6.9.19

Sustainable + Ethical options for ALL

By now I know readers of this blog know I value a variety of things when shopping for my kid's clothing and my own. Style, trends, quality, price point, manufacturing, and keeping things minimal all matter, and often they're not all possible in one garment. Sustainability and ethical options are always a top priority and I share those garments often in my Instagram feed but I realize buying brands that are made ethically are not always possible and it can create a growing pressure on parents. The ability to compare ourselves to others is highlighted on social media and I know that's a risk every time I share a new ethically made brand or thrifted treasure. In an effort to help all of us on a pressure-free journey towards sustainable and ethical shopping, I thought I'd provide as many ways as I can think of towards that goal. Some of these options won't work for your budget or schedule and THATS OKAY. Hear me reader, I know we're all doing our best. I've included as many options as possible because I think we can all take steps towards sustainability in our wardrobes, but what one does might not work for another and we can be satisfied with our efforts at the end of the day. I hope this list encourages you and inspires you in ways maybe you haven't thought of, and that you don't feel pressure of judgement from my ideas. 

photo from a recent trip to Villagae des Valeurs, credit: Neal Hardie

Sustainable + Ethical Options for ALL

1. Shop less. Use the clothes you have. Quite simple, but we all have felt the tug to buy a new piece of clothing when we don't need it at all. I buy new clothing (new and used) often, so I'm preaching to myself here! The best way to buy sustainable and ethical is to not to buy at all. 

2. Care well for your clothing. Similar to not buying at all, but with the focus more on keeping your clothing wearable. This includes washing well, using good stain remover quickly so stains don't set in and ruin a garment, hanging most things to dry to prolong their life (the dryer really is hard on clothing!), not washing clothes unless they're dirty (all washing is taxing on a garment), replacing fallen buttons and mending small rips, and repurposing old pieces (I've done this by making shorts from pants, hemming dresses to make shirts, distressing my own jeans, etc).

3. Accept hand-me-downs, participate in stuff swaps. I love a good stuff swap and am planning one for a few weeks from now! Donating old clothing is always wise but it's even more fun to see a friend make use of your castaways. Also don't feel any shame in accepting hand-me-downs! I've loved receiving clothing and furniture (even our TV!) from generous friends and family who were finished with them. 

4. Buy Used. Thrifting is a serious passion for me! My schedule is very flexible and my kids even love joining me, so I don't have trouble visiting a thrift store for 30 minutes on a Saturday of 15 minutes during the week. I have found some of my favourite garments at thrift stores! I love that it prolongs the life of a garment and costs significantly less than buying new. I'm always asked where I go thrifting and I'm happy to share. My mainstay is Village des Valeurs (Value Village) because their stores are so clean and well organized. I also visit Renaissance and Armee du Salut, but have less luck at those places for kids clothing. Aside from thrift stores I'll sometimes buy things on Marketplace, Kijiji, Craigslist, or Varage Sale, and my new favourite kid's clothing site, Boutique Mini-Cycle. (see below)

5. Boutique Mini-Cycle. I love this site! They sell new and used high quality kid's clothing and they guarantee to buy back everything you buy from them. I've sold many of our higher end pieces to Boutique Mini-Cycle recently, so head over and check our their pre-loved section! See more about them here.

6. Buy ethical at the end of season when sales are big. Timing purchases for end of season can save enough to make ethical and sustainable brands possible for some budgets. Some of my favourite ethical shops that have amazing end of season sales are Lou Wolf and Les Petits Voyous.

7. Ask for ethical and sustainable clothing as gifts. Often our kid's grandparents will ask for some gift ideas for the kids and I'll often include ethical brands that might not work for our budget that month. My parents have bought the girls dresses that are ethically made for Christmas or birthdays, for example.

8. Make fast fashion slower. This one is really important as I assume most of us are not ready to never again shop at Old Navy, Gap, Zara, or HM. Yes these brands are fast fashion and unethical, but sometimes it's what we can afford and the ease of online shopping wins out. How can you slow down these purchases? Commit to keeping and re-purposing these pieces for several years, buy fewer pieces (yay, capsule wardrobes!), choose eco-friendly materials like denim and cotton instead of synthetic ones that don't biodegrade, give these pieces away to friends or charities when you're finished, etc. 

