Hamilton: One Year On, One Year Strong

Last Saturday marked our first year anniversary in this city and I really can't believe how quick it has gone. We moved here on a Friday - I drove here first with my son and my husband followed hours later with the moving truck. I remember feeling so nervous about the drive because there was crazy traffic on Spadina Ave (Oh Toronto! You had to curse me one last time) and I had felt so scattered about the move all day. I didn't know if I had the keys to our new place on me, I needed to get gas before I got out of town and I wasn't even really sure that I wouldn't end up in Niagara Falls. I felt in pieces and stressed and I remember mouthing the directions Chris had given me over and over the entire drive. 

And now we're here - a year later and I love the home that we have been able to make in this little apartment in Hamilton. It's been a lot of work but we love this place and we feel pretty settled. I am sure this is happy news for all of the friends who have helped us move. We've moved a lot recently and I am more than happy to stay a while. 

I remember when we first started thinking about making the change from Toronto to Hamilton, one of the first things that drew us here was the architecture. The old buildings, the different neighbourhoods and the fact that this was still a pretty big city. I have loved getting to know Hamilton by its bricks and streets but I don't think I could have foreseen what is actually the best thing about this place. The strength of Hamilton is in its people. I don't think I've ever met so many nice people in such a short period of time - people who are proud of their city and so happy to share it and invite others in to it. I worried that loneliness would get the better of me out here, away from my closest girlfriends and family, but I've had such a great time getting to meet wonderful women who want to participate in their communities.

We're finally getting through one of the most awful winters of recent memory and there is something about the sun of the last few days that is telling me that yes, spring will come back, at some point and that no, we're not doomed to live in a polar vortex or snowmaggedon or whatever else forever. It's all making me feel positive and productive and I'm hoping for another wonderful year of change and challenges.

Above: Original photos from three years ago taken on a spontaneous day trip to Hamilton. These were some images I had submitted with an essay I had written for a magazine but never made it into the story. That is the day that I fell in love with the Hamilton Public Library Central Branch and told Chris I would move here in a heartbeat if I could live in the library.


Hearth Magazine

I first heard about Hearth Magazine from a friend of mine who sent me a message that read, "you should submit something to this. This looks great!" So I got in contact with Brenda Fisher, editor of this wonderful new publication and I am happy to report that my writing will be featured in Vol. 2 of the magazine. 

I received the first issue just the other week and it is great. The magazine has an approachable, family-feel to it while still mixing in great stories and fresh photography. There is something really welcoming about it and I'm excited not only to be a part of the next but also to watch it grow.

That said, you can help support that growth by heading over to Hearth's Kickstarter campaign. They are almost at there goal but there are less than 46 hours to help get it funded.

Click here to watch their video.
Shop for issues or subscriptions here.
Follow them on twitter @hearthmagazine

[Photos from Hearth Magazine]


Summer at West Elm

Last night, along with some other bloggers, I got to tour West Elm Toronto for a look at their summer collection. Here are a few of my favourite corners of the store - I love the use of colours and layers. West Elm is always such a treat because of the incredible varied inventory they have. Every bit of the place has endless inspiration and wonderful little pieces for your home and lifestyle. I think they excel in their layering of textures - something I would like to get better at in my own home. 

1. A beautiful installation of paper flowers.
2. More paper flowers, handmade in Mexico by local artisans.
3. Waterscape vases that look like tumbled sea glass.
4. A gorgeous grey and yellow table setting.
5. Red, black and white. So simple and chic.
6. Textures for your table!

All photos by MF Miller for Suite Henry. I would also like to clarify that this is not a sponsored post. West Elm did not pay me for any portion of this. I was invited by the Toronto store for a tour and I took photos because I enjoyed the evening. All the bloggers received a small take-away gift because we made the effort to come out and visit. There was also candy. That was nice ;)


Life, Lately

Last Friday was my birthday.
I am now twenty-seven and let me tell you honestly, it hit me harder than I thought it would. Harder than I could care to admit. There is a part of me that knows that this is ridiculous. Twenty-seven isn't old. Or even sort of old. And definitely not expired. But what I can't wrap my head around is how much more serious it sounds than twenty-six. I don't feel like I am in my mid-twenties anymore - twenty-seven sounds so much closer to thirty. And thirty. Thirty sounds really intense.

