Posts by Carmen

by Carmen Farrell

o+u change

I’m headed into a new phase.  A really exciting phase.  A phase where I focus on healing myself.

It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve felt vital and energetic.  That’s more than half my life.  20 years of extreme fatigue and exhaustion, a face full of acne, mental disturbances like anxiety and depression,  and stomach pain accompanied by horrible digestion.

It’s hard to express how horrible I felt.  And truth be told, I hid it from most people – even my family.  I was still functioning.  I got up, went to work, ran errands.  But it was a struggle.  I had no energy.  I felt like a 65 year old trapped in a 25 year old’s body.  Doctor’s weren’t helpful either.  I was told repeatedly that perhaps I just needed to exercise more, or was blown off and made to feel like a hypochondriac.

Then I started having babies, and strangely, my symptoms went into remission while pregnant.  Once the baby arrived they’d come back but were masked by the exhaustion of parenting a newborn and then a toddler, and then another, and another.  About 6 years ago, after consulting with a naturopath, I found out that I was allergic to gluten – which was a life changer.  I started to cut back on gluten and immediately felt a difference in my energy levels.  But I also started to feel a lot of shame.  I could not stay away from gluten completely.  It was like a drug.  I could go a few days, start to feel fantastic, and then not be able to control myself and gorge (sometimes in secret).  It was a vicious cycle.  I felt like I knew what I had to do to start getting better, but didn’t have the willpower.

So things are changing and I’m finally feeling in control.  Firstly, my youngest is 3 and a half.  I no longer have a baby who’s completely dependant on me.  He’s still a little guy, but I have a lot more freedom since he has 2 big brothers who help him out when he needs it and entertain him when he’s bored.  I’m not  always needed.  Which has given me more time to focus on myself.

Secondly, I’ve put more pieces of the puzzle together.  Turns out, I have an autoimmune condition – which one isn’t clear yet – but my symptoms are very much like those associated with lupus.   I also have leaky gut which means that my digestive tract is badly damaged and is allowing foreign substances into my bloodstream and causing inflammation.  Inflammation = real bad news.

So, armed with more time for myself and new information regarding what needs to be “fixed”, the changes are a-coming!

I recently completed a Whole 30 which allowed me to reset my body’s cravings for the crap that has made me sick.  I’m eating paleo which means no grains, legumes, dairy or processed foods.  It means a lot of cooking and prep.  It means bringing my own snacks when heading to a friend’s house to hang out.  It means limiting some of what my kids eat so that I can keep the house a “temptation-free” zone.  All these things may sound restricting, but in actuality, I’m feeling an incredible sense of freedom.  I’m eating an insane amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of yummy meat and tons of good fat.   My face is clearing up, I’m digesting better and my vitality is returning in full force.   Plus I’m not a raging bitch most of the time.  Win!

I remember the day I turned 30.  I was having a conversation with friends wherein I mentioned that I felt shitty a lot of the time (hello, newborn and undiagnosed medical problems) and that my goal was to feel and look amazing by my 40th birthday.  I wanted to enter into that new phase of my life with a new-found love for myself, my body and my strength.

That birthday is still 3 years away, and I’m positive that I’m going to get there, and then some.


By Carmen Farrell


I like sex.  I like it a lot.   I’ve been with my guy 19 years and we’ve been whooping it up for most of that time.  The beginning was exciting and animalistic.  A big chunk of the middle was taken up by creating, then caring for new life (…man, pregnancy sex is good.  Were it not for the tiny human you’re left with after 9 months, I’d consider being pregnant constantly).  And now we’re in a new phase.  He’s fixed…so no pink lines for us to worry about, there are no more small people wedged between us at 4 am, and my boobs are mine once again and not “family” property. So the sky’s the limit in the whoopee department, right?  Maybe.  You see, despite the fact that I like sex, sometimes it just feels like work.

You have to wind down from your day; turn off mommy mode, and get into sexy mode.  Push away any new to do list items that pop up randomly.  Stop worrying about whether that rustle you heard in the other room means a kid is awake and can hear you.  It was so much easier in my younger years to turn off my mind and just be in the moment.  Now it’s something I have to work at.  Us modern day chicas keep a lot of balls up in the air, don’t we?

So you know what really feels like the ultimate gift?  A good, old-fashioned wet dream.  It’s like you’re mind’s giving you a freebie.  “Hey girl, just lay there, sleeping peacefully, and I’ll rock your body like nobody’s business, and leave you to bask in the afterglow.”   It’s great.   You’re left feeling woozy and wonderful and you didn’t have to raise a finger…literally.

I knew that dudes had them.  As a kid, the boys in the schoolyard would toss around vague references, but I had no clue they were even a girly thing until my hormones began to rage and they started happening to me.  Man, was I glad they started happening to me!

