Honeymoon in Ireland

Planning a trip to Ireland in the near future? Here’s how we spent our two weeks there.

Apologizes for my lack of posting, but I have exiting news…I am now officially a Mrs! I had to put blogging aside so I could focus my efforts on the wedding, but seeing as it’s over I am keen to share with you all again!

We got married on Saturday July 2 (wedding post in the near future!) and then flew out for our honeymoon the following Monday July 4. We spent two weeks touring Ireland and Northern Ireland and it was amazing. I have had a few friends and acquaintances ask several questions about our trip and the itinerary we followed. Flights for Ireland have been at a low this past year, so there seem to be a few people planning a trip there soon! We loved our trip so much so we decided to address some of the questions we’ve been asked and share a detailed itinerary of our trip.

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The Planning Stages

Originally Bobby and I had looked at spending our honeymoon in Jordan, Japan, Russia, Italy or Indonesia. After much deliberation we decided to set a budget for flights of $1000 Canadian. We checked on prices every couple of days and then about three weeks before the wedding a deal came up for flights to Ireland. Seeing as neither of us had been we decided to book our flights! I spent the next three weeks tying up all the loose ends for the wedding and the week before the wedding I set aside a couple hours to draw up an itinerary for our trip for us to loosely follow. I used Route Perfect to plan out a quick itinerary and came up with the following plan. Route Perfect is the most helpful trip planning tool ever!

What we packed

I hate to burst your bubble, but Ireland won’t be a sunny beach holiday! When packing you must keep in mind the weather. A raincoat is a must have! The weather is quite temperamental. It will often start out sunny and then you’ll find yourself caught it a torrential downpour. We had rain everyday, but ironically the last two days of our trip were scorching hot! You really don’t need to pack a lot. We each just brought a carry on and a backpack for our personal item. Below is my packing list:

Ireland Packing List

Transportation
Car:

I highly recommend renting a car in Ireland! If you are planning on visiting the entirety of Ireland and Northern Ireland a car is almost a necessity. We were able to check out so many different things we would have other wised missed by having a rental car. A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Book a car online ahead of time, cheaper than paying there (we booked with Avis using travel reward points)
  • Keep in mind that most cars here are manual and you will be driving on the left side of the road (my husband drove ha ha)
  • Most cars also run off of diesel, making your fuel fare a bit cheaper
  • The speed limits are much higher and the roads are much narrower, prepare for a few screams and close calls (well if I’m your passenger ha ha)
Bus:

There are two main bus lines. Bookings can be made ahead of time online:

  • Bus Éireann: The Republic
  • Translink: Northern Ireland
Train:

Given its relatively small size, train travel is often a convenient way of getting around. Keep in mind that many of the Republics most beautiful areas, including parts of the Wild Atlantic Way are not served via rail. The two main train services include:

  • Irish Rail: The Republic
  • Translink NI Railways: Northern Ireland
Biking:

We saw loads of people biking during our trip. Irelands scenic views make it an ideal cycling destination. Cycling tours are fairly common and I would have loved to have gone…but considering I am still recovering from a brain injury caused by a biking accident, Bobby was not keen on the idea. 🙂

Local Transportation:
  • Most towns you can easily walk around
  • Dublin, Belfast and some of the larger towns have fairly comprehensive local bus networks
  • Taxis are available in most centers, but vary in prices
Hitching:
  • Not the best option as hitch hiking is illegal on motorways here
Currency
  • Euro: The Republic
  • Pound: Northern Ireland
The Itinerary

Where we stayed and what we did

Day 1:

We flew into Dublin around 1:30 pm and picked up our rental car. When we decided to go to Ireland my number one thing I wanted to do was stay in a castle. Staying at Ashford Castle wasn’t in the budget, so instead we travelled from the airport to Cabra Castle Hotel in Cavan, Ireland (near Kingscourt). We loved our stay here! It was beautiful and I felt like a total princess! We went for dinner at a pub in Kingscourt and I quickly learned being veggie in the Irish countryside might not be the easiest ha ha.

Day 2:

After a delicious breakfast at the Castle we headed towards Belfast. We then just spent some time touring around Belfast. There are several museums, a busy city center and it happens to be the birthplace of the RMS Titanic. We arranged to spend the night at a place a few minutes away from city center using Airbnb.

Day 3:

Today was spent driving the Causeway Coastal Route around the coast of Northern Ireland. This drive goes from Belfast to Londonderry and includes views of the coast, mountaintops, bustling cities to sleepy hamlets, and dreamy coastal towns and beaches. During our drive we saw the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Giants Causeway, Bushmills Distillery, Dunluce Castle, the Dark Hedges, and the Mussenden Temple. We also took a hike and roamed among the sheep, looking for four leaf clovers. We then took a shortcut back to Belfast and spent another night with our Airbnb host.

Day 4:

Spent the day travelling from Belfast to Donegal. We stopped at any abandoned castles along the way. When we reached Donegal we explored city center, visited Donegal Castle, and saw the Slieve League Cliffs and Glengesh Pass. We didn’t like the overall feel of Donegal. We found it fairly touristy and instead decided to drive until we found a place we liked. We ended up spending the night in a bed and breakfast in Ballyshannon. We loved this town! It is the oldest town in Ireland, but is relatively quiet. We spent the night walking around and checking out the old and abandoned buildings and the cemetery. We then finished the night with a stop at a local pub.

Day 5:

From Ballyshannon we made our way to Galway. During this drive we made several stops. We saw Mulaghmore, Sligo, Castlebar, Westport and Cong, drove the Connemara Coast Road Drive, and saw a handful of castles and beaches along the way!! There are castles everywhere in Ireland, make sure you stop and explore them! We reached Galway and were exhausted, so retired early in our hotel room there.

Day 6:

We went and drove by the Salthill Pier (it was pouring rain so we didn’t go explore too far). From there we drove towards Doolin to see the Cliffs of Moher. The drive along the coast is beautiful, lots to see along the way! Doolin was a really fun town and we enjoyed a pint at the busy Gus O’Connors before heading to a bed and breakfast outside of Gort.

Day 7:

We had a long driving day from Gort towards Dingle. We saw much along the way and made a quick stop in Limerick, went for a hike, explored an abandoned castle and drove the Dingle Peninsula. We then spent the night in Dingle in a room above a restaurant on the main street (found on Airbnb). When I look back on our honeymoon I will always remember our night here! We had so much fun. We had a delicious dinner and went to a pub for drinks. Bobby tried some McGargles Knock Knock Ned’s IPA beer and I had some Trader Tommy’s Wild Berry Cider! We had a fun night and made a few friends.

