28.11.16

des enfantillages

Yesterday Geoff and I went to the One of a Kind Show and the very first booth we encountered was for Montreal’s Des Enfantillages. I was already familiar with their work because I had ordered their amazing balancing game from Garmentory a while ago, so it was fun to see all their products at once. Des Enfantillages makes cheeky products for kids out of wood, with sleek designs and punchy colours. Everything is handmade by the owners, Geneviève Lugaz and Christian Laforge.

We couldn’t resist picking up a puzzle for Luca even though he won’t be able to use it for a while. It’s nice enough to display in an adult’s room, I think!









22.11.16

repository pt. 14: my new baby essentials

So I have only been at this motherhood thing for slightly over four months, but I’m finally starting to feel a little more confident. A little! There’s a new challenge every day, of course, but so far it’s been as magical and wondrous as I had hoped. It’s so amazing to watch this little person grow and to see his personality start to shine.

I thought I would round up a few of the products that I have found to be helpful: some are just plain pretty, but some have been revelations! Incidentally, nearly all of my money goes to baby things these days. Also, the fact that I spend hours trapped under a baby, unable to do much other than use my phone, means there have been a few too many late night online shopping sessions. And maybe a fair amount of emotional shopping (is that what you would call it?).

Incidentally this post took me just about forever.

Baby carriers: Carrying Luca has been one of the greatest joys of the past few months. I love having him snuggled up against me, and now that it’s gotten colder, we help keep each other warm! When he was a newborn he resisted being carried (at least until we got him outside into the fresh air, which seemed to calm him), but now that he can hold his head up and look around, he seems pretty content in there. We love different styles, from the Ergobaby (a soft structured carrier that has a lot of back support—Geoff loves this one too), to the Solly Baby Wrap (a stretchy wrap made of jersey), to the Wildbird linen or chambray ring sling (I find this one a little challenging to use because I have a so-called seat-popper of a baby!). Now that he is over 15 pounds we’ll probably use the Ergobaby carrier the most (we have the 360 because we have a baby who wants to look at the world rather than snuggle against my chest all the time), or try out a double linen ring sling, although I’m still trying to use the Solly as much as possible! In my experience having a carrier is essential in a city, because sometimes you can’t take a stroller on public transportation (no elevators in the subway, you don’t want to get dirty looks on a crowded bus even though that’s not your problem, or you live in a city like Toronto that weirdly uses streetcars that have stairs and are therefore impossible for strollers, the elderly, anyone with a disability...).

Marpac Dohm white noise machine: Luca kept falling asleep outside the doctor’s office, where one of these would be whirring. He is quite sleep-resistant but this seems to help. It has an actual fan inside; it’s not canned sound (sometimes the repetition of sounds can annoy some people!).

Nursing wear by Loyal Hana: I thought buying maternity clothes was bad enough, but nursing is even more challenging! So many of my button-downs no longer actually button down at the chest, and while at home I’m fine with just pulling up whatever I happen to be wearing, I’m not so easy breezy in public. These tops and dresses have zippers at each side which makes them so convenient and also discreet.

Booker Vest by B & Me: When carrying baby, I’ve been using this fleece vest under my coat and over the carrier or wrap, and it’s kept us nice and toasty. I was worried that I would have to stop wearing him in the cold but so far this has worked so well. It’s also one of the cuter options out there!


Bashful Bunny Grabber by Jellycat: Luca received this super soft rattle as a gift and I like it because it was one of the first toys he was able to grasp and hold and wave around. I didn’t even realize babies couldn’t grasp toys right from birth, ha!

Pom Pom Bin by Petit Pehr: I have a couple of these and they look so pretty in the nursery. I also have one that I keep a few board books and toys in so I can carry them easily from room to room. A little baby entertainment kit.

