2 Books I Read Every Day (+ the cheapest place to buy them!)

Aside from the Bible, there are two books I've read nearly every day for the past several years. They are both devotional in genre, and have been so impactful on my daily life as a Christian woman. I also wanted to share about an online Christian book store I've recently discovered, where these books cost less than on Amazon (!!), for which I also have a 10% off coupon code. Happy day! 

The books are Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon and Praying Through The Bible for Your Kids by Nancy Gutherie. I have owned these books for years but the versions I had were not the loveliest to look at. I know, these things hardly matter, but as I use them daily and have them on my coffee table year-round, it's a bonus if they are aesthetically pleasing. I found these linen bound hardcovers at Books for Christ, the only place I'll be buying Christian books from now on. 

Why these two books? Morning and Evening it written in beautiful language from 19th century British preacher Charles Spurgeon. Twice a day you get a mini sermon from this famed "Prince of  Preachers" as he was called. Praying Through the Bible for your Kids includes a daily bible verse, meditation, and then a pointed prayer for you to pray for your child(ren). 

Devotional reading is a wonderful addition to daily Bible reading, but it should never replace it - they are, after all, a summery and interpretation of the Bible from a flawed and human author. Yet still, they have helped me understand scriptures and guide my prayer life in these past years so I wanted to share.

Books for Christ is another resource I'm happy to pass on to you. I heard about them through a friend and was shocked by their prices! Every book I've looked for on Books for Christ was several dollars less than on Amazon! I've always felt a degree of dissonance lining the pockets of Amazon whenever I buy a Christian book, devotional, or Bible. Yet their prices are often hard to resist. Books for Christ is a Christian organization, run by Christians, and fighting poverty with a percentage of the sales, and their prices are less than Amazon! It's hard to believe! I'm so thrilled to have found them! Use this link for an additional 10% off at Books for Christ, on top of it all. 

Head over to Instagram today to win a free book from Books for Christ!

This was written in collaboration with Books for Christ,
however I am an independent customer of theirs. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.
To book a collab, please contact me.


Wear a Mask or Trust God? Navigating Covid-19 as a Christian

Last week I discovered that I was in close proximity to someone who had tested positive for Covid-19.  We were together indoors for hours (legally). As soon as I found out I was tested and the results were negative, and I'm thankfully, fine. 

I was incredibly relieved not just for my own sake of course, but for the sake of my family, as I would likely give the virus to them if I had it. I can give you three reasons why my result was a negative one. We were both wearing masks, we were practicing social distancing (though we were together, we avoided being closer than 2 meters apart whenever possible), and of course, the sovereignty of God.

It's come to my attention that some Christians think they must choose between trusting God with their lives and taking cautionary, responsible, neighbour-loving steps to protect themselves and others. Friends, it's both.

I trust Jesus with my life and my soul. And I will honour and obey him by washing my hands, obeying social distancing orders, staying in my bubble, wearing a mask, and laying down my personal freedom for the good of others. 

If we follow Christ we'll live a life of nuance - we will fear no evil (Psalm 23:4) and we will lay down our lives for our friends (John 15:13). 


Heart Cookies (for Valentines, sure, but really always) with Egg-Free Option

I make these cookies year-round, but it's only on Valentines day that I top them with light pink frosting. Sometimes I add spices and call them Autumn Spice Cookies, other times they're branded as Christmas Cookies... really it's just the best simple cookie recipe ever and the possibilities are endless. I recommend starting with all of your ingredients at room temperature and chilling your dough for 30 minutes before rolling out. Egg free option below in the foot notes!

Heart Cookies 

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg (or a flax egg*)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
.5 tea spoon almond extract
3 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
pinch of salt

Cream together the butter and sugar, once mixed add the egg, once mixed add the extracts.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then stir into the wet ingredients.

When a dough forms, chill for 30 minutes and roll out, using cookie cutters if you like. If you want a simpler route, roll into a log, freeze for an hour, and then slice into medallions. 

Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes (depends how you like your cookies and your oven, so keep an eye out)

Dusty Rose Frosting

This all-time favourite frosting is the simple combo of 1-2 cups icing sugar (aka powdered sugar aka fairy dust) with 1/8 to 1/4 cups 35% whipping cream. It depends on how thick you want your frosting, so play around. 
To achieve the colour -  It comes from mixing the bare minimum of red food colouring (1 drop) with 1 tablespoon or more of vanilla extract. Brown + red + white = dusty rose!

