July 15, 2018

Behind the Art: In The Mountains



It is no secret that I am in love with the mountains. If you take a look through some of my vacation photos on Instagram, you'll see that we visit them quite a bit -- though probably not as much as people that live closer than we do. 

Regardless, after my first camping trip to the mountains in high school, I developed a certain affinity for the mountains, and look forward to any subsequent vacations in that direction of the country.

This art print comes from my love of the mountains -- which I know I share with many other people around the world -- and waking up to the splendor and calm that arises from emerging from your tent in the morning and being in their presence.



July 08, 2018

5 Instagram Accounts I'm Currently Connecting With


Instagram is a lot of things to a lot of people. I find it to be a source of inspiration, a place of connection, and a way to waste some time. Instagram is constantly changing, and I find as I evolve in how I present myself and the shop on the platform, that the people that inspire me and that I connect with are changing as well. 

As I enter different phases of my life, I connect with people that I never thought I would before. Here are 5 Instagram accounts that are currently inspiring me, or connecting with my life:



I honestly would not be able to tell you when I started following Ana of Bluebirdkisses, but she only had one child then (around the same age as my son) and she and her husband have since added two more. I remember being drawn to her because our children were close in age, but it wasn't until recently that I really started to feel like I have connected with her. 

She has been quite candid lately about her life and behind the scenes of social media, but what I feel connected me the most is her journey in fitness and a healthy body. There are so many elements that are similar to mine, and I find myself silently (sometimes I make a comment) cheering her on.



Sarah of Sarahgoldenart has been an inspiration to me (if you can't tell by the painting in the photo above and the recent artwork I've been sharing on Instagram) and I am awestruck by the work that she does. Each piece is incredibly unique, and tells it's own little story. I love abstract art for that exact reason: that every piece can be interpreted differently and each person that sets their eyes on it has their own experience with it.



I don't remember exactly when I started following Kelle of Etst, but I do know that I started following her after I spotted a beautiful black and white photo she had taken of her daughter Nella. When I am drawn to a photo on Instagram, I usually head to the account to see if I would like the other photos and stories that are shared before I hit the follow button. 

It didn't take me too long to realise that I wanted to hop in the car and head out on the drive that Kelle was taking, and what a drive it has been. Kelle shares the most amazing photographs, and the stories that go with them are uplifting, inspiring, and sometimes make me cry. This lady has a wonderful gift for using words.



I have been following along with Erin of Boolahbaguette ever since I got Instagram. We met years ago at a Flock & Gather handmade market, and I instantly fell in love with all of the things that she creates, as well as her passion for her work. I really look forward to seeing her posts in my feed. They are a little light during my day.

Seriously, your heart will melt while you look through her Instagram photos. The time and energy that she puts into her dolls and other items really shines through in her photographs. Plus, she has the warmest, most welcoming personality (which I've talked about before) that makes seeing her in your Instagram feed all the more enjoyable.



I first found Elsie Larson and her sister Emma through their blog A Beautiful Mess while I was on maternity leave -- we won't talk about how long ago -- and really enjoyed their work. So I naturally added her to my Instagram followers when I finally got an iPhone, but it wasn't until recently that I really started to connect with her on a different level.

Late last year, Elsie and her husband welcomed their little girl Nova into their life, and, as Elsie put it so well when she shared her first photo with her little girl "We were together. I forget the rest", I really don't remember what Elsie's Instagram account was like before this little ray of sunshine.

I love the photos and the snippets of life in the videos that she shares, especially the songs. Nova has such a beautiful singing voice, and she is so much fun to watch ("painting" is my personal favourite). It really is a treat that Elsie shares so much. Nova is such a precious gift to their family, and it's been wonderful watching the changes that she has caused. It takes me back to when my son was a little guy.


June 27, 2018

What We Love: Summer 2018


Floral Shorts from H&M

I have been struggling recently with finding shorts that fit my body properly. There are pairs of shorts that I currently own, and have owned for many years now, that are starting to fit poorly because of the changes in my body from working out a little more -- boo hoo, I know. I'm constantly pulling at them and they ride up all the time, so I have found myself being drawn to shorts that have a much looser and more relaxed fit, like this lovely floral pair from H&M that are the exact same style as a pair that I own in an orange-y red colour. I love them!



I know that this song from Young Summer is a few years old, but, in my defense, I just recently heard it for the first time, and I think it has the perfect chill vibe for summer. I mean, her name even has the word "summer" in it. How could it not be meant for the season?! It's perfect for lounging on the deck while sharing a drink with friends, or even reading a book.


