yoga today. It’s very relaxing and I really enjoy the stretching, focused breathing and Savasana. It took me a while to really unwind and benefit from Savasana but I can honestly say that it’s my favourite part.

When I returned to work in August 2017, I naturally had to get used to my new work/life schedule. I really enjoy my job, so being at work is an absolute pleasure. The only thing that I was missing (other than the kids ;)) was working out. Working out allows us all to reenergize ourselves, clear our heads, strengthen our bodies and help us better deal with difficult times.

So, I decided during the Christmas break that I would give myself permission to carve some time out during my work hours and on the weekends to work out and, I’m happy to report, that I have been #parentwin!

Since the beginning of January, I’ve been going to the gym or working out at home a few times a week. Lucky for me, I have a gym close to my office, so I’ve been able to sneak out a couple of times a week for 30 or 45 minute classes. Pre-kids, I loved working out for an hour or more. Nowadays, 30-45 minutes is just perfect! I love that I can get in and out within an hour and how great these quick classes make me feel. Even better, I’ve been varying the classes that I go to and I’m finding this very effective. I’ve started going to spinning classes and, for those who haven’t tried them, they are SOOOO hard. Three minutes in, I feel like my heart is going to pop out of my chest. The music and energy during these classes are amazing and I always leave feeling re-energized.

I’ve also been going to yoga and body attack classes again. Body Attack used to be my fav, before the kids, but I find it a lot more challenging since having them.

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On occasion, I’ve also managed to sneak in a workout on the weekend, while the kids are up. Major parent win 🙂 Have you guys heard of the Nike Training app? If not, you have to check it out. It’s a free workout app that offers workouts for different muscle groups, with or without weights, and for varying durations (ex: 15, 25 and 40 mins). Some of my favourite workouts are:

  • focused restorative yoga
  • Glute and hip strength
  • EngineRevv
  • Stability and Strength yoga
  • Lower Body Strength yoga

I like to set myself up in the basement and let the kids run around and play with all of their toys while I sneak in a workout. Yes, they climb all over and around me but it’s still totally worth it. Even cuter, they sometimes like to get involved. Our daughter loves to do ” down dog” and yelling out Oga! As for our son, he loves to do kids yoga videos and saying “manaste” ;).

Lastly, I’ve been enjoying the occasional bedtime yoga session, in our living room, while watching a show. It’s the best way to relax before we enjoy our sleepy time and head to bed.

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Overall, I’m really enjoying the addition of these short workout sessions and I look forward to continuing my yoga practice and strengthening my body.

I know that life can be busy and that it can be very difficult to find time to do things for just ourselves but we/you totally should. Whether you make time to read a book, go for a walk or see that movie you’ve been meaning to see, you should take some time this weekend and treat yourself to that which makes you happy. Your body and mind will thank you for it :).

As usual, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know about your favourite hobbies and whether or not you made a new years resolution.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

Talk soon,

Ash

Mom’s 60th Birthday and BRCA results!

Hey everyone,

Hope the first week of February is treating you well? Although we’ve received a couple dumps of snow, here in Ottawa, the weather has been milder and so enjoyable. #grateful for this week’s weather and being able to enjoy some fresh air!

Last weekend, we celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday. As most of you now know, it’s been just over a year since she was diagnosed and underwent her debulking surgery 2 days before her 59th birthday. I remember her saying that she just wanted to be able to make it to her 60th. Well, I’m SO happy to report that she did, that she is doing SO well and was eager to celebrate her big day. Her 60th Birthday!

My sister and I decided to throw her a surprise party and invite her childhood friends. Some of whom she sees regularly, others only a few times a year. Little did we know, most of them had already set the day aside for her.

Chels and I made dinner reservations at the Big Rig Brewery, as per her request, and our immediate family kicked-off the evening by doing our first escape room at Jigsaw located in the Byward Market. If you haven’t been to Jigsaw, you totally have to check them out. The venue is really nice offering lots of seating with board games and they even have a bar.

As for dinner with her friends, we had asked her guests to bring an old photo of mom and to let us know which song best reminds them of her so that we could put both in a journal for her to read afterward.

Have you ever thrown a surprise party? If so, you know it presents some challenges but if not, *WARNING* it is not easy to do lol My mom is by nature a total control freak (as are we). She has always been the caregiver, planner, organizer etc and she likes to be kept in the loop about everything…and I mean everything, so planning this party was no easy task. A month before, she started asking a million questions. Are we going to big rig, will it just be the 6 of us, what time should I be ready for etc etc etc She absolutely hated not knowing what the plan was and not being in control.

