Adoption, Lifestyle

What Not to Say…

Happy Wednesday!  I can’t believe it’s only mid-way through the week.  It seems that the closer we get to winter holidays, the longer the weeks seem.

A few months back this video appeared in my inbox.  We had just shared our adoption news with some of our closest friends and had shared our concern about what others might say to us about our adopted daughter.  My words must have resonated with my girlfriend as a few days later she sent me this video and said “maybe this’ll help!”.

To be honest, when I first saw the title I was a little taken aback, but as I watched I was amazed at how powerful and thoughtful the video was.  It aims to educate those around us who do have questions about adoption but are unsure how to ask them.  It is difficult when talking about race.  No one wants to come across as racist, but friends and family are and have been curious and this video is a great tool to help educate on how to ask questions related to adoption.  Adoption in general can make some people uncomfortable and generally speaking most questions come from a place of curiosity and love but people are unsure how to frame their questions.  This video is not a cure all but it does expose some of the most common questions asked and given alternative forms to asking them.

I hope you enjoy!

DIY, Lifestyle

Halloween Extravaganza


This morning my daughter and I had a little mom and daughter time.  My husband was working on installing a storm door in our back hall and we figured with the noise we would head out.  We decided to go to some Halloween shopping.  Now, I’m not a super fan of Halloween.  I don’t like dressing up, I don’t like the copious amounts of candy that people hand out and I don’t like spending money on decorations that only last a day; however, I enjoy holidays for my daughter and will dress up every year for her, decorate the house and hand out candy.  This morning we headed to Target, in part because I needed a coffee and in part because I knew they would have some great stuff.

We started the morning off right, with a coffee for me and a water and cake pop for my little miss.  Once we had our drinks in hand we headed for the aisles.  The first stop, the decorations.  We didn’t find many pre-made decorations but we did find a lot of craft kits for my daughter and my nephew to work on over the coming weeks.  We found a Monster wreath kit, a Day of the Dead skeleton pumpkin kit and small foamy decorations.

Once we had our fill of crafts we headed for costumes.  We both already have costumes ready to go for Halloween.  Mia is going as her beloved Doc McStuffins and I’m heading down to our dress-up closet to throw something together last-minute, I guess we both don’t really have our costumes together, but close enough.  Target has some really cool stuff.  Our favourites were their collection of foam hair accessories, glasses and props.  Of course, Mia had to try them on.

mia halloween

While Mia napped today and before I wrote the blog post I sat down to read my Real Simple magazine from this month.  If you are looking for some DIY projects for Halloween start with Real Simple.  They have some great DIY Halloween decorations that are quite simple to master and are elegant enough for even your adult Halloween party.  If you have exhausted the Real Simple ideas check out Pinterest.  You can find some great ideas and easy projects that you can do alone while your little ones nap or you can do with them.  Later this afternoon, once Mia is up and going, we are going to decorate our tiny pumpkins with the Day of the Dead skeleton kit from Target.  Once we have completed the project I’ll post to Instagram so you can see our final product.


Adoption Option


I wrote this post while laying in a Winnipeg hotel room and watching Something Borrowed on TLC. My husband and daughter were home in Calgary and I was in Winnipeg to lay my amazing grandmother to rest in the town in which she grew up.  It’s Thanksgiving weekend and we are gathered to give thanks for having had one of the most amazing woman in our lives.

While in Winnipeg I visited with friends and family and their first question was always “what’s happening with the adoption?”, and of course my answer was always the same, “we are waiting to hear.”  Sitting in that hotel room alone of course had me thinking, and when I think, it’s usually about one thing, my family.  Family was a big part of my late grandmother’s life.  She was invested in all that her children did, in what her children in-law did and what her grand and great-grandchildren did.  She was one of the most genuine and caring people I have ever met and when I first told her about adoption all she could say was “when is she coming home.”  In the late stages of my grandmother’s life many things needed to be told and retold to her; however, she remembered my mentioning the adoption back in January and asked me about it every time I visited.

In the last number of days and weeks I have had several people ask us about the process of adoption and I thought I would share the main points when it comes to adoption, and the answers to our FAQs.