9. Consider cost per wear. When looking at the price tags of ethical clothing it's easy to be discouraged. If you're buying quality pieces though, they should last for a very long time (most ethical pieces are also very well made, unlike fast fashion which is mass produces and not built to last). For girls, I especially love skirts and dresses because they seem to last for two years per sister. Anything I know they'll wear for a long time and can be handed down is more justifiable financially. This means I'll more likely buy ethical clothing for my oldest daughter because she can hand everything down to her sister. Little sister gets fewer ethical pieces if she needs something new as cost-per-wear will be higher. 

10. Buy timeless styles + neutrals. Speaking of handing down pieces to other siblings, a sure fire way to keep your clothing for a long time it so make sure it works for both boys and girls and is outside of trends. Neutrals match everything and never go out of style, same with basic stripes. Oli wears quite a lot of Lily's old clothing (sweat pants, sweat shirts, skinny jeans, t-shirts) and in turn, he's handed all of those items down further to Chloe. 

Have I missed anything? I hope this was helpful!

20.8.19

a Montreal summer (2019)

We're winding down on another glorious Montreal summer and I'm at the same time ready for routine and September and crisp air and a bit of me time (it's been a while!) as well as grieving that our lazy fun soaked days frolicking around our beautiful city without a care in the world are coming to an end.

Days of morning bike rides through the Plateau on our way to tennis, and when we weren't at the local pool we were haunting every nearby splash pad. Days of walking a dozen kilometers when we weren't riding our bikes across the city, and letting that be our justification for regular ice cream shop visits.


Days of discovering new neighbourhoods and packing lunch and not knowing when we'd be home. Days of zoo visits (and using our gifted membership more than I ever thought we could!) and extra time with Brad.


Days where I needed someone to pinch me because Morgan and her family spent all of July living in our neighbourhood and she and I literally spent every day together. Days where six kids and two moms was the norm and we moved in a pack.


Days where we left Montreal for Camp des Bouleaux, a slice of heaven on earth with the dearest families, best teaching, warmest lake, and abundant blessing. Days where we visited family in Wasaga Beach and Fonthill but felt deep down that Montreal would always be home.


These have been the days. It's been wonderful and we won't forget it, but September, give us your best, we're ready.

17.8.19

Adding Contrast to our Living Room

I've recently shared our dining room, where you caught a glimpse of our living room, but there are already a few small changes so I thought I'd do a room tour to share. As I've fine tuned my style over the years I've found myself more and more drawn to contrast, neutrals, and natural materials such as wood, rocks and shells, linens, etc. Now, I love change and I love decor which can be an expensive and materialistic combination.  I think there's something to be said for "good enough" and not always trying to change your space for the sake of newer and better (see this excellent article on the subject), but I also think changing things up at home are one way I use my creativity and as long as it's done economically and in a meaningful way, I'm OK with the frequency I tweak our space. As you'll see, these changes were all very meaningful and most were very affordable (or free).


I love how the little black pieces add pops of interest in the room. I used to have pops of colour for that purpose but as I've leaned more and more to neutrals in recent years I like how black does the same thing in our mostly grey and white space. 

The first change was adding the black cushion to our Eames-style accent chair. Before we had the white cushion with small black details (now on the couch, contrasting against our grey couch), but I love how the black one shines against the white chair. I was gifted this pillow as a set of four cushion covers from Valiant Home which sells for $40 on Amazon. All of the cushions in the set are minimal and neutral but I think the black is my favourite. 




The next change is on our floating shelves. As you have probably read, we love getting meaningful souvenirs when we travel. The Face is a famous archaeological find from the Greek Islands and you'll find replicas of it everywhere in Greece, so when I saw this small black one at a shop on the beach in Klima (our town on Milos, our favourite Greek Island) I knew it would be the perfect souvenir. It was around $10 and handmade in Greece. The hourglass was a fun discovery as we were walking around on Milos one afternoon during siesta time and everything was closed except this sand museum. It was the coolest thing! There was sand from literally everywhere in the world, and our guide explained to us how black sand is magnetic. When we found the hourglasses for sale we both thought it was a really beautiful piece to bring home. It sealed the deal knowing that the black sand within was from Klima, our little beach! 



