15.10.18

Shop Québec - Maison Tess Linens

I'll admit, I've fallen hard for the linen trend sweeping the home decor world. For a couple of years now, I've had my eye on linen clothing and housewares for the sheer appearance of it all - the texture that's visible to the eye, the rawness to it, the typical rich colours and natural look to linen, it all took me in. But I soon learned that all linen is not on equal footing. I purchased a big box store linen dress pillow and a linen dress from the Internet and both disappointed me. The dress was extremely harsh and not at all soft, even after several washings, the cushion, so thin that it had none of the texture that linen is known for and will likely wear out within a year. Both were cheap short cuts and neither satisfied, so in the end my money-saving attempts were money wasted. Lesson learned. It's worth investigating the ethics behind a company, the sourcing of their materials, and the quality of their linens before investing. That's exactly what I did with Maison Tess and why I'm writing this post - to sing the praises of this little Montreal linen start up until I lose my voice! Not hard, since I'm just getting over a bout of Tonsillitis, but you get my point. I love love love these linens and find their quality to be high above that of the big box linens I've seen for near the same price. Let me introduce you to Maison Tess.


I'm writing this post at an ideal time to be reviewing bed linens. As you know from my stories, I spent all last week in my bed (if not at the hospital) with a terrible throat infection. Finally some super strong antibiotics and steroids by way of IV brought me back to the road to health but not after logging more hours in my bed that week than is normal for two. And oh how I love my bed!! It's always been comfortable, but these linens kick things up to a whole new level.

Here's what we went with, from the bottom, up. For starters, we chose the chrome linen fitted sheet.  It's a very generous size, so will definitely fit any style of mattress which I especially appreciated, since our other cotton fitted sheet is always really hard to put on our very thick mattress. I loved sleeping on the fitted sheet right away but after a few washes, even more so. It just gets softer and softer, and has this super cozy feel, like flannel, but without overheating you, as that material tends to do.


Then we went with Maison Tess's cotton pillowcases, which feel nothing like any cotton pillowcase I've felt. I wanted to go with cotton for pillowcases as I'm less a texture fan when it comes to something on my face.  I can't say if there's even a right or wrong answer here, because these sensory preferences are so personal, but I have to say I love the texture and feel of their cotton pillowcases! They use 100% long staple percale woven cotton, which explains why these feel worlds away from our other cotton pillowcases, even those that boast a high thread count. It would be really hard to choose if I had to pick one piece of our bedding that I love the most, but it *might* be these percale cotton pillowcases...


We chose the Maison Tess signature linen duvet cover (which is on sale right now!), and I went with midnight blue which is totally not my usual style but I'm so pleased with it! I'm usually someone who sticks with white or light grey, hence the chrome pillowcases and linen fitted sheet, and right, the entire rest of my house! But when I saw the midnight blue it almost struck me as a bold neutral. It's cool but also warm, depending on the decor around it. It's a statement to add to my very neutral bedroom, but I think it's just right, especially since we usually fold the duvet at the foot of our bed, so it's just that touch of boldness. On Instagram, I asked you all in a poll a while back if adding the midnight blue would be the way to go or if I should stick with light neutrals in my bedroom and after hundreds of opinions, the voting was 60/40 for adding a touch of boldness. It just goes to show that while many of you were with me on my choice, a lot of you prefer colours more like Maison Tess's chrome (a cool, soft grey), or their rose (the perfect dusty pink), and that's cool too!
I'm so excited to share this brand with you, because they seem like one of the only ethical, affordable linen companies out there, and plus, they're based here in Canada, in my city no less. Linen is a pricier material than others, and for good reason - it's more durable, gets better with every wash, has a timeless look and higher quality than basic cottons. And while it's an investment to buy linen anything, Maison Tess's prices are very close to big box linen prices I've seen (H&M, for example), even though they make everything ethically and in small batches! They often share videos from their factories in their Instagram stories and it's such a relief to see that some companies still care about making their products the right way that values people and protects the planet. Their linens are European made and OEKO-TEX certified, and you're supporting a small female-run business instead of a huge corporation with Maison Tess. if you're looking for bedding, or any linen household items (they have beautiful dining room items, too!), definitely check out this amazing company!

Also if you use this link, or any other link within this blog post to buy Maison Tess items, you'll get 10% off on top of their already great sale prices (like my duvet cover which is $75 off right now!).

5.10.18

32 Things About Me!

Today I'm 32 years old and thought it might be a fun time to share a bit about myself for all of you new readers. I feel my interests change fairly frequently (that'll be on the list, lol) so I want to write these things down so I can look back and remember what I was like and what interested me at 32 years old. It's a great privilege to live and age in health and comfort and I don't take this or any birthday for granted! Life is precious and I'm thankful for mine today :)

Every post needs a few pictures I think, so here are a few of Lilygirl and I playing downtown. They're from several months ago but I hadn't shared them yet, so now seems as good a time as any!


