anatomy of a rainy day

Monday, August 18, 2014

1) Endless cups of tea.   2) A basket full of toys.   4) Homemade chocolate cake. Just 'cause.   5) A stack of books.   6) Not pictured - the many, many episodes of Peppa Pig that Clementine watched.

Our winter has been a mild one. We've had hardly any rain, so most days we just rug up and go outside to play. Yesterday was the first day it was raining so hard that I wondered how I would survive the day inside with my rambunctious toddler. Between endless cups of tea and the baking of a chocolate cake (just because I felt like it), we played with new to us toys and read a pile of books. Thank goodness for our local library; we were at the doors when they opened and came home with a pram full of goodies. Of course, toys and books will only entertain so long, so it was a relief when the sun came out in the afternoon.

Today was much the same but we headed further afield to check out an indoor trampoline park. It wore Clementine out (success!) and was surprisingly fun for my husband and I. It brought me back to my gymnast days, and I flipped and flopped with glee. After an hour we were feeling so cheerful and energised, amazing what some bouncing can do for your mood!

If there are any North American/European moms reading, can you please tell me how you survive the winter months with a toddler???



Saturday, August 16, 2014

These days I'm craving and relishing simplicity. It might have something to do with the lingering cold I've had for the last 2 weeks, or it may be because my energy has been low, but whatever the reasons, I'm rolling with it. I've been meaning to give my blog a makeover for 6 months now, but I'm a procrastinator so I've only just gotten to it. I loved the pink, but it's nice to have a clean, fresh, simple look. I hope you like it too.

Over the last 5 weeks I've been doing this course through The Red Tent. It's been eye opening and full of practical advice. I've learned a lot! It's really changed my approach to feeding Clementine. I used to think that if I wanted her to be a good eater, I had to expose her to every food under the sun in her first years of life. She's never been a great eater and I've been stressing over it since she was 1 month old (seriously). I've been learning, however, that from a Chinese Medicine perspective, children need simple, warm food. I've been changing Clementine's diet to include less dairy and fruit, and more easy to digest, nourishing foods like chicken congee, home-made bone broths, steamed vegetables and oatmeal. She's been responding so well! My husband (ever skeptical of "alternative" methods like Chinese Medicine) was just saying that he can't believe how well Clementine has been eating lately. He's a total convert now. Mealtimes have become so much more simple and she's eating so much more. I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

I hope you're all having a wonderful, relaxing weekend!


setting an example

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I think every parent gets to that stage where they realise that their child is mimicking everything they do. This has been on my mind for a while now, because I know that in some ways, I'm not setting a very good example for my little one. Ever since she started on solids I've been quite strict with what I feed her. I don't let her have any sugar at all, and certainly no junk food. Most of her food is made from scratch, and it's also mostly organic. I definitely won't be the mum not letting her kid have cake at a birthday party, but I feel strongly that at this age, she does not need to have cakes/cookies/brownies etc.

But, I am a sugar fiend. I've always had a sweet tooth, and since having Clementine, it's gotten out of control. As a new mum, most of my social life has revolved around cafe dates with friends over coffee and cake. Nowadays we mostly hang out at the park, but we still very often stop for a takeaway coffee and treat. Clementine now wants to try a bite of everything I eat, so I'm discovering that I can't eat my usual treats when she's around. I know that if I want to foster healthy eating habits in her, I have to change my own habits. I definitely have more to say on this, but I'll leave it for another post. For now I'm trying to embrace one of my favourite sayings: everything in moderation, including moderation.

