First Anniversary - JanessaMann.Com

Our First Wedding Anniversary

First Anniversary - JanessaMann.Com
We took the ferry across to Toronto Island

Nic and I got married June 20, 2015 in Ottawa, where we grew up. For our first anniversary, we decided we would go to Toronto Island for a beach day, and then have a delicious dinner out. Our original plans were much more grandiose-weekend hiking trip in Algonquin or on the Bruce Peninsula, bed & breakfast and a show in Stratford… But we realized that with a grad student and and under-employed-future-grad-student income, it made more sense to stick close to home.

First Anniversary - JanessaMann.Com
Always use a protective pouch if using electronics at the beach!

Neither of us had been to the Islands before, so this was a lot of fun. We packed up all our essentials, and spent a really hot, relaxing day in the sun. Yes, I got a terrible burn despite repeat applications of sunscreen.

First Anniversary - JanessaMann.Com
I love building sandcastles

Since Nic had strained his shoulder, we knew we wouldn’t be able to play any sports at the beach. We decided to pick up a bucket and some shovels to make a sandcastle-it was a lot of fun. People kept passing by it and saying how awesome it was, probably thinking it was made by children, not two twenty-five-year-olds. We had some good laughs.

We walked from Ward’s Island to Centre Island, which was much busier, and got some fresh pineapple juice.

First Anniversary - JanessaMann.Com
Nic bought me peonies, my favourite flowers
First Anniversary - JanessaMann.Com
Our friend Winston recommended Byblos, and it was delicious

Byblos is a Mediterranean restaurant in the Entertainment District, and they’re phenomenal. We each got a fancy cocktail (my cucumber, mint + vodka was perfect) and then shared some plates.

First Anniversary - JanessaMann.Com

Our last dish arrived after I took this picture, and we had eaten too much of the food for me to take another one. Oops! We had the best, spiciest olives, cauliflower, fried chicken, and pide.

First Anniversary - JanessaMann.Com

The waitress brought us some Turkish ice cream because she knew it was our anniversary-so sweet! The booth we sat in was also super romantic. I’m so glad we went there.

Our first year of marriage has been so wonderful. First and foremost, obviously it’s been awesome living with Nic-we don’t have to be long-distance anymore, or be worried we’ll miss the last bus home because we’re having a great conversation, and there’s always our favourite person to hang out with when we get home. Second, it’s been really cool to see our relationship evolve-we’ve seen each other through tough times, dashed hopes, and joys, and have learned how to be humble about our mistakes. Third, we’ve gotten to explore places together-not just our temporary city of Toronto, but our honeymoon in Nova Scotia, bringing Nic to Manitoba for my Grandpa’s funeral, and our dream trips (B.C., New Zealand and Australia…). I’m so happy we found each other, and I can’t wait for every single anniversary after this one.

First Anniversary - JanessaMann.Com

Sunglasses: thrifted
Top: Forever 21
Skirt: Suzy Shier
Heels: JustFab

First Anniversary - JanessaMann.Com

After dinner we walked (I limped, I haven’t worn heels in months, and those four-inch babies were killing me) to the waterfront, shared a drink at the Amsterdam Brewery, and watched the sunset on the first day of summer.

Wedding Wednesdays: What You Should and Shouldn’t Register For

What To Register For: What You Do and Don't Need - JanessaMann.Com

For 9 months leading up to my wedding, I worked full-time as the main customer service person at the nearest Bed Bath & Beyond to me. No, it wasn’t a great job, related to my field, or particularly fulfilling, but I did learn a lot about how to set up your home.

People will tell you tons of things about what you need, pressure you into certain brands or gifts you’ll never use, and make you get ridiculously priced items. Depending what you ask for, you won’t get much of it. Registries are a pretty conventional wedding thing, so some people are trying to step away from it. However, it’s really helpful for guests to know where to go for things you will actually use-it saves headaches, and is less up-front than “please give us cash.”

Here is a standard checklist from, which as some great references, but there are some pitfalls.


1) Items you already have

If you’ve been living on your own or together for a while, you probably already have lots of these things. You have two routes: request replacements/upgrades of your current stuff, or stick with what you have and save gift requests for things you wouldn’t/couldn’t buy on your own.

For instance, my brother and sister-in-law had a terrible toaster that burned the toast all the time since it was like 20 years old. They registered for a new one. However, their microwave was fine. Why bother asking for another one?

2) Things you don’t want

Sometimes your parents, in-laws, or someone else will try to pressure you into requesting gifts that you don’t foresee yourself using. Stay strong. If it’s a gift they really want to give you, compromise is fine. If it’s something they think you need, but wont’ get you, why do they want you to get it? It’s just a waste of someone else’s money.

