Bridal Shower 101

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Hey hey, guys! I don’t know if you’ve heard the news yet but my sister is getting married! And fortunately (or unfortunately lol), she has appointed me to be her maid of honor! As you probably already know, the maid of honor has a lot of responsibilities on her plate including planning a bridal shower. Luckily, I had some friends who have been in a similar position to help me out. To pay it forward, I would like to share with you some tips on how to plan a bridal shower and of course, there will be food!

The Invitations

First things first. Send out your invitations faaaaarrrr in advance (I think this tip pertains to anything wedding related).  I sent mine out at the end of May and the shower wasn’t until August 11th. I did that partly because I wanted to get it out of the way and partly because I wanted people to be able to clear their schedules. I used a website called Paperless Post to send out my invitations, which is a more formal platform. I chose this method because the invitations are visually appealing, you can set an automated reminder email (because ain’t nobody got time for that), and there’s a comment board where people can share their kind messages about the couple. I liked that everything was in one place so I didn’t have to worry about keeping track of whether people could come or not, etc. The only downside (other than having to pay) is that you have to get everyone’s email address; some people have several so you have to figure out which one works best for them. I paid about $15 for the invitations in total. If you want to go super simple you could use Facebook or Evite. Another option I considered was creating an invitation using Canva.

Honestly, the invitations are probably the part where you can afford to be a little lackadaisical if you really need to.

  

The Plan  

Planning is probably one of my least favorite things to do but in order to ensure all goes well, you must be organized. I typed out my plan on a Google Doc with several sub-categories such as Timeline, Theme, Meals/ groceries, and Other.  Under certain events or items, I also created a to-do list so I could remember what specific tasks need to be completed for each item. It’s basically like you’re writing out your vision on a piece of paper then jotting down feasible steps to obtain it. The goal is to make your ideas a reality.

Regardless of how much I planned I still had to change a few things around. For example, I omitted one of the games to make sure we were on time, I opted for some cheaper mini-activities, and I changed a few things on the menu. I even ended up changing the time from 1100 to 1400 which gave me more time to prep.

The host’s job is to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves (especially the bride). So feel out the situation and allow yourself to go with the flow.

Theme/ decor

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For the theme try to stick with two to three Colours. More than that will make it look messy. Our colours were mint, white and gold. We had no problem finding white decorations but mint and gold were a bit of a challenge. Pro tip: if you want to save a bit of time, order your decor off of Amazon. To ensure that the theme is outstanding, have an “Instagram table”. This is a center table that has a lot of decor on and around it -very picturesque or should I say Insta worthy 😏.

We also added little accents of the theme colours around the house -rose petals, streamers, calligraphy (done by my amazing cousin), and even flowers.

Games/ Activities

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So the games were super simple. They literally took me about 10 minutes to put together (thanks to my awesome friend who helped me out).

One game we played was “how well do you know the bride?”. For this game, I created three teams of 5-6 that would work in collaboration to correctly answer as many questions about the bride as possible. The team that gets the most questions right wins! Easy peasy!

How well does the bride know the groom- I asked my sister’s fiance around 20 questions and wrote down his answers (so he wouldn’t change them). Then during the shower, we FaceTimed him and asked the bride the same questions. Don’t ask simple questions for this game. You want to stump the bride and get a few laughs in the process.

Side activity one– Who doesn’t like a little guessing game? We played the classic “guess how many jelly beans are in a jar”.

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PS make sure there are prizes.

Side activity two- This was probably one of my favorite side activities. We hung a string from a couple of hooks and placed clothespins on it. On a small table, I had three sections of cue cards -date ideas, words of wisdom, and prayers. I paired each category with a different colored marker. Throughout the shower, the ladies wrote down their thoughts that aligned with the category they chose.

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Words of wisdom– Before the shower ended, I opened up the floor for any words of wisdom or encouragement the ladies wanted to say to the bride. On that note, I would like to share with you some wise words from my mother:

“There is no correlation between conflict and divorce, there is, however; a correlation between divorce and habitual avoidance of conflict.”

After speeches were given, we popped the champagne and I proposed a toast to the bride!

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Dance dance dance- ain’t a party without dancing right? Make sure you got an on and poppin’ playlist for this part!

I had another game ready for us but so I could avoid going over time and give people a chance to mingle/ take pictures, I decided to scratch it. Like I said, sometimes you need to improvise!

The food

This is probably what you have all been waiting for. Of course, I went ALL out for food. We had the shower later in the afternoon; if you do the same finger foods will suffice. But cooking is kind of my thing so I had to make it special. For this event, I abandoned my vegan recipes #sorrynotsorry.

Appetizers

– Tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole (guacamole was homemade, salsa was store-bought).

