Favourites <> January 2023

January was a rollercoaster of a month; some great days and some not-so-great experiences, too.

Such is life.

Along the way, I made little notes of things that were making my life easier and/or bringing a smile to my face.

Dill pickle hummus

I’m a huge fan of dill pickle flavoured…anything. And this hummus is so, so good (if you like dill pickles; it would be pretty awful if you didn’t). Paired with some pillowy-soft mini-Naan bread, this is lunchtime perfection. Yum.

candles

I know I’ve written about these candles ad nauseum, but January is PEAK candle season for me. Christmas is over and with it most of the brightest twinkle lights. The nights are still dark and we’re huddling over warm foods at the table. I love, love, love having candlelit suppers most evenings.

IKEA Tjena

IKEA paper boxes

Okay, so these aren’t going to win any awards for the most stylish storage containers. But they are simple, inexpensive (the black ones are being discontinued and were only $4.99 for the large size), shockingly sturdy, and absolutely fabulous for storing all sorts of miscellany up and away in closets. Huge fan.

IKEA PAX Wardrobe

Speaking of closets, this is another repeat mention, but I cannot stop marvelling at how wonderful it is to have a functional entryway. Where was this for the first decade of being a parent? Everything has a place! The kids can reach their own gear! We have exposed hooks AND closet space! I have a laundry tote for wet winter gear, I can keep my mop, broom, and outdoor play equipment handy. While the whole entryway is an overarching favourite, the IKEA Pax wardrobe is the star of the show. Putting it together was a nightmare, but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Especially the fact that at the end of the day I can slide the doors shut and ALL the mess gets hidden from view. So satisfying.

levi asking for picture books

At the end of 2022 I announced I was ready to let go. I wasn’t going to keep forcing picture books on the kids. Within a few days, the picture book bin was empty after I had returned the last set to the library. It felt liberating in a way, but still sad. Then Levi wandered over and said: Where are the books, Mom!? I think he believes they just magically appear overnight? As if they grow up out of the empty box and Voila! – a tote full of fun, carefully curated reads. I’m not ordering many books in, I’m not putting any pressure on myself to read all the books in the box before they go back and, overall, I’m bringing home a fraction of the reading material I used to, but it made me happy that he missed having a steady source of picture books when the urge struck. So I’ll keep filling the box and let the kids come to it on their own terms.

Kobo e-reader

I didn’t read as many books as I would have liked in January because of Levi’s sickies, but every single book I read was on the Kobo and it’s great! (I do find highlighting things to be a pain in the butt but, aside from that, I don’t have a single complaint.) I am especially loving the fact that I can look up the definition of a word while reading. Previously, if I didn’t know a word, I would just sail right on by. Now I stop, press on the word…and a definition appears. So handy! I also appreciate not having to keep track of my place in a book. And it’s so lightweight and can slip right into my purse (see below). In short, it has been wonderful.

A new-to-me purse

I disliked my leather crossbody purse for years. I bought it second hand and it looked great, but the way the zipper fastened was a proper nuisance.

I found a new one at a thrift store for under $10. It’s not amazing quality, but it has pockets of perfect dimensions that make storing and accessing important things (keys, wallet, phone) so much easier. Also, it’s big enough to hold my Sprouted planner AND my Kobo in the main pouch.

One line a day journal

I know, I know. Another repeat. But I really do love this thing. And I love it even more now that I’m on my second year of using it; each day I get to look back and see what we were doing exactly one year ago. It’s a fascinating daily glimpse into the past.


Okay, that’s it from me. Your turn. What are you loving so far in 2023? Any standout products or moments?

Header photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

(Random) Questions for You

Okay friends, I need your help, insights, and other relevant forms of participation.

Nicole led me to Eufy (and my Kobo), and Sarah got me started on Christmas spreadsheets…so we’ll see what great things await after today’s post!


