Instagram Made Me Do It… Peeps Who Fake It Till They Make It

20th April 2017

Instagram Life

I recently eavesdropped on the most fascinating conversation! A group of four millennials (3 ladies + 1 gent) at the table next to me spilled out all the #NoGutsNoGlory of their social life.

Now I’m not referring to the latest hipster joint they hang out at or the usual Tinder gossip but I’m talking about their life on social media.

Even though I had my laptop out pretending to work, I clearly was wayyyy too entertained for someone looking at Google Analytics. So I gave in and chimed into the conversation, eventually letting them know I was a blogger and shyly asked if it was ok to turn their conversation into a juicy blog post haha.

They got really excited to confess the downright sleazy extremes they and their friends go through all for the sake of Insta!

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at some of these…

  • I walk into fancy restaurants and hotels that I can’t afford but no one has to know as long as I can ‘check-in’ and snap photos, then I walk right back out. (She shows me her recent photos. Beautiful interior shots of the lobby lounge at Shangri-La Hotel and a selfie at d|bar.)
  • I’m a beauty influencer from Vancouver and have 21k followers. Of which 40% I bought but cosmetic brands still send freebies and hire me to create makeup tutorial videos.
  • Every Monday I plan out a whole schedule of what I’m going to eat and where because I’m a foodie and my job is to make people drool. I rarely eat out anywhere that is not #foodporn worthy!


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Prenatal Depression Is A Real Thing

19th April 2017

Prenatal Depression

I met Sharon at a birthday party. The host had thoughtfully seated us together because we were the only moms at the table. She was cheerful and funny and we clicked right away — sharing ‘mom drama’ of course.

We both boasted about our amazing pregnancies but that is where our stories take a turn… I bonded immediately with CJ and my pregnancy high kept me smiling through all the poopy diapers and 3am feedings. Meanwhile, Sharon experienced prenatal depression. A term I never even heard of. Here’s this tough momma’s life changing journey…

W: How did you envision life to be as a new mom?

S: The happiest time of my life. My first pregnancy was so easy, I was actually walking on clouds with a rosy glow. My son, J came out in 40 minutes! I didn’t even know I was in labour until the student-doctor insisted that he saw a tiny head pop out and I had to push pronto!

Growing up, it was never a question of whether I wanted to be a mother. It was a matter of when. Before my son, I never even held a baby! I was raised in a traditional Chinese home. Often there was no rhyme or reason but you just do things… graduating university and getting a job is expected. There is no such thing in Asian culture as taking a gap year to travel or figure stuff out. I got married at 26 and in two months, I was pregnant.

There wasn’t much talk about the challenges of being a mom and definitely topics around mental health were ‘swept under the rug’. So I thought everything would fall into place and I’ll just naturally morph into a super mom right after my delivery.

W: Sounds like you had this pretty picture painted in your head about motherhood but what was it really like?

Life with my first son was actually quite easy. I had time to recover and relax because there were so many extra hands and eager grandparents helping out. When I had my second son, I experienced bouts of ‘baby blues’. I mainly brushed it away thinking it was probably due to stress from the demands of my job. I chalked it up to be one of those cliche phases in life that would pass.

My husband and I flip flopped on having a third. Being an only child, I always dreamed of a big family. Three felt complete. I had an extremely tough pregnancy with C. Every nasty symptom listed in those pregnancy books, I got!

At my first trimester doctor’s appointment, I simply fell apart. She recommended I see a psychiatrist and that’s when I found out I had prenatal depression. I knew about postpartum depression but never even thought you could feel this way before the baby was born.

I cried daily for 4-5 hrs. My husband stood on the sidelines feeling helpless. My boys had no clue because I would put on a mask when they were around. It’s true when they say that depressed people make the best actors. I was clouded with the darkest thoughts. Even prayed for a miscarriage. This may sound ridiculous now but back then, seeing squirrels playing outside made me jealous and cry — because they had the freedom to prance around and enjoy life.


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How To Make Fermented Smoothie Bowls

7th April 2017

We recently attended Genuine Health’s #LoveHowYouFeel workshop hosted by yummy mummy nutritionist, Joy McCarthy. We learned all about how to keep our guts happy + healthy and made these smoothie bowls. Here are 2 recipes, one for a green bowl and one for berry lovers. Mmmm… like eating a rainbow!