Make it Egg-Free

We don't have any egg allergies, but Oli did have one as a youngster which he's thankfully outgrown. Still, I'm often out of eggs but craving cookies, so this substitute is a welcome one! 
Mix 3 tablespoons water with 1 tablespoon ground flax seed. 
Refrigerate for 30 minutes and see the liquid turn into a gel. Use as you would an egg in baking.


Meaningful Décor + 10% off Alabaster

I love finding meaningful things to add to my home as décor. Sometimes it's family heirlooms, like my grandma's tea cups, other times it's souvenirs from trips we've taken as a family. Alabaster Bible books are a small and subtle way I decorate with my faith in mind. 

The Alabaster Bible books first caught my eye years ago when they first launched their first four books (the four Gospels). Personally, I find their concept captivating. They make a unique book for each book of the Bible. The Bible books resemble a high quality magazine, like a Kinfolk magazine, let's say. And alongside the enduring Word of God you'll find beautiful photography of people, landscapes, and objects. Each book is so meaningful and lovely to look at. 

I stack them on my mantle and open shelves and rotate which one I have out on our coffee table. Favourites of mine are Romans, the Psalms, the Proverbs, and Esther, because they're also some of my most loved books of the Bible. I love engaging with the Bible in various mediums - audiobook, study Bible, and now, these Bible books. 

To save 10% off any purchase from Alabaster, use code OURNEST10.

This post was in collaboration with Alabaster
All opinions are 100% my own.
Please contact me to book a collab.


Our Living Room 2021

As I change up the objects on the shelves and placement of furniture and cushions in this room every month or so, so I thought I'd freeze time for a moment and capture our family room before it changes again. Winter 2021 has us in this room non-stop. Family game nights and homework time are more and more on the living room rug than at the dining room table, which I think is influenced by proximity to the gas fireplace and coziness of carpet over hard chairs. 

We've been slowly watching the Marvel Universe movies with our kids, one hour at a time every weekend and it's been such a fun pastime together. Next up is the first Avengers or the third Thor, we haven't decided yet. I'll always love Tom Holland as Spiderman more than any other hero in the Marvel world, anyone else!? This room has seen so many comfy nights with us five piled on the sectional or huddled around a bored game on the floor. 

Because our home is small and houses five people, I keep decorations on the minimal side. I feel that having less visual clutter helps me when the real life clutter of books and backpacks and toys and growing bodies are filling our space. Right now, that looks like a DIY painted vase with dried pampas grass, a thrifted statue, homemade art, and my favourite Alabaster Bible books (each magazine is a book of the Bible featuring stunning photography in a minimalist style). 

On the top shelf I have a new vase, recently purchased from a local florist and home to an origami creation made by my son. You can't really see what that tiny dish is, but it's a tea dish (for used tea bags) commemorating the Queen's silver jubilee. What can I say, I'm a sucker for Royal's memorabilia. The round mirror was a thrifted find for a few dollars. 

The TV, a gift from our brother Rob, sits on a locker completely full of board games. I don't know if we can welcome one more into our home without giving one away in return as we have completely used up our storage space. The basket below the locker holds some Lincoln Logs, which are still entertaining from time to time with 7-10 year old's. We got them as a gift from my sister when Oli was one or two and have used them ever since. I say this a lot, but it's worth repeating - buy your kids simple, lasting toys instead of gimmicks or trendy ones and you'll never be sorry. You'll own less, see them use and enjoy the same toys for years, and produce far less waste. OK I'll get off my soapbox now :)   

Thanks for indulging me with this little room tour. I've recently met many like-minded small space dwellers thanks to our Home Tour on 600 Sq Ft, and can personally attest to how helpful it is seeing how precisely other families make it work in a small space. If this helps anyone, great! But it's also for me as I want to remember this home and this stage forever.


Winter Rhythms (and Homemade Hot Chocolate)

Rythms or rituals or habits - call them what you like, but don't deny that they, one by one, make a life. The small things we do and then do again and again until they become instinct are the building blocks for our memories, who we are, and how we live. And they're always ebbing and flowing as we age and change, but I love that some things always stay the same. 

