Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Two things I like right now.

When it comes to buying cosmetics, the truth is, I'm a bit of a cheapskate. Once, long ago, wallet permitting, I did splash out on expensive brands and thought nothing of slapping on a face cream that I wouldn't now dream of spend the same money on. Now(adays) I happily purchase pharmacy counter brands and, on the most part, I genuinely don't see a huge difference.

So when, a few weeks ago, I was shopping at the Real Canadian Superstore and walked by their new line of Joe Fresh makeup, I was compelled to stop and look. Not one to pass up a cheap powder or gloss, I began perusing the line, and was so impressed (mostly by the prices but also the nice packaging), that I grabbed a few things.

Funny how that always seems to happen to me in Superstore... things other than the groceries I went in for mysteriously make their way into my cart...

I've been really impressed by the products I bought: a gold nail polish, perfect for flashing toes in summer sandals, and a cream blush in apricot that gives the face a peachy glow (providing you don't slap on too much, in which case you might end up a bit like Aunt Sally, if you know what I mean).

Best of all (I told you I was a cheapskate) was the price: $8 for the blush and $4 for the polish.


That is all I have to say on the matter.

p.s. I may have to start shopping elsewhere, since the temptation to purchase things I don't need at Superstore is too great.

p.p.s This post was not sponsored or paid for in any way, the contents are simply my own opinion.
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Breathing for Parents

You know how, sometimes, you discover something and it makes your life exponentially better - so much so that you feel like telling everyone you know? Like PVR. Or wet wipes. Or Skype. Or robots that make breakfast. (I will totally get one of those as soon as someone invents one.)

My "thing" is breathing. Or to be more specific, deep breathing. When I was studying to become a therapist I learned a technique called diaphragmatic breathing. It involves expanding your diaphragm (the muscle located underneath the lungs) as fully as possible, drawing air deep into the lungs, and then exhaling to push all the air out again.

After listening to my instructor harp on endlessly about the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing (relieves tension, improves circulation, brings more oxygen and nutrients to the organs), I started practicing it myself about a year ago and have really noticed the difference it has made to me. Now, whenever I'm feeling stressed out, nervous, or like I'm about to snap, I use the technique to bring myself back down to some level of calm.

There are three good things about learning to breathe deeply.

1. it's free
2. you can do it anywhere
3. the result is instant and effective

Trust me.

And try it for yourself.

What you do is this: lie on your back, place one hand on your chest and one hand on your upper stomach. Take a deep breath in and as you do so, raise your stomach out as far as you can. Then exhale - a long, deep breath, pushing every last bit of air out of your lungs. The hand on your stomach should move while the hand on your chest should stay still. 

Try it once a day for five minutes (or ten, if you can manage it).

And then come back and tell me how awesome you feel.
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Kid's bedroom wall art.

About a year ago, after we had painted our older son's room bright orange (one wall is orange, the rest is white with an orange stripe across the middle), we looked around for appropriate wall art to hang in the room. We'd gone back and forth on illustrations of alphabets, rocket ships, dinosaurs, monsters and trucks - all the usual child-friendly designs. Finally, unable to decide, we left it for a while.

Then this week we remembered this picture - a silk screen by UK illustrator Olly Moss, that we'd purchased a while back. It's a Flight of the Conchords poster (have you seen the show? It's awesome.) featuring a red London bus. It had previously hung downstairs in the playroom, but had since been replaced and was temporarily homeless.

It hadn't occurred to us to try hanging a non-child-specific print in our son's room, but when we did, it just worked. And most importantly, he liked it! 

Seeing this print work in M's room makes me think I'll be more open minded about where I look for kids' wall art in the future.
Have a great weekend everyone! 

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Random generosity.

The nicest, most unexpected thing happened to me today while I was shopping for diapers at Walmart.

Walmart is not typically a place where nice things happen to me, and so when a complete stranger approached me, lightly touching my arm in the middle of the toothpaste and shampoo, I froze for a second. "You look great!" said the woman.

