18.1.18

do you have pets?


Growing up we never had any furry pets, just a turtle that I outgrew in a couple of years and gave to a "turtle farm"...  looking back I have some serious questions about where this "farm" was, now that I think about it, haha! I desperately wanted a cat for years and regularly asked for one for my birthday, and in letters to Santa Claus. Visiting friends who had cats was the only halfway solution.

Eventually I got over our family not having a cat (my mom did have allergies after all), and once I started having babies the thought of adding another living, breathing, mammal into our home who would never be fully potty trained, independent, helpful, wasn't exactly appealing. Plus we live in the city and love to travel, so there's the whole trouble of making sure your animal gets enough exercise (again, cats were tempting in this regard because they live their best life all day long in snuggle mode) and finding caretakers for them if you're leaving town. There's also the added expense that animals bring to the table. We are incredibly thorough with our finances and somehow make it work in an urban setting, with three kids, on one salary, but having an animal is a financial decision, not just an emotional one. There's the food, the equipment/accessories, but especially the vet bills which can come unexpectedly. I have friends who have had unplanned vet bills for hundreds and even thousands of dollars!

Animals, I'm told, are wonderful additions to any family, despite it all. I posted something similar on Instagram and the comments were insightful and even moving. Some said their pet was at times their only friend during a lonely childhood, others say their pets are truly part of the family and your love for them surpasses any drawback. I think it certainly depends on the family and your context, but for us, I'm not swayed, to my children's dismay. I love my fur-free, unscratched furniture too much, I'm not ready to face the added expense, but most importantly, I love the freedom that being a pet-free family affords. If we're having fun at the park, and have been out all day, we don't have to run home to take the dog out. If we find a last minute deal and want to travel for the weekend or week or even more, we can just go (provided work and school allow).

I can't deny that snuggling my friend's baby kitten a few weeks ago brought a moment of total relaxation and awe - like holding a snuggly newborn who will never cry (loudly) or grow to have tantrums, or claim to be hungry five minutes after mealtime. That kitten was seriously the sweetest thing! But for us, that's where it will stay - and thankfully we have several friends with cats and dogs that we can visit regularly to get our pet fix. I loved reading the comments regarding why you do or don't have pets in your family over on Instagram, but if you'd rather, please leave your thoughts here! Tell me, are you a pet family? Why or why not? Were any of my hesitations yours, too?

15.1.18

croissant bread pudding

This time of year, it's all about comfort food. I've finally found a Shepherds Pie that I love and I have this casserole on repeat. There's plenty of time this summer for crisp salads, but right now I want everything warm and filling, desserts included.


I have a friend who loves ice cream any month of the year. I find her obsession endearing, but I straight up don't get it. Her idea of dessert, even in January, is the perfect cone, but for me, it's something hearty and hot that will warm me up from the inside out. Somehow we make our friendship work :)


I have a feeling more of you are in the comfy cozy desserts boat when it's -20, so here's a little recipe I created last week with La Petite Bretonne croissants and black berries. Like any bread pudding, you're mixing torn pieces of stale bread (eliminating food waste is one of my goals for this year, so this is especially ideal) with a simple custard and baking. Instead of day old bread though, I used day old micro croissants and tossed in black berries.  It's easy as heck, takes minutes to whip together, and is totally hands off after that. You can curl up with a book or give your kids a bath while it cooks, and then look, dessert's ready!

 
Ingredients:
  • Day old croissants
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5-2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Black berries (optional)
Method:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Oil or butter a baking dish of your choice
  • Filling your dish with torn up pieces of croissants (larger dishes will need more pieces, and slightly more milk).
    Let the kids rip up the croissants - they love to "help" in the kitchen, but rarely actually are helpful. This is something they can do just as well as you, so hand it off.  
  • Mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, and sugar together and pour over the croissant pieces. 
  • With two hands, gently press down on the croissants, helping them absorb the custard and so you can fit a few more pieces and berries in. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown. The pudding will puff up a bit, which will tell you that the eggs and milk have fully cooked. 
This dessert is great on it's own or you could serve it with a side of greek yogurt or even ice cream, in January, for the crazies, those inclined. Also, nothings stopping you from making this an indulgent breakfast. Just sayin'.
 

Thanks to La Petite Bretonne for sponsoring this post!
To book a collaboration, contact me!

11.1.18

Things to try in 2018: Symphony date night + 50% off!

