Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wedding Wednesday - Picking Your Bridal Party

I’m gonna be quite clear. And in doing so I’m going to swear. Because this is how I honestly feel about picking a bridal party.
Picking a bridal party, was fucking hard. 
The whole process is super weird. “Hey! Let’s sit down and rank our friends and make our FAVOURITES spend extra time, money, and energy on our behalf out of obligation” 
...Okay, that’s not really what it is, but it can feel that way at first.
The Bridal Party question was one of the first things Kris and I tackled when we sat down to talk wedding. That and what our colours would be (because bridal party = bridesmaid dresses, and if he'd had it his way they'd all be wearing orange). 
It was a confusing conversation... do we have EVERYONE who would consider asking and have 12 on each side? Would we have none? Maybe one each? Family only? Even on each side, or are we good with uneven bridesmaid to groomsmen ratios? What social politics can we safely maneuver here?
Seriously, this decision took a WHILE. We intentionally waited a month to ask anyone because we wanted to be sure (and full disclosure, Kris STILL ISNT DONE, because men.) 
In the end, we set down a few guidelines that helped us narrow down who would be up there with us on the day which had us feeling confident in our decisions.
1) Pick family - much like your graduation is about your parents, so too is your wedding about your families. NOW some families are complicated and choosing them can be a hassle, but if you're pretty good with your sibs (and partner's sibs!) then make the easy choice.
2) Mismatch the sides - Gone are the days when you need to have perfect symmetry on either side of the aisle. Also gone? The days where you can only have girls on one side and boys on the other! 
While Kris and I ended up with traditional genders on each side, we agreed uneven numbers (within 2 people) was fine. We're good with uneven, but we also didn't want it to be a 3:1 ratio.
A note on picking a brides-man who stands with the ladies: The last wedding I was in had one and He. Was. A. ROCKSTAR! Wow, the day was so much easier for having him around running errands, cracking jokes and filling up mimosas. He even brought all of us to tears when he got his first look at the bride all done up. perfection.
3) Pick either 0 or 2+, but less than 8 attendants a side - Kris and I briefly considered one on each side (Kris' brother and my BFF, who is also Kris' cousin). We ultimately decided that while that would be EASIEST, some of the fun of the day would be missing. Getting married at 30 inevitably means that the bridal party sleepover the night before, or the week long trip for a bachelorette are unreasonable (half of my maids have babies...) but it’s a bridal PARTY. Two people aren’t a party. 
On the flip side though, try to keep the numbers down, and more in line with the number of guests you're having. If you're having a small wedding, a few attendants is fine, but 10 on each side might be a tad ridiculous. On the other hand, if you're having a 600+ wedding, go to town!
4) Remember that your attendants are not a planning committee - Having been a bridesmaid, and now a bride, and also a close friend of many a bride, here is what I know: Everyone wants to help... until they don't. I sometimes feel guilty about NOT having things for my maids to do, but the truth is that I don't really WANT them to do a whole lot. I picked them to stand up with me, not spend hours and hours running errands on my behalf.
That said, it's nice to know that if I needed them, they would be there. Whether it meant wine and a hot glue gun, a last minute appointment, or licking 200 envelopes. But don't pick attendants based on the quality of labour you're hoping to receive.

In the end, I have 6 beautiful women who will stand up with me:
  • My BFF (aka, future cousin in law #takinghermaidenname)
  • My oldest friend (going on 26 years of friendship!)
  • My surrogate little sister (and #1 brunch companion, travel companion, and virtual shopping companion)
  • My ACTUAL little sister (who will tell me I'm ugly all day, but won't mean it... that's how we are)
  • My Sister-in-Law (10 years with my family and she STILL married in, she's a saint)
  • My closest friend from Uni and literal Soul Sister (seriously... we found out after 2 years of being friends that her parents bought their house from MY parents... she grew up in the house I lived in until I was 4... the universe man!)
While I couldn't have all of my friends (though I seriously considered it) I can't wait to dance the night away with every last one of the wonderful women in my life... and my husband of course!
How lucky can one girl get?
if you’re gearing up to be a bride, I’d love to hear how you’re handling your bridal party in the comments!
if you’re a maid, check out THIS POST on how to rock it, from me, the 5x professional (with more on the way!)
xxox... Laura

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Homemade Poke Bowl (AKA: Laura's Lazy Sushi!)

