Thursday, June 28, 2012


{Annapolis Valley berries & fresh whipped cream}
Today someone asked me where I see myself in two years career wise. It felt like a punch to the gut.  My instinct to manage my image immediately took over. What should I say? What would someone who knew exactly what she wanted to be doing in two years say? I should have a well thought out answer for this I told myself. I paused, then stumbled, and finally mentioned something about wanting to work in a creative environment.  That is the best answer I could muster? A creative environment? What does that even mean? My answer was not articulate, which is the worst because I really have thought about this question a lot. The problem is I don't really have an answer.

If someone asked me what I don't want to be doing in two years I would have a better answer. I could wax poetic about what I do not want to be doing for the rest of my life.

Sometimes I feel almost burdened by the amount of choices I have in terms of a career. (I don't use twitter but the hashtag #firstworldproblems springs to mind as I re-read my own prose.) Don't get me wrong, employers are not knocking down my door, but I do believe that in the medium term I could get additional training and pursue any number of career options. I don't want any more options! I just want to do one thing I really love. I just don't know exactly what that would look like.

Is it bad that sometimes I secretly wish someone would tell me "This is what you are good at Emily, this is what you should do for a living. You'll love it, I just know it"? Then I could respond, "do you really think so?". To which they would reply, "I know so, Emily. I know so".

But that is not the way she goes is it?

Instead I will sit here, with fresh strawberries in a bowl, trying really hard to focus on the simple, sweet things in my life, while a knot tightens in my stomach as I think about what I want to be when I grow up.

It is a way harder question to answer when you already are a grown up.

Way way harder.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

time away

{soaking in the sun while it lasts}

There are times when I wish I could pack my things and head to a hotel, just for a night of course. I daydream about watching reality tv in bed, drinking diet coke out of a can with a bag of fresh twizzlers on my lap, and having the latest Vogue within reach. I also dream about having time to do my hair in the morning and not looking at the clock before 7:00 am. I am a morning person, but morning begins at 7:00, before that it is still nighttime! (Violet didn't get that memo.)

It is ironic, given my daydreams about mini-escapes to hotels, that when I was away for work earlier this week I missed my sweet little family so much. I really never thought I would feel that way. Don't get me wrong, I love love love my family, but come on, I was gone for one night. But, I really did miss them.

My hotel room was freezing and I couldn't figure out how to turn off the AC. Jeff would have known what to do. I also had to sleep with my bedside lamp on -- I couldn't turn it off. Jeff would have been able to do that too. (If you are thinking so would the rest of society, shame on you.) Instead of enjoying my big bed it felt empty and cold. Breakfast was so uneventful without Violet's sticky fingers on my chair, on my work clothes and through my hair. I missed my morning hug from her most of all. She still smells like a baby in the morning, her hair is damp and her cheeks are rosy.

Now that I have been home for 24 hours, daydreams about a night in a hotel have resumed, but I did take an extra deep inhale as I hugged Violet this morning. I wouldn't trade that for anything, not even sleep.



{tickle-ee and tickler} 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

the un-weekend

I had to work this weekend.

Violet's cute little mug captures the range of emotions I experienced concerning my predicament (denial, shock,  and anger -- obviously).

Weekends aren't for working. They are for brunching, market-ing and bbq-ing. Trying out a new recipe or going for a hike is about as rigorous as I like getting on my days off. Think? I don't do that on Saturdays nor Sundays. Stay inside? No thanks. Sit at a desk -- grrrrrrooossss.

Needless to say I have already begun the countdown for next weekend (to hell with living in the moment - working weekend moments don't deserve to be savoured). Thankfully next weekend is a long one. I feel like the calendar owes me!

Five days on then three days off everybody! We can do it.




Friday, June 22, 2012

stage fright

{if I can't see them, they can't see me right?}
Well, dance recital number one did not go quite according to plan.

Picture a room full of sweet little dancers prancing around pretending to be tulips in the sun, wind and rain. How sweet. Now picture Violet clinging to her teacher for dear life, her little red cheeks buried in her teacher's buxom chest. Or, picture Violet clinging to me, crying out "I need you, I need you mummy". Finally, picture Violet on the floor in a sweaty heap sobbing.

This is not what I pictured Violet's first dance recital would look like.

Violet loves dancing. She may cry at soccer, skating and swimming, but she comes to life during her dance class. She talks about dancing, she loves reading about dancing and her little hips rarely stop shaking. Dancing is her thing -- which also makes me feel better during soccer, skating and swimming lessons. In my head I say, yes, she may be crying here, but you should see her when she dances.

