Monday, September 26, 2016

5 ways to make wedding planning stress free

wedding planning
Two days ago my little brother married his best friend, V - you might remember her from my DIY Paper Pinwheel post. Their wedding went extremely well! I especially enjoyed the ceremony that was performed by the bride's cousin with a bit added from my sister; it was meaningful, personal and spoke directly to the love and friendship between my brother and V. To have this kind of day (basically a perfect wedding!)... well, there is a lot of planning, negotiating and preparation involved. I was happy to help the newlyweds throughout the planning process, but ultimately they put a lot of energy into the planning of their wedding. It was obvious two days ago - the decorations, food, photographers, cake, etc. were all excellent and exactly what the couple had envisioned.

Planning our wedding (Me and the Mr.'s wedding that is) was a fabulous experience. Although I never want to get married again, I enjoyed everything about the entire process. I have planned events nearly my entire life - helping my mom plan Ice Shows, helping with theatre productions at school, helping with safe-grad and other graduations related events such as prom and then in later years planning all kinds of events in University such as Commerce Society Dinners, Career Fairs, Etiquette Dinners, etc. and now planning events for my job such as conferences, golf tournaments, etc. Planning "my" wedding was the ultimate event to plan because I didn't have to consult with others, I didn't have to get budgets approved and it didn't matter if I was the only person who loved the centrepieces. Side Note: The Mr. is one of the most easy going people on the planet. He was happy to not have the burden of making any of these choices and was thrilled to let me run with everything. And yes, I know it was OUR wedding!
My brother & V's reception - aren't you in love with the chairs?!
All of that said, planning any event can become overwhelming, stressful and down right annoying. The week before hosting any event brings out questions from everyone and can make you into a crazy person worrying about the smallest of details. To try and help out all the future brides and grooms here are my top 5 ways to make wedding planning stress free:

1. Limit outside opinions - as my dad always said, "opinions are like a**holes... everyone has one". For some reason everyone in your life will feel the need to give you their opinion for YOUR wedding. I am guilty of doing this as well, so don't feel bad if you are that person. But, as the couple getting married, do your absolute best to take the opinions you want to use and leave those that you don't. In the end, all of your friends and family members want you to be happy and will not care if you chose their favourite color, cake flavour, etc. Which leads me to my next point...

2. Remember what is important (TO YOU!) - the goal of the day is to get married. You can accomplish this in a church, at a golf course, in your backyard or really anywhere you choose. Ultimately you will be faced with many choices and decisions throughout the wedding planning process. Some things will mean more to you than others, but try to keep your head on straight and remember what is important to you, not your maid of honour, mom or mother-in-law (the list goes on here...).

3. Get the big things done early (photographer, location, decorator, caterer, etc.) and do your best to limit vendors where possible. For example, if the decorator can double as the florist and the location can double as the caterer, save yourself the hassle of adding another person in your contact list and double up their duties.

4. Stay organized - you will talk to many different vendors and have many options going through your mind. Do your best to keep everything organized and in one place. As a lover of excel spreadsheets (don't judge me...) I would suggest using this method, however as long as you keep all of the information together so you can easily access everything you will be well served to make stressful planning days a lot less stressful in the days ahead. My maid of honour bought me a version of this wedding planning binder that I used to keep all of my paper stuff together and get ideas; it also worked like a charm to stay organized!

5. Have a budget and stick to it - I would suggest creating a draft budget for your wedding (of course, I would choose to do this by creating an excel spreadsheet) and to be VERY comfortable with the grand total. You are about to start your lives together as a married couple and there is absolutely no need to start this new chapter in your life with the stress of debt or money issues. It will be tempting as you plan your day to pay for all kinds of little things that will make your day perfect. Keep your budget in mind so that your choices make your day perfect without having a financial burden afterwards to cause a new stress.

I sincerely hope this has been helpful and invite you to share this post on social media if you think it can help others as well.

Happy planning!


My shoes for that: My wedding shoes - Badgley Mischka silver heels (photographed by Philippe Dumas Photography, photographer from our wedding and my brother's wedding) These shoes are no longer available, however there are a few options similar and by the same designer I would recommend - Poloma d'Orsay Pump, Sari II Dress Pump and Jennifer d'Orsay Pump.

