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I’m a walking cliché and I’m so happy.

January 28, 2015

Ally: Not unlike the other 45,907,84 people around entry into 2015, I decided to embark on a “personal awakening” of sorts. For those who know me personally, or who are friends with me on Facebook where I lay out my entire life, 2014 was both a challenging and inspiring year – but it was also one where I didn’t focus a lot of myself or my health needs. As a result, I was about to entire 2015 feeling lethargic, unmotivated and basically like a freshly steamed bag of shit.

I decided to make some drastic changes. First step: Join the gym.

Ally joins the Gym

So insufferable are gym people, I know, and I vow to try really hard to not be that jerk. I joined with the masses right around January 1st, so I was on the receiving end of a lot of social media scorn for being a “newbie”, the term insufferable gym people use for their fellow humans who have the audacity to get up the courage to walk their out of shape molds into a facility with unflattering lights and supermodels wearing lululemon.

In addition to being a newbie who was ruthlessly and remorselessly stealing “regulars'” parking spots and “favourite machines (Seriously? SERIOUSLY? ), I decided to go the distance and hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to mind me how to like, do stuff at the gym. This, in my opinion, was well worth the money. If any of you go to the Goodlife at Larry Uteck, and are interested in a personal trainer, I highly recommend Richard Hope. He’s a lovely guy who knows his stuff and who manages to not make you feel massively out-of-shape despite the fact that he takes the 25 pound weight you were using for your squat and holds it like it is a kleenex. He also calls you “young lady” in a totally non-misogynostic way even though you both know that you’re on the wrong side of 35.

Seeing the trainer for those sessions made me commit to a routine. I was hooked, and I plan to be by next year for all the “regulars” who are reading. Plus I bought two pairs of lululemon tights so that I too can weld the stepper machine feeling like a supermodel.

With sheer panels, but not in the bum area!

With sheer panels, but not in the bum area!

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In addition to the strengh training exercises that I worked on with Richard, I also wanted to step up my cardio game. Instead of just going for boring runs on the treadmill, I’ve been using the stepper and making the treadmill interesting by doing some different intervals.

This is a treadmill plan from Jillian Michaels. I really liked it, but will increase my sprint speed next time.

This is a treadmill plan from Jillian Michaels. I really liked it, but will increase my sprint speed next time.

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Also, this thing?

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…terrifying.

Ally uses the Kitchen

Again, if you know me, you know that I am not the chef in our family. That’s my husband, El Jeffe, and he’s great at the job. With an interest in focusing on nutrition, and making sure I was properly fueling my body (omg I am becoming insufferable, aren’t I?), I started to prep food for the work week to make sure I wasn’t resorting to snacks that were not doing anything for me, or carb-loading which was making me flat-out exhausted. I turned to Pinterest and I have not looked back.

Egg muffins

Equal parts selected veggies, meat (I usually use leftovers from supper), and 1/4 cup of liquid egg whites into each muffin cup. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Equal parts selected veggies, meat (I usually use leftovers from supper), and 1/4 cup of liquid egg whites into each muffin cup. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

These are so delicious, I keep them in the fridge for the week, and take two out each morning heating for 30 seconds. Add a bit of hot sauce and voila!

Salads

kalesalad

Kale, Avocado, cherry tomatoes, yellow pepper, lemon and garlic tuna.

Quinoa

I’ve been loving Quinoa as a replacement for my much-loved pasta. I cook it in chicken broth from time to time to give it a bit of extra taste.

Baking off Chicken and Salmon

I work from home, but I keep a pretty rigid schedule breaking for lunch around 11:30am. I don’t want to take a lot of time preparing a meal. So on the weekends, I’ve started to bake off a bunch of chicken breasts and salmon to keep in the freezer and pull out throughout the week.

Nothing fancy here, but I did end up drizzling some maple syrup/balsamic salad dressing over the salmon. Paired with wild mushroom couscous and cherry tomatoes which I'm obsessed with.

Nothing fancy here, but I did end up drizzling some maple syrup/balsamic salad dressing over the salmon. Paired with wild mushroom couscous and cherry tomatoes which I’m obsessed with.

Yah, I'm really, really into tomatoes and colourful peppers. It's a problem.

Yah, I’m really, really into tomatoes and colourful peppers. It’s a problem.

