Oh, Canada


{Photo credit: True North Trappings}

I'm married to a boy scout.

And I don't mean that in a what a swell guy kind of way (though he certainly is), but in a literal way. 

He is fourth generation Canadian on his mom's side, and he grew up in small town Ontario. 

He loves this country and wants to see every corner of it. 

He likes to be outside and wants our children to be outside.

Riding bikes and skipping rope in our suburban driveway, yes.

But also sleeping bags under the stars and tipsy canoes on the lake. 

So we've made it a priority to be a family that camps, and while we haven't moved beyond the campfires and beaches kind of camping (I'm working through a fear of wildlife), we treasure the time we've spent exploring Ontario's provincial and national parks every summer.

When a dear friend of mine recently launched her line of rustic Canadiana pieces at True North Trappings on Etsy, I knew I had to have one of her pieces for our home.

Our finished piece arrived this weekend, and it's going to be the perfect fit for a new space we're working on. The wood is a beautiful walnut colour and the silhouette of the Great Lakes is perfection. This rugged piece has the qualities we are drawn to when we choose art for our home: unique and simple. It tells a story about who we are as a family, and I know it's a piece we will be asked about time and again. 

To show her thanks for sharing her beautiful work, my friend is offering my blog readers a custom discount code for a 30 percent savings on any of the pieces in her shop. You can contact Janet to choose your stain and design, too. 


{Photo credit: True North Trappings}

I hope our kids will look back on the time we've spent running along the shores of the Great Lakes with nostalgia. We've been camping since our first daughter was a year old, and we've never missed a summer. This year we'll be headed to Pinery and Silent Lake provincial parks, and we have some plans to travel through rural Quebec. 

From now until April 13th, you can use the code: LNP30 to save 30% on your custom piece. You can also find True North Trappings on Facebook and Instagram, if you'd like to follow along as the collection and creativity continue to grow.

Congratulations, Janet, on your wonderful shop,

and thank you for sharing your beautiful work with my readers. 




Read More

About That Elf

There are a lot of folks who hate my elf, and his elf, and her elf, and their elves. 

Around here, we ask our kids to think twice about using harsh words to speak of someone they've never met or with whom they haven't had a personal interaction. And although I am well aware our elf, Jingles, doesn't have a beating heart, my kids like to believe she has a magical one.  

As for the fool who moves the tiny toy around each night?

Well, hey, I have one too. 

I know the elf-less don't mean to bash me when they bash the elf. Just like I have no intention of bashing the elf-less when I share a photo or two. 


Those who bought into the elf phenomenon are show-offs or had the Santa hat pulled over their consumeristic eyes. Those who didn't buy in are wiser, because they weren't swayed by their children's requests to have one like the other kids. 

Sweeping genearlizations—perhaps. But I've read them over and over again. 

It feels a lot like all the times I heard I shouldn't talk about how I breastfed my babies, because it might make formula-feeding moms feel bad. Or that I shouldn't go into too much detail about being at home with my kids, because it might make working moms feel guilty.  

I've never wanted to make another parent feel bad or guilty, and I still don't. 

Why did I let myself succumb to the hype?

Why do I exert the effort?

I guess you'd have to travel back to my childhood for the answer. Despite growing up in families that did not celebrate Santa Claus, my parents put gifts with special wrapping paper and Santa handwriting under the tree every year. 

Then right around the time I was the age my oldest daughter is now, when friends were getting harder to navigate and the peer pressure to stop believing was pressing down on me, my parents had our neighbour dress up in a Santa suit and pose for Polaroid snapshots in front of our tree.

Despite predictions by many online elf-haters, I did not grow up to resent my parents for deceiving me or tricking me or making me look like a fool. I feel nothing but gratitude that they wanted to preserve the magic of childhood for me and my sister, even if it meant buying into cultural practices they didn't come from.

When the gig is up around here, and the last of my lot has figured out that it was me and Dad who bolted out of bed in the middle of the night, or stuffed Jingles down our pants in the morning so we could discreetly move her before she was spotted, I'm certain they'll feel gratitude. 

As for the judgey comments about parents using the elf as a behaviour deflector, well that's none of my business. We don't use that approach around here, but I did use M&M's to toilet train our youngest daughter, so I guess there's always the threat that I'll succumb. 

My kids are at different ages and stages of believing, but this "creepy toy with the cold eyes" still brings their varying beliefs together in fun. They roll out of bed every day in the month of December and launch an early morning search for her landing spot. When they find her, they are equally delighted. 

It's not about the photos (though do be warned, there will be some because this is where I leave my memories for my kids), but the magic. A reminder to hold on to it, because it is fleeting. 

It's not about being cool or trendy, but being here—in the moments, big and small. 

It's not a waste of my time, but a short-lived re-prioritization—five minutes that I dedicate to setting the stage for gap-toothed morning smiles. 

It's not just about the elf, you see—it's about the memories. 

And if adding a mischievous red elf to our traditions gives those memories a swish of colour, that's quite all right with me. 


Read More

memory keeper

I have a brain that stores a lot of ideas—most of them never make it past my skull. 

But a long and tiresome search for a memory board to hang in my sentimental tween's room (it runs in the family), was coming up empty. She has an eye for design that surpasses my own. And even though she's tenderhearted, she is not dazzled by the princess-themed stuff that's out there. In fact, it makes her gag (smart kid, too). 

So I started thinking about making my own. With fabric and staple guns. 

And the idea bounced around in my skull for several months, until finally her return from a month away pushed me to make it happen. She has piles of photos and mementos that she wants to display. And the piles they sat in were making both of us crazy.

Before I share this project, you should know: I AM NOT CRAFTY

Usually when I throw around the words project and homemade, JB runs and hides. I was on my own for this one. 

First stop, the local hardware store for a piece of wood. I asked for thin wood, not scratchy wood, about this wide by this wide (picture wildly waving arms). Apparently, I made some kind of sense. After being led to a frightening wood cutting machine at the back of the store, I came out with exactly what I needed. 

I also found the right super staples for our long-buried staple gun (last used for our hand-me-down dining room chairs pre-kids).


Then on to the fabric store, which happened to be holding some kind of blow out sale. It seems there are a lot of crafty people in my town. I had to get my elbows out and do some serious manoeuvring to get close to the good stuff.  

I had a hard time deciding. I wanted the board to be a surprise, so I had to guess what she might like


At home, I pulled everything out and got started right away. If I had left it for more than 10 minutes, I'd be distracted by one million other things, and the supplies would have ended up in a closet beside my scrapbooking bin (waaaaaah! unfinished baby albums!).

I covered the plywood with a couple layers of cotton batting (I think that's what it's called) and left just enough extra to wrap around the back of the board.

I did the same when cutting the piece of fabric to cover both the board and the batting.

After flipping it all over, I got to work with the stapler. Actually, that's a lie. My dad happened to stop by at that moment, and immediately threw me aside and took over the staple gun. He knows me well.

I held the fabric in place; it's important to pull it very tightly and works better with two people (JB was still keeping his distance). 

And then we unveiled it for my daughter, who decided she loved the fabric so much, she'd like me to sew a throw cushion cover for her bed. Ummmmmm. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, kid.

Here's the finished product. I've begged JB to fashion some kind of hanging mechanism (I know my limits). For now, it's leaning on top of her bookshelf. 

As you can see, she wasted no time covering it with memories. 

That's my girl.





Read More