Browsing Tag



Giveaway! Monkeyshines Kids Books

On Friday, I had some time left over after working and before picking Olive up for kindergarten. I decided to pop into our neighbourhood kid’s bookstore to browse around a little bit before I headed over to Olive’s school.

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Natural Living

Be Clean- Naturally! [A Giveaway]

 Be Clean Naturall soap giveaway at

When I was a Youth Worker I used to spend every Saturday at the Farmer’s Market with a few teenagers, selling the veggies we grew in our Youth Centre garden. I’ve never been a fan of getting up early, but these Farmer’s Market Saturdays were usually the highlight of my week. I was able to sit outside in the sun and have fantastic conversations with teens that were sometimes otherwise tough to connect with, the people-watching was sublime, and I was usually able to take a few breaks to go fruit and veggie shopping for the week, too.

As the weeks and years passed I grew to know all of the other vendors at the market, and Kirstin French with her company Be Clean Naturally quickly became one of my favourites.

Kirstin first started making soap because her husband Shone was allergic to pretty much everything, and it was tough to find soaps, laundry detergents, and other household products that didn’t irritate his skin. This little labour of love turned into a full-time job for both of them and their products have extended from natural bar and laundry soaps to an incredible array of body creams, tooth powders, deodorants, and all sorts of other natural lotions and potions, too.



I love Kirstin’s soap and the way she has always been so committed to reducing the amount of packaging waste associated with her products – she uses stamps to label her soaps so she doesn’t have to wrap them individually, and most of her creams and sprays are housed in glass or aluminum, enabling her to avoid plastic whenever possible. She also offers refills of many products!

I guess I was feeling homesick, and since I haven’t yet found the Edmonton equivalent of Be Clean Naturally I decided I had to place an order. I chose a few soaps (Mint, Hippie, and Sassy, in case anyone is interested), mosquito spray (I hear I’ll need it here soon!) and a little jar of belly balm too, as a gift for my adorably pregnant sister-in-law.

After I placed my order,  Kirstin and I were catching up and it suddenly occurred to me that I should be sharing these amazing soaps with the whole Internets instead of hoarding them to myself, so I asked if it would be possible to do a giveaway and she was totally on board.

A Be Clean Naturally giveaway on

SO! Without further ado, click the link below to win your choice of any two Be Clean Naturally bar soaps, and a jar of massage balm! This giveaway is open to anyone in North America, and will run until midnight Friday, with the winner announced Saturday morning.

Click on the link below, and earn entries by ‘Liking’ Be Clean Naturally on Facebook, leaving a comment on this blog post sharing your favourite natural way to get clean, and/or tweeting about the giveaway – good luck!

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All You Need Is Less

Book Giveaway #4!

Win a copy of All You Need Is Less by Madeleine Somerville!

Well folks, my book has officially been released! And thus, my promotional duties are almost done. (HA! Just kidding, they’ve only just begun! But this is (probably) the last giveaway I’ll run on the blog, so I’m going balls out with this one. Prepare yourself!)

Remember a while ago when I ran that delightful survey about how much book stuff to plaster on the blog, and a whopping 18% of you were like, “Yeah! Not only do we want to hear all about your crazy book but we totally support you and want to help you spread your hippie gospel to the world!” Well, this post is for the 18% – friends, I am coming to collect on that legally binding survey response!

Writing a book is a weird thing. Having it finally published is even weirder. It sort of feels like I have spent a horrendous amount of time working on a large sign, and now I have decided to walk down to a busy street corner and stand there holding this sign over my head.


And whooooo! it’s a little cold out here! So I’ve decided that instead of doing what I usually do – which is just standing here shivering and basically doing everything but asking for help – I will just ask for your help.

It sometimes feels awkward to do this, because you truly don’t owe me anything. In fact I always feel quite the opposite – I feel grateful that you are here day after day, because otherwise this whole endeavour would feel rather silly – without you guys I am just some strange lady slinging words into a black hole for no reason. But I have learned that it’s okay to ask for help, especially when you think that the end result would be really positive for everyone involved.

Guys, I’m calling in reinforcements! If you enjoy my writing, and have laughed/cried/cringed at any of my ramblings about sex attics and cupcake parties; smoky eyes and pregnancy, can I ask you to do me a small kindness?

* If you have already received a copy of my book, would you mind leaving an honest rating on the site where you ordered it, or on Amazon?

* If getting a copy is on your to-do list right between shaving your winter legs and finally dealing with your laundry situation, would you make an effort to support a local bookstore by ordering a copy from them when you do get around to it? (And if you could see my legs or my laundry situation, you would know that I understand that this could happen anytime between now and December. And that’s ok. Lowered expectations!)

* When you DO get to your local bookstore, could you ask them if they would bring in a few copies to carry in the store, too? If they seem reluctant just tell them that I am married to noted Neanderthal artist A-dAM. They’ll know who he is.

