October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

From ours to yours, have a very Happy Halloween! Do you have any Halloween traditions with your kids? I remember growing up, all the neighbourhood kids would get together to go trick or treating, then we'd gather as the grown-ups put on a fireworks show. The grand finale was this firework shaped like a school that would blow up. Pretty funny in hindsight. We'd sing Pink Floyd's lyrics, "We don't need no education" as it burned. Ah, the '70s. 

October 30, 2012

my sweet little niece

I can't believe my brother's baby girl is already three. I love the middle photo:  Her parents told her to "close her eyes" while they brought in her big surprise birthday gift (a rocking horse). I'm pretty sure she's peeking.  I love her so much. 

photos from yesterday's stroll

October 28, 2012

one of the hardest decisions for parents.....

Hi friends! I hope you are having a cozy weekend! The weather here has definitely cooled off. These kinds of days (ie. October through January) make me want to spend time snuggled under blankets by the fire. And by fire, I mean the fake flames from our electric fireplace.

Approximately once a week, local moms and I get together with our little ones so they can play and we can have some highly appreciated mom-to-mom conversation. Our children were all roughly born a month apart, and with everyone's maternity leaves drawing to a close, anxiety is definitely on the rise as moms are preparing to return to work. I've seen a lot of teary eyed moms discuss their heartbreak over the impending changes. Some moms have decided to walk away from successful careers, choosing to stay at home during these early years. They have downsized from houses to apartments as a temporary living solution to cut their budgets.  Some moms are choosing to return to work for financial or professional reasons. Some parents thrive on the balance of mixing a career and family. There is no right or wrong solution. There are definitely strong opinions on this topic, but I honestly think whatever works for your family is what you need to do. I've heard some women say that they are stay at home moms because they don't want strangers raising their children. While that is a nice sentiment, a lot of families can't afford to have one parent stay at home.  Also, some parents just aren't built to be at home full time. Parents are found in every demographic and what works for one, definitely might not work for another.

If you are returning to work, one of the most challenging decisions is childcare. Do you go with a professionally run group daycare? Do you choose a daycare run in a family home? Do you choose a daycare close to where you live or close to where you work? Do you hire a nanny to take care of your child in your home? Do you nanny-share? Do you have relatives that can help out? There are so many alternatives, it can be overwhelming.
Personally, I visited a lot of daycares run in family homes and a few group daycares. Each time I came home from interviewing a daycare, I cried. Don't get me wrong, I saw some amazing places run by very nurturing caregivers. Unfortunately, the one I liked the best would require me working full time just to afford to send her to it. It had yoga classes, art classes, state of the art classrooms, amazing playgrounds and an in house chef. Yes, you read that right, a chef. By the end of the tour I am pretty sure I signed myself up for it.

I think I found the process of looking for childcare so gut-wrenching because I wanted to be a mom for so long, and now that I finally am one, the thought of missing out on all the little nuances of her days overwhelmed me. It was easy to realize after looking at her photos from the past year, that this period of life goes by so incredibly quickly and my time with her is something I value more than anything. We reviewed our budget and realized that if we made a few simple sacrifices, we could swing things if I wanted to work part time. I am beyond thrilled that my employer was able to accommodate my request. And because it is only a few days a week, Stella's grandmas offered to take care of her while I work. For me, it is ideal being able to have a mix of worklife and quality time with her. I hope the transition goes smoothly (ie I hope my brain doesn't explode when I return to work). Did you find the adjustment tough? What was your ideal solution for your family? xo

October 24, 2012

laced in style

Images courtesy of fashionrising.com and pinterest

Last week while shopping for a party dress, I ended up buying one with a layered lace skirt. I couldn't help but noticing that lace was popping up EVERYWHERE. What do you think? There's the shift style like these shown here,  here or here. Or maybe you prefer a more vintage silhouette like this or this. There's also the form fitting variety, like BCBG's little black dresses shown herehere and here
Would you wear one? Do you like them or do you find lace reminds you too much of your grandma's tablecloth? 

October 22, 2012

party rockin in the house tonight (party photos part deux)

Here's a few more photos from my 40th celebration. I can't even begin to describe how much I love these people. 

party people

How lucky am I? I got to celebrate turning 40 with this crew of amazing people. My friend Alicia, event planner extraordinaire, arranged to have a private room at one of my favourite Vancouver restaurants: Chambar. The space was perfect, the food was amazeballs and the service was outstanding. I'd highly recommend them. If there's one thing my friends know about me, it's that I shy away from being in the spotlight. The only reason I wanted to have a celebration of 40, is because I was dying to get my friends together for a fun night out. Having a little baby, I don't get out as much as I'd like to and I've missed these faces considerably. There's nothing that makes me happier than looking around a room and seeing my friends mixing and laughing together. We capped off the night at a Karaoke club where if you passed by, you may have thought the Beatles were inside - such delicious harmonies. Or maybe that was my red wine memory of things.  Nevertheless, it was the perfect way to kick off a new decade. 

