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fitness, inspiration, reflections

How to Make Health(ier) Choices

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There is a lot more to life than salad and spin class.

There is art that alters your perspective on the world. Travel that alters your perspective on yourself.  Music that makes you feel things (drake). Work that if you’re lucky fulfills you. Friends who enrich your life. Loves who make you feel timeless. Families who support you and give life meaning.  I am of the opinion that a “healthy lifestyle” can and should include all these elements. But not to the detriment of self-care.

Eating well and moving your body deserve to be prioritized as well. Different but equal. The older you get the more you’re forced to accept that. So if you’re the type of person who tends to prioritize work, friends and relationships over self-care (me! me! me!) here are a few tips that have helped me over the years to strike that tenuous balance.

  1. Drink a little less
    I’m SUCH a deb, I know. Drinking = friends = fun, right? I don’t entirely disagree. I think drinking is a great thing to do sometimes, but moderation is key. Drinking multiple times a week means you’re home less which leads to a messy apartment and no groceries. It means you blow money on overpriced drinks at the bar instead of saving that money or spending it on other more meaningful aspects of your life. It means you spend less time hanging out with close pals, more time with acquaintence-type psuedo-pals (boo!). Cutting back on drinking (even just 1-2 nights less than usual) is one easy way to free up time, money and energy so you can foster other interests.
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  2. Wake up a little earlier
    Now that you find yourself drinking less, you may notice that you’re waking up earlier (even on weekends!). And what are you going to do with this extra time? Productive stuff that’s what! No one cool is up early in the morning so there’s no one to hang out with. Mornings are the time to do things like catch up on your credit card payments, skype your mom, do your laundry, cook a batch of healthy food to eat all week long, tidy your apartment, make something, go for a walk, etc. Who knows? You might actually start to meet other “morning” people who have cool morning-person interests that you might be into as well.
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  3. Eat a lil something for breakfast
    I know I’m not breaking ground by suggesting that a healthy breakfast is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but I do think it’s important and it definitely changed my own approach to eating. A little something in the morning boosts your energy and keeps your hunger in check for the rest of the day. I always notice I’m a lot more “snacky” in the evenings on days when I postpone breakfast. Some simple favourites of mine include overnight oats, oatmeal, green smoothies, poached eggs on whole grain toast or my healthy banana oat pancakes.IMG_2220.JPG
  4. Eat a few more vegetables

    I’ve said this before, but I am of the opinion that it’s better to focus on adding things to your diet rather than eliminating them. And the easiest and most obvious addition to your diet should always be to just EAT MORE FREAKIN VEGETABLES. Like double what you’re eating now. For me this looks like serving my lunch on a big bed of arugula, adding vegetables to my snacks or doubling up on side dishes at dinner time (salad AND green beans). Your body will thank you for all the extra nutrients and the fibre.
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  5. Move a little more
    Doesn’t matter what you do. Aim for 30 minutes a day. Walking, biking, yoga, weights, skipping, crossfit, whatever. I’m not going to tell you why because you know why. It feels good. Short-term bad, long-term good. Make the time.
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feminism, inspiration

How to Make Female Friends

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Women like me. They always have. And it’s not a coincidence.

I have spent years perfecting the art of making and maintaining female friendships. It’s not always been easy and I have made many mistakes along the way (sorry again), but I am constantly rewarded by the inspiration, support and community my ladyfriends have to offer. I can’t imagine who I would be today without them, nor do I want to.

So when I hear a woman say that she “doesn’t have any female friends” or that “other girls don’t like her” I call bullshit. Not being able to make or keep female friends means one of two things to me:

  1. You are acting judgmental, competitive or critical with other women, so they are responding in kind.
  2. You have been judged, competed with or criticized by women in the past and now you are projecting that trauma onto every new woman you meet.

For women who struggle with these or other challenges, I took the time to compile a few lessons I have learned over the years (usually the hard way) about how to make and keep female friends. Hopefully they will serve you in your path to cultivating the ultimate lady coven of your dreams…

Always ask a woman questions on questions on follow-up questions.

