Mother’s Day – DIY

Mothers Day Gifts - DIY, cheap and easyDIY MOTHERS DAY 2HOW TO TIE BOWSSo Mother’s Day is on Sunday… which is like 4 days away. I have been so busy lately I have barely given in a second thought.  If you are in the same boat, fortunately this DIY is cheap, fast and easy!  It’s actually what I gave my mom last year, click here for how to make your own.

I think the reason I am a loyal DIYer is because my mom always did crafts with me.  She’s big on DIY too – in fact, she bought these mirror candle holders from Pier One and they were black, but she painted them white and green to match the living room.  I painted the candles teal because like I said before, its my favourite color.  My mom know’s I’m obsessed with teal so she doesn’t mind, its better than when I made her repaint my room to a bright teal.

These look so pretty at night reflecting in our living room. The lights just dance through the lace.  I love this DIY, hope you guys do too!

xo, aiyanajane

La Mer + Military

IMG_3736

faux-leather pants XXI FOREVER  ||  leather pumps LeCHATEAU  ||  nude cross-body bag CO-LAB  ||  military jacket ROTHCO via MissKL  ||  aviators ARDENE  || sage stone wrap watch LA MER COLLECTIONS ||

Today I’m super excited to show you the two latest objects of my desire that have been delivered to my door-step! This amazing military jacket and gorgeous La Mer charm wrap watch.  I ordered this jacket from Miss KL, it being on sale was the reason I could justify buying this top to get free shipping… I wasn’t sure about it when I pulled it out of the box- its a mens jacket so its pretty huge, but a few adjustments (cuffs rolled up, waist cinched in) and I am smitten.

If this last year has taught me anything, its that something good will always come to make up for the bad, as long as you keep pushing forward.  In life there will always be the potential for failure and loss, but you will certainly go no where if you never bother to try.

I’d say given the fact I run a blog, its obvious I believe in putting yourself out there! A huge part of blogging is trolling social media and brand platforms obsessively for inspiration.  I’ve mentioned many times before how much I wanted one of these La Mer wrap watches and even went so far as to DIY my own last summer. So when I saw this Earth Day-Giveaway on instagram, of course I clicked that little like button. Imagine my surprise, and excitement when I woke up the next morning with the notification that I had won! Follow them on instagram here. Its one of those things where if you want something bad enough – some how, some way – you’ll get it eventually! I was super impressed with them. I entered on Earth Day (April 22) the next morning they had notified me I had won, I emailed and within minutes they had e-mailed me a ship confirmation, one week later (to the day) this gorgeous watch had arrived on my doorstep, with a sweet card wishing me a Happy Earth Day.  You guys might have noticed that I am a big fan of the earth, check out the latest on my surface-rights blog here.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for the gorgeous watch La Mer, keep up the amazing work! Live your life inspired by adventure!

xo, aiyanajane



State Of The Union

State Of The Union & rolling stones

DIY love - studded union jack cardi, sun lightened hair

|| CO-LAB cross body bag, KERSH union jack cardigan, leggings – WINNERS||  boots – SPRING|| tank, pashmina – Le CHATEAU  || 

I’m still so thrilled with this Studded Union Jack Cardigan!  I just love an over-sized cardi, leggings and boots- living in Calgary, I wear a variation of this outfit 365 days a year almost.  Even though I am Canadian by citizenship, sometimes my heart feels somewhere else!   My mum is from Scotland and I am still harboring the somewhat-secret desire to disappear away to Europe forever.. a few more years of saving I think! Till then, the sweater.

British style is a huge source of inspiration for me, and one quintessential aspect of British style is punk. I ended up adding some stud’s to the shoulders after I posted the original Studded Cardigan DIY here.  I like it much more, it adds the perfect  amount of edge!  I have a feeling I may end up studding significantly more garments in days to come, its ridiculously easy and I urge you to give it a try!

I drive by this building almost every day, and I’ve wanted to take photos there forever! Heritage Posters and Music is such a dope store, and if you live in Calgary, or ever come visiting, its worth stopping into! Or at least hanging around out back to take photos! It seemed particularly fitting since the other day was Record Store day, did anyone go!?

I had an amazing time shooting with my friend Brandi today, who has decided to get back into her photography habit and is gonna shoot for the blog on the regular (we think).  I’m very excited.  I’m taking my latest inspiration to heart and am hoping to push myself further and farther than ever before by making the best of the every day little things, while remembering that it’s the every day things that build to success.  So thanks for reading, and for being a part of it! 🙂

xo, aiyanajane

DIY Canvas Wall Quote

this is a super easy diy to personalize your home decor for cheap! What you’ll need and how to are below!

