10 things about my legs

I hate my legs. 

Not in the "Oh, I really wish I had some of that thigh gap everyone keeps talking about" kind of way, it's more of a "please don't hurt so much today so I can get shit done" thing. 

Pain is exhausting and exhaustion is not something I can afford right now. Neither is self-pity. So, to counter at least one of these things, I have decided to make a list. A list of all the things that I actually love about my legs and all the things I have done in my life with these legs of mine - regardless of how messed up with RA they are, how much metal makes up my hip joints or how much my knees hurt right now.

Here they are, in no particular order...

1.  I have climbed a mountain with these legs. Ok, so it was a small-ish mountain and I almost died on the way up because I was probably in the worst shape of my life at that time, but after all the tears, the bitching and moaning, and finally, the dude who RAN past me and told me the gondola was for the other 80%, I kept on going and I made it. TO THE TOP OF A FREAKING MOUNTAIN.  

2. I've walked the narrow cobblestone streets of Zanzibar's Stone Town with these legs. I've stepped on the plains of the Serengeti and walked on the same grass as giraffes and zebras and elephants and lions. I've danced with women and children in a Massai village. I've stood at the Olduvai Gorge next to the earliest footprints of humans and left a few of my own. That is what I have done with these legs. 

3.  I danced for seven years with these legs. And every time I hit the stage, I felt like my legs where about to fall away to nothing under me. And yet they did not. They kept me up and moved me to new heights of expression and artistry.  

4. I played soccer and basketball with these legs. I hustled, I ran, I jumped, I scored. I was a proud member of my high school's ball teams and I never gave up. Ever. 

5. I walked from one class in the Tory Turtle to another in the Clinical Science Building on the University of Alberta Campus in under  10 minutes, every Tuesday and Thursday for a whole damn semester! (Only U of A Alumni will get this.)

6. My legs have carried three bodies. Mine, and those of my children. They have taken on the extra weight of pregnancy and parenthood, both literally and figuratively. They quivered uncontrollably at the births of both of my babies. They anchored me to the ground and to this world as I welcomed these children into it. 

7. My legs have taken my beloved dog for at least one walk "around the block" almost every day for the past 10.5 years. That is over 7000 walks with my best friend. 

8. My legs have bathed in the waters of three different oceans.  

9. I have buried my legs in the sands of many beaches. Ones on Hawaii, in Mexico, in Tanzania, on Vancouver Island, Singapore and St. Lucia. I've walked these beaches hand in hand with the love of my life and our footprints following behind us. 

10. My legs have been chairs, horses, trains, boats, and beds for small people's imaginations.

My legs....

They have 8-inch scars at the top of them to remind me that parts of them are metal-based and will need repair at some point. They have veins lining the backs of them, making it look like a drunk spider designed her web on me after a big bender. There are spots on my legs that weren't there a few years ago, remnants of a sun-worshipping, baby-oil slathering, misinformed youth. Sometimes they rub together when I walk and some days the inflammation in my knees makes it hard to tell where these joints actually begin - those are my maxi-anything wearing days. 

These are my legs. Imperfections, scars, cellulite, giant melting freckles, wonky knees and all. 

And while I could do without the pain, I do love my legs and I especially love all that they have done and all the places that they have taken me to in this life of mine. 

N~

Sharing time.

Life is kind of throwing me a few curve balls at the moment. So to get myself out of my own head and out of this funk, I thought it was about that time again.

Time to let you in on all the cool and awesome, people, places and things that I am loving right now!

Here we go...


I get a lot of compliments on my eyebrows. Which is kind of hilarious, because you should have seen these thick hairy babies when I was in high school. Or in the early 00's when I went a little pluck crazy! I've since learned my lessons on proper brow maintenance and these are my three secrets to great looking eyebrows. 

