The un-sparking of joy. KonMari update 6 months on.

Ok, I am calling BS on the Marie Kondo method. After my joy filled rose tinted post several months ago about organizing my entire life I need to come clean about my fall from the organizational wagon. When the impossibly well presented Marie Kondo popped up onto my Netflix watch list in February I looked around at my living room which was strewn with various neon coloured bits of plastic and eyed the bulging drawers I daren’t open and felt decidedly non joyous. This sweet lady was offering to spark joy in my life and all I needed to do was throw out all of my things in return. Simple, easy, I. can. do this.

So I drank the Koolaid, I immediately binge watched the entire show and decided I needed to get my life in order or I risked becoming one of those people who hoards newspapers and becomes the centre of a television show documenting how I was crushed to death by my lifelong collection of greeting cards (it’s a problem, I keep them for no reason). No, this would not be my fate. Everything needed to go and it needed to go now.  So off I went with my bin bag (that’s garbage bag for you North American’s) and began holding every piece of clothing I owned hoping for the elusive feeling of “joy”. Unsurprisingly, much of my pre-pregnancy closet did not spark joy so into the bag it went and off to the donation centre. I earnestly held towels, ornaments, shampoos and other random household items in my search for joy and most of them found their way into the bag too. A lot of times the notion of joy gave me pause. Honestly, how can a towel spark joy? It is necessary but I don’t have a strange magic feeling when I hold it. What about my wireless skin coloured bras? it offers comfort yes, but joy? no. Soon I had my husband involved and a mountain of bags ready to leave my house. I was an organizational wizard, neigh a goddess. Why hadn’t I done this sooner? I recommended the book to everyone who would listen to me. I carefully took pictures of my drawers and promised myself and Kondo that I would NEVER fall back into my old ways.

marie kondo perfect shirt fold
Warning: this is an unrealistic, Utopian ideal.

Well it was all sunshine and lollipops for a few weeks. I carefully folded everything into strange triangles and put them into my drawers. I blogged about how amazing I felt and sang the methods praises. I must have been nauseating. But then things inevitably went awry. I must preface this by stating that I am a closet messy person. My house is organized and tidy on the surface but I have a nasty habit of sweeping stuff off counters and into the nearest drawer. It started small. Cables escaped their carefully organized box prisons. Bras were shoved into dividers rather than being carefully laid out. clothes were pushed into drawers in haste with the 0.5 seconds I had to myself.  Socks lay divergent on my bedroom chair. Folding the laundry became an EVEN WORSE job as I now had to take ages folding everything so bloody small. Perhaps a pivotal moment in the sullying of the Kondo method came when my 4 year old decided she wanted to dress herself daily and pulled every item of clothing out of her drawers. I could not face refolding. I couldn’t do it. I’m sorry Kondo but I have had my awakening. This was not sparking joy.

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She totally sparks joy but the mess that her new found style expression leaves does not.

So has my life turned into disarray and a joyless void since I stopped following the KonMari method? In a word, no. Folding and putting away my laundry, whilst not speedy, does not take 10 business days. I don’t want to cry in the fetal position every time my kid opens a drawer and spills the contents onto the floor with no regard for the hours of careful folding I have put in. It wasn’t a completely wasted exercise though. I have become a little more mindful of putting things back in their place, but I’m realistic. Sometimes you’ve gotta throw everything in the nearest drawer because you have company coming over. Sometimes you have things that just don’t have a “place” and end up moving between drawers. Sometimes All the time you don’t have time to fold your underwear into neat little squares. I’m not saying that her ideas are without merit, millions of people have bought her book and found a calmer life through her method but for the average, busy mum it is just a level of organization that is simply unattainable.

So there you have it. I throw my hand up and admit that I’m a messy person. I’ve been waiting 33 years to become a proper grown up who knows how to fold a fitted sheet and cared about folding underwear but it’s just not happening you guys. Will I ever be a grown up? But you know what? It doesn’t matter, what sparks joy for me is a relatively tidy home that is a place of calm but where you’re not afraid to get comfy or put your feet on the couch. Just don’t look in the drawers.

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Musings On Friendship In Your 30s.

It seems like your 30s are a decade of many questions and mysteries. Why are my veins sticking out? Is that a grey hair? Why don’t my shorts fit? What do I wear? How do I parent? Why can’t I sleep despite being perpetually exhausted? But one of the trickiest mysteries is why is it so blinking hard to make friends?

Friendships throughout the years

Humans are by nature pack animals. We seek out others to make tribes with and have done for millennia. Taking a look at our own lives, making friends throughout the years never seemed that much of a challenge. Lets go back in time for a moment. In the school yard you were a kid who had no idea who they are or what they wanted yet making friends was as simple as sharing a bag of crisps or playing a game of Little Mermaid. In Comprehensive school you got separated from your primary school pals and formed new bonds over the Bunsen burner which led into going to the park and chasing boys after school and then your first nights out on Bacardi Breezers and ten quid in your pocket. University saw you move away from home and into halls of residence with the giddy sense of freedom yet the responsibilities of adulthood being so far away. People from all over the country were thrown into the same situation and just like that you fell into easy friendships with room mates, course mates and randoms you met at the union. Who remembers waking up on a Sunday morning with a dozen friend requests and multiple tagged pictures? It was easy, it was fun, it was…natural. Then in a blink of an eye university was over and yet again you moved, either back home or away for a job. This seems to be where those carefree, easily formed friendships got a little trickier. Now you were an adult and probably had a job that required at least an iota of professionalism. New people at work needed to be vetted before friending on Facebook or asking them for a drink after work. Welcome to the minefield of adult friendship forming.

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Behold the wonders of early 2000s fashion. Side belts, kilts and halter tops. Wait is that a..TIE?

I am an adult now, I am important and serious.

