Baby: 6 week update and a few favourite products

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5 newbornBaby M entered this world on Monday Sept 28th at 9:20am after 29 hours of labour.  I cannot believe how fast the time as passed and how quickly Baby M has grown!  She has almost outgrown her 3 month sized clothes.  When I see that I just want to hold her and tell her not to grow up! I’m not done enjoying her tininess!

Her head and neck control is slowly developing, with tummy time 3 or 4 times a day. She loves to nap on daddy’s chest, and we’re sleeping in approximately 3 hour shifts overnight.  Not too bad if we can get a total of 6 hours of sleep in–I call that a win!

At 6 weeks we’re hitting a rough patch with some really bad acid reflux.  She’s not spitting up, but you can hear her swallow the acid back down when she hiccups or burps sometimes.  It makes for some pretty intense hours in the evenings.  I’ve just started cutting out broccoli, cauliflower, onions, dairy and soy, and drinking a brew of fennel seeds in hot water.  We’ll see how that goes.

Some cool baby products that I thought I’d share with you:

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Baby M in her Woombie

The Woombie–Baby M did not like to lie on her back in her first days.  In fact she’s still not a fan.  In the daytime naps in the crib last about 20 minutes.  At night, swaddling was not a success for us–her arms were always wriggling out, and waking herself up.  Before she was born I had come across the Woombie on Youtube as a swaddling alternative.  As we were getting a little desperate I ordered a couple online to try out.  Now she’s sleeping 3 to 5 hours at a time at night!  It’s a little pricey at $35, but worth it for the zzz’s we can now catch.  We started with the small size, but now she has outgrown it and is in the large size, with lots of room to grow.  In Canada you can buy them from Snugglebugz.

Juddlies Sleepers–Another nighttime favourite–This was a gift from a former student of mine.  The double ended zippers make for quick and easy diaper changes. No more fiddling with snaps when you’re struggling to keep your eyes open!  I only have the one right now, but I’m totally going to buy one or two more when she grows out of this one! I also love that the creator of Juddlies is a local Torontonian (Go Canada!) The green colours are on for 50% off right now, so click here to check it out!

Beco Gemini Carrier– 

This is another thing that we use pretty well every day. There are so many benefits to babywearing, I knew I wanted a carrier almost as soon as I found out I was pregnant :BECOIn these early days the little bit of extra freedom a carrier can afford us is a big relief.  I wear her around the house, to the grocery store, walking the dogs…I may be addicted… I chose this carrier after many hours of research.  I like that it’ll take her from 7lbs to 35lbs, the width of the seat area is good for preventing hip dysplasia, and the adjustable crossover straps are very comfortable and wearable by both me and my husband. A good blog post comparing and explaining the Beco vs. Ergobaby carriers can be found here.

Thanks for reading!

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LoCoMoCion Bag Organizer: Etsy review and My New Purse and Organizational System

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Hi Everyone!

If you have been following me for some time you might know that I have been on an organizing journey to simplify my life and my home.  And like any self-respecting girl one of the things I use almost everyday is my purse.  Now I am VERY PICKY about the purses I use.  My ideal purse would have the following things:

  1. Zipper closure.  No Drawstrings, Magnets or Flaps.  When I was a girl my mom had a drawstring closure purse which was stolen from while eating lunch in Chinatown in Calgary.  The fellow at the table behind her just reached in and grabbed her wallet and keys.  Right from under her eyes!  It was one of the scariest moments as her entire life, credit/debit cards, ID, chequebook, everything was in there!  I vowed NEVER to own a purse that didn’t have a zipper closure.
  2. Compartments.  The problem with most purses is that it is just a bag to throw stuff in and it just becomes a jumbled mess where everything disappears in the bottom.  Remember Mary Poppins’ carpet bag?  I need a place for everything and and everything in it’s place!
  3. Lighter coloured interior.  This is a lesson that took me many years to realize.  Generally I am a Black and White kind of girl (with the occasional foray into navy!), so I had stuck with black purses.  Then I bought a red purse with red lining about 5 years ago and my world was flipped!  I COULD SEE WHAT WAS IN MY BAG!!  The thing with a black interior is that everything disappears into the void and you can’t see what’s in there.  It’s like a black hole that sucks every pen, pouch, kleenex, and receipt into the chasm never to return…until the next time you dump everything out and you find junk from 6 months ago :/
  4. Long shoulder strap.  2 or 3 years ago I bought a couple of used crossbody purses for travel purposes, wanting to be able to walk around with my hands free and still be able to have my valuables close at hand.  They were amazing.  I had a Roots Village Tribe which I got on Kijiji, and a Fossil Crossbody that I bought on eBay. 
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    The Fossil Crossbody. Sorry, I don’t know the actual collection it came from, and it is discontinued, so it’s hard to find anywhere online.

