the perfect diaper bag(s)

When I was first looking into diaper bags, I got pretty overwhelmed by all the different options and styles. I bought a shoulder bag from a baby store, but I didn’t love it (and thus returned it); since it was a shoulder bag I didn’t think it was the best option for me with my occasional back pain. It also looked so much like a diaper bag to me, and not like something I would use ordinarily. Which is fine, but I thought I would keep looking.

I knew for sure that I wanted a backpack, and while I love my Fjällräven, over time it ended up becoming Geoff’s computer bag. While researching, I would read about how people had multiple diaper bags and it seemed a bit much to me (little did I know!). But now that I have a baby, I see how sensible it is. I personally have two diaper bags that I use, both with very different purposes, but both wonderful: the Bartaile C12, and the OneDuo.

The above bag is the OneDuo. We like to use this bag when we’ll be out for the full day, for example when we went to a wedding with the baby. This bag is made of a coated cotton canvas, making it water resistant, it’s huge, and it has a ton of pockets. It also comes with its own changing mat. It can be worn as a messenger bag, a backpack, a shoulder bag, and it comes with clips to hang it off the stroller. It has pockets for bottles on either side and fits so many things! I call it my Mary Poppins bag. I usually cram it with enough supplies to last a week. Unintentionally!

(Gah, I am SO IN LOVE with our Bugaboo stroller. I will be sad when it’s time to take the bassinet off and switch to the regular seat!)

I also think it happens to be a very good-looking bag!

This bag is the canvas and leather Bartaile C12, and it is the bag I use on an every day basis. This one can also be used as a shoulder bag, but I like to use it as a backpack. It can even be folded in half and carried like a clutch. It’s a bag with a slim profile, but it also holds a surprising amount of things! I can usually cram a changing pad, wet bag, 10 diapers, wipes, a swaddling blanket, a change of outfit for baby, my wallet, keys, sunglasses case, a book, dozens of tiny washcloths... it goes on. There are many pockets inside, and it also has a compartment that would fit a laptop, although let’s face it, I’m not getting much work done these days! But it will also be perfect as a non-baby bag when I go back to work.

This bag is super stylish and it has luxe details. The gold-toned hardware is impeccable, and I love the little details like the blue water-repellant lining and the gold-stamped logo on the side. It even comes in a dust bag for storage, which is a small detail but one that I appreciate.

(Just a quick note that one should be careful hanging a bag off a stroller as it can tip the stroller. I only do it when the bag is not too heavy!)

Here are a few things I like to take with me in my diaper bags: I like to have a Solly Wrap on hand in case I decide to take baby out of the stroller and carry him; NomiLu pacifier clip and soothie; bunny rattle knit by my friend Megan. The clutch on the right is another amazing miniature diaper bag! It’s the Roundabout by Pretty Brave. It’s a folded change pad that also has a pouch for a few diapers and wipes. It’s also so beautiful. I got mine from the shop Billie and Axel in Montreal.

Left to right: the Nest from Native Wilds, which is a car seat cover that I use on really sunny days but also keep with me as a nursing cover; Bottoms Up! baby balm from Ella’s Botanicals, a local all-natural line of skincare products; and this is a pouch that I made with some white canvas that I painted. I lined the inside with some plastic-coated fabric from Ikea.


our little star

I recently sent out Luca’s birth announcement to... almost everyone we have ever met. During pregnancy, it was something I looked forward to creating and sending. When I was making regular visits to a fertility clinic they had birth announcements and photos all over the walls, and while at times they were a little difficult to look at, they were a symbol of hope (which, I suppose, is why they were there in the first place). I love sending and receiving mail, and I’m wild about stationery. I was that kid who had a penpal on nearly every continent and would get so excited when I saw the mail carrier. I still do! Sometimes I imagine my friends who have received stacks of thank you notes from me wondering what they’re going to do with all of them (or I imagine them throwing them in the recycling bin!), but I will keep sending them.

