My Weekend According to my iPhone

1 // J & I went out for a long-overdue date night! Couldn't resist hitting up Taco Farm!
2 // And this Queso Fundido? Perfection!
3 // Christina hosted a fun pizza making party on Saturday...
4 // Of course I went for an all meat pizza with white sauce!
5 // That's three kinds of bacon, lotsa cheese, and a drizzle of garlic oil!
6 // Oh yeah. Try to resist that!
7 // We celebrated Jenny's graduation from culinary school! Congrats Chef Jenny! And the beautiful cake was made by Robyn!
8 // Jenny brought us A TON of gluten-free treats from Kelly's Bake Shop to try out! Perfect for those who have allergies but still want to enjoy a decadent cupcake... or two!
9 // Got up super early on Sunday morning to take Maddy for a 8km walk... Had to walk off all those treats from Saturday!
10 // Spent the day making some canned goods from Amy Bronee's bestselling cookbook, The Canning Kitchen. This book is amazing and I'd recommend it to anyone who is hesitant to try canning! I made raspberry jam, tomato relish, pickled garlic, and pickled asparagus all in one go! Can't wait to enjoy them!

Oh Yeah, Lobster Roll

Time flies doesn't it? One day the ground is covered in snow, then bam, the next day it's summer. One day spring flowers and blooming, then bam, the next day the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees. One day you are in Nova Scotia stuffing your face with fresh lobster rolls, then bam, you find an entire year has already passed. It's crazy isn't it?
What's even crazier than how fast time is flying is how long I have gone without feeding my lobster roll addiction. I don't know how many times I have professed my love for lobster rolls on this blog... once... twice.. three times? Yeah, I'm a little obsessed. When I heard a few large fast food chains had lobster rolls on the menu, I got tempted. A few times I even found myself at the entrance of the drive-thru.... but I fought temptation. I knew I wouldn't get the same level of satisfaction had I made the roll myself. 
So when I saw fresh Canadian lobsters on sale at Sobey's I knew that, that lobster was coming home with me!! And while I'd love nothing more than to tell you I boiled a fresh lobster, I can't. As adventurous as I am in the kitchen, boiling a live lobster is just not in my cards! Maybe someday, right? Regardless, this lobster roll certainly hit the spot!
Lobster Roll
Nothing is fresher than a Canadian lobster roll in July! Large, meaty chunks of fresh lobster are slathered in melted butter stuffed into toasted rolls. Served alongside coleslaw and salty chips, this is the perfect mid-summer snack.

2 large, cooked lobsters
1 tbsp butter
pinch of salt
2 fresh rolls
Squeeze of lemon
Optional: coleslaw & plain chips

1. Remove lobster meat from tail, claws and knuckles. Be careful not to include any bits of the shell. Roughly chop meat.
2. Add butter to a preheated frying pan, swirl until melted. Place chopped meat into pan and saute until heated through. Remove from heat and sprinkle with salt.
3. Meanwhile, toast fresh rolls to your liking,
4. Spoon lobster meat into toasted roll. Squeeze lemon over top. Serve warm with coleslaw and chips.

What's In My Beach Bag?

Well, this has been a long time coming. I am finally taking a weekend off and heading to my cottage. Friday at 2pm "J" & I are hittin' the road (with Maddy in tow) and making our way to the beach! I can't wait to spend two full days enjoying a little fun in the sun! I've been in go-go-go-mode since January and it's really starting to wear me down. A little R&R at my favourite place in the world should help to recharge my battery.

While my overnight bag might be packed with everything but the kitchen sink, I try to stick to only the beach essentials when I am packing my beach bag. From quick snacks and sunscreen, to my iPad loaded with my favourite magazines, these are just a few of my beach bag must-haves.
iPad & iPhone // It's very rare that I am without my iPhone or iPad, and that includes at the beach. Nothing is more relaxing than kicking back and listening to Spotify while enjoying unlimited magazines on the NextIssue app! Gossip mags? Yes please!

Renova Tissues // I don't go any where without a pack of these colourful tissues (and boy do they get noticed!). Renova, a company originally from Portugal, recently expanded its colourful line of products to Canada. It's without doubt the "sexiest paper on earth!" If you find your beach bag is in need of this stylish tissue you can find a retailer using their store locator, or you can shop online!

Body Spray // A spritz here, a spray there... after spending a day soaking up the sun I am always thankful to have this light and fruity body spray in my bag.

Cute Bathing Suit // Cheeky bottoms are all the rage right now, and these colourful ones are on point. Perfect under a semi-sheer wrap or on their own.
Hand Sanitizer // Another thing I am rarely without! Almost every beach bathroom I have ever used has either been out of paper towels or out of soap. Having hand sanitizer easily accessible is a great way to keep the germs away!

Bronzer // A touch of bronzer can brighten any complexion without making your face feel overly made-up or cakey. I like to use Physicians Formula's Nude Wear... it has just the right amount of sparkle, bronzer & blush.

Blotting Papers // When I'm hanging out at the beach all day I tend to get a little shiny in my T-zone; these blotting papers easily absorb any excess oils and have me "fresh faced" in a blink of an eye!

Snacks // Sure, half the fun of being at the beach is buying the greasy fries, soft serve ice cream, and sugary pop, but I like to pack fresh, portable snacks to munch on while lounging. Bananas, apples, and granola bars are so easy to toss in your bag before you start the day!
Sunscreen & Aftersun // Protection against the sun's damaging rays is so important when spending the day at the beach. I always apply sunscreen before venturing outside, and then reapply liberally throughout the day. Even though I don't burn, I like to apply aftersun once the day is done; it keeps my skin feeling soft and hydrated!