I love the stages of guilt that accompany motherhood. First, I feel guilty that I have somehow failed to instil confidence in my daughter. Then I feel guilty for caring that she didn't want to perform.  Then I feel guilty because I think I liked that she was good at dancing. Remember, I want her to be a dancer, probably because I never was. Finally, I feel guilty because I am no better than those scary stage mum's on Toddlers and Tiaras. The only difference between me and one of those washed up beauty queens is that I was never a beauty queen myself (well, that and about 6 years of post-secondary education ;) ).

After the concert I was feeling bad for Violet, bad for myself, bad for Jeff, bad for his mum, bad for my parents. When I got back to work I started to google "children with stage fright". Before I could finish typing "fright", google automatically filled in the words "four cancer", as in "children with stage four cancer."

Wow, reality check. I quickly closed the window and thanked god for my sweet, healthy, stage-frightened child.



{she got happier once everyone left}


{ballet's little known sixth position}

Thursday, June 21, 2012

summertime and the living is easy

It finally feels like summer! It finally is summer! We celebrated by heading down to the waterfront after supper. We are lucky to have Jeff's mum visiting us this week. Violet is smitten. She told us she, "needs this time to really get to know her out-of-town nanny". Those were her words I swear!

It is funny how we only do "Hali-famous" things when we have visitors. Are you the same way? I can't remember the last time I went to Peggy's Cove and it has been years since I've had a Keiths. It is kind of funny how we show our visitors parts of the city that we rarely frequent as locals.

For the first time in ages we had Cows ice cream. It isn't as good as Dee Dees (sorry Island roots, it is true), but we got to watch tanned people in sailboats which you definitely don't see on Bauer St!

Here's to a perfect start to another great summer. May this be a summer of Graceland listening, twizzler eating, soccer ball kicking, early morning running, salt stained toe dancing, and ocean wave splashing. Sounds like heaven to me.


{silly faces are best}

{Canada's Ocean Playground}

{the Ponds}

{post ice cream bliss}

{post ice cream sillies} 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


{the prettiest of the flowers}
If I was to get married again (to the same man, obviously) I think I would plan my wedding around peony season. I can't think of a prettier flower. They are sweet without being precious, exotic without being weird, and delicate without being wimpy. I would like to be described in that way come to think of it! I was devastated to learn that it would be impossible to have them at our late summer nuptials last year.

For the past few summers my mother and I have waited with bated breath for the week when peonies arrive at the market. We have a supplier -- we bring extra cash -- a deal is made -- a centrepiece is born. If we are lucky our peony man will have his wares for three weeks. He warned us that if it gets too warm this will be it -- peonies for one of fifty two weeks. I guess they are pretty particular about their living conditions. When you are as awesome as a peony you can be demanding.

I've been enjoying our bouquet since Saturday and judging by the cool temperatures so far I think we will be in luck for another week of floral bliss.

Quick question: do you say PEE-oh-nee or pe-OH-nee.

I am a PEE-oh-nee girl myself.

Yup I am...

Hard hitting journalism on the old blog tonight. I'm never afraid to ask the tough questions.

I see a Pulitzer in my future if I keep this up...



Monday, June 18, 2012

one time at dance camp

Violet is going to dance camp this week. She was practicing her moves all weekend. If your wondering about her face, she told me it is "stylish". Not so sure about that.

I had a dentist appointment this morning and it took seven needles to freeze me mouth. My dentist told me I set a record (other than people with really fat faces). Not a record I really wanted to set. Ouch!

You'll have to excuse me, I have Advil to munch on.



Sunday, June 17, 2012

a day for those who father

{name one thing yummier than a fresh strawberry}

{this meal was brought to you by Sweet William}

{thank you Mennonite family at the market for these eggs. Sorry I always call you Amish}

{table settings are really important to the men in my life, this was all for them}

{my heart is full of love for each one of these lovelies}

Meat. Golf. Meat. Soccer.

Aren't the men of the world lucky this Father's Day? The Euro Cup and the US Open. Bacon for breakfast, burgers for supper. Those lucky devils.

It is as though the universe is saying they've been good dads this year.

We reminded the men in our lives of this fact by having a father's day breakfast. I think they liked it.

I think Father's Day would be more appropriately named if it were called Fathering Sunday. The Brits have a similarly named day in honour of those who mother. It is more inclusive and, I think, more accurate. I bet we can all name someone who fathered us at some point in our lives who isn't our biological dad.

