"How do you do it? Do you believe in balance?"

I was so honoured to be interviewed by my friend Hailey Andresen on her amazing blog Household Mag this month and I wanted to share my answers to her questions here as well in case you missed the interview. Her first question is one I've heard in some shape or form for many years and it honestly grieves me to hear it. I'm not a perfect mom and I definitely don't do "it all" whatever "all" is! Here's the question and my response in long form. I'll post the other questions as time allows and I hope they're a blessing for you!

Hailey: As a mom of one, almost two, I am always amazed at how you juggle life with three kiddos, always seem to have your hands in something creative and from what I can tell have a deep, connected relationship with your husband and a healthy relationship with yourself too. So my question to you is, how do you do it? Do you believe in balance?

Me: Ha! No. Honestly, it’s a myth. I think social media has made us believe in the Super Mom idea too strongly, when in reality every mom is doing her best and some have higher capacities than others. I’m an extrovert and I have a high capacity for projects and people, but I also have friends who give their true 100% and have less going on, and we’re both doing great work. I will say that boundaries are so essential and we are a family who are not afraid to lay them down and write out rules that work for us and stick with them.

Juggling three kids who attend two schools for example, meant that we made a firm rule on extra-curriculars – they can do one at a time, or none at all. I know a lot of families whose kids are in three or more activities and I know for us that would be too hectic. We wouldn’t be able to prioritize family game night (Fridays), meals together as a family (ideally four times a week) or church every Sunday with our kids if they were in every activity, so we say no to a lot. Because my husband works longer hours than average (and often evenings and weekends), I stay home to manage the home, along with various side hussels’ as time allows. It wasn’t a choice I was brought up with or ever thought I’d make, but for the sake of family harmony (dare I say balance!?) it made sense for one of us to work significantly less if the other had to work significantly more.

I think families feel a lot of pressure these days to always be achieving and doing and we’ve made a conscious effort to reject that notion. For example, we did zero activities with our kids outside the home before age three. No baby enrichment classes or mom and tot groups of any kind. Not only did we save money to put towards travel, but we also had a very relaxed pace at home as our three little ones were growing up. Three kids in three years forces you to choose what’s important!

books I read summer + 09/19

Time to catch us all up on some recent and not so recent reads. As suspected, summer turned out to be a time of fewer books completed as generally I have almost no alone time (all three are home all summer and they don't do day camps or the like so I'm with them all day every day). As much as I love reading, I love summer with my kids way more, so don't feel sorry for me :)
I'm also starting to include Amazon affiliate links to these posts, so click on the links  if you'd like to buy any of them and you'll be directed to Amazon's page. I've gone back to link all of the books I've previously posted in this serious, so you can find those books here.  It will make for one easy stop for you to find the titles I've mentioned in various blog posts, but also give me a small (very small) percentage of Amazon's sales. If you buy anything from my Amazon links (books or otherwise), you'll pay the same as you would on Amazon, but Amazon gives me a small cut of their profits for curating the items for you guys. I've gone back and linked previous Books I've Read Thanks for going this route and helping continue to support this blog! Here's my updates links for the books I read in MayAprilMarchFebruary, and January.

I thought I'd make September and summer all in one post because I haven't finished too many. But smaller quantity is not a mark of smaller quality as this list includes one of my favourite (maybe my favourite!) modern fiction book OF ALL TIME. Read on!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society - I read this in Greece and even though I'd seen the movie it was such a pleasure. A quick read but so full of charm. WWII themed books often draw me in but the quaint book club on the British isle of Guernsey and every character therein were why I loved it. Lovely characters and story.

Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom - Oh this biography! It was so powerful and beautiful. What a life Corrie ten Boom had and how she lived was such an inspiration! Christian biographies are some of my favourite means to learn about God and inspire my faith. I find biographies are like theology with skin on, a living walking person pointing us to Jesus. Corrie ten Boom's life is worth reading about and emulating. The book shows us her living testimony in Holland hiding Jews, in Germany at a concentration camp, and afterwards rehabilitating ex-servicemen from both sides of WWII with the grace of the gospel. A must read whether you're Christian or not!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - this is THE ONE guys! I'm not typically over the moon for modern fiction. Historical fiction is more my jam (if not classics) but I loved Eleanor Oliphant so much! First of all, the characters are gold. Unassuming and rich characters that are so normal and natural you feel like you might know them in real life. Also the heroine, Eleanor Oliphant is a delight! She's brave and honest and broken and I love cheering for her throughout the book. I want to own a paper copy, seeing as it's one of my favourite modern fiction pieces ever, but I do also recommend the audiobook because it was so perfectly narrated with all the various Scottish and English accents. I'm honestly so sad it's over!

