Parenthood: Two Tales of Exhaustion

by Nadine on September 14, 2016

This photo was not staged.


Matthew, who had been working from home that day, met me and Ursula at a coffee shop. (We were on our way home after a busy morning out and Ursula fell asleep in the stroller. Perfect opportunity for a coffee break.)

Matthew told me that he had just had an apple and some cheese for a snack and wasn’t very hungry. So he didn’t order a cookie.

When we arrived home an hour later, an apple and a slice of cheese — totally untouched — were sitting on the kitchen counter.

He wasn’t hungry because he thought he had had a snack.


Tonight at the dinner table, Matthew asked me to get a knife for the butter. I did — and then handed the knife TO OUR BABY.


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Picture Book Fashion: We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

by Nadine on September 14, 2016

This book is the best.

Fun fact: the oldest character in this book is a big brother, not a dad. Who knew?

Ursula LOVES We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Aggressively so. She pretty much destroyed its spine. Which means it’s Real with a capital R.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

~The Velveteen Rabbit

Back on track. This isn’t about a rabbit. It’s about a bear hunt. And one particular character with great style. (Folks, my husband even pointed out how awesome the oldest girl dresses in this book. Which I’m interpreting as his blessing to splurge on oxfords and a cute cardigan for fall. Right?!)

Here’s the appeal: this nameless character — let’s call her Imogen for fun — looks comfortable. Timeless. And, well, British.

I imagine she rereads her favourite novels every year. She snacks on strawberries straight from the garden. She always wins staring contests. She has a dog named Rufus and a scarf named Oberon. She’s not afraid of bears.

She doesn’t talk much about her wardrobe — how dull! — but she’s very intentional about keeping it small and ethically sourced.

So am I.

(I promise a blog post on this in the near future. It’s a topic I’m becoming pretty passionate about, but find difficult to write about without sounding like a pretentious post-hipster “expert” on the sad state of fast fashion.)

Here’s how to get Imogen’s look:

1. Super Soft Organic Women’s Tights (PACT); 2. Matilda Cardigan (People Tree); 3. Cotton Poplin Sleeveless Shirt Dress (Everlane); 4. Modern Oxford (Everlane)

I’d totally skip through the “big dark forest” with Imogen. She seems to have life — and bear hunts — figured out.

P.S. Here’s how to dress like Mama Bear, Lady Tasha, Madeline, and the mom from Love You Forever.


Predict-A-Trend: Patterned Sheets

by Nadine on August 5, 2016

[Image source: Urban Outfitters]

Whenever I find myself in a so-hip-it-hurts boutique — there are plenty of them in my neighbourhood and I am a frequent-browser/sometimes-customer of all of them — I try to predict the next big thing.

I didn’t anticipate pins and badges* making such a loud comeback, but I did predict the return of the choker necklace.

(I also called the return of overalls, turtlenecks, and wide-legged pants. This isn’t because I feel like I have my proverbial “finger on the pulse” of what’s happening, fashion- or decor-wise, it’s because I like to anticipate the swinging pendulum. We hadn’t seen overalls in stores for a while. I figured it was a safe bet that they’d be back.)

After years of cushy white towels in hotel-chic bathrooms across North America, Turkish towels are popping up. Everywhere. Because you can’t do cushy and white forever. Which leads me to my next prediction: patterned sheets.

Like I said, we’ve been doing hotel chic for a LONG TIME. And minimalism has had it’s day, right**? It’s time to mix it up. Add pops of colour. Some embroidery. Subtle prints. Full-on graphic patterns. Whatever.

We’re already seeing hints of this at DominoAnthropologie, Urban Outfitters, CB2, West Elm….

[Images (from L, clockwise): 1; 2; 3; 4]

[L to R: 1; 2; 3]

Just you wait. Look at your bed in five years, then seek out this post. I told you so. (Anyone wanna bet how long it will be before I end up with striped sheets? Or a gingham set? It’s inevitable.)

Anyone else have any trend predictions they’d like to share?

*I’m not really a pin person, but I’m tempted to become one as a way to support local artists. Read this if you want to hate Zara like I do.

