Do you know how many types of grey-brown hardwood there are?

About a zillion.

This is how I felt walking among the sample boards...

Do you know how many are in stock when our contractor is about to start work?

Uh huh.

We were sold on the Laurentian White Oak Grey Karma Brushed, but then when we called in the order, it was the only colour that did not come in the wider width - even though we had a sample for the wider width. 4" was too skinny since we have an open concept house and the shorter boards meant there'd be a zillion seams.

Then, we for sure for sure for sure were sold on the Laurentian Trafford in Bushwick in the wider width. Only, the wider width was not in the quantity we needed even after we were guaranteed that it was. Grrr. Did I mention our contractor starts next week?

We really wanted a 72" length, which only comes with the wider widths. We looked at a bunch of other options but they either looked like shiny painted grey wood or were too brown. (My school uniform growing up was brown and beige and I really hate that colour-way unless it's in a camel Max Mara coat.)

Finally, our flooring guy showed up with a Shaw product. It's Noble Hall in Baroness. It's a 7" board and has the 72" length we wanted. And they have stock.

Done. It's really pretty. Also, we have no other choice!

Our neighbour has suggested that we refloor by gluing all of our sample boards together. We have almost enough wood at this point!

Isn't renovating fun?

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

I've been run down lately and realized my crashed immunity may have something to do with my terrible diet. We've been eating out a lot and I've been having a lot of sugar. I don't eat much dessert because of an egg allergy, but I tend to mainline milk chocolate almonds.

I've been doing a lot of research on inflammation since my asthma and mild arthritis both flare up when my eating habits start to slide. As we head into the season of BBQ and ocean-side glasses of wine, I want to make sure I have a good sense of foods that will serve me well.

After a bunch of reading, these seem to be the winners from an inflammation point of view. It's a pity, since I live on cheese and sugar. I wonder if Rosé is considered a legume?

Stay healthy!


Casting away stress

Greetings, y'all

We are two weeks away from departing to NS. In that time, we have to make all the final choices for the renovation here, set up anything we need before we arrive there, have two graduations, get one kid off to camp... Plus, I'm trying to do what I need to do with one good eye. I'm still not comfortable highway driving since it's harder to shoulder check and I get a bit dizzy a higher speeds. And reading and writing are harder so everything is done at a glacially slow pace.

It's all a bit stressful.

I sat down to watch Joyce Meyer because I LOVE her. I know people criticize her for having a jet but if I had the means, I'd for sure have a jet too. Anything to avoid the germs associated with commercial air travel! I love Meyer's public persona: quick, straight-talking, observant, doesn't suffer fools...

The show I'd taped was on de-stressing, which seemed particularly good timing.

She offers five tips, based on 1 Peter 5:7: "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." Isn't that good advice? I always get a fly fishing image in my head.

1. "Learn to practice shrug therapy." Meyer implores us not to get upset over things we can't control. She says we need to learn to shrug a whole lot more, much like my favourite passage from Atlas Shrugged, where Francisco d'Anconia is explaining his philosophy to Mr. Rearden:

If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood...his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders - What would you tell him?"
I…don't know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?"
To shrug.
It's not about not caring. It's about not letting the caring kill you. I have a hard time shrugging off injustice, which leaves me stressed out a lot of the time. I need to learn how to cast my cares and shrug.

2. "Stay in your comfort zone." By this, Meyer means to stop doing what you're not good at. I love this advice. I am terrible at organizing events. Terrible. I can't get three people in a room at the same time. So at this time of year, when people are having spring fairs and grads with abandon, I do what I do best. Show up and roll up my sleeves. I can't organize, so I don't. But I can carry stuff and run stuff around. And trouble-shoot. So, now, that's what I do.

3. "Eliminate everything from your schedule that's not bearing good fruit." Oh, I love this. Cheryl Richardson writes about the concept of giving up good for great. I love to free up my schedule of things that do not delight me and leave space for better options.

4. "Exercise." Preach! I'm so looking forward to getting back into an exercise routine. I let everything drop with the great eye disaster.

5. "Take time to relax and do things you enjoy." Can I get an Amen?

Here is the full episode if you are into that sort of thing.

If you like numbered lists, my latest for HuffPo is about 10 ways to make your summer more spiritual.

Take care!


Brora, Swan Lake, and Kimmy Schmidt

Happy Monday!

Are any of you watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Season 1 is so good. Jane Krakowski is hilarious and Mr. SxSW says she reminds him of me. I have no idea why - I have yet to receive a bouquet of dogs.


I did receive a little something from Brora, which was un unexpected surprise.

They'd sent me a skirt in my size that was meant for another Jennifer Lawrence.  I have a doppelgänger! Brora was most apologetic. After a few calls, we collectively managed to reroute the package. They sent me a pair of the cashmere tights I love as a little thank you for my troubles.

Speaking of doppelgängers, on Saturday, I took my daughter to see Swan Lake. I love that ballet. So dark and moody. And the costumes are so magical. Normally, I hate dark films but I've always liked Black Swan. I say it's because I love the whole metaphor about the artistic process, but really it's because I love the costuming byAmy Westcott and Rodarte.





In my mind, I have a ballerina's discipline and wear only black, grey and pale pink.

In reality, I eat my weight in BBQ ribs as part of Father's Day celebrations, and dress in whatever I just found on Anthropologie's sale rack. 


