Sunday, April 06, 2014

A gallery wall

I am the worst for letting things pile up.  Laundry, dishes, paperwork, home projects, etc.  Thankfully I've matured and now pay all my bills on time.  

So, I am happy to say that we recently checked off our most recent home project from the list: creating a gallery wall in our den.

Over the past few years, Derek and I have been collecting pictures from the different cities we've visited together.  And with the addition of a few gifts from family and friends we had the perfect amount to create our gallery.

But then I needed frames.  And it seemed like a big investment to purchase 10+ frames.  So I sat on the project for another year or so, when finally I mentioned shopping for frames to a friend of mine.

She said "FRAMES?!  I've got frames for days!"  And I went over to her house where she proceeded to pull out 2 large storage bins full of picture frames and I had my pick!  I'm one lucky girl, I tell you.

With no more excuses, and renewed enthusiasm, I started out by framing all of my pictures in the various black frames.  And then I played around to create some type of an arrangement that I liked.  

I have never done a gallery wall, so I found the layout idea below the easiest to work with.  Just create an imaginary horizontal line through the gallery of pictures and then hang the frames above and below the line.  It still has that casual look, but with some symmetry.  

I am super happy with the way it turned out, and I like how the arrangement will allow me to add more pieces as time goes on.  I think some non-frame additions like a a gold W from Chapters would look awesome, for example.

As for tips and tricks on hanging pictures; I've got none.

Basically I measured how long the gallery of pictures would be and tried to leave the same distance open on each side.  I tried to follow some instructions on hanging the frames, but they didn't work.  There are at least 2 nail holes for every picture I hung.  

My friend Lisa would cringe.  

But it doesn't bother me.  They are hidden.  And if they're coming down it's because I'm painting and hanging something new.  They can be fixed at that point.

If you are looking for tips, check these out.  And if you're looking for gallery ideas check out a ton of templates and layout ideas here.

Here are some more detail shots for fun!

The painting is one Derek's uncle did year's ago.  And the kissing orca whale picture was a gift from my sister.

Here's a map of Maui we picked up at a market while on our honeymoon.  

Neither of us have our degrees framed, but my aunt and uncle, Marie-France and Jacques, gave me the personalized picture above which has different buildings from Acadia University and the details of my degree. 

I'm so happy we finally completed this project.  This is the wall that stares back at us every time we open the front door to our home, so the fact that it now has some colour and personality literally makes me giddy.  

Going forward I think I would like to add a sleek floor lamp for reading and a cozy rug with a small ottoman or coffee table.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

My whole30 experience

If you work with me or ate a meal with me between January 6 and February 4, 2014 you will know that I participated in the whole30 challenge.

Maybe you've seen the term floating around the internet or discussed it with friends.  I won't get into the details, but if you're interested, I encourage you to check it out here.

The gist of the whole30 is to eat healthy, natural food that comes from the earth.  This includes any type of protein (ideally of the highest quality), tons of veggies and a good amount of fruit, nuts, seeds and oils to get some healthy fats....and basically that's it.  Oh and coffee.  I was allowed coffee.  Thank god.

Now for what I wasn't allowed...sugar, any type of grain (even quinoa!), legumes, white potatoes, dairy, soy, alcohol or anything processed.

I was excited to begin the whole30, especially after the Christmas season.  Those 5 weeks of celebrations and social gatherings really did me in.  Also - last year I was wearing my wedding dress on NYE...that  meant no stuffing,  let alone seconds.

Come January, just felt off.  My clothes were uncomfortable.  I needed to get back to feeling like myself and I knew I wanted to do something more serious than just telling myself to eat healthier.

I began the whole30 January 6, which was the same week I began a 12-week kettlebell jam session with Jackie at the Fitness Fusion gym I go to.  If I am working out I'm more likely to eat healthier and vice versa, so it just made sense.

What I called "the weekend before day #1" was a good one.  I had to finish all that cheese, wine and chocolate leftover from celebrating our anniversary!  I also did a lot of food prep - my number 1 piece of advice if you want to succeed.

Here are some of my favourite recipes:

I recorded my journey in this pretty pink journal.  I enjoy keeping journals to write down my goals, successes, failures and feelings.  It's never been something I've done consistently, but I will say that I loved sitting down to write in my journal every morning or evening.

Throughout the 30 days I felt great because I was so in control, plus my food and exercise choices were making me feel so great.  I usually sleep pretty well and have a good energy level, but on the whole30 it was even better.

I was rarely hungry - you can basically eat as much as you want.  I tried my best to eat 3 meals a day plus a couple healthy snacks.  I found this easier to accomplish weekdays when I was in my routine.  I am all over the place weekends so my only rule was that when I did eat, it had to be whole30 compliant.

Also, I experienced zero PMS.  Derek and I were thankful for that :)

Not every part of my whole30 experience was positive though.  It was emotionally tough when I couldn't eat a piece of my bff's 30th birthday cake or sip gulp a celebratory glass of champers.  I usually love eating out at restaurants, but it can be pretty boring when the choices are so slim.  It got boring.  But on the flip side I was forced to spend more time in the kitchen and came up with some great new recipes.  Speaking of the kitchen, we became close.  There's a lot of food prep and cooking involved - it's required if you want to succeed.  Unless you're Oprah and have a personal chef.

We don't have a scale, so I didn't weigh myself.  I didn't take measurements out of laziness, but I did snap before and after photos.  I was inspired to do this by Jessica at What I Wore.  Although numbers have an impact, there's nothing like a good before and after.

Although I didn't take measurements of any kind throughout the 30 days, I knew I was progressing just by the way I felt at the gym and the way my clothes fit.

Side note: it's way more fun getting dressed in the morning when you are comfortable in your clothing and are pumped about your outfit.  Another fact: the whole30 may result in my clothing shopping.

Now for what I'll call "the month after day #30".  The plan was to reintegrate the foods I had been restricting one at a time, recording any side effects and generally just being aware of what I was eating and how it made me feel.  Well things didn't really go according to plan.  My first meal included wine, pasta and chocolate.  Oops!

I had made some good habits that I wanted to keep too: packing my lunch every day, drinking more water, portion control, no late night eating, always eating an energy packed breakfast.  Although some stuck, others didn't.

So after 30 days "off" I'm hopping back on the whole30 train for another go.  I think the timing is perfect because it will bring me to the end of my kettlebell jam session.  I'm also running the 1/2 marathon at the end of May, so dropping a few LBs isn't a bad idea either - the lighter you are the easier it is to run.

I'm heading into the "weekend before day #1" and I'm pretty excited.  I've already savoured some red wine and ben & jerry's.  Sunday is dedicated to food prep, so I've been having fun researching recipes.  I've also been announcing my plans to my colleagues, friends and family over the past week.  I find it's as important to get other people as emotionally psyched as yourself!

So wish me luck and stay tuned for a spring edition of my progress/success!

Speaking of spring...we have to keep in mind that it doesn't officially arrive until March 20th.  So in the mean time I guess we can look forward to more of this.

that's our St.Patrick's day garland, btw

Have a great weekend everyone!