Websites I used while doing research for this post:
Canadian Living
Real Simple
Top Wedding Questions

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay

Name: Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay
Country: Nova Scotia, Canada
Vintage: 2015
Price: $20 range

Why did I decide to try this wine? The first time I tried this wine it was given to me as a gift at some of our best friends' wedding. Now, it is a "go to" anytime I find it in a liquor store.

Would I prefer one glass or indulge in the bottle? Bottle. Any wine I label a "go to" deserves the "bottle" classification.

What shoes would I wear drinking this wine? These black and brown flats as photographed below. They were purchased at a boutique shoe store in Charlottetown, PEI. Aren't they the perfect balance between a classy flat and a fun sandal?! 

How would I describe the wine? This wine is sweet at first, bitter at the end with a sour aftertaste. I am making it sound terrible, but it is the good kind of sour. Like a sour patch kid candy sweet and sour.


Monday, September 19, 2016

First overnight trip without baby

When My little dude was 5 months old we went on our first "overnight trip" without him. We have been going to a Montreal Canadians hockey game every year for the past 8 years and this was our weekend booked to take in a jacket game, shop and enjoy some adult dining in restaurants not so "baby friendly". 

Our hockey game trips are almost always the same - this might seem boring to you, but it is comforting to us. We know what we are going to do, when we are going to do it and leave out any guess work. As a result we don't really get the full Montreal experience, but we leave happy every time!

Our schedule typically goes something like this:
Friday

  • Fly to Montreal, take a taxi downtown and check into the same hotel we have been staying at for 8 years (Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain).  Leave our bags with the concierge or in the room if it's ready and then head out for some "looking". Side note: Looking is "shopping", but I call it looking because we almost never buy anything on the Friday. We look around and get an idea of what we are going to buy during the real shopping on Saturday. 
  • Part of the "looking" usually includes a trip to the Bell Centre where we pick out what souvenirs/ habs gear we will be buying this trip. Of course on this particular trip stuff for little dude was at the top of the list!
  • Friday evening we go for dinner and then cap off the night with drinks at one of the pubs downtown.
Saturday

  • Breakfast is on-the-go (Tim Hortons or McDonalds, specifically at the Via Rail train station as we make our way through the Montreal underground to St. Catherine street to begin shopping). 
  • Shop shop shop... Usually we don't stop for lunch, but if we do it's quick to optimize the shopping time. The rule for Saturday is we have to be back at the hotel by 3pm - this allows us time to change for the game, have a beer and head to dinner before going to the Bell Centre. 
  • We go to dinner at either W&G (if the weather is not too cold) or Baton Rouge (if the weather is colder since it is very close to the Bell Centre). 
  • Then we arrive at the Bell Centre in time to see the full warm up and possibly visit Youppiville (depending on who we are with and if they have ver visited Youppiville before or not). 
  • We enjoy every minute of the game and stay afterwards to take a picture with the ice in the background (yes, the same picture...almost every time). 
  • After the game we go to a pub in our jerseys and keep the celebration going with some of the other 20,000 + fans that were at the game and the crowds that watched on the pub's TVs. 
  • Get back to the hotel at whatever time and order pizza from the place the hotel recommends as the best pizza to order at 1am - I have to say, it is awesome pizza!
Sunday

  • Time to pack up, take a taxi to the airport, have breakfast/lunch before boarding the plane and then head home.
This trip was not a lot different... My brother and V (remember her from my DIY Paper Pinwheel post?!) were our travel partners and were happy to go along with our usual routine.  We had lots of fun, lots of laughs and even got in a selfie making the faces we all usually make to get little dude to laugh.

Little dude stayed with Nanny and Papa and was in his glory. He was the boss of the house without a doubt, played with new toys and had all of his favourite foods (similac mostly at that age...) Nanny sent me pictures throughout the day and kept me in the loop so I didn't feel lonely or bad for leaving little dude home. 
Nanny, Little Dude & Papa cheering from home

 All of these elements combined made for a great weekend where I felt like myself, a normal adult doing things I would normally do, for the first time in quite a while! Then we got home. People usually would ask me how the trip was, what I bought or how the game was when we returned home from any other hockey game weekend, but this time was different. Every single person started by asking me if I missed my little dude. This made me feel horrible and experience mom guilt like I had never before until this point. Yes, of course I missed him... but to be completely honest, I didn't. I was gone for a little more than 48 hours and received updates about 15 times in that period, was shopping, and at a hockey game. I was happy to see him when I got home, but  to say I missed him would be lying. Some of you might think I am horrible now while the rest of you are nodding your head and agreeing that even though you told everyone you missed your little one like crazy the first time you were away you were so busy remembering how to be "yourself" and enjoying the moment that you practically didn't have time to miss your little one.

