Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Work it out

I'm out of shape! Are you? (Because that would make me feel better.)
I met with a trainer (Shelagh Chambers) tonight and she totally whipped my butt with what onlookers (thankfully there were none) may have perceived to be pretty damn simple.

Not so.
I high kneed, shuffled and lunged myself to the point at which I can no longer gracefully descend a staircase.
Now that's a good workout in my books.
I loathed and loved every minute and have committed to a month (to start) of 3x weekly workouts with Shelagh. Workouts which she promises will be painful and productive.

I'm not waiting for the New Year to do something about this pathetic excuse for a 32 year old body, and diet, it would appear, is not necessarily the answer.
Perhaps a nice combination of fitness and exercise.

I saw a fabulous clip being shared around Facebook that made a lot of sense to me.
Maybe it'll do something for you too.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Being a mom is hard.
I'm really struggling lately and I don't really know why.
The kids are actually great, I'm just kind of sick of it all.

I don't know what I want. Or what I would change.

I feel like I'm in a swamp. A swamp made of glue, or marshmallow after you knead it in your fingers, or something otherwise really sticky that I can push through if I really try, but I'm so tired that I just can't summon the effort to do it.

I want to be lazy and lie on the couch watching Hoarders or 750 Pound Virgin or Pregnant and Paralyzed or pretty much anything garbage on A&E that might make me feel self-righteous.
And then, if suddenly I feel like going to the grocery store or the mall or what-freaking-ever, I want to do that.
I want to throw on my goddamn coat and just go.

I don't want to wrestle with a two year old who doesn't want to put on her mittens of which I can only find ONE anyway.
I don't want to sit around and wait for a baby to wake up before zipping out the door.
I don't want to, upon arriving at my destination, have to strategize which child to get out of the vehicle first so as to have enough hands to avoid placing the non-walker in a puddle in a parking lot.

I want to do nothing.
And, yet, nothing is exactly the opposite of what I have to do every second of everyday.
I know I'm not unique or special, and that this is how moms feel sometimes.
I just need to feel publicly sorry for myself and get on with it.

I owe you an update about the craft show.
Best ever.

I'll try to pull myself out of this funk and upload some pictures.
xo Em

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Few things

August 16th.
That's the last time I wrote? Impossible.
I'm sure it was just last week.
In typical Emily fashion, I've managed to cram a kajillion things into the last 2 months. I'll tell you about them now if you like.

It's safe to say I have completely adjusted to life without the store.
Not once have I felt any sense of remorse or regret. Only relief really. And a small pining to start decorating for Christmas.
I suppose I could just do that in my own damn house. Though I never get anything done there. So I guess not everything has changed.

So what am I doing with myself now you wonder?
Back in August I started working out of the Humm. I was there 2.5 days a week just pretty much using up their oxygen and taking up a desk space while I continued with my freelance writing.
They also offered me a column in the paper. Maybe I told you about that.
It's an advice column where I get to just make shit up and occasionally impart some of my marketing/business know how. Which I love 
I very much hope no one heeds anything I write in there.
I've written two now.
You can find it on Page 6 here.
I have a scan too, but it's not the best.

It's been fun to stretch my creative writing muscle with something that's slightly heavier lifting than a headline here and there. Hopefully nobody gets hurt.

After a few weeks of getting very comfortable leaving my children to work in an office environment, I decided to branch out further. One of my very best friends and her mother own Mahogany Salon and Spa in both Stittsville and, now, Carleton Place.
I've been helping them with their ad work since they opened over 7 years ago from a distance, and I thought it might be worth everyone's while if I pitched myself as their in-house marketing and merchandising girl.
I put together a little proposal and they took the bait.

So now, I'm not at the Humm anymore. I'm still writing, but now I'm at Mahogany 3 days a week.
Things are good. 
I love what I'm doing (something different everyday really), it's a beautiful space, and every now and then I sneak upstairs to get my nails did.
I feel like I really have my you know what together.

