Things I Know I Love

Years ago, during a particularly rough patch of solo-parenting (John’s work schedule had him away regularly), I flipped to the back of my planner and made a list titled, quite unoriginally: Things I Like. At the time I was most certainly not enjoying: feeding, bathing, and diapering little kids by myself. Bedtime was an exhausting trainwreck; mornings weren’t much better. So it helped, a bit, to be able to reference a list of things I actually enjoyed, including: thick blankets, hot showers, watching Blue Jays baseball, and eating sushi.

While I’m still no fan of solo-parenting, life looks a lot different these days. There are no diapers to change and mornings/bedtime are a lot more tolerable without an infant or toddler in the house. More generally, I’m being intentional about spending time doing things that I actually like doing (and finding ways, where appropriate, to avoid the rest).

So I don’t love fresh flowers or sweating or spicy food or rollercoasters…but here are some things I do love.


  • Photography. Taking photos, editing photos, looking at others’ photos – I love it all.
  • Tidying/Decluttering. Organizing a sock drawer, clearing out the fridge, sorting through old clothes in a closet – these are happy activities that both calm and energize me.
  • Reading. I’ve loved books my whole life and browsing at a library or looking over at my bedside table and seeing a stack of new books never fails to fill me with joy.
  • Writing cheques. I’ve talked about this quirk before, but I absolutely love writing cheques. Weird/random, I know.
  • Going to my favourite coffee shop. I don’t go often (an average of once a month?), and I always get the same thing (Earl Grey with oat milk), but I love this space. Sometimes I meet friends and other times I take a book or my laptop and enjoy solitude. It’s such a warm, inviting place.
  • Eating. While there are a few things I tend to avoid (cheese, spicy food, and quiche), for the most part I love all foods. I know many people enjoy eating, so this isn’t necessarily very original but, occasionally, I hear about someone who genuinely doesn’t care about how food tastes or looks (how, I ask?!) – or has a lot of food intolerances – and it just reiterates how much I love food and appreciate my ability to enjoy a wide variety of foods! Favourites: sushi, roasted sweet potato, peanut butter, eggs (any form but quiche), oatmeal, Twizzlers, cherry cheesecake.
  • Hot showers. While I’m not always a fan of getting wet – mostly because I find it a huge nuisance to deal with wet hair – I love long, hot showers. The long and hot parts are key. I don’t take one every day, but in the winter a hot shower is one of my favourite things to do when I’m tired and cold. (Incidentally, I loathe baths and often go years without taking one.)
  • Massages. I know some people don’t like the sensation of a massage (especially face massages), but I love them. One year we had an especially great insurance plan and I maxed out every penny of my massage allowance!
  • Opening curtains in the morning. Specific, I know, but opening curtains never fail to delight me – even if I’m in a hotel room. I crave natural light and find any space looks mildly (or, in some cases, majorly) depressing until the curtains and blinds are open. Thankfully we have a lot of windows in our house and once everything is opened up our house is very bright.
  • Closing curtains/turning on lamps at night. On the flip side, I love making the house cozy and warm in the evening. Shutting curtains and blinds and turning off overhead lights in exchange for softer lamp light makes for a satisfying evening transition.
  • Laughing. I love to laugh. John makes an effort to get a chuckle (or cackle, I have a range of equally awkward hilarious laughter sounds) at every available opportunity and he is usually successful. I’m trying to go out of my way to seek laughter these days. In terms of a specific comedian, Nate Bargatze is my favourite because of his deadpan delivery and the fact his material is family-friendly (I don’t enjoy crass humour, which seems to make up the majority of standup acts).
  • Behind-the-scenes. I love documentaries and memoirs. When I was in high school, I went through a major Tolkien phase. As much as I loved the actual Lord of the Rings movies, what I liked far more was watching behind-the-scenes footage – learning about costume design and location scouting or watching outtakes was the epitome of good entertainment to me.

I also love: going to art galleries or museums with John, holding hands with the kids when we’re out running errands, warm Magic bags when I’m cold, long walks with family and friends, washing dishes (if there aren’t too many and my sink will drain), the smell of permanent marker and, well, a lot of other things!

The older I get, the more I’m learning to give myself permission to be okay with admitting there are things I simply don’t enjoy. I don’t have to eat the melted cheese on lasagne or hop on a rollercoaster. I realize that saying yes to uncomfortable things can be fun and part of life’s adventure – to that end, there is a good chance I will end up on a rollercoaster this summer. I try to factor in the discomfort where it feels appropriate and a net-positive experience.

