Watching Montreal Come Back to Life (+ We Love the Habs!)

The Montreal Canadiens' playoff run came to an end last night, and in truth I'm crestfallen. But Looking back it was such a beautiful run and so important for our city, especially coming out of a Pandemic, that I'm filled with gratitude. 

Montreal and Quebec as a whole were hit hardest in Canada by Covid-19 and had some of the most intense restrictions in the country (a province-wide curfew for months, mass-closures, etc). A city that's used to tourism and festivals was incredibly quiet last summer as well as early this Spring. But the Habs started the Stanley Cup playoffs at the same time our province vaccine roll out was ramping up and the timing was perfection. By the first round of the playoffs most Montrealers had received their first dose and by the final round many were double vaccinated. Our first dinner guest in 18 months was our dear friend Camille who joined us for a meal and the game afterwards. We won that game and so many this playoffs, and playing in the final against the best team in the league was a huge accomplishment, even if we couldn't defeat Tampa Bay in the end. 

This Playoff run was great to watch as a Habs fan, but truly so much more special in light of what our city and country are coming out of. Hockey unifies Montreal like little else can, and being able to watch games with others, gather in alleyways, pubs, or public spaces to watch the games made it so memorable. It was also the first time our kids have taken such an interest in hockey and the Canadiens, and by the end all three would stay up for most of the games (at least until the second period!) and they all knew each player by name. The vested interest was a sweet thing to share as a family and city. 

Last night Brad and I went downtown to watch the game on the big screen with several thousand of our best friends, haha! You had to register online before and it was all very peaceful. No crazy riots or anything, just disappointed fans walking home after the game ended. It was amazing to be in an outdoor crowd again, especially one as unified and excited. 

Montreal, it's so good to see you again! And to the Habs, bon match, on vous aime, et à l'année prochaine!


Mini-Cycle is Moving + 25% Off!

You may know I've worked at Boutique Mini-Cycle for a little over a year now. I'm so proud to be on the team of this women-run business, committed to sustainability and zero waste wardrobes. 

I have always had a small budget for my kid's clothes, leading to my passion for thrifting, which avoids the reliance on fast fashion and still keeps things affordable.  Let's face it, buying responsible brands comes at a cost. If you're paying the people who make the clothes a fair wage and the clothes are made with organic or recycled materials, that's bound to cost more than fast fashion. But not everyone can afford the cost, and I get that (and I am in that boat myself!)

Clover, Oli, and Lily, all in Mini-Cycle
(some pieces new, some from the Re-Cycle Shop)

Mini-Cycle believes in limiting fashion waste and opening up sustainable options to more parents, so they guarantee to buy back everything you've bought from them (see details here), significantly reducing the overall cost. What's more, you can shop their Re-Cycle shop, which is full of pre-loved (used) clothing, footwear, outerwear, and textiles purchased from clients. I see it as the cream of the crop thrifting. Everything in their Re-Cycle shop passes their standards of eco-responsibility and durability, but is much more accessible in price. 

Another way they're aiming to make sustainable clothing more accessible is the occasional sale, which I've learned is a big sacrifice for small businesses to offer. This week they have a big one, so take note!
June 28, 29, and 30 everything on their site will be 25% off or more. 

The sale is to prepare for their move to a larger, brighter studio space. I can't wait to do photoshoots in this airy, open loft! Mini-Cycle will remain in the same building, but is now suite 491 rather than 325. Enjoy the sale!

Mini-Cycle's new home: 


Half Birthdays and the Best Cake Ever

As I'm sure is the case for most people, the lingering Pandemic has led to a good degree of languishing in our home. Generally we've been fine, but with every sport and activity cancelled for the past 16 months and very limited contact with friends and family, some weeks have been harder than others. Mid-winter I found myself longing for something to celebrate. 

The kids and I all had our birthdays in the late summer and autumn, and Christmas was behind us. We still had months until Brad's May birthday and Mother's and Father's day too. So I decided that we'd celebrate half birthdays this year. I know, I know, it's a bit excessive, but seriously it was one of the best decisions I made in the Pandemic (that and buying the kids a mini trampoline!) 

