CONTRIBUTED // find direction by figuring out how you feel

I just heard this great quote from Steve Jobs:

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

In my life, the dots have always made sense looking backwards. But trusting that where you are now, and that this is all happening for a reason that will make sense at some point in the future is a lot harder to get behind, particularly if you're at a crossroads and the path forward is no longer clear to you.

Here's the good news: even if you don't know how or where you are going in your life, there are some things that you can know, and that is how you want to feel in your life. And knowing how you want to feel can be a great starting point in giving your life direction.

TRAVEL // honolulu, hawaii

My second travel destination feature is one that has slowly become a place near and dear to my heart.

Honolulu, Hawaii is a tropical island like no other, with all the hustle and bustle of a growing city (and boy is this city growing!) but also has those secret hidden gems that are quiet, serene and breathtaking.

My guncles have been vacationing in Hawaii for around 30 years and a few decades ago they decided to make it their second home, buying up real estate and living there for 6 months of the year. They have developed quite a life over there, meeting some amazing people, hiking the island far and wide, and immersing themselves in the rich community that has welcomed them with open arms.

So you can imagine that I have been fortunate over the years to stay with them when I venture to this tropical island and most recently, we took our little peanut Grayson to visit them when he was just 3.5 months old.

FOOD // the only red pasta sauce you'll ever need to make.

Here's a little story about this magnificently, tasty, smooth, slightly spicy, addictive pasta sauce I once made.

But first, let me tell you that I wish I had made a giant VAT of it to freeze. There I said it, the sauce was that good!

Not to mention, the ingredients were SO SIMPLE and tasta....however, a bit laborious to make, not that I'm complaining.

I first stumbled upon Scott Conant's Spaghetti Al Pomodoro sauce on Cupcakes & Cashmere. The blogger (Emily Schuman) fell in love with this chef's sauce years ago, only to discover that he resurfaced at LA's new The Ponte restaurant. She was happy to discover that her fave Spaghetti Al Pomodoro made the menu and she was on a mission to get the secret recipe (note: they serve it on their brunch menu, not the dinner menu).

my favourite go-to cookbooks

I get a lot of questions about where I get my inspiration when I cook. In fact, I've had people say "hey, why don't you do a YouTube channel where you cook and share?" Hmmm....something to think about. As outgoing as I am, the introvert/shy side of me is scared and well, I just don't think its for me (and with the constant interruptions of baby getting into things he shouldn't that would be near impossible!)

It's no secret that I LOVE to cook. I sometimes will go on cooking binges (like the one this past Thanksgiving!) where I am making at least 2-3 homemade things a day....slightly obsessed but I'm not working now, so I have a bit of free time on my hands! I love the experimentation of cooking, the look on people's faces when they try one of my meals and the fact that I can test out recipes on people makes it that much more enjoyable. I remember cooking when I was single and living on my own, I was still testing out recipes, but then I would have leftovers for DAYS! Plus, sitting at the table with just my own self enjoying this meal was, well....lacklustre and sad. 

EATS // my canadian thanksgiving feast

I will admit, I've never been the biggest fan of Thanksgiving mostly because I really don't love turkey (there, you heard it here first!). It's way too filling, often too dry and just so bland. 

I loved more the social gathering and meaning of what Thanksgiving is about, which is really the important part, right? The food is just the icing on the cake and an excuse to get together, eat, drink and be merry.

But when I became an adult and bonafide cook (beep beep, toot toot), I felt like I could finally do it the way I wanted to cook this holiday meal. I love to cook and if this blog (or my Insta-stories) hasn't illustrated that to you then you need to take a closer look.

Also, I have finally gotten over the fear of not being so traditional in the foods that I cook. Who says you need to have turkey? Why not chicken? Or ham? Or if you're a vegetarian, some version of a tofurkey?

Alas, my Canadian Thanksgiving feast idea was born and it was delicious! I love to experiment in the kitchen and this year I was in full-on experimentation mode. The family was busy working and Nathan was knee deep in studying for his exam, so it was just us three. Quiet and small, which made me extremely happy.

Today, I share with you the full menu of what I cooked and if it offers you any sort of inspiration (or a copy cat) well then that would put a smile on my face. Most items are fairly easy, some are more adventurous but they are all DELICIOUS!

are you there dream job? it's me andrea.

There was a time in my life when I was certain about my career.

That ship has temporarily sunk and is in need of dire resuscitation (sorry for the melodrama, but stick with me here and I'll explain).

Last month, I parted ways with my employer (I was technically a "full-time" contractor). And let me clarify, they were good to me. They hired me when I was 4 months pregnant and allowed me to take the time off I needed after Grayson was born. And they were a US company, so I was very lucky to even have 4 months off as I navigated my way through motherhood.

EATS // no really, it's damn good lasagna

I'm always a bit of a skeptic when I see recipes titled "the BEST....." because I feel like everyone is a critic and people are so particular about the food they eat and what their expectations.

BUT, I was on a mission to make a damn good, but simple and classic, lasagna. I follow A LOT of food blogs and I have far too many cookbooks, so you would think I have a ton of lasagna recipes at my disposal. Well, a little column A, a little of column B.

