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I started the year with the intention to bloom. And while this evidently didn’t take place here on the website (where I’ve neglected to post anything since February, oops), a lot has happened elsewhere in life that has made me pretty proud of my 2017 achievements.

I’ve had an incredibly busy year, and oftentimes that has meant being so busy I’ve had to consistently work at the office late into the evening and sometimes on the weekend. For the last few months, I haven’t been home long enough or been awake enough when I was there to cook myself a proper meal (hello, long list of Ritual take-out order receipts). But, oh, did I mention that “home” is now a condo downtown where I live on my own? Yep, the big move finally happened. A lot of decorating work still needs to be done, but I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. Oh, and another thing… just a few months into the new year, I was promoted at work. And I have a wonderful team and an amazing boss who supports and champions me every day. I’ve also been working on a super cool project that’s launching soon. To top it all off, I still love what I do. The long hours are worth it.

Speaking of things I love to do, it was a big year when it comes to my passion for acting. I went out for my first real audition, which was a huge achievement, since I’ve been putting it off for years. That audition landed me a web series role. In September, because I have incredibly generous friends, I had the opportunity to rub elbows with Toronto talent when I attended my first TIFF parties. All that led to one of my biggest accomplishments from this year: I wrote my first short film script and I plan on bringing it to life in the coming months.

Beyond that, I’ve made new friendships this year (shout out to my #LakeOfBabes squad), received the great news that two of my best friends got engaged (separately, not to each other – I’m overjoyed and terrified at the same time; when did we grow up?), went to New York twice, and flew all the way to Asia to visit Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong (where I ate everything in sight and got to spend quality time with family I never get to see).

I wanted 2017 to be about growing into the efforts I had sown in 2016, to see them flourish and to work towards being my best self. This is a journey that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully complete, but I think I made great headway this year. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

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The most exciting part of the new year is declaring my annual mantra. It sets the stage for the next twelve months and gives me something to check back in with when I’m faced with a decision or having a hard time. I’ve always felt that this has been more helpful than creating a laundry list of resolutions. New Year’s resolutions have become meaningless and easy to forget. A mantra, simple and straightforward, gives me purpose.

I’ve been on vacation for the last ten days, spending most of my time eating, sleeping, Netflixing, and regenerating. I was having an incredibly stressful time leading up to the holidays, so the time off has been an absolute godsend. I can feel that my body and my mind have been healing, preparing to be stronger and ready to take on new challenges. This invigorating feeling made my new mantra clear.

2017’s going to be my year to bloom.

I’ve sown many seeds this past year – in my career, in my personal life, in my creative passions. They were borne of the dedication and hard work I urged myself to give. But now that I’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to build, to grow, to nurture, and to soak up life’s beauty so that I may embody it.

The next twelve months will be about flourishing, evolving, and expanding into the full potential each opportunity has. It’ll be about becoming my best self, and I can’t wait to share it all with you guys.

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The end of a year is always a bittersweet time. One chapter ends while another begins. This year, especially, it seems so many are desperate for a fresh start, for the slate to be wiped clean, for the turning of a new page. Despite the things we hope will become a faint and distant memory, I think it’s always important to take a breath and consider all that has happened in the last 365 days, and remind ourselves how much we have to be grateful for and what work there is left to do.

The last twelve months have been an exciting time for my career. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work on some extraordinary projects that have received recognition and awards in the industry. Roses made out of Doritos Ketchup chips? Sending a woman to capture the world’s first 360 footage inside a volcano? These are things I never could have dreamed of working on when I was still in school, but it’s actively an everyday part of my job. I’m also part of a great team I can trust and rely on, and spend hours laughing with – even in stressful times. Oh, and I planned our holiday party this year. It was pretty damn fun.

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(That’s me in the giant furry coat.)

You may have seen my recent post, How I Got Healthy, in which I talk about how my life has changed this year since I started kickboxing. Being active and taking care of my body has become so ingrained in me, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t itching to work out. I sometimes ask myself, “Who are you? What have you become?” But discovering this passion through determination and commitment has been incredibly fulfilling. I still have a long way to go to achieve my goals, but I’m excited to continue on this journey.

As for my creative endeavours, I spent a bit of time in front of the camera this year. I finally acted in my first short film, Let Go. It’s still in post-production, but I hope to share it with everyone soon. It was a joy to work alongside friends to create something so funny and so us.

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I also started a YouTube series with Frank that gave us an outlet to talk about nerdy things. It is appropriately named Guy & Girl Nerd Duo. GGND is on a hiatus at the moment while we take some time for reinvention, but I can’t wait to continue creating something that is founded on the things I love.

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I got into a bit of action behind the camera, too. Frank, Trevor, and I created a funny little short called Tactical Invader: Parking Garage. Shot entirely on my iPhone at the end of a fun night, there is more footage of us bursting out into laughter than what made it into the final cut.

And of course, travelling is always the highlight of my year. I spent this year re-exploring places I’ve been before and falling in love with them all over again.