The stack of Bibles on our fireplace mantle are so beautiful and so special to me. They're from Bibliotheca, a new print company who aims to make God's word easier to read. Bibliotheca hasn't changed the text of the Bible at all, but has redesigned the text, font, magrins, and paper to give the experience of a true book. Typically, Bibles have small font, extremely thin pages, and each page is in two columns. This saves space and makes reprinting affordable, but as a book lover I have to say it doesn't contribute to readability. This set isn't a cheap purchase, but I foresee us keeping it for a lifetime, and you really are paying for quality. The Biblitheca books also divide the Bible into literary genres and eliminate verses and chapter numbers, so it truly feels like reading any book. As an avid reader, I was amazed at how much more of God's word I read when it was presented to me in this style! The books are also stunning and incredibly well made. Definitely take a look at Bibliotheca's Bible set, especially if you find yourself loving to read but struggling to find time in the Word. 


The black floral print is a favourite from Juniper Print Shop and I love how it looks against the white frame and pale grey walls. It's not new but felt appropriate to add in a post about black accents! On either side we have small vessels of shells, sea glass, and driftwood that we've collected over the years from the beaches of PEI, Iceland, and Okinawa. They're all so different and beautiful and we love looking through them regularly. Those little treasures are the best that cost nothing and bring memories and character to a room I think!

This post was in collaboration with Biblioteca and Valiant Home.
Those products were gifted to me and I truly love them! 
To book a collaboration, please contact me.

we wrote the QUEEN and she wrote back!!

You know my Royals love runs deep, but if you can believe it, I'd never written to any member of the Royal Family. I know quite a few people who care far less about the Royals and have still done so for whatever reason, so I knew I needed to step up my game. Honestly, the final push to writing Queen Elizabeth was my realizing that at 93 years old, she won't be around much longer and she's by far my favourite member of the Royal Family. I felt our time to write Her Majesty was fleeting, so I asked the kids if they were interested in writing her a letter and Lily and Oli enthusiastically joined me in our correspondence. Chloe didn't want to, and I totally supported that (she always has shared a lot of similarities with her dad, haha!) We all wrote our own letters to the Queen and I also wrote a letter to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Megs and Haz!) congratulating them on the birth of their baby, since it was the week he was born. I've always heard that someone from the Palace responds to every letter the Queen receives so I was hopeful that in three or so months, we'd have our reply. My expectations were that if we did receive a response it would be a stock reply that everyone receives, and I was completely okay with that! 



You guys, every expectation was exceeded in every way!!!

Six weeks later, Brad has a goofy grin on his face as I came in the door with some errands. He's not a Royals fan by a long shot, but he is a loving and supportive husband, so he was genuinely delighted to tell me that I had some interesting mail waiting inside. I was confused because it was far too soon to hear back from the Queen. Then he handed me the envelope, quite thick with the words ROYAL MAIL and BUCKINGHAM PALACE typed on the top. I was in completely shock and couldn't stop laughing! If you can believe my self control (I still can't), I didn't open it right away because I wanted to have some time to really read the letter and take it all in. Later that evening when the kids were in bed, I opened the envelope to find three letters addressed to myself, Lily, and Oli and they were ALL unique and detailed, responding to distinct comments and questions my children posed and memories I shared (of Morgan and I's visit to London and my family heritage). What an amazing keepsake and gift! The Queen's lady in waiting also included some brochures for the kids of the Royal pets that the Queen keeps (corgis and horses mainly). 

Just last week I learned that my great grandfather received an OBE for his work with spitfires in WWII and that he had a letter from King George VI which my grandmother still has. Royal correspondence really is a piece of history and I can't believe I have my very own! A few weeks later we received a stock reply from Harry and Meghan thanking me for my best wishes in an envelope with KENSINGTON PALACE and ROYAL MAIL scrolled across it. It included a typed message and a colour photo of them at Archie's christening. Both are so special, but the Queen's reply might be my most prized possession! 

Here's the addresses we used if you'd like to write the Royals!

Queen Elizabeth II: 

Her Majesty The Queen
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA

William and Kate or Harry and Meghan (they have the same writing address):

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Clarence House
London SW1A 1BA



11.7.19

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!

10.7.19

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!

8.7.19

mélange




5.7.19

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!

1.7.19

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!