But other times, it’s okay to admit that life feels best when I’ve closed the curtains and turned on the lamps by 6 pm on a Saturday night. Closely followed by hopping in for a hot shower and putting on cozy PJ’s before sitting down to watch Nate Bargatze on an at-home date night with John.

Your turn. What are some things – big or small – you genuinely enjoy? Does anyone reading here like baths, leave curtains closed during the day, and feel apathetic about photography?

Header photo by Eddie & Carolina Stigson on Unsplash

May Favourites

Another month, another set of favourites.

A lot of these are, admittedly, more general “life” favourites that aren’t specific to the last month. In fact, I’ve been using most of these items for years. In that case, I suppose it would be more accurate to say this is a list of enduring favourites?

cell phone cameras

Having a (high-quality) camera everywhere I go is a perpetual favourite. While it can be easy to get sucked into excess screen time, I’ve been satisfied with my overall usage lately (hovering around 45 minutes/day). And the one aspect of my smartphone use that feels overwhelmingly positive is the easy access to taking pictures to preserve memories.

nivea lip balm

Specifically, this Nivea lipbalm. I’ve tried the strawberry variety, and the SPF version, too. But this is my favourite and I use it daily.

sticky tabs

I’ll admit the horror expressed by some readers when I revealed that I regularly dog-ear book pages has led me to mostly rely on sticky tabs to mark my place. They’re great!

ARm band for running

I know there are divided opinions on this product (E Tronic Armband; I got mine off Amazon), but I really love it. It’s a zippered compression sleeve for carrying keys/a cell phone while running.

I ordered the medium but it was too tight (I’ve read this product runs small, but I also have large upper arms so I might be an outlier on their sizing chart). The company told me to keep the medium and then sent me a large which is very comfortable, yet stays in place well and I’ve been using it for several years now.

headBANDS

I have a handful of these ear coverings and wear them about 300 days a year Really! I have issues with painful inner ears (even on a sunny day in the summer it’s not uncommon for me to wear one because of wind).

These make exercise or even running to the store for errands so much more pleasant. I love that I can wear them if my hair is up, and they accommodate ponytails/buns so much better than a hat.

bottom-loading water cooler

At least once a week since we bought this appliance (2.5 years ago), someone in our family (or a guest in our home) mentions their love of our water cooler. It is sleek and tucks neatly into a corner of the dining/living room. It’s also so much easier to load since the water jugs fit in the bottom. I didn’t clean off the kid’s fingerprints before snapping this picture because #WhoHasTheTime…but it does clean up very well. In fact, I don’t have a single complaint.

EGGS

I know people are divided about eggs, but I love them. I consume eggs almost every day and consider them to be one of the most delicious and versatile foods. A perpetual “favourite” in my life.


Your turn. Anything stand out as particularly memorable or useful in May?

Header photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Favourites <> April 2022

Where did the last month go? Seriously! It was just March, and now it’s May and my head is still spinning.

I think an unexpected snow day, our trip to PEI, and the time off around Easter made April seem more like an aberration than reality. But it did exist – all 30 days of the month – and I had lots of favourite (moments and things) scattered across that time.

1. adidas socks

Full disclosure: my sister gifted these to John…and then I claimed them. (It’s okay, he prefers thinner socks anyway.)

To me, these are the perfect ankle socks. They have just the right amount of padding, hit my ankle in just the right place, and are so soft. I love, love, love these socks. It feels like a treat to put these on each day. Really.

2. coconut oil (for face care)

I put a few tablespoons inside a small container I keep in my bathroom vanity. That amount lasts for MONTHS.

I don’t cook with coconut oil very often (or any oil for that matter), but I use it daily to remove makeup and moisturize.

I’ve tried toners (including the homemade variety everybody raves about with water and apple cider vinegar which just leaves me smelling like ACV; not a fan) and Vitamin E creams.

But true to minimalist sensibilities, I’ve settled on water with a microfibre makeup remover cloth (a favourite from March) and coconut oil. And that’s it for my skincare routine.

(I don’t wear makeup every day but, when I do, have found a tiny amount of coconut oil applied before I put on foundation or blush instantly makes my face/makeup look brighter and smoother.)

