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 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
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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