Adam and Olive, two days old. From

Adam and Olive, Oct 2012

Someone has really been missing his baby over the past few months. It’s been tough for him watching her grow and shift and learn new things without him.

These two will be reunited when Adam comes this Sunday, and I can not wait to see the look on Olive’s face when she watches her favourite man in the whole world walk off that boat – just like I’ve been promising her all week.

Two more sleeps!


The winner!


Winner, by Eighty Acres Art on Etsy

I have chosen a winner! Well, that weird Rafflecopter robot has, I guess is a more accurate statement!

Things have been sort of quiet on this here blog lately – the natural consequence of it being the week before we move. You know, last-minute packing, last-minute chaos, last-minute huge Life Decisions, last minute trying to teach your daughter to say “Papa” when she sees him on Sunday- the usual suspects.

In the midst of all of that chaos I went with a friend to take watch Inside Llewyn Davis, which I really recommend for anyone who needs to feel good about their habit of gypsying around with no definite plan, because at least I am not a chronic couch surfer rolling around Manhattan with an orange cat that doesn’t belong to me! Ha!

But I also can’t sing, so come to think of it I’m not sure who came out ahead on that one. I have thoughts about that movie, but no time to wrangle them, so it’ll have to wait.

SO! Sorry-the winner is…. *folksy drumroll*…. Meg Dereseti! Come on down!

Congratulations Meg! And guys, she so deserves this win because she was a trooper and tried my shampoo/conditioner when I first posted it a while back, and one day she went into work with her hair still a bit wet and was mocked for smelling like ACV – oh the trials and tribulations of wanna-be hippies like us! Try the lemon juice, Meg, and I hope that this book makes up for the emotional suffering you have undergone because of my crazy suggestions.

Please contact me at info(at)sweetmadeleine(dot)ca with your mailing address, and I will pass it on to my publishers, who will ship a book to you!

Aaaand now some Llyewn Davis music for play us out on this dreary Friday.

(p.s. he’s a fictional character. I feel the need to say that because my friend and I both left the theatre fulling intending to dig into his life story and purchase his music and-oops. He doesn’t exist in our world. I felt crushed, and sort of foolish. But his music is still perfect for me right now.)

Two-ingredient shampoo & conditioner for healthy, shiny hair- and a book giveaway!

Two-ingredient shampoo & conditioner for healthy, shiny hair! #SweetMadeleine #AllYouNeedIsLess

Taking pictures of your hair without looking like a ridiculous dork is not easy. I call this one, “Moderately successful, but blurry”.

I’m posting this recipe again, because I recently tried something new in my DIY shampoo/conditioner routine, and after test driving it for a few weeks I knew I had to share. I have been telling everyone who would listen about my easy DIY shampoo/conditioner recipe for years, but I think this change might actually make y’all more willing to give it a shot!

(Do you hear me? TRY IIIIIIT.)

For years I have been using a baking soda rinse to wash my hair, and an apple cider vinegar rinse to condition it. I have been head-over-heels in love with this sweet combo ever since the first day I tried it, and I know it sounds strange that some lady on The Internets is telling you that you can have gorgeous, healthy hair with the same ingredients you use to unclog your drain, but this is for serious.

No plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles. No expensive price tags. No nasties like sodium lauryl sulfate foaming all over your head each morning, and washing down the drain each night. Just good, old-fashioned, earth mama hippie nonsense.

I posted this recipe years ago here, and way back in November a lovely soul named Karla commented that you could also use lemon juice in place of apple cider vinegar for the same, or better, result.

This, ladies and gentlemen, was a monumental shift! I’ve never minded the ACV smell, but I think it has turned a few people off of the whole project.

Lemons on the other hand – lemons! Lemons are basically the poster child for clean-living fresh-smelling happy times all around! I knew I had to give it this new version a try- I was already putting baking soda and vinegar on my head, what could possibly go wrong?

