Announcing the Winner of The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Contest!

After going through many entries received over the past week, we are pleased to announce that Brittany Goving is the winner of our latest giveaway sponsored by The Body Shop! We’re so excited for you to try out the full Tea Tree product line pictured below! Please look for our message to arrange the delivery of your prize!

We’d like to once again thank The Body Shop Canada for sponsoring a wonderful contest that lets us spoil our readers! We’d also like to thank our readers and everyone who took the time to enter the contest – we wish that everyone could win!

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay in the loop with our most recent posts and contests! And once again, thanks to all for your continued support of inanutshell.


Listen To Your Body: In The Water

One of the greatest concerns of any athlete – the damper, disappointment and heartbreak that’s always a scary possibility during any physical activity – is an injury.

Whether a rolled ankle, blown knee or weak shoulder, there is nothing more discouraging than being in the wonderful throes of an exercise routine before realizing that if you want to heal properly – you might just need to rest.  I, myself, have had this happen on a few too many occasions, much to my dismay; with an old soccer knee that loves to ache after lots of impact or a still-healing torn hip flexor that has the tendency to feel tight during oodles of continuous movement.

If you enjoy exercise, the endorphins and the time alone, realizing that you might need to take a break almost feels like a non-option. If you’re half-witted about it, like we’ve all been, you’ll try to push through the pain or find a (not so) happy medium that will most likely still aggravate the problem. Sometimes, it takes an overly painful realization or dose of tough love before understanding that you have the options of two weeks to a month of continuing your routine before losing a joint or muscle for life – or two weeks to a month of moderate activity that will soothe your injury, and your mind when it comes to knowing that all hope isn’t lost.

When a few long runs of mine proved to end with a very tender left knee about a month ago, I stupidly pushed through the pain – thinking it would pass. When walking during the day, lifting my leg while sitting in the upright position or pointing my toes became increasingly difficult – it took that dose of tough love from a friend to tell me that I needed to cool my jets and find an alternate means of exercise until I recovered.

Have you thought of swimming?” I heard from about a dozen people. Insert rolled eyes and immediate disregard. Despite the fact that I swam competitively when I was younger and clearly understand the health benefits of the sport – something about this advice really rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t figure out why – but a number of other injured pals seemed to have the same ignorance when it came partaking in the watery activity. Did we not want to get wet? Would it be boring? Was it too much of a hassle finding a pool? Did we want to be sweating and pounding the pavement to feel like we’d exercised? Maybe so. But when I stepped back and realized that it might be my only option during this unwelcome hiatus, I have a pool in my building, and it couldn’t be that hard – I decided to dive in, literally.

I was wildly wrong when it came to all of my previous conceptions about swimming. First of all, it took about an hour of my time – the same as a good run or circuit/weights workout – and it went by quickly. Secondly, it required grabbing a pair of goggles, a swim cap and pressing the elevator button to get to this exercise. And lastly, it is hard. In fact, it’s a workout and a half. And I was incredibly cocky in thinking otherwise.

Water is 1,000 times denser than air. Powering back and forth in a pool while synching your breathing, kicking rapidly and rotating your upper half to pierce the water and pull your body forward with the most graceful of ease – all while somersaulting your weight to pound back off the walls and do it again, and again? Not a jog in the park.  It is, without a doubt, a full-body cardiovascular exercise that burns calories, tones muscles and challenges you aerobically.

How do I feel now, you ask? Infinitely better. Not only do my limbs still feel like jelly getting out of the pool (always a good sign), but after a three-week break from my normal routine – I no longer feel weakness in my knee when flipping my feet, walking or pointing my toes. And, two nights ago, I went for a light 5km run and didn’t feel a hint of pain. So, there you have it – swimming is actually a wonderful way to heal. Healing, while working hard.

The next time you feel like you need to take a knee, sit on the bench or simply give up – remember that it’s not the end of the world or your athletic career. Remember to listen to your body, no matter how quietly it’s speaking. We’ve only got one. And sometimes, dipping into something unknown isn’t such a bad idea.