So far, so good. I’m really trying to get to the gym at least four times during the week and I take the weekends off since it’s really busy with two small kids. I’m finding the exercise combined with the better focus on nutrition has made a dramatic difference for my energy levels, mental clarity and my issues with anxiety. I have obsessive compulsive disorder, which is tough to manage on the best days, not to mention when I’m sleep deprived and am not getting enough physical activity.

I’m proud of myself, and I want to keep it up, which is why I’m documenting it here in the hopes that come January 2016 I’ll be rolling my eyes at the newbies who dared to look at my favourite stepper machine.

I have an eyebrow problem.

November 24, 2014
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Ally: I’ve come to the reasonable conclusion that if I fix my eyebrows, my life will be substantially more amazing. I’m obsessed with eyebrows. Hours have been wasted on Pinterest in the evening watching eyebrow tutorials and taking stock of what I will need to purchase during a binge shopping trip to Sephora.

 

My favourite tutorial (and she does some wicked ones – check out her full site) is by Kandee Johnson.

If she seems super happy, it’s because her eyebrow game is rock solid.

Here are some Sephora products I’m currently looking at, but please weigh in if you know of something better that I should be using:

I won't lie. This looks difficult to use. I was never good at stenciling.

I won’t lie. This looks difficult to use. I was never good at stenciling.

 

I’ve always loved products by Too Faced, so maybe this is the right direction to follow…

I'm all about infographics on my makeup products.

I’m all about infographics on my makeup products.

Then there are the products by Anastasia Beverly Hills, which are used in the above tutorial video.

SO MANY CHOICES.

SO MANY CHOICES.

I’ll let you know what I end up deciding on, and will post photos when my eyebrows look like this:

It will happen.

It will happen.

Pursebox: How I finally became a “purse” person

September 21, 2014

Ally: For years I struggled to understand why people cared so much about purses. The appeal was lost on me.

As a communications consultant, I usually just shoved my wallet and makeup into my laptop bag and called it a day. I don’t know what changed, maybe being in my mid-thirties or maybe when my husband told me that I needed to “dress more age appropriate”, but I suddenly found myself noticing people’s bags, and realized I was sorely lacking in the department.

I had a few bags that I’ve picked up over the years at thrift stores, and I’ve even gone so far as to “look” at bags when out shopping, but I didn’t really know what I was looking for and felt totally out of my league.

We get tons of emails asking us to review products, or offers to write a “guest blog” on our site. Typically we pass, as we don’t really want to be in the review business, nor do we want our site to be used for sales pitches. Every now and then however, we get an actually credible, well-written, thoughtful pitch and request to review an item. When these rare gems come through our email door, L-a and I basically decide who is going to get the product through the “who reads the email first” process. A while back L-a responded to the O.P.I. new neon line promotion.

So, I took a lot of joy in reading the email from Pursebox before L-a had the chance.

 

So, a little about Pursebox.ca. They currently stock Pursebox and Australia’s Status Anxiety brands, but are planning to expand shortly. You can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter to keep track of this expansion. The company noticed that there was a gap in the Canadian accessories market, and that many were ordering from the States and then paying a ridiculous shipping fee. That’s where they stepped in – to offer affordable, attractive and high-quality bags.

I was sent the Charmed Shoulder Purse in black, which I was told was one of their top sellers. After receiving it, I can see why it’s so popular.

Beyond excited to receive this in the mail!

Beyond excited to receive this in the mail!

The bag is the perfect match go-to, everyday bag, which is really what I need with my lifestyle these days. I need a bag that I can keep on the kitchen mantle, and grab as I run out the door knowing that it will go with absolutely EVERYTHING.

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It was a home-office day that day that I received this, so I decided you would probably not want photos of this paired with my runners leggings. Door knob it is.

Now, it does come with a longer, across-the-shoulder, strap, but the shoulder strap actually works very well. More chic if you will.

003I loved this embelishment on the front, which is funny because as soon as my husband came home (and was actually impressed that I had a grown-up purse). He wondered why I had gotten a bag with decorative nunchucks. He didn’t say this as a bad thing, just all curious-like.

I can say with full confidence that this is not my last encounter with Pursebox.ca. I’m already eyeing the London Satchel in watermelon (WATERMELON YOU GUYS!)…

Right?

Right?

 

I also think the Berlin Moto bag would be the fix I need for carrying around a stack of files and my small laptop to client offices.

 

Should be a travelling consultant standard, I think.

Should be a travelling consultant standard, I think.