Day 8:

Despite our drink choices from the night before we woke up feeling great! We then ventured from Dingle towards Killarney. We loved exploring the city center in Killarney. It was such a well-maintained city! We had a great dinner and found lots to see and do (Muckross, Torc Waterfall, and National Park). We finished the night with a pint and spent the night at a boutique hotel a few minutes away fro city center.

Day 9:

Shortly after breakfast Bobby and I decided to drive the Ring of Kerry and I must say the views were beyond spectacular. This drive should be on everyone’s bucket list! Plan to spend a full day doing this drive, as there is so much to see, from Killonecaha, Skellig Rocks, to Derrynane Beach! We spent the night at a bed and breakfast in the delightful town of Kenmare.

Day 10:

After a yummy breakfast we decided to drive toward Cork. We went and saw Blarney Castle, the English Markets, Black Rock Castle, and city center. We spent the night at a bed and breakfast in Blarney. As a wedding gift to Bobby I had arranged for us to go see a football game, while in Cork. However, the game ended up being postponed so we had to miss out! If you can go see a sporting event and have some Guinness with the locals!

Day 11:

That morning we woke up and drove to the picturesque town of Cobh (pronounced Cove). Bobby said his favorite town was either here or Ballyshannon, but mine was for sure Cobh!! I loved it here. We simply parked the car and spent the day walking around. And of all the museums we went to we both agreed the Titanic museum here was the most interesting. Cobh was the last stop for the RMS Titanic, so the town is rich in history. After exploring Cobh for the better part of the day we made our way to Waterford and spent the night in a hotel.

Day 12:

The morning was spent enjoying breakfast and touring Waterford. We then decide to drive to Kilkenny. After some time exploring Kilkenny we made our way towards Wicklow, where we hiked around Avondale Forest Park. We struggled to find a place to stay in Wicklow, so we decided to drive a bit further and spend the night at a hotel in Dublin.

Day 13:

Despite there being so much to do, Guinness Storehouse, Kilmainham Goal, Temple Bar, Dublin Castle, Phoenix Park and more, Dublin was not really our cup of tea. We found it to modernized and didn’t really enjoy the crowds. After a couple of hours we realized how much we truly loved the sleepy hamlets we found during our two week adventure. If you are looking for fun nightlife Dublin is great, but if you like the more picturesque Irish countryside it won’t fit the bill. We spent the night in an apartment rental we found on booking.com across from Croke Park.

Day 14:

Home time!

To see the updated version of our trip on Route Perfect see here.

* Marriage is a big deal in Ireland and everywhere we went there were tons of bridal stores, venues, photographers, etc.! Plus, anytime we mentioned we were on our honeymoon we were showered with affection! We received discounts, cards and small gifts from many of the BnB owners. They love honeymooners, it is the cutest!

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Six Things I’ve Learned Since Being Engaged

The little things I’ve learned since saying “yes”

Last week Bobby told me not to clean the kitchen. He said he would do it when he got home. Not because he wanted to do it, but because he wanted to do it for me. It’s those simple offerings that remind me we are in this together. This got me thinking about all the other things I’ve learned over the past 10 months, so today I thought I’d share some of the things Bobby and I have learned while being engaged. Yes, my fiancé helped me write this post!

Along with our list of things we’ve learned, Bobby and I have also attached some of our stunning engagement pictures, courtesy of Laura Smiley Photography. 🙂

Invest in your relationship first

Yes! You’re wedding is a big deal, but planning your wedding should never replace your relationship. Enjoy being engaged and work on building your relationship! Your wedding is just one day! So focus on creating a lifetime of happiness instead.

Be individuals

We all know that one couple…The couple who are so involved in each others lives it’s nauseating! Yes, Bobby and I make time for each other, but we also encourage each other to pursue our own individual goals. I still make trips to see my friends in the city and Bobby goes on snowboarding trips. Yes, I know he would be more than happy for me to join, but I also enjoy that time apart. We continue to flourish on our own, as well as together.

Have the ‘kids’ talk

I shit-you-not, Bobby informed me that a couple got divorced because they found out that one of them wanted children and the other one did not. They apparently failed to have the “kids” conversation prior to tying-the-knot. This conversation is crucial! Talk about it right away and make sure you are both on the same-ish page.

Re-think 50/50

I always thought relationships were 50/50…Well I was lied to. Relationships can occasionally be 50/50, but more often than not they are 40/60, 20/80, 0/100…Sometimes we need a break and that’s when our partner steps in. Shortly after getting engaged I was hospitalized (45 minutes after the proposal!), which resulted in Bobby being my new fiancé and new caregiver. But, while on disability leave I have helped Bobby out…I get the mail, do our banking, pack lunches, walk the dogs, clean the house, etc. Keeping score will never help your relationship! Learn that some days you’ll give more and some days you’ll get more.

Communicate

You can ask Bobby…I suck at this! Over the past year we have really worked hard to communicate daily. Both of our opinions matter so we always make sure to consult with one another. Good communication also involves learning to be a active listener while your partner is voicing his/her thoughts.

Be Intimate

Being intimate is more than just a bedroom activity. Intimacy can be a hug around the waist when your partner is washing dishes or a gentle kiss on the forehead when they’re tying his/her shoes. Those subtle signs of affection go a long way.

“Don’t ever stop dating your wife and don’t ever stop flirting with your husband”  ~Unknown

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This past weekend Bobby and I were lucky enough to have my lovely friend Laura, of Laura Smiley Photography, take some stunning engagement photos. The weather was far from ideal, as it was rainy and snowy, but Laura didn’t let that get in the way! Instead she worked her magic and took these gorgeous photos. Even our furry friends joined in on the fun!

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If you are in need of a photographer for an upcoming event be sure to contact Laura on either her website or Facebook page! And be sure to check out her blog!

xo

Good-For-You Tomato Bisque

A revamped classic filled with good-for-you Ingredients

I really owe you all an apology…

I didn’t mean to abandon you all! Now don’t get me wrong, I love blogging, and I don’t mean to be a downer at all, but between wedding damage control planning, recovering from a brain injury, and maintaining good mental health, I hit a wall. This whole adult-ing thing is hard. So I took some time over the past month to refocus.

