Hope

This post was originally published on my old blog: Mama’s Baby Steps, but in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought I would share it here.

Posted May 4, 2016

HOPE

I have backspaced the first sentence of this post at least ten times. Struggling to find the perfect  right way to begin…

My Mom was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer about a year ago. Those of you who have been following me along, know that she also battles Multiple Sclerosis. I will never forget when she called me to tell me the news, that they had found a lump, and it was cancer. My first reaction: “Are you f****** kidding me?!” As if she hadn’t been through enough… What stage? How bad is this? Is it curable? Will you need a mastectomy? Will  you need chemotherapy? What is the prognosis? All questions we didn’t have answers to.

I remember going to her first appointment to meet with the surgeon and watching my Mom process the information. Trying to hold myself together to be strong for her, but falling apart as I watched her fall apart. Helpless. That’s how I felt.

Everything moved fairly quickly, and she was scheduled for a lumpectomy in June. Ultimately it was her decision as to whether she wanted a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and the surgeon was confident that her prognosis would be the same if she chose to have the lumpectomy.

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She was such a trooper and my sisters and I were so proud of her.

Soon after, we received the results from the lumpectomy and the news wasn’t what we were hoping for. They had found a second lump during the surgery and the samples taken from nearby lymph nodes revealed the cancer had spread. This meant she would require both chemotherapy and radiation. This was sort of a worst case scenario in a sense. The doctors ,including the oncologist didn’t know how chemotherapy would affect her MS or how her MS would impact the chemotherapy. The oncologist actually said she had never come across a patient requiring chemotherapy who also had active MS. My reaction to this, yet again, “Are you f****** kidding me?!” So we just wing it, cross our fingers and hope for the best? This is what I wanted to shout at the oncologist as she told my Mom this, but I bit my tongue and listened to what she DID know.

My Mom started chemotherapy in September. Over the course of six months, she would receive two different types of chemotherapy. The first: AC (doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide), would be once every three weeks and the second: Paclitaxel, once a week. She lost her hair almost immediately. I think that was harder than she thought it would be. She told me she wanted to shave it, she didn’t want to see it fall out in clumps anymore. That night I went and bought a buzzer and went and shaved her head myself. To this day I am glad I did this for her.

The chemo was hard on her. She was quite ill, extremely exhausted, and her immune system was severely compromised. She didn’t leave the house for six months, unless it was to go to the hospital. Even something as simple as me bringing the kids by for a visit was limited, as the winter months brought many illnesses our way. Even the common cold could pose a real danger to her.

After six long months, she finally rang the bell at the cancer centre, signifying she had received her last chemotherapy treatment. I will never forget that sound…

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She started her radiation almost immediately and we knew she was in the home stretch. All scans came back clear indicating the cancer was gone and she was in remission. We all breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.

Last Friday, my Mom completed her last session of radiation (the treatment lasted 6 weeks, 5 days a week). I cannot begin to imagine the relief she felt walking out of the hospital that day. A fight that lasted almost a year, and a fight that will last a lifetime.

A hero is defined as “a person admired for courage”. My Mom is my hero. There is no stronger person than her, and I have never been more proud of her, than I am today.

To all of those out there fighting the battle, stay strong and never give up hope, you’re not alone.

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H. xo

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Summer Salsa

If you are looking for a quick recipe to bring to your next BBQ this summer, I’ve got you covered. This salsa is so easy to make and it tastes delicious! It’s on repeat in my fridge all summer long.

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Ingredients

1 can summer sweet corn, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 pint cherries tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of half a lemon
Juice of a full lime
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

1. In a large bowl, combine red onion, red pepper and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix.
2. Add lemon and lime juice and mix.
3. Add black beans and corn, mix together.
4. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar; mix well.
5. Add cilantro and mix well.

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Refrigerate for 4-6 hours before serving (overnight is even better).

Serve with your favourite corn chips (I like the Tostitos Scoops!).

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Enjoy!