I’m not going to ramble on (for once in my life): I tried it, it worked, and I love it! These days I alternate back and forth between the two – lemons on days that I have them, ACV on days when I don’t.

So. Try it. TRY ITTTT. It doesn’t work for absolutely everyone (I’ve heard that it can sometimes take a week for your hair to adjust, although I didn’t experience this, and that some run into challenges around hard water.) but it might work for you! You have nothing to lose! And if it does work you will feel like a magical witch every time you prepare your shower potion, and you will be rich- RICH!- from all the money you’ll save on fancy shampoos and conditioners.

You can spend all of that spare shampoo and conditioner money on goat cheese! Or vodka! Or vodka-infused-goat-cheese! (Is that a thing?)

Here’s how you do.


Mix 1 cup warm water with 1 TBSP baking soda. Stir until dissolved and pour over wet hair. Give yourself a relaxing scalp massage, concentrating on the hairline and the crown of your head if you tend to have oily hair. Rinse well.


Mix 1 cup warm water with 1-2 TBSP apple cider vinegar OR LEMON JUICE! (!). Typically I’d use 1 TBSP if you have oily hair, 2 if your hair tends to be dry. Pour over shampooed and rinsed hair, massage into scalp and let sit for a few moments while you tackle the onerous task of finally shaving your winter-legs, exfoliating your elbows or what have you. Rinse well.

That’s it. Seriously, that’s it! Two ingredients and zero weird shit on your head to end up with gorgeous, shiny, tangle-free hair.

( 9/19/2014 ETA: If you live in an area with hard water as we do here in Edmonton, Alberta, you MUST boil the water for 5-10 minutes to remove all of the hard mineral content before using as a mix for shampoo/conditioner. This is not as terrible as it sounds. Boil some extra for tea, and by the time you’ve finished your tea your shampoo and conditioner rinses will be cool enough to get started!)

Two-ingredient shampoo & conditioner for healthy, shiny hair! #SweetMadeleine #AllYouNeedIsLess

If you DO decide to take the plunge and try this – please post a picture of your results to the Sweet Madeleine Facebook page, or Instagram/tweet it with the hashtag #SweetMadeleine or #AllYouNeedIsLess! I want to know if it worked, if it didn’t work, what kind of hair you have, where you live, what you’re wearing, and your feelings on Benedict Cumberbatch (look I’m not saying the man looks like a scarf, but HE LOOKS LIKE A SCARF.)

Honestly though I truly would love to hear if it worked for you, and whether you’ll keep doing it.

ALSO, as if this post wasn’t tangential enough, would you like a free copy of All You Need Is Less? Of course you would. Here’s why:

In it you will learn: 

  • The best, natural way to clean hardwood floors
  • How I really feel about plastic
  • The secret to a stress-free, organized home
  • A recipe for Magic tea that will cure your worst cold or flu
  • A tragic tale of hamster-cannibalism
  • How to make your own toothpaste, laundry soap, all-purpose cleaner, deodorant AND MORE!

To enter, simply click on the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest closes at 12:00 AM this Friday, but don’t worry if you don’t win this one – I am giving away a copy of All You Need Is Less every week for the next four weeks! It’s like Christmas! But with more vinegar!

All You Need Is Less by Madeleine Somerville

(Also, I am an equal-opportunity environag. These giveaways are open to anyone in the world! )

Allons-y, kittens! Click below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

7 things you might not know about Canada

A long, long time ago someone asked me to do a post about Canada. I remember thinking, “About…what, exactly? Just…Canada? In general?”

Then I probably got distracted by something and I forgot all about it. UNTIL, that is, I was reading a certain smutty gossip site this evening after putting Olive to bed (we all have our vices, OK?) and there was an article about Canadian Tire money.

It then occurred to me that non-Canadians probably have no idea what Canadian Tire money is, or what the hell a “Canadian Tire” is either, for that matter.

WELL. Here is a quick post with seven things you may not have known about Canada, and it begins right where it should.