It took me about a week to stop feeling bad because I knew I was lying to everyone who asked if I missed little dude while we were gone. In the end, what I took from the experience were these three things:
1) Just because I have a baby doesn't mean you can't ask me normal questions about my trip and the experience before asking if I missed the baby. I am doing my best to keep that in mind when talking to other moms now. So if I ask you about YOU before asking about your baby, don't be offended... I am actually interested in you both equally, but want to know about you first.
2) Mom guilt is a crazy and very real thing. If there is anything we can do for each other to fight it, let's help each other out!
3) I shouldn't have been ashamed of not missing my little dude for those 48 hours or so and should have been more thankful/happy that I had the opportunity to go to a Montreal Canadians hockey game (even as a mom...) with the Mr., my brother and V and enjoy a weekend doing our typical, normal, not "mommy focused" Montreal hockey weekend.

I have since been away two nights (each on a separate occasion) without my little dude. I have to say, as he gets older and seems to realize I am gone I miss him more and more! Shortly we are going on a 4 night trip without little dude, which will be the longest we are away from him... my fingers are crossed he is as good for Nanny this time as a 10 month old as he was as a 5 month old!

My shoes for that: Steve Madden Wrenner casual shoes (My brother bought these during the trip)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Guardian Sauvignon Blanc

Name: Guardian
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Country: Chile
Vintage: 2015
Price: $16.79

Why did I decide to try this wine? I bought this wine during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil a few weeks ago and so decided to look for wine from South America. The label caught my eye and it was in the cart.

Would I prefer one glass or indulge in the bottle? Bottle. I was tempted to say glass, but on my second glass I was convinced this was a wine I would buy again (and that this bottle likely wouldn't make it to see tomorrow...)

What shoes would I wear drinking this wine? The Saltwater Original, in yellow of course.

How would I describe the wine? The Mr. and I tried this wine together. We both smelled the wine, looked at each other, and said "it smells like lemons". Coming from two non-expert wine drinkers who simultaneously agreed on the smell of a wine neither of us had tried before, we immediately concluded that we are getting good at this wine tasting thing! I am 100% sure we are giving ourselves more credit than deserved, but we are going with it :) I enjoyed the flavour of this wine with its hints of citrus and think it would be excellent served with salmon and salad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Le tour du Mont-Albert

Two years ago I went to an off-site planning session for work at Le Gite du Mont-Albert. I was blown away by how nice the rooms were and how pretty the location was. The Parc Nationale de la Gaspesie is only a 3 hour drive from my home and I felt like I had travelled to Banff or to another one of Canada's amazing parks. My only regret after being there the first time was not having the time or the opportunity to do any of the hikes through Mont Albert.

Now, two years later, with the Mr. and our little dude in toe - we arrived at Le Gite du Mont-Albert yet again. This time with a lot of hiking in our plans!
The plan was simple... use our Labour Day weekend to drive to the Parc Nationale de la Gaspesie, bring along all the essential hiking snacks (and whatever gear we own) and do the Tour of Mont Albert (Le Tour du Mont-Albert). After-all aren't most 10 month old babies ready for a 17.4km hike up a mountain, across to another mountain and then down past a Caribou inhabited area and two waterfalls?

In true "Jenna" fashion, we had our gear all ready the night before and the most important part... the snacks! Side Note: I really enjoy hiking but I am terrified to be hungry and not have food available to me! So, not only do I buy/make snacks, I buy the craziest snacks like candy sticks etc. to make sure all basis are covered.

