A touch of Spring

IMG_4834We recently visited the Montreal Botanical Gardens with friends and enjoyed the butterfly exhibition in the greenhouse. What a refreshing treat it was to spend some time in a warm, sunny space with lots of beautiful flowers, and of course, free flying butterflies! It was just the perfect little taste of spring in what feels like the never ending winter. I had to give in this week and turn the heat back on in the house, and needed to pull out a winter scarf and gloves, that I all too eagerly packed away when I thought it had finally come to an end. Wishful thinking. It even snowed a bit yesterday morning!
IMG_4835The butterflies were everywhere and even landed on us at times. This little guy really liked Steve and stuck with him for quite awhile.

It was so peaceful watching them all flutter about! It was a great way to spend an afternoon, and was well worth the wait in line (it was long!) to experience it!

Essential Oils

It seems essential oils have become quite trendy lately. I decided to give them a try a few months ago after doing a lot of reading and research, and talking with a good friend who has had great results from using them. To be honest, I was a bit sceptical as to whether or not they would make a difference in how I was feeling, but I was struggling with my usual daily health stuff (fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, digestive issues, anxiety, etc…) and was open to anything that might be helpful. I’ve tried so many things over the years; some things have helped, other things were a complete waste of time and money, so I felt pretty neutral about the oils starting out and didn’t really have any expectations. In the very beginning, I wasn’t sure they were actually helping any of my symptoms, but found the ritual of applying them each morning after my shower, and each evening before bed very relaxing and good self-care. It was comforting, especially during times of extreme stress. Slowly, I started adding to my daily oil routine, and started noticing that overall I did seem to be feeling better, both physically and emotionally. After we lost Jesse, and learned the news of my infertility, I found the oils to be especially helpful in managing my emotions. Steve also started to use them over the winter to help manage stress and found they made a difference for him too. We definitely both felt worse on the days when we didn’t use them.


Recently, as a result of the fertility testing, I was diagnosed with an active benign tumour in my pituitary gland. It is not cancerous (thankfully!), but it has caused an increase in my prolactin hormone and has affected me physically. I recently started treating it with a drug called dostinex. The side effects have really knocked me on my butt! I’ve always had a sensitive nervous system and my body just doesn’t seem to like me taking medication. I take it twice a week before bed, and the day after taking it I feel especially terrible, physically and emotionally. Luckily, I do find the essential oils I take seem to help balance some of the side effects. I can’t imagine how awful I would feel if I wasn’t using the oils while taking this medication! Yikes! Hopefully, the side effects subside with time (I’ve only been taking the drug for two weeks), but in the meantime, I’m doing whatever I can naturally to help improve the results and side effects of the drug. If you are interested in essential oils, you might be like me and love to know how others use them. I just love reading about other people’s daily oil routine and what has worked well for them. I know everyone is different, so what works for one person might not work for another, but I think reading and researching is key to learning more about what may help. Of course, it also requires a bit of common sense and listening to your body too!

So, with that said, here’s how I use essential oils each day…

doTerra Balance (grounding blend): One drop (neat) on the bottom of each foot in the morning and again before bed. This oil has really helped my anxiety, especially now that the drug I’m taking has made my anxiety so much worse. Steve applies this one to his feet, as well, and sometimes we both put a drop on our chest or wrists, when we are particularly stressed. I like diffusing this oil when I meditate.

doTerra Citrus Bliss (energizing): One drop (neat) on the inside of my wrist (then rub wrists together) each morning and sometimes mid-afternoon, if I’m extra tired. This oil helps improve my energy, especially now that the drug I’m taking causes me more fatigue. Be careful with this oil though, I learned the hard way that it makes you more sensitive in the sun!

doTerra DigestZen: I mix this oil with grape seed oil and massage the digestive points on both feet every morning and every night before bed. I also like massaging my tummy with the same blend, when my digestion is really bad. If my tummy is really, really bad, I will ingest this oil (one drop in 4 fl. oz. of water). I really don’t like the taste, so I only do this in an emergency, but it does really work well when taken like this. This oil has really helped my poor digestion, and has been especially helpful with managing the digestive side effects of my medication.

doTerra Lemon: I put two drops in my glass water bottle each morning and sip it through the day. I have never been able to handle lemon in my water, as it was too acidity for my body and I would always get very sore icky lips as a result. I do not have the same problem with the oil, and find it just helps me to feel less sluggish overall, and seems to also help my anxiety. It feels like a great daily detox!

doTerra Frankincense: I put one drop (neat) on my thumb each morning and press it to the roof of my mouth for ten seconds to help my pituitary gland. I also put a bit of oil (neat) on the pituitary gland point on my big toe. It’s hard to know if this one is making a difference, but I feel like it can’t hurt to try!