To be honest, I always prefer to be me through and through and through! I didn’t want to write something that wasn’t genuine, but I also didn’t want to share something that projected my own negativity. My goal is to inspire, so that’s what I am doing today! I encourage you all to always listen to your body. Do what you need to in order to find peace of mind. Sometimes we just need to hit our own refresh buttons.

Today’s recipe is perfect for when you need a pick-me-up, something to warm your tummy and remove any dreary thoughts. I love this soup…it’s guilt-free, creamy, soothing and tastes remarkable! It also makes for amazing leftovers and is pocket-friendly! When you’ve contemplated selling a kidney as a means to pay for your wedding…you want budget friendly!

This revamped good for you soup is sure to replace your classic Campbell’s Tomato Soup. It’s such a great way for both kiddies and adults to get their veggies in! This soup is full of nutritional goodness. It serves up a powerful mix of vitamins and minerals. You can’t even taste the leeks (Vitamin K), carrots (Vitamin A) or kale (Vitamin C) in this mouth-watering soup. The added protein and fibre from the navy beans will also keep your tummy full and satisfied.

Good-For-You Tomato BIsque

Good-For-You Tomato Bisque
What you’ll need:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 leek, chopped

5 medium carrots, peeled

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. oregano

¼ tsp. basil

1 clove of garlic

1 can diced tomatoes

1 small can tomato paste

4 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp. dried dill

3 tbsp. agave or honey

2-3 cups kale, chopped

1 can of Navy beans

Fresh herbs for garnish, optional (dill, parsley, basil, etc.)

To make the soup:

Separate the leek layers, then rinse and chop the pieces. Chop up the peeled carrots. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and carrots and cook for a few minutes. Mix in salt, black pepper, oregano and basil. Mince the garlic cloves and add to pot. Cook for a couple more minutes, careful not to burn the garlic.

Good-For-You Tomato Bisque

Next, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, and dill. Stir to combine. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Once the soup reaches a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the agave/honey, chopped kale and navy beans. Stir. Cook for a couple of minutes, until kale wilts. Next, using a blender, hand blender, or food processor, puree the soup. Once pureed, place the soup back in the pot and allow the flavours to enhance for a few more minutes over low-medium heat.

To serve, ladle soup into a large bowl and sprinkle with some fresh herbs. Enjoy!

Good-For-You Tomato Bisque

Happy ladling loves!
Xo

Understanding Endometriosis

“Big Girls Don’t Cry…Unless They Have Endometriosis”

This post will feature words with stigma attached to them. If the words “period”, “infertility” or “uterus” bothers you, stop reading this blog post! 🙂

The month of March is filled with a slew of health-related awareness campaigns…

March has specific days…

  • International Women’s Day
  • World Water Day
  • World Tuberculosis Day
  • Epilepsy Awareness Day

March has specific weeks…

  • World Glaucoma Week
  • Brain Awareness Week
  • Poison Prevention Week

Even the entire month itself has been labeled as…

  • Childhood Arthritis Month
  • Help Fight Liver Disease Month
  • National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
  • National Kidney Month
  • National Nutrition Month
  • National Social Work Month
  • Pharmacist Awareness Month
  • Music Therapy Awareness Month

And…Endometriosis Awareness Month!!!

Today I have a friend posting with me – my dear friend Tina!

I met the lovely, hilarious and beautiful Tina back in 2010 on a trip to Europe and we have stayed in touch ever since! Tina has endometriosis and is a strong advocate for endometriosis awareness. She is very open about her own struggles and has inspired me to share my story. So together we have decided to share our own personal experiences! 🙂

Where It all Began

S: I can vividly remember the day it happened. I was 13 and ½ getting changed for gym class, when I saw it…I had gotten my period. I panicked. How could I get my period? I had no breasts, no body hair and was underweight (I weighed a mere 70 pounds!). There were more developed girls in my grade who still hadn’t gotten theirs. A friend offered me a pad and I attempted to put it on… I was so small that the pad didn’t even fit in my underwear properly.

For the next year I missed school regularly. I would only bleed for two days, but my pelvic pains were so excruciating, they lasted for days. Sometimes they would get so painful that I would throw up from the pain. My mom, who experienced a similar struggle and eventually had a hysterectomy because of it, took me to the doctor. And at the age of 14, I was placed on birth control (try explaining that one to your dad ha ha!).

Over the next few years I continued to miss days of school and regularly went to the doctor to explain my discomfort. Every time I was simply prescribed another birth control. Every time I was led to believe that this pain was normal for girls my age and would get better as I got older. I eventually stopped talking about my pain all together, and suffered in silence. Finally, in a doctor’s office at a university clinic, I was taken seriously. Later on that year I found out I had endometriosis.

T: Like Shari, I can also remember the exact moment I got my period for the first time, it was after school and I was standing in the line at McDonalds, my legs were aching horrendously. I thought I must have over worked my muscles in gym class earlier that day, but when I got home and went to the bathroom, I had gotten my period. I was 14 years old, already quite developed for my age, and all of my friends had already gotten their periods. I remember being excited that I had FINALLY gotten mine! The excitement didn’t last long because every month for years afterward my pain got increasingly worse. The worst day for me was lying on the kitchen floor, screaming out to my mother because I was in so much pain, I was convinced I would pass out or vomit everywhere.

Luckily for me, my mum also has endometriosis, (she had a hysterectomy when she was 42) so she taught me to be persistent with doctors when they told me there was nothing wrong. I then met a doctor who told me it was 90% likely I had endometriosis just like mum. I tried going on the pill, changing my diet, exercise and a cocktail of pain killers before I decided enough was enough and I paid for surgery. I was 24 years old when I had my laparoscopy, hysteroscopy D+C.

What is Endometriosis?

Simply put, endometriosis is a disease whereby tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, exists outside the uterus. This “misplaced” tissue can impact a woman’s family, career, sex life, fertility and her ability to carry out a normal life.

S: Women with endometriosis can experience horrendous pain – I luckily only experience this pain a few days a month, but there are women who experience this pain 24/7. I do plan on going off the pill when I am married, but as much as I long to be a mother, the fear of experiencing more pain worries me. The pain I feel is slowly worsening with each year. I am actually on a birth control that enables me to skip my period, but I still get strong pelvic pains every month, even though I experience no bleeding. My mom underwent a hysterectomy when she decided enough was enough and I am certain I will reach that point too. So when someone says they have endometriosis, be mindful! These women are living with a painful invisible illness.

