Monday, October 24, 2011

bumps and bruises

Ugh! It's been a bumpy week around here- Finn has managed to injure himself three times! All drawing blood and resulting in many many tears! It started Tuesday with a headfirst crash into a vintage metal camera box Jeff has sitting beside his desk- first bloody noise for our little guy. Saturday he dropped an empty plant pot on his big toe. It instantly went purple and there was lots of blood- Its looking a bit better now, but you can tell it's tender when he has shoes on or is walking. Lastly, yesterdays over-tired tumble onto the corner of the laundry basket- a little scrape on the chin, and tons of tears. It's so difficult to see your baby hurt themselves, and especially challenging to comfort them when they don't understand whats happening. Here's hoping the 'bad things happen in threes' rule is complete for this bout and that this week will be tear (and injury) free!

smiles with papa (even with a sore chin)

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Yesterday Jeff had an afternoon meeting so I left work for a few hours to hang with Finn. To be totally honest, it was probably the worst couple of hours Finn and I have had together in quite a long time- He was over tired, grumpy, and generally not very happy to be running errands with me. We did find a nice park though, I knew that was an instant happy maker for Finn- I am pretty certain he would swing in a swing ALL day long. So we swung and swung and swung, but eventually had to leave to pick up Jeff, and of course, full-blown waterworks ensued. The afternoon was definitely a test of my patience, but also made me reflect on how much has changed in the last year and a half since Finn has joined our lives. Memories that were once so clear are starting to become foggy- Everything seems like yesterday and a hundred years ago at the same time.

The other day I read (and I am so sorry that I can't recall where) that it's such a delicate balance between the excitement and anticipation of children growing older and the sadness and loss of them moving forward... the mix of these polar emotions has always been a difficult one for me, and I'm sure its not going to get any easier as time keeps passing us by, but I do hope this space will be enough to remember all moments- both good and bad- and especially those that move along without a second thought.
I love you, Finn- even especially on our not-so-blog-worthy days.
xo Mama

Friday, October 21, 2011

This Moment - 2011-10-21

{this moment} - a friday ritual. a single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (inspired by soulemama)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Check me out!

I am featured over on Goat Notes Blog today! I wrote a guest post about making your own natural cleaning products as part of Julia's new 'lost arts' column! Pop on over and have a peek (the recipes I included will make AWESOME Christmas gifts!) and make sure to check out the other wonderful posts Julia has kicking around on her blog! (She has a whole bunch of incredible posts on eco-friendly crafts! So great!!)

Julia is SUCH a sweet mama with a beautiful family and some truly great ideas and thoughts! I am so happy to have been able to collaborate with her and look forward to doing so again in the near future!

Check out Goat Notes Blog to read a condensed version of my article, or you can read the full version below!

As I grow older, I am becoming more interested in the way things used to be done. Skills passed down from my Grandmother like canning and jam making have quickly filled my fall weekends. Homemade pies and loaves of bread (smothered with equally delicious homemade lavender honey butter) were a transition into ‘adulthood’ like no other. The joy that was felt after completing my first knitting project (with much help from my mother-in-law) still brings a smile of my face. Such simple yet incredible feats, and a glimpse back in time. I think what I love the most is that these skills are an exercise in patience- they require a chunk of dedicated time and though the effort put in is often great, the results seem to somehow simplify our lives. Living in a world where instant gratification is commonly expected, it’s amazing to be able to slow things down, start from scratch and make meaningful things to share with the people we love.

Over the past several years, I have been very dedicated to making my own natural household cleaning products. There are a variety of reasons: the overwhelming health and environmental impacts, massive cost savings, and noticeable improved indoor air quality, but I think one of the biggest reasons has to be the feeling described above- the gratification of doing it by hand. These recipes call for a few very basic, inexpensive ingredients, the majority of which you will probably already have in your cupboard. The results are a few simple, natural products that will safely and effectively clean your home from top to bottom (and they make great gifts to share with the people you love!).

White Vinegar: normal, everyday vinegar is the superhero of natural cleaning! It’s deodorizing, very inexpensive, an effective grease-cutting agent, and a natural disinfectant. (Did you know many antibacterial products contain a chemical called Triclosan – a pesticide that is a known hormone disrupter and endocrine blocker, and carcinogen in humans? It’s so potent and prevalent that it is often found in nursing mother’s breast milk. Yikes!)

Baking Soda: the same stuff that deodorizes your refrigerator is an amazing scouring agent (think calcium build up in your bathtub…) and a great additive to many natural cleaning recipes!

