Words I Write | Sometimes You Just Need To Shut The Boogeyman Up

jenn and the city

Real life isn’t always the silly selfies you see online. Real life can be hard; real life can be exhausting.

There will be those days where you feel down and out; those days where you feel frustrated and angry.

When you feel alone and have that boogeyman inside your head telling you things you don’t need to hear.

Those days where you will just want (and maybe even need) to just shut out from everyone and everything…and that’s ok.

There is no harm or shame in taking a little time to yourself.

It’s a healthy thing to do – disconnect and just ~*LiVe*~ your life.

It’s become so easy to get preoccupied and swept up into this whole thing, this “online life” we live…but, take that step back every now and then.

After the rain, the sun will reappear. There is life. After the pain, the joy will still be here.

Recharge and refocus your energy.

But always remember that no matter how bad it seems, it will get better. I promise.

…ok, love you – bye. xx

Words I Write | A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self

Jenn and the city jennandthecity
Dear 16 year old Jenn Jenn,

I’m writing you to let you know that no matter how hard life seems right now – it will get better. I know you are frustrated, and that you feel alone. You feel uncomfortable in your own skin and unsure of what the future holds…but believe me when I say it’ll all be worth it.

Those kids making fun of you for being so skinny and not wearing make-up – ignore them. Because soon enough you will grow into a beautiful, independent woman who will be so strong-willed that you won’t take that kind of crap from anyone anymore.

You will know your worth, finally – and you won’t settle for anything less than you deserve.

Keep writing. Write down every thought and feeling that comes your way. Carry around a notepad because you will never know when inspiration will strike. It could be a sudden warm breeze that you feel through your hair on a summer evening that’ll inspire you to write about how free you feel, or it could be those late nights you spend lying in bed wide awake, mind racing, when you’ll be motivated to share your deepest secrets. These inspirational moments can strike at any time and you want to be prepared because that’s when the good stuff comes – when you least expect it.

Stay true to who you are. Don’t change your beliefs and your morals just to fit in. It’s ok to be different, it’s better that way. You see things, the world, in a different perspective.

Keep that optimism and faith in humanity, because lord knows we need more of that.

When it comes to dating and relationships – slow down. Slow down, and before you even begin to think about allowing someone else to love you – learn to love yourself.

Love yourself enough to know that your validation and worthiness does not stem from the attention you are so eagerly seeking. All these boys you think are ‘oh-so-cute,’ and are ‘in love’ with, trust me – there will be plenty of that in the years to come. And one day, you’ll find someone who makes you a better person; someone who will feel like home.

Love yourself enough to know that what you’re feeling is normal. It’s normal to be scared; it’s normal to question yourself. It’s also normal to have urges and desires. It’s normal to want to try different things – but never, ever let someone else pressure you into doing something you are not comfortable with or ready for.

Throughout life you will be faced with challenges and opportunities, and it is up to you to realize that the decisions you make today will affect your life from that point forward. No matter how insignificant they may seem at the time – they will, I promise you that.

Learn to forgive. I know you have been hurt. Things have happened to you that no child, or adult, should ever have to deal with. Never forget what has happened – but dig deep, really, really deep – and search for the strength to find forgiveness. Know that while there are some really horrible people out there – there are actually good ones too.

Not everyone is going to hurt you, but if you hold on to that anger, that disgust, you may be blocking off the chance to allow the good people in.

Those endless nights spent crying yourself to sleep, those nights where you’re too scared to go to sleep…scared of what comes to you in your dreams, and what wakes you as you lay in bed – those are the nights that are building you. They are making you a fighter; a survivor. I know you feel weak and powerless, I know you feel like giving up – but don’t. Know that deep down you will be a better, stronger person in the end.

Use your sensitivity as strength. You are kind and compassionate – never lose faith in yourself or humanity. Always try to find the good in people.