It was a busy transition figuring out a new schedule with the kids, but we're in the swing of things now and I feel like I'm contributing to society once again.

I'm actually twice published this month. 
So, you know, whatev.
We squeezed a Handmade Harvest article in there too.

It was a joint effort between me and Colleen for the record.
That girl doesn't always get the props she deserves.

With less than a month until the show, we're getting pretty jazzed up.
We try to be better with each event. Offering our vendors as much as possible to help them be inspired and successful.
One of the things Colleen and I both love to swoon over is creative merchandising ideas.
We went hunting for inspiration online and found the mother load on this site.
Also, gotta love Flickr.

Have a peek.
Hope to see you at the show in November!
And hope to write before then!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Knock Knock

I have been wanting to share this hilarious post for weeks now.
I discovered it via a Facebook friend and then a week later someone asked me if I sold any 10 foot metal chickens. (That makes more sense if I tell you I still owned the store at this point.)

Because I had read this I knew why she wanted one.
And you will too once you check out genius that is The Bloggess.

New favourite blog?
Could be.

Try to keep up

Oh my god. This post is like the ball of hair clogging my shower drain.
Until I get it out, every things going to get backed up.

I have been wanting to write about a zillion things!
But I felt like until I caught up on all the missing pieces I couldn't write something new.

First things first, I am no longer the owner of Blackbird.
That transition has somewhat overshadowed both my trip to NYC and our family excursion (read: nightmare in the woods) to the cottage.
Although, I must say, I am surprisingly unsentimental about the whole thing.
It's possible I'm in a bit of shock.
But overall, it feels like 100% the right move for me.

Last week Leslie called in sick and it was the first time ever that something like that hasn't put me in a state of panic. Instead, I was able to stay home with the kids and we ended up spending the day at a friend's cottage enjoying the sunshine.
How lovely it is not to be on a schedule.

But back to my list of things to talk about.
New Yawk.
Despite being over a month ago, I do actually remember the trip.

I'll start by saying that since Clemmie was born, it's been difficult for me to enjoy a vacation. 
I find I need at least 24 hours to just get into a new groove of chilling the heck out, catching up on my sleep and adjuting to having the time to myself. 
I find I kind of need some alone time for the first little bit.
It's such a drastic change to being at home that I need some serious, isolation chamber style quiet time to switch mind frames.
I was in good shape by the time we arrived in Newark.
Not rested exactly, but excited and pumped to spend time with Melissa nonetheless.

The incredible view from Amy's apartment in Soho.

And so began our much anticipated weekend in NYC.
Or, what I like to call, the vacation equivalent to falling up a set of stairs (or something equally annoying, embarrassing, and almost impossible not to laugh at).

You see, no matter how hard we both tried, New York was out to make us look like tourists.
Or idiots.
Possibly both.

Every excursion was wrought with complications.
The first morning we decided to go for breakfast. 
Simple enough.
We were just a few blocks North of Katz Deli where the famous Meg Ryan orgasm scene from When Harry met Sally was shot.
Naturally, we walked 5 blocks East before realizing we had taken a wrong turn.
Happens to the best of us.
At least we got to take in a little New York scenery.

I couldn't help but take a picture of all the fire escapes.

Not to mention find the BEST coffee in New York.
What luck!

The moment (30 dewey minutes later) that we arrived at the deli was when we faced the real challenge.
Not only was there a turnstile with an attendant (this place has completely let it's 15 minutes of fame go to it's head and is way commercialized now, trading cozy booths for cafeteria tables) but there was a completely unmarked spot where you placed your order, another place where you picked up your coffee, an off limits seating section if you wanted to be served instead of serving yourself, and you didn't pay until your way out.
Apparently everyone else who goes there is a psychic, because damned if we knew what the hell we were doing.

After breakfast, determined to hit up a New York City style flea market, we took the Subway (which is way more complicated than the north, south, east, west format we're accustomed to in Toronto) uptown to Hells Kitchen. True to it's name in early July, it was a hotter than hell but authentically adorable market, of which I took no pictures but Melissa did. 
Because Melissa is good like that.