  1. I'm the youngest of my family and growing up I always felt very much the baby of the family. I'm not sure if I'm the quintessential younger sibling or my sister is the quintessential elder sibling or both, but we fit the classic roles to a tee!
  2. I used to run track and field and cross country competitively. I also swam competitively for a few years. I loved swimming, didn't ever really love running (more so I loved being great at something, which I was for a time), but quit both in highschool. Sports have always been part of my life though.
  3. My family calls me Embo to this day, which I used to dislike but learned to love over the years (and now I cherish it, funny how that works eh?)
  4. I love eggplant but Brad hates it so I make it almost every week when he has hockey games and is out for the night.
  5. I always wanted three or more kids, even as child though I knew almost no families with more than two kids and I came from a very happy home of two children. I'm truly living my dream as a mom to my three!
  6. I have a major sweet tooth and while I don't tend to gain much weight when I binge on sweets, I do get crazy pimples and my mouth fills with canker sores, so I really do need to keep it in check. No Sweets November is always a good re-fresh, coming up in a few weeks.


  7. I didn't start reading for pleasure until about ten years ago. As a kid I read basic series like The Babysitters Club and Goose Bumps but as soon as reading became work (read: high school English) I lost all love for it for several years. My English teachers would be surprised to know I read about a book a week these days and am even paid to write!
  8. My first serious novel that I read and absolutely loved (as in cried at the end simply because it was over) was All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer, and that was only a few years ago! Since then I've had that stirring feeling of sadness and accomplishment when finishing a great book many times.
  9. I don't read just anything though - my favourite works are classics (Austen, Bronte Sisters), Historical Fiction (Edward Rutherford), Biographies, and Victorian/Edwardian/Regency/Wartime era books, preferably British (Julian Fellowes, P G Wodehouse, L M Montgomery)
  10. I rarely watch TV and even less often watch movies. I get too sleepy and would rather read! We also have many nights each week given to having people over for supper or church activities. If I do watch a movie, it's usually piecemeal, 20-40 minutes at a time. My favourite things to watch are the BBC versions of Austen films (they're from the 90's but are still soooo good!), Downton Abbey, Call The Midwife, Victoria, and This Is Us. 
  11. I make pizza at least once per week. I have the dough down to a science and always have frozen dough balls and shredded cheese in the freezer. If you eat supper at our house, it will probably be pizza.
  12. Mornings are my favourite. My alarm goes off at 5:30am every morning, except for weekends when it goes off at 6:30am. Unless I'm up very late the night before, I'm always awake at those times because that stillness in the morning is just too precious to me. I love having some time before the kids wake to be in the Bible, in prayer, and just to have some time to myself over a hot cup of Early Grey.


  13. Speaking of Earl Grey, I officially stopped drinking coffee two years ago! Crazy eh? I'm not against it, but I want without it for three weeks (accidentally) and found I'd broken the habit by the time I was able to get my hands on some good coffee again. It's an expensive habit if you only like really good coffee (probably about $15-20 per week here in Montreal!) so I was happy to swap coffee for tea, a much more affordable option (and it doesn't give me the jitters after too many cups either!)
  14. I started learning French five years ago and today can communicate and function completely in French! Even as I type this I can't believe it. Just as my English teachers would be shocked to know I'm an avid reader and writer today, my poor French teachers would be shocked to learn I now live in Quebec and spend much of my life in French. I still have a very far way to go though, I assure you. I can communicate clearly and get my point across (and I could survive in France with no English speakers for miles) but I make a million mistakes and my grammar is atrocious. I've never taken official courses and have only learned by ear, but this year have started studying in my free time and am already noticing gains.
  15. Brad and I met while we were both on a missions trip in North Africa. I've also been to Tanzania and Malawi on missions trips in the past. Tanzania and Malawi was six weeks combined and we've been back to North Africa many times over the years for months at a time, twice when I was pregnant with Lily.
  16. Brad and I started dating after only knowing each other a couple of months, dated for six months long-distance and then were engaged for five months. It was a whirlwind but we were very intentional and had many trusted friends in common who counseled us both along the way. Still, our first year of marriage was a huge adjustment and difficult to say the least!
  17. I was engaged at 21 and married a few weeks after my 22nd birthday, which means were coming up on a decade of marriage this month!
  18. My favourite food in the whole world is High Tea. I love it all - the scones and cakes and sandwiches, and of course never-ending pots of tea.


