August 13, 2017

Read It: Go Set A Watchman



I started reading Go Set A Watchman last summer, and, as much as I enjoyed reading the memories that Scout shared from her childhood -- believe me, there was a hilarious story she shared with Jem and Dill that I still think about -- it was was one of those books that I easily put down in distraction of other books. But, I picked it up again this past winter and learned a few life lessons as I continued reading:

I found that there were some startling parallels between a book that was written in the late 1950s and what was going on at the time that I was reading it. It blew my mind that the world has not changed much in the 60 years since Go Set A Watchman was written, and that the things that has been sitting under the surface are still there. Harper Lee was acutely aware of things that a lot of people kept, and still keep, hidden in society.

One thing that a lot of people were upset over was the fact that our dear Atticus Finch is portrayed as racist in this novel. But, what some people are not remembering is that this book was written before To Kill A Mockingbird, which means he always was racist, it just wasn't evident when we first met him. To assume that there is not an ounce of racism in him simply because of his actions and words in To Kill A Mockingbird is unfair, and Go Set A Watchman shows us that we truly do not know the inner workings of the minds of others. To have put Atticus on a pedestal was a big mistake on our part, and Go Set A Watchman sets all of us straight, including Jean Louise.

I thought a lot of my childhood and the moment that I grew into my own person while reading the conversation that Jean Louise has with Dr. Finch, her uncle. That moment when you no longer hang on to the thoughts and ideals of your parents and realise that you have created your own. When you become your own person. It was when he called her a bigot that it really got to me, and I realised that I am the exact same way:

"Dr. Finch bit his under lip and let it go. 'Um hum. A bigot. Not a big one, just an ordinary turnip-sized bigot.'

Jean Louise rose and went to the bookshelves. She pulled down a dictionary and leafed through it. '"Bigot,"' she read. '"Noun. One obstinatly or intolerably devoted to his own church, party, belief, or opinion."...'

'...What does a bigot do when he meets someone who challenges his opinions? He doesn't give. He stays rigid. Doesn't even try to listen, just lashes out...You have a tendency not to give anybody elbow room in your mind for their ideas, no matter how silly you think they are." (p.267)

Reading that passage was a real "a-ha" moment for me, and reminded me of this article that I had previously read about false-consensus bias, people that believe in a different point of view than you, and the fact that our opinion might just be wrong. I am one of those people that does not give in easily when fighting about an opinion that I believe is right, and it is something that I am truly working on. -- "This is not to say the Other Side is “right” but that they likely have real reasons to feel that way. And only after understanding those reasons can a real discussion take place...And you won’t convince anyone to feel the way you do if you don’t respect their position and opinions."

Go Set A Watchman was more than just the "sequel" to a good book, for me. It surprised me by being incredibly relevant. It also taught me that I still have a lot to learn, and made me question if I have truly set my own watchman.

August 07, 2017

All About Food: The Valuable Lesson I Learned From My Visit To Cuba



When it came to what we were going to eat in Cuba, I didn't know what to expect -- see my vacation here. The reviews of our resort were mixed between saying that the food was bland, or that there was nothing wrong with it at all. I knew that we wouldn't be getting French cuisine while we were there, and I'm not much of a sauce person so bland food doesn't bother me anyway. 

What I discovered while we were there was a buffet full of fresh fruits, meats, and some vegetables. I am assuming that over time the resorts have figured out the kind of expectations that we have when it comes to food, and have tried their best to provide us all with food that it similar to what we eat at home as there were definitely foods that were imported -- like the jams and jellies that I liked to put on my crepe-like pancake as there was no syrup.

But this is beside the point. The food that I ate in Cuba was fresh and -- mostly -- local, and I lived my days eating foods that I wouldn't normally be eating at home. I ate very little meat and focused more on the fruits and salads, breads and rice that were available to me -- because there was no junk food for me to gobble up, except for colas.

What I didn't notice then, that I figured out once I was back in Canada, was that my body was detoxing from all the foods back at home, and, as soon as I started back into my old habits at home, I got sick. 

While I was laying at home sick on the sofa, I watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix -- I loooove documentaries on Netflix. One of them was a show about food and the effects that it has on our body called Hungry for Change

As I was laying there exhausted from the illness that I had developed from the food that I had eaten when I came home, and realised that I had been exposed to such fresh food -- and nothing else -- while I was away, I knew that I had to go back to what I was eating like in Cuba.

