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!

summer music 2019!

Music that captures the feeling of cold cocktails, cliff jumping, road trips, and long hot days. I've got your playlist!


Every year Brad makes the perfect playlist for our early-summer trips and then we listen to it nonstop all summer. He seriously has a gift for finding the best songs that just scream summer! Most of our friends now know to ask for Brad's top picks each year and we're always happy to share. During our trip I'd often post videos and there would be one of the songs from his annual playlist on in the background. I wouldn't think anything of it until my DMs would blow up for song requests, haha! 

Here's his 2019 playlist for anyone who wants some great music that evokes that wild and free feeling of summer. 

  1. One Foot by WALK THE MOON
  2. Quarter-life Crisis by Judah & the Lion (B's favourite)
  3. Friends by NONONO
  4. Bicycle (feat. klei) by filous
  5. Deadmen by SAINT PHNX (Lily's favourite)
  6. Body Talks (feat. Kesha) by The Struts (Oli's favourite)
  7. Zombie Bastards by Weezer (we convinced the kids this song was called "Zombie Masters" lol, also Weezer just keeps being amazing all these years later)
  8. Lose My Mind (feat. Mr Gabriel) by Jai Wolf
  9. I Don't Even Smoke Weed by Empress Of
  10. broken by lovelytheband
  11. Avalanche Alley by The new Pornographers
  12. Now or Never Now by Metric (I've loved Metric since my teenage days!)
  13. PARAD(w/m)E (Rostam Remix) by Sylvan Esso
  14. Forever by CHVRCHES (probably my favourite band)
  15. A Little Bit of Faith by Kings Kaleidoscope (this band is Christian and has awesome music!)
  16. these are my friends by lovelytheband 
  17. Hand Me Downs by Arkells (I actually went to university with these guys and lived in the same dorm as them and this is probably my favourite song they've ever done!)
  18. Wonderland by CHVRCHES
  19. Fast Slow Disco by St. Vincent

ps - isn't it funny to see how bands desire their names to be written? I noticed so many are in all caps or all lowercase. That's not typos on my part, I'm just copying straight from our Google Play account where we pay a monthly fee to listen to their music!


HOME TOUR! the dining room

Since it's moving week here in Quebec it seemed the perfect time for some home inspo on the ol' blog! Our dining room has been a bit of a tricky space to decorate and was the last place we put any real effort into since moving into our condo several years ago. Like most flats in Montreal, it's a small space with no windows. Sounds like a dream, right? Haha but actually we love our home so much, even the quirks. Something I strongly recommend (and that I've been aiming for since as long as I've been a home dweller, then owner) is  to banish negative home talk from your vocabulary. Are there things in every home you'd love to change? Of course! Does every home have tricky areas to live in and decorate? Probably! Are we among the luckiest and wealthiest people in the world to call a private, safe dwelling our own on this planet? Also yes. Back to our dining room, which in truth is not a room but a nook. And a nook I'm very thankful for, even with it's quirks!

This final space could never be what it is without the team at Prunelle who gifted me my dream dining table and two chairs to add to the couple we already had. Prunelle is a family-owned mid-century modern furniture paradise based right here in Montreal. They have some hard to find mid-century pieces that I haven't seen anywhere else in Canada, as well as some of the most universally loved Scandi designs. 

I love mid-century modern, but not so modern that the space feels cold, so I always aim to mix and match whites and metals with woods and warm colours, as you'll see here with the oval tulip table and wishbone chairs in ash. I also have some other white mid-century-style furniture in the room - a white bench for the kids (not pictured here but you've seen it in previous posts!) and some white chairs, which I balanced out with the white oak hanging crate which holds my collection of vintage tea cups. The oversized art is a print from Juniper Print Shop which I had turned to canvas (you can see the whole post here) and I love how the muted peaches and pinks mingle with my pastel tea cups! The black and white art print beside the mirror is from Bold Tuesday (see other prints we have in the kid's room here) and the white pine frame was a road side find! The big basket on our table as well as the metal table in the corner and the crochet doily atop it were all thrifted treasures. 