I think that a big change we go through with our friendships as we age is the fact that we develop a stronger sense of who we are, understand what we need (and don’t need) and lose some of that carefree childlike attitude that allows us to talk to practically anyone who crosses our path and ask them to join in our imaginary game. Add to that mix the lack of organic meetings (like school or uni), partners and children and it seems like an impossible feat to make new friends once you hit your third decade on the planet. Everyone is just so freaking busy and not to mention the fact that they might be plants from your boss to befriend you only to access your Facebook and divulge its most hideous content to your superiors resulting in your termination and social disgrace (Okay maybe that’s a bit dramatic and my Facebook doesn’t have anything THAT incriminating on it but I’m definitely more wary than I was many moons ago in the union when everyone and anyone made the cut to my friend list).

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Taking a short break from annoying absolutely everyone by retelling stories from school.

I moved across the world when I was 23 and left behind all my friends which was torture. I haven’t ever been a flavour of the week type of friend. I chose my mates carefully and have been friends with my girls since school. I love them more than anything. Each one makes me laugh and I wouldn’t want to imagine life without them. I’m a very lucky girl to have them. Now if they’d just move to Canada already! My best friend in the world, Charlotte, and I have been friends for almost our entire lives. I mean it started off a little rocky between us but a teacher forced me to sit next to her one year and the rest is history. I still chat to her practically every day and when we’re together its like we’ve never been apart. We have millions of in jokes and stories from our childhood and perhaps why I find making friends at this point in life is that lack of history. There’s something so special about having your lives intertwined for so long you can’t remember them not being there. Now just because you didn’t go to school together doesn’t mean you’ll never be amazing friends. I will say that I’ve got some amazing friends here in Canada who I cannot imagine being without. Many of them I’ve been friends with for years now so we’re building a new history together. My closest friend here keeps me sane, makes me laugh till my sides hurt and loves her wine as much as I do.

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My Swansea girls. Not to brag, but they are literally the greatest (and most gorgeous) girls in the world.

Let’s hear it for Mum Tinder

A major problem in your 30s is the lack of organic friend meeting opportunities. You’re probably done with school and don’t go out as much unless it’s with your kids and you spend an abnormal amount of time chasing them around persuading them to go to the bathroom and not much time looking like the carefree, approachable perspective friend you hope to be. I joined the Peanut App (think mum Tinder but way, WAY more wholesome) and I’ve been blown away by how many 30 somethings seem to struggle to find friendships that are meaningful. So many women say they’re lonely or find it hard to get out and meet people that it seems somewhat pandemic. I’ve decided to put myself out there during this maternity leave and I’ve made it my mission to say yes to anyone who wants to meet (within reason of course, I do not wish to be made into a lampshade or have my organs harvested and sold on the dark web) and to take a chance on asking fellow mums out on play dates or for a drink. It’s actually been an incredible experience and I’m amazed of the response you get when you just put yourself out there. I’ve met some incredible women who I have so much fun with. Sure it wasn’t the most organic way to meet but it works!

Another reason is that we’re busier now than ever with careers and families, but I remember my parents always having people around or going to their friends’ houses for dinners and parties. This left me wondering if it is a generational thing? Or is it the advent of the smartphone and how we now message people for our friend fix rather than taking a chance and ringing the doorbell to see if they’re in for a chat? It absolutely blows me away that no one just calls around their friend’s house for a coffee or a wine on a whim but it is a somewhat military style operation that must be organized and reorganized a month in advance. Why are we so scared of inconveniencing people? I guarantee you that many of your friends are probably sitting at home wishing someone would just ring the bell and take the freaking pressure off of all. this. damn. planning. I fear spontaneity is an art lost on many millennials.

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Some 80s frienship flavour. My beautiful Mummy and one of her besties, Kim. Oh and that’s me.

FEAR

Maybe the real reason that making friends as you get older has much to do with fear. Fear of not liking other people, fear of not being liked, fear of being too much or too little, fear of offending people, fear of being made into a skin suit (this fear is REAL when you are meeting internet people guys…just me?). Maybe if we could go back to that carefree child we once were who danced with abandon in public and thought nothing of pretending to be a cat with a perfect stranger then we would find it a lot easier to connect with other people as we age (or find ourselves the subject of an unflattering newsreport).

There seems to be many reasons as to why your 30s seems like some kind of friendship black hole whether it be lack of natural circumstances to meet, being cooped up covered in baby sick and barely functioning, or just plain old fear. What we need to do is take a chance on friendship, put ourselves out there and start making new stories with new friends that soon become old friends. That way you can be part of the biggest clique in the nursing home (on Wednesdays we wear support stockings).

Love,

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Hello…it’s me again.

Hey friends,

I know, I know it’s been a long time. I started off this blog guns blazing and I desperately wanted to create something that people would flock to amidst the saturated blog market. It started off swimmingly, I was featured in Scary Mommy  and I felt unstoppable. The response to the article was widely positive (of course some lovely people felt the need to minimize by feelings from behind their keyboards but that’s the internet for you) and it was amazing to have people from all over the world reach out to me. I was asked to be a part of a collection of expat stories for a book which was really special. I felt unstoppable. But then, I started to run out of steam.

Desperate to make the blog a success that might allow me to supplement my income, I lost focus and direction and focused on writing about what was popular and might get more hits rather than what I really cared about. I became too bogged down in affiliate programs and honestly the content suffered. I started this blog as a space to be real about the trials and tribulations of parenting as an immigrant (not expat, thank you keyboard warriors) farm wife and to share things I am interested in. It’s time to get back to that and if success comes then fantastic but what’s more important is connecting with other women and men who might get a little laugh and support from my ramblings musings.

