Friday, December 12, 2008

Kid's Night!!

Kid's Night #1 was a HUGE success!
Yes, I'm pooped, but it was well worth it.
The door looked tres adorable and my elves were gorgeous in all their sparkly glory.

The kids came in droves with their lists and shopped their little hearts out. 
I wonder what it's like for them, drunk with all that independence and fists full of mom and dad's cash.
It's hard to tell with some of them because they start off so stunned by all the attention. But I imagine it's probably pretty exciting...right?
Check out these goofballs.
(Christine, this one's for you)

The next big event is next Thursday December 18th.
Hope to see you here!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nice things about last week.

It snowed like a banshee last week. 
It was really beautiful, but it certainly made getting around a little more challenging.

Wednesday morning when I arrived at the store, the sidewalk needed some serious love.
I mean, my customers are dedicated, but I'm not sure they'll risk death by snowbank for a few Christmas ornaments and a condiment bowl shaped like Frosty the Snowman.
As much as I'd like to think.

So I grabbed the shovel and started at it. Oblivious to the fact that at 8 months pregnant I'm not the exactly the easiest girl to walk past without offering a hand.
Didn't take two minutes before one of my more fabulous customers (and now friends) came by to help.
She's initiated a "random acts of kindness" challenge at work, and I was the lucky random who got to be her good deed for the day.

It's been a whole week of nice things actually. 
Yep. I made a list.

Colleen offered to work the entire day so I didn't have to plan my activities around getting to the store for 3pm. AND it allowed me to get the door finished!

The Jezewskis (wonderful customers and parents of a childhood friend of mine) surprised me with a gift for the baby! An adorable book called That's not my Monkey and a swaddling blanket brought back from their trip to Vancouver. The thoughtfulness overwhelms me.

Jennifer (who owns this funky company) made ONE HUNDRED tags for the kids to attach to their gifts on Kid's Night. Her husband even dropped them off so I didn't have to pick them up.

Christine shoveled the sidewalk. And, despite the weather, I had my biggest sale to date! Woohoo!!

Kid's Night! All my volunteers rallied together for a fabulously fun night.

Got a card in the mail from a real estate agent in Ottawa who reads my blog! Brad and I went for a yummy dinner and chilled on the couch after a looooooong tiresome week.

Wildly busy day at the store. Sold a LOT of Christmas stuff which always excites me since the last thing I want to do is pack it back up until next year.

Brad and I went to an all day all intensive Pre Natal Course in Westboro. It was terrifying/informative.
Blackbird had it's FIRST EVER staff party at the Ironworks

Two more events (Kid's Night this Thursday and Men's Night on the 23rd) left before the holidays. 
I just might make it after all.

xoxo Em

Monday, December 8, 2008

La Porte

I just spent the last six hours in a freezing cold room turning this:

Into this:
And now I'm having a bath.

Brad the Dad

Thanks to Brad the baby's room is now outfitted with a fabulous crib.
Hey! Maybe we are actually having a baby after all.

My pregnancy has been such smooth sailing, and Christmas at the store has been keeping me so busy, that the baby has really been listing low on the list of priorities lately.
No more!
It struck us last week that we're less than 8 weeks away from meeting our new roommate, and the room is EMPTY. (Save for a few boxes of clothes I can't wear right now and a cat toy or seven). 

So yesterday we headed into the city with the Jeep and a mission: Bring home a crib.

After a quick stop at FAB Baby Gear in both Westboro and the Glebe, a sticker shock break at Second Cup (cribs were $700 - $1000!) we headed to Toys R Us at St. Laurent Shopping Centre (a.k.a. Hell three weeks before Christmas).

In less than thirty minutes we found a really decent crib that boasted itself the "World's Easiest Crib to Assemble" and a mattress that met our $500 budget. (Brad's parents graciously offered to buy our crib).

