Last week my daughter came home from school and told me about a friend of hers who asked her dad if he could take her to the hairdresser’s to get a new hairstyle. Dad agreed but only on the condition that she lose 10 to 15 pounds. Now, I should tell you that I know this little girl and she is 10 years old, beautiful, artistic, caring, shorter than my own daughter, weighs 87 pounds and is NOT FAT. But what if she was? What kind of parent puts that on their kid anyways? What is she supposed to do with this information? What does any child know about calories, diets and working out? She’s not supposed to know anything. This is (borderline?) child abuse. How about actually parenting?! Educate your child about health, food, the nutrients a growing body needs and why physical activity is important. How about making an appointment with the pediatrician to address your concerns or questions about your daughter’s well being and physical appearance rather than assuming she needs to cut back on food?

My daughter (as well as other friends) told her that she is not fat and that she should tell her mother, but she won’t because she is afraid her dad will get mad at her. Instead she went and spoke to her dad again the following day, asking him if he was serious about her needing to lose weight. He said yes. My daughter asked her what she planned on doing. She shrugged her shoulders and said she would do “sit-ups and stuff every day”.

I would be lying if my daughter never brought up the word ‘fat’ about herself. It started about a year ago. The nine- to 12-year-old range is when a young girl’s body starts changing (for those who don’t know it’s called puberty–duh!). They have to deal with a bunch of new stuff like their hips growing wider, wearing deodorant, bras and being taller than most boys their age. It’s an embarrassing and confusing time. Our daughters need confirmation that there is nothing wrong with them. “…you will find out that these changes are important for your health and they are a normal part of growing up. You will also gain weight during this time. This is normal…” – ChildrensHealthNetwork.org.

So, congratulations, dad! The first man in your daughter’s life. You are supposed to be a hero. To make your daughter feel beautiful and smart, worthy of anything and anyone so that she has those high standards when choosing people in her life, like boyfriends. Now the message is: “What’s the point of even having pretty hair if the rest of me doesn’t measure up? And I don’t… and it must be true because daddy said so.” PIG.

This is the kind of hurt that can never be undone. How does a 10-year-old lose weight with no help or guidance? Will this lead to her googling ‘weight loss’ on her ipod at bedtime? Will she learn to skip meals or become full-on bulimic? This summer, will she still get excited about putting on her bathing suit and giggle through the sprinkler or will she be too self-conscious to wear anything other than a baggy T-shirt? Ladies, let’s make sure we have this talk with our daughters, nieces, girlfriends and sisters…and of course let’s educate our men so that they don’t make the same mistake as this moron-dad!

Email me your thoughts: JulieLovesHome@gmail.com


Published January 22nd, 2014 / Vaudreuil Soulange Gazette

Published February 17th, 2014 / Chelsea Foundation

Interested on finding out more about tween girls and puberty?  Here are some really helpful links:

Dr. OZ answers question: As a teen how can I tell if I’m gaining too much weight? / Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answeredThroughout your teen years, you’re likely to gain both height and weight rapidly. Sometimes that may be just fine. For example, girls will gain body fat in puberty, particularly in the hips. The best way to start figuring out if you’re gaining too much weight is to check the BMI Percentile Calculator for Child and Teen. This index, calculated from height and weight, takes into account what is normal for younger boys and girls. It’s not definitive, though, since everyone changes at different rates. If your BMI tells you that you may be overweight, a visit to your doctor can confirm it, and he or she may suggest a healthy weight loss program.

Dr. Phil: How to raise your daughters’ self esteem

Children’s Physician Network: Puberty For Girls

The Daily Mail: Is it right to tell a child she’s fat?

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Lunch Box Wars

Are school’s and parents taking allergy precautions too far?

peanut butter & jelly muffins

Columns, Julie Cadieux » Lunch box wars
// editor@hudsongazette.com // Dec 4th, 2013

Most of us know people with allergies. In fact, two very close friends of mine have children with deadly food allergies. When preparing to have them visit my home, it’s something I take very seriously. I research and read food labels. I wipe down things like door handles and light switches and I make sure I cook meals as safely as possible. I do my part so that my guests leave in the car they came in -and not in an ambulance!

