Wednesday, July 30, 2014

MFJ || v.01

Being happy and confident with my body image was a daily, almost hourly struggle. I have a loving family and a wonderful husband who tell me I'm beautiful all the time, but something still tugged in the back of my mind every time someone uttered those words to me. I know that I wasn't alone with those feelings, as many of us women and men feel it, too. My confidence is slowly growing, and I'm beginning to love how I look. 

2011, when Rob and I moved back to BC and had our own apartment.

If I think about it enough, my self esteem went downhill around Grade 6/7. My mom, my sisters, and I all lived with a man who didn't treat us the way someone who loves you, should treat you. I pretty much ate my emotions. It didn't help that we took the bus to school, would eat pizza and other fried foods a couple times a week. When we finally left that house in 2006 (grade 9), my mom did the best thing she could have done for us! We cut out white bread and fried foods, ate multigrain and vegetables, and started walking to school! I lost weight quickly, let myself out of my shell, made more friends, and even got a boyfriend! That relationship lasted from Grade 10 to Grade 12, and after we broke up, I lost more weight. It wasn't a healthy way of losing the pounds, as it was from staying up all night drinking and eating McDonald's in the morning. From there, it was hard to keep myself at that weight and I struggled with other aspects of my life. I moved to Alberta, Canada for the change in scenery, and that's when I met my now-husband.

2012, Wedding dress shopping and college graduation. Almost two years of dating Rob!

Rob and I moved in together pretty quickly and were SO happy! We ate out a lot and made "gourmet" dinners together. Our eating habits both went from relatively healthy to utter crap. The pounds started piling on! When we bought my wedding dress in 2012, I told myself I wanted to get rid of that "shadow" under my belly and also told myself that I would eat better and work out. Wedding planning got super stressful, and on top of it all, I was told that I was allergic to dairy, eggs, wheat, and sesame seeds. Instead of going the logical route of eating more vegetables and protein, I ate a LOT of bacon and hash browns. I did that for 4 months. I caved and ate regular foods again, and the pounds kept piling on. I was also so focused on planning the wedding and working 4 jobs, that I neglected my body. During the last few months of wedding planning, I started to notice how much weight I had put on. With the stress of how I looked, my coping method was apparently to just not think about it. I regret it to this day.

2013, self esteem at an all time low, regardless of it being one of the happiest times of my life

My wedding day was a turning point for me. I look at the photos and I see that the dress fit tighter than it did when we purchased it. I see the smile that never left my face, but the chins to accompany it. I see the gorgeous hair colour and style that took time to perfect for the day, but that it could have looked better on a thinner face. It won't always be like this for me, as one day I will look at the pictures everyone took and will tell myself that I worked hard and don't look like that anymore.

2014, moved to Alberta and got my dream job

After our wedding, Rob was offered a job back in Alberta, so we packed everything in our tiny apartment and moved provinces. Our stuff is currently in storage and we're living at my dad's house until we're on our feet. It'll be a year in September since we moved here, and it has not been without stress. Our vehicles kept crapping out and we had almost no money to fix them or for an alternative vehicle. I was working at a job I didn't like, until January 2014, when I landed my dream job! That's where I met my friend Hailey. Her boyfriend is a personal trainer and she mentioned that she had lost almost 60 pounds. She invited me along for a workout session after work one day, and I've been hooked ever since. We started in March, and at the beginning of April, it was my first assessment. It was terrible. I hadn't stepped on a scale since my high school graduation 5 years ago, and found that I had gained more than 50 pounds since then. 

Since that assessment, I've been working out with Hailey 2-4 times a week, and I'm slowly changing my eating habits. We've also become amazing friends! My lunches at work had more vegetables, less carbs and sodium, and more protein. I've seen small changes, and so has Rob. I can't even begin to describe how much it helps me and how amazing it makes me feel when out of nowhere, Rob says, "I'm really proud of you for doing what you're doing." It gives me more confidence and a bigger push to continue on the path that I'm on now. 

