Our Favourite Moments of 2016

Hello Lovely,

What a great year 2016 has been! Sure there were some hurtful moments, and days we’d rather forget, but hopefully you’re like us and have more blessings to count than regrets. We hope you met all of your New Year’s Resolutions, tried new things and discovered new passions. If you didn’t, don’t worry, that’s what 2017 is for! But before we sign off on 2016, Mechelle and I would like to share our 8 favourite moments of the year (in no particular order of course) for a grand total of 16 awesome moments of 2016!

·        I started off this year as a solo blogger. I did everything by myself for the blog and to be honest it was beginning to get a little tiresome. I was beginning to guest blog for others so I was starting to feel stretched thin. So in September, when Mechelle reached out to me, expressing her interest in joining the team, I was relieved to say the least! We’ve had fun getting to know each other and bringing you lots of laughter and helpful tips these past three months.

·        In May I went to St. Croix to meet my boyfriend’s mother. He hadn’t been home in about ten years so this trip was really significant for him. I had fun snorkelling and seeing the sites. We hope to go back someday soon.

·        I got a new job as a Guidance Counsellor and started in August, which was so scary but I love it! I’m finally doing what I want to do and what I’m trained to do. Sure I’m actually trained to be a Marriage & Family Therapist, but Guidance Counselling is great practice for when I’ll be done with my degree.

·        I went to see Hillsong Worship in concert over the summer and it was AMAZING! Kari Jobe was there along with Urban Rescue and at least two other bands. It was a spiritual experience I will never forget!

·        One of my best friend’s gave birth to her second child in March and I fell in love all over again! We had fun doing a glam photo shoot for the baby and she’s even crawling now.

·        I may have lost a few friends this year but I gained so many friends and a deeper understanding of friendship this year. Over the year we hung out and did crazy cool things like paddleboarding at night. Who knew I would be so good at it as a beginner? I guess yoga does pay off!

·        This one is a little sappy, but for my birthday this year, my mum actually bought me a Pepperidge farm cake, and together with my step-dad she sang me happy birthday. We haven’t done this since my 16th birthday so this was a really special feeling for me.

·        And of course, how can I forget the release of my Sweets & Sips eBook? This book took months of preparation. I’m planning on expanding and improving the book to continue giving you guys the best in recipes for entertaining, whether it’s small or large groups! Thank you so much for being a part of the Life By Olivia family this year!

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·        Self-Empowerment: I was never really a fan of audio books as I love to feel the firmness and bendability of the paper between my fingers.  However, through my hubby, I discovered how convenient and enlightening audiobooks can be!   During early morning drives and late afternoon pickups, CDs would play and inspire through the sound waves.  We listened to such books as ‘The Magic of Believing’, ‘The Secret’ as well as ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’.  I found a new appreciation for these books and encourage persons who are often on the move or usually use cell phones for everything but enjoy learning.

·        Reading Retake – As a kid I grew up on Nancy Drew (my mom’s favourite) Babysitter’s Club and Danielle Steel with a few other novelists in between.  This year I rediscovered my love of reading through the fictional crime genre.  Such books as ‘The 2 Minute Rule’ and ‘T is for Trespass’ have kept me on the edge of my seat and on the hunt for the real culprit.  I will continue to venture into other genres throughout 2017.

·        The Joy of Writing – This has always been in my deepest, easiest and most freeing outlet.  Being a part of the Life by Olivia blog is aligned with my 2016 goal of getting back into writing.  I’ve expanded beyond my usual pieces and have enjoyed the feedback from friends and viewers.  Thank you to everyone who have and continue to support me.  There are more posts to come!

·        Nail Art is the Best!  I’ve always loved my nails, kept them long and enjoyed painting them but this year I fell in love with nail art.  I’m talking rhinestones, studs, Swarovski crystal and gold beads.  The designs are edgy and fun to get done and beautiful to look at!  Christmas is around the corner and I can’t wait to try a new design (I’m thinking red!).

