Finding David

I had a hard time sleeping last night. I got to the point where I had to stop trying to force it so I turned to Netflix to try to lull my brain into sleepytime. I’ve already watched all of Schitt’s Creek, but rewatching my favourite episodes makes me so happy.

Last night I watched Season 2 Episode 1: Finding David for the mumblemumbleth time and I laughed so hard that I almost woke Shawn up from shaking the bed. The “you’ve got a bug on your dress” sequence gets me every time. I topped it off with the last five minutes or so of Season 4 Episode 9: The Olive Branch (if you know, you know) and I fell asleep with a warm and cozy smile on my face.

It took a while for me to love Schitt’s Creek. I didn’t love any of season 1 but my intense Levy adoration helped me persevere. Having watched the series, I recommend sticking with it through the first season, not skipping through it. The first season is necessary for the development of the characters’ stories. It gets so much better; trust me.

Are you a Schitt’s fan? What’s your favourite episode? Better yet, what’s your favourite Moira line?

Fun DIY Gift Sets for Kids

I love putting in the time and effort to find the perfect gift for the people I love. My gift guide has a few items on it for kids (you'll find a little something for everyone on it, so check it out if you need help with your holiday shopping) but I wanted to put together some suggestions for cool, DIY gift sets the little ones in your life are sure to love. Most kids love receiving toys vs educational tools but if you can sneakily combine the two, both the recipients and their parents will be thrilled.

For the Budding Engineer

Encourage their interest in STEM with Learning Resources Playground Engineering & Design.

Finish your gift for the young engineer in your life with a Top Secret notebook where they can keep track of their projects.

For the Aspiring Artist

Craft supplies are always a huge hit in our house (except glitter, don't even get me started on the glitter).

The GoldieBlox Craft-Struction Box encourages tinkering with STEM-based crafts. It's definitely not for the younger crowd but if you've got an elementary school-aged kiddo on your list, this set is golden.

Or build your own kit with fun, colourful craft items like Smart Paper Edger Scissors in different cutting patterns, 

and 500 sheets of colourful construction paper to cut with those fun scissors (why do kids love cutting stuff so much? I don't get it),

and the only acceptable kind of glitter: glitter glue (allll the glitter glue. Seriously, I kind of want this set for myself).

Find a container that has multiple small compartments and fill them with bits and bobs: buttons, sequins, pompoms, googly eyes, whatever you can find that someone could potentially glue onto paper. 

For Your Tiny Scientist

Grady loves "doing science" and I am not science-y. At all. I have as much fun with his science stuff as he does is what I'm saying. It's pure magic for both of us.

Get in the mood to experiment with a great book. Ada Twist, Scientist is written by the same author as Rosie Revere, Engineer and is a great story to encourage curiosity. Pair it with Ada's Twist's Big Project Book for Stellar Scientists for maximum fun.

It's never too early to start promoting safety. Every scientist needs to protect their eyes with safety googles. These kid-sized safety goggles look like the type grownup scientists wear. 

Liquid droppers in kid-friendly sizes are an essential part of science experiments. Set a kid up with the droppers, some plastic beakers, and water coloured with simple food colouring

Jumbo tweezers are excellent for examining items under a giant magnifying glass, or go high-tech with the Zoomy Handheld Digital Microscope.

For Wee Beauticians

My girl Tairalyn put together a DIY Hair Salon for her daughter's birthday because she's a creative genius. 

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Throw a spray bottle, detangling brush, wide-tooth comb, handheld mirror, and assorted hair flair in a bucket and you're good to go. Just leave the round brushes to the professionals or someone might lose their bangs (shout out to nine-year-old Hillary who had to cut one out of her hair and walked around with a half-inch long fuzz fringe for months). 

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For Little Handymen and Handywomen

Safety first! Safety goggles, a kid-sized hard hat, and high visibility gear (that doubles as a warm fleece or raincoat) send the message to your little worker that safety is paramount. 

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A few fun items that encourage learning like a toy tape measure, mini traffic cones, and toolbench will set your little one up for hours of imaginative play.

For the Future Doctor

Who's got a little one fascinated with how bodies work? Learning Resources has a great Pretend and Play Doctor Set that is actually beneficial for parents too if you want to explain doctor's procedures before you take your little one to an appointment.  