Even well into my 30's I still recognize the magical stillness of the first big snowfall of the season, and the thrill of my footsteps being the first ones on untrodden snowy territory. I still remember the bliss of laying in deep fluffy snow, warm in my snowsuit, wishing I could sleep for hours on my winter bed. The simple project of building a snowman, the awe in seeing normal landscape heavy with white, the deep feeling of comfort when arriving to a warm home after these adventures. 

Living vicariously through my children brings these pleasures flooding back and I'm so grateful for the chance to see the winter world through their eyes. As an adult I'm tempted to fixate on the challenges or extra laundry, a messy entry way, and a car covered in snow, but the rhythms of playing in the snow, embracing the cold, and warming with hot chocolate and a fire after it all prevent me from curmudgeonhood. 

A couple of years ago, when we ran out of the store-bought hot chocolate mix and I wanted to make the kids a warm treat after a particularly chilling playtime outdoors, I came up with a homemade recipe. After many tweaks, I settled on my tried and true recipe and I'm happy to share it today. All told, it costs about half the price of store-bought mix (depends where you buy your ingredients, of course) and it endlessly versatile to your milk preferences. We add peanut butter to ours to make it more filling and it tastes like Reese's chocolate which I highly recommend, but leave it out of it's not your thing.

Homemade Hot Chocolate (serves 4)

1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups milk (we use oat, cashew, or cow's)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)
1/4 cup cane sugar or maple syrup

On medium heat, whisk together the cocoa powder, milk, and sugar until thoroughly mixed (a few minutes). Then stir in peanut butter until blended (a minute or so). That's it! I love this recipe as it's much more affordable than buying hot chocolate mix and it takes no added time (to boil the kettle for the mix is the same effort as warming milk on the stove, I promise!) 

Five minutes and four simple ingredients and you have delicious homemade hot chocolate, the perfect welcome home after hours in the snow. 


Mini-Cycle Moving Sale (up to 65% off!)

It's no secret that one of my favourite places to shop for my kids is Boutique Mini-Cycle. So much love for this Montreal small business! I wanted to let you all know of a huge sale they're having right now - up to 65% off!! - as they're moving to a larger studio in a few weeks.

I love their dual model of selling high quality new clothing and secondhand pieces. You guys know I love thrifting, so usually I buy from their secondhand or "recycle" section. With the thrift stores all closed in Montreal due to lockdown, Mini-Cycle is the only place you can buy secondhand clothes (safely online!) at the moment. The Moving Sale makes the price of ethically-made and durable clothing more within reach so I hope many of you will take advantage of it! 

(Lily and Oli are both wearing top to bottom Mini-Cycle in this pic!)


Family Photos (from Autumn 2020)

This past Autumn we were so blessed to have my friend Camille take our photos. I'm so thankful to have these place markers for our history, to remember what it looked like having kids ages 7, 9, and 10 and how we all appeared the year of 2020. Every year I feel like we stay more or less the same, until I look at our annual family photos and see that so much indeed has happened and we are utterly changed. 

We love this season so much. Our kids are at an incredible stage where they're independent enough to go to the park together without a parent and have become quite helpful around the house, yet still require a tuck in each night and play make believe. It's the best of both worlds and if we could, we'd freeze time. The truth is, every year it gets better as a parent, so I know better than to think it's all down hill from here. We're starting to enjoy the same activities with our kids and the same books and movies. It's wonderful and awe-inspiring to think we're raising our dearest friends. 

Like many of you, 2020 tested our limits as a family. We faced disappointments, felt boredom and loneliness and fear, made due with no child care and online learning, and got even closer than usual in our two-bedroom condo where we spent all of our days, safe at home

We attended Covid funerals and cancelled best laid plans for vacations and the holidays. The family in these photos is not perfect and has failed one another numerous times, but gosh we love each other. And we left 2020 stronger together. 

Thank you Camille for these shots!


the January donut (and thoughts on rhythms, heaven, health, and balance)

I call these the January donut 🍩, not because it's a month for resolutions and dieting and self-loathing, heck no. I've just always been someone who is happy with change and goes in opposing directions often as a result. Hence, quite healthy food this month.