Castile Soap: this soap is made from vegetable oils and has a TON of uses! From natural cleaning to personal care products- a little goes a long way with this versatile friend. Check out Dr. Bronners Castile Soap- widely available at most natural foods stores. 

Lemon Juice: a great grease cutter that can add a natural scent to your cleaning mix!

Pure Organic Essential Oils: many people dislike the scent of vinegar, or really miss the smell of a ‘clean home’- pure essential oils offer a safer scent additive for natural cleaning products. Though I do want to add that after a dedicated month of using vinegar, I promise you wont even notice the smell any more (and it dissipates very quickly). Artificial fragrances (found in conventional cleaners, air fresheners, room sprays and many personal care products) can cause reactions like headache, dizziness, rashes, migraines, asthma, and in severe cases, anaphylactic attacks and irreversible repertory damage. We as North Americans spend upwards of 90% of our time indoors. Air quality indoors can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Fragrances are the most common indoor air pollutant, second only to tobacco smoke.
Note: Essential oils can have natural medicinal properties and can still trigger reactions in some.  Use with caution if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or there are people in your home with allergies or sensitivities.

You will also need spray bottles or containers with a lid to store your homemade products in- widely available at most stores, or simply wash out an old container for reuse.

You can use a spray bottle filled with white vinegar to clean and sanitize pretty much any surface in your home- I use it on absolutely everything- from glass windows, to granite counter tops, to bathroom floors and the toilet bowl. Add a quick splash to the bottom of the dishwasher before you turn it on to help as a rinse aid, boil it in the kettle every couple of months for an amazing descaler, spray it directly onto weeds in the yard and watch them disappear, and 1 cup added to the fabric softener compartment of the washing machine effectively softens all your linens- naturally, cheaply and without artificial fragrance! That being said, it took me a while to get to this point, as I found it hard to transition from having a cleaner for every surface to just using one spray bottle of vinegar for everything (though if you can do it, go for it!). Below are a few of my favorite and trusted recipes that should get most of your surfaces sparkly and clean… naturally!

The BEST (Germ Killing) All Purpose Cleaner

Add two tablespoons of castile soap to an empty spray bottle
Fill bottle 3/4 the way full with warm water
Fill remaining 1/4 of the bottle with vinegar
Optional: 20 or so drops of a pure organic essential oil of your choice
Give the bottle a good shake, and shake well before each use.
Note: it is important to follow the order of these directions, or the vinegar will cause the castile soap to curdle- the solution is still usable if this happens, but just doesn’t look quite as nice with chunks floating in it.

Super Duper Tub Scrub

In a medium sized bowl, add 1 cup of baking soda
Gradually mix in 1/2 a cup of Castile Soap (I use the lavender scented Dr. Bronner’s soap. Lavender has natural antibacterial properties, and smells heavenly! Alternatively, you can use plain soap and add essential oils of your choice- citrus, lime, orange or bergamot are personal favorites- 5 – 20 drops should do the trick!)
The end result will be a thick paste that will store nicely in a container with an airtight lid for up to one year. Use in your bathtub, on tile, in the kitchen sink, or any surface that needs (and can handle) a little bit of abrasion.

Sparkly Clean Window & Glass Cleaner

In a spray bottle, add one cup of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Fill the rest of the bottle with water and give a good shake.
Use old newspaper for a streak-free (and paper towel free) wipe down!

There are a ton of incredible resources and recipes out there for natural cleaners, so have a peek. Try some out, see what you like (and what you don’t like) and go from there!

Good luck and enjoy! xo

Sunday, October 16, 2011


11 things that are making me very very happy on this beautiful Sunday morning:

1. Hot tea steaming up my glasses.
2. Visits to see some of my favourite people today! Stephanie Janice, my Mama and my Grandma's for dinner.
3. Sweater weather! I absolutley LOVE sunny, crisp fall days- cool enough for cozy sweaters, scarves and boots, but warm enough for not much else.
4. Remembering the deliciousness of last night birthday dinner celebrating my sweetest Holly! (The restaurant was soooooo beautiful too!)
5. Day dreaming about the house we looked at on Friday! Already laying out furniture and planning paint colours. (Oh dear.)
6. Pottery class tomorrow- I WILL make something lovely! Last week (being Thanksgiving) we had the week off, so I am extra excited for tomorrow!
7. THIS pine cone garland - so simple and cute! (found via Pinterest)
8. Planning for our 'Sustainable Gift Giving' event next month- I get coordinate eco gift wrapping ideas and have discovered sooooo many incredible ones!! I cant wait to share them all with you in the coming weeks! (in case you forgot, I LOVE wrapping presents!!!)
9. THIS beautiful wedding over on Green Wedding Shoes- so simple and stunning! 
10.  My sweet friend Cara and her little family FINALLY moving back to Calgary after being in London for the last 3 years!! Two more weeks!!
11. My guest post on Goat Notes Blog this Tuesday! 