Can I take a second to get on my soap box about round dining tables? They are the actual best. For young kids, for small spaces, for inviting one last person to join around the table - they're just perfect! Rectangle tables can't sit someone at the corners (at least not comfortably, ha!), and they limit furniture placement, and typically take up more room in my opinion. Before we got the tulip table from Prunelle, we had a similar sized wooden oval antique table which we bought from my friend's grandmother. We refinished the wood with a grey stain but with the pale grey walls and no windows the nook was quite dark. We still loved that table and had it for five years, but when we started looking to replace it I knew I wanted a bright white table for our window-less space. We also used to have a rectangular hutch which we stained and painted to match our old table and instead of replacing it we just left that area open. I love how spacious the room feels, and now much brighter with the white table!

Mixing and matching chairs has also always been a favourite decorating style of mine. The bench is great for our kids and even younger guests, since almost all of our friends have younger kids than ours, and we already had these white mid-century-style chairs, but adding the wishbone chairs brought in some texture and shape, not to mention the warm ash colour. And of course, true to small space style, we often bring one or more of these chairs into the living room to accommodate extra guests for games nights or bible study.

I'm so pleased with our dining nook! It was finished around Christmastime but the winter and Spring were so busy I'm only getting around to posting now. It's our main place for homework, boardgames, hospitality, and creativity. The white table top is holding up brilliantly except for a couple of tiny pen marks that I can't get off to save my life - all marker and pencil scribbles wash right off with water though! Knowing that this table will be our forever table means I am more precious with it than I was with our previous hand-me-down tables, but don't worry, we still live very fully around this table and it has rapidly become the heart of our home!

Thank you so much to Prunelle for partnering with me on this makeover!


Scribd: Netflix for Audiobooks (+ 2 months FREE!)

It's no secret that I love to read, and long before audiobooks I was still putting away 30-odd books every year (see this post for how I've learned to prioritize reading). I love curling up with a book for at least thirty minutes each night before bed and prefer a good book to watching TV any day, but there are only so many hours in the week that one can commit to exclusive, nose in a book, reading. Even in my kid-free time, which is still not extensive though they're all in school (work, volunteering, ministry all happily fill most of those hours) I can't always sit down with a page-turner, either because I need to use my hands or I'm out and about in a not-conducive-to-reading errand. Enter: audiobooks, and more specifically Scribd

Scribd is a fantastic service that a friend of mine introduced me to last month. It's essentially Netflix for audiobooks in that you pay a small fee each month and are given unlimited access to audiobooks (also ebooks, though I don't use the service for those). You can read/listen to your heart's content with catch being that once you stop paying for the service, you don't get to keep the titles. I still use Audible and Christian Audio for the occasional book that I know I'll want to read again and again (classics like Austen or Tolkien) but the vast majority of my reading are books I really enjoy but likely won't re-read, which makes Scribd the perfect solution!

I was blown away with their broad availability, only slightly lacking in lesser known biographies (cough Royals cough) and some theological titles. Every fiction book I've been keen to read has been available, as well as tons of excellent children's books, plus the odd biography (The Diana Chronicles, Becoming) and theology (Prodigal God. Every Good Endeavor) title too. 

With this referral link you'll receive your first two months free, if you're interested!


Books I Read 05/19

Becoming by Michelle Obama

This was a nice long biography that I really enjoyed listening to on Scribd (I'll write more about it later, but it's the new way I've been listening to audiobooks). I love when the author reads the audiobook, and it was a treat to hear Michelle Obama's voice tell the years of their incredible life. Politics aside, her life is fascinating to me. I'm not American and I won't attempt to understand all of their politics, but the many facets of Michelle Obama's life, from growing up in a working class poor neighbourhood, being a black woman at an Ivy League university, raising a family in the spotlight, and being married to the most powerful man in the world all are worth listening to and learning from. Her family's experience was very unique and I admire much of what I know about her. At times, the book was a bit self-righteous I will say. Autobiographies can easily be self-indulgent and are of course, one sided. Regardless, it was a terrific book and I enjoyed listening to it!