As far as landmarks, bike riding in Central Park was a definite highlight.
But it wasn't exactly free of adversity either.
First of all, we hit this hot spot on the last day of our trip, so we definitely had to keep an eye on the clock. We got there (after taking the long way on the Subway due to line closures...shocker) at about 12:30pm and decided to rent bikes.
You know. Because we're athletes.

In Central Park you can rent bikes for $15 an hour.
Which totally sounds easy. And it would be if this was a real business.
Instead, it's really just a bunch of random dudes with bicycles.
We tracked one guy down, but of course he only had one bike left, so though securing one was simple enough, we had to get the second by strapping on a little blind faith and following one of the aforementioned rando's down a street, and then another street, and then into a parking garage.

I know. That's exactly how people get killed on Law and Order, but it was ok.
There were other people doing it.
And I don't think any of them were crack addicts. Not that you can always tell.
In the end we both got bikes, and we both were able to tick "bike around Central Park" off our bucket lists.

By 2pm we decided we better get our shit in gear and head back downtown to get ourselves packed and ready to head to the airport.
Our goal was to be back at Amy's and out of there with our suitcases by 4pm, to Time Square to catch the Newark Airport Shuttle around 4:30 and to the airport with an hour to spare.
But the problem with New York is...well two things actually.
1. It's full of things to sidetrack you because,
2. Who knows when you'll be back there again!?

Long story short, we didn't end up leaving the apartment until 4:15, were presented with a Subway that had to go south before it would go north, and we missed our 5:15 shuttle by about 30 seconds.
We didn't get on the next shuttle until 5:45pm.
Did I mention we were in Time Square?
Which is basically the most populated place in the universe.

Did I also mention that our technically INTERFREAKINGNATIONAL flight was at 6:30?

At this point Melissa and I kind of stopped talking.
We weren't mad at each other. It was no ones fault really.
We just knew there was absolutely nothing we could say that could help the situation.

Besides, when you're both thinking the same thing what's the use?

So we're sitting in New York City traffic sweating bullets.
I have a connecting flight to catch to Ottawa.
At this point, it would seriously take a miracle to get to the airport before the plane took off, forget about actually getting through security and boarding!
6:15 we arrive at the airport and are standing at the check in desk, where a very friendly attendant takes our boarding passes and frowns sympathetically.

"I'm sorry. This plane has already boarded."
Of course it has.
"Ok." I say. "We realize we're very late. I have a connecting flight to catch in Toronto. Do we have any options at all?"

And all I have to say about what happened next is that it's true. You definitely catch more flies with honey.
Because didn't that sweet woman just pick up her phone, call the boarding desk and ask them to hold the plane.
We ran.
We ran we ran we ran.
When we got to security and I threw my hands in the air for my body scan, the guard looked curiously at me and said "Ma'am. Can I ask why you look so nervous?"
Shit. I thought. I'm breathing like a goddamn drug smuggler!

"Well, technically we've missed our plane sir." I explained. "We're holding out hope that we might still catch it!"
"Better get moving then." He replied.
American's rule!

Long story long, we made it.
On the flight home we decided that despite all the other little blips we dealt with on our vacation, we actually have very good luck when it counts.

Also, we like stripes.
Even if they make us look wide.

And that was New York.

Now the cottage.
I'm going to keep this really short because I kind of don't want to remember it.
Brad and I rented a cottage about an hour from home for one week. Saturday to Saturday.

Insert two kids, a huge thunderstorm, a power outage, the hottest week of the summer, an attempt to potty train, a 2.5 year old who had to sleep in a playpen she's outgrown, the same 2.5 year old hopped up on candies earned by actually using said potty, numerous screaming fits and two parents frustrated by their vision of a weekend sipping caesars on a dock being blown to smithereens (underused word!).

We came home Tuesday.
We didn't talk to one another until Wednesday.
And we decided to make the best of what was left of our time off by Thursday.