Nic and I did our registry at my store, and the whole time my managers were pressuring me into registering for china. They figured I would regret not asking for it, and that the IKEA set we wanted would not cut it. To get them off our back, we put it on the registry. Later that night I logged in and deleted it all. I have half of the Royal Dalton Old Country Rose set, and Nic doesn’t like it. Why would I bother getting more or another set? My plan for the long run is to mix in nicer pieces with the IKEA ones, which fits our current lifestyle.


3) Things you don’t need

I will admit that a KitchenAid standmixer was the first thing on my list, and I was super pumped when I found out that my Dad’s family bought ours for us! No, they’re not necessary. Have I loved it completely? Yup. But you don’t need one.

If you’ve never  made juice in a Magic Bullet, you don’t need a juicer. Neither of you bake? You don’t need very much baking stuff.

As greedy as it sounds, the registry should be things that you really want. Don’t fill up a registry of things people are buying for you with things you don’t actually want. Some guests might remember what they got you, and when they visit, will be happy to see you’re using the item on a regular basis.


4) Consider different routes

Nic and I needed towels, sheets, some cooking stuff, so we registered at Bed Bath & Beyond. However, we also registered on and

Honeymoon registries are super cool: if you’re planning a honeymoon, you can get some of your activities paid for! Our camping in Cape Breton was covered, we got money for dinners and ice cream breaks, and whale watching. Writing those thank you cards were so much fun, because we had such a great time doing it all. Honeymoon registries are even more helpful for couples who already have all their home stuff, and don’t want to just get cash.

We used MyRegistry because we wanted a universal registry where we could put our camping supplies from MEC, various items from IKEA, and our Nikon DSLR fund. If you don’t have a specific store you want many things from, this is super helpful, and makes sure gifts aren’t doubled. Are you super into rock-climbing and want some more gear for the two of you? That’s your time, and guests love to give gifts they know you’ll really enjoy. Like to go to art galleries? Request year memberships to places on your universal registry. The sky is the limit.

5) Gift budgets

If you only have gifts above $100, you’d better hope all your guests are rich. For the rest of us normal people, you need to have a variety of budgets so that no one is uncomfortable.

Once I knew some ladies from my church were throwing me a bridal shower, I added some cheaper baking supplies that were $5-20 so people could choose whatever they were comfortable spending. For most of my friends, we all spent an average of $50 per person, so we had a bunch of gifts that were around that range. Relatives who could spend more chose the pricier items (standmixer, towel sets, sheet sets).

Don’t be like many of my friends who requested super expensive dishes, got maybe 2 dinner plates, one soup bowl, and no cutlery. If you request only expensive things, your guests won’t be able to buy them for you unless they all go in together. And you’ll be stuck eating on your old dishes. Giving wedding gifts should be a fun process for the guests-it’s always exciting (for me at least) to look at what they’re asking for, and see if I can top up the gift with something special (gift receipt included, of course).



It comes down to being considerate of your guests’ budgets, what will help you and your partner set up your home together, and what the two of you find important in your lives. Make sure to write in a spreadsheet what gifts you got from whom so you can write a thank you card or email-one of the wedding traditions that I hold firm to!

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas - TheCraftyMann.Blogspot.Ca
Valentine’s Day is on Sunday. And I love Valentine’s Day. In high school, I was told that was because I always had valentines. That wasn’t true, I dated one guy at that time until my husband, and it was grade 9 so really, those relationships mean nothing. I think I’ve always loved Valentine’s day because I love to give things to people: cards, gifts, chocolates, and I love to get that in return. I’ve compiled a list of things that I would love on Valentine’s day. 
Check out my post about some valentines I made this year. 
Valentine's Day Gift Ideas - TheCraftyMann.Blogspot.Ca

A colouring book and something to colour it with.

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas - TheCraftyMann.Blogspot.Ca

Serving dishes: I made this cheeseboard for myself last October, and one for my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding. I was gifted those cheese knives, which say “to have” and “to hold”, at my bridal shower.

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas - TheCraftyMann.Blogspot.Ca

Another thing I handmade- this pillow which I gave to Nic for our wedding.

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas - TheCraftyMann.Blogspot.Ca
Sugar cookie recipe from my mother-in-law

A recipe compilation! Even just writing out one of your favourite recipes for someone is very sweet! Go above and beyond? Make them one of those pre-mixed jars of cookie ingredients or soup.

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas - TheCraftyMann.Blogspot.Ca
Find something random at the dollar store. I was tempted to buy this Love Card Game, which asks you how well you know the people you love. 
Valentine's Day Gift Ideas - TheCraftyMann.Blogspot.Ca

Instead of a cutting of flowers (which I love receiving), you can gift a live plant. This year, Nic and I decided to buy each other a plant for Valentine’s day. I chose this new cactus, and he’s still hunting for the perfect succulent.

What are you giving your loved ones this year?

