Flowers and Layers







Sweater: Columbia | Oxford: Ralph Lauren (Similar) | Jeans: GAP | Boots:Macy's | Watch: Micheal Kors Bradshaw | Gold & pearl earrings: Gift (I actually wore them on my wedding day!) | Wicker basket: Vintage

Welcome back freezing cold January weather! The first few weeks of January were unseasonably warm and it was lovely. But, the snow and the cold is back and I guess I can't complain too much. I really do love living in a place with four seasons. The snow is beautiful and the cold temperatures mean that I get to layer up my clothes! I am a big fan of layering and not just because it looks great in photos (there's a tip for when you are dressing your fam for a pic!), it's great because I am always cold! Until the temperature hits 85 degrees, you will find me in a cardigan or sweater. 

I bought this Columbia sweater at National Sports during one of their Christmas sales (Columbia is having a 25% off Winter sale on their Canadian site, great for you US readers. Your dollar goes further in Canada right now!). Living in a house with boys who are sports crazy, I visit the store frequently. I loved the bright, almost neon, shade of pink and how thin it is. I love polar fleece but find it too thick to layer a nice oxford under it, this is the perfect weight! I think they managed to shrink the weight of polar fleece because this sweater keeps me just as warm. My pink Ralph Lauren oxford is an oldie, but a goodie. I have had this for probably 10 years and it still looks as good as the day I bought it. I knew it would be the perfect pink to layer with this new sweater. 

On a freezing cold Saturday morning AMH and I visited the Kitchener Market, like we do most Saturdays. I love bringing along my basket to fill up with free range, flax fed eggs, some of the greatest cuts of meat you will ever find, and always lots of flowers! Our little flower market sells three bundles for $10 and since I was all dressed in pink I picked two bundle of pink roses and one bundle of blue and white hydrangeas. It's almost a full week later and while the hydrangeas wilted, I cut the rose stems into a smaller arrangement and they are still going strong!

My Dream Birthday Party

Paperless Post, the invitation and stationary company, recently asked me if I was planning a party for my January birthday. This got me thinking about the party I have always wanted to throw... a Tangled inspired birthday party! I have been saying this for years and even have it as part of my profile, to one day throw a Tangled inspired party!

I am such a planner. I enjoy every minute of researching and coordinating (I'm a great project manager, just sayin') and since this has always been a goal of mine I figure this is a great opportunity to work out my dream birthday party! Ready to see how a full grown adult women would throw a Disney movie themed party? Of course you are!


I searched Paperless Post and low and behold I found exactly what I wanted, without knowing exactly what I wanted! Don't you just love when that happens? This invitation of pink and orange lanterns was the perfect jumping off point for designing my dream birthday party. You can customize the colours and fonts on your selected card and have them printed on 16pt paper, they are standard card size 5x7. Including envelopes they are $28.50 for 10 custom made cards ($1.90 per card, price reduces when you order more). I think the prices are more than reasonable and the selection is outstanding. They offer collaborations with such incredible designers as Jonathan Adler, Oscar de la Renta, Kate Spade and Kelly Wearstler. 

Top: Taken by me on my last visit to Langdon Hall, bottom left: Style Me Pretty, Bottom right: Living Fresh

Choosing a location for my dream birthday party was very easy. I selected my favourite local country house, Langdon Hall (you can read about my tour of Langdon Hall here). I would love to book the Orchard Room for a private dinner and dancing for my friends and family. The Orchard Room, with its floor to ceiling windows, would be the perfect place to enjoy dinner and watch the stars once the sun has set. For dinner, I would select the celery root puree with truffle cream soup to start, the lamb sirloin and garlic roasted fingerlings and onion soubise as the entree and the fudgy chocolate cake with caramel and honey roasted peanuts as the dessert. And I would beg them to make me their pumpkin pie martini. They stop serving it on Halloween but it's so delicious, it should be served in every season! 

via Pinterest

To me, this birthday cake is perfection! It is completely inspired by the floating lanterns and Rapunzel's castle and village. Wouldn't it be great to play "At Last I See the Light" instead of "Happy Birthday"? Oh, it's just me that knows all the words? Ok, moving on...