I've got a long journey ahead of me, but I'm positive that my self-love will sky rocket along the way. I'm not going to stop when I reach a certain weight, as this is a lifestyle change. I will share my journey with you, and I hope that this can help someone else with their self confidence and love. I'll be sharing all sorts of things with you about my journey, including recipes and motivators. I hope that documenting my journey on here will also help someone else! 

xo. Nicole

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Instagram vs. Reality

I recently came across Amanda's post on Instagram vs. Reality and I also thought it would be fun to do on my own account. I don't think that there's a single picture on my Instagram where I haven't tried to find decent lighting and no dog fur in the background.

1|| As you can probably tell, there's dog fur in the background of the body scrub/lotion/soak. There is forever dog fur on everything we have, and we really should brush Gunner more, but whatever. In reality, there was more fur there, haha!

2|| It always takes me a while to figure out the best pose to show off the nail polish bottle AND my nails. But not too close, or you'll see how terrible my cuticles are and the little air bubbles from painting my nails in an air conditioned room.

3|| Gunner is most definitely improving in the tricks department! He can usually hold the toy or treat on the top of his head or snout, but this picture took quite a few tries before he was still enough. These toys are fun though, because he really does pause when they're on his snout. It hooks on to him and ends up flinging his head around to get it off, haha!

4|| I really, truly, honestly could not just dump my lip gloss bag out and snap a picture. Oh goodness no. You bet I tried to place them so the labels were all facing up, and that there weren't any spare eyeliner pencil shavings, or lip gloss that had exploded.

I almost always use the photo editing app PicTapGo! to make my pictures brighter. It has so many filters, and it really does brighten up a lot. It helps me because our lighting is so dim in our place, and sometimes I find myself finally having time to take pictures when the sun is going down.

What are the secrets behind your Instagram pictures?

xo. Nicole

Monday, July 28, 2014

Week's End || July 28

1|| My first Throwback Thursday in a while, and it was a snapshot of our wedding favours. Little burlap sacks stuffed with salt water taffy. Yummy!
2|| I made some gluten free honey garlic pork chops and rice for dinner one night! I made the sauce from scratch, and it was delicious.
3|| My dad's cat is obsessed with boxes. It's a game now to put an empty box down to see if she lays on it, haha!
4|| We've had a few thunderstorms here and I love it.

5|| I went to my first concert! It's a super crappy quality picture, but that's Tim McGraw on the stage!! I went with my sister in law, and we had a blast. I haven't laughed that hard in a while.
6|| Oh Gunner. Always cuddling and sleeping.
3|| I won a giveaway from another blogger, and my prizes arrived this week! 
4|| Gunner again. I can never take too many pictures of him, he's always so silly. Lots of cuddles this week.

1|| I reviewed my July Julep Maven box! I finally got a corrector pen for my right hand ;)
2|| Amanda was a la Maxfield's FIRST guest post! She did an amazing job!
3|| I guest posted on Amanda's blog, too! We basically swapped blogs for the day.
4|| I showed you my prizes from Sam Wish!

1|| Sam fought the cold sore battle with her secret weapon of essential oils, and won!
2|| Amanda showed us a deliciously easy dessert recipe. Yummy!
3|| Amanda shared this article on her blog, and I am so glad someone finally said it!

I'm linking up my Week's End post with Beth from Oak & Oats (like every week, haha!)

I have a post coming up on Wednesday that has taken me ages to write. It's been sitting in my drafts for a couple weeks now, and I think I'm finally ready to share. It's a little personal, but I do hope it is something that you find relatable and helpful to you in your own journey.

xo. Nicole

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sam Wish Store || Prizes

Oh my goodness, you guys. How excited was I to have won a giveaway on Sam's blog, My Latest Obsession?! She uses all natural, organic ingredients, and essential oils! I won an oatmeal bath soak, body lotion, and a sugar scrub. They smell heavenly.