I'm not going to lie to you, I still eat chips, drink pop, and go out for supper to places that we really shouldn't be going, but my main focus is on vegetables and fruits. I eat salads and fresh cut veggies every day, and I eat fruit and nuts on my porridge instead of brown sugar. I have made little adjustments here and there in my diet that have made a huuuuuge difference to my body that I would have never figured out had I not gone to Cuba.

Most of you that have been following along for a while know that I have been going through a weight loss period for about five years now -- read the history here. While I haven't done a "Weight Update" in quite a while, you can consider this my newest one. 

Around this time last year I decided I wanted to lose a couple more pounds -- the last of my weight loss goal -- and I did it by counting calories, etc. It was difficult, and took me a long time to achieve my goal. Some days I felt like I was practically starving myself, but I never felt good, healthy. My asthma became a serious issue again during my pregnancy seven years ago, and I was still relying on my steroid inhaler a lot -- which is something I don't like to do.

Since I began making vegetables and fruits my main focus, I am so proud to be able to tell you that I have not used my inhalers -- steroid or Ventolin -- once since my visit to Cuba back in January. I do not remember the last time that I became seriously ill, and as soon as I feel myself becoming sick, I do a mental check and realise that I have been eating really junky and get back on track again and the sickness goes away. I have lost the last couple of pounds for good, and even a couple more that I was surprised about.

It's so hard to explain, and not sound super preachy about it. Just know that I learned a valuable lesson that I know has done my body good.



July 31, 2017

What We Love: Summer 2017



This romper has been one of my main go-to outfits so far this summer. I tried it on on a whim thinking that it wasn't quite my style, but ended up loving it. It feels like a dress, fits nicely in all the right areas -- I especially like how snug it is in the torso -- and is not so short that it reveals too much when you bend over. Plus, it is a romper that my husband actually likes.



I honestly couldn't tell you where I first hear this song, but I absolutely love it and think that it is a perfect song for summer. It's got a sweet beat that you have no problem dancing to. In fact, as soon as the song comes on, my body starts to move involuntarily.



I have always loved the water. I lived in the next door neighbour's pool while growing up, and enjoy taking my son to our local outdoor pool -- and the lake -- every summer. It wouldn't feel like summer if you didn't spend a little bit of time in an outdoor pool. This art print from Helo Birdie take me back to my summers at the pool every time I look at it -- it also makes me wish I was on a tropical vacation! 



July 09, 2017

Shop Update: Three Prints and Malala Fund



I am so excited to be able to share with you that not only are there three new art prints available in the shop, but $1 from every purchase of those three prints (Malala, Frida, and Nasty Woman) will be donated to Malala Fund which advocates — at local, national and international levels — for resources and policy changes needed to ensure all girls complete 12 years of school.

As you know, I am a big fan of Malala Yousafzai (Read It and Inspire Me), and, as I was trying to figure out which organization to donate proceeds from the Nasty Woman art print to, I came up with the idea to create a couple more art prints with quotations from the two woman that have inspired me recently and donate proceeds from all three to support education -- which is something that is near and dear to my heart as an Early Childhood Educator.



July 08, 2017

Waskesiu Day Trip 2017: The Hike



We went on a hike through the forest of Prince Albert National Park on a trail called Boundary Bog -- read more about our day trip here. It was a longer hike for my son, but he prevailed and we were rewarded with a lovely view of the eye of the bog.

I am always humbled by a hike in the Boreal forest. I love the feeling of walking among the trees that have stretched as high as they could towards the sun, and, as you can see, I am a big fan of taking photos of fungi -- including my son. The things that grow, are capable of growing, and the things that happen in the forest are absolutely fascinating. You could almost say it's magical, and it's transformational for the spirit as well.



July 05, 2017

Waskesiu Day Trip 2017: Town Site



Since our visit two years ago, we have been yearning to go back to Waskesiu. We made a day trip this time around, and stopped in the town site after a hike to be able to explore the beach -- where we saw a ton of butterflies -- and get yummy treats from the local bakery. 

One of our favourite stops is the Prince Albert National Park Nature Centre. We were fortunate enough to have visited just after the centre re-opened after some renovations. It was a lot of fun the last time that we were there, but now it is beyond what it originally was. As you can see, we were really drawn to the dress-up area, but there was also a puppet theatre with a pretend fire pit where we made up a couple of little plays, a miniature canoe, and a game where you toss fish into a pelican's mouth. 