    I liked the larger Roots bag for longer vacations because it could fit my camera, but the smaller Fossil bag was ideal for everyday use because it perfectly fit a wallet and phone.  The long strap meant I could walk around, go shopping for groceries, without worrying about my stuff.  And note the zippers!  Very important 🙂

However, when it came to going to work and teaching piano, it wasn’t enough to carry around everything I needed.  I needed a new bag with more space.

My new Emerson Satchel!

My new Emerson Satchel! (This canvas weave version is now sold out, sorry!)

So I was looking for a new purse that would accomplish everything listed above, at a reasonable price.  I am a sucker for all things Fossil, because I like their quality and playfulness, without breaking the bank.  I settled on the Emerson Satchel, in blue and white canvas weave, which after some waiting I found for 50% off, and free shipping from the Bay.  It is NEARLY perfect.  Just lacking in compartments, as there are no external pockets like the crossbody bags did.  Just the standard cellphone pouch and side zipper inside.

Etsy to the rescue!  I found a little Vancouver Etsy shop named LoCoMoCion who makes nylon bag organizers for about $7 (after shipping I paid a little over $10–still a great deal!).  The reason why I chose this one over the other ones out there is because of its rectangular shape and zippered sides.  Other shops had pretty purse inserts, but they all still had the big cavernous portion in the middle, which would still lead to the same black hole syndrome I mentioned before.  This one works a bit like a filing system. It keeps everything standing upright and separated so it is all easy to find!  IMG_0002

organizer views

Left pic: Wallet and card storage in the main open compartment Centre: Mini accordion folder for post its, receipts and other documents in one of the zippered sides. Right: Collection of coloured pens, pencils and erasers for teaching in the other zippered pouch. (You can click on the photo for a closer look)

Even with the organizer in the purse, there is room to spare for an extra book or tablet, or juice bottle, whatever I may need.  The best part is I can transfer this organizer to my other (black) purses too!

Thanks for reading!

Big Announcement 2: I’ve Opened a Shop on Etsy! Transformations and Re-inventions

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Yes, that’s right.  I am officially insane.

I am almost one month away from giving birth and I have decided to start a new venture.  What am I thinking???

Actually, I think part of it is a re-inventing process I am going through.  With a transformation into motherhood, I am also transitioning out of the Music Director position I have had at a wonderful church for the last 3.5 years, as well as putting my half my music students on hold for a few months for maternity leave while letting others go, as I don’t expect I can keep the same work schedule as I have now.

Meanwhile, I have all this creative energy that needs an outlet!

logo7FINALSo I started a little sewing enterprise called Lili Eco Cloth.  My mission is to create home and baby items that encourage us to reduce our dependence on disposable paper products like Kleenex (facial tissues), baby wipes, and paper napkins, while using natural and organic (when possible) fabrics.  So far I have a stock of bamboo terry/cotton flannel baby wipes, baby bandana bibs, cotton dinner napkins (for big people and small 🙂 ), and some 1-ply bamboo terry 8″x8″ squares that I’m selling as “bamboo hankies.”  I was trying out some Scrundlewear, but I haven’t been able to source good quality knit fabrics, so I’m holding off on that for now.  I have also started a new website, http://www.liliecocloth.com,  promoting the shop and blogging about easy tips and tricks to reduce our environmental footprint.  A portion of the sales will go to the Canada World Youth Aboriginal Leadership Programs and the Council of the North.

So the last 3 months, I have been immersed with not only sewing, but fabric sourcing and learning about Etsy, entrepreneurship, social media, and website building.  My dear friend Laura (she has a design blog too: http://www.designmotifblog.com ) is taking all the amazing photos of the stuff I make.  It’s been so much fun putting this whole operation together, and I have learned so much.  In fact a lot of this stuff I’ve been learning has encouraged me to try these new skills in my own piano business too.  So my brain is in high gear, and I’m just enjoying the ride!

