My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Tweeting for Positive Energy

I started a twitter account this week. I read twitter occasionally but I’ve never tweeted myself. There are a lot of negative posts on Twitter. To combat that, I decided to try to post one positive thought per day. These posts may be my observations, gratitude lists, jokes or whatever else I can find to put more positive energy into the world.

This was my first post:

I am grateful for comfy shoes, smiles on teenagers and the inspiration I can find in YouTube videos. #DailyJoy #theartassignment

Follow me at MyYearByDesign@JenMcAwesome or add your own awesome tweets into the Twitterverse #DailyJoy

As promised

My photographer posted some of our wedding photos on Facebook so I wanted to share them with you. Enjoy!

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Time Constraints

How many times have you said, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day”? Maybe the problem isn’t the length of the day but the amount of stuff we cram into it. As a society, we schedule, (and I would argue, overschedule,) ourselves and our families far too often. It is important to get a lot done in the day, but what about the joy of doing nothing?

Remember being a kid? Remember being bored and having to look for stuff to do? I might be getting a bit nostalgic here, but I think boredom is good for us. I think it inspires creativity and problem solving. That’s when a couple of sticks become swords, or drum sticks, or relics of an alien ship that crash landed on Earth.

I am in no way suggesting that you shirk your duties or ignore the people in your life who depend on you. We all have stuff we have to do. However, what if we provide ourselves a bit more unscheduled time? We might be more relaxed and even more happy. I’m going to try to increase my unscheduled time over the next little while and watch for the effect it has on my life and my mindset.

Travel Fatigue

vintage suitcase table via texas inetgiant Clever Uses for Vintage Luggage

I’ve been travelling a lot lately; first to a technology conference where I was a speaker and then to a model United Nations conference where Nick and I were chaperones to nine teenagers in Toronto.

Whenever I travel, I do try to be smart about it. I drink lots of water and pack snacks like cut up veggies and fruit and almonds. I also stretch and try to walk around as much as I can. Despite my plans I think I have travel fatigue. I’m sore from sitting too much and tired from sleeping in hotel rooms. I’ve got a low-level headache and I feel generally a bit burnt out. I’ve even noticed that my skin and hair are also really dry. My body is trying to tell me it’s had enough. Instead of a well oiled machine, I feel like a rusted out car that has trouble starting…and it’s fans make noise…and there’s static on the radio…and the gas light is on.

Travelling puts a lot of stress on the body. I suppose I should say it puts different stress on my body than I’m used to. Travelling means a lot of sitting and waiting and as a teacher I do very little of both. It also means worrying about packing, scheduling, arriving on time, connecting trains and busses and as an anxious person, this puts more strain on me.

I also seem to burn more calories as I travel. No matter how many healthy snacks I pack, I still get hungry and find myself at the mercy of whatever restaurants and food booths are nearby. I almost always end up with something processed because I’m starving and there’s nothing else available.

So now I’m in recovery mode. I have a massage therapy session and a chiropractic appointment next week. I’ll also be trying to eat healthy, sleep properly and get back to my regular training schedule. It’s amazing how much our bodies love healthy routines. I can really feel the difference in myself when I’m off track. At least I know that I can get back to my By Design life this week and start feeling like myself again.

Wedding Brain

Is wedding brain a real thing? I’m here to tell you it is. I worked up until two days before my wedding. In the week before my wedding, I swear I got stupider each day. I filled in my attendance sheets wrong pretty much every day that week. I also incorrectly completed a piece of paperwork not once but twice, making the same mistake both times! My only defence was to cry, “I’m getting married next week!” and let various people make sympathetic noises and congratulate me.

Now just to be clear, I wasn’t really that stressed, especially not compared to some of the brides I’ve been in contact with. However, I was very excited and I did have a lot of lists floating around in my brain. I found my brain got a bit fluffy and I kept doing silly things like losing my glasses. The important thing is, I didn’t let these momentary lapses in brain power overcome me. I refused to get bent out of shape just because I had a lot of things on my plate. More than anything else, I focussed on the fact that Nick and I were doing this for us.

By the end of my wedding day, my face hurt from smiling so much. I looked at Nick and I was so glad we did things just the way we wanted.