And that was the cottage.
We'll try again in 17 years maybe. Maybe 2.

I got it out.
Welcome to my new blog address.

I hope you'll follow!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Blog Address

For obvious reasons I'll be changing my blog address.
Just in case I do it wrong (and it's very likely I will), bookmark sketchesofasmalltown.blogspot.com.

I'm sure there is a better, more efficient way of doing the switch so I don't lose any readers, but damned if I know what it is.

xo Em (on my last day in the shop!)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Blog to Go

Sitting in the Porter lounge in Toronto waiting on Melissa and our connecting flight to New York, taking advantage of the "Business Lounge".

It's just after 7am and already it's been a bit of a trying day.
As we took off from Ottawa I couldn't help but imagine that the plane might crash.
And not just because I pretty much always feel that way when I'm on an airplane.
But because so many odds seemed to stack themselves against me this morning!
My strategy?
Ignore ignore. Delete delete.

So when we didn't hear Brad's phone alarm at 4am this morning and he miraculously woke up on his own (and then woke me) at 4:30 instead, I thought to myself "Okay, alright, okayyyy, it's alright. You can't turn back time. Just keep moving as though 4:30 was the original plan".

I got up, fed the baby without really waking him for the day (I hope anyway. I don't really know. I didn't stick around to see if he fell back to sleep.)

I was on the road by 5am, at the Park n' Fly by 5:40, and at the Porter check in desk by 5:50.

Speed bump number two: I happen to notice as I'm whizzing past the flight board that the Porter 6:45am flight says CANCELLED in big bold letters beside it.
Again my "ignore" strategy comes in handy.
Because how can you freak out about something that you refuse to take note of? It's nearly impossible.
Besides, I've paid for a flight.
I have my itinerary in hand.
New York's not going anywhere.
Certainly this is someone else's problem.

Kink in the plans number three: Disgruntled Porter agent on a mission to ruin someone's day...but not mine!
Our conversation:
Me: "Good morning!" (handing over itinerary and passport)

Grumpy Bum: (staring down my luggage) "Even if you're taking that as a carry on you still have to put it on the scale."

Me: "Oh. Sorry. (putting luggage on scale) Um. So I did the pre-check in online, but wasn't able to print it. I should be checked in already."

Grumpy Bum: (checking her computer) "Your flight is cancelled."

Me: "Sooooooo. What are my options?"

Grumpy Bum: "I'll have to put you on the 6:15am"

Me: "Perfect. Glad I got here in time."

Grumpy Bum: "Did you input your info online yourself?"

Me: "Yes"

Grumpy Bum: "Well your information is all wrong. This passport number doesn't match. What number did you enter?"

Me: (pointing to BIG BOLD NUMBERS at the TOP of my passport) "Those ones"

Grumpy Bum: "That's not your passport number. Now you've locked me out of the system because I have to correct your mistake."

Me: "Well that's unfortunate. Sorry about that."

Grumpy Bum: "Hey Linda. You won't be able to check your customer in for a minute. This passenger has me locked out of the system."

Me: (to myself) "I'm totally reporting you. Nadiaaaa"

Grumpy Bum: "Ok. I'm holding the plane for you (keep in mind I was early for my original flight). Your connecting flight is at 8:45am.

Me: "Um. My itinerary says 9:45."

Grumpy Bum: "No ma'am. Your flight to Newark is at 8:45am"

Me: (passing her my dog earred itinerary) "I'm meeting a friend in Toronto and we're flying together. We've already picked the seats and everything."

Grumpy Bum: (silently ticking away at her keyboard. I can literally see the smoke coming from her ears. Literally. Never seen anything like it. She hands me my boarding pass. Says nothing.)

Me: "So. What flight am I on then?"

Grumpy Bum: "The same one."

Me: (oh my god I'm going to murder this woman) "The same one I originally booked? Or the same one you just told me?"

Grumpy Bum: "The same one."