Off we went! We left the hotel at 8:15AM and headed toward Mont Albert to start making our way up the 5.7km trail to the top.  The trail started off really good. It was a walking trail as you can see in the picture below with an incline, so difficult, but nothing we couldn't handle.
Unfortunately, the smooth walking trails only lasted for the first 1.7km. Then we began climbing up many rocky sections and following a "trail" up a much steeper incline.
Thankfully, our little dude slept almost 2 hours and woke up happy as can be. It took us 3 hours to get to the top which included a few short breaks and a longer break about 400 meters from the top. We were warned that although it might be nice weather on the trails at the top of the mountain it can be quite windy. So with that in mind and not knowing if there would be any sheltered areas, little dude  had his lunch in a sheltered rest area before we made the final climb to the top.

And voila! A 5.7km hike up the mountain for these views!

After two years of wondering what it would be like at the top of the mountain I made it! And, with my two favourite people to top it off! Side Note #2: Did you notice my little dude's fleece suite? It is Cape Breton tartan... just a little shout out to the Mr.'s home even from the top of a mountain in Quebec!
We had quite a time to try and get a "good" family selfie with little dude wanting to be on the go since he was free of his MEC carrier. But, we managed to get some that I am chalking up as "artsy" selfies, haha.
Our family celebration ended as we geared up, after eating peanut butter and speculoos sandwiches, to complete the next 11.7km of the hike. We were feeling pretty confident as the first 5.7km was difficult but we handled it quite well. Doing the tour instead of going back down the way we climbed the mountain was described to us as hard for the first 2km but then a walking trail on a decline for the rest. The trail is so much longer because the slope os not as steep. Well, that is what they told us... and that was NOT true!

A highlight of taking this way however was that we had the opportunity to see 2 caribou!  They were pretty close to the pathway we were on across a marsh area and of course our little dude decided he would try to "talk" to them.  The best picture I took of them was once we were passed them I turned back and got a picture of them on the move. Side Note #3: It is not recommended to "talk" to caribou... leave them do their thing and get ready to help Santa at Christmas time, haha. 
We had 10.5km left to go with the "hard 2km" as described to us up next.  Thankfully, once again little dude was being an amazing hiker and fell asleep after the excitement of seeing the caribou. Down we went, scaling the wall at times, jumping from rock to rock and contemplating paying someone for their hiking poles. Side Note #4: We should have bought hiking poles and should not have made fun of other hikers for looking funny with theirs! When/if we do another big hike, we will get poles!
This 2km stretch took us quite a while! We didn't time it exactly, but we were pretty sure it took us about an hour to do 1km at one point. At every corner we were praying and hoping for the "walking trail" that was described to us. Unfortunately that "walking trail" was nowhere to be found.

At about the 7 hour mark of our hike we stopped along this river for our second "long" break where little dude enjoyed some similac and we shared our second peanut butter and speculoos sandwich. Side Note #5: If you haven't tried speculoos spread yet, you must! I used to buy it in bulk during trips to Belgium, but now it is available at Atlantic Superstore... it is pretty amazing to have this delicious cookie spread available across Canada at all times!
The rest of the hike took us another 2 hours. In total, the entire tour took us 9 hours to do. I have to say when they rated the trail as a 6-8 hour hike I am not sure what were thinking. Without our little dude we feel like we might have been able to do the tour in 7-8 hours at the fastest, but certainly not in 6! So keep this in mind when planning to do this hike. One of the things I am the most proud of throughout this hike was that although the Mr. twisted his knee, my ankles were killing me and little dude was in a carrier for about 7 hours we were all happy and in good spirits throughout the entire experience!
If you decide to take a trip to this park, but are not up for a 9 hour hike, don't worry! There are lots of shorter hikes to choose from with some great views. In fact, both of these waterfalls (Chute de Diable and Chutes Sainte-Anne) are at the end of the tour and therefore not too far to do as a round trip from the hotel. And, to make them even more interesting for you they are actually where the trail started to get better for us! Finally, the last 2.5km of the tour actually became what we would consider a "walking trail".
With very tired smiles on our faces and the thought of the hotel's pretzel burger and blonde beer in mind, we were happy to be back!

17.4km, 9 hours and some very sore ankles later... would we do it again?! As crazy as it may sound, we WOULD! With hiking poles and hiking shoes however! And, not in the near future... 

I hope you had fun joining us for Le tour du Mont Albert from the comfort of wherever you are reading this from!

My shoes for that: The shoes I wish I had worn that day... ANY of these North Face hiking shoes!

