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Gift Guide 2014 (part1)

As someone who loves to shop, I love checking out gift guides: to get inspired, to see what’s out there. I also love creating guides for all the people out there who hate to shop. A one stop list for the moms, kids, dads, hostesses, and teachers that we all need to get shopping for. I was going to make multiple gift guides for all those very special people in your life just like I did last year. Then I thought: who the heck has the time? To read a million guides AND to write them? Seriously, who? Not me that is for damn sure. So instead I’ve collected tons of great ideas (at least I think so), and I’ll be presenting you with part 1 here today and give you part 2 by the end of the week. Enjoy!


My kids asked Santa for a Playmobil Pirate Ship with Pirates and a Playmobil Pirate Ship with Princess Pirates (?) respectively. This is what I’d love to get them instead.

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My son learnt to swim this summer. These accessories from Speedo would be great treats.

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I loooove these animal felt rugs from Lark. Not cheap but so sweet and hand made in Nepal, where they provide sustainable work for women in rural areas. 

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How great are these? From the Etsy shop Lovelane. I can’t even take it. Every kid should have one.

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My daughter loves playing Doctor. I love this wooden set from Anthropologie. Maybe instead of the Playmobil Pirate ship, we could get this 3D puzzle ship from Muji?


I love this make your own monster kit that I saw at Galerie Co in Montreal. They are by Donna Wilson and no two kits is the same so your little monsters can each get one and not fight over them.


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I think I have an animal thing going on these days. But what is cuter than a kid dressed up as a fox or as a zebra? C’mon!


This Mom will be asking for a new phone as my current one dies little deaths every day on it’s way to the inevitable big death it won’t recover from. It’ll be a practical gift but oh so necessary in my line of work and also for capturing every moment of my little loves. Practical gifts are fine but not romantic. So from my hubby, I’m hoping for a little romance in the form of jewellery (Hi BB!). Nothing fancy but something sparkly or shiny for sure. Here are some other gift ideas for any other ladies out there. These are all so great. I’d take them all! Now that would be romantic!

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So it’s missing a bottom, but right here, these four pieces make up my dream outfit.Obviously with pants or something. Obviously.

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Ugh. I love these two pieces. So simple.

And now for the sparkles and shine…

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Green is a Holiday colour, right?

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I’m going through a stud phase. Maybe it’s the new haircut but I don’t want to wear dangly earrings right now. All I have are dangly earrings. Hint hint.


My husband usually asks for gift certificates for birthdays and Christmas. I really don’t like giving him gift cards. That’ll be for my parents or his parents to do. This is the kind of thing I’d buy him if I could:

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My honey likes to drink beer but he also knows his way around a cocktail. I got him a nice vintage-y cocktail mixing set a couple of years ago for his birthday but we don’t have an ice bucket and I love this copper shaker from Terrain too.

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Love these bag options: a weekender and a backpack. Classic and totally useful for the gym or a short getaway.

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Oh the clothes. Would love to see every man I know in these soft and cozy things. That hoodie is so great. I’d probably steal that hoodie for real.



My guy is super into running. This year, he’ll definitely be getting some running gear under the tree. My son already thinks that his father is a ninja when he goes for a run, that last item will really make him look like one.

So that checks the kids, the moms or sisters, and the dads or brothers off the list. Stay tuned for gifts for the hostess, the teachers, and some stocking stuffers too.

Thanks for reading & happy shopping.