·        The Great Outdoors – Being outside and in the natural can be so revitalizing! Over the weekend I tried yoga on the beach and it was very rewarding.  The crashing of the waves, long cool breeze and sand in between my toes was everything.  It’s a feeling that’s indescribable but refreshing.  The beach will be my newest spot for fitness and relaxation.

·        Being Green is uplifting - Gardening is inspiring and gives me a brief moment to breathe in the fresh air and step away from the daily functions of home.  Seeing the plants grow and being a part of new life is very rewarding!  Selecting and caring for the plants this year gave me a good feeling.  Unfortunately they were removed and destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, however 2017 will see new plants and more peaceful gardening moments.

·        Got me Glassware!  I love roasting vegetables: mainly butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes (orange and white).  The flavour is intense and goes very well with simple seasonings and/or herbs such as salt, thyme or rosemary, with a spot of butter.  My beau gifted me with a glassware 6 piece set that is AMAZING!  So far I’ve done baked pork chops, roasted vegetables and pizza stuffed chicken which all turned out fabulously.  Glass is easier to clean than metals pans, doesn’t scratch but it’s heavier.   Keep these points in mind when searching for new cook/bakeware and happy cooking!

·        Let’s get Upgraded – I’ve completed about 5 different forms of professional training throughout this year which hasn’t come without sleepless nights, zombie days and pushing my physical and mental capacity beyond their breaking points.  It was ALL worth it! I am more accomplished, open-minded and wiser for the sacrifices that I’ve made and information that I’ve learned.  I encourage anyone to not be afraid to grow and to know that your next step, is a big move towards a brighter and more fulfilling future.  You can do it!

Mechelle doesn’t have any resolutions for 2017 but she does believe in yearly goals and whole lifestyle changes which adds to her daily growth (e.g. creating a vision board). For me, I have decided to take up gardening as it is something I have always wanted to do but fear that everything I touch dies. With one of my best friends back home, and her mum an avid gardener, I hope to learn a lot from her. I’m also planning on travelling somewhere new again this year. This year it was to St. Croix, and next year I hope to go to any country where the first language is not English. Travelling is a huge passion of mine so I want to see as much of the world as possible.

What are your plans for the New Year? Do you make resolutions or do you skip it? Share with us your dreams for the New Year in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!

November in a Nutshell

Hello Lovely,

I hope each you had a fabulous Thanksgiving Day and holiday weekend. Have you started your holiday shopping yet? I’ve done a little gift shopping (and making) so far, but haven’t gotten anything yet for those extra special people in my life. Mechelle on the other hand is freaking out! Our countdown to Christmas is going to be a bit shorter this year due to travel plans. We’ll be with you until December 16, when we sign off until the New Year. Because we’ll be spending this time with family and friends, we hope you get to do the same!

With December upon us, today we thought we’d do a quick recap of November in case you missed something.

This month we began our hibernation process so to speak. We started off saying goodbye to a loved one before we both discussed our favourite TV shows to binge watch or watch reruns of. We brought in the holiday spirit when we shared our holiday wish list (two of which, I’ve already purchased for myself) my Christmas Jingles Spotify playlist and my winter mood board! We even shared our tips for how to get a head start on the holidays to avoid the last minute rush we always find ourselves in.

We took a little break after that because it was all about my new eBook, Sweets & Sips: Recipes to Impress while You Indulge. We’re giving away this book free to all subscribers so you’ve got to check that out below!

If you didn’t get your recipe book yet (seriously what are you waiting on), we shared two new pumpkin recipes with you this month. The Mini Pumpkin Spice Loaves is a great breakfast item, while the Pumpkin & Carrot Soup is meant to be a main star at the dinner table!

Of course, all of this indulging could lead to a new pound or two. Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you should slack off on your workout routine. We showed you how to stay in shape with minimal effort with our No Squats Butt Lifting Workout and 6 Exercises to Make Your Booty Pop. So just in case St. Nick didn’t get the memo of what you wanted for Christmas, you can easily get it yourself! (Maybe Old St. Nick will leave an extra present or two once he’s seen your hard work pay off).

