Monday, March 30, 2015

My surprise hysterectomy at 31

I wrote a bit about my unexpected absence from the blogosphere, but I wasn't specific about what happened.

I had actually written a lengthy piece about the surgery within the first couple of days of coming home from the hospital, but I wasn't ready to share it yet. It was so personal, and I was still in a state of shock. 

So I sat on it, texted and messaged privately with friends, and watched more Full House episodes on Netflix.

I felt brave this morning, and I pitched it to the Huffington Post a couple of hours ago. I got a quick response that it was live on the site, and here it is ... 

Read the full story here

It's definitely the most personal story I've ever shared on the internet, for hundreds (thousands?) of eyes to see -- and this is coming from a girl who has blogged about pregnancy constipation, pooping during labour, and peeing in my child's potty while camping.

I'm holding my breath for the kind of harsh comments I got on my very first HuffPo piece (published last week), but I can't control what people say. I told my story, it's out there, and I can only hope it helps someone else going through a similar situation.

Peace, love, and heart-eyed emogios,


Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Winter That Won't Ever End

There are only five days left in March, and I am pretty sure it will never, ever be warm in Nova Scotia again. Ever.

If you are suffering from a similar winter (fellow East Coasters), I'll understand if you nod solemnly and quietly flip to a more pleasing blog. I get it. We just can't talk about the weather anymore, right?*

*What am I saying? OF COURSE WE CAN!

We had a green Christmas (seriously), and a fairly mild January. February was rough, but it was nothing compared to ... *whispers tearfully* ... March ... 

Things started off OK. Lots of snow, but everyone was pretty happy ... 

Sledding at a local park. See? Winter fun!
Then things started to get dodgy.

Sidewalks turned into tunnels, and we thought "Surely, this can't get any worse. It's MARCH for crying out loud."

The walk to the babysitter's.

But Winter is a cruel one. She hissed "Don't call me Shirley!" and dumped MORE snow on us ...

Our driveway started to look like a valley between two snow mountains. Darling Husband actually had to MOVE SNOW to the backyard, just so he had room to shovel the NEW SNOW.

The snow crept higher and higher, until you could literally walk off our front porch (over the railing) and not bother using the steps.

My poor Dad, who lives in southern Ontario (a.k.a. The Part of Canada That's Warm a lot and Everybody Has a Pool) was in shock over the snow ... especially the day he had to help Darling Husband shovel THREE. SEPARATE. TIMES.

See the big smile? Darling Husband likes to shovel. (For some reason)
The back yard was becoming unrecognizable, but March wasn't done with us yet ...

I think we were trying to spell "SAVE US FROM MARCH!" in snow footprints.

Darling Husband had to shovel a legit CHAMBER to get to the shed.

Oh March. When are you going to ease up on your icy grasp, and let us break out the sneakers?!?!

For now, we will have to resort to Instagramming collages of how our yards *used* to look, and hoping that the kids don't outgrow their new spring jackets before they get a chance to wear them ...

Happier (warmer) times

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dear Mommy Wars, here's why you frustrate me

(Updated March 25, 2015) Wow! I was thrilled to be contacted by The Huffington Post this afternoon about reprinting this piece, so you can now find the full text over there. Getting published on HuffPo was one of my career goals for 2015, so I'm incredibly pleased. It's like getting a big shiny trophy, only without having to dust off an actual trophy. :) :) :)

Could this be my favourite screen-grab to date? I think so! :) :) :)

Dear Facebook friends,

Trust me when I say I didn't mean to stir anything up by sharing that HuffPo article everyone is talking about. (It was written in response to this one.)

Read the full article here

I read it quickly, noticed that she was a freelance journalist (like me), agreed with several of the points, and shared it along with a comment along the lines of "these are some of the reasons why I'm choosing to stay home and freelance at this point in my life."

See, no daggers! No accusations! I certainly wasn't out to pee in anyone's Corn Flakes, or however that expression goes.

