Home Content – Energy Well Spent

I’m in the middle of planning a big renovation of our entire top floor that’s scheduled for later on this year, so much to consider and it’s my first time ‘designing’ something of this nature.  But before i get into all that fun stuff we have a few other items that need to be addressed, all in the continued effort to make our home (built in 1889) more energy efficient.

We replaced a number of windows when we first moved in, and last year we had the extension on our main floor gutted & updated – insulated, new windows, baseboard heaters etc. These were two big projects that made an immediate impact on the warmth of our house.

Today I’ve started on another one of the ‘fun’ projects and started with quotes on an updated front door. Talk about a massive impact on not only our energy efficiency but the curb appeal of our house.

 

Inspiration Door photo

 

There are two styles we’re drawn to, this is one of them. We’ll have frosted windows on both sides of our door because of the space, and nothing etched in – although i do love how the house # is in the frosted glass in the photo above.

 

Fiberglass Door inspiration photo

And the second style I am drawn to has the window insert. We’d still go with the double frosted windows on both sides, and the same pool handle (because i just love how that looks).

Window insert door inspiration

 

Regardless of style we’re going with fibreglass due to it’s durability and efficiency. I’ll definitely post a before & after once it’s complete.

Family Content – An Unexpected Journey

So here I am almost a year and a half into a journey I never saw coming. It’s a journey I don’t talk about much, except with a handful of very close friends, and of course my husband. And really no one talks about it. It’s deeply personal. It’s also mostly private. But maybe talking about it will help someone else on a similar journey find some comfort.

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with Marloes. I never saw that journey coming either. I could barely form a sentence for a good half hour after reading ‘pregnant’ on the test. I couldn’t even get the words out properly to tell Mr Content. He knew i was taking a test – neither of us thought for a second it could be positive. But i was 5 days late and at that time i was insanely regular, so i was just ruling it out to get it out of my head. We were about 5 weeks away from our wedding, I had moved back from Montreal and in with him (for the first time officially) about 4 weeks beforehand (you do the math). We did our usual Saturday morning thing – weights at the gym, jog to Shoppers to pick up eggs & bacon, and i grabbed a test ‘just to rule it out’. So while he was downstairs cooking up the eggs i was peeing on a stick. Then i walked away to put some things away and when i walked back in to the bathroom and read ‘pregnant’ all i could say was ‘Uhhhh….’ Thankfully the Mister heard me from downstairs and came running up – beyond exuberant, lifted me up and spun me around ‘Are we Pregnant????!!! Are we having a baby???!!!” – all I could get out was ‘Uhhhhhhh!!!!’. Just total shock. Happy, but shocked. Just wasn’t on my radar. It took me a while to really truly grasp that I was expecting, that it was all really happening. And by ‘a while’ i mean about 6 months. by the time I grasped it, it was time to start thinking about the birthing process and doing my research, knowing  my options, setting a ‘plan’.  (you can’t really plan it, but you can know what you want, what you really really want, and be ready to be an advocate for yourself).

So with that being so easy, as in I didn’t even try to get pregnant, imagine my surprise to find myself 6 months in to trying for a second and not having any luck. And then 6 months after that still nothing, and then here I am another 6 months(ish) after that and still nothing. So the funny thing about having a baby is that it totally changes your body. Not just the softer tummy and boobs, but the hormones and everything that sort of goes with it. My period never regulated, my cycles are anywhere from 30-40 days. Thankfully a friend of mine had used a fertility monitor for both her pregnancies and she passed it along my way after her second in case i needed it for round two. (Thank you Cat!!!) So I started using that after about 3 months in to the journey – over the last year I’ve ovulated anywhere between day 13 – 17. Kind of  a big window to guess at, thanks ClearBlue for helping me out!

Last summer I started with weekly acupuncture as well, through that and our conversations I realized some of the other ways my body is not ‘working’ in the same way that it did before my first pregnancy. I won’t go into the details – because that’s getting into the TMI territory – but it’s good to identify these things. My first month with acupuncture I also switched to using PreSeed, and as it turned out I got a positive test that month. Almost immediately I had intense pregnancy symptoms – nausea and hot flushes, really extreme hot flushes – those lasted for about 3 days then quietly subsided and in a couple more days I experienced what is called Early Pregnancy Loss. So that was tough. At that point it had been almost a year of ‘trying’. But it wasn’t meant to be. In my head I know it’s not my fault but i can’t help but wonder if I hadn’t of gone for that spontaneous run that monday, or if I hadn’t of done this… would it have stuck? Probably not. But the question is always there.