Le tour du Mont-Albert







Thursday, September 8, 2016

Relax Riesling

Name: Relax
Varietal: Riesling
Country: Germany
Vintage: 2014
Price: $14.50

Why did I decide to try this wine? Little dude, the Mr. and I recently visited my bestie in Prince Edward Island (PEI). Of course, she knew it was a great opportunity not only to enjoy wine together, but to do "research" for my blog. This was one of the bottles she chose for our research that weekend after having tried it with her cousin in Hamilton, Ontario several times.

Would I prefer one glass or indulge in the bottle? Glass. Although, I am tempted to say bottle even though this wine is sweeter than my typical preference. It really is the perfect bottle of wine to choose to sit back, relax, and reflect on the day. It is easy sipping wine.

What shoes would I wear drinking this wine? Nine West "Xeena" pointy toe pump/kitten heel. Apparently kitten heel shoes are back and "acceptable" per the fashion police... what are your thoughts? Kitten heel or flats and heels?

How would I describe the wine? The smell is very sweet, but tastes like apple juice popsicles. Did anyone else have these as "treats" when you were a kid? I don't really remember the taste, but when I closed my eyes while tasting this wine that is the flavour I remembered.  I have to show you another picture so you can fully appreciate the colour of the bottle. Neat isn't it?!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Babies wearing baby clothes

The "what to wear" dilemma begins for your baby the moment he/she is born. They don't realize it,  but from the first little hat they wear to the first sleeper - all of these items were carefully packed in their mom's hospital bags and are ready for those first moments we have all been anxiously awaiting to capture.

Last week I had my little dude all dressed in what I call "play clothes". What this means... we were not planning to leave the house, it was going to be a comfort day where we would likely not be photographed or seen by anyone other than the Mr. and Nanny. Then, on a whim we decided to go to town, go out for lunch and pick up a few groceries. None of these details are very important, but they will help make my point...


As we were driving I felt bad that I didn't change my little dude into something more fashionable to go to town. I felt bad for about a minute then I quickly could hear the Mr. in this situation who says to me regularly "Jenna, give your head a shake". My little dude is 10 months old - since when is a tigger/Disney character jogging suit not acceptable for a baby to wear in public?! The answer is: IT IS ACCEPTABLE to wear BABY clothes on babies... ALL THE TIME!

Many parents say on a regular basis "they grow up too fast", but at the same time from the time they are born we are dressing them like little adults. Babies wearing designer clothing and "different" things has become such a trend that a baby could really be dressed "differently" just by dressing like a baby.  Keep in mind, our babies don't get to choose their clothing... so going forward, my little dude will still have lots of "town" clothes, but since this realization he will have lots of "fun/baby" clothes as well!

My conclusion to all of this - wear your tigger jogging pants for as long as it is deemed acceptable to do so! If I could still wear them and get away with it, I would! I mean, who wouldn't wan to have these super comfy orange character pants on, haha?! 

Let babies be babies - they have a whole lifetime ahead of them to be adults and wear "proper" clothes.

My shoes for that: High top tigger sneakers


Thursday, September 1, 2016

How to order wine like a pro

Since being on maternity leave there are few things that I can say I truly enjoy about being home most days. The small things that I have consistently looked forward to and that make my days better are baby's nap time, baby's play time, showering and watching The Social. 

Yesterday, on The Social, they featured a segment called "How to order wine like a pro" with their guest Natalie MacLean. I really enjoyed the segment and learned a few things that I thought you might enjoy reading about as well. You can check out the full segment at thesocial.ca.

Ordering wine at restaurants is always a daunting task. I have been fortunate to dine with people who take the liberty to order wine for the table or make all the decisions for me. As a result, I have tried many wines that I would not normally order... however, I have had some wines that I really didn't enjoy based on the foods that I had ordered.

The segment on The Social yesterday gave me the best tip - when people are ordering a variety of meals which include both fish and red meats you have options! Yes, typically red wine goes with red meat and white wine with fish... but for people like me who dine with people who eat fish at every meal but also love red wine (my former boss is this person), there is a solution! According to the segment, Pinot Noir and/or Riesling can pair with a wide range of dishes as they are neither too full-bodied, nor too light.

Going into the long weekend with many celebrations and hopefully a night out on the horizon be sure to check out these tips to be sure you know How to order wine like a pro.

My shoes for that: Earn Your Peep Heel in Crimson from ModCloth