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Fall II


October really kicked my ass. There was something in the air, in the universe. Bad news out in the world and bad news closer to home. Friends and acquaintances and strangers going through terrible times all around. And then with Halloween came a sudden upswing, better vibes. Maybe my kids excitement was contagious, maybe it was all the candy I got to eat or maybe it was November not sucking.  The last couple of weeks have been really interesting and exciting and scary on the work front. More than ever before people are requesting meetings to show me their work in the hopes that I can get my clients to buy their goods; publications are asking for my two cents; stores are wanting me to come check out their collections. There has been a sudden amping up of interest in Annika Krausz. I’m not complaining. It has been nice and meant that I’ve been asked to be part of fun things. Like writing a local’s guide to Montreal for What Would Gwyneth Do, a great lifestyle blog based in sunny California. And it has also amped up my work load. I am re-designing a bathroom in the Little Italy neighbourhood of Montreal, working on a kitchen renovation in NDG, and continuing my work with existing clients. Last week, I met with a hugely powerful and successful woman who is as of today a new client and I’m thrilled and terrified all at once. This contract could mean big big things for me. Or not. You never know how a project will develop in my line of work. It could be love and professional bliss just like it can sour for no specific reason. That’s why you should never ever work with/for family. If it sours, it’ll make for pretty awkward family functions. Trust me. And though this potential contract can mean big things, I am only a little bit frightened by the actual work. It is more how this particular job will affect my family life that worries me. I’ve had a steady little rhythm going of late but it’s been a manageable one. With my oldest in school and needing to pick him up as early as I do, it makes for pretty short working days. I’ve been more or less able to work a bit, cook a bit, clean a bit and still make it to Oscar’s school by 3:30. This new job could mean that mama won’t be able to do pick ups every single day. Much less cook and clean and do laundry. But a fulfilled mama makes for a happy albeit stressed mama. I’ve been really lucky to be able to spend as much time with my kids as I have, but I think it might be good for them to have their mom be a little less available from time to time…

IMG_3593 New hair and a new project.


Speaking of  the little kidlets/monsters/angels, they have been all kinds of fun and nutty these past few weeks. I am loving 5 so much. My son is liking school, learning tons, making friends, and pleasing his teachers. Bonus: he is falling asleep exhausted from this whole kindergarten thing at a reasonable hour. He is being a good big brother and taking pride in teaching his little sister new things even if it is the words to Gangnam Style. His brain seems to be growing every minute of every day. And then there is my baby, my Lou Belle. What a piece of work! Independent, feisty, brave, strong, so funny, and so driving me nuts. She turned 3 this week and though I COULD NOT WAIT for her to get out of her seemingly endless terrible twos, a part of me is really very super sad at the thought that my baby is a big girl. I know logically that 3 is still very little, that in the grand scheme of aging 3 is tiny, but it’s all relative. And for me 3 means there are no more babies in this house. Sniff.

We threw her a big party on Sunday, her first extra big party. She insisted on inviting all the kids in her class (which means at least one parent for each kid in her class) plus all of her cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and her (my) adult friends. And though Sunday is sacred in our house due to my husband’s football addiction, I got around that by making the party a morning one: technically the party would be more or less over by kickoff. Everybody wins. It was mayhem as most children’s birthdays are, but it was really great and she had a blast. As the second kid, I feel like she often gets the short end of the stick- I did swim classes and play dates with her brother when he was little, read to him more, spend tons of one on one time with him. Oh mama guilt! This is the first year where she got a say on what her birthday would be like and who got to come. Big girl style.

When I host a party, whether for four people or forty, my keys for success are food, drink, setting a nice table, and ideally when dealing with kids, some kind of activity or event. For adults, it’s really all about having enough food and booze. Never ever ever let a guest go hungry or thirsty. For Lou’s birthday, I think we hit the checklist in a big way. Food was a mix of Costco, our Butcher shop, and my girl Reema’s cake shop. As for decor, we still had some of the pretty paper fan decorations up from our summer backyard wedding, I blew up some balloons, and I got cute gingham plates and napkins from the Dollar store. Easy peasy.

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My bunnies swinging at Cocoa Locale; the kids waiting for mom to be done at the Butcher’s; table is set. 

Where we really hit the jackpot was with the “activity”. I totally lucked out in having a super awesome and talented friend, Michelle “The Beadlady” Wiseman. She runs her own company doing activities like jewelry making parties, beading and crafting parties, and face painting for kids, teens, and adults. For our Lou, we thought face painting/stencil tattoos would be the best suited activity for kids their age.  It was so much fun! The kids loved it and many of the adults (including my parents) got tattoos. It was great seeing the shyer children work their way up to approaching Michelle, who by the way, was so very approachable. She came in and set up her table and chairs and went at it like a boss. Little dudes getting superhero tattoos sprayed on their arms and kids of all ages getting stars and butterflies on their faces. I got a pretty rad skull and cross bones. It was the best. I want her at all my parties from now on. Seriously, so fun.