1. Canadian Tire Money

Now that I am thinking about it, Canadian Tire money is sort of an odd concept.

It’s a fake currency produced and distributed by a Canadian automotive/hardware store called, well, Canadian Tire. They sell everything from tires (obviously) and seasonal decorations to home products like brooms and dishes. When you buy something, a certain percentage of your purchase price gets given back to you like this:

You collect these ridiculously minuscule bills (I think the largest denomination is $1 and who the hell has ever gotten a whole dollar?!) and in my experience they usually spend their entire lives crumpled up under your car seat or at the bottom of your junk drawer. I don’t think I can ever remember actually using it towards the purchase of any Canadian Tire item, ever.

I have heard rumours of a bar that accepts payment in Canadian Tire money, and I know that some charities have collected it, too. These days most Canadian Tire stores have a donation bin by the front door to deposit your hefty 10c bill, and that’s where mine always end up.

2. Our healthcare isn’t really free

I mean it is in the sense that we don’t get charged based on individual usage, (e.g. It didn’t cost me anything to have Olive (or the millions of tests before I had Olive) ) but that doesn’t mean that Canadians don’t have any healthcare costs, period.

In Canada it varies by province, here in BC I pay $149 every month to cover Adam, Olive and I. That gets us access to doctors, emergency care, surgeries, walk-in clinics etc. but not prescriptions, dental or optometry. Now Alberta, where we are moving to, is a richer province so you don’t pay a thing for provincial health care. Each province has their own provincial healthcare system and you have to register and receive a new card if you move provinces.

If I was low-income, or unable to afford the $149/month it currently costs for our family of three, there are programs that offer reduced rates and/or subsidies. I’m not terribly well-versed in “The System” but I don’t think a hospital would ever deny someone treatment based on whether or not they had healthcare. Maybe someone can correct me on that?

Also, contrary to popular belief, Canadians can most definitely choose their doctors – there’s no list, or approval process. You just pick one.

Most likely based on how cold their hands are.

3. Poutine

I’m really surprised America didn’t come up with this one – it originates from our French-speaking province of Quebec and consists of french fries, cheese curds, and hot gravy.

The hot gravy melts the cheese curds atop a base of crisp golden fries and the whole thing turns into a delicious gooey cheesy gravy-y heart-clogging mess.

It’s fantastic.

4. Poutine reminded me about French

Canada is officially bilingual –  all government signs, package labels, and documents have to be available in French and English, but under 18% of Canada can speak both languages. I grew up in Toronto and had French as part of my mandatory curriculum until Grade 6, and I think it was an elective after that.

Also, I’m not sure if this is still the case but for some reason when I was applying for universities, I was allowed to submit my French mark in place of my Math mark.

Doesn’t that seem weird? Looking back that seems weird. Those two subjects have almost zero overlap yet this little loophole enabled me to arrive in a second year statistics class staring blankly at a wall of numbers thinking, “Oh, shit. Didn’t think I’d see you again.”

Of course despite taking French all the way until Grade 11, I have retained virtually none of it. I can understand far more than I speak. but my accent is so atrocious that I never even try anymore. So.

5. Moose and Beavers.

I have never seen either one in person.

6. Caesars

We have a drink called a Caesar that apparently the rest of the world does not. It’s made with clam juice – which is a lot less gross than it sounds, promise.

Also, do not be fooled, a Bloody Mary is NOT a Caesar. Caesars are delicious and spicy and as soon as you have one you want to drink approximately eleven of them and, depending where you’re drinking it, you can sometimes make a whole meal out of the garnishes (olives, pickled beans, asparagus, celery and pepperoni have been known to garnish a Caesar)

(Now every Canadian reading this is craving a Caesar. Sorry.)

7.  You can’t buy alcohol in grocery stores

And until I visited the states as a legally aged adult, I didn’t know this was even a possibility! Holy shit! How convenient is that? To be able to pick up a bottle of wine at the same time as your dinner ingredients? What IS this magical place?

