Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I think I'm getting closer to putting a finger on the "style" I'm trying to achieve when it comes to my home decor.

It's no secret that I love the cottage chic, chipping white paint look, but there's a part of me that will always love hearty antiques, natural wood and that country red.
I love colour.

I say this as I paint my kitchen cupboards white (I'll show you when I'm done), but don't think for a minute that I'm not going to accessorize this room to the maximus potentious (what?).

I typed in the words diy wedding into Google this morning (I'm working on a wedding workshop for late spring and needed inspiration) and found this blog.
Naturally I was steered off track and have yet to return to my original search.
I don't love everything, but I do love a LOT.

One of those oversized fabric shades would look really nice in my dining room...not to mention the chairs...
I basically have this chair...and the old ladder, but is that a chalkboard frame over the fireplace to no where?
Totally stealing that idea for my kitchen.

This blogger's penchant for colour and prints had me at hello.

I want my house to be this interesting to look at, but somehow I can't seem to make it happen.
I think the trick might just be to treat my home the way I treat the store, and merchandise the place.
Like, why can't I have vignettes in my home?
I suppose I can!

Check this image out.
I'm pretty sure those coffee table books spend more time employed under water glasses than on laps, and that no one ever uses all four of those tea pots on the mantle - yet everything in this room seems so intentional.
And also sort of haphazard.
Do you know how hard that is to find that balance? It crucial too. Otherwise you end up looking like you live in a furniture showroom.
Not good.

And this one.

Why oh why is there a rickety turquoise picture frame resting on this shabby looking night stand?
I'll tell you why.
That unsuspecting piece of would be junk is framing the lamp and the dresser, and that pop of yellow doily and making them one little unit of cuteness.
Making you take notice.
Making it special somehow.

That's a real art. Putting items together in a way that looks purposeful and yet not forced and awkward.
I want a home that feels like home whether you live there or not.

Maybe if I spent a little more of my free time prowling vintage shops instead of on the computer...
Now there's an idea.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's our Bird Day!

My kid can walk.
And I have proof.

The launch...

And take off!
Gosh it's fun to watch.
I might be singing a different tune when the lumbering turns into a brisk jog, but for now it's pretty cool to see her finding her balance and maneuvering through the house.
She's much less interested in emptying the contents of every single freaking cupboard in the house now that she can walk.
So that's a positive.

As I mentioned in my last post, April marks my third year in business.

Having this store is very much like having a kid.
I don't really remember what life was like before I had Blackbird.
I mean, I do, and I don't.
Feels like I've had two different lives.

The one where I did what I wanted and slept in and called in "sick" even when I wasn't (especially when I wasn't) and went out for nice dinners and had money.

And the one where I wake up at all hours of the night tossing and turning about all the things I have to do the next day and go to work even when I am sick and eat things like tuna casserole in front of the television and have no money.

I actually prefer the latter believe it or not.

So back to the 3rd birthday thing for a minute.
Wanna come? Because you're totally invited.

All day we'll be letting customers draw for between 15% and 40% off their purchases.
Like Scratch n' Save without the scratch.
There's lots of great spring stuff in here to save on too. And Mother's Day. That's coming up.
Might want to think about coming out to Almonte.
Might be worth it.

Moving right along, we're hosting another workshop.
Glass and tile pendant making. But guess what?
Yep. Sold out. All 35 spots.
So I'll spare you the details and just tell you about the following one.

Tuesday April 13th from 6pm to 9pm ($40) we'll be making little embroidered art pieces using felt and embroidery floss.
Colleen made one this week that I think is just too cute for words:

We also trolled around for a few examples from blogs that we love just to give you a better idea of the concept.
This one is from Frugal Designer.
This woman has some fantastic tutorials on her site. So when you're looking for a good way to kill an hour (or three), go check her out.

And this little number is from Sew Mama Sew. One of my personal favourites.
I'm not the world's best sewer, but I wish I was, and she's got fabulous tutorials that at least make it look easy.
Gives a girl hope you know?

I'm thinking this project would be really adorable if we incorporated the whole silhouette craze thing.
How cute would Clemmie's chubby little mug be embroidered and profiled in felt?
Come on now.

