December 20, 2016

Keeping the Marriage Alive in November – our YYC Date Night

Doesn’t a full belly laugh just feel so good??? Let me tell you, it’s a great way to spend time with your spouse!

Darren and I really wanted to go to Amy Schumer Live and had talked about getting tickets for several months. In case you’re not familiar with who Amy Schumer is, she is a ‘no-topic-is-off-limits’ kind of comedienne. We both really enjoy her humour, which is strange almost, because we don’t typically have the same tastes in entertainment…so, bonus right??

We were really lucky to have found someone, rather last minute, who was not only selling a pair of good seats…but also for a great price!  I guess it was meant to be!

The show was really fun and Amy Schumer did a great job! …And this was a really fun change of pace for our typical ‘dinner out’ dates. We didn’t do a lot of ‘bonding’ but that’s okay! We both had a great time – it was so fun!

Oddly enough…November was a great month for us getting in some ‘alone time’ together.

On top of getting out to the comedy show, we were also able to grab a couple of lunches out together while the kids were in preschool! It was lucky, really! We even snuck in a little ‘day drink’ during one of them…imagine???

Huge bonus for us since getting out once per month can sometimes be a big stretch for us.  I guess we are making some progress on our monthly date journey!

#livingontheedge

November 3, 2016

Keeping the Marriage Alive in October

pie-cloud-date

October is a busy month for many families and our family was no exception. Of course we had the usual…work and hockey for my husband, preschool and activities for the twins, and I ran my business and blog and continued to make the ‘wheels go around’ for our household.

On top of that there was, of course, Thanksgiving and Halloween…plus we had one last ‘Glamping’ hoorah. Oh, and my BFF also had a big birthday celebration to top it all off.

Basically, what I’m saying is – if Darren and I hadn’t taken our ‘monthly date night’ pledge (you can find it in my blog post ‘Keeping the Marriage Alive – One Date at a Time’), it ‘might’ have not happened in October!  Correction – it ‘wouldn’t have’ happened in October.

See Darren? Routine is good after all!

We changed it up a little to work with our busy month and we decided to get out on a weeknight (Thursday) evening and that actually worked well. We had a little extra time that night, without any activities, and we were able to easily find care for the kids.

To change it up a little bit, I drove downtown to meet Darren once he was done work and we checked out a little spot I have been dying to try out – Pie Cloud in Kensington!

Yes, sometimes us suburban ‘Stay at Home Moms’ (otherwise known by the acronym SAHM’s) can get all ‘crazy’ and we actually leave ‘the burbs’!

If you aren’t familiar with Pie Cloud, it is a diner/bakery-style restaurant specializing in all things pies (hot and cold) as well as some other diner-type food items – and I thought it sounded like a great spot to try out.  I love me diner food and I love me sweets!

In the name of efficiency, I had taken a quick glance at the Pie Cloud dinner menu online several days before we went and as soon as my eyes saw ‘Chicken ‘N Waffles’ I literally stopped looking at the menu and knew what I was having.  I even talked about it with several of my friends…that’s how much I was looking forward to eating it.  Mmm…

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….BUT…once we got there, I saw something on the menu I have actually never seen on a restaurant menu before:

Turkey Dinner Pie!

What??? Yes!!!

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Now what??

Side note: Anyone who has been to my house for a holiday turkey meal has seen me throw together a couple of Turkey Dinner Pies with the leftovers (I call them ‘Thanksgiving Pies’ or ‘Christmas Pies’). They are my absolute FAVOURITE!!!! They are so easy to make, they freeze well, and they are a great way to get a taste of a turkey meal during the off-season. I’ll add a link to the recipe I use at the end of this blog post in case you want to try making one.  You really should try one!

Squeeee!!!! I was so excited!!!!

Lucky for me, Darren decided to order the Chicken ‘N Waffles himself so I went ahead and ordered the Turkey Dinner Pie knowing I could sample his (thanks Honey!).

I do think it’s worth just giving you a heads up (since I’m going on and on about them) that it takes them a little while (approximately 30 minutes) to make the Chicken ‘N Waffles…maybe don’t choose this item if you stop in to eat but are in a hurry.

The food was great and we even splurged and shared a piece of apple pie – because how can you go to a ‘pie place’ and not have ’pie’?

pie-cloud-apple-pie

The date was nice! It was fairly short and sweet but it served its purpose – We enjoyed having some adult time together, having adult conversation….free from the interruptions of home and the twins. And that’s the whole point!

As a huge mom-bonus to the evening, it did get even better – I got a break from the bedtime routine! This is where I insert loud cheering and clapping! Thanks so much to my friend, and fellow twin-mom, Ange for taking care of that!

As I promised, I want to share with you the recipe that I use for my Thanksgiving/Christmas Pies. It’s actually a Martha Stewart recipe that I keep it conveniently pinned on my favourite Pinterest Board – Recipes Tried and True!