Sally Clarkson in The Life-Giving Home writes about how important it is to make home that place of comfort, celebration, joy, and safety, and I have been so influenced by her practices. Though the Pandemic is *hopefully* winding down, I think we'll keep half birthdays forever for the joy they've brought us, and that additional chance to celebrate each member of our family. 

It's amazing how much those half birthdays brightened our home life! I had been meaning to try out Livia Sweets that opened up down the street and this felt like the perfect occasion. So for Chloe's 7.5 birthday, we ordered their birthday cake. Montreal friends, OMG. The birthday cake was the best cake we've ever had. While Livia Sweets did gift my family the kid's half birthday cakes, I have already personally bought two more, they're that good. My mother-in-law had her birthday two weeks after Chloe's half birthday and I promptly ordered it again. Lily and I are heading up north this weekend for a Mother-Daughter camp and you know I ordered us the two person birthday cake to eat when we arrive. This cake is truly beyond.

You can order this dream cake, or anything else on their delicious menu (including cookies and dairy-free milk delivered to your door!) from Livia Sweets. Save on the delivery fee like I did by picking it up at their storefront on 288 Ave Laurier Ouest. 

This post was in collaboration with Livia Sweets,
but all opinions are 100% my own and I am a regular customer of theirs. 
To book a collab, contact me!


3 Very Different Books I'm Loving

Always a fan of wide reading, I often have several genres on the go. I wanted to share three new books I recently found on booksforchrist.com - I've said this already but this website is *the most affordable* place to buy Christian books online in Canada. They beat the big sites, often by a few dollars. I also love that they're Christians themselves, as I've felt uneasy in the past lining Amazon's pockets when I buy a Bible, devotional, or Christian book. Books for Christ is a small operation, they give back to charity, they have the newest releases at the best prices, and I have a 10% coupon code on top of all of that! But more on that later. For now, here are three very different books I've been reading.

This beautiful linen-bound hardcover includes the original text by Charlotte Bronte as well as a commentary by the brilliant English Literature professor, Swallow Prior. I've listened to Swallow Prior teach literary reflections and her thoughts on reading well at conferences in the past and I know her to be tremendously insightful and sharp. I couldn't believe when I saw her series on the famous classics! I've also ordered her commentary on Frankenstein for Oli to read next year for homeschooling and Sense and Sensibility for myself! $18 on Books for Christ (it's $24 on Amazon for reference)

The #1 Parenting book I recommend to first-time or long-time parents is this one! It's filled with grace and truth and reorients the parent's heart in the way we need it most. As much theological as practical, this book is one I re-read every couple of years and always glean new wisdom. He speaks to parents in general which is refreshing as often parenting books are very specific to one age or season. I have owned this book for years but have leant it out so many times it's disappeared! So I ordered this new hardcover recently and will read for the forth time this month. $25 on Books for Christ ($27 on Amazon for reference)

I've yet to start this one but I can't wait to. I listened to a podcast interviewing the author on this work and everything he's said about the life and person of Christ completely wooed me. That and the glowing reviews from some of my favourite teachers and authors (Sam Allberry, Rosaria Butterfield, Paul David Tripp, etc). Ortlund writes like a modern Puritan. His writing captivates the reader and illuminates Jesus. it's also a stunning book that looks to be covered with an old oil painting. I do love a beautiful hardcover! $22 on Books for Christ ($24 on Amazon for reference)

These three - one classic, one non-fiction (parenting), and one theology/Christian living. Usually I have a memoir or biography in there, as well as modern or historical fiction. Can you ever have too many books? 

Use this code for 10% off your next order and do tell me what you choose! I love to hear what others are reading :)


SHOP QUEBEC - Argile et Osier

Many of you already know about this Etsy shop because of my Instagram giveaway last month but I wanted to share about Argile et Osier here too for those who aren't on Instagram and looking to encourage Quebec small businesses. 

In fact Argile et Osier is a bit of a combination of two loves for me, because it's run by a mom in Quebec, sourcing pottery, toys, and baskets made by Tunisian artisans. Brad and I first met while travelling in North Africa and have sense returned several times, so to find a local business supporting other North African small businesses was a treat! 