I hope you check out the shop and website, as well as on Facebook (click “Like” to receive updates from the shop!).  I’d love to hear any feedback, suggestions, questions or other thoughts!  And there’s a 20% discount for the month of September using the discount code GRNDOPEN20 . 🙂

Thanks for reading!  ❤

A Morning to Kick Back and Take it Easy: Musings on Life and Faith

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A little update:  Last week my husband and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary.  We had a lovely dinner at La Grotta in Unionville and afterwards took a little stroll through the old part of town.  There we found a cute little gift shop of handmade knickknacks and other items.  So our anniversary gifts to each other were these gorgeous mugs:

The patterns are inspired by 19th century textile designer William Morris.

The patterns are inspired by 19th century textile designer William Morris.

I realize that I probably won’t get many more mornings like this, with a baby due in about 5 weeks, but I thought I’d just share a moment with you.  Breakfast time is usually my quiet time where I get to muse, read, journal, meditate.  Yesterday I had decaf English Breakfast tea with a slice of lemon, a pear and rice cakes with some peanut butter and some homemade wild raspberry jam I received from a friend.  I felt rather indulgent 🙂

Paisley's in her couch pouch keeping guard

Paisley’s in her “couch pouch” by the window keeping guard.

I am currently reading a book called The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser.  At first glance it reads like kind of a “Christian Basics” book, but it really is so much deeper than that.  For me it has been quite insightful and challenging.  I’ve been a Christian most of my life, but this book has taken my understanding of faith, spirituality and it’s context in today’s society of indifferent secularism (or spirituality without community) and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and take my faith into the world more.  Specifically, Rolheiser describes the Essence of a Spiritual Life (regardless of religion, really) in 4 pillars:

  1. Private Prayer and Private Morality
  2. Social Justice
  3. Mellowness of Heart and Spirit
  4. Community as a Constitutive Element of True Worship

Rolheiser really is a beautiful writer.  His language is accessible yet poetic, challenging yet engaging.  A summation of the book might be found in the second chapter:

Each generation has its own dark night of the soul, its own peculiar temptation to despair, as it tries to find peace of soul and make peace with its God.  Our own dark night of spirituality is very much shaped by our naivete about the nature of spiritual energy; by the conspiracy against depth and prayer caused by the narcissism, pragmatism, and unbridled restlessness of our age; and by our inability to hold together in tension a series of dualities.
How do we walk forward and at the same time be realistic and take into account all the unique pressures of our age?  What vision and what disciplines do we need to creatively channel the erotic, spirit fire inside of us so that its end result is creative days and restful nights and an enduring peace with our God, each other, and within ourselves?

As I continue to read this I am more and more inspired to re-invent my life and live out my faith in a more tangible way that will make a positive change in the world, however small that may be.

Thanks for reading!

Barefoot Venus Mustard Bath: A new favourite for colds, detoxing and relaxing!

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**Please note, I am not in any way sponsored for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Hi Everyone,

Just a quickie today.  I wanted to share with you this bath salt we discovered this past January while on a little winter holiday in Picton.  At Green Gables Gift Shop we found this display of pretty tins full of different bath salts, by a BC company called Barefoot Venus.  The Mustard Bath intrigued us the most because, a. it didn’t contain almond oil (allergy), and b.  its properties included the ability to help fight colds, thanks to the eucalyptus.  It has since become a favourite in our household, and we have bought 2 refills since then!

Our original tin.  We keep it to put our refill bags in.

Our original tin. We keep it to put our refill bags in.

After using it once I discovered it is great for my allergies because of its detoxifying properties (Rosemary and Mustard Seed).  I found that my rashes didn’t flare up even though I had been eating off my allergy list.  The smell of the eucalyptus is a bit overwhelming at first, but you soon learn to love it as you relax and it clears your sinuses.  Even my husband loves it for those extra sore days after heavy workouts.

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The back of the refill bag.

They have recently updated their website, making it much easier to navigate, so I highly recommend you guys check it out!

Thanks for Reading!

Big Announcement 1: We’re 33 Weeks Pregnant!!

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Say what?

Yep it’s true!  It was pretty funny, when we told my sister-in-law back in April she said, “I want it known that I never pressured you….

But it’s about time!!” (Hubs and I have been married almost 10 years :D)

And it’s been an amazingly straightforward pregnancy thus far (knock on wood!)

Some things we’ve been doing/learning so far.

PREPPING THE NURSERY: We moved our little library area to the basement, moved the guest bed into the previous library, and settled the baby stuff in here.  There was a crazy vintage green wallpaper in here before, so we rented a stripper (the steamer kind, not the Chippendales kind! haha 😀 ) from Home Depot and my husband and father-in-law spent a weekend wallpaper stripping and painting (we settled on Behr Candlewick–it’s a nice mellow yellow).  Bless their hearts, not a fun job, seriously.