Hair Elastics // For some reason I never have enough of these when I need them! And I can't tell you how many times my sisters or friends have leaned over and asked "do you have any extra hair tie?" Always be prepared!

Flip Flops // I couldn't help but stock up on comfy flip-flops last week when Old Navy had their $1 sale! It's ok to have one pair in every colour, right?

Sunglasses // And of course no sunny day at the beach would be complete without sunglasses! My biggest tip though is to not wear the expensive pair. I've lost, crushed, and sunk far to many pairs of expenses glasses while at the beach. Lesson learned!

We all have our beach favourites, whether it's a patterned towel or new woven bag, they always find a way to the sun & sand. What are some items that are always in your beach bag?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of RENOVA. The opinions and text are all mine. Restrictions apply.


HDBlogSquad // How to Build a Covered Patio

Like I mentioned on last night's live Periscope tour, I am overjoyed with how our new patio cover turned out! It's such a beautiful space that definitely adds to our "backyard appeal." It feels great knowing that space is finished and we have the entire summer to enjoy it! #BringOnTheBBQ's
Yesterday's post captured the majority of my feelings towards the backyard, and highlighted a lot of the DIY projects we've done to date. In this post I want to show you exactly what went into building the patio cover... and hopefully convince you that it's easy to take on a large backyard DIY project when you have the experts on your side.
So let's jump right back in! With project material list & sketch in hand, we visited our good friend David at the deck & fence design center. He reviewed our sketch, and after asking a few questions helped us order our materials. Because we needed a large amount of lumber we opted to order all of our materials at The Home Depot store and then have it shipped directly to our driveway (the $60 delivery charge was well worth it!). Once we had all the lumber and tools in hand we got down and dirty and started our project. While the instructions that follow are specific to our project, they will vary based on your patio project, plan and material list. Obviously you would want to do what works best in your backyard!
Building a Covered Patio

Step 1 // Install Anchors & Column Brackets
While this step could be done several different ways, "J" and I opted to use a post bracketwedge anchor to tie the columns into our concrete pads. Using a drill bit we drilled a hole the length of our wedge anchor (4.5 inches) into the concrete. We then placed a 6x6 inch post bracket onto the top end of the wedge bolt. Using a hammer we gently tapped the bolt into the hole as far as it would go. Using a wrench we tightened the bolt so the clip on the bottom expanded. It's important to ensure it is tight as this is what will hold the bracket and columns in place.
Step 2 // Build the Header Beams
Ensuring the roof is stable and supported is also important when building a structure of this size. While three 11ft x 10in x 2in boards would have been sufficient, the thickness of the column and beam would not have matched up. By laminating the 11x10x2's together using two pieces of 1/2 inch plywood, we were able to make the beam the same thickness as the column. Just note, this step is purely for looks and doesn't necessarily contribute to the strength of the beam. While I would have loved to have shown you this process, "J" tackled this piece of the project while I was away in Nashville... and he forgot to take pictures!

Step 3 // Install the Columns
After we cut the columns to our desired height (7ft and 9ft), we carefully stood them up on end in the brackets. Using deck screws, we affixed the columns to the brackets.
Step 4 // Install the Header Beams
This is where the heavy lifting came into play! The header beams easily weighed over 170lb. so we had to bring the muscle! It took two guys (and a spotter) to lift and place each header beam on top of the two columns (so they ran parallel to one another)! Of course one last "level" check is always advised before securing to each column using a 6x2.
Step 5 // Cut the Roof Rafters
After cutting each rafter to the correct length, we wanted to ensure the rafters would sit securely on the headers, so we used a cut called a birdmouth (this allows the rafter to have more surface contact with the header). The ends of the rafter were also cut on an angle for a decorative touch as they would be exposed.
Step 6 // Install the Rafters
This step definitely involves two people because it's all about making sure the rafters are evenly spaced. Several screws are toenailed into the rafter & header on either side to ensure stability.
Step 7 // Cut and Install the Roof Boards
We opted to use deckboards for our roof vs. plywood; with the ceiling being open and exposed, we would rather see boards than plywood. Since we installed two skylights, some of the boards had to be cut shorter in order to accommodate to window. We also had pressure treat sealer on hand so we could seal the ends of the deckboards that were cut and exposed through the skylight.
Step 8 // Install the Skylights
With the roofboards installed it was easy to slip the window into place over the hole. We followed all instructions for the skylights to ensure a tight seal.
Step 9 // Lay Tar Paper & Shingle the Roof
We could have stopped there, but because we wanted the roof to be leakproof, we opted to lay tar paper between the shingles and the roof boards. It's as easy as cutting it to size and nailing or tacking in place. Shingles were then installed over the entire roof. Working from the bottom up, this took us approximately 4 hours to complete. For an excellent, detailed how-to see Home Depot's roofing guide. At this time we also installed a drip edge.
Step 10 // Accessorize and Enjoy!
I'm not going to lie, shopping and decorating was the best part of this project! Big loveseats and simple chairs allow for lots of seating, while an area rug ties the space together. Large curtains work to keep the morning sun out when lounging, and bright pink flowers bring a touch of the outdoors "in." Soooo relaxing!
// Project Breakdown \\
For those of you who are interested in the materials breakdown of this project, you can find everything listed below. The amount of products may vary for you, depending on the size of your covered patio.
Looking for more #HDBlogSquad project inspiration? Check out the other talented bloggers that are a part of the squad:

Looking for more beautiful pictures of this outdoor living area? Check out my Reveal Post!

Disclosure: I was provided with a gift card from The Home Depot in order purchase supplies to complete the this HDBlogSquad project.