With the holidays in mind, we have already started working on a few projects for Christmas that you can expect to see soon on the blog. We’ve got DIY gifts for your family and friends, Christmas recipes that’ll make your home the place to be this holiday season as well as tips and tricks for beating the winter blues! There will even be a photo shoot post coming next week!

Tomorrow is the start of a very special day for us at Life by Olivia. We’ll be giving you 16 Days of Christmas with weekday posts on the blog and weekend posts on the Facebook page to keep you inspired!

Exciting, right? We’ll see you back here tomorrow morning for all things Christmas!

My Top 15 Posts of 2015

Hey Friends!

I'm so excited to close out this year! Not because this year sucked, no far from it! I had a great year! Of course there were some ups and downs, but the ups definitely exceeded the downs! I finally made it to one year in a relationship, I finally spent Christmas with him, things changed for the better on my job (notice I don't complain as much any more), I reunited with friends I thought I'd never speak to again, went kayaking, toured the seas on a pirate ship, tried The Cheesecake Factory for the first time, found out I'm expecting a goddaughter in February (my birth month), and so much more, but most importantly, I'm ending the year with a much stronger faith than what I started the year with.

I learned so much this year and I'm so happy that I was able to share it with you guys. You've become more than just my readers, you're also my friends. Over the course of the year I've met so many people who were like, "Hey I know you!" I had no idea my words reached so many of you and for that I am truly humbled. So to welcome the New Year and officially close out 2015, I have compiled (in chronological order from most recent to oldest) a list of my Top 15 Posts of 2015:

  1. Getting Vulnerable with Kamillah
I had the honour of meeting a great Bahamian artist while she was in town for a concert. Her name is Kamilah. She has such a gentle spirit but a powerhouse voice! I was completely blown away not only by her singing, but her playing. She has performed in the Apollo and now lives in New York as she chases her dreams. It's time to get vulnerable with Kamilah.

I had the honour of meeting a great Bahamian artist while she was in town for a concert. Her name is Kamilah. She has such a gentle spirit but a powerhouse voice! I was completely blown away not only by her singing, but her playing. She has performed in the Apollo and now lives in New York as she chases her dreams. It's time to get vulnerable with Kamilah.

 

2. Travel Diaries: Abaco

On Friday November 6, I travelled to Treasure Cay Abaco for the first time, with the expectancy to return on Monday November 9, but I actually returned on Sunday, one day earlier. It was actually my first time taking a domestic flight. I've been to other family islands before like Harbour Island and Andros, but I always took the boat to get there. I went with one of my good friends Catina, to shoot a wedding for a client. 

On Friday November 6, I travelled to Treasure Cay Abaco for the first time, with the expectancy to return on Monday November 9, but I actually returned on Sunday, one day earlier. It was actually my first time taking a domestic flight. I've been to other family islands before like Harbour Island and Andros, but I always took the boat to get there. I went with one of my good friends Catina, to shoot a wedding for a client. 

3. DIY Nautical Themed Wedding

I had the privilege of shooting Cameron & Tanishka Parker's wedding in Abaco on 7th November. I loved how they took charge of their own day and had fun with it. They came up with a lot of their poses in the spirit of the moment and brought a lot of energy. I saw genuine happiness in both of them, wish them nothing but the best going forward and thank them for allowing me to be a part of something so amazing! Out of respect for privacy this is not all of the photos but just a little bit of their love!

I had the privilege of shooting Cameron & Tanishka Parker's wedding in Abaco on 7th November. I loved how they took charge of their own day and had fun with it. They came up with a lot of their poses in the spirit of the moment and brought a lot of energy. I saw genuine happiness in both of them, wish them nothing but the best going forward and thank them for allowing me to be a part of something so amazing! Out of respect for privacy this is not all of the photos but just a little bit of their love!

