The dog-sitting experiment

Our family has been toying with the idea of adopting a dog for a while now, meaning that everyone is 100 per cent on board except Mom — The Doer of All The Work That Would Be Involved.

I love dogs and I felt like our kids were independent enough that I could maaaaybe possibly handle caring for a fifth family member, but I wasn’t totally sure. I wanted to know exactly what we’d be in for, so we begged our next-door neighbours to let us dog-sit for a week while they went to Mexico.

All 70-odd pounds of sweet, friendly Juno arrived with three armloads of gear, including the largest dog crate I’ve ever seen (both kids fit comfortably inside). The leashes and poop-bags were handed off like torches and we began a temporary stint as dog-owners.

We learned a LOT about caring for a pet and about the way our family works. The way I see it, there are six things you need to accept — and embrace — in order to consider yourself ready for dog to join your family …

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene …

A photo posted by Heather Laura Clarke (@hfxheather) on Feb 8, 2016 at 4:35pm PST


Put a family recipe on a custom cutting board

My sister was surprised when I asked for a wood-burning set for Christmas. Not because I wanted something from a craft store (that much was obvious), or that I wanted a high-heat tool even though I once burned down my bedroom (that was years ago). No, she was shocked I was taking up a “hipster hobby” that she described as “actually kind of cool right now.”

(I am not known for my coolness or an ability to be “on fleek,” as the kids say.)

So on Christmas morning I unwrapped a lovely pyrography kit and wood canvases. Thank you, Sis! I started practicing on a test piece right after breakfast and got used to changing the different metal tips and making different patterns. I loved it!

For my first big project, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: trace one of our mom’s recipes — in her handwriting — onto a thick piece of wood to make a food-safe cutting board.

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home …


What Barbie taught me

My not-so-secret dream job has always been to be the person who poses Barbies for commercials and photo shoots. I’ve had a lifetime of practice, and you’d be surprised how much emotion you can convey in her tiny face when you tilt her head exactly the right way.

But enough about me, let’s talk about Barbie. She’s been in the news over the past couple of weeks after debuting her new body types and skin colours. There’s now a curvy Barbie, a tall Barbie, a petite Barbie — as well as the original — with seven skin tones, 22 eye colours and 24 hairstyles. With the hashtag #thedollevolves and headlines like “Now can we stop talking about my body?” the Internet exploded with commentary about her new look. The general consensus is “About time!” but also “Maaaaybe we still don’t want to buy them, actually. But thanks.”

The problem with most of the backlash is that … they’re getting it all wrong.

If you look at a Barbie from 1994, then yes: she’s got a huge chest that slopes dramatically into an impossibly small waist. She’s on her tippy-toes and she’s almost definitely a blue-eyed caucasian with long, silky blonde hair. (My personal favourite was Ice Capades Barbie who was all of those things, except she was an anchorwoman named Rebecca.)

That’s the Barbie everyone remembers, but it’s not the Barbie that’s been steadily evolving for 20 years now …

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, “The Mom Scene.”