-Kabobs! I wanted to make meat kabobs but to save money and time I opted for sausage kabobs instead. I placed these bad boys in a pan, drizzled some olive oil over top, popped them in the oven at 350 Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Then drizzled them with some balsamic reduction and BAM! You got yourself a delicious appetizer.

Mains

We had risotto, roasted vegetables, jollof rice (a West African rice), kale salad, two types of chicken (sweet basil chicken and spicy rosemary) salmon, and some bread. Except for the jollof and bread, all of the recipes were created by yours truly!

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Desserts

Apple crumble and whipped cream. You can find my gluten-free apple crumble recipe here.

The cake was made by my wonderful friend Chidera from AzaryaLifestyle. You can find her recipe here.

We also had some watermelon and chocolate cake!

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Drinks 

Raspberry sparkler. I added a few frozen raspberries into a jar (this acts as the ice), lemon slices, with lemon juice, sparkling lime water, and some sprite. I would normally add a little bit of white wine to this drink as well!

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Always make sure you ask about dietary restrictions, the last thing you want is hungry guests!

Final Tips

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Ask for advice – As a young and fresh African gal, I know how to throw a party! But wasn’t too sure what a bridal shower entailed. One of my friends was the maid of honor for her sister’s wedding last year so I picked her brain on all things bridal showers. Pinterest is also a wonderful place to find inspiration.

Play to your strengths-  What are your strong suits? Is it planning? Cooking? Baking? decorating? Whatever it is, make sure you do things to the best of your abilities in that area!

Delegate- This isn’t the part where you get to boss people around. This is the part where you acknowledge that you’re human and you need to ask for help. For example, my cousin is very creative so I asked her to write out some calligraphy for me and went to her for advice on decorations. And my friend is an excellent baker so asked her to make a cake! I wanted an awesome playlist for the dance so I asked another friend to create one for me. My aunties helped me set up, get the place prepared, and clean afterward. Remember that in order to delegate effectively you need to know what needs to be done so stay organized :).

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Remember who you are doing this for- This is the last word of advice I want to give. This shower was for my sister, and if you’re throwing a bridal shower I’m sure it is for someone very close to you as well. Keep them at the forefront of your mind amidst all of the hustle and bustle. There will be times where you want to throw in the towel but instead, think of how happy they will be when it’s all done! Besides, they only get married once, it’s your job to help make it special.

“I have found the one whom my soul loves” -Song of Solomon 3:4

LOVE,

Jasmine

GFV Apple Crumble

I hope you all have very forgiving hearts as I didn’t post this recipe when I said I would 😦 But nobody’s perfect, right? I promise that the recipe itself will make up for any broken hearts!

I Love, love, apple crumble – it’s super easy to make and tastes like fall (I know it’s summer but still 😜). I decided to make a gluten-free version because I have a friend who is celiac and I wanted her to be able to enjoy this delicious dessert too!

On a side note: if you don’t have any food allergies recognize how blessed you are to be able to eat anything – you have the freedom to try different cuisines if your heart so desires. There’s no need to have a restrictive mindset when it comes to food, which is the whole premise of my blog!

But I digress! I hope you all enjoy this recipe and share it with your friends!

GFV (gluten-free vegan) Apple crumble recipe –Gluten-free, vegan, dairy free

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees!

Apples

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium (royal or green) apples diced
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

Directions:

  • Mix all of the ingredients together
  • Place in 8×8 pan

Crumble:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of gluten-free oats
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of softened margarine

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients to a bowl
  • Mix with hands (give it some love 😉)
  • Pour crumble over apple mixture

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

Serve warm with some berries and vegan (or not vegan) whipped cream! Enjoy!

LOVE,

Jasmine

Vegan lentil stew

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Hello friends! If you know me, you know that I like to make one- pot wonders -throw everything into a pan, let it cook from which comes a rather large meal for a dinner party or for the rest of the week.  Well, my vegan lentil stew is one of those one-pot wonders. It’s full of flavor and super versatile. You can adjust the recipe to what you have on hand/ your flavor preferences.

I also made a step-by-step recipe video. Follow the link at the bottom for details.

So without further ado, here we go!