DIY Canvas Wall Quote

canvas – any size  ||  permanent marker  ||  mod podge matte spray adhesive  ||  pencil  ||  chalk  || white eraser

DIY canvas wall quote

If you don’t already have it, find some inspiration- the quote section of Pinterest should be more than sufficient!  Write your quote out lightly in pencil, then go over in permanent marker (I used black, but any dark color will work!) and erase the pencil marks.  Use the chalk to draw a simple design and blend lightly using your fingers, or rather than a design, just blend a few complementary colors together for an ombre effect!  When your satisfied with your drawing,  spray it with a coat of spray adhesive.

There are a few simple reasons I love this DIY so much.  For one, its super cheap, you can pick up everything you need at a Dollar Store or Walmart.  For another, you can easily fix mistakes- the white eraser will remove chalk and pencil, so as long as you haven’t messed up the permanent marker, you basically have unlimited tries to get it perfect.

I have always been obsessed with quotes, I think its because there are so many brilliant ideas out there and the right quote at the right moment can resonate so deeply, to know someone has spoken the words your heart couldn’t verbalize.  Lately I’ve been having a difficult time, feeling like I have wasted my time on pointless relationships or pursuing the wrong jobs.  Basically I just had a breakdown thinking everything I’ve done is pointless.  This quote is by Muhammad Ali reminds me that every single day you have to fight and work for what you want, if you ever want to be a champion.

Are there any quotes that seem to resonate within your soul? I would LOVE to hear them, I mean it when I say I am obsessed, so leave one with a comment below and be my inspiration!

xo, aiyanajane

DIY – Studded Cardigan

This is literally the easiest DIY ever.  It took me less than ten minutes including taking photos.  When I spotted this union jack cardigan at Winners, I had to have it! It appealed to a feverish desire I had held ever since I was 6 years old and completely obsessed with the Spice Girls.  My cousins and I used to play Spice Girls all the time, and I was Ginger- she had that union jack dress, which I thought was quite possibly the coolest thing ever.  Plus my mom is from Scotland, so represent. I bought this sweater a couple sizes too big because I LOATHE when a snap or button front sweaters pull across the front.  Could any one thing be more instantly unflattering?! As a general rule, if it pulls across the stomach, don’t buy it. Just go up a size. Oversize is where its at – especially with sweaters! These days, I am all about Posh over Ginger (sorry, Geri). Victoria Beckham, when it comes to style, is pretty much my idol. She always looks so polished and put together.Union Jack Studded Sweater DIY

One thing I hate, and I know its kind of “in” is when a garment is left looking unfinished with just one single detail. For example, stitching an “X” over the snap closure. Its just like.. why?  You could have left it, or put something worth looking at on there, but just stitching an X? Meh. So I took these studs off of an old belt and covered it up- something about a union jack begs for some punk rock studs. I didn’t bother to remove the thread, I could have, but I kinda like the imperfect, unfinished look.  Feeding the studs through the snaps was super easy and they hold really well! Click through the photo gallery for how I did it! Or click HERE to see new outfit photos!

 

stud closure oversized cardiganpeace and long live the queen

Please excuse my hobo-chic look I legit just threw it on for a quick after photo, which my roomie so nicely took for me! I’m thinking I might add some studded epaulettes to the shoulders, just to give it that extra detail.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?!  

Leave it or stud the shoulders?

Let me know in the comments below! 

Thanks for reading girlies, peace out!

Xo, AIYANAjane

Neutrals + Neon – easy spring DIY’s

DIY - Glitter Clutch and Neon Cap Toe Heels

hippie accessories - feather earrings, turquoise claw necklace, rings and arm candy

skull ring, heart + cross bangles ALDO  || outfit LeCHATEAU – diy Cap Toe Heels & Glitter Clutch

Spring is finally here in Calgary! (No matter how it tries to get away- get out of here April snow we know you can’t hold on much longer!)  Cedric and I stepped out to enjoy the weather today, he had the best time running around the yard, did you notice him?!  I’m wearing few of my favourite trends for spring- a neutral relaxed top is my key wardrobe piece, I love the sheer back on this one, the light fabric and the cuffed sleeves- it just drapes perfectly for an easy, breezy cool look! Speaking of cool, I am determined to pave the way towards shorts, even though the weather really doesn’t merit it. 

