Sunday, 29 January 2012

A nice mistake

New parents make mistakes all the time. One of the mistakes that we made was to install a shelf over Alice's changing table. This arrangement worked like a charm until our daughter reached a point when changing her diaper and dressing her up looked like a Cirque du Soleil choreography!

We decided that it was a smart idea to remove the shelf before we accidentally hit her head on it and found ourselves at the ER with a bleeding baby (just thinking about this scenario gives me shivers). So after I patched and repainted the enormous holes made by the (many many many) gyprock screws I looked at the tall (11ft) bare wall and asked myself how I was going to fill such a big space.

After some research, I saw this sweet art print by Sugarboo Designs but the price was not in my limited budget. So for about $15 (the only thing we had to get was the vinyl lettering) I made my own art print. Since I'm not going to sell it (!) I have no shame saying that I totally copied, yet adapted, their Every Day I Love You print. I hope that nobody is offended by my little project.

Actually, at first, I just wanted red letters with a white background but the white paint that I got in our basement looked like thick glue (it adds texture Dan told me) and the letters were a real pain in the butt to remove (it is shabby chic Dan told me). This is when I added water and made a white wash (that I partly applied with my fingers) over the entire thing to hide some of the obvious technical problems and gives a more unified look to the painting.

We decided to make a bilingual painting because we want to make sure that Alice knows how I (French) and Dan (English) love her favoritism ;)

Oh, I also made a few wooden shelves but that is for another post.

* * * * *

gimbo: Living in the moment is so so so difficult. You made me laugh a lot with your "I'm married to a hoarder who seems to just create stuff out of thin air"! And you are so right, a crawling baby is very intense...especially when we all have a cold. Let me tell you that I was not living in the moment during that entire week. Take care and have a lovely week. xox

Monday, 23 January 2012

Living in the moment

I never gave much thought on the way I was going to experience motherhood. Even now, I rarely think about the future in very specific ways. Like Brian's psychologist told us (yes, we hired a dog psychologist a few years ago), dogs live in the moment. This concept recently became my mom motto.

Living in the moment with a baby, especially in a era when we try to cram so many activities in the free time that we have, is challenging. When Alice was about two months old, I somehow managed to semi turn off the "I want to do it all" switch and life suddenly got much easier and more importantly less frustrating.

Ironically, giving my full attention to the present requires certain planning. It will be even more important when I will return to work. As an event planner, I know that a strict schedule is a gateway to disappointment so we try to remain as flexible as possible but with certain boundaries.

Writing a weekly meal planner (Simplicity Parenting)
Doing a quick house clean up once Alice is asleep for the night
Dedicating days for specific chores (baby carrier = easy vacuuming)
Turning off the technologies (yeah, it's a work in progress!)
Paying bills, taking appointments and returning calls ASAP
Doing errands efficiently (errands + baby = can be intense)
Dividing projects (sewing, etc.) into small time segments
Living without too much stuff (stuff is time consuming)
Learning to say "no thank you" to certain activities

Once that "routine" was established, it became much easier to focus my attention on the present and fully enjoy a long bubble bath with Alice, a game of hide and seek around the kitchen island or a nap cuddle together in bed...without worrying about random stuff.

Living in the moment is pretty difficult especially if, like me, you write "pointless" lists as a hobby, over-analyze everything and spend hours obsessively re-organizing the items in your kitchen cabinets. However, I'm 100% sure that it can be beneficial for Alice, myself and our little family. So far so good!

Do you have tips on how to live in the moment as a family?

note: Alice looking at herself in our vintage chrome lamp.

* * * * *

mjb: And wait! I know many other cute European brands ;)

indigorchid: I was freaking out when I looked at their web site the first time. We so don't have stuff like that in Montreal (well, I don't think so).

shannah: This is exactly what I said when I looked at Alice's clothes! Not fair, ah!

sara-ananda: OOOUUUUIIIII! Je veux voir des photos d'August avec ses vêtements d'Alice à Paris! Et si tu veux me donner d'autres noms de boutiques se serait super...j'ai plein d'amis Français qui me servent d'assistants ;)

taryn: Totally!

emily: Thank you. I just learned a new word (swoon).

hello milky: Hopefully they do.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Alice à Paris

It is great to have French friends who cross the pound once in a while to visit their families in Paris but it is even better when those friends have wonderful taste in baby girl clothes.

Lucky Alice (and lucky me who totally enjoy playing doll with my daughter) scored today some delightful clothes purchased over the Holidays by my friend J and his girlfriend D. Between two meals, probably loaded with foie gras, yummy cheeses and decadent desserts, they went to a little boutique called...Alice à Paris! How cool is that!?!