My favourite oils for diffusing are…

doTerra Peppermint: This oil has been really great for helping with the brain fog I’ve been feeling daily, as a result of my medication. Plus, I just love the smell!

doterra Breathe: My sinuses have been really bothering since I started taking the meds, and diffusing this at night when I’m sleeping seems to really help.

doTerra On-Guard:This oil is so great when we feel like we’re getting sick. Plus, I just really like the smell of it, so I diffuse it a lot!

doTerra Eucalyptus: I just really love the smell of eucalyptus. For some reason, it reminds me of Australia and makes me feel happy. :)

Lastly, I use doTerra Deep Blue Rub on my sore achy muscles as needed. It really helps to relieve stress and the smell of the rub really comforts and relaxes me. I find it especially good when I have a headache.

And that’s it! Like I said, I know what works for one person, doesn’t always work for everyone. Also, what oils to use, as well as what brand of oils to use, heck, even whether or not to use oils, is a very personal choice. I am just happy and grateful that they seem to be helping me feel better and hopefully, sharing this info will be helpful to someone else, should you choose to give essential oils a try! :)

Quebec City

IMG_4640(Parliament Building)

Steve and I visited Quebec City twice over the winter, once in mid-February and once at the end of March. Both times Steve had to go for work, so I decided to tag along. We hopped the train in Montreal and arrived in Quebec City a quick and easy three hours later. It’s kind of crazy that after living in Montreal for a combined almost 9 years in total, I only visited Quebec City for the first time this winter. I’m so glad I finally did though! It’s a really charming little place, full of character, and very friendly.

icechairThe first time we visited in February, the weather was absolutely freezing. I spent a lot of time walking around the city in -25C temperatures, while Steve was working. At one point, I had to stop at a wool shop to buy wool socks and wool insoles for my winter boots, otherwise my poor toes would never have survived the trip! It was really, really cold, yet somehow winter in Quebec City felt so charming. The winter carnival was happening when we were there, and there were ice and snow sculptures all around the city. There were outdoor winter activities everywhere, and people just seemed to embrace the cold. Winter definitely suits Quebec City!

IMG_4641(Ice Slide = Cold Bum)

IMG_4623(The ice sculptures were pretty impressive!)

IMG_4600I definitely got a workout walking around the city for hours. There are a lot of hills and a lot of stairs in Quebec City. Luckily, the workout helped balance out the insane amount of delicious food, wine, and cappuccinos we consumed while there!

IMG_4620(Le Chateau Frontenac)

IMG_4630I loved the little areas where you could stop and warm your fingers and toes by the outdoor fire, so charming, and oh so practical!

IMG_4644When the fire didn’t cut it, we took long coffee breaks and thawed out our toes. My iPhone and iPad both stopped working due to the cold temperatures, so it was a great time for those to warm up too! I was impressed with the coffee at Les Bruleries and luckily, there was one right across the street from our hotel.

IMG_4718The second time we visited Quebec City was in late March. The weather was much warmer, yet still chilly. I walked around just as much as I did the first time, exploring new areas of the city and soaking up the very early signs of spring. It was nice to see the city beginning to thaw out, especially after seeing it in such a deep-freeze-full-on-winter-kind-of-way!