Vegan Lentil Stew (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free) 

Ingredients: 

1/4 cup of olive oil
1 small onion diced
3 garlic cloves diced
3 chili peppers diced
1 zucchini diced into quarters
1/2 red bell pepper diced
1/2 green bell pepper diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper diced
1/2 orange
1/2 bell pepper diced
2 cups of chopped kale
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of lentils rinsed and drained
1 tbsp of maple syrup

Spices:
2 tbsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp of paprika
1tsp of salt
1 tsp of chili flakes
1/2 of cinnamon
1 tbsp of nutritional yeast
1tsp coriander
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp cloves

Directions: 
Pour olive oil into a large frying pan on medium-high. Reduce heat to medium. Add in: onions. Allow it to cook until translucent (5-10 minutes). Add in garlic. Crush mustard seeds, coriander, and cloves in a pestle add to frying pan. Stir and coat onions with spices. Add in zucchini. Turn heat up to medium-high and allow zucchini to cook for 2 minutes. add in half of the tumeric, add in bell peppers and chili peppers. Let cook for 5 minutes at medium. Add lentils, diced tomatoes, maple syrup, and the rest of the spices (salt, turmeric, chili flakes, cinnamon, nutritional yeast, paprika). Stir. Let the stew sit for 15 minutes on medium-low heat. Turn off the burner, add kale, stir in, cover the stew until the kale wilts.

Serve with rice, quinoa, or whatever you want!

Yields: 6-10 servings

For a full video of the recipe follow this link

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Enjoy!

LOVE,

Jasmine

Icebox Nanaimo bars

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Hey, Y’all! It’s been a hot minute since we last chatted. And I do mean hot because I’ve been cooking up a storm!

You might be thinking: what inspired you to create a Nanaimo bar recipe? Let me tell you the story behind this recipe. Once upon a time, a young gal named Jasmine bought some V expensive vegan Nanaimo bars and she thought to herself “Instead of spending all of my income on these Nanaimo bars, how about I make my own? Then the recipe was born…

My friend helped me name them “Icebox Nanaimo bars” because they are best served cold!

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Icebox Vegan Nanaimo bars (vegan, gluten-free) 

  • Yields: 16 bars
  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 2 hours

Crust: 

  • 1 1/2 cups of almonds ground
  • Toast 3/4 cup of medium unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/tsp of vanilla
  • 3/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of dates soaked in hot water (pulse in a blender with a little bit of water (1/4 cup) until finely minced)

Directions: Mix crust in a medium-sized bowl. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper (or greased tin foil) and leave a few inches of the parchment paper on the two ends so you can easily lift it up. Grease the bottom with coconut oil,  spread crust flat.

Freeze for 30 minutes

Middle layer:

  • 1 1/2 cup of cashews soaked (soak in hot water for 1 hr)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 lemon squeezed (1/4 cup of lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup

Directions: Mix all together. Put in the freezer as you wait for the crust to harden to let it set. Pour mixture over crust. Freeze for 1 hour.

Top layer

So there are two options for the top layer:

First option:

  • 2 cups of vegan chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp of canola oil

Directions: melt chocolate chips using double boiler method. Once melted add in canola oil and mix together.

Second option:

This one is more tart

  • 1/2 cup (softened)
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa powder

Directions: Mix ingredients in bowl. Make sure the coconut oil is softened (not fully melted!).

Cut tray of bars into squares. Dip the squares into chocolate mixture (use a spoon if needed). Freeze for 10 minutes. Plate and serve!

I hope you all enjoy!

LOVE,

Jasmine

Photos taken by my friend @thisisrebecca follow her on Instagram!

Food, fashion, fun: ice cream and Levi’s

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Hey hey friends! I’m starting this new blog series called Food, Fashion and Fun where I feature two of my loves (food and fashion) in one post!

Food: The weather has been super nice lately which is a perfect excuse for a cold treat! So I headed over to Village Ice Cream and grabbed a banana spice coconut milk ice cream. And yes, this is a vegan-friendly flavor! It tasted a bit like pumpkin spice to me and I really enjoyed it. So I would definitely recommend it to all of you Starbucks fanatics out there.

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Fashion: I decided to go on a bit of an adventure through downtown Calgary after putting together a super cute outfit fitting for the occasion. I wore a pair of high-waisted Levi’s (which added so much length to my already long legs haha), a classic Levi’s t-shirt (can you tell I love their stuff?), and a pair of fuschia strappy block heels. It was also a bit windy so I threw on a little bomber jacket! I appreciate how a few seemingly simple pieces can come together to create a pretty classic outfit. If you want to be a little less formal, instead of wearing the block heals, throw on a pair of sneakers instead.

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Fun: So this was more like work than fun but I helped my brother film an intro to his vlogging channel and in return, he took some bomb photos of me! I spent the afternoon roaming the streets of Calgary visiting a few hotspots like the downtown mall and Stephen Avenue!

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I hope you enjoyed this post, until next time!

LOVE

Jasmine

Seasons

Hi friends!

Thanks for tuning in. Apologies for my absence, I’ve been going through a really rough season. I needed a break from unnecessary stimuli and instead, channel my energy into my close relationships and myself. I’m not going to get into the details of what I have been going through but I am going to share with you what I have learned/ am learning.