She couldn't just tell me the time?
It suddenly hit me that with my boarding pass in hand I didn't need her to tell me anymore, I could just look at what was printed on the ticket.
It said 9:45am.
I looked at her, gave her a cheery "Thanks so much!" which in no way matched the glare on my face and rolled away.

I don't think this is a good representation of Porter however. Everyone else I've encountered has been lovely.

The man trying to get me down example four: I am randomly selected for a full body scan and pat down at security.
I instantly regret not answering "Yes" to the "Do you have any liquids?" question.
It's just contact solution.
I can't be bothered to hunt down a convenience store when we get to New York.
My first visit to the big apple is way too glamourous for something like that.
In New York, I have perfect vision. Laser eye surgery. 20/20.
Besides, if they find it, I'll pretend I totally forgot.
I'll ignore it.

This isn't too much of a hassle really. Except that it's hard to play cool when you're being patted down and people are staring.
It took only a minute and nobody confiscated my contact stuff.
But by now it's 6:15 and apparently that's when the flight leaves, and even though I'm pretty sure they know I'm coming, part of me has to wonder if the aforementioned bitch called to let them know.

So far the trip ups seem to have ended.

The flight from Ottawa to Toronto was quick and painless, and Melissa will be here to keep me company any minute.

See you Sunday!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Beans

I have been waiting to write this post for about a week now.
If this blog is my diary, then I've been keeping something a secret from my diary.
My diary!
That's like the opposite of what a diary is for.

But I've become a little superstitious in my 32 years and what I've been working toward these past weeks is certainly not something I wanted to jinx.
At long last (I was waiting to cash the cheque) I can spill.

I've sold my store.
My baby.

Actually, it's become more of an old flame this past year.
Something I used to love passionately, but that my heart has started to wander from.

I have too many new relationships to nurture (Griffy, Handmade Harvest, multiple pie-in-the-sky ideas that make Brad think I'm a crazy person who just might bankrupt him one day) that it's time to set this love free.
That's what they say isn't it?
If you love someone set them free?
I'm sure that's got to apply to gift stores too right?

Another reason I've hesitated talking about it, is because I'm a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing.
I know it's the right decision, but who is Emily Arbour if not the owner of great little shop on Mill Street?
Sure it's only been 4.5 years of my life, but when you look at how concentrated these years have been with life changes (opening a store, getting married, moving to Almonte, having a baby, organizing a craft show, having another baby, organizing another craft show etc etc) it's hard to remember who I was before I had this lovely shop.

I have made connections with literally hundreds of people that I likely wouldn't never have met if it wasn't for my beloved bird.
I'm a bit lost just thinking about the fact that I've just put myself out of a job.
What will I do without somewhere to go every day?
The possibilities are simultaneously thrilling and terrifying.

For not one minute in the last 4+ years have I been bored.
As long as I have had the store, there has always been something that needed doing.

Whether it was building an "elf door" for Kid's Night, convincing a landlord to let me use his space for a Pop Up Shop or repurposing old scraps of fabric found at the Hub into jewelry bags, not a "day off" went by when I wasn't doing something to make the shop even better than it was the day before.

It's been a labour of love and I anticipate a bit of a hangover come midnight July 31st.

You heard right.
In less than a month, this will no longer by my store.
So how did this happen?
Even I'm not exactly sure.

I've been feeling overwhelmed for quite some time now.
It's just a lot to juggle and I found myself constantly on the verge of panic attacks with all the scheduling of kids and babysitters and staff and husbands (ok, that shouldn't be plural) and social lives.
Also, Clemmie started saying "Don't go to work!" every time I asked her for a kiss.
So there was that.

Brad had previously suggested that I consider selling the store, and he was always met with a "You don't understand!! Oh my god it's like you don't even know me! How can you be so insensitive?!" from me.

But the last time he mentioned it - after talking me down from yet another ledge from which I was crying "I just can't take care of everybody all the time!" - I actually considered it.