* If a book chock full of gardening, DIY beauty remedies, easy minimalism, and simple, guilt-free green living (with slight feminist undertones) isn’t really your thing, would you consider passing my blog, and/or book onto someone else who might enjoy it?

Who might that be you ask? Well, just about anyone, really. But particularly anyone who wants to…

  • Make their own laundry detergent, household cleaners, body lotion, silver polish, diaper creams, and even sexy natural personal lubricants (say whaaaa?)
  • Escape the judgy, expensive, and sometimes frustratingly complicated world that eco-friendly living has  become lately (have you been feeling it? I have been feeling it.)
  • Learn why plain ol’ baking soda has been proven more gentle on your tooth enamel than any regular toothpaste
  • Understand (and escape!) the cycle of buy-break-dispose-replace that we seem to get sucked into again and again despite our best intentions
  • Figure out why I advocate sticking needles into your face
  • Laugh until you pee, feel empowered instead of hopeless, and live happily, with less.


* Last but not least, enter this final giveaway so I can send you a little note and a signed copy of All You Need Is Less and you can gawk at my horrific penmanship (it’s like a teenaged boy, seriously) and wonder how I ever passed grade 1!

You guys are fabulous! I wish you the best of luck…and…go!

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All You Need Is Less, Eco-Friendly Living, Natural Living

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

All You Need Is Less, Humour


“You said I’d do WHAT?”

Oh my gosh, you guys. Seriously. I was all “Hey! Facebook wants me to get 600 likes!” and you were all, “Eff you, Facebook! We’ll show you 600 likes!” and now there are 731 likes and what does it all mean?!

Before we get to the winner of the finest custom portrait to ever be custom portraited – one that I sincerely hope gets a place of honour in the winners home, preferably above the fireplace or the bed, or at least somewhere highly visible so you have to explain to everyone who walks through your door what the monstrosity is and who drew it (“Um…it’s the husband of this…lady? No, 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, so… You know, let’s just put it under the couch OK?”) before all that, I have some learning to lay down on you.

Did you know that you shouldn’t be saying “All of _____”, you should be saying “All_____”? The “of” is totally unnecessary! Likewise, “towards” is not a thing. It’s TOWARD. These two lessons brought to you by Kitty, the woman I have never met in real life, but who was tasked with reading through my entire book and correcting my numerous writer’s tics, two of which I have just mentioned and the others shall go with me to the grave (and no, unnecessarily long sentences with too many commas wasn’t one of the other ones, why do you ask?)

I really wish Kitty would edit my entire life, blog posts, emails, love letters, the whole shebang, because I am the best for thinking everything is locked down with spelling and grammar, and then noticing eleven mistakes after I press send/publish. But she doesn’t, so instead you get me, unedited and unfiltered. Writer’s tics and all.

ANYWAY. To get the winner of this majestic piece of art I first had to figure out how to export my list of Facebook likes, which was a delightful chore I decided to tackle at 11:20 pm on a night that I had to be up at 7 the next morning, because planning (and for those of you wondering why 7.5 hours is not enough sleep, I say to you molars! Molars is why!)

When I had compiled the list I did some very high-tech copying and pasting into a word document, and then I took a trip over to and generated a random number.

Screen shot of this intricate business below, for proof.

Screenshot 2014-01-31 23.29.32 (1)

So number 36! How YOU doin’? I headed back to my word document and counted down to the thirty-sixth fan, and FEE WRIGHT! You are it! come on down! So Fee, here’s what you need to do. Choose your finest photo, preferably one featuring you in the grip of a beefy Neanderthal man, waist-deep in water under a shooting star, and email it to me at info (at) sweetmadeleine (dot) ca.

Then I will print this photo, put on my white gloves and take it to the artist himself, who will probably be in the midst of something terribly artist-like, such as watching bro movies wrist-deep in a bag of Doritos (don’t worry, he uses the orange chip dust for shading) and he will get to work on your custom magnificence.

And, not that any of you will be doubting the quality of Adam’s work or anything, but I feel the need to specify that this is not going to be some haphazard two-minute sketch on the back of an old phone bill. This is going to be legit. Thick paper, a signed and numbered copy, perhaps a certificate of authenticity and maybe even a frame if I get really organized – although I see that Fee lives in Australia, so this may be dependant on how ridiculous the shipping is going to be. I mean, money is no object!

Also, because you guys just went so above and beyond I will try to match your enthusiasm levels by wrangling my husband into doing a series of in-progress shoots, or perhaps a video explaining the inspiration behind his work. It will be exciting, don’t worry. If he starts rambling I will secretly cut to Olive.

Anyway, Fee! Congratulations! You have a delightful name, and soon you will have a delightful portrait to grace the walls of your home. And the internet. I will post it on the internet, so don’t be sending me any nudie pics. (Adam: “Nudie pics are not only acceptable, but encouraged. It’s art, Madeleine“)