WaterWipes: I have been having a hard time finding wipes I like. At home we use washcloths with warm water, but when we go out, that isn’t so convenient. These wipes, which only contain water and a drop of grapeseed extract, aren’t perfect (the package is heavy, I’ve seen complaints about mould since they don’t contain preservatives, they’re relatively expensive), and they’re not biodegradable, but so far I haven’t had any issues and they have worked well! (I also like Aleva Bamboo Baby wipes, which are biodegradable.)

Nest by Native Wilds: This is a multi-purpose item that can be used as a car seat cover (especially handy on really sunny days), nursing cover, and shopping cart cover. It’s made of the softest fabric (from sustainably grown eucalyptus trees) and comes in a variety of prints. I keep one in my diaper bag always!

Clothing from Mini Mioche: I love everything from this local designer. No plastic tags that irritate baby’s sensitive skin, unisex, comfortable, and oh so cute!


Art Cards for Baby by Wee Gallery: We have a couple of sets of these high-contrast animal flash cards and Luca LOVES them. We keep him on his changing table and they make really good distractions. In fact he has tried to fish them out of their boxes on his own! I once strapped him in and ran to the kitchen to get something, and when I got back he was holding a full box of the cards. He just really loves looking at them and talking to them (although lately he’s more about shoving them in his mouth).  

Bugaboo Cameleon3: I know it’s a fairly expensive one, but I adore this stroller. It handles so well, it’s beautifully designed, and now that we’ve taken the bassinet off and put on the regular seat, it’s become a nap machine (I didn’t think stroller naps were a thing for us, but it turns out that Luca just didn’t want to lie on his back). I honestly can’t say enough good things about it! When we have him in there with his wool seat liner or high performance footmuff on, I get kind of jealous and wish I could be wheeled around in it. So cozy.

Bandana bibs from Aden & Anais: These are great for soaking up all that baby drool. Yum.

Cloth books: Cloth books, especially ones that crinkle, can amuse Luca for quite a long time, which is so handy when I’m trying to make dinner. It is really the cutest thing. He has a few that he received as gifts from wise parents of older children, including I am a Bunny.

Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water: A really miraculous tip we received was to dip a pacifier in gripe water. I was skeptical, but this move has saved us from meltdowns many times. I don’t know what’s in it (I’ve heard it referred to as baby gingerale) but it calms him down immediately. I have to order this organic brand from the US but it’s our favourite. I carry a bottle of it with me whenever I leave the house, although I don’t seem to need it as much as I did when he was teeny tiny.

Skip Hop Grab & Go Stroller Organizer: I used to see these on strollers all the time and never saw the need, but then once I was out using a stroller regularly I saw how useful it is! It keeps all the tiny essential things handy, like my phone and some small toys.

11.11.16

you care too much


Earlier this year, my friend Erin Klassen (you may remember her from her book Portraits) asked if I would be willing to write a piece for a new book project she had started about self-care. I was quite flattered to be asked, and since I haven't done any “real” writing in years and years and years, it sounded like a good challenge. I know that the term “self care” has become a bit of a buzzword lately, but the way Erin presented her feelings on the subject was compelling in that she wanted us to examine what happens after trauma:

As women, I think we often learn about how to care for ourselves when we've been through trauma of some kind — whether emotional or physical, trauma can be big or small. Sometimes things need to get dramatic, or we need to feel our lowest before we truly understand our needs. Women give so much to others naturally. We are communicators, feelers, connectors, networkers, problem-solvers and caregivers. We are champions and counsellors for our friends, family, lovers. Read this amazing article for more about women + emotional labor. We want to have everything, often at the risk of ignoring our capacity to take more on... and then what happens? Burnout. Frustration. Disappointment. Depression. In those moments, if we're self-aware, we do the things we need to in order to recharge so we can get back to fulfilling our role as emotional laborer. That's called self care. From my perspective the interesting part of this topic is in the “trauma” that leads women to discover their needs and personal definition of self-care. That doesn't look like a list of stuff you do to feel better, like take a bath or drink more water, it looks much more complex and varied. It looks messy. This topic should address the vulnerability that leads us to finding inner strength.