The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley - My friend Matt who has put a lot of thought and practice into the spiritual disciplines (and written about them here!) recommended this book to me and I knew based on his life which I admire and his fine book selections that it was a must read. I listened to it on Scribd over the course of two days and have begun putting some of the practices into my daily routine (no phone before scripture, fasting from something for 24 hours every month, limiting media to four hours per week, etc). Earley never makes the reader feel pressure or guilt, he simply invites you to a simpler, more free life with these disciplines. The gospel is woven throughout this book as well as personal tales of his life as a missionary in China and later a corporate lawyer.  


Sustainable + Ethical options for ALL

By now I know readers of this blog know I value a variety of things when shopping for my kid's clothing and my own. Style, trends, quality, price point, manufacturing, and keeping things minimal all matter, and often they're not all possible in one garment. Sustainability and ethical options are always a top priority and I share those garments often in my Instagram feed but I realize buying brands that are made ethically are not always possible and it can create a growing pressure on parents. The ability to compare ourselves to others is highlighted on social media and I know that's a risk every time I share a new ethically made brand or thrifted treasure. In an effort to help all of us on a pressure-free journey towards sustainable and ethical shopping, I thought I'd provide as many ways as I can think of towards that goal. Some of these options won't work for your budget or schedule and THATS OKAY. Hear me reader, I know we're all doing our best. I've included as many options as possible because I think we can all take steps towards sustainability in our wardrobes, but what one does might not work for another and we can be satisfied with our efforts at the end of the day. I hope this list encourages you and inspires you in ways maybe you haven't thought of, and that you don't feel pressure of judgement from my ideas. 

photo from a recent trip to Villagae des Valeurs, credit: Neal Hardie

Sustainable + Ethical Options for ALL

1. Shop less. Use the clothes you have. Quite simple, but we all have felt the tug to buy a new piece of clothing when we don't need it at all. I buy new clothing (new and used) often, so I'm preaching to myself here! The best way to buy sustainable and ethical is to not to buy at all. 

2. Care well for your clothing. Similar to not buying at all, but with the focus more on keeping your clothing wearable. This includes washing well, using good stain remover quickly so stains don't set in and ruin a garment, hanging most things to dry to prolong their life (the dryer really is hard on clothing!), not washing clothes unless they're dirty (all washing is taxing on a garment), replacing fallen buttons and mending small rips, and repurposing old pieces (I've done this by making shorts from pants, hemming dresses to make shirts, distressing my own jeans, etc).

3. Accept hand-me-downs, participate in stuff swaps. I love a good stuff swap and am planning one for a few weeks from now! Donating old clothing is always wise but it's even more fun to see a friend make use of your castaways. Also don't feel any shame in accepting hand-me-downs! I've loved receiving clothing and furniture (even our TV!) from generous friends and family who were finished with them. 

4. Buy Used. Thrifting is a serious passion for me! My schedule is very flexible and my kids even love joining me, so I don't have trouble visiting a thrift store for 30 minutes on a Saturday of 15 minutes during the week. I have found some of my favourite garments at thrift stores! I love that it prolongs the life of a garment and costs significantly less than buying new. I'm always asked where I go thrifting and I'm happy to share. My mainstay is Village des Valeurs (Value Village) because their stores are so clean and well organized. I also visit Renaissance and Armee du Salut, but have less luck at those places for kids clothing. Aside from thrift stores I'll sometimes buy things on Marketplace, Kijiji, Craigslist, or Varage Sale, and my new favourite kid's clothing site, Boutique Mini-Cycle. (see below)

5. Boutique Mini-Cycle. I love this site! They sell new and used high quality kid's clothing and they guarantee to buy back everything you buy from them. I've sold many of our higher end pieces to Boutique Mini-Cycle recently, so head over and check our their pre-loved section! See more about them here.

6. Buy ethical at the end of season when sales are big. Timing purchases for end of season can save enough to make ethical and sustainable brands possible for some budgets. Some of my favourite ethical shops that have amazing end of season sales are Lou Wolf and Les Petits Voyous.

7. Ask for ethical and sustainable clothing as gifts. Often our kid's grandparents will ask for some gift ideas for the kids and I'll often include ethical brands that might not work for our budget that month. My parents have bought the girls dresses that are ethically made for Christmas or birthdays, for example.