Before getting into the evening itself, I thought I’d share with you a couple of the gifts we bought for her. As previously mentioned, we bought her this beautiful black Journal from Chapters that says “she was one of the rare ones: so effortlessly herself and the whole world loved her for it.” For those who know mom, you KNOW that she is totally one of a kind. The amount of quality friends that she has and the love that they all have for her is amazing and shows how incredible she is.

I also knew that I wanted to pick up a tacky gift, making fun of the fact that she was turning 60, so when I saw the cane in the picture below, I had to have it lol The cane came equipped with glasses, a horn, fan (for heat flashes), a pill container and a caution old lady crossing sign lol so funny, right!

You’ll also notice that I picked up a small pink book entitled “what I love about you and me.” It’s 50 pages long and you have to fill in the blank spaces and note 50 reasons why you love that person. For example: “I like the way….when you…” or “if we were a ….. we would … ” and “I’d love to … with you.” This was such a fun gift and got me thinking about some of my favorite childhood memories. We also treated her to a beautiful bottle of Cognac, the game, cupcakes, board games (her fav) etc.

As for the evening, it was so much fun. We met downtown in the Ottawa Byward Market and surprised her with an escape room. We choose the cabin and it was amazing. I knew that we had to find our way out but I didn’t think that it would be as hard as it was. These games are clearly well thought out. The cabin was a tough one. We all started in handcuffs and the room was almost pitch black. Although we worked hard and really well together, to bust our way out, we didn’t 😦 Apparently we were very close to winning but unfortunately couldn’t crack the last few clues. For those who are looking for a challenging escape room, I highly recommend this one as it has a 15% success rate.

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Jigsaw

Next up was dinner at the Big Rig. We walked in shortly after 7pm and everyone was already there, waiting for her. Watching mom walk in was priceless. She had no idea that we had planned to have her childhood friends there and, although she was pleasantly surprised, I think she was totally shocked. We spent the evening going through childhood pictures, listening to stories of her in her teens and enjoyed a good meal. Below is a pic of mom and her friends. How lucky is she to have friends that she has known for over 50 years.

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Overall, mom had a wonderful 60th birthday. Not only did she have a great time celebrating with her childhood friends and family, she was and is feeling healthy again. What better gift to receive for her 60th bday than the gift of feeling healthy 🙂 I’m so grateful for this and for her 🙂 Happy birthday Moomoo!

BRCA 2 results:

In a previous post, I shared with you that I would be undergoing BRCA 2 genetic testing for breast/ovarian cancer. After a 3 month wait, I’m happy and relieved to report that I do not carry the genetic mutation and, as a result, neither do my children. This news was and is such a huge relief for my family and I. The results showed that I’m not considered high risk. The general population’s risk of having breast cancer is 11% and mine has been calculated at 18%. As a result, and lucky for me, rather than waiting until the age of 50 to be screened, I will start annual mammography at the age of 37. For this, I’m also grateful.

For anyone with a close family history of breast and ovarian cancer, I highly recommend undergoing genetic testing. It isn’t for everyone but for those who woukd prefer to know and like to have control, like myself, I say go for it. These results have brought me much comfort knowing that my children and I aren’t at high risk and has allowed me to put in place the necessary steps to ensure that I will be properly screened.

For those who have undergone similar testing and would like to share about it, please feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend and I thank you for taking the time to stop by my blog and read my posts. I truly appreciate your support.

Remember to “look for something positive in every day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.” Life is great :)!!!

Talk soon,

Ash

January finds!!!

Hey everyone!

How’s your wardrobe doing? Could it use a pick me up? If so, I hope that you’ve signed up to receive email promos from Reitmans and Banana Republic because they have some pretty awesome deals going on right now :).

Like most parents, I don’t have much time to spend wandering malls. The malls in Ottawa have received major facelifts in the last few years, which I would have loved in my teens, but now that I have little ones, I don’t have the time to wander through them. Instead, I’m a big fan of online shopping or running out to the mall for an hour or so when I need something specific or when I get the occasional email advertising an epic sale.

I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the sales that are going on right now? If not, and if you need a few new pieces, now’s the time to go out and get them. Today, I’m going to share with you some recent purchases that I picked in January for next to nothing.