  19. I became a Christian in my teens even though I'm not from a religious family. It was a couple of years before I had any Christian friends or a solid church and was very much in the wilderness those first few years. God held me fast by his Word alone. If it weren't for the Bible I doubt I'd love Jesus today.
  20. For years Brad and I seriously considered adoption, but that is finally off the table for us. I love adoption and everything it stands for, but the life we've chosen didn't seem to be compatible with that way of growing our family. We didn't have the energy, time, or space to add a child by way of adoption and still don't today, but if God ever changes our certainty on that, I'll be very happy too. 
  21. Together with our kids we've traveled to France, The USA, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Italy, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, and Japan. We're planning to go to Bulgaria and Geece next summer!
  22. Pumpkin is one of my favourite flavours ever. I love pumpkin pie and soup (see my recipe for jarred pumpkin here) and it was the first puree that all three of my babies tasted!
  23. Even though today I'm so in love with the city life, I was a small town girl for most of my life. I grew up in a village in Southern Ontario with under 5,000 people. I always thought I'd stay there and loved it so much, even when my friends were dreaming of living in Toronto some day. I left home at 17 for McMaster University which is in Hamilton, just over an hour away. Hamilton is a city but can feel very much like a small town too, especially in the student bubble. It was a good place to live for four years to prepare me for the big city life though! After four years in Hamilton I graduated and married Brad within a couple of months and we were off to Montreal!
  24. I never foresaw myself as a stay-at-home-mom. Growing up I only knew two kids who's mothers stayed home and both of them were very wealthy. I thought it was a rich person choice, and while I understand that I am privileged to get to work very part time hours and stay home with my kids, we get by on a modest salary and made big sacrifices to make this our reality. The bottom line is I love the pace it allows for our family - I love that we can pick our kids up from school at the bell instead of hours later, I love that I can have home cooked meals most nights for our family, I love that I can invest in women in my church during the day now that my kids are at school. It's a lifestyle that we're all thriving in and one I never saw as likely for me. I love when plans change for the better!


  25. I've never liked pop, except for a couple of years in high school when I was all about Diet Coke, and we never have juice in our home either. Brad and I are big water drinkers and as a result, so are the kids. I have, however, begun a slight addition to grapefruit Perrier (or any generic brand of the same flavouring). 
  26. I buy so many things second hand! It started as a way to save money when we were newlyweds with debt and very small pay cheques, but turned into a passion over the years. I do it to save money but also for the environmental benefits or not producing more goods. I also love finding things that aren't available at every big box store or website - thrifting is cheap and eco-friendly, and finds you the most unique things! Currently I'd say about 1/3 of my wardrobe, 2/3 of our home decor, and 1/2 of our books are all thrifted.
  27. I've never had braces or a retainer but I started wearing glasses in high school and today can't see without contacts or glasses. Most people are surprised when they see me in my glasses and ask if they're real lol. They're a fun accessory but very much real!
  28. Fav Reads: My favourite Jane Austen book is Pride & Prejudice, my favourite Bronte sister book is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, my favourite C S Lewis is The Weight of Glory, my favourite book of the Bible is Hebrews
  29. Pop Culture Favs: My favourite Royal is QE2, my favourite Spice Girl is Baby, my favourite Pearson is Randal, my favourite Crawley is Isobel, my favourite wizard is Hermoine, my favourite midwife is Chummy  
  30. I look a lot like my dad. As a girl I hated this observation because what little girl wants to look like an adult man!? But now I see it and love it. Lily looks like him too :) 
  31. If I could go anywhere in the world it would be Scotland. I long to see where my ancestors grew up and lived and where much of my roots come from. Plus I love the UK! Working on Brad, who prefers more exotic locations for holidays (read: non-English speaking)
  32. My middle name is Anne, yes, with an E. Just like my homegirl Anne Shirley :)

3.10.18

Chloé's 5th Birthday Party!

Last week we celebrated Clover's fifth birthday with a party in the park! It was her first birthday party with friends (we've always just stuck with inviting family until now) and a big step for her as she's only been in school a few weeks and doesn't speak the same language as any of the girls she invited!


Clover is fiercely independent and we had to nudge her in the direction of inviting friends from school, but once she committed to it she was very brave. She is such a bold girl but also loves her alone time and certainly isn't the kind of kid who leans heavily on the approval of others, which is awesome, but we still want to lead her to love others and step out in French too. She's come so far in French already after less than a month at all-French school! I can't tell you how sweet it was seeing her welcome her classmates to her party and hearing her chat with them.