Or build your own Boo Boo Clinic like Jen at Mama Papa Bubba did for her daughter.

The First Human Body Encyclopedia makes anatomy accessible for the elementary school crowd. Pair it with the Human Body Model for a visual learning aid.

And if you've recently found yourself in the "where do babies come from?" conversation, What Makes a Baby is a great book for explaining the birds and the bees to little people. Bonus points for being inclusive and mindful that there are different ways to make a baby.

For Mini Animal Lovers

My friend Andrea had a pet adoption-themed birthday party for her daughter and I love the idea of putting together a similar gift. 

This Pretend & Play Animal Hospital is great for little ones to familiarize themselves with the workings of a veterinarian's office. 

When they're ready to actually be the animal doctor, this costume and a stuffed animal to love are the perfect gift for future vets. 

Do you have a go-to DIY gift for kids? Share it in the comments! 

Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links, which means I make a small percentage of the sale if you buy through my link. Affiliate links are a bonus for me but don't influence my opinions. I've not been compensated or paid to include any items in this gift guide. 

Hillary with two Ls 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

My girl, Caitlin, creates amazing gift guides (check out her 2017 guide here) and every year I think "I wanna!" so this year I'm gonna. This gift guide is a mishmash of things I've used and love, things I find quirky and interesting, things I'm planning to give, or things I want. I'll be sure to include my personal seal of approval if I have experience with a specific item. Some links are affiliate links, which means I make a small percentage of the sale if you buy through my link. Affiliate links are a bonus for me but don't influence my opinions. I've not been compensated or paid to include any items in this gift guide. 

I'm trying to include gifts for different ages, interests, and price points. I hope you find something for everyone on your list. I also hope you'll share in the comments if you've got an amazing go-to holiday gift. Spread the love, babies. Holidays are hard enough without worrying about what to buy the pickiest people on your list.

1. Let's start with a beverage to get things going, shall we? Gin: Shake, Muddle, Stir: Over 40 of the Best Cocktails for Serious Gin Lovers. Pair this with a bottle of their favourite gin ( favourite gin is Victoria Gin. Just sayin'.)

2. The Uncommon Good Three Tree Ornament by First Growth Reclaimed Design. I have a soft spot for FGRD because their products are made from wood they salvage from pre-1940s houses being demolished in Vancouver. Plus their stuff is really cute. You can read more about their story here



3. Whiskey River Soap. Look, there is little I love more than a quirky product that delivers a little sass while still remaining useful and consumable. I don't have room in my house for more stuff. Give me something I can use up or eat and I'm a happy lady. 



4. Moluk Plui Rain Cloud Tub Toy. This toy is a winner for a few reasons: it's got a wide age range for delight (Penelope and Grady get equal enjoyment out of it and they're almost five years apart), and it opens up completely for easy cleaning / drying so it doesn't get all gross inside like other bath toys.

5. While we're talking baby toys, Poppy was given this toy for her first birthday and she's still playing with it daily almost six months later. That's like 20 years in baby time. 

6. A Mint & Birch customized necklace is a thoughtful gift for the special gal in your life. I may have done a little holiday shopping in Jessica's shop already and I'm so pleased with the quality of the jewellry I received. 



7. PumpEase hands-free pumping bra and matching wet bag in Royal Blooms. Going back to work after having a baby sucks, and pumping at work so you can continue to breastfeed literally sucks. Cheer up the pumping mom in your life with a pretty hands-free pumping bra so she can free up her hands to read a book, or eat her lunch, or scroll through her phone while she pumps. 



8. Why not include a book with the PumpEase so she's got a little something to pass the time while she pumps? The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur is delicious and breathtakingly sad and hopeful. Pro tip: slip a note telling her what you love about her between pages 212 and 213. Trust me.

9. Better yet, add Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey for maximum lady power poetry points. 

10. Corkcicle Travel Mug. This bad boy's on my wish list (16oz, Gloss Turquoise, 'k?). Shawn started using a Corkcicle water bottle recently (this one, if you're interested) and the quality and features are even better than my S'well. (Don't tell him I said that. He only got the Corkcicle because I made a big deal about him nicking my water bottle.)

11. Hand-stamped leather keychain by Ava to Zoe. Grady has one with his name on his backpack.



12. Letters to Me, When I Grow Up: Write Now. Read Later. Treasure Forever. I love the idea of Grady writing letters to his future self. I'm definitely picking this up for him. It feels like a fun project we can work on together.

