September 23, 2018

Waskesiu 2018: At the Beach

Being at the beach (any beach) is really a dream vacation for me. I could sit there all day listening to the water, paddle boarding, looking for little fish to put in my son's bucket, dipping my toes in the water to cool off. There really is nothing that I love more than water and other natural elements working together to make something so peaceful and inviting.

This was the year that my son peace-d out and decided he wanted to make friends with other children at the lake. It was a bit hard for me as I wasn't prepared for it, but I did enjoy my time to myself out on the water on the paddle board that I rented (I took my son out for the first little trip across the swimming area). I liked sitting on the board and dragging my feet beside it to keep me cool. It was a time for reflection, and the feeling of the board floating on the water reminded me a lot of when I tried surfing.

Even though there were moments of independence this summer, I know that my son enjoys his time at the lake (as do I) and I can't wait for more adventures next summer!

September 17, 2018

Behind the Art: Stud Muffin

I created this delightful little card after being inspired by a t-shirt that I saw at Sask Expo in 2016 (that was a really good year for the expo). A lot of my inspiration for cards and artwork comes from t-shirts that I see, especially the ones I see on the children at work. They have such amazing puns.

This is one of my favourite cards to have at a market to be able to watch the different reactions of the people that see it. Sometimes people don't notice the little muffin at the end (or realise that's what it is) and just stop at the word "STUD", which works too!

September 10, 2018

DIY: Responsibility Chart

Our son is entering the age where it's time to step-up the responsibilities. To help him to remember what he needs to do, I decided to make a Responsibility Chart to give him (and us) a visual of what needs to be done, and what tasks have already been completed. It also helps that we have it hanging in our kitchen area so that we can see how his progress is going.

It seems to be the best approach for his personality (he's going to be a list maker), and has really helped us out so that we don't have to remember everything that we have asked him to do, and then struggle to get him to finish it all.

Instead he gets a little hit of dopamine as he moves a magnet over to the "DONE" side of the magnet board (kind of like when you finally get to cross off one of those things on your to-do list), and gets incentive to complete the rest of the tasks for that day. 

Not all of them need to be done in a single day (and we'll add more as we think of them, or he gets older and takes on more responsibilities), but when almost all of them are on the "TO DO" side, he will do everything in his power to add on the ones that don't even need to be done.

What you will need:
Black Fine-Tip Sharpie
White Paint Pen (or white acrylic paint and thin paint brush)
A Ruler
Small Round Magnets
1" Round Wooden Disks
Hot Glue Gun
Glue Sticks
Metal Sign

Measure the middle of your sign and draw a line down the middle of the sign with your paint pen, using a ruler to keep it straight. On one side of the line, paint the words "TO DO" and on the other side, paint the word "DONE". Your sign is done!

To create the tasks and expectations, write on the wooden disks with a black fine-tip sharpie. If you mess up on one side, flip it over to the other side and try again. Use hot glue from a glue gun to attach the magnets to the wooden disks and...voila! You've got yourself a responsibility chart!

September 01, 2018

World Alzheimer's Month 2018

It is September 1st, and that marks the beginning of World Alzheimer's Month, and the fifth time that you will be supporting the Alzheimer's Society of Canada when you make a purchase in the shop. It is unbelievable that it has been that long since we started donating to the Alzheimer's Society of Canada, and, to date, you have helped to raise over $120.

The Forget-Me-Not flower (which I have drawn this year) is a powerful symbol for people with Alzheimer's and their families. It is often used to symbolise the loss of memory, but is also a reminder to remember the people that we have lost to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. 

As you may know, the disease has touched my family as my Grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when I was a teenager, and, over the years I have shared pieces of our story with you. It means so much to me that you continue to help support the cause and give a voice to those affected by Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. 

August 30, 2018

Behind the Art: Happy Day Penguins

This delightful little card was designed for my brother-in-law and his wife when they got married four years ago (see the DIY I did for the wedding, plus my camera drama on the big day). 

If you've been a fan of the shop for a while, you know that I am a sucker for penguins and enjoy making cards and art prints with penguins on them, so it was only natural that I make a wedding card with penguins on it (LGBTQ+ penguin wedding cards are available). 

They have since become a popular little couple, taking trips all over the world; just recently leaving on a trip to London (England).

August 27, 2018

Read It: Glow Kids

I learned about Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D. during a conference about childhood anxiety from the Institute of Child Psychology. It provided a lot of invaluable information for my day job, but also made me realise that there were some things going on at home that needed to be attended to. One of the things that was mentioned a bit was screen time, and Glow Kids was a book that was recommended on the subject. I went to the bookstore as soon as the conference was done.

The book starts off with some interesting information about addiction and the way that our brains work (some of which I had also learned at the childhood anxiety conference), and a little bit of Kardaras' own history with video games and tech addiction. Then it moves into some serious information about video games and aggression (I had always been one of those people that doesn't like to put the blame on television or other forms of media for a child's behaviour), to how having tech in classrooms isn't really as educational as we thought, and, by the end of the book, into what we can do about it all.

Keeping in mind that Kardaras is sharing the worst of the worst when it comes to screen addiction, I was able to quickly see that a screen/tech detox was something my husband and I needed to do for our son. His behaviours were nowhere near the children that were being described in the book, but there was potential in the future and it scared me.

I was never one to want my child to need a screen in his face all the time. I have never given him my phone in the car, or on shopping trips, etc., but that doesn't mean that other people didn't do that for him when I wasn't around, or that I didn't let him have the tablet to watch a movie or play game while on a longer road trip (at the age of 3), or at the end of the day while my husband and I were making supper. I admit that my child had more screen time than I ever wanted to let him have.

