Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Year in Review

Hiya hive!

Oh how I've missed you! I cannot believe we're celebrating our first anniversary today. On one hand it feels like yesterday, and in another like a lifetime ago.

Photo courtesy of Isos Photography

For those of you that don't know me, I'm Mrs. Narwhal and blogged about our wedding last summer. We celebrated our marriage with 130 of our closest friends and family in our little backyard forest. We were married in front of an old log cabin on our property in the evening, and then nibbled on fun food all night, listened to live music and danced the night away under the full moon amongst hundreds of candles and twinkling lights. A year later, I still think of the night as pure magic.

Photo courtesy of Isos Photography

Our first year of marriage was a great adventure overall. We began it with our beautiful honeymoon road tripping down the West Coast of the United States, celebrated first holidays as a married couple, had lots of every day living in between (a welcomed change after a year of planning), and we hit another big milestone! In February, we found out we were expecting our first child in the Fall.

Announcing our newest adventure // Personal photo

Our pregnancy came as no surprise to any of our friends and family. As two people eager and excited to start a family of our own long before we met, the wedding really just delayed this chapter for us. By the time we announced our pregnancy, we were the last of our close friends to be expecting (all four of the ladies in our core local friend group were pregnant at our wedding!). We are so very fortunate that among our closest group of friends, by the time our little Narwhal joins the group there will be six children spanning ages from under a year to five years old. We feel especially blessed to be in this season of our lives with the very best of our friends.

We spent this past weekend away celebrating our first anniversary on a (pregnancy-friendly) glamping trip two hours North of us. We stayed in a Mongolian yurt, explored the beautiful trails, enjoyed the last of summer (finally with some normal temperatures) and reflected on the first year of our marriage and what's to come in our second year together.

Personal photo 

I cannot imagine sharing this life with anyone better, and feel grateful every day that Mr. Narwhal and I have the blessing of being each other's partners and best friends. I am so excited to navigate parenthood with him.

Anniversary hiking adventures / Personal photo

Tonight's plans include making a delicious meal together, and baking a cake! We missed out on an anniversary cake since we served cookies at our wedding, so we're baking one instead :)

If you would like to continue to follow along with our adventures, I have started blogging our journey into parenthood over at Hellobee under Mrs. Marshmallow!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Secret Life of Bees: A Narwhal Good-bye

Well friends, the time has come. I could probably dig a little deeper and share more wedding stories with you all and tell you not to sweat the small stuff, or about how I still have a hard time thinking about how expensive weddings are and I could probably find excuses to share many more photos, but the reality is, I think it's time to end my journey on the bee!

I've been trying to think of some fun little things to share on my contribution to the Secret Life of the Bees series and figured a little more insight into life with the Narwhals would be a fun way to say my see you later.

We Have Chickens!
Mr. Narwhal would love to be a straight up farmer, and we've talked about getting more animals, but I think having fresh eggs is about all that our life allows for at the moment. Mr. Narwhal is the chicken tender (not of the edible variety ;) ) around here. Our 19 chickens provide us with an egg a day on average, and our fridge generally has a few too many dozen floating around. We sell our eggs to a local produce farmer (which she sells to her clients) and we are never short of a hostess gift!

All photos personal
Mr. Narwhal with one of our ladies! Some of our ladies are experiencing a bit of typical winter molting (feather loss). 

We're Permanent
Mr. Narwhal and I discussed getting matching tattoos quite early in our relationship and last winter we finally got them done! With a shared love of music and Alanis being one of our favourite artists, Mr. Narwhal proposed the line "catch this drift" from All I Really Want for our tattoos that I suggested to be in each others hand writing.

and what I wouldn't give to find a soul mate, someone else to catch this drift. 

We should probably work on getting an updated picture ;)

Some may totally call cheese on this one, but we love them and are super happy with how they turned out.