I was gifted a lovely large basket which I use to store EVERYTHING - towels, toilet paper, books, toys, stuffed animals, groceries, things to be donated to the charity shop... it's perfect for all the things! I was also gifted two ceramic bowls which I use for salt and freshly ground pepper and always keep by my stove. I've always had this practice but the bowls I was using before weren't nearly as lovely, so I was glad to donate them and replace them with my Argile et Osier ones. 

Argile et Osier has some really lovely things and they're lifting up artisans in Tunisia so I'm glad to support them! 

This post was written in Collaboration with Argile et Osier
All opinions were 100% my own. 
To book a collab, contact me!


A Kitchen First for me - Real Donuts!

This month I tried something for the first time and I'm not exaggerating when I say it has changed our weekends. REAL DONUTS. I'm fairly comfortable in the kitchen, but deep frying and yeasted donuts felt like the final frontier. The idea of heating oil, keeping it at a steady temperature, making the perfect yeasted donut dough, figuring out how to shape them without buying a separate tool, and not burning myself in the process felt impossible. 

I own a donut pan and have made dozens of variations of cake donuts, but at the end of the day those are really just muffins or cake in the shape of a donut. They're not the donuts I happily pay $4 each for from local bakeries, nor the ones I crave on a regular basis. When my friend Aimee shared her recipe for yeasted, fried donuts, and she promised it was easier than we thought, she was right. And the best part is, a batch of probably 30 donuts (and donut holes, aka Timbits IYKYK) cost around $4, the price of one gourmet donut here in Montreal. 

After making the dough - recipe found here - I shaped the donuts with a large biscuit cutter and a much smaller biscuit cutter (they came in a set) which I already had. You could also use a large glass to cut the donuts and forego the holes if you wanted, or you could buy an actual donut cutter. I try not to have single-use tools in the kitchen, but go for it! 

Then, I fried half the batch in my Dutch oven which was filled with 6 cups of vegetable oil, heated to 350 degrees. I froze the second half (15 donuts) for another weekend and saved the 6 cups of oil in the Dutch oven all week. I just put the lid on it and put it on the corner of the stove I never use (why do we all have these!?) 

The next weekend all I had to do was take out the frozen donuts, let them come to room temp (about an hour), and fry them. Much less labour-intensive than the week before! See how much they puff up once they've been fried!

The glaze is my favourite part. You can't go wrong with a simple glaze, I say! I'll be trying other glazes in the weeks to come, but for now we've settled on Clementine and Maple. Both amazing, clementine probably being the favourite. Just whisk together every ingredient and dip the cooled donuts on the glaze. Double dipping is encouraged!

Clementine Glaze - juice of 1 clementine + 2 tb heavy cream + 1/2 cup icing sugar 
Maple Glaze - 1 tb maple syrup + 2 tb heavy cream + 1/2 cup icing sugar

Making my own real donuts feels like such an accomplishment, as deep frying has intimidated me for years! It's much easier than it seems, and I'm so glad I gave it a go. It will save us quite a lot of money, as now I swear I'll never buy donuts out again, and it's just such a delicious treat to welcome the weekend with. Truly, these will be a family staple FOREVER. 

Moral of the story - try new, scary things in the kitchen (and in life!) and donuts are always a good idea!


A Casual Family Photoshoot

Last month we met up in an old warehouse for a social-distanced photoshoot with Montreal photographer Steeve Razafi and I'm delighted with the results! 

Right away we felt relaxed as he chose some fun music and encouraged us to play, wrestle, cuddle, and dance as if he weren't there. My kids are fairly used to being photographed (#instagrammom alert) but Brad has never felt comfortable in front of a camera, but Razafi's kindness and calm demeanor put us all - even B! - at ease. 

Razafi focuses on casual lifestyle pictures - movement, light, real life. He has such a talent for capturing the personalities of children and those warm moments shared between lovers or families. I'm so grateful to have these pictures and I highly recommend Razafi for your next family photoshoot!


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.