Recently, I’ve had the desire to wear blazers at work. I love to dress up for work but I’ve never been one to wear blazers but one can always change 😉 Last week, mom offered to pick the kids up with me. Before doing so, we stopped by the mall to pick up a few groceries and ran into Reitmans. Earlier in the day, I received an email advertising that their clearance was an additional 70% off. It couldn’t hurt to pop in and check things out…right! Well, within ten minutes we found just what my wardrobe was missing. Three new blazers :)!!! Check these fun pieces out:

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This blazer is too comfy! It literally feels like I’m wearing a sweater. The cool thing about all three is that none of them feel restrictive. They have some give to them but are still cinched at the waist, so they feel as though they’re tailored but without the price tag. #win!

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This one is black with what looks like polka dots but they’re tiny hearts! Too cute right 🙂 Unfortunately, you can’t tell in this picture but I plan on posting a close up this week on my Instagram account at lovelylife.xo. This one is a little more form-fitting, than the one above, and has a more formal feel to it but the baby hearts keep it stylish and playful.

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This last one is the comfiest of the three and has some pretty cool details. It’s long, cinched at the waist and the arms are 3/4 length and bunchy. Even better,  it’s soft AND the colour is a dark denim #love!.

So, how much did these three blazers, from Reitmans, cost me??? Are you sitting? If not, you should be. I found all three, in the clearance section, and paid $90 for them. Amazing right!? The sale was buy one get two free….YES, I will buy one and get two free lol I’m telling ya, if you need any new pants, skirts or blazers you should definitely stop by Reitmans this weekend.

As for the cute salmon coloured pants, in the pics above, I picked them up this week from the Banana Republic outlet for 40% off! They’re Banana’s Sloan pant. If you haven’t tried them yet, you totally should. They’re the perfect work pant. They’re comfy and come in sooo many different colours and patterns. Here they are below with a pair of shoes that I bought in January for $20 from Zara. A colleague of mine calls them my Cinderella shoes 🙂 love them!

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The same night that I picked these salmon pants up from the outlets, I bought these super fun black pants up from J.Crew at 50% off:

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Whats cool about these is that they zip up along the side and they have an awesome and original pattern at the bottom of the pant.

Last, but not least, are these adorable shoes from Zara:

Julien calls them my care bear shoes lol they’re a light pink and super fuzzy. When I showed them to my sister, she asked me if I got them for free lol. We are polar opposites…What do they know 😉 As soon as I saw these, I needed them. I probably wouldn’t have bought them at full price but for $19 I couldn’t resist them. They’re too original and very fun. I literally can’t wait to wear them this spring/summer.

So, that’s what I’ve found this month. As you can tell, I LOVE a great deal! I almost never purchase anything at full price (unless I need it and don’t have time to wait) and nothing feels better than buying a beautiful piece on sale.

If you need a few and fun pieces for your wardrobe, I highly recommend that you pop by Reitmas, Banana Republic or J. Crew this weekend. If you’re looking for some original and affordable shoes, as usual, I recommend Zara.

Do you enjoy a good deal? Where do you like to shop? Have you found any amazing deals lately? If so, I’d love to hear about them.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! We will be celebrating my mom’s 60th birthday 🙂 So grateful that she is feeling healthy and excited to celebrate HER! Remember friends to be positive, stay kind and smile. Life is great!

Love,

Ash xo

Tips for fighting stress!

We’re already halfway through the first month of 2018! Along with a new year comes new opportunities as well as the opportunity to look back on the previous year, providing the opportunity to reflect on both all of the good and the bad.

2017 was a fabulous year! Our family of four traveled together, I enjoyed the last 6 months of my last maternity leave, Julien and I had a getaway to Banff, my sister moved home from Vancouver and we spent lots of time with our family and friends.

Like most, 2017 also presented us with some difficult times. Just before Christmas 2016, we lost my grandma. Lucky for me, mom and I were with her when she passed. I’m honoured that I was able to help granny through her last day on earth but this experience was both stressful and heartbreaking. Granny was my only grandparent present in my life and meant so much to my mom, sister and I. I could dedicate many posts to granny and all of the things that we did together and how much I/we loved her. She literally dedicated her entire life to her children and grandchildren and I will forever be grateful to her for that and all of the memories we have.