Yippy!! Happy Sunday everyone!! xo

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I absolutely LOVE Instagram! It's totally the best, and I'm sure most everyone who has used it would agree. My issue (or maybe not issue, maybe more of a slight bummer) is that if your friends/ family don't have the app, they cant really follow along and see everything that's happening. Jeff and I use it a lot and post tons of pictures through it, so it would be so nice to have a the ability to email a link that everyone could simply go to and see whats new. I recently stumbled across Followgram - an online web application that links to your Instagram account and creates a simple web address that shows all your Instagram pictures- solving that little bummer of a problem!!! It's so great and so simple, so I thought I would share!

Check out my Instagram/ Followgram HERE


Friday, October 14, 2011

this moment - 2011-10-14

{this moment} - a friday ritual. a single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (inspired by soulemama)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Loving right now...

WOMWOMS Animal Baby Blankets (via ohdeardrea) | Newtok Hooded Scarf (via Ozetta)

Benjamin Phillips Illustration 'Winter Crowd' | Weaver Moccasin Ruddy Duck (via Silver & Gold)

Making little bow ties!

I have recently joined the bow tie bandwagon and wanted to make Jeff and Finn matching ones to wear to thanksgiving dinner. I found a couple of great tutorials online (here and here) and decided to combine a few bits and pieces of each to create a very simple, (almost entirely) no-sew version that was whipped together quite quickly. And the end result- totally perfect! EXACTLY what I envisioned!

* I apologize in advance for the boring, not well shot or very helpful pictures- It was quite late (and dark) and I was more excited about the actual project than taking photographs of it, so your imagination is requested. (Though both links above has some great step-by-step pictures if you get lost).

Supplies to gather:
Fabric of your choosing
Velcro (just a few small pieces will do)
Iron-on fabric adhesive or fabric glue (alternatively you could use a hot glue gun, or a smaller piece of iron-on fabric adhesive)
Needle and thread (again optional, you could totally use glue or adhesive for this and make it a true 'no-sew' project)
Measuring tape or ruler

1. Cut your fabric.

For the main section of the bow tie -
To fit little people, I used a piece of fabric cut to 4.5" x 9".
For adult people, I used a piece 6" x 11". 

For the piece that wraps around the centre:
Both were cut into 4.5" x 2" sections - later on trimmed to fit as needed.

For the neck piece:
For both wee ones and adult sized, I cut fabric 1.75" x 18" (or so) and again, trimmed to fit later on.

2. Iron fabric - fold all three strips length wise, fold in thirds so the seam meets in the middle and press.

3. With the main bow tie section, fold  and press inwards in thirds the same as you did above. Place a small dollop of glue or iron-on adhesive in the centre to secure the two flaps.

4.  I fiddled around a bit to get the bow tie to pleat properly. I sewed a quick couple of stitches through the centre at this point to ensure it would keep its shape, but you could definitely use glue or just wrap the centre section around the bow tightly.

5. Wrap the centre section around snug and trip to fit. From here a added a few stitches across the back to secure the section.

6. Insert the neck tie piece through the closed centre wrap section

7. Measure the neck of the person the bow tie is for and trim the fabric accordingly (make sure leave enough length to compensate for the collar of a dress shirt) attach velcro as needed and ta-da!! you have made a wonderful bow tie!!

A few notes: In the future, I would DEFINITELY use an iron-on adhesive or fabric glue on the long neck piece- because it's so thin and long, it didn't stay together quite as well as the other small pieces. The bow tie worked fine without it, but I don't think it would stand the test of time. Also, with the adult size bow tie I made for Jeff, I put a small rectangular scrap of fabric in the centre of the main bow tie section to stiffen it up a bit and help it keeps its shape. I would definitely recommend this if you are using a thinner fabric.

And never one to be left out, i made myself a little bow tie inspired necklace with some of the leftover scraps.