**Here’s an interesting article about the all-white aesthetic. I have mixed feelings. Because Paris.


Mmm. Doughnuts.

by Nadine on July 29, 2016

Doughnut! from Bellzon on Vimeo.

On a sunny day a few weeks ago, we were driving along Queen Street, when…

ME (the scheduler): Look! There’s Glory Hole! Let’s get some doughnuts!

MATTHEW (the spontaneous one): What?! Right now?

ME: Yes.

MATTHEW: How about on Monday?

And that was the day we switched brains. Our freaky Friday.

Moral(s) of the story:

  1. Be careful who you hang out with. You will become them.
  2. Doughnuts are a “sometimes” food. And “sometimes” can sometimes mean “right now.”
  3. Scheduling sugar is not the worst, though.
  4. My husband made the above video. I love him…
  5. …and doughnuts.


Cheers! What’s Your Go-To Table Wine?

by Nadine on July 26, 2016

Claire Underwood. So elegant. So terrifying.

Last night, Matthew and I watched Somm: Into the Bottle. Even if you’re not a wine aficionado, it’s a worthwhile watch.

(I also highly recommend its predecessor, Somm, a film that’s less about the wine and more about sommeliers. Warning: it’s uber-stressful if you hate exams.)

The doc, while featuring some of the world’s most exclusive bottles of wine, validated the simple act of enjoying a glass of vino, even if you have little-to-no wine knowledge. If you can identify layers and comment on how your drink has notes of dill, berry and tar — um?! — good for you. But if you solely imbibe because wine tastes good, well, that’s really the point, isn’t it?

And I happen to enjoy a glass (or two) or wine.

Anywho, the whole point of this post is that I’m nosey. Not nosey as in “I like to sniff my wine,” but nosey as in “I wonder what other people are drinking.”

At our place, you’ll usually find one or both of these on our bookshelf/pantry:

Bear Flag Smooth Red Blend (California); Castillo de Monseran Garnacha, Carinena (Spain)

What’s your go-to table wine, friends? (I’m talking about your affordable favourite to drink at any time with anything, not special bottles you pick up for anniversaries or dinner parties.) Which bottles do you buy in multiples?

P.S. Other wine docs on Netflix: A Year in Champagne and A Year in Burgundy.


Take Your Baby To Work Week

by Nadine on July 21, 2016

My kid has long arms. Working from home is hard.

Remember this post about “not figuring it out”? Don’t worry. I haven’t figured anything out. Not really.


A friend recently told me about a new co-working spot not far from my place. While this particular place doesn’t offer that super-cool, treehouse-in-the-sky, working-at-Google vibe that others try to, it does offer something infinitely more valuable: childcare.

Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? My neighbourhood is full of freelancers. We need this.

So for the rest of the summer, I’m planning to take Ursula to “work” with me for two or three mornings a week. She gets three hours of playtime with an ECE, and I get uninterrupted writing time. And coffee. (I think. I need to figure out who’s responsible for actually making the coffee.)

And because she’s only in the room next to me — I can hear the kids singing songs and babbling away through the thin walls — I can rest easy that my little one is okay. If she really needs me, she can have me.

As my writing ramps up — and as she gets older — we can transition to part-time daycare. (There will be space for her at a great one not far from us in the new year.) And on weeks when I need just a little more time, I can always return to our co-working spot for an extra morning or two.

Now that I have dedicated baby-free writing time on the calendar, I just need to determine how best I should spend it. Time to write that Great Canadian Novel Board Book?


For The Birthday Girl: A Geranium Dress

by Nadine on July 13, 2016


Pattern: Geranium Dress by Made by Rae
Fabric: Leftover gingham rayon from making this dress
Buttons: Free! (The fine folks at The Make Den let me rummage through their button jar.)
Size: 18 months

I do this to myself every single time: I decide to make a dress for an upcoming event, and then stress out that I don’t have enough time to finish the dress for said event.

I made a bridesmaid dress. And was stressed out.
I made a skirt for a wedding. And was stressed out.