I thought for the rest of the month I'd focus my blogging on things to try for the new year ahead. As you know from my recent post, I'm not big on annual resolutions, but I do like tangible goals and getting inspired. My first suggestion to you for 2018 is to plan an out-of-the-box, fancy as heck date night. Try the symphony!



Sounds expensive right? Well, it definitely is pricier than one of our regular date nights, but after Christmas each year the OSM (Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal aka the Montreal Symphony Orchestra) has an after Christmas sale where tickets are 50% off! This year will be Brad and I's third year attending the symphony with these rebated seats and every time we have an incredible time. Kent Nagano is the king! Hurry, the discount ends soon!

2.1.18

Winter Resolutions!

It's January and we're all making promises we probably won't keep for the year ahead, so this year I figured I'd save myself the let down and make some attainable goals for the near future. Winter resolutions instead of yearlong ones, and particularly winter because it's the hardest time to do just about anything for me. The whole season is foreboding and I typically enter winter with trepidation and low spirits. After Christmas, it's all kind of down hill for three months of dark and cold, which makes this season the most necessary for any kind of self improvement. If I can make it out of winter having done these things, I'll be pretty proud of myself!


I'd love to hear your resolutions too, especially specific ones. I saw a lot of "simplifying"/"being present" resolutions on Instagram this week, and I have to ask, what does that even mean?! My list is specific enough that I'll actually be able to look back come Spring and see if I achieved it or not, which for me is key. Here they are!


  1. Dress for the weather and face the cold.

    This is big for me because Montreal has been -25 all week long and winter is only getting started! When I pick up my kids from school they always want to play for a bit on the way home and I routinely say no because I'm too cold, even though it would be much better for all of us if the kids had some time to run free before coming home for the evening. Same goes for these long days indoors when the kids are itching to go out and play but I'm just too cold to be that mom. Well this year, I'm dressing for the weather in hopes of enjoying it a bit more, giving my kids more much needed fresh air, and for a healthier lifestyle in general.

    Altitude Sports send me these Holden snow pants a couple of weeks ago and it's been a huge game changer. Even with a huge parka and warm boots, my legs were freezing every time I left the house. No more! This winter, I'm going to really bundle up - even for quick trips to the store. So far, it's made all the difference in the world. I put on snow pants almost every time I leave the house now, and winter has already been more bearable.

  2. Develop a Weekday/Weekend mentality and cut out sweets

    I've always known that sweets are my weakness, but after December, when eating baked goods became a dangerous hobby, I knew I needed to get back to a balanced diet. I don't tend to gain weight when my eating goes off the rails, and I have no food sensitivities, but back in December when I was eating treats every.single.day I started getting pimples (the brutal cystic kind) again like I was 16. Ain't no thirty-something got time for that! I tested my theory with a mini experiment - I stopped sweets for just 48 hours and almost every pimple was gone. Ok, I get it. Too much sugar = revisiting the high school days. No thanks.

    Eating well is just so hard during the holidays, but I find even in the winter months it's challenging. All I want to do is cozy up with hot chocolate or have ten cookies with my Earl Grey. And when oversized sweaters are the name of the game, what's stopping me? Well, my skin, I've learned. This winter I'm aiming for a weekday/weekend mentality where I save alcohol and sweets for a couple of times per week (not necessarily Saturday and Sunday because I find that too rigid) and eat healthy the rest of the time.

  3.  Read two books per month, minimum.

    I'll devote another post to all things reading because I've received scores of questions about it over on Instagram, but for now I'll say that my winter resolution is to read my heart out. In the summer months our evenings are often filled with picnics in the park and late nights with neighbours, but in the winter there's no excuse not to read - unless you're watching way too much TV. I'm all for TV too (Victoria season 2 is out soon and This Is Us is coming back next week, and I can't wait for both!) but I want books to be my primary source of entertainment, and TV a distant second, not the other way around. Like any habit it takes discipline, but finding a good book is the best place to start. The best book I read last year was Hillbilly Elegy by J D Vance. Read the New York Times review here.


For this winter, those are my top goals. Reading like a fiend, eating in a balanced way, and facing the cold well prepared. What are your goals for the winter? Or if you're brave enough, for 2018?


Thanks to Altitude Sports and Holden for sponsoring this post!
All opinions are 100% my own. 
To book a collaboration, contact me.