My friend Nadine’s cool star tattoos with the cutest little pumpkin, baby Yohann; Oscar the raptor or some reptile, I’m not sure; Lou helping Michelle out.

And though it was madness- 20 kids and 25+ adults, the explosion of toys and glitter everywhere- Lou had the best time. That’s what we do it for, right? And it didn’t cut into my husband’s day of football. Wins all around.

With the party now behind us, it’s back to the grindstone for me. Working hard, getting it done, trying to take the time to write and be inspired. I am currently sourcing items for my annual holiday gift guide. You can check 2013’s ones here, here, and here. I love doing guides even though it can seem cheesy to some. Truly it forces me to look at what’s out there, what’s going on in the world of fashion and design and art and literature. It gets me off the Facebook and onto cookbooks and design blogs and cool sites that I barely ever get the time to check out. It is an excuse to seek out inspiration, and boy do I ever need that.

And coming up in a couple of weeks is a family trip to Toronto where my father has a show. We will pack everyone up for the drive, hopefully see some good friends, definitely see some good art, eat some good food, and maybe even squeeze in some shopping. If you are in the area, come say hello we’ll be there on Saturday the 22nd!


So here is to November not sucking, to new jobs and new fears getting tackled, and to 3 year olds who kick ass and take names!




* Rosella Tursi took some of the party pictures. 

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Holy smokes, it’s already the third week of September! I have been a bad blogger but I have been a good mom and wife of late. So there is that. It isn’t that I didn’t want to write, it’s that there has been very little time to do so. And maybe after my emotional (for me) last post about our wedding, writing anything else down seemed twee somehow. You know? But on this rainy September day, I have some time post work meetings and pre school pick ups and I decided to keep it simple stupid and just write something, already. Sheesh. I need to return to writing like no one is reading-just for me and my mental health. Though I am totally appreciative of all of you reading! I just need to write more freely.

So jumping right back in: here is a recap of our summer post wedding and of our transition into Fall.

We spent the summer hitting the pool and running away on little adventures when we weren’t stuck in town for work. In what is turning into a tradition, we drove to Maine with the kids and had a great great time. We met up with close friends in Denmark, Maine that were playing a music festival there. It was in the middle of nowhere and such a lovely spot. The organizers had put our friends up in these little cabins in the woods, bordering a lake. Such a lovely day, one of our favorites of the summer.

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From Denmark we drove to Portland. We LOVE Portland. E’s uncle’s brother (second uncle? uncle twice removed? no idea) generously put us up again. They have a great guest apartment and we fully took advantage. We spent our first morning at Crescent Beach .

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It was perfect family fun. The water was FREEZING but the kids and the hubby didn’t mind. There was a snack bar with lobster rolls and popsicles. And Oscar got to practice his swimming. After the beach we headed into Portland and walked around. There are many great home decor shops, including my favourites Blanche + Mimi and Folly 101. Both shops do great beach style without being tacky: easy, colourful, practical and beautiful home decor.

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Blanche + Mimi where I bought a beautiful old buoy and a shell night light. Love this store!

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Folly 101 had piles of gorgeous blue and grey and white towels and throws and pillows. My colours and EVERYTHING STRIPES! 

Portland also boasts one of my all-time favourite toy stores, Treehouse Toys. Such a great selection and a lovely staff.

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Our whole family loves this place!

After more window shopping, we headed to one of my new favourite restaurants, Eventide Oyster Co. This place is definitely in my top ten favourite restaurants that I’ve ever been to. We had a really long wait for a table during which my children proved to be real troopers. Also the wait was our fault -all having to do with a lost zebra ring, a meltdown, a return trip to the toy store, a missed meeting point- and nothing to do with the restaurant though do expect a wait if you go. It is popular and always full but so very deservedly so. Great food, highly competent staff, AMAZING oysters, and beautiful design/branding. It is also the restaurant responsible for making our kid realize he loves oysters. For this I will always be grateful. If you are ever in Portland Maine, make it your business to go here. For real.

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My family hanging out, waiting for a table. Mama enjoying a much deserved drink. An oyster bun and the coleslaw. Oscar slurping the oysters like a boss.