13. Poppy and the Blooms. I realize this book is really only pee-your-pants-exciting to me but I'm including it because it's actually a very sweet story. A blog reader reached out earlier this year to tell me about it (thanks, thoughtful blog reader!) and my sister ordered it for me from her awesome local book store. Pops is going to be unwrapping it Christmas Eve as her bedtime story.

14. My mother-in-law gave me this ice cream scoop recently and it is the best ice cream scoop. I didn't know I needed an ice cream scoop until I tried this one. Pair it with a pint of fancy ice cream (Earnest London Fog if you love me) for a seasonally unexpected gift that will keep them guessing.



15. Perch portable highchair by guzzie + Guss. This highchair is a lifesaver for parents who don't have a lot of kitchen space, or people who don't want to stop eating out just because they've got a baby. Pair it with a gift card to their favourite restaurant and make a bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived shell of a human weep with gratitude.

16. Shawn asked me not to buy the National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit for Grady. But he didn't ask me not to post about it on my blog with laser eyes pointed at the grandparents and aunties and uncles who could potentially give it to Grady. Hint hint.

17. Speaking of National Geographic, Grady received a subscription to National Geographic Kids magazine for his birthday last year and he loves it. It's fun for him to get something in the mail, and the magazine itself is engaging and interesting for elementary school-aged kids.

18. Beluga Baby Stretchy Wrap. Poppy lived in this wrap for the first few months of her life. I honestly think I would have gone crazy if I didn't have the Beluga to pop her into when she was feeling salty. 



20. Pair it with an Emile Henry Modern Classics Pie Dish and your recipient basically owes you homemade pie. That's how this works.

21. Heavy Duty Kitchen Shears. Can you have too many pairs of good quality scissors? Especially if they keep getting ruined by someone using them to cut metal bass guitar strings?

22. For the craft beer enthusiast in your life, these silicone rubber bottle caps pop onto opened bottles and keep them fresh so you don't have to finish your beer in one sitting. 

23. Unapologetic tee by Brim Papery. This one's pretty self-explanatory. 



24. Too Early Mug by Effin Birds. 



25. Or the I'm Hilarious Mug by Effin Birds.



26. Or the Feminism is for Everyone, Dipshit tee by Effin Birds. Basically anything by Effin Birds. 



27. Put together a Self Care-themed gift of luxurious goodies your recipient may not splurge on for themselves like Healing Balm by Haven Apothecary... 



28. ...and a Vancouver Candle Co. soy candle (Strathcona is my fave!)



29. Throw in a box of Purdy's Hedgehogs...





31. Sip Caddy Bath & Shower Portable Suction Cupholder Caddy. Because who hasn't hidden from their kids or partner by taking an extra long shower? Now you can add a delicious beverage to the mix and stay in there until the hot water runs out.

32. Just make sure you pair the suction cupholder with shatterproof glassware so the shower doesn't become a bloodbath.

33. Pantone: Box of Colour: 6 Mini Board Books. A fun way to get your little ones talking about and observing colour. 

34. Le Creuset salt and pepper mill. Fancy salt and pepper mills are something I'd probably never spend my own money on so they feel like an extra splurge-y gift. 

35. Do you have a coffee nerd on your list? (Spoiler alert: you have a coffee nerd on your list.) The Chemex brings ritual back to making your morning cup o'Joe. 

36. Saxx Ultra Underwear. They describe themselves as "Life Changing Underwear" and if you want to know more about that, just ask Shawn (but be prepared to hear a lot about testicles).

37. ZoLi Chubby Gummy Gum Massager. This is the best teething aid / chew toy we've come across. Poppy is currently working on her molars and we pretty much never see her without the ZoLi shoved in her cheek.

38. Do you know someone who is always cold? These fingerless gloves are perfect for keeping hands warm while still being able to type. I've got a pair in my desk at work and I have no shame in wearing them around the office.

39. Help your loved one start a new health regimen with the Omega J8006 Nutrition Centre Juicer. This is the juicer I use. We've had it for five years and it works as perfectly now as it did when we first got it. (Not because we never use it, to be clear. We use it a lot. It's just constructed really well and has an excellent warranty.)