At the same time as trying to be the world’s most unlikely influencer I decided to start taking better care of myself and found that nap times were taken up by getting active rather than writing and my little window of available time slowly got smaller. Add to that the never ending mum guilt of having a 4 year old that constantly wants to play and I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write. Now, I chose to say yes to play as much as possible as I know my daughter will be going to school soon and I just want to soak up every delicious minute with her so I’m not complaining, it just naturally happened that the blog took a back seat. I just tried to enjoy this maternity leave as much as possible, I went on trips, took lots of pictures and made new friends. Oh and let’s not forget the most stressful, long planting season EVER (yes I’m a farm wife to those of you who are new) and my little space in the internet just gathered dust.

Now I feel like I want to write again. Maybe it’s the giant upheaval that’s coming in the form of returning to work? I mean I’ll have so much more time now right?!  I’m not sure but I hope that whoever is reading this blog is happy to have me back and enjoys what’s to come!

Love,

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Are You Truly Listening? 6 Steps To Become A Great Listener

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” Stephen Covey

Hands up, who loves to give advice? Guillltttttttyyyyy! We all love to be the hero sometimes. OK, another quiz, hands up who loves to be right in an argument? Guilllllttttyyy as charged again. I mean come on, who doesn’t love to throw down an amazing point in an argument that silences your opponent? It’s human nature to fluff our feathers in conflict. It’s also in our nature to take on the role of savior and sage adviser. But did you know that being the agony aunt or the victor actually makes you a less successful communicator? I came across this quote a couple of years ago and it was one of those things that has stuck with me ever since. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”. It’s a simple concept isn’t it, listening to someone? We all do it throughout our every day life and many of us give ourselves the title of “great listener” without giving much thought to what is actually means to listen. When I talk about listening I don’t mean merely switching your lugholes on. I mean REALLY listening and not just say “yeah” while you’re painting your nails on the phone or sitting there waiting for a gap in the conversation to offer some groundbreaking advice that will also award you with the title of “wise one”. So few of us genuinely practice active listening yet we believe whole heatedly that we are “great listeners”. It seems to me that we all have our two cents that we want to add to a conversation and part of being human is a desire, no matter how small, to help and if we’re really honest a small part of us that wants to be right. How many times have you had an argument with someone and sat there poised to respond? Mouth slightly open waiting for your chance to butt in. How many times have you thought that you know just what to say to your friend who is in crisis? You’ve got the perfect anecdote of a time you experienced a similar problem and want to tell them how you overcame your challenge and how they can too. Now I’m not saying that it’s wrong to give advice. Sometimes our experiences that we share with others help them exponentially and sometimes people genuinely want to hear what to do. However, sometimes people just want to spill their guts and not hear what you would do in their position. Because it’s just that, it’s not you in their position, it’s them.

This concept of actually listening opened my eyes (or should I say ears) to a new way of understanding people and managing conflict. When we’re in a heated debate or argument we naturally think one, two or three steps ahead, eager to get our point across. We aren’t actually listening to the person offering an alternative point of view and therefore our arguments never go anywhere apart from shouting territory as we’re only listening to our own internal monologue. I often tell my students that they need to turn off their own minds and fully listen to the person they are having trouble with. It is only when we stop and truly, honestly listen that we gain a new perspective.

Sympathy V.S Empathy

Many people think that two two words mean the same thing when in actual fact they’re very different. To sympathize with someone means to feel sorry for their situation and feel sad for their sorrow. This is a very superficial response to someone’s problems. Of course you will feel bad when your friend is in a bad place but pitying them doesn’t equal understanding them. Instead of sympathizing we want to aim to EMPATHIZE. When we empathize with someone we truly listen to their perspective and understand their struggle from their point of view. We put ourselves in their shoes.

How can you become a great listener?

  1. Give the speaker your full attention

    This means putting your phone down or sitting in a quiet place if you’re talking on the phone. If you’re face to face, turn your body towards the speaker and look them in the eye. Show that you’re giving them your full attention.

  2. Clear your mind of your own thoughts

    Yes, I know you have a to do list that is huge and your own problems but try and put that to one side and just listen to the speaker. Give them space in your mind and let their words sink in. Don’t think what you would do in the situation or how you would react. Remember this isn’t you, it’s them.

  3. Don’t interrupt

    This is simple etiquette when you’re having a conversation but I still cannot believe how many people jump in before you’re done talking with their own quip. This is classic listening to respond rather than listening to understand. We’re all guilty of this type of listening, especially in an argument. You need to take pause and think about what the person said and how to respond. See my 5 second rule to stop the interrupting habit.

  4. Repeat what they said

    You know when you meet someone and it’s recommended that you repeat their name so you remember it? Well this falls along the same line as that (full disclosure I am awful at names so any tips please leave them below). If you repeat what the other person has said to you then you can fully take it on board and internalize it as if it was your own thought. It also lets the other person know that you’ve listened to what they’ve said as you are able to repeat it back.

  5. Count to 5 before you respond

    This is something I picked up to help me not snap back at people when things get heated. It is also a power play if you’re trying to get more information out of a person as people like to fill silences (but this is not what we’re aiming for here). I sit and count to 5 in my head. This gives the other person’s words time to wash over me and helps stop an automated response. You’ll be amazed at how you see things more clearly when you give yourself time to digest the other person’s thoughts.

  6. Just listen and don’t give advice

    Unless you are asked directly for help, just listen to the other person and tell them that you understand how they feel. Offer support but not advice. There is nothing worse than unsolicited advice (am I right mums?) but support is always welcomed.

These tips for listening can be applied in many contexts from debates, to lending an ear to a friend to conflict. So next time that you’re in a position to listen to someone, try truly and actively listening. Put your own ego aside and actually take on board what they’re saying and I guarantee you’ll be amazed by the results. The world would be a better place if we listened more and talked less. Wow, all this yoga I’ve been doing is really rubbing off on me. I’ll be scrubbing floors at an Ashram and taking a vow of silence before you know it.