Five beginner swimming tips that I’ve remembered since diving back in:

1. Keep your head down: When swimming freestyle (or front crawl, whichever you please), keep your head facing the bottom of the pool when your face is in the water. Any upward neck slant can cause you to drag through the water, as well as induce strain on the neck and back.

2. Kicking is everything: Don’t stop kicking when you come up for air or when you’re over-focused on arm movement. Swimming is a matter of full body momentum; each piece of your smooth-running machinery helps create a more effective and effortless motion. Keep your feet flexible like flippers and the rest of your legs powerful when scissoring under the water. Michael Phelps has said that, “If you’re a good kicker, you’re a good swimmer.”

3. Breathe quick and deep: Similar to most sports – especially Yoga or Pilates – breathing is, obviously, critical. We don’t want the lifeguards jumping in – that’s just embarrassing. Try not to focus on filling your lungs with these messy gasps for air while water spills off your face; when you  alternate turning your neck from side to side in freestyle (in line with the axis of your body), or pull up from a breaststroke, focus on quick and deep pulls for air that fill about 90 per cent of your lungs. This, again, will help with endurance and momentum.

4. Switch up your strokes: Like any exercise, doing it monotonously in the same fashion – especially without music – can get tired. So, switch from freestyle to breast stroke to backstroke or butterfly, and not only watch the minutes fly by, but feel as the different muscle groups are challenged. Although a tough core workout, the backstroke is a great recovery stroke after sprint laps. The breaststroke, commonly misconceived to be the most leisurely, is a great way to simultaneously build upper and lower body strength – while working each body half in unison to push forward. The butterfly is serious stuff. Ultimately, you’ll know you’re doing any stroke right when your lengths are clean and gliding; if water is flying all over the place, you’re flailing or you feel like you’re chugging along, something is off.

5. Don’t quit your other strength training: Like other forms of cardiovascular exercise, you’ll immensely benefit from other strength or muscle-building routines. A short and rigorous core or upper body workout coupled with your swimming or running cardio can highly boost endurance and provide greater ease when slicing through the waves or running longer distances. When your various muscle groups are strengthened, your stamina and overall performance are as well.

 I also really don’t mind the smell of pool chlorine on my skin. Is that weird? Tell us about your injury healing routines below!



CONTEST: Win $100 from The Body Shop! **CONTEST CLOSED**

UPDATE: The winner of this contest has been chosen! Thank you to all who entered.

Last month, in collaboration with The Body Shop, inanutshell was pleased to run an awesome contest for $100 in Cruelty-Free Make-Up. Our winner, Sheralee Huot, was sent a beautiful basket courtesy of The Body Shop, just for commenting on the post and engaging with us using social media.

We’re back at it again, and this time, we’re focusing on skin care! Reduce the size of large, congested pores and get make-up ready, matte skin with The Body Shop’s new Tea Tree Pore Minimizer. Inanutshell is offering you a chance to win a Community Fair Trade Tea Tree prize pack from The Body Shop, valued at more than $100! 

When I worked for The Body Shop years ago, their Tea Tree line was one of the best skin care lines that available. Fast forward 6 years, and it’s only gotten better. Personally, tea tree oil has saved my skin on more than one occasion, a miracle worker when dealing with acne break-outs and pesky pimples.

So, want to win this awesome prize pack? 

This time around, we’re asking you to get connected with The Body Shop Canada using social media! Either like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, and send us the link showing that you’ve done it. You can send us the link by commenting on this post or sending us an e-mail at

(And, while you’re at it, you might as well like US and follow US on both sites too!)

Contest entries will be accepted until Sunday September 23, 2012. Good luck!!

A New York City virgin

If you follow any major magazines, bloggers or celebrities on Twitter and Instagram, or are even the slightest bit fashion-inclined, you’ll know that the word on everyone’s lips for the past week has been: New York.

Backstage madness captured on Instagram at the Nicole Miller spring 2013 show at The Studio at Lincoln Center, in New York.