40. A manual coffee grinder that has a 4.5 star rating with over 3,500 customer reviews. This is high on my Christmas wish list, you guys. I enjoy my coffee in different ways (stovetop espresso, cold brew, etc.) and need a different size grind for each. A manual grinder gives you more control over how fine or coarse your coffee grinds are. 

41. The National Geographic Crystal Growing Kit was a big hit at Grady's birthday. Shawn and I are not scientific-minded people so we appreciate stuff like this that explains science in a way that our kid (and WE) easily understand.

42. THIRTY CANADIAN DOLLARS seems like an obscene amount of money to spend on a kid water bottle, I know. But stick with me here. I was sick of the plastic ones getting gross. I hated pulling the straws out and trying to clean all the crevices. This kid-sized S'ip by S'well is the perfect size for elementary school kids, and the silicone cap connector means no lost parts. Grady's been throwing it in his backpack every day for months and we haven't had a leak yet. 



43. Pair it with the S'well bottle brush for easy cleanup.

44. Katie m. Berggren is one of my favourite artists. Her Mother and Child Calendar is full of gorgeous artwork featuring the love between a mama and her babes.



45.Speaking of art, I am coveting this Vancouver scene by local artist JPH.



46. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. I want both my kids to grow up knowing women can kick as much ass as men. I like the idea of adding this book to our nightly rotation.

47. The Book with No Pictures has been a favourite in our house for many months. Grady's reaction varies depending on the enthusiasm of the reader but it's pretty much guaranteed giggles when we pull it out.

48. Little Unicorn Muslin Swaddles are adorable and so useful for wee babies. This pineapple design puts a huge smile on my face. 





50. Cat Butt Fridge Magnets for the person who has everything.

51. Oversized Plaid Blanket Scarf. Versatile, stylish, and warm.

54. Add a little bling to your tree with a Crystal Geode ornament.



55. Or add some elegance with glass icicle ornaments (and then send me a picture because ours aren't going on the tree this year with Little Miss Destruction hanging around).

56. This stopwatch by Learning Resources is a lot of fun for the kids but I've found it handy too (for when I need five blessed minutes of silence. I set the stopwatch and if they make it to five minutes chaos-free we celebrate with chocolate. Hashtag: I'm doing my best.)

57. If you've got some who enjoys the Throne Games* on your list, these pint glasses are sure to please. 

*I know, I just do it to bug Shawn.

58. Pair the nerd glasses with the official Game of Thrones cookbook and an IOU for a homemade Winterfell feast.

59. This cooler bag is machine washable, comes with detachable long strap so you can throw it over the stroller handles, and is super cute.

60. 100 Pantone Postcards to add a pop of colour to your correspondence. 

61. Herschel Supply Co. Strand Sprout Diaper Bag. I lust after this bag, you guys. It's the perfect blend of functional and cool, without being overwhelmingly BABY or pastel. 

62. This Karma The Circle Necklace by Dogeared is a great gift for the lady in your life who believes in the golden rule. 

63. Or  wish her well as she embarks on a new adventure with Dogeared's Going Places Necklace.

64. Feminist AF retro tee. Not going to lie; I want this t-shirt really badly. 

65. Tile Mate Key Finder. You guys. Shawn misplaces his wallet on a daily basis. I wish I was exaggerating. The Tile Mate Key Finder is awesome because you just attach it to the thing you're always looking for and then you can use your phone to track it (or you can use it in reverse and press the Tile to make your phone ring if your phone has been misplaced).

66. Mama-to-be on your gift list? Put together a new mama treat pack with some life-changing (not hyperbole) New Mama Bottom Spray...

68. ...and some Motherlove Nipple Cream...

69. ...and the world's best baby name book: The Baby Name Wizard...

70. ...and a light cotton robe for easy boob access if they're planning to breastfeed...

71. ...and finally, a Fridababy Fridet Mom Washer because, well, she deserves a little pampering. 

72. I bought this clamp-on flashlight off Caitlin's gift guide a couple years ago and Shawn gets a lot of use out of it, especially when he's working on his car (he clamps it on the hood).

73. Krave beef jerky. It's not Christmas without a stocking full of jerky.

74. Seltzer Goods 7-year Pen (this NEED COFFEE one is perfect for work).


75. Dog Stripe Thank You Cards, perfect for writing notes of gratitude to the people who make your spirits bright this holiday season.