On a lighter note, I'm also trying so hard not to swear but it is tough! So far Clementine only has a few words, but I worry that if we keep up the way we are her first word will be a 4 letter one. Both my husband and I are pretty bad. Just today he was working on something that was frustrating him, and he was muttering and swearing under his breath. "Bloody f&*% s#$t c@#p son of a…" and on it went. He caught me glaring at him and toned it down to, "bloody bastard, mumble, grumble…" Because that's not swearing apparently. It's safe to say that we have some work to do in this department. Please tell me we're not the only ones...


motherhood around the world

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

a photo from my very first trip to Australia, when I was your typical Canadian backpacker

Today I am so, so excited to be featured on one of my favourite blogs, A Cup of Jo. Joanna's lovely editor, Caroline, interviewed me about my experience of being a Canadian mother in Australia. When she sent over the first round of questions, I found myself writing an essay in response to each and every one. It was the first time I've ever sat down, reflected on and put into writing all of my thoughts on being an expat. I had so much to say, and I kept thinking, "I should write a book about this!" For now though, you can read my interview here.

And if you've found your way here via A Cup of Jo, welcome! I hope you can make yourself a cup of tea and stay a while.

p.s. As a disclaimer, I know that my experience does not speak for all expats in Australia, or even for all Canadian expats in Australia. I did my best to keep that in mind as I answered the questions, and also to keep in mind that while I have travelled throughout Australia, I have only ever lived in Sydney. 


how to deal with homesickness

Friday, August 1, 2014

I've been thinking a lot lately about being an expat (you'll understand why soon), and the inevitable homesickness that comes with living overseas. I had always loved to travel and had never actually felt homesick until I moved to Australia in 2009. Then, after having a baby here, I became even more homesick! I do, however, have some coping mechanisms and I thought I'd share them here today. If any of my fellow expats have other tips please share in the comments section.

Skype. This one is pretty obvious and is the main way I deal with missing my family and friends. I Skype with my mom at least 3 times a week, and honestly don't know what I'd do without it. Often we'll have Skype on while one of us is cooking or eating, and it makes it feel like we're just hanging out together and sharing a meal.

WhatsApp. One of my best friends just moved to Canada and we've been using WhatsApp to stay in touch. Just like when she lived here, we'll text each other bits and pieces throughout the day, normal things, like what we ate for lunch and photos of what we're up to. The casual nature of it makes it feel like she hasn't left. One of the things that makes me the saddest about living here, is that I feel like I've lost that close relationship with some of my best friends. We keep in touch but I know so little about their everyday life. Communicating every day, about the little things, really helps.

Maintain your traditions. Australians don't do Thanksgiving and Halloween has only recently been embraced, mostly by kids. One year we had a Halloween party, which mostly seemed to confuse our Australian friends, and was hilarious in its own way. I do make an effort each year to celebrate Thanksgiving though. Some years we've invited friends over and other times it has just been the two of us, eating stuffing and pumpkin pie, but I love it. One of my fellow Canadian yoga teaching friends and I were talking about doing a Thanksgiving yoga workshop followed by a feast this October, so stay tuned for that...

Have expat friends. This point was really driven home to me the other night. I was at a staff dinner where many of us are Canadians/Americans with Australian partners. We ended up having such a great heart to heart. It was so nice to connect with others who are in the exact same boat as me. We talked about our long term plans, missing our family, raising kids here and all kinds of other topics near and dear to us. Fair warning though, if you're a long term expat, make sure you also have friends who are from your new city. If your circle of friends is made up exclusively of other expats, you will never feel totally settled and you will be losing friends constantly (I know from experience).

Have a visit to look forward to. There was a stretch of 2.5 years where I didn't go home, and I didn't have a trip to look forward to. It was way too long! Even though our next visit to Vancouver is still 4 months away (and we booked our flights a couple of months ago), it makes such a difference to have a date in the calendar circled. Something to look forward to.

Don't expect everything to be the same at home. This is something I struggle with when I go home. There's a part of me that wants things to be just the same as when I left, but of course, they're not. My friends have new partners and jobs, businesses close and new ones take their place, and even my family moves and shifts. It's true that the only constant is change, and it's best to embrace it.

My next tips all fall under the same umbrella of immersing yourself:

Read. When I'm feeling homesick I like to re-read my favourite Canadian authors, like Douglas Coupland and L.M. Montgomery. I find the familiarity really soothing.