Top two photos via Pinterest, middle: via Pinterest Disney Weddings, bottom left: Style at Home, bottom right:Pinterest

Did you think I was going to decorate with Disney decorations? This is a grown up party and it needs to have some grown up decorations! I love twinkling lights and lanterns at night and I would want them to play a huge party in my dream birthday party. I love the little lantern in the middle of the photo above. I would make or find these little sleeves to wrap around glass candle holders on each table to add that night time glow to each table. Pink and orange is such a fabulous colour combination and I would love to fill the Orchard Room with flowers like the Carolyne Roehm designed arrangements above. The star and twinkling light wall would not only make a great decoration, it would make a great backdrop for some group photos! Thank goodness I just got a selfie stick!

After choosing stationary, location, menus and decorations the only thing left is what to wear and I have the perfect outfit!


How freaking perfect would this dress be for this party! Monique Lhuillier Ready to Wear Spring 2016. This dress is so #dressgoals. I could spend forever on this website. Everything from dresses to shoes to bags is feminine and colourful, it's perfectly my style! 


You have to have a great pair of shoes to go with a great dress and these Christian Louboutin Balota platform sandals are true show stoppers. They cost a fortune but hey, this is my dream birthday party so why not break the bank!

Well there you have it, my dream birthday party starting from invitations all the way down to dressing for the occasion. I only have one question to ask...

Who wants an invite?

{Guest Post} Crystal Reia of Your Health- Your Choice - Why You Need to Change Up Your Workouts

Happy Wednesday everyone! Hope those of you who read last week’s post were able to put my advice to the test and add some eccentric training into your strength workout. Feel free to leave a comment below if you tried it and which exercises you tried applying it to! I’d love to hear from you!

This week I wanted to quickly talk about why change is good for you and your workouts. I know, I know... most people hate change. I get it - you finally get settled into your usual running or spinning routine and you’re like... “This is good! I know what to expect. I’m working hard and I feel comfortable right where I am.”


There is nothing wrong with doing what you love on a regular basis. But unfortunately our bodies adapt quit quickly to the stimulus we give it... so when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck in fitness and health? You NEED to change.it.up my friends.

1. Why Change? Well firstly... positive “change” will keep things from getting boring. Because trust me, eventually you are going to get bored of the same old routine. Keeping things fresh, trying new routines, new exercises or a new class is an amazing way to challenge your muscles and get you out of your comfort zone. When we get stuck in our comfort zone, we can easily plateau and you will quickly realize that you are not seeing the results you want.

2. Ways To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone: If you are finding you feel stuck in a rut lately, add something new to your weekly routine! It could be as simple as mixing up your regular strength routine by varying the tempos, ranges of motion, the type of exercises etc. Or trying something completely new altogether! If you can’t commit the extra time, then maybe swap something out. If all you ever do is run or bike, it’s time to add some strength training or high intensity interval training into the mix. Bootcamps are awesome for this. Because most instructors change up classes very often so you never know what to expect and there is always a new challenge waiting for you. When you start stepping out of your comfort zone, you will start to see big gains in ways you never thought possible. You will also start achieving goals and accomplishing exercises you maybe never thought you could do! And how awesome is that!?!

3. Change will grow your confidence. Being brave and trying new classes or exercises (safely of course) will give you much more confidence and experience with your training. Whether you are a regular or advanced exerciser or an athlete training for an event; cross training is a great way to keep you motivated and stop you from plateauing.

4. Unsure of what to do or how to change things up? Enlist the help of a trainer who knows how to keep things fresh! Speaking personally, it is my mission to keep your workouts exciting and challenging. We do the thinking for you and keep you accountable and moving. We want to push you safely out of your comfort zone in small increments each session and get excited with you when you reach or surpass those goals! We are your biggest supporters and cheerleaders! Here to motivate you along the way and keep your eyes focused on the bigger picture.

All in all, you need to learn to fall in love with change. Besides loving what you do, this is my best piece of advice to you if you want to stay the course and make exercise a part of your life – for life.