Every thing that happens to you, both the good and the bad, will contribute to making you who you are supposed to be. Take the lessons you learn from each situation and apply them to all aspects of your life. Find the strength to overcome the hardships because you can use your experiences to help others who are struggling to find that strength.

You are meant to do amazing things. You are meant to be a voice for people who feel as though they don’t have one of their own. You are meant to do amazing things – and you will, because you will overcome each and every one of these hardships. You’ll power through, strong and resilient, coming out better than you were before. It won’t be easy, and it’ll take time – but you will push through and find that strength. If not for any other reason than finally realizing that you can.

Spend more time with your family. Right now you feel as though they will always be there, but they won’t. Right now you feel as though your time would be better spent out with your friends, but it won’t. These friends may come and go – but your family is there for life. Sit down and have genuine conversations – and actually listen. Ask to hear about their childhood; their teen years. Learn and soak in everything you can about your family’s past.

Finally – laugh, a lot. Laugh a lot and laugh often. Embrace your loud, infectious laugh – and laugh as often as you possibly can.

Keep happiness in your heart and continue doing what you can to spread that happiness with those around you.

And please, no matter how difficult it may get – please know that it will always get better.

Advice For Couples Moving In Together With Sonnet Insurance

Advice for couples moving in together with Sonnet Insurance

Unpacking boxes and placing books on the bookshelf, I remember thinking to myself, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” I looked around at all of the boxes and what had already been unpacked. I looked at the culmination of our things and thought, “There’s no way we are going to be able to combine our two lives into this one apartment.”

I stopped unpacking, sat on one of the many, many boxes piled up in the corner that still had to be unpacked and cried. It was all too much. The move, the boxes of “stuff,” the lack of wine, oh – did I mention all of the boxes? Yeah, it was all a bit much and I was overwhelmed.

I’m a hopeless romantic. I love love and love love stories even more. The happily ever after? Love it. The fairy tale ending? That’s my jam. But I’m going to get real for a minute. No matter how much you love someone, no matter how much you want to be with someone – moving in together is going to be an adjustment to your relationship. Things will change and compromises will need to be made.

There’s no rule book to follow when you move in with your significant other. The best you can do is communicate and plan ahead.

Reality check: spending 24/7 together is not always romantic

My boyfriend and I spent more time together than apart before we moved in together. We’d talk through messages all day while at work, followed by dinner and spending the night together multiple times a week. We’d cook together, wake up together, read together, do any and everything together. But after making the big move, I realized there was still so much to learn about each other.

Once you move in with each other, be prepared to see some things that you may never be able to un-see (i.e. Someone standing in the kitchen, naked…eating tacos). Some things, like eating tacos naked in the kitchen, may be fantastic. Some other things maybe not so much. You’ve been warned. Keep this in mind when you’re searching for a place together and deciding how much space you really need.

Read the rest of my advice on the Sonnet Insurance blog HERE

How To Help A Friend In A Mental Health Crisis, From Someone Who’s Been There

semicolon tattoo

I have never been one to shy away from talking about mental health, my battle with mental illness, nor my suicide attempt.

I strongly believe in talking and sharing these stories, because if it helps even one person feel a little less alone – it’s worth it.

In light of the tragic loss of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I was asked to write a piece for 29Secrets.com about how to help a friend in a mental health crisis.

Let’s just get right to it. Mental illness does not discriminate. The recent sudden shocking deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are proof. On paper, and to the outside eye, these two had it all: money, fame, power, success, family…yet these two lives were tragically lost to mental illness.

 

At any given time, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness. And according to Suicide Prevention Canada, approximately 11 people will end their lives by suicide in Canada today, while approximately 210 others will attempt to end their lives. These numbers have been steadily rising: suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: it’s about time the stigma surrounding mental illness is removed and we realize that mental health is health, and needs to be treated as such.

…I offer up my advice, as someone who’s been there.

You can continue reading the article HERE

If you, or someone you know, is struggling and experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out to Suicide Prevention Canada. This link will direct you to local crisis centres in your area.