I LOVE poke.
I don't let myself buy lunch very often during the work week, but when I do you're likely to find me at Rolltation, or Poke Guys, or Calii Love getting myself a delicious bowl of rice, veggies and fish!
If you follow my instastories, you're bound to see at least one poke bowl featured a month (at LEAST), like a one woman mission to discover the best poke in Toronto. 
The trouble comes when I'm at home in the suburbs craving poke from my favourite lunch spots, but the commute is just too unreasonable for raw fish. So whenever I'm in the mood for poke in the evenings I live by one of my favourite philosophies:
If you can't eat 'em, join 'em! 
Full disclosure: making your own poke is very easy in a step-by-step way, but it took me a few times to get it right. It's not just making sure your fish won't make you sick (though that's important) but using the right rice and having the right vegetables, and knowing that your avocado is RIPE but not TOO ripe, or worse... not ripe enough (#avocadostruggles)
My recommendation? Don't make poke at home until you've gone somewhere that does it RIGHT. You'll have a better understanding of the flavours you like in  your bowl and you won't waste your money on fish you won't eat.
If you're a sushi lover that doesn't feel like making up all those little rolls (so time consuming!) indulge in some lazy sushi, make yourself a poke bowl!

Homemade Poke Bowl (Laura’s Lazy Sushi) - serves 2

  • 1 lb fresh salmon (or tuna if that’s your thing) - cut into small pieces
  • 1 .5 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 2" piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh spring mix lettuce (I like arugula in there!)  alternatively, try a mix of carrot and zucchini noodles!
  • 1 serving brown sticky rice 
  • green onion
  • 1 oz pickled ginger 
  • sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • other toppings you love!
  • serve with a dollop of wasabi and spicy mayo drizzled on top!
1) Get your rice on! I like to use a brown sticky rice (or sticky rice in general) but pick your poison! Make according to the package. My recommendation for poke in general is to make 1/2 serving of rice per poke bowl.
2) Mix together your salmon, sriracha, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Set aside so that the fish cooks slightly in the marinade (about 20 minutes)
3) While the rice finishes cooking and your salmon marinates, cut up and prepare your toppings (avocado, zucchini, spicy mayo, etc.).
4) Time to assemble! Split the rice into two bowls, and then put in a healthy amount of spring mix (a handful or two, depending on how hungry you are!). Using a slotted spoon to strain out excess marinade, distribute the salmon evenly across the bowls. Last but not least, top up with your fixings and drizzle the spicy mayo over top!
See? so few directions, and fairly easy ingredients for an AMAZING dinner! Enjoy your lazy sushi!

Have you ever had poke? What are your favourite poke fish and toppings? Do you like sushi but don't want to bother with the rolls? Does the idea of raw fish completely terrify you? Let me know in the comments below!
xxox - Laura

Monday, May 14, 2018

Organization Tip of the Week: Shifting your 9-5 grind

"Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition
Yawn and stretch and try to come to life
Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin'
Out on the street the traffic starts jumpin'
With the folks like me on the job from 9 to 5"
In the immortal words of Dolly Parton.... what a way to make a livin'!
But the truth is, that the days of clocking in at 9 and clocking out at 5 are disappearing. 
In the past 10-15 years, the discussion of how our tech means our work can come home with us has begun shifting into a very different conversation; this conversation is less about the concern that we're working too much (though we arguable still are), but instead focuses on the flexibility that it can bring to our lives.
I respect that not everyone has this flexibility in their work day. Some people are very strictly 9-5, on shift work, or don't have the luxury that many do of working from home.
But more and more the business world is moving toward no-fixed-desks, work from home attitudes, and employers who want to see the work get done no matter where you are or when you do it.