I was so taken aback by this random act of kindness that words failed me for a few seconds as I tried to string together a response. "Um. Thank you?"

"It says in my book," said the woman purposefully, "that when you see someone who looks good, you should tell them."

"Thank you."

That simple, thirty-second gesture completely made my day. As the woman walked away, I promised myself I would pass the same sentiment onto someone else over the next week and make someone else's day.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wardrobe Resuscitation.

Every year like clockwork, I get into a flap about the state of affairs in my wardrobe. It usually happens at the start of a season, like summer, when I'm trying to decipher what still fits me and what I need to buy. Then, in a panic, I'll run out and purchase several must-have items only to discover they already exist in my wardrobe.


This year, I decided instead to examine my entire existing wardrobe. I had a hunch there were good things lurking in there, probably in undisturbed corners gathering dust and cobwebs. I had distant but definite memories of bright hues and foreign textures - things that hadn't seen the light of my bedroom in years. So I went on a treasure hunt of sorts. I was like a pirate on a mission for gold (only without the eye patch and the parrot). 

I chose a time when I could be alone for one whole hour (a rare thing indeed).

I started by removing everything from my closet. Everything.

I laid everything out on my bed (and the floor). It was quite a mess.  

Then, completely overwhelmed, I ran out for a coffee to procrastinate for ten minutes.

I then began organizing things into categories:

- current: things I wear every week
- dress: things I only wear for special occasions
- old but good: things I haven't worn in the past six months
- dead: things I just shouldn't
- accessories
- shoes

The things I knew I'd never wear again, I put straight in a bag assigned for charity. Easy.

The "old but good" things I hadn't worn in the past six months, I tried on. There were some pre-baby clothes that fit me again. There were some clothes that didn't fit any more, and some that just looked plain wrong - I assigned those to the charity bag.

With the old clothes that fit again, I set about pairing them with my current clothes to make new outfits.

I found this oyster silk top purchased in a British shop about ten years ago. It was right at the back of my wardrobe, behind some old coats and blazers, and surprisingly was in fine condition. I hadn't given it a thought in years. I decided it would look great with a pair of jeans.

Then I found this old beloved striped chiffon top with waist tie. I could pair it with a pair of white linen pants for another summer outfit.

I'd worn this aqua-coloured dress to a wedding once, about six years ago, and it had since been committed to the back of my wardrobe, perhaps for fear it was too pretty / pastel-y / floaty. Or something. This summer I'll find a way to wear it. Even if it's just in my own back garden.

I had totally forgotten about this skirt - purchased at a store in Maui years ago. It is very pink and very boho and hasn't been worn anywhere for at least five years. Poor thing. I could team it with a black spaghetti-strap top and a pair of strappy sandals.

I found this silk halter top, hanging in there (by a thread) and I think it has at least one more summer's worth of wear in it. I could pair it with a pair of black capris and flip flops.

It was amazing to go through my wardrobe and rediscover things I'd completely forgotten about. As I put everything back in its place, I felt confident, knowing what I could still wear and what could be given away.

Another idea would be to have a friend go through your wardrobe and suggest outfits you might not have thought of. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can do wonders.

How about you? How do you revive your wardrobe?
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Monday, May 23, 2011


Hello readers!

Wow, so, three weeks. I'd like to tell you that in three weeks I've accomplished a lot but really, I haven't. I've focused on my job; I've enjoyed being a mum to two high-energy, eat-like-elephants, amazing boys; I've hung out with friends; I've congratulated a friend on the birth of her third baby; I've enjoyed reading my friend Carmen's new blog; I've finally gotten a little sun (and, oops, a little sunburn too); I've planted some veggies in my garden; I've done lots and I've done little.

It's been lovely taking a break from blogging, but of course I've missed it. And like any project, taking a break helps put things into perspective: you begin to see clearly which things are important and which things aren't.

When I started writing this blog three years ago I was pregnant with my second son, O, getting ready to exist as a mother of two very small children and not sure what to expect. In a funny way this blog saved me, because being able to put on paper (or, rather, online) the good stories, and the bad (especially the bad!), and the questions and the fears, gave me a much-needed outlet and, more importantly, a way to connect with other mothers going through similar scenarios.