Food allergies may not run in my family but food intolerance, seasonal and pet allergies do — and perhaps some of you with food allergies snub your nose at those of us with the itchy, watery eyes or sneezing but did you know that these kinds of allergies can be pretty scary too? My mom is deadly allergic to horses (discovered during a close call on a calèche ride at Disney World when I was nine). My daughter has seasonal allergies where, aside from the obvious symptoms, she also breaks out in burning, itchy red hives on her face and torso.

I hear you, allergy parents, I do. I get how hard you have to work to keep your kids safe but well fed. I know a woman who has to make everything from scratch, even bread, to be sure her child doesn’t die from eating the wrong thing. That’s a lot of stress.

And yes, I too thought it was really careless and just plain stupid when, a few weeks ago, one high school cafeteria staff decided to make a huge vat of peanut sauce to accompany one of their dishes and told students with nut allergies to stay away from the cafeteria and not eat lunch that day. It was no surprise when a student who hadn’t heard to stay clear went in anaphylactic shock (that student is perfectly fine now btw). If the school and/or school board is going to have a policy on food restrictions then they and whoever is hired to cook food on the premises should follow it with no exceptions.

However, long gone are the days where schools only ban peanuts. In many schools today the list of the forbidden keeps growing: all nuts, all seeds, eggs, milk products and candy. If a teacher or lunch monitor just THINKS that there might be a banned substance in your child’s lunch bag, it’s not gonna see the light of day. Period.

Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Chipits

I’m not trying to say that we shouldn’t be cautious or care about children who have food allergies, but is it starting to go too far? I read about a teacher who explained how her school implemented a new rule where the staff can’t put milk in their coffee or honey in their tea. Last year a mom in York, Ontario made headlines for fighting with her child’s school to cut down oak trees located nearby (not on the school property) because the falling acorns posed a threat to her child who had a severe nut allergy.

Plus what about the cost? I often think about how pricey lunches have become. Peanut butter and jelly, egg salad or even a simple cheese sandwich are not just old fashioned boxed lunch staples — they are economical. While parents who have children with food restrictions get attention and a pat on the back for demanding change. parents with low incomes are too embarrassed to write angry letters to their school board or call up the local newspaper to complain about how they can’t afford genoa salami, slices of lean turkey breast and bread that is certified to be milk-less, egg-less, seed-less and nut-less (and at this point why not throw in gluten-free since that seems to be a thing now too!).

And now on top of everything schools demand that kids eat a healthy snack at recess -and I absolutely agree, except forget the yogurt, slice of cheese or even milk (remember when we were in elementary school and had milk delivered to us at recess? GASP!). And if you thought the all mighty granola bar would be the no-brainer, go-to, save the day snack solution you are dead wrong. I proudly found and purchased nut-free granola bars but my daughter was told to keep it in her lunch box and take it home because it had ‘quinoa’ in it (pronounced “keen-wah,” it is a protein packed grain). I guess it is considered a seed? To be honest, I can’t keep up.

I know what you’re thinking food allergy parents “get over it and pack your kid an apple!”. Absolutely, I love fruit and so do my kids, except my daughter gets an itchy tongue when she eats apples or any fruits with edible skin and I can’t cut it up because she doesn’t like it unless its cut up fresh and my middle child has braces so he needs most hard fruit cut up also, but hey, I am not whining; I buy single-serve apple sauce and fruit cups and of course we always have bananas in the house.