4. 8 Irresistible Donuts to Kick Off Your Weekend

I'm positive that I'm about to be every girl on a diet's worst nightmare with this post, but I just couldn't help myself. I sincerely love doughnuts. Like LOOOOOOOOOOOVE doughnuts. My inner fat kid does a cartwheel anytime I see a doughnut or even hear the word doughnut. Well it tries but fails to complete the cartwheel, but even though my inner fat kid knows she can't do a cartwheel she still tries because that's how excited doughnuts make me!

I'm positive that I'm about to be every girl on a diet's worst nightmare with this post, but I just couldn't help myself. I sincerely love doughnuts. Like LOOOOOOOOOOOVE doughnuts. My inner fat kid does a cartwheel anytime I see a doughnut or even hear the word doughnut. Well it tries but fails to complete the cartwheel, but even though my inner fat kid knows she can't do a cartwheel she still tries because that's how excited doughnuts make me!

5. Seafood Margarita Alfredo

What I love about this meal is that not only is it a one-pot meal, but it was ready in less than 10 minutes and cost less than $10 to make! Now that's economical! Last week, I bought a bag of something called seafood combination for only $5.67 (yes I remember the price) and it did not disappoint! With real pieces of shrimp, octopus and mussels, this was worth every penny! Knorrs pasta sides are $1.89 here and tomatoes really aren't costly. While I didn't have any Basil, I did have the broad Thyme leaves that one of the teachers gave me. I toasted some bread, sprinkled it with garlic and had a delicious 5 star meal all to myself! 

What I love about this meal is that not only is it a one-pot meal, but it was ready in less than 10 minutes and cost less than $10 to make! Now that's economical! Last week, I bought a bag of something called seafood combination for only $5.67 (yes I remember the price) and it did not disappoint! With real pieces of shrimp, octopus and mussels, this was worth every penny! Knorrs pasta sides are $1.89 here and tomatoes really aren't costly. While I didn't have any Basil, I did have the broad Thyme leaves that one of the teachers gave me. I toasted some bread, sprinkled it with garlic and had a delicious 5 star meal all to myself! 

6. Summer-to-Fall Essentials that Looks Good on Everyone

Although summer fashion shows are now coming to an end, signaling the impending chill of fall, don't rush to ditch your summer duds just yet. I'm gonna show you how to transition some of your Summer Essentials into Fall Classics, while avoiding the seasonal mall rush!

Although summer fashion shows are now coming to an end, signaling the impending chill of fall, don't rush to ditch your summer duds just yet. I'm gonna show you how to transition some of your Summer Essentials into Fall Classics, while avoiding the seasonal mall rush!

7. DIY Catnip Toy

A really simple crap project that takes only 20 minutes and then you can spoil your cat rotten!  How do you treat your pets? 

A really simple crap project that takes only 20 minutes and then you can spoil your cat rotten! How do you treat your pets? 

8. Power Woman: Ria Georgina

The Bahamian Icon Awards may be over, but hype hasn't died yet! If you were on the Red Carpet at the Bahamian Icon Awards, then you probably heard the same name, over and over again!  Three nominees graced the red carpet in custom designs by none other than the fabulous Ria Georgina! Her designs were the most stunning and talked about, all night! I have the pleasure of calling her a friend so scoring this interview wasn't difficult but it was still a privilege to be able to sit down with her and talk about her and her brand! So let’s take a minute to meet the woman behind the dress!

The Bahamian Icon Awards may be over, but hype hasn't died yet! If you were on the Red Carpet at the Bahamian Icon Awards, then you probably heard the same name, over and over again!

Three nominees graced the red carpet in custom designs by none other than the fabulous Ria Georgina! Her designs were the most stunning and talked about, all night! I have the pleasure of calling her a friend so scoring this interview wasn't difficult but it was still a privilege to be able to sit down with her and talk about her and her brand! So let’s take a minute to meet the woman behind the dress!

9. 10 Things You Can Do When You're Having a Bad Day

I promise these aren't personal confessions (okay maybe they are) but I know what it's like to just be having a bad day. And as much as we may want to exact our revenge on that theif, or annoying co-worker or the person that didn't hire us, sometimes there really is nothing we can do about it. But even if we can't change our situation, we can change how we react to it. Here are some sweet suggestions for improving your mood a little.