Every time I meet a new woman, especially someone who might have a competitive vibe with me (ie. an exes new girlfriend, a co-worker, etc.) the first thing I do to dispel the weirdness is to get to know her better. I ask about her family and re-use the name of her siblings later in conversation to show that I’ve been listening. I ask about her hobbies and validate them, tell her how much I’ve always wanted to macrame too. I let her share and I hear her. 

Always compliment the effort a woman has put into her beauty, not the effortlessness.
No man will ever understand the amount of time and energy that goes into a woman’s beauty regime. So while men will compliment a woman on how “naturally” gorgeous they are, I love complimenting women on the labour that went into looking that way. Her liquid liner. The straightness of her stocking seams. Her blow-dried-then-flat-ironed-then-curled hair. These are the type of compliments that elicit a story, not just a blush and a self-deprecating dodge.

Never talk about food, diets or body issues.
Save these conversations for your therapist or your personal trainer. Your BFF does not want to hear about your new detox diet or how gluten makes you bloated or how you gained 10 lbs in the last 24 hours. Saying any of these things runs the risk of triggering in your friend a negative spiral of self-talk that will cause her to either feel superior or inferior to you (“Why can’t I detox?” “Is gluten the devil?” “Thank god I didn’t gain 10 lbs”, etc.). And nobody wants these kind of competitive, comparative thoughts between friends. AVOID.

Always confront your conflicts directly, grown-ass-woman-style.
It is inevitable that conflict between friends will arise. The challenge when you sense this tension, is to speak it’s name. I like to start by sharing my interpretation of a situation and then asking whether or not my perspective is accurate for her. Eg) “I felt like our texts last night ended abruptly, did I say something that pissed you off?” This gives her the chance to share her perspective while acknowledging the possibility that you may have misinterpreted. In the end, working through conflicts with friends gives you a chance to grow as a human, to become better. If your friends are worthy, they’ll understand that and want to help you be your best self.

Always give your friends specific, positive feedback…because how else will they know?

A while ago I realized that I give my coworkers positive feedback every single day. It’s just part of our working culture to acknowledge and validate each others’ strengths and accomplishments. But I never did this for my friends. So I started. Now I try to tell my friends as often as I can what exactly I think they’re great at, why I think they’re great at it and how their unique skills and assets contribute to my life in a positive way.

inspiration

“Work less and consume more culture”: An Interview with Creative Yogis Harriet & Lacey

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Today I am excited to share an interview I conducted with two dear friends who are also inspiring healthy hipsters. Harriet is an artist, Parisian literary scenester and author and Lacey is a va-va-voom writer, performer and yoga instructor. The two of them will be collaborating for the first time on a writing and yoga workshop in Halifax, Nova Scotia June 26-28th.

How would you describe your approach to healthy living?

H: I have to give credit to living in Paris for the better part of seven years for having shaped my approach. Food is generally sold only when in season as it’s too expensive or difficult to come by otherwise; meat is, by EU standards, devoid of so many of the hormones and toxins that are routinely inserted here; people drink wine and eat cheese and fresh bread because it’s great, cheap, and why not – but there is far less of a sense of overconsumption. There’s less reliance on cars, and exercise is built into part of a healthy life without ever being the focus of it. It’s a generalization, but it’s true: people work less and consume more culture, and I really value that for my own personal mental health and sense of fulfillment.

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What is the connection between health and creativity/the arts, as you see it?
L: Creativity is about feeling empowered and free to explore one’s own unique voice. Food needs to be digested and assimilated to help our bodies thrive. Likewise, ideas and inspiration need to be processed and expressed in order for our hearts and souls to alight.

Where do you turn when you’re in need of inspiration/motivation?
H: My friends, bodies of water, and the forever-feel-good-films Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually.L: The great outdoors. I dance. I practice yoga. I walk. I listen to music loudly. I reenact music videos. I talk to my stellar mate.
Hottest tip: Embodied movement and connecting with nature are the ultimate inspiration and motivation boosters.

What’s the last thing you read that inspired you?