I got to customize all the scents and ingredients in my prizes, which was a bonus. My mom uses essential oils, and aromatherapy, and knew all about the scents/what they do for you, etc.. For my oatmeal bath soak, I chose peppermint and green tea. The sugar scrub is lemon and lime, and the body lotion is wild orange, clove, and vetiver. My mom agreed that the body lotion scents would be good for me and my body. I immediately (after taking pictures) used the lotion on my legs, and whenever I get whiffs of it, I calm down and feel pretty relaxed.

I've been following My Latest Obsession for a while, and this is the second time that I've received product from her. The first one was from a "craft it forward" and I received home made lavender and oatmeal bath soak, and home made lip balms. I'm too nervous to use my prizes for fear of them running out, but that's why she has a shop!

I really hope you can swing by her shop and her blog. She recently posted about how she used essential oils to clear up a cold sore (it only took a day!).

xo. Nicole

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guest Post || Notes from a Newlywed

Today, Amanda and I are taking over each other's blogs with some fun how-to's and ideas! I'm not going to give away what I'm sharing on Notes from a Newlywed, but I'm sure you'll enjoy it ;)

how to start meal planning
Hi there A La Maxfield readers! I’m delighted to be here guest posting today. My name’s Amanda, and I blog at Notes from a Newlywed, where I write all about my life as a new wife and share what I've learned along the way. One of the things I started doing recently is meal planning, and for several reasons.

1) To save money. By planning what we’re going to eat, and just buying things to make those meals, saves me money because I’m no longer buying items we’re not going to eat. I used to put anything and everything that looked good in my cart, thinking I’d figure out the meals as they come. I didn’t. I ate whatever I felt like, and often ended up getting delivery anyway because I never wanted what I had at home. 

2) To be less wasteful. All that food I bought and never ate because I got delivery? Yeah, it went bad and ended up in the garbage. I was wasting so much food, and for no good reason. 

3) To make better use of my time. Back when there was no rhyme or reason to what went in my mouth, I’d just stare at my cupboards and fridge wondering what to make. And then sometimes if I decided on a certain recipe, I wouldn’t have everything I needed and I ended up at the store again getting ingredients. Having every meal planned out saves me so much time because I know what I’m making every day, and I plan ahead to have all the ingredients on hand. This also means I only go to the grocery store once a week now, and only supplement that with a few trips to a farmer’s market during the week for fresh local produce. 

4) To be healthier. In those days when I didn’t meal plan, I ate very poorly. I pretty much never got off of my college girl diet of boxed mac and cheese, frozen pizza, soda and chips. In no way were my meals balanced, and I was lucky if I even got one serving of a fruit or veggie in a day. Awful, I know, right?! Anyway, when I got married, I decided meal planning would be a good way to plan nutrition into our day, and it was something both my husband and I needed. Meal planning works for me because I love lists, and I’m the kind of person that if it’s written down, that’s what is happening, period. It was also one of the changes I’m most proud of as a wife because my husband has fully embraced it with me. He likes knowing what we’re having every night, and I often ask him to help plan the meals so he has input in what we both eat. He also loves to grill, and is way better at cooking meat than I am, so meal planning has helped bring us closer since we both get to partake in it.

OK, enough rambling. Let’s get down to it. How do you start meal planning?

First, make a list of all the foods/recipes that you know how to make and enjoy eating. Hop on Pinterest and find some inspiration too. Try a few new recipes and see what works. Make a list for both main dishes and sides. This will help you plan in the veggies, fruits and starches in your diet too so you can easily pair things together depending what you have on hand.