Last month, I made a dress for Ursula to wear to her birthday party. It had buttons. I had never used a buttonhole maker before. It was the night before her party and her dress was buttonhole-less.

I was stressed out.

Fortunately, all’s well that ends well. (Translation: I read the manual. Matthew helped with troubleshooting. And then he took Ursula on some errands while I sewed on the red buttons.)

The pattern is a relatively straightforward make for an advanced beginner — or almost-intermediate, as I’d rather consider myself — with multiple options for the bodice, sleeves and skirt. I’ve already planned the next one: pleats instead of gathers, flutter sleeves instead of cap sleeves, the skirt a different fabric than the bodice.

So even though I had a few “Why am I doing this to myself again?” moments, I’m totally anticipating doing this to myself again soon.

It felt good to sew again.

Up next: Facing my fear of the serger.


Picture Book Fashion: Mama Bear

by Nadine on July 10, 2016

You can’t knock Mama Bear’s signature style. Polka dots! A collar!

She looks fantastic, even when grumpy. I feel like this is important for long-term life success.

And she continues to looks great while she purges and organizes like a champ. Also important for long-term life success. This book should be in the self-help section. So much wisdom.

(First came Mama Bear, THEN came Marie Kondo. That pegboard! Those boxes! I wish I wrote this: 8 Truths About Home Organization I Learned from the Berenstain Bears.)

Anywho. Mama Bear’s got it going on, wardrobe-wise. Get the look for just $606 (on sale)! 

Or “bear” your shoulders in this little number from Diane von Furstenberg. It’s flirty! It’s on trend! It’s…perfect if you want to be “Sexy Mama Bear” for Halloween or something.

If you dare to go Full Boyle — please tell me you’ve binge-watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine — you’ll have to make your own hat.

(There are surprisingly few turquoise polka dot hats available online. Crafty folks: business idea!)

This pattern’ll do — with this fabric, perhaps?

Fortunately, Mama Bear does not wear shoes. Neither do I. Because MY FEET GREW DURING PREGNANCY AND THEY DID NOT “BOUNCE BACK.” This is what people mean when they say babies are expensive: They make you replace all your footwear.

P.S. Here’s how to dress like Lady Tasha, Madeline, and the mom from Love You Forever.


Three Things: Nostalgia Edition

by Nadine on July 7, 2016

1. Big hair.

I am so happy big curly hair is back. I miss my perm. (And this collaboration is awesome — and hairspirational.)

2. This article.

When we talk about The Baby-Sitters Club now, we don’t talk about which characters we were. We talk about which characters we are.

I’m Mary-Ann. Probably with a hint of Mallory. You?

The Baby-Sitters Club was perhaps the first series for girls with an entrepreneurial spirit. (Maybe it even played a small role in our generation’s tendency to start one’s own business and to take professional risks. Martin said one of the greatest parts for her has been hearing from librarians, editors, and authors who were drawn to their jobs by a love of her books).

As promised (to myself), I bought this shirt. Matthew took a while to figure out the significance of the names on it: “Are they the original supermodels?” So close. And…maybe.

3. Luke’s Diner.

I needed a new keychain, okay?

We’ve been rewatching Gilmore Girls as we anticipate the Netflix revival in the fall. The first time around, I watched it from Rory’s perspective. Now that I’m a mom in my 30s — the exact age Lorelai is in season one — I’m watching it from Lorelai’s. It’s a totally slightly different show.

Related, my coffee addiction and sweet tooth feel validated every time I press play. (I’m drinking coffee as I type this.)

Also, I want a mug-cubby wall. #nexthousegoals


One Year!

by Nadine on June 30, 2016

Dear sweet Ursula,

You are one.

Just days before this milestone, you got an ear infection. And then you got a rash from the antibiotic. And diarrhea. We spent a few days in extra-cuddles mode. It was a sweet reminder to your mama that you’re still my baby, even though you’re quickly becoming an independent little girl, with strong opinions, specific interests, and a very fast crawl with impressive form. (Are there crawl-sprint races? I’m sure you’d win.)

But on your actual birthday, as the meds kicked in, you were ready to play again.