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Strategy List vs To-Do List

Last month when I attended the Atelier Conference, it really got me thinking about how I organize my time and my day. The Mon-Fri, 9-5 part of my day is pretty much spoken for because I work full-time outside of the home, but it’s the in-between time. Brainstorming my next blog post while driving my kids to daycare, cooking dinner and turning it into a recipe to share, getting dressed for work and snapping a quick photo before leaving the house. Sometimes I feel like every second of the day is accounted for.

I used to organize my time with to-do lists; but it felt like my lists were endless. I felt like I would have high hopes for things I wanted to accomplish and ended up being disappointed for the things I didn’t do. My to-do lists were feeling like torture.

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I felt like it was starting to measure my self-worth. If I wasn’t cleaning and doing laundry on the weekend because I was spending time with my kids, I was frustrated come Sunday night that I had piles of laundry and a messy house. If I was cleaning and doing laundry and my kids were asking me to play with them, I felt guilty I was trying to get things done. Something had to give.

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Small tasks that weren’t strategic were taking up a lot of mind space. Do you know what I mean when I say mind space? I would obsess about things I didn’t get done, or what I did get done wasn’t good enough. How could I do/be better? It had to stop. Enter: the strategy list.

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A written plan of action to achieve something.

Example: One strategy could be to make use of your idle time. Maybe while you are waiting for your water to boil for dinner, you wash a few dishes; or while your kids are in the bath, you clean the sink, counter and toilet.

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With blogging, I used to sit down at the beginning of the month and write down all of the blog posts I wanted to get done within the month. Come the end of the month I was frustrated the posts weren’t crossed off. I would start multiple posts and jump back and forth. Now, I just strategize thoughts of posts and if I have started them and I am actively working on them, I count that as a win. The “publish” button doesn’t give me anxiety anymore – after all, blogging is supposed to be fun. I strategize what the post will be about, and if I have started piecing it together, I can cross it off my list. It’s not done, but the plan and thought process is there – the brainstorming is done.

Creating a “completed” list can also give you a sense of accomplishment. It can help you focus on what you did do, as opposed to what you didn’t do. I have gotten into this habit and it has made a huge difference, and freed up some mind space.

Try it out, you may find it makes a difference.

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The Atelier Part 2

Last week I shared Part 1 of the Atelier conference I attended in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This post is all about what I walked away with, what inspired me and what it has me thinking about for the future for pink & blue.

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The conference consisted of a panel of speakers: women who are entrepreneurs, boss babes, women who said yes at the right time and believed in themselves and what they could achieve. There are a few who stood out for me, and although everyone had something to say that really made me stop and think, a handful of them left an impression on me and their words are in my notebook.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to structure this post, and I think it would be easiest to share my favourite quotes from the conference and what they meant to me.

“A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.”   – Tori Wesszer
“Movement. Whatever that means to you.”    – Eva Redpath
“The packaging doesn’t implicate your abilities.”  – Ashlee Froese
“Collaboration over co-operation.”   – Nancy Osborne
“Attract your tribe.”    – Lauren McPhillips
“Its great to be aspirational but it’s better to be relatable.”   – Lauren McPhillips
“Don’t be afraid to show your personality.”   – Mackenzie Dempsey
“Document your failures.”   – Mindy Crawford
“Imagine your Instagram feed as your home.”   – Jillian Harris
“Understand the vision of your brand to communicate to someone else.”
– Mackenzie Dempsey
“Be humble.”  – Mindy Crawford
“Keep your end goal in your site.”   – Mindy Crawford
“Comparison is a thief of joy.”   –  Jillian Harris (shared by Mindy Crawford)

You may think some of these things are so simple and why do I find them so inspiring; but that’s just it. Simplicity can be everything. I think my two favourite quotes were:

“A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.”   – Tori Wesszer &
“Comparison is a thief of joy”.   – Jillian Harris (shared by Mindy Crawford)

Do you find yourself comparing your work, pictures, business and/or blog to others? I do. For what? To rate yourself against someone else? To compare the number of followers you have to someone else? To compare the quality of your photos to someone else? Where does it leave you? Probably leaving low, and unsure of yourself. What’s fun about that?