As New York Fashion Week took hold of the minds of the fashion elite, this year it was a little easier to feel close to the action with social media sites giving glimpses into the wonderful world of haute couture.

With so much glam in the air it’s hard not to sit at your drab 9-5 dreaming of a seat with your name, written in calligraphy, right beside the runway.  Now imagine you had literally just missed the festivities by a hair, coming back from my own New York City trip at the end of August, and try to sympathize with my demanding desire to be back in the big city.

As a first-time New Yorker I wasn’t sure what to expect – aside from yellow taxis, neon lights and an almost a guaranteed run-in with either Katie Holmes or Denzel Washington. Right? But now, after spending two glorious days in a city I vow to return to, here’s the knowledge I gained and would pass along to any other first-time visitor of the Big Apple:

1) Don’t drive. And if you do, don’t drive a standard card. 

Sightseeing in SOHO at a snails pace. Not pleased.

Now, this obviously doesn’t apply to every reader depending on which location you’re reading this from. Obviously, if you live in Vancouver driving is not an option. But, from Ottawa it is not all that crazy of an idea… or was it? Eight hours of travel – piece of cake right? I mean, we’ve all been stuck in a Toronto traffic jam before. And who doesn’t love a good road trip? Throw on some jams, pack some snacks and a pal that can carry a conversation and you’re all set, RIGHT? Well, the drive up really wasn’t so bad, until, of course, we got to New York at 11 p.m. it was dark, people were jay walking in every direction and our GPS was telling us to go over the Brooklyn “BRAAADGE”? Pardon? Not to mention, New Yorkers say “Welcome to our vibrant city!” by railing on their horns as loudly as possible. Hello to you too, NYC. But, really it wasn’t so bad. The bad came when we were stuck in traffic, for 3 HOURS, trying to leave Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon. Crawl doesn’t even begin to paint an adequate picture of how slowly we were moving. So, look for a seat sale and do yourselves a favour. I will definitely be flying on my next visit.

2) Go for longer than a weekend. And if you don’t, accept the fact you won’t be able to do it all.

Welcome to the jungle.

One of the most attractive things about New York is the possibility that you can “stay for the weekend”. Again, given the proximity between Southern Ontario and NYC it can be the perfect weekend getaway. But, for a first-timer, know that you simply cannot see all you’re going to want to see in a weekend.
Things we did do: bartered on Canal Street, visited Time Square, saw a show on Broadway, shopped (a lot!), dined in cool restaurants, visited the East Village, toured Central Park, navigated the subways, enjoyed all that is New York City night-life.
Things we didn’t do: see the Statue of Liberty (from up close), take a moment at Ground Zero, go up the Empire State building, visit SOHO, visit Rockefeller Center, the Central Park Zoo … or my two personal wishes, visit the Seinfeld restaurant and the scene of my favourite movie – Serendipity.
I’m sure you could stay for years and still not “do it all” but a few more days to knock off some of those bucket list items would have been valuable.

3) See a Broadway show, even if it’s “not your thing”.

On left: lifelong Broadway enthusiast.
On right: converted Broadway enthusiast.

I can safely say I am a fan of musicals and all things arts related. Being a dancer my whole life, I’ve probably already performed to most of the soundtracks of every show in the city. So without a doubt seeing a show on Broadway, in New York, is something I’ve always wanted to do. But, for my travel buddy it just “wasn’t really her thing”. Being a good sport, we still purchased tickets to see Wicked, one of the most renowned Broadway shows of all time. And even if it “wasn’t really her thing”… she loved it. There’s something about getting dressed up, navigating the bustling streets of New York on a Friday evening, making your way through a glitzy auditorium and taking in some of the world’s best performers that could be appealing to just about anyone. Even you, men out there.

4) Take a guided tour of Central Park.

Our little carriage with Friends fountain visible in back.