Here, liquor stores are entirely separate entities. You can not buy alcohol anywhere other than licensed bars/pubs/restaurants, or specifically designated liquor stores.

I don’t know why. Lately there has been some word of this changing, but I’ll believe it when I see it. (And drink it.)

That’s all I got. (Sorry). Cheers – eh?

(If you have Canada questions, ask them in the comments and I will answer! There are no dumb questions. Except the ones I will publicly mock you for. So. )

How to get skin like velvet, convince a landlord to rent their house to you and your giant dog, and also ruin your marriage! TGIF!

I’m not going to lie, I recently purchased skin cream purely because the label promised me that it would make my face feel like velvet.


I stood there in the grocery store while Olive rummaged through the shelves at toddler-level, and I read that sentence over and over again “…younger-looking, velvety-soft skin…”.

My mind immediately wandered to two things, the indescribable soft warmth of a horse’s nose, and George Costanza.

So, obviously with those two mental images in mind I bought the cream. Well played, marketing geniuses. Well played.

The reason I was looking for skin cream in the first place was that I recently bought thisface cream with SPF 30 which I quite enjoy, despite it being very suncreeny when you put it on.

First you are hit with that specific sunscreen smell, and then your skin begins to acquire a layer of white greasy sheen and you think to yourself “Oh, shit. This is turrible!” but then as you continue rubbing the deliciously citrus-scented stuff into your face it magically absorbs and you look great AND you’re not going to get sun damage. Fabulous.

But no matter how lovely it is, it’s not really necessary to wear SPF 30 to sleep, so I was looking for a general face cream. I did my research on my favourite website, and the usual criteria applied  – a score 3 or under and no animal testing – but I also wanted something I could find in a grocery store because I don’t have time to be running around to special stores for special expensive cream for my not-very-special-face.

(OK fine. I have time. But I’d rather spend it staring bug-eyed into my phone or trying to work through this truly terrible novel I’m reading.)

(Guys, it is SO bad. But I can’t not finish it. It’s even overdue at the library because I can’t take much more than 4-5 pages at once so it’s taking me forever to get through. I am totally going to have library fines! I am PAYING to hate-read this book!)

Anyway. For once in my life I wasn’t duped by advertising- my skin really does feel like velvet! I can’t stop touching it. It’s sort of creepy and I look like this all the time:


This is the cream and obviously this isn’t sponsored, I just thought I would tell you about it in case you too wanted skin like a Palomino’s nose.


In other news, do you know who wants to rent their house to you when you own a creature like THIS?:

Nobody. Just nobody, that’s all.

Adam and I have been searching for rentals in Edmonton.

Typically the process goes great initially. I find a place, it looks cute. I dispatch Adam for an in-person visit (to ensure that it isn’t an oasis of cute in an otherwise sketchy neighbourhood or anything) and then it happens.

They ask “Do you have any pets?” and Adam smiles politely and says, “Yes!” and they say, “Oh! What kind?” and Adam says, “We have one well-behaved six-year old dog.” and then he tries to snatch the lease out of their hand and sign it on the spot but they nimbly sidestep him and ask “What kind of dog?” And Adam hems and haws for a moment, talking about how sweet Gus is. How obedient. How he only poops at the very back of the yard.

“Okay, fine, but what kind of dog is Gus, though?”

“*cough* English Mastiff* *coughcough*”

“What was that? Sorry, I didn’t quite-”

“AnEnglishMastiff. Really just a big pug if you think about it!”

“Come again? I really can’t hear-”



“But also? Did I mention quiet and well-behaved? And he has references? And pet insurance? And he’s well-behaved? And quiet?”

And then we never hear from that potential landlord ever again. This happened two or three times and it got really discouraging to go through all of that weeding out, to get to the final step and then hear no.