Mint and gold are two colors I have been obsessed with for ages- I made this DIY Glitter Clutch around this time last year and am still loving it!  Another spring trend I DIY’d? Neon + Nude ColorBlock Cap Toe Heels– super easy to make and a super cute spring trend to try! Both DIY’s are cheap, fast and easy- just how I like em!

I accessorized my outfit based around my spring inspiration DIY’s. I got this turquoise claw necklace while visiting one of my best girlfriends in Vancouver a few summers ago- she took me to this amazing little vintage shop and I have been dreaming of returning ever since! Whenever I wear it I remember summer fun with a beautiful friend! Subtle stacked gold bangles and mixed metal rings paired with colorful feather earrings add to the easy summer vibe. I’m dreaming of Coachella from Calgary I suppose!

xo, aiyanajane 

Use the Pinterest button below to pin and remember these easy spring trend DIY’s!

DIY color block glitter clutch Neon and Nude cap toe heel DIY

cut out peplum + leather shorts

Peplum continues to be a strong trend for spring, but gets an update with a cut out back and leather shorts. I love these wedge heels, they are patent and suede and ever so comfortable.   Wearing shorts with tights is the perfect way to elongate your body- stick to matching colors for the shorts, tights and shoes to fake mile long legs.   If you follow on instagram, you know I was over the moon to find the long-lost pair to the earrings that I’m wearing here. I kept the solo earring because I’m a hoarder and then miraculously found its pair two years later in the bag I was carrying here!  Keeping with the black and white trend I carry my “Chanel” bag, which I am quite certain is not really Chanel, but its a really well constructed bag that’s the perfect size for every day and it didn’t cost me a grand.  Oddly, its also the only purse I’ve ever had multiple MEN compliment me on, so that’s something I guess, since dudes generally don’t notice accessories.

white peplum top with cut out back

 peplum top, tights, earrings and wedge heels  by LeCHATEAU  ||  faux-leather shorts by JESSICA SIMPSON  ||  “Chanel” Bag  || “red-y to wear” high impact lipstick by CLINIQUE

I used a clip-less curling iron to curl my hair, which is a zillon times better than one with a clamp and I shall never go back. This DIY hair lightening spray is how I achieved the super subtle balayage ombre hair naturally.

xo, aiyanajane

Thrift Store Find: Tailored Blazer

navy blazer with dark denim and grey for a perfect casual friday

thrift store finds - structured navy blazer

BLAZER by DERETA LONDON ||  BLOUSE by SMARTSET  || SUNNIES by ARDENE  ||  BEANIE + CLUTCH + SHOES by LeCHATEAU  ||  DENIM by BLUENOTES || ACCESSORIES by ALDO

One thing you may know about me by now is that I cannot resist a good deal- its why I love thrifting so much! My mother always said I could pick out the most expensive item in the store the moment I walk in- it’s this eye for the expensive (read: quality) that aides in my constant search for thrift store deals. This navy blazer jumped out at me immediately- the tailoring and the stitching are impeccable. I firmly believe that when you find something at a thrift store that is clearly good quality AND fits like a glove, that it’s a divine sign that you obviously NEED to buy that item. For me, $6.99 for a blazer that fit in all the right places was much too lovely of a deal to pass up!

xo, aiyanajane

Snow Leopard &

5 INANE (but somewhat relevant) facts about me…

When I get dressed I feel like every outfit has its own story, a memory attached, a character to play. The story is what turns your clothing into your style and everyone can read it. Its who you are for the day to every passing stranger making up stories in their minds. Just think of the places you could have been in other people’s imagination. Anyways, this outfit is a favourite story of mine… facts below.

xo aiyanajane

wearing all le chateau and a DIY WRAP WATCH

  1.  I am obsessed with teal! Teal, turquoise, bluish-green.. whatever you want to call it, its my very favourite color, that gorgeous ocean blue! It makes me wish I was back in the Dominican this March rather than being stuck in Calgary. There is another snow storm currently in progress and I am less than impressed… which brings me to facto numero.. 
  2.  I loathe snow. Straight up my greatest ambition, right after the hobbit house, is to move somewhere where it snows from very little to not at all. I like summer and water and warm. Not snow and ice, except of course, for Game of Thrones, AMIRITE?!   I’m not even linking it because if you don’t know about it by now you live under a rock. Season three starts on the 31st of March, which gives you plenty of time to marathon the first two seasons if you start now.  I recommend the books as well but I would be very impressed if someone managed to finish them between now and the season premier, that would be a LOT of reading. I mean A LOT. Anyways obviously, I am ridiculously excited about it! RIDICULOUSLY. I’m kind of a nerd.
  3. One of my other favourite things is leopard print, which I literally post on at least a monthly basis…  Regardless, these pony hair kitten heels are my absolute go to for city style! They have this moda-reflex technology which is supposedly the bomb, combined with the low heel they are very comfortable. Plus they go with everything and make it instantly 8 times cooler. That’s a fact. The pashmina combines two of my favourite things and add’s a nice pop of color to an otherwise neutral outfit.
  4. Skinny jeans or leggings and an oversized sweater is another go-to. The hybrid counterpart “jeggings” are what I’m wearing here. Remember when jegging’s came out? I made fun of them SO HARD, I’m actually pretty sure an exact quote was “Who the expletive would EVER buy expletiving jeggings?!” Well  these were ten dollars and I realized that really, jeggings are the best efffing thing since sliced bread. They are comfy and tight like leggings, but warm and thick like jeans. I wear one of the family (jean, legging, jegging) on a daily basis when Calgary hits its coldest ( FYI: it drops to more than -40°c sometimes) Thankfully it’s not nearly that cold now. I borrowed the sweater I’m wearing from my roomie/BFF. For the longest time, we were scared to live together because you know, it really can ruin friendships…like, FOREVER. Anyways I was in a pinch and she stepped up and its been amazing! We borrow each others things and cook together, and sit on the internet together. Its quite lovely because we are more like family than friends anyways. I love her the most. She took some amazing photos for the blog which I will put up soon!
  5. Another thing about me, I love DIY’s mostly because I am hella cheap to buy the real thing!  In the summer when I broke my pelvis and all I could do was surf the web and watch movies I found this La Mer Charm Watch that I could not stop obsessing over. I mean, I NEEDED IT. Except for I had ZERO money and so I crafted an alternative for less than $30. I’m extremely happy with it compared to the nearly $200.00 price tag of some of the La Mer ones.. (Which I still kind of want, but now I’m learning more towards a rose gold marc jacobs… in my dreams, hah.) My ring is a Celtic symbol which means mother, daughter, grandmother, I got it visiting my mother’s family in Scotland when we went there in 2008. My ultimate dream DIY, as mentioned above, is building my own hobbit house. SERIOUSLY.

thank you for reading my pretties… 😉

decor ideas: pashmina curtains

 

save space & brighten up any room with

PASHMINA CURTAINS!

Recently I moved into a very small room, it only has a teeny little basement window so I decided to fake a large looking window (and add some color) by hanging a curtain rod above my bed and displaying my pashminas. This is a functional, cheap,  easy and pretty way to brighten up a room and show off your favourite scarves. I absolutely love pashmina’s I cannot stress how much of a difference wearing one can make in your style and your warmth!

Another great item to display? Your jewelry collection- accessories as art!

all the pretty pashminas

As you can see, I have a major love for leopard print!

Do you like my home made body pillow cover? Cedric sure does! fake a window using a curtain rod to hang up your scarf collection

What really makes a house a home is the heart. For me my animals are my heart; Cedric is my everything and  I love my fish- an aquarium as a display is serene, relaxing and beautiful. My favourite way to unwind is to light the candles and watch the fishies swim. The soft light and their fluid movements are very peaceful. In every home you should have a place where you can feel peaceful and meditate.

xo, a

Argan Hair Care

It’s been a little over a year since I decided to grow out my pixie cut and go back to long hair.  It seems to me I always want what I don’t have, looking back I miss my pixie, it was so easy, it styles better the longer you don’t shower, perfectly low maintenance and cute.  At the same time I look at older photos of my super long locks and miss them terribly.  The hardest part is the in between stage, I always feel utterly boring with a bob, but it can hardly be avoided if one wants to go from pixie cut to long layers. I could get extensions, but 1. I’m too cheap 2. I’m too lazy 3. they kinda weird me out… someone else’s hair on your head!! What if it comes alive and tries to kill you like that episode of the Simpsons where Homer gets a hair transplant!!? No, thank you.

pixie cut for straight hair

THEN: super short pixie cut circa December 2011 – dyed dark red

long wavy hair with a triple barrel curling iron

GOAL: long layers, natural hair color, waved with a triple barrel curling iron.

NOW: A LONG BOB- supremely unremarkable hairstyle

 My hair was color treated for a couple years, I decided the best way to get rid of it and avoid roots was to chop it short and grow it out.  I noticed that after I had dyed it, my hair was more brittle, tangled more, and was generally more unmanageable. Plus, I’ll let you in on a secret, I’m SUPER lazy about my hair… having to maintain with dye every few weeks, such a hassle! I haven’t dyed it since November 2011, my hair is all natural now, I have cut it a few times since I started growing it out, to even out the wacky layers and rid myself of dead ends. Did you know cutting your hair regularly stimulates growth? So even though its hard to watch those extra inches go, they will grow back stronger and healthier with regular trims!

One year in and patience is waning at this point, I certainly have at least another year of growing before I’m close to my goal length.  I’ve been looking into supplements like Biotin and Silica and might just try to see if they help it grow even faster. Stay tuned! In the mean time; “just keep growing, just keep growing, what do we do? We grow, grow, GROW!”

To stimulate growth and keep hair shiny, soft and smooth, I recently picked up this Argan Oil Conditioner, Pure Argan Oil, and  a Soy Milk Shampoo, all from Winners. I use the pure oil whenever I use hot tools on my hair- turn head upside down and apply to the ends working your way up to the scalp. To get a shiny smooth blowout, use Argan Oil, a boar bristle brush, and then blow dry on cool to lock in shine. Argan Oil is an amazing de-tangler, apply it directly to knots and comb out gently; my hair knots like crazy, it’s part of the reason I tend to go for short hair every couple years, Argan will help prevent breakage as you fight the tangles! Apply it to your hair and give yourself regular head massages which will stimulate blood flow and increase hair growth.  In the photos you can still see some of the sun-streaks in the front from this summer, I used this DIY Lemon Lightening Spray to get natural highlights.

…and a sneak peak at an upcoming post, I’m loving this Equestrian style blazer!

silk scarf and tank, wool blazer - le chateauHope you’re having a wonderful weekend! xo, a

New Year, new you

How i created HEALTHY HABITS to get fit last year!

I posted earlier about how I don’t do New Years Resolutions, because I then feel motivated only by obligation and prematurely set up for failure. How many times have you resolved to eat well and exercise every day, only to slip back into old habits by February? We all do it.

did you resolve to GET FIT and BE HEALTHY this year?

Focus on those words, FIT & HEALTHY, because this should be your goal. Not thinness, not an exact number on the scale, or total inches lost, what comes first is your health, physically and mentally.

love your body

You need to be getting active for the right reasons! Make gradual lifestyle changes to better yourself, rather than crash dieting to lose those last pounds, the most important thing is to start your fitness journey for YOU, not based on someone else’s expectation of beauty.

First, banish negative thinking. You are not too fat, ugly, stupid or lazy to do this. You deserve love, but don’t try to lose weight to get a boyfriend (or keep one), try to lose weight to love yourself and appreciate your body. When you love yourself- when you have passion and hobbies and interests that keep you from looking for them, that’s when you find the person you’re meant to be with. When the negative voices in your head tell you that you aren’t good enough and fills you with doubts don’t listen- get up and prove them wrong!

Rather than comparing yourself to photo-shopped print models, find REAL WOMEN TO INSPIRE YOU…

Do you have a friend who has fitness goals as well? Team up, everything is easier with a second voice to motivate! Make sure to find an exercise regime that you are comfortable with, maybe you want to get out of the house or meet people, sign up for a class- yoga, rock climbing, pole dancing? Anything you can dream of, why not try? Or get a gym membership if you are the type who is motivated enough to actually go to the gym. Personally I’m an introvert when it comes to sweating, I prefer to do so in private- the swimming pool is the only public exercise place I dare to venture, and only because I am yet to build my own personal pool.. someday.. in the meantime, I work out at home using the world wide web for inspiration! For amazing fitness inspiration and food ideas I love Taralynn McNitts Blog, for workout ideas my absolute all time favourite is Cassey Ho at Blogilates! I follow a few other fitness blogs for inspiration and often buy the magazine (or at least check the website) Women’s Health, which is an absolute gold mine of information. Its kinda like Cosmo, if Cosmo had actual useful advice, rather than the same sex tips month after month.

Getting fit doesn’t have to be expensive!

In fact, you should be able to get fit essentially for free, provided you have a few basics. My at home fitness kit includes: 8 lb soft kettle ball, dumbbells in 5, 10 and 15lb increments (20 lbs when I borrow my little brothers!), a jump rope, exercise ball, and a yoga mat.

I’ve always considered myself relatively fit and active, but around this time last year I began to really realize that I had let myself slip. The stress and hopelessness I felt in my relationship had me sitting on the couch pounding back chocolate cake wondering why my boyfriend loved World of Warcraft more than me. I wasn’t in a healthy place mentally, I felt disgusting all the time, tired, out of breath and the repeated rejection I faced in my relationship had me feeling unattractive and unworthy. I hadn’t been to the pool in months, I could barely will myself to do anything other than work. I felt hopeless, overwhelmed, exhausted and didn’t even know where to start.  When I started feeling out of breath climbing to our third floor apartment, I realized that I needed to stop living in denial, and make a change for the better. When our parents (my ex boyfriends and mine) decided to send us on a trip for Christmas last year, it was the kick I needed to finally got my butt in motion!

First I got back to swimming…

for me, swimming is therapy, it always has been. It forces you to be aware and in control of your entire body, regulate your breathing and the rush of the water drowns out any of those overwhelming thoughts in your head. Its proven to be one of the very best exercises you can do. If you don’t know how to swim, don’t wait to learn- or try something like aquazsize, a low impact cardio workout that tones using the natural resistance and buoyancy of the water.

Next I added in Pilates and Yoga. I really lump these into one as I do poses or moves from both in any given session. Super power your yoga poses by holding light weights as you move through a series. Focus on form and doing slow but correct reps, not speeding sloppily though the workout. You’ll only be cheating yourself. If you have never tried it before, sign up for a class to learn the basics, then you can easily create a custom routine to do at home. I learned using Stott Pilates dvds that I got in my Special K box about ten years ago, I still have them, and they still work! Buying a workout DVD (or downloading it) is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to get fit, provided you use it regularly. Like I said, Blogilates has awesome FREE workout videos, bookmark it and then try not to cry the first time you try one!

Finally I used short cardio (jumping jacks, jump rope or running on the spot) combined with weight and resistance training to tone and shed pounds. By alternating between high energy cardio bursts, and slow reps with the weights you boost your metabolism, build muscle and burn fat. Do overhead tricep extentions with weights as you do squats (for perfect squat form check out another favourite fitness blogger of mine!), or bicep curls as you do lunges- anything to add extra weight to movement based exercises. Adding extra weight to ordinary exercises makes them more challenging and increases the rewards!

then: ~JANUARY 2012

now: JANUARY 2013

after

I lost 25 lbs in 6 months by forming HEALTHY HABITS

I formed these habits over a span of months, rather than trying to force a restrictive diet or strict regime upon myself. I focused on just getting better and being at peace with my body, not losing weight, and the pounds melted off. When I broke my pelvis in July, I recovered several weeks ahead of schedule- I attribute that early recovery entirely to physical activity, primarily swimming. Ten days after I broke it I was in the pool doing modified water workouts, a month after, I was doing yoga again. What was supposed to take a minimum of 6-8 weeks to recover from, took me just under 5 weeks. You might notice a slight indent on my left thigh, this bruise is all that remains of my injury (6 months later) everything else is 100% back to normal. The bruise doesn’t even hurt, but I believe the muscle was so damaged by the impact that it will likely be years (if ever) before it fully heals, a minor price to pay for my mobility as far as I’m concerned. The time spend bedridden felt unbearable, I had just started realizing how strong my body was when suddenly it was broken! But lying there, with my leg muscles deteriorating before my eyes, only made me more determined to get back up and regain that strength as soon as I could.

When I first started I would do a workout video one day, and go swimming another.

For the first few weeks I pushed myself to maintain at least 2 workouts a week. At first I had to force myself but my workouts got easier, I added more steps, increased weights, went running occasionally (through with my bad knees I couldn’t keep it up), rather than walk up the stairs on my way home, I started to run them. I noticed my energy start to increase, my mood improved and I just physically and mentally felt better! I started to notice that if I went a few days without working out, I would go back to feeling depressed an apathetic. Once I realized that, whenever I started on that negative thought pattern I’m so prone to, I would get up from whatever I was doing (usually TV or the computer, as I find those to be my biggest negativity triggers) and work out instead. It didn’t even have to be much.. 15 minutes of yoga was enough to calm my mind and re-energize my body.

At that same time I was also having digestive issues, with symptoms similar to Celiac Disease, although not triggered by gluten. I was tested for multiple possibilities and nothing came back. After years of problems, I finally realized the only real change in my diet (I never had any problems before moving out) was that I was no longer eating the organic meats my family raises on the farm, but instead most of my meals were store bought and prepackaged. By slowly removing and reintroducing foods, I found what the doctors couldn’t, that it was meat making me sick. I switched to only eating organic farm raised meat (bet you thought I was gonna say vegetarian- HAH, not for me) and cut out all the high sodium processed foods I loved like Sidekicks and Icheban. I started making almost all my food from scratch, because I realized it was the preservatives, antibiotics and god knows what else in the prepackaged foods that were wreaking havoc on my intestines. Switching to farm meat was easy for me, since I know people.. but even still, it required I shift my eating habits in order to get enough protein; avocado, eggs, beans, lentils and nuts are my favorite alternate sources.

Even before I switched to organic, I was eating relatively healthy. I have always adhered to intuitive eating, and rejected the idea of dieting in any form. I am not someone who does well with “You can’t!” because my immediate reaction is “oh yeah, watch me!” so rigid diets that don’t allow “bad” foods (or really any restrictive diet at all) makes me want to binge based partly on spite and partly because I sit and focus on how much I want what I can’t have! Instead of dieting, I eat a healthy base diet filled with whole grains, organic meat, lots of fruits and vegetables, and allow myself to indulge my sweet tooth. I pay close attention to portioning, which I believe is a huge factor in obesity in North America thanks to portions 2-3 times the recommended size being served in many restaurants. I eat lots of little snacks through out the day, usually in some form of chocolate because I am an addict.

Other than being a legit Chocoholic, my eating habits are generally healthy (and its been argued by some that chocolate is healthy so HAH!) I don’t drink pop, if I drink juice, I generally dilute it with water. Sweet drinks are a HUGE factor in obesity, and are just terrible for your health. If you are drinking pop on a daily basis, do yourself a favor and stop, you’ll lose weight guaranteed. A huge part of being healthy is being hydrated, so make sure to drink lots and lots of water- at least 2-4 liters a day. Water re-hydrates your system and flushes out sodium and toxins, minimizing bloat. Nothing replaces water- if you don’t like the taste, slice up a lemon and add that in for additional benefits.

Whatever excuses you are making for not exercising, STOP! THERE IS NO EXCUSE, and no one but you has the POWER TO MAKE A POSITIVE CHANGE!

After - pilates, yoga, swimmingA typical dry land workout for me is about a half hour, maybe 45 minutes on an ambitious day. I move through a variety of Pilates and yoga poses, with circuits focusing on the core, legs and arms, interspersed with bursts of cardio and weight training. I posted a variation of my usual workout here.

At the pool I swim for about an hour. This includes light yoga in the steam room to warm up and stretch out, and at least 15 minutes of treading water, using different kicks and alternating hands in and out of the water. The basic kicks in swimming are flutterwhipdolphineggbeaterscissor. Generally I do a minute set of each; 30 seconds with hands, 30 seconds no hands, then switch kicks and repeat all 5 kick circuits without stopping twice. Once warmed up, I do laps in 50 meter sets, alternating generally between my preferred strokes; freestyle and breaststroke, but occasionally doing either backstroke or the most difficult of all- butterfly! Because of my swim club background, I often mix strokes and kicks into drills- for example breaststroke arms with a dolphin kick. Dolphin kick is one of the absolute best core work outs you can find, but butterfly is such a difficult stroke that most people never get the benefits, by modifying it you get the benefits, without looking and feeling like a drowning victim.

Lately I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit. In the summer I was exercising 4 or 5 times a week, now its down to 1 or 2 times! Something about summer and being able to go outside makes SUCH a difference in my motivation, in winter I just want to hibernate under my blankies and cuddle Cedric. I’ve also been a lot more busy with school and work. To sneak in fitness where I can I do things like run the stairs during breaks in class, do 10 squats every time I go to the bathroom, and even just walk at a brisk pace wherever I go. The smallest things add up to make big changes. If you get in the habit of doing things you feel are simple, its more likely that you will continue to do them, and then seek out more challenges.

i know i could probably lose another TEN POUNDS…

if I decided dieting was worth it (I literally eat cake almost every day… it just keeps me sane okay) or if I wanted to push my training routine. But I’m not now, and never have been a size zero… and that’s okay!  What matters is that I feel better than ever before, and feeling great is the first step to looking great. Remember:

XO, A

I want to thank my personal motivators, who are always there to support and motivate me whenever I need them! Amazon girls- I love you, stay strong always!

