Archive | December, 2012

Merzybean’s Year in Review: 2012

31 Dec

My 2012 has been incredible. There have been several highs and the expected lows, of course. However, no words can really describe the year that I have had. So here is my year in review (in chronological order to the best of my memory), in pictures:

Being Newly Engaged-The engagement may have taken place towards the end of 2011, but all throughout 2012 I have been on cloud nine. Discussing wedding planning with my family and friends has been so exciting. Knowing that my family will be reunited in Milos for the wedding brings me more joy than words can EVER describe. In January, my friends surprised me with an engagement celebration dinner and I will never forget it!

Graduating Teacher’s College-My Teacher’s College journey was truly incredible. I am so grateful to have had my friend by my side through the adventure. There were many highs and lows, from trying to come up with inspiration for an exciting lesson to reaching out to the students who were struggling the most. While I might not have a teaching job right now, I will be doing everything in my power in 2013 to get my own classroom. Teaching is not a job for me, it is a vocation and a passion.

Starting my blog-Here is a screen shot of a Facebook post I made when I wrote my first blog post. February 20th, 2012 was the day that Merzybean, the blog, was born. I have my brother and friend Carly to thank, as their blogs inspired me to start one of my own.

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F.A.T. –Every year I volunteer with my friend Seema to work at the Fashion Art Toronto Art and Fashion Week. The week is incredible because the marriage between fashion and art is so beautifully displayed, often in a warehouse setting. As volunteers, we get to see what goes on behind the scenes and we get to speak with designers, models, makeup artists, photographers and more! F.A.T. is always something I look forward to every spring.

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Jumping on the iPhone Bandwagon

Part of my belated birthday present was an iPhone. I found this comment on my Facebook page from my friend Gabrien and it made me laugh. I was a loyal Blackberry fan, but the time had come.

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Breaking my thumb-In May I broke my thumb. For those who are into this sort of thing and understand, I had an avulsion fracture. Basically, the muscle ripped a tiny piece of bone when my thumb made contact with the floor. Let’s just say, grappling can be dangerous! It was really sore but certainly something I won’t forget from this past year.

These are just the highlights of 2012, and what a year it was! I’m so grateful to have been a part of such beautiful memories this year. What were some of your highlights?
I’m looking forward to 2013 and all of the exciting memories we will create, on the road towards my wedding day. My goals are to get into the best shape of my life and to find a teaching job (or at least get close).
Cheers to 2013 friends. Let’s make this our year!
Merzybean
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Merzybean’s Favourite Things: Christmas Edition

24 Dec

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I decided that if Oprah can share her favourite things, I should do the same! Of course, the definition of Christmas is not rooted in material things. Christmas is about family and loved ones, first and foremost. I think that it is so much fun to spend time with the ones you care about most and I really do mean it when I say that I love picking out personalized gifts for the special people in my life. It is not about the money and how elaborate the gifts are, but it is the thought put into it and the joy of making someone else happy.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year so I decided that I will share some of my Christmas favourites with all of you. From my favourite gifts to holiday treats, I’m sure you can relate to some of the items on my list!

Here we go, in no particular order:

Bath and Body Works candles and candle accessories

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One of my favourite things about Christmas is having candles burning that epitomize the scents of Christmas. From Cranberry Woods, with a woodsy and fruity combination, to Vanilla Bean Noel, combining the delicious scent of vanilla beans and luxurious cream. Something that we do in our house is put up an artificial tree every year. This is for a few reasons, primarily being because we usually do not spend Christmas in Canada. While we don’t have a real tree up, we still want to have the beautiful pine smells filling our home. Thanks to the BBW candles, Fresh Balsam and Evergreen, we still get the same beautiful smell of a real tree! As for the candle accessories, BBW never disappoints. This year they have beautiful candle pedestals that sparkle with the candle light and really help to show off a beautiful candle.