So, for lack of anything truly interesting to blog about, I thought I'd document the assembly process to see just how easy it was really going to be. 
The pictures aren't fabulous. I took them on my phone.
Truth in advertising! 
It took Brad about 20 minutes to get the whole thing together.

It's nice to see it in the room too. We admitted to each other this morning that we've both gone in a few times to practice lifting and lowering the front panel. I think that's probably pretty normal...right? ;)

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Our 2nd Annual Kid's Shopping Night is next Thursday and I am soooo excited.
First of all, we're holding the event on two nights to accommodate as many kids as possible this year.

Secondly, we have built a SPECIAL DOOR just for the occasion!
At first glance, it looks like a regular old door. But no! The Blackbird Elves have craftily modified it so that only the bottom half opens! Ha ha!
That's right mom and dad. You're WAY too big! There will be no sneaking in this year. 

See, the idea behind Kid's Night is that kids come with a budget (big or small) and a list of people to buy for.
Parents are shuffled off to the coffee shop across the street for a warm beverage (on us), while the kids shop the store and find great stuff with the help of our friendly elves (yep, REAL elves).
When the shopping is done and the gifts have been wrapped and tagged, we escort the little shoppers safely back to their parents.

It's a cool experience for kids I think.
Despite the trepidations of some parents, we didn't have any issues last year. 
The only piece of collateral damage was a half eaten Lemon flavoured Rogers Chocolate Cream that I found on a shelf the day after our first event. 
It actually made me smile, because Lemon is perhaps the most revolting flavour of chocolate Rogers makes.

So really, the culprit got theirs the second they bit into that nasty little morsel.
And I noticed that as soon as the kids knew their parents weren't around and that they had a responsibility to behave, they did.
It was fun.
Really really fun.

But back to this door.
It's going to be the coolest thing. It's not done yet, but we found the door at the old Flour Mill Sadie has been helping restore and renovate into condos (she even lives in one) and we cut the bottom half and added new hinges.
I still need to paint it. 
I'm going to pretend I'm an elf when I do. 
I think it needs curtains made out of things like boxer shorts and moth eaten grandpa sweaters and stuff. 
Don't you?

I'll just whip that up in my *ahem* spare time. 

On another note, we're also hosting a Men's Shopping Night Tuesday December 23rd from 5pm-10pm.
So, for all you guys who love leaving your Christmas shopping to the last minute, power to ya.
You wife gave us her wish list and Brad's got a cold beer waiting here for you.

xoxo Em

Friday, November 28, 2008

31 weeks and counting.

I haven't blogged forEVER. I'm sorry. 
I really miss it actually.
I just can't believe how busy things have been at the store and now that it's dark by 5pm, it feels like my productive hours have been significantly reduced.

I'm at 31 weeks pregnant now (can you believe!) and I am definitely much more tired. I think the reno squeezed out the last of my high energy phase. I'm average to low energy now I'd say. 

I'm pretty sick of everyone saying "sleep while you can". 
If I have a free afternoon, momma's going to make the most of it. 
It's getting a bit more challenging to be working with the public so much at this stage. Everyone's just got so much to say. Friendly advice, and otherwise. I could do without another "oh wow, but you're so big!" response to learning of my Feb 2nd due date. It's NINE WEEKS people. And the way time is flying, it'll feel like 3 I'm sure.

I even had a customer tell me she thinks I'm having a girl since my butt has gotten so big.
All I could say is "you're kidding me".

Somedays I would love to just stand behind the counter and make airplanes out of tissue paper. 

My next day off is Sunday and my priority will be to build the small door for my Kid's Only Shopping Nights (Dec 11th and 18th!). I have a couple of old barn doors in the garage that I'm going to try to convert. Sadie's helping. Obviously.

I want it to feel really magical and exclusive.
This year you'll literally have to be small to get in.

I guess my big butt will have to find an alternate entrance.

No pretty pictures this time.
Until Sunday!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Party party party!