Pantry: large bin with easy accessible snacks for the kids

And yes allergen parents, I am lucky enough to have a fridge full of cold cuts, lunch meats and a variety of breads for my kids’ sandwiches. Except, recently I heard a doctor explain how we should not eat lunch meats more than twice a week because of all the preservatives and salt and apparently some studies now show that eating lunch meats more than three times a week can cause cancer. SIGH. I had a great idea of making tuna salad sandwiches once a week but then I remembered I can’t because mayonnaise has egg in it. So now, I try and break up the week with a thermos of soup. Unfortunately my kids just won’t eat dinner leftovers for lunch and the whole point is to try and get them to like their lunch enough to eat it since I’m not there to make sure they do. I credit myself with being pretty creative in the kitchen, and you can find some great lunch box ideas in books like Beating The Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsh, but creativity just doesn’t happen to me at 6:20 a.m. (the time when I’m putting together the kids’ school lunches).

Allergies are no joke but there it is anyway: my annoyance with it all. I know I am not the only one. What do you think? Is the line between cautious and crazy becoming a little blurry?

Email me at JulieLovesHome@gmail.com

Julie Cadieux 2012

How to build your very own stone Fire Pit!


Every summer, we tackle a handful of outdoor projects.  I thought this one was definitely worth sharing!

The hubs and I were sick of buying those metal outdoor fire pits that you find at just about any local home store.  They look nice for about 10 minutes before decaying into a pile of rust, transforming what should be a nice evening roasting marshmallows into a fearful game of ‘who’s up to date on their tetanus shot‘.  Not cool.  We were about to chuck our 5th one to the curb and go shop for another when I fell in love with the idea of a stone fire pit.  But I was shocked by the price tag: $1500 to $2000 (stones + labor).  Yikes!  I did a little more research and felt pretty confident we could buy the supplies and do it ourselves for a fraction of the cost.  I was right!  Got 2 hours and $233 dollars?  Great, keep reading for step by step how-to details.



  • 68 retaining wall stones: 17 stones per circle layer x 4 layers (the bottom layer is hard to see in the photo because it is 60% buried)
  • 3 bags of rock dust
  • 6 bags of pea gravel
  • Construction adhesive (glue)
  • Shovel, garden trowel, level, measuring tape, rope, rubber mallet, work gloves

stone wall landscaping

Purchase 68 small angled-curved retaining wall stones (they come in two sizes: small or large.  FYI ‘small’ measures 8 inches long x 4 inches deep).  You need the kind with a small curve and slight angled pie shape so that you can easily form a circle.  Otherwise, should you choose not to, you’ll need to take a week off work, polish up on your math skills and rent one of those stone cutters!!  Shop around and look for sales.  We purchased our stones for $1.77 each plus $35 for the delivery (trust me, you do not want to haul these babies in your car,  they weigh 20lbs each). They come in three shades which I can describe best as sandy-grey, red-grey or cement-grey.  You may want to buy a couple extra in case of breakage.


Start by deciding where you want the fire pit located and make a tight circle with 17 of the stones.  Outline the circle using chalk, move the stones out of the way and start digging a trench: about 6 inches deep and 10 inches wide.  Make sure it is level.  This will be the trickiest part.  Even the flattest of yards are not as flat and level as you think.  We used a small level and a large laser level combined with a measuring tape and rope in several different bizarre ways to make extra sure we had it all worked out before continuing.

digging for outdoor fire pit


Next, spread out the rock dust (about 2-3 inches deep of the stuff) and water it, walk and jump on it (this will help settle and stamp it all down) .  Then get back on your knees and make sure it’s level again.  You may find that you have to scrape a little rock dust off or add some in a few spots.

fire bit DIY how to build make your own

Grab one stone, set it in place and tap it with a rubber mallet, use a small level to make sure it’s,  well… level !  Then place another stone tightly next to that, and once again using a rubber mallet stamp it gently into the gravel dust, make sure it’s level and repeat another 15 times until first layer of circle is complete (17 stones per circle layer).  If you have the occasional stone that is not level you should only have to add or remove a little gravel dust underneath it, remember to stamp it to set it in place before you continue.

fire pit how to make DIY

building fire pit

Hooray! You’re done with the hardest part, now it’s time to finish this bad boy!

making a firepit

For the second layer you are going to sit each stone centered on the joint of the two stones beneath it (see photo).  Make sure to butt each stone up tightly against the other.  Repeat for the third and fourth layer.  Wooho you’re done …er…maybe.