Being a dad, just like being a mum, is a choice you make everyday. Violet and I are so blessed to have dads who take their job as fathers seriously.



date night

{we get to go out, we get to go out}

{picture for the jacket of his first novel?}
Why don't we do this more often?

My parents love having Violet. Violet loves staying with my parents.

Are we crazy? We should definitely do this more often...

My parents invited Violet for a sleepover last night and that meant Jeff and I got to hit the town. By hit the town of course I mean check out our favourite antique store, putter around Chapters and grab burgers at the Brooklyn Warehouse. If you haven't already done so, get yourself down to that restaurant. They get their beef from the farmer's market so you don't have to worry about eating stomach turning pink slime. If I am endorsing the eating of meat, you know it has to be good!

Date nights are the best for remembering: I do look better with more make-up (even though I tell Violet make-up doesn't make you pretty, it makes you sparkle -- I am clearly bending the truth); I do still get butterflies when I see Jeff (especially on date night); and I am so grateful to live in the same city as my parents (in whose care Violet is safer and happier than in our own!).

I read somewhere about a couple who plan to meet each other at a restaurant whenever they go on a date. The idea is that if you get ready separately it reminds you of when you are dating and builds the excitement. Isn't that a good idea idea (although it poses some logistical challenges)? Maybe next time we'll give that a try (hey Jeff -- I call shotgun on our only vehicle!).



Thursday, June 14, 2012


{the feeling is mutual kid}
You know those days (weeks, months, years) where you cannot for the life of you find a moment to yourself? The sort of days when not even bathroom breaks are sacred? Days when supper is eaten with another body on top of yours and every inch of your skin feels sticky from someone else's sweat (not in a good way, get your mind out of the gutter people) -- those days can be hard (and I only have one child, one job, and one husband). Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed I want to physically shake everything off me the way I would if there was a spider in my shirt. But shaking won't help, it will just make you even more tired.

Kind of melodramatic, huh?

I saw this today (here):


When you are exasperated by interruptions, try to remember that their very
frequency may indicate the value of your life. Only people who are full
of help and strength are burdened by other persons' needs. The
interruptions which we chafe at are the credentials of our
indispensability. The greatest condemnation that anybody could incur -
and it is a danger to guard against - is to be so independent, so
unhelpful, that nobody ever interrupts us, and we are left comfortably alone.

from The Anglican Digest

I think every parent, every child, every sibling, every best-friend and every roommate can relate to this.

I like what this quote says: We are needed because we are strong. We are needed because we are valuable.

It sure puts waking up at 2:00 am to change wet sheets into perspective. I don't think I'll ever be truly happy to be woken from my precious slumber, but I am going to try to remember there are worse things to be smothered by than love.



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nigella light

{Nigella Lawson's soba noodle salad}
{light and refreshing}

Nigella Lawson is not known for her light fare; she didn't get those hips (nor that cleavage) by eating salad. Her love for an extra dollop of cream is part of the reason I love her, but on any given weeknight I am more apt to make something healthy than something really indulgent. Her soba and sesame seed salad is a perennial favourite in our family. We hadn't made it yet this season, but the sun was shining and the meal we had planned felt too "stick to your ribs" for the weather. We enjoyed the salad with panfried haddock tonight, but it is excellent on its own. We've taken it with us on picnics and it is a healthy substitute to a traditional potato salad for a BBQ or any summer fete really.

I was surprise (read: annoyed) that the only sesame seeds I could find at the grocery store were pre-toasted. Seriously? It takes mere minutes to toast sesame seeds, never mind the fact that sometimes I'd like them un-toasted thank you very much. I won't name the offender, but the store isn't owned by Galen Weston, he would ever do something like that to me, not in his cute little Joe Fresh v-necks...swoon.

I digress...

I hope you like this recipe as much as I do. Enjoy the rest of this beautiful night.



You can find the recipe in Nigella's book Summer or online (here).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

it's the most wonderful time of the year

{a strawberry rhubarb crumble bar}
Not that most wonderful time of the year -- strawberry rhubarb season silly! For just a few short weeks the stars align and the last of the year's rhubarb is available at the same time as the season's first strawberries. We were able to buy both at the market last weekend. Tart red rhubarb and sweet jammy strawberries are a match made in culinary heaven.

Jeff rarely bakes and when he does it is with mixed results -- he'll be the first to admit it. His preparation of strawberry rhubarb crumble bars was the exception that proves the rule. Yum, yum, I highly recommend the recipe (found in last week's Globe and Mail Style section). The crumble bars are easier to eat than crisp (no cutlery required, good news for picnickers and people who hate doing dishes), they are less work than a pie (especially persuasive for someone with tiled counters that are terrible for rolling out dough) and they are more indulgent than a muffin (although if my memory serves me Ellen Kennie makes a mean one).