A few weeks after granny passed, Mom was diagnosed with stage 3B ovarian cancer and less than a week later, underwent major debulking surgery, two days before her 59th birthday. She spent quite literally the rest of 2017 fighting her cancer. For anyone who has had a parent diagnosed with cancer you know how difficult this can be and how helpless it can leave you feeling. For those who know me, you know that my mom is my world and quite literally my first love! She, like granny, has dedicated her entire life to her babies and I’m SO lucky to have such a present, loving and fun mom.

So, now it is 2018 and I’m happy to report that December 2017 was mom’s healthiest month since her diagnosis. She hosted an amazing Christmas dinner as well as NYE with her friends and she’s had more energy than ever. She’s been able to snowshoe, keep up with her grand kids and spend lots of time with family and friends. She’s even been working out. What a champ! She’s a real life superhero :)!

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Three peas in a pod!

Even better, mom had her regular 3-month appointment this week with her oncologist and she received positive feedback 🙂 our family couldn’t have asked for anything better. Her chemo worked really well and her cancer remains in remission. F*uck you cancer, you messed with the wrong mama!

Like most, the love that I have for my family is immense. I wouldn’t be who I am without all of them so when mom was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer, 11 years after she fought breast cancer, I was devastated. I was half-way through my maternity leave and was heartbroken. It was one of my biggest nightmares. Although I had SO much good going on, I felt as though I was drowning in pain over this. As though I couldn’t cope with mom’s diagnosis and our new reality. It just wasn’t fair…of course, like many, I learned that life isn’t always fair.

Lucky for us, mom is strong and recovered from the insanely difficult surgery and recovery, her painful chemo and is living each day to the fullest. She is positive 95% of the time, allowing herself to have the occasional pity party day, understandably. Because of her strength, I try to encourage myself to show the same strength and to focus on all of the good that we have going on in our lives!

Since the end of her chemo, she see’s her oncologist every 3 months at which time they tell her about her markers etc. This process has been quite stressful. The first two months we’re all happy and well 🙂 we focus on all the positive and try not to think about the cancer but as we approach the third month we become more and more anxious. I don’t know about you but I’ve never experienced real anxiety until this year and sometimes it can be quiet overwhelming. I think that it’s directly linked to the lack of control that I have in this situation. So, I’ve decided to share with you some of my tips and tricks for dealing with stress and anxiety 🙂 I’ve only recently (2017 onward) started practicing these activities and although they weren’t easy to do at first, I’ve come to love each of them.

As I’ve noted before, I used to be a major cardio junky. This changed, in the last year, as I really needed to slow down, relax and breathe. Here are my tips for staying calm anytime and especially when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:

Incorporate yoga into your weekly regime, including conscious breathing:

As previously mentioned in my post about our family trip to Florida, yoga really helped reduce the stress that I was feeling at the time. I started practicing with my father-in-law and really helped reduce my anxiety, around mom’s diagnosis, when I was on maternity leave. Being a runner, I loved nothing more than intense workouts. Yoga can be intense but the conscious breathing, holding of poses and reflection at the end are medicinal. I swear tears literally fell, quietly, at the end of many classes as I lay there on my mat, practicing mindfulness and gratitude.

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Yoga taught me that it’s ok to slow things down. That both my mind and body appreciate it and that practicing conscious breathing greatly reduces ones stress/anxiety. For those who feel as though your days are flying by and that you have little down time, I highly recommend that you give yoga a try. Like meditation, it is SO hard to slow your mind and body down, at first, but with time you will reap the benefits.

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Meditation and mindfullness

Do you meditate? If so, I would love to know which apps or books you follow. If not, you should totally try it out 🙂 Why? Why not? Even before mom’s diagnosis, she tried to encourage us to meditate and I’d always say sure mom lol well, like everything else, she was right. Meditation is AWESOME and has helped me get through the difficult times this year and continues to help me daily.

I love to use the apps headspace and calm. At first, it was SOOOO hard to meditate. All I did was think about all I had to do, how weird it was that I was lying on the couch or sitting on a chair trying to focus on nothing when all I could do was focus on all that I had to do. Well, like most activities, meditation takes practice and, if you give yourself time, and practice regularly, your meditation sessions will improve and bring you much joy.

Like yoga, I started practicing meditation last summer, when mom was undergoing chemo. I figured why not try it out. I’d put our daughter down for her afternoon nap, lay down on the couch, plug myself into headspace and do a 10 minute session. For those who use this app, you already know how intoxicating this guys voice is. You can’t help but hold onto it and try hard not to fall asleep. At first, it was hard to make it through 5-10 mins but now I do at least 10 minutes a day and, if I need it, I will do an additional 10 on my way home from work.