  • Drugstore mascara recommendations. I need them. I’ve been using one of L’Oréal’s offerings for years and it’s fine, but on the pricier side of drugstore options…and I don’t love it.
  • Ideas for recipes to use up strawberry jam. We ended up with THREE bottles of strawberry jam (don’t ask), the kids prefer raspberry, and I rarely use jam. Thoughts?
  • How do you manage the comments you leave on other blogs? I have readers that come back and leave follow-up comments to their original comments days later and I wonder…are people using a comment management system (like Disqus)? Or do you just revisit websites/blogs manually and see what has transpired in the comment section?
  • Professional hair straightening/perms. I think I am decidedly low maintenance when it comes to physical aesthetics. I spend an average of 2 minutes a day on makeup (when I bother to wear it). I spend almost no time selecting outfits. And I spend 20-30 minutes total (including blow drying) on my hair each week. But the last entry is my least favourite personal task. I have wavy, frizzy hair. I can blow dry and straighten it (fine, but a nuisance) or I can let it air dry and then add in some curls (also fine, also a nuisance). But in recent months I’ve discovered someone I know gets their hair professionally straightened (the treatment lasts for months) and another who gets a perm. I didn’t know either of them had this done and assumed they had naturally straight/curly hair. The idea of being able to “wash and wear” is very appealing. Does anyone have feedback on getting hair professionally straightened or permed?

Thanks for your help and feel free to pose your own burning questions in the comments!

Header photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Favourites of 2022

Happy 2023! It always feels a bit anticlimactic to turn the calendar to a brand new year. The kids are still off school (and fighting with each other). I still chew my lip relentlessly when I get nervous. I still need to call the furnace company to come check on the periodic (odd) smell emanating from our furnace. Levi is still sick (sigh). I guess what I’m trying to say is: January 1st doesn’t magically provide us all with a fully clean slate.

And yet…

The potential of a new year is invigorating!! So, once again, Happy New Year.


I’ve posted a lot of “favourites” this year but thought it would be fun to zoom out a bit and come up with some specific – albeit completely arbitrary – categories for the year as a whole.

Without further ado:

Favourite Movie: No question it was Top Gun. The whole viewing experience was wonderful. When we visited South Carolina in May, my sister booked tickets for the adults + my oldest niece/her boyfriend. The younger cousins babysat Abby and Levi. We had heated recliner seats at the theatre, still-warm homemade chocolate chip cookies (shhh: we may have snuck these in), and snuggled under fluffy blankets. Everything about the movie and the evening was so fun! My favourite documentary was the very long – but absolutely fascinating – The Beatles: Get Back docuseries.

Favourite Song: Joy by Andy Grammar. (Thanks to my bestie, Joy, for sending me a link to this song; I have belted this out at the top of my lungs many, many times).

Favourite (Paid) Experience: Aladdin on Broadway. This was a lot of fun. We were in NYC. Watching Broadway. Enough said!

Favourite (Free) Experience: Roasting hotdogs and marshmallows as part of an impromptu beach cookout with friends. No plates or napkins. No jackets. No shoes. Just warm ocean breezes, bare feet, and lots of giggling kids, and all of it arranged last-minute which only added to the magic.

Favourite Book: Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig, Keep Moving by Maggie Smith, My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, Tranquility by Tuesday by Laura Vanderkam, the first three Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles.

Favourite Day: A tie. The very first day of John’s sabbatical. I felt an enormous weight lifted off my shoulders; it literally felt like my body was floating. Christmas Adam; so many magic everyday moments (and lots of good food + a cheesy Hallmark movie).

Favourite Meal: The surprise Unbaked Cherry Cheesecake John and the kids prepared for a belated birthday celebration. I guess one dessert is not technically a meal…so, I also really enjoyed the seafood casserole I made for Christmas Adam (told you this was a good day), all the meals my sister made when we were in South Carolina, and our steakhouse date when we were in Toronto.

Favourite New (2022) Purchase: Eufy. Both Eufys to be more specific.

Favourite Old (Pre-2022) Purchases: My Yeti, my wringer mop, all of my Apple products, and my hoop earrings.

Favourite Personal Accomplishment: Running a 5K race. It wasn’t a big deal logistically (the race was held in our hometown), but it felt so satisfying to check this off my “bucket list.” Also? It was a lot of fun! And having the kids and John there to cheer me on was delightful.