DIY Matcha Green Tea Lattes

DIY Matcha Green Tea Lattes -
For Christmas I asked for matcha green tea. I’ve always wanted to get some, but it’s more expensive than usual tea, so it wasn’t in the budget. Nic’s parents bought me Grand Cru Matcha from DavidsTea, They also got me a bamboo spoon, whisk, and a bowl from Teavana to prepare it in. 
DIY Matcha Green Tea Lattes -
Grand Cru Matcha, bamboo scoop, whisk, and bowl

In my year before university, I worked full-time at Starbucks. I got very frustrated cleaning the container for the matcha powder, so I decided I needed to test out my nemesis (it poofs powder everywhere if you’re not careful). It turned out to be delicious!

Matcha is essentially the espresso of green tea: it’s super highly concentrated, so with just hot water it can be pretty overwhelming if you’re not a plain green tea drinker. Some people sweeten it with agave or honey, but I like it the way it is.

There are lots of health benefits to matcha, so check them out!

DIY Matcha Green Tea Lattes -

To make the green tea latte, start with a couple scoops of matcha, and mix it with a tablespoon or so of hot water.

DIY Matcha Green Tea Lattes -

Whisk the matcha and hot water well, to remove any chunks, and get that beaaaautiful froth going. You can use a regular whisk, of course, but since I got this adorable bamboo one, I had to use it.

DIY Matcha Green Tea Lattes -

I heat up the amount of milk that I want on the stove or in the microwave, and gently pour it into the frothed tea.

DIY Matcha Green Tea Lattes -

Obviously you can pour it into a real mug and drink it from there, but I love how beautiful this bowl is, so I just drink it straight from there.
Let me know if you’ve tried them before or make them at home!

Gift ideas for book-lovers!

I’m not doing a gift guide like lots of bloggers and YouTubers do, since I can’t really afford to buy random gifts to show, and I don’t want to show what I’m giving my family. I decided instead to do a virtual gift idea list for book lovers. 
You can buy them popular books, but make sure to give them a gift receipt and check their Goodreads account (if they have one) to see if they’ve read it. Instead, buy them a gift card from their favourite bookstore (bonus if it’s a local store, like Words Worth Books in Waterloo). 

Book lovers who also love baths:
Bath pillow or a bath caddy (some caddies have holders for your e-books now, which is super cool).

Those who brunch:
Breakfast tray for when you’re reading in bed. It’s also super handy for getting your laptop to be at the right angle when you’re Netflix-and-Chill-ing.

Those who cook:
A cookbook holder. I got mine for $5 at Winners or Home Sense. I bought it while doing my thesis and would use it to stand up the books I was taking research notes from.

Those who read lots of books:
An e-reader. Yes, I said it. I love my KOBO Aura to death because it allows me to check out 30 books from the Ottawa and Toronto libraries without leaving my home, and I don’t have to carry a ton of them at once. Obviously this gift is a lot more expensive than the rest of them on the list.
If you are shopping for someone who already has an e-reader, find out if they have a cover for it. My cover is hard and has an elastic band to close it, which I use to hold on so it doesn’t fall and break.
You can also get Amazon gift cards so they can buy e-books.

Those who love art:
I love my art coffee table books, but I also loved hopping on the colouring book train. I do love to colour. You can buy colouring books pretty much anywhere now. My current book is “Creatures Great and Small” by Lucy Engelman.

Those English Students:
For the snobby readers, find vintage copies of Classics. You can find hidden gems at thrift stores, and that’s how most of my Classics collection has gone.

Those who decorate:
Book ends! In fourth year I asked my parents to make me a golden dinosaur bookend set to match the golden dinosaur lamp I made. They are very easy to make: cut dinosaur in half and glue to blocks of wood.

Dignify Blanket – Kantha Throw

As a wedding present, Nic’s cousin Rachel bought us a gift certificate for a kantha throw from Dignify. It took us a long time to decide on which beautiful blanket we wanted, but we finally ordered one. 
Here is some information about the company:
We sell premium quality, ethically made, fair trade kantha quilts. Call them whatever you want – kantha blankets, sari throws, “Indian blankets”, vintage sari kantha – all you need to know is:
  • They are hand-stitched in Bangladesh from six layers of reclaimed sari cloth.
  • The women who make them were previously living on the street, or working in sex work (often these go hand in hand), or in a vulnerable situation at risk of such.
(Check out the rest of their “About us” page)
Our cousin Rachel got us a gift certificate which covered the price of a throw and shipping. I kept on looking up different designs (they’re all so special!) and we finally settled on the beautiful blue one. 

I would definitely suggest checking out their site for lots of great gift ideas, like the one I screenshotted below.

Their Whiteout Ethical Gift Box includes a white kantha throw, a coffee mug, and ethically roasted fair trade coffee. They’re also selling adorable stockings for Christmas, as well as jewellery, and table runners.