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weekend links to inspire and encourage

weekend links || this vintage moment

Happy Weekend, friends!! We have finally emerged from the mountains of snow and ice that held us captive for months and it has been so wonderful to see double digits on the weather forecast and to feel the heat from the sun. I’ve been bringing plants and flowers into our home all winter long and thinking about outdoor play. Clearly, these links reflect that and hopefully bring you some inspiration to get outside or bring nature in!

Bringing Life into Your Home // Jones Design Company  :: the simplest way to love your home and spruce it up. 

Why Our Children Need to Get Outside and Engage in Nature // The Guardian :: we know we are all better after some time outside and especially children. I think we’re pretty good at getting outside, reading this article made me want to step up our outside time.

You do You // The Art of Simple :: When it comes to any life choices, there can be doubt from within and opposition from without, this post speaks to the heart of why we make the choices we do and then living in the freedom of those choices. Good stuff.

Spring Flower Wreath {printable} // Ella Claire :: I printed this off and it’s in my kitchen, super fun and super easy seasonal art!

I’m baking cinnamon rolls for a slow Saturday breakfast and we have plans to have dinner with friends- it’s going to be a good weekend! Enjoy it!

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What I’ve Been Reading in April

This was a month of heavy yet so inspirational reading from China to 13 century England to our everyday habits. I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit where we share short paragraphs of what we’ve been reading lately, it’s a fantastic way to get new titles and learn more about the books to add to your TBR list.

quick lit picks from this vintage moment

Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains by Jenny Bowen

A friend read this book, emailed me and suggested I read it. If you tell me to read a book, I will almost always read it and if it comes to the library, it gets bumped to the top of my reading stack. This was one of those books. It’s both heart-wrenching and deeply inspiring. Jenny and her husband were filmmakers in California, they had three children and life as they knew it was good. But then they adopted a little girl from China and that started them on a completely different life direction. A few long years of adjustment and learning, their little girl was the complete opposite of the baby they brought home and they started wondering how they could give that gift to other little orphans. Especially the little girls. They adopted a second little girl and then started a program to go into the orphanages that would provide the children with a whole different level of care. The kind of care that you and I know is best for children- love, invitations to play and create and opportunity for good medical care. This book was particularly moving since I have been to some of the locations in China, the smells and the sounds never really leave you, and when we were in Taiwan I got to hold a little baby girl for a few days while she waited for a place in just such an  orphanage as the ones described in the book.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn

April was a heavy book reading and not because I read a lot of books but because the books I read were so gripping and weighty. This book was the heaviest of them all and it’s a hard one to write a brief paragraph about. We all know about the oppression of women- this team of journalists for the New York Times digs deeper into all of those news items and makes them stories. They interviewed hundreds of women who have come out of the most heart-wrenching situations from horrendous practices of cutting to girls being left to die because of uterine infections to rape being an okay experience to the loss of hope. But, despite all the horrors, the latter half of the book is filled with interviews of the good- the hospitals that are founded to focus on the uterine infection, the education that is given so that girls don’t need to sell themselves, the foundations that give hope and provide rescue when needed. It’s not an easy read but it’s an important read.

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

I’m a huge fan of anything Gretchen Rubin writes and I’ve had this book on my to-read list for months. It did not disappoint. She takes the habits we each have or the habits we want to form and breaks them down into simple steps. She also has the four tendencies (upholder, obliger, questioner and rebel) which like any other personality typing helps to understand why we have a tendency towards a certain habit. I found it very helpful in understanding myself and my husband, I’m already planning a slow re-read in a few months. It’s not dry at all, she’s filled it with illustrations from her own life and those of her around her. Fascinating if you’ve ever wanted to start (or break) habits and make your everyday extraordinary.

quick lit picks from this vintage moment

Falling Together:  by Marisa de los Santos

I love a good novel. I especially love a good novel that makes me want to read one more chapter at night, and is written well enough to make me slow down (I’m a fast reader, typically) to ruminate over the phrases the author used. This was my first book by this author and I loved it. It’s about finding relationships again after years have passed. It’s about falling away and growing up and life-changing experiences (death of a parent, marriage, birth of a child). Maybe it’s because I’m a similar age to the characters but I couldn’t help wonder as I read what relationships from years ago will come back into my life.