  • There are two types of adoption. Domestic and international or inter-country.
  • Domestic adoptions are mainly open adoptions meaning that the birth parents do have some contact with the adopting parents.  At the most basic level the contact would be the birth mother choosing the adopting family.  Contact after the birth and placement in some cases remains and in others contact after the placement is lost.
  • International adoptions are mainly closed adoptions, meaning most children have been abandoned or are orphaned and contact with the birth parent or parents is minimal if at all.  In fact, in South Africa, seeking the birth parents out is extremely frowned upon.  Any contact that may occur is done through the social workers.  Contacting the birth family can have serious consequences in South Africa.  This is not the case with all international adoptions.
  • Adopting does cost money.  In international adoption there is no transfer of money to the birth family for their child.  You are not buying a child and  I really want people to understand that.  You are simply paying the overhead associated with caring and providing for a child in an institution and again for administrative costs and salaries both in Canada and in the country from which you are adopting.  Cost varies from country to country and it is very important that you investigate all costs associated with adoption, be it domestic or international.
  • Birth certificates, passports and all identification for a child will be changed to reflect the adopting family’s last name.  The children who you are adopting are your children.  You may even change their first name if you so desire.
  • Adoption is a lengthy process that requires a whole-lot-of patience.  We are just about at our 1 year starting date and this year has flown by and crept by all at the same time.  The process involves a training session, a home-study and interviews, visits to the police and RCMP units for clearances and fingerprints, paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork.
  • Yes you can choose gender and age.  Keeping in mind that if you specify you may have to wait a little longer.
  • You must work through an agency.  There are local agencies and in the international adoption route there are also international agencies.  If you choose inter-country adoption and you live in Alberta you will need to work with two agencies, one local and one other (located in Canada) depending on the country you choose.  Alberta is not licensed to do international adoptions and so you will need to find an agency that adopts out of the country that you have chosen.

Like I have said before, adoption may not be the choice for every family or couple, just as children in general may not be the choice for every family.  If you have questions about adoption please feel free to ask.  I may even know the answer and if I don’t I’ll help point you in the right direction.



A long journey

family africa

It’s been one hectic six or seven months and to tell you the truth (in case you haven’t noticed how few posts I’ve actually done in the past couple of months) I really haven’t been focused on the design side of things in my life.   I have done little things here and there, such as help some friends and colleagues out with colour choices, cabinet choices etc. I’ve answered questions from family and friends and reply to some photo texts with a yay or a nay, but that’s the extent.  It is a little sad that design has taken a back seat to my “real life” but that’s what has happened.  Please though, don’t shed too many tears for me and the lack of design in my life, all is good.  This “real life” that I speak of has been more than amazing and to be honest I have enjoyed being focused on my family and friends for the entire summer, and now that I’m back at school, focused on my family and friends and my new position at work.  In all of this real life we have been productive though, which brings me to the here and now and the fact that for the past 11 months we (my husband and I) have been working on a BIG project.  No I’m not expecting, well at least not expecting in the traditional sense.  Here’s the scoop on our BIG project, and how it will affect the blog for the next little while.

11 months ago we decided to adopt.  Yes, adopt, and from South Africa to boot! It was a big step for us, as would have been deciding to conceive a child.  At that time late last year, we shared our decision with our family only and waited to share any details with our friends.  This was mainly in part due to the fact that with adoption there are a lot of bits and pieces and ins and outs and we weren’t really sure how to answer everyone’s questions once they started asking, and we knew that once we opened the flood gates to questions they would come.  When the flood gates were lifted, the questions that rolled in were so supportive in nature that I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t shared earlier.  Many questions were about the process, the costs and all were questions were sensitive.  Truthfully, we have only had a handful of people ask us why we chose to adopt versus birth a child and, though I personally think it is none of anyone’s business I am going to share why we chose to adopt in the hopes of educating people on adoption, and shedding light on my experience with my first-born.

In high school at an appointment with a GI specialist I was told that if I had children it would be a miracle.  I had gone 14 years with an undiagnosed autoimmune disease and this particular disease when undiagnosed could and ultimately did, build up scare tissue in your muscles and your reproductive organs.  Let’s just say our first born was a miracle and both my husband and I thank our lucky stars every day for our beautiful daughter.   Needless to say my pregnancy with that miracle baby was not all leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold.  The commode and I became very good friends and shared a special close bond for nearly 10 months.  After an unexpected c-section, a battle with postpartum depression and the struggles that come with being a first time mother we as a couple (a strong vote on my end) decided not to birth another child, but to adopt one of the many orphaned or abandoned children that already exist in this world.  For us, the idea of growing our family in this manner just seems so natural, and it isn’t about being a great humanitarian, it’s just about being human, being globally aware and wanting to build a family albeit via a different channel  No, adoption is not the right choice for every couple or for every family, but it’s the right choice for us, and we are ecstatic.