 

 

Presently, I use headspace, once and a while, on my commute home from work and I use Calm before bed. Julien probably regrets telling me about Calm lol because I listen to it EVERY SINGLE night before bed and without headphones. It’s amazing. You can listen to meditation for sleep, relaxation, stress etc and to different sounds. My favourite sessions are those for sleep with rain in the background. Amazing! I swear I’m asleep within the first three minutes. I highly recommend adding meditation to your daily routine. Another benefit is that is allows me to practice conscious breathing and gratitude daily. #grateful!

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Dehumidifer and calming scents:

Last, but not least, my parents-in-life bought us a dehumidifer for Christmas and it has also become part of our evening routine. We like to use it with a variety of amazing scents that encourage relaxation. I like to use it when we are watching a show in the living room and then again when we go to bed 🙂 I set it so that its on for two hours, turn my sleppy time meditation on and I am gone lol is there a better way to fall asleep! We have a few scents now but I would love to hear about your favorite ones so please do feel free to leave a comment with your recommendations.

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So, there are a few of my tips for reducing stress. Tomorrow, after waiting 9 weeks, I will be receiving my BRCA results. I can promise you that tonight, like every night ;), I will be going to sleep with my dehumidifier, and calming scents, while listening to my sleepy time meditation and I encourage you to do the same.

For those who try these tips out, I hope that they bring you much joy. As for staying positive, this is just in my nature. I’ve always been and will always be a positive person. Life is good and I encourage everyone to wake up with a grateful heart. Grateful for their life, their children, health, family and friends!

Hope you have a fabulous weekend! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your ongoing support.

Love,

Ash xo

 

 

Some of my favourite makeup products

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Hey everyone,

I thought I would kick off 2018 by sharing with you some of my favourite makeup products that I discovered in 2017. I swear by ALL of these and hope that, for those who try them out, you love them as well! First up is Vichy’s idealia’s Night peeling care:

Vichy’s Idealia Night Peeling care

I’ve been using the same prescribed product to treat my sensitive skin on my face for years now but about 3 months ago, it went on back order and my pharmacy hasn’t had it available since. This was probably a blessing in disguise since the product I was using wasn’t very healthy but it worked.

Because I have sensitive skin, I’m unfortunately unable to use just anything on my face. As a result of the back order, I had to find a replacement. Lucky for me, the women that work at the shoppers Drug Mart by our house are very knowledgeable about their products and often give me great advice about makeup and facial products, so I naturally went to them and begged for their help.

One of the girls, who helps me most of the time, recommended the Vichy Laboratories Idealia Peeling care. I had previously used a couple of Vichy’s products and wasn’t the biggest fan but I figured I’d give this one a try since I was desperate. I’ve been using Vichy’s Idealia Night Peeling care off and on now for about two months now and it isn’t bad. It’s a night peeling serum with glycolic acid intended to create an even and radiant complexion. I like it because it definetly improves my complexion by morning however my blemishes are still there. I think that the glycolic acid helps reduce the inflammation but, unlike my prescription, it doesn’t take the pimples away. Another pro is that it contains fermented black tea and blueberries, leaving your face smelling delicious before bed #yum! If anyone opts to try this out, you just need to make sure that you use a good SPF on your face in the morning. Overall, I give this product a 6 or 7 out of 10.

For those of you who have sensitive skin, I would LOVE to hear about what you use to treat your blemishes. Please feel free to leave a comment below!

Lise Watier CC creme colour corrector AND multi perfecting moisturizer

Ok ladies, this product is a MUST! I swear that if you use this product you WILL fall in love with it. It’s a CC cream, therefore it evens your skin tone and adjusts to your pigmentation. At first, I was skeptical about how well this would work but I LOVE it and give it a 10/10. Why do I give it a 10/10, well because it goes on smoothly and blends in very well with my skin tone. I don’t wear it daily since I tend not to wear much makeup to work, but I love to use it on the weekends or if we are going out to dinner or a party. It’s also SUPER moisturizing so for people with naturally dry skin, like myself, it leaves your skin feeling hydrated. Another bonus is that it has an SPF 25 so it provides some protection from the sun. I definitely give this product an A+!!! If you’d like to purchase it you can pick it up at Shoppers.

