Making Room

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The documentary Minimalism (watched it) has been trending on Netflix and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (skimmed it) has become a phenomenon. It appears a few of us have worked ourselves up to a fever pitch of enthusiasm regarding living more simply, having less, and ensuring what we surround ourselves with is useful, beautiful, and/or both.

Being stressed out by stuff is not new to me. I’m kind of terrible at organizing things like closets and drawers. I laugh at my inability to properly deal with socks and think George Carlin mocked me directly when he said, “That’s the whole meaning of life, isn’t it? Trying to find a place for your stuff.” Adding two new little humans to my life has made my struggle with stuff even more apparent.

In all seriousness, I have been feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of things I have acquired in my life, including my very long hair that’s constantly in knots. This has me interested in being a tad more of a minimalist (if that statement even makes sense).

Is my interest in minimalism partnered with privilege? Yes, absolutely. I am lucky enough to not only have everything I need, but also many of the things I want. The tendency for those interested in this trend to also have the luxury of choice is at the crux of fair criticisms of the minimalist “movement” (read some of these criticisms here and here).

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New Year’s Resolutions…

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This year, as in past years, I came up with a few New Year’s Resolutions for myself. But, I’ve since scratched my list and gathered some inspiration to guide me in 2017 instead.

On parenting…

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” James Baldwin

“One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.” Jane Goodall

On decluttering and becoming more of a minimalist (yes, I just watched this)…

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci 

On showing love …

“Some think love can be measured by the amount of butterflies in their tummy. Others think love can be measured in bunches of flowers, or by using the words ‘for ever.’ But love can only truly be measured by actions. It can be a small thing, such as peeling an orange for a person you love because you know they don’t like doing it.” Marian Keyes

On being a good global citizen…

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

On taking care of my physical self…

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto)

 

What about you? Did you decide to make resolutions this year?

Last Minute Gift Idea: Pre-Loved Books

IMG_5647.JPGThere is something wonderfully personal about giving someone a book you’ve handpicked for them. So, this Christmas, with the help of Value Village, I selected some pre-loved books to give as gifts to my loved ones. Here are a few I chose which may help inspire you in your search…

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Snow-Day Hot Chocolate

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Snow and a hankering for hot chocolate go hand-in-hand. So, yesterday while we enjoyed looking out at the winter wonderland outside, Frankie and I made hot chocolate with candy-cane marshmallows. Thank goodness my mom was over because making anything with a toddler is always a bit bonkers.

*Not pictured: our chocolate covered hands, faces, hair, and walls and Frankie’s fountain of toddler tears from only being allowed one marshmallow.

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We dunked the marshmallows into semi-sweet chocolate melted in the microwave, dipped them into candy canes that I had crushed using our coffee grinder (mental note: I need a food processor), and put them on parchment-lined trays to dry. We made our hot chocolate to taste using roughly a 1:2 ratio of cocoa to sugar, mixed with a bit of cold milk, then topped up with hot milk. We stored leftover marshmallows in the freezer for when we have another hankering for hot chocolate, which will probably be later today, and every subsequent day until the marshmallows are gone.

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Links

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A few fun links to peruse this first weekend of December…December?! How’d that happen?

I’d love to tour these underwater art installations.

Such a pretty DIY Advent Calendar.

Ways to use the stress of the holidays to make your relationship stronger.

Would you eat dinner in the sky?

Beautiful ways to display art at home.

I definitely need a cat-tongue detangling brush (as soon as they’ve created it).

There was a National Pie Day and I missed it.

A simple design quiz to figure out your interior design personality. According to this, I’m “urban industrial”, but secretly I think I’m “transitional”.

This will make you think twice about parental shaming and fears.

A one-pot dinner that looks delicious and simple to make.

Some more fun reads here, here and here.

Happy Weekending!

4 Things That Have Surprised Me About Motherhood

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So far, motherhood has surprised me at every turn. These surprises have been both good and bad…

Good Surprise: It can be unexpectedly funny, absurd even.

Since becoming a mom there have been times when things have become so precarious, ridiculous, or insurmountable that all I can do is laugh. In many situations, I only get the chance to laugh quietly to myself, like, when I’ve had a prolonged, unintentional, “nip-slip” while ordering coffee from an unsuspecting barista.

Bad Surprise: It can be tedious.

I’m not sure if this is the case for everyone, but I find that being a mom can be a tad (quite) tedious. I feel a twinge of guilt even writing that, but I suspect that I am not alone in finding it difficult to always match the mindfulness of children. Maintaining patience/sanity can be a challenge when your 2-year-old insists on walking slowly through EVERY SINGLE puddle on his way to the park.

Good Surprise: It can make you less judgmental.

I like to believe that I’m not an overly judgmental person, but, then again, maybe we all like to believe that about ourselves. Either way, I definitely feel that becoming a mother has made me less likely to judge others. I think this is because motherhood has made me guess, second-guess, and triple-guess myself. It’s hard not to feel humble when the only thing you’ve managed to figure out is that you’re not exactly sure what you’re doing. When you find that you have suddenly become the mom in the grocery store who is giving in to her screaming child, you reflect on times gone by when you may have passed a quick judgment or made an assumption about such a scene.

Good/Bad Surprise: It can make you more empathetic, but somehow less friendly.

Since having my first child, I have felt a deeper love and understanding for the people around me, strangers included. I find myself thinking a lot more about the fact that every person was somebody’s baby once. Remembering we were all babies makes it so much easier for me to see the sweetness and fragility in us all.

On the flip-side, having children can make you fiercely protective and this can sometimes mean being less friendly. Recently, my friend made me laugh when she described her system of keeping strangers at bay while riding the bus with her baby. She keeps her stroller covered at all times and wears headphones (with no music). This helps her avoid having people touch her baby, ask to hold her baby, or engage in a line of questioning about her baby. Apparently, before she started doing this, the frequency of all of these things happening was driving her bananas.

Mindfulness

If you’ve chosen to embark on the crazy-train called parenthood I’d love to know what has surprised you…

 

Kate’s Fall Reads

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Kate’s second instalment of book recommendations are perfect for this spooky season. (Read her first instalment of recommendations here).  

I love the arrival of fall. It means colourful leaves, pumpkin-spiced everything, cozy sweaters, and, hopefully, some rainy afternoons with a good book in hand. With the weather turning and Halloween approaching, I always find my literature choices veer to the darker end of the spectrum. Suspense, thrillers, mysteries; they’re all fair game for me now. Here are some of my all-time favourites to help jump start your fall reading.

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Children’s Fiction

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

While Ray Bradbury is better known for his adult fiction (his works such as Fahrenheit 451 are very popular in English Lit classes) his kid’s books are just as delightful. My particular favourite is The Halloween Tree. The story opens on Halloween, with a band of friends gathering, eager to run amok.  When they discover a member of their group is missing, they must turn to a mysterious stranger for help. Only by travelling through time and space to learn the true meaning of Halloween can the boys hope to save their lost friend. This fabulous book offers a bit of everything; it’s spooky, educational, funny, and emotional and appeals to a wide range of readers. Plus, it’s not that long, making it a perfect family read.

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