I had thought about designing the announcement myself, but wanted to wait until the baby was here, kind of like how I had to wait until we saw him to give him his name. Of course, once he was here I was short on time and sleep, so I decided to use a service I have recommended to all my friends who have ever asked my advice on wedding invitations: Minted. They have a new line of letterpress birth announcements and since I have always admired letterpress stationery but have never used it myself, I decided to try it out. It was hard to choose but we went with this announcement, designed by Bethan Lumb (I also really loved this design but it didn’t work as well with our text). Stars have become an inadvertent theme in the things I like to pick up or make for Luca, so it felt perfect. I’m so happy with the result! The letterpress is such a nice touch, and I love that they will print the addresses on the front of the envelopes for free (obscured above, of course). The paper quality is wonderful, nice and toothy, and the photo printed nicely as well. (If you would like to make your own announcements or invitations using Minted, follow this link for $25 off your first order of $100 or more!)

(I love those Canada Post hydrangea stamps. I have always associated mid-July with giant puffs of hydrangeas growing wild in gardens, and Luca was born in mid-July, so now I will always associate them with his birthday.)

I did take the photo myself, when he was about two weeks old. Such a tiny guy at the time! It actually makes me want to cry (although of course he is still really little!).

Also, I’ve always been obsessed with baby books, especially highly detailed ones. I never had one and I was always envious of kids who had them. For years I didn’t even know what time I was born at or what I weighed at birth. I was happy to come across this lovely one published by Chronicle Books, Le Petit Baby Book. The illustrations are so charming and it has room for details and for photos galore. Although, um, I have only filled in a few pages so far.

The space here isn’t quite right for this announcement but I shall find a way to make it work nonetheless!


mirra mirra

Anyone who knows me knows I can be a little obsessed with phone cases. I even took a stab at designing them myself. I went through a period where I was switching out my case every few days, depending on my mood, from a silicone bunny to a novelty-sized set of lips to a more austere (in comparison) marble pattern. 

I was pretty excited when I heard about a new phone case from my friends at Shine: Mirra Mirra. This is a beeauutiful phone case in and of itself, but it features a mirror and lights for makeup touchups in the dark. I have definitely been guilty of a tooth check using the front-facing camera!

Mirra Mirra was created by Matthew Goss and Mark Ainsworth of Australia. If you watch the video on their Indiegogo site, you’ll see that this case took a bit of engineering ingenuity to create. So many things to consider! But the result is a slim, lovely, and multi-use case.

While the Mirra Mirra phone case is not yet available for sale through traditional means, you can get one via the Indiegogo campaign. I’m really into the rose gold (of course), although the marble is also a nice option. Choices, choices.

Currently Mirra Mirra is only available for iPhone. Follow the campaign via Facebook!

This photo above is from the launch party that was held recently here in Toronto. I couldn’t attend, but can’t get enough of this mirror display! So pretty.


a nursery for baby luca

On July 14, we welcomed our little baby Luca into the world. He’s the best guy ever and the past six weeks have flown by as we’ve been getting to know him. He’s currently sleeping in his bassinet next to me and I keep pausing to stare at his tiny body, with his arms up near his head and his legs curled like a frog’s. For weeks now I’ve been meaning to share photos of his nursery!

We didn’t have a specific plan for this room, as is usually the case for us when it comes to home decor; we just picked things we liked and hoped it all worked out. There is definitely a lot of white happening but it makes for such a calm, soothing room. It’s my favourite room in the apartment and even though it’s not currently being used (the baby sleeps in our room for now), I love taking him in there for diaper changes or spending a few moments in there organizing his tiny clothing. This room is one of the warmest in the apartment, but should be okay in the fall or winter (and who knows if we’ll still be here next summer). Oreo, that weird cat, loves it. She spends all her time in there no matter how high the temperature gets.

I found the round black decals on Etsy and applied them at random on one wall. At first I wasn’t sure if I loved the look, but I really like it now, and besides, they would be so easy to remove if I wanted to. The crib is from Babyletto.

I wanted to make my own star and moon mobile, but found this one on sale at Pottery Barn Kids.

A number of things in here are from Indigo: the Serenity Star (a thermometer/white noise machine), the bunny bookends, the pom pom storage basket, and a number of the books including the kitten-faced soft book on the shelf. I really love their selection of baby items!

These are little spice racks from Ikea! I got the idea from Erin.

This dresser was Geoff’s dad’s childhood dresser. He dug it up from the basement and repainted it a glossy white.

Hare silkscreened print by Melinda Josie.

Indigo pillow by Scout & Catalogue.

This is both a mobile and a working kite by Haptic Lab! I can’t wait to take it outside with our boy and fly it with him.