8. Make fast fashion slower. This one is really important as I assume most of us are not ready to never again shop at Old Navy, Gap, Zara, or HM. Yes these brands are fast fashion and unethical, but sometimes it's what we can afford and the ease of online shopping wins out. How can you slow down these purchases? Commit to keeping and re-purposing these pieces for several years, buy fewer pieces (yay, capsule wardrobes!), choose eco-friendly materials like denim and cotton instead of synthetic ones that don't biodegrade, give these pieces away to friends or charities when you're finished, etc. 

9. Consider cost per wear. When looking at the price tags of ethical clothing it's easy to be discouraged. If you're buying quality pieces though, they should last for a very long time (most ethical pieces are also very well made, unlike fast fashion which is mass produces and not built to last). For girls, I especially love skirts and dresses because they seem to last for two years per sister. Anything I know they'll wear for a long time and can be handed down is more justifiable financially. This means I'll more likely buy ethical clothing for my oldest daughter because she can hand everything down to her sister. Little sister gets fewer ethical pieces if she needs something new as cost-per-wear will be higher. 

10. Buy timeless styles + neutrals. Speaking of handing down pieces to other siblings, a sure fire way to keep your clothing for a long time it so make sure it works for both boys and girls and is outside of trends. Neutrals match everything and never go out of style, same with basic stripes. Oli wears quite a lot of Lily's old clothing (sweat pants, sweat shirts, skinny jeans, t-shirts) and in turn, he's handed all of those items down further to Chloe. 

Have I missed anything? I hope this was helpful!


a Montreal summer (2019)

We're winding down on another glorious Montreal summer and I'm at the same time ready for routine and September and crisp air and a bit of me time (it's been a while!) as well as grieving that our lazy fun soaked days frolicking around our beautiful city without a care in the world are coming to an end.

Days of morning bike rides through the Plateau on our way to tennis, and when we weren't at the local pool we were haunting every nearby splash pad. Days of walking a dozen kilometers when we weren't riding our bikes across the city, and letting that be our justification for regular ice cream shop visits.

Days of discovering new neighbourhoods and packing lunch and not knowing when we'd be home. Days of zoo visits (and using our gifted membership more than I ever thought we could!) and extra time with Brad.

Days where I needed someone to pinch me because Morgan and her family spent all of July living in our neighbourhood and she and I literally spent every day together. Days where six kids and two moms was the norm and we moved in a pack.

Days where we left Montreal for Camp des Bouleaux, a slice of heaven on earth with the dearest families, best teaching, warmest lake, and abundant blessing. Days where we visited family in Wasaga Beach and Fonthill but felt deep down that Montreal would always be home.

These have been the days. It's been wonderful and we won't forget it, but September, give us your best, we're ready.


Adding Contrast to our Living Room

I've recently shared our dining room, where you caught a glimpse of our living room, but there are already a few small changes so I thought I'd do a room tour to share. As I've fine tuned my style over the years I've found myself more and more drawn to contrast, neutrals, and natural materials such as wood, rocks and shells, linens, etc. Now, I love change and I love decor which can be an expensive and materialistic combination.  I think there's something to be said for "good enough" and not always trying to change your space for the sake of newer and better (see this excellent article on the subject), but I also think changing things up at home are one way I use my creativity and as long as it's done economically and in a meaningful way, I'm OK with the frequency I tweak our space. As you'll see, these changes were all very meaningful and most were very affordable (or free).

I love how the little black pieces add pops of interest in the room. I used to have pops of colour for that purpose but as I've leaned more and more to neutrals in recent years I like how black does the same thing in our mostly grey and white space. 

The first change was adding the black cushion to our Eames-style accent chair. Before we had the white cushion with small black details (now on the couch, contrasting against our grey couch), but I love how the black one shines against the white chair. I was gifted this pillow as a set of four cushion covers from Valiant Home which sells for $40 on Amazon. All of the cushions in the set are minimal and neutral but I think the black is my favourite. 

The next change is on our floating shelves. As you have probably read, we love getting meaningful souvenirs when we travel. The Face is a famous archaeological find from the Greek Islands and you'll find replicas of it everywhere in Greece, so when I saw this small black one at a shop on the beach in Klima (our town on Milos, our favourite Greek Island) I knew it would be the perfect souvenir. It was around $10 and handmade in Greece. The hourglass was a fun discovery as we were walking around on Milos one afternoon during siesta time and everything was closed except this sand museum. It was the coolest thing! There was sand from literally everywhere in the world, and our guide explained to us how black sand is magnetic. When we found the hourglasses for sale we both thought it was a really beautiful piece to bring home. It sealed the deal knowing that the black sand within was from Klima, our little beach! 