My heart beat probably got much faster as I opened the bag and discovered some of the most fashionable baby clothes that I ever saw. I like H&M and Gap but Alice à Paris is in a different category...and the price is still very affordable. There is only one problem, Alice is still too small (size 12 months) so I have to wait a bit before she can wear her present!!!

With all my heart, I can't wait for those awesome friends to get pregnant and make stylish babies...after all, I'm sure that Alice won't mind if there is another kid in Montreal with cool sirwal, ah!

Thank you so much J and D
See you soon

* * * * *

bloom right here: I also understand the joy of soft, washcloths...especially if they are warm. Alice dislikes so much paper tissue for nose-wiping.

gillian: Alice is almost 10 months old and no teething for the moment. I have nightmares that she starts school with bare gums! Hope your little Mia will feels better soon. That cushion is so so so cute. Oh, you started a blog :)

sandra: I don't have her chance since I look like crap when I'm sick (like this morning).

olga: Wow, thank you so much for the link. And I still have Lanolin cream (I didn't have any irritation so I pretty much never used it). I actually use it on my dry hands at the moment and it works very well.

thelifepursuit: She feels better now but Dan and I are sick! Oh well, this is life.

lindsey [homegrown spud]: Thank you! At one point she was coughing so much that she vomited her blueberry puree + cereal all over the floor. Poor kitten.

gimbo: I think that she will be top shape tomorrow :)

The snot factory is open!

Poor kitty cat!

* * * * *

christine: Really? I never saw those products but I don't visit that many salons (and I'm 100% sure that they don't sell those where I have my hair cut). I will investigate!

luke and pamela: For the moment, I love to put mineral foundation. I feel so "adult" using the big brush ;)

linda: The milk duct is fine but Alice is still sick...but looking much better after 3 days.

oscarlucinda: Reading books is so much fun but to be completely honest with you, Alice would much prefer eating the book than having me reading it. Her favorite book is any book that she can put in her mouth...ah ah ah !

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The fine art of storytelling

Storytelling Skills
(from Effective Storytelling : a manual for beginners)

Dialog should make use of different voices and postures for different characters

Voice should create the atmosphere or tension as the story progresses.

Gestures and facial expressions add much to the visualization of the story. Be sure they are appropriate and natural. Practice them!

Pacing involves both the volume and rate at which you speak, and the progression of the action in the story. Dialog slows a story's pace down, while narrating action speeds it up.

Repetition and exaggeration have always been basic elements of story telling.

Most importantly, relax and be yourself.
Develop your own style, one you are comfortable with.

As the very hungry caterpillar became a beautiful butterfly, we realized that Alice was having her first cold...and that I had a bad case of blocked milk duct.

The end.

note: This used to be my sweater (made by my mom 32 years ago).

* * * * *

suite henry : Now that I use mascara, I'm always scared that I might look like a raccoon. I also hate taking it off at night.

martha: Thank you for the link. I watched most of her videos. It looks pretty easy (well, except for the party look). And water rocks :)

new duds: I also look like a living dead in winter. I got a big brush and I love to use it...I love the movement and the feeling on my skin (yes, I'm strange just like that).

verypurpleperson: I agree with you. Sunscreen is so important. Liquid is very tricky. Mineral is so much better and fun to apply. Thank you so much for the link.

christine: I don't think that we have SIM in Montreal. I like your simple routine...totally my style. I also got a red lipstick and I used it last summer at a wedding. It looked pretty cool but I would not use it to go to the grocery store because I'm still to shy.

ali: You are so funny. Lip balm is also very nice.

su: What a great idea your mom had. I will totally do that with a few years.

juultje: I'm so like you (picturing my clogging pores during the day). Thank you so much for all the tips that you gave me. You know a lot about makeup :)

indigorchid: OMG, you made your own cheek-tint! You rock girl!!!

the Franglaise: Ohhhh, black Khol pencil. I'm so not there yet. Red lipstick looks so cool, for example, in a JCrew catalog but in real life it is another story...most of the time anyway!

emily: Cetaphil rocks :)

vanessa at lynn david: You are such a pro...everyday since high school, wow wow wow.

anneemall: We are red nose sisters! Dan is also in the club but maybe not as a sister ;) Ah, the magic trick! The only makeup that I had is a green powder. We have La Roche-Posay here but they don't have makeup (mostly lotions). Bye bye red nose!