October 19, 2012

Happy Friday!

Hi lovely friends! What are you up to this weekend? I'm celebrating the big 4-Omg with friends. I can't wait to see some of my favourite faces gathered up in one funky space.

Here's a few treats from cyberland this week:

amazing photos from award winning wildlife photographers
this is the last song I bought
these halloween costume ideas for kids made me laugh
I love Arrested Development, so I think this costume idea is amazing
Do you cling to your loved ones when you're watching something scary? Check out these photos from the fear factory. Clinginess at its best.
Here is a local haunted house for you to tippy toe through.
a positively dreamy dress
braided low-do & fishtail braid tutorials
before you do anything in life, remember to ask yourself this first
Conde Nast readers pick their top 30 hotels in Canada
Check out these amazing cliffside hotels

Have a great weekend friends!

October 18, 2012

waiting for Dad to come home

At the end of the day, when I say, "where's Dad?" this is what they do. And on the long days, my face is pressed against the window too, counting down the minutes. 

Pumpkin Gingerbread

1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup water
1/2 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
2.In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.
3.In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
4.Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Recipe from allrecipes.com

October 16, 2012

the big 4-OMG!

No matter how many creams I applied or how many times I tried to hide, 40 found me. I feel a little sentimental about 40 because I distinctly remember as a child celebrating my parent's 40th birthdays and they seemed so. old. And now, I'm them! E. Gad. It is so cliche but time really does fly by. I'm one of those people who still mistakenly thinks the 90s were 10 years ago. Forty is one of those benchmark ages where you can't help but take stock on your life. Are you where you thought you'd be at 40? Are there changes you'd like to make as you enter the next phase of life?
I have to say, I'm very happy with where I'm at going into my 40s. With the patter of little feet around me and my best friend at my side, 40 is kicking off in a great way. Looking back, I'd have a lot of advice for my younger self.  One of the key things would be not to worry so much. I spent far too many nights crying wondering if my dream of being a mom was ever going to happen.  Pregnancy didn't seem to be working out and the adoption process kept dragging along. Then one day I had a positive pregnancy stick and felt like I had won the lottery. I'll never forget that moment - it was absolute elation. I literally jumped up and down and sprinted down the street. Even when my little girl becomes a challenging teenager, I'll cling to that pregnancy stick as a reminder that I really, really wanted this. At 40, I also know that I'm extremely lucky to have such a great collection of friends who represent so many different areas of my life. As you get older, you realize how precious your spare time is and that you only want to share it with people who you truly connect with and admire. I'm definitely happy that I grew up in the 70s/80s and experienced life off the grid. Oh, there was a lot of time wasted that doesn't exist today, but I liked the fact that my friends and I would spend an entire Saturday going downtown just to buy a record. I loved the fact that we would slip each other handwritten notes between classes or ride our bikes to a meeting place to put a plan together. I know my daughter is going to think I'm ancient (which I am) because when I was in University I had to look things up in the library's reference books and type out term papers on word processors and use liquid paper if I made a mistake (or so I was told by people who made mistakes). I remember my dad saying that he always felt 25 and was surprised when he looked in the mirror to see an older man staring back (which was him, in case you didn't get the reference, it wasn't some creepy old man lurking in the mirror). It's true, I really don't feel any different at 40. I know I have to work harder to stay fit because as my metabolism goes south, I really don't want the boobs to follow. I am also more interested than ever in Spanx being health conscious because I want to be around as long as I can for my daughter (whether she likes it or not). I am also working harder than ever on my building my confidence because at 40, it's high time I started believing in myself and pursuing my dreams with gusto! Exclamation point! If I could teach my younger self a few things I have learned along the way, it would be:

*Moisturize like there is no tomorrow but for the love of god, don't get that perm.
*Exercise is the best remedy for any off day.
*You will learn more from your mistakes than anything else, so don't be afraid to make them.
*It is always better to be the smartest girl in the room than the prettiest one. (I was neither, but I'm just sayin'.)
*Surround yourself with people who make you laugh.
*If you value the simple things in life it won't matter how much you earn
*Love fully. A broken heart is always better than a what if.
*Stick to dancing because it makes you feel amazing - even if you look like this
*Shut off your inner critic. (this one is still a work in progress)
*Keep writing and snapping photos because they make you blissfully happy
*Appreciate the big moments and the mundane ones.
*Never shy away from a new experience (within the confines of the law; well, at least keep it on the low down if you aren't sure).
*Actions speak louder than words.
*Nobody has it all together. We're all universally dorky.
I figure you can't gingerly dip your toes into your 40s, you have to be the fat guy at the pool who just runs and does a cannonball. So, here we go! Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read this little site, I appreciate it! xo

October 15, 2012

kitchen reno

The Before: Beige, beige and a how about a dash of more beige.