So, are you an active listener?

Love,

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Top Questions About Tidying Clothing The KonMari Way Answered

Hey guys!

I’m pleased to announce that I’m three weeks deep into the KonMari method and so far so good. Full disclosure: I did cheat a little and only did it on the top two floors of the house. Now, before you let out a collective gasp and Marie starts turning in her twinset let me say that my basement is a whole other level of tidying that I cannot handle right now. As I’m on maternity leave all my teacher crap necessities are piled in the laundry room (hey, they’re in Rubbermaid containers!) and I can’t tackle that mountain until next year once I’m back in the classroom and my resources can find a new (hopefully permanent) home. Also there are loads of baby things down there that we’re not sure what to do with. The basement has also become the place where any discarded furniture and scatter cushions that I changed my mind about go to die. It is like an Aladdin’s cave of relics of decor past down there. So we agreed that one weekend in the spring we’ll hire a big bin and go to town. Phew now I’ve got that confession of my chest I’m ready to talk to you all about the first phase of tidying: Clothing.

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How I Began Tidying My Clothes The KonMari Way

Before you start with the method you really do have to get your head in the game. You need to be fully prepared to tidy and have some notion of what brings you joy. This part I found easy to wrap my head around as I don’t attach sentimental value to clothes. I generally see them for what they are; bits of fabric that I bought to serve a purpose at one time or another. The only non-negotiables are my wedding dress and my girls’ going home outfits. Other than that everything is fair game.

Visualize What You Want To Achieve At The End Of The Process.

Before I started this journey I was feeling about low about myself and a little lost with my clothing identity. I have gone through a few years of just buying things for function and not for “joy” as such. I’ve bought cheap things that go tatty and don’t make me feel particularly good. No more. My goal is to only buy things that make me feel fabulous and to take the time to invest. My visualization was of a wardrobe that was calming to look at. Not cluttered with random clothes but a wardrobe that was complimentary, streamlined and classic. I pictured myself in these clothes and I felt good. I pictured myself going into my closet to pick out my clothes and I felt really good. I was now ready to work towards making that visualization a reality. This might sound absolutely nuts but have a think about how you want your closet to look or even how you want yourself to look. The power of thought is quite profound.

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Some Questions I Have Been Asked

Do You Really Have To Pile All Your Clothes

Honestly I was not looking forward to this as it was a huge mess that I did not want to deal with. However, by making a frighteningly huge mountain of clothes I was actually forced to finish my tidying up as I couldn’t just leave it on the bed and I was confronted with a visual of how much I had bought over the past few years. When your clothes are in the drawer or hanging up it doesn’t look as much as when you put it all together. I was absolutely gobsmacked with how much I had accumulated and a little taken back with how much I must have spent.

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Do you really have to hold each piece?

In short, yes. I am not into thanking inanimate objects at all but I really feel that physically holding each piece is an important part of the method. Why you ask? Because in holding each piece you are forced to look at it and truly consider where it fits in your life and whether it sparks joy. In the past when I have been cleaning out my closet I just flipped through the hangers and donated the pieces that immediately made me cringe. When I actually dumped everything out and looked at each piece I could truly recognize what made me happy. I was actually pretty shocked at how much stuff I hated. That might seem like a strong word but I actually hate a lot of my clothes. They don’t represent me and I am not sure why on earth I felt the need to purchase those items. I put it down to my early 30s clothing crisis that I’m trying to work through. Oh and the fact that I am addicted to cheap clothes. I know, I know but I can’t walk away from a bargain.

How do you decide what goes?

By holding each item and truly deciding whether or not it has a place in your new vision for yourself. I had 3 piles on the go: donate/trash, keep and maybe. In the end I donated the maybe pile as I thought that if I didn’t care enough to keep those items in the first place then they probably didn’t truly bring me joy. See, I’m growing into a woman Marie would be proud of.

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Did I find it difficult?

Now that it is all done and dusted I can’t say that I found the process all that tricky. I was in the right frame of mind to discard any clothes that I no longer need and I truly wanted an organized life. I do find the folding a bit tedious but I worked so hard I want to keep it up.

How I’m keeping it up

Like I said above, when you spend the better part of a week tidying clothes you naturally feel like you want to maintain it. I am also a little addicted to seeing everything so neat and organized so that is spurring me on. I feel so much calmer knowing that everything is in order. Also, putting away my clothes and getting ready in the morning is a lot more simple now a mountain of fabric isn’t falling on my head at any given opportunity. It really does become a way of life and so far, so good.

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What I learned

You Need To Embrace the art of letting go

I ended up getting rid of 8 bags of clothing between myself and my husband (I think 6 were mine). I realized that I was holding onto items that I hadn’t worn in years because I was holding onto that version of me. Honestly it is not a version of me that I’m happy with. By throwing them away I’ve let go of that person and now I’m ready to fill my closet and my life with only items that spark joy. I promise you that the emotional weight that is lifted from letting go of all that clothing is AMAZING.

I Really Hate Folding

Ah folding. In all honesty I have not completely mastered the KonMari folding method and seeing as I have really deep drawers sometimes organizing in her way isn’t practical. However I tried my best. There are lots of great resources on Pinterest to teach you how to fold and it does take a lot of practice. I have found it really time consuming when I’m folding the laundry. However, I will say that with all the effort I put into folding I am much less inclined to throw my clothes carelessly into the drawer. You sly old fox Marie Kondo, that’s your plan isn’t it. If you are a folding officiando please get in contact with me to show me your ways.

perfect konmari fold

marie kondo perfect shirt fold

Overall, once you get started, tidying up the KonMari way is actually very maintainable and leads to an enormous sense of well being (anyone else singing Parklife now?). I really recommend getting started right now and discovering how awesome it is to live a tidy life. If my teenage self could see me now. I suppose things that bring you joy change as you get older. Whereas once a trip to a sticky floored nightclub brought me happiness now I enjoy folding and organization. Ah life.

the best shoe storage

plastic shoe storage box
I got these amazing clear shoe boxes from Amazon and they are PERFECT for stacking my shoes and keeping me organized. You can get them here and they’re on prime!