With this shift in work-life balance where the two become more and more interconnected, I've developed a guideline on how to shift your 9-5 grind to maximize your output at work, and not overdo it on interrupting life.
And trust me: I learned these tips the hard way, and they have not only improved my sanity but allow me to have a positive outlook on my job (that place I spend 1/3 of my life!). So here are my...
Tips On Shifting Your 9-5 Grind To Work For You!
1) Make it an 8-4 grind: (or 7:30 - 3:30...) Get up early! it sucks for a little while but being able to leave early means more time to make a healthy dinner, get to the gym, and spend time with your loved ones. Also if you have to work a long day (and hey, that happens) "late" is just leaving at a standard time instead of really late into your evening
2) Work on the weekend: OKAY I know this goes against EVERYTHING everyone writes with regards to WLB... but hear me out: I would rather get in 3 hours of work on the weekend than grind late nights during the week. If you have to work the hours ANYWAY because it's a busy time at work, it can be more effective to spread them out.
I usually spend an hour or two on Sundays reviewing the previous week's tasks that are outstanding, preparing for my Monday and Tuesday meetings, and sending out a few emails that I need quick responses on early in the week. That organization leads to an easier Monday/Tuesday where I can actually get stuff done rather than doing frantic organizing between calls. And speaking of calls...
3) Try to book all your meetings in the morning, Tuesday - Thursday: If your job is anything like mine, your meeting schedule is totally insanity. I log probably 10-15 hours of meetings every week. That's a STANDARD amount of meetings for me. I do my best to keep Monday and Fridays mostly meeting free (maybe one on each day) and then to batch the rest on Tuesday - Thursday mornings.
I'm fresher in the morning, and it gives me the opportunity to immediately follow up tasks in the afternoon. This also means that with my afternoons meeting free, I have flexibility to take a proper lunch, hit the gym, or commute home early and work a few hours in the evening if I'm dealing with fatigue. 
4) Work out in the middle of the day: If you have the flexibility to get a work out in between meetings, do it. Or go for a mid day walk. You've got to fit this in to your hours worked, but it can be good to get away from your desk.
Giving yourself flexibility to do something else during those times when you have brain fog and then pick up work again later, is amazing for getting good work done. Just don't cheat your employer; work the hours and get it done!
5) Work from home 1 day a week: If you're allowed to work from home, do it. BUT start your day earlier, don't start at 9 (or 8! see #1!).
Sleep in a few extra minutes, have a good breakfast, and then start working at the time you would normally leave for work. This time is great for getting tasks ticked off before people get in for the day and start sending you other stuff to do.
The other benefit of working from home? Getting light chores done during the day. I like to get my laundry done on work from home days so it frees up my weekend time, or I'll book a lunch time dentist appointment, or drop my car off for service. By getting these chores done that don't require you to get too distracted, you can get a good day of work in and still get a few domestic things done. Plus at the end of the day (and work a FULL one) you're home AND your chores are done; the evening is all yours to enjoy!
I think so often when we're told this flexibility exists, we tend to think that it can't be true or that if we choose to make the most of it we'll be seen as a "bad employee"... and I'm not going to lie to you, sometimes bad employees will take advantage of this system (ruining it for the rest of us).
BUT HERE'S THE THING: If you're motivated, good at your job, and can be effective with a shifted schedule, your employers truly won't care where you work. Suddenly taking a working vacation becomes a real possibility. You'll find that working those long days during the week means leaving early on a Friday without anyone feeling resentful about it.
Be honest, be proactive. Have a dialogue with your employer about what flexibility means to you (and make sure they're good with it!) and give your job your all. Then say goodbye to your 9-5 grind and take off early to enjoy the LIFE side of that infamous balance.
Question: Do you work at a flexible office, or if you're self employed what hours do you like to work? Are you still in a situation where you work a strict schedule (and have you considered asking about flexibility?!) Let me know in the comments!
xxox - Laura

Monday, May 7, 2018

Organization Tip Of The Week: Making Your Commute Count!

One of the best parts about working downtown for me is taking the train to work every day.
If I'm catching an early train, it gives me a chance to close my eyes and zone out. If I'm meeting up with friends after work for a cocktail (or five....) I don't need to worry about how I'm getting myself home.
Taking the train has been really great for my life (and not just because I save a bundle on gas and car maintenance), and it's one of the things about my day I really enjoy.
But the best part about my commute? It's an extra hour a day (30 minutes each way) where I can get. stuff. DONE!
Taking the train is not just about reading a book or catching up on some sleep (unless it's really early in the morning) but a great opportunity to catch up on emails, make lists, and organize your thoughts.
On the way to work every day I review my email inbox, make note of any early morning meetings, prioritize things I need to do when I arrive in the office... and if there's time I catch up on some instagram stuff for the blog.
On the way home? While sometimes I might bust out my laptop and get a few things done, this is usually the best time for me to get blog stuff done! I'll pin, Instagram, read other blogger's work, or even write posts on my square space app to edit and finalize when I get home.
These days, My 30 minute commute home has been all about wedding planning. Contacting vendors, confirming appointments and researching companies that will run movie-theater style popcorn machines for our midnight snack (YUM!) 
But the best thing about my commute? It is NEVER wasted time! This way when I get to work, or get home, I'm not scrambling to prepare myself, it's already done! That means I can just make dinner and then relax. Total bliss.
"But Laura", I hear you saying, "I drive to work!"
I have BEEN THERE! Driving to work obviously requires more concentration than public transit, since you need to stay in your lane and you shouldn't be on your phone (seriously... put it away!), but that doesn't mean there aren't ways to maximize your time!
Listen to an informative podcast or audio book, take verbal notes using your phone, practice for an upcoming presentation, or just brainstorm while you drive.
If your total commute is an hour a day, you're gaining almost an entire work day of time where you can't do anything else anyway! How much can you get done in 5 hours? I'll bet it's a whole lot.

So I want to know! How do you commute to work? By car? By train? Walking? And what do you do during that time? Let me know in the comments down below.
xxox - Laura