And on the day of your birthday party — an indoor teddy bear picnic — a few days later, you were your usual sweet self, engaging with each of your guests as hosts should do.

Other party themes we considered:

  • recycling — you love playing with paper and cardboard and bottles
  • books — because you read them/stand on them all day long
  • accessories — you try to steal our scarves, watches, belts and wallets

A teddy bear picnic seemed to be the best option as, A, I wanted to make the house look pretty, not like an overflowing blue bin, B, every day is book day here, and, C, we can’t afford to put watches in the loot bags.

Your dad made the cake. I hope you appreciate his culinary gifts, child. Stick with him and your belly will always be a happy one. (He went with an almond-orange cake with buttercream frosting. Julia Child. When you’re older, I’m sure he’ll let you do the cake-choosing.)

We ate finger sandwiches cut into teddy-bear shapes. Little omelets. Mini muffins. Fruits and veggies. Cookies. We drank lots of water — your non-milk drink of choice — and a little wine. (Only 18 years until you can have some!)

I don’t know if you know this, but you gave each of your little guests a handmade teddy bear, made with scraps from Mommy’s stash. One cousin has a teddy bear made from the same fabric as the dress you wore that day.

Did I mention that I made your dress? And mine?

And did you notice that you sat in strawberries at lunch?

You’re a messy eater, Sully Bear. You like to bring your knee up to your chest while you eat, rubbing your hands on your pants between bites. And then you put your hands down, almost sitting on them, stashing food around your bum.

I scrub a lot. A LOT.

You’re still nursing, probably part of the reason why food has yet to be a big deal in your life. Now that you’ve mastered the sign for “milk,” you ask for it multiple times a day.

You like solids, but you’re not a huge eater.

You like carbs. As do we all, child.

You also like roasted veggies and beef brisket. And eggs and avocado. And peas. And all the fruit. And spoons.

When you were sick, I let you nurse whenever you wanted to. Now I’m trying to get back on a schedule. Mama’s gonna have to start working again soon, little one. And you will need to be daytime-weaned, at least. But for now, I love it. I love that quiet time together. The calm time. I love it when you doze off in my arms, a little milk-drunk, with beads of sweat on your nose.

You would risk your life just to reach a book.

You are learning to roll a ball across the floor.

You love banging on the piano. Sometimes even standing on it, Little Richard-style. (Rules don’t stop you.)

You like music. You like listening to it, watching others perform, and you like making it yourself.

(I could probably record an album of songs we’ve/I’ve written for you over this last year, including instant classics like “My Baby Girl Likes Books,” “We Can’t Spell Ursula Without U,” You Gotta Bend Your Elbow If You Want To Wear A Shirt,” and “Sully’s Rap.”)

When I ask you if you can say “Mama,” you promptly reply with “Dada.”

Dada is your favourite. Sometimes you cry when he leaves for work. When he showers, you sit by the bathroom door, waiting for him.

You can stand on your own, but, to you, it’s not that big of a deal. You’ll humour us and walk while holding our hands, but crawling is much more efficient. (I assume that you’ll just start walking on your own one day without much parental intervention. You seem to figure everything out on your own and in your own timing.)

Your laugh is my favourite sound in the whole world. You must know this, as you dole out your guffaws strategically. None of your grandparents have heard you laugh yet. Around other people, you’re generally happy but quiet. Around your parents, you babble and laugh more freely.

What made you laugh last week: I dropped a pea. I crawled under the couch to find a toy. I made my bed. (Essentially, Mommy doing manual labour is hilarious.)

You like watching dogs. You cry when they bark.

When it’s time to go outside, you know where you last saw your shoes and will bring them to me.

You hate the mall. Never change.

I love the way you scrunch up your nose and show off your new teeth. The way you play peekaboo with anything that will cover your eyes. The way you toss fabric over your shoulder as if it’s a scarf. The way you’ve altered the sign language I taught you to make it your own. The way you nap on your face, your bum in the air, without a care in the world.

It’s been a very short, very long, very exhausting and completely wonderful year.

We’re so thankful you’re ours, little one.

We love you forever.

Happy birthday.