#JJCooks | Garlic Parmesan Potatoes & Broccoli Recipe

We take our BBQing serious in our house. Like, seriously serious. So serious that the first day the snow somewhat melted in February, we had our first BBQ of the year.

We host people weekly for BBQs. We invite friends and family over, make a feast and everyone always eats too much. It’s fabulous. Even our date nights usually consist of BBQing at home and then cuddling up to watch some good old fashioned wrasslin!

 

We’re actually moving into a 3-bedroom house in like, 2 weeks. Actually, less than 2 weeks now…I guess I should start packing, eh? Anyways, we’re going to have SO much space, and honestly – the thing we’re both most excited about is the massive backyard. It’s going to be great for Dusty to run around in, but also for us and our love of BBQs! 

…and with a backyard, Mike will be able to continue BBQing in his underwear, with a little more privacy. 🤭

We are already contemplating if we should get a second BBQ…or maybe a smoker? Or maybe we (read: he) could build one? Hmm..ok, back to what I was talking about!

Our BBQ menu is pretty standard. We do the usual: burgers, hot dogs, sausages…steak or ribs when we’re feeling fancy. LOL We usually throw some veggies into the BBQ tray with some EVOO, salt and pepper – simple, yet delish!

I leave the BBQing to Mike, but sometimes I’ll make the sides in the oven. I recently tried out a new recipe to make our veggie intake a little more fun and flavourful! The best part? Clean-up was a breeze because they’re made in little foil pouches!

Garlic parmesan potatoes and broccoli

Garlic Parmesan Potatoes & Broccoli

Makes: 4 servings

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 12-14 minutes

What you’ll need:

3 minced cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning

¼ teaspoon of Kosher salt

5 cups of broccoli floret

16 ounces of baby potatoes halved
(the smaller the taters, the better as they’ll cook evenly with the broccoli)

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Optional: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Aluminum foil

Baking sheet

What you’ll do:

• Preheat the oven, of course. 400 degrees F.

• Grab a small bowl and whisk the olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper.

 

• Prep the pouches. Cut 4 sheets of aluminum foil, 12-inches long…ish. Divide the broccoli and taters evenly in the center of the 4 sheets. Try to keep it in a single layer – that helps with even cooking.

• Fold up the sides of the foil, creating an open pouch. Drizzle the garlic olive oil mixture over the taters and broccoli.

 

• Fold the final sides over, closing the pouch completely.

• Put all 4 foil pouches in a single layer on the baking sheet and pop them into the preheated oven.

• Let those bad boys cook for about 12-14 minutes, depending on your oven.

• When fully cooked, carefully open the pouches. You can either sprinkle with the cheese right in the pouch or transfer all four pouches into a bowl and sprinkle with the cheese there. Your call. Here’s where you can add the parsley if you want, too.

Boom. You’re done and trust me – you’re going to love it!

 

We cracked open a few RODENBACH Caractere Rouge with dinner and it was honestly the perfect pairing. The RODENBACH Caractere Rouge is “an extremely complex and refined fruit ale” which was not only great with dinner, but delish to keep sipping throughout the night. In our no-AC apartment, the summer nights can get VERY warm, so the RODENBACH Caractere Rouge is a great thirst quencher!

Until next time, cheers!

Disclosure: I was gifted the RODENBACH Caractere Rouge, but all views are my own and I’m telling you – if you like garlic and parmesan cheese, you HAVE to try this recipe!

Mental Health Is Health And You Are Not Alone

The Lifeline Twitter

p/c: The Lifeline Twitter

The shocking and sad news about Kate Spade’s suicide is a reminder that just because someone’s life may appear to be “perfect” – you never really know what they are going through.

Rich or poor – doesn’t matter.

Mental health is a disease that can affect anyone.

Be aware of the signs. Get help if you need it. Keep fighting.

Your happiness is worth the fight and I promise, you’re strong enough to keep going…even when you feel as though you aren’t.