The Amy Salad*

*I definitely don't speak in the third person - this is what friends and family have started calling my salads :)

There is some sort of phenomenon to the salads I make. If we ever have any sort of dinner or potluck with friends and family, I am always asked to bring the salad. If someone is trying one for the first time, 9/10 someone will either ask for the recipe or tell me that it was the best salad they've ever had. I really don't get it because they seem so simple to me, but I love making them. So, I'm going to venture a guess that love is an important ingredient ;)

For fun, I'm going to share a recipe for the combinations used for a typical Amy salad.

Green base 

  • A handful per serving of a leafy green. We usually have just baby spinach, but if I'm making a big salad I will bulk it up with some sort of lettuce. 
  • Sprouts/Microgreens 
Favourite Veggies (typically I keep to a max combo of 3)
  • Cucumber 
  • Peppers
  • Carrots 
  • Jicama 
  • Feta is a staple in our house 
  • A nut/seed is necessary - Almond slivers, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, walnuts
Other Fun Additions 
  • Fresh herbs: dill and basil are favourites
  • Pomegranate seeds in the winter, and berries in the summer
  • A dollop of hummus (makes for a creamier salad)
I will usually do an olive oil and vinegar combo but have a favourite dressing recipe to share that yields enough to makes several salads. Shake or blend together. 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (canola is okay too)
  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves of minced garlic
  • salt and pepper 

What Now? 
As we enter our sixth(!!) month of marriage, we are kind of just going with the winter flow these days eagerly waiting the warmer months.

Last summer was kind of a write-off with wedding planning so we're really looking forward to enjoying this upcoming summer. I foresee lots of time enjoying the Muskoka summers - canoeing, camping, hiking, gardening, house projects, friend dates and lots and lots of lazing in the sunshine. For now we're busy with work and the playoffs for the hockey team Mr. Narwhal coaches. You can usually find us hanging out in front of the fireplace keeping warm in the evenings.

Honeymooning/Ruby Beach, Washington

To all of the Weddingbee readers and my fellow bee bloggers I'll miss blogging on the hive so very much, but will always look back fondly on this time. I promise I'll pop in every once in awhile to say hello. Thank you for reading along in our wedding planning journey. It has been such a wonderful experience and it really enriched a special time of our lives.

Much love,


Friday, January 22, 2016

A Bee's Life: Narwhal Edition

In my mind, the Bee's Life post is kind of the summation of being a bee. It's truly an honour, that after one year of blogging for this website, I get to add my story into this long time running series. Words really don't sum up how truly special it is to be a part of this community. Being a bee isn't just a season of planning and recapping your wedding, it becomes a part of who you are. I am so very glad that I took a leap of faith and applied to be a part of this wonderful community. 

How did I find Weddingbee? 
I used to blog on the regular way back after I graduated from university, and Ms. Fox was in my blogging circle. We emailed back and forth all of the time, became Facebook friends, and had talks of meeting up (that unfortunately never ended up happening). During all of this time, she started her wedding blog, and since I was a long time lover of weddings, I started following along. Little did I know, this blog was her application to the bee, and I became quite confused when she suddenly started referring to herself as a woodland creature. This is when I learned about Weddingbee, and started following along from time to time on the blogs. 

When MOH L got engaged in 2013, I was still regularly following the blogs, and told her about all of my favourite wedding sites that she needed to look at. Weddingbee being the first on my list. She found a love for the boards (something I hadn't looked at yet), and I fell more and more for this site. Mr. Narwhal and I were pretty serious at this point, and after we started talking about getting engaged, I started visiting Weddingbee more regularly. 

My application story 
As we drew closer to engagement, I used to bring up the Bee often to Mr. Narwhal. About a month before we got engaged, he asked me if I was going to apply once we were planning our wedding, and I said, "Definitely!"

I just always had this feeling I would become a bee, and once we were engaged, I started my application blog. That eight month mark could not come soon enough. About a month before I could apply I had a pretty good archive of posts ready, and I started reaching out to bees for their feedback. 