After a few days of much needed rest, I'm back at the store and feeling my chipper self again.
Probably mostly because I was finally able to pay some bills today, and I learned from Donna that we actually came in UNDER budget for the reno. I certainly didn't anticipate that!

Friday night was beyond my wildest expectations!
At 5:45pm we started peeling the paper off the windows...
...and the shoppers quickly followed.

We literally did 3 weeks of business in 4 hours, making the entire week well worth the effort. 
And, bonus!, It was fun fun fun!
Colleen sewed up the cutest little stockings which we stuffed with candy canes wrapped in discounts between 10 and 30% that customers could pick from once they got to the cash.
And the wait for the cash was OUT THE DOOR!
I stepped outside to snap a few pics through the windows.
I served warm rum and cider, which helped make the line up more bearable, and my rep for all my gourmet food products brought tons of delicious samples.
Christmas music piped through the store and it was soooo cozy.
It just feels right in here now.
I'm so happy with the reno, and I'm so grateful to all my wonderful friends and employees (all of whom definitely fall under the "friend" category now) who helped me get through this week.
I have put a call in to Santa for all of you.
I mean, we all know Sadie's on the NICE list, but just in case the rest of you needed a little help.
Hugs and reindeer kisses,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Progress Report: Day Five

I can't. I can't. 
I'm like night of the living dead right now. One more day would totally do me in.
Luckily, I don't have one!
The store is looking amazing, but sleep trumped blogging last night and I've got to get back in there for 8:30 this morning.

Yesterday's progress included:
-Finishing the polka dot curtains.
-Putting all furniture in place.
-Bringing out all holiday merchandise (and displaying a good chunk of it).
-Eating more than my fair share of "Monkey Munch". Christina's scrumdidliumpcious concoction of Chex Mix, chocolate, peanut butter and powered sugar.
-and Not showering.

So just picture it until I'm able to post pictures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Progress Report: Day Four

I'm sorry. 
I am way too tired to blog anything substantial tonight.
It was another really long day, but lots got accomplished. By the end of the day tomorrow I will have some gorgeous pictures for you. I promise.
Until then, you'll have to live with the only shot I took today: of my beautiful new chandelier. It hangs ever so spark-ily above what can now only be called the "princess of all cashes".
This picture does it NO justice.
Neither does all the junk around it.
Until tomorrow. 

Progress Report: Day Three

Yep. Definitely wasn't feeling in tip top shape when I got to the shop yesterday morning.
This cold has me by the horns. Probably more so than normal because it's annoyed about being ignored by it's host body.
I woke up at about 7am and decided to finally start painting a polka dot curtain. 
It looks cute. From a distance anyway.
I decided to use a martini glass dipped in acrylic paint to form the circles, and all was going well until Bernice (one of our two cats) decided she wanted to chill with her mom on the dining room table. And until I decided I wanted to fast forward through both curtains and attempted to drag the first panel through the house only to have it fold over itself and smear and smudge and make me wish I could jump into a time machine and go back in time 5 minutes.
So I only have one curtain started:
And I still need to fill in the outlined dots.
I arrived at the shop yesterday at 9:30 (later than usual because I had a much needed Chiropractic appointment) and, sure enough, Tim was there finishing up the cabinet. 
It looks so fabulous. The pictures really don't do it justice.
He came back at the end of the day to stain it. 
At which time I promptly left figuring this unborn baby has probably had enough toxins for one day.
Poor little thing.
Today we're hoping to get ALL the painting finished and start firing out the Christmas merchandise. The chandelier over the cash should be hung by the electrician by the time I get in this morning, and I'm hoping for a really productive day.
Here we go! Day Four!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Progress Report: Day Two

The big job at hand yesterday was to make 20 cabinets  look like one big hutch, so the tasks were a little more labour intensive and a little less "let's let the pregnant girl handle this one".
I arrived at the store at 8am, where my amazingly talented (and generous and patient and wonderful) friend Tim had already convened with Donna (designer) and her husband Jack, and quickly put my head down to knock out the last of the cabinets so the boys could start working their magic. 