Next, group your list into types of protein, listing all your chicken recipes together, and beef and pork and vegetarian meals, etc. Once you’ve assembled a “master meal list,” find a way that works for you to note your meals for the week or month. I used to plan weekly and wrote all my meals on a small dry erase board that was on my fridge, like this: weekly meal list
After doing that a few months, I felt like it was time to step it up and plan monthly. It may be easier for you to find a larger white board, or just write your meals into your planner. For me though, I print off a blank calendar each month (Calendarpedia has some versions that I like), then block off any days where we have plans and don’t need dinner (say a friend’s birthday party at a restaurant). I also pick out a day or two where we’re allowed to go out to dinner as a date or order delivery in. Once those are blocked off, start filling in the remaining days with meals. I like to make bigger meals on the weekends so that we have leftovers for the next day or two and don’t have to cook early in our workweek. Also think strategically to best use the ingredients you have on hand and plan to use the same protein a few days in a row (that’s where having your list grouped together is helpful). I often will have chili, tacos and meatloaf in the same week to use up all the ground beef I have and carry the leftovers into the next meal. meal lists Now that your calendar is filled up, shop smart and stock your cabinets with basic ingredients you’ll need over and over again, and watch them so you always have spices, canned foods, milk, eggs, sour cream, shredded cheese, etc. on hand. Then make a weekly grocery list so you only have to visit the store once a week to get the special things you need like meats or any fresh veggies. You may want to be strategic with how you plan that too, so use up your fresh foods right away since things like lettuce, berries and chicken can go bad quickly. If there’s any recipes in your lineup you don’t know how to make off the top of your head, I’m a fan of pulling it up online and stashing my laptop in the corner of my kitchen to reference (while also jamming to fun party tunes of course) while cooking. Or, do as my friend Katherine does and print out every recipe you have planned and store it in a meal planning binder! It’s really just finding what works for you. Experiment for a while. You’ll find a groove, I promise!

I recommend getting in the habit of always having some frozen and/or canned veggies, a box of rice or quinoa, and potato flakes on hand to fill in meals when you didn’t plan for a side. For instance, when I make spaghetti, I always pair it whatever veggie I have on hand, whether it’s a bag of salad, can of corn or bag of frozen mixed vegetables. I typically only plan my veggie or starch in when we want something special like fresh asparagus or a baked potato. Otherwise, winging your sides is 100% fine! I also personally don’t plan our breakfasts, but some of you might want to, depending on your habits. My husband and I both like yogurt, so we each take one to work each day for breakfast, and then also throw in a banana, granola bar or blueberry muffin, depending what we have on hand. A couple days a week, I also like to make us some refrigerator oatmeal as a special treat. Then on the weekends, we just have cold cereal or eggs and bacon, depending what we feel like. Our lunches aren’t planned either since most days we have leftovers from the previous day’s dinner. Any time we don’t though, I always keep cheese and lunchmeat on hand for sandwiches, and also always have some fruit or pudding cups to pack with it.

The key to making manly lunches is to simply stuff the lunchbox so it seems like a lot of food. A sandwich, fruit cup, couple of boiled eggs, baby carrots and ranch, cheese stick, and small bag of pretzels is enough to keep even a hungry man happy. (And always a love note!) Again, it’s just getting used to having some of those extras on hand. I haven’t gotten too much into freezer meals since our freezer is small and we simply don’t have room to store a lot of pre-made meals. However, I do like to make some blueberry or sausage muffins about once a month and freeze a dozen each of those to have on hand for breakfasts. I also found a great tacquito recipe that freezes well, so I make a bunch of those and freeze them too since they don’t take up too much room and are quick and easy to heat up if I simply don’t feel like cooking the planned meal that day. I usually also make an extra meatloaf or batch of cheesy potato casserole to throw in there for those days you need something in a pinch and don’t want to cook.

Lastly, always watch sales and use coupons too to make the maximum impact. I sometimes change my meal plan if I see a great deal on something and stock up on it. Just never buy something you won’t use just because it’s on sale. And always have fun with it.

Do you meal plan? What tips would you add?