Travel Pouch from True Leaf

I am in love with this travel pouch from the shop True Leaf. Not only does that beautiful floral pattern make me think of a tropical vacation (say Hawaii or Cuba), but it would be perfect for holding any odds and ends that are needed on said getaway. Plus, it can double as a fold-able clutch to be used at any time...not just on a holiday.




June 22, 2018

DIY: Little Dragon Wings



What you will need:

18 gauge wire
Electrical tape
Ankle or toe pantyhose
Spray on Colour hairspray

I have made these wings several times in the past few years. Two were for Halloween costumes -- a butterfly and Tinkerbell -- and one set was for this little dragon that I created for my first cosplay for the Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo a couple of years ago.


I used the following video from the Martha Stuart show (we won't even talk about how long ago that was on air) and adapted it for a smaller version, including using ankle length pantyhose instead of wasting the ones for the whole leg. I then attached them to a little dinosaur stuffie that belongs to my son from the shop The Wooden Quail.




June 18, 2018

Behind the Art: Just Numbers



Today I am starting a new series on the blog to share the ideas and reasons behind the designs and art of the cards and art prints that you can find in the shop, starting with the card that I created for my mom's birthday a few several years ago (if you really want to know how old she was turning, look at the number in the centre of the card).

The card began with this idea to sooth my mom of the idea that she was approaching 60, and that the ages that we all turn are just numbers, nothing more. There are so many other things that we can define ourselves by other than a number. This is something that I am slowly starting to learn as I creep closer to 40.


May 31, 2018

Weight Update: My Journey to Circuit Training


 
It's been a while since I last had a weight update -- you can find them here -- and a lot has changed since then. The last time I shared my weight with you, I was 126lbs. I never fluctuated much from there. The lowest I reached was 125lbs, and, up until the summer of last year, I had really started to plateau in terms of what exercise was doing for my body and I was starting to get bored. 

In August 2017 I started to really step up how many reps I was doing after being inspired by some really toned people, and in November of the same year, my sister-in-law invited me to her Cross Fit class as part of an open house. I was fortunate to already have some of the muscles necessary in order to keep up, but that class had me beat by the end and I was moved in a different direction of working out.

My workouts always consisted of working on each muscle group, and keeping my body strong -- especially my legs and core -- so that my running wouldn't mess up my knees, but I did high reps and no sets. The Cross Fit class inspired me to start doing lower reps with multiple sets, and so I started doing research on different exercises that I could do at home to work my muscles without getting bored by doing the same thing over and over while saving some money by doing it all at home.

My workout always consists of arms (10 push ups, 15 tricep dips, 10 dumbbell swings), legs (20 lunges, 10 sumo squats, 20 single leg dead lifts), core (15 boat pose sit ups, 15 sit ups, 10 leg lifts) or all three (10 burpies, 10 inchworm push ups, 12 renegade rows), and I push myself to do my circuit as many times as I can within a 10-15 minute time span -- which is usually between 6-10 times. That means I'm doing 60-100 pushups within a short amount of time, and there are so many different things I can do in multiple combinations that my workouts are never boring, plus it only takes 10 minutes out of my day. Sometimes I also like to throw in some sprints on the treadmill as another way of mixing it up.

It didn't take me long to notice the results in my body, and, although I have gained about 5lbs, my clothes fit looser than before I started gaining. I am proud of the progress that I have made, and the strength that has come with it. I have come a long way from the person that I was 6 years ago, and I am ready to enter the realm of 35 with a body that is more powerful than it has ever been and can help me keep up with my family.



*Remember, I am not an expert on nutrition, nor am I a trainer, but this workout has helped me lose fat and gain muscle. If you are looking to lose weight, do your research and get some ideas from the experts. It's not going to happen unless you try.


May 29, 2018

The Drama Behind Planting Fruits and Vegetables



I have a small garden that I plant every year, and, because of the size of my garden, I like to do something called companion planting where I strategically plant my fruits and vegetables based on which plants help them grow, and which ones hinder their growth.

While looking through the list of fruits and vegetables on the chart in the link I shared above, I noticed I was writing things like "strawberries don't like potatoes or tomatoes" and "carrots like tomatoes", and it made me think that these sentences would make a funny little book about the drama between fruits and vegetables. 

So, I decided to draw them up, and here are the results. I hope you had as much fun looking through them as I had drawing them and photographing them.