The stack of Bibles on our fireplace mantle are so beautiful and so special to me. They're from Bibliotheca, a new print company who aims to make God's word easier to read. Bibliotheca hasn't changed the text of the Bible at all, but has redesigned the text, font, magrins, and paper to give the experience of a true book. Typically, Bibles have small font, extremely thin pages, and each page is in two columns. This saves space and makes reprinting affordable, but as a book lover I have to say it doesn't contribute to readability. This set isn't a cheap purchase, but I foresee us keeping it for a lifetime, and you really are paying for quality. The Biblitheca books also divide the Bible into literary genres and eliminate verses and chapter numbers, so it truly feels like reading any book. As an avid reader, I was amazed at how much more of God's word I read when it was presented to me in this style! The books are also stunning and incredibly well made. Definitely take a look at Bibliotheca's Bible set, especially if you find yourself loving to read but struggling to find time in the Word. 

The black floral print is a favourite from Juniper Print Shop and I love how it looks against the white frame and pale grey walls. It's not new but felt appropriate to add in a post about black accents! On either side we have small vessels of shells, sea glass, and driftwood that we've collected over the years from the beaches of PEI, Iceland, and Okinawa. They're all so different and beautiful and we love looking through them regularly. Those little treasures are the best that cost nothing and bring memories and character to a room I think!

This post was in collaboration with Biblioteca and Valiant Home.
Those products were gifted to me and I truly love them! 
To book a collaboration, please contact me.

we wrote the QUEEN and she wrote back!!

You know my Royals love runs deep, but if you can believe it, I'd never written to any member of the Royal Family. I know quite a few people who care far less about the Royals and have still done so for whatever reason, so I knew I needed to step up my game. Honestly, the final push to writing Queen Elizabeth was my realizing that at 93 years old, she won't be around much longer and she's by far my favourite member of the Royal Family. I felt our time to write Her Majesty was fleeting, so I asked the kids if they were interested in writing her a letter and Lily and Oli enthusiastically joined me in our correspondence. Chloe didn't want to, and I totally supported that (she always has shared a lot of similarities with her dad, haha!) We all wrote our own letters to the Queen and I also wrote a letter to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Megs and Haz!) congratulating them on the birth of their baby, since it was the week he was born. I've always heard that someone from the Palace responds to every letter the Queen receives so I was hopeful that in three or so months, we'd have our reply. My expectations were that if we did receive a response it would be a stock reply that everyone receives, and I was completely okay with that! 

You guys, every expectation was exceeded in every way!!!

Six weeks later, Brad has a goofy grin on his face as I came in the door with some errands. He's not a Royals fan by a long shot, but he is a loving and supportive husband, so he was genuinely delighted to tell me that I had some interesting mail waiting inside. I was confused because it was far too soon to hear back from the Queen. Then he handed me the envelope, quite thick with the words ROYAL MAIL and BUCKINGHAM PALACE typed on the top. I was in completely shock and couldn't stop laughing! If you can believe my self control (I still can't), I didn't open it right away because I wanted to have some time to really read the letter and take it all in. Later that evening when the kids were in bed, I opened the envelope to find three letters addressed to myself, Lily, and Oli and they were ALL unique and detailed, responding to distinct comments and questions my children posed and memories I shared (of Morgan and I's visit to London and my family heritage). What an amazing keepsake and gift! The Queen's lady in waiting also included some brochures for the kids of the Royal pets that the Queen keeps (corgis and horses mainly). 

Just last week I learned that my great grandfather received an OBE for his work with spitfires in WWII and that he had a letter from King George VI which my grandmother still has. Royal correspondence really is a piece of history and I can't believe I have my very own! A few weeks later we received a stock reply from Harry and Meghan thanking me for my best wishes in an envelope with KENSINGTON PALACE and ROYAL MAIL scrolled across it. It included a typed message and a colour photo of them at Archie's christening. Both are so special, but the Queen's reply might be my most prized possession! 

Here's the addresses we used if you'd like to write the Royals!

Queen Elizabeth II: 

Her Majesty The Queen
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA

William and Kate or Harry and Meghan (they have the same writing address):

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Clarence House
London SW1A 1BA


la Maison Lavande

It's pretty hard to get me to leave the city any time of year, but especially in the summer when there's so much to do and see (and so many local pools to cool off in, too!), but one place you'll never have to convince me to visit is the beautiful Maison Lavande.