janet: I also think that going eco (as in eco-friendly and not necessarily economical) is super important. I have very dry skin around my eyes so I don't know if I should try eyeshadow. Maybe when winter will be over? I love Burt's Bees. Thank you for all the info.

uk lass in us: Don't say that you are a failure as a girl! I fresh face without makeup is also super nice (to my opinion). Happy to know that the dog is fine but, wtf, a misdiagnosis!!!

ivana: Go blush go go!!!

dnamtl: Mascara does make a big you said, I look more alive, ah! I enjoyed the red lipstick that I had last summer for my friend's wedding...but it was for a special occasion (this is my problem).

rebecca: Most women that I know are not too much into "intense" makeup. I think that simple makeup is always a good choice. I also get the "you look tired/sick/like hell" comments at work every once in a while.

clairsy: I have a new obsession : YouTube makeup videos!

thelifepursuit: You are awesome! I love bright red lipstick (in magazines) but not for me at the moment. Maybe next summer when I won't look like a vampire ;)

isa: Le fond de teint minéral semble vraiment très chouette. Pourquoi est-ce que je ne connaissais pas ce truc miracle avant!

new duds: Yeah, I changed my mind about most drugstore products (I like the cetaphil products that I got and the mascara). Makeup is so expensive (even the budget one) that I find it smart to get better quality products and some advices from a real professional. I see it as an investment!

taryn: Happy to know that I'm not the only one that feels useless in the makeup department. I would love to see your makeup drawer ;)

bec hem: Maybe I should ask some of my friends for be continued ;)

denise: As soon as I get a ride, I will visit Sephora (they are all in the suburbs). It looks like a very cool place.

alyson: I don't think that Zuzu Luxe Dual Powder Foundation is available in Montreal. I will take a look online. Thank you for the information hot mama.

gimbo: I don't think that we have La Roche Posay cosmetics for problem skin (I only see lotions and cleaners). Ah, Canada :(

Friday, 13 January 2012

I'm a complete moron!

First of all, wow, I would love to thank you all for your amazing advice regarding my makeup resolution (I will answer all your comments in my next post to avoid a super long text). I didn't realized how tricky yet fascinating makeup can be.

For example, many of you suggested that I get mineral powder foundation instead of the liquid one that I purchased. Since I didn't use it and I still had the bill, I headed to the drugstore for a quick exchange.

This is when things got a bit ridiculous!

As soon as I got to the store, I headed to the cosmetic counter to talk to the sale person. She didn't look like a floozy. However, she had on her skin a sample of each foundation available in the store that made her face about a 1/4 an inch thicker! "F**k", I said to myself "How can she help me achieved a natural look?" In French, there is an expression that goes a bit like cobblers wear the most uncomfortable shoes (cordonnier mal chaussé). It is when someone doesn't apply their skills to their life. Maybe it was her case?

An hour later I got home feeling like a complete moron. The sale person was not the most sympathetic person but she took the time to answer most of my a patronizing way but still. After 30 minutes, she looked a bit annoyed so I picked her foundation of choice and a brush. She scanned the items, look at me with her everything but flawless skin and said: "80$". "F**K", I said to myself "Why didn't I asked for the price first?"

Instead of telling her that I changed my mind because this doesn't fit my new frugal lifestyle, I gave her my debit card and even before my transaction was accepted, I knew that I was going to return those products another day...a day when the foundation addicted sale person won't work!

Frugal housewife conclusion
Choosing the right makeup is much more serious than I anticipated...especially when you have sensitive skin (rosacea). I think that in my case (a makeup novice that needs a bit more support than your average woman), it would be wise to visit a more appropriate store and get advice from a more experienced person. I don't want to get an 80$ bill for foundation (plus accessory) but I think that with my skin condition, it is good to invest in good quality product that I will enjoy and more importantly use.

To be continued...

note: beautiful cosmetic bag from Gim Carry

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Frugal housewife style - part 1

I have no excuse but at the age of almost 32, I hardly ever wear makeup or know how to use makeup properly. Once in a while I look at some makeup tips in magazines but I always have the feeling that I will end up looking like a floozy! Don't get me wrong, some people truly master the fine art of applying tons of makeup and managing to achieve a great look but it is obviously not my case.

However, I'm not getting any younger and having a baby that enjoys nightly dairy snacks can make you say: "Oh, I look like crap today". So I decided that 2012 is the year that I will embrace makeup that fits my style (natural look) and my new frugal budget. That should be fun, right?