Do you have a garden this year? Have you ever done companion planting?



May 17, 2018

Now He Is 7



We celebrated his birthday two weekends in a row this year. The first was Easter weekend with family, and the second was with his friends from school, the day home he goes to, and from the neighbourhood. 

It's exciting to see how his relationships are evolving and what he does to keep engaging with people. He recently started going off on his own to neighbors' homes and biking to the park with friends. It's a strange feeling that accompanies sending him off on his own. I can't believe we are already at this part of life. Sometimes I want my little boy back, and I wish I held onto those earlier years more -- which most of us wish, I'm sure.

This year has seen a lot of changes besides going off on his own. He has learned how to read, and we are really excited when we look back at how far he has come. From struggling with sight words to reading books sent home from school that have much more text than they used to. He also had his first introduction to research when his class set up a zoo and taught other classes that came to visit all about the animals that they studied. He taught me things I never knew about crabs -- which was everything because I really knew nothing about crabs.

What makes me the most proud, as I watch him grow, is how kind and considerate he is towards other people. He will stop to help anyone, and shows genuine concern for people that get hurt. He is a thoughtful boy, and it makes me excited to see what kind of person he will become.




May 09, 2018

What We Love: Spring 2018



This bomber jacket has been a staple in our wardrobe since we've been allowed to ditch the winter coat -- you can find similar ones here. It's warm when we need it to be, but not so warm that we can't wear it on a hotter day in the shade. Love it!



This song is our new jam. Since hearing it the other day on the Barefoot Beach Chill station on Google Play, it has been on repeat. We even had a dance session with the dog in our kitchen. He was not as thrilled as we hoped he would be. This song starts out so beautiful and chill and then heads into some really cool beats that give amazing vibes.



This little slingshot from the shop desEnfantillages is perfect to help get everyone in the mood to get back outside now that the snow is gone for good -- fingers crossed. It would also be good to have on a rainy day where you're stuck inside and looking to have a slingshot battle.



April 13, 2018

LUGO 2018



LUGO has been a tradition that belongs to me and a good friend. Most of the time, other people have joined us on the adventure, but this year we decided to go just the two of us. We did run into someone that we hadn't seen in a long time, and so she joined us in the photo booth.

It was a very different experience from past LUGO events that we have attended (2013, 2014 & 2015) as this is the first time it has been held since the new art gallery opened -- Remai Modern -- and so it was wasn't the same close feeling that it had in the past. It also didn't feel as interactive as it had in previous years.

This is also the first year that we went for supper before the party, and I made the mistake of eating too much food -- like way too much, I couldn't even drink water or I'd burst. It totally worth it, though, except that I missed out on the opportunity of tasting delicious foods (especially deserts) from local restaurants.

There was some really great music to dance to, including 3 Ninjasks, and we had a lot of fun figuring out how to pose in the photo booth. There was a lady that was doing some lettering in chalk of things people are thankful for or appreciate, and so we would stop by every once in a while to see how it had progressed. I have learned not to devour both my starter and entree, and will have more space for snacks -- and water -- next time.


My carrot brooch is from Nuff Nuff Toys in Chile.



April 10, 2018

Read It: Born A Crime

 
I started reading Trevor Noah's Born A Crime around the time that I began to be more aware of the plight of Indigenous people in Canada, and started my path in Truth and Reconciliation -- including the KAIROS Blanket Exercise. As I read, there were so many parts of the book that connected with what I was learning at the time, including aspects of the apartheid reserve system that are common in both countires.

My path in Truth and Reconciliation has not been very long, but it has winded, and turned, and bumped, made me make choices in my heart that I would never had made previously. To be able to connect with a book like Born A Crime while on this journey is why I love books so much.

I learned a lot from Trevor Noah while reading his book: about apartheid, about growing up in a culture different from my own, about how wise someone can be at a young age, and the fact that, even though we grew up in different countries and cultures, there were many similarities in some of our experiences -- like high school. But the most important thing that stood out to me was when he talked about a boy named Andrew that gave him the CD writer -- which cost a lot of money at the time -- that would make it possible for Noah to be able to create a profitable (teenage) business selling music. 

Noah says, "People always lecture the poor: 'Take responsibility for yourself! Make something of yourself!' But with what raw materials are the poor to make something of themselves...[They] say, 'Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime.' What they don't say is, 'And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.'" 