Mental health is health. If you are struggling or in crisis – you are not weak. You are sick. You need to seek help.

Just keep fighting – one day at a time.

Happiness is out there for you, no matter what the boogeyman in your head tells you.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

As someone who has survived a suicide attempt, my heart aches every time I see a notice of another life lost.

My heart breaks for the family and friends left behind.

But my heart also breaks for the life lost. I know the pain they were feeling. I know the feeling of giving up.

I know how easily one can spiral out and I know how easily the boogeyman in your head can tighten his grip on your thoughts.

I beg of you, if you are struggling or in crisis – reach out to someone for help.
It’s out there – I PROMISE.

…and if you know someone who battles any form of mental health, please – reach out to them. A simple, “Hi. How are you?” could save a life. Trust me.

One more thing.

If the news of Kate Spade’s passing is triggering you in any way – take care of yourself.

Get offline. Mute words. Call a crisis hotline. Go to a therapy session or a meeting.

Do something to take care of YOU.

You matter. You are important. You are not alone.

If you are in crisis, here is a link to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Rants and Rambles | Sometimes You Just Have To Yell “DO OVER!” To The Universe

jenn and the city new month do over

There’s something to be said of new beginnings. Of fresh starts. Of do-overs, if you will.

Today is June 1st. A brand new month, and let me tell you – I sure am glad to see May over and done with.

When I think back to the month of May, and really – the majority of the first half of 2018 thus far, the Friends theme song pops into my head. Not the whole thing, just a certain part…

“It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear. When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year…”

 *sigh*

But, as you all know, I’m a generally optimistic person. So, I’m going to get up, brush myself off and take on the rest of 2018 with a gusto!

There’s a lot going on. There are a lot of things for me to look forward to and plan for in the upcoming months, so I’m choosing to focus my energy on the good in my life.

jenn and the city

It’s easy to get swept away into a spiral of negativity…especially for someone who is battling depression and anxiety. One negative thought will manifest into a neverending negative thought process and next thing you know, you’re left sitting there wondering if there was *really* ever any good in your life to begin with.

*double sigh*

But like I said, I’m going to pull myself together and start appreciating the good going on. I’m gonna tell, “DO OVER!” to the universe and start anew!

So bye-bye Downer JennJenn, new month – who dis?

And to end this little ramble off, here’s a picture of some gorgeous flowers that I saw on my way to work this morning. Because you know what? Sometimes you just need to slow down, and stop to smell the flowers (not just the roses). Literally.

jenn and the city big pink flowers

#GetYourColourOn Twitter Party | Colour Your Hair to Conquer Cancer

May is #GetYourColourOn Month!
Colour Your Hair to Conquer Cancer and Support Cancer Research!

Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. 1 in 2. That’s staggering. Every single one of us will be affected, directly or indirectly, by cancer.

I’ve had family members and some of my closest friends already be diagnosed by various forms of cancer. It’s heartbreaking to see someone you love hurting, and terrifying to think that you may face that battle yourself one day.

We need to find a cure for cancer in our lifetime, and the dedicated researchers need our help. Period.

#GetYourColourOn Twitter Party Colour Your Hair to Conquer Cancer

If you’ve never heard of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation – you’ve been living under a rock. Princess Margaret is one of the top 5 cancer research centers in the world and they have over 1,200 researchers who are dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. I’m sure you’ve heard of their bigger fundraising efforts, such as the Home Lottery – but this year, they’re launching a new fundraising initiative, and let me tell you– it’s definitely going to put the FUN in fundraiser!

Get Your Colour On is a bold, fun, new fundraising program that challenges Canadians to colour their hair and raise funds to held conquer cancer in our lifetime.

Whether you want to put a team together or go at the challenge solo – it’s up to you. A little too nervous to colour your whole head of hair? No problem – do a few streaks or even an under-colour. And guys, if you’re feeling a little adventurous – why not colour your beard or mustache?