I hope you like it!

September 27, 2016

Keeping the Marriage Alive – One Date at a Time!

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One of the hardest things about having kids is keeping the marriage alive. I’m mean, let’s face it…our bodies are different, our schedules are busy, our beds are sometimes not our own, etc., etc. I could go on and on – there are countless things fighting for our attention and challenging our time.

On top of all of this, if you haven’t hired a babysitter in YYC lately, I’ll let you know right now that the going rate is $10-$15/hour.

$10-$15/hour people!!!

(I do have a bit of a solution to this problem, but I’ll have to blog about that another day…until then, save up your money to pay for babysitting!).

A few weeks ago, I made a pledge that Darren and I absolutely need to make time for 1-date per month. No. Matter. What.

I know it probably doesn’t sound like much to those without kids, but anyone with offspring will understand that this might be a tall order! However, now I have said it out loud and made a commitment to our relationship (as well as the world-wide-web) so this definitely has to happen. If you aren’t seeing me blog about our YYC dates at least once per month, for goodness sake, please send me your hate mail!

The good news is, we did manage to squeeze a date out before month’s end. Last weekend, I was starting to panic (and feel the end of the month closing in on us) so I rushed to get something together last minute (way to prioritize ‘date night’, hey?). Embarrassing.

Anyway…we scored a REALLY NICE SUPPER for SUPER CHEAP (and I mean ‘cheap’!) at San Remo Ristorante in McKenzie Towne (if you haven’t been there, I would really recommend it…with or without kids). They have specials on each night but,  on Sunday nights, they have $10 pasta-night AND $10 ½ litre of wine night. Can you imagine??

So, we had one of my favourite appetizers (Truffle Butter Popcorn), fresh bread, two pasta entrees AND a ½ litre of wine (hello!) for under $40! I’m sure it’s hard to believe!

Anyway, it was really a nice evening and I had a chance to hear about some things that happened in my husband’s week that I don’t think we would have talked about had we stayed home.  We got to connect, without distractions (insert children, devices, Netflix, NHL Centre Ice…) and that’s exactly what we needed after pushing through a week of work, school, activities, hockey, and so on and so on (you know the list goes on forever). It was perfect!

I was really glad we made the time to get out together and I am already thinking about what we might do for our October evening out! If you have some fun ideas (in the Calgary area) – please send them my way!

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(Truffle Butter Popcorn, Spaghetti Bolognese, and Sausage and Pepper Penne shown above.  

Oh!  And as my husband would put it – also a ‘nice Malbec’!)

August 18, 2016

Boudoir. Yeah, I did it – Postnatal Body and all!

D2

Image by Breathless by reina procee 

Boudoir. Yeah, I did it – Post-natal body and all.

I almost didn’t though.

I almost didn’t because I was afraid. I was afraid of being embarrassed. Afraid of exposing my post-partum body which, after my twin-pregnancy, was sadly left with ‘twin-skin’ and diastasis recti. Afraid of looking like an angry clown despite efforts to look sexy, while a complete stranger photographed my mostly-naked self.

Thankfully I got over it, I took a risk, and I did it – and really, I’m so glad I did (and I think my husband is too!).

It all started last year when a photographer I know posted on Facebook about an out of town colleague who would be in YYC doing a boudoir marathon right before Christmas. The boudoir photographer was selling a package, which included onsite hair and make up (with false lashes – whoot!) followed by 1-hour of shooting at a modern hotel in downtown Calgary.

My friend (a fellow twin-mom, actually) and I were both curious about it and after some back and forth with the photographer, we both took the leap and committed.  Holy crap! The timing wouldn’t be right for a Christmas gift, but I could use the images somehow for Valentine’s Day and I would have some time to sort that out.

Once I had committed, I went into a bit of a panic over how to prepare for the big day. What should I bring to wear? What colour should my nails be? Should I practice my ‘sexy’ look in the mirror ahead of time? I tend to sometimes be heavy on the details, and my nervousness about the shoot put me into overdrive.

Luckily, for me, the photographer did a pretty good job of preparing us for what to expect and anything that wasn’t covered in her info package (nail polish?) – she was able to answer easily.

In case you’re unsure (like I was), here is what I did to prepare:

How I Prepared for my Boudoir Photo Shoot

What to Wear

Although the photographer had made some recommendations for those interested in lingerie, that’s not really my thing so I opted to just follow her alternate suggestion of matching lacy bras and panties (I chose mostly black).

She did also invite us to bring other garments that are beautiful or meaningful. I couldn’t really dream anything up, but she was pretty great and had a few really nice one-size-fits-all items on hand. She had brought a beautiful vintage-inspired blouse (as seen above), a pretty sundress (as seen in the photo below), and a body suit and some other items I didn’t use. That was more than enough.