Seeing Central Park was something I definitely didn’t want to miss out on. It is the true heart of New York City, geographically speaking, anyway. So as we made our way down to the famous place, we were content posting up under some trees, stretching out on a rock and watching New York pass by. The longer we sat, the more we loved it. A truly gorgeous setting that stretches on and on and on. It wasn’t long before we started planning a next-day visit to rent bikes and explore a little further. As we decided to walk on, we noticed the hundred of bike-tour operators lined up, just waiting for tourists like us. After a brief discussion and bartering the price a little lower ($20 / each) we decided to go for it and pay for the 30 minute tour. Thank goodness we did, because it was one of the highlights of our trip for both of us. Sure, it might seem silly to pay someone that amount to tour a park you could explore for free, but our guide had so much knowledge about our surroundings, we never could have known it all on our own. Pointing out Woody Allen’s penthouse, the fountain from Friends, the bridge from Home Alone, John Lennon’s memorial and the list goes on and on. We learned more about Central Park in our 30 minute tour than I probably could have learned in a full day on my own. Plus, our guide was a gem.

Bike tour of Central Park. This guy was the man.

5) If you want to shop, head end of season.

If you go to New York City and have no desire to shop, you have a problem. Seriously though, that’d be absurd. So it was a no brainer that a lengthy perusing of some of New York’s finest shops was penciled into our itinerary. What didn’t dawn on us, however, was how we picked the perfect time to do so. Going at the end of the summer season meant CLEARANCE signs were plastered all over the city. With fall merchandise to make room for, store owners were anxious to get rid of their summer stock, leaving prices slashed and our wallets overjoyed.

6) Download the APP ‘HopStop’

Trying our hardest not to get lost.

Even if you’re staying in the heart of Manhattan, it would be rare that you wouldn’t need to take at least one subway ride while in New York City. And besides, it’s your first trip, you need to. However, navigating the New York subway system can be like trying to find your way through the Amazon jungle, sans guide. Deadly species en route, included. You get into ONE deep conversation and you’re halfway across the city with no idea how to get back, and worse, NO cell phone reception. Downloading the APP HopStop on my iPhone was a lifesaver. Even after having a few (read: several) pre-bar drinks we were able to navigate ourselves to the Lower East Side from Brooklyn without a wrong turn.

7) Ask locals.

Our night at our fingertips.

Imagine you were sitting in a restaurant in a city you’ve lived in for a while and a stranger asked you what bar is bumping on a Thursday night. You’d instantly know, right? Well, that was our thinking. So naturally, at lunch on Saturday afternoon we approached a group of girls who looked like they’d be the type to party someplace where we wanted to go and asked them to give us the scoop on New York City nightlife. Not only did they have a few suggestions, but they wrote down a detailed and numbered list of where our night should start and end. And even though we made a few of our own adjustments as we made our way through the venues, our Saturday night in NYC is one I’ll never forget.

Living it up at one of NYC’s most exclusive clubs.

8) Prepare for subway sob stories at every stop.

My heart gets melted pretty easily. And I will admit, I gave $2 to a man on the subway who serenaded me with jazz and told me I was beautiful – to which the person sitting next to me leaned over and said “sucker”. But, one thing you’ll learn quickly (like, within-two-days-quickly) is that on almost every subway car there’s someone who’s going to stand up and give you a story about how they just lost their job, or their mother, or just got out of jail (seriously :|) and will ask for your cash. I’m not saying to not give generously out of the goodness of your heart, but just be prepared. They are relentless.

9) Map out restaurants beforehand.

Cute little Mexican place in the East Village. BIG portions, good home fries and BIG drinks. What more could you want at brunch?

When you’re hungry there’s no googling a place, phoning a friend or deliberating at all. You’re stopping at the next place you come across. Period. This is what happened to us after waiting till AFTER our Broadway show to eat (bad planning). With the number of absolutely unreal restaurants in New York, make a point of mapping them out beforehand so you don’t miss out on an out-of-this-world fine-dining opportunity.

10) It’s okay to be cheesy. Really, go for it.