Happy purging friends! I’m moving onto Komono next, pray for me.

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My January Loves

So it’s January 76th apparently. For real, why is this January so long? It has been frigid here in Canada and after the excess (both monetary and food/alcohol) of the holidays I have felt in a total funk. However, there are a few little things that have brightened up the grey days and helped spur me on towards February. I thought that I would compile a monthly list of things that I’ve been loving every month in the hopes that maybe they can bring a little sunshine to your life too

Make up/beauty products

Garden of Wisdom (GOW) acids and serums
I was given a set of GOW products for Christmas and I’ve been using them religiously for a month and I must say I’m really impressed with my results so far. My skin was really dull from being inside (and maybe not taking care of it over the holidays but that’s a tiny detail) and these little beauties have really given me a refresh. I got the hyaluronic acid, Anti-Aging Multi-Peptide, niacinamide and the eye contour serum and I’ve been layering them daily. There’s a longer post in the works breaking down how I use these products and the results I’ve had. So far, so good.

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St. Tropez self tanner
I love a bit of colour but my 30 year old skin cannot take being fried not to mention the health implications of sunbeds. I’ve been using self tanner for years and wouldn’t be without my weekly spray tan when I lived in Wales. I’ve struggled to find a good variety of sunless tanners here in Canada so I went back to the original, and arguable the best, one on the market. It is amazing how a tan can boost your mood and just make you feel glowy and gorgeous on the coldest winter days. It’s a little on the pricey side but it does last for ages and the colour is great. No tangerine hands in sight (if you tan, then you know). I highly recommend using a mitt to apply (again, if you tan, then you KNOW).

                         

Charlotte Tilbury ‘The Feline Flick’ eyeliner
I am obsessed with this eyeliner and I don’t think I can say a bad word about it. Charlotte Tilbury is a genius when it comes to make up! It’s a little bit of luxe in my daily routine and it just makes me happy. Also, I have to say that my daily cat eye has been on point since receiving it. Read more about this product in my review post. 

charlotte tilbury feline flick

What I’m reading

‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo
Yeah I jumped on the bandwagon and I’m not ashamed. This is an amazing book and it really helps you understand the philosophy behind decluttering and organizing which in turn helps you stay dedicated to living a tidier life.

“An Almost Perfect Christmas’ by Nina Stibbe
I absolutely adored “Love Nina” and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this one. I love her dry, British sense of humour and sharp observations. It is taking me a while to get through (thank you little children) and I’m not quite as fond on it as I was “love Nina” but it does make me smile.

What I’m Watching

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
This hilarious show is on Prime right now and I’ve been watching it whenever I can sneak an episode throughout the day. The basic premise is Midge Maisel has been left by her philandering husband and in a drunken stupor she goes to a comedy club and performs a raw and frankly hysterical stand up act. After that she defies stereotypes and goes on to become a comedic hit and a strong, single woman.

The Bachelor (don’t judge me)
I can’t help it. My husband goes to hockey every Monday night and I spend the evening watching trashy TV with a facemask on. It is glorious and I am unapologetic about it. Yes the show is terrible but there’s something so simple about watching a group of women fight over a so-so bachelor. I cannot believe that after all thse seasons they can still find some absolutely crackers people willing to go on this show.

What I’m listening to

Bastille
I am listening non-stop to Bastille on my Alexa right now. I love all the songs and their cover songs are amazing. I mean who doesn’t want to hear Greenday in a British accent. I highly recommend giving these guys a cheeky listen.

What I’m wearing

Cozy snow boots
It is cold AF here still and I just want to look pretty. I am so fed up with being frumpy I cannot even begin to explain (if you follow my Instagram you’ll probably be sick of my whining!)

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Fluffy sweaters

I’ve promised to stop shopping mindlessly this year and so far, so good. I purchased a really cosy jumper from H&M in the sale for $20 and I haven’t taken it off. I’m going to try and hold off now until spring. I cannot wait to get my hands on some summer dresses!

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What I’m feeding my soul with

This sounds so new age but I’m trying to focus on feeding my soul this year. I want to be a happier, healthier and more positive person and I’m doing that by doing little things that make me happy.

Organizing my life 

I am a littttttle bit obsessed with finding joy and tidying after all the Marie Kondo-ing. I have to say that there is a lot of substance to the madness. Decluttering your home of things that no longer serve you opens up space for things that bring you happiness. We attribute sentiment onto inanimate objects and seem to have a hard time letting go. I feel so much calmer since throwing my frumpy, old clothes out and I have a renewed focus for the type of person I want to grow to be this year.

Making my physical health a priority

Confession, I haven’t really worked out since Emmy was born. I know it’s awful but I’ve been so busy with life that I let myself slip by the wayside. At Christmas I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin I couldn’t stand it. Now I’m not saying I’m overweight and I’m certainly not fishing for compliments but I cannot stand that I let myself go when fitness used to be a passion of mine. It’s not my goal to be a size zero but I would like to be around for as long as possible for my girls and now I’m 32 I realize that I do actually have to take care of myself. My heart rate has been through the roof since having Aria and since working out daily and eating right it has come down almost 10bpm! The proof is in the pudding (or the Kale salad) it seems.  All I’m doing is giving myself 30 minutes a day to do a spin session or yoga in my basement while one kid naps and the other plays independently by my side. I give them 12 hours every day so I see nothing wrong with a little half hour for myself. Plus, seeing me work out is good for them and their perception of health and fitness as a normal part of life instead of a punishment.