Favourite Work Accomplishment: This is tricky. Work was fine. I did my job, I did it adequately. There isn’t much more to share. Finishing corporate taxes each year for our small business always feels relieving, but since our accountant does most of the heavy lifting, I’m not sure I can label that as an accomplishment. Being asked to extend my contract as project manager for another year felt affirming. I guess my favourite work decision (different from an accomplishment?) was signing off on a decade-long project that took a disproportionate amount of energy. What a huge relief!

Favourite Christmas Experiences: I really enjoyed Levi’s elementary school concert (a bit shocking to me). It felt so festive and jolly. I also loved the final night of the Live Nativity production. And walking into our living room and catching a whiff of Christmas tree mixed with the smell of my beloved Avon Mistletoe figurine. Even after a month of these decorations being up, that scent profile gives me a thrill every single time.

Favourite Place: Aside from home (in my pajamas), I’d have to pick my favourite local cafe. I love being in that space. Solo, with friends, for work meetings – you name it, I am always elated to be there.

Favourite Thrifting Experience: I’m really happy with how many Christmas gifts we got from thrift stores (at least 20-30% of items were thrifted or free). But the biggest thrift bang for buck, in my mind, was the rebate we received for the energy upgrades at our house!

Favourite Habit: Weekend at-home date nights with John. I am very bummed we missed out on these the last two months. Between travel, company, and sick kids this has not been happening regularly. But I always look forward to putting the kids to bed early (for a sleepover, usually with screens, by 5:30/6:00 pm), then we get takeout or John cooks, and we eat and watch a movie or documentary together.

Favourite Planning Accessory: My Sprouted Planner. I’m not convinced I’ll use this in 2024 (very expensive to ship to Canada + I’m not a fan of the bigger binding/thicker size this year)…BUT in 2022 it revolutionized how I organize my life.

Favourite Decision: Making the switch to intuitive eating. I eat when I’m hungry. Sometimes I eat when I’m sad or tired or bored, but mostly I don’t. I no longer feel obligated to eat if I’m not hungry. There is not a single food item off limits, but I pay attention to what makes me feel good emotionally and physically and try to prioritize those foods. Life is a lot easier to manoeuvre when I’m not counting out potato chips or fretting about having had two ginger cookies fresh from the oven. I also haven’t stepped on a scale since May. Liberating and life-changing.


And there you have it. A broad assortment of favourite things, experiences, and memories from 2022.

Your turn. What was your favourite: decision, purchase, meal, place, accomplishment, movie, song, book and/or day of 2022.

Header photo by Luba Ertel on Unsplash

Christmas 2022 <> The Gifts

A running joke in my family was Mom’s annual dismay when, in late November, my father would go out and buy new: socks, underwear, aftershave, and pajama pants. Because, every single year, she had already purchased new socks, underwear, aftershave, and pajama pants for his stocking. Like clockwork, he would pick up a pack of new socks or some other staple item (one year it was sandpaper) and my mom would wring her hands and wail, in the most exasperated tone: But, honeyyyyyyy! I already bought you _______ for your stocking. Couldn’t you wait another month?! My Dad, of course, couldn’t care less if he had socks to open on Christmas morning – he just wanted new socks. Immediately!

I’ve also referenced how my mom would always wrap up a toothbrush, toothpaste, and bar of soap for everyone each year – which would go right back into the communal stash under our bathroom sink. Rest assured, Dad received a jumbo 4-pack of toothpaste in his stocking this year from my mom (Crest, if you were curious).


The lines are a bit blurred in our household between stockings vs. main gifts. The kids have never believed in Santa, so that magical – but logistically challenging – aspect of Christmas gifts is not the slightest blip on our radar.

Also, we exchange a lot of gifts. I’ve mentioned that this is our big gifting moment of the year. The kids don’t get Valentine’s or Easter baskets or grading presents. While they get plenty of items as needed/wanted throughout the year, in terms of designated gifting, it is limited to birthdays and Christmas.