T: The problem with having endometriosis is that there is still so much we don’t know and it effects everyone differently. When I had my surgery my surgeon found endometrial tissue covering my bladder and parts of my uterus and bowel. What a lot of people don’t know is that there is no cure for endometriosis, and even though it can be removed through surgery, it will ultimately grow back. Some women have up to six surgeries in their lifetime, which is not only expensive, but can take a devastating emotional toll. Keep in mind that someone doesn’t necessarily have to look sick to have a chronic illness.

Life Now

S: After years of experimenting with birth control, horrific pelvic pain, unbearable bloating, extreme moodiness, bowel issues, inconvenient breakouts and fearing infertility. I have learned to become a woman comfortable in her own skin. There are still days where I am curled up in fetal position on the bathroom floor, and prescription painkillers won’t bring any form of relief. But, I’ve learned to not let those days define me.

I think for many young women with endometriosis, the only thing worse than the pain is the guilt, the guilt that comes from the possibility of being infertile. My mom had all of her children by the time she was 23, and any further attempts to conceive again were unsuccessful. She then found out she had endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. The thought of infertility scares me a bit, as I’ve always imagined being a mother, but I am luckily marrying someone who is extremely understanding and reminds me everyday that things happen for a reason.

I hope that this brief outline of my own personal struggle encourages others to be more mindful of women around them. One out of every ten women has endometriosis. It’s time we spread awareness and end the stigma!

T: I try to keep a positive outlook! I have struggled lately with daily pain, it’s been four years since my surgery and I am right back where I started before I had it done. I am currently doing acupuncture, pelvic physio, and diet changes as a means to cope. I am still battling doctors who are pushing to put me back on the pill or try Lupron or Visanne, which are hormonal drugs with terrible side effects. I would be lying if I said some days I didn’t just want to give up!

One of my symptoms is being really tired all of the time, which I think is because there aren’t many days where I am pain free. The worst part for me isn’t the pain. It’s constantly discussing my fertility with doctors, friends, co-workers or even strangers. I’m 28 years old, and I’m sick of doctors telling me I’m going to end up infertile…so I should try to get pregnant now! I’m sick of people asking me what it’s like to be told I probably won’t be able to have a baby. I refuse to feel like a failure because women are “suppose” to have children. I’ve found peace and accept that it’s just not in the cards for me. Infertility is only a very small part of endometriosis, all I want is to live a happy mostly pain free life. Stop the stigma!

Special thanks to Tina, for her encouragement and support, and to my mom, who always put on a brave face as a parent, even when she was in pain.

Happy Endometriosis Awareness Month Loves!

Xo

11 Things to Know Before you Say Yes to the Dress

What you should know about wedding dress shopping

Being engaged means a lot of questions — When will you get married? Where is the venue? Intimate or large affair? And, what about the dress? Shopping for your wedding dress should be a celebratory occasion. This is the dress that you will be marring the love of your life in! So, here are 11 tips I recommend based on my own personal dress shopping experience.

Select a wedding date and book your venue first

I strongly advise against purchasing a wedding dress when you don’t have your wedding date or venue booked. I was certain I would wear a long sleeved dress and get married either the end of May or beginning of September… But the only available date at my desired location was in July. I realized that a long sleeved lace gown was probably not the best option for a July summer wedding. I also loved this ultra low-cut tulle gown… But again, the ceremony is in a public park, not a Mexican beach, and the spectators definitely don’t need a view of my side-boob!

Find a dress 6-9 Months Before your Big Day

You should aim to find a wedding dress roughly 6-9 months prior to your wedding. You need to give yourself enough time to find “the dress”, as well as extra time for any alterations.

Research dress shops and make appointments

I researched online to find the top five bridal stores in the city I would be dress shopping in. I read several reviews, wrote down suggestions from fellow brides and looked at store websites to see what designers they carried. Once I had my top five stores picked out I called and made appointments. I booked three appointments for the first day and two more for the following day. It’s a good idea to visit your favourite stores the first day and have the second day as a back up. I found my dress on the first day, at my third store.

Plan your bridal entourage

Invite only those whose opinions you respect and trust. I invited my mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, sister-in-law/maid-of-honour and my two other bridesmaids. I love all these wonderful ladies! All have very different tastes and styles, which allowed for diverse opinions. But, when I found my dress they all were quiet and teary eyed, I knew it was “the one”.

Make a schedule

I made a rough schedule for bridal shopping and provided any information my bridal entourage might need. This helped keep things organized and made for a relaxing day of dress shopping.

Set a budget and stick with it

My mom and I set a budget for my dress and mentioned our budget at every appointment. This is extremely helpful to bridal consultants! Don’t try on anything above your budget… There is nothing worse than falling in love with a dress that you can’t afford! Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to pay for any potential alterations and accessories. Veils and hairpieces are particularly expensive…I tried on a few different ones ranging from $150 to $750.

Save pictures of dresses you like

Once I knew which bridal stores I would be visiting I researched the designers they carried and printed off some dresses I liked by the designers. I then showed these pictures to the bridal consultants at each store. My dress actually ended up being one of the pictures I brought in!

Look the part

You’ll want to feel pretty when trying on dresses, so do yourself up a little. Use a self-tanning wipe the night before to fake a “pre-wedding glow”. My favourite are Kate Somerville 360 Tanning Towelettes. Wear your hair similar to how you would like to on your wedding day. Nothing crazy, just some loose waves if you imagine it down or a loose bun if you’re thinking an up do. Keep your makeup minimal. You’ll be changing lots and some dresses can be difficult to get on. Some need to be pulled down over your head. You don’t need your makeup staining a bridal gown! All you really need is some blush, mascara and groomed brows.

What to wear

Today is not a good day for granny panties! Wear cute, comfortable and visible panty line free undies, along with a lightly lined bra. I took my bra off for all of my appointments, as I don’t plan on wearing one (my boobs won’t be this perky forever! Ha ha.). Sometimes the consultants will measure you in the dress and/or in street clothes. With that in mind, don’t wear a crazy pushup bra, as one with light lining will give you a more accurate measurement. Loose fitting clothes that are easy to remove, but make you feel bridal are ideal! I wore my favourite jeans, a blush pink crop top and some Steve Madden booties, a typical outfit for me, just a touch more feminine. Perfect for a bride-to-be!

Eat!!