As life goes through its inevitable phases I too am entering another. Three years ago I was caught up entirely in the business of mothering two small children, and while I'm still very much caught up in it, I'm also now caught up in other things, too.

So I'm going to turn this blog ninety degrees and take it in a slightly different direction - one that's a truer reflection of me. As well as the parenting stories, I'm going to talk about some of the things I used to love. Some of things I'm beginning to love again.

Like, design.

Before I was a mother I loved design. I studied it (interior design, furniture design and graphics) at university in London and then went onto work in that field for years. We were constantly preoccupied by design (I met J at that same university). We pretty much lived and breathed it - always on the lookout for new ideas and inspiration wherever we went. I loved fashion. I loved finding nice things for our home. And I loved that I could locate good design it anywhere and everywhere, if I just looked. When I became a mum it was easy to let it slip away a little, taking a backseat for other, more pressing matters. And then, a few years later, I realized I needed to rediscover my passion for design. Because pretty things make me happy. The end.

And, like, wellness.

Because since I started working as a therapist last year, wellness has become intrinsically woven into my life. I find myself surrounded by the facts of good health and the results of bad health. I find myself naturally drawn to find out more about how to live a healthy life and how to be happy(er). I've been learning how to breathe (trust me on this). And I apologize in advance, but I feel the need to share it with you.

So there'll be a little of this and a little of that.

And, I don't know, we'll see.

But enough about me. How are you? What's new?
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Necessary Interruptions.

As I sat back on my heels on the hard wood floor, I felt a familiar twinge in my hip and a slight click in my knee (getting old(er) really is a bore). I didn't care because I was watching the rain with my sons. They stood at the window, observing splotches of water and small round hail stones fall from the clouds, their noses pressed up against the glass, enquiring.

"Mummy, is Spring still not coming?"

"No, this is Spring. The rain is good. It cleans everything and leaves everything feeling fresh."

I love the rain. It reminds me of England, of long gray afternoons spent inside listening to rain tap on the roof and thunder rumbling outside. It's a cozy feeling of warmth and home. As my sons dove into my lap for protection from the snaps of thunder outside, I laughed softly and told them not to worry, that the sky was just "doing its thing".

It was one moment in a number of moments I've enjoyed with my kids this week. I've been spending more time with them, more time cooking food, more time lying on my bed reading my text books and magazines, more time doing nothing where possible. More time not being on the Internet, away from the social media sites that require participation and the many many blogs that await comments and the emails that need answering and all the things that pull me in yet another direction I can't quite stretch to at the moment.

It happened - this sudden desire to get away from the online world - because of last weekend. I spent in on a course, learning new techniques for my massage therapy practice. I reveled in the weekend, soaking up the education and the words of experienced therapists and the palpable atmosphere created by a room of women each connected by the same desire to learn and be better therapists. I was in heaven. And, as often when I come home after a weekend away, I returned entirely uplifted and nourished.

I suddenly looked at my lap top and couldn't bring myself to open it. So I didn't. And it felt good. And then I discovered something: during the minutes and hours that I wasn't online, my day was filling up with things as though they had always been there waiting for me to discover them. Small things, big things, simple things, insignificant things. I spent a day not being online and at the end of it, noticed something remarkable: I didn't miss it. Not even a weeny teeny inch.

Okay maybe a bit...

And for not missing it, I feel guilty. I find myself caught in a new conundrum: I want to be here and then again I don't. It's tough because I've made some great friendships online. I love reading all of your stories and I cherish your comments on this blog. I love writing and I'm exhausted by it. I enjoy the freedom of blogging and at the same time I find it incredibly demanding.

I'm not sure what this means for the now. I think often about how to make this work, so that it's less tiring and less of a distraction to the rest of my life. I consider how I could bend and twist myself in other ways to squeeze it in any available space, but unfortunately I'm all out of elasticity.

If only there were more hours in the day....

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