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream with SPF 15

This product is yet another must. I’m on my third bottle of this stuff and for anyone who struggles with dark circles under their eyes or always look tired you should definitely pick this up. I use this product under my eyes daily. It has an awesome coverage and is also lightweight. My girlfriends bought this for me for my birthday a couple of years ago and I’m SO grateful to them for it 😉 Thanks, ladies! I NEVER had bags under my eyes until…we had our lovely and totally worth it 😉 kids. It may also be because I’m approaching my mid-thirties but I tell ya, those bags have arrived and I don’t think that they’re going anywhere anytime soon lol Honestly, this product makes my eyes look alive and awake as soon as I apply it. Even better, it’s super affordable selling for around $25-30. I give this affordable and eye brightening BB eye cream a definite 10/10.

MAC’s pro longwear paint pod

This product is another staple in my makeup bag. I always purchase Mac’s paint pod called Bare Study. I’ve literally been using it since we were married 6 years ago. It goes on like a creamy eyeshadow but acts like a primer. You can also wear it on its own. The benefit of Bare Study, is that it has a shimmer and shine to it so you can wear it on its own. If worn as a primer, I find that it really brings out the colour of the shadow that you apply over top.

Although I love MAc’s products, I had to stop using them, except for this paint pod, since they make my skin breakout. I give Mac’s Bare Study an A+ since I’ve been using it for years and it never disappoints. Even better, it’s also super affordable selling for approximately $26.

Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Luscious Washable Mascara

I don’t know about you but if I could only wear one piece of makeup it would be mascare. I love mascara and this one has it all! It both lenghtens and thickens your lashes. Like most of you, I’m sure, I’ve tried tons of different mascaras at different price points, trying to find the one that gives me what I’m looking for. Well, this mascara gives me what I’m looking for which is thick and long lashes. Once applied, I look like I’m wearing very natural, fake eyelashes but I can wash it off at the end of the day 🙂 I like to use the blackest black but Maybelline offers other colours as well. As for cost, this costs less than $14. Again, I rate this 10/10 for its effect and price point.

Jane Iredale’s In touch cream blush

Have you heard of this product? I hadn’t until a couple of years ago. I saw it for the first time at a spa. I use Jane’s powder daily but only started using her blush last March. What I like about this product is that I can apply it with my fingers and it’s super hydrating, leaving my skin feeling moisturized. The one I use is called “clarity” and it sells for about $33. What I love about this blush is that it offers a really nice pink glow and lasts all day. Even better, its intended to hydrate and soothe and I’ve never broken out after using it, which is a bonus ;).

Benefits Goof Proof Brow Pencil

Last, but not least, is Benefit’s Goof Proof Brow Pencil. Prior to this summer, I had never used a brow pencil until mom and I decided to treat ourselves to a few new products to makes us feel good. As usual, we went to Shoppers and asked the ladies to helps us find a natural brow pencil and they showed us this one. I wish I could say that I’m good with makeup but I’m not lol I’ve really only recently found the products that work for me and this is one of them. Even if I’m not going out, I like to use this brow pencil since it makes such an impact. I’ve always been a lover of full and thick eyebrows 🙂 so I tend to keep mine that way. The only thing is that I felt as though they could be bolder and this product addresses this need. It literally adds seconds to my makeup routine but makes a big impact. I absolutely LOVE this brow pencil and highly recommend it. It sells for about $32 and is worth every dollar.

So, there are a few of my favourite products that I’ve fallen in love with recently and that I plan on purchasing and using in the coming months. If you’ve used any of these products, I would love to hear what you think of them. If not, I would love to hear about any of your favourite makeup products. Often, we stumble upon awesome products by accident or they are recommended to us so I would love to hear from you.

Well, that is all for now. Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend and I will check in again next week.

Love,

Ash

 

 

 

 

Alpine Social – Fairmont Lake Louise

Happy New Year!!!

I can’t believe that a year has gone by already…Can you!? Before diving into this week’s post, I’d like to wish you all a healthy and happy 2018. You only get to live once so enjoy your time and make 2018 count!

This week I would like to talk to you about our dinner at Alpine Social, a restaurant at the Fairmont Lake Louise that you do not want to miss out on if you’re ever travel out that way. In December 2017, we spent two amazing nights at the Fairmont Lake Lousie and enjoyed all of our meals at the hotel. They were fabulous!!!