I discovered a very simple How To: Apply Makeup in 5 Minutes on the Real Simple web site. I presumed that most women would find it too basic but I think that it is a perfect starting point for me:

1) Rinse and moisturize your face
2) Dab on foundation
3) Sweep on black or brown mascara
4) Apply lip color or blush

From what I understand (based on an entire evening of reading on the best budget makeup), you can get drugstore products that are as good as fancy brands. So I installed Alice in her stroller and we headed to the local drugstore where I was welcomed by a non-floozy sale person...perfect!

With my evening worth of notes in hands, I got:
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion
Cover Girl Natureluxe Silk Foundation
Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

...and Alice started to get pretty pissed off so I paid and went home. My objective is to get this new "resolution" started by next week so I still need to get the perfect lip color and blush (and maybe some concealer).

Do you have a beauty/makeup routine? What is your favorite product? Are you also shy to wear makeup (especially lip freaks me out)?

note: We finally have snow in Montreal!!! (picture from 2010)

* * * * *

little gray pixel: I like what you said about "aren't worthy" or "not contributing". Taking care of Alice is the best thing ever but it is as demanding as a job...well, I think! I'm so happy to have all that time with Alice :)

anneemall: We are "6-month unpaid extension" sisters, ah! I think that we will do exactly what you said...again, we must be sisters ;)

new duds: We have a joined bank account but, last year, I got my wallet stolen and I never did my joined account card (it is in Dan's bank and not my regular bank). I totally enjoy your money posts. You two are such an awesome couple :)

sandra: I'm so sorry to learn that you are going through a difficult time. Wow, pregnant and no job for the husband...this is scary. We also get most of Alice's clothes second hand and I actually like that concept a lot. I get all excited when I find Gap or Zara clothes for almost nothing. Oh, I can also talk about money for hours. Thank you for your comments.

andrea: Good point. It is true that you can save money by staying at home with the kids. Day care is so freaking expensive...especially with 3 kids. As you said: It's a win win for us! Take care.

emmy lou: You are totally right. I also think that there should always be freedom in a budget. I will take a look at since they just created a version for Canada. It is such a great idea. Thank you so much for all the information.

uk lass in us: Oups (about the 'our money' - 'his money' situation)! Just like you, I'm not much of a spender but sometimes I get those ideas. Oh, what happened with the vet? Are the pets fine? A few years ago, Brian (our dog) went the the vet and we ended up paying 2500$...NOT COOL!

mariaw: Having an open dialogue is the best because money can be such a delicate subject. We are pretty good but since Dan makes so much more cash than me I always feel like I have to tell him what I get with "our" money. Oh well. Thank you for your comment.

vanessa at lynn david: I didn't know that you were also in a frugal housewife situation. Dan is like your husband. It is actually me who as a little problem with spending his money. I don't want him to think that I'm abusing or something like that. I'm strange!!!

sara-ananda: Poor little A and the horrible luge ;) We only used it once but since we have snow today (!!!), I will try it again. She is not a big fan but she tolerates it. When do you finish school? You are in literature, right? I'm sure that everything will be fine and that you will have an awesome job.

rebekah: But first, I need to figure out how to use the serger, ah!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Ignorant Claudia - Housewife style

A few days ago, I read over at New Duds, that some bloggers were doing a Spending Fast. Basically, for a specific amount of time (one year according to the official pledge), you get out of whatever debt you have...or something like that.

If you read my blog, you might know that I live in a part of the world that offers a year long paid maternity leave. After much consideration, Dan and I decided that it would be awesome if I could stay with Alice an extra 6 months. Soon, I will find myself financially dependent of my man. I don't really know why but this situation freaks me out a bit.

Basically, I will do a Spending Fast but with slightly different objectives. My goal is not to clear out my only debt (unless somebody drops dead and I inherit a huge amount of cash to pay my home mortgage) but to WISELY spend my money...fine, my husband's money!


If you are a "no income housewife" (or if you want to use your imagination), how do you manage your personal finance? Lets face it, we all need a certain amount of cash to get stuff. Should I get a fixed monthly allowance (I suddenly feel like a teenager!) or just use the common account card and move on with my purchases (Dan really doesn't care)?

Either way, I feel the need to embark on a responsible financial journey with Alice as my loyal sidekick...we are up to the challenge :)

* * * * *

vanessa at lynn david: Well, I still don't know how to use it but one thing at the time!

oscarlucinda: Thank you! However,I have no fabric stash at the moment :(

racheal: Ah you said :"These husbands!". Now, he goes to bed late but he knows that he can't complain...better than nothing!

juliette: So fun that we are in the same situation! I don't think that you have any Canadian Tire in the US. It is like a big hardware store that sells all kinds of things. My mother in law told me that the quality is not what it used to be but it is still pretty good to my opinion. Here is the link but I'm sure that you can get something very similar in the US. I did a amazon search
and got some very nice but $$$ stuff! Happy New Year xox

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Right this second I want to order...