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Oh this book was CHARMING. Does all caps ruin the charm? Sorry. But I absolutely loved this book I want you to sense that I'm shouting it from the rooftops! The novel follows retired British Army Major Pettigrew as he grieves the death of his wife, brother, and disappointment with his surviving relatives, as he finds comfort in a fledgling friendship with an unlikely companion - widow Mrs. Ali, the local Pakistani shop keeper in his quaint English town. I bought the hardcover years ago at a book sale in my hometown when I was home for a summer visit, and also had the audio version on Scribd, so I switched back and forth between audio and paper copies. The audio version is narrated perfectly by Peter Altschuler who I imagine sounds exactly like the Major. This book is about love, friendship, aging, classism, racism, family, and grief - in short, it will appeal to many readers and I think you'll all enjoy it.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

I listened to this classic on Scribd for a few days as I was running errands and chores in Montreal, but finished it during the long drive to Blue Mountain, Ontario. Mansfield Park isn't one of Austen's most popular books but had all of her hallmarks -  darling clergymen, conniving relatives, a morally upright and bold as heck heroine, and a happy ending. Sigh. Fanny Price may be one of my new favourite leading ladies!

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

On the drive home from Blue Mountain I thought I'd continue on the same vein as Jane Austen and listen to Agnes Grey for the first time. It was a lovely listen/read but not nearly as captivating as my favourite of Anne Bronte's, The Tennant of Wildfell Hall. You do fall for Agnes and cheer her on through awful situations and trying life circumstances, and celebrate her romantic triumph at the close of the book, but it wasn't the most memorable Bronte book.

The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown

This was the most thorough biography I've ever read on the Royals, while still being incredibly fresh and modern. Narrated by the author, I really enjoyed listening to this on Scribd. Brown doesn't pick sides as she gives great detail on the Charles and Diana marriage and subsequent divorce, and she has lengthy sources and inside personal experience to back up her ideas and opinions on greyer issues. Highly recommend!

Blue Mountain for Mother's Day!

For Mother's Day weekend, the kids and I had the lovely opportunity to visit Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood, Ontario. Growing up in Ontario, I was no stranger to Blue Mountain and even had some failed attempts at snowboarding there in my university days (I'm more of a skier, what can I say?), but I'd never thought to come in the off season, which was why this weekend was so wonderful!

There were so many things to do at the mountain and the Village in the resort was totally picturesque! Our kids took to calling it Laketown (tell me you know it from The Hobbit!) and I loved letting them run free in the village between activities and whenever we were waiting for our food to arrive at restaurants. The village is pedestrian-only and feels so incredibly safe and charming - fun for adults but also ideal for children. To make things even better, Morgan came up to spend a day and night with us and after she left, my mother-in-law came up for a day as well. Being only 90 minutes from Toronto it was an ideal place to rendezvous with my Toronto-area friends and family!

We were hosted at the Mosaic hotel in the Village, which was so perfect for our family! There was a kitchen if we wanted to prepare any food (normally something we always do when on trips to save funds), and it really felt like a little chalet more than a hotel room (especially with the separate exits out into the village)! They even set up a little tee-pee in our room for our kids - something they'll do for any mini guest celebrating a birthday or special occasion (swoon!)

We got to try several of their restaurants and our favourites were breakfast at Oliver and Bonacini for breakfast, Copper Blues for lunch, and Northwinds Brewery for dinner and snacks. Eating out is such a huge treat for us and made the weekend extra special!

In the off season there's ropes courses, mini-golf, Crock A Doodle pottery painting, an indoor splash pad and aquatic centre (on top of our hotel having a heated outdoor pool plus hot tub), and our very favourite activity, the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster. We rode a similar coaster two summers ago in Switzerland but this one was even more intense! You control your cart, so you can go up to 35km/hr or use the hand breaks to go a bit slower. It's a really long and winding ride down the mountain and such a thrill! 

Getting away with just the kids wasn't on my radar and I was hoping Brad could join us, but in the end he wasn't able to get away from work with our family trip coming up. Even when driving was challenging (as all drives with kids are, let's be honest!), it was really neat to be away with my kids, just us. 