The first couple of comments on my shared post were other moms who have chosen to stay home with their children while they're little, and they agreed with the post wholeheartedly.

But then the working moms started commenting, and I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach ...

Continue reading over at The Huffington Post 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The unexpected absense

Well, hello. It's been a while, hasn't it?

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (@HFXHeather for both), you probably saw that I had a great excuse for letting the blog slide ... 

One of the many dreary, grainy iPhone photos I took of my temporary home

Yep, I was unexpectedly living in the hospital. FOR FOUR DAYS. Following a totally and completely unexpected MAJOR SURGERY. (Sorry, being stuck inside for a million years makes me cranky.)

I promise to write more soon, once I stop feeling so dizzy and nauseated every time I look at the screen of my Chromebook (I mean, for purposes OTHER THAN binge-watching Full House).

I just wanted to briefly explain that, yes, I still remember I have a blog, and I dearly miss you all. Now go out your back door and run around, or go to the store, or something, and then leave a comment telling me about the outside world.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

7 boredom-busters for March Break

I can't believe next week is March Break. The kids are still too little to have no idea what it is, so they won't realize anything is different until Monday rolls around and we don't drive the preschool carpool.

Since we've been having horrrrrible weather lately (So. Sick. Of. The. Snow. OMG.), I figure we will need some major indoor entertainment.

So this week in "The Mom Scene," I'm talking about seven ways to keep kids busy that don't involve iPads and LeapPads or pads of any kind.

"... I’m not really the parent who plans educational activities, but I “invented” an activity that felt sort of science-y. It started when I found a couple of rock-hard bags of white sugar on the shelves in our basement. I Googled how to soften it, and it sounded like a ton of work. So I dumped a bag into a shallow plastic container, set out a bowl of warm water and some measuring spoons, and let my daughter go wild. 

I called it “Snow Sand” (patent pending) and she loved dripping the water over the sugar to watch it melt. After the sugar had thoroughly turned to mush, we made a brand-new activity out of washing out the plastic container in the sink. She’ll take any excuse to stand at the sink and pretend to wash dishes."

Read the full column here. May your March Break be merry and somewhat whine-free.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

DIY paint chip art

There are three things that I must do every time I’m in a hardware store: check the discount tables to see if there are any good deals, walk down the spray paint aisle — there’s something Zen-like about those glossy caps in all the colours of the rainbow — and, finally, gaze at the paint chips.

I can’t explain exactly what it is about them. The thickness of the cardstock, the beautiful colours, the promise of changing an entire room for a $50 can of paint. I just love them.

In a perfect world, I’d scoop up a handful of them during every visit, but I’m a follow-the-rules girl and I’d feel too guilty doing that. So I only take a few, here and there, when I actually need to decide on a colour for a project.

 Last weekend, I attacked my paint swatches and started pulling out strips with the colours of our home’s main level — shades of turquoise, aqua, and green — as well as cool-toned neutrals like white and grey ...

Continue reading over at My Handmade Home ... 

Friday, February 27, 2015

The best present is a present you can eat

A lot of people do not like cooking (*raises both hands*).

A lot of people don't have time or energy to cook, especially when it's just for themselves (I lived off frozen fries in my pre-kid days). 

And when you're an articled clerk at a law firm and you put in a crazy amount of hours each week? Yeah, you really do not have the time, energy, or desire to cook for yourself.

So when Little Sis turned 27 (!!!) a couple of weeks ago, I decided the best gift was something edible. Lots of somethings, actually. Enough to keep her fed around the clock for as long as possible.

I had to make this collage in MS Paint, like it was 1994 or something, because PicMonkey has been down for hours. 

She's a hard person to buy for, but I had a feeling this would be appreciated. I grabbed a pen and started scribbling ideas on the side of my grocery list one day.
  • Breakfast food
  • Snacks!
  • Lunches for work
  • Dinners that can be made quickly when she finally gets home
  • Desserts
My sister is actually a much better cook than me -- she uses spices, even -- but I do have the time advantage. So I send Darling Husband to the grocery store with a list, and spend literally one entire day in the kitchen making the following ...