The White Princess (Cousins War Series) by Philippa Gregory

I picked this book up on a whim at the library. It was slow to get into, probably because it’s part of a series, but once I was past page 100, I couldn’t put it down. The story explores England in the 13th century when the House of Tudor and the House of York were vying for the throne. Girls were given in marriage as diplomatic envoys and the loyalty of the English subjects were a sought after commodity. There’s a hint in the history books of a York prince being hidden away in Spain and coming to claim his rightful throne after the House of Tudor has killed all other heirs, no one knows if this is accurate or not since there are two sides to the story and they don’t line up with each other. Philippa Gregory explores this theory and it makes for a fascinating story with enough historical accuracy to satisfy the history nerd in me.

What have you been reading lately? Any books you can’t put down, good read alouds or inspirational stories?

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Somewhere in the thick of the winter storms, the waiting and the waiting for a hint of spring and the weariness of some personal  storms, I stopped looking. I stopped looking for the beauty in each day. I stopped knowing my days were filled with extraordinary moments. I stopped fighting for joy and beauty in every situation.

noticing the everyday extraordinary

It gets exhausting parenting little people; teaching them to share and talk nicely and be kind. It gets tiring making meals and keeping up the laundry. It can seem all very one foot in front of the other, so very ordinary.

noticing the everyday extraordinary

But here’s the thing I’ve learned in the past and I know it is true now – spring always comes. Light always follows darkness. And there is always hope.

noticing the everyday extraordinary

And maybe you’re a little cynical like me at times and you need a practical, right-where- you- are- boost.

Those little ones, the ones who wake up too early and are fitful sleepers and are still not getting whatever it is you need them to understand; grab them.

Forget the dishes, the laundry, whatever task is calling your name and snuggle them. Start a tickle war or chasing game. Make them laugh. Serve up food on a picnic blanket and say yes to an extra story or two at bedtime.

Stop your busy thoughts and focus on three beautiful things right now. The texture of the couch, the warmth of the dish water and the mini rainbows in the bubbles, the steam rising from a hot cup of tea and the dimple on your little’s one shoulder.

Make a record of the good things - Ann Voskamp started a whole grateful revolution with her book One Thousand Gifts – start your own list, and add to it each night before bed. Or whenever works for you to make it a daily habit.

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And when all those fail, sometimes something happens that jolts you from your reverie and routines and shows you just how wonderful your ordinary days really are.

I was sick for a few days last week, I didn’t cook for two days. We didn’t read any stories or do any of the things that make up our days. It was kind of awful really. But as I got better I decided to start looking for the good again, to make it a habit of my days. I don’t want to take this wonderful life of mine for granted. Sometimes the jolt happens to someone else but it ripples to you.

There was a very bad accident in my husband’s family last week; there’s a lengthy hospital stay and long-lasting effects on their ordinary life. I don’t take the ability to snuggle my girls and kiss my husband lightly anymore.

noticing the everyday extraordinary

It’s so easy to get caught up in the hoping for Spring and resolution and light bursting in that we miss the light that is in every ordinary day. The good that surrounds our days even when there is also some dreariness. Here’s the thing, it’s always worth the fight to see the good, notice the good and add to the good.

Tell me about your fight for the good and how you notice the extraordinary in your everyday.

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Ten on Ten :: April Edition::

Welcome to this month’s edition of ten on ten where we slow down and notice the ordinary beauty over ten hours of our day. I love this monthly habit inspired by Rebekah.

Here’s our day! everyday extraordinary

 

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1. Bowling for a play school party! My girls’ first time bowling and they loved it.

2. So proud of her certificate for finishing this season of play school.  I’m thankful for good teachers who nurture and encourage my little people to be brave.

3. Kilmeny in her ‘clubhouse’, she will colour for hours these days. So great!

4. After nap snuggles with my big little girl.

5. New craft supplies make any day super special.

6. ‘Reading’ her new Betsy Tacy book.

7. Read alouds are a big part of our day and it’s the best habit I’ve maintained.

8. Menu planning and fresh flowers.

9. Bedtime stories and jammies. I love these evening rituals.

10. Small beauties at the end of the day.

Thanks for sharing today in all it’s everyday beauty  with me! Go check out Rebekah’s blog for more glimpses of ordinary beauty.