Although it’s been 11 months and our dossier is in South Africa we don’t expect a match any time too soon.  At some point in my adoption blog journey I will get into the nitty-gritty time lines of adoption, but for now, we are happily a family in waiting.

So what does this mean for this Never Plain Jane?  The site will remain a design blog; however, I will be posting about our adoption because truth be told, adoption blogs are few and far between, and it’s a scary world to navigate by yourself.   Thank you to the subscribers who have remained faithful to the blog.  I will continue to post about design but to a lesser extent and at some point the blog may morph into a full-on adoption blog.    If you know of someone interested in international adoption have them subscribe to the blog.  I will be posting on choosing a country, the cost of adoption (financially and emotionally) and other various adoption related topics.

Design, DIY, Lifestyle

A Poppin’ Party

Cliche invites and games are definitely not my thing when it comes to party planning and when I offered to host a baby shower this summer for my dear friend this became even more apparent. Everywhere I looked it was all blues and pinks and rattles or diapers. That kind of stuff is cute, if your young and don’t know any better, but as a more mature hostess and a mother who didn’t want rattles and melted chocolate bars in diapers at her shower, I really wanted something better, more elegant and fun.  First stop for anything these days? Pinterest.  I got some great ideas and a launching point. It took me some time to sort through the real cutesy stuff to find something that fit me. I know what you’re thinking, “the party isn’t about you”, and you’re right in so many ways; however, how can you be a great host if the decor you put up and the food you are serving drive you crazy. I had to find a theme that I knew I could make fun and charming, one my friend would like and one I would like. Finally I found it… She’s about to pop!  Obviously this theme requires a mother-to-be who is embracing her ever-growing belly and is ok with references to “she’s getting so big, when will she pop?”.

Clearly, my friend approved the theme or where would this blog post be headed?  I immediately started planning and knew that balloons, although so closely related to the theme would be out, because one of the guests and friend from middle school is petrified of balloons.  I had to think outside of the bubble on this one, and I came up with a game plan.

Step 1: Invites – after Pinterest my obvious go-to is Etsy, and so I landed on Etsy and found my way to custom invites that were understated.  Actually, it was definitely in the invite that the MTB (mother-to-be) realized that I would in no way and under no circumstance be having cutesy designs and decorations.  The invites were grey and orange bubbles, very masculine, very understated and apart from the wording indicating that it was in fact a Baby shower, you would have never guessed it.

Step 2: Decor – for this I headed to Party City.  I had never been to Party City before and after I adjusted to the horrific smell in the store (think cotton candy and vomit) I enjoyed my shopping experience.  I found great stuff.  Striped white and orange popcorn bags, clear plastic containers for the popcorn and the candy.  White plastic and washable serving trays, cute plates and large pompoms and white fans.  I did an array of white, grey and orange decorations and plates and napkins.  I also used the customized decor items that my Etsy invite maker had provided for me.

Step 3: Food – back to Pinterest and the internet in general for ideas on “popping” foods.  I was not into the Pop Tart, Jalapeno Poppers type of foods as this shower was immediately flowing lunch.  I settled on Cabrese Salad Pops (cheese, tomato and basil on a stick), Fruit Pops (fruit on a stick), Taco Poppers (the dipping style nacho with olive tapenade, antipasto and artichoke dip inside), Popsicle Punch (literally Popsicle in the punch), Cake pops (hand-made), and a Popcorn bar (the biggest hit).  I also had as a parting gift a candy bar set up at the front door with Ring Pops, Bubble gum, Pop Rockets and LolliPops.  The food was a hit!

The whole day ran smoothly.  House was clean, food was out and drinks were ready before the first guest arrived.  For me, this is a home run as I’m typically changing or doing my hair when the doorbell rings.  I had one game, a Pop quiz and little cards for each guest to fill-in with their wishes for the baby. All in all a great success and I hope that Jennifer had a great time.  Welcome to the world baby Adam, we are so thrilled to be a part of your life! 🙂



shower 3


shower 2


Design, DIY, Lifestyle

A little market shopping?