Her favourite chocolate-chip pancakes

(My seven-year-old electric griddle died while making the FIRST pancake, so I had to do all of them on the stove in a frying pan. Like a peasant.)

I wrapped each one individually, and they each got their own inspiring message, of course.

Apple juice boxes

(She never buys herself juice, but she loves stealing the kids' juice boxes.)


Individually wrapped chocolate-dipped granola bars. Mmmm.


I kept it simple because I wanted to make dishes that would freeze well (and, you know, because I'm an incredibly simple cook). I filled a bunch of containers with individual portions of homemade meat sauce and shells, and another bunch of containers with my famous turkey meatballs {recipe here} and brown rice, with veggies.



Little Sis loves my homemade pizza, so I made a vegetarian one and a pepperoni one (using our favourite "good" pepperoni). I also made garlic fingers with lots of cheese, mmmm. Everything was frozen, uncooked, on disposable pans with the baking instructions.


We are hardcore nacho people. So I made an Emergency Nacho Survival Kit with Tostitos, salsa, and pre-shredded Tex Mex cheese.


Peanut Butter Cafeteria Squares

This is one of Little Sis's favourite desserts {recipe here} because she used to love the peanut butter bars they sold at our elementary school for like 20 cents. I find them a little TOO peanut buttery, but if that's your thing, you'll like these.

Peanut butter cookies + PMS cookies

Keeping with the peanut butter theme (I used almost a whole jar that day!) I made three dozen classic peanut butter cookies, forked and all, and packaged them up with baking instructions.

I had a bit of dough leftover, so I decided to make giant-size PMS peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips and M&Ms. Each package contained one for her, and one for her roomie. There's also a disclaimer that it's totally OK to just eat the dough. #YOLO


I intended to deliver everything fresh, so Little Sis could decide what to freeze and what to keep in the fridge. But a darn snowstorm struck the next day, and we had to postpone her birthday celebrations for another week. So I stuck it all in the deep-freeze, and packed it into this tote right before we left for the city for Birthday Attempt #2.

It was still freezing out, of course, (*shakes fist at Canada*) so I was able to leave the container on the floor of my mom's garage until it was time for presents.

She had a few helpers when it was time to open it ...

... I think she liked it! :) 


This gift was great for my sister, considering her chaotic work-life these days, but my mom actually said she'd love something like this, too, because she hates cooking for herself. I might be onto something here. 

Wouldn't this be a nice gift for a new mama? I'm not a "new" mama, and if someone gifted me a giant crate of prepared food? ...




Related gift ideas (that also involve food)

For Little Sis's 25th birthday, I put together 25 little gifts that all connected to reasons we love her.

Best Friend and I started a new tradition where we take each other out for lunch around our birthday, instead of exchanging gifts. We LOVE it, and it's so nice to catch up without the kids. It's even become a quarterly thing, as we try to sneak in a Christmas lunch and a spring lunch, too. 

For Little Sis's 26th birthday, I made a "Big Night" kit (everything she needed for a party, including some alcohol, yeah) and a "Morning After" kit (everything she needed for a day of feeling blah on the couch).
For my in-laws for Christmas this year, one of their gifts was this basket of foods and products from where we live. A good idea for people (like them) who have absolutely everything under the sun!

Monday, February 23, 2015

DIY dry-erase calendar: So easy it basically makes itself

We weren't a "calendar" household, because we live and die by our Google Calendars. But we received one as a gift and tried it out, and it turns out? You calendar people are onto something.

Darling Husband, in particular, really liked seeing key dates up on the wall. Harrumphhhh.

So when the calendar ran out, I decided to make one that would blend into the kitchen a bit better ... 

View the full tutorial
Pop over to "My Handmade Home" to see how I made this VERY easy DIY calendar. I promise, you will enjoy writing with dry-erase markers just as much as I do.*


*No you won't. Because it's my favourite thing.