I thought about what that might mean to my family, and how it might feel to actually be able to do something for me on a weekend.
I would find myself looking longingly at couples who would come in to shop on Saturdays and daydreaming about what it must be like just to wander about taking time to explore.
Maybe have a coffee sitting down.
You know, the little things.

Also, as I've mentioned in previous posts, Almonte is going strong.
The new homes to dandelion ratio is neck and neck.
The local economy is on the rise.
The smart business person would get out while to going's good.

So I put it out there.
I picked a fair price, told 5 people who told 5 people and so on, and in 2 days I was meeting with a local woman who was interested in buying.
To my great surprise, I actually had multiple people interested.
This was really happening!

Two weeks later and the deal is done.
Come August 1st Blackbird will have a fabulous, enthusiastic, young, local new owner...and I'm thrilled.
I really think she'll be perfect.
I think you'll like her.

So that's that.
On to new things.
Blackbird was a stepping stone.
Change is good.
And all the rest.

Yes, Handmade Harvest will live on. (Apply now!)
Yes, I may still host the odd Pop Up Shop.
Yes, I will continue to write.

Who knows?! My blog might actually become more interesting to read now that I won't have to edit myself to protect my business. (I'll be redirecting to a new url shortly, so I hope you'll follow)
You can't imagine the stories I've been keeping from all of you.
You simply can't imagine.

xo Em

Monday, July 4, 2011

New York New York

I'm heading on my maiden voyage to NYC this weekend with Melissa.
Never been.

An old TO friend of ours soooo generously offered up her downtown apartment for the weekend and we pounced!

And because I have Avion points coming out of the ying yang from all the spending I do for the shop (and no place to go!) basically, this trip is free.
I can't wait.

We have no agenda really.
Just loose plans to see a show, I'd like to hit up 30 Rock and Central Park, and Melissa is itching to check out the Kate Spade, but otherwise it's going to be a weekend of walking and eating and catching up.

Did I mention I can't wait?

I haven't started packing yet because really, what can I pack that will be comfortable enough to walk around all day in, but cute enough not to look like a raging tourist?
What's nice is that I won't have to tailor my outfits for easy boob access, but even still, options are certainly limited.

I'll sort it out.
Maybe this time I'll even take pictures!

On a totally different note:
Should I be wearing lipstick?
I've always felt a bit weird wearing it.
Like who do I think I am wearing lipstick?
Like I'm playing dress up or something.

But I see beautiful, natural looking women wearing colour on their lips all the time.
In fact, since I started paying attention, it seems I'm the odd girl out.
I enjoy wearing a bit of gloss - when I can find it at the bottom of the diaper bag anyway - but I'm curious to know if I was sick the day someone taught us girls how to choose the right shade.
I should never have let my subscription to Sassy lapse like that!

Any advice you've got for me, I'd be happy to receive.
Otherwise, have a wonderful sunshine-y week.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Calling all Crafters

Decisions have been made and the Handmade Harvest Holiday 2011 Call for Crafters (mouthful!) has been officially launched! 
Click here for details.

I really thought this would get easier to organize!

Colleen and I had been toying with the idea of hosting the show at two different venues (Old Town Hall and Textile Museum) simultaneously in November, and then we realized that would probably suck the joy out of it for us.
There are always little fires to put out, and it's just easier when we can work together.

I'm VERY excited to say that the show will be held at the Old Almonte Town Hall again.

We've expanded into additional space within the Hall this time - to avoid the chaos that was Holiday 2010 - but we still have a lower cap on vendors than the spring show.
Looks like we'll max out at 35 this time.
So the bar will be high, and the vendors that are accepted will truly be exceptional.

No pressure.
No pressure.

Rain Date - Home & Store Yard Sale

Looks like we're going to be rained out for our Yard Sale tomorrow morning.

Brad says there's a 100% chance of precipitation. 
To which I said "You're sure it's not like 95%? I mean how can anyone be 100% sure of anything really?"
He didn't say anything, but he did roll his eyes.
In our house, eye rolls trump all.