Let me tell you about my most memorable weirdest wet dream.  Well, actually, I won’t really tell you about “it” because that would just be embarrassing – and this ain’t no 50 Shades novel, anyway.  I was probably 17.  I woke up mid-orgasm and quickly went from feeling like I was flying to feeling like I was going to barf. In that moment, my dream came at me in full HD….in my mind, I’d been doing “it” with Dom DeLuise.  Yup, what may have been one of the best orgasms of my life was brought on by a much older, overweight, often sweaty, bearded comedian who I’d seen peddling Ziploc bags on TV throughout my childhood.  It certainly wasn’t the Brad Pitt/Tom Cruise/Johnny Depp trifecta that  had starred in my fantasies previously.  Let me tell you, it was hard to get back to sleep after that.  To this day, the memory still brings a mixture of horror and excitement.  He may not have been my first pick, but he got the job done.

Nowadays, my wet dreams happen very infrequently (and they’ve never again starred Mr. DeLuise)….but when they do, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.

dom deluise

Anyone remember Dom’s Ziploc commercials from the 80s?  Give them a looksy and then see what kind of dreams you have tonight!

by Carmen Farrell

ho ho ho


…usually has me acting like a flake.  I always (ALWAYS!) plan to do more than I can handle.  This here photo was meant to be the holiday card that we sent out.  I haven’t sent out a card in years (since before kids, probably).  Every year, as cards from friends and family roll in, I feel guilty.  It’s something I probably SHOULD do, but not something I care deeply about doing.  But this year, I had an idea.  A cute idea.  I put the kids on my bed and wrote on their feet.  They were adorable.  Tickle fights… which turned into wrestling which turned into crying.  The usual drill.  After that craziness, I uploaded the photo and did a bit of editing (the big boy’s feet were pretty dirty and I cloned out the worst of it) and then that’s it.  The image sat on my hard drive while I tried to rally my lazy ass to send them in for printing.  Yah.  Didn’t happen.

So instead of having it all to be for naught, I’m sharing the joy here with our lovely O+U readers…a picture of my kids’ dirty feet to brighten your day.

Have a wonderful holiday season – whatever it is that you celebrate – and I hope with all my heart that if you didn’t manage to get a card out this year that you feel no guilt about it at all.



by Carmen Farrell

I’ve been with my guy for 18 years.  He pretty much knows me inside out.  And he likes what he’s got, for the most part.  But, just like he has quirks that make me cringe, I know there are things about me that drive him bonkers.  For today’s post about “me, me, me”, I thought I’d give some insight into who I am by telling you about several of the ways that I annoy my husband.

1.  I pee in the shower.  And I make no apologies for it either.  There’s a drain, and running water that rinses you off instantly.  I would argue that it’s even more sanitary than peeing in a toilet.  I don’t see what’s gross about it and I refuse to listen to anyone who would try to convince me that it is.  Done.  Him and I, we just don’t talk about it anymore.  It’s not worth getting divorced over.

2.  We made an agreement really early on in our relationship that whoever cooked would never have to clean up the aftermath.  I mean cooking’s work, so whoever got to sit around reading a book while dinner was being put on the table, has to put in the time afterwards.  Well, as it turns out, I cook 99% of the time.  Scott’s idea of cooking is heating up a frozen pizza.  So, yeah…he doesn’t get to handle dinner too often.  His huge complaint is that I dirty shit on purpose just to give him more work.  The truth is that I don’t do it on purpose.  But I have realized that I’m very liberal with the usage of utensils and pots.  There’s a disaster left over from preparing even the simplest of meals.  It’s just how I do.  I cook with gusto (and a little ADD) and before I know it, the sink is overflowing and I’m creeping away sheepishly.

3.  I fall asleep at movies…9 out of 10 times.  In the early days of our relationship it would be in a crowded movie theater (or at the Drive In – hello, let down!)  Nowadays its on the couch while in our pyjamas   We’ll start a great movie (sometimes even one of my picks) and I’ll be snoring a third of the way in.  I can’t help it.  The lights are low and I’m on a soft surface, for pete’s sake!  What drives him batty is that I’ll then pester him to give me a play by play of what I missed.  Yup, I’m THAT annoying bitch.  Oh, here’s a funny story…A few months ago I took my kids to see Madagascar 3 at the theater.  Of course, I fell asleep – slouched over into the empty seat next to me – about 20 minutes in.  The next thing I know, I’m coming to with the sensation that someone is poking me in the ribs.  It’s my 3 year old, and he’s whimpering, “M-m-m-ommy…. are you dead?”  Boom!  Traumatized kiddo.  I really have to start bringing a Red Bull or something.