On day two, we hit Scarborough Beach. Foggy and wilder than Crescent beach, but beautiful nonetheless.

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Sandcastles, beach naps, & boogie boarding.

After the beach we went back into Portland and had another great dinner, this time at the Portland Lobster Company. Super family friendly and very simple fare- fresh seafood served on orange cafeteria trays. Easy and delicious. Kind of like our Maine vacations: easy and always delicious.


Our dining companions purchased at Treehouse Toys; my love; my babies loving the lobster.

Can’t wait for our next Maine trip. So much more lobster for me to eat. So many more shops and restaurants to discover.

Back at home, my focus turned to my first born: I was immediately thrown into planning Oz’s 5th birthday party and we were in the final stretch of daycare before he started kindergarten at the end of August. I had promised him a superhero themed party. The catch was that we have always thrown his birthday parties in the park right by his daycare. And we always invite a million people. This year, 25 kids plus their parents RSVP’d. I had also promised capes and masks. What was I thinking? I ended up making 25 capes and 25 masks all by myself. Like a dope. BUT the party was a hit, the kid was thrilled, kids decorated their capes as an activity, and I spent virtually nothing on loot bags (just the cost of the bags). Though I did spend a million dollars on felt but whatever your kid only turns 5 once. And when Lou turns 5, we’ll just keep it simple. Yeah right. Pinterest was a great help for finding cape how to’s and decorating ideas worthy of a superhero.


Capes, masks, and Ballerina Batgirl Lou.

Our final Summer trip before the mayhem of school, was a grown-ups only weekend away in Chicago. Holy cow do I ever love that city. We went once before when my son was 18 months old. At the time we went for E’s cousin’s graduation. This time we were returning for that same cousin’s wedding. Sans kids. Now I hate to fly. I really really hate it. It has gotten worse over the years (F you Lost!) and even worse once I had kids. Like all of my phobias ( hi there rats/mice/sharks/loved one getting sick/being buried alive!), flying has started to take on nightmare status in my already paranoid brain. All this to say that though I looked forward to the wedding, my excitement was quickly lost in the fog of fear of the flight and of never seeing my kids again. Keeping me sane (just barely, my husband would say) was the thought of a couple of nights out on the town with my love in a city that I love. We were going to the wedding with my lovely sister-in-law and brother-in-law. Meeting us there was my wonderful brother-in-law and his GF. Plus all the family that would be there for the wedding. It was fun and drunken and way too short. As always when I’m away from my children, I feel empty in some ways but then can easily be distracted by shiny things and good food and adult conversation. The thought of how much I’ll miss them takes up a ton of space and then once I’m away from them, I am always surprised at how quickly I can begin to enjoy myself. While still missing them obviously- it’s just never as bad as I imagine it to be.

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Breakfast on the beach of Lake Michigan. My crazy husband actually went into the water.

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The view from the Adler Planetarium where the wedding took place.

Like two old people that never go out anymore, we went hard at the rehearsal dinner and so we were pretty wrecked on the actual wedding day. We managed to walk around a bit and we shopped for the kids. Then it was wedding time which was lovely and I think everything the bride and groom hoped it would be. Then sleep, goodbye brunch and back on the teensy tiny plane back home to Montreal and our babies. Next time we visit, it’ll be with kids in tow and with less alcohol (clearly) and with more time for architectural tours and museum visits. And hopefully, a bigger plane.

After the mad dash that was Chicago, was the biggest change in our family life since getting married: O started school! My baby going to “real” school. A big school with tons of kids. Not a single one known to him. My little guy. Having to pack a lunch and realizing that your child has never peeled a banana fully by himself or an orange, or taken a straw out of the plastic holding the straw in a juice box, or unwrapped a sandwich? I realized how much I do for my kids without even thinking. I was so stressed by all the details. Labelling each marker and crayon, the lunch, the backpack, would he make any friends? Would he understand what was going on? Would his teachers see what a wonderful, special, smart, and curious child he was? He went to French daycare but all of his friends were English. How would he cope in a French school where almost everyone spoke French at home too? I truly underestimated what a massive difference this would make not just to our routine but to my sense of my child and my fears and of course, all that I projected onto him. Well, he showed me. He made a friend on day 1 and has been collecting new friends every day. His teachers seem to like him and more importantly to Get him. I love the curriculum and I love the way they are trying to grab each child’s imagination and attention. He told us it was his dream come true school. I cried like a baby. Knowing that you have tried to choose the very best you could for your child, knowing that he is thriving, this gives us tremendous joy. What a relief. Mornings are stressful as we are now having to be at his school a full hour earlier than we had to be at daycare and my days are shortened because he needs picking up a full hour and a half earlier than I used to get him before. But seriously what a relief: he is happy, he is learning, he is making friends. And he knows how to peel an orange.