If your winter was anything like mine, you can attest to the fact that it has been a long one! And now we are finally getting some sun! Can you say dress and sandals weather?!

On that note, I think this winter is a fitting metaphor for the current state of my life -hardship, after hardship, and one thing causes another- will it ever end?! I’m generally a happy person who puts on a brave face most of the time but the consequences of doing so can literally be fatal. I hope that sharing what I have learned can serve as a tool for some.

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But before I jump in, I would like to open with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote:

“One illusion is the myth of time… “And time will work that out.” You’ve heard that I’m sure. These people fail to see that time is neutral and it can be used positively or negatively. The fact is that segregation horns have made a much more effective use of time than some other sources of good will, even the federal government.  I’m afraid that we may have to repent, not only for the blatant, vitriolic words of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” 

I know what you’re thinking, “Jasmine, Martin Luther King Jr. is great and all but what does his American Dream speech have to do with seasons?” I think, in this speech, he highlights an irrevocable fact about time- that it maintains a neutral position, therefore each individual has the freedom to choose how they will use it and merely doing nothing with will not suffice. So with each difficult season don’t just say to yourself “it will pass”, consider what you will do amidst it.

So here are a few of my reflective points during this heavy period.

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Get supported

One of the best things that I ever did was get a mentor. She has supported, advised, and celebrated with me during my setbacks and milestones. If you don’t already have a mentor or two (or three), get one! When you’re going through a difficult time the last thing you want to be doing is figuring out who you can talk to. You need to be able to talk to someone who is intentionally invested in your life, familiar with your situation, and detached enough to give you sound advice. Another huge source of support, besides my family, has been my friends. There are quite a few people that I know will be there for me when I am in need of some emergency TLC.

Sometimes getting support looks like seeing a professional. This can be extremely beneficial especially considering that they are well-equipped to help you deal with your situation. I understand that there may be a monetary deterrence but most professionals in these fields take your financial circumstances into consideration, using a sliding scale to determine the cost. If you are a student, your school may have free resources such as counselors, “boot camps”, and support groups.

Be grateful 

The last thing we want to do when we are going through a rough time is write down all of the things we can be grateful for. It’s tough, I know, but it’s so necessary especially if you want to remain remotely sane. When we choose to dwell on the negative (and sometimes we will) we must remember that it is our responsibility to take every thought captive and decide whether or not we are going to let it weigh us down.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -if anything is praiseworthy or excellent, think about such things” -Philippians 4:8 

I have a tough time doing this consistently so a few things that I do are: 1) Pray– tell God what you are grateful for. 2) Keep a gratitude journal -before you go to bed every night write down at least three specific things that you were grateful for that day. It can be something as simple as hearing the sound of the birds chirping when you woke up. It’s also great to be able to look back on your blessings. 3) Talk it out with friends- My friends have shed a positive light on my tough situations. Sometimes what I need is an external perspective.

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Use the quieter seasons to equip you for the stormy ones

Quiet/ reflective seasons are opportune times to do some introspection and consider what areas in your life need some revision. Something I personally need to work on is my self-talk. A lot of the time I can be my own worst enemy -choosing to internalize negative beliefs about myself and replaying them in my head over and over again. I know that when things get busy I almost immediately revert to this type of thinking. So when I find myself in a position where I have a little more time on my hands, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up my bible and fill my heart with truth, go to life-giving events, and work on cultivating positive relationships. Again, it all comes down to what you choose to do with your time.

A few books that have really helped me combat this cognitive disposition are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies and Me, Myself and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild. Both books have challenged my way of thinking and provide practical ways to equip myself when these negative thoughts come to mind.

Another thing I have been challenged to do is intentionally rest. This looks different for everyone, whether it be sleeping-in a few days a week, hanging out with people you haven’t seen for a while, or reading a book or two. This is something I’m still learning to do but it has been a rewarding process.

Do the exact opposite of what you want to do

When I find myself in a rut all I want to do is stay in my bed and sulk in self-pity. But in no way is that helpful. It ends up turning into a self-perpetuating cycle. For example, I neglect exercise and become more prone to stress and anxiety. More often than not, the best thing to do is that healthy habit you’re neglecting.

So what is it that you don’t feel like doing today that you know will benefit you after it’s been done? Is it going for a walk? Eating a good meal? Hanging out with friends? Go do it!

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This too shall pass

I can’t take credit for this last point. One of my good friends constantly reminds me that a season is just that, a season. She told me “You may be upset now, but you won’t be upset forever, you may be anxious now, but you won’t be anxious forever.” With this insightful perspective, I can now see the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel.

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I don’t think that my season has ended just yet but after winter does come spring so I’m hopeful. Stay hopeful friends.

LOVE,

Jasmine