Festive Drinks (Starbucks)

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Yes, yes…the red cup marketing got to me too! There’s something about having a festive drink in a red cup that makes it that much more appealing. Once the Pumpkin Spice Latte season peters off, and the holiday lattes arrives, you can expect to see Peppermint Mocha, Egg Nog, Caramel Brulee, and my favourite…Gingerbread back at Starbucks. If you’re like me and you don’t have too much of a sweet tooth, the Gingerbread latte is just for you. With the rich flavours of gingerbread and nutmeg, this drink never leaves me feeling disappointed.

Loose Leaf Tea 

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Teavana is a new discovery of mine. Well, that’s not true…let me rephrase: I am a new customer of Teavana. My mom purchased one of Teavana’s perfect tea makers recently and it is such an incredible invention; the perfect way to efficiently and cleanly steep loose leaf teas. It’s really quite simple: add the loose leaf tea into the tea maker, add hot water, allow the tea to steep, put the tea maker on your favourite mug and watch in amazement as the tea is strained into your cup, leaving the leaves in the tea maker. The best part is that you can reuse the tea leaves for several cups of tea, depending on how strong you would like your cup of tea to be. This is such a fabulous gift for any tea lover! Some of my favourite loose leaf teas at Teavana are Jasmine Oolong, Honeybush Vanilla, Peach Momotaro, and Blueberry Bliss mixed with Pineapple Kona Pop. I must admit, shopping at Teavana is not always the most pleasant experience because the sales associates can be quite pushy at times. They’re lucky the product sells itself.

Slippers

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This might sound so silly to some, but slippers are one of my favourite parts about Christmas and winter in general. I love feeling cozy, especially since winters can be so bitterly cold in Toronto. A festive looking slipper always makes me feel good. This year I finally got my hands on a pair of the infamous Bath and Body Works lamb slippers. Trust me, they’re as comfortable as they are cute!

MAC Cosmetics

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Every year MAC Cosmetics find a creative way to put together glamorous palettes, with gorgeous colour combinations, to make every girl feel luxurious for the holidays, while threading together a specific theme. From eyeshadow palettes, sweet and sassy lip colours, to holiday nail polishes, MAC puts together a collection that ignores no details. This year the collection is called Glamour Daze, with packaging details and marketing that makes MAC girls feel a touch of couture. The fact that the collections are limited edition also add a bit of an appeal factor to the right demographic. For me, some of my favourite holiday looks include a bold red lip, maybe even a berry lip, or a smokey eye with some sparkles. Holiday looks can be unique and playful and when it comes to makeup, I love trying new looks!

Christmas Stockings

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I think that stockings at Christmas are such a fun way to share presents! There’s something to be said about cute, tiny presents. This is the first Christmas in a few years that we decided to put up our stockings again and they really make such a statement. They’re a cute Christmas tradition and I’m quite a sucker for tradition. The coziness of the fire and the homeliness of the stockings really paints a picture right of Christmas.

Gingerbread Houses

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We don’t make a gingerbread house every year but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good gingerbread house! Not only do they smell amazing, but they’re so festive and are so much fun to make. They never turn out the same and are always a collaborative effort! In the past, when making gingerbread houses, we put on Christmas music and make sure that we have a lot of extra candy on hand. We all became little designers as we work away on our miniature house and watch it come to life.

Nail Polish

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I always associate a good red nail polish with Christmas; add some glitter and sparkle and I’m on board! I think that Christmas is a fun time to experiment with different nail polish trends and styles. Some people are more conservative with the way they dress, but when it comes to nails I don’t think there is a need to hold back!

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DJ Earworm’s Annual Mashup

Every December, the infamous DJ Earworm brilliantly puts together his mashup of the year’s top pop songs. I always look forward to what he does because he has such a good ear (ha…ha…) and he puts together an incredible song with the perfect mashup of the top songs of the year. He has a knack of turning songs that drive me insane (simply because of overplay on the radio) into something that I can listen to on repeat.

Christmas Cards

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I absolutely love Christmas cards. I think that they’re such a cute way to finish off a beautifully wrapped present. The nice thing about a card is that you can truly put into words your best wishes and love for someone at such a special time of the year. It’s something that takes a little bit more time but I think that it is worth the extra few minutes for the effect that a card can have on someone. I love when Christmas cards start to arrive in the mail, from family and friends from all over the world.