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Just Married!

We did it! We flew away to Sicily with 40 or so of our favorite people and we got married! It was absolutely breathtakingly amazing. I had a giant smile on my face for 10 straight days. It was epic. It was magic. It was everything. I apologize in advance for all the gushing – it can’t be helped. Here is a little play-by-play – some highlights of one of the very best weddings I have ever been to 😉


We arrived on a Wednesday after a sleepless (for me) night on the plane and then a (surprisingly) short layover in Rome and then another plane to Catania, Sicily. My parents had been traveling in Spain and met us at the airport. We picked up a rental car and loaded up the kids and the luggage and followed my dad’s car through the Sicilian countryside up crazy winding roads. Arriving around 7 or so, we were welcomed with happy tears and open arms by Concetta, the owner of Le Querce Di Cota. This was to be our home (and the wedding location) for the next 10 days. My father discovered this gem twelve years ago and has since returned with my mom numerous times. As the kids ran around, E and I walked around the property, our hearts filling with joy and amazement at our surroundings, bursting with happiness and humbled by the beauty everywhere we looked. The place is a stunning 19th century former olive oil mill with beautiful grounds, a great pool and lovely, charming rooms. It is surrounded by mountains and, on one side, the twinkling lights of Troina, the closest town. On the other side is an active volcano – Mount Etna. We could hear the sheep in the nearby pasture and swallows flew around the rooftops. We had wanted a country wedding and in that moment, walking hand in hand, it sunk in that we really were going to get one. And though it was rustic, it felt like a private resort. A quaint, simple, country resort. And for the next few days it was all ours.



That night we sat down to the first of many delicious, simple, multi-course meals cooked by our host, Concetta and her family. By this first night, we already felt completely at home – a testament to our hosts’ welcome and to the magic of the place itself. This was to be our first and last night on our own – as of Thursday afternoon, our friends and family started trickling in. By Friday, it was a steady stream. It was a little stressful getting people settled into the right rooms but once everyone managed to plop their luggage down and take a breath and look around, it was all worth it. Seeing everybody’s delight at discovering their surroundings made us so happy. The joy on people’s faces mirrored our joy at receiving them in this place. All of it was just so special. E and I realized every time we showed a new arrival their room and the pool and the view that we had most definitely, 100% made the right choice in choosing this far flung destination for our wedding.

We then had two and a half days of long breakfasts, lunches and dinners, of lounging and splashing poolside, of walks or hikes (not me but other people), of World Cup watching, of Campari drinking, talks and laughter and general merriment. People that don’t get to see each other that often caught up. New friendships were made. Friends of ours from different groups mingled and became closer, more than acquaintances to each other now. We had friends and family with us from Dusseldorf, Berlin, London, North Carolina, Paris, New York, Montreal (of course) and even Azerbaijan. It is difficult to put into words how much seeing those faces every day meant to us both. Everybody was happy for us and happy to be there in this particular place for this particular event. Imagine going on vacation with 44 of your favourite people and it going really well with no drama and no tension and very little weirdness. Heaven.

The Wedding

Sunday morning E and I turned to look at each other and with big, nervous smiles we acknowledged that today was THE day. While he went to make us coffee and get ready for his morning run, I cuddled with our children and wrote my vows. I had planned to take some solo, quiet time that day to really think about him and me and us. Instead, the thoughts flowed out while the kids watched cartoons on the iPad. I reread my vows once and made myself cry and I knew that I was ready. We had a lovely breakfast with everyone, like every other day. My dear friend Elias asked me if there was anything he could do to help and I asked him whether he’d help me with the flowers later that afternoon. He not only said yes, but he and his husband went off right after breakfast to research the flowers. I later saw him and Barry wandering the property with a basket and scissors. They presented me with the most perfect, professional looking boutonnières and lovely bouquets. It really is wonderful having such talented and wonderful friends.