I really cannot recommend this enough! Getting criticism really helped me see my posts through others eyes, and I learned to appreciate the importance of having a point to every post, and finding the story sooner rather than later. 

Those little bees mean so much! / Photo captured by Isos Photography

I made it a few days into December before I applied (despite the advice of many that eight months of blogging is a very long time!). 

I knew Christmas would delay things, but a few days after Christmas I was sitting in a tattoo shop with my dad while he was getting his first tattoo (a memorial tattoo for my brother that had been a Christmas present from us) when my email went off. It was from Mrs. Mouse! I couldn't exactly do a happy dance in the tattoo shoppe, so I started sending out texts to my close friends with some dancing emojis.

Why Narwhal? 
I talked about this in my first post, but I didn't exactly identify with the whole underwater world and decided to go for the most Canadian of the bunch - the narwhal. Since I was going to be travelling to the land of the narwhal (Nunavut) just after becoming a bee, it seemed like the best option. That and, unicorn of the sea? Sign me up!

A Narwhal in Nunavut / Personal photos

Blogging for Weddingbee/Being a Bee
Blogging for a much wider audience was new territory for me and I used it as an opportunity to push myself to become a better writer. It can be really hard to put yourself out there and be vulnerable at times, but at the end of the day I'm happy with my blogging journey for Weddingbee. Getting criticism can be a tough pill to swallow, but when you're being genuine and your authentic self... it's easier to look the other way. I love that this community presents a wide range of women from many walks of life, and we are all sharing our journey during a special time in our lives. 

On top of the immense amount of fun and the richness it brought to an amazing year of my life, being a bee is just not anything I could have ever imagined. Once a bee, always a bee, and this community of women is something I'm so grateful to be a part of. The plethora of knowledge, inspiration, support and camaraderie is priceless. 

Tips for potential applicants
I have been compiling a list that has been swimming around in my head for awhile, so here are my tips from the other side.

Put a lot of thought into your posts and find your message
Everyone has said to spend more time editing than writing, and while I couldn't agree more there, I want to add another point. It's really important to think about the purpose of your posts, and how it will be received by the wider community.

Once you go live on Weddingbee, you're putting yourself out there for a lot of opinions, criticism and questions. It's so easy to make assumptions between the lines, and when it comes to writing a post you really want to make sure your message is clear, and you're conveying yourself the way you want to be received. Sometimes a post you think is funny and light hearted will be taken seriously and portray you in a much different light than you intended. My advice is to really think about how people may read between the lines, make your message clear and really, at the end of the day stay true to yourself. 

If you don't know about a post, ask for feedback 
Use your community! If you're stuck on a post, and you want to share something different for the blog, reach out to other bees. Have your posts proof read and find out what others think. I am always happy to read a post before it goes live!  

Photos, photos, photos
I'm going to put this out there and say that photos can make or break a post. I would say I spent about 25% of my post time writing, and another 25% looking for photos and the other half editing. Find your story through photographs. There is no shortage of photos in the wedding world, so take advantage of them! Photos help add to your story, beautify your post and help your reader visualize what you're talking about. 

Share the details that make your wedding different 
There are lots of classic posts everyone loves to read along the planning journey, but what makes your story stand out? I was really nervous to share our Stag and Doe story because it was different and I honestly thought it wouldn't be well received. I was so pleasantly surprised to see that it was one of my most popular posts! It can definitely be a little scary putting yourself out there, but people love to read about what makes your story a little different. Everyone can visit Style Me Pretty and other stylized wedding blogs, but I think one of the reasons people visit the bee is to read about real brides. 

Our fun flower adventure! / Personal photo

Enjoy this season
Um, okay totally cliche, but I have to end this list on some sort of note that provides closure. And real talk. How have we been married for five months already? This time of your life flies by. One of the reasons I'm most glad that I became a bee, is that it sort of forced me to write about this time of our lives. I captured the highs, lows and mundane of our planning journey, and then got to relive the day that went by entirely too fast over the past few months as I recapped and shared our day with you all. 