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10 Screen Free Activities for 3-5 Year Olds

It’s four thirty and cabin fever is strong. Supper needs to be made and the house wound down for bedtime and evening. And I don’t want to turn on Netflix again. I push off supper prep for a few minutes and sit down with a mug of tea and a pad of paper. I think about what I  know my girls love to do and what I want them to love. I write down invitations to play and invitations to create. I rearrange our craft supplies and borrow the Little House series from a friend.

screen free activities for 3-5 year olds

We’ve had our share of cozy movie days but we’ve also explored lots of other fun activities. Some of these are fairly independent and some require supervision or total participation.  My girls are 3 and 5, some of these haven’t clicked until now and some are tried and true favourites for a couple of years.

1. Audio books/colouring

It took three different audio books to find one that my five year old loved and stayed engrossed in the story. I give her a jar of pencil crayons and a stack of blank paper and she is happy. Her current favourite audio book is Betsy Tacy.

2. Watercolouring Painting

My girls do this together while I’m making supper or we do it together.

3. Bathtime with bubbles/bath paint

4. Splashing in puddles

Put on some rain boots and go on a hunt around the neighbourhood for as many puddles as you can. Then come in for a hot bath!

5. Colouring with window markers

screen free activities for 3-5 year olds

6. Themed baking days

My girls love to help in the kitchen and I’m a big fan of it. We’ll bake bread together, I give them a little bit of dough to make their own bread with. I also love reading books and then baking something inspired by the book. Homer Price, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are all great stories with food.

screen free activities for 3-5 year olds

7. Board Games

My girls are just getting to the age now where we can play games all together and its fun for everyone. These are three of our favourites- The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel GameSpot it Junior Animals and Finger Tips Board Game, People Edition.

8. Cut and paste. Cut and create.

I’ve set up several invitations to create with scissors, paper and glue. Most of the craft supplies are accessible to them and they love cutting up stuff and then glueing it.

9. Blanket forts and snack picnics

A sheet over our table, fun napkins and snacky food.

10. Read aloud story time

We have read so many books this winter and it’s been a intentional habit of reading aloud to my girls every day. Some are picture books and some are chapter books but they always spark the imagination and inspire their play for days after.

What are your screen free activities for your kidlets (or yourself!)?

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Mom Uniform in Five Minutes

I’ve had this post I’ve wanted to write all winter and all winter I couldn’t write it. I wanted to write about winter style and how we can stay cozy and classy and feel put together despite the winter months.

I never wrote the post because I never really got out of the winter rut. I was going to put together five simple outfits for you and for me to inspire on those days when we really don’t want to get dressed but I didn’t because my mojo was lacking in a big way.

I asked on Facebook what your uniform is and what you do if you have a few extra minutes in the morning. And I realized that once again, on both sides of the screens, we’re all the same.

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We all fight the ruts and we all want to feel put together. We all will find time for a few extra details and we all gravitate towards similar outfits. Something cozy that makes us feel put together. And sometimes, we stay in our pyjamas all day long and take our morning shower during afternoon nap time.

All winter long I’ve been reaching for the same clothes. Like a capsule wardrobe but not on purpose. 

I wear leggings and a long shirt for cozy days around the house, throw on boots and a scarf for a library outing and I always feel pulled together. Ready to take on the day with all its challenges and experiences.

mom uniform in 5 minutes

I wear chunky sweaters with my worn jeans and my littlest girl snuggles in for story time and then falls asleep.

I paint my nails during the evening quiet and my big girl asks to do the same on a blustery winter afternoon.

We dress for the day- for the tackling of lists and for the cozy story times and the laundry folding. We reach for the clothes that we feel good in or that stretch us and remind us that we do have a sense of style, buried under practical warm winter clothes.

We are all the same really. We’re all in our own houses, doing our best with what we have. We’re loving on those we share life with, we’re cooking meals and we’re washing laundry and we’re answering questions. We’re trying to take good care of ourselves so that we can better take care of those around us.

mom uniform in 5 minutes

I don’t have five go-to outfits for you. I don’t have a styled winter capsule wardrobe for you. I do have encouragement for you and for me to grab a few minutes to do our hair, paint our nails and then love on our people. To grab those clothes that spark joy and call it our uniform.

