Week 40 – The story of how my crush developed..

The holidays are coming which means it’s time for another giveaway. But I am getting ahead of myself. This week I toyed with the idea of returning to the online dating world and after quickly browsing through the sites, umm yeah..I postponed it! Instead I did something that I really love and it ends with a happy ending! Ha ha don’t worry it’s totally PG 😉

Week #40 Challenge: Attend a Purdys Chocolate Bark-Making Class!

Have you heard of or tried Purdys Chocolatier?  It’s a Canadian compagnie that specializes in making quality chocolate since 1907. The chocolates are prepared using Canadian milk, cream and sugar and are made fresh with no preservatives. 

Where are Purdys Chocolatier classes held? The classes take place across Ottawa and it just so happens that they had the Bark-Making Class at Place d’Orleans! They also offer Truffle Making classes!

How is chocolate made? Well that’s what we learned during the first part of the class! We explored the entire process from the cocoa pod cultivation, the roasting, the cracking to the conching. If you ever wondered:

  1. What colour are cocoa pods when ripe?
  2. How long are cocoa beans roasted?
  3. What is the difference between cocoa butter and cocoa mass?

Purdys chocolatier classes will answer all these questions and more!

You also get to sample chocolate! I tried the Peruvian chocolate (which has a subtle cherry hint and bitter taste) followed by an Ecuadorian chocolate (smoother and richer flavour)! It was like wine tasting but improved!

Bark-Making time! Instructions were given and we had the flexibility to customize the bark to our liking! I kept mine simple and healthier by using almonds and dried cranberries as my filling. They had a good assortment of nuts, candies and spices even!

I left with a pretty large quantity of bark and before going to my sister’s house for a night of bark snacking, I stopped by the Purdys shop to pick-up a little something to give away as a thank you for all the support I have been given this year! This is where I met my crush: Philbert. He is a hedgehog and he happens to be the Purdys mascot! The word “Filbert” happens to be a synonym of hazelnut hence why he was named this way and hedgehogs are in fact a sign of good luck!

The prize includes:

    How can I win this prize? It’s simple just let me know who you would share the chocolate treats with in the comment section on my blog, on Facebook or on twitter!

    I will draw the winner on Sunday December 4th, 2016!

    Isabelle xox

    Week 39 – For the bodybuilder inside each one of us!

    Do you have a fitness goal currently? Or are you considering a lifestyle change? I know that New Year’s is when people set on a journey to transform their body and mind but… what is stoping you from starting right now? In case you haven’t noticed, I have a soft spot for fitness and health! If you set a goal whether it be to:

    – start eating more nutritious food;

    – uncover those abs;

    – increase your overall strength; or

    – all of the above.

    The best strategy to start with is: Expand your health knowledge!

    Everyone’s body is unique and getting to know your own body is actually the most important part! I can’t even tell you how many hours I have spent researching healthy meal plans or the benefits of cardio vs weight training and comparing my current habits to those who have reached goals I am striving for. I hired Michelle Vodrazka who helped me tremendously get on the right track by providing balanced recipes, weight training programs and an abundance of health knowledge! Once you gather all that information, you are left with applying and testing these practises to see how your body reacts.

    In case you are pondering the idea or have already begun your journey, I have a few things I can share on the matter:

    Nutrition: Strive for balance! Your body needs healthy fats, carbs and protein: even more so when you are physically active. If you need guidelines as to the percentage you should be consuming of each, here are apps that can be useful:

    • My Fitness Pal: allows you to log all your food as accurately as you can and assists with calculating the grams of protein, fat and carbs you consumed on a given day;
    • Fitocracy Macros: an app that will suggest an ideal balance of carbs, protein and fats depending on your goal: fat loss, maintenance or bulking.

    I don’t recommend tracking food so closely as a long term option but it can be a handy tool while you transition to a different eating pattern.

    Training: This will vary depending on the time you have to allocate to yourself but if you can strive to workout 3 to 5 times a week it’s ideal. Cardio is great for your heart, but if you don’t have 1 or 2 hours to run on a threadmill, why not try HIIT training for 25 to 30 minutes once or twice a week. It’s fun and research seems to support that it’s a more efficient way of working out. Weight training on the other hand can be done 4 to 5 times of week. I was pretty intimated by weights initially since I didn’t want to look masculine only to find out it’s one of the best ways to increase your strength and burn fat! Not bad, right?!

    What about supplements? I only started paying more attention to them last week, to see how they could help me! So I decided to find a store in Ottawa that specializes in workout gear and supplements! That’s when I found Fitshop.ca which does have a store in Ottawa.

    Woohoo.. on my way I go, in the snow might I add, and enter the shop! They had shelves upon shelves of products. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by an employee who asked if I needed assistance. That was a relief because FOR ONCE and I do mean once I wasn’t just browsing and actually needed help. I made sure to mention I wanted the purest and most natural products available, simple ingredients and no artificial sweeteners and so on. The employees were very friendly and there to help so don’t be afraid to be clear on what you want! 

    Important note: be careful when taking multiple supplements because the combination may lead to potentially harmful side-effects. Asking a professional is always a good plan!