I promise these aren't personal confessions (okay maybe they are) but I know what it's like to just be having a bad day. And as much as we may want to exact our revenge on that theif, or annoying co-worker or the person that didn't hire us, sometimes there really is nothing we can do about it. But even if we can't change our situation, we can change how we react to it. Here are some sweet suggestions for improving your mood a little.

10. The 2015 Bahamian Icon Awards

It was a night of Glitz & Glamour filled with celebrities and selfies, oh my!  f you missed the 2015 Bahamian Icon Awards on Saturday July 11, don't worry. I'm about to fill you in on everything you need to know about what went down!  

It was a night of Glitz & Glamour filled with celebrities and selfies, oh my!

f you missed the 2015 Bahamian Icon Awards on Saturday July 11, don't worry. I'm about to fill you in on everything you need to know about what went down!  

11. DIY Body Wash with Honey + Coconut Milk

It's about to be a new year, which means a new and clean start! And what better way to get a new and clean start than to make your own body wash? Made with Three Simple Ingredients...

It's about to be a new year, which means a new and clean start! And what better way to get a new and clean start than to make your own body wash? Made with Three Simple Ingredients...

12. How to Unplug & Let Go

I'll admit, I'm not the biggest person when it comes to letting go of grudges (when I'm angry at someone, it takes awhile for me to forgive and move on). But even I understand that this is not healthy. Sometimes we get so caught up in our feelings and everything that happens around us, we lose sight of what's really important. When that starts to happen, it's good to just unplug and let go.

I'll admit, I'm not the biggest person when it comes to letting go of grudges (when I'm angry at someone, it takes awhile for me to forgive and move on). But even I understand that this is not healthy. Sometimes we get so caught up in our feelings and everything that happens around us, we lose sight of what's really important. When that starts to happen, it's good to just unplug and let go.

13. Funfetti Waffles with Whipped Lemon Yoghurt Topping and Fresh Berries

I served this on a breakfast tray with Lemon Sweet Tea to my mum in bed while singing Happy Mother's Day to you in the Birthday Song tune. I even added, "Happy Mother's Day to the best mother in the world, but I'm sorry you're not better than bammy [my grandmother] but I love you anyway". She laughed because deep down she knows it's true. My grandmother is my favourite woman on the planet. She lives in Tampa so her present is in the mail. If someone you love lives nearby you, make these waffles for them to show them how much you care.

I served this on a breakfast tray with Lemon Sweet Tea to my mum in bed while singing Happy Mother's Day to you in the Birthday Song tune. I even added, "Happy Mother's Day to the best mother in the world, but I'm sorry you're not better than bammy [my grandmother] but I love you anyway". She laughed because deep down she knows it's true. My grandmother is my favourite woman on the planet. She lives in Tampa so her present is in the mail. If someone you love lives nearby you, make these waffles for them to show them how much you care.

14. Vegan Spinach + Mushroom Grilled Cheese

Can you believe that grilled cheese is so awesome, it gets its own month?! But even better, than a traditional girlled cheese, I added a cool, filling twist. Trust me, this is not your mama's grilled cheese! It's fresh, fun and cheesy! It's a great combination of flavours. Imagine a spinach dip between two buttery slices of bread. Absolute bliss!

Can you believe that grilled cheese is so awesome, it gets its own month?! But even better, than a traditional girlled cheese, I added a cool, filling twist. Trust me, this is not your mama's grilled cheese! It's fresh, fun and cheesy! It's a great combination of flavours. Imagine a spinach dip between two buttery slices of bread. Absolute bliss!

15. DIY Black Crop Top Without a Pattern

I can't stress out easy this tutorial is. This is roughly a 30 minute project. So turn off your phones and TV and buckle down with this quick and easy project to create your own trendy piece of fashion!

I can't stress out easy this tutorial is. This is roughly a 30 minute project. So turn off your phones and TV and buckle down with this quick and easy project to create your own trendy piece of fashion!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

See you in 2016!