Photo captured by Isos Photography

I really hope that if you're thinking about applying to become a bee, that you do take the leap! It will be worth it :) The hive would love to have you!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

After the Wedding: The Narwhal Version

Now that I'm finished my recaps, I wanted to jump in and share a few fun posts I've been waiting to join in on until now! First, I wanted to complete the circle on Mrs. Border Collie and Mrs. Barn's before and after questionnaire. It was fun to look back on what I said before and how things looked on the other side. 

1. What was your biggest priority for the event?
I have two answers to this question. My first and main priority was around enjoying the day, visiting with all of our guests and just soaking in our wedding day. The second answer helped me do that. I'll totally admit that it was a tad bit control-freakish...but it was all in the name of the day running smoothly (so I could relax). I had some pretty serious checklists and timelines for the wedding day, and because I was so organized, the day ran super well. Things were on time, our DOC and helpers knew what to do, and the day unfolded nearly perfectly. The only hold up was the rain, which we were able to play around with our timeline in other ways, so the schedule didn't go to crap.  My best advice is to invest time in making logistical lists so that everything runs as smooth as possible. I had timelines for our DOC, the bridal party, the groomsmen, our MC (GM Bro) and our photographers. Each timeline only had information they needed to know to keep things organized. 

All photos from Isos Photography

2. What was your biggest concern for the day?

The weather forecast two weeks out was looking beautiful. I was relaxed and excited... and then, a chance of precipitation came on the radar and gained momentum as the day got closer. I was honestly in denial. It wasn't until the day of, and that chance of rain was imminent that my mom pulled me aside and said, "It is going to rain. We need to get tarps. We have to set up a tent over the band stage." 

I agreed and told them to do what they needed to do. It wasn't until it was time to get our bridal party photos done that I realized that it was pouring. Our photo plan got a bit delayed, as did our first look (probably 15-20 minutes or so). We started taking photos inside our crazy messy house and I said eff it, it was our wedding day and we were getting photos outside! We got a few pictures in the rain and I headed up for our first look. The moment we saw each other the rain stopped, and never came back. The ugly tent above the stage even got to come down before the festivities began! :) 

I might even argue the rain made the photos that much more beautiful. I love the little rain drops on the flowers in this photo. You can also see the water all over Mr. Narwhal's jacket.

3. What DIY project did you care about the most?

There were three. 

First - our wood photo blocks. These came together beautifully, and though Mr. Narwhal referred to them as our shrine, people loved them!

Second - The candles and lighting. We got around 400 candles, and cleaned hundreds of jars for the big day (these were all collected by loved ones and free). Everyone thought I was crazy, but the atmosphere we created was 100% worth it, and everyone that doubted me later ate their words. I'm looking at you Mom ;) 

Third - The flowers. Oh the flowers. My good friend KA will forever hold a special place in my heart for making my flower dreams come true, because you always always need a back up plan. 

Please note my flower crown was made by Stellabratori
4. What was your worst wedding-related nightmare? 
I honestly kept having reoccurring nightmares that I was back together with my ex-boyfriend and Mr. Narwhal wanted nothing to do with me. I was so confused what happened to our plans to get married every time I had the dream and was incredibly sad that my life had apparently gone to shit. The funny thing about this dream is that MOH L was having the same dreams leading up to her wedding in July about her ex-boyfriend. Neither of us have had any of the same dreams since our weddings!! They were seriously weird. 

5. Did you actually eat?

Sure did. Mr. Narwhal on the other hand only had one slider. His one major regret from the wedding. I was able to sample the tacos, mac and cheese, chocolate mousse, potato bar and candy bar. Everything was seriously delicious and people kept telling me how much they loved the food at the wedding! Thankfully we had so many leftovers he was able to try the potato bar the next day, and we were able to recreate the taco bar when friends came over to help take down the tent. 

