Tag: Cayman Cookout

2015 Swellness: My year in review


This was not an easy year.

And I’ve been putting off writing this post as I wasn’t sure what to write. But I see from friends on social media today, also reflecting on the year, that it’s been a tough one for many of us, and I suppose there’s some comfort in that, knowing that we’re not alone in our struggles and knowing that we are all looking forward to a fresh start in the year ahead.

As I mulled over this past year for a few weeks, as much as things were rough, and as stubborn as I can be, I have to admit that there were bright, happy moments and lessons I’ve learned. Indulge me if you will as I reflect on them (and take a moment to remember your top highlights of the past year as well, if you haven’t already — it helps, I swear!).

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Travel is a huge part of my life and this year, although every trip always gives me something new to enjoy, having the opportunity to travel to Chile was beyond incredible. Without me even realizing it was a dream of mine, it was a dream come true. Standing there in the stillness as the sun set and taking in the fresh air and feeling so fortunate to be alive and there seeing such beauty is something I think of often and it’s a moment I hope I can keep fresh in my memory always. Add in skiing in the Andes Mountains, glamping beneath the stars and laughs with new friends (love you guys!), well, this Chilean adventure is one for the record books.


Truth be told, there’ve been many terrific trips. I also had the chance to travel for work with one of my closest friends to Southern California, where I fell in love with the beaches and lifestyle, and tried surfing for the first time. I plan to go back for more surfing as soon as I can. I visited Squamish twice and became equally obsessed with the hiking and views there (I also did a via ferrata climb for the first time). Early in the year, I went to the Cayman Islands for the first time and not only got to swim in the gorgeous blue water of all three islands, I also attended Cayman Cookout where  I got to eat food from and meet Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson, Jose Andres and so many more top chefs that those days are a bit hazy because my head was spinning — it was almost too much for this food lover to handle. Palm Springs, Calgary, Cayman Islands (for a second time), Los Cabos, Las Vegas, St. Martin, Banff, Montreal, Portland, my passport got well stamped this year.

And, for once, I took a vacation. I know many of you think I’m always on vacation, but most of my travel is for work.  And this year, I took my first trip in several years where I did not write a thing about it. And it was glorious. Just poking about on my own schedule, and exploring the things I wanted to.

When it comes to work, this year included lots of great opportunities to partner and work with brands including Purina, Gatorade, Shoppers Drug Mart, McDonald’s, Scotiabank, GM, Adidas, and so many more. And I also started working on iRun magazine as editor at large, with a super fun team. This year, though, one of my favourite jobs is unpaid: I began volunteering with Save Our Scruff, and learning that a dog that I’ve helped in some way find their forever home is the best news in the world. My heart feels like it could explode when I find out via email about a lovable dog being adopted, and I look forward to doing more with the organization.


Ah, running. This year was not a good year for running. No personal bests, and some of my slowest races. Which made it mentally difficult as I raced more than usual this year (I think, I haven’t actually done a tally). But I crossed the finish line and now I will figure out how to tackle what to race in the year ahead. Silver linings include the fantastic 15k race Nike put on (if only the weather had cooperated, that would’ve been even more stellar), and having my running buddy run the last leg of the Scotiabank Marathon with me (which, although, it was a slow race, convinced me that I can indeed qualify for Boston).


What I take away from this year…well, I felt more than ever that I was running around on empty. Scattered and disorganized. And so I’ve been forcing myself to take a step back from things, which is not my natural inclination, but for my own sanity I know I have to. And as much as I post on social media (and I know I do), I also put away my phone more often. “But you’re not getting a photo?” said a friend surprised as we watched a fireworks show. “I know, but when I’m taking a photo, I can’t get to take it all in,” I explained. At the NKOTB concerts (yes, I saw them two nights in a row this year! Best decision ever!), instead of snapping away with my camera, I took the time to fully enjoy Jordan’s abs. And it goes without saying that oh yes, it was worth it! Tee hee

This year flew by even faster than the last somehow…but that’s enough looking back. Here’s to looking forward, and for 2016, my heart is hopeful that exciting things are happening, and that new adventures are in store both with old friends and new ones that are still to be made.

Wishing you a very happy 2016! — Karen xo




1 Comment December 31, 2015

Style Swellness: My Bourdain and Ripert custom iPhone case from The Case Studio

my custom iPhone case from Case Studio

Love, love, love my new custom iPhone case. In fact, I’m pretty sure I need Bourdain/Kwan/Ripert sandwich everything: calendar, coffee mug, sweatshirt.

In January, I got the iPhone 6 and I refused to start using it until I had a protective case. I’ve shattered the screen of too many phones and the screen of my iPad by dropping them so I had good reason to be wary. As I was desperate to find a case immediately, and with few iPhone 6 cover choices at the time at Holt Renfrew and Indigo, I ended up settling for a simple clear with gold trim one from a cell phone accessories store.

A few weeks later, The Case Studio (which offers customizable iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android and tablet cases) contacted me with a coupon code to create my own case and I jumped at the chance. I love switching my case up often, since my phone is basically an accessory I “wear” every day; and well, since my iPhone is pretty much always in my hand or on the table (yes, yes, I know, I shouldn’t be so tied to being connected…) I need case(s) I love.

First things first: I had to choose a pattern or photo(s)

There are many patterns to choose from, some which allow you to have your initials or name in the design, or you can upload your own photo using a variety of templates. I preferred the idea of a custom photo, I pondered a pretty picture from one of my beach trips. And then. I knew. “Omigod, I’m going to get the Bourdain/Ripert sandwich as my case!” I was joking around to myself (don’t you do that?), but the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me. After all, meeting both chefs at the Cayman Cookout in January, I honestly still can’t believe that happened. And while I don’t particularly care to to have a photo of myself on my case (I swear, I’m not narcissistic, or not THAT narcissistic, hahahaha), it’s really all about the chefs on either side of me. Yes, yes, y’all, that’s me all up in between two top chefs, Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert, looking pretty darn ecstatic with the situation.

Then I had to choose a case style

You then must choose a sleek or tough case; although I’ d put the toughness of the tough case to the test (I’m not normally klutzy, but I seem to drop my phone an awful lot) — the tough case is made of an ultra-thin polymer shell with a durable silicon insert — I love the sleekness of my iPhone 6, and opted instead for the thinner profile of the sleek case.

Next up, adding any text

I added HealthAndSwellness.com across the bottom of the image (because every day I’m hustlin’…hahaha), playing around with different fonts and colours. All in all, though, the process of designing my Sleek case was quite quick and simple. There are a number of templates you can choose from, but I chose to only include the photo (which is printed on the sides that wrap around the edge of your phone) and it took less than half an hour to settle on my final look.

Heads up, Canadians: You may find entering your Canadian address an issue. Don’t fret, they do indeed ship to Canada. Select AK as your state, and then in the next page, you can modify your address to your Canadian mailing address. But this glitch may be fixed by the time you go to order your own case… 

Because you do want your own case, right? What will you choose for your case? I say go with something fun that makes you smile. What’s your equivalent of my chef sandwich moment?!

Nine business days later, my Case Studio Bourdain/Ripert sandwich arrived and the sleek case seems resilient. I’ve only had it  one day so far but I’ve already had several people ask me about it. Oh, and if you happen to want this exact case with me and Bourdain and Ripert, I’m more than happy to send you the photo :)

1 Comment April 1, 2015

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