Vision Boarding 101

I’m back after a very long hiatus. When you write and create content for a living, it’s hard to then come home and write more content for you. In reflecting on my blog thus far, I realized that this blog is more of a day in the life of yours truly. It was such a nice way to remember things that I’ve done in the last couple of years. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m not accomplishing as much as I would like, personally or professionally. Maybe that’s a side affect of not being in school, or learning anything new in a structured way. But I’m craving something new. But, with that crave, comes waves of insecurity and fear that I won’t succeed. This has been a challenge my entire life. Before I jump, I want to make sure I can jump well, high, and with a successful landing. But life doesn’t actually work that way. Sometimes you have to jump – even when you aren’t ready.

This is what has inspired me to write my first blog post in almost a year. When I’m craving change, my first instinct is to sit down, evaluate and make some goals. I’m more of a visual person, so vision boards work well for me! I only put mine together a week ago, and things are already starting to happen. Call me crazy, but I truly believe that what’s meant to be will be and that everything happens for a reason. However, without a vision and a plan – dreams are just dreams. You still have to take steps (even baby ones) to make your dreams come to life. Here are my 6 best tips for creating your vision board and start making your dreams a reality!

1. Don’t think – just cut

Pull out all of your old magazines that you were planning on recycling anyway and dive straight in. Don’t think too much about this process, just start cutting out pictures, words, phrases, etc that speak to you. You know, kind of like the KonMari method – if that picture sparks joy, cut it out and put it in a pile. You don’t have to use all of the images you select, but it allows your mind to just focus on what truly matters to you.

If you’re doing this online (Pinterest is a great platform for this), then just save as many photos to your board as you can. You’ll reassess afterwards.

2. Tidy your space

Clear space = clear mind. Your working area may have become a bit messy with all the magazine pages. Take 5 mins to clear up your space and get ready for the next part of the process. Gather your board, markers, glue stick, stickers, quotes, inspirational scrap-booking papers, etc that you’ll need to start putting your masterpiece together.

3. Talk is out

I did my most recent vision board with a few family members and friends, and loved having people there talk out why I found my images inspiring. I realized once I went through my photos and starting talking about why I selected it, it made more sense and my goals were becoming clear. If there were photos that I wasn’t as excited about, I ditched them before they made it onto the board.

I realized I had cut out a lot of outdoor photographs and found some really great quotes to conveyed the feeling of being more connected with nature. I always feel so much more energized and clear headed after a walk with my two dogs, and usually end up going out for much longer than intended.

Again, if you’re doing this online, talk through the photos that you’ve saved. You can even make a note on each photo about why it speaks to you as a reminder for later. Delete the photos that don’t bring you excitement or inspiration.

4. Put it together!

Assemble your masterpiece. Now that you’ve edited, and talked through your images, it’s time to start securing the pictures onto your board. I like to layout my images before gluing them permanently down. Play around with it – there is not right way to do this step! Everyone’s board will look different. I like to make it more of a collage, but I’ve also seen some people segment the board into different themes like fitness, health, career, personal, etc. Whatever makes the most sense to you, do it.

5. Add dates, numbers, actionable words.

This is a step I used to skip. I didn’t want to put actionable numbers or goals because then I would have to strive to reach them. (Yes, I know how counter-productive that is to make a vision board and just hope it happens). So this time around I put my money where my month was. When you have a date, you have to make steps towards that goal. It gives you something to envision and also gives you a time frame.

For example, I have a picture of a Before and After shot of a house. I know that whenever Adam and I buy a place, that it will likely be a fixer-upper (because Toronto is not affordable and we’re not interested in moving that far away from the city). So this photo represents our journey to home ownership. I put the year 2022 right beside a quote that says “focus”. I know that if we really crack down on our spending and paying off debt, that we will reach this goal – or at least get pretty close to it.  Another number I included was ‘300’ – which is the deadlift goal I’ve set for myself to hit by the summertime. I’ve also included the word “Summer” with a picture of a mic and stage, as that’s the time when I want to go solo and really get my singing going again.

6. Put it somewhere you’ll see it often

My final tip is to put your vision board somewhere where you will see it everyday. Don’t hide it away in your closet or let it get lost in a room you never go in. If it’s online, take a screenshot and save it to your desktop background or phone background. Look at it with intention, smile, close your eyes and give yourself some grace knowing that you’re working towards this. It’s not meant to be a board of what you’re lacking – but of where you’re going.