Here’s a recap of what we gave and received; where applicable, I’ll include general price points and/or if a gift was thrifted. You might find some ideas for next year?

stocking gifts

LEVI |

A new-to-him Minions robe (very cozy and soft)
  • Jump rope. Levi loved skipping this summer but cheap/lightweight child-sized skipping ropes always seem to break quickly and they’re never heavy enough. I found an adjustable adult jump rope with very sturdy handles and a weighted rope for $4 at the DollarStore.
  • Notebooks. He got 2 from my Mom + 1 from me (my find was still in shrinkwrap for $3 at a thrift store and it came with a detachable ruler and stickers).
  • A self-inflating Whoopie cushion. ($1.25; DollarStore)
  • A painting kit. A canvas with a pre-drawn picture + paints. ($3; DollarStore)
  • New-to-him jammies. The set is so cozy and soft and he LIVED in them while battling his fever. ($0.50; secondhand)
  • New-to-him robe. He wears a robe regularly and his old one was getting extremely short; this will get a lot of use. ($3; thrift store)
  • Multi-use outdoor ball. Good for soccer and basketball; firm, but not as hard as a regular soccer ball. Again, this will get a lot of use. ($3; thrift store)
  • Scratch-art kit. I was very impressed by the quality! ($1.25; DollarStore)
  • Pokemon cards. I got a set of 15 for $4 at the DollarStore and it ended up including a great card!
  • Treats. A chocolate bar, bubble gum, a box of Reese’s Puffs cereal, a bottle of Gatorade.
  • Accordion folder for art projects ($2 at DollarStore) + a stack of white printer paper (“free” from my office stash).
  • Soft ice pack. Levi sleeps hot and likes to have an ice pack AND a Magic Bag. He often uses hard lunchbox ice packs, so this flexible one with a cover is a huge improvement! ($4.50; DollarStore)
  • “Cat and Mouse” Marble Game. I found this for $3 brand new in shrinkwrap at a thrift store. It has been a lot of fun to play!

ABBY |

  • Sequin art sticker kit. I am obsessed with this thing (pictured above). So fun. I put the little “beads” into tiny containers but, unless they get spilled, it’s a very neat activity. ($1.25; DollarStore)
  • Velvet art kit. ($2; DollarStore)
  • Socks. ($3.75; DollarStore)
  • Magnet set for her school locker. These are shockingly strong and came in an adorable pastel colour scheme. ($1.75; DollarStore)
  • Treats. A bag of M&M’s (these were “free” and came in a gift basket; I hid them away since a “bag of M&M’s was her specific candy request for Christmas), bubblegum, a box of Reese’s Puffs cereal.
  • Christmas MadLibs. She loves MadLibs and the small Christmas volume has provided lots of fun. (~$6; Amazon)
  • Would You Rather question book. She loves stuff like this. (~$5; Amazon)
  • Stuart Little book. (Free from a Little Lending Library)
  • Pre-sharpened pencils, a portfolio binder for art projects ($4; DollarStore), white paper from my office stash, notebooks ($2-3; DollarStore), daytimer ($3; DollarStore)
  • Gift bags. Abby specifically requested gift bags for Christmas to use when she packages up gifts for her friends. I figured she’ll either be raiding my stash…or I can help her start her own collection and get a stocking gift out of it ($4 for about 6 bags at the DollarStore).
  • Mini Brands. Another specific request. The packaging seemed to indicate each set contained multiple Mini Brands. It did not. So she got a single Mini Brands item (a box of HoneyComb cereal) for $4 (DollarStore). Not great bang for buck, but she has loved the little magazine that came with it, so I’m calling it a win.
  • Food/treats for Meatball. (~$10; Amazon)
You know you’re an adult when your stocking stuffers include Ibuprofen (and garbage bags)

JOHN | chocolate, olives, homemade treats from my mom, shaving cream/aftershave, a Tide-to-Go stick for travel, a travel pill case with Advil, eyeglass/computer screen cleaner, coffee filters, and large garbage/recycling bags. The latter deserves a bit more explanation; I have been buying the cheapest size of garbage bags for years and they are one size too small for our garbage cans, which means the bags fall down inside the can and it drives John crazy. So this year I splurged and bought the ever-so-slightly-more expensive garbage bags that WILL fit our cans, and wrapped them up in a brown paper bag because I’m fun like that…

ELISABETH | a pen with a case (my parents), Twizzlers, chocolate treats.