Make sure you plan meals in between your bridal appointments! Obviously, don’t get a bloat inducing Big Mac, but eat low-sodium and nutritious foods to reduce any chance of uncomfortable bloating. For the love of God, please buy a dress that fits! Don’t buy a dress for the size you think you’ll be…Buy for the size you are currently! Wedding planning is stressful enough. You shouldn’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to look a certain size. You can always have a dress altered if it’s too big, but if it’s too small you might be out of luck.

Keep an open mind

Remember that time you saw a haircut on Jennifer Aniston and knew you needed that hair? Do you also remember how you may have had a similar haircut, but you most definitely didn’t look like her? Same idea for dress shopping! You might she a beautiful dress on a slim and tall model…But if you’re like me and only 5’2 it probably won’t look the same! So listen to your bridal entourage and your bridal consultant. They can help you find a flattering style, which compliments your size! There were a few dresses that actually surprised me. I would have never thought to try on a beaded dress or one with a sexy plunging neckline, but I did try them on and they looked great! Obviously, I can’t disclose any details about the actual dress I went with, as my fiancé reads my blog, but it was a bit different than what I had initially planned to wear. 🙂

Make it fun!

At the end of the day it’s just a dress! You’re groom will love you no matter what you wear. Try not to overwhelm yourself and just enjoy the day! When you find your dress, celebrate with a nice dinner and a pitcher a glass of sangria! 🙂

Celebrating with sangria

Happy dress shopping loves!

Find Lunch Box Blonde on FACEBOOK or @lunchboxblonde on Instagram!

 

16 Simple But Effective Ways to Motivate Yourself

My No-Nonsense Tips for staying Motivated

Life is sometimes really crappy, and it can be difficult to find joy in our daily lives. As much as I try to stay upbeat, I can easily become a glass-half-empty kind of gal. So today I thought I’d put together a list of the things that I do to keep myself balanced, mindful and continuously grateful…

16 Simple But Effective Ways to Motivate Yourself

  1. Get ready for the day
  2. Make my bed + create a space I love living in
  3. Eat (or at least try!) healthy
  4. Exercise
  5. Go for a walk outside
  6. Plan weekly goals
  7. Pamper myself
  8. Make a bucket list
  9. Try something new
  10. Volunteer
  11. Be social…Even if that just means showing up
  12. Create a “happy” music playlist
  13. Make a gratitude list
  14. Document words of gratitude
  15. Make a to-do list and a done list
  16. Develop a sleep schedule
Get Ready for the Day

Even if you’re just spending the day inside, take time to brush your teeth and take a shower. Get dressed, brush your hair, and make yourself presentable. When you feel like you look good, you begin to feel good!

Make My Bed + Create a Space I Love Living In

Making your bed…takes two minutes, makes your space look put together, and gives you a quick sense of accomplishment. When you take good care of your living space, it becomes a place you want to be a part of, not disappear from.

Eat (or at least try!) Healthy

They say you are what you eat, so with that in mind I try to eat foods that help, rather than hinder! Eating healthy foods improves your physical health, feeling good physically boosts your overall mood.

Exercise

As Elle Woods said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands”. With this in mind, I make it a priority to exercise daily. Every little step counts!

Go for a Walk Outside

Enjoying nature has a slew of benefits. Simply going for a quick walk outside for 10 minutes serves you an ample dose of Vitamin D, which boosts your mood and regulates your sleep!

Plan Weekly Goals

Invest in a planner! When you write down all the things you need to get done that week, you keep yourself away from the “I’ll do it tomorrow trap”.

Pamper Myself

About once a week I try to set some time aside for myself. I might light some candles, pour some wine and take a bath. Sometimes I simply paint my nails, take a hot shower, or steam my face.

Make a Bucket List

Having a bucket list allows you to creatively decide on the things that you want and need to do. As you start creating a list of things you wish to achieve in your lifetime, you’ll naturally be more focused at work and more compelled in your personal life.

Try Something New

When you try a new activity you generate a sense of accomplishment. Pushing yourself to try new things keeps life exciting!

Volunteer

It is incredibly therapeutic when you realize that you’ve contributed to the world! Volunteers are always needed, so go out and see what’s available for volunteer positions in your community.

Be Social, Even if that Just Means Showing Up

I am currently dealing with a brain injury, which has definitely reduced my desire to socialize like I use to. But, I have realized that even if I just stop in and say “hi” it gets me out of the house and I don’t have to be the one conversing. I can simply listen in on conversations and share a few laughs.

Create a “Happy” Music Playlist

Music has the ability to alter and induce your mood. With that in mind, I keep a few uplifting and motivating playlists on my phone for a quick pick-me-up.

Make a gratitude list

When you remind yourself of what you already have, you develop a sense of appreciation and feel more content with your current situation.

Document words of gratitude

If you’ve have ever written me a nice message, chances are I have a screenshot documenting your kindness. I love to hear words of affirmation, and when I need a quick reminder that I have a T-Swift worthy Squad cheering for me, I simply go through my phone and look at all the lovely and kind words my family, friends and acquaintances have sent my way.

Make a to-do list and a done list

When I am feeling particularly discouraged, I list all the things that I have accomplished that day, month or year and all of the things that I need to-do. When I can visually see what I have accomplished any feelings of worthlessness are push aside.

Develop a Sleep Schedule

I will admit I struggle with this, but committing to a regular sleep schedule provides you with the energy needed to be successful in daily life. So, set a bedtime and wake up without hitting the snooze button!

Love Yourself Quote
 If you have any tips you’d like to share, please comment below!

Happy Motivating Loves!

Edible Tofu

A Crispy, Healthy and Delicious Alternative

Tofu. I think just the name frightens most people. If you’re like me and eat a plant-based diet then you’ve become quiet accustomed to it. But, if you are like many of my meat eating friends the thought of it terrifies you.

Tofu is made by curdling fresh soya milk and then pressing it into a large solid block and cooling it. Sound gross? Traditional dairy cheese is made the exact same way. Tofu is a staple in Chinese and Thai cuisine, and for good reason. This lovely bean curd is able to take on the flavour of anything it’s cooked in! Tofu also serves is a nutritional powerhouse, as it is an amazing source of protein and contains all eight of the essential amino acids. It also serves up some iron, calcium, and a handful of other important minerals.