We tried to solve the problem on the other end by releasing Gus into the wild, but he is kind of lazy and never got much further than the front yard.

Then Adam had the inspired idea of going balls-out with our application. Like, not just filling out the basics, but writing an entire story that would set us apart from other potential renters and make us look so desirable that even the fact that we live with a horse wouldn’t be enough to turn us down.

On our next application we included a picture of our little family, and a picture of Gus lying down with Olive (see! he’s not a fearsome beast!).

We also attached all of our reference letters directly to the email rather than relying on them to call (we have been on great terms with all of our landlords, and with every rental we moved from we asked for letters of reference, and ones that specifically spoke to how much of a non-issue Gus was). We also included his Pet Insurance policy that includes $25,000 of third-party damage coverage (in case he becomes possessed and decides to eat an entire main floor or something.)

Last but not least, I wrote an impassioned letter introducing ourselves. I acknowledged that I understood why people would be wary of renting to such a large dog, I talked about how much we liked the house, and how very much we would like to make it our home.

IT WORKED! Success! Huzzah! Sort of!

The property we initially applied for had already been signed by someone else, but another one two blocks away was undergoing renovations and would be finished on April 15th. This is less than ideal since we are moving on the 1st, but at this point I have an Olympic gold medal in waiting. I am a waiting professional. Two weeks? Two weeks is amateur hour around here.

So we wait.


Thirdly, today I received this comment under a picture of Adam on the Sweet Madeleine facebook page, “Where is his finished hand drawn portrait ?”.

YES. Where IS his hand-drawn portrait, ADAM?

This portrait is ruining my perfect marriage. Who knew that when you promised somebody that your husband would do something without his knowledge or consent, that said husband might take forEVER to get around to actually doing it? First he was claiming that he didn’t want to rush things, because that last portrait took “literally weeks” to complete.

I know. I’ll give you a minute.

To be fair though, his latest excuse is that he can’t find a pencil, which is totally understandable – where would you ever find one of those EXCEPT AT THE BOTTOM OF EVERY JUNK DRAWER, EVER?

Look, there’s only so much nagging I can do long distance. My powers are severely diminished from 1300 kms away. But I have been in contact with the winner, Fee, and she is surprisingly understanding for a woman currently trying to survive the six-month sleep regression. (SOLIDARITY, SISTER! And coffee! Lots of coffee!)

When we get to Edmonton in under two weeks, pressure will increase tenfold. Mark my words there will BE a custom portrait.

How do I know this? How do I know he won’t just stall indefinitely?

I have a secret weapon.

You see, in addition to the masterpiece above (I had to post it again. It’s the best thing about this blog right now), done at the tender age of 17, Adam also completed a self-portrait.

When he was twenty-three.

And it is epic. EPIC.

If I get the sense that he is backing out of this thing he never agreed to do in the first place, I will post that instead. And possibly send it to Fee. Which will make it even more awkward for her to explain its presence (“Um…it’s a self-portrait? No, no uh, not of me. It was done by the husband of this…lady? No, we’ve never met. She’s, um, she’s on the Internets? You know…one of those bloggers? Yeah, it was a contest and I, uh, I won, but then he – the husband I mean. Of the lady – he was putting off doing it and saying stuff like he had to ‘work’? And the threatening wasn’t working? Because she lived 1300 kms away?….You know, let’s just put it under the couch OK?”


Lastly, since I have talked about me and Gus and Adam, it’s only fair I drag Olive into this mess too.

I night weaned her a while ago but early this morning I realized that she has somehow tricked me into slowly going back to night feedings and I’m not even quite sure how that happened. Her morning nursing session just kept getting earlier and earlier and then sometimes she would fall asleep again after and then I don’t know what happened but last night I was nursing her at 3am when it hit me what was going on and through my 3am fog I was all “Wait-WHAT?”

You know, just in case you wondered who was running the show around here. Clearly not me.

At least I have skin like velvet. That’s something, right?