With that, happy vision boarding! It’s never too late to create one and whatever season of life you’re in, I can guarantee you’ll benefit from having it.

Have you ever created a vision board? Did it work for you? Let me know in the comments below.

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#2018 Goals & Resolutions

Even though we’re already 8 days into 2018, I wanted to put my goals for 2018 into the universe. This is the first year that I’ve had the time to sit down and really think about what I want and what my goals for the year ahead will be. I have been loving having a routine and knowing my schedule every single day. I needed a full week over the holidays to just be by myself, reflect, plan, organize and sleep (so much sleep). My body had just been on the go and stressing out for so long that I forgot what it felt like to just sit, and do literally nothing.

To help visualize my goals for #2018, I got my inspiration from one of my fav. Toronto bloggers, Stephanie Sterjovski, and created a Pinterest board that highlights some images that inspire me and some quotes that I want to live by.

My Goals:

  1. Step up my online presence + social media game (Instagram, YouTube + Blog)
  2. Consistency in everything I do! Set my schedule and stick to it (CrossFit + Blogging + Healthy Eating, etc).
  3. Say “Yes” to things that scare me. But be okay (and not guilty) with saying “No” when I need ‘me’ time.
  4. Have fun and don’t take life so seriously. Learn to let go of the little things and be okay with letting people or things from the past go.
  5. Meal Prep + try new recipes and get my adventurous/comfortable cooking + fueling my body properly with nutritious whole foods.
  6. BUDGETING (see my No Spend January Post here). Every single month, Adam and I, are committing to budgeting our month based on what’s upcoming and what we want to save.
  7. Listen to more podcasts. I am LOVING podcasts since I have to take good ol’ public transportation to work everyday now.
  8. Make singing a priority again, figure out my direction and share music with others.
  9. Take time in the evening for quality time + puppy snuggles.
  10. Stop “snoozing” my alarm clock. Get enough Zzz’s so I don’t have to struggle out of bed in the mornings!

I know, 10 goals may seem like a lot, but there are some smaller goals and then some bigger goals, and many of them include a partner to keep me accountable. Now that they’re in the universe, I’m going to do my best everyday to work towards them, even if it’s small steps in the right direction! The most important part of moving forward with goals/resolutions is be nice to yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a few days (or weeks). I’m so guilty of being my own worst critic and can get really down when I know I’ve had a set back with something. Referring back to Goal #4, I’m going to do my best to let things go and know that tomorrow is a new day with new possibilities. Sometimes you need to give yourself a break, and then get back on the horse the next day.

What are some of your resolutions for 2018 and your pro tips on achieving them? Let me know in the comments below!

Love,

lxiv

New Year’s Resolution: How to Budget and Actually Stick to it

It’s that time of the year again – time to make some goals and (hopefully) stick to them. I realized I have quite a few goals in mind for this year. 2017 was a huge year for me: got married, got a second puppy, left retail, started CrossFit, lost 20 pounds, posted non-singing related videos to YouTube…just to name a few highlights! I’ve felt more like “me” this year than I have in a very, very long time and it feels great. Now that I’ve had some down-time and an actual “Christmas Break”, I’ve been able to sit down and really think about what I want to accomplish this year. It is crazy how much your body needs decompression time. Time to just figure -ish out, without distractions.

While I have some lofty goals this year, one that I really want to tackle is more of a challenge. I’m going to challenge myself to have a No-Spend January and see how I do! Don’t worry – I’m not going to leave our household to go starving or without the necessities. But that’s just it – we’re only spending on things we absolutely need. Crazy, I know. Here’s some tips and strategies on how to knock this challenge out of the park!

1. Set a Budget

The most important part to this challenge is setting a budget and sticking to it. Make some ground rules for what you are willing to be flexible on and ensure (if there’s more than one of you doing this) that you both have set limits to what you can spend and on what category.

I made a list of negotiables and non-negotiables. This helped me prioritize what was actually a necessity and what was more of a luxury.

Then, I took the income that both my husband and I will be making for the month of January. We both get paid bi-weekly, so I made the budget based on what bills were due and how much money we needed to set aside for that.