I have a lot of fun giving experiences over things (and I especially appreciate this approach when it comes to my kids) so I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments. My go-to experience gifts are: membership to the Vancouver Aquarium, movie theatre gift certificates, making a charitable donation in someone's name, HelloFresh gift card, pyjama popcorn dance party (though really, that one is specific to Grady) and road trips. I feel like I need to expand my experiences-vs-things repertoire so please help me out. 

This gift guide was a lot of fun to put together; I appreciate you coming along for the ride and I hope it's given you some ideas for your gift purchases. Wishing you and your loved ones a relaxing, joyful, festive holiday season. 

The Story of Penelope Bloom

There's not a lot about pregnancy that I enjoy. I know women who love being pregnant (they're not mythical unicorns!) but I am not one of them. The only pregnancy glow I rocked was a sheen of sweat from barfing so much. (Hashtag: glam life.)

The part of pregnancy I did enjoy? Baby names. I can talk baby names all day every day. Swistle: Baby Names is one of my favourite blogs. Talking about our lady baby's name was the one bright spot of the pregnancy.

Shawn and I don't have very similar naming styles. I think my style is best described as a little old fashioned and a little sassy. Shawn's style can't be pegged down. He would suggest names I thought of as 80s and 90s names and then throw in some Swedish names and my personal favourite, names of characters from Game of Thrones. Our baby name discussions were all over the place is what I'm saying.

From very early on, I felt like Mabel was our baby girl's name. I loved how it sounded with our two-syllable, starts-with-an-M surname. It felt sweet and old timey while still familiar. I loved how it sounded with Grady. Shawn wasn't opposed to it the way he was to my other suggestions (which, to give you an idea of the style of names I love were: Ruby, Clover, Birdie, Violet, Georgia, Beatrice, Marigold, Margaret, Edith, Belle, and Olive.)

Shawn's list of suggestions included the Game of Thrones names (I wasn't kidding,) Luna, Annika, Astrid, Holly, Evelyn, Eleanor, Scarlet, and Penelope.

We'd almost-just-about-agreed on Mabel when something happened to ruin the name for Shawn around the same time that he started feeling like Evelyn was our baby girl's name. We were stuck. I felt very strongly that her name was Mabel and he felt very strongly that her name was Evelyn. Our baby names discussions were no longer fun; they consisted of both of us only suggesting our top name pick.

So in a fit of "What would Swistle do?" desperation, we both forfeited our top names. Mabel and Evelyn were both off the table. Neither one of us wanted to tackle The Baby Name Wizard (the best baby name book, by far) again so we decided to start with each other's lists.

I kept coming back to Penelope. It was the name on Shawn's list that fit my style most closely. My arguments against it were pronouncing it Peen-uh-lope as a child when I read the name before ever hearing it, and feeling like the nickname Penny was inevitable (and Penny is a fine name, it just didn't feel like my baby's name). The Baby Name Wizard is what sold me on the name. It gave me the origin (in Greek mythology, Odysseus' wife, Penelope, patiently awaited his return for twenty years and it felt like we'd been waiting for Penelope forever) and the nickname Poppy.

I hadn't considered Poppy as a nickname for Penelope before. It's definitely raised a few eyebrows when we explain that Poppy is short for Penelope (and we've had a few people ask outright why we don't call her Penny,) and I know in the future she may choose something other than Poppy as her nickname, but I don't mind. The name Penelope / Poppy fits her perfectly.

As for Bloom, I knew I wanted a short and sassy middle name. Grady's middle name is Shawn after a longstanding tradition in his family of giving the firstborn son his father's first name as a middle name (a tradition I didn't love but cared less about breaking than Shawn cared about keeping). We briefly considered using different parts of my name as Poppy's middle but I didn't love any of the combos we came up with. Bloom is a word that holds a lot of meaning to me so even though it felt a bit weird at first, we decided to use it and we have no regrets. Penelope Bloom is a name that suits Poppy perfectly, holds a lot of meaning for us, and gives us some excellent nicknames (Poppers and Ms. Bloom are my favourites).

How did you name your baby? If you're pregnant and having a tough time coming up with names, will you submit your request to Swistle and then tell me about it so I can play along?