So there are a few little things that I have been loving this month. Yes it has been EXTREMELY cold, yest it has been snowy, yes I am poor from Christmas but I have found a little joy in these things and that’s all that matters. What has helped you through the Monday of months?

Here’s to February my friends and coasting towards spring!

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A Day In The Life Of A Mum On Maternity Leave As Told By GIFs

Maternity leave is amazing. I get to spend lots of quality time with the kids, wear leggings or PJs all day long and watch tons of daytime TV (I’ve watched so much HGTV I’m positive I can now redecorate a run down farm house on a $50 budget). Living in Canada means that I am able to take a whole year off to stay at home with the kids on maternity leave which is fantastic! I cannot imagine being in work right now especially as it would mean washing my hair and putting on real pants. No buenos. However some days I feel like I am going to go nuts from being stuck indoors with a baby and a toddler and only Joanna Gaines for company (let me clarify that I understand that she is on the TV and not actually in my living room talking to me). My husband often comes home and asks “how was your day?” and honestly some days I can’t even put it into words.

Here is a little collection of GIFs to explain what my day looks like.

  1. Wakey wakey Mummy. Forget those peaceful alarm clocks that wake you gradually from your slumber with the peaceful sounds of birds or whales. If you have an infant you’re getting full on screaming to jolt you awake every morning.

Audrey Hepburn Cat GIF

via GIPHY

2. COFFEEEEEE

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via GIPHY

3. Make breakfast for everyone. This task will usually involve at least 34 different types of cereal, 52 changes of cups for juice and being told “I don’t want orange juice, I want ORANGE juice”. What does that even mean?

Snow White Cooking GIF

via GIPHY

4. Husband leaves for work. I’m on my own now.

Disney Hello GIF by O&O, Inc

via GIPHY

5. Try to get the kids to do something educational like read.

Read Beauty And The Beast GIF by Disney

via GIPHY

6. Nope, that was fun for 10 minutes and now she wants to get out the Playdoh.

Lady Gaga Nod GIF

via GIPHY

7. Get kids ready to go out

Mr T Alligator GIF

via GIPHY

8. Get self ready. Hair is a little crazy but it works

Sigourney Weaver Derek Stevens Comeback GIF by Saturday Night Live

via GIPHY

9. Have a snack as I probably didn’t eat breakfast. Toddler hears wrapper and promptly seeks me out and steals my snack.

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via GIPHY

10. Story Time at the library. Mamma gotta show off her moves.

“Open shut them, open shut them, give a little clap”

Siouxsie Sioux Dancing GIF

via GIPHY

11. Baby has fallen asleep in the car on the way home. Gotta get this puppy into her crib without waking her.

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via GIPHY

12. Baby wakes up

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via GIPHY

13. Make lunch and throw away pretty much everything because your child got distracted by shadows and now refuses to sit at the table and eat while she investigates.

Mostly 4 Millennials Smile GIF by Adult Swim

via GIPHY

14. Afternoon activities. I wanted to try some pinterest crafts but I’m EXHAUSTED so I pretty much let my kids do whatever. Insanity has set in as this point. You want to try that Indian ink calligraphy set on the white carpet …

Do It Whatever GIF by Abbey Luck

via GIPHY

15. why is it still only 2:30?

Dawsons Creek Crying Dawson GIF by HULU

via GIPHY

16. Try any means possible to get baby to sleep but they wont.Gluten Free Crying GIF

via GIPHY

17. Make your child’s favourite dinner. Oh you thought pasta was your child’s favourite food? Think again. You are wrong.

Angry Beauty And The Beast GIF

via GIPHY

18. Husband walks through the door. TAG.

Seattle Seahawks Im Here GIF by NFL

via GIPHY

19. Observes the chaos

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20. He plays calm games with the children.Wwe Spinning GIF

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21. Bath time. Hope you got the bathroom floor waterproofed!

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22. You get the kids to bed. You’re freeee!Baby One More Time Dancing GIF by Britney Spears

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23. Your toddler has an existential crisis and wants to get out of bed but you’re too experienced for that nonsense. Not after I’ve clocked out junior.

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24. Pour a small glass of wine
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25. Do fun and exciting things with the hour you have before you fall asleep.
Tired Killing Eve GIF by BBC America

via GIPHY

26. Try to go to sleep but your head is spinning your to do list and you think you just heard the baby.

Black And White Sleeping GIF by FilmStruck

via GIPHY

So how does your day look? Do you put on proper pants?

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How to add a little farmhouse flair this Christmas. Using black & white plaid, natural wood and whimsical elements to create a laid back festive style.

“And you need more ribbon why?” my husband groans as he struggles with the giant Rubbermaid containers that hold my relics of Christmases past. I will admit it, I am fickle when it comes to my Christmas decor. I love the thrill of heading to Michaels and looking at the abundance of ribbons and trimmings […]

“And you need more ribbon why?” my husband groans as he struggles with the giant Rubbermaid containers that hold my relics of Christmases past. I will admit it, I am fickle when it comes to my Christmas decor. I love the thrill of heading to Michaels and looking at the abundance of ribbons and trimmings and needlessly spending my hard earned cash on things I don’t need   picturing my family smiling around the tree. I can’t help myself. Surely there must be a support group for people who hoard decorations?

Trees of Christmas past

Growing up we had a very classical Christmas tree. My mum always decked it out in beautiful shades of gold. I remember BEGGING her to buy tacky trinkets and red decorations but she was steadfast in her Christmas decorating ideals. At the time I didn’t understand her and I promised myself that I would allow my children to go nuts with the tree and decorate it however they wish. I wasn’t going to be that Christmas mum. I was going to let me kids adorn the tree in all the tack they wanted.