Monday, October 10, 2011

thanksgiving in photos

We had a wonderful thanksgiving dinner at my parents house last night- tons of sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, cousins and kids running around screaming with excitement! so much delicious food and so much to be genuinely thankful for!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I love Halloween! I love pumpkin picking, carving and seed roasting, I love costume idea searching and making and i LOVE handing out candy to all the cute little kiddies! It's actually kind of funny that i love it so much, because Jeff and I never really end up doing much, but now that we have Finn, all that will change! I have been working hard on Finn's Halloween costume for this year (I will share that with you when it is complete) but for the time being i thought i would post some pictures of Halloweens passed and 'runner up' ideas for Finn's costume!
Finn pumpkin picking 2010

Last year finn was a garden gnome.
paper bag princess and Waldo
when i was pregnant with finn, jeff and i went to a party as Hutterites (it was jeff's idea as he had been growing his giant beard for quite some time and thought it would be perfect!)

this year, jeff and i might go out at wayne and garth from wayne's world (with my thick rimmed glasses and new bangs, i look just like garth when i wake up in the morning)
runner up for finns costume - Hulk Hogan via pinterest and charlie brown. also via pinterest

skateboard rides

Friday, October 7, 2011

this moment - 2011-10-07

{this moment} - a friday ritual. a single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (inspired by soulemama)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

giving much thanks

Thanksgiving is my most favourite holiday! I love being with family, I love all the delicious food fresh and in season, I love getting together with everyone you care most about and sharing in a glorious feast, but mostly I love reflecting on the year and giving thanks for all the wonderful blessings we have been given. This year is especially exciting! It will be the first time in a long time that both my sisters (and their husbands/ families) will be here and all of us will be able to celebrate together. Also, my Uncle from California is coming down with one of his sons, so it will be so great to have them (along with all the regulars) for Sunday dinner. I really wish Jeff's family could be here- it seems like so long since we have all been together, but hopefully we can skype and look forward to visits soon!

In anticipation of the big day, I have been plotting and planning what I will make to contribute to the feast. I thought I might share a few ideas and recipes in case anyone out there is currently still searching for the final addition to their big meal or perhaps just to have a recipe to add to the pile and try one cool fall evening!

Roasted rainbow carrots- this year I got some amazing heirloom carrot seeds from one of my favourite etsy shops, Cubits. We didn't have a tonne of success in our shady, late planted, north-facing, chilly yard (as you can see from the below picture) but it was SO much fun watching them grow and Finn had such a good time helping me harvest our little bounty. Needless to say, we wont be using carrots from our garden for this years dinner, but luckily, my most favourite little organic market, Sunnyside Natural Market, has the most incredible rainbow carrots from Blue Mountain Bio-Dynamic farm just outside the city. Fall is the most amazing season for beautiful fruit and vegetables and every year I count down the days until rainbow carrots start to show up at the farmers markets and on shop shelves. Chop them (if you would like- sometimes i leave them whole) roast them long and slow with a little olive oil,  fresh herbs (maybe garlic if you feel like it) and a pinch of salt and pepper and you have the most beautiful and delicious plate of carrots!  I promise all guests around the dinner table will be beyond impressed! (if you want to get a little wild, throw a little butter, brown sugar and herbamare in there- fantastic!)
my hand is under them to give you an idea of how teeny tiny they are! beautiful none the less!
a beautiful rainbow of organic carrots from Cubits!

Candied Sweet Potatoes - This is probably one thing most people know how to make, but they are my absolute favourite and I wanted to share an easy and beautiful recipe in case this is something that hasn't been a huge hit in your house over the years.

4 pounds sweet potatoes (or yams), peeled and cubed (or sliced)
1 1/4 cups butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1- 1.5 cups marshmallows (I usually use these amazing homemade vanilla bean marshmallows from a local market- any will work, but you want to chop them into smaller pieces if they are full sized. perhaps this year i will try my hand at making my own?)
ground cinnamon to taste
ground nutmeg to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and boil until slightly underdone, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool.
3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally, until nice and melted.
4. Stir potatoes into sauce. Transfer to prepared dish.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover top evenly with marshmallows. Return to oven and bake until marshmallows are golden brown.

(hmmm- who would have thought! covering sweet potatoes in brown sugar, butter and marshmallows makes them extra delicious??!!)

I am also going to be making Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts, Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Pie and a double layer pumpkin cheesecake recipe my friend Stacey shared with me.

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 graham cracker crust (I really love THIS recipe as their is no added sugar)
3/4 cups pumpkin pie filling (add a pinch of cinnamon and ground cloves if you like, or make your own pie filling and season with whatever spices you see fit)
whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1.5 cups of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
3. Add pumpkin pie mix, to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the first layer of cheese and fill the rest of the pan.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 55 minutes, or until center is almost set. Turn the oven off and allow to cool in the oven without opening the door. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
5. Cover with whipping cream before serving and ENJOY!