We went through a detox like the book talked about during a particularly difficult time for him in school and at home, and, as hard as it was to go screen free, we found that it really helped him to take that break. But it's something that you can't relax on or you'll get back into it, and it takes some looking at what you do as well as an example for your child. I am far from perfect myself, and will say that I am addicted to my phone.

We have entered our second detox as we prepare to go back to school, and this time we are really stressing that he find things to exercise his imagination. It's okay to be bored. It's through the boredom that you are able to figure out something to do to pass the time, and next time you won't be as bored because you'll know what to do. 

I myself am trying to put my phone down a lot more and read, paint, or watch a show or movie without being distracted by Twitter or Instagram. It's hard and takes a lot of focus. So, as an adult, if I find it difficult to focus on not focusing on a screen, I can only begin to imagine what it's like for my son. This book brought about a pivotal moment of parental learning that I wish I had had sooner, but I'm glad I didn't have it too late. It was the push I needed to move beyond the screen.

*Believe me, I get the irony of you reading this on your phone or computer right now.

August 19, 2018

Waskesiu 2018: Treebeard Trail

We took our annual trip to Waskesiu at the end of July this year, and, while we were there, we did things a little differently than we had in the past. One of the differences was a hike on a trail that we had never been on before, and I'm pretty sure that it is now our favourite. Well off the beaten path (you have to take a dirt road around the lake), it doesn't seem like it is a trail that is walked on very often, which makes it all the more amazing. 

We grabbed a pamphlet at the beginning of the walk, and I read as we reached each marker along the hike. We learned about the importance of forest fires and how it gives birth to a new part of the forest. The decomposition, the flowering, the seeds released during the fire, everything has a purpose. The pamphlet was quite fascinating, really, as it talked a lot about trees; the animals that live in them or near them and how they (trees and animals) help each other; the purpose of underground springs; how each bird has a specific, unspoken contract, for a niche in a tree. I could go on, it really was very informative.

While we didn't spot any large wildlife (thankfully) on the trek, we did see a lot of different kinds of mushrooms and mosses, as well as trees and plants in different states of growth and decomposition (queue the pamphlet learning), and developed even more of an appreciation for the world that we live in, and the efforts to keep it safe and healthy.

August 10, 2018

Our 3 Favourite Stationers

As someone that creates stationery, I am drawn to other people that also work with paper...fellow stationers (I Googled that, it is a real word). I seem to enjoy work that is similar (punny), but also quite different from my own. Some of the artists have a more realistic style to their artwork, while others take on more words with simple images. I hope you will enjoy their work as much as I do!

I ordered some Christmas cards from Heather Buchanan a couple of years ago. They were fantastically written puns related to rappers (I gave one to each of my girl friends and they loved them!), and the artwork was incredibly realistic. I have enjoyed watching her work through her Instagram account. Her most recent paintings of people eating food is amazing!

Julie Ann is constantly coming up with new, socially relevant ideas for her cards that often have a hilarious little kick in the nuts at the end (raise your hand if this birthday card would be relatable for you or someone you know), and knows how to write it perfectly and succinctly with images that tie it all together.

I picked this card up from an Urban Outfitters for a friend a few years ago for her birthday, and shortly afterwards discovered Seas and Peas online to order some Christmas cards (my father-in-law is a big fan of Christmas Vacation). 

Seas and Peas is puns done right (which, as I'm sure you have figured out at this point, always make me laugh) and, like all the others that have been mentioned, definitely have their finger on the pulse of society and what is popular at the moment.

July 23, 2018

ElleSee's Favourite Everyday Makeup Products

This summer I have only been putting on my mascara, but, I know how much fun makeup can be to wear, and how it makes me feel in the winter when I add a little bit of colour to my face. So, I really wanted to share with you what my favourite everyday makeup products are:

I'm a huge fan of the Fenty PRO FILT'R Soft Matte Long Wear Foundation. What I like best about it is, if you get the proper shade (I went into my local Sephora to get matched up), you have no idea that it's worn off because it matches your skin tone so well, and I like how smooth my skin looks when I wear it.

I also like using the Fenty MATCH STICK Matte Skinstick as an under-eye highlighter and a concealer. It blends in perfectly with the foundation, and can even be used when I don't have any foundation on (today I used it to cover a small pimple).

Tarte's Lights Camera Splashes Waterproof Mascara became my go-to mascara a few years ago when I tried to find a mascara that didn't have as many ingredients that irritate your eyes. It took a little bit of time to get used to as it's not hard and crusty like other mascaras because of the beeswax. It also doesn't come off easily (which is a testament to the waterproof aspect), but cleans up nicely with  a proper waterproof eye makeup remover.

I adore the Sephora Collection of eye shadows. They have been my go-to for selecting eye shadow colours since Sephora first opened where I live. There are so many colours to choose from that I was even able to match two colours from an old Cover Girl compact that I just couldn't get rid of because I loved the combination too much. I also use the black as my eyeliner every day. It's adds a nice dimension to my eyelashes, but it's also a soft line.

Not pictured: The Fenty GLOSS BOMB Universal Lip Luminizer is mind blowing. I have never been one to wear lip gloss because I cannot find a shade that works for me, or doesn't feel as sticky as a humid summer's day, but I absolutely love the Fenty lip luminizer that a friend gave to me as a gift. It really does look fantastic on everyone.


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.

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