That really got me. It was one of those moments where I wanted to shout "Yaaassss!" because that's exactly how it should work. We can do all these things to help out other people we see as less fortunate than ourselves, but it's absolutely pointless unless we give them a fishing rod to be able to fish for themselves! Unless we give them the resources they need to succeed, they are never going to "make something of themselves."

I saw a video of Martin Luther King Jr. recently where he talked about African Americans being told to lift themselves by their bootstraps, and that they should do all they can to do that, but that it's a cruel to say to a bootless man. My eyes have been opened to so many struggles that I have the privilege to never have because of my skin.

Trevor Noah goes on to say "Working with Andrew was the first time in my life I realized you need someone from the privileged world to come to you and say, 'Okay, here's what you need, and here's how it works.' Talent alone would have gotten me nowhere without Andrew giving me the CD writer. People say, 'Oh, that's a handout.' No. I still have to work to profit by it. But I don't stand a chance without it."

It is incredibly important -- to me -- to give people access to a good education, to clean water, to a safe place to live, and help them succeed. Giving people a fishing pole so that they can fish for themselves, or a pair of boots so that they may pull themselves up by their bootstraps, is not a handout. It's setting them up for success so that they have the opportunity to do what they want despite what their life has given them -- the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. An opportunity that I have taken for granted, but never will again.


March 15, 2018

Little Shop of ElleSee is 7!



I started writing this blog post more than two weeks ago, and here I am...still working on it -- just starting it, actually, because all I had written was the title. 

March 1st was the 7th birthday of Little Shop of ElleSee, and, while it's exciting to say that we have been around for that long -- and that we have done some pretty awesome things since we started like this and this -- I would be lying if I didn't say "here we are...still working on it." 

We'll always be working on it, and that's what we love most about running a small business: the fact that there are always more things to learn, always new people to meet, and always opportunities for something exciting waiting around the corner as long as you keep moving and stray off the path every once in a while.

We are so grateful that you have joined us on this journey -- whether you have been with us from the beginning, or if you hopped in during one of our off-roading adventures -- and nothing will ever make the work of Little Shop of ElleSee feel more special than seeing, and reading, how happy you are when you receive a card from us in the mail and get to touch the paper for the first time, or laugh at our cheesy puns. It means the world to us. Thank you!

March 05, 2018

What We Love: Winter 2018



Meti Mukluks from Manitobah Mukluks

I must admit that I was a little bit disappointed to find out that most of the production for Manitobah Mukluks has moved overseas since I purchased mine five years ago, but there are some pairs that are still made in Canada, including this beautiful pair made with the Meti flower. 

I honestly can't believe that I have owned my mukluks for five years now. I have worn them pretty much every day of every winter since I purchased them, and I would not wear another type of boot ever again -- I wear my boots outside for upwards of an hour and a half each time.




My husband and I went to watch The Greatest Showman over the Christmas holidays last year, and this song, among several others in the movie, has quickly become a favourite that is currently on repeat. Not only is this song an amazing production, but the meaning and feeling of the song is so beautiful, and perfectly relevant to today. Also, check out this awesome cover of the song from Brooklyn Duo.


Embroidery hoop from the shop Real Swanky

In her words, Caitlin of the shop Real Swanky creates "top-notch subversive embroidery to help horrify your guests." I love her take on the classic phrase "bless this house". It makes me laugh. Besides phrases such as this, Caitlin also embroiders incredibly detailed images such as anatomically correct lungs and brains, and David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust.



February 17, 2018

Year of the Dog: Our Favourite Dog Related Items (For People)


Yesterday marked the beginning of the Lunar New Year celebrations that will continue until February 26th. This year is the Year of the Dog -- which is the eleventh animal in the Zodiac. You are probably well aware that we are big fans of dogs at Little Shop of ElleSee, and so we've done a round-up of our favourite dog related items (for people) from some shops on Etsy.



Our first pick is this adorable "Up All Night" sweater of a Jack Russel and the moon from the shop Nic and the Newfie. Each sweater is hand printed in her two person studio in Connecticut.


Our next pick is a custom watercolour pet portrait from the shop Calistaprints. Calista does beautiful work, and pays great attention to detail...plus she's from our hometown!

This adorable Dognut (see what she did there) enamel pin from SamanthaEynon comes from Derby, UK. She's got all sorts of cute pins for dog lovers, including a dog pretzel and a dog loaf.



