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Hello from the other side

15 Apr

Hello, blogosphere!

It has, once again, been a while. I just wanted to post a little something to let you all know that I am still here. Here are a few disjointed thoughts that I want to get off my chest, and out of my head! Let’s call it a little bit of Friday inspiration.

  • We are not defined by that which challenges us, rather by how we surpass said challenges.
  • Pain is relative; my bad day does not have to measure up to someone else’s (and vice versa).
  • There is something so beautiful in human kindness. Truly.
  • You do you.
  • The human experience is a dynamic journey.

That’s if for now. Hopefully it won’t be so long until the next Merzybean post pops up!

Xo,

Merzybean

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Merzybean’s Year in Review: 2013

31 Dec

It feels as though the end of the year is always an appropriate time for reflection. This December 31st is no different. 2013 has been one hell of a year.

Last year, I blogged about whether or not New Year’s resolutions are worthwhile, or simply a waste of time.  While I still hold onto the belief that it is always acceptable and encouraged to take a retrospective approach to an upcoming year, the ideology that a new year brings new opportunities and fresh beginnings is often a little bit idealistic (I’m not jaded).

Why must we wait for a new year to make a change in our lives? I am going to take the opportunity this New Year’s Eve to reflect on my past year’s triumphs and challenges, rather than set myself up for failure with resolutions that I may or may not commit to. I think that resolutions encourage positive change and am not discouraging any of you from making a resolution or two for yourself. I just want to make changes in my life as I am mentally and physically capable of doing so, on a day to day basis, rather than mapping out my entire year before it has even begun. 

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I do think that it is important to look back on the year, however. I learned a lot about myself this year. I shall share, without going into too many personal details:

  • I am more capable of overcoming obstacles than ever before
  • Family is everything
  • Friends are family that you choose to have in your life
  • I strive to be the wife that my husband deserves
  • Teaching is truly a vocation in my life (far beyond a career choice)
  • Kids really do say the darndest things; especially my grade 7s
  • Photography is a passion that I definitely want to pursue further
  • Procrastination is my biggest enemy
  • Turning 25 makes me feel like a real grown up
  • I have a backbone and deserve to stand up for myself

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I wish all of my readers and friends a safe and prosperous New Year. I hope that you spend the evening with loved ones and I look forward to sharing more posts with all of you, here on Merzybean, in 2014.

See you next year,

Merzybean

Savannah’s Smile: Light the Night Walk

26 Sep
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In loving memory.

Savannah H. Munoz had the biggest and brightest smile that truly could light up the night. It breaks my heart to say that Savannah had to battle against cancer as a beautiful young child. I had the pleasure of watching this beautiful little girl grow into her giant smile and while she is not physically with us, her spirit lives within us.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s (LLSC’s) Light The Night Walk is an event that brings help, awareness and hope to people battling blood cancers. It is always comforting to know that fundraising events actually put the money to good use! The Light the Night Event proudly states on their website that funds raised offer real help that include:

  • Valuable information for blood cancer patients and families
  • Support programs for patients and their families
  • Education on the latest medical advances for healthcare professionals
  • Advocacy efforts that draw government attention to cancer-related issues
  • Grants for leading researchers across Canada who are working to cure blood cancers

Now that you have a better idea of what the LLSC aims to achieve with its fundraising, let’s get back to Savannah’s Smile.

Savannah’s mother beautifully shares her story that led her to finding the strength to put together a team to raise money for LLSC research and to talk in Savannah’s honour. She goes on to candidly share that “A couple of years ago, Savannah and I watched as Light the Night 2008 lit the night from the Sick Kids Hospital lobby. She really wanted to do the walk but because of the cold weather and recent treatment, we were not able to. As we watched the people walk by, I promised her we’d do it together the following year. In my mind I pictured us walking with white balloons (symbolizing survivors) because I always believed she’d pull through with a full recovery….

I’ve finally found the strength to form a team and do the walk holding our gold lanterns in her memory….”

Savannah’s family and friends will be walking proudly on October 2nd in honour of her lasting memory. It would mean the world to the team (and me) if you could donate towards this incredible cause. You can find Savannah’s Smile team page here: Savannah’s Smile.

All donations, no matter how “big” or “small” would be greatly appreciated by the team and those thousands of Canadians battling leukemia, lymphoma , myeloma and other blood cancers.

Passing the light on,

Merzybean

Hello from Greece

28 Jun

Hello friends! I am writing to you from glorious Greece. Don’t expect too many posts from this end of the world, as I am busy basking in the sun and enjoying the beautiful weather.

I wanted to write a quick post because it is only when I am on the beach and walking through the village that I am so often reminded of the simpler things in life.

I am in Greece for three beautiful occassions: my wedding, the 60th wedding anniversary of my grandparents, and a family reunion. It simply does not get better than this. Material possessions come and go but the one guarantee in life is that as long as you are surrounded by love, the rest will fall into place as it should.

Well, I can guarantee you that I am surrounded by love. My family is spread all over the world and everyone will be meeting here in Greece, slowly but surely. As the island begins to fill with my family, my heart will be full of happiness. The greatest joy in the world is to love and be loved.

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Sending you sunshine from Greece,

Merzybean

Merzybean Just Checked In At The Gym

14 May

Why bother checking in once I have arrived at the gym? Why bother posting pictures of my workout successes after leaving the gym?

