Men’s Style: Ode To Canada …

Growing up in the Midwest, I am accustomed to cold weather and snow for the holidays.   It wasn’t Christmas unless I had shoveled the driveway in below freezing weather all the while silently cursing my parents for being too cheap to buy a snow blower.  Bone-chilling cold, corrosive salt stains on my shoes and second-guessing if I had frostbite were the hallmarks of a Lake Family Christmas.  Needless to say when it came time to leave the nest, this birdie flew South ….well West to California.

However, while my feet are firmly planted in California, my head (and my heart) tend to find they drifting over the border to our snowy northern neighbors.  Over the last few years, I have found myself becoming more infatuated with Canada.  Maybe, because many of my design mentors are Canadian and thanks to this great thing called social media have cobbled together a merry band of amazing design oriented friends who support and inspire this little ole’ American.

Looking through my Canadian friends Instagram shots made me a touch nostalgic.  My Canadian friends embrace the cold weather, rather than run from it.  They pull out fashion-forward coats, cute hats and functional but stylish boots. They mix pattern and materials with abandon for a look that is undeniable chic.  For this next installment of Men’s Style: Holiday Edition, I channeled two of the most fashionable Canadians I know, Erica and Jonathan to create a look that I am calling …

Courtney_Canada_Lead

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Food Coma…

I am still recouping from my whirlwind trip to Canada and have promptly put myself on a strict diet of water, air and lemons.  Sweet meats and cheeses, my Canadian hosts know how to show a boy a good time.  I was treated to some great restaurants and am still in food coma from the experience……

Meredith and her husband treated me to the most amazing family style dinner in Toronto that for the life of me I can’t remember the name of and I think Meredith is secretly keeping to herself out of fear it will get overrun with American tourists.  But seriously, the restaurant Cafe Belong is simply amazing on all levels…

CAFE BELONG – Toronto

Melissa and Erica rolled out the red carpet and took me to some excellent meals on the town in Calgary….

BLINK

WURST – Calgary

However, I don’t think any will top the EPIC dinner party that Melissa threw at her gorgeous house.  15 courses (yup) with wine pairings … it was amaze balls and about half way between, I had to lie down and take a little nap.  It truly was a culinary experience to the likes I will doubt I will see again….

Now if you excuse me, I need to run a marathon to lose the weight I gained.

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Exploring Canada Continues…

After five days in Canada, I have yet to acquire a taste for maple syrup or say the word “aboot” but I have acquired a taste for its fantastic designers.  Seriously folks, Canada has something in the water because I have met some talented folks these last few days.  Again major thanks to Meredith Heron for playing my “God Design Mother” in Toronto.  All you publishing peeps out there, somebody better grab a sister and give her a book ASAP because she has CRAZY knowledge to share.  If nothing else, she needs to give a master class or two…..

Speaking of “sisters”, I am off to yet another Canadian city to meet up with my two design diva “sisters” Erica and Melissa to continue the learn spree.  So up next on my Canadian road trip….

I get 2 days in Calgary with my lovely ladies and I don’t plan on wasting a minute of it.  So check back on Monday for updates from my road trip as well as some tasty design tidbits from my other design projects.

Have a GREAT weekend!

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Blog Series: Back to School Prep with Moth Design

I readily admit to this….I have a crush on my next guest blogger.  Honestly how could you not have a crush on Erica of Moth Design?  She is beautiful, stylish, runs a thriving design business in Canada and is a mother to five boys.  Yup, peeps, she holds it down as a single mom of FIVE hormone-raging boys and has yet to lose her sanity.  How does she do it?  Well I will let her explain….

Hi there! It’s Erica from Moth Design. As a single mother of 5 boys, organization is the key and there are several things I do every August to keep our family afloat when the school year takes off.

Tip 1:
I make my boys help me locate supplies and back packs from the previous year to determine an accurate list of what’s on hand. Usually there’s enough supplies to last for the first days. I then shop directly from the teachers lists to avoid unnecessary purchases or duplication. Something to keep in mind, grocery and drug stores that don’t usually stock an “office” section will often mark down their school supplies to fantastic prices in the weeks after school begins as they need to make room for Halloween candy!

Tip 2:
We  go through the prior year’s clothes and shoes to assess what still fits or can be passed down. This year there are still jeans that fit but the knees are ripped. I’m planning on trying out this clever patch. The great thing is you don’t have to be a master seamstress to do these fun fixes. Instructions (here).

another version (here)

Tip 3: 

Extra socks and underwear. In my family everything is color coded. Boring perhaps, yes, but this was the best thing I could have done for myself. EVER! There has never been a basket of mismatched socks since and it cuts the time spent putting laundry away in half. So here’s the tip… every boy has their own color underwear (ie grey, navy, etc…) and I buy socks with different colored stitching, based on size, at the toe. The same can be done for girls too. Usually I can pick up big packages of both at stores like Walmart or Target in the fall. Given every child knows their color it’s easy for them to put away their laundry and keep organized.

Tip 4:

I remember learning in a psychology class that it takes 21 days to form a habit. I start putting my kids to bed earlier the last two weeks of August in anticipation of the first few days of school. The transition of re-entry can be stressful and a good sleep schedule helps. I also have my boys put the following days clothes at the end of their beds before they go to sleep. This cuts down the rush in the morning and eliminates the pandemonium caused by not being able to find socks or clean pants. ps- do a test run of your child’s alarm clock to confirm it is working too!

Tip 5:

For those of us in colder climates, the one year that I didn’t buy boots and mittens early and when the first snow fell we didn’t have the appropriate snow gear. Man, did I feel like an idiot dropping of my kids in their sneakers. Since then I always set a reminder in my planner to keep my eye out for the arrival of boots and snow wear in stores and I buy promptly.

Tip 6:

I’ve never ordered fancy pre-printed sew in clothing name labels. However, I’ve found a system that works for me. I buy fine tip Sharpies and write our last name in all of the boys clothes. There’s been several occasions when one of my boys has a classmate with the same winter coat or backpack. It’s just easier to write their name in the collar and eliminate confusion. This also helps with laundry sorting. I write every boys name in the back collar of their undershirts and they can put things away themselves.

Hope this helps facilitate a smooth start to the school year! Good luck everyone and thanks so much for having me Courtney!

Thank you Erica!!!!  I love that Erica’s system empowers her sons to help themselves which I think is key.  By creating a system that is color-coded and simple to follow, her sons can now fend for themselves.  I also love her tip regarding non-traditional stores to purchase school supplies!  But now I am thinking about Halloween candy…….

As I ponder if there is any candy in the house, why don’t you all think about how  Cristin of Simplified Bee is going to wrap up the series tomorrow?
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