After a lovely lunch and more swimming, it was time to start getting ready. My beautiful, generous, wonderful best girlfriends all played a part: Rosella had offered to do my hair, Reema would be doing my make-up, Jessica was to help me get dressed, and Christine and Erica were on kid duty helping get the kids dressed and keeping them entertained. I was filled with butterflies but so very happy and weirdly calm. (The Prosecco helped a ton.) Some of my favourite moments from that day were spent in Ro and CC’s room getting primped and prepped, with my favourite women surrounding me, showering me with love and strength and my beautiful children kissing me and laughing in the background. There was a weird calm-yet-nervous aura to the room that I’ve never felt before. When it was time, Rosella took Lou by the hand and Erica took Oscar. Jessica buttoned me into my dress. My beautiful, incredible mother came to get me. We tried not to cry. We failed. My dear friend Rebecca who was acting as usher/MC came to get us. My mom squeezed my hand and we walked down the old stone steps. Here are some getting ready pictures- some of my favourites from the day.

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My favourite picture of me of all-time: taken by Rosella. She did my hair and there is Reema doing my make-up. (Notice Lou’s milk bottle by the make-up.)

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Erica getting Lou ready. The flower girl, Loulou and the ring “bear”, Oscar .

For the ceremony, we picked a lovely laneway/garden. When E and I first saw it, it seemed like the most special spot to get married in. After opening up an old iron gate, you end up in a long aisle with stone benches on the sides, vines, rose bushes and huge rosemary plants. Jessica had suggested borrowing all the ladies sarongs to form a sort of huppah/shaded area for the spot where we would exchange our vows. She did such a beautiful job adding magic to the already magical spot. To the sounds of Jessica, again, playing a lovely klezmer song on the violin, my mom and I walked through the corridor of people towards my love. Seeing the beautiful, happy faces of my friends and family, of my children through the blur of tears in my eyes was just such a powerful moment. Seeing my husband-to-be visibly gasp with joy when he saw me walk towards him, is a memory I will cherish forever. I was in awe at how gorgeous he looked. Like a movie star. My mom gave us each a kiss on the forehead and we held hands and faced each other, finally.

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My mom walking me down the aisle. I’m totally trying to hold back the tears. I am NOT succeeding.


The ravishing Louloubelle. The dashing Oscar. The handsome officiant, my dad.

My father is an extraordinarily special man and he means the world to me and to E. He, and my mom, welcomed E into their home and their hearts with generosity and love very early on in our relationship. It was E’s idea to ask him to officiate at our wedding and it truly meant so much to me that the idea came from him. I have only ever seen my father this emotional once before in my life. His officiating was perfect. It was sweet and sincere, it was funny and loving, it was so completely him and us. E kept looking up to hold back tears and I didn’t bother holding them back. We then each read our own vows. E’s were perfect and made me and everyone else cry. Mine were pretty good and a little funny. As people laughed and cried and clapped, we kissed as husband and wife. The ceremony was so crazy special, I have a hard time believing that it happened. And even though people laughed or cried at times, in my memory the ceremony had this very special hush surrounding it. Like we were all holding our breath in a really good way. I’m sure it wasn’t quiet but it felt truly like there was a bubble of love around us during that time. Isn’t that strange? We were so focused on each other, so in the moment. With all the busyness and noise in our lives, that hush and focus is so rare, so very special.

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The ring! Our aisle. We are Wed!

After the ceremony it was picture time. Our first order of business was a group photo. Everybody, including Concetta’s entire family, posed for the picture.

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More pictures then followed by bubbles and snacks by the pool.


My besties. My beaming parents. Oscar had run off to play so is in very few of the photos. Oh well!

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A toast by the pool. The table is set.