Initially I despised tofu. I can remember at the tender age of 14 trying my first bite. I just chewed and nodded at my mom approvingly, pretending to enjoy it. Truth is I hated it, but wanted to prove to my parents that I could find my protein from plants. I continued to hate it from there on out. I would eat the occasional piece, but never had much luck cooking it.

Then one day I decided enough was enough and added some tofu to a stir-fry. It wasn’t terrible, but it was missing something. So I decided to experiment until I found that missing ingredient. Well, it was cornmeal…My much needed tofu picker-upper.

SInce then tofu coated in cornflour and lightly fried has become a staple in our household!

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Crispy Tofu
You’ll need

1 package of extra firm tofu (my favourite is Soyganic Extra Firm Tofu)

1/3 cup of cornmeal; or for extra crispy tofu use ½ cup cornmeal and ½ Panko Bread Crumbs (this way is not gluten free)

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 tbsp. canola oil or coconut oil

1/8 cup of sauce of choice, optional (Use whatever you fancy! Sweet n’ Sour, Spicy Thai, Sweet Chilli, etc. My go-to is Hoisin sauce.)

Directions

Open up the tofu and remove from packaging. Cut the tofu into bite sized chucks. Set aside.

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In a medium sized bowl add the cornmeal, salt and pepper. Mix until combined.

Place the tofu pieces into the cornmeal mixture. Using a spoon or your hands stir and coat all of the pieces with the cornmeal mix. For a quick and easy way, simply place the cornmeal mixture and the tofu into a covered plastic container and shake the container to coat the pieces.

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Heat the canola oil in a large sized frying pan over medium heat. Add the coated tofu pieces. Stir as needed and cook the tofu until the pieces have a crispy exterior and are a nice golden brown colour. If using a sauce, pour the sauce in the pan and stir to coat tofu pieces.

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Remove from heat and serve. I love my crispy tofu in stir-frys, pad thai or simply on its own with a side of rice.

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Happy frying!

If you decide to fry some up, I’d love to see it! Tag me in a Facebook post or @lunchboxblonde on Instagram.

Wedding Skincare Routine

How to look flawless on your wedding day

If you have ever been in my bathroom you would know that I am a skincare product junkie! Every drawer and cupboard is filled with a slew of various serums, cleansers and moisturizers. Considering you’re stuck with your skin for life, I think it’s worth it to splurge on quality skincare products! Your face is the first thing people see when they meet you, so I make sure to nourish my skin the best I can. This is definitely a process from the inside out, so along with a good skincare routine, I follow a clean eating diet. You are what you eat, so I try to do a diet of 80/20, 80% clean eating and 20% not so clean. Remember everything in moderation. Sometimes a treat is mandatory!

In exactly five months from today, I am marrying my best friend and I can’t wait! I obviously want to have flawless skin for my wedding day, so I have focused on finding a skincare routine that works and I am sticking with it!

 

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5 months to go!

 

Below is my current skincare routine in preparation for my wedding. There are a ton of beauty products out there and these are simply the ones that I think are tried, tested and true. Well, the ones that I have tried, tested and find too good to be true! 🙂

My Daily Routine

My skin is extremely dry, mostly due to using Retin-A, so I typically only wash my face once a day, usually before bed. Then I allow my face to dry for a few minutes. I usually take this time to brush and braid my hair back. Next, if using, I put on a pea-sized amount of Retin-A on my face. I only use Retin-A two to four times a week, as it’s really drying! If not using Retin-A, I will apply a night time serum and some moisturizer. I finish with eye cream and a coat of Latisse on my eyelashes.

My Top Products
Best Beauty Products for a Bride-To-Be
Cleansers

Every night before bed I wash my face with either Fresh Soy Face Cleanser or Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. Both cleansers are extremely gentle and ideal for sensitive skin. If I need a bit of extra help removing eye makeup, I will simply use a bit of olive oil. Olive oil gently breaks down the makeup and leaves your eyes feeling hydrated. If I need a quick clean up in the morning, I will use Bioderma Sensibio H²0. This stuff is amazing! You simply soak a cotton ball with the solution and swab your skin. It is so easy and I won’t lie, when I am lazy and don’t want to bother with washing my face, I use this for a quick clean up before bed. Works like a charm!

Moisturizers

I apply moisturizer as often as needed throughout my day. My current favourites are Avène Hydrance Optimal Light Hydrating Creme or First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration. Both are able to wonderfully hydrate my skin, while keeping it matte! If my skin is feeling extremely dry I will sometimes put on a coat of Aquaphor all over my face before bed. You will go to bed with a greasy face and wake up with the most soft and subtle skin ever! For my eyes I use Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle Resist 24, but I often just use a swipe of Vaseline or Aquaphor under my eyes. On the nights when I’m not using Retin-A, I love to use Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair. This is the only serum that has actually lightened my acne scars and dark spots. I also love how soft it leaves my skin!

To stay hydrated during a busy day or when I am travelling, I keep a bottle of facial spray in my handbag for a refreshing pick me up during the day. Some of my favourites are Evian Facial Spray, Avène Thermal Spring Water and Caudalie Beauty Elixir (my top pick). These sprays are a must for airplane travel! I even use some on the hubby when we travel (shhh…). It keeps your skin so lovely and dewy!

Exfoliators

My mom got me a Clarisonic a couple of years ago for Christmas and I love it. I use it about five times a week. If I wear a lot of makeup I make sure to use this after washing my face, just to make sure my face is squeaky clean. If I just want a quick face scrub while I am in the shower I will often just take a handful of sugar and scrub my face with that. It makes your skin so soft and lovely, it’s also cheap! 🙂

Face Masks

I use a face mask once or twice a week. I will usually put one on after washing my face. Then I rinse it off and apply lots of moisturizer. I have two favourites right now and alternate between them, Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask and Lush Cosmetics Mask of Magnaminty Cleanser.

Retin-A

Oh my gosh! This little tube is literally a miracle worker. It’s a joke how amazing your skin looks while using this! About two and a half years ago, I was standing in the cereal isle trying to decide if I wanted Cheerios or Fruit Loops when a total stranger approached me and said, “you have the most perfect skin I’ve ever seen”. I just stared back at the lady and muttered a quick, “thanks”. I went home and looked in the mirror. That’s when I realized my Retin-A prescription must have been working.

Over the past few years  I had been struggled with hormonal acne due to having Endometriosis and possibly due to a couple bad breakups! It wasn’t life-altering acne, but it was the kind I could easily spend two hours a day picking at. I had tried several different acne treatments over the course of my teen years and when my dermatologist suggested Retin-A in my early twenties, I thought, “what’s one more”.