L: “Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times — a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses, and to those who are specially touched by God. But curiosity is available to everyone.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, from her forthcoming book Big Magic

H: “It is a feeling thing, to be a painter of things: cause every thing, even an imagined or gone thing or creature or person has essence” –Ali Smith, How to Be Both. I wish I could write a novel so multi-faceted, so fluid, so beautiful and metamorphosing.

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I won’t ask you to describe a typical day on your plate (no one wants to hear about anyone else’s glass of lemon water upon waking)…but how about your favourite thing to cook for friends or family?

H: Pumpkin risotto! My favourite pumpkins are the bright orange little ones that are called potimarron in France because they have the nutty and velvety quality of roasted chestnuts (potiron is the word for pumpkin, and marrons are chestnuts). Oh, and my grandma drank a glass of lemon water every morning upon waking but it’s something I can never remember to do. All I want is coffee.

L: Breakfast. I managed to find the sweet spot with my cast-iron pan (notoriously tricky in my life) and made an omelet with avo and local goat’s cheese that didn’t stick. Accompanied by local micro greens and tahini, it was a masterpiece.
coffee, inspiration, weekends

Weekend Diversions: In search of lost down time

When you’re a working stiff like I am, weekends always feel a little bit like New Years Eve. Full of hope and promise but also painfully unrealistic expectations. My growing list of plans and projects would take the average human a year to get through, but somehow I believe that “the weekend” will imbue me with magical productive powers. That I will become a superhuman martha-stewart-meets-paris-hilton-type who can see every friend I have, check out every band worth seeing and dance all night long then wake up at 7am, make my own nut butter, go for a run and ombre dye an infinity scarf. Needless to say by the time Sunday rolls around, I often feel both spent and disappointed by all I didn’t accomplish.

This weekend was the first real spring weather we’ve had in Toronto this year and to celebrate I tried my best to spend the weekend lollygagging, sauntering & carousing…not a checklist in sight. Some highlights included…

Late night dancing at Soho House celebrating the birthday of my dearest friend, author Harriet Lye. You can read some of her writing herehere).

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Afternoon wandering with two of my favourite pals. Spent an unreasonable amount of time checking out spider plants and succulents in Roncesvalles, one of my neighborhoods to spend a weekend afternoon in Toronto.

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And (of course there is food involved) Sunday morning snacking on this vegan cinnamon bun from TBC Vegan Bakery paired with an Americano made with Dartmouth’s own Anchored Coffee.

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Do I still have a pile of laundry to do? You bet. But I’m feeling okay about that right now. 😉

 

 

inspiration, mental health

Art as Meditation / Meditations on Art

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I have known some exceptionally talented visual artists in my life. Dear friends of mine like Christel who designed my gorgeous new website, these cats, this babe, etc. etc. forever. But I am not one of them. I have other skills. I can write a lucid sentence. Hold down a steady 9 to 5. Rock red lipstick like it’s nobody’s business. But “Art” has never been my strong suit.

Nevertheless, I recently discovered that painting and drawing actually help reduce – even eliminate – my anxiety. So I’ve done my best to integrate art more fully into my life as part of my mental health regimen (something I don’t think we talk about enough). Going to the gym for an hour might help you “turn off your brain” but creating a piece of art helps you tap into it. Rather than mentally checking out, you’re actually learning more about your thoughts and feelings at a given time.

When I decide I’m going to spend a night doing something creative, I put away my cellphone, turn on some low key jams, light candles and zen the eff out. No matter you make, I guarantee you’ll feel better than a night of wine and netflix.