And here he is, our little Luca, on a Haptic Lab northern hemisphere quilt I spent many evenings working on. Each French knot (representing the Milky Way) and each stitch was a prayer that he would arrive healthy and happy.


portraits by erin klassen (& a giveaway)

Tomorrow, June 15, my brilliant friend Erin Klassen will be releasing her first book of short fiction, Portraits, and I am so excited to share it with you! This collection of “micro-fiction” is the result of interviews with 34 different women that Erin interviewed over the course of 10 months, learning about their unresolved feelings about love. This book is so wonderful to me because I am such a sucker for stories about exes. I can’t help it. There’s something so voyeuristic and fascinating about it all, and they can help one get through one’s own lingering feelings.

I’m giving away a copy over on Instagram, so be sure to check it out.

Love, lust and loss are universal experiences and Portraits reveals the vulnerability, anger, doubt, depression, introspection, desire, sadness, jealousy and regret that women experience while trying to come to terms with or let go of a past lover. Each short story is paired with art produced specifically for the text.

Broke up with me for a girl named Talulah.

From these conversations with a diverse group of women, Erin began weaving these themes into fictional vignettes about unresolved feelings. Portraits aims to shed light on the process of moving on from complicated relationships, a process which often includes obsessively analyzing our feelings or re-imagining difficult experiences as a way of coping with them. The goal of this collection is to share stories that will resonate with many women who feel big feelings, regardless of ethnicity, sexual identity or social status.

The book includes accompanying artwork by Melanie LambrickErin McPheeKathryn Bondy, Anna Denise Floor, and Alex Begin.

Portraits will be available online and in select shops in Toronto, including Likely General and Souvenir. $25 CAD. If you’re in Toronto, be sure to stop by the launch party tomorrow evening at Milk Glass!


introducing: wild hill botanicals

Today I am so happy to introduce a natural skincare line that is new to me, and relatively new to the natural beauty market (six months old!), Wild Hill Botanicals. Wild Hill is a husband and wife team, Teague and Sarah, based on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia. They grow and harvest all the ingredients for the products themselves, which is such a wonderful labour of love and care. I’ve been testing out the products for a few weeks now, and I am totally in love. As I’ve mentioned over the past few years, I’ve made a tremendous effort to cut back on beauty, cleaning, and skin care products that contain ingredients I don’t feel good about. It took some effort to educate myself and to change my habits, and I am constantly learning, but I haven’t gone back. I am always thrilled to discover a new line that really gets it and that can help me in this journey! And look at that packaging: it is perfect.

I was particularly fascinated by the fact that Teague and Sarah are involved in every step of the production, so I decided to post a Q&A with Sarah. I almost wish I had asked more questions because this is so interesting to me! I hope you will also enjoy reading them.

My personal favourite of the Wild Hill products so far are the Nootka Rose Cleansing Clay, which is gently exfoliating, and the Rose Geranium Toner. You can read what Sarah has to say about hydrosols below, but I too love them, particularly in summer. We recently went through a bit of a heatwave, which was early for May/June, and carrying the toner in my bag and spritzing my face and neck was so refreshing. It smells incredible and if it has a tightening effect, all the better! Plus Geoff has been really into collecting scented geraniums lately, so it makes me think of him, which is nice.

“Begin to realize that beauty is a ritual of self-care, and that skincare is a form of self-love.”

What made you decide to start a natural skincare line?

I have always had a keen interest in herbalism, and after "retiring" from the world of baking and pastry, I worked in health food stores for several years, which furthered this interest. I was, and remain, fascinated by plant therapy vs pharmaceuticals, and what herbalists call the entourage effect. Plant therapy works differently from pharmaceuticals in that rather than isolating different molecules and compounds, plant medicine in herbalist traditions trusts nature putting all these tiny bits of compounds together, and tries to deliver the plant in the most whole form they can. A few years ago I took a workshop with Portland Apothecary in Washington State, and there the amongst the oil extracts and herb vinegars, I encountered my first botanical distillation. After that my husband Teague and I both knew what we wanted to do on our property, and we began building up the farm and studying natural skincare. I traveled to San Francisco and spent some time with an ethnobotanist who is well known for producing excellent hydrosols and advising natural skincare lines, and from this education the line developed into what it is. Locally I am very grateful to Dr. Ryan Drum for both his writings and personal advice on the use of local seaweeds and herbs for skincare and health.