In the spring, I spent a week in Oahu with Jen basking under the sun and sinking my toes into hot sand. She’s back there now for the holidays and my heart aches with envy.

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At the start of August, I spent a magical weekend in New York City with Erin, where we met Boys Like Girls (a band we’ve loved since we were sixteen), frolicked in Central Park twice, stuffed ourselves silly with lobster rolls and pizza and Shake Shack burgers, and drank the city’s whole supply of white wine and whiskey.

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And to cap off the year’s travels, I went on a 2-week trip to Alberta and Quebec with family. I deeply miss the beautiful views in the great national parks out west. I could spend years there discovering the mountains and lakes and still not have seen enough. I can’t wait to share more of the photos on the blog.

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Amidst the travelling, the work, the working out, and the acting, there are many other treasured gems from 2016 that I’ll hold dear to my heart:

  • My family’s annual camping trip
  • Discovering Nugateau‘s amazing eclairs that have seriously rivaled my love of macarons
  • Spending a relaxing weekend at my president’s Lake of Bays cottage
  • Expending way too much energy playing Pokemon GO
  • Dressing up as Elektra for Fan Expo
  • The release of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  • Seeing Gallant and LANY in concert
  • Spending time eating and cooking with close friends while always trying new food

I started this year with the resolution to dedicate myself to the important elements of my life, and while I’ve made a lot of progress, I can feel it deep within myself that this is only just the beginning, and that there is so much more to come.

I’m ready to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017 with open arms – happy new year.

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Going to the Toronto Christmas Market is an annual tradition for Amanda and I. Now in its seventh year, what I love most about the market is its uncanny ability to get me into the Christmas spirit, even though it’s still November. The light canopies, the music lightly drifting through the air, the vendor stalls selling decorations, the Christmas tree! It fills my heart with joy and cheer, and after the week I’d had, spending Saturday afternoon at the market was a sweet experience.

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I love browsing through the vendor offerings. The round-up slightly changes every year, but there are always a few familiar ones, like the candles from La Vela Bella (the pear candle smells so good). 

There are also a few good food options if you’re feeling hungry, from grilled cheese sandwiches to chimney cones. My biggest disappointment was not seeing the Wafel Bar stall. I have had a craving for waffles for months and I do not own a waffle iron. Christmas gift, anyone?

The market is also a good chance to visit some of the shops and restaurants in the Distillery District if you don’t often get to stroll through. Peruse a gallery, do some shopping at the specialty stores, and grab dinner at the Mill Street Brewery.

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Amanda loves the red noses they give you when you enter the market. I thought about not taking one, but just knew she’d want a photo like this one.

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We had the good fortune of visiting the market on a relatively warm afternoon, but as the weather gets chillier, be sure to layer up! On this afternoon, I opted for a cozy sweater and leggings (Black Friday steals from Express), a peacoat, and heeled boots.

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A visit to the Christmas Market (or just the Distillery District) mandates a warm drink from Balzac’s. My go-to order is a Parisian Mist with nonfat milk, especially comforting on these chillier days. In the mood for something with a kick? Visit the various beer gardens for mulled wine, cider, beer, or a variety of other holiday beverages. The options are endless.

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Seriously, she loves the noses.

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My favourite part of the market this year was the addition of the pink trees. So pink! So twinkly! It’s a small maze (there’s only one turn) you can line up to walk through and take a few photos. I wish there had been a full forest of them. My love of pink has never blazed so hard as it did amongst these trees.

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The market runs until December 22nd, so don’t miss your chance to peruse the shops, sip on a warm beverage (alcoholic or not), gaze at the lights and installations, and feel that lovely holiday cheer. Entry is free on weekdays (closed Mondays) and only $6 on the weekend. The countdown to Christmas is on!

Featured Outfit //
Peacoat: Primark; Sweater & Leggings: Express; Necklace: Forever21, Rings: H&M; Shoes: Spring; Lip: NARS

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Christmas is just over a month away, and while I’m quietly stressing that the year has blown by in a blur, it means the flux of holiday parties and dinners is upon us.

To kick off the season of eating (because isn’t it, though?), my friends at Everyday Allergen-Free invited me over for dinner. Mind you, it wasn’t just any dinner. The menu was designed and served by Chef Scott Roberts, former head chef of Smoking Goat in London. Scott uniquely used each dish to highlight the different parts of a turkey and creatively accompanied the courses with locally-sourced, high-quality ingredients.

The best part? While many elements of the meal would usually contain common allergens that my best friend, Amanda, wouldn’t be able to eat, Scott crafted each dish completely free of dairy, nuts, peanuts, and legumes.

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Of course, no Christmas party is complete without seasonally-appropriate, Pinterest-worthy decorations. The evening’s decor was sponsored by The Home Depot and I am completely obsessed with the white reindeer accent Joella used for the table centrepiece.

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Head on over to Everyday Allergen-Free to dive into the full menu and see more drool-worthy photos of food!