We decided to stay positive – the fact that we finally conceived – that was a good thing. And as we found out fertility actually goes up after a loss (same with after a birth!) so we decided to keep trying and not wait. I felt emotionally like i couldn’t waste even one month. But here we are 5 months after that loss and still waiting on another positive test.

I realize this is a very common occurrence, on average it takes a year to get pregnant – at least for the first time. And i also now realize it was very naive of me to think getting pregnant again would be as simple as it was the first time. I’ve moved past the ‘WTF’ stage, the ‘Why Me’ stage, and even the ‘What if it doesn’t happen?’ stage. I had a roller coaster of a time with my family Dr. It’s a long and frustrating story that I will skip and just say it ends with me walking in to a walk in clinic 2 blocks from my house and getting an immediate referral to a fertility clinic, 4 months after initially calling my Dr. with the name & contact information of the clinic i wanted to go to that was most convenient for me (that referral never happened for reasons unknown).

So next week is my first appointment. And I’m going into it in a place of being OK with ‘only having one’. I have an incredible daughter, the most beautiful soul. She’s kind and sensitive, full of empathy. Very independent with a wild imagination. She is enough. I am more than happy with her. If I didn’t have this very strong urge to carry another human inside my body again – every ache, every sleepless night included – I would walk away. But affter all this time I think what I’m really hoping for is answers. And i realize I may not get them. But i need to know one way or the other, I’m not ready to walk away just yet. I have no idea how far I’m willing to take this, I barely know all my options. There’s a part of me that will just be happy to have had a very thorough physical work up and have a bit of science on my side.

I also think my daughter would be a phenomenal big sister. I truly think she’d enjoy having another little friend to join forces with in our house.

I have a number of friends who have greatly benefited from having the extra bit of science on their side, so I do carry hope. And through all this I will continue to work towards feeling balanced again. I am more aware of nutrition and health than every before – there’s nothing like knowing it takes 3 months to grow an egg to keep you on top of your good eating habits!

My journey carries on. It does not define me, but it does make me stronger.

Mrs Content – Unstoppable

I’ve been setting goals, and making vision boards for years (thanks lululemon), and it’s been a long while since I sat down and really gave mine a solid update.

I found a word that resonated with me, something that speaks to my goals, my year, and my attitude – Unstoppable. 2016 Started with me fired up and motivated. There’s a lot I want to accomplish this year and writing it all out was necessary.

Unstoppable I’m also very visual, (i love me a day of pinterest-ing) so this year I added some visuals and even made a cover photo for my FB page to further support my vision.

 

2016 goals

 

 

Mrs Content – Lip Service

Of all my goals for the New Year my favourite, and most fun, is my aim to wear more lipstick. Open goal? yes, but making it concrete by saying I’ll wear lipstick 5 times a week doesn’t seem to make sense given my life these days.

A year ago for Christmas my husband put a surprise lipstick in my stocking. He was at Holts for something else and then asked the girls in the Jewellery section where to get a good red lipstick for his wife, they sent him straight to the Giorgio Armani counter. It seems like a huge risk to pick out a red lipstick for your wife who isn’t  present but he TOTALLY NAILED IT. As it turns out their Lip Maestro in 400 is The Perfect Red. It’s neither cool nor warm, just red. It apparently works on just about everyone.

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Here’s me wearing owning it at a wedding.10931086_10152926907315932_7573320463990454648_nNot only is the colour perfection but it wears like a dream. Pigment rich, even coverage, matte finish without feeling dry, and lasts all day. So after a year of wearing it I decided i needed more. I made an appointment at an Armani Makeup Counter specifically to get some help with colour, because after visiting the counter on my own i realized that the colours can’t be judged by the tubes. Most look completely different when they’re on the lip. I fell in love with 3 new colours today but walked away with 2 to start, and I do mean start because I have plans for more.

Here’s the one I wore home today – this is after a few hours of wear, 406 ‘Orient’. It looks brown in the tube but goes on this deep red with a fuschia undertone.

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I also came home with 502, a lighter but still bright purply pink, a little less dramatic for daily wear. Next up I’ve got my eye on 500 – the perfect blush tone.