If you decide to give this recipe a try (which I wholeheartedly recommend doing), my only warning is that the bars get more flavourful with time. They are way better cool than warm (I don't have much patience so I learned this the hard way). They get a little soggy on top as the days progress, but if your family is anything like mine they won't be around long enough for that to pose a major obstacle.

Seasonal eating is so much more appealing this time of year. See you next year root veggies, there are new produce in town!



Monday, June 11, 2012

holy garlic batman!

{avacado, quinoa and radish salad}
{carrot and mung bean salad}
{caramelized garlic tarte -- as seen yesterday!}
Three nights of Yotam Ottolenghi and I can hardly feel my tongue. You know the burn of raw garlic? I've been experiencing that for 72 hours. Don't get me wrong I love garlic, but like with so many things in my life I've taken my love affair with garlic too far. It started off innocently enough on Saturday when I made a tart to take to a girlfriend who just had a baby. I made an extra tart for us -- it called for three heads of garlic (yes heads, not cloves). My mum came over for a light dinner on Sunday night and Jeff made us a delicious quinoa salad, heavy on the citrus and again heavy on the garlic. Tonight without thinking I started making one of our favourite weeknight dishes, carrot and mung bean salad with, you guessed it, a healthy dose of raw garlic.

I've expressed my admiration for Ottolenghi's flavourful, vegetable-centric dishes many times on this blog. I think the word "electric" best describes his style of cooking. No matter how humble the ingredients he uses are on their own, somehow the combination of vegetables, grains and seasonings always seem to come together in perfect harmony (and it is hard to make a mung bean sing).

My only complaint is I cannot stop tasting garlic.

Last night I brushed, flossed and used mouth wash before bed -- but I still tasted garlic. I grabbed a piece of spearmint gum so I wouldn't feel so self-concious while Jeff and I watched a movie in bed. Jeff has been on the garlic train too, but I still felt bad. A few minutes into the movie Jeff said something to the effect of "garlic and spearmint is worse than just garlic, do you mind losing the gum". Romance fail.

We plan our menu for the week on the weekend (nerd alert) and I am afraid that there is more garlic in the forecast (turkey burgers before soccer tomorrow; rice and lentils on Wednesday). I'm beginning to wonder if I will ever be able to kiss my husband and not be reminded of hummus again.

What is the antidote to garlic? Any suggestions as to how I can get rid of this taste in my mouth? Everyone I come in contact with will thank you!



Sunday, June 10, 2012

food, flowers and that face

How was your weekend?

Too short?

Me too.

We managed to have lots of fun even though the weather did not cooperate at all. I know I've been talking about it a lot lately, but seriously what is with this weather? When I lived in Calgary I totally romanticized East Coast weather. I thought the rain was refreshing, the fog romantic and the mist revitalizing. I longed for those quintessential Halifax nights where the fog hovers just above the harbour. I missed how healthy my skin felt and how moisturizing was optional, not mandatory for keeping your skin on. Now that I am back I remember: towels don't dry between showers, the distinct smell of mildew is omnipresent this time of year, and that humidity is good for skin, but really bad for hair. (I actually never forgot how bad this climate is for hair, I just blocked it out of my mind.)

There are, however, things to do in the rain and this weekend they included: ogling brand new babies, baking, running outside when the rain subsided to shake the giggles out of the wee one, and planting a few more flowers (and then feeling smug about how hardcore a gardener I've become even though all I did is put geraniums in a planter. But it was raining really hard and I didn't even wear gloves which is something). 

I hope you managed to keep dry this weekend. Fingers cross for a Vitamin D enriched week!



{just another hipster at the market}

{now that is a cute face}

{pink, pink and red -- guess who choose these?}

{nothing says new baby like a caramelized garlic tart}

{I am so happy to have my slippers back, thanks Alex!}

{a rhodo, a Violet and a mama}

{I just can't get enough of this face!}

{chasing bubbles = burning energy = good sleep? fingers crossed!}

Thursday, June 7, 2012

wet hair is in style -- finally

{ready for bed or for the runway -- you decide}

Despite my best intentions I often leave the house with wet hair. No matter how much time I give myself to get ready I always try to do too much and end up running late. Being late is not conducive to good hair, especially my hair. My hair is thick and very unruly and cannot be whipped into something presentable in less than half an hour. Since spending more than half an hour on my hair feels a little self-indulgent on days when I only have two or three waking hours with my child, I spend a lot of time with my hair in a very wet top knot. Imagine then my delight when twice in as many days I read that wet hair is in style. Apparently the beautiful people have deemed it socially acceptable -- nay fashionable -- to leave your house the same way you left your shower. Do you know how much time this will save me this summer?