If you'd like to join us for this one, send an email to or call the shop at 613.256.9669.

These workshops have been going so well, and we've met so many creative people in the process of doing them, that Colleen and I have decided to organize a craft fair!
It'll be sometime in late fall of 2010 (location to be decided) and we're hoping it'll be a great outlet for all the talented crafters in the area.

Think Etsy meets Almonte.

We haven't worked out all the details but we do know this:
- It will be juried (it's the only way we could think of to weed out all the crocheted Ottawa Senators tea towels - sorry Brad).

- Items will have a max price point of $50 (so it doesn't become another artist show...they already have lots of those around here.)

- It will be a great opportunity to showcase the talents of people who don't consider themselves artists, but are talented nonetheless.

- It will be the perfect place to buy unique handmade Christmas gifts.

- It will be awesome.

Col and I have mentioned this idea to a few folks and have had a great response, but I'd love to know what you think too. Think it'll fly?

Our last workshop (the 2nd in our canvas series) went really well by the way.
Like last time, people really did their own thing.

I think some of these girls might have been professionals.
No one would admit it though.

That's it for now.
I'll look forward to seeing ALL of you at our birthday party.
Until then!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Running on all Cylinders

This workshop made me nervous!!
The day before we were set to hold it I started to really panic.
I suddenly started thinking this wasn't going to be quite as easy as I envisioned it being.

See I'm used to slapping things together and painting over things when something doesn't look quite right. Chiseling off misplaced buttons and making things work.
But it's not for everyone.

Once we'd all assembled Wednesday night and had a glass of wine or green beer in hand, I began to explain what we'd be spending the next 3 hours doing.
Making personal little canvases of art.

As each workshopper stood in front of their little white canvas (some staring blankly) I couldn't help but feel that a few feared they couldn't do it.
It's the whole peverbial blank sheet of paper thing.
I get that.

"I always think the best thing to do when faced with a blank page, is something" I said to them with as much confidence as I could muster.
"Grab some fabric, or a paintbrush and just cover your entire canvas with colour."

So they did.
Then I instructed them to choose an element to focus their concept around.
A picture, a piece of music, a quote...anything.

They went to work and, after a few minutes and a few more sips of wine, chatter started to fill the air and things started to come together.
Thank goodness! It is my hope that everyone leaves these workshops with something.
Even if that thing is just a fun night out.

In the end I think they all turned out pretty darned fabulous.

For our next workshops (and I'm not exactly sure of the dates since we're waiting on some supplies) we're going to be making Rockford Sock Monkeys, Glass Tile Pendants and Embroidered Fabric Wall Art.
Again, not sure of the order, but if you think you'd like to do one of those, let me know and I'll make sure you're on the email.

I have so much on the go right now I've actually started having heart palpitations.
I'm officially taking suggestions as to how to chill the heck out.
And don't say wine.
We both know I've tried that one.

I. Just. Can't. Stop.
I have so many ideas for promoting the shop and I would hate for golden opportunities to pass me by.
The latest and greatest is our Mother's Day promotion.

In the past year (or, is it two?'s probably been two) I've befriended a really great couple through the store named Shawn and Marta.
Shawn is a photographer and Marta is a jewelry designer.
Actually, they both have day jobs, but they're probably not nearly as interesting...I don't actually know.
That's how good a friend I am.

Anyway, in chatting to the two of them a week ago we dreamt up an idea that would both promote the shop and generate a little word of mouth for Shawn.

A Mother's Day Photo Contest.
Of course!
Saturday May 1st from 10am to 5pm, kids of all ages are invited to have their photos taken in the shop by Shawn DeSalvo...for FREE!

At the end of the day we'll pick our favourite, wackiest or cutest picture.
The winner will receive a free, ready to hang, stretched canvas print of their photo in time to give mom for Mother's Day.

He took this adorable picture of Clemmie and printed it for me as a sample to put up in the store.
Could you die?

All participants will get a free web album that they can order their professional photos from at a discount courtesy of Shawn.
Bring the kids for some great family shots. Parents are also welcome to join the fun.
Rule #1: There are no rules!

