Fashionable People, Questionable Things

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?

stairmaster-7000ptSource

…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.

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.

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.

 

 

Fashionable People, Questionable Things.