Excuse us while we look over our shoulder casually in the middle of Times Square. :)

Whenever you’re visiting a city for the first time I feel like you have a free pass to be as cheesy as possible. You NEED a picture in the thick of Time Square, you HAVE to eat a hotdog from a vendor on the street, it’s OKAY to have a huge grin on your face when you’re hailing a cab. You are in NEW YORK. Sure on your second and third and fourth and fifth visits, you might want to play it a little more cool, walk the streets like you own them and pretend for just a while that you really are an undercover movie star in the big city. But on your first visit, forget it. Squeal like a little girl and rock an ‘I heart NY’ shirt like it’s nobody’s business.

In a nutshell, you only get to be a first-time visitor once.

Fall back into Resolutions

Well folks, it is officially September. While summer is still technically with us for two more weeks, I always find that once the September long weekend passes and school starts back up, the carefree summer attitude often fades quickly away. Instead of mourning the season, I for one, always look to September and Fall as a chance to make a fresh start. Besides, it seems silly to wait another four months just to make a resolution, doesn’t it?

Re-organize your Finances

Remember back at the start of the year when you were geared up to get your finances in check, stop throwing your cash away and start saving? Ya, me too. Wasn’t that a fun thought? Seriously though, if you’ve fallen off the wagon when it comes to moula, now is the time to get back on track. While it’s hard enough to accept that summer is fleeting, keep in mind that the holiday season is approaching. While it can be tempting to go “back-to-school shopping” even if you’ve graduated or indulge in a Spiced-Pumpkin Latte at Starbucks every day, don’t sink yourself now! Besides, how nice would it be to enter 2013 with a little nest egg?

Leave piggy in tact!

Re-organize your Closet

As we leave summer behind, we also leave behind the need for barely-there shirts, skirts and shorts. Take the time to go through your closet and bring forward those staple sweaters and jeans that have been taking a back burner during the blazing heat. Check to see what still fits, what’s still in fashion and take whatever is no longer up your alley to your local Value Village or Salvation Army. Then, once you’ve cleaned shop, take these tips from Kaylee to help you transition between the seasons with ease!

Get back to the Gym!

Summer can present us with a ton of opportunities to exercise outdoors. Summer can also present us with a ton of opportunities to laze around instead of working out. Since dieting and getting fit are the most common New Year’s Resolutions, why not get started now? If you’ve taken a bit of a gym-hiatus this summer, September offers the opportunity to get back into a regular routine. It’s never too early to start developing healthy habits. And just think, by the time January 1st rolls around you’ll be that much closer to your fitness goals!

Tackle a Bucket List

While summer presents countless opportunities to try new things, fall does that too! If you haven’t touched the bucket list you made in January, dust that bad boy off and start checking things off! Don’t count out the adventures that can still be had, just because the weather is a tad cooler. Throw on a jacket and some boots and find your latest adventure. Consult Catherine’s Fall-Bucket List here for some great ideas!

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Bachelorette Party

As the years fly by and we move into our mid-twenties, celebratory excuses turn from “I’m finally legal!” to “I bought my first condo” and “I’m engaged!”. While many of us have not reached these stages of adulthood, it’s always fun to join the ride and start planning parties for those who are. Somehow I’m lucky enough to have two groups of girlfriends, and the first gal to get hitched spent this past Labor Day weekend being surprised beyond belief for her special Bachelorette. As the first wedding in our group, we were newbies to the Staguette scene. And so, many lessons have been absorbed, the biggest of all…we may just need to drop our day jobs and go into party planning.

While surely every bride-to-be is different, I’m quite convinced that the following do’s and dont’s will make any girl happy, especially when surrounded by her very favourite women.

Balloons of all shapes …CHECK.

1. DO buy all the cliché decorations
If you intend on buying antique vases, silver cutlery and linen napkins for a lavish Bachelorette affair, please. STOP. The truth is, a Bachelorette is a raunchy celebration of single-hood, not a Pinterest party. Head to the dollar store, browse online and embrace your inner sexaholic.

2. DO find a venue
While a house party surely has it’s advantages, it’s fun to put everyone in a different setting for the special event. A hotel room offers the perfect venue for an intimate party, and allows for a girly sleepover at the end of the night. Best of all? Virtually no clean-up.