IMG_4629Quebec City is a really beautiful Canadian city, and a must see destination if you’re in the neighbourhood. As the guy working on the train put it, “Quebec City is beautiful. You get that European feeling, for a lot less money.” Well said, train guy, well said. :)

Winter 2014/2015

I was reading back through our old blog recently and realized what a wonderful journal it was of our lives. I feel really grateful to have the time we spent in Australia so well documented with photos and details of what we did each day, where we went, how we felt, etc…These last few months have been very hard for us, yet very significant, and after thinking it over, I feel it’s worth sharing. I know I will want to look back on this chapter of our lives in the years to come, and feel it’s worthy of a blog post, all the good and all the bad. It is all bringing about such change and is really shaping the future we are planning together. So, here’s a little recap of our winter 2014/2015 (apologies in advance for how long it is!)…

IMG_4373 In November, our sweet Jesse became very sick. We had noticed for awhile that he seemed “off” but thought it was just old dog behaviour (less energy, appeared to be showing signs of arthritis, etc…), but one day he became especially lethargic, weak, and his back legs began to collapse. We rushed him to the vet immediately and thus began the endless testing to try to figure out what was wrong with him. Blood tests showed his platelet count to be dangerously low, as well as low red and white blood cells. He had x-rays, but all was clear, and all tests for tick borne disease were negative. At that stage, we were told he might only have a couple more days with us. On a whim, the vet gave him antibiotics thinking perhaps it was an infection and amazingly, within hours, Jesse bounced back and seemed more like his old self. We were hopeful and relieved that he’d caught an infection and we’d treated it appropriately. Unfortunately, although his blood levels had improved, they were still not where they should be and weekly blood tests were required to monitor them. Jesse was so good at the vet and the technicians often commented what a star patient he was. He looked quite cute with his little bandage, and loved the treats he would get for being such a good boy!

IMG_4391Sadly, after his initial bounce back, Jesse continued to show signs of being ill, even with the antibiotics. Both our vets were at a loss as to why he was sick and referred us to a vet oncologist. It was then that we learned Jesse had a very aggressive form of leukaemia and even with treatment, the absolute best case scenario would give him six more months with us. Our hearts were so broken. After a great deal of thought, we decided to try chemotherapy, mostly in hopes of having one more Christmas with our fur baby. Jesse seemed exhausted after the treatments (we did one injection treatment, and one oral pill treatment), but overall his cancer responded really well to the drugs and Jesse seemed happy, healthy, and well all over the holidays. That was the best Christmas present we could have ever asked for!

IMG_4437We focused our energy on enjoying the holidays as our little family of three. Luckily, Steve was off work for six weeks, a combination of comp time from three years on a very busy project and holiday time. Both Steve and I had been dealing with some health issues leading up to Christmas, and the time off couldn’t have come at a better time.


IMG_4468Jesse enjoyed Christmas like a puppy again, full of life, always trying to steal presents from under the tree, and rolling in the fresh fallen snow. We knew he was having a good day when he could playfully roll and bury his nose in the white, fluffy, fresh fallen snow!


IMG_4550Sadly, Jesse took a turn for the worst in early January, and started to show signs of not feeling well again. He had been on antibiotics permanently for weeks, to avoid infection (his white blood cells were too low to do the job on their own), yet still it seemed he had managed to catch something. By mid-January, he had fever, became incredibly weak, and was visibly ill. An antibiotic shot from the vet and new antibiotic pills didn’t help. The oncologist was surprised to see him so sick, especially considering his cancer was under control at this stage. The vet mentioned how sad it was that he had managed to avoid getting serious infection even when his cancer was at its worst, and had now caught something so severe when his cancer was doing so much better. Truthfully, Steve and I were both heartbroken. We had said all along that we were happy to continue treatment, so long as Jesse didn’t seem to be suffering and he had been doing so well, but that was no longer the case. He still had an appetite, but could only eat when hand fed because he was too weak to stand long enough to eat. We knew it was time. It was the hardest, most painful decision we have ever had to make. On January 17th, 2015, we said goodbye to our gorgeous boy. It was a very peaceful passing, and for that I am so thankful. I posted the above photo on Facebook and Instagram when it happened, with this caption:

Today, we lost our best friend. Sadly, we said goodbye to our Jeddy Bum only a couple of months after he was diagnosed with leukemia. Our hearts are broken, but this photo sums up exactly how I want to remember this sweet little guy…beautiful, spunky, naughty and full of love and life. I am so grateful that we got to be his humans for over 13 years. xoxo