  1. Threading. NO MORE WAXING! I feel a bit like Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest when I write that, but I swear I will not beat you over the head with the hot wax popsicle stick. Threading is gentler on the sensitive skin around your eyes, you rarely get the bumpies afterwards like you do after waxing and is quite a bit cheaper than waxing (I have never paid more than $10.00)! If you are in #YEG, go see the talented women at Tres Xhic Salon in Terwilligar.
     
  2. Kevin Aucoin's Precision Brow pencil. Long-wearing, water-resistant, with a brush on one end and the retractable pencil on the other. This is one of my MUST HAVE products in my make-up drawer and it should be in yours too. In Edmonton, you can find it at LUX Beauty Boutique
     
  3. I've been a big fan of Blinc's tubing mascara for a few years now, so when the ladies at LUX recommended I try the new Blinc Eyebrow Mousse, I listened. And I am so glad I did. This product goes on with a bit of colour (or you can get the clear one), helps keep all your eyebrow hairs in place for the whole day and doesn't smudge or wipe off, even in hot & sticky weather. 

Now off with you all to the salon for some threading and brow products!


What woman is not constantly on the hunt for the perfect pair of underwear? Ones that don't ride up, leave panty lines, or are just a bit TOO much thong. The struggle is real people! 

I have been a Hanky Panky Low-Rise wearer for a very long time, but recently have wanted something to cover up my tooshie a bit more (Seriously, this is what middle-aged does to a woman-SIGH). I crowd-sourced my peeps on FaceBook to see what they recommend and then I was off on the "Great Underwear Search of 2015". Or so I thought. One of my friends had recommended a new brand that is carried by my hyper local friendly clothing boutique (it is literally blocks from my house) and off I went to check them out. I bought a boyshorts style and one of the more high-tech activewear thong styles as well.

HANDS DOWN, these are the most comfy undies I have ever worn, and to be honest, it almost feels like I am not even wearing any. These fancy knickers are called Knixwear and they have a full range of undies that are seamless, moisture wicking, feel light as air and are perfect under all those summer dresses or skirts. I have to say that the Seamless Boyshorts are my faves. The thong is good too, but definitely not as seamless as I was looking for. I warn you, these are not cheap, and will put you back $26.00 a pair. So don't go crazy - just get one or two (in each neutral colour).

For reference, and because I have a rather round boot-ay - I am wearing the boyshort in a Size Medium.

Happy covered bum = happy me!


I love cafés. If someone were to ask me what my happy place is, I would tell them it is a quaint little neighbourhood cafe, with a perfect cappuccino in front of me and either a good book to read, or my laptop open to do some writing. I love watching all the different people that come and go from the café, sometimes I eavesdrop on conversations, sometimes I meet with friends, but more often then not, I love just sitting alone, having what I like to call my noisy-quiet-ME-time. I've been doing a bit of a café tour in my city lately and have stumbled upon two wonderful gems that I must share. 

The first is Little Brick Cafe. It is a perfectly lovely cafe situated in the old refurbished 1903 house of one J.B. Little, the original owner of The Brickyard in Edmonton. I love everything about this place. The wonderful outdoor space and various tables scattered throughout the yard, the pallet gardens growing their own veggies and herbs, the General Store that sells everything from a bocce ball set, to locally made soaps, to handmade salted caramel marshmallows. Oh, and the coffee is FANTASTIC, as is the food. My go to dish is the Smashed Egg on Toast, but if you want to indulge a bit, then you must try their french toast. SO GOOD! 

Little Brick is definitely a destination café stop, unless you are lucky enough to live in the Riverdale community and can simply walk over, but I promise you it is one you won't regret! 

My second local café recommendation is one that has been opened by one of my favourite shops in town. The talented women who design, make, and own Salgado Fenwick have opened up Barking Buffalo Cafe right in their store! Yes, that is right people, they make their clothes AND coffee right in front of you. I've raved about their clothing line before and I'll do so again - BEST t-shirts and designs ever! And now you can shop, sip on a delicious ethically-sourced coffee, enjoy the seating-inside or out, and soak in all the locally made goodness all around you. Shopping and eating and drinking coffee on 124th Street just keeps getting better and better!