The After: We wanted to create a more modern space.
We did our kitchen reno a year ago, but I just found the photos and thought I would share them. Our home is on a street where all the properties are being bought up by developers and mega homes are replacing the 1950s ranchers. I have no doubt that we will be the last family to live in this little house, so we didn't want to spend a fortune on our renos. We opted to do an Ikea renovation ourselves (with the help and expertise of my amazing father in law). Ikea makes renovations easy because you simply take your kitchen measurements in and use their planning software to configure all of the cupboards and drawers that you need. We spent many nights huddled over their computers, and my hubby consumed a lot of swedish meatballs for dinner, but in the end it was well worth it. In total, our reno only cost $7000 (there is also another wall of cupboards with a sliding pantry cabinet that isn't shown in the photos). We cut down costs by opting to have a laminate countertop instead of granite and saved money using black cabinets, which were priced cheaper than white. I just wanted to show you that it doesn't take much to give your space a facelift. 

October 12, 2012

Happy Friday!

Oh Hi! How's your weekend shaping up? What do you have on your agenda? This weekend we're hoping to take little missy to her first pumpkin patch, if the weather holds out.

Do you know have a costume lined up for your little one this Halloween? I like the idea of dressing  Stella up as this little gal because she's got the hair for it. For store bought, or just gathering ideas, how about these costumes? I'm kind of in love with the banana costume found here. Or, if you're really talented, you can try your hand at making a costume, like one of these. But let's face it, at 10 months old, we're really just shamelessly promoting our baby to load up on free treats.

Here's a few things I thought were fun around the web lately:
How perfect is this outdoorsy wedding?
something for the iphone photographer
Check out these photos of cast reunionsThis one is my personal favourite. I cannot wait for their new season.
A helpful list of which fruit/veggies you should try to buy organic
Some award winning wines
beautiful autumn photos
the next book I'm dying to read
the most valuable college majors. Hmmm, I didn't see my English Lit degree on the list. Hey, not just anyone can write a free blog and proofread emails for co-workers. Money well spent.
the perfect fall outfit
the last song I bought

Have a cozy weekend friends!

October 8, 2012

Cali photos (part deux)

We went with the rule that when anything is split four ways, there are no calories.
Balboa Island
Balboa Island shopping
the girls
our home away from home
Nightfall on Laguna Beach

going back to cali, cali, cali

This was the view from our balcony at the Newport Coast Villas
My lovely travel mates (above: Forbes & Kitty) (below: Kerry)
My happy place - Disneyland
Disney California Adventure Park

This weekend I went on a whirlwind getaway with the girls. In the past year, three of us have had babies and one has gotten married, so with life getting infinitely busier, we wanted to make sure we set aside some quality time for one another. We decided to converge in Californ-i-a. We shacked up at the Newport Coast Villas, which I would highly recommend. Not only was it a beautiful place to stay, full of amazing amenities, but the location was absolutely ideal. On Friday we went to Disneyland & Disney's California Adventure Park (approx half an hour's drive from our resort).We scored discounted tickets from a local Anaheimian on Craigslist saving us $40 each. It was pretty funny, Kitty and Forbes had never been to Disneyland and wanted us to ease them into the experience. Kerry and I took them on Space Mountain for their first ride. "Is this one of those rides where you slowly ride around and things pop out at you?" asked Forbes. Ker and I smiled at each other, "Ya, something like that." But then as we were getting closer to boarding the announcements started about how it is a high speed rollercoaster in the dark. Oops. But they had so much fun that they coined their new name the "thrillseekers" and sought out the biggest and scariest rides we could find. We hit all the major rides in the two parks, including the California Screamin' rollercoaster that goes from 0-55 mph in 4 seconds and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a 183 foot tall decrepit hotel (the tallest building in Anaheim) where you are taken up a rickety elevator where two small drops occur in pitch blackness and then you are sent at full speed to the top of the tower, where the doors open to reveal your proximity hovering at the highest point of the theme park before you plummet down the elevator shaft. Then just when you think you're safe, it happens again. I was laughing so hard as I could hear Kerry repeating, "I'm done! I'm done!" Needless to say, in the photo they show of you on the ride, I look like I have actually died in my seat. It was so scary and so. much. fun.
On Saturday we drove from our resort to Laguna Beach, a short 10 minute drive south where we had booked our very first paddle board lesson. It was a blast, but is definitely harder than I thought it would be. All of your momentum comes from your core, which lets face it, after the baby, is no where near what it used to be. Forget about a six pack, my stomach isn't even a one pack right now. But, we all really enjoyed ourselves and managed to do quite well. I definitely recommend a lesson first because coming into shore, with a strong surf can be quite treacherous without proper instruction to help you time it properly. We went here for our lesson where not only was our instructor patient with us on the water but he kept a straight face, even when we fired questions at him concerning a certain gal's fear of attracting sharks with her special time of the month (of which she compared to a BP oil spill).  After working up an appetite on the water, we had a delicious brunch followed by a trip to Balboa Island where we browsed around the shops, ate frozen bananas and got our nails fancified. We capped off the day with a swim & steam at our hotel, followed by a delicious dinner at Kya Bistro. The beauty of a weekend getaway is that you really make the most of your time together. It was the perfect mix.