The rest of the night was filled with tons of food, lovely toasts, lots of wine, and a mid-dinner swim by the groom. Some dancing, some more food, more bubbles, throwing the bouquet and putting sleepy, sleepy kids to bed. It really is definitely a different thing to get married after you’ve had children. Less partying, more cuddles. Not better, not worse, just different.

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E’s best man, his brother (AND MY OFFICIAL BROTHER-IN-LAW! Yay!) Simon, during his lovely toast. Ride on Daddy’s “soldiers”. The swim. Lou and Mommy. Oscar chowing down on a lamb bone like an animal.

The wedding of our dreams was followed by the most perfect mini moon – if you are ever in Sicily, go to Siracusa! And absolutely drive to Scoglitti and eat at Il Sakalleo – best seafood I’ve ever had. Anywhere. Ever.

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Ortigia, Siracusa + the raw appetizer and the octopus from Il Sakalleo. Delicious!

I married the love of my life and it was better than I could have hoped for – the trip, the wedding, the whole thing. Our families, our friends, our children there for every moment (except the honeymoon cause that would be weird). After eight years together it blows my mind that getting married would change anything between us but it totally has. We are gentler to each other, more considerate and more in love than ever. Seeing that ring on E’s finger every day, takes my breath away a little. Marriage suits him. I think marriage really suits us!

And now we are back to work and routine. It was kind of hard to sit down to write this – it has been written in bits and spurts over the last three weeks. Other than the fact that there hasn’t been much time what with summer fun to be had (and work to be done), I think I’ve just wanted to hold onto the memories a little longer. Putting it down in print feels like I am closing this chapter somehow. I don’t know if that makes any sense. I do know that I’d go back to Sicily tomorrow and that I’d remarry E in the exact same way again and again. We are already planning a wedding anniversary at some point in the next few years with, hopefully, the same group of wonderful people. I said five years. E said it should be our two year anniversary. Basically, we both want a do-over. Not so we’d change anything but so we could live it all over again.



photo credits: Matthew Perrin, Gabriel Couture, Rosella Tursi

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Big Day(s)

I am taking a short break from the regularly scheduled programming, i.e. updating you on my Mile End Project to bring you a personal post today. When I started writing this blog about a year ago,  it was supposed to be about the work I was doing and very quickly my writing turned personal. Then, as my work life got busier, I started mainly writing about projects I was working on. Writing about them because I was trying to work them out in my brain and also because I was so proud of the work I was involved in. But I soon realized that I missed sharing life events and that I had stopped writing as much. My writing got technical and really detail oriented and so, for me, it got more difficult to get into the writing. It started to feel like homework. I went from writing once a week to once every couple of weeks, to now, once a month. This was not only a result of having to follow the rhythms of a large-scale  renovation, but also of having lost some of my so newly-found love of writing. So after this very long introduction, I wanted to get back to the start, to get back to writing about personal moments and to tell you all about the exciting life changes happening for me and my little family.

My son, my baby, graduated from daycare! I don’t quite know when graduations from every single step in one’s life became such a thing. It is pretty ridiculous. Especially since he’ll still be going to daycare every day until he starts kindergarten in the fall. Ridiculous or not, it was an unbelievably touching and happy moment for his father and I. Our little guy in a dress shirt and a cardboard mortar board hat. Too much. I cried through the entire thing. Obviously.

This guy:

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So there I was at the daycare bawling through it all, tears leaving crazy makeup streaks down my face, wondering how the heck I was going to get through every other milestone. No seriously? How do people get through this stuff without crumbling into a ball on the floor? No one else was this messy. I know that people feel things just as deeply as I do, but boy are they better at hiding it. I suppose that’ll just be my thing: the crazy mom that weeps at every recital and lost tooth. I think I can handle that. Hopefully my children can too.

And now to the biggest upcoming event: THE WEDDING. I am soon to become the wife of my love, my best friend, and the father to the two greatest joys of my life. Yes, after over 8 years together, we are tying the knot. And I could not be more excited.