A good pair of summer pants can be hard to find. Especially if you are someone who doesn't like to/want to wear white, is not into anything linen (hello saggy bottom), and has that impossible waist to bum to hips ratio where every pair of pants need a belt, because you are one size for your bum/hips, but another for your waist.

Enter the perfect pants. I AM NOT KIDDING! 

The Pilcro Hyphen Chinos from Anthropologie. 

I am so in love with these pants. They come in a whole rainbow of colours-I went with the soft pink-which was as close as I was going to get to white, fit true to size AND come in Tall, Regular and Petite, and I DON'T NEED TO WEAR A BELT! I love pairing them with a white graphic tee or tank top and my gold trimmed gladiator sandals. I love these pants so much, that I braved trying on the shorts version of them (which are a much shorter short than I am usually comfortable wearing) and they too are perfect!  

Moral of the story - you can go to Anthropologie and buy something without a bird, oddly placed stripe, or doilie on it. Wardrobe staples can be found too and they will fit YOU! 

It's hard to take a good picture of pants that is not an awful bathroom selfie. So here you go, the perfect pants, right hand in my pocket and yes, that is a brand new pedicure!

It's hard to take a good picture of pants that is not an awful bathroom selfie. So here you go, the perfect pants, right hand in my pocket and yes, that is a brand new pedicure!


That's it for this time around. Happy shopping and coffee drinking everyone!

N~

On dream homes, sacrifices and joy

Every now and then someone writes something somewhere on the internet that makes everyone go, HUH??? 

A few weeks ago it was a blogger names Sarah Scott. 

She wrote an article for Elle Decor telling the world how she and her husband have sacrificed their very strong desire (she mentions her "aching uterus" at one point) for a third child in favour of having/keeping their dream house. I say dream HOUSE and not dream home, because I kind of think this woman has the two mixed up a bit. 

Now, please understand that I am not here to judge another person's choices about where they live, how many kids they have and how they define happiness and living fully. I do however, have some thoughts about the kind of world we live in that makes us think that "having all the things" and living in a Pinterest-worthy "American Dream" is what is going to make us happiest in our lives. 


My husband and I have built three homes together. Each one bigger and better then the last. Each one designed, decorated and built with as much hands on that our contractors would let us have and with the full intention (each time) of being our dream home. The first was a modest three bedroom, two story house in a new development and was a definite learning experience. After three years in the house, too many disputes with our builder, one dog, and one child later, we made the decision to move to a more mature neighbourhood and start fresh. 

House number two was an infill build; a lovely Craftsman style bungalow situated on a beautiful tree lined street, in the neighbourhood we loved. Our contractor was amazing, our house was practically perfect in every way, and we moved in when my son was six months old and had spent at least one day a week of his entire life on a construction site. We had the best neighbours, lived a three minute walk from a playground and an elementary school and couldn't really ask for more. 

Except at some point we could and we did. Another kid arrived on the scene and all the stuff that comes along with two children started to pile up and the space in our house seemed to shrink. The flaws in our original design became apparent (to us), and we found ourselves buying more and more home magazines, and spending a lot more time watching HGTV and browsing through the HOUZZ app looking at modern houses with big windows and even bigger everything else. We started to dream of yet another "dream home". We convinced ourselves that with the kids getting older and needing more space, that we would soon outgrow this house. We needed better planned out space, professionally-designed space, much, much, more SPACE.

And here we are in house number three. Still in the same neighbourhood we love (yes, another infill build), but now with a modern, 2500 square foot bungalow, on a 13,000 square foot lot. We wanted more space and we got more space. A LOT of it! 

We do love our space. The house was designed so that all the rooms in it were thoughtfully designed and are used every day. When you walk into our home, every part of it oozes US. My husband and I sat down one night and sketched out the floor plan as it exists today. We hired our previous contractor to build it for us and it is everything we ever wanted in our ultimate dream home. And this one, THIS ONE FOR SURE was going to be our forever home. Our home with the big back yard and beautiful giant trees, the expansive driveway that the kids can play on, and the huge deck that we can use as our outdoor room. My dream kitchen with a 14-foot island that is the centre of everything and huge windows that span one whole side of the house. The house with another 2000 square feet of undeveloped basement area to be decided upon and designed when the kids are bigger and need even more of their own space. 

Dream Home level unlocked. Living the good life. Fully. 

Except...

A funny thing happens when Life decides to show you just how fleeting and fragile it can be. A lot of the things you had dreamt about and had previously thought were important and would somehow bring you joy and fulfillment, become just that - THINGS. 

This past year has been one of healing, transition and re-prioritizing for my little family and in a lot of ways, we are still on this path. Spending time together, learning from each other, taking care of our bodies and our minds, truly listening and seeing each other, and enjoying the precious time we have together on this earth. These are the things that we want to do. There are also quite a few things we do not want to do, like spend all of our weekends and family time doing lawn work, weeding the giant flower/shrub beds, repeatedly shovelling what seems like a full city block of snow (in the winter), and constantly cleaning 2500 square feet of floors and 5 bathrooms. We don't want to have to limit our travelling and exploring because we have to think of how much our municipal taxes are increasing every year, and it is no fun being literally OWNED by our banking institution for a good part of our adult lives.

What we are starting to realize is that this house may not be our dream anymore and that more space, more things, and more house, doesn't necessarily translate to more joy in our lives. One of the most important lessons I have learned this past year is that my dreams, my happiness and that of the most important people in my life, are not attached to things. Home is not where you spend the most amount of money to get the biggest lot, the nicest countertops, coolest light fixtures and fanciest new stovetop. Home is not about the perfectly decorated playroom or the walk-in closet the size of a small bedroom. Home is not the things in your house, or even your house itself.  

Home is the people in your life and the time you spend with them and the love that you have for each other. Home is wherever you are together, living joyfully. 

This is what bugged me the most about Sarah Scott's post (and trust me, there are so very many things that were problematic about it and my friend Dresden covered them nicely in this letter to Sarah). Aside from the extremely privileged space that Sarah is writing from (and full disclosure, I am as well), the fact that she seems to be placing a higher value on the THINGS in her life, i.e., her dream home, over her and her husband's desire to expand their family, makes me feel very sad for her. Not in a judge-y way that I think I have any kind of say in how they live their lives, but in a way that in some ways I can identify with, because I have been there too. 

I get where Ms. Scott was coming from, really I do. It is extremely easy to become attached to an idea that you have worked so very hard for, and I see this in Sarah's sentiments about her dream house. I also see her need for some kind of validation and acknowledgment of the sacrifices that they made to build their home and have their "American Dream". What I also see, is the growing resentment that she is feeling about her one huge sacrifice (I would call it a decision, but whatevs - poTAYto/poTAHto) of not having another child and I only hope that this resentment doesn't turn to regret and spill out into her family and her relationships. 

The truth of the matter is that life happens, and all our carefully laid plans can be up-ended in an instant and staying attached to an idea or a dream that no longer fits into your life becomes limiting. The great thing about dreams is that ultimately, we are the ones in control of them, and they can change, grow, and evolve as we do, and this is not a bad thing.

Sometimes, the best thing to do might be to read a little book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up", take away the main concept of the whole KonMari process, focus on what #sparksjoy in our lives, and try to apply that simple concept to ALL the things - even our dreams. 

Because when we are focused on what brings us joy in our lives, and not what brings resentment or regret, that is when our dreams are truly fulfilled. 

And yes, (since I know you're probably wondering) my Houzz app is getting used a whole lot more once again, as we continue to re-evaluate how much space we really do need. 

#allyouneedisless

N~