Coconut Crunch Green Bowl Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 apple
  • 1⁄2 avocado
  • handful of spinach
  • thumb size piece of ginger
  • 1 scoop fermented vegan proteins+ coconut flavour
  • 1 scoop vegan greens+ o natural
  • add almond or soy milk to desired consistency


This bowl was Criselda’s delicious creation. She is the Editor’s Assistant of House & Home.

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#GirlBoss: Michelle Laratta of Big Ass Piñata

5th April 2017

Michelle Laratta

It’s not a party till you break something right?! And that is exactly what my elementary school friend, Michelle has built her business around. Creating over the top, fabulous hand-crafted Big Ass Piñata! This single #MomBoss thrives on zumba, gets her inspo from Insta, fancies wine and crepe paper, and definitely knows how to take any party to the next level…

What’s a day in the life of Michelle Laratta like?

Get woken up by my 5 year old boss at 6:15am already in mid-story about something transformers-y or in mid-debate about why he’s not allowed to watch Alien vs. Predator… Convince child that he has to eat food, go to school, and stay away from girls till he finds one big enough to kick my ass… every… day… Bring child against will to school and put on a comedy show for the 6 or 7 early kindergarteners there. Get enough laughs to earn my right to leave them there while I venture off to “work”. Tough crowd. They seem really concerned about what I do and how I live my life…

Teach Zumba. Whaaat?!?!

Yes. Hit the gym and crash a zumba class, shaking up the pace as a guest instructor who gets to push the class to the edge with hard hitting soca music, high energy and laughs. It is random and fun and keeps me alive.

Return home to shower and cut tons of cardboard, then mould, scrunch and hot glue shapes into skeleton like structures for the piñatas of the day. I just finished 3 huge watermelons for an ad campaign, a 42 inch NFL football player and am starting on a CN tower. Build, cut, build more, burn myself with hot glue gun… every… day…

Big Ass Pinata

Disappear for a few hours for adventures with bae while picking up supplies like broom sticks, felt, foam, crepe paper and soooooo much glue.

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Hawaii North Shore: Poke, Shave Ice and Food Trucks

4th April 2017

Hawaii Lady


Aloha from our beautiful beachfront home-away-from-home in Oahu’s North Shore! Pristine blue ocean, waves crashing, fine stretches of sand bending around the curves of the island… yup it’s everything you can expect to see on a Hawaii postcard and more! 

Witnessing such beauty on an empty stomach can be quite challenging so upon arrival, our family immediately stocked up on a steady supply of Poke or raw seafood salad marinated with soy sauce, sesame oil and seaweed green onions. You can get a delicious Ahi Hawaiian style Poke pre-made with Ahi Shoyu and creamy scallop wasabi from Tamura’s Market for $7 USD each.


Now navigating the island of Oahu with a family of seven means transportation needs to be thoroughly planned in advance. A minivan from Enterprise was our best option and ran up a tab of about $250 USD for a week.

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Chicken Wings in 13 mins with the Philips Airfryer

30th March 2017

Pay Chen


I love fried food. Chicken fingers, French fries, chips, chicken wings – if it’s GBD (golden brown delicious) then I probably love it. Unfortunately for me, due to some stomach issues I had to completely cut all fried foods out of my diet. Fortunately for me, Philips has me covered!

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend an event for the NEW Philips Airfryer where I watched food writer and TV personality Pay Chen do a cooking demonstration. As a thank you for attending, Philips sent me my very own Airfryer and let me tell you – I am in love! The Airfryer uses what they call Turbostar technology to circulate hot air around the food, giving the effect of being fried without all the oil and grease.


For my first test drive with the Airfryer, I wanted to recreate the Roasted Asian Chicken Wings that Pay made. A cookbook was included with the machine and the wings recipe turned out to be super easy to follow. Just mix garlic with some cumin and ginger, season the wings, and pop them in the basket. Thirteen minutes later and boom! You have juicy, crispy chicken wings that are perfectly GBD – without any extra oil!

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12 Ways To Make Money When Traveling

22nd March 2017

Montego Bay

I’m part of an active Worldschooler’s Group on Facebook. Every Monday, members toss around money making ideas. And since I’ve done my share of extensive traveling (anywhere from 2-8 months at a time), I’m always getting asked “how I fund my jetset lifestyle”… so take note, here are a dozen ways to (remotely) earn your way to that beach hut or scuba excursion.