Tiffany & Co. Christmas

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That little blue box makes me a happy girl, I can’t deny it. Every year, Tiffany & Co mail out their Christmas catalogue with their unique charms with blue enamel and a hint of colour here and there. The Tiffany & Co charms are my favourite and I am lucky to say that I have a beautiful collection of their charms that I have collected over the last few Christmases as gifts. One of my favourite memories from New York City was visiting the original Tiffany & Co and seeing their elaborate, beautiful window displays at Christmas.

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Ghirdaelli Peppermint Squares

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Unless you have tried these delectable little chocolates, words really won’t do them justice. Our family became obsessed with Ghirdaelli chocolate when we discovered it in Disney World. The Peppermint squares have just the right balance between mint and chocolate, each flavour enhancing the other. Delicious!

Christmas Movies

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I think everyone can agree with me that Christmas movies really help to set the mood! Some of my favourites are The Grinch and Elf because I love a good laugh. No matter what the Christmas movie is, if you’re watching with a loved one, you’re guaranteed to feel warm and fuzzy!

Family and Friends

Lastly, and certainly most importantly, Christmas time would not be the same without my loved ones. Words cannot express how important the people closest to me are, especially at Christmas. On that note, from me to you, I wish you a very Merry Christmas! May your day be spent with loved ones and full of joy and festivity.

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‘Twas the night before Christmas,

and all through the house,

not a creature was stirring,

not even a mouse.

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Merry Christmas from Merzybean.

Hurting Hearts for Sandy Hook Elementary School

14 Dec

It feels like just yesterday I was sitting at my computer trying to find words to honour the lives of those who were killed in the mass shootings in Colorado and the Toronto Eaton Centre. My last blog post was entitled Senseless Violence. Today, the word senseless does not even begin to describe what happened in Newtown, Connecticut.

I was at the computer doing some work when I opened Twitter on my phone. The cryptic tweets led me to quickly look at the trending topics. All the while, I was hoping that there was some kind of mistake. Needless to say, that was not the case.

As I am sitting here writing, I cannot find words. Hurting hearts is all that comes to mind. Today the world mourns the lost lives of innocent children, who had their entire lives ahead of them, and educators who dedicated their lives to these children.

There are so many emotions I am experiencing as a teacher’s college graduate and a member of the Ontario College of Teachers. There are so many more emotions that I am feeling as a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, and as a friend. My heart aches for everyone who has been affected by today’s tragedy.

This is a short blog post simply because I have no more words. I truly send out my thoughts and prayers to the loved ones of all of the victims and hope that you can find some peace in the coming weeks and months.

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Merzybean.

Missoni X Holt Renfrew

12 Dec

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Missoni is an Italian fashion house that is famously known for its intricate and colourful knitwear designs. Best known for its iconic zigzag pattern, Missoni and Holt Renfrew partnered up to create limited edition teddy bear and elephant stuffed animals that would raise money for OrphanAid Africa.

OrphanAid Africa is a non-profit organization based in Ghana that strives to help orphans and vulnerable children, as well as their families. The organization’s mission states, “Our goal is to ensure that children grow up in safe and permanent family settings with appropriate care and protection. OA is an implementing partner in the Government of Ghana National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children.”

The fundraising goal of the Holt Renfrew and Missoni partnership is to reach $100,000 for children and families through OrphanAid Africa. I hope that the collaborative duo exceeds their goal, as this is an incredible organization and cause that they are supporting!

My friend Steve attended the Marilyn Denis show last Friday and all audience members received several gifts as part of her Christmas giveaway special. One of the gifts was one of the stuffed animals for the Missoni X Holt Renfrew Collection. Steve was incredibly generous and gave me the teddy bear that he received. It means so much to me because I am such a firm supporter of the work that OrphanAid does.

Maybe it’s my African roots, but these types of efforts always hit very close to home for me. I thank you Steve for paying it forward to me and I thank everyone who goes out and purchases one of the limited edition pieces! What better gift for the holidays than the gift of paying it forward and making a contribution towards an amazing cause. Fashion and charity always make such a great team.

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Much love,

Merzybean.