It was a crazy long day. 

8am to 9:30pm (though I left at 9) and, again, we got a lot accomplished.
Moved the cash area into place, finished mounting the cabinets, put up bead board wall paper, painted the window sills, and my darling hubby who came straight to the store after work, put together and installed the two chandeliers for the windows.
Apparently by the time I get into the shop this morning, these will have a countertop and sides courtesy of Tim's tireless efforts.
Needless to say I got a great sleep last night, but I woke up in the first stages of a cold (Fight! Fight! Fight!) and I still haven't painted those dang curtains.
Today Colleen (possibly along with her sister) and Sadie are in to work with me and Donna.
Four days to go!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Progress Report: Day One

2:22pm on Sunday and we've almost finished everything on our list for today.
We got a great head start last night.
With the help of Sadie, Brad, Dad and Christina, we packed almost everything up, (which is totally incredible considering I had envisioned gingerly sliding everything to the centre of the store, painting, and sliding it back), covered the windows and patched all the nail holes.

We were back this morning to start painting the ceiling and the walls and even mounted one of the shelving units.
Brad hates painting and he's done almost all of it.
I love Brad, don't you?
Apparently Christina is enjoying herself. This isn't supposed to be fun Christina.

Sadie and I painted the paper for the windows on Friday and they look super cute. Very suspenseful!
We even cut out a little hole for people to sneak a peek, and put a mirror behind it. 
And boy do we think we're hilarious.
Still on the list to do tonight:
Paint polka dots on the curtains, buy trim and baseboard, assemble the IKEA shelves and maybe chill for a minute or two on the couch.
Until tomorrow!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Let the reno begin!

Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh. 
Are you as excited as I am about my renovation? 
I am. I am as excited as I am. (what?)
I will try to blog during the week, but if I can't I will definitely take progress pics and post the second it's all done.
So this is what Christmas looks like right now:

You can see the potential I'm sure. Especially the cardboard boxes in the basement. Those are definitely full of everything you're going to want for Christmas.
And this is what the store looks like from the cash view, and and an older shot of the view from the front, lifted from my website.

Take a good look because it's all going to change.
Maybe I should take a picture of myself too. 
So you can see the circles under my eyes get darker as the week progresses.
We'll see.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Party Planning

Reno week is almost here and it feels like there is just
so much still to do.
Probably because there is.  So. Much. To. Do. 
I know that it will all come together, it's waiting that's the hardest thing. 
I know we're in for quite a week of packing, unpacking, painting, building, cleaning, merchandising, decorating and, finally, partying!

The store will be closed end of day Saturday until Friday November 14th, when we'll reveal the final look and launch all of the fabulous Christmas merchandise that has been stock piling in the back room since...oh...I don't know...August?

So, if you're in Almonte Friday November 14th, join me here from 6pm-10pm for some holiday fun. For all the details, check out the tres adorable invite my talented girlfriend Melissa designed for me:
Be still my heart with all that cuteness.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Knitting Queen

I've decided I'm going to knit some of my Christmas presents this year.
I don't know if I should really post exactly what it is that I'm scheming, I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise for those of my friends who actually read this thing, but it might actually help me see it through, so I'll decide in a few days after I've made some progress.
I will say that, in theory, they'll be the cutest things ever.
And that I was inspired by my friend Leila's (Ryan's wife) latest craft, found in this fabulous book.

The thing about me and knitting is that I can never remember how to do it.
I have knit several things in the past from too-short-too-wide sweaters to lumpy winter hats, but put the knitting down for more than a few days, and I've forgotten everything I know.