Monetize your blog

I’ve been blogging for 7 years! I never thought I would get paid to eat food, do spa reviews and go on press trips but it’s true that you can generate a healthy side income from sponsored content. Build out your blog with ‘valuable and authentic stories’ then reach out to your favourite lifestyle brands and pitch them ideas on how you can help promote their products or services. You can also join Collective Bias and The Blogger Programme that connects bloggers to paid marketing campaigns.

Love social media? Be an influencer!

With Instagram and Snap, it’s easier than ever to get paid for sharing your travel moments. Grow your community, engage, follow your favourite travel brands and connect with relevant sponsors to form partnerships or join influencing marketing platforms like Influenz or TapInfluence.


Know your stuff? Educators can now earn money using the Clark app. It handles every aspect of a tutor’s business, from drumming up students, to managing scheduling and payments, to making it simple to communicate with parents. VIPKID is another platform (based in China) that connects English-speaking educators with Chinese students.

Get one, two or ten freelance jobs

Fiverr has created an efficient freelance marketplace where you can hire or sell your services to anyone in the world. From writing gigs to web design projects, editing videos, making arts & crafts, giving advice, even online guitar lessons and everything else in between (there are over 100 categories)! You determine your rate and get to keep 80% of the transaction. Here’s a list of popular sites for freelance worker.


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#MondayMotivation: Be True To Yourself

20th March 2017

Who You Are

It’s March Break so I’m going to be unplugging for the next little while to spend time with my family. But I’ll still be snapping pics on Instagram! We are meeting up in Banff & Jasper for a ski vacation and then spending a few days in Edmonton. Before I board my flight, I’m going to leave you with something important to think about…

Try not to get caught up in filters, #fomo, competition or other people’s expectations of how you should live. Seriously when was the last time you were true to yourself?!

For me it was when I did a friends detox at the beginning of the year. I still travel to (and love) the US even after close friend’s have tried convincing me to go elsewhere until Trump is out. I don’t have a selfie wearing a pussy hat while marching in a feminist parade (I didn’t even go and I actually don’t like that word “feminist” altogether) but that doesn’t make me less supportive of equal gender rights. I don’t get embarrassed anymore when I’m seen with a Dollarama bag ha! And while it looked like I had it all together, I admit I had mega issues with the work-life balance thing so I left my job and now I’m a SAHM that does consulting on the side. Oh and I stopped using filters all together so what you see on my social feed is what you get… skinny fat and all (but I’m working on it)! 🙂



Cycling Through San Francisco

13th March 2017

Cycling in Golden Gate Park


My travel goal is to cultivate an abundance mindset.  Not rushing to seek out many places in a day but rather explore a few parts of the city — at a relaxed pace on my bicycle, believing that to see everything is to miss everything.

So hello California! I’m grateful to spend 9 days with you before bouncing off to Hawaii with my family.

During my stay I made 2 cycling trips into San Francisco from the East Bay. 

  1. Taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from downtown Oakland into Mission District to explore the neighbourhood’s vibrancy. ($3.70 USD one way per adult.)
  2. Embarking on the Jack London Ferry from Oakland into the San Francisco Ferry Terminal Building and riding towards the engineering marvel that is the Golden Gate Bridge. (Fares range from $5 to $6.60 USD one way per adult.)

Clarion Alley

Here is a recap of my journey and the beauty that I captured through my lens.

Using the Clipper Card (think Toronto PRESTO) to board the BART subway, I ended up with my trusty bike on the 16th Street Mission Station during the early morning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day — a statutory holiday in the U.S — and was free to roam the empty streets of the Mission District (similar to Kensington Market with its rich history of South & Central American diaspora). 

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11 Spring Events Worth Coming Out Of Hibernation For

8th March 2017

Spring 2017 Events Toronto

Hey Toronto, hibernation is over! Get outside and let’s play…

March 18 – Harry Potter Yoga ummm yes this is a real thing!

March 22 – Wakeup, workout + dance party at Daybreaker TO Spring Equinox.

March 29 to April 2 – Support artisans and the handmade revolution at the One of a Kind Show. Win a pair of tix here.

March 27 (and ongoing last Fridays of every month) – LegoLand Discovery Centre is not just for kids, but they have an Adults Night for the young at heart.

March 30 to April 2 – Toronto Yoga Conference will host 100,000 downward dogs, de-stressing workshops and mindful community building. Namaste!


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