On the drive home as we were reminiscing about our favourite parts of the trip I was surprised when we all agreed it was that first night. We'd just had an 8.5 hour drive, we arrived hungry and exhausted, hours past the kid's bedtimes. We stumbled into a restaurant for a very late dinner and ordered a few fun things off the menu to split between the four of us. The thrill of being out so late, eating out, and being in a new place hit us all and we were all in the best mood! The days following were full of visits from friends, family, and tons of great activities, and it was an incredible stay, but that first night takes the cake. How fitting that it was on Mother's Day weekend that I'd remember that the best moments are just being together, and that my kiddos are my true BFFs?

Thank you Blue Mountain, for the amazing visit and arranging and hosting us so well. We'll definitely be back!


Books I Read 04/19

This month I read a bit of fiction, a bit of biographical, a bit of Classics, and a bit of theology. The ideal month! I love having a variety on the good all the time so I can read whatever inspired at the moment.

Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott

I finished this book on April 1st and was really tempted to just add it into last month's summary but I love rules so I couldn't, haha! This last installment of the Little Women series was very sweet but not my favourite of the trilogy. It was fun to read about Meg, Jo, Amy and Laurie all grown up and even with teen and adult children of their own. When I read good fiction I'm so absorbed into the world, so when there are subsequent books including those same original characters, I'm happy as ever. This was a lovely way to finish off the tales of the March family, but I think it was my least favourite of the three books by Alcott.

Women & God by Kathleen Nielson

I read this book with my friend Vanessa in a sort of penpal book club, since we live far apart and discussed each chapter over Whatsapp. I hope as I share these many books each month it inspired you to read and to remember that there are so many ways to do it - in a book club, with a friend over Whatsapp, on an eReader, from the library, as an audiobook, etc. I really loved chewing on each chapter and having a friend to compare notes with for this one!

Kathleen Nielson is extremely well-verse and thorough but also one of the most gracious authors I've read. In light of #metoo and modern feminism, Nielson kindly and diligently addresses the beauty of the distinctness between the sexes, our roles and privileges as women, and the honour of womanhood. Reading this book I felt honoured and seen as a woman, and God's word came alive in new ways. She teaches straight through the Bible from the garden of Eden right through to Jesus' ministry to women and is faithful to the Word and us women on every page. This is the best book out there on Biblical Womanhood to date. I can't recommend it enough to anyone interested in delving into issues of gender and roles and I suggest reading it in a group or with a friend as I did!

Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle

This seems to be the month to finish series! Toujours Provence was the second part of A Year in Provence which I read and loved last month. Toujours wasn't as great as the first installment if I'm honest. I still loved reading of the sights and happenings in the Luberon Region of one of my favourite countries, but the stories were less endearing this time around. I still recommend it as it's an easy and charming read, but it can't hold a candle to Mayle's first book.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I've already read this book in paper form (I enjoyed it with my book club two years ago) but I recently bought it as an audiobook narrated by Rosamund Pike when it was on sale for $5 in the Audible Daily Deal e-mail. It's such a dream to have on in the background of whatever I'm doing around the city or house. I mean, anything by Jane Austen is bound to be a win (minus Emma which I did not like!!). Marianne is so emo and tragic I have to laugh at her, and no one writes overly permissive and unwise mothers like Austen! I can't help but think Marianne is so unworthy of Brandon though!

Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II by Darlene Deibler Rose

You may know I have a strong interest in WWII, and that biographies are my favourite genre of book. I should add that missionary biographies are one of my favourite ways to learn and grow in my faith. They're like theology with skin on! The books that have impacted my faith the most are mostly biographies of faithful men and women throughout history. Evidence Not Seen was harrowing - the things Diebler Rose lived through are unbelievable and at times hard to read, but also her faith was such a precious jewel throughout and evidenced on every page. I borrowed this book from a friend but intend to buy it so I may read it again and again in years to come. I highly recommend it, and can't wait to one day meet her in heaven!