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Family Content – Adventures in Potty Training

To give a little backstory, yesterday was gorgeous outside – the perfect temperature to let your 2 year old run around naked and not worry about being too hot or too cold or anything of the sort. So i decided since I had nothing planned for the day I’d set us up outside and bring out the potty, give it a whirl and see how she responded. Previous to this I had noticed she’s holding her pee longer, staying dry for longer amounts of time and having much larger pees (very noticeable when you cloth diaper), so I knew physically her body was ‘ready’ I just wasn’t sure if the rest of her was. (She definitely was not when i tried for half a day in March) If she responded, great. If she totally was against it I was willing to leave it alone for a few more months and just try again later. As it turned out she responded really well, she’s not exactly eager to sit down but she was going on the potty when i placed her there and she even finished day 1 with a #2 in the potty. Fantastic.

Enter Day 2. Things started off well enough with another #2 in the potty, and then i moved us outside to continue with things. When Baby (Toddler?) Content tried to escape inside all of a sudden I knew she was trying to find a private place to pee. So i followed her with the potty… and the following is the email that I sent Mr. Content about an hour later…

“Subject: UGH!

Everything is falling apart. Baby C won’t stay outside, she’s resisting the potty, she was running to get away with it earlier and slipped on her own Lego. That led to a big cry during which she peed on me. Then the wind picked up and knocked off a bunch of pictures from the shelf by the front window. Glass everywhere. Child running away & peeing behind the table while I try to clean. I cut my finger on some glass, small knick that won’t stop bleeding. I finally get her to the front door area where she pees in the corner but in a pull up, then I get it down and plop her on the potty with the iPad. She’s crying without the iPad or when she actually has to pee. So then I pull out the vacuum to get the glass slivers under control so I can get safely to the last of the large pile of glass. She starts flipping out when I turn on the vacuum so that’s now off and in the middle of the room.  I can’t keep her out of the family room without a complete meltdown so I’ve now barricaded off half the room with dining room chairs until I can get her down for a nap and finish the job.
God give me strength to get through the rest of the day, it’s not even noon.”

Luckily things got a bit more positive afterwards, but I was at the point where I was wondering whether to be consistent with the potty or just walk away. Was she going through a natural refusal, do all kids do this? But i stuck with it, tried to make it a little bit more fun when i put her on it before nap time and she had a big pee with minimal fuss, and just one small request for the ‘ipadt’, you got it kid. No idea where this week will take us but i’m taking advantage of the gorgeous weather to let her be naked and work on this. If this ends up cutting out HALF our diapers I’ll be thrilled.

Mrs Content – Me Time?

Yesterday was another landmark day for me, Baby Content turned 2! I’ve come to realize that her birthdays will always be significant events for me just as much as her. The day I brought her into the world is branded on me forever, I changed that day and I’ll celebrate that every chance i get.

In the last 2 years I haven’t been away from Baby C for more than 24 hours (sleepovers at my parents’ ). I barely even go pee alone, and just last week i wasn’t even allowed to shower alone (nothing like a hot shower with a toddler holding the shower door open and screaming in protest and trying to pull you out to start your day off right!). So imagine the gift I just gave myself as I booked a SOLO FLIGHT TO VEGAS! WHAAATTTT!!!!!

Last year when I joined Stella & Dot I heard about their annual conference that was coming up in the summer called Hoopla! And as appealing as it sounded I just didn’t feel rooted enough in anything to commit & invest in something of that nature. Afterwards, hearing all the stories and seeing the advancement of my new found friends who had attended, and then hearing that the 2015 Hoopla would be held in Vegas… Well. Let’s say it’s been on my ‘Want/Need/To-Do’ list ever since.

So here I go. I registered a few months ago, I bought my flight today, and then within 10 minutes had made 2 new friends to room with.  It’s a short 3 days, but it’s all for me. And I don’t need pool time or shopping or anything of that sort this time, I’m thrilled to just be going. This is a new milestone for me – personal development, new friends, business development, new experiences and memories, and 3 days away from my family. Go me!

Style Content – Boho Chic

One of my favourite trends this summer is the Boho Chic look. I think it probably surfaces to some degree every year (and always at Coachella), but it’s loud and proud this summer and I’ve got a few favourites accessories at 3 different price points to help ANY wardrobe out. As in toss on your jeans & white tee, add one of these necklaces, and away you go!

My favourite piece over $100 is the Zuni Layering Necklace. At $104 it’s still not going to break the bank and you get a lot of bang for your buck with various ways to wear. The middle strand with the Howlite stones and freshwater pearls can be worn separately and at 2 different lengths.