Job one: Casting on 17 stitches. 
Luckily, I've found a helpful resource at
Success! In only 2 tries. I hope I did it right. I've never knit without my mom in the other room.
Now for a little purling
And increasing by 10 stitches*

*Total time elapsed between purling, and this photo: 57 minutes
Total times I ripped everything out and started over until I got it right: 2
Total time I enjoyed myself doing it: 0:02 seconds

So it was a rough start, but start I did. Here's my progress so far today. Pathetic, but I think the tough part is over, and I did get some great practice casting on. I'm practically a professional cast-er on-er.
Oh, and I also ate half a loaf of the zucchini bread my mom delivered this afternoon. 
Well the baby did. 
I merely facilitated.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Birds and French Fries

So it's no secret that I spend a lot of time searching through blogs and trolling the internet for inspiration. 
I used to find it really hard to navigate. 
I never knew what to Google or where to look, but I've recently found it to be a really small place. One blog leads to another and another and lately I've been seeing a lot of the same stuff popping up all over the place.
Almost like someone's guiding my mouse, leading me to sites whispering "Em, have you seen this! Oh you are going to love this!".

For instance, I found the cutest print on Etsy a few months ago. It read "Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry".
Tell me that is not the cutest sentence you've ever read.
Can't you just picture how happy that little bird would be!?
Now that. That is happy.

Then today I was reading one of my favourite blogs and the blogger had posted another adorable print and, wouldn't you know it, same artist.

I don't have so much to chat about today, so instead of blogging about how my cash area is already totally messed up again, and there's a paint tray full of dried up yellow paint  reeking havoc on my "Bathroom Bliss", I thought I'd share a little of the sweetness that is Shelli of Studio Mela.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sadie Baby

One of my employees is also one of my sister Zoey's best friends, Sadie.
Oh Sadie. 

Blackbird is about to embark on a relatively overwhelming renovation. Because I don't have enough going on you know. We're building a new wall of shelving, adding some funky lighting and giving every wall a fresh coat of paint. All during a retail season when I have the most inventory I will have all year. And it's all got to be moved in order to get this project done.
The reno itself is almost a month away, but I've been trying to get as much of the little things done in advance. One of the things I've been wanting to get off the To Do list, is painting the back wall with yellow and white stripes (a la my website).

On Monday the wall was chocolate brown. I don't have a great picture, but here's one from last Spring:
On Tuesday Sadie came along (despite having a full time job elsewhere) and spent about 8 hours doing this:

She even found a friend with a laser level (no way she could have done this without one!), and when I told her I really couldn't afford to pay her for the whole day she said she was doing because she really wants to help me and be part of making the shop look beautiful.
Oh, and because of the satisfaction of peeling off painters tape to reveal what is truly a work of art.
Check out the gorgeousness that is Blackbird's back wall:
I love Sadie.
But, she does make it pretty easy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Since blogging about my disastrous store bathroom yesterday seemed to really help me TCB, I thought I'd do more of the same today.
This time, in a much more visible part of the store. The cash.
Orders have been arriving daily in preparation for Christmas and a lack of energy (and enthusiasm) for dealing with them has allowed boxes to pile up. Not to mention the mail and packing slips and bills and other miscellaneous items that overwhelm me to a point where my only real option is to file them under "later" in a stack on the counter.
Here is what my cash area looks like now (10:30am):
And two hours later:

I don't know about you, but I feel better.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bathroom Bliss

The bathroom at the store is embarrassing.
It's basically the room I stash every little homeless thing I don't want to deal with.
It's full of paint cans and brushes and rollers and empty toilet rolls and a 3-tiered basket that was broken when it arrived and that I tried to save by rigging a joyce made of string and packing tape...and that never really worked.

What's worse is that customers are always asking to use it.
And, in all likelihood, judging me and my standard of cleanliness.
Sorting out the bathroom has just felt like such a daunting task. But today is a rainy day and, by the looks of the Blackbird loo, it's been waiting for a rainy day to be cleaned.
And clean it I did.
The bathroom before:
And after!

Ahh. So nice. So clean. So tidy. So not going to last.
Don't ask where I put the paint cans. My back room is another story altogether.