There.  Those are but a few of my many “faults”.  How about you?  What drives your partner nuts about YOU?



As we bring our “me, me, me” month to an close, we O+U ‘ladies’ hope that you’ve enjoyed getting to know us a little bit better.  We are taking it easy for the month of December so that we can focus on the important things like family and drinking wine.   We’ll each be posting a photo or two throughout the month.  We may even have a couple of guest posts for your reading pleasure, but for the most part, we’re laying low.  Happy December to you and yours!

by Carmen “Do I Have To?” Farrell

It should be no surprise to some of you that I had to get drunk to write this post.  My O+U ladies know that I’ve struggled with my writing here.  I was slated to write just one post for last month’s “women” theme and dropped the ball because I just couldn’t figure out what the hell to write about.  This month, it’s all about me.  And yet, I struggle.  I know myself well – and like myself quite a whole lot.  But to write about myself?  Hmmm.  Pass the wine.

I’ve come to understand that I’m an introvert with extrovert tendencies.  I can totally do a large group.  I can absolutely schmooze for 8 hours straight and enjoy it.  But I’ll need a week and a half of quiet time to process it all and get back to my normal self.  I’m that person who asks you a ton of questions about yourself (my husband would even say that 75% of those questions are completely inappropriate).  I do that not only because I’m extremely interested in people’s experiences and what makes them tick, but it also keeps the focus on them, and not on me.  That’s how I like it.  I don’t LOVE talking about myself.  Not because I have self-esteem issues, but because  verbalizing who I am and what makes me tick is not something that appeals to me.  I’m the therapist, not the patient.  It’s how it’s always been.

Anyhow, I’m pushing through because I need to pull my weight at this web address.  The past few nights I’ve gone to bed brainstorming ideas for this post.  For the love of all that is holy, I tried to come up with an interesting hook or pleasing angle to approach this describing of who I am.  I wanted to do something other than  a list of things about me.  Several of my cohorts here have done that very well already and I didn’t want to simply be a copy-cat.  But you know what, I’d fall asleep before anything interesting came to me.  So suckers, here’s a list after all!

  • Gluten hates me.  It makes me feel all sorts of bad.  But I can’t shake it.  I’ll go weeks without it and then, suddenly, I’m inhaling a croissant and going off the rails big time.
  • I love cooking but hate baking.  I’m not crazy for eating baked goods either.  I’d happily take a sumptuous, savoury dish over a slice of cake any day.
  • If I could make love to a well-made gin and tonic, I would.  I just love them that much.
  • Tickling makes me ape-shit mad.  Try to tickle me and you’ll likely end up with my fist in your face.  Whether you’re my mom, or my 3 year old, it’s a ridiculous reflex. When I’m tickled, I instantly start punching.
  • I can’t help but insert a shit or fuck into sentences.  It’s just more interesting that way.  I once had a friend comment that swearing is just a sign of a lazy mind.  Well, fuck…I’ve got the laziest mind around.  And that’s just fine.
  • As a kid I lived beside a church that held wedding receptions in their basement every Saturday.  One Saturday I walked in back the door, pulled the fire alarm and ran like hell.  I still feel guilty, and slightly exhilarated.
  • I hate having my picture taken.  I’m not particularly photogenic and only come out looking that way in photos once in a blue moon.  That’s why you’re getting a couple of photos of me that are several years old.  Deal with it.

Above all else, I’m a kind-hearted, fun-loving chick.  I’m pretty sure that if I died today people would remember me fondly.  That’s good enough for me.

by Carmen Farrell

Come summer, nothing gets me more hot and bothered than exploring the stalls at my local farmer’s market.   It may be subliminal (ever notice how many fruits and vegetables are reminiscent of male genitalia?), but it’s probably because the market is such a feast for the senses.  I can’t get enough of the colours, and smells and textures.  That’s the kind of shit that makes me feel happy and connected.  So I go, I peruse, I buy.  Then I come home and my kids devour the fruit in no time, turn their noses up at the green stuff and we do it all again the following week.

That’s what I’m loving right now.  The fresh stuff.

by Carmen Farrell

This month at O+U is all about loves and obsessions, so here’s a little post about what’s currently giving me lady wood:  power tools.  Yup.  That’s all it takes to get this lady hot and bothered.  Good, old power tools.

For me, the potential for this  love affair started long ago.  In elementary school I took shop rather than home ec.  My inner feminist was budding and I wanted to make a statement.  I was only one of 3 females in a class of 30 12-year-olds.  By the end of the term, I was doing major cuts on the band saw for half the class.  Dudes were terrified of cutting their fingers off, and I loved how powerful I felt conquering my fear and plowing through it.