Watch. Watching movies and tv shows from Canada helps to quell the sadness that creeps in when I start to miss that good ol' Canadian accent. Earlier this year, I got hooked on Arctic Air. Sure, it's not the best show ever made but the Canadian accents and references made me happy and I was devastated that it was cancelled.

Listen. Every week I listen to my favourite podcast, The Vinyl Cafe, and it never fails to warm my heart. I also like to listen to CBC radio on my computer. I love hearing the news from Vancouver; it makes me feel like I'm still in touch.

Eat. Ok, so we don't really have a Canadian cuisine, per se, but we do have poutine. And maple syrup. And bloody caesars. And pumpkin pie. And enjoying them does me a world of good when I'm longing for Vancouver.


The Seventh Duchess Tea Giveaway

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A few weeks ago the lovely people at The Seventh Duchess sent me a few things to try. I received their  Empress of India Indian Spiced Chai, Goddess Organic New Mother's Tea and Coconut Sugar. I ooh'd and aah'd for a while over the lovely box they came in, before finally opening it to find the prettiest teas inside. I've been enjoying the Chai (brewed with milk and a spoonful of coconut sugar) in the afternoon, and a cup of New Mother's Tea at night with a tiny bit of honey stirred through. Both are delicious, and would make the perfect gift for a friend, a new mother friend especially.

For a chance to win one of three prize packs of Moroccan Mint and Hibiscus & Vanilla Teas, head on over to my Instagram.


these winter days

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

photos by Gui Jorge

These winter days have been so nice. The weather has been absolutely perfect; bright blue skies beckon us outside and we're usually at our local park by 9am. We have been spending so much time outside, mostly because Clementine is at an age where she has energy to burn. If we stay home for too long she very quickly destroys the place and undoes any of my efforts at housekeeping.

Speaking of, the husband and I dropped off another carload of things at the op shop last weekend and it's amazing what a difference it makes. I love the resulting feeling of space, and the fact that it takes half as long to clean up. For the first time ever, we actually have empty drawers. Incredible! Also incredible? Our heater. This is the first Sydney home I've lived in that isn't an absolute freezer come winter. For our apartment's many faults, it is quite toasty and for that I am grateful (especially because that heater becomes an air conditioner in the warmer months).

I have to say, it's totally shallow but I've been quite enjoying dressing Clementine in winter clothes. There is nothing cuter than a toddler all rugged up in bonnets and scarves. Seriously. She's such a lucky girl too, because her grandmother has been spoiling her with handmade accessories that are to die for. It'll be interesting to see how we handle the challenge of dressing for actually cold weather, when we're in Canada later this year. It will be Clementine's first experience of true winter, and my first cold winter in 5 years. I think one of these might be in order.

This week we're seeing friends, working on a very cute sewing project and planning another newborn shoot. When my husband and Clementine get home from the grocery store, we'll settle in for the night. Chicken congee for her, and miso-curry pumpkin (from this favourite cookbook) for us for dinner. Later tonight I'll have a bath (my muscles are achy from chasing a toddler all day) and then we'll watch Masterchef and eat ice cream. Have a good night everyone!


repurposed hot water bottle cover

Friday, July 18, 2014

This week, I took some time to shift things around a bit to give myself a sewing space. By putting our big, bulky printer in the closet, I freed up enough room to leave my sewing machine on a desk in our main living space. All of my sewing supplies and fabric are still in a chest of drawers in the hall, but at least now I don't have to also haul out my sewing machine any time I want to work on a project.

I have a few things on my 'to make' list, but I decided to warm up with something super simple: a hot water bottle cover. Inspired by The Crafty Minx, I cut up an old (holey) sweater of mine to create this cozy cover. I love how it looks and feels like I'm cuddling a favourite sweater; absolutely perfect for this blustery day we're having.

Hope you all have a very happy weekend!

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