Wow, thank you so much Amanda! You have a lot of really good tips and tricks in there. I hope that you can find this super useful like I have :) It's sometimes difficult to plan dinners that are gluten free and relatively healthy, but I like the idea of writing it all down on a calendar!

xo. Nicole

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July Maven Review

My Maven box arrived a couple days earlier than expected! I always get super excited when I receive mail that isn't a bill! It's nice timing, too because I just shared my nail polish collection the other day with you. The colours this month are SO nice! I received two extra polishes because I put 3 add-ons on my box. That blue is such a pretty colour in person (my crappy iPhone camera doesn't do it justice). It's next on my list!

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I added on the Clean Slate Polish Corrector Pen. As soon as I opened my box, I took off the pink polish and put on a new nude colour. I wasn't too bad at applying my polish, so I only used the pen once or twice between both my hands. It did take the excess polish off of my skin, though! I'm happy that it came with extra tips, too!

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with July's maven box! I can hardly wait for August's :)

Did you review your July goodies from Julep?

xo. Nicole

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week's End || July 21

1|| We finally had a decent thunderstorm here, and I believe it was Gunner's first one that he's experienced since he was only a couple months old. He couldn't sleep, but he got lots of cuddles from me!
2|| I hardly ever take selfies, but since I've started working out and becoming more confident with my looks, I've started taking more. I was feeling pretty confident with myself here!
3|| I received a Jamberry Nails sample from a trade show (I requested chevron, hehe) and I'm loving it! It's been a week now, and it hasn't even chipped OR started peeling. In love.
4|| I had zero energy on Friday, but I finally got out to Target to exchange something for my stepmom, and picked up some eggs for more baking. I treated myself to a sugary tea drink, and then my husband came home and told me that we were going out for the weekend. Oi vey.

1|| My sister in law is amazing with her camera, and I shared some of her work here!
2|| I shared one of my favourite collections.
3|| The BEST gluten free teriyaki sauce...ever! 

1|| Shelby shared five things going on in her life lately.
2|| Tiffany and her husband were on vacation and brought a gnome with them! I love it :)
3|| Amanda needs your input

I'm linking my Week's End post up with Beth from Oak and Oats! You can check it out here!

xo. Nicole

Friday, July 18, 2014

Delicious Eats || GF Stir Fry

Oh my gosh you guys, we finally came across some gluten free teriyaki sauce that isn't home made! It's definitely our favourite so far. I now use it whenever I get the chance to, and I used it recently to make some stir fry! It's pretty simple to make, quick too!


xo. Nicole

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


One of my favourite past times is painting my nails. It's such an awesome moment after you spend all that time painting them and they're finally dry. It can also really put that finishing touch on your outfit! I wanted to share my nail polish collection with you today. When I laid it all out, I realized that the only polish I really have is by Julep! 
I receive Julep every month, as it goes on so smoothly and you often only need one coat of polish. My favourite colors have got to be nudes and pastels! Sometimes I go out of my comfort zone and rock a bright pink, like Nellie (top left). In the top left picture, you can also see a chevron print! I received a sample at a trade show of a new product called Jamberry Nails! They're like nail stickers, but they're applied with heat and pressure. So far, so good!

I always finish off with O.P.I's top coat! It goes on really well and prevents chips for up to a week (depending on what I'm doing with my hands). I've shared how much I love Julep polish on a la Maxfield before here, and I guess not much has changed!

What does your nail polish collection look like? I'd love to see!

xo. Nicole

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Slave Lake Sunset

We went camping a couple weekends ago and there was a beautiful sunset! My sister in law dragged me down to the beach for a walk and she took some pictures, which I wanted to share with you. 
Wasn't it gorgeous? Just looking at these photos calms me down and reminds me of a good camping trip spent with family.

xo. Nicole

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weeks End

1. Slowly teaching Gunner to balance things on his head. When it's a treat, no problem. A toy? He just looks so hard done by! Do your animals know any tricks?

2. Having the summer off work means I can go grocery shopping any day of the week instead of just Sunday. An after-shopping snack today!