Let’s talk about self-care in a few moments carved out of our days and what your go-to clothes are right now.

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7 Household Tips that Keep Me Sane

They saw that it takes 21 days to form a habit, good or bad, by doing the same thing every day. I tend to agree with this thought, especially when it comes to household management. I love being at home. I love puttering and making messy areas clean and tidy. I love to cook by myself with no distractions but I also would love to have supper appear on the table if we are chapters in to a good read-aloud.

I don’t have a Mrs. Patmore in my kitchen or a Mrs. Hughes to keep my house running smooth so I have to rely on habits and routines. And grace for when nothing is coming together.

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This is how I do it.

1. Pizza Kits and Batch Cooking

I don’t do a lot of batch cooking but at least once a week, I make doubles of a meal and squirrel it away in the freezer for the next week or a hectic day. I make up pizza kits every couple of weeks after our weekly pizza night, sometimes freezing everything including the toppings, sometimes just the dough and the sauce. I always cook extra beans to throw into soups, chills and taco night. And I just started making my own stir fry mixture- chopping and freezing all the veggies for the stir fry making it basically an instant dinner.

2. Salad greens and frozen vegetables

I buy the baby greens from Costco for our smoothies and salads during the winter months. I will also buy prepped veggies if I’m running short on time and I try to always have a bag of frozen corn or peas in the freezer. I’m a big fan of eating seasonally and locally but I would rather make a pot of soup with a frozen vege mixture then grabbing take out.

3. Do the dishes once a day

I don’t have a dishwasher so I let the dishes stack up all day until after supper when I wash them all at once. I got into the habit when I had a baby and a toddler and it was easier to just wash the dishes after they were asleep at night. I like washing dishes and it’s a lovely way for me to unwind at the close of the day.

4. Do the laundry once a week

We don’t have in-house laundry so this has become more of a habit then ever before but this has been my best way to stay on top of laundry. My girls are great helpers, this has been an easy way to get them more involved with chores. I just designate one day to do all the laundry and then not think about it for another week.

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5. Master menuplan for each season

This is a new habit I’ve started this year and so far I love it. I consult my plan each week, jot down some meals along with a couple new ideas and we eat well. So far my plan for Spring involves eating all the green things for all meals, once spring comes and the root vegetables are no more.

6. Minimalist toys and stuff

We don’t have a large space and it can get cluttered very quickly. I stash toys away, purge frequently and always tidy up the main living area by suppertime. I set up an art station for the girls, say no to certain activities and then let be imaginative, creative little people. I clear off surfaces once a week or so and we try not to let piles accumulate.

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7. Write it down/Pick It Up

If I think of it, I write it down. If I’m walking past it, I pick it up and put it away. This is the one area that I’m still making a habit and it makes a difference in my mind and house clutter.

Tell me, what are your household hacks and secrets to making your house run smoothly?

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Weekend Links to Inspire and Encourage

Hey friends, happy weekend! We all made it through another week and whether this is your weekend or not, it’s worth celebrating and setting time aside to rest and enjoy the ones we share life with. Right? We have plans for a leisurely breakfast with some outings and some serious rest time, it’s been a long week. If you’re curled up with a hot cup of coffee, here are some great articles for your reading pleasure.

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Producing and Consuming // The Art of Simple :: Such a great article on the balance of (you guessed it!) producing and consuming and how rest helps us make better life choices and contributions.

What Does Ethically Made Mean? // Wildly Co :: I love all the this company stands for and as I replace items in my girls’ wardrobes (I’m looking at you leggings!), I want to order everything from them. This post has some good thoughts to a hip phrase and provides easy action steps for anyone wanting to make a difference.

Book Club 101 // Modern Mrs. Darcy :: I’ve been tossing around the idea of a book club for a good while now, Anne did all the legwork and research of how to go about having a book club. Now I just need to start one. P.S. If you’re a local reader and want to join, let me know!

Woman are Scary // Coffee + Crumbs :: I’m fascinated by the way we make friends as grown ups and especially as mums and this  article (and her book!) defined it all well.