I was thrilled to be able to review this purse, and even more excited to learn of Pursebox.ca’s existence! It’s something I know many of our readers would like to know about, and it’s something my husband will be sure to enjoy reading about on future credit card bills.

 

 

FPQT Big Day Downtown 2014

September 15, 2014

Ally: We’ve been super fortunate to be a part of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission’s “Big Day Downtown” since it’s inception. Need proof?

I never get tired of watching that video. Oh, how I’ve aged.

This year’s twist was that readers had to pick where we would spend our $150 gift card. We love our readers, and for the most part, they really know us. However one dear soul suggested that we should partake in craft beer drinking…

cookiemonsterSource

I’m ignoring all suggestions of craft beer, because, please. No. It will be wine or the hard stuff. – L-a Steelworthy, Big Day Downtown email planning session, August, 2014

Since the two of us hadn’t gotten together in a while, we were hoping for a suggestion of dinner, and bonus points a suggestion for Sushi. We got it! Corinne, a lovely reader, suggested we hit up Dharma Sushi, which is hands-down my favourite sushi spot in Halifax.

Eats.

Ally: Sadly, Dharma Sushi was closed for a private party. Who books an entire restaurant? Selfish jerks. That’s who. We were now totally in the mood for sushi, so we figured we wouldn’t be docked if we chose another sushi place downtown. We walked down to Sushi Shige on Granville, where they serve up the best spicy tuna sushi my face has ever met.

Sushi PizzaIt was so good that I emailed this photo to my husband before I started eating. One of the best parts of leaving the suburbs is sending photo evidence of THE VERY GOOD TIME YOU ARE HAVING to your spouse who is stuck at home folding laundry and putting the kids to bed.

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The tuna literally melts in your mouth. It’s ridiculous. I feel as though this place is a little known gem in the downtown core. It’s got a nice vibe, a hole in the wall ambience where you feel like your gossip won’t be heard by others. Except it kind of was, especially after L-A brought out the F-bomb army during drink #2.

winessss

It’s at this point that I should mention we had to move tables because the delightful server told us our “wine wouldn’t fit” on the table for two.

Wine

 

 

L-A: While I’m always open to trying new things (honestly. And there were some very good downtown dinner suggestions thrown our way), if you say sushi, I say “get it in my face now”. As you know, I’m now part-time in Halifax, which means I’m rarely getting my fill of tasty sushi (KDubs has it’s charms and it’s schnitzel, but it has thus far failed me on the sushi front). The Shige sushi pizza is my favourite. Pair it with a half litre of house wine and bam! Party in my tummy.

party-in-my-tummy-o

 

I also had delicious avocado rolls and miso soup, but the sushi pizza is where it’s at. This place is totally blink and you’ll miss it (seriously. Ally wasn’t kidding about hole in the wall. It’s a door. In a giant wall. Blink and you’ll miss it and you’ll be sad).

Slightly Drunk Shopping.

Ally: After you’ve had a few glasses of wine, you want to go where everybody knows your name. Biscuit General Store is my fave place to shop in all of Halifax, not just downtown. So, when someone who I swear I did not pay off recommended that we spend some coin there, I was all…

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Let me tell you, shopping aftera few drinks is totally liberating, although it brings a few risks. I plucked a pair of plaid pants from the rack and turned to L-A saying, “Tell me not to try these on.” L-A, was all, “YOU NEED TO TRY THOSE ON.”In retrospect, had L-A been sober, I’m not entirely sure she would have had that response.

The result? Yay for drink-ies! Also, the shirt is from Free People. Y’all know how much I love Free People.

outfit2These pants, from See you Monday Los Angeles, were purchased.

We also hit up the shoe section at Biscuit. I feel as though the shoe section at Biscuit doesn’t get the love it deserves. I needed to pair these pants with a great shoe.

blueshoes

I know what you’re thinking:

1. Did she seriously pick out electric blue booties to go with a pair of plaid pants?

2. Did she seriously wear a sequin skirt to her client’s office on a Thursday?

Yes, yes I did. To both.

blueshoes2

L-A also had some luck in the shoe department. Let it be known that L-A and I will never have our friendship end due to a fight over men or shoes.

Big Day Downtown Shoes 2

L-A: Post-BDD shot of my shoes so you can’t see the fat feet I had when we were shopping. Mid-thirties are hard y’all.