3. It was my birthday on Saturday and my husband surprised me with a picnic at a park and then some paddle boating. We finished off the day with some birthday daiquiris. My Walmart tumbler is good for anything ;)

4. I volunteered on Friday and Sunday at a children's Summer Fun Festival in Stony Plain. All of the volunteers got a free glitter tattoo from the Sparkle Fairy booth. His name? Moosey.

What you may have missed:
1. I posted my first ever hair tutorial! It's super simple, anyone could do it! 
2. I also posted a little update.

Good reads:
1. Shelby shared an outfit post, that she photographed in the mist and used a toy camera.
3. Amanda posted about why she loves direct sales companies. It's good timing too, because I've been thinking about entering one of the companies. 

xo. Nicole

Friday, July 11, 2014


1|| Cherries! My sister in law brought some when we went camping over the weekend and I've been craving them ever since. Next, blueberries!

2|| My nail polish almost matches the laundry detergent that we use. Green Works is also amazing! My husband has a bleach allergy, and this is the best one that we've used so far.

3|| This is one of my top picks from the last 3 Julep Maven boxes that I've received. It's called Kam and it's such a lovely mint color. A perfect summer colour :) I'm anxiously awaiting my July Maven box.

4|| As you may have noticed, I did a little redesigning. I'm having fun playing around with photoshop! I LOVED the design that Allison did before and I'm still using her coding (with permission, of course!) but I was in the mood for another revamp. I'm just trying to figure out some image mapping so that I can have the pages links under the header. It'll make sense eventually, I suppose.

Today I'm volunteering at a chidlren's summer festival, and then tomorrow it's my birthday! 23! I've already requested breakfast for dinner ;) Then on Sunday, it's back to volunteering.

What have you been up to lately?

xo. Nicole

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Easy Overnight Waves

As someone who was blessed with straight hair, I obviously crave curly hair once in a while. No tutorial has ever really worked for me, in the way of holding the curls all day. Even for my high school graduation, bridal shower, and hair just falls flat within a few hours. I tried something new with my hair though, and it's worked pretty darn well so far! They come out more like waves, but it's better than straight hair sometimes. The waves last most of the day and it's little to no effort :)

To begin, make sure your hair has been towel dried, but still damp. Don't brush it, but run your fingers through JUST to get any knots out.

I'll be honest, my hair didn't turn out as curly as usual because it was too wet when I put it up. Step one's instructions are still correct, I just didn't follow that too well, haha!

Thanks for following along during my first ever hair tutorial! I've got two more coming soon, and I hope you have fun trying this one out! If you try it, link me up to a picture!

xo. Nicole

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Oh my goodness, I've had almost a week off work now and I haven't even blogged. I've been busy every day that I didn't even get a chance to make a Weeks End post and link up with Oak & Oats! There's always next week...except I'll be camping tomorrow until Sunday evening. Anyways, I just wanted to give a little update on my past week!

1// Gunner is enjoying having me home so that we can cuddle all morning while I drink my coffee.
2// A gift from a student! Chocolate red wine? I'll give it a go while we're camping this weekend...but I've heard that it's quite popular.
3// It's been working for me and I'll do a tutorial soon, but a messy bun for curls the next morning? Easiest thing ever.
4// The husband and I agreed to do a 30 hour babysitting job of our nephews and niece this past weekend. Lots of boogers and dirty diapers, but it didn't seem to shake us and we even learned a few things about each other's parenting styles. It was also super fun to play with them in between sleeping and nap times!
5// We changed our room around so that we could have some AC installed in our window, and it was the best decision ever! It's so nice and cool in here now, and we have more room to walk around.
6// Gunner constantly follows one of us around unless he sees a cat, then they take priority. Obviously.

Today includes taking things to the dump, dropping boxes off at my Grandma's and staying for a visit, and starting to pack/grocery shop for our camping trip. Hoping the husband can get Friday off work so that we can make the 2 hour drive tomorrow evening!

What have you been up to lately?

xo. Nicole