Worse before it gets better… My dermatologist warned me that most patients often have a period of skin “purging” when they start Retin-A. I remember that first month wanting to hide my face in a paper bag. To top things off, I had just started seeing this really cute guy (my now fiancé) and was so embarrassed about my skin. I went and got bangs and wore these massive infinity scarfs for the first month of our courtship, just because I was so embarrassed! But after about 12 weeks my skin was flawless. It was so clear!

Since then I have been using it for almost three years now. Retin-A’s key ingredient is tretinoin, a type of retinol. Basically it just causes your skin to shed and renew at a much faster right than usual. Thus, limiting the time for both acne and wrinkles to develop. Yes, even my mom uses it! Retin-A is one of the best ways to prevent and remove wrinkles.

Latisse

I remember one day a couple of years ago seeing a lady with the most beautiful eyelashes and when I asked her about them she said it was all because of Latisse. I then went home and Googled it. At the time I was a student and couldn’t fathom the thought of spending $120 for a bottle of this miracle potion. I could hardly afford groceries! Then a couple of months ago, I thought since I am getting married I would treat myself and get a bottle of Latisse. I have been using it for three months now and the results are amazing! I have Kardashian worthy lashes and hardly wear mascara anymore! I am obsessed with this product and have not had any side effects.

Prenatal Vitamins

When you’re vegetarian it’s crucial to ensure that you are eating right and getting all the needed vitamins and minerals. But, sometimes that can be difficult, especially when you’re travelling and have limited options for food. Daily I take B-12, zinc, liquid omega-3 and a multi-vitamin. Then because I have low iron, three times a week I take an iron pill. About four months ago I decided to switch my multi-vitamin to a prenatal vitamin… Best decision ever!

No I am not pregnant, nor are we trying to conceive (sorry mom!). I am however trying to look my utmost best for my wedding day! Pre-natal vitamins can totally help you achieve that pre-wedding glow. To start with, they have double the amount of iron and folic acid, both vital for women of children-bearing age. Another added bonus… My hair and nails have grown like crazy! Obviously, I can’t say what your results with it will be, but for me, it has done wonders.

Additional treatments

Closer to the actual wedding I will probably stop using Retin-A for a good week and go get a chemical peel. When I want my skin to be absolutely glowing, peels are the best for that. I have had three rather invasive ones done where I peeled for a good week. But, I think I’ll just do a light peel this time.

Quick Advice

-Stay hydrated! Water does wonders for you. I can always tell I am dehydrated based on how apparent the dark circles are around my eyes. When I increase my water intake they always disappear. I actually really struggle to drink water, so I need constant reminders!

-Steam your face. About once a week, after cleansing, I will heat a pot of water on the stove and use it to steam my face. Simply bring a pot of water to a boil. Remove the pot and transfer the water to a large bowl on a secure surface. Then sit so that you can comfortably place your face over the bowl of steaming water. Drape a towel over your head making a tent between you and the water. If at any point you get too hot, simply lift the towel up. I try to steam for about 10 minutes. After steaming I will usually put on a face mask.

-Keep things clean! Always wash your hands before touching your face. I use to be a chronic picker and now have acne scars along my chin to prove that. I avoid picking and if i need to pop a pimple I only use a sanitized extractor and make sure to apply some Polysporin afterwards. Also, make it habit to clean your makeup brushes at least a couple times a month.

-Sanitize! Be sure to wipe your phone with a Lysol wipe every couple of days to prevent chin breakouts

-Wash your bedding weekly. Your pillow case can be a major culprit for breakouts. Another option is to get a Silver Ion pillowcase. I got one a few months ago, as I wanted to wake up knowing that my skin was clean and didn’t need to be washed again.

-Don’t forget about your body! I try really hard to do a body scrub once a week. Let’s face it though, I am lazy. So when I can, I try to do a body scrub. I simply take roughly 1/3 cup of sugar and mix it with a couple tbsp.s of olive oil. I then scrub with that in the shower. After my shower I then moisturizer head-to-toe, using my Vanilla Cocoa Body Butter!

The Skinny on my Skincare Products:
  1. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser via Sephora
  2. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser via Shopper’s Drug Mart
  3. Bioderma Sensibio H²O via Shopper’s Drug Mart
  4. Avène Hydrance Optimal Light Hydrating Creme via Shopper’s Drug Mart
  5. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration via Sephora
  6. Aquaphor Healing Ointment via Shopper’s Drug Mart
  7. Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle Resist 24 via Sephora
  8. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair via The Bay
  9. Caudalie Beauty Elixir via Sephora
  10. Clarisonic Mia 2 via Sephora
  11. Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask via Sephora
  12. Lush Mask of Magnaminty via Lush Cosmetics
  13. Retin-A via prescription
  14. Latisse via dermatology office
  15. Jamieson Prenatal Vitamin’s via Walmart
Anyways, I hope you find this post useful! If you have any questions about any of the products please comment below!

Happy beautifying loves!

xo

 

Mixed Berry Crisp with Coconut Cream

A light and refreshing take on your tradition fruit crisp

Bobby and I attend a dinner club every week. There are three couples, including us, who participate. One couple will be responsible for hosting and preparing the dinner, and the other two couples are in charge of drinks and dessert. It is just a fun way to get out of the house, discover new recipes and have a bottle glass of wine. Plus, who doesn’t like having a night off from cooking!

This week Bobby and I were in charge of preparing a dessert. I was more than happy with that, as I love making desserts. One of our lovely dinner party attendees unfortunately is somewhat limited in her food options, as she is following a Low FODMAP diet. So I knew I would need something diary and gluten free. No one should be leaving a fabulous dinner date with an upset stomach!

I decided to try and make a gluten free and vegan friendly fruit crisp. My usual crisp recipe contains a lot of white flour, refined sugar and butter…lots of butter! This updated crisp might have just knocked my usual fruit crisp out of the park! It’s gluten free, vegan and 100% delicious! It’s refreshing, slightly tart, subtly sweet and every bite is bursting with berries! I couldn’t be more pleased. We served it with coconut whipped cream and it was a hit! What happens at dinner club, stays at dinner club…But this dessert needed to be shared!

The perfect bite!

The perfect bite! Healthy enough that I  even ate it for breakfast!