Please join us NEXT SATURDAY JULY 2nd for our 2nd annual Home & Store Yard Sale.
Sale starts at 8am.
77 Union Street North, Almonte (aka my house)

Yard sale prices on our off-season merchandise, scratch & dent stuff (you can hardly tell!), home furnishings and more.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Call me Em

This morning when I was getting back into my car after dropping Clementine off at daycare, a woman across the street (who I only know because she used to be a teacher at my elementary school so we're talking like 20 years ago) called out "Hi Em!"

I love when people I hardly know call me Em.
Makes me feel like they like me. (Which is so important to me it could be labeled a character flaw.) 
That they think of me in a friendly, approachable, neighbourly way.

A lot of customers call me Em.
Also, Clemmie.
But I don't like that so much.

"Emmmm? Canna have a peanabutta wap pleeeeease?"
Translation: "Mother dear, may I have a peanut butter wrap please?

Don't people say you should be clear not to blur the line between parent and friend?
Apparently I'm doing a real bang up job so far.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Home & Store Yard Sale - Saturday June 25th! RAIN DATE: July 2

This Saturday June 25th  July 2nd at 8am, my 2nd annual Home & Store Yard Sale will take place at 77 Union Street North in Almonte.

My house.

I'm done looking at the odds and ends of seasons past in the shop...so I'm dragging them all home and selling them off at rock bottom prices in my own front yard.

I've got loads of stuff from home decor items, scratch and dent stuff, electronics, furniture, toys, jewelry, display items, pillows, wreaths, clothing and much much more.

Time to clean house.
And store.

Any items that remain will be donated to the Hub and/or Rebound Centre.
Wanna come?
You can hold the baaaabyyyyyyy! 


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lazy man's blog post

I'm feeling a little down in the dumps today.
Overwhelmed, sorry for myself, negative in general.
I just really really really need a mental health day.
Without the kids.
Without feeling guilty for not being with the kids.
And without knowing anyone at the grocery store, coffee shop, bank, post office...you get it.

Last night I just needed to get in and get out.
Pasta sauce, eggs, milk. Pasta sauce, eggs, milk.

I had just come from boot camp at the gym, looking like a sweaty bag of garbage, not at all in the mood to put on my "I'd love to small talk with you stranger!" face and who do I see at the grocery store?
That's right.

Of course I did.

So instead of bringing you all down with me on my sinking ship of self pity, I thought I'd just link up to a post Colleen has written about some of the new handmade stuff that's slowly starting to fill up the shop.
You can read her blog here.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Bicycle Month

June is Bicycle Month here in Almonte.
You can check out this link to know what that means exactly.
To me it means the beginning of a season of festivals and, hopefully, a season of tourists tourists tourists.

I bought Brad a new bike for his birthday in April and as we were about to add his old, beyond repair bike to the pile of stuff to take along on our annual dump trip, I had a vision for my Bicycle Month shop window display.

Got to love repurposing old junk.
Also, spray painting.
So quick, so satisfying. So impossible to do perfectly on a round, double sided object.
Thankfully, perfection wasn't the goal.
And you can hardly see the bits of fresh cut grass imbedded in the paint.

AND, since now I am the proud owner of my very own 1.25" button maker, I was able to make buttons to match!
How cute are these?
For sale all month in the shop...of course.

Watch for my Button of the Month Club. Coming soon!!
Happy Bicycle Month!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Picking up the Pieces

A few notes about gift giving to recipients under the age of 6.

- Don't give them anything with more than 2 pieces or accessories. They will either lose them, or scatter them, subsequently making their mother insane and inclined to make rash decisions like breaking something purposely or throwing them in the damn garbage.

- If the child is one or older, he/she likely already has a doll and a stuffed animal. If you give them another, they will love it for approximately one day. Then it will clutter up their bedroom or playroom until their mom finally takes it to the Hub. Give them books.