In this inaugural year of Colour Your Hair to Conquer Cancer we are reminded why we take on bold, and in this case fun challenges, and fundraise to support cancer research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The funds you raise or the donation you make will be supporting The Princess Margaret, one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world. The Princess Margaret is transforming cancer care for Canadians thanks to advances in technology and new innovative therapies, fueled by the innovation of our cancer experts, and the generosity of our community. 

Colour Your Hair to Conquer Cancer Resources:

Colour Your Hair to Conquer Cancer website: http://colour2cc.ca/
Follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/colour2cc/
Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Colour2cc/
Follow on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/colour2cc/ 

In an effort to help raise some awareness about this amazing fundraising initiative, I’m participating in a #GetYourColourOn Twitter Party!

#GetYourColourOn Twitter Party

There will be lots of information shared and $1,000 worth of prizing up for grabs!

The team behind Colour Your Hair to Conquer Cancer and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation will be joined by Trade Secrets, who will be available to answer any hair colouring questions you may have prior to committing.

The #GetYourColourOn Twitter Party details:

When: May 8, 2018 – 8:00 p.m. EST

Host: @ShesConnected
Co-Hosts: @Colour2CC @thePMCF
Special Guest @TradeSecretsCA

No RSVP

$1,000 in Prizing

I hope to see you there!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, however – it’s such an amazing cause that hits far too close to home…so – I’m more than happy to share all the details.

Save Our Scruff | The Scruff Social Presented by Healthy Pets

Save Our Scruff Toronto Scruff Social 2018

Honestly, after losing my first ever dog, Precious, last year – I didn’t know if I would ever be able to bring another dog into my life. Precious was there for me when I needed her the most. She was patient and attentive, and loved me unconditionally. My heart broke into a million pieces when her time came to leave my life, and to be honest – I still miss her every day.

The love and companionship a dog brings into your life is like no other.

When Mike and I slowly started to discuss bringing a dog into our new home together, we put a lot of thought into it. As amazing as the companionship is – they are also a lot of work. A LOT.

Especially rambunctious pups like, Dusty LOL

But, the love you get back in return makes it oh-so-worth-it.

Me: *drops the tiniest bit of food on the floor* Dusty: You gonna eat that?

A post shared by Jenn and the City (@thejennandthecity) on

And the more we talked about it – the more I realized I was ready. The ache of missing my baby girl, Precious was still there…it always will be, but the excitement of adding to our little fur-family grew with every adorable doggie that we looked at.

While on our quest to find the perfect puppy last year, we looked at many (MANY) different adoption agencies, and one just happened to be Save Our Scruff. While we didn’t bring Dusty home through this agency, I did grow to appreciate everything they do!

save our scruff toronto logo

Save Our Scruff is a non-profit organization located in Toronto dedicated to rescuing dogs and finding them safe and suitable permanent homes through adoption, advocacy and education.

Last year, Save Our Scruff hosted the inaugural Scruff Social. The event was a huge hit, selling out and raising $37,000! The team is looking to double their efforts this year and YOU can help by coming out for a night of cocktails, live entertainment, interactive stations, and you’ll even get a chance to interact with some of the Save Our Scruff pups!

If that’s not reason enough to come out, I don’t know what is!

We are proud to assure you that your support goes directly to providing life-saving services for homeless dogs. Save Our Scruff does not receive any financial support from federal, provincial, or municipal government agencies. We rely solely on donations from members of our compassionate, animal-loving community. Proceeds from this event will go directly towards the dogs to pay for veterinary care, transportation and training, and advocacy work. 

Need another reason to come out and support this amazing cause?

Looking to adopt a pup into your life?

Check out some of the adorable, available pups through Save Our Scruff.

Save Our Scruff Toronto Mango

Meet MANGO… guaranteed to keep you laughing all day long with his silly faces and bursts of excitement which usually result in him chasing his tail. Where did it come from even?! One of life’s greatest mysteries.