Coastal Cottage Update

We are madly preparing the cottage in Nova Scotia for our arrival in July.

The painting and floor refinishing is all done and apparently 32 boxes of furniture have arrived. We are having someone assemble all of the beds, but we will still be logging in some quality time with an allen key when we arrive after our 18 hour drive.

I've never done an 18 hour drive before with kids and a dog and a new husband. People say it changes you.

We've decided to rent out the place to friends and family during August and in the fall. We'd been hoping to spend the entire summer there but life with kids is busy. As it is, some of us will be running back and forth.

I can't wait to see it all put together. I had to do something similar when I moved into the 1920s house I use to have. I had my things in storage and had to buy everything else from measurements, hoping it all would fit. I was not able to enjoy it until I was physically in the space. Then, putting it all together was restorative. I love fussing around with furnishings. That and exercise are the two things that keep me out of my head.

And this year, I will have partners in crime in NS in the form of the Mr. and a Stepford mom (who is so not a Stepford Mom!) who has a place nearby. We've also met new friends of friends and know others who will be visiting. So it shall be a social summer indeed, once we build the chairs.

If you are planning on visiting in July, give me a shout and we'll have you over for drinks. And if you are firming up your summer plans, consider our place near Lunenburg. The tall ships are there in August and we have spectacular views.

I hope your summer plans are coming together. As soon as I'm out there, I'll show some interior photos of the place. That is, if we all survive the drive!


Life is a Cake Walk

The perfect cake I did not bake.

Yesterday, I helped with the cake walk at the school spring fair.

I swore I'd never help with another cake walk in my life, after being reprimanded during my previous experience. Apparently, in that case, I was far too generous in handing out the cakes and the walk was over too quickly.

You know how the term cake walk is used for something that's incredibly easy? Not so.

(On that, the origin of the term cake walk is absolutely fascinating. You can read about it here.)

This year's cake walk was far more successful, mainly because the women running it were 1) organized and 2) had some sense of perspective. Plus, there were high school-aged volunteers who had enthusiasm and energy.

Because I was not being run off my feet or told off, I had lots of time to observe. The key takeaway was this:

In a world where perfect fondant icing is on offer, nine out of ten people prefer a big gooey mess covered in gummy worms. 

During the cake competition, the pretty cakes shone and won the awards. One was an exact replica of the school mascot. It was impressive.

But once the game got underway and the kids started to choose their cakes, something interesting occurred. The Pinterest-worthy-now-I-need-physio-due-to-the-rolling-of-fondant-icing cakes stayed on the table, overlooked in favour of Betty Crocker mix, a shed-load of chocolate icing, and two or three bags of gummy bears.

(For the record, had my daughter not made our pretty fondant contribution pictured above, one of these gummified offerings would have been made by me. I have no skills in this area.)

One kid - a sage in American Eagle - advised his friend on his choice: "Trust me: the worse they look, the better they are," he said.  #wisdom

When it was my daughter's turn to choose her cake, I nudged her toward the store-bought offerings, germophobe that I am. I've never been opposed to store bought and frequently quote Carl Sagan who said, "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." At times, I go to great lengths to avoid acts of domesticity.

The cake walk offered important lessons in life: Keep perspective. Employ the young. Don't be afraid of store bought. And most of all, if you aim to have a Pinterest-worthy life - which often I do - do it for yourself, not for others. Others are generally happy with a mess of chocolate and a pile of gummy worms, as long as there is lots of it.

Beauty for Ashes

Yesterday, I was sad to hear that author Lysa TerKeurst is getting a divorce. Divorce is hard for everyone. It's really hard if you are in any way a public figure. And it's particularly hard if you work in Christian ministry.

In spite of theological discussions of Jesus's "exception clause," allowing divorce in certain circumstances (this article offers a terrific explanation of the issue) it still remains taboo. The women I know in ministry who've experienced divorce wrestle with this constantly. There is an almost constant level of guilt simmering below the surface. I've felt it too, withdrawing from small groups and home churches, because I felt I should not be there.

I know that something good will come of her trials and I'm hopeful that she will be in a position to rejoin the world and share her wisdom over the coming weeks and months. She preaches the message of "living loved" and I hope she feels that in this season. I know that God will make something beautiful from her pain.

That is, after all, the promise.

During times of hurt, I lean hard on a couple of verses. One, from Isaiah, was read to me by a very good friend when I was in a season of brokenness.

I made the words into a necklace at one point and wore them around my neck for over a year. I also wore a ring on my right hand that I referred to as my 'righteous right hand ring' as a reminder that all shall be well.

Over the years, I've also leaned hard on John 11:35.

This is perhaps my favourite line in the New Testament. When Jesus learned that Martha and Mary's brother Lazarus died, Jesus wept. He did not immediately jump up and perform a miracle; he sat down and grieved with the family. God is not always doing flashy things when we want Him to, but he is with us in our pain.

But then, Jesus acts. He tells the family to get Lazarus, whom he has risen from the dead. Beauty for Ashes: that's the promise. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

And that's what always draws me back to God, in spite of all the flaws of the church and its followers; in spite of all the flaws that are mine.

I hope Lysa TerKeurst rejoins the world after an understandable period of mourning. We could use her words and her wisdom. I will be waiting to see how God transforms her experience into something undeniably good.


Do you know how many types of grey-brown hardwood there are? About a zillion. This is how I felt walking among the sample boards... ...