E asked me to marry him a few years ago. At the top of the Empire State building. On my birthday. After one of the most epic NYC days ever. It involved lunch at the now defunct M.Wells diner. A trip to Red Hook and the gorgeous Erie Basin to look at jewellery. Dinner at Shake Shack in Madison Square park and the Birreria on the roof of Eataly. A magical day topped off by the spectacular and jaw dropping view of the city from the top of the Empire State and the lovely proposal that had my jaw dropping some more. I will always love that city and the Empire State, line-ups and all, will always be one of my favourite places on earth.

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The Shack and minutes after I said yes. You can kind of see the city behind us…

So after I said yes I think it came as a big surprise to E that I wanted a wedding. I believe he thought that asking me to be his wife was sufficient. Boy did he ever underestimate how much I wanted to get married! I started planning immediately upon our return to Montreal.

And then I got stuck for a couple of years. Stuck on the location (farm? sugar shack? restaurant? backyard?). Stuck on the guest list -family only? E’s family is big, mine not so much, though family friends are just like my family and we have a lot of those. And there was no way I’d get married without my friends there. Only close friends?  I have a bad habit of inviting anyone that even expresses interest in the wedding to the wedding. Like people I really don’t know that well. Seriously. So the guest list ballooned immediately. And with a massive list came massive costs. And then I got stuck on the type of wedding I wanted- simple and memorable was my wish. And something that our children would remember forever. I thought I wanted an Etsy wedding with cute, witty touches. And maybe if I was 22 and didn’t have kids yet, I would have been happy to fill mason jars with wild flowers, sew bunting, have stamps made, and a beer specially brewed for the occasion. But I am most definitely not 22, and who the hell has the time? I floated the idea of a City Hall wedding with just us and the kids and our parents and E shot that down. He also shot down the tiny backyard wedding. He wanted special and memorable too. I started despairing that the wedding would never happen. Then one day last summer, my father made a passing reference to him and my mom and us and the kids going to Sicily this summer. He was literally joking around. And I said:” ha! maybe we should just get married there.” And my father, bless him, said “why, not?” And that was it, folks. A June 2014 wedding in Sicily. My parents have been numerous times and they befriended the owners of  an agriturismo near Mount Etna. It is a 19th century farmhouse nestled amongst orchards and olive groves, in the heart of the Nebrodi Mountains, in the province of Enna. It is called Le Querce Di Cota and it looks like a dream come true.


Pictures my father took at Querce a few years ago.

So us and 45 (!!) of our nearest and dearest are traveling to Sicily to eat, drink, and be merry. And if the chairs or the lighting are not what I’d have chosen? Who cares? Look around, the place is stunning. And we are in Sicily. If there are no paper lanterns and handmade place cards? We are in Sicily! And if it rains on the big day? Who cares? There will be multiple big days because we will all be together, vacationing, enjoying the food and the wine and the location. AND WE ARE IN SICILY!!!

Now don’t get me wrong quite a lot of organization goes into the destination wedding. It’s not like we run away and that’s that. There was the headache of figuring out sleeping arrangements. Coordinating guest arrivals and departures. Finding a dress (ugh) and clothing for E and the kids. And figuring out the ceremony (double ugh, and I’m still not sure what it’s going to be). But by escaping our hometown, we avoid worrying about decor and menu. No worrying about hair and makeup (maybe a little, but my dear friends Ro and R will be doing all that stuff for me). No worrying about music: J will play me down the aisle with something of her choice and I asked a select few for some playlists for the dinner and dancing. And this Sicilian wedding ends up cheaper than a hometown wedding, shockingly enough. And instead of one day, it’ll be ten days of family vacation with our friends and family flying in at various points throughout. All of us convening for one hopefully great weekend.

I’m marrying the love of my life and I couldn’t be more excited to call him my husband and to be his wife. Weirdly, the wedding planning has brought us closer than ever. Even after 8 years and two kids. Seeing him try wedding bands on was maybe one of the biggest highlights of the last few weeks. My father will marry us which means so much to both of us that I can hardly breathe. My mother will walk me down the aisle (or whatever consists of an aisle in our case) and the thought of holding her hand makes me weepy. Our children, the two little people with big personalities that changed our lives forever, will be right there, front and centre and by our side. Our dear friends and family will surround us. It will be simple and hopefully beautiful. We’ll create family memories to last a lifetime. And we will celebrate love, each other, and our family. And we’ll be in Sicily.



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