We strategically chose 1-3pm for the party to keep things simple (after lunch and before supper means no meal would be served!)  I was thrilled to collaborate with Gateaux Dulce for Chloé's birthday cake. I usually hit a baking wall in birthday season (our family has four birthdays within eight weeks in the early Autumn). Last year it was for Oli's, and I wrote about how to make store bought birthday cakes and icing taste more home made, but I'll be honest, though the result was much improved upon, no one voted Oli's cake for best cake of the season! This year I asked Gateaux Dulce to make Chloé's blue ombré cake dreams come true and she did not disappoint! If you're in urban Montreal I can't recommend Karen enough - she also made little cat cookies for us to give away as favours and they were so delicious (maybe even yummier than the cake if that were possible).


We had some chips and candy for the table during the crafts time, but I forgot water bottles which would be been helpful! We were all pretty thirsty after all those sweets and salty treats. Thankfully one of the moms offered to run to the store for me (thanks Lisa!). The kids all made a little owl/bird/penguin with a few Dollarama supplies and even took some fallen flowers for their masterpieces!


I can't believe our youngest is in school and having birthday parties with her classmates! Kindergarten is one of the hardest years for our kids as we speak only English at home and they're thrown into 100% French at the same time that they're away from home for the first time. I know it's overwhelming and overstimulating and exhausting but by the end of the year they're bilingual and what parent wouldn't want that for their kids? It's all about the long term perspective right now and helping our girl face her fears and the uncomfortable for long term gain. This party was another step towards that end and we're so proud of her for taking it!


***

This post was in collaboration with Gateaux Dulce. To get in touch with Karen, to plan your custom cake or cookies, or for pricing and inquiries, contact Karen by e-mail (info@gateauxdulce.com), phone (514-885-5745), or online (Instagram - @gateauxdulce, Web - www.gateauxdulce.com) and use the code DULCE10 for 10% off when you order :)

1.10.18

Getting Your Kids To Talk About School


We all remember that classic question from our parents on the way home or around the dinner table. “How was school?”, they’d ask, along wither every other parent in the world, to which we’d join the chorus of children replying, “fine”, ending the discussion in its tracks. I remember that simple well meaning question like it was yesterday, and how it rarely yielded more than a one word answer, and yet now that I’m a parent I often catch myself asking it as well. Why?


The reality is, we love our children and want to know how they spend their hours at school, but when our paths cross at the end of the day, we’re usually too exhausted to be creative and so resort to that unhelpful classic. We can do better! Here are some fairly effortless ways to dig deeper into conversation with our kids after school.

Start by helping them transition from school to home

I often make the mistake of asking my kids within the first minute of seeing them after school how their day was. Low blood sugar, fatigue, and a change of context demand snacks and rest before a barrage of questions, no matter how well intentioned they are. If your child seems grouchy or distant after school, don’t automatically assume something awful happened at school – give them a minute to transition into their home life and for heaven’s sakes give them some food! Once I started greeting my children at the school yard with food and a smile and no expectations, our after school conversations became more natural. 

Pro tip: let their after school snack be the highlight of the day’s menu. We pack healthy snacks (think carrot sticks and apple slices) in their lunches for the day and mealtimes are rarely their favourite foods (except Fridays which are always pizza night), but after school I bring out the cookies, cake, and milky tea. I want my kids to look forward to coming home from school not just because their studying is over for the day, but because home is their favourite place, and a place where they can open up and be known.

Set the example by being honest and detailed

Parents often forget that their kids are fascinated by them, especially in the younger years. We want to know every detail of our children’s days but doubt they care much about what we did. This may not hold true in high school, though I’m planning to test the theory some day, but as for younger children, they love hearing stories about their parents. By going first you model for your child that sharing a part of their day can be as simple as telling a short story.  Set the example by sharing a story you’d like to hear from your children, for example

“Today I had so many errands to run and things to get done at home. I didn't really have a minute to relax. I'm really looking forward to taking some time tonight to read and just be calm. What about you, was your day busy or relaxing? Want to join me tonight for some reading on the couch?"

or

“Today my boss was really stressed about an upcoming project and the whole office was a bit tense. It’s funny how one person can change the mood of the entire room isn’t it? Was your teacher in a good mood today?”

Ask questions that can’t be answered with one word

This is the surest way to avoid the “fine” answer I grew up giving to my parents. Ask them about something, how they felt at a certain part of the day, what they did at recess, who they sat with at lunch, what story they read at story time, what they dreamed about during nap time, and who the funniest child is in their class. These questions allow your child to tell a short story and as you engage with their story, suddenly they’re sharing parts of their day you didn’t even know to ask about!

We long to know our kids well and to feel a part of their world even after they’ve started going to school for much of the day, so let’s do the relational work to get there by making home a haven, setting the example, and being creative communicators. 

How do you navigate the after school hours? I know this will be different for everything - from homeschoolers ro those who use after-school care and aren't home until closer to supper time, but I think we all need a boost to get our kids to open up more about their days. I know I do! 

*this post was written by me for the Snuggle Bugz Blog 
and was originally published there.