They are actually super cute, and would look amazing with skinny jeans. L-A can pull that shit off. What’s that you ask? She didn’t buy any stripes?

laoutfit2Of course she did. I’m not sure how this shirt differs from the one she walked in with, but she assures me they are unique.

I had a gift certificate for Biscuit that my mom had given me for my birthday, so I donated my portion of the shopping funds on our Big Day Downtown card to L-A. This meant we still had a bit of money to spend so we turned our attention to a nightcap.

L-A: That picture doesn’t do the top or me justice. I’m actually surprised I’ve let it see the light of day. It’s bad because (a) Tyra would totally yell at me for my lousy modelling skills (seriously. I can’t pose for shit), (b) my mom would probably tell me to stand up straight, and, (c) let’s be real, because you try taking a good change room photo after wine and sushi. So, here’s a better view of it:

Bonanza by Biscuit Striped top1

Not only is it 75% different from all my other striped tops since I typically opt for a more fitted, classical boat neck style, but it was also Bonanza by Biscuit General Store.

Bonanza by Biscuit Striped top2

I’ve never owned a striped top by a local designer, so totally different than everything else. It looks way better when I pair it with jeans and a jacket. Trust.

Also, I almost didn’t buy the shoes. I was all, “I don’t know. Maybe.” because I’m awful at making decisions (and I was eyeing some cute jewellery). So I can thank Ally that I now have these beauts to wear on a work trip tomorrow.

Big Day Downtown Shoes 1

I have the last size 10, so my apologies to the other big footed ladies of Halifax – there are no more of these cute shoes for you.

The staff at Biscuit were delightfully nice about our drunk shopping at about 15 minutes before closing.

Moar Drinks.

Ally: It was a beautiful night, one of the last patio nights of summer, so we thought The Carleton would be a great choice. At this point in the evening, I can only recall that I ordered “Chardonnay” and “the big size”.

carlton

Those glasses were pretty much filled to the top when we started. It was a great end to a perfect night catching up with one of my best friends. There were a few other couples on the patio, and a live band could be heard from inside. It was quintessential Halifax.

L-A: Did someone suggest The Carleton? It’s possible. I know I did. But at that point in the evening, we forgot to check in on reader suggestions. And since it was actually my 10th wedding anniversary (also spent in downtown Halifax at the Halifax Club. And the Best Lady went shopping downtown in between the ceremony and the reception), I win.

Big Day Downtown wine

The answer to “6 or 9 ounces?” is almost always “9 ounces”.

But seriously, it’s hard to think of a better way to end an evening of dinner, drinks and shopping with one of your oldest friends (who was at my wedding. Her gift included a copy of US Magazine) than on a patio on Argyle street.

Big Day Downtown Biscuit Bag

Other than spending the evening with my husband (who I left in KDubs for the week), a Big Day Downtown is a pretty swell way to spend your anniversary.

Favourite Fridays: Ally becomes a “Runner”

August 29, 2014

Ally: I’ve missed this blog so much, but life got really real this year, and writing for fun had to take a backseat for a while.

That said, I’m really excited that we are broadening our horizons for this site beyond just fashion. As much as we love fashion (and we really do!), as we move into the wrong side of 35, our interests have expanded and I think we have more to offer. I think we’re also learning more about ourselves, our passions and what drives us each day.

Without going into personal details (friend me on Facebook for that!), our family had a bit of a plot twist this year that set us in a new direction. It’s an exciting new path, with lots of opportunities, but it took me a while to see it that way. This new path also comes with greater responsibility and a bit more stress – which, combined with regular life stuff and a busy workload – I’d like to manage better.

Which is why discovering running has been a really great thing for me.

This is currently the image on my desktop.

This is currently the image on my desktop.

I always enjoyed getting out for an hour “power walk” each day (I just said “power walk”!), but one day recently, I just started running. And it was ok. In fact, it was this weird breakthrough where I ran and when I stopped there were tears streaming down my face. I just felt like maybe this is what I needed. This could be my little escape. The piece of the day that I carve out just for me, where I’m alone and I can block out everything with some exquisite shitty music.

Speaking of.

It’s so deliciously awful!

I also got some great advice on making sure to have my sneakers fitted for me. I saw Barry at the Running Room in Bedford and he hooked me up with these fine kicks.

sneakers

I’ve even entered my first race on October 4th! Terrifying!

So there you have it. My first completely inspirational lifestyle post. Not GOOP, but super close.