Book a 20 minute time slot by emailing me at or by calling the store at 613-256-9669.
Drop ins are welcome as well, but I have a feeling it might be chaotic.
We've already had a few bookings and you just know I'm going to promote the poop out of this thing.

Another thing coming down the pipe is our THIRD birthday!
Yep. Blackbird is going to be three next month.

Friday April 9th I'm hosting a party in the shop from 9am until 9pm with discounts from 15% to 40% off everything in the store (except dad's furniture...but he'll probably be here, and the man loves to negotiate. Just sayin'.)

During the day we'll have refreshments and discounts, but from 6pm to 9pm we'll have Blackbird inspired cupcakes courtesy of Kidz Katering, gourmet sweet potato fries from the Hot Potato (a funky new chip truck that's coming to Almonte who, incidentally, I designed a fabulous logo for), music, door prizes and, of course, goody bags.

Because what's a three year old's birthday party without parting gifts?
Seriously now.

xo Em

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I haven't written in a while.
Life is busy.
Good busy.

We're hosting another workshop for one thing.
This time we'll be using fabrics, photographs, quirky quotes, textured papers, song sheets, old love notes, concert tickets, buttons and other findings to create mini works of art on canvas.
Think decoupage meets scrapbooking (but cooler) meets the perfect little piece of art for your home.

I made this one for Clemmie:

You would think that as one of my loyal blog readers you would have an advantage as far as signing up for these things.
Not so unfortunately.

I sent the announcement out to my mailing list and WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM we were sold out in 3 hours.
So we added a second night.
And POW! Sold out again.

If you missed out, I'm really sorry. There will be others.
But in the meantime maybe we should talk a little about why you're not on my mailing list.

Another reason I haven't posted in a while is because I'm going through a little something.
I've been reflecting.
Feeling thoughtful about...well about stuff.
Do you ever just have moments when you just stop and think about your life? About how lucky you are?
I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I've been wanting to write about it too, but the topic deserved a quiet moment, and those are hard to come by sometimes.

I have a store you know.
My very own store.
Nobody tells me what to do with it, what to buy, how to display the stuff in it, how I should market myself.
I get to do all that stuff on my own.
Sometimes I forget how cool that is.

It is so rewarding to hear customers "Ooh" and "Ahh" as they wander aimlessly through the store.
I can't help but grin like an idiot when I hear a woman say to her girlfriends "You are going to love this store" as they walk through the door.

Also, it's pretty amazing that my husband seemly has no issues with the fact that I am extremely unreliable as far as finances go.
Honestly. The man never says boo about the fact that I haven't had a pay cheque in almost 3 years and sometimes can't pitch in on the groceries and, let's be honest, totally take the car with gas in the tank on purpose.

He's a much better person than I.
I wouldn't be anywhere near that understanding if he wasn't bringing home the bacon.

When I was interviewed by the Citizen back in December I remember telling the writer about a night when I came home to tell him what a successful sales day I'd had.
Roles reversed I probably would have said to him "Great! Maybe you can give me a little mortgage money this month."
Not Brad.
All he had to say was how proud he was of me.

I almost broke up with this guy after 3 months of dating because I thought he was too nice.
The 21 year old me was kind of a moron.
I can see that now.

Another thing I've been feeling thoughtful about lately is my girlfriends.
I am very fortunate to have a large group of succulent wild women around me.
Most of them I've actually known since high school, if not elementary school, a few are from college, but all of the are amazing in their own special way.

Having the same friends for such a long time has a lot of perks.
These girls are like my sisters.
We can pick our noses together on a couch and have a great time.
They know everything about me and I know everything about them.
Richer or poorer, sickness and health, PMS or just plain bitchy.

I'm learning, though, that I can't take these friendships for granted.
Like any relationship they take a little elbow grease.
They evolve and, just like I'm not the same girl I was at 21 (thank god), neither are they.
As our lives change, we are constantly having to adapt to one another.
It's not always fun, but it's always worth it.

As our lives get busier sometimes we forget how much we need each other.

And then someone turns 30 and we all get together for a giggle and won't shut up about how much we miss each other and how great we look and how we really should take a road trip to Toronto next month and pretend we're as fun loving and fancy free as we used to be.
So that's what we're doing.
Next month.
Can't wait.