In December I go hard into celebrating, because Christmas is truly the most celebratory holidays and for good reason! We ought to eat, drink, and be merry then of all times, because our weary souls rejoice in the little Lord Jesus coming to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found (yes, that run on sentence was a mash up if several Christmastide carols, I hope you noticed). So yes, celebrating and feasting is not just OK it's utterly appropriate. 

And now we're here at the closing of Christmastide and my body is craving a change. Sweets and booze and roasts and carbs and rich fare are meant to be treats, appreciated by the partakers. If you don't think that's Biblical, I invite you to read Revelation and see what Christians believe heaven will be like! 

This side of heaven though, there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing" and I'm feeling the effects of a month of plenty. Craving fresh vegetables and whole foods, eschewing desserts and alcohol for a few weeks. Anyone else feel this way in January? As I said, this is not a resolution or a diet, it's balance.

January donuts are a must! 

Mix together: 
2 eggs 🥚🥚
1/4 cup maple syrup 🍁
1/4 cup coconut oil 🥥
1/2 cup Greek yogurt 🥛
1 cup grated carrot 🥕
1 banana 🍌
1/4 cup oats 🌾
1 cup flour + 1 tablespoon baking powder ⚪
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 🟤

Pipe into a donut pan or muffin tins, bake at 350 for 15 minutes or so (this will depend on your oven so keep an eye out), top with vanilla Greek yogurt, and enjoy. 


Combating Screen Addition and Our Love of Board Games

This Christmas, like every other in our recent family history, we're giving our kids several board games. Growing up I wasn't particularly into board games and might have joked that they should be called bored games on more than one occasion 😅, but I've come to love them, partly because we've found some truly exciting and fun games, and because I know how great they are for kids and families. 

Spending too much time on screens is linked to poor sleep habits, social problems, attention issues, difficulty regulating emotions, and general lethargy.  Educators have noticed that children who spend more time on screens have lower grades, enjoy reading less, and have trouble staying on track than their peers who have less screen exposure. What troubles me more than any of this is how little research has been conducted on the long-term impact of screens and social media on children and teens. Anyone born in the last 20 years is truly a guinea pig when it comes to screens and we just don't know the full scope of what it does to kids. With all that in mind, Brad and I have been cautious with introducing screens to our kids and tried to limit them significantly in favour of imaginative play, reading, physical activity, and board games. 

As a family, we'll definitely spend our fair share of time snuggled up on the couch watching Christmas movies over the break, but generally screen time is limited to 1-2 hours on weekends. Our kids don't play video games, they don't use e-mail, they don't have personal devices, and they don't watch a lot of popular media. I know screens aren't going anywhere and with online learning being a real part of our lives it's unrealistic to not allow our children any access to them, but we do everything we can to be wise about how much we allow and the context for screens in our home. 

Our kids genuinely don't feel they're missing out because we've been able to find some great activities and hobbies for them. I wanted to talk about board games in this post specifically as I know many of you will be looking for gift ideas this week! As I said, I haven't always been a board game fan because I find the super strategy ones too intense and not social enough (I'm more of a charades girl myself!), but Brad has always been a fan and over the years he's done lots of research on playability to find games I'll like and that work with our kids ages (now, 7-10). Here's a list of our favourite board games. It's going to be a long winter and I know we'll be playing them quite often! Maybe you'll find one for your family as well :) 

  • Azul (my absolute fav and great for kids and adults alike!)
  • Ticket to Ride Europe (the original is very fun but the Europe version is more complicated with tunnels and ferries, plus we love the European cities!)
  • Stone Age (such a beautiful, tactile game of civilizations)
  • Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle (this is one of the kids' Christmas gifts and they're going to be obsessed!)
  • Dix It (for the social players like me this ones great!)
  • Caverna (a strategy game about building and decorating your own cave)

This year we had the good fortune to work with Asmodee Games, which is easily our favourite Game company. They make all of our favourites and they gifted us a few on this list, others, also by Asmodee, we purchased ourselves because we really love them!

Honestly, for any parents worrying that their kids are growing dependent on screens, the best advice I can give you is to provide them exciting, engaging alternatives. With the pandemic a lot of extra curriculars have been cancelled so there's more time at home than ever, but board games are a great option. Playing together, we have more family conversation than watching films allows, and we're finding it's a wonderful way to make memories and bond as a family. 

This post was in collaboration with Asmodee Games.
All opinions are 100% my own.
To book a collaboration, contact me!