This is even better news during the rainiest Spring I remember. Is it just me or has it been raining for three weeks straight? The silver lining is now you don't have to worry about your hair getting wet in the rain -- embrace it, you are in the company of the very fashionable (and Vi and I).

Let it rain!



{no time on your hair means more time for your lips?}

{You don't look like this when you get out of the shower? Weird}

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

the skinny

{definitely not a fashion blogger}
10. Buy jeans that I like and stop pretending that leggings are pants. I have always hated shopping for pants. I have to get over this. No one wants to see my almost-thirty-year-old-butt in a pair of tights. Yoga pants are revealing enough for a woman of my age...

"Buy jeans?"

"Yes, buy jeans"

"Buying jeans was one of your goals before you turned thirty...just buying jeans...seriously?"

"Yes, Jeffrey just buying jeans. You don't understand how much I hate shopping for jeans."

"I do not get you"

"Can you just take a picture of my jeans please"

"Just your jeans?"

"Yes, just my jeans"

"This is so weird Em"

"Could you just take the picture"

"They don't even look like jeans they look like leggings"

Emily reviews photos on iphone.

"Hmmmm, without the rest of my body to contextualize the photos my legs look a little stout"

"Don't worry, I always look thicker in photos than I do in real life, I don't worry about it, I know I am a slender guy"

"You think I look thick?"


"Let's try one with the rest of your body"

"Okay, just don't get my face or hair"


"What? I just got out of the shower, stop judging me"

Jeff looks at photo on iphone and says in high pitched voice, "My name is Emily, where are my arms, where is my head"

"Not funny Jeff...this is so humiliating"

To do before I turn thirty item #10 done; dignity slightly less in tact that before I shared this conversation.



Monday, June 4, 2012


{would you leave the city to wake up to this?}

Jeff and I are not in the market to buy a house.

When we are ready to buy a house we really hope to live on the peninsula.

Despite this we couldn't help ourselves from taking an impromptu road trip to Indian Harbour to see a house my mum found on MLS. My mother and Jeffrey have a mutual love for/ obsession with MLS -- you know the website with the all the real estate listings. Neither of them are actually looking to buy a house, but they can tell you everything on the market at any given time! On Saturday my mum came across a really cute house with an ocean view and a shockingly low price tag. She showed it to Jeff and I and even though I really, really love living in the city I immediately pictured myself waking up to the sound of waves crashing through an open window. I thought about Violet running freely down the beach her wavy hair cascading down her back (I tried not to think of the effect sea air has on my own hair). I even thought, maybe I could work from home a few days a week. I was working out the details.

We piled in the Jeep and drove 50 km out a twisty old highway past Peggy's Cove. When we arrived at the property my heart sank. The house was just as sweet as I pictured but instead of being across the street from the ocean (I knew it was only ocean-views, not ocean front), it was directly across  from Oceanstone resort. I think you would have an ocean view if you stood on the roof and jumped (on a clear day, if you were really tall).

Even if it had been the house of our dreams and we could make it work financially, I'm not sure I could live 45 minutes outside the city down a twisty seaside highway. But, looking at that picture, I still think under the right circumstances I could swing it.

It is fun daydreaming, and I am so lucky I have a husband that indulges my whims (and a daughter who doesn't mind going for a drive...nine times out of least seven times out of ten!)

Would you leave the city to live by the sea?



Sunday, June 3, 2012


{matching sandals, matching pedis}
A sunny Saturday wedged between a week of rain and a week of forecasted rain is a beautiful thing. We took advantage of the nice weather: we ditched our wellies in favour of sandals; blew bubbles in the backyard and had a BBQ with friends. This is what spring should feel like.

As an aside, I made rhubarb crisp yesterday and the recipe called for the first rhubarb of the year, then it mentioned the month of January. Rhubarb in January? I wish! More like rhubarb at the end of May if we are lucky and even then it will be so sour your cheeks might implode. Why do we choose to live in Canada again? On days like this I vaguely remember!



Here are a couple cute pictures from our day:
{when dad joins the dance party the dance party ends}

{waiting patiently while Nana and Papa look for flowers}

{a vision of Spring}