The world of social media can be vicious. It can change your way of thinking. It can derail you and your vision. It can have you doubting your brand and where you want to be. Do people like my content? Do people like my photos? Do people like my stories? The constant comparison to other influencers can steal the feeling of accomplishment. I am guilty of it too.

Surround yourself with people who will inspire you, who will push you to do better and be better without making you feel like you need to be more like them. I really don’t care for the word “influencer”. I would rather be inspired than influenced. Who’s with me?

I have a lot of plans for pink & blue. I can’t wait to watch it grow organically, however big or small it may be. I don’t do this to be compared to others, I do this because it is something I love and if it is meant to be successful, then it will be. Organically. I started a blog (not this blog) almost seven years ago because I thought it would be fun. Plain and simple. I will not buy followers, I will not promote products or sponsored posts unless I am a believer of the product or brand. Pink & blue is about me and my kids and everything in between.

We are already half-way through 2018 and I cannot wait to see what the second part of the year brings here.

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Summer Quinoa Salad

I am a huge fan of trying out new salads, especially in the summer. I have a few favourites and “go-to’s”, and this one is definitely in the top three. It’s quick, easy, healthy  and tastes even better the next day. It’s anything but a boring salad and your guests will be lined up for seconds.

This recipe is perfect for a picnic, potluck or backyard BBQ.

The recipe yields approximately 8 side salads.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 medium cucumber cut in small pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley (and a few extra sprigs for garnish)
3/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Bring water and quinoa to a boil. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes; remove lid and fluff with a fork, then set aside to cool.7A8B5A9F-EC81-4B44-B478-6E57E62268F7
  2. In a large bowl combine the black beans, cucumber, bell peppers, onion and parsley. Set aside. DB9E48B4-0B2A-4CEA-9869-EDF2C2D9B955572A1F01-299C-4465-B3A0-9940D33F0FBC
  3. In a small bowl add olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, garlic and salt. Whisk until combined. (You will need to whisk it again before pouring it into the salad.) BF104A00-CAEF-4F53-AA6A-51C836B100BF
  4. Add the quinoa to the other ingredients. Pour dressing into the salad and toss the salad until well combined. Place in the refrigerator and allow 15-20 minutes for the flavours to come together. Garnish with parsley.976B1455-A88D-429B-AD95-317E5E2691C5347DADFE-1897-4148-8768-2E27C5E227B6
  5. This salad will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.C06D31E9-8F55-42D4-BE89-B005C4A2D494

How delicious does this look? Mmmmmm.

Enjoy!

Follow me on Instagram @pinkandblueblog

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My Daily Skin Care Routine

I thought I would share what my morning and evening skin care routine looks like.  Skincare is so important and being in my early thirties, I want to take care of my skin in the best way I can now. These are the years that matter!

We all have those go to products or brands that we love, and its hard to try something new after you find something you like and that works. All of the skincare products I use when I wake up and before bed are Arbonne products. I love them and it would be pretty hard to get me to switch to anything else.

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My morning routine is as follows:
1. RE9 Smoothing Facial Cleanser
2. RE9 Regenerating Toner
3. RE9 Intensive Renewal Serum
4. RE9 Corrective Eye Cream
5. RE9 Advanced Lifting Contouring Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 15

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The RE9 Smoothing Facial Cleanser is a pearlescent crème formula that creates a light foam to gently wash away makeup and other impurities; it also smells fantastic. I cannot express how light this cleanser is. Do you know what I mean when I say some cleansers are heavy? Like the moisture is being sucked out of your skin. That is not the case with this cleanser. Silky smooth, I love it.