Fast forward 24 years and this here chick is trying to get her house fixed up nice and pretty.  Unfortunately, buying a 100+ year old home means that when you knock down walls and pull up floors you encounter major structural issues that eat up your meager budget and leave you with an empty shell (that is at least structurally sound at this point).  So, the hubster and I had to hunker down, ignore our children just about every weekend, and get busy making the house livable on our own.

Long story short, we found ourselves buying tools like a table saw and an impact driver – and the cooler the tools we bought, the more my mind started swirling with the possibilities.  Then Pinterest made it worse.  In the past month, I’ve been pinning tons of inspiration for making my own sectional couch.  I’ve got 3 boys who are growing fast and who’ll likely be taller than me by their 13th birthdays.  So we need lots of lounging space.  I’d had dreams of  buying a big-ass sectional …until I started shopping around and realized that all the ones that I loved cost upwards of $6000 (why must Crate and Barrel be so cruel?).  So, we could say good-bye to family vacations for the next couple of years, or I could pull out my power tools and make shit happen myself.  I realized that some of the sectionals that I loved were the exact measurements of two twin mattresses set in the shape of an “L”.  Boom.  Mind explosions.  I can sew, I can build…I can make a sectional for less than $500, damn it!

The photo directly above is of the mattresses as we’ve been living with them.  On the floor.  Size-wise they’re perfect.  As of this writing, they are now up on their frames, but I’m still trying to pick out fabric.  If anyone’s interested in the final product, I’ll post some photos up on the O+U Facebook page once it’s done.

So what else have we been able to accomplish with our fancy power tools?  We hacked some pretty cool wooden floors for a fraction of what hardwood would have cost us.  We refaced our old stairs.  We built storage benches for our front porch.   And my head continues to swim with the possibilities.

What’s next on my big old project list?  Concrete countertops for the new kitchen!  I’m practically convulsing with excitement.  Nuts, right?

by Carmen Farrell

It’s been one helluva hot summer so far.   My mantra has been:  I will not complain, I will not complain, I will not complain.  See, complainers annoy me.  A lot.  Especially when they complain no matter what.  I hear them complain throughout the winter that it’s too cold, and then what do you know, the second summer hits, they complain that it’s too hot.  I suspect (and by that I mean “know for a fact”) that I’ve been one of those people in the past and it really  makes me want to punch myself in the face.  So, this summer…this super hot, muggy summer…I vowed not to complain.  6 hours out at the park with the kids, hair plastered to my forehead, shirt 4 shades darker from sweat saturation:  no complaining.

You know what’s helped?  Sangria.  And lots of it.

Are you in heat wave territory?  Tell me how you’re dealing with it.  If you need my sangria recipe, let me know.

by Carmen Farrell

When I asked my kids what they loved best about summer, I heard their answer loud and clear:  ice cream!  Every year, come June, my kids become ice cream monsters. It’s like a switch gets flipped or something.  They’d like nothing better than to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner – diarrhea be damned.   Most days it’s an after dinner treat that we all look forward to.

The husband and I have strong opinions about our favourite ice cream flavours.  I’ve had a love affair with Mocha Almond Fudge for years, and his hands down favourite is Mint Chocolate Chip.  The kids however are quite promiscuous with their ice cream enjoyment.  They’ll take any flavour, any time, any way that they can.  One of these days I’ll get all gourmet on their ass and make my own (just like Laura, Erika and Jill do) but for now we’ll make do with what the supermarket’s got.

My only concern is whether the ice cream is killing brain cells.  Case in point:  A quick photo opp of them eating ice cream turned into a game of “who has the best ice cream beard”.  They’re either losing brain cells with each lick or these kids just don’t take my camera seriously.


Is ice cream YOUR favourite summer time treat?  Tell me your flavour of choice.  I’ve got another 2 months of keeping these boys satisfied and there are a ton of flavours we haven’t checked out yet.

by Carmen Farrell


This is how I operate:  I LOVE music, but often fall hard for a couple of songs and play them to death for months at a time.  Then, something else catches my ear, and I abandon my previous love to be consumed by the new.  Well, a few months back my husband had to perform some CPR on my phone, in the form of wiping it clean and reinstalling the latest operating system.  All of my music was wiped off.  Since then, only 2 songs have been added back on and these are them:

LP’s Into The Wild and Edward Sharpe’s Home

These were my spring anthems.  And I guess I’ve played them to death because yesterday I was told off.  I was sitting with my 2 year old at the park eating pistachios when he asked me to play some music on my phone.  When he stomped his foot and groaned “Not doze ones again!”, I realized that maybe it’s time to scope out my summer anthems, and this time I’d better find more than just two songs.

Have you found your summer anthem yet?  Do share, as I think Theo can only take so much more.