IMG_4511Honestly, January and February felt long, cold, dark, and lonely. We both missed Jesse so much and the house just didn’t feel the same without him. It was strange to adjust to a routine that didn’t revolve around caring for a dog. I realized I had literally spent my entire adult life (we got him when I was 21 years old) planning around Jesse. I still miss him so much. If I’m speaking very honestly, my heart truly has never felt that broken. It’s amazing to me just how much impact an animal can have on your life. Jesse was always there for me, all the ups and downs of day to day life, all the big life events (our wedding, moving to Montreal, moving to Brisbane, moving to Melbourne, moving back to Montreal, family deaths, happy celebrations, you name it!), Jesse was my constant. As someone commented on Facebook, he will forever be my first puppy love, and this is very true. He really was such an important member of our family, and he’ll always hold an extra special place in our hearts.

IMG_4537IMG_4538Steve and I tried to focus on the positives of winter (a season neither of us really like!) and went cross country skiing, took long walks up Mont Royal, and tried to soak up as much fresh air and sunshine as we possibly could under layers and layers of warm clothes. I realized quickly that I have officially reached the age where style no longer matters when it’s -30C with windchill, all that matters is being warm! My teenage self would be shocked and disappointed! ;) All joking aside, spending time outside really helped to clear my head and balance my emotions, even if it was freezing most days!

IMG_4586Another big challenge that we faced this winter was infertility. After trying for a baby for two years, we finally met with a fertility doctor and learned that babies are not meant to be for us. Mother Nature has other plans for me. It’s been a tough pill to swallow, but I’m slowly getting my head around it. I think deep down I knew this might be the case, and that’s why I waited so long to see a doctor. At least before seeing the doctor, we had hope it could happen. The results have led to more testing (blood work, an MRI) and I’m optimistic that if any positive can come from all this, they will hopefully figure out why I am always so fatigued, always have such pain in my muscles, poor digestion, anxiety, etc…After years of seeing doctors and managing my symptoms, a true diagnosis would be amazing. I’m still waiting anxiously for my results, but hope to know more soon. In the meantime, we are rethinking our future plans and trying to imagine what it might look like without children. It’s a work in progress, but thanks to the support and love from Steve, our family, and close friends, I’m slowly making peace with it.

IMG_4628Honestly, just after receiving the baby news, I was pretty down, but once again, Steve and I tried to focus on the good in our lives (without sounding too cliché, it really does help me to focus on gratitude!). We visited Quebec City twice this winter, once after we lost Jesse, and once after the baby news. Steve had to go both times for work, and I tagged along. It is amazing what a little change of pace and routine can do for your spirits, and the charm of Quebec City was good for my soul. I’m planning to post more about our visits there soon!

IMG_4691At this stage, with signs of spring in the air, and winter behind us, we are looking forward to what the future might bring. I have a feeling it will bring about some big changes and I’m wholeheartedly open to it, and excited to see what will come next (hopefully, more regular blog posting!;)

Thank you so much to all of you who have supported us and made us feel so loved over the last few months. We love you and feel so thankful to have you all in our lives. Thanks for reading. xoxo

Apple Picking and Wine Tasting

IMG_4082 I’m usually really excited to see autumn roll into town, but this year, I just haven’t felt ready for the change in season. Summer really did come and go far too quickly, and if I’m being completely honest, I’m dreading another Montreal winter. But! I do really like fall; the chilly but not too cold temps, pumpkin spice lattes, scarves, layers, pretty colours, and wonderful fall smells. So, I’ve decided to embrace autumn and worry about winter when the {dreaded} time comes.IMG_4080We kicked off the new season with apple picking. We went to Domaine de Dunham, an orchard with a great story about two urbanites who bought and restored the abandoned farm. We picked apples and pears, ate apple Danish and wandered around in the lovely fall sunshine. Country air is so good for the soul!IMG_4079I also climbed a tall ladder…IMG_4078

…Steve did too and he really doesn’t like tall ladders!IMG_4081The drive there and back was really pretty and we even stopped at a winery near the orchard for a bit of wine tasting. It was called Gagliano Vineyards and both the red and white wine was nice. We bought a bottle of each! ;) It was a great day and I’m looking forward to a couple more day trips before the snow flies!