There were also a lot of areas set up to learn about the environment of Waskesiu. There was a spot where you could listen to different bird calls, and try to lift elk antlers -- which are a lot heavier than you can imagine. Because the centre has created an environment centred more around the cultures of the peoples originally from the area, we were able to learn about the 6 Seasons of the Woodland Cree, which I think we should adopt instead of the four season we currently use -- among other things.


Stay tuned for photos from our morning hike.



June 19, 2017

Read It: Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions



I bought this book straight off the shelf in the bookstore. I had never heard of it, or the author, before, but I was intrigued by the content and possibilities of learning that would come with it. I was not disapointed. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a beautiful letter to a good friend and her newborn daughter, and was kind enough to share it with the world. And for that, I am grateful.

Let me start off by saying that I like how she wrote the book in the form of "suggestions" and not "rules" on how to be a feminist. There is nothing pushy, or rude about the way that she approaches the subject, and you can take what you want from what she shares. How I grew up, my own life experiences, my self-assessments all play a large part in how I view myself as a woman, and how I view other women -- this is true of everyone.

As the mother of a young boy, I read this book as a way to raise my son as a feminist without any changes to the suggestions -- as if they were only meant for girls. Obviously there are some things I will have to alter slightly as he will grow up with society teaching him that he is better in every respect simply because he is a boy. But, the changes I mean are subtle, like respecting women that want to be a full person; keeping a household and raising children together with his spouse; supporting his spouse in all of the choices that she makes and not "allowing" her to do them -- assuming he will marry a woman. These are all suggestions written in the book, but the way they are written is for a woman fighting to make these a reality, not for a man that is going to help her.

I believe he sees a lot of this in the marriage that my husband and I have, and we have surrounded ourselves with strong people that show him a positive influence, but we all slip up sometimes. This book is a good reminder of which direction I want to go myself, and which direction I want to raise my son.

The book also made me realise how fortunate I was to grow up in the household that I did. I was never told that I couldn't play ball, play rough, show an interest in woodworking, or even learn how to fix things that were broken. I was never pushed in a certain direction that was considered more feminine. I was never told I couldn't do something or wear something because it was "for boys". I was allowed to discover and explore the world in which ever way that I wanted, and for that I am truly grateful. My parents probably never realised that they were raising me to be a feminist, but I appreciate that they fostered my interests and this book helped me to see that.




June 17, 2017

Shop Update: Paris of the Prairies T-Shirts



We are so excited to announce that Paris of the Prairies t-shirts are now available at one of the shops where our cards are stocked in Saskatoon, Soul Paper. It is available in two styles: women's crew-neck and unisex v-neck in sizes small-large -- for now.

This has been a project a long time in the making, and it feels good to finally be able to reveal what we have been working on. We also have a few other ideas up our sleeves -- pun intended -- that we can't wait to share with you!



May 29, 2017

Exploring Elk Ridge: Focusing on the Positive



A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to listen to Darci Lang and Darren Lang speak at a conference for my day job. I didn't know what to expect going into it, but I came out of that weekend with a different perspective, not just of my job, but of my life.

We went for a walk through Elk Ridge in Waskesiu after the first day, and it was incredibly uplifting. I couldn't have gone on such a walk with anyone but the wonderful and talented women that I work with and am proud to call my friends. 

Darren Lang was the first speaker, and he was fantastic. He spoke about stress in your life and how you can cope with it. As someone that has gone through mental health issues himself, he was really good at guiding us through ways to reduce stress -- the concept of "chill and choose" was a big take-away from his session. 

Darci Lang spoke on the final day of the conference, and I wish we would have been able to see her all day. She really knocked it out of the park. Darci had a way of speaking that is incredibly hard to explain, but she instantly connected with everyone in the room in a way that you would have to experience to understand -- she travels around the country doing public workshops, so it is possible to see her if you're interested.

Darci talked a lot about seeing the positive things in your life -- the 90% -- and focusing on those instead of the negative things in your life -- the things that take up the other 10%. Easier said than done, right? But Darci doesn't make you feel that way. She has such a positive upbeat attitude and demeanor -- that in no way feels fake -- that you come out of her session with a renewed perspective on life that really makes you question what makes you happy, and how you can look at it differently so that it does make you happy.

I love my day job. I get to work with children every day and see how they change and evolve as human beings that love to explore and engage with their world. I love how each day is different and the children are always doing something new -- sharing a new story, a new skill. Darci asks you if you love your job, and, if you do but you are unhappy, how you can look at the positive aspects of what you love about your job instead of the negatives. The only person you can change is yourself.

That is the jumping off point. There are so many other places and aspects of life to explore with the 90%.