When Mr. Narwhal saw the following photo, he said, "Ah man! This is the only thing I ate!" 

6. What is your favourite picture?

I would seriously like to know how you can choose a favourite wedding photo. HOW. There are so many. So, I'll choose one for this question and share another below in another question. I love the lighting and colours in this photo. It's perfection.

7. What was the worst thing that happened at your wedding?
Unfortunately, I am going to remain mum on this one. We had some drama happen ten minutes before the wedding ceremony with a relative of mine. It was the only negative thing that happened at our wedding, and I'm thankful for that. We're still trying to move past what happened; and though things may never return to the way they were, I'm grateful for my amazing wedding party cheering me up with champagne strawberries, dance parties and getting me refocused for the ceremony!

Just remember, things will go wrong on your wedding day, but focus on the everything amazing around you. The day goes by so fast, so you want to live in the goodness the day has to offer. You only marry your best friend once! :) 

8. What is your favourite wedding memory?
Again... HOW DO YOU CHOOSE. So I will once again choose multiple moments with different categories.

Favourite moment with Mr. Narwhal? Our first look. Pure magic. 

Favourite moment at the ceremony? When we finished our vows, and Nelson barked, and everyone laughed. This was one of my other favourite photos - it just warms my heart. It was such a fun moment during our ceremony and has been the background on my phone for a couple of months. 

Favourite moment at the reception? The speeches were just so lovely and the dance party was oh so much fun. 

9. What did your guests mention the most after the wedding?
Everyone described the wedding as magical. Lots of people commented on the lighting, the band and the food, and even more people commented on the love and magic in the air. It was just such a happy day.

10. What did you do after the wedding was over?
I explained this in my last reception post... but my mom arranged for what she called, "the straggler" bus. The last bus was set to leave at 1:00am, but so many people weren't ready (and the band still had a couple of songs they wanted to play). So, the bus came back and the stragglers got on. The bus ride to the hotel was so much fun! Afterwards we went to our room and enjoyed all of the Snapchats people were posting that were still at our house party and reminisced on the day.  Mr. Narwhal's mom also had a copy of I'll Love You Forever on the bed, with treats for us to enjoy. 

Did you miss a post?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

'Whals in the Woods: The Details

I think one of the reasons detail posts are always a favourite is because they are the summation of the hours of countless work. They're the little decisions you tossed back and forth on, that thing you got excited about or that detail that felt like it brought your vision together.

When I look at these photos I feel two things. First, I feel so excited to see the fruits of our labour translate into images that I will always look back fondly on, and then on the other hand I think, "that's it?" and wish I had about 300 more photos to look at.  Obviously this is silly, but those little details are the things you want to soak in and remember forever. I mean, I obviously have more than enough detail photos to look back on, since this is probably my most loaded photo post yet. ;)

Next to the people that made the memories with you, the details are what made it your wedding. Be still my heart.

All photos courtesy of Isos Photography

My beautiful bees from Mrs. Tractor that I passed on to Mrs. Clownfish :) 

I truly wish a photo would convey the magic and whimsy that the candles and lights created at night. You'll just have to trust me on this one... any sort of emotion they pull from you was multiplied ten times over in person. When I walked up and saw all of the candles lit I think it immediately made the entire wedding feel complete. It just brought everything we envisioned together better than we could have ever imagined, and it just got better and better the darker it got.

I am so happy we chose to do the blanket favours. They were a really big hit, and I love going over to friends and families homes and seeing them on their couch :) 

We set up a little vanity station by the bathrooms. I mostly just used things we had around the house and didn't really go out of my way to purchase things that we don't use/need. 

The front rows were reserved for immediate family. I wanted to ensure we had chairs available for grandparents and spent a few months visiting Restores getting a collection of random chairs. 

And, that about wraps up our wedding. Don't worry though, you're not getting rid of me yet! I have a few more posts left before I say our farewell (or see you later ;) ).

Need to catch up?