Last week I was lucky enough to attend their media soiree and was reminded all over again why I love visiting their lovely property. Frolicking in the lavender fields is attraction enough, but every year their space evolves and they thoughtfully add to both their property and menu. This year there's a massage cabin and relaxing centre under the ceders at the back of the property, the boutique has started offering their cleaning products in bulk, and their menu now boasts savoury and sweet scones (spoiler they're both incredible), lavender frozen yogurt, and healthy rice bowls along with their classic sandwiches, salads, and lemonade.

Maison Lavande is a must visit if you're coming to Montreal or looking for a day out of the city. You're allowed to bring your own picnic and enjoy the idyllic scenery and only pay a small entrance fee. I've been several times over the years and was reminded last week that it is a true gem. I bought some handsoap and essential oil in their boutique, which you can also visit online if you're not lucky enough to visit the family-owned property this summer. Enjoy the purple fields and herby air!

La Maison Lavande
902, Chemin Fresnière
Saint-Eustache (Quebec) J7R 0G4

Open everyday, 10am-5pm
Children 12 and under are always free (love that)
Teens ages 12-17 are $5
Adults are $10
*From August 5-September 1 (low season) everyone may enter for free. 

**All of these photos were taken at the soiree by the talented duo Camille and Guillaume from Our Next Project. Thank you Camille and Guillaume!


Curbing Fashion Waste with Boutique Mini-Cycle

As an avid thrifter and minimalist, it's no secret that limiting clothing waste is important to me, but there's often another interest of mine that's not covered in my thrifting endeavors - high quality pieces. Thrift stores are amazing places to find decent pieces at bargain prices, but it's unlikely you'll find high quality brands at your local fripperie. I've lucked out a few times but it is a lot of work and time to commit to the hunt. With three growing kids the amount of clothing that we buy and quickly outgrow is overwhelming and I can understand how the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters. Recently I came across a local company after my own heart that I wanted to share with you that checks every box I value as a mom and consumer: high quality clothing, ethical brands, secondhand shopping, and realistic prices.

Oli's t-shirt and swim shorts both found at Mini-Cycle
Boutique Mini-Cycle is basically my dream come true as they sell both new and used ethical brands for kids up to size 12. And the best part? If you buy from them, they guarantee to buy back everything in good condition when you're done with it for their Re-cycle program, which sells used high quality pieces. Boutique Mini-Cycle does the thrifting for you in their well organized store and the best part is, the brands are all incredible and the clothing is all in excellent condition.

I love thrifting and will probably never stop visiting my brick and mortar charity shops both in Montreal and wherever the wind takes me, but I've now become to regular browser of their Re-cycle section and will be a customer of theirs for as long as I have kids that will fit their wares. I've even sold a few of our high quality pieces to Boutique Mini-Cycle for their Re-cycle section, so keep your eyes peeled for those pieces if you're interested! 

Boutique Mini-Cycle recently gifted us a few pieces from shops like Louis & Louise, Petit Bateau, Go Gently Nation. We also selected a few secondhand pieces from their shop too! Their selection is beautiful and impressive and their prices are great, especially the Re-cycle items which are the same or cheaper than I've seen at my local thrift store! 

I'm such a big fan of what they're doing at Boutique Mini-Cycle! Check them out!

This post was in collaboration with Boutique Mini-Cycle.
All opinions are 100% my own. 
To book a collaboration, contact me!




Block Party at DIX30 this Weekend!

I'm loving these long hot summer days with my kids and to be honest, sometimes I don't even know what day it is! The weekends sneak up on me for sure since the kids are with me 24/7 this summer, but once they're here it always seems there's even more fun things to do. I love the city in the summer time! This weekend there's a huge block party happening at Quartier DIX30 that looks really great!

All weekend from 10-5 they have street artists doing huge murals on eleven different frescoes (The Plateau isn't the only place for murals so it seems!) Along with all the visual art there will be live music, DJs, and an outdoor bazaar from all of the shops (and DIX30 has over 300!)

I'm most excited about POP at play on the Esplanade - ateliers, BMX performances and test rides, music... it's going to be a great weekend! No one does summer like Montreal!
Here's the details for this weekend if you're interested!

When and Where: July 6 + 7, 10am-5pm both days, Square DIX30 and the Esplanade (Quartier DIX30) 

For more information, see here or check out the Facebook page!