I know I sound insane. And my husband, who turned thirty-one this past Saturday, isn't really handing over any sympathy. I know numbers are irrelevant. I know that I am the one adding all the symbolism and pressure and weight to a day that really doesn't mean much. But it's one of those things I've been dealing with as of late. 

I can't help but take stock. 
I am sure of some pretty big things in this life - my husband, my son, my family - but around birthdays (or rather, this one in particular) I can't help but think that I should some of my other stuff sorted. There are things that I feel like I have been working on for years now, and somedays, I'm just not feeling like I am any closer to figuring these things out.

The big one is my professional life. I've probably driven my husband and close friends a bit crazy over the last while, jumping from one idea to the next. My problem is one of too many passions. I could do so many different things and I care deeply them. I know that I want writing to be a big part of my life. It always sort of has been. Before it was done in private and now it's way more about storytelling. I want to get better at writing - get more serious and more regimented about it and I've set a personal goal this year to do more of it and continue to work at my form and my voice. On the other hand, I am still such a visual person. My mind has always worked that way and that is one of the reasons I haven't been able to commit to a more traditional career path. I have been trying hard to figure out what I can do as a job that can marry all of these things. What can feel inspiring and challenging while feeding my need for expression and quite frankly, give me an income? 

That last bit is hard. It's hard to be trying to figure out your personal goals under a financial microscope but I don't have the luxury to ignore what we need as a family and what we want for our future. 
See? So much to load onto this birthday. 

So much to think about.

Images by the lovely Natasha Bardin, who stopped by Hamilton to say hello and managed to capture Felix and me exactly how I dream we are. I love these two images and stared at them for a half hour straight before emailing them to everyone I know. Natasha you are so good at seeing the perfect shot and as a mum with too many iPhone photos of her boy but not enough real pictures, thank you for this wonderful gift!


[New] City Life

Oh hello there.

It's been a while, hasn't it? Over four months since my last post and try as I might I simply could not get anything up on this little space. No updates about any new work or new writing. Barely any of that, to be honest. No updates here in babydom, although that area of my life has sure been pretty full. This little man of ours is keeping us on our toes! New teeth (six!), all sorts of tricks and giggles and smiles and just this past Saturday, some real first steps. It's all gone away in a blur and every day I am reminded, quite bitter sweetly, that all of those people who warned us about how fast everything goes were totally right. Ten and a half months later and I'm only just starting to feel like I'm coming up for air. 

And because we can never seem to do just one crazy thing at a time, somewhere in the last four months, we took a long hard look at our life in Toronto and made the hard decision to leave. A variety of reasons gave us the final push but suffice it to say we found a place we love in a new city that is almost half of what we were paying in rent in our old place. We are now exactly halfway in between either sides of our families and are already feeling so excited about our new space here in the city of Hamilton.

When I told people we were moving to Hamilton, I got lots of different responses. The people who can't seem to fathom a world outside Toronto asked me if I was crazy. Others told me all of their friends who had babies moved to Hamilton. (Where are these people because I don't know any others?!) Strangers asked me if I was an artist since apparently making the move to the Hammer is a popular thing? See here and here and here...

I don't mean to patronize. I definitely don't want anyone to think we moved here just because it was the cool thing to do. We thought about this idea for a long while and considered all of the different angles that we needed to as a family. Hamilton works for us for several reasons but mainly because it is still a city. We like having the option to walk places. We like busy streets. We like having different neighbourhoods blocks away from each other. We didn't want to be tied to a car (especially since right now I'm on maternity leave and my husband uses the car during the day). We also really love the style of homes available in downtown Hamilton - Victorians reminiscent of some of our favourite Toronto neighbourhoods. Except here they have a price tag we could actually afford. 

We are settling into our new place just fine. We looked for a cozy apartment with lots of character and lots of natural light. We found it. And ever since we moved, we keep walking around telling each other how good we feel in this home and how excited we are about our new city. The last month and a half has been spent putting a lot of effort into making this place function for us on a really personal level. We haven't even had many guests because all we seem to do lately is home projects.