She had read the post I had written here years ago about my first miscarriage, and knew a little more about my situation from our conversations, and asked if I would be willing to write about it. It had been something I had been meaning to address in writing, whether for myself or for a wider audience, so this seemed like a good chance. And so I have a piece in here about my year of recurrent miscarriages, what to do when your own therapist tells you you like to feel sorry for yourself, and how I managed to find a sense of safety and peace in the 12+ months of my life that felt frantic and lonely. It was incredibly painful to write; I recall an email to Erin in which I wrote WRITING IS HARD. I also finished writing it in the month or so after Luca was born, when my emotions could not have been more raw and when I burst into sobs at the slightest provocation.

The book, You Care Too Much, is here, and I am so proud to have been a part of it. Erin is a phenomenal editor and she has assembled quite an amazing team of writers and artists: Tallulah Fontaine, Winnie Truong, Brooke Manning, Angela Lewis, Jessika Hepburn, Leah Horlick, Vicky Lam, Jen Spinner, Christina Yan, Adina Tarralik Duffy, Kathryn Bondy, Erin Klassen herself, Sofia Mostaghimi, Nada Alic, Naomi Moyer, and Mo Handahu.

The book, which will be released on November 16, is available for pre-order here, and if you live in Toronto, there will be a launch party at The Steady on November 23. Information here.

13.10.16

bluboho

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Cheryl of the local jewelry shop Bluboho and got a tour of their beautiful Queen Street West shop. bluboho was started by Cheryl and Maggie, two friends with passion for the stories that jewelry can tell. They have their own line of delicately wrought gold jewelry, and they also carry the work of other small studios. I personally love this quiet sort of jewelry, and was happy to hear they have started a bridal line. I thought I would share a few photos of the space and of the jewelry because I think you will also enjoy them.

The shop is on a bustling corner but inside it is so peaceful, and I loved the thoughtful decorative touches throughout, from fresh flowers to those stunning blue chairs. Cheryl and her staff were so kind and welcoming; often when I meet new people I can feel a little nervous but they were wonderful. They’re having an opening party on Saturday and you should go!

Our designers and pieces have stories that ignite a sense of connection and joy. The name is a deeply meaningful piece of who we are and represents the true intention of bluboho. blu represents the sea, the sky, a connection to each other and nature as well as unlimited possibility – encouraging us to continue moving and striving. boho is short for bohemian, and speaks to a free-spirited lifestyle with a lust for life, adventure and adventure.

At the end of my visit, Cheryl gave me the gift of this “mama” ring, and honestly the second I saw it I had tears in my eyes. I still feel a little strange thinking of myself as a mother, so it was validating and touching. I have been wearing it every day since! It would be the perfect gift for your mama!



The storefront is gorgeous! It can be found at the corner of Queen and Spadina. I had Geoff and Luca with me that day (on the right).



This “purr” ring is the most perfect cat lady ring ever.




Since the pieces are so understated and elegant, they are perfect for layering.









25.8.16

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.

7.6.16

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.

30.5.16

debbie carlos: poster party + promo code

I’ve been a big fan of the work of photographer Debbie Carlos for a long time (I got her giant ice cream poster five years ago!) and recently had the pleasure of meeting her and her husband in Toronto while they were visiting. And a lovely meeting it was!

She recently redesigned her shop website, and with it included a new lookbook. The lookbook was shot by the very cool photographic team Ola~Onda. Since we seem to be in the middle of a heat wave right now, I am feeling the waviness/meltiness of the styling.

Debbie has generously created a coupon code for those of you who want to check out her shop and pick up one of her amazing prints (or phone cases! Geoff has this one and loves it): THUNDERINOURHEARTS for 20% off your purchase of $40 or more! Good until June 25th. Happy summer!