MY PARENTS | chocolate, candy (some of it free from a work Christmas basket), a laundry hanging apparatus from IKEA (under $10), a puffer jacket for my Dad (free work swag; the sleeves were too long for us but it fits my Dad perfectly and he loves it!), books (all free from Little Lending Libraries), work gloves (brand new, insulated; picked up for free from neighbours clearing out their garage), a bottle of special jam (free from a gift basket), magnetic photo holders for their fridge ($1.25; DollarStore).

main gifts

LEVI |

  • Pokemon cards + Pokemon binder. From my parents, this is a specialized binder with side-loading slots. A big step up from our DollarStore divider sheets.
  • A reading pillow. Whenever I try to read books to him in his bed, it hurts my back. ($6; thrift store – steam-cleaned thoroughly!)
  • LEGO Star Wars kit. Always such a hit. He and John have a huge collection and it brings them both a lot of joy. (~$35; Walmart)
  • Puma track set. A pair of pants + a hoodie (like new; $2 second hand)
  • Edmonton Oilers fabric pendant. Edmonton is his favourite hockey team, and I think he’ll love having this up on his bedroom wall. (~$8 on Amazon)
  • Giant magic bag. Levi loves magic bags and I found a long, fuzzy one second hand. Probably his favourite gift this Christmas and he has used it daily. ($5; thrift store)
  • Pokemon cards + wall decals. These were the free gifts Abby got him at their school shopping bazaar.
  • A “Week of Socks”. 7 pairs of very nice socks from a neighbour; Levi has been loving them!
  • Melting snowman kit. Both kids received this “melting snowman” kit from a friend and it is so cool. It’s a white putty that “melts” and you can build your snowman over and over again, and then it slowly oozes into a white blob. It’s not messy at all and is actually very whimsical and fun.

ABBY |

  • Reverse colouring book. This is the runaway hit of Christmas for Abby, I think. Such a cool concept (50 beautiful – often abstract – watercolour sheets, and YOU create the black lines for definition). I also gave her a set of two Sharpie pens to go with it. Cannot recommend this product highly enough. ($15; Amazon).
  • ESV Hardcover Student Study Bible. Specifically requested by Abby, a combo birthday + Christmas gift from my parents.
  • Giant hamster exercise ball (for Meatball). He has loved this ball and motors around the living room and hallway. I bought one sized for guinea pigs since Meatball is a big hamster! ($17; Amazon)
  • Earrings. Two pairs to let her know she could get her ears pierced (a perpetual request for several years). ($8)
  • Bunny slippers. These things are the cutest slippers ever. Brand new with tags for $2.50 at a thrift store.
  • Giant reading pillow. This thing is amazing. I had been looking everywhere for one like this for Abby. ($8 at a thrift-store, steam-cleaned thoroughly!)
  • Photo calendar. A labour of love, but she spends so much time looking at her calendar photos each year (seriously – hours are spent using/looking at this calendar). ($25; Vistaprint)
  • Hairbrushes. Abby was in desperate need of a new brush several months ago, but she used mine and never complained and I gave her two new brushes for Christmas. (Detangler brush = $2.50 at DollarStore; WetBrush = $10 at Winners).
  • Bracelet set. Levi’s free gift for Abby from his school shopping bazaar. A really pretty set of 6! I can see her using these for years to come.
  • Bible verse colouring pages. ($6; Amazon)
  • Socks. From our neighbour, Christmas-themed and very cute.

ELISABETH |

Most years I give John a list of things I want/need, but this year he forged ahead on his own and did a fantastic job!

  • Earrings. This is an annual tradition. And I love that he selected my FIRST pair of “winter-themed” earrings, along with a beautiful dangly set too.
  • Kobo. I am obsessed already. One day Levi took a 4-hour fever-induced nap (#NeverHappens!) and I stayed on his bed most of that time reading a book on the Kobo. (~$17 at a thrift store, including the case)! The sync function with OneDrive works seamlessly. It’s incredible for reading in bed at night and it’s SO light. I finally understand all the hype about e-readers!
  • Heated vest. I already love it.
  • Frying pans (x2). This is hilarious because I was planning to order John a new frying pan for Christmas and then a package arrived on our doorstep in its factory box and I realized he had purchased frying pans for me.
  • A gift card for my favourite cafe. A winner every time.
  • Socks. An adorable – and festive – pair from Finland!
One of 4 cute ornaments; and the silicon pans included a 24-set of mini gingerbread shapes, perfect for chocolates or bite-sized gingerbread cakes.
  • Ornaments + Christmas silicone pans + a beautiful bookmark. Abby’s gifts from their free school shopping bazaar. All wonderfully thoughtful, as usual!
  • An earring and necklace set. Levi’s gift from their free school shopping bazaar. Not going to lie, these will not be getting used (think gaudy large topaz jewels set in faux gold)…but it’s the thought that counts.