Oh, also noteworthy, I brought the highest heels I had!

Fingernails 

I stuck with neutrals and did a nude-type colour on my fingernails and a charcoal/black on my toes.

Practice Makes Perfect?

Honestly, a photographer-friend had suggested I practice a little bit in the mirror – which I think is good advice. I did try a few pouty-looks in my bathroom mirror one day but I felt like a fool so I gave it up. Honestly, the photographer did a pretty great job of directing a natural look. If memory serves me, there were a lot of deep inhales with exhales through a slightly parted mouth and also lots of looking down/down and away. It all worked out well and I luckily didn’t look like I was trying too hard.

On the Day of the Shoot

On the day of the shoot, I was totally nervous. You can imagine how embarrassing it was to check in at the front desk of the hotel – “Hi…I’m Dionne…I’m here for an…err…my 12:00 appointment?”. What? Lordy. Honestly, that was probably the hardest part of the 2-hours that I was there.

The hair and make up went beautifully and really gave me an entire hour to relax (special shout out the make up artist, Makeup by Erin Kilburn, who did hair and make up…she ‘was’ great and thankfully also made me ‘look’ great!).

What I Told my Husband

Luckily, since it was the holiday season, I told my husband ahead of time that I needed a day to get some Christmas shopping done. He thought nothing of it. Initially, I packed a bag with toiletries so I could shower-off the heavy make-up at my BFF’s house afterwards, but the make up artist ended up having a great suggestion on the day of – tell him I got a make-over at the mall!

It totally worked! Before I got home, I texted him to tell him they were doing free make-overs at MAC to showcase a new make up line and that they offered to demo an ‘evening look’ on me. When I got home, my husband didn’t even question the mani-pedi (thank goodness he’s not into details).

I was super happy to not have to wash-away the beautiful hair, lashes and make up I had had done (and paid good money for) but I did feel a little sheepish when I took Gray to gymnastics that night. I’m sure the other moms were probably whispering to each other wondering why I was looking like ‘that’ already at suppertime. Oh well. Lol.

All Said and Done

The photo-shoot went really well! The photographer, Reina, was super. She was very casual and full of compliments and assured me she was getting plenty of great shots. She had booked a suite, at the hotel, so we shot at different spots (on a large chair, on a chaise, on the bed, in front of the window) and I had multiple outfit changes. We actually wrapped up about 15 minutes early since she felt she had gotten quite a few great shots already.

In the end, the photos looked great! I’m sharing a couple of the more discreet ones here for you, but of course the rest are just for my husband.

I ended up making him a really nice photo book and presenting it to him for Valentine’s Day. He was so surprised and he really seemed like he loved it! It was nice to give him something special since, after almost 14-years of marriage, you start running out of V-Day gift ideas. This was unique and different than anything I had given him before. No button-up work shirts this year!

Also, I will say this. Although I booked the boudoir session with the intentions that I was going to give my husband a special gift…in the end, I also gave myself something pretty special. I was made to look and feel especially beautiful for a day. That day has been captured and I will have it forever. It was somehow empowering and gave me a renewed confidence…something I might have lost a little bit after growing and delivering 2 little humans at the same time. Now I had seen for myself that my postnatal, twin-bearing body could look sexy and beautiful.

If you have a chance to treat your partner (and yourself) to something like this, I would highly recommend it! It will be scary at first, but you both will be so glad you did!

xo

D45

Image by Breathless by reina procee

August 8, 2016

The Inaugural Blog Post

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Wow! I can’t believe I’m finally here!

This tiny idea of having a personal/lifestyle blog has sort of become a bit of a project, so I am elated to finally be sharing it with you!

(starting a blog seems like it should be simple but, man, there are A LOT of things to consider before actually getting to put your pen to paper! That’s definitely going to have to be a blog post later!)

How it all began…

Over the last couple of years I have had a couple of friends loosely comment in passing that I should write a blog. I think it’s probably because I have been sharing our ‘trials and tribulations’ on facebook and social media with friends and family since the twins (Gray & A) were born. I usually have a pretty honest approach, sharing both the joys, as well as the ‘imperfect’ moments, often. I am a first time mom AND a mom of twins, so my husband and I really just jumped right in with both feet. As you can imagine, it has been beautiful, crazy, joyful and sometimes flat out chaotic.

Only people without children gift chapstick this bright to a 2-year old

I envision Refined Imperfection as a little space that I can share my journey of raising my twins, being a wife, and holding on to a little sliver of still being my own person – here in beautiful YYC.

Thanks for coming by and saying, ‘hello’!

Shampoo pumps work great when you only have 1 hand - also when you have 2-year old hands and a mirror

Shampoo pumps work great when you only have one hand.
They also work great when you are 2-years old and you are left totally unsupervised.