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My pick for under $100 is the Havana Pendant. Coming in at $94, made with hand set cream cabochon stones, and designed for a lot of versatility. Each of the bottom 2 links on the pendant are removable and the necklace can be worn longer or shorter. A great piece for travelling with, I’ve counted 8 different ways to wear just on it’s own. This has been my go-to piece so far this season.

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And my choice for under $60 is the year-round favourite, the Sahara Pendant. A steal at $54 this also makes a great gift for a girlfriend or sister’s birthday. A semi-precious magnesite stone drops from an intricate gold chain, this is a no brainer to toss on with a white tee and walk out the door. Light weight and delicate this is the perfect piece for a mom on the go who ‘doesn’t have time’ for accessories (yes you do!).

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It doesn’t take much to polish off your outfit, one great necklace can go a long way. I try to never leave the house without some sort of accessory on – a necklace, some bracelets, or even a couple of rings. I feel better when i take the extra minute to finish my look, and when I feel good – it affects my whole day.

Accessorized Content – Unexpected Journey

So there I was with a 9 month old babe, and the end of my Maternity benefits in sight, zero desire to go back to an industry that would inevitably keep me working long days and late nights (that i was now no longer passionate about) and desperately not ready to leave my daughter in the care of anyone else. That said money was inevitably tight, new babies and reduced incomes have a way of doing that to a family, and I really needed (financially and personally) and wanted to be making a bit of money again. Not to mention getting back in touch with that part of me that has ALWAYS had a job of some sort. (Don’t for a SECOND take that to mean I don’t feel like my job as a mom is indeed ‘work’ or a ‘job’ because OF COURSE IT IS, it’s the most important and best work of my life)

I was looking for something i could do that would get me out of the house here and there, was fun and interesting, had something to do with my past career path, and where I could make a bit of spending money at the same time. Not needing to put the rug rat in daycare was also key. I sort of accidentally stumbled upon Stella & Dot, having been invited to a party i couldn’t attend and then perusing the website. I was immediately intrigued – the accessories were adorable and it seemed like a great fit. So I did my research, I talked to a current stylist to learn more about the job, I talked to my husband to see what he thought, and then I took the leap.

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What I hadn’t anticipated was the community I would find, we stylists lovingly refer to it as the ‘Stella Sisterhood’. Working with other passionate women, finding a community of fellow like minded friends who keep you motivated and inspired, having a life outside of the house again, and truly enjoying the ‘work’. Being at home full time can feel like a vacuum, being able to connect with this community of women has helped me stay motivated, focused, and feel balanced.

I work as much or as little as I can, some months my family or household projects need more attention and so I don’t put quite as much into my business. And some months/days I need to give my every available moment outside of parenting to hip’r. And then other months i can throw myself into Stella & Dot, and it all seems to work. It takes a lot to admit you can’t do everything all the time, and even more to be ok with that. I am committed to being a great parent/primary care giver, I’m also committed to feeding my family healthy wholesome delicious meals. I don’t stress about housework (I luckily married a man who enjoys cleaning, go figure!) but I like a tidy house as much as the next girl – toddlers have a way of leaving a path behind them that resembles that of a mini tornado. I can’t tell you how many times a day i sort & tidy the shoe pile (read: mountain) that inexplicably grows by the front door. So I do what I can, when I can and am committed to being good with that. No sense in dwelling on what I didn’t get done.

So back to Stella & Dot. This company was started by a woman and made for women. And if you think it’s just about selling jewellery you’ve got it all wrong but you’re not alone, and I’m guilty of thinking the same thing when i first started. What I know now is that it’s not about selling anything. That’s not my job. My job is to educate. My job is to make sure everyone has a great time at the party. It’s to help style my clients when they need it and want it. There’s nothing i love more than using what I know, who I am, and stella & dot to help you solve a problem. Starting a new job and need some fresh new pieces for your new office ‘look’? I got your back. Do you already have a pile of really expensive accessories that you can’t even figure out how to wear? I got your back (often you’re just missing a few key pieces to pull it all together – my favourite trick is layering & balancing delicates with edgy/chunkier pieces). Do you need a really thoughtful gift? I can help you there too. New season? Need shoe suggestions to go with all those new accessories? I can help you! THIS is where I thrive. I’m not interested in you getting something you don’t need. I firmly believe there’s a place in every woman’s life for Stella & Dot, maybe it’s as a client, maybe it’s as a host, or maybe it’s as a stylist.