3. Apple Airpods; specifically the skip/pause function

I’m sure there are many other wonderful headphones out there but I have been so, so happy with my AirPods (I just wish I could ping them with my watch or phone because I do seem to misplace them around the house).

They stay in my ears through any form of exercise and are easy to use when paired with other Apple devices.

But my favourite feature is the click-once-to-pause, twice-to-skip function. I find this capability so handy.

I end up pausing music or podcasts regularly when working to concentrate on a task or listen to something the kids have to say, and skipping songs while exercising is so much easier when I don’t have to handle my phone.

4. kid independence

It was a whirlwind, but our trip to PEI was a lot of fun.

Pre-COVID we didn’t do many “big” trips with the kids. Between diapers and playpens, hotels/road trips weren’t that appealing.

By the time COVID came we were just emerging from the little years, and now – we’re through. No diapers. No cutting food into little pieces. No sippy cups. No toting life jackets for the hotel pools. They can do almost everything independently and can easily adapt to late nights/early mornings.

While it is bittersweet and I do miss their “littleness” regularly, it’s also wonderful.

5. sneakers

It is time for a new pair of sneakers, but even my old ones made me so happy in April. Perhaps because I’ve walked outside every single day in 2022, I was especially ready to be done with the hassle of winter footwear. My boots were big and heavy (and then started leaking) and I am still at the point of noticing, daily, how much more pleasant it is to walk in sneakers.

6. oatmeal

I love oatmeal.

I love creamy oatmeal mixed with peanut butter, berries, and nuts. I love oatmeal muffins and oatmeal waffles (I make a batch of each of these recipes once a week). And I use oat milk as a dairy substitute in just about everything.

Versatile, filling, delicious, and economical, our family goes through an incredible amount of oatmeal. In fact, I’m writing this on Saturday morning while the rest of the family is out for a walk and guess what’s on the menu when they return. Oatmeal!

(Also, per #4 above – the kids can now prepare their own breakfasts, including oatmeal which is just…lovely.)

7. food (access to it)

I could list this as numbers 1-10.

How often I take food – access to it and money to buy it – for granted!

But a few weeks ago I was checking out at the grocery store on a random Thursday night. I had oatmeal (2 bags; see #6), frozen raspberries (3 bags; I kid you not, these are exclusively for adding to oatmeal – we add them in frozen and they cool it down!), yellow mustard, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. An eclectic mix, and nothing out of the ordinary for our family, but I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I wish I thought this every time I wander through the checkout line, but often I’m focussed on keeping the kids from morphing into zoo animals or scrambling to load my bags or wrangle my debit card back into my wallet.

But access to food is a fundamental favourite and one we’d all do well to appreciate.

8. earrings

I’ve talked before about how I feel best when I put on earrings. They continue to make me happier, every day. One night I took out earrings at bedtime and thought: these really are one of my favourite things.

9. people who love my kids

I remember years ago hearing someone discuss how one of her favourite things in the world was to “watch other people love my kids.”

I didn’t really get it then, but now – I get it. It makes my heart swell when people ask about the kids or actively engage in conversations or fun activities with them. There is something so wonderfully satisfying as a parent when you get to observe other people – grandparents, friends, teachers – loving and investing in your kids.

10. thrift stores

I love thrift stores. I love the challenge of finding diamonds in the rough. I love the sense of satisfaction I get from giving an item renewed life and purpose.

The last few years I didn’t do much thrifting; stores were closed because of COVID, life was busy. But over the last few months, I’ve been going more frequently. Some of this was “necessity” – certain wardrobe staples were lacking – but, mostly, it has been for the fun it.


That’s a wrap on my April favourites. What about you? Any special highlights from the month – favourite memories or tangible items that made a positive impact on your life?

Header photo by Olga Kudriavtseva on Unsplash

One Year of Blogging

Until yesterday I was convinced I had published my first blog post in May of 2021. Turns out it was April 24th.

This means today marks one year of blogging. There will be no brass band, layer cake or confetti, but it seemed fitting to mark this milestone with a bonus post.

After wanting to write for over a decade, I hit publish at 4:25 pm on a Saturday afternoon. And then I hit publish 231 more times. Because that’s the way to do just about anything in life. Do it once and then repeat.


A special thanks to everyone who joins me in this space. Your words have been encouraging, insightful, thought-provoking, and downright funny.