When I googled and stumbled upon The Pioneer Woman's "The best lasagna. EVER." recipe, I was intrigued. After checking out the ingredients, I spotted the one ingredient I thought pushed it over the edge: hot breakfast sausage. 

I had made a few other recipes from her blog and I was never disappointed. Its comfort food at best, because she does live on a cattle ranch in the middle of America, with her 4 kids and cowboy husband. But simple it was and it was exactly what I was looking for.

TRAVEL // new york, new york

It's no secret that I LOVE New York City. I've probably bored my friends for years with my constant whining about how I just need to live there. ASAP.

I don't know what it is, but this city melts my heart when I see it in movies. When I travel there, I just never want to leave. My obsession with NY started when I was a young, impressionable 7 year old because I fell for all the movies in the 1980's where the power suits and corner offices were a bucket list item of mine. Working Girl, Baby Boom, When Harry Met Sally, Wall Street, and Annie Hall. I was obsessed with these movies (ok, I still am). My father would go to NYC on business trips in the 80's, stay at the Plaza Hotel, get shuttled to and from meetings in a limo, schmooze over oysters at the famous Grand Central Oyster Bar, but always found time to get my brother and I gifts at FAO Schwartz (RIP sweet toy store). 

This city is my home.

But it's not.

title means nothing. impact is everything.

The idea for this post was literally a lightbulb moment. It also came from years of business experience working with some of the best of the best and the worst of the worst.

There I said it.

Yes, its true. Not all of the people I've worked for and/or reported to in the past have been great humans. At least not in business. AND they have the balls to call themselves leaders!

So many people get hung up on the title of their role. They assume that it means more power, a bigger salary, the opportunity to boss more people around, manage a bigger team, earn more accolades. You name it, "title" holds a lot of clout for some people.

Well, I'm here to say its BS and simply not true. Business Lesson #1: Don't get hung up on your title.

there's a little bit of nora ephron in us all.

"Writers are just cannibals. They just are and if you're friends with them and if you say anything funny at dinner or if anything good happens to you, you are in big trouble." - Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron knew how to write comedy (believe it or not, this is not easy). She was relatable, funny, witty, called herself and expert in relationships and she wrote in a way that was very abrupt, metaphorical and utterly hilarious.

I recently watched the documentary, Everything is Copy: Scripted and Unscripted, the story of the famous, bold & very honest screenwriter, Nora Ephron. Some of you may not even know who she is, but if I gave you a breakdown of her movies, she wouldn't be a mystery anymore.

FOOD // flatbreads and fizzy cocktails

I've thought a lot about what I really want to do with my blog. It's one of those things that I would LOVE to focus 100% of my time on, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills (or pay anything at all to be honest with you). It's something I started mostly to just openly share personal stories about my life along with sharing passions that make me tick. 

I recently featured Jill Hatch of Sugarcane Hawaii for Issue No. 12 of my series In Good Company. She sparked an idea in me and basically is the reason for this post.

FOOD and COOKING is an integral part of both our lives and I've blogged about it a lot on this very platform, sharing some personal faves as well as personal flops in the kitchen. You can find all my recipe posts here in case you're interested (and yes, I hope to post more).

So, lets get to the point here. I'm venturing out a bit more to look for contributing content here and there when I feel the spark but mostly on the topics that inspire me as well as those which are a part of my every day. 

in good company // issue no. 12 // jill hatch

Jill and I met serendipitously about 7 years ago. I was visiting my guncles in Hawaii, and they invited me out one evening to their friend Jill and Rogers house for a wine/cheese party. 

(You had me at wine and cheese. That's all I need to hear in order to go anywhere and look half presentable).

My uncle knows me well because the first thing he said to me is "you have to meet Jill and Roger. You guys have so much in common and will get along like a house on fire." He was right. It's like she was my sister reincarnate or something like that. We had similar styles, tastes in decor, clothing and food. All I needed to do now was find a way to move to Hawaii and get an adorable house exactly like her's:)

in good company // issue no. 11 // jillian harris

Who: Jillian Harris, Founder and Creative Director,
What: new mamma, tv personality, (former) bachelorette, busy bee, interior designer
Where: Kelowna, BC
Follow: @jillian.harris

So here goes: Believe it or not, Jillian Harris and I have about 6 degrees of separation to the nth degree. And by that, I mean our lives have not only crossed paths many-a-times, but it turns out we basically know a lot of the same people.

Kevin Bacon, eat your heart out.

a love letter to my cookies

My sweet, sweet Cookies,

My how we've come a long way. I still think back to the early days of debt-ridden anxiety, out-of-control-spending, lack of savings accounts and so much more. We were the poster children for what NOT to do when it came to managing finances.

Fast forward to June 2017 and we found ourselves in Scottsdale, AZ celebrating 10 years since the Smart Cookies were born. I am so glad we made this reunion happen (thanks Handy!). The best part of it? We're already planning on making this an annual reunion, because who doesn't love some solid girl time in 105 degree heat, whilst sipping margaritas in the pool?