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I also understand what it’s like to live on a budget. We can’t always afford all the things we want, and that’s a good thing! Half the line is always under $60. Or my favourite is helping someone who has a pretty decent sized wish list get a lot of it for free, or for half price by hosting a fun girls night. Sometimes I can’t believe that that is my job – spending a few hours getting to know new fabulous women, introducing them to stella & dot, helping them accessorize, facilitating a really fun afternoon or evening with really fun accessories. And then rewarding my host with free product! If I’m going to be away from my husband and daughter, this is pretty good!

Way back in the day I used to work for a fantastic company called lululemon. It’s now a house-hold name, but back when I started it wasn’t. What I loved about that company back then is what I love about Stella & Dot now. There’s genuine thought put into each and every piece. Our design team is brilliant and creative. They are always thinking about how to give our customers more; more bang for their buck, more versatility, more ways to wear. Everything is ethically made, and they stand behind their product. This is absolutely key for me. I’d never ever be able to associate myself with anything that I didn’t know was of quality. I’m proud to be a stylist. I’m proud to be a mom who works from home. I love fitting in my work time into nap schedules, and girls nights into the evenings and weekend slots that work for me and my family. I love not having to follow anyone else’s schedule or quota or demands. It’s about me. It’s about my family. And I really truly enjoy it.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Stylist Life, let me know. I’m growing my team and I’m looking for other amazing busy passionate women to join me. I would LOVE to be the one to introduce you to Stella & Dot.

Summer Collage

 

Mrs Content – The Negligent Blogger

Ok so it feels like I’ve written a hundred posts in my head over the last year but somehow that’s not quite enough to make it on to the blog. Go Figure. So here’s my attempt to start catching up, and re-committing to somewhat regular posts.

What on earth have I been doing?? Before Baby Content was born I started working on a baby/children’s clothing company with a very good friend. And since then I (obviously) had a baby, and then a year later my partner had her second baby and so it’s taken us a bit longer than anticipated to get it up and running. One of the main reasons for us to have started hip’r was so that we could be the moms we wanted to be, primarily at home with our kids in these first few years. That said it’s getting closer and closer to launch and I am over the moon excited and proud of what we’re doing. I can’t wait to share it with the world.

And in the mean time, just over a year ago, I found Stella & Dot. I’ve been loving the ‘work’ and I think having a life outside of the house (when it works for me) makes me a better mom, and a better wife. It’s hard to go from working non-stop to being at home full time. This balance I’ve found right now (although not always easy) has helped me find ‘me’ again. The me who is a mom, a wife, a homeowner, a lover of all things fashion and design, a friend, fun, creative, and (at times, i hope) stylish 😉 More details on my Stella & Dot journey to follow – it deserves a post of it’s on.

So that’s it. Here’s to me being more of me, right here! (Again!)

This recipe was adapted from an AMAZING recipe from I Don’t Blog, so I’m not taking any credit for it, I just made a few simple changes and cut the recipe in half (mostly because I only had enough ingredients in the house to make half). My friend Kat made them recently and she subbed in raw quinoa because she too didn’t have enough oats on hand, so she gets full cred for the inspiration.

This recipe yields a dozen regular sized muffins. They were gobbled up by my husband and daughter both. And for a mom who never takes enough time to feed herself (oh what’s that? 5 minutes free? Great! I can cram in 10 minutes of work, who needs to eat anyways!) I love having these in the house for quick fixes for the whole family. The original recipe was amazing, i was just trying to cram in some extra goodness. Also I can’t fit the original sized recipe in my Vitamix, another reason i cut it in half.

If you are making these in your blender be sure to put the wet ingredients on the bottom, you may have to stop and stir it up or if you are using a Vitamix then the pusher/plunger is very handy for getting everything in the mix.

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  • 2 cups large flake oats (i have successfully subbed in quick oats)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (i use high fat (10%) vanilla because that’s what’s always in the house for the kiddo, but plain will do, or cottage cheese even)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (low glycemic & not very sweet – if you opt for regular sugar or agave nectar I’d use a little less)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 generous tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 2 generous tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • dark chocolate chips (however much/little you like. As Mr Content says ‘no such thing as too much’) held aside

Throw everything into the blender or mixer – like i said if you’re using your blender put all the wet ingredients in first. Blend until fully incorporated, then fold in the chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. If you are doing mini muffins check them after 20 minutes, that may be all they need.