Next came the groceries. Since we are both heading into the New Year with nutrition being our resolution, groceries are going to be a much easier budget to manage. I just purchased The Everything Guide to Macronutrients by Matt Dustin, that has so many great recipes. So the goal is to pick out recipes each week and only purchase the ingredients required. This is not only going to cut down on our food waste, but it’s going to keep us on track (both nutritionally and financially). This is what we are spending our money on this month:

  • Bills

  • Groceries

  • Pets (Yearly shots + food)

  • Transportation

Those are the only categories that we will be spending on this month! Scary. I know. But since we wrote down our list of priorities and we know within each other those categories how much we will be spending, we will be able to manage. Keeping the categories broad also helps to keep spending more flexible, which will be easier to stick to.

2. Eliminate Temptation

I’m the type of person that goes into the store for one thing and comes out with ten other things and forgets to get what I came into the store for in the first place. Sound familiar? I am soooo tempted by the shiny packaging or the feeling of a new piece of clothing. I will 100% convince myself that I need something – when I actually don’t. So to fight this, I’m going to be completely avoiding stores/malls all month long. Now that I’m out of retail, this is going to be easier for me than in the past.

I’m also going to go through and organize what I already own so that I have plenty of options. However, I’ve recently been ordering more and more from online and it’s so dangerous. To tackle this, I’m unsubscribing from email lists from stores that I love to shop at so that I won’t be tempted by a deal. Out of sight, out of mind kind of deal.

3. Make your own coffee

This has to be one of my worst habits. I really love lattes and fancy coffee drinks that are $$$$$$ expensive. That daily coffee adds up. Even if I switch to just regular coffee, the cost that I spend on coffee per month is embarrassing. I’m lucky enough to work in an office that has a pretty great kitchen and coffee is made every morning. If you don’t have that luxury, then grab some re-usable mugs (I purchased the Starbucks reusable cups and LOVE them – they are lightweight, and super inexpensive), brew some coffee in the morning and take it to go! Trust me, if you track how much you spend in one month on coffee, I know you’ll be shocked!

4. Bring your lunch!

There are so many amazing recipes and meal prep ideas for lunch now-a-days that there really isn’t any excuse not to bring your lunch. I realized that I was spending all of this money on groceries and then turning around and spending more money on more food. Not only were we being wasteful in spending extra money, we were being wasteful with our food, since what we didn’t eat in the fridge went straight to the garbage. Sometimes it feels weird being the only person at your work or school to bring food, but ultimately it is so much better for your wallet and for your body!

5. Cash, only.

Once you’ve set your budget, take out the cash you’ll be spending. This way you literally only have the cash that you have on you and will need to stick to your budget. For some reason, I am so much more conscious about how I am spending my money when it’s cash. The bigger the bill – the better! Anytime I would get money as gifts, it was always so much harder for me to spend larger bills, so I would ultimately just put them into a savings jar (a good habit, that I want to continue doing!).

 

It can seem really daunting not spending any money or sticking to a budget. I’m doing this because when I dug into the last 3 months of my spending – it was shocking. I was spending way too much money on things I did not need. This challenge is to really see what I can do with less and be happy with what I have right now.

What are some of your resolutions for the new year?

 

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

I had never really been a fan of Gingerbread anything (sorry!)…I always found the spice was a little too nice and it never really tasted that good. I’m realizing as I’m getting older (sigh) that my taste-buds are changing and things I never used to like, or be drawn to, I’m giving another try – and liking them! To my surprise this Christmas season, Gingerbread Cookies happened to be one of those things.

Follow along to see some snaps on making and decorating the Gingerbread Cookies! The recipe below was adapted from Gimme Some Oven. I didn’t include the icing sugar recipe, since I prefer to use the already pre-made and pre-coloured icing from the grocery store or bulk barn!

A very special thank you to @MagicInColours Photography for the great shots! You can follow her on Facebook to see more of her work or if you’re in the GTA and want some shots taken – get in touch with her there!

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Ingredients:

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • Icing + Sprinkles/Decorations

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, cloves, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs and molasses, and beat on medium speed until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.
  3. Divide the dough into two equal portions, and form them each into a ball.  Then flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  4. Heat the oven to 350°F.  Unwrap the dough and place it on a large, lightly-floured hard surface.  Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough evenly until it is approximately 1/4-inch thick.  Then use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes, re-rolling the dough as needed to cut out more.  Transfer to parchment-covered baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Once the cookies are room temperature, DECORATE!

 
Don’t have the time to whip up this recipe? Check out my fast (and easy) holiday baking favourites here!

Merry Christmas!

lxiv