JOHN |

  • A digital subscription to The Economist. John really enjoys The Economist and I knew he had been interested in a subscription for years. When I went to order it, I discovered that faculty or staff of educational instituations get a 75% discount. Yes, please! So a full year for a digital subscription was $50!
  • Travel cubes. So this was a great idea. John travels internationally regularly and exclusively uses a small carry-on that has basically no built-in organization. And then…about a month ago (after I had bought the travel cubes) he bought a brand new carry-on with a whole bunch of built-in compartments. So, this is more like a Merry Christmas to Me item, since I’ll use them in my carry on. (~$40; Amazon)
  • LEGO Star Wars Trash Compactor diaorama. LEGO kits are always a hit. He has a huge LEGO Star Wars collection right by his desk in our office that he and Levi genuinely love. I was on a video call for work before Christmas and the person stopped mid-sentence to say: Is that a giant wall of STAR WARS LEGO behind you?! I got up and took my laptop over so she could get a tour. ($110; Walmart)
  • Ice-breaker Merino Wool Socks. John has a go-to brand of wool socks he loves (DarnTough), but he told me he didn’t need a pair of “good” socks this year. But when I saw this set on sale for $17, I couldn’t resist. But, they’re definitely not a nice as DarnTough. Quasi-fail.
  • Sock set. John found a set of multi-coloured socks (he likes to wear funky socks), bought them, and told me I could gift them to him for Christmas. $12 for 6 pairs!
  • Candle. Levi’s gift, free from their shopping bazaar. It was partially burned already, but is an absolutely lovely (subtle, not chemically at all) scent! We’ve all been loving this.
  • Holiday plate. Abby’s gift, free from their school shopping bazaar; it has a picture of a bicycle on it, which John loves. Very cute. She is such a great and thoughtful shopper!

MY PARENTS | Homemade calendar, a new robe for my Mom ($8; thrift store – SO NICE, I kinda wanted to keep it for myself). Books (all free from Little Lending Libraries). A few fails, too; unfortunately I’m returning the main gift I gave to my Mom which was a set of walking poles.


And that’s a wrap on gifts from 2022. There were a lot of gifts, but I’m very happy with how things aligned with my gifting philosophy. Yesterday I took advantage of a few Boxing Day sales to stock up on ornaments and some basic gifts for next year. But I’m definitely ready to give gift planning, buying, wrapping, giving, and receiving aside for a few months. It’s fun, but a lot of work!

Your turn. What was your favourite gift given/received this holiday season? Do you routinely buy things on post-Christmas sales?

Every Day Is Better If It Includes…

Several times over the years a friend has told me: Every day is better if it includes a banana. We both happen to like bananas (for me, especially when topped with a liberal smear of peanut butter), but I certainly don’t eat a banana every day.

But, when I do, I almost always think of her words. I’m not entirely convinced every day is better if I eat a banana – I’ve had some pretty crummy days and I’m sure a good portion of them included eating a banana at some point – but it doesn’t hurt. Bananas are delicious. So, how would you finish the sentence: Every day is better if it includes…

Thoughts?

Header photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

October Favourites

This monthly Favourites list was especially satisfying to think through because October happened to be my favourite month so far in 2022! But…before I get started on my list, I want to mention a very exciting holiday event being hosted by blogger extraordinaire (and organizational guru) San. Yes, this is the same San who has organized things so wonderfully for NaBloPoMo. She is hosting her annual (this is the 7th year!) Secret Santa (Mug) Swap and is looking for participants from the US, Canada, and Germany. You do not need to be a blogger to participate; I joined the fun last year and you better believe I’m already signed up for 2022. You can check out all the details for this event and sign up here. A huge thanks to San!!


eufy

Okay, feel free to call me out on cheating. I know I listed our new robovac last month as the first entry in my September Favourites. But: my blog, my list. Eufy stays.