The ENTIRE room was covered in this wallpaper. Old world charm or dizzying overstimulation?

The ENTIRE room was covered in this wallpaper. Old world charm or dizzying overstimulation?

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You may think a world map is a little strange in a nursery, but it is very intentional! We have family all around the world and the plan is to place little wallet sized photos around the places where they live so the baby will learn about her extended family from a young age. It’ll become our “Prayer Wall” where we can pray for them nightly. Later on, we can learn about different places in the world and pray for where there are disaster zones, wars, etc. That’s the plan, anyway 🙂

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Thrifted, thrifted, thrifted.

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Everything in these photos was thrifted or gifted, with the exception of the car seat and stroller (folded and tucked behind the crib).

THRIFTING:  There has been very little that we have bought brand new.  Save for the convertible stroller/car seat (which, here in Ontario, Canada, it is illegal to buy a car seat second hand), almost everything we have for the baby is from Kijiji (similar to Craigslist, for those who don’t know), or on loan from friends.  Even most of my maternity clothes are second hand.  I think we spent about $1700, on stuff that, bought new, would have come to around $5000.

We discovered this lovely little used kids clothing store called Bearly Used. The stuff they carry is practically brand new, for a fraction of the cost!  Best of all, it’s 5 minutes from my in-laws’.  A new place for grandma to go shopping!! 😀IMG_0002

Incidentally, those fancy maternity pants don’t work on my body.  Has anyone else experienced that?  Those big belly bands that are built in, they suck!  The pants just droop and don’t stay up!  I’ve been relying on my trusty yoga capris, skirts and maxi dresses to get me through the summer.

COCONUT OIL:  Since becoming pregnant, I’ve been moisturizing religiously with coconut oil, in an effort to stave off stretch marks.  I don’t know if it’ll work, but my skin has never been softer, anyway 😛  I hear the last few weeks is the time the baby grows the most, so we’ll see.  At this point I feel stretched out for sure, but so far no stretch marks!

Please excuse the pjs, lol. I took this selfie after a long day at work :D

Baby belly! (Please excuse the pjs, lol. I took this selfie after a long day at work :D)

STOCKING UP ON CLOTH DIAPERS:  I first learned about cloth diapers from my brother and sister-in-law, who cloth diapered their son.  Then I discovered Dirty Diaper Laundry and Dana Ryan on YouTube and learned just about everything you could possibly know about cloth diapers.  I am that kind of person.  As soon as I get curious about something, I will research for hours until I know everything.  (I’m not going to go into all the reasons for cloth, as there are plenty of other blogs and sites that talk about it already.) For the time being, since I don’t know what size/shape our little baby will be, I’ve stocked up on small/newborn covers and different hemp, bamboo and cotton prefolds, as I think these are the most versatile and customizable.  I have a few all-in-ones, more for babysitter/grandparents’ benefit, and there are some pretty adorable ones, for sure.  My husband was a little leery at first, but then I showed him a YouTube vid with a manly man military dad explaining cloth diapers and showed him it wasn’t so wierd after all, lol. He’s still not sure about going out and visiting grandparents in cloth, but I think he’ll come around eventually.

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Modest little stash. A mix of all-in-ones, a couple of pockets, and a few covers. Prefolds on the far right.

SEWING: I don’t know if it’s a nesting thing or not, but I have been sewing up a storm! Cloth wipes, baby bibs, napkins…I think I’ll save that for another post 🙂  Super fun though.  It’s easier than gardening, at this point, because bending down to pull weeds in the hot summer sun is not the most enticing at this size!  Best part–shopping for fabrics!

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading!

Where have I been? Heartbreak and healing

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Hi everyone,

I feel really bad about not posting anything in a few months, but something happened that caused me to “shut down,” as it were.  Being here on the interweb, I have come to realize, while it allows me to share with you my little experiences and celebrations in the form of my little home projects, also puts me out there for people to judge and create conclusions about me which may or may not be true. In this case it came from someone within my own inner social circle whom I had trusted and who I thought supported me in these little adventures of gardening, furniture building, cooking, home decor and organizing. Instead this person took it as an opportunity to make conclusions about me and my family that were completely untrue and frankly very hurtful.