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I never used to be one of those people, and it’s a crying shame. I have been going to the gym five days a week for the last month and have “checked in” on Facebook every single time I arrive at the gym. I used to think that this was unnecessary when I would see other people’s gym check-ins appear on my Facebook Newsfeed. Boy, was I wrong! There is nothing useless about doing this. In fact, the exact opposite effect is achieved.

This idea of checking in at the gym and having people know when I was working out didn’t really mean much to me until I started to see other people do it and I began to feel motivated by them. On Instagram I started to follow people who were posting inspiring pictures of weight loss successes, their workouts, and healthy meals. A friend of mine started to share pictures of her post-workout success by taking a picture of her Polar exercise watch after each workout (workout time and calories burned were captured).

Everyday I would see these healthy lifestyle pictures and eventually I got inspired to the point at which I decided enough was enough. I was no longer going to take a backseat to this healthy lifestyle, I wanted to be the person to check into the gym everyday, to post how many miles I ran and how many calories I burned at the gym, and to be that person to inspire others.

When people say that it is obnoxious or unnecessary to share with the world every time you go to the gym, I beg to differ. The influx of text messages, Facebook messages/likes, Instagram comments/likes, Tweets and face-to-face conversations I have had with friends who feel motivated by seeing my daily check-ins are a true testament to the power of social media. Social media can directly influence and inspire people to make a change in their lives. I was inspired by others and am honoured to be able to inspire my own friends and family. The amount of positive reception that I have received has overwhelmed me. On days that I feel lazy or do not have energy to drag myself to the gym, I remember the people who have inspired me and those who I have inspired.

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The only workouts I regret are the ones I don’t do. I’m not posting about working out on my social media to brag or show off, believe me when I say this- I am far from being able to brag! However, if my harmless check-in can keep me motivated and inspire someone else to get off the couch and go for a run, I must be doing something right!

Keep moving,

Merzybean.

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.

Tune-day Tuesday- Aleesia: Time’s Up

9 Oct

I have not written a Tune-day Tuesday review in months, but what better time to break the hiatus than with Aleesia’s brand new single, Time’s Up.

Could we be alone for one last night
I know we really shouldn’t but
I know that we’re both craving one last fight
So break my heart one final time

 

This song is incredible and I knew when I first heard it that it would be an early single off of Aleesia’s debut album, Girl Talk. Aleesia co-wrote the song with Dan Talevski and the two create the perfect imagery of an ugly, but beautiful good bye. I think that everyone can relate to this song because we have all been at a point in our lives where we have had to say good bye to someone or something, whether we have wanted to or not.

Always ugly
Always so mean
All that we know
Can’t let it go

Beautiful disaster now
That time is ticking faster
And it’s more than complicated
Knowing that this love is fading, oh

Til time is up

The music video has an incredible dance break that really showcases Aleesia’s incredible dance skills. The video shows off the beautiful message of the song and really is a visual treat. All of Aleesia’s beautiful outfits and the incredible scenery prove to be the perfect backdrop to an incredibly powerful song.

Thanks for stopping by!

Merzybean.

Happy Thanksgiving!

7 Oct

It’s hard to believe that Canadian Thanksgiving is upon us already. I absolutely love celebrating Thanksgiving because it is a holiday full of quality family time and delicious food. Not a bad combination, in my books!

When we first came to Canada, the Thanksgiving tradition was very new to my family but we embraced it completely.

While it is important to count our blessings everyday, I think it is nice to have a day dedicated to sharing what we are grateful for with others. So, with that being said, here is a list of what I am grateful for this year:

  • Being engaged to a wonderful man
  • Having two degrees under my belt
  • Planning an exciting wedding
  • Having a family who loves me unconditionally
  • Siblings who, no matter what, will have my back
  • Friends who are loyal and reliable, both new and old
  • Being a part of special friends’ weddings
  • Friends’ engagements
  • New opportunities that have come my way recently

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet, but I hope that everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving with their loved ones.

What are you thankful for?

Merzybean.

How Can I Help You?

5 Oct

Perhaps it’s just me, but I find myself experiencing terrible customer service more frequently these days. If I experience service that is par, or even slightly above par, I find myself feeling inclined to commend the individual helping me and essentially doing their job. I think that we certainly live in a society where people are very quick to criticize others or find something to complain about. I think that it is equally as important to applaud good work and recognize excellent service.

I have worked in several retail environments and customer oriented jobs in the past, so I can completely understand the position of a scorned, bitter employee. However, I do not agree with employees using these feelings against other customers. I don’t appreciate being treated like an inconvenience when asking an employee (politely) for help and a bit of guidance if I’m shopping, or for a refill of my drink at a restaurant.

With my background in retail, I completely understand how one or two rude and demanding customers can dampen a shift. I have arrived to many retail shifts, in the past, feeling miserable because I have had a long day at school, or because I had a fight at home. However, I always left those feelings aside when my shifts commenced and I would go out of my way to help customers and make the shift a pleasant experience for everyone.

On the flip side, there are the foul customers who expect a personal shopper to meet their every demand who can genuinely drive an employee insane. Working in any retail or customer service environment is not for the weak hearted type. There is a fine line between being a helpful, proactive employee who puts his/her customers first, and the type of employee who is taken advantage of. My least favourite customer wasn’t even the customer who brushed off my hello and ignored my offer for help, but it was the customer who was my best friend because they wanted a discount.

With all of that being said, I think that there needs to be a balance between the employee and the customer in order to have a pleasant experience, all around.

Be kind, that’s all anyone expects on either end of the spectrum!

Merzybean.