*I use a springform cheesecake pan, but Stacey uses a regular pie plate- whatever you prefer will work just great! I also sometimes add some cinnamon or nutmeg to the whipping cream for a little extra excitement!

Lastly, I was inspired by a helpful bow-tie post on one of my favourite blogs, goat notes. Finn and I are going for a little walk over to the fabric store today to find some fun vintage inspired fabric to make matching bow-ties for him and Papa (and one for his bff, Theo too). I'm really excited to see how these turn out! Stay tuned!

Happy (almost) (Canadian) Thanksgiving, everybody!! xo

Finn's first haircut

It has been a much debated topic in my family as to whether we should cut Finn's hair or not. And to be totally honest, I was a little torn about it myself. Everyone thought we should keep it long- the little curls at the bottom at just so precious and wont last forever! But today, Finn was sitting perfectly still watching Elmo spazz out on the ipad, and i just happened to have some scissors sitting next to me... snip! it is just a very tiny trim- mostly just cleaning up the mullet off the back of his neck, but man- he looks like a whole new kid! I am all for him growing it out or keeping it short- whatever he decides to do when he is old enough to do so, but for the time being, he looks darn cute with a little trim.

Monday, October 3, 2011

happy birthday, nana!!

Today is jeff's moms birthday! I wish we were closer so we could celebrate with her- have a cup of tea (or several), go for a walk and see all the changing leaves, and just enjoy some nice conversations- missing out on those simple pleasures is the biggest downside to being so far away, but i hope she knows how much we all love and miss her- today and always, and how we count down the days until we will all be together again.
Happy Birthday, Anne! I hope you have a wonderful day filled with all the things you love most in the world. Know we are sending endless love, hugs and sloppy kisses (from finn!) your way!! xoxo

Sunday, October 2, 2011

everybody's doing it!

It seems the 'a-z of me' is making its way through all the blogs, and being that i totally totally LOVE things like this, I'm surprised its taken me this long to get on board (Thanks to Julia over at goat notes for the final push of inspiration!)

A. Age: 29
B. Bed Size: Queen - though the pullout couch we are currently sleeping on is a double
C. Chore that you hate: Scrubbing the bathtub- it's so much work!
D. Dogs: We have an 8 year old little monster named Chapeau- everyone thinks he is still a puppy.
E. Essential start to your day: a mini cup of coffee from the french press and snuggles with wee man.
F. Favorite color: green- most shades and tones- though right now i also really love yellow.
G. Gold or Silver: a bit of both
H. Height: 5' 6.75" but I always just say 5'7"
I. Instruments you play: none really- i used to play piano when i was younger, but apparently was no good at it.
J. Job title: Mama and Office Manager
K. Kids: one little monkey named Finn!
L. Live: In Calgary Alberta- for most of my life. I have also lived in London, Ontario, and Jeff is from Fredericton, New Brunswick.
M. Mother’s name: Deborah. She hates it when people call her Debbie.
N. Nicknames: Jessie is the most common but i also get called juiceyka, JD and Jess
O. Overnight hospital stays: just one- when I was pregnant with Finn, I was induced and had to sleepover before he was born. It was no fun at all.
P. Pet peeves: I am pretty annal retentive so i have several major pet peeves- I cringe when stores leave their open signs lit up when they are closed, i very much dislike when people working are rude (if you hate your job so much that you cant even pretend to be nice, you probably need to find something else to do!), and i go bonkers when things are disorganized.
Q. Quote from a movie: Pretty much anything from "little women"- that movie is beyond incredible and full of wonderful, sweet things!
R. Right or left handed: Right
S. Siblings: One younger brother, Nathan, and two older sisters, Cara and Marcy
T. Time you wake up: Usually around 6:30 or 7. If we are lucky, on the weekends, sometimes Jeff and I take turns sleeping in a bit.
U. Ultimate Vacation: I really really really want to go to Tokyo- preferably with someone that knows how to speak Japanese.
V. Vegetable you hate: maybe raw mushrooms? I'm not super keen on those.
W. What makes you run late: I am a huge procrastinator. like... right now! :)
X. X-Rays you’ve had: I broke my arm three times when I was young, so there is that- most recently, I had x-rays of my torso shortly after Finn was born- they have no idea what the problem was, but think i maybe passed a kidney stone. ouch!
Y. Yummy food that you make: soup! i love to make soup! oh! and bread! i am also pretty good at baking and improvising vegetarian recipes.
Z. Zoo animal: panda bears! when i was young, my grandma and grandpa took me to the zoo to have breakfast with the pandas- it is totally one of my most vivid childhood memories and was such a great day. it played a big part in why we called finn 'panda' before he was born.