We couldn't create a list of our favourite dog items (for people) and not include our own precious pup. Through our dog drawing Feel Better, Ivan, we have been able to donate more than $25 to our local SPCA!


The Spot Rubber Stamp from the shop norajane based out of North Carolina was one of the first dog items that we added to our favourites list when we first started our Etsy journey. This adorable little guy would put a smile on anyone's face.





February 12, 2018

Pokeheart: A Pokemon Inspired Valentine


I created these pokeheart valentines for my son to give to his classmates after spotting it randomly on Pinterest one day, and thought I would share with you how I went about making them if you happen to be looking for a last minute Valentine's Day idea.

What you need:
Red construction paper
White construction paper
Black construction paper
Glue stick
Scissors
Hole punch
Paper cutter
Heart stencil

Using the heart stencil (I used a cookie cutter), I traced out the heart shape on both the red and white construction papers. By measuring the red heart on top of the white heart, I was able to figure out exactly where I wanted to cut my red heart in half -- all you need is the top part of the red heart. 

I then glued the top of the red heart onto the white heart (which I kept whole for ease of gluing), using the glue stick, and then trimmed down any part of the red heart that could be seen sticking out from beneath the red part that had just been glued on.

The black construction paper was cut into a 1/4 inch strip (roughly 1 centimeter), and then measured for the length that would be needed to cover the middle of the heart where the white and red paper joined. I made sure it was a bit longer than the edges of the heart, and then just used my scissors to trim it up to the edge once it was glued on.

The white circle for the middle piece was hole-punched out of a piece of the white construction paper, attached to a small square of black construction paper with the glue stick, and then the square of paper was trimmed down into a circle slightly larger than the white circle in order to create an edge around it. Glue it on to the middle of the black strip and you've got yourself a pokeball in the shape of a heart!



January 23, 2018

Women Who I Admire and Inspire The Shop


 Julie Ann of Julie Ann Art

Julie Ann is one of the first people that I met online. I believe it was through one of those sharing things that the blogging world used to do where you would share a link at the bottom of another blogger's post. Like most people, I was instantly taken with her little dog Penny, but I also loved the fact that she also had a shop on Etsy, and I could look to her for advice. 

I was in the very beginning phase of the shop, Julie Ann was miles ahead of me, and I still had to learn that every shop grows differently and at its own pace. I loved the stories she would share on her blog, and how quickly her business was growing, but through everything she has always stayed grounded and humble despite whatever was going on behind the scenes for her personally and in her business. 

She is fun. She is strong. She is all about power to women. She is kind. She will give you a little boost when you need it most, without even knowing it.


 Erin of Boolah Baguette

I met Erin through Flock and Gather -- a local handmade market that she helped come to life. Erin is one of those people that can make you feel like you have been friends forever, even when meeting her for the first time. She is one of the most warm and welcoming people that I have ever met, and her love for her craft -- and the arts in general -- is inspiring. She also does a wonderful job of putting up with my squeals of excitement over every little thing that she makes.

I have enjoyed watching her growth and the evolution of her work, and am inspired by her creativity, how she feels the pull to create things, and her support of other like minded folks.


Sheena Greer of Colludo

Sheena has been in my life for more years than I'd like to admit. We met during a class in university. I can't remember which one, though. I believe it was an English class about the literary canon, and then we kept running into each other from there. I have been blessed with the gift of her friendship ever since, and have even had the pleasure of teaching her son -- who is just as amazing as his mother.

Sheena is one of those people that you always want to be around. Her laughter is infectious, and so are her ideas. She has a knack for coming up with things that you could only come up with in your wildest dreams, and her passion for life and her work rivals the energy of a 4-year-old. She is not afraid to dream, and she will encourage you to do the same.


Susan of Soul Paper

I met Susan when I stopped into her and her husband's amazing shop, Soul Paper. It was a random stop in around the Christmas season, and I ended up purchasing some Christmas cards and wrapping paper from them. After sharing my purchases on Instagram, I got a comment about my work from Susan, and the rest is history. When I tell my husband that I'm dropping something off at Soul Paper, he asks me how long I'm going to be because, guaranteed, I'm going to be there chatting with Susan and Alex for at least an hour.

Susan has the most beautiful soul -- making the name of her shop even more appropriate -- and she has an incredibly calm energy that projects from her and instantly makes you feel at ease. She has amazing ideas, and a different perspective that kicks you off the line of thinking that you were stuck on -- often pushing you in a more positive direction. If I had to say who my mentor would be, I would say that it's Susan.




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