May 07, 2017

What We Love: Spring 2017



I may have just snapped up a pair of these Birkenstocks recently in hopes that they will become a new favourite sandal -- especially with a serious walking holiday coming up this summer. What I didn't know, until I went to purchase the sandals, is that Birkenstock sandals can be rebuilt, making them a solid investment that will last a lifetime. Given my promise to myself to become more ethically and environmentally responsible (see here and here) when it comes to clothing, Birkenstocks seem to be a step in the right direction -- pun intended.



That voice. It's what drew my in to this song when I heard it on the radio recently. It's so strong and powerful.



I am in love with this beautiful Big Dipper and Little Dipper constellation set from Sargasso Shop. With thoughts of summer, it makes me think about fun times camping with my family, and it also makes me think about my son -- mama bear and baby bear.



April 15, 2017

Read It: The Woman I Wanted To Be



I started reading The Woman I Wanted To Be by Diane von Furstenburg -- the woman who invented the wrap dress, and has become so much more -- while on vacation in Cuba. It was my beach reading, but the weather was too windy so I ended up reading most of it on the plane ride home. 

While I found her life absolutely fascinating, I initially had a difficult time getting past the fact that it felt so much like a fairy tale. She is one of those people that seems to meet the right people, and to be in the right place at the right time, but she doesn't take advantage of it, or use people in a hurtful way. She is a self-made business woman that cares deeply about the people in her life, and was fortunate enough to have been given a lot of opportunities and people that care just as deeply about her.

While she seemed to live an extravagant life while trying to figure out what kind of person she wanted to be in her early years -- believe me, she has had her struggles as well -- I liked that she never pushed herself down, and used every opportunity as a point of learning. She has learned so many lessons in her life, and she talks freely about them, but it was when she talked about her business(es) that I really perked up.

As a business woman myself, I saw a lot of what she went through in what I am struggling with right now in my shop. She seemed to float through everything, and do really well, but it wasn't until a few years ago that she really discovered her vision for herself and her company. This is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately.

Without delving into too much information into business things, or into something that you could really care nothing about, I want you to know how wonderful it was to read about a woman that is two and a half times my age that was still trying to figure everything out. That it's okay to struggle, as long as you don't become someone, or something, that you don't want to be, and that nothing will stop you from becoming the woman you want to be.



April 08, 2017

Shop Update: Spring Handmade Markets 2017

April and May are going to be a busy month for us. We have 3 Spring handmade markets lined up that we are really excited about:


The first one is the Etsy SK Spring Pop-up in Saskatoon.We will have a selection of Easter cards and Mother's Day card (May 14!) to choose from among our cards for babies, weddings, birthdays, etc. All of which can be found in the shop.


The second one is at the end of April in Regina -- our first market away from home. We are really happy to be attending The Wren's Spring Handmade Market. We will have all of our regular goodies there, plus, if you are among the first 25 people through the door, we will have something extra special in the swag bags.



The final handmade market that we are doing this Spring is The Handmade Pop-up which will be an online market starting May 1 and running until May 15. We will provide more information and some links as it becomes available. We are currently in the beginning stages of getting everything set up for our shop, and we are excited about the concept and possibilities behind this global market.


Have a great Spring enjoying the weather with family and friends. We hope you will take the time to come out and visit with us at one of our markets!



April 03, 2017

Now He is 6



We had Little Boy's 6th birthday parties -- yes, you read that right...partiesss -- this past weekend. It was his first time to have a friends birthday party and not just a family birthday party. He was so excited. We had nine children filled with juice, chips, and goodies from a pinata running around the house. It was exhausting, but so much fun. 

Time really must fly at the speed of light. To think that in the span of a year this Little Boy has learned how to write letters, sound out words to write them himself, and sparked his love for imaginative play -- something that I have been waiting for for a while now.

His mind is quite analytical, but he has always had a creative streak in him, as well as a love of music and movement. His body has started to spin and contort in the way of B-Boys, and his interest in music has grown into mixing his own beats with the songs that he hears.

We enjoyed reading through his very first report card from school as it so politely talked about how he is a leader among his peers, and is learning to step back and let others take the lead sometimes -- instead of stating that he's bossy. It's so exciting to read about all of the different elements of his learning, especially the social aspects, and to let him become an independent person.

It's so very different than the first few years of his life; figuring out how much to step back, while still hanging on to the things that make him special, or make our time with him special, before he is ready to move on and be away from us -- more and more and more.