I follow the cleanser with the RE9 Regenerating Toner. I can honestly say up until a few years ago I didn’t really know what the purpose of toner was. To sum it up: it helps minimize the appearance of pore size through added cleansing. I spray this three times over my face and it’s so light it feels like a gentle mist and dries very quickly.

I then use the RE9 Corrective Eye Cream which provides hydration to lock in moisture to help reduce the look of fine lines and deep wrinkles. Can anyone say bags under the eyes? I can count on two hands the number of times I have slept through the night in the past 6.5 years. Even if my kids don’t wake me up at night, I still have this internal alarm that wakes me. This cream paired with a large cup of coffee kick start my day.

Next I use the RE9 Intensive Renewal Serum.  Advanced peptides, antioxidants and essential botanicals work synergistically within this formula to hold in moisture and help enhance the look of skin smoothness and firmness. When I was first introduced to this product I was told it was like “liquid gold” and it did not disappoint!

I have recently started using the Arbonne Intelligence Genius Ultra. (This is a pricey product but there are options to purchase the products for significantly less.) The Genius Ultra gently warms at the tip while massaging the product onto the outer layers of the skin. It emits approximately 300,000 waves per second to help apply Arbonne skincare products more effectively including serums and eye creams.

It has timed settings and will shut off after one minute to help you precisely time
treatment sections. It also offers a pulse after 30 seconds if you wanted to switch sides of your face halfway through. Typically I will use it to massage the eye cream under one eye, and then switch after the 30 second pulse. I also do the same with my forehead and the serum. Three different levels of warmth can be selected allowing for customized application of Arbonne products in each area of the face. Typically I always keep it on the warmest setting for all areas of my face. It charges using a USB cable and the charge holds for several weeks.
I then finish with the RE9 Advanced Lifting Contouring Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 15. Collagen-supporting ingredients help enhance the appearance of a smoother face along with providing UVA/UVB protection. I find it to be silky smooth and it kind of smells like cinnamon hearts. Bonus! It goes on thick but it is NOT oily at all. I have an oily t-zone so I will not use anything oily on my skin.
Before bed:
1. RE9 Smoothing Facial Cleanser
2. Arbonne Intelligence Genius Nightly Resurfacing Pads & Solution
3. RE9 Advanced Night Repair Cream
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I remove my eye make up with a cleansing cloth (typically I use the Kirkland brand from Costco) and then use the RE9 Smoothing Facial Cleanser.
I follow the cleanser with the Arbonne Intelligence Genius Nightly Resurfacing Pads & Solution. It reduces the look of dark spots and fine lines and leaves skin feeling smooth and even-toned. There are 60 pads in a container so after 60 days I will wait a few months before adding it back into my nightly routine again. (During that time I will just repeat my morning skincare routine but replace the day cream with the night repair cream.)
Lastly I use a small amount of RE9 Advanced Night Repair Cream – it has an ultra-hydrating blend of botanicals, plus collagen supporting ingredients that replenish moisture and deliver essential nourishment to maximize the skin’s natural reparative cycle. This cream goes a long way so you only need a small amount. It is also very thick and again does not leave an oily feeling on your skin.
If you are interested in using any of these products, send me a quick email and I can share with you a few ways to save.
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I have linked all the products below:
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A Look Back: What to Expect Post C-Section

I recently started chatting with an amazing blogger I follow. She had been posting Instagram stories about postpartum issues she had been dealing with, and the feeling of being overwhelmed most days. Juggling her business, toddler, baby, all while dealing with everything else that comes postpartum.

I will share more about her here later and on Instagram, but for now I wanted to share with you (for those who are new to following me as a blogger), one of my favourite blog posts from my old blog.

It took a lot of strength and courage to write this post in 2014.  It was raw and I felt vulnerable and exposed the second I hit “Publish”; but, I wanted to share my experience in hopes that it might make other Moms feel like what they are/were going through was “normal”, and to know they’re not alone.

So, click here (or on the hyperlink below) and take a look at my postpartum experiences, after c-sections with Maxton and Everly.

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