Last month I said – and I quote – “Several people commented that having a robovac was life-changing. I’m not sure if I’m quite to that point yet.”

Friends, I am at that point. It is life-changing.

My new routine is to run Eufy in at least TWO locations each day. MWF, this includes both bathrooms. It takes 2 minutes, but it gets all the dust and hair up off the floor which makes such a difference when you have white tile (which is aesthetically pleasing, but if I ever run into the previous homeowners, I’ll give them a piece of my mind about their colour choice because those floors show every speck of dirt and dust). While Eufy runs in one bathroom, I do a quick wipe-down of the counters and toilets in the other. There is no deep-clean needed and in about 15 minutes total cleaning time over the span of a whole week, our bathrooms are looking so much better.

One more Eufy story. Meatball, bless him, has so much fluffy fur and when we pull him out of his cage little flecks of mulch fall out of said fur onto the (dark) carpet in Abby’s room. It used to drive me NUTS. Now, I don’t bat an eye because I know Eufy will take care of it!

socks for levi

Bonus: black socks don’t show the dirt…

Jenny commented – back on my post about having multiples of certain items – how much she appreciated having a generous supply of socks.

Earlier this summer I bought the kids a jumbo pack of ankle socks in black and white. This would have been perfect if John and I didn’t own many ankle socks in black and white which are only marginally different in size. It was a sock-sorting nightmare.

Also a nightmare – Levi had a variety of patterned socks that were slowly wearing out. But having one sock that has brightly coloured dinosaurs and another sock that is brightly coloured basketballs don’t lend themselves to mix-and-matching.

Enter a jumbo pack of black and grey crew socks. They go with every outfit. No one else in the family owns the same style of socks. And, if one goes missing or gets a hole, since there are so many pairs of the exact same sock, I can mix-and-match.

This sounds like a small thing, but it has streamlined laundry and made mornings easier for Levi.

the weather

I love fall. Even if it rained every day, I would still find some way to love it. But this particular October outdid itself. We had fantastic weather. Clear skies. Crisp mornings. Warm afternoons. The leaves were beautiful. It was everything I hope for in a fall, but even better.

spotify

I spend a lot of time listening to music (and my kids happen to approve of my playlists, which does feel validating) and having Spotify elevates the experience. We don’t have subscriptions for many things and at first I felt guilty about spending money each month to access music that was freely available on YouTube…but it’s so worth it to me.

our front lights

This is a picture from last year (the front step has been leveled!), but there are pot lights off to the right and left in the soffit…and the doorbell lights up. I really appreciate lights at night!

For almost five years our house was a renovation zone. For someone who thrives on order, this was very, very hard. I dreaded driving up the street and seeing things that were so clearly in need of repair. I knew it was all going to get done, but waiting was tough. Five years can feel like a very long time!

As part of our exterior upgrades, we had pot lighting installed around the front of the house. Flipping the switch each evening always makes me happy, and pulling up the street now I smile instead of wincing – especially if it’s at night and there is the warm glow of lights leading me back to our cheerful little home. Those final details can make a big difference in a “house” feeling like a “home” and outside lighting was one such detail.

a minimalist wallet

John is a connoisseur of slim wallets. A few years ago he discovered – and loved – the one pictured above. Recently, he bought a new one (it had a slot to hold an AirTag) and I inherited his old wallet (FIDELO brand).

This thing is wonderful. It has a little lever that pushes cards up and out out of the main case. It has a slot for additional cards on the front and back, and an elastic to hold cash. It is very small and easily slips right into my pocket.

The downside – it can hold about 1/3 of the cards of my regular wallet, but I almost never use them anyway. Once a month (?) I go fish out a rewards card for this or that but, for the most part, everything I need will fit in this tiny wallet. I carry my health card (and the kid’s), a debit and credit card, and my driver’s license. That’s it! I’ve started using the rewards apps for points programs and just about everything else I need so infrequently (i.e. a small business card for mailing business packages), I know in advance that I should bring them along.

hair stopper

This might be a bit gross, but I shed an insane amount of hair. I have thick, wavy hair and no matter how much comes out when I brush (and it’s a lot) there is a limitless supply.