Have a fitastic week everyone! And if you try something new this week, I’d love to hear about it!

~Crystal~













Crystal Reia
PTS, PFS, OAS
Your Health-Your Choice

Email: yourhealth-yourchoice@live.ca

www.yourhealth-yourchoice.weebly.com
www.facebook.com/URHealth
www.twitter.com/URHealthURChoic
www.instagram.com/URHEALTHURCHOICE

@Celebratingthislife


Started the new year with a healthy morning juice. (Lilly Pulitzer Tumbler)


Selfie with Lily on a strangely warm January afternoon. (L.L.Bean Sweater, Similar)


If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day (*Special note, @TargetStyle asked to use this photo. Fingers crossed!) (Bedding, Similar & Similar)


Celebrating my birthday with two of my favourties - cupcakes and wine!


Now this is the January I am used to! #WaterlooPark


New pink Essie nail polish, Muchi Muchi


First arrangement after making "flower arranging" one of my goals for 2016.


Currently sitting in bed nursing a very sore back while watching movies and reading. 

Make sure to follow along on Instagram @Celebratingthislife

Leave your handle in the comments so I can check you out! 

High Medium Low - Warm Winter Coats


High - L.L. Bean $299 US


Medium - Columbia $187.49 CAN (currently on sale! Reg. $249)


Low - Bench $99.99 CAN (Also on sale! Reg. $289)

Man, it's chilly out there (and I hope all my friends on the East Coast made out ok after winter storm Jonas). Right now is a great time to buy a new, warm winter coat. There are a few sales going in, two of the three coats above are on major sale! 

I've been doing really well and sticking to some health and fitness goals I made at the beginning of the year. AMH and I have been walking the dogs for 11 km's every.single.day. No matter how freaking cold it is out there. But there is a silver lining, all the cold weather walking lead to today's High Medium Low post! 

My requirements were fairly simple; they need to keep you warm in cold temperatures, have a great reputation for quality, and they needed to have a hood. The wind has been extra biting the last few days and my hood has been a total lifesaver. 

I love L.L.Bean for their great reputation of quality, customer service and their return policies. I'd love to put this coat to the Canadian winter test! 

Columbia is a brand I have trusted since the late 90's. I first bought one of their coats fresh out of high school and have entrusted them to keep my entire family warm throughout the years. My boys have always loved their coats for their warmth and for the variety of colour options. 

Bench is a brand that everyone around me raves about, but I have personally not owned one. I consulted with a few friends before selecting this one and they all said it was their best purchase this winter. I love the style and the understated pink colour. 

What coat are you currently wearing to keep you warm? Are their any warm winter coats currently on your wish list?

{Guest Post} Crystal Reia of Your Health-Your Choice - Women and Weight Lifting

Welcome to another WOW Wednesday, our weekly health and fitness guest post by Crystal Reia, owner and personal trainer with Your Health - Your Choice servicing Waterloo Region. How is everyone doing with their New Year's resolutions so far? I think one of the best ways to keep up with a fitness resolution is to have someone hold you accountable, why not make it this weekly guest post? Each week come back to learn new tips and tricks and incorporate them into your workout! Crystal is such a great motivator and takes a great deal of time to explain techniques to her clients, and with all of you! Today's post about women and weight lifting is great one for those looking to add a little something more to their workouts, and especially important for women who are not yet using weights in their workouts. Follow Crystal's advice below and you will be well on your way to achieving your 2016 fitness resolutions! Take it away Crystal... {Rox-Anne, Celebrating this Life}




WOMEN & WEIGHT LIFTING: ADD SOME ECCENTRIC TRAINING INTO YOUR ROUTINE

All joking aside (forgive my funny meme poster additives today)... if you have been reading my guest posts on a regular basis, you will know what a huge advocate I am for women and weight lifting. If you are not doing some form of strength training in your weekly routine; you should be! So many women are under the impression, that lifting weights will make them huge and bulky. This is not true. Instead it WILL give you:

ü Increases muscle mass and decreases percentage of 
    body fat
ü Increases muscular strength and strengthens bones
(decreasing the risk of Osteoporosis)
ü Promotes healthy weight loss or weight maintenance
ü Increases your energy levels and your resting 
    metabolism
ü Improves your core strength and promotes joint stability
ü Improves balance, coordination, range of motion and agility
ü Improves your body image and self-esteem
ü Reduces depression and anxiety
ü Assists in stress management

These are just to name a few!