The hotel offers six restaurants, a deli, in-room service and afternoon tea. The cool thing about Alpine Social is that a friend of Julien’s started working there a few years back and runs both Alpine Social and Poppy Brasserie so of course, we had to pop in and say hi. We probably hadn’t seen Jamie in over 10 years, since Julien last coached his basketball team, so it was nice to catch up and see him in his element. He created the fabulous menu at Alpine Social which is both delicious and decadent.

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Unfortunately, when we arrived at the Fairmont Lake Louise, Julien had a full-fledged head cold but we made the best of it. We still went out to dinner, although earlier than planned ;). When we arrived at Alpin, we were so pleased with the atmosphere. It has a cool and laid back feel to it but still very beautiful. It also offers touches of the outdoors with its woodsy winter decor and live trees.

Jamie came to see us, as soon as we were seated, and kindly explained his delicious menu. Knowing that we liked meat, he took charge and suggested a few of dishes he knew we’d enjoy.

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Lucky for us, he treated us to the Crispy Pork Ribs which were to die for! Julien is a major rib lover and I think that he’s officially turned me into one as well 😉 these were insane. Crunchy on the outside and super flavourful and tender on the inside. They were served with a delicious coleslaw which paired perfectly with the meat. At the same time, we were served the seared scallops. Check these out. I think they were the best scallops I have EVER eaten:

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They were served on a curried cauliflower puree with a bacon jam, crispy leeks (OMG) charred cauliflower and chicharron! AMAZING!

Next were our mains courses: tenderloin and striploin. Each of the main courses are served with a blend of Canadian grains and a choice of two additional sides. Yep, I said two! We choose the sauteed rapini and maple glazed heirloom carrots:

I was never a huge fan of rapini, when I was younger, but I’ve really grown to love it. For those who haven’t tried it yet, it looks a bit like broccoli but it has a bitter taste. Also, the mashed potatoes that accompanied my beef were literally the best I’ve EVER eaten in my entire life and I like to think that we eat well. Jamie, I have no idea how you achieved the flavour and consistency but it was 100% on point. If you read this, please send me the recipe if you’re willing to share ;).

I’d also like to note that our waitress (whose name I, unfortunately, cannot remember) was fabulous. She was super sweet but also very knowledgeable about the menu and the wines offered at the restaurant. We loved her so much that Julien requested to be seated in her area the following evening. Why mess with a great thing, right!

Of course, our evening had to end with dessert. Unfortunately, Julien wasn’t feeling the hottest by the end of the meal so Jamie had dessert sent to our room. We got ready for bed, made some peppermint tea and our dessert arrived just as we got into our comfies. Jamie prepared a beautiful creme brulee for us. I never had a chance to ask him but I believe that it was prepared with quite a bit of lemon which made it unique. I was also surprised to find out, the next evening, that it was a cheesecake creme brulee. Why is this important, well because I HATE cheesecake…of course, Julien loved this 😉 this just shows you how good it was!

Dining at Alpine Social was a unique and tasty experience. The atmosphere, including a live band, was so relaxing and cozy and the food is exquisite. For those of you who are planning on heading to the Fairmont Lake Louise this year, I highly recommend that you stop by Alpine Social and taste some of the beautiful dishes on Jamie’s menu. You won’t regret it.

Have you stayed at the Fairmont Lake Louise? If so, what did you think? Did you have a favourite restaurant?

That’s all for now. Hope you have a fabulous weekend and for those of you who live in Ottawa, stay warm.

Ciao,

xo

 

 

 

Our first two nights in Banff – Rim Rock Resort Hotel

Hi everyone,

I hope you had a VERY merry Christmas with your friends and families and that you were able to relax a but during the holidays.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram at lovelylife.xo, you already know that Julien and I recently traveled to Banff and had a fabulous time. 2017 was both a great and challenging year and after not having traveled just the two of us in a few years, we decided to treat ourselves to a 4 night trip to Banff and it was worth every dollar and minute spent away. Yes, we missed the kids but it was SO nice to spend a chunk of time just the two of us. I’d like to start by saying a big thank you to our parents who kindly agreed to watch the kids while we were away. This trip wouldn’t have been possible with ya and we are so grateful for your help.

This trip was my first time traveling to Banff and I can’t wait to return, espcially with the kids. We had a direct flight to Calgary and then drove to Banff. The drive was stunning. Seeing the Rockies from afar was beautiful but driving towards and through them was quite the experience. Of course, you know that they are enormous but it’s totally different when you’re driving, hiking and/or climbing them.