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via Giphy

Trees of Christmas present

Flash forward 20 years or so and what do you know, I am that mum. I like my tree how I like it but I’ve come up with some compromises along the way that fit in with my control freak tendencies my aesthetic whilst speaking to the 10 year old child inside me who wants ALL THE THINGS on the tree. Living on the farm, I was inspired by the rustic Christmas decor I found at the local country stores. Think metal stars, checked ribbon and mismatched whimsical ornaments.  Over the years I’ve refined my style into one that I would call put together rustic. This year, I experimented with buffalo plaid and wood to create a chic farmhouse feel.

My Farmhouse style Christmas tips

It doesn’t just have to be red, green and gold

Think outside of the box when  it comes to your colour scheme. Black and white plaid adds a classic touch to your decor theme and mixes well with a white farmhouse pallette.

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Get a little touchy feely

Mix textures. Fuzzy, soft ribbon mixed with weathered wood gives laid back feel to your tree

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Showcase international finds

Add little nods to family with cute ornaments that you have collected from your travels. Don’t be afraid to add things you might consider tacky. You’re dressing your tree for your family and it should reflect who you are. Not everyone needs an instagram perfect tree!

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Bring the outside in with touches of green 

I am obsessed with my white kitchen but it can look a little clinical sometimes. Christmas is all about warmth to me. I create this in my kitchen with twinkling fairy lights and greenery. Honestly, I wish I could leave the wreath up all year but I think it looks a little too festive for the 30 plus degree days of summer.

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Add a little kitsch fun to your apothecary jars

If you follow any farmhouse decor blog you know that these bad boys are everywhere. Usually filled with grains that no one eats or faux fruit, they look polished but for Christmas it’s nice to try something a little different.

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So there you have it friends. My farmhouse decor tips for Christmas. So how do you decorate for the holidays? Are you a full on festive control freak, Clark Griswold (BIGGER IS BETTER) or a go with the flow kind of person?

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How to get your toddler out of the house in 38 easy steps

Congratulations, now that you’re a mum you will perpetually be running a little late. Tardiness is a fact of parenting like how you will lovingly prepare your child’s favourite food for dinner only to be met by gagging, tears and the revelation that it is no longer their favourite food and you are a disgrace to motherhood for even thinking that they would eat it. I don’t know about you but no matter how good my intentions are to leave 10  minutes early or how organized I am, I am always running around yelling “GET YOUR SHOES ON, NO NOT THE FLIP FLOPS IT’S MINUS 20, SWEET LORD LOOK AT THE TIME, MOOOOVE” pretty much every time I need to leave the house. There really is no easy way to get your toddler out of the house quickly.

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“Sure honey wear what you want just for the love of all that is holy get out of the house.”

If you somehow reached this post through a search engine I’m going to applaud you for being realistic enough to bypass the posts that promise that you will be able to get your toddler ready and out of the house in 10 easy steps with minimal tears. I’m calling BS on those posts, there is no way on God’s green earth that Emmy is going to get into that car and let me get onto the road in anything close to 10 steps. Whenever we leave the house she packs like a middle aged mother going for a two week holiday to Greece. None of what she takes is of any use but for some reason she feels like if it doesn’t come with us to the supermarket then something dreadful might happen. I guess there might be a time when she might need a plastic onion and an old receipt? So let me share with you my ultimate guide to getting your child out of the house in a realistic number of steps.

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An example of the “essentials” Emmy packs.

38 easy and simple steps to get your child out of the house

  1. Chase the olympic 100 metre sprinter  your toddler around the house while pleading with them to just go into their room so you can begin the process of getting them dressed.
  2. After much coercion and a negotiation battle comparable to what I imagine goes on during a multi-country trade deal get your child up the stairs and into their room. You now owe your child a puppy, a Kinder egg and a trip to one of those intolerable indoor play places.
  3. Chase child around the upstairs for 15 minutes. I guess you welcome the exercise and now your fitbit can stop telling you that you’re a sloth.
  4. Catch child, put them under your arm and march to their room in a most authoritative manner.
  5. Wrestle child to the ground, be sure to pin each limb down or you will get sucker punched in the throat, head, stomach, genitals or boob.
  6. Pick out clothes for your child to wear.
  7. Wrong choice.
  8. Ask them what they want to wear. The answer will be totally inappropriate for whatever season you might be in and will almost certainly include an item of clothing that is sat in the washing machine.
  9. After more negotiating, dress child in something that is somewhat appropriate (or you can at least live with). This is the tricky part as dressing a toddler is akin to trying to dress an angry octopus (watch out again for those limbs).
  10. Now move into the bathroom to brush teeth and wash their face.
  11. Put toothpaste on toothbrush, have child eat toothpaste off brush and demand more.
  12. Tell them tough luck and turn attention to something else for a millisecond during which time child has turned into a ninja and is eating toothpaste directly out of the tube.
  13. Shove toothbrush in child’s mouth to keep them occupied so you can turn attention to their hair.
  14. Arrange hair into some type of pony tail and gather the strange short bit of your kid’s hair with a clip haphazardly.
  15. Rub washcloth over your toddler’s face as they streak out of the room towards the stairs (you notice that you didn’t close the baby gate during the battle to get them upstairs so you probably have a small heart attack, die for a moment and then realize that you’re a mum and don’t have time to be dead).
  16. Ask your child nicely to use the potty so they wont pee in the car seat (that’s a gas) or scream that they need to use the potty while you are out and then refuse to use a public toilet.
  17. Ask your child to use the potty again with a little more force.
  18. Morph into The Beast and shout at your child to use the potty because you’re now late which will make them cry (ego depletion strikes again). You feel bad and promise them you’ll buy some sort of toy when you’re out.
  19. Give up on the potty. Maybe they don’t really need to go? Right what’s next? shoes.
  20. Go to put on your child’s shoes.
  21. Wrong choice. How could you not know they wanted to wear one rubber boot and one ballet shoe? GOD MUM.
  22. Finally squash their incredibly rigid foot into their shoe. When did their bones turn to cement?
  23. Coat time. Put it on backwards first. Then put the wrong arm in the hole. Finally get it on.
  24. Toddler takes off coat. Your head explodes.
  25. Get coat back on. No time for mittens and hat. You are now officially late.
  26. Throw snacks into a bag and get your child to the door.
  27. Your toddler says they just want to take one thing with them. You concede and let them choose ONE toy. They come back looking like a Sherpa. Whatever.
  28. Your toddler says they just need one more thing. You refuse and they start to scream again.
  29. Your patience is totally thinned out now so you tell your toddler that you’re going to put the Roomba on and it will suck them up if they don’t leave the house IMMEDIATELY (just me?).
  30. Get out of the door FINALLY.
  31. Just kidding, you need to back inside because your kid has decided they actually do want to use the potty. Is it too late to leave them on the church steps?
  32. False alarm.
  33. Get child into car seat. Go to do up buckles and child suddenly decides that they are auditioning for Cirque Du Soleil.
  34. After folding them in half, quickly do up buckles tight enough to constitute as a straight jacket. They will complain it’s too tight, don’t fall for it, they want some slack to escape when you’re driving at 100kms/hr on the motorway. “Look mummy, I’ve climbed into the trunk!”.
  35. You did it, everyone is in the car and you’re on your way!
  36. Realise that you’re wearing your slippers, run back inside.
  37. Toddler screams that they need to use the potty.
  38. Give up, you’re a week late anyway.