Header photo by marianne bos on Unsplash

Favourites <> March 2022

1. JOHN’S SABBATICAL

I knew how much our family needed this break; I don’t think I realized how much I needed this break. It has been wonderful in so many ways. Without a doubt my top favourite “thing” in March.

2. MARCH BREAK

Our visit to see my parents over the kids’ spring/March break was such a highlight. I appreciated having someone else spearhead the cooking, reveled in all the outdoor time, and tried to “lean in” to the experience, recognizing This too shall pass.

3. maple syrup production

I’d be remiss if I didn’t put a spotlight on this experience from Favourite #2. The highlight of the trip (for me) was the week-long adventure of tapping maple trees. We had a relatively low yield (plus, it’s a 60:1 ratio from the trees on my parents’ property; with sugar maples, it’s about 40:1), but it was so much fun and we have all enjoyed consuming the results of our labour!

4. finishing the anne series

I’m not sure what inspired me to add this to my goals for 2022, but I’m so glad I did and these books made for great reading material over this long, dark winter. The first three are, to me, the crown jewels, but it is deeply satisfying to read through an entire series (I did Harry Potter in 2021 with Abby), and watching the movies again for the first time in over a decade was pure joy.

5. WORDLE

I genuinely look forward to doing Wordle each day. It has become a highlight of 2022 for me (and the rest of the family).

6. Abby’s button collection

A weird favourite, admittedly, but this has been a lot of fun for the whole family. Abby has been getting buttons from so many sources and it has become a point of connection with friends and relatives; she loves to organize buttons by colour or shape or patterning and this has been a great mother-daughter activity for me because we both enjoy this process. There is no pressure to have a “right” answer when she asks what my favourite buttons are and there is something relaxing about handling all the different textures and shapes and sorting them into piles or little bags.

7. springtime

It’s coming. I know we’ve officially entered “Spring” on the calendar, but I know the best is yet to come. The anticipation of warmer weather and the fact I am finally able to wear sneakers outside on my daily walks feels…wonderful. It almost makes those long, dark winter months feel worth it all just to experience the delight of warm, sunny days.

8. DATE NIGHTS

I’ve talked about these before on the blog, but most Saturday and Sunday evenings we feed the kids early (I read to them while they eat + they get something special like a sleepover where they watch a movie) and then John and I eat together – usually in front of the TV, but not always. These are some of our favourite hours each week and I’m so glad we carved out this margin in our lives.

Date nights started as a necessity. Sometimes John would only be home a single night before heading back out on business travel. Date nights felt like an oasis in our busy schedules. But through COVID (which put the kibosh on travel) and now even when he’s on sabbatical, we still treat them as a necessity but they are also a deeply treasured favourite.

A friend recently asked me if the kids minded this arrangement. 1) They don’t get a say in the matter but also 2) it’s all they’ve ever known and we’ve made it something special for them too, so the fact that Mommy and Daddy carve out time together each week has a positive spin in their minds.

I also told her about 1/10 times there is some sibling catastrophe and the sleepover gets canceled and there is something akin to wailing and gnashing of teeth (“he/she looked at me with mean eyes” or “he/she touched my side of the bed” – that sort of thing), but 9/10 is a pretty good success rate in my books.

9. OUR DISHWASHER

Our dishwasher is old (I have no idea how old as it came with our house)…but it is definitely old. It has no fancy “bells and whistles” as my Dad would say. (I read a DIY blog recently where the homeowner was talking about installing TWO WiFi-enabled dishwashers; I know it could be handy…but can we not summon the energy to walk to the kitchen and turn on the dishwasher? Please don’t leave hateful comments if you have a WiFi-enabled dishwasher and love this capability. I’m sure it’s a lovely feature).

So, no WiFi and no double dishwashers. But the one we have works like a charm.

Until 4 years ago I had never lived in a house/apartment with a dishwasher and – wow. I love having a dishwasher. It’s something that would be so easy to take for granted, but almost daily I mention how thankful I am for a dishwasher.

Sadly, now that I’ve told you how old it is, I’ve surely jinxed its longevity.

10. Flossers

Random. But I love these flossers and have been using this brand for years now.

Your turn. Any favourites from March you feel like sharing?

Header photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

February 2022: Favourite Things

With February officially in the rearview mirror (where did that month go?), it’s time to look back at the items, decisions, and foods that were “favourites” in February.

1. Soup on sunday

This is a new addition to my meal-planning repertoire, but I’ve really honed in on it over the month of February.