Blindfold …CHECK.

3. DO surprise the Bride-to-be
Keep the bride in the dark as much as possible. That way, she has no decisions to make, and not a care in the world. She’ll thrive on all the suspense surrounding her special night, and each activity will become that much more exciting. 

4. DON’T bring cash
Likely our smartest decision of all, we purchased a prepaid credit card for the bar hopping portion of the evening. Not only did it make things easy when the time came for dividing expenses, it also facilitated the bar tab situation. The last few dollars were spent on poutine at the crack of dawn. Perfect.

Fun & games …CHECK.

5. DO play games
What Bachelorette party is complete without a few games? Think about these ahead of time and bring all the materials you’ll need to execute easily. In our case, the maid of honour came up with a series of tricky questions. The bride would write down her answer, and two teams would do the same. If our answers matched the bride, she and the MOH would drink up, and if we were wrong, we did! Questions included: Who will be the first in this room to cry at the wedding? (answer was me) OR how long did it take the bride and groom to say “I love you”?

 6. DON’T skip the carbs
This is a general rule of thumb for any Saturday night…but some people just need that extra push to grab a bread roll and some pasta before indulging in another cocktail.

7. DO make a few phone calls
I’ll leave this one to your own discretion…but I will say that our hotel room was visited by a certain fireman, and he may have made us all feel slightly awkward, but it was hilarious and memorable, and definitely necessary for our first Bachelorette party!

8. DO make it a group effort
The MOH shouldn’t do all the work, and working as a team will allow for ultimate brainstorming and creativity. We designed and printed T-shirts, wrote poems, made a slideshow, coordinated a pot luck, booked the hotel, bought decorations, compiled a Bar To-Do list, purchased the alcohol and made playlists – all from different corners of North America. Surely not a job for one!

Honorable mention: DON’T post all the photos on Facebook.
What happens at the Bachelorette, stays at the Bachelorette (you would hope…)

Toronto Islands: City Escape

The view from the Toronto Islands ferry

One of the many things I love about this gigantic sprawl called Toronto is that on any given day you can end up very far from where you thought you’d be.

And I don’t mean that literally. In an always evolving metropolis full of endless options – a side street, friendly suggestion or long wander can lead you to a handful of hours that are delightfully unexpected and instrumental in furthering your love for the Big Smoke. I feel like this happens to me most weekends.

Yesterday afternoon was no different. After a week of wonderful birthday celebrations for both Meghan and Kaylee – which included champagne at Tuesday night softball, lovely gifts, a heartwarming surprise visit from the Ottawa nuts and many, many laughing fits – I decided Kaylee and I needed to top off the festivities with a new Sunday activity that took us away from downtown crowds. And so, after some brainstorming, Kaylee, myself and our two friends ventured over to Hanlan’s Point – a portion of the beautiful Toronto Islands – to have an extravagant champagne and cake-filled lunch and afternoon of beach lounging. This adorable outing was the definition of proof that you don’t have to venture far to feel like you’ve accomplished a total city getaway.

If you’ve yet to explore either Hanlan’s Point, Centre Island or Ward’s Island, the waterfront picnic parks that make up the Toronto Islands, you have to do so immediately. When one thinks about trekking to an island, you might think it calls for planning, hassle and hours of your time. Wrong. I was amazed at the ease and convenience of this beautiful jaunt across the pond, considering the bliss we were treated to upon arriving. We effortlessly strolled onto a harbourfront ferry (at Queen’s Quay between Yonge and Bay) after a five-minute wait, instantly found a picnic table in the acres of green grass and weeping willows, had a stretch of soft beach all to ourselves and readily hopped right back on a ferry at the end of our relaxing day. The entire endeavour was almost all too simple considering our only fare paid was for baguette, spreads, cake and champagne – and our only moments of waiting were between turning on to our backs and fronts as we sprawled on beach towels.

Whether as part of a group outing, date or a leisurely solo excursion (one of my personal favourite things) – anything that includes a refreshing boat ride and sandy beach perch is one of the most beautiful ways to spend an afternoon, in my mind.