It is annoying for keeping floors clean, and it’s downright terrible for our plumbing.

I have a silicone hair stopper that suctions right over the drain and I put it down whenever I wash my hair. I clean it out at the end of every shower and put it back up on the ledge. I bought it at a Great Canadian DollarStore years ago and it still works like a charm (there are lots of similar options at hardware stores, too).

It’s easy to use, effective, and it always makes me feel virtuous to put the hair into the garbage at the end of the shower instead of clogging up our drains.


Your turn. Any favourite items or memories from October?

Header photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Turning My Frown Upside Down…

Often, it’s the littlest of things that help lift me out of a sour mood. Sometimes I don’t even realize I have a furrowed brow and tense shoulders. But then I’ll do one of the items from the list below and – Wow! I feel so much better!

I’m not above wallowingat all! – and I try to give myself lots of space to feel whatever emotions are relevant and necessary in the moment. But, it can also feel empowering to take tiny steps toward boosting my mood. Especially as I’m coming off a week where everything felt slightly off-kilter and I was a bit… irritable.

When I was drafting this post, I jotted everything down in a stream of consciousness; while there are many more that would likely be relevant, in reviewing the list it does seem highly reflective of what (currently) works for me.

mood boosters

  • A trip to my favourite cafe. This never fails. It feels like a luxury. And I love people-watching in this space. It’s predominantly a senior-citizen clientele and I can’t get enough of watching the ladies come in with their fresh perms and canes, sipping lattes and having a “chin-wag with the girls”. #LifeGoals
  • Filling my water bottle. I don’t even have to take a drink; just the act of self-love of having a full water bottle gives me a jolt of pleasure and energy.
  • LOUD music. It needs to have a great beat and it really does need to be loud.
  • Freshly mopped floors.
  • Tidying a space.
  • Preparing and consuming a cup of tea. The whole process acts as a reset. Putting on the water to boil, picking out my tea, waiting for it to brew and bustling around the kitchen while I wait. And then – drinking it of course! My favourite for this time of year is Stash brand Decaf Chai.
  • Going for a walk.
  • Writing.
  • Laughing.
  • Driving. Traffic issues aside, I find there to be something inherently relaxing about sitting in the car and driving. The kids are contained and (mostly) don’t fight. I can listen to loud music on the radio (see above).
  • An empty laundry basket.
  • Opening curtains in the morning; closing curtains at night and turning on our outside house lights + lamps in the bedrooms/living room.
  • Brushing my teeth. This doesn’t necessarily spark “joy” in a conventional sense, but it really does boost my confidence and, maybe it’s the mint, but I swear it also gives me a little energy boost as well.
  • When the kids are both asleep early enough that I can sneak in and watch them.
  • Taking a hot shower.
  • Putting on basic makeup/getting dressed in “normal” clothes. Sometimes it’s nice to lounge around in exercise gear all day, but if I’m feeling a bit low, taking 10 minutes to put on some mascara, brush my teeth, and put on slightly less stretchy pants can really reframe my outlook.

Also, a huge thanks to Katie over at Law and Creative (Hi, Katie!) who inspired me to write this post.


Your turn. What things are guaranteed mood boosters for you? Maybe lighting a candle, snuggling a pet, 30 minutes with a good book, or going for a long run?

Header photo by Kyle Hinkson on Unsplash

What’s Your Idea of Luxury?

I read the following quote in Gretchen Rubin’s Outer Order, Inner Calm recently:

If someone asked me what my idea of luxury is, I think my answer would be: flowers in the house all year round.

May Sarton

This would not be my answer. In fact, for the most part, I actively avoid fresh flowers because I find their ultimate demise depressing. (Now plants, I love!)

Some of my ideas of luxury:

  • Not having to get up before 7:30 am (and not having to prepare anyone breakfast when I do get up).
  • Buying tea at a coffee shop. It costs a lot more than preparing it at home and I only do it a few times a month, but it always feels luxurious to me.
  • Whenever someone else cooks.
  • A brand-new notebook with lux paper and a smudge-free pen. Oh the possibilities!
  • Crisp, white linens – of which I own none, but perhaps this is why hotel stays always feel luxurious?

Your turn. What’s your idea of luxury?

Header photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash