BeachArt Sundays around here are usually our lazy days.

Except when they are not.

Like today, when The Consort and I go into some kind of weird deep cleaning marital pas de deux. He vacuums and does the toilets and takes care of small repairs or hanging of things that have otherwise just been resting up against the wall; while I wash the floors, change bed sheets, do all the laundry and dust all of the tiny things on the kids shelves in their rooms.

The kids kind of stand back and wonder what the heck has gotten into us, or find a channel that is playing back to back kids movies and try their best to stay out of our way. They have yet to catch this same kind of cleaning bug.

In the midst of it all though, I have to stop obsessing about washing all the water drop stains that my dog leaves on the floors every time she drinks from her bowl and sit back and be thankful for all that we have.

So I stopped. And here you go...

Today I am grateful for the following:

1. A husband that washes toilets - all 5 of them in this house! Seriously... in my books this is a major win and quite possibly one of the reasons I agreed to marry the guy. (And yes, I know, we have way too many bathrooms for a family of 4.)

2. Slow cooker meals that I can start at 10 AM, that fill my house with beautiful aromas, and that convince my mother-in-law that I am a genius in the kitchen!

3. My kids being just tall enough to give me what I think are the best, super-tight-around-the-waist, hugs a mother could ever ask for.

4. Persimmons.

5. My husband holding my hand while we watch Walking Dead, because he knows that even though the show terrifies me, I can't look away!


Grace. It is a simple thing, but still a practice. Take care of and notice the small things too.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I really must get out those damn spots!


how many joy units is that?

The Consort has been hounding me for months (or possibly years) to read a book. Not just any book, because I do read a lot of them, but one particular book. This one.


And this weekend I caved. I had just finished a different book and was looking to start another and he, ever so nonchalantly, went to my bedside table, grabbed this book and placed it beside me on the couch.

OK, dude. I get it. I'll read the damn thing.

We all have those books that transform us or speak to us in ways others do not. When my husband was leaving his family home and taking off to the adult world of undergraduate studies at the ripe age of 17, the original "Wealthy Barber" book was given to him by his father. This is HIS book.

I am pretty sure when TC is doing anything financially-related in any way, the voice he hears in his head is David Chilton's. "Is this worth it? Are the joy units going to last long with this purchase? Have you saved FIRST?"

I fully admit that I am the spender in our family and The Consort is the saver. I do the clothes shopping for most of us, all of the grocery shopping and I am the one who buys the gifts for all the birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Yes, we do have a family budget, that I stick to - about 87% of the time. It's that other 13% that gets TC's knickers in a knot and why he wants me to read what Mr. Chilton has to say about finances.

The funny thing is, that in the past year, I truly believe that my spending habits have changed. Or more specifically, my shopping habits have changed.

I know that part of the change has been a response to the life-altering time we experienced this past summer and from that has come much reflection on the things that truly matter in our lives. And you know what? More stuff is not IT. Another part of why my shopping habits have changed, is that I am much more aware of the influence that marketing has on us as consumers. Years of being a breastfeeding advocate and seeing the ways that infant formula is marketed has rubbed off and has me looking a lot more closely at the way ALL products are marketed. Being a blogger and a mother, I've also seen the way that marketing has taken hold in this age of new media and I am VERY sensitive to this in the blogging world. I am more aware now about the message I am hearing and who that message is coming from as well.


This past weekend, we were supposed to go away for a short little mountain getaway. That didn't happen, mainly because  it snowed and I have crap for tires on my car and we couldn't even get out of our little neighbourhood, let alone make it 300 kilometres to the lodge in the mountains. For the next four days we had to use my husband's compact car (which thankfully has AWD and all-season tires) for all our outings. What we both noticed over the weekend is how surprisingly easy it was to function with less car. And this included multiple errands, grocery shopping, and hauling all four of us around to various activities to make up for our missed trip to the mountains.

I have also recently purged every single closet in this house. My wardrobe alone is roughly HALF of what it was a month ago (if you know me at all, this is HUGE!). I am not quite down to Capsule Wardrobe numbers, but the philosophy behind this concept is guiding me right now in regards to what I keep, what goes and how I look at clothes shopping now. It's definitely a change. Especially for one like me, an admitted shopaholic, who gets greeted at Anthropologie BY NAME!

All of these things - reading David Chilton, surviving a week as a family of four with one compact vehicle, minimalizing our wardrobes - have happened at the same time and have caused a kind of cosmic convergence in my mind about how I want to live my life and about the lessons about money and spending and the value of what we HAVE versus the value of what we DO, that we are modelling for our children.

My family lives a very comfortable life, one that I am so very grateful for each and every day. It's just time for me take stock of all that we have, not get caught up in the game of keeping up with the proverbial Jones's and resist the messaging that we are bombarded with each day that we need MORE! More car, more house, more toys, more clothes, more STUFF.

Because we really do not.

My kid is not going to remember the expensive brand name winter boots he was wearing when he was eight years old or what kind of car I drove him to school in. He is more likely going to remember that his Mom bought new snow pants for herself that year, so that she could play outside and build a snow fort with him.

And trust me Mr. Chilton, the "joy units" from that purchase will never depreciate!



Filling up on and in Victoria, B.C.


Three days. It's not a long time, but three days with no schedule, no place to be except with each other and nothing but our own feet to take us wherever we felt like going was perfection. Downtown Victoria, British Columbia was the backdrop for our mini wanderlust. It was my first trip to this fair Canadian city and our first time away from both kids in a very long time. I fully admit that I almost bailed in the airport security line up on Thursday. I do not like leaving my babies, but there were too many people in the line behind me and I had my new LUG Weekender bag to break in so... on the plane I went.

When we were planning this trip a few weeks ago, I crowdsourced my friends on Facebook for recommended hotel accommodations. They came through like I knew they would, and we decided on the beautiful waterfront Inn at Laurel Point. Our room was huge, we had a nice big balcony overlooking Fisherman's Wharf and could watch the float planes take off and land every morning in the harbour. We ate dinner at Aura, the in-house hotel restaurant Thursday night and it was delicious! Scallops cooked to perfection and a creamy mushroom risotto for me and the pork sampler for The Consort (my new nickname for my husband, which I might shorten to TC in the very near future-see below).

Friday morning we woke up and headed out to explore our surroundings. One of the nice things about downtown Victoria (and there are a lot of nice things) is that you don't have to go far to find a place to eat. And most places in the downtown core are well within walking distance from the major hotels. Our very friendly airport shuttle driver told us that Victoria has the second highest restaurant count per capita in North America (after San Francisco) and after walking a good part of the downtown area for three days, I believe him.


We ate at some very cool and funky places. Breakfast and coffee at Wild Coffee. A place that spoke to my soul with the handmade wood furniture and giant Buddha head greeting you as you walked in. Lunch and chai at the family owned Varsha in Victoria's historic Chinatown district (which is really just one block). A waterfront walk and dinner at the Blue Crab, complete with, you guessed it, ALL THE CRAB!!

But I really want to tell you about Rebar. This restaurant, located downtown in Bastion Square, was recommended to us twice. Once by my friend Sarah, who raved about it and then again by a very friendly Victoria local who, upon seeing our obvious touristy-ness, stopped his morning bike ride, pulled up beside us and proceeded to give us recommendations for breakfast, lunch AND dinner for Saturday.


One block later we walked into Rebar and I swear to God, this place will be forever etched into my palate. I knew I was going to like it immediately because of the floral oilcloth tablecloths and the garage-sale-Elvis-tile-collage art piece on the wall. TC and I both ordered the Smoked Salmon, Dill and Creamcheese omelette and the juice of the day, a Smiling Buddha. I have no other way of describing this gastronomic experience other than this: every bite of this meal, and drink of the juice was like having multiple mini food-gasms in my mouth. I am not kidding, I actually moaned it was so good.


And then our waiter brought over their house-made peach and pear jam to accompany the sourdough toast and their spicy ketchup for the roasted potatoes and I moaned some more and may have thrown in an 'Oh my GOD!" for good measure. It really was that good people and I may have had dreams about it that night as well. Moral of the story, go eat at Rebar whenever you are in Victoria.

Our friendly cyclist recommended two restaurants for dinner. Zambri's for, as he put it, "The best italian food in all of Canada. " or Cafe Brio, a Canadian/Italian/local fusion cuisine, with an awesome wine list. I liked the look of Cafe Brio on their website and TC called and made us a late dinner reservation . The cafe had a wonderful old world ambiance to it and it did not disappoint. I chose one of their featured wines, the Trebella Meritage blend from the local BC winery, Church and State Wines. It was a beautiful wine, deep, fruity and smooth, just the way I like my reds. I may be hitting up their wine shop soon and ordering some online! The other nice option at Cafe Brio was that all of their dishes, from small plates to entrees, are available as half-sizes and half price as well. I ended up having half-orders of the Romaine Hearts salad and the Roast Duck Breast. The Consort had the Mixed Green Salad (with a surprise pickled celery ingredient) and the Seared Rare Albacore Tuna. Having the half orders also ensures that you leave plenty of room for desert, and you HAVE to have the Poached Pear and Chocolate Ganache. Trust me.

The food, the wine and the company was so good at Cafe Brio that I neglected to even think about getting pictures of anything. By the time we were done eating, the rain had stopped outside and we decided to walk the 20 minutes back to our hotel and soak up our last bit of Victoria. It was a bit of a chilly night, but full bellies, a warm hand to hold and loving hearts made for a beautiful walk along the waterfront.


Just so you know, we did do other things besides eat while in Victoria. We shopped at great local stores like Sitka and The Milkman's Daughter. We picked up some tea at Silk Road and a sampling of their new spa line as well. We found little gems like Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown and a local leathersmith who is now making TC a custom leather key holder. On a whim we walked into Miniature World located in the Empress Hotel and were rather blown away by this weird and wonderful attraction. And we took no less than a bajillion photos of all the teeny dioramas.


Victoria really was exactly what The Consort and I needed. A short getaway to fill our buckets right to the brim, to focus on ourselves, talk about how this past year has changed us, and make plans for a future that has four simple rules:

Simple, loving, graceful, and grateful.