Tell us about your farm. 

Wild Hill Farm is 5 acres on hilly terrain set on the side of East Sooke Park, on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. This 3000 acre park borders our farm on two sides, so things really do feel very wild here. We raise a small flock of heritage ducks and chickens for pastured eggs, have a small orchard of mostly apples and pears, and grow rose geranium, lemon verbena, thyme, sage, rosemary, comfrey and calendula for skincare. Most of the herbs thrive here with nothing more than compost, lama manure, fresh seaweed mulch, and a bit of lime in winter. We do have a 40 foot greenhouse for the verbena and geranium, heat lovers that they are. On a wet and cold spring day, the greenhouse is my favorite place to be. The smell of the herbs and earth in there is so enlivening. By growing our herbs organically and producing skincare with them, we hope to both bring people a relationship to these wonderful plant allies.

What do you feel sets Wild Hill Botanicals apart from other natural beauty brands (I find the natural beauty market to be quite supportive! I hope that's been your experience)? 

Absolutely supported. There is currently lots of growth in this industry and room to move at the moment. Basically we are taking back an industry that has been polluted. We all know someone who has battled cancer, and it doesn't take much time on google to educate yourself on endocrine disruptors, bio-accumulation, and persistent contaminants. We all stand to benefit by simplifying our lives of these things. The Canadian government has a hot-list of banned ingredients in cosmetics, but sadly it does not match the standards of the EU, and many more ingredients should be banned than are at the moment. So small companies are bringing this needed change to Canada, and we are very excited to be a part of this group of entrepreneurs. Many large companies advertise the botanicals in their products. Yet I was surprised to learn that the majority of ingredients, especially herbal extracts that are available from suppliers being used for "natural" skincare are highly refined. Thus a brand might advertise their use of plant extracts, yet the reality is unless you have control over this step of production, whatever might have been a plant ingredient at the outset has been boiled, bleached, and clarified to the point of being unrecognizable. Here at Wild Hill, our goal is to deliver as whole a plant therapy as possible to people, and their skin. Whole means we grow and process almost all of the herbs we use ourselves, and make all our extracts ourselves. From wild rose glycerite to nettle tincture to hydrosols and double-infused oil infusions, we do it all because it's the best way we know to deliver potent herbal skincare, and also because we just love doing it.

What are your personal favourite products from your line? 

They're all my favourites! The products I use most would be the Rose Geranium Toner and our Blackberry Serum and Wild Rose Neroli cream. Really, I'm a hydrosol nut. They uplift the spirit. They're plant medicine. They regulate skin pH, helping skin stay a little on the acidic side. They tone and tighten. Mist, and mist often, I like to say. I keep a bottle on me wherever I go, and when I need a little a pick-me up I close my eyes, mist, and breathe deeply. It feels amazing. When it comes to moisturizers, I go back and forth between the serum and the cream. It kind of depends on the day. Our serum absorbs very quickly, that was important to me. It also has a really interesting blend of oils that I fell in love with while formulating- they're all either healing, anti-microbial or anti-aging, and the arnica extract is a huge boost. I love our cream for the rose hydrosol and rosemary hydrosols, the cocktail of precious oils, the honey and wild rose extract, and of course rose and neroli essential oils which are so helpful to sensitive, drier skin. It feels so luxurious and also like a throwback—your mother's mother's cream, something like that.

What is your best piece of skin care advice? 

Begin to realize that beauty is a ritual of self-care, and that skincare is a form of self-love. Be cautious of sunscreens, even the titanium/zinc ones. Minimize makeup. Hydrate yourself, buy the best food you can afford, be sparing with soap, eat lots of greens that are as fresh as possible, and if skin is overly dry or breaking out, use organic honey on the skin and do some gut healing/dietary adjustments to mend it up. Vitality and health are quickly and easily read by humans, no amount of makeup can fake it (sorry!). Your skin is your body's largest organ. It breathes and absorbs what is placed on it. In your skincare, look to support your skin's functions- namely breath-ability, detoxing, and retaining moisture. Yes, it comes down to more than looks, but the more we support the primary functions of our skin, the more beautiful it will look.

Check out Wild Hill Botanicals here. Stockists here.