Winter Wearable

i love FAUX-FUR to keep warm and feel chic all though the COLD CALGARY WINTER. shades of burgundy & pink offset basic black & white – finished with SILVER DETAILS on these easy DIY HEELS and sparkly bow jewelry.

burgundy jacket, grey fur, pink purse and pleather pants

WEARING:    XX1 FOREVER – cropped jacket, blouse and “vegan leather” (polyurethane)  skinny pants   +    MATT & NAT recycled bottle-cap cross body bag   +   BCBG cap toe glitter heels – DIY here

How do you keep warm but stay chic in the cold winter months? I tend to just curl into the fetal position and stay in bed whenever possible!

xo, a

DIY – Nutella Chocolate Christmas Ornaments

The holiday season often means a great deal of gift giving, which adds up quickly. Save cash and impress your friends, family or co-workers with yummy home made chocolates, inspired slightly by my love of Ferrero Rocher, made to look like cute little ornaments, and not to be opened until Christmas!

I used Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Chipits, because that’s what I had available, but I recommend hitting up a bulk chocolate bin- superstore sells Bernard Callebaut!

You can buy pre-made chocolate molds in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but I had this empty egg carton which I figured would recycle perfectly for my purpose! Make sure to use plastic, not paper cartons if you choose to re-purpose your egg cartons as well!

Then set up a double boiler, boil water in a small pot on the bottom, with a metal bowl  resting on top; this will melt the chocolate smoothly and evenly. Be sure to stir consistently.

  1. Pour melted chocolate into the molds, and use a spatula to ensure the entire surface is evenly covered
  2. Sprinkle mixed nuts into the chocolate shell, I used whole walnuts and almonds, approximately 5-7 nuts per chocolate. (Significantly more went into the big almond walnut bark bar.)
  3. Pour remaining melted chocolate into the molds, until even and full. I ran out of chocolate at this point (mental note, one bag of chocolate chips is not enough) so I melted down a half bag of white chocolate chips and made half the batch with that. Sometimes the best things come about by accident.
  4. Place tray in the fridge or freezer to cool, (you can leave it out at room temperature it just takes longer and I have no patience when it comes to matters involving chocolate)
  5. Once fully hardened, spoon a tsp of Nutella onto one of the chocolate halves and squish the other half on top, smoothing out any extra Nutella that comes squishing out of the edges. I used one half milk chocolate and one half white chocolate.
  6. Wrap in tinfoil, twisting at the top. Tie a knot around the tinfoil twist and make a loop using ribbon. Secure with tape if necessary
  7. Then tie a bow around it to cover the tape and ensure again that the loop is secure. If you like, add a color to the tinfoil using paint or permanent marker!

nutella filled chocolate, almond, walnut egg ornament

These are the perfect little bobbles to give to anyone on your list – provided they don’t have a nut allergy. Hang them on the tree and unwrap on Christmas morning for a super yummy and festive treat! I’m sure I will revisit this idea when Easter rolls around!

happy holidays! XO – A

DIY- Refurbished Secretary Desk

Hello my lovelies!

So I’m moving this weekend to a place where I will be sharing a bathroom… wait, shared? Whats a girl with a massive collection of makeup, skin and hair care products to do?! Since its shared space I don’t want to overtake the counter so I refinished this secretary desk I’ve had for years. I used it as a makeup table before and it was awesome, but it was getting pretty beat up so I gave it a makeover!

BEFORE:

Put down newspaper (or something of the sort) then remove all drawers, handles, shelves and screws. Sand down rough edges and any scratches. This should be done in a well ventilated area.

Spray paint the entire unit- use multiple THIN coats for even coverage that doesn’t run. Then spray the drawers- I chose to use two different metallic spray paints- silver for the body and gold for the inserts.

To replace the old handles, I painted these seashells curtain shower hooks blue and cut the wire backing down to the right length. Then use hot glue in the hole and the original backing to secure it.

Hand paint the edges of the piece with gold acrylic. On the fold-down shelf I spray painted the outside silver, and the inside gold. When its dry attach hardware and re-insert the drawers.

1. BEFORE 2. Base coat 3. Gold and Cobalt detailing 4. AFTER

AFTER:

MATERIALS: Krylon Spray Paint ( nickle, gold & silver) Folk Art Acrylic Paint (gold, cobalt) Sandpaper, Screwdriver, Seashell Curtain hooks, Hot glue gun and sticks, wire cutters, pliers, paintbrush.

refinished secretary desk diy

I have to admit, I’m very pleased with the result! And as a bonus the whole project took me about 8 hours, including drying time! The hardest part was cutting the curtain hooks, which could have been avoided if I hadn’t been too lazy to search out regular fake seashells, but Drumheller Walmart has a limited selection so I just made do. Its amazing what a difference a little paint and some hot-glue can make!

Maybe this post will inspire you to revamp a worn in piece!

xo, a!