    I left with a few goodies and started integrating them in my daily routine! My favourite is the Kaizen Naturals Vanilla Bean whey protein powder, it tastes so healthy and delicious!


    Here is a festive post-workout recipe I would suggest trying: 

    Creamy Mint Chocolate Protein Shake

      This weekend Fitshop.ca is hosting a sale where you get 20% off everything online and in store. It’s the perfect time to stock up on all your workout supplements, vitamins, equipment and more.

      Week 38 – Infusing yourself with doTERRA…

      Let’s say you are not feeling well.. on the verge of a cold or a flu, what do you take to prevent the illness? Vitamin C? Orange juice? Tea? We all have our own preferred remedies but what if I said there is a very simple and healthy way to alleviate almost any discomfort, would you be interested?

      Week # 37 Challenge – Explore the world of doTERRA Essential Oils!

      I was never very familiar with essential oils, if I don’t feel well I typically use a drop or two of Oregano oil (Not a squirt as this is strong stuff) and I let the properties kill all the bacteria. That is about the extent of my knowledge which is why when Nutritionist and Wellness Coach Ingrid Sarfeld invited me to test the doTERRA oils for a few weeks, I was very much interested.

      Ingrid holds free presentations that explain the benefits of doTERRA essential oils. I was really surprised to see how many uses can come from various blends of oils. You can actually use oils three ways:

      1- Aromatically: by adding as little as one drop of oil in a diffuser you can feel stimulated, focused or calmed.

      2- Topically: by massaging these oils directly on yourself or someone else.

      3- Internally: by adding drops to your food, water or directly in your mouth! Note that only some doTERRA oils may be taken internally!

      Why choose doTERRA essential oils?

      • Product Quality: For one, this company’s oils are sourced and 3rd party tested to ensure the highest quality and purity possible. Since essential oils are an investment it’s only normal that you would opt for the oils that are of doTERRA quality;
      • Effective: They are highly concentrated formulas which means a little drop can really go a long way;
      • Ethical: By cultivating and creating partnerships and empowering small-scale growers, distilleries and impoverished nations.

      Where do I start? What oils do I need or want?

      That’s the tricky part, doTERRA offers such a large array of essential oils with so many different properties and benefits that it may feel a bit overwhelming at first! They do sell kits and offer promotions for those who want a good sample of their tops selling essential oils!

      doTERRA oils come in two categories:

      1) Single Essential Oils: which are steam distilled or cold pressed from one ingredient. For example: Grapefruit, Cinnamon Bark, Melaleuca (Tee trea), Black Pepper, White Fir,  etc.

      2) Essential Oil blends: which are made of a combination of essential oils. For example: Citrus Bliss, Breathe, On Guard, etc.

      Depending on your needs, you may opt for a few specific oils. Here are some examples:

      Lavender: is an oil that can help you relax and assist falling asleep! As an example, I added one drop in the diffuser before bed as well as two drops in my bath! Next thing you know, I was sound asleep!

      Lemon: is a more uplifting oil! It smells great and has so many uses. For instance, instead on using lemon juice, I just added a drop of lemon oil to my water as it helps boots your metabolism. Also, with it’s disinfectant properties you can use a few drops of the lemon oil in water and use that to clean your counters.

      On Guard: is a mix of Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf  which is meant to minimize seasonal threats. When my sister wasn’t feeling well, I added a drop of On Guard in a small glass of water for her to drink and diffused the oil in her bedroo

      Aside from oils, doTERRA also sells products that contain their essential oils. For instance, an athlete could use the Deep Blue Rub on sore muscles for a sensation of cool and warmth. I applied it on my shoulders and back after I went weight training and it felt really nice.

      Looking for Gift Ideas?!

      doTERRA essential oils can also make a great gift that you customize to the person you are purchasing for. Make sure to visit Ingrid’s Facebook page here or her website here to enquire about free samples and upcoming presentations and workshops! 

      Lots of fun holiday workshops will be held in Ottawa in the next months so if you want to make a Mojito sugar scrub, healthy festive room spray, etc. this is a perfect opportunity!

      Week 37 – Capturing True Beauty!

      When you look in the mirror what do you see? Do you ever take a moment to really appreciate who you are? We get so wrapped up in our lives sometimes that we begin to take for granted someone really important, I am talking about you! This week’s activity was a way to embrace who I am and I am writing this post to encourage you to do the same.

      Getting professional pictures taken is something people do when they get engaged, married or have a family but what if you don’t? Should that stop you? I certainly don’t think it should. I have wanted to get pictures done for a very long time but never dared to do it… Why? Well the truth is that I could never meet my own standards. I always had something to improve. If I could just tone my legs a bit more, grow my hair a bit longer, get another laser treatment first and so on and so forth… It was excuse, after excuse. Why did I finally do it? Well it’s simple, I accepted that loving yourself means appreciating who you are inside and out. My body is recovering from serious neglect and I am furthest from that ideal image that I have ever been, but truth be told I am proud of it anyway! It is getting healthier day by day and that is what is most important…

      The idea here is that you should be proud of who you are and I don’t mean tomorrow… I mean right now! Working on improving yourself is very important but try your best to not be so hard on yourself. Some days you may feel great about yourself but on the days you don’t it’s particularly important to focus on who you are on the inside! Positive and kind-hearted people are by far the most precious and beautiful! So when you look in the mirror next time, don’t forget to really look at yourself and appreciate everything that makes you who you are!