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Take the Timbits, my soul, whatever, just get into the car seat PLEASE.

So as you can see with my easy 38 step plan getting your child out is a cinch! Once you’ve mastered this you might want to consider adding another child into the mix for kicks.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

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Create a personalized Santa Gift Sack (like the ones you see on Etsy) On A Budget.

Easy craft tutorials are my jam

Full disclosure I SUCK at sewing and anything to do with textiles. I honestly CANNOT cut a straight line (it bodes well for rustic look crafts but not for things that I would actually want to see the light of day). I’m sure there are hacks and tips on Pinterest that promise to help even the most remedial of cutters but I fear I am past saving and more to the point, I just don’t have the time. I did start out an ill-fated at home business during my last mat leave making headbands after complaints of cutting off the circulation to children’s brains (OK that might be a slight exaggeration from me) I put my Singer into the basement where it has not seen the light of day since.

Despite my ineptitude, I do love a good craft. I’m actually a semi-decent artist and I really enjoy tapping into that creative side that yearns to wear a beret and walk around in dungarees with paint artfully smudged on my cheek. I usually stick to wood and painting activities but for whatever reason, I sometimes like to take on a challenge. Maybe there is a part of me that desires to be on a Pinterest fail website.

You don’t have to spend a lot to create a personalized gift sack

A few years ago I got a personalized Santa gift sack for my eldest daughter and I paid a small fortune for it (much to my husband’s lament). I thought it was the cutest sack I’d ever seen and I was waxing lyrical to anyone who would listen about this mom’s skills with the silk screen printer. I loved my little Santa sack and it looked just PERFECT under our tree. Fast forward 3 years later and it is my second daughter’s first Christmas. Always weary to avoid second child syndrome, I want to make sure sweet Aria has everything her sister has. I couldn’t remember the name of the place where I got my first beloved sack so I did a quick Google search and lo and behold a PLETHORA of the same sacks came up. “Wow, she’s done well with her little print press” I thought to myself and then I looked closer and noticed multiple sellers offering the same sacks. Well knock me down with a feather, I paid for handmade when I could easily have made it myself. I am an Etsy mug (non-Brits I don’t mean the type you drink out of, I mean someone who has been fooled). Now I’m not knocking Etsy sellers AT ALL. I just wanted to share with you a cheaper way if you’re on a budget like most of us are. With a cheap sack ofF Amazon, my hardly used iron (another relic of my business past) and some heat transfer letters I set about making my very own Santa sack.  Just because I like you so much, here are the instructions so you can too!

You can create a personalized Santa gift sack that looks like this…

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In the amount of time that your baby will nap (about 20 minutes max if your kid is anything like mine). If you click on the pictures it will link you to where I bought my materials.

What you need

    1. Santa sack – here is the one I got off amazon
    1. Iron transfer letters – You can be as creative as you want but here are some suggestions of ones that I found on Amazon (click to shop). Please think carefully about what size you want to use. Emerson’s sack uses 3 inch letters and Aria’s uses 1.5 inch.


    1. An Iron
    1. Ironing board
    1. Pressing cloth (I used an old napkin
    1. Thick carboard
    1. Glass of wine (optional but it really does add to the experience)

Instructions to make a personalized Santa Gift Sack

  1. This goes without saying but order the sack you want off Amazon. If you have Prime it will be with you in a couple of days!
  2. Once the sack arrives you’ll want to press it. I didn’t wash it like the instructions said on the heat transfer paper (whoops, but it worked perfectly) but if more laundry is your thing, go ahead!
  3. Put the thick cardboard in the sack to separate the front and back.
  4. Cut out the letters you want and place them on your fabric. Follow the pressing times for the brand that you use (it’s usually a few minutes front and back of each letter – MAKE SURE YOU USE A PRESSING CLOTH UNLESS YOU WANT A HOT MESS ON YOUR IRON).
  5. Bask in the glory that you have crafted. Sip your wine and admire your work.
  6. Tell your husband all about how much money you saved.

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Happy crafting!

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Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. While you wont pay a penny more, it helps me keep the lights on (and keeps me in wine).