Back to By Design

Was my wedding week By Design? Excuse me while a roll around on the floor laughing. Not a chance. I ate ridiculously good food, drank plenty of champagne and wine, slept in and spent hours being pampered. However, I did take my supplements each day, drink lots of water and still got some exercise, (although admittedly, less vigorous exercise than usual).

Nonetheless, this week I could really feel the difference in my body. I was sluggish and tired and a got some breakouts on my face. I was missing my usual joy in my daily activities and I was having trouble sleeping. I also developed a migraine towards the end of the week. I was obviously paying for my poor behaviour last week.

So now it’s time to get back on track…or back to By Design. If you’re like me, you need to ease back into healthy habits bit by bit. So this week, I’ve been returning to better and better habits. First came drinking a lot more water and green tea to flush out my system. Then I returned to my normal workout routine. I’m a bit sore but the rush of endorphins after a good sweat is worth it. Lastly, and probably most difficult, back to healthy eating. I have been cutting back on sugar and grains as the week progressed. I have heard from other people that grains and refined sugar are addictive and having indulged in a lot of it during my wedding and then trying to stop again, I believe it. Also, as I get tired late in the day from not eating or sleeping correctly, my body craves sugar and heavy carbs even more. Blerg. What a vicious cycle!

I am fighting the good fight and every day that I get closer to being back on track, my body thanks me and rewards me with more energy. My goal is to be fully back By Design next week and have a much happier belly and brain!

I’m back!

I’ve been MIA for a couple of weeks while I got married. So, to answer the obvious questions:

Our wedding day was amazing! We both agreed that we felt excited, relaxed and joyful. Everyone had a wonderful time and I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Our wedding was fourteen people and we held it at Langdon Hall in Cambridge. I would highly recommend both our venue and our wedding size to all the brides-to-be out there. These components allowed me to avoid much of the wedding stress that turns perfectly nice girls into bridezillas.

Yes, I will share photos as soon as I get them back from the photographer. I loved my dress and I think you folks will too. Plus because it was strapless, you can really see how hard I’ve been working on those overhead lifts!header

Bridal Break

So my wedding is in seven days. I can’t believe the date came up so quickly! Luckily, Nick and I are still feeling relaxed, (excited, but not stressed out). Everyone keeps telling us we’re the most relaxed bride and groom they’ve ever met. Anyway, I’m going to take the next two weeks off to focus on my new family. I’ll return with more crazy stories and some wedding photos to share.

The Best Chicken You Haven’t Tried

Are you bored with chicken? Me too. Time for something different. I stumbled across this easy recipe and I liked it a lot so I thought I’d share.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Dijon mustard (smooth works best)
Ground almonds
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Step one - Preheat over to 350 degrees Celsius.

Step two - Pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness using a meat mallet and watch any bad feelings just melt away, (take that chicken boobies!)

Step three - Spread mustard evenly only both sides of the flattened chicken.

Step four - Dip chicken in ground almonds. Turn to coat evenly.


Step five - Place breaded chicken onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes per side.

Serve with your favourite veggies or a big ol’ salad. Trust me, you will not miss the breadcrumbs in this recipe! Happy cooking!


The best egg dish you haven’t tried yet


One word: frittata. OK, two more words: easy and delicious. I’m going to give you my basic recipe with some variation options.

You will need:

An oven-proof skillet

8 eggs

Olive oil


Salt and pepper

Some kind of greens – arugula or spinach.

Some vegetables – mushrooms, peppers (hot or sweet), onions, tomato, zucchini, broccoli, chives, pre-cooked sweet potato or potato.

Meat, meat, meat – leftover chicken, pork or beef in pretty much any form, flaked tuna, salmon or crab, bacon, prosciutto (fancy bacon), sausage, more bacon…

Some kind of cheese – feta, chevre, cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan.

Mix and match these ingredients to your heart’s content.

  1. Preheat your broiler.
  2. Heat the oil in the pan to medium high.
  3. Beat eggs in a bowl until well-blended.
  4. Stir-fry veggies for about a minute, until tender-crisp.
  5. Add greens and wilt for about a minute.
  6. Add meat and then beaten eggs.
  7. Dot with cheese. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Cook without stirring until eggs are mostly set. There will still be a bit of jiggle in the centre.
  9. Pop the pan under the broiler. Keep a close eye on it and pull it out when the top begins to brown and the cheese is bubbling.

This makes four servings. Serve it with salad or soup. Enjoy!

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