 

Make it a beautiful weekend, friends! XO

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A couple weeks ago I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up right along with so many of you. This book has popped up in my instagram feed, my blog feed and my real life conversations.

I read it in a week and I didn’t immediately apply her action steps. I have small children and I know my limits.

For those who haven’t read this book, Marie Kondo is a professional declutterer and organizer. She’s made a career of helping people organize their belongings and by default their life. For those of us who don’t live in Japan, she wrote down her methods for us to read and integrate into our daily lives.

She has several different ideas that I haven’t heard before such as folding your shirts vertically like a file folder so as to be able to see the entire drawer at first glance. She suggests that in order to declutter  properly you should empty your entire closet/cupboard/bookshelf and handle every item before deciding to keep it or toss it while asking yourself if it sparks joy.

does it spark joy

We tend to be on the minimalist side of living, we’ve moved every couple of years and we have had to handle every item in our house. I purge on a regular basis and I’m pretty good on getting rid of things we don’t need. I have had a series of methods, some of which work and some don’t. The Konmari method is one that will stay.

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The sparking joy mentality has been carried over into other areas of my life, not just if I should keep a sweater or not.

I bought a new winter coat recently. I tried on a lot of coats, there were ones that fit perfectly but were a boring colour. There were some that were a great price and I could have made them work. But then there was the one that I bought. It’s red, it’s comfy and as soon as I put on, I smiled.

It sparked joy.

Making decisions is not my strong point, even simple decisions of getting dressed, planning menus and organizing my week. Or big decisions like should we go for this opportunity or that one? They exhaust me and I’m always looking for ways to simplify and streamline the decisions I have to make.

This question has become my go-to.

Does it spark joy?

When I handle it, does it make me smile?

It’s saving my mental energy for those big decisions that I do need to think through from every possible angle. It’s making my daily choices simpler and my days that much more happier.

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Have you read this book? Do you have a method for making your decisions?

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The Gift of the Winter Storms

If I’m being honest, I kind of like these winter days. After I get over the demoralizing fact that we have more snow then I have ever seen in my life and that it won’t melt for a month.

The transit closed down for two days last week because of a snow storage issue. My husband’s work closed down for a day. And during those days our car was in the shop. We were snowed in and stuck. If I thought too far into the future, I would go crazy.

the gift of the winter storms :: This Vintage Moment

But this is the gift of these winter storms. These winter storms that just keep coming in the Maritimes. Their gift to us is that life is not in our control. We make plans and dreams and hopes and then we execute them with patience and flexibility.

One of the first bad snow storms in February, my five year old and I lay on the couch and read Little House on the Prairie. 7 chapters in one go. Her face was shining and she asked for more and more. We made cookies and I’m not a cookie baking mum. We’ve made more cookies this winter then we have for a long time.

One this most recent storm, the one that closed down our transit system, I pulled out Narnia. 7 chapters later, I needed a throat lozenge and my daughter wanted more about Lucy and Mr. Tumnus. We made more cookies and ate homemade pizza by candlelight.

the gift of the winter storms :: This Vintage Moment

These storms, they’ve been all kinds of awful and derailed many plans but they’ve also been a gift. I’ve come to a sort of acceptance of the lack of control I have over some parts of my life. I’ve enjoyed the cozy days and started to just settle into them rather then griping about the snow.

I’ve made a point to keep the fridge stocked, menu plans made and essentials taken of so that when we wake up to two feet of fresh snow, there’s coffee and milk and fresh fruit.

the gift of the winter storms :: This Vintage Moment

We’ve lingered over both breakfast and dinners together, asking our favourite dinnertime questions. We’ve watched some good movies together and we’ve played games. I’ve rearranged the girls’ room and the office. We’ve hung pictures and tackled big piles of paperwork. We’ve slowed down. We’ve spent more time as a family foursome because work has been closed and schedules have been changed.

I anticipate the Spring. My feet are itching to walk on grass and dirt, we have plans for a little garden and fort building. I can’t wait for all the good things of the next season but for now, I’m okay with winter being slow. We’ve made a sort of peace even if it’s taken 6 feet of snow and a whole month of cancelled plans.

the gift of the winter storms :: This Vintage Moment

Tell me about your winter, what are your favourite ways to stay cozy and slow down?

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