PS Our dear friend Cass, who joined us yesterday, was able to (cutely) tick a Toronto Island visit off her city “bucket list.” Do you have a bucket list for your city? I think it’s a great idea and we’d love to hear yours – comment below!

Full bellies, happy girls

Beautiful birthday girl and cake!

My first non-vegan cake in 10 months! (Insert major stomach ache here)


Announcing the Winner of The Body Shop’s Cruelty-Free Make-Up Contest

We are pleased to announce that Sheralee Huot was drawn as the winner of our contest for $100 of  The Body Shop’s new cruelty-free make-up line! Congratulations! We’re so excited for you to fall in love with these gorgeous products! Please check your e-mail to arrange the delivery of your prize!

We’re Jealous! Enjoy!

We’d like to thank The Body Shop Canada for coming out with a beautiful range of cruelty-free products and sponsoring this contest. We’d also like to thank everyone who entered our contest by commenting on our posts and interacting with us on Facebook and Twitter! We hope that you enjoy our contests and we’re looking forward to bringing you more in the future. Besides, Movember is just around the corner…

Until next time nuts, thank you for your participation & continued support of inanutshell!

Time flies…

Today is August 9.

That means, we have 22 days left in the month, 44 days officially left in summer and just enough time to make the most of it.

For the first year of in a nutshell I created a bucket list for every change of season: like this, and this and this. But, for fear of becoming repetitive I decided to keep my summer wants, wishes and goals to myself this time around. Then came August first and the panic set in. For someone who’s lived in a city were six months of the year I feel like hibernating under a mound of blankets, only to emerge for a Baileys and hot chocolate, let me tell you, I make the most of this short period of unmatched warm weather.

For all of us nuts, we are currently in that young professional stage where it becomes a little too easy to take life a little too seriously. Excuses to put fun on the back burner and focus on other priorities are a plenty. We have jobs, relationships, goals, social engagements, life decisions to make – learning to be an adult while still not completely feeling like one.

But, for anyone who knows me, they know I party… a lot (let’s be honest, probably too much). But, I also work a lot. I read a lot. I exercise a lot. I DO a lot. It’s important to, that’s life. In my opinion you will never achieve happiness by only focusing on one thing. Balance, variety, with a pinch of spontaneity – these are the ingredients for what I consider to be the recipe for a good life.

So, if you haven’t yet gone out on a Thursday when you work on a Friday morning, just because your dancing shoes need some dusting – spent an evening looking up at the stars, patiently awaiting the suns arrival with someone special – packed a bag at a moments notice, grabbed some pals and hit the road – or just found the time to do something you REALLY wanted to do, then what are you waiting for?

I know our readers are not all situated out of the Nation’s Capital, but for those that are and those that are planning to visit, here’s a little inspiration for the home stretch of a well spent summer in the city:

1 – Movie in the park

He had me at hello.

You know that scene in The Wedding Planner (ok, I watched a J-Lo movie, sue me) when they’re sitting in a park watching a movie outside? I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do that (with Matthew Mcconaughey by my side, no less). So you could imagine my delight when I learned that not only does this happen in Ottawa, it happens DOWN THE STREET from where I live. Written in the stars to watch the stars under the stars? I think so.

Run by the Carleton School of Information Technology, (alumni, represent!), movies are shown every Friday and Saturday night in Dundonald Park 512 Somerset St. W between Bay and Lyon.

Talk about an adorable first date idea and who knows fellas, maybe you’ll get a wife with a great bum out of it. 

2 – Murray Street patio

Gracing Kate’s “Top 5 Restaurants in Ottawa” list, I have to say that Murray Street tops my own. An inventive and ever-changing menu, local produce and great drinks means I’ve never had a meal I didn’t like at this Byward Market location. While I’d take a dinner here any time of the year, it is an especially amazing dining experience in the summer thanks to one of my favourite patios in the city. You won’t find much sunlight, but nestled under twisting vines and rustic wood, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation somewhere far away from the city lights as soon as you cross the threshold.