What I would like to talk to you about today is way of training called “Eccentric” training. And by this I mean to slow down the eccentric part of your movements to get more bang for your buck per rep. This type of training will challenge you, increasing your strength much stronger and quicker in a shorter amount of time. This is not the only way to lift, but it does work great in conjunction with quicker reps and isometric (means to hold your contraction without shortening or lengthening the movement) training.

Quick intro: With every “moving” exercise there is a “concentric” action and an “eccentric” action.
(See diagram below for an example using a bicep curl) Concentric means when you shorten and contract your muscle on the lifting phase– Eccentric means when you lengthen your muscle while contracting it on the lowering phase. Make sense??


Slowing down this lengthening (eccentric) action is an awesome way to add challenge into any/all of your regular exercises. I’m a big believer in changing up and varying tempos with all movements to get amazing results. But slowing down your eccentric movement will definitely give you some awesome rewards and is good to include into your workout.

Now let’s use a “squat” in this next example. Some confuse this movement a little because when you lower you are actually lengthening the backs of your legs and when you stand you are actually contracting. The fronts of your legs are doing the opposite action though. But typically we do squats to work our posterior. Many forget to engage these back muscles while squatting!

As you lower down into your squat you are lengthening your gluteals and hamstrings – this is the “eccentric” phase. Therefore try slowing down your squat. Take 4-5 counts or more to get to the bottom of the movement, then try coming back to the top in 2 counts a little quicker. After a set of 8-10, try reversing the counts! Go down into the squat quicker and come up to standing slower. Add an isometric hold of 10 seconds into your squat before returning to the top! There are so many ways to change up your exercises to make it more interesting and engage your mind and muscles!

I just want to reference this article I found on Eccentric Training – that delves into a little more of the actual benefits. I felt it was well written and an easy read: http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/6-powerful-benefits-of-eccentric-training

Know that you don’t necessarily have to go extremely heavy with this type of training. It will benefit you no matter what level you are at or how much weight you are lifting at this point. Just take some care not to increase weight too soon before you are ready. Meaning your ligaments, tendons and muscles should be built slowly and ready to take on more stress/added weight – and do it in very small increments. Otherwise you could be finding yourself injured or dealing with muscle tears/strains; and nooooo one likes injuries! Also be sure to get adequate rest between your lifting sessions (24-48 hours or more depending on the length and intensity of your session). You should feel almost 100% going into your next workout.

This was a very quick intro; but I hope it taught you a little something new to try with your exercises and training if you haven’t already been. As always if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Have a fitastic week everyone!

~Crystal~













Crystal Reia
PTS, PFS, OAS
Your Health-Your Choice

Email: yourhealth-yourchoice@live.ca

www.yourhealth-yourchoice.weebly.com
www.facebook.com/URHealth
www.twitter.com/URHealthURChoic
www.instagram.com/URHEALTHURCHOICE

Gooey Apple Pecan Cake


The winter storms are in full effect here in the North! I left work early yesterday due to a snow squall warning and boy, am I glad I did. On top of being freezing cold, the snow was blowing everywhere reducing visability. Getting home early meant I had some free time to play around in the kitchen!

Last fall I made a pumpkin pecan cobbler from Lauren's Latest and really loved the result. I wanted to make a similar dessert but with apple as my main flavour. I modified Lauren's recipe and I think it turned out great! I'm calling this one the Gooey Apple Pecan Cake. It is best served warm with a scoop of ice cream on a cold snowy night. Enjoy! 


I learned from Martha that you should always measure out your ingredients before starting any recipe. This is called 'mise en place'. It is a french culinary term meaning 'everything in its place' and it makes baking so easy! I think it also helps you to keep your kitchen clean as you put each ingredient away after measuring it out. 