We spent the first two nights at the Rim Rock Resort Hotel in Banff. Pulling up to the hotel it looked just ok but once we entered, we were really happy with the hotel. Their foyer opens onto a stunning living space with a large fireplace, cozy Christmas decor and floor to ceiling windows looking onto the Rockies. Needless to say, we were impressed from the start. On top of this, the resort’s service was impeccable and the staff were so nice. Our stay was amazing!

After getting our room keys, we made our way to our room which was breathtaking. It was a very large room with a beautiful view which we never grew sick of it. During the two days we were there, we often stood right in front of the windows, gazing in awe at the beauty that was outside.

After digesting the view, we noticed that the hotel had left us a card and chocolate covered strawberries as an anniversary gift. A big thank you to the Rim Rock for this sweet touch. It was greatly appreciated :).

We spent the next two days, relaxing, sleeping, eating, hot tubbing and touring around Banff. The first night we walked through Banff and I was pleasantly surprised by how small it is The town is quaint and the streets are covered in cute stores and restaurants. #love.

Our first dinner was at Saltlik. If you like steak and you’re going to Banff soon, I highly recommend that you eat here! The restaurant has two floors. The first is more laid back and cozy and the second floor has more of a fine dining experience. We were in a cozy mood so we opted for eating on the first floor. It had a beautiful fireplace, cozy booths and was beautifully decorated for Christmas. As for the food, it was delicious!!! Our tuna tartar was by far the best I’ve EVER eaten and it was beautifully presented. How gorgeous is this plate:

As for the steak, Julien ordered the 8oz Chipotle Prime Sirloin and I ordered the hanger steak. They were both delicious but the hanger steak was the best of the two. It was served with a jus and a balsamic sauce. Both paired extremely well with the meat. #delicious!

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After dinner, we were full and exhausted from our travel day so we took the local bus up to our hotel and crashed early.

We spent the next day exploring Banff. We hiked from our hotel to the Fairmont and took in some of the hotel’s history and architecture. What a beautiful hotel.

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We then hiked into a Banff and stopped at Bear Street Tavern for lunch. We were seated about 10 minutes before their lunch rush and what a rush it was. This restaurant was packed with people and it’s obviously because they offer amazing pizzas. I ordered the Viva La Pizza and Julien had their special. Good news fellow GF eaters, their GF pizza was the best I’ve ever had at a restaurant. It may be because it was covered in delicious toppings and then dipped in their house-made garlic chili oil mixed with honey (YES, this sauce was UNREAL). Either way, I loved it! For those who know me, pizza is by far one of my favourite foods so it was nice to enjoy a GF pizza with a delicious crust.

When we left the restaurant, it was snowing lightly which was both beautiful and romantic. We spent the rest of our afternoon in the hot tub and resting after our day spent outdoors. We didn’t even leave the hotel for dinner. We decided to stay in and try Eden, the hotel’s five-diamond restaurant. Unfortunately, we didn’t love our experience at Eden. Although the service was good, the food was just ok. The meals we had eaten in town were much better. The dishes were beautifully presented though. Here are a few pics of some of the courses:

Overall, our experience at the Rim Rock hotel was fabulous. So much so that we missed it once we checked in at the Fairmont Lake Louise. Our hotel room was awesome, the views were stunning and the service was fabulous. They even went above and beyond and gave me bear spray for our hike since I have an irrational fear of bears 😉 silly, I know lol.

The next day, we checked out of the Rim Rock hotel as we were heading to the Fairmont Lake Louise for the last two nights. Before heading there though, we took the Banff gondola up Sulphur Mountain. Julien had already experienced this and said that it was an absolute must and he was right! The tickets cost about $100 and they were totally worth it. We spent over two hours walking along the ridgetop boardwalk and checking out the exhibits.

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We also enjoyed a well-deserved soup at Sky Bistro, a restaurant at the top of Sulphur Mountain, which offered affordable and hearty dishes with a view.

Guys, this trip was amazing! Every day brought new and exciting meals, views and experiences but, most importantly, it was very relaxing and so much fun to experience just the two of us. This trip was exactly what I was looking for as I was able to recharge. It was also an awesome way to kick start the holiday season.

Banff is by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve traveled to yet. Have you been? If so, what was your favourite part of your trip? and what would you recommend that we try next time?

As previously mentioned, our last two nights were spent at the Fairmont Lake Louise. Make sure to stop by the blog next Friday to see what we got up to there.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Ciao,

Ash