IMG_4025Jesse Jay turned the big 1-3 yesterday. It’s not everyday you turn 13, so we celebrated in true birthday fashion, complete with a party hat and birthday cake…IMG_4026I’m not sure Jesse Dog was overly thrilled with the hat, but he didn’t seem to argue the cake made of peanut butter goodness (just in case you’re curious, I made this cake, but replaced the regular flour with whole wheat). IMG_4027Mmmmm…that smells so good…IMG_4028Maybe just a little taste…IMG_4023

I think he liked it. We had to cut him off before he ate the whole cake. A food hangover wouldn’t be good for him or us!

It’s no secret I wish this little guy was turning 3 and not 13, but here’s hoping it’s another healthy and happy year for this sweet, yet sometimes naughty little puppy. :)

Summer Lovin’

It’s been unseasonally chilly here for the past week and it’s feeling way too much like fall, way too soon. I’m usually looking forward to the change in season, but this year I want to hold onto summer just a little bit longer. Autumn is awesome, but that leads to winter and…well, I can’t talk about winter. It’s just too hard. So, for now, the last of my Nova Scotia photos and some serious summer lovin’…


Foggy Days

I had a few foggy days when I was in Nova Scotia. I actually forgot just how magical fog can feel when you’re near the ocean. It rolls in quickly and quietly and leaves everything feeling blanketed and still…IMG_3796IMG_3793IMG_3895IMG_3897Not to mention, the foggy ocean air smells fantastic. Seriously, someone should bottle that smell and sell it as a stress reliever. I’d buy it!

Nova Scotia Highlights via Instagram

I spent ten days in beautiful Nova Scotia last month, visiting family and friends. A few highlights via Instagram…
beachThe beach! Although, the weather wasn’t super great while I was there, I did luck out and have a couple lovely days at the beach. I just love how rugged Nova Scotia beaches feel, especially in comparison to the beaches we visited in Australia.
IMG_3850IMG_3849The water was chilly, but there’s really nothing better than the feeling of sand and ocean water between your toes!
IMG_3848I’m basically in love with Lahave Bakery and went there most days for my coffee fix. Coffee while sitting by the ocean is pretty much my idea of bliss. Not to mention, the home-made treats…yum!
IMG_3899And speaking of coffee, I had one of the best coffees that I’ve had, since returning to Canada at Pavia Cafe in Halifax. Delicious, and enjoying it while chatting with my sister and brother just sweetened the deal.
IMG_3900Me, my sister, and brother climbed to the top of the Dingle Tower in Halifax and watched the fog roll in. Pretty cool to see, and a good way to work off some of those lattes! ;)
IMG_3901And, of course, it’s always a highlight to see family and friends, especially these two little monkeys, my great-niece and great-nephew.

More about Nova Scotia here. It’s such a special place. :)

Camping – Samuel de Champlain 2014

IMG_3916 We recently returned from a 5 day camping trip to Samuel de Champlain provincial park in Ontario. We went there last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided to return again this year. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great this trip, pretty consistently rainy and grey. Luckily, we did have a few sunny breaks, and Steve is a master at hanging tarps, so we made the most of it and still had a great time! Camping is always a relaxing get-away for us and the rain helped to make us feel less guilty about lounging on the hammock with a book, rather than hiking or spending our time being active. Some of the highlights from the trip:


:campfires: a very quiet campground with very few campers: swimming in the lake: canoeing:


IMG_0088:canoeing with Jesse Dog, something we haven’t had the chance to do since he was just a young puppy (he was very well behaved!): seeing lots of turtles sunning themselves on logs while canoeing:

IMG_0087:Steve’s “Man-tee”, as he chose to call it (a carefully crafted device to help with cooking over the fire): cooking a lot of our meals, including beef stew and mussels over the fire in our new cast iron pot (best purchase ever!):

IMG_0086 :hanging with Steve and Jesse: relaxing and just getting away from the city and the noise for awhile.

I love camping. I’m most definitely a country girl at heart! :)