OK.  I know what you’re thinking: “hey wait a minute, you have a square cut-out hole on the side of your fire pit -how come?“.  You don’t HAVE to do this, however I recommend it because the ‘holes’ are actually air vents and provide air flow and circulation (as you know oxygen helps to feed a fire and keep it from dying out too quickly).

This is what you need to know:  first of all there isn’t just 1 ‘hole’ air vent, there are actually 3 of them for a good cross breeze.  The air vents are spaced out along that second layer.  Which means the second layer will have 16 stones not 17.  Don’t worry, I hate math more than you know, but even I could figure this out!  Those 3 air vents are the equivalent width of 1 stone.  So when you lay down your second layer add a 1/3 wide space every 4 to 6 stones you set.  Next add the remaining 2 layers (17 stones per layer) as instructed above.


Fill the bottom with a bit of dirt or sand and a couple of inches of gravel (we used pea gravel).  Add a little back-fill to the front also (to fill in whatever gap is left between bottom 1st layer and your yard).  Sprinkle a wide border of pea gravel along the exterior, not only with this make it look more clean and finished, but for safety it makes sense to not have grass, mulch or anything flammable that close to the fire pit.

Finally when you’re happy with the fire pit, remove all but the bottom first layer and (gulp) put a dab or two of PL Premium Construction Adhesive under each stone as you re-build it.

WHAT?!?!! – you had me up until now! There is no way I am doing this DIY project!”

I know, I know.  BUT honestly this doesn’t take as long as you might think.  I should have video taped my husband: in all but 10 minutes the fire pit was put back together!! Because, the main work of levelling, the troubles you encountered along the way, the air vents you had to calculate …have all been sorted out – and now you and this fire pit are like old pals!  Of course you don’t have to glue it, but you run the risk of your fire pit looking misshapen after someone leans their big old feet on it one too many times:  Do it once, do it right!

DIY firepit how-to, gluing adhesive the stones


We did this project as a family.  It was a great learning experience for the kids and they were a great help at hauling the stones from the front to the back yard!  It took us only about a couple of hours, including a pic-nic lunch at the job site!  ;-)

The approximate cost breakdown was $233 (not including taxes).

  • $119 / 67 stones (1 less stone than original list because of air vents)
  • $35 / shipping
  • $48 / 6 bags of pea gravel
  • $20 / 3 bags rock dust
  • $11 / Construction adhesive
  • *We already had all of the tools required.

I know it was a bit pricier than buying a ready made metal fire pit.  However considering we probably won’t have to replace this one for years (a decade?) it will probably save us several hundred dollars.  Plus it adds so much character to the landscaping and makes for a more welcoming spot to entertain!

fire pit adirondack chairs

fire pit area and adirondack chairs





P.S. The eight charcoal Adirondack chairs are from Home Depot, and are plastic (of course I dream about having solid wood ones but these cost about 1/4 of the price, for now they’ll do just fine!).  The orange-red alternating lumbar pillows and Adirondack head pillows are from PC HOME (seasonal) which I scored for $3.44 each.  They didn’t have 8 left so I bought 4 of each and alternated one on each chair.  Talk about budget decorating!  ;-)

Thanks for checking in -let me know what you think.  Is this a project you might do in your own backyard?


* Versions of this article were published on Bob Vila on September 11, 2013. The Gazette Vaudreuil Soulange on September 26th, 2013.   DIY Home World on October 12, 2013 and on the cover of DIY Decorating Addict Magazine on May 20th, 2014.


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8 artful ideas for your laundry room

We don’t often put too much thought into beautifying these busy spaces but regardless of whether your washing machine and dryer are tucked away in a small nook or large mudroom it’s a spot we have no choice but to spend time in!  Why not add a little eye candy?   Here are a few artful ideas which are sure to add a little character to your laundry area.