Suddenly my walls came up and I was afraid to post anything.  Suddenly I decided I had to close off, shut down, not share anything for fear of letting people into my humble little world, letting them see flaws, imperfections.  It was brutal as relationships were tested, and I am still healing from it.  I don’t want to get into too much detail, but it was really an extremely emotionally difficult time. Perhaps it was the fact that it came from someone who I thought I knew well that caught me off guard, but in any case I wasn’t expecting it, and certainly it was a learning and growing experience for me.

Several months have now passed. My relationship with this person is slowly mending, and while still shell-shocked by the whole thing, I feel it is time to move forward.  There are many things for which I have to be joyful and thankful and excited for, and I wish to be able to share them without mistrust and suspicion. I  have met so many interesting people through this venue and I hope that this wil continue!  In the next few weeks I will make some big announcements and I hope you will walk this journey with me! Thanks for reading!

Living with Allergies: Eggless, Wheatless Easy and Healthy Lunches

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For my previous Living with Allergies posts click here, here, and here.

A few years ago I discovered a Toronto company that specializes in artisanal organic breads and cookies. Shasha Bread Company makes all their products with the finest ingredients and with a conscious effort towards environmental sustainability, which I love.  Best of all, they make the best spelt bread that is also free of conventional bread yeast, instead opting for sourdough, which is easier to digest.  While there are other companies that make spelt bread, this one is by far the tastiest and most bread-like in texture!

Soft and yummy spelt bread!  (Note-Spelt is NOT gluten free, so if you're celiac, stay away! Sorry :( )

Soft and yummy spelt bread! (Note-Spelt is NOT gluten free, so if you’re celiac, stay away! Sorry 😦 )

When I found out I was allergic to wheat the biggest thing I missed was sandwiches for lunch so here I’m going to share a couple of my favourite quick and easy lunches.

IMG_0001The first is a simple fried tofu sandwich.  I fry up a couple of slices of extra firm organic tofu (my favourite tofu is SoL Cuisine) in olive oil. It gives it a fried-egg like taste. Put it between a couple of toasts with Veganaise, and it tastes almost like egg-salad 🙂

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Topped with some green onions and with a side romaine/avocado salad and homemade honey mustard dressing.

IMG_0006My other new fave is with roasted chicken leftovers.  I roast a chicken a couple times a month, as one of my favourite easy meals to put together.  Any leftovers are sliced up for sandwiches.  This one is made with mashed up avocado.

What are your favourite eggless recipes?  I think I might continue this series for a little bit as I’ve sort of been baking/cooking up a storm lately and I have lots to share!  Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

Tea/Coffee Cupboard Organization

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Recently I decided to overhaul my tea/coffee cupboard.  The problem with teas is that they all come in different sized and shaped containers, making them to be very difficult to keep organized in a drawer or cupboard.  I can’t tell you how many times I had a bunch of tea boxes fall out in this random Jenga-like fashion.  It was insane. 😛 I wish I had a before picture, but I forgot!

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Here’s what it looks like today!  This used to have only 3 shelves, instead of four. I had a fourth shelf pre-cut at home depot, and picked up some shelf supports, to use up empty space. Total: factoring in the leftovers, about $3.00. I have plans for the extras 🙂 Conveniently, we keep the kettle and Tassimo machine and sugar bowl directly underneath this shelf to make it into a little coffee station.  Behind the jars I keep any extra tea that didn’t fit into the jars.

I picked up 9 of these jars from Dollarama to store all our most popular teas.

I picked up 9 of these jars from Dollarama to store all our most popular teas. Total: $11.25

For teas that came in individual packets, I placed one vertically against the jar, and the rest of them horizontally to support it.

For teas that came in individual packets, I placed one vertically against the jar, and the rest of them horizontally to hold it up.

For my loose leaf teas, I cut the box front and brewing instructions to place along the glass, and the tea went in a ziploc bag inside to keep fresh.

For my loose leaf teas, I cut the box front and brewing instructions to place along the glass, and the tea went in a ziploc bag inside to keep fresh.

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The Tassimo shelf. They fit nicely in these little trays, also from Dollarama. I labelled each tray using my trusty label maker.  Four trays: about $5.00

Trick:  you can fit the T-Discs more neatly if you face one row to the left, the next row to the right, etc.  I can get up to 24 discs in the tray, depending on the size of the discs.

Trick: you can fit the T-Discs more neatly if you face one row to the left, the next row to the right, etc. I can get up to 24 discs in one tray, depending on the size of the discs.

Total for the overhaul: about $19.  I usually drink 1 tea a day, and my husband 1-2 coffees a day.  This is so much nicer to look at and deal with!

Thanks for reading!