I believe my husband and I have put the building blocks into place to help him become a strong individual, and now is when we start letting him go. 




March 29, 2017

The Shop: 6th Birthday Giveaway



Right now, until Friday March 31 @ 8pm CST, we are having a giveaway in celebration of the shop's birthday, and as a thank you for all of the love and support that you have given us over the years. You can enter to win a beautiful pair of earrings from the shop Riel Creations, an adorable little plum from Boolah Baguette, and a birthday card from yours truly. Head on over to our Facebook page, and our Instagram account for 2 chances to enter. The winner will be announced on Friday after 8pm CST.



March 28, 2017

Listen Here: Our Favourite Song Covers


I heard this amazing cover of Drake's Hotline Bling when Lights shared it on her Twitter feed. I was immediately hooked, and listened to it on repeat for a couple of days. It is probably my most favourite cover of a song.




Another cover that is an absolute favourite is Call Your Girlfriend by Lucy Wainwright Roche -- originally performed by Robyn. I shared it a few years ago in the July Listen, Look, Love series. I had heard it on CBC Radio 2, and fell in love with it right away. As I said in the post where I first shared this song, I like when an artist can take a song and make it their own, which is exactly what Lights and Lucy have done with these two songs.




I heard Rufus Wainwright's cover of Across the Universe on CBC Radio 2 -- as seems to be the trend for most of the good music that I hear lately. Like the other covers mentioned in this post, I fell in love with it immediately. The simplicity of the guitar, and his voice work so perfectly together.





I remember discovering this gem of a cover -- of Cyndi Lauper's True Colors -- from Marina and the Diamonds while listening to some of her new music last year. After that, I listened to it non-stop for a couple of weeks. I love the power of her voice and the simplicity of the piano. There's already a strong, and beautiful message behind this song, but Marina makes it that much better.


What are some of your favourite covers of songs?


March 08, 2017

Inspire Me: Malala & Frida



There are two women that have inspired me in my life recently. Both of them are strong women that have overcome many obstacles that were thrown in their way -- especially the fact that they are women.

I have admired Malala Yousafzai since the day that she was shot. I started reading her book over two years ago, and am still inspired by her courage to this day. Her need to put others before herself, to forgive those that have wronged her, and her yearning to educate the children of the world -- especially girls -- are reasons why I think of her on a regular basis to remind myself of what is important in my life, and why I should strive for something greater, letting the negative things in life roll off my back -- learn more about Malala and her work here.

Frida Kahlo is a woman by whom I have only recently been inspired. I know that she had a zest for life, and that she treated others as equals, and that she fought her way through life despite many hardships and physical injuries. I thought of her as I contemplated what to do about my lady-mustache and remembered that she rocked that shit, and I can do it to. Upon reading more about her, I found a fascinating woman that made a name for herself by herself.

And so, here we are, on International Women's Day 2017, celebrating the women that inspire us; the women that have raised us, and continue to support us; the women that our children will some day become. There is a strength in all of us, especially combined, that will someday overcome all of the obstacles that have been thrown in our way, and we will make a name for ourselves, by ourselves, and we will rock that shit.



March 01, 2017

Little Shop of ElleSee is 6!



Today Little Shop of ElleSee turns six years old! It's so hard to believe that it's been six years since the shop opened -- especially because our son was born a month afterwards and I'm not ready for him to grow up. 

So much has happened and changed in the shop during this journey that we have all been on, and I couldn't have asked for better people to experience it with. Some of you have been with us since the beginning stages of the shop, and others have just joined us on our continuing travels -- welcome! -- we are so grateful for the love and support that you have given us over the years. Everything that we do makes us so happy, and we hope that you feel the same way too. 

Cheers!


*Keep your eyes open for little ways to help us celebrate during the month of March -- including some giveaways.



February 24, 2017

What We Love: Winter 2017



This sweater from Rebecca King Fashion is a staple in our wardrobe this winter. It is perfect for wearing underneath your wool duffle coat this winter -- the neck acts as a scarf, and the bottom keeps your legs warm. It also transfers nicely to your Spring/Fall wardrobes as a cozy sweater. We love the work of Rebecca King -- see previous purchase here -- and are already plotting which sweaters to buy next.



This song from The Overcoats has been playing on the radio a lot lately. We love the vibe of the music, and the harmonies of the voices singing. Beautiful.


We are in love with brooches and handmade pins. This cute little pigeon pin from Jolly Awesome Art caught our eye recently. The shop is currently on a little break, but be sure that we're going to snap it up when it opens again.




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