Shopping local , shopping local, shopping local. I know I talk about it a lot but I honestly will go out of my way to support a local artisan whenever and wherever I can. This summer there are so many opportunities for you to get out into your neighbourhood and discover what locals are creating.

This weekend Market Collective will be set up inside Eau Claire Market in conjunction with the Calgary Folk Fest. If you have never hear of Market Collective the general idea is to promote local artists including musical artists and to empower the community.  Their markets typically have over 100 vendors, all of them, local!  They also host several DIY workshops throughout the year.

It’s your chance to head down to Eau Claire and check out something new, head on down!


Design, DIY, Lifestyle

A little DIY? Don’t mind if I do

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So here’s the thing, I’m really not very handy. I hate admitting that because deep down I feel as though someone who is interested in design should be at least somewhat handy, but truth be told I’m not, like really not. There are some things I can do that I personally consider handy, but to those true do-it-yourselfers they aren’t really all that handy. For example, I can follow the IKEA instructions and build a BILLY bookcase, or a MALM nightstand with a little sweat, tears and the odd F bomb when the pieces don’t fit quite as nicely as they should, I can hang pictures, I can paint but only things that don’t require me to do anything precise like cutting in. You must be thinking “why Jane with all of your god given handyman skills why don’t you do more DIY projects?”. Truth is, I hate this stuff.  I hate getting dirty and I really hate when I don’t know what I’m doing, but I have to pretend I do so my husband doesn’t think I don’t.

Well this week I decided it was time to complete a project that for me was pretty big. I decided to re-finish our tv/media unit. Our media unit really doesn’t fit in with our new-ish house. We bought it 6 years ago and I really didn’t want to part with something that cost us $600. I realize it was 6 years ago, but it actually has great lines and I love the retro feel.  Instead of forking out the cash for something new I decided I would paint it. Last year I took on a similar job and needless to say, it didn’t turn out quite the way I was anticipating. I was wary of doing this unit mainly because it’s in our family room, and we’re in there a lot; it’s a family room. The first step was figuring out what to do. Of course, I used Pinterest to help me figure out the steps I needed to take to make this work.

Step 1:
Pick a paint colour. Obvious choice, some shade of grey. I went with Benjamin Moore Origins paint from Canadian Tire in Confederate Grey. The paint itself has a built-in primer; however, given the condition and finish of our piece I also picked up primer.

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I got everything I needed to get this job done at Canadian Tire. Who knew they carried Benjamin Moore paint?

Step 2:
Prep your piece of furniture. I washed the media unit down with a warm cloth and dried it.  I removed dust and a lot of leftover dog hair hidden under the legs.

Step 3:
Prime your furniture. We started to prime at about 9pm and we were finished by 10. We went with Zinisser primer and wow did it smell.  In fact, I woke up in the middle of the night concerned that perhaps the fumes had somehow gotten to my daughter and that it was causing her to have breathing issues. I rushed into her room at 2:30am to find her snoring loudly, and fast asleep. Nevertheless, I then woke my husband up to voice my concern about the fumes and the health of our daughter.  He said he couldn’t smell anything but if I was that worried that he would move the piece of furniture outside for the night. So it’s 3:08am and we are in our undies and t-shirts moving a tv unit from our family room to our back deck.  Oddly enough in the morning when we went to move it back inside it felt super heavy and took us twice as long.  Lesson learnt, if you have heavy furniture to be moved or are moving in general, jump out of bed in the dead of night and get the job done. You’ll feel like Superman with super human strength.

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Is it bedtime yet? Primed and ready for tomorrow’s paint.

Step 4:
Paint. I did 2 coats on top of the primer but I was also painting a deep dark grey.

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First coat is on!

Step 5:
You could seal the piece of furniture and many people do. I didn’t. I left it. I had had enough of painting (see not so handy) and the piece looks good. If it was a piece of furniture that saw a lot of traffic I would have but our media unit doesn’t see a lot of traffic it just houses the tv and the components.

Step 6:
Set your room up and live.  If you have made it to this step, well done! I can’t believe I made it, but I did.  I love step 6!

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The TV finally has its place and so do all of the components.

All in all this little project was about $75 and wasn’t too bad.  I was able to complete it without swearing, without tears and without sweating.  Verdict, repainting is easier than putting together a BILLY bookcase. Money well spent on a piece of furniture we love but still I’m not convinced I’m the DIY type.  We will see!