Read More

Save Our Scruff Toronto Big Mac

Pickles, onions, sauce, lettuce, cheese… meet BIG MAC! He’s a huge goofball and doesn’t really know his size so he’s sometimes tripping over his own feet while walking, especially on the stairs. 

READ MORE

Save Our Scruff Toronto Matt Damon

He’s a stud and he knows it, meet MATT DAMON! Yes, those are his real ears. Just like any star who has been on the cover of People magazine, MATT DAMON likes attention and can be a bit bossy at times. 

READ MORE

Guys, get your tickets and come out to support Save Our Scruff!Save Our Scruff Toronto Scruff Social 2018
THE SCRUFF SOCIAL
Presented by Healthy Pets

Saturday April 21, 2018
8:00pm  – 1:00am
District 28

Tickets:
  • Regular $100
  • Early Bird $85 [SOLD OUT]
  • Four Pawk $350 [SOLD OUT]
Ticket Includes: 
  • Complimentary Drinks All Night
  • Live Entertainment
  • Specialty Cocktail Bar
  • Silent Auction
  • The chance to meet some SOS Scruffs
    …and much more!

PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS HERE!

disclaimer: I have been given a pair of tickets to this event, but I wanted to spread the word about it anyways because it’s for such an amazing cause!

RECIPE | Mini Egg Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mini Egg Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

When I was a little girl – Easter used to be such a big thing. I mean, obviously the big bunny would come and visit, but we used to also always get fancy new dresses. We’d put bows in our hair and head to my grandparents place. The whole family would get together and we’d have a big feast. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, veggies – the works.

And then, of course, there would be even more sweet treats for us waiting at Grandma and Grandpa’s. The Easter Bunny would make two stops for us kiddies – and we were not going to complain about that! LOL My grandparents used to ALWAYS give us these chocolate eggs which would have our names written in cursive in icing on them.

Nowadays…Easter really isn’t that big of a deal in our family. There aren’t as many kids around – really, just my nieces…and even they’re “getting too old for all of this.”

So, when a last minute Easter Sunday dinner was planned this year – I was excited, to say the least. While the Easter Bunny may not have visited my house (well, technically – he did, as I surprised mike with a treat that morning LOL) and I didn’t get a new dress (although I REALLY wish I did) – I took this last minute dinner as an opportunity to whip up some delish sweet treats for the fam.

Mini Egg Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Mini Egg Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups jumbo semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 jumbo bag of mini eggs*

*You’ll need a lot of mini eggs because you’ll place a couple on each cookie…and if you’re like me, eat a bunch along the way LOL

Prep Time = 20 minutes
Cook Time = 10 minutes (approximately, depends on your oven)

Step One

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Step Two

Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together into a bowl and set aside

Step Three

Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. You can do this by hand…or, save your arm strength and use a stand mixer. I LOVE my Hamilton Beach 7 Speed Orbital Stand Mixer.

Step Four

One at a time, beat in the eggs. Then, stir in the vanilla extract.

Step Five

Slowly add the dry, sifted ingredients to form a soft dough.

Step Six

Stir in all of the chocolate chips.

Step Seven

Place heaping teaspoonfuls of the dough onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Mini Egg Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe

You can either add a couple of the mini eggs before baking, which will have them seep into the cookies more so.
Or – you can add them as soon as you pull the cookies out of the oven, before letting them cool on the baking sheet.

Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for about 8 – 11 minutes. Keep an eye on them. Once you see the edges start becoming lightly golden – pull them out. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then move them over to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bonus: Really, these Mini Egg Chocolate Chip Cookies can be made with or without the mini eggs…but, now that Easter has passed, a lot of stores have mini eggs on sale, so why wouldn’t you!?!?

Disclaimer: Hamilton Beach provided me my awesome Hamilton Beach 7 Speed Orbital Stand Mixer but all views are my own, and honestly – I looooove it.