3. FUN



Hot glue and some bright red clothespin can transform a frame-less photo (or even a mirror!) into a focal point.  Laundry/Work room via Laundry Room Redesign

via The Cranky Queen

Get creative with clip art and a photo of your pet! via The Cranky Queen

via Feathers & Sunshine

For details on how to DIY this sign visit Feathers & Sunshine


If you’re into fashion how about requesting a high resolution photo of one of Sandra Backlund’s clothespin dresses?  (email : Office@1BeyoStudio.Se) – slip the pic into a frame and you have instant modern -and pretty cool, art!

5. 6. & 7. OFF THE WALL

Because art doesn’t have to hang on walls, how about putting wall decals right on your washer and dryer, buying a bright area rug or making your own DIY clothespin chandelier?


Often small rooms (like laundry rooms!) are the safest place to experiment and try something bold like a busy wallpaper!  Don’t have any wall space? -how about the ceiling?

Can’t commit to pricey wallpaper? Check out what Kristin over at the Hunted Interior did in her very recent laundry nook makeover: she lined the back of a shelving unit with dragon fly wrapping paper -so easy and inexpensive!  Cute-cute!

What’s hangin’ in your laundry room?  Feel free to share your comments below!

Pssst – looking for legitimate FREE art? click HERE.

*a version of this post was published on BOB VILA NATION, click here to view!


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The 12 most inspiring chalkboard walls

From giving a bistro feel to a kitchen or your very own (erasable) wallpaper in the bathroom to a designated space where you can get your graffiti on, these spaces prove that chalkboard walls can work in any room of your home.

Chalkboard-Walls-43-1-Kindesign Chalkboard-Walls-31-1-Kindesign Chalkboard-Walls-17-1-Kindesign Chalkboard-Walls-15-1-Kindesign Chalkboard-Walls-14-1-Kindesign Chalkboard-Walls-07-1-Kindesign Chalkboard-Walls-06-1-Kindesign Chalkboard-Walls-03-1-Kindesign chalkboardwallkitchen chalkboardwallgameroom teengaebedroom

Want more? Click on any of the photos above to go right to the source.


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Inspiring ideas on how to update and customize a bathroom vanity!

I would like to renovate my bathroom vanity by adding more storage and giving it a new colour. Do you have any ideas?
Stella, Newmarket – Toronto

Sprucing up the old vanity in your bathroom is a good idea, especially if it is rundown or outdated. It will rejuvenate your bathroom and, if done well, can even change the whole look of the room!

There are practical and inexpensive solutions for adding storage, such as installing a kitchen spice rack inside the cupboard doors. Keep lotions and soaps neatly organized, and storage bins and shelves will help maximize cupboard space. Therefore, you will have your accessories on hand, without cluttering your countertop vanity.

*To view and read this full article please click HERE or go to www.Ronamag.ca

Thank you!

The McMum

“The make-ahead-made-by-mom-egg-McMuffin”

My kids nicknamed this breakfast The McMum.  It’s a really great make-ahead breakfast for busy weekday mornings.  Double or triple what you would normally make for your family and you have breakfast for the next few mornings (or if you have teenagers like I do -an after school snack!).


HOW TO: Lightly oil a muffin tin.  Then, similar to lining each hole with a paper liner when baking muffins, line each hole with a piece of ham (you can also use other lunch meets like turkey, mortadella or salami).  Crack an egg right inside each one.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper (I also like a little dash of paprika!) on top and bake in a 350°F degree oven until cooked through and firm (about 15 minutes).

Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow to cool on a baking rack.  Gently remove each McMum and place them in a Tupperware or a plate with plastic wrap over top and store in the refrigerator.  To re-heat simply place in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds (but they are good cold too!).  Serve as is or on a whole wheat English muffin with cheese.


*Published in the Gazette Vaudreuil Soulange on August 28th, 2013

Check back often for more quick and easy recipes!


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