...two PDF sewing patterns because one lucky girl got an overlock for Christmas (merci maman)!

for Alice: Neverland Dress from Too Sweets

for me: Scout Woven Tee from Grainline Studio

* * * * *

shannah: Now I just need more snow to use the sled again.

shanon: So many women told me that they will get the book for their husbands. Strange ;)

lila: I think it is sad when people lie about their baby's sleeping habits. Each baby is different and there is no need to create an unhealthy competition between mothers. I'm happy that you like my honesty!

anneemall: I need to get the other books from that collection. C'mon, one is called The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too! Awesome :)

emily: Ah, you are super ("my baby sleeps so well BECAUSE she gets snacks during the night")! I Love it! Have a happy new year. xox

taryn: Wow, 10:30! You are wild, ah ah ah !

Monday, 2 January 2012

Dear 9 months old Alice

Dear 9 months old Alice,

May I ask you a question? Is your new ability to pull yourself up to stand an attempt to keep me away from writing on my blog? Of course, I could write at night when you are sound asleep but that would only leave me a window of less then two hours since you go to bed at 8pm and I rarely keep my eyes open after 10pm.

Maybe it is just me but I became totally aware that I was a mother when I looked at the clock on New Years Eve and told myself: "Shit, I will totally regret going to bed that late (it was not even 11pm)!"

I should not complain since you are generally a good sleeper but from time to time you still enjoy a sip of warm milk at 1am and another one at 4am. However, I must thank you for making your nightly snacks a breeze. Basically, you made a self service dairy buffet out of me. Let me tell you that your sleeping mother almost had a heart attack the first time you crawled to my bare bosom and started to suck clumsily!

Don't ever apologize for interrupting my snoozing time! I'm well aware that it is perfectly normal for 9 months old babies to wake up during the night. When people ask me if you sleep through the night, I proudly tell them the truth and add that I actually don't mind taking care of you in the wee hours.

For the moment, I have no interest in making you an "independent" baby. Your crib is still in our bedroom and you spend most of the night comfortably tucked between your dad and I (and the cat). As far as I'm concerned, why change something that works well. You are growing up so fast and I have no plans to accelerate the process.

On a side note, I gave your father a book called Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late. It is a subtle message concerning a bad sleeping habit of his. As I told him, I have no pity for tired fathers who go to bed late in the name of computer games!!

Keep up the good work kitten since you are a pure delight.

Mom xox

* * * * *

vanessa - lynn david handbag co.: I hope that you had lovely holidays.

sixorangecarrots: I know. They are so funny :)

a loopy life: Thank you so much.

clairsy: Ah, thank you! I'm so happy that you like my blog. xox

sophie: Thank you. There will be more family adventures in 2012.

courtney: Thank you Courtney. You are not writing on your blog anymore? xox

lina: Merci Lina! xox

bugheart: As you said, now that I have a baby I have this need of doing some good for others. Maybe I'm not as self centered anymore, ah! You should get the DIY nativity set. It is super fun and easy to make. Plus, it looks very cool. Oh, we never did St. Lucia celebrations until this year. Having a little St. Lucia was very amusing and it made my Swedish friend happy.

taryn: I'm happy with how easy the nativity scene was to make and it looks super cute. It was a good investment. I hope that you had a merry Christmas.

kaylovesvintage: Wishing you a lovely 2012 with many wonderful adventures!

the franglaise: Now that Alice is a crazy little crawler, I'm also a zzz ZZZ zzz ZZZ! She can be pretty draining.

daniela: Thank you! I love doing little crafts :)

sometimes life is bliss and sometimes not !: I had such a good time making the pine cones. Very relaxing.

oscarlucinda: They do look magical! Oh, two words for little one who hates to leave her mama's arms : baby carrier!

sandra: You are right, I should take more pictures with cardigans made by my mother. I will do that this week.

bloom right here: So happy that you are also the kind of person that find doing stuff relaxing.

mummabear: Even with dental dog food, Brian smells pretty bad.

anonymous: Ah, don't worry! Brian is in good hands. According to our vets, it is a miracle that our dog is still alive since most people would not want to deal with all his medical problems (time + $$$). We just generally focus on the most "important" problems and his bad breath is not one of those (even according to our vets).

peanut: Yes, it is glue. It is "normal" epoxy glue that you can get at any hardware store. Just be careful with your is pretty strong.