Each Sunday afternoon I now make a soup.

Preparing the soup (not just the ingredients – the whole soup) on Sunday means I don’t have to think about supper on Monday. It means I can cook the soup when it’s convenient (though I tend to do this right after lunch so the cleanup is done early enough for me to take a nap). It’s a restful activity (for me!) on Sunday afternoon where it would be a stressful activity (for me!) on Monday afternoon.

Having a soup in the fridge – taking care of Monday and Tuesday suppers – has been a great new hack for our meal rotation.

2. vent dryers

Okay, this one is very much a niche for cold-weather climates and requires a ducted heating source. We tick off both of those boxes in our home and these have been lifesavers in the winter for drying winter gear.

We just slip wet hats, gloves, and boots over the slots and the whole thing fits over the floor vents. We’ve had – and loved them – for several years but I’ve especially appreciated them this winter.

3. Boogie board

Not the water variety, although those can be lots of fun too.

This is a “whiteboard” of sorts where you can write things down and then erase the whole board with the click of a button.

John found ours at a thrift store for several dollars (they run about $35 CAD new). While I don’t know if I’d spring for a full-price version, it is a great way to record temporary lists, jot down little hello’s, or even just occupy a child for 10 minutes of clean, no-paper-or-marker-required art time.

4. spandex shorts

I know some readers are fitness buffs and so comfortable exercise gear is their jam. But to me – a low-key exerciser with a limited wardrobe – basic Spandex shorts are, quite simply, the most comfortable things I own/wear.

While they are great for exercise – especially summer runs – they’re also perfect for lounging around the house or an easy walk on the treadmill. I love my Spandex.

5. velvet hangers

Velvet-covered hangers. I think I appreciate these most in the winter when we’re hanging up coats so frequently but, aside from that, I use them to store all my non-exercise pants in my closet. Nothing slips and they’re thin in profile. Just a great product for any closet.

I sourced mine – in a box of 50 – from Amazon years ago. A handful break each year, but I consider them worth every penny.

6. individual-sized nori packages

These are delicious on their own, but we also love to add in some tuna filling or sticky rice for hand-roll sushi.

They’re great for kid’s lunchboxes and I often pack them up for summer picnics on the go.

7. nutritional yeast

Another food item – and this one has been a favourite for several years. We initially got started on nutritional yeast during a family Whole30. It makes a great addition to sauces and can serve as a cheese replacement in certain contexts (the flavour profile, NOT texture). I know lots of people swear by adding it to warm popcorn (we’ve not tried this yet), but it’s a very versatile food product.

I’ll add this to recipes to provide an extra depth of flavour, sprinkle it on top of rotisserie chicken inside corn tortilla wraps, and my favourite homemade mayo-based sauce features lots of nutritional yeast. Yum.

8. My robe

Oh hello, unfinished bathroom; just so you remember that I definitely DON’T do it all.

Let me count the ways I love my robe. Nope – there are too many.

I’ve owned this robe since I was 13 and still use it DAILY. It’s warm. It’s cozy. It has a pocket which is so convenient (I’ve had robes with no pockets and I NEED the pocket; this robe originally had two pockets but when I was a teenager I stood too close to the woodstove and the other pocket melted – yikes!).

It is very juvenile – complete with a teddy bear pattern – but it is hands down one of my favourite things. I’ve tried other more age-appropriate robes over the years, but they just can’t compare.

9. IKEA SPARKA BALL

We use these balls every single day in our house (especially since I moved our CO detector).

They’re soft, yet hold their shape. One of our most-loved toy items ever.

10. makeup remover clothes (+Coconut oil)

I referenced these last week when I broke down my “makeup” routine.

I’ve been using – and loving – special microfibre makeup removal cloths for years. All you do is add water and gently scrub (in circles) to remove makeup.

I will note that I no longer use waterproof mascara and I’m not sure if they would be strong enough to remove that? But for someone that uses minimal makeup, these are a great option for cleaning my face. The best results come when I put on a thin layer of coconut oil and let that sit for a few minutes before wiping everything down with the cloths.

The microfibers do break down over time; each cloth lasts me about a year before it gets a bit scratchy and matted at which point I simply repurpose it as a cleaning cloth.


And there you have it. My February favourites. Anyone have any great new finds – or tried-and-true items – they’re dying to share?

Header photo by Madeleine Ragsdale on Unsplash