For those of you looking to integrate a little creativity into your life, but who don’t know where to start, these are some of the things I’ve done to dip my toe in the water:

  1. COLOURING: You laugh, but colouring for adults is coming back in a big way. Try these free printable mandala colouring books and embrace your inner hippie child.
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  2.  PHOTOGRAPHYLeave the house one day with nothing but a camera and your own eye. Be a tourist in your own town. Finding beauty in your daily surroundings is a fun challenge that leaves you appreciating the space you live in.
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  3. KNIT: Just because it’s springtime doesn’t mean you have to give up cozy handicrafts all together. Find some youtube videos like this one on basic knit stitches, and get to it. I like to buy large amounts of undyed yarn and then hand-dye my scarves at home as a cheap alternative to some of the fancy pants yarn you can buy in the stores.
  4. COLLAGE: I am really into collaging right now. I troll newspapers and magazines for images that inspire me and then see how they piece together and tell a story. Afterwards I always look at what I made and gain some insight into how I’m thinking/feeling at any given time.
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  5. PAINT: Don’t be scared, pal you got this. Painting is intimidating but it’s also tactile and immersive in a way that’s unlike anything other kind of artistic form. Drink a glass of pinot if you have to, but I recommend you give it a try.
inspiration

Loving Lately: November Edition

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Feeling curmudgeonly? Got a case of the post-halloween, pre-christmas blues?

Well never fear…Here’s a bunch of awesome stuff to help ease your early onset winter blahs.

1) THIS BACON: Vegan, coconut-based, gluten-free and generally mind blowing with its double whammy of delicious good-for-you-ness. If this is available in your hood I highly suggest buying it and adding it to everything you eat.

2) THIS INSTAGRAM: Okay maybe some of you already read @deliciouslyella but I’m obvz late to the party. While her blog is very lovely, I was totally inspired by her instagram feed full of these super tasty looking rainbow bowls. Since I almost exclusively eat my meals in thrown together bowl-form, I often forget about how important it is to appreciate each ingredient separately. Ever since seeing these beauty’s on Ella’s site, I’ve been putting in just a little extra time with my meal prep and the results have been glorious!

RAINBOW BOWL OF HEAVEN

3) MORE READS, LESS SCREENS. My new favourite thing is abandoning my phone and computer in the living room and keeping my room as a lady-cave of blankets, tea and solitude. Keeping me company right now is this fantastic new book by Dave Eggers.

4) MUSIC ALL THE TIME. My good pal turned me onto RDIO and I’m obsessed. Its basically Netflix for music so I can listen to new streaming music all the time without feeling like a bad person. Currently blaring: Haim, Arcade Fire, Lorde and FKA TWIGS, July Talk and DIANA.

5) THIS TOQUE. Note: not a “beanie.”

I’m obsessed with it and wear it everyday so I don’t have to brush my hair til spring basically. Yeee! 🙂

That’s all for the moment…what are y’all lovin lately?

 

 

budgeting, community, gift guide, inspiration

Healthy Hipster Holiday Gift Guide 2012

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It’s no secret that holiday shopping can be stressful no matter who you’re buying for. But when you’re hunting for hipster-friendly fare this process can become downright panic-attack-inducing…

“They already judge me so harshly,” you will cry. “Will they be able to mask their disdain if I buy them something lame?”

And I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the answer is no.

Upon receiving that edition of Sh&% Girls Say: The Book or that package of magnetic poetry or that Instagram-Filter-Shaped Picture Frame you found at urban outfitters and thought was SO THEM, they will be absolutely incapable of acting like a normal grateful human being. They will say or do something douchey. Guaranteed.

So…in order to avoid such catastrophic Christmas mornings….To give both you and your Ativan a break…Here goes my list of suggestions for the Healthy Hipster in your life.

Unique & Non-Lame Gift Ideas for the Hip and Healthy Urbanite

Things in a stocking

Wool Socks
Loose Leaf Tea & a Bodum Mug

Bottlehook Key Chain

DIY Things

Stamps and Ink
Yarn and Knitting Needles
Cross Stitch Patterns

Tasty Things

High percentage dark chocolate
Whole nuts with a metal cracker
Preserves (check your local farmers market!)

Things they can wear

Moccasins
Black North Face Fleece
Geometric Jewellery

Tshirts or other swag from local businesses in their neighborhood (check out bars/restaurants/coffee shops/libraries)

Things you can make for cheap (and probably put in a mason jar!)