Mixed Berry Fruit Crisp with Coconut Cream
 Ingredients

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 can full fat coconut milk (lite will not whip properly)

¼ tsp. vanilla, optional

1 tbsp. cane sugar, optional

 

Topping

1 cup large flake oats (I used gluten-free certified oats)

¾ cup oat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Wheat-Free Oat Flour, but you could easily make your own using a high-powered blender)

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup unsalted pumpkin seed kernels

¼ cup sliced almonds

1/3 cup maple syrup or agave nectar (I prefer the maple syrup in this recipe)

4 tbsp. coconut oil, melted (or butter if not vegan)

 

 Filling

6 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries (I used a collection of frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. I also added in some fresh blackberries and raspberries. Next batch I think I’ll try peaches instead!)

1 tbsp. lemon juice (roughly the juice of half a lemon)

1½ tsp. lemon rind (I just grated the rind off of the half lemon)

1 tbsp. cane sugar

 

Directions

Coconut Whipped Cream

Place the can of coconut milk upside down in the refrigerator over night or at least 8 hours prior to using it.

15 minutes before you plan to use the coconut milk, place your mixer and mixing beaters into the freezer. This will help the coconut milk whip properly.

After 15 minutes, you can open up the can of coconut milk. When you open the can the top of it should have solidified. Scoop out the solidified coconut milk into your chilled mixing bowl. Set aside the “coconut water” that remains. I like to use this water in curries or smoothies.

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Add the optional vanilla and cane sugar. Next, beat the solidified coconut milk until it appears to be fluffy and creamy, like traditional whipped cream.

Yum!

Yum!

Just making sure it turned out right

Just making sure it turned out right

Transfer the whipped coconut cream to a storage container and place in the refrigerator until needed.

 

Mixed Berry Crisp

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spray a 8″ x 8″ pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl add the oats, oat flour, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds and almond seeds. Stir until combined. Set aside.

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Two of my favourite things. Pumpkin seeds and oats!

In a small bowl add the maple syrup and coconut oil. Stir until combined. Pour over the oat mixture. Stir the two mixtures together until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl add the frozen and/or fresh berries. Add the lemon juice, lemon rind and cane sugar. Stir until combined.

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Transfer the berries into the bottom of the prepared pan. Next, layer the oat mixture over the berry mixture.

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Ready for the oven…I doubled the recipe that’s why my pan is so big!

You can now place the crisp into your preheated oven. Bake until the berries appear to be bubbling and the top is a nice crispy, golden brown. Mine roughly took 30 minutes.

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Fresh out of the oven

Let cool…if you can…for 15 minutes. Serve warm with a dollop of the coconut whipped cream from before. Yum!

Dinner club approved!

Dinner club approved!

Happy Baking loves!

 If your decide to try this crisp, I’d love to see it! Please tag Lunch Box Blonde on Facebook or @lunchboxblonde on Instagram!

Vanilla Cocoa Body Butter

Quench your thirsty skin with a delicious body butter

Hump day has arrived and I can’t wait to share my post today!

Today started off just right. We woke up early and enjoyed our drinks of choice, coffee (for Bobby) and black tea (for me), and just watched our dogs play. We brought the dogs in, and after a quick cuddle session, I browsed through some wedding magazines for inspiration. I then put on a big pot of oatmeal and we topped our bowls with a plethora of fresh berries. It was a perfect morning!

Watching our furry friends play in the snow

Watching our furry friends play in the snow

Living in Northern Alberta has its perks…Gorgeous views of the Northern Lights and space for our dogs to run freely! But it also has its downsides…the winters can be harsh. I find the winter air to be particularly drying. My poor skin gets beyond parched! Sometimes it gets so dry my hands crack and bleed. Not an attractive look on anyone!

Our furry friends lined up for treats

Our furry friends lined up for treats

With my mom as my inspiration I decided to whip up a quick body butter in the kitchen last night to help soothe my dry skin. My mom is a talented woman, who once owned a store where she made and sold hand-craved candles, soaps, lip balms, body lotions and a slew of other goodies. So I had a vague understanding of what I should combine for a dry skin rescue. I can still remember standing on my tippy toes and watching my mom as she put together her various masterpieces. It was the days of Barbie and hide-and-seek, and mom was the most magical lady around.

Wedding plan. The most exciting and stressful day you'll ever plan!

Wedding plan. The most exciting and stressful day you’ll ever plan!

I knew I wanted something that was smooth and creamy, something that wouldn’t leave me with a sticky film. So I decided to dig in my pantry and pull out the little bag of pure cocoa butter I had purchased in Costa Rica last year. I then grabbed my trusty jar of coconut oil and some pure vanilla extract. I figured the combination of cocoa butter and coconut oil would be the ultimate skin rescue. The vanilla would be the perfect way to add a subtle scent.

If you’re ready for the ultimate skin relief look no further.

Vanilla Cocoa Body Butter
Ingredients

1/3 cup of cocoa butter (that’s roughly how much I had in my little baggie)

1/3 cup of coconut oil

1/8 tsp. pure vanilla extract, optional (could also try a couple drops of lavender or peppermint oil)

I picked this little guy up in Costa Rica, but cocoa butter should be available in most health food stores

I picked this little guy up in Costa Rica, but cocoa butter should be available in most health food stores

Directions

In a small pot over low heat add the cocoa butter and the coconut oil. Heat and stir until there are no more cocoa butter chunks. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

It should look like melted butter

It should look like melted butter

Next, place the bowl in the refrigerator or freezer and wait until the liquid mixture becomes solid. I put mine in the freezer for roughly 15-20 minutes.

Remove from fridge and add the vanilla extract. I love the smell of anything vanilla, but you could experiment with some essential oils!

Then with an electric mixer, mix everything together until it is light and fluffy (will look similar to whipped cream). I just placed everything in my Kitchen Aid mixer and left it to mix for about 10 minutes.

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Smells good enough to eat!

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Perfect creamy body butter

Once it’s done mixing transfer it to a jar and use as needed.

Happiness in a jar

Happiness in a jar

Jars of body butter make super cute gifts! Make one for your sweetheart this Valentines!

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I got my glass jars at Dollarama ☺

Perfectly nourished hands

Perfectly nourished hands

If you do decide to make a jar of this body butter for yourself I’d love to see it! Please tag Lunch Box Blonde in a Facebook post or @lunchboxblonde on Instagram.

Happy buttering loves!