I have been walking through lots of different neighbourhoods and I keep running into some really kind people - strangers welcoming me to their town - and sharing all the reasons they feel good about Hamilton. There is a palpable energy here, a feeling that lots of good and creative things are here and that people are working on some pretty cool things. I cannot wait to keep discovering it. It's so wonderful to meet young, inspiring people who want to share their talent and show off their city.

Image Credit: Photo taken from Beaux Mondes blogBeaux Mondes is a lovely and well-curated collection of places (and people!) to check out in Hamilton. It was one of the first things that got me excited about heading out on long walks with the baby boy. It definitely helped to give me a sense of the city prior to our move, which I desperately need in the cold dark of February. 
The tote is by graphic designer Russell Gibbs. I love the positive message and the bold modern design. I hope to pick one up once I feel like more of a local ;) Russell Gibbs also did the branding for one of my favourite Toronto-based baby stores Baby On The Hip.


Printed: Ahoy It's A Boy!

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A couple of months ago and a whopping four months after Felix was born, I finally got around to sending out some proper birth announcements. I try  to be good with thank-you notes because they serve as a moment to slow down and take the time to be grateful and thoughtful of those who are good to you. 

I'm usually very good about getting my stationery out speedily because I believe that part of the thank-you is acknowledging the act of kindness when it actually happened. I was super happy when we went on our honeymoon (we took a train all the way across the country to Vancouver) and we were able to write our wedding thank-yous en route just days after the big day. It was especially nice because it felt like the final chapter to five months of busy planning and wedding talk but even more importantly because we still had all of the love and generosity of our families and friends fresh in our mind. Being in awe of how much everyone loves you is great inspiration for a stack of fresh cards. Half-way through our trip we landed in Winnipeg and found the central post office which turned out to have a special stamp (used only at that particular post-office) and the guy behind the counter hand-cancelled every single note for us. This is heaven for me! I felt pretty awesome that our thank-yous got to their recipients even before we got back from our trip. 

But then there were the baby announcements. I know these aren't technically thank-you notes but for whatever reason in MY mind, sending these out felt like a final, official note of love for everyone who had been so supportive and thoughtful throughout our pregnancy and during those early months of our baby-dom. 

The only problem was I had a baby. 
A baby but no time. 

No time until one night when I woke up at three in the morning and couldn't sleep and like lightning had a burst of energy and inspiration. Two and a half hours later I was looking at these guys and tweaking the type. Giving away pre-dawn sleep when your baby is snoozing is a big deal around these parts so I'm certainly glad I had something to show for my effort.

I love how they turned out. I wanted something simple and traditional and landed on the nautical theme while I was still in bed, pretending I might be able to get back to sleep. I had been toying with a completely different design for a couple of months (thinking of a green and yellow colour combination) but could never figure out how I was going to tie everything together. When I thought of the little sail boat as the focal point, the rest of the look and colours just clicked. I hope that they do justice to a boy that is so sweet and lovely. He deserves some good stationery and you better bet he'll get some lessons about sending out some mail.


Travels: Cape Breton

 So much has happened since we returned from our trip at the end of October but I still wanted to share some pictures. We stayed in a wonderful pine cabin in Beddack, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. It was so nice to spend a full week together as a family - traveling, walking, napping and eating. We didn't come back any more rested because with a baby you are still parents all the time but at least we got to be a trio without pausing for work schedules or internet interruptions. 

1-2. Our cabin! 
3-4. The grounds where we stayed.



We are taking a much needed family break.
Out on the train to the East coast of Canada.
I want naps and food and baby kisses and wilderness and fresh air and maritime horizons.

I'll be gone for the week but I wanted to share a sneak peek of a special project that I'll be showcasing once we get back in town. Till then, take care internet.


Beautiful Things: Sunday Owl

Gorgeous gold rings from Sunday Owl.
Love the textures, the rose cut stones and the restrained elegance of the collection. 

*All images from Sunday Owl & find them on twitter here.