Two babes enjoying some charcuterie on the Murray Street patio … on inanutshell’s anniversary, to boot!

3 – Wakefield Quarry

It’s not the first time we’ve mentioned Wakefield Quarry on inanutshell, and in fact, Wakefield in general could make this list. Cute restaurants, a bridge that everyone I talk to seems to be jumping off (safely), and only a short drive from downtown Ottawa. The quarry is one of my more favourite Wakefield features because for $5 you can pack a picnic, bring your own booze and lounge in turquoise-blue water, with a pretty incredible view. On “things I’d like to do on a summer afternoon” you can’t get much better than that.

4 – Yoga on the hill

I’ve recently become somewhat obsessed with Yoga. I’ve always liked the occasional class, but four days a week of Bikram hot yoga has me feeling amazing. With that said, one of the things topping my own personal summer bucket list is joining the hundreds that show up to do some poses right on the lawn of Parliament Hill. Lululemon Athletica offers free yoga sessions that last about an hour, starting at noon. Running from the beginning of June to the end of September (weather permitting) all you have to do is show up with your mat and get ready to stretch. A healthy alternative for your lunch hour? See ya there.

5 – I scream, you scream

Hot weather = ice cream. It’s science. And luckily, Ottawa has more than a few spots that can deliver when that particular kind of craving, or heatwave, hits. Of course, a Dairy Queen Blizzard can always do the trick – but some alternative and more unique suggestions can be found sprinkled throughout downtown and centretown Ottawa.

– Pure Gelato on Elgin (360 Elgin Street)

This gelato haven probably has the widest variety of flavours in Ottawa, almost too many for someone as indecisive as I. But, open year-round you can make your way through each one, just make sure to do # 4 listed above to compensate.

– Truffle Treasures on Bank (769 Bank Street)

If you can resist the temptation of the truffles lining the display cases in this Glebe location, you’ll find freshly made gelato available in cones or cups. Perfect for a stroll through one of the capital’s nicer neighbourhoods.

– Spoon Frozen Yogurt Lounge on Clarence (111 Clarence Street)

I cannot attest to this spot since it’s on my own list of places to visit before the end of the season, but I’ve only heard good things. 12 different kinds of self serve frozen yogurt and over 50 different toppings, I’d lie if I said I didn’t get pretty excited when I saw this brand new storefront pop up on one of the most happening streets in downtown. YUM.

And with that, I’ll leave you with a motto from one of my good pals, Joey Manley. Words to live by, my friends:

“Here’s to it to do it. If you can’t get to it to do it, then you may never get to do it again.”

CONTEST: Win $100 in Make-Up from The Body Shop! **CONTEST CLOSED**

Lily Cole: The new face behind The Body Shop’s Cruelty-Free Campaign.

UPDATE: The winner has been chosen! Thank you to all who entered!

This summer, go cruelty-free with Lily Cole and The Body Shop! inanutshell, in collaboration with The Body Shop are thrilled to offer you the chance to win an amazing gift basket valued at more than $100, filled with the new, limited edition make-up range: Cruelty Free Make-Up, launched in collaboration with Lily Cole.

Celebrating The Body Shop Against Animal Testing ethos, Cruelty Free Make-Up contains no animal products and hasn’t ever been tested on animals. With ultra-expressive colours, shimmering looks and super soft giant puffs for perfect application every time, being cruelty-free has never been so glamorous! For more information on the products, please visit: We nuts couldn’t be more excited for one of our lucky readers to try out these gorgeous products!

The Giveaway Package will include: Pearl Radiance Primer, Liquid Eyeliner, Puff on Radiance, Shimmer Cubes, 1 Lip & Cheek Dome & 2 Mini Hi-Shine Lip Glosses.

To enter our fabulous contest: leave a comment below with your name and e-mail address so that we can contact you!

Want to up your chances? Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter! For every Facebook post that you tag us in and for every tweet you send our way, an additional entry will be made in your name!

Contest entries will be accepted from Thursday August 2nd – Thursday August 9th. Good luck nuts!