I used McIntosh apples as my main ingredient. Not only are they my favourite apple, the harvest this year has just been incredible! I picked up this batch from my local Sobeys. 


Peel, core and chop your apples. 


Melt some butter in a pan, we are going to soften the apples before we bake them. 


After adding some brown sugar, we cook for about 5 minutes and then remove from the heat. 


I added all the dry ingredients to my vintage yellow mixing bowl and added all the wet ingredients to a smaller blue and white bowl. 


I spray my baking pan with Pam to make clean up easy! Now is the time to add wet to dry and mix, by hand. 


I poured the cake batter into the baking pan. After chopping the pecans I mix them with the two sugars. 


Evenly spread the sugar/pecan topping on the cake batter. Pour hot water on top of sugar topping. 


Do not mix! This is important. Put in your oven just like this for 40-60 minutes (depending on your oven and baking pan).


Remove from oven what set. The middle and top should be cooked like a cake, in my ceramic pan it took the full 60 minutes. Using a toothpick to test, I started checking at 40 mins and every 10 minutes thereafter. 



Scoop out a portion of the cake into a bowl, making sure to grab some of the caramel in the bottom of the pan. 


Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 


Enjoy!

Gooey Apple Pecan Cake 
Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup soften apple filling (recipe below) 
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Soften apple filling:
1 tablespoon butter
2 apples, peeled cored and cubed
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

Topping:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium bowl stir flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon, set aside. 

Peel, core and chop apples. Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. When melted, add apples and cook until soft and slightly brown. Add brown sugar and stir occasionally, cooking for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 

In a small bowl stir soften apple, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix, by hand, until combined (it should resemble a thick batter). Pour into a greased 3 quart (2.8L) ceramic casserole dish (or square metal baking pan).

To make topping; In a small bowl combine granulated sugar, brown sugar and chopped pecans. Spread evenly on top of batter. Pour boiling water on top of the sugar, do not mix. Bake for 50 minutes until middle is set. (*Note, start checking after 40 minutes, it could take up to 60 minutes. You want the middle and top of the cake to be done.) 

Scoop warm cake into bowls, add some of the caramel from the bottom of the pan. Top with ice cream and serve immediately.

Spring in January













Rain Coat: Michael Kors (Similar) | Striped Dress: Lilly Pulitzer Island View (Similar)| Cardigan: GAP
Scarf: Calvin Klein | Boots: Hunter Boots (Short version here) | Purse: Michael Kors
Eye Make Up, Blush & Bronzer: Dior | BB Cream: Smashbox Camera Ready
Lipstick: Revlon 407 Rosedew | Nail Polish: Essie 104 Muchi, Muchi

I should have titled this blog post "Spring in January?"- This is rare January weather for us in the North-East. Last year we had nothing but mountains of snow and extreme cold warnings. Now, the sun is shining, the snow is melting, birds are singing and I've even noticed a few early buds in the garden. It feels like spring in January! 

A sure sign that spring is on it's way is the arrival of tulips at the florist. They are such a beautiful and inexpensive flower. I picked up three dozen of these lovely lilac tulips for only $11, and that included tax! Lucky for me, they matched my purple Hunter Boots perfectly.

Since the weather has been so nice it inspired me to pull out my spring clothes and that means the return of my Lilly dresses! I love this blue and white striped Briella and couldn't wait to wear it. Since it was raining, I layered in an old purple GAP cardigan, a purple Calvin Klein scarf and wore a trench to help me stay dry (I am so in need of an umbrella!). I added my Selma Michael Kors bag because this beauty always reminds me of sunshine, probably because I bought it on a wonderful spring day. It's such a great bag as it fits so many things (my Nikon is usually in there with everything else) it has so many interior pockets and I love the cross body strap. The purple Hunters completed the spring like look. I wear these boots so much that complete strangers, and the staff at Yankee Candle, actually know me just by the boots! 

I'm also sticking to the goals I made at the beginning of this year and trying to learn more about proper make-up application. I used a makeup sponge to apply and blend my BB Cream, highlighter, bronzer and blush. I think it went ok, I really do like that it gives an almost airbrushed quality, and I can't wait to visit Sephora to see what else I can try!