      Week # 37 Challenge: Model in a Photo Shoot!

      Let me talk to you about Paul Sanderson, who as you are about to see is an incredibly talented photographer! When I first decided to look into this whole photo shoot concept I researched various photographers located in Ottawa! I looked at their portfolio before reaching out to them. While I was in contact with one photographer, a colleague asked me why I hadn’t considered Paul! I actually didn’t know Paul which is why she sent me a link to his website. One glance at his pictures and I fell in love with his style.. the romantic and mysterious feel he captures through photography is captivating and exactly what I wanted. Naturally, I reached out to him, mentioned the self-acceptance message I was trying to portray and I was beyond thrilled when without hesitating he was on board and willing to support this project.

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      Paul Sanderson Photography
      What to do in preparation of a photo shoot:

      1) Meet with the photographer to come up with a concept: share your vision and expectations, if you have any. In my case I wanted a simple and natural outdoor photoshoot near a source of water. I also researched pictures and shared the look I wanted with Paul, and he understood exactly what I was looking for!

      2) Pick a date and location: it’s great to have an idea of what type of scenery you want, a studio versus an outdoor session. If outdoors, try to keep track of the weather prior to choosing a date. Paul proposed a Sunday and it turned out to be perfect!

      3) Select your outfit: this was challenging. I looked online, asked for help from various friends and spent a lot of time in malls trying for feel inspired. Don’t be afraid to ask for people’s advice, especially your photographer, and try to choose a style that fits you! Needless to say I went for feminin 😉


      4) Book any additional appointments: You may want to get your hair cut and styled, or maybe a manicure or even makeup done. If you do, make sure to schedule your appointments early enoughto ensure you have time before the photo shoot. Another colleague of mine, happened to have a makeup artist in his family by the name of Chantal, make sure to check out her Fashion Blog, and went for a more natural makeup look. I was really happy with the end result.

      It’s time!

      I met with Paul in the early afternoon and traveled across a little forest area. It was a cool day but the sun was keeping us warm.. A good photographer will guide you by suggesting where to stand and how to pose while leaving you with the flexibility of just being natural! That’s exactly what working with Paul was like! Even though you may not know what you are doing try to stay relaxed and just go with the flow..

      Without further ado here are some of the pictures Paul Sanderson captured:


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      If you think you are ready to capture memories on camera, make sure to contact Paul Sanderson to begin your journey!

      Isabelle xo

      Week 36 – Trick or Tre… I mean tequila?

      Alright guys, I have a confession to make! As a kid, I loved Halloween. So much so that I became one of those people who ended up trick or treating up until 9th grade! I am not kidding, I just kept going and going! We may be a little old to go door to door now but that is not going to stop us from dressing up, right? There is no shame in being young at heart and I encourage you to keep that childhood flame alive!

      Week # 36 challenge: Attend a Halloween Event!

      What to wear? That is always the difficult part, isn’t it? You can go for a very simple and traditional costume or you can think of something very elaborate. It’s just a matter of inspiration..

      Let’s take last year as an example: I had a family Halloween potluck and, essentially, no time left to come up with a costume! I needed an idea and fast, so I sifted through my things and found my plush Olaf! Aww.. I love that snowman and then suddenly the concept came to me: I can be Olaf’s personal flurry! So I slipped into a little white dress, picked up a battery operated snowklake light string which I enlaced around my entire body, held Olaf real tight and covered us both in sparkles… It was simple but it totally worked. Once you have a creative idea, designing your own costume may be easier than you think!

      This year my costume wasn’t so original since I decided to wear one I had purchased in the past but never used. You simply can’t waist a perfectly decent costume! The challenge was that I wasn’t certain how to introduce myself… I kept saying I was a maiden or at times a certain pirate’s girlfriend but nobody knew for sure! Just a pretty mesmerizing lady maybe?!

      Although Halloween is quite different from an adult standpoint, I certainly don’t think it’s a bad thing! To the contrary, it brings on a whole lot of benefits! You have the luxury to celebrate any way you want: go out to a club with friends, host a house party, attend a family gathering, borrow a few kids and bring them trick or treating! You have plenty of options.

      A couple friend, well I mean… two friends who happen to be a couple (that’s confusing to say) invited me to their Halloween/karaoke house party! I jumped on the opportunity and made sure to bring candy as a precaution since it seemed like the best approach to gain admission to the party! Luckily for me, it worked like a charm.. As with any good party, we quickly got into shooters and well the rest must remain top secret! I will never be able to disclose what happened to Bananas in Pyjamas, Professor Snape, Ken Bone, Cookie Monster and company that night but it was a night to remember! If you didn’t do anything for Halloween this year don’t fret, you have plenty of time to prepare for next year!

      For those who like being scared keep in mind you can always do Ottawa’s Haunted Walk from April to November, which means you still have a chance to go this year!