DIY Terrarium Gift Kit



Homemade Granola

Whipped Coconut Body Butter

Hope you enjoy the tips, pals!
Any additions? What’s on your list this year?

inspiration, photojournal, reflections

Wedded Blitz.

I need to preface this post by saying that I am not a romantic. Maybe I lack a lady chromosome or maybe it’s part of my job description as a self-identified hipster but the whole chocolate and flowers game has always sent me into scoff-induced seizures. I think its the elusive combination of trying too hard whilst simultaneously appearing forced and inauthentic that just…gets me every time.

I’m saying this because I want you to understand how truly shocked I was this week when not one but two weddings left me feeling genuinely moved (and dare I say a little misty blubbering like a babe).

The first was the wedding of my dearest friend Meg, who you may recognize from her guest posts on the blog.

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This wedding was lovely in so many ways but I’ll summarize by saying that it was perfect because it was perfectly them. An afternoon picnic. Games & crafts.

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A diverse group of guests.

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Sickeningly sweet and wholesome (and obviously super nerdy). I loved every minute of it.

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The next wedding I attended was for my sisters good friends Nico and Max. A 1920s theme kept things light and fun, and again suited their personalities to a T.

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The bridesmaids stole the show (my sister especially on the far right 😉 )

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But the groomsmen weren’t half bad either. Love a gentleman in suspenders.
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And once again I was left with a case of the warm fuzzies. Not because of the “romance” per se but because I value all paths to happiness, even the more shall we say traditional ones and I cant even express how inspired I feel when I see my friends out there pursuing the lives they want in a way that’s all their own. Personally, professionally, in any other way they choose.

These weddings were full of pure, unadulterated love without stress or convention. And I’m so grateful to have been a part of them.
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How do you feel about your friends getting married? Are you a sucker or a skeptic?

inspiration, photojournal

Summer Check-In.

These early weeks of July have been very good to me.

I’ve done my very best to leave my spare hours unplanned and pursue all unexpected adventures that come my way.

I started reading again (blogs don’t count 😉 ). And spent more time in my bathing suit than out of it.

I’ve been enjoying meals out with friends without breaking my budget.

Who can argue with a breakfast special for $6?


Or a Korean bibimbap feast with spicy squid and tons of fresh vegetables for $8.

Thrifty lunches made at home and eaten al fresco help to balance the cost.

I’ve fit in some physical activity despite the heat, maybe twice or three times a week.

I don’t follow a schedule, just go for it when the weather’s right and the mood strikes.


And as always I’ve done my best to maintain balance by enjoying lots of rest and relaxation in the sunshine…collecting freckles.

Are you nurturing all sides of yourself this summer?

Could you be enjoying more social time? More rest? More intellectual stimulation? We’re only part way through July so now’s a great time to reflect for a moment and switch things up!

In the meantime go enjoy a lovely, leisurely Sunday!

cities, community, inspiration, photojournal

Garden Parties & Gallivanting

I wasn’t sure how I to begin talking about the beauty I experienced this long weekend. How rejuvenated and inspired I feel this evening, in the afterglow. How happy I was to spend it with old friends & new. I was so overcome with happiness and joy I was just going to avoid posting about it at altogether, but instead chose to share just a few of the things I did…in black & white…because things always look more special and important that way.

I ate al fresco on my rooftop & enjoyed meals with friends.


Got creative in the kitchen with this spelt berry & watermelon salad I’ll be sharing the recipe for tomorrow.

Got up to no good in the nighttime and walked home giggling with my neighborhood pals in the early hours of the next morning.

To celebrate Canada Day I attended a Garden party at the Spadina Historical House.


There was fresh ice cream being churned…

And homemade pie to match.

My friends and I spent hours slowly make our way through the grounds…”moseying” I think we called it, or perhaps we were “lollygagging”?

At the end of the afternoon we were told to make one of these bird ornaments to hang from a tree as we left – with a single wish written on the side. This is what I wrote…

Here’s hoping your weekend – long or short – left you joyful and happy as well.

July always feels rich with possibilities and I for one am eager to see where the month will lead!