Life Lately According to my iPhone

1 // Took a quick mid-week trip to Nashville for business...
2 // Definitely a charming (and very fun) city!
3 // The ACME Feed & Seed building is a must-see!
4 // And the food is a must-eat! These Beer Belly Tacos rocked my world!
5 // Robert's is where it's at in Nashville!
6 // The Don Kelly Band was seriously amazing! I understand they play at Robert's every Wednesday night, so if you're in town ask them to play "The Bird is the Word," it will blow you away!
7 // Bachelorette party brunch after an extremely hot yoga session at Moksha Yoga... my first time and I definitely loved it!
8 // Run (don't walk) to Starbucks! They have a S'Mores Frappuccino! #WorthTheCalories
9 // Treated myself to a little upgrade. Loving the Canon 5D!

It's Time to Get Back Outside to Sweat

This is hard to admit, but in late January I fell off the horse. And I'm not talking slowly slipped off the saddle... I'm talking bucked clear into a field!*. As things in my life got busier and busier by the second, decisions had to be made. Activities had to be cut. My job, home and puppy began demanding more and more of my time. In late January I stopped working out. Cold turkey. Just stopped. And it felt terrible.
For those of you who know me (or if you have been a longtime reader) you know just how passionate I am about working out & being active. Whether it's running or going for hikes, I enjoy being physical. These past few months have been tough. It's amazing how much your body changes when you cut regular exercise from your daily routine. I was having a hard time sleeping... I always felt exhausted... my eating habits changed... and I was just all around unhappy. I felt like a lazy muck-pile. Not to mention the debilitatingly cold weather we experienced this winter. It was all around a pretty miserable state of affairs.
It actually wasn't until early April that I admitted something had to change. I couldn't keep putting my health last. I began making simple changes at first, like drinking more water & focusing on eating healthier foods (yes, during those dark winter months I thought over-indulging in sugary sweets and junk food was justified... mostly because I felt miserable). Feeling motivated enough to start working out again has been the hardest part... but since the double digital weather has hit I am finding it easier and easier to tear myself way from my desk to get outside. I invested in some new running shoes (which I have been promising myself since January) and Cory Vines sent me some new running gear. I was beginning to put all the pieces back together.
As good as I looked (don't you love these plum capris and sprint jacket!?), my first few runs were brutal. Compared to last summer my splits were embarrassing, I was winded quicker, and boy did my legs ever hurt! Incredibly frustrating... but I have kept at it. And while I haven't quite been running every day, over the past 4 weeks I have been able to get outside at least 3 times per week (including a few times in the rain!). I don't know who has been more happy about my lifestyle changes... me or my running partner!
I can't tell you how excited I am to reinvigorate this healthy journey... it's hard when you lose your way and "busy" takes over, but I am committed to making regular activity a priority in my life again.
And hey, if you're wondering about the workout gear it's from Cory Vines; an activewear company out of Montreal. They are releasing their new summer collection today, so if you are interested in getting active this summer I highly suggest checking them out. Their pieces are simple, stylish and high-quality; not to mention their company was recently named the "Warby Parker" of activewear by Bloomberg... pretty impressive stuff!.
Have you ever lost your workout motivation? What was your turning point? How did you get back on the horse?

Disclosure: Cory Vines sent me pieces from their new summer collection to try out. I was so impressed by the quality & affordability I wanted to feature them in this post. Beyond the clothing I was not compensated in any other way... I only feature products here that I truly love, and these pieces are pretty awesome!

*Just wanted to clarify that I didn't literally fall off a horse. I am quite alright!

HDBlogSquad // How to Clean & Stain a Deck

A woman's work is never done. Or is it a cowboy's work is never done? Either way... I'm pretty sure my work is never done. Yes, I am talking about the backyard. As happy as "J" and I were with the backyard when the summer came to a close last year, there is always more work to be done! And as the snow melted it reveled our incredibly neglected deck.
Yup. There it is. Beautifully worn, discoloured, and extremely dirty. I hadn't previously set my sights on refinishing or restoring the deck because, quite frankly, the past few summers have been spent building a shed, garden, and bench, and pouring concrete pads! But as we enter our 3rd summer in this house, I started to think it was time for an update.

"J" and I went back and forth debating whether or not we would simply clean the deck and let it be, or clean and stain the deck so it would stand out a be more of a focal point in our ever evolving backyard. After talking with David, our local Home Depot sales associate, we determined it would be in our best interest to stain the deck using a transparent, weather proofing stain.
So two weekends ago, when the forecast called for two consecutive days of sun, we began our mission to stain our deck. It's worth noting, that me in my naivety, genuinely thought I could get this deck cleaned and stained in 4 hours. Definitely not the case. The project, from start to finish, took me closer to 12 hours... so just be prepared and allocate the right amount of time!

// Cleaning The Deck \\
In our research we encountered several different types of recommendations when it comes to properly staining a deck. Some articles suggested it was not good idea to wash the deck prior to staining... others said pressure washing was a must. In order to make sure we got it right, the helpful associate in the paint department at Home Depot told us how to get the job done! She suggested we use the Behr Premium line of cleaner and stain. Once we had our supplies in hand, we were ready to get started!
Step 1 // Wet The Surface
It's important that you are working with a constantly wet surface when you are applying the Behr All-In-One Wood Cleaner. Ensure your entire wooden surface is nice and soaked!
Step 2 // Apply All-In-One Wood Cleaner
While the deck is still wet, apply the All-In-One Deck cleaner using a spray pump. We got this handy one last year and it worked wonders for applying the cleaning solution. Let it soak in for 10-15 minutes. If the deck starts to dry, spray with more water. 
Step 3 // Scrub!
Using a stiff bristle brush, scrub the surface of the wood (if at any point you are using a handheld brush I suggest wearing latex gloves). The cleaner will start to foam slightly as all the gunky build-up starts to loosen. No one was more surprised than I was at this point. I just couldn't believe all the build-up that this cleaner was removing! Continue to scrub until the entire wooden area is cleaned. Again, during this process you don't want the deck to dry. If needed, spray with more water until you are finished.
Step 4 // Rinse
Using a good ol' garden hose, give the entire deck a rinse. You can use a pressure washer, but it's advised you use the lowest setting, as high pressure may damage the wood. It may take a few minutes for the water to run clear as all the solution is washed away.
Step 5 // Let It Dry... And Marvel Away!
You won't notice too much of a difference until your deck is almost dry... and what a difference it is! The cleaner definitely restored a lot of the woods natural colour while removing all the gunk & grime! I was tempted to start staining it shortly after it appeared to be dry, but "J" told me to wait a few hours... Only 2 hours into the project and I was already anxious to get it finished!

// Staining The Deck \\
The process of cleaning your deck will work for almost any new or existing structure, however we quickly learned when speaking to a Home Depot sales associate that new, pressure treated wood cannot be stained. In fact, it is suggested that you let pressure treated wood age for at least one season before applying stain. That said, the following steps for staining a deck will work for decks, railings, or any other wooden structure that is over 1 year old.

Step 1 // Stain Vertically First
If your deck has railings, posts, or anything that is vertical, it's best to get these stained first. That means moving your body into positions its likely never been in before. You have to get all up in those tight corners and finicky spots.
Unofficial Step 2 // Have a Support System
After step 1 you might be ready to pack it in. Your neck will hurt, your legs will burn, and your hand will cramp. It's best if you have someone there to keep you company and be your support system... even if she does sleep through most of the task!
Step 2 // Stain the Horizontals
Next you'll want to stain all the horizontal areas. Be sure you start in an area farthest from your exit; that way you don't paint yourself in. Using a high quality roller, pad applicator, or sprayer, apply the stain in an even fashion. To be honest, I started out using the roller, but quickly found a lot of my boards were bowed... so while plenty of stain was being applied to the edges, nothing was making it into the middle. Thank goodness for my handy paint brush!
If you have a deck where the boards are not tightly pressed up against one another you'll find it in your best interest to use a brush to apply stain in between the cracks. If you don't take this extra step you'll be able to see the much lighter wood peeking through when the deck is viewed on an angle.
Step 3 // Let It Dry... And Marvel Away!
Ensuring the deck has enough time to dry before being exposed to rain is the hardest part. I mean, it's May in Canada... it could snow tomorrow! Lucky for us the deck had a full 24+ hours to dry before being exposed to rain. We also waited a full 72 hours for the stain to cure before walking on it.
Seeing the completed project makes the 12+ hours of crouching, kneeling, laying down, standing on tippy toes and major hand cramps was all worth it! I honestly couldn't be happier! And now we are ready for our next major backyard project... which will be revealed in a few short weeks! 
// 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 deck
Looking for more #HDBlogSquad project inspiration? Check out the other talented bloggers that are a part of the squad:

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

Springtime Gardening Must-Haves

Springtime Gardening Tools and Must-Haves

Spring. It brings sunshine, rain, flowers, chirping birds, and the irresistible urge to garden! I'm ready to fill my garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuces and herbs. And while the fresh veggies take center-stage, let's not forget about the gardening tools and must-have items to make a healthy and beautiful garden possible!

To see my full line-up of "must-have" gardening tools, head on over to my "Springtime Gardening Must-Haves" Ideabook on