- A two year old will love you just as much if you give them one toy or seventeen toys. And no matter how many times their mother tells them "Say thank you to your Aunt Zoey", odds are tomorrow they probably won't remember who gave them what. If you really want to give them a lasting gift, take them somewhere they've never been and show them a good time. Then you can own a little chapter in their memory for life. (This makes a great gift for parents too).

(For the record, this is NOT my playroom. Via.)



Survive we did.
Daddy even came home earlier than expected and I high tailed it to work for a little me time.
And then I completely took advantage of him being home.
Like maybe a little too much actually.

Brad got home around 1pm on Tuesday.
I went to work at 2pm, came home for a hot second, and then headed to Mahogany for a massage.
Wednesday night I went out for dinner with Cynthia (of Appleton Gift and Basket fame) to strategize what the heck we're going to do about the awful awful terrible sales we've been experiencing here on Mill Street.
and Thursday I went to see Bridesmaids with three of my besties who totally would have been my bridesmaids if I had any (other than my lovely sisters).

Oh my god that movie is funny.
I'm almost embarrassed by how much I liked it because it was so disgusting in parts.
I won't tell you about it, I'll let you see it for yourself.

Moving on.

Remember way back when when I told you I was dieting?
If you're interested in an update, I'm down 17lbs since mid February.
I feel a million times better about myself than I did, but every day is still a struggle. I have about 15 more to go.
Kicking things up a notch by going starting Boot Camp, so hopefully that will help me along.

On a totally different topic, I've been thinking a lot about how many kids Brad and I are destined to have.
I've always thought three. Probably because I'm from three.
But now that life is getting back to a "new" normal for everyone, I'm kind of happy to be on this end of the baby making.
Two seems manageable.
One each.
It means we don't need a bigger house, or car, and I have this terrible pattern of complicating my life just when it starts to get easy.
It's one of my very few character flaws.

We may have to wait a few more years to decide on this matter.

Babies have been hard on our relationship in the past.
Brad and I are doing remarkably well this time. Mostly thanks to Griffin being such a great baby, but I know we're both making a big effort to be kind to each other.
I don't know when the switch happened.
We certainly haven't been doing so well the entire 4 months we've had Griffin, but this last month has been really nice.
We've almost entirely cut out the under-our-breath grumblings about the others shortfalls and I feel like we haven't been keeping score the way we have in the past.

Oh there will be more trying times in the Brad and Emily saga, this I know, but for now things are okay. Half way decent even.
And I'll leave it at that before I jinx it.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Sleep Deprived

That's enough.

Aren't long weekends for sleeping in?
Maybe drinking one too many glasses of sangria? On a dock? Or at least a deck?
I have been up every day this weekend at some god awful hour before 6am.
One day, Clem sleeps in while Griffy wakes, the next day is the exact opposite.
Daddy needs to come home now.

Scratch that.
Daddy needs to come home yesterday.

We had supper at mom and dad's last night (again) and mom made a comment to my aunt Carolyn about how Brad is such a wonderful dad (and he is) and that he watches the kids all day every Saturday.
Oh wow. What a hero.
All day Saturday is actually only 10-5 if we're keeping score.
And really. We're part of a new generation who are equal parts parents.
I truly feel that we share the responsibility 60/40. And that's only because daddy doesn't have breasts.

I'm not going to be apologetic about how much I rely on my husband to raise these kids. I think that's fair!

I'm the one went through 3 months of nausea and another 6 months of irreparable damage to my body (not to mention psyche) and then surgery...and then the trauma of learning to nurse all over again...all followed by another year of having to tailor my fashion choices around having to slip a nip 6 or more times a day.
The least he can do is let me sleep in an hour longer than the rest of these early risers and cover me while I work ONE full day a week.
And like it.

Where did little Miss Good Mood go you're wondering.
I'm just tired.
And a tad grumpy.

Brad comes home tomorrow.
He'd do well to bring flowers.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Round Two

So round two was significantly better than round one.
(My posts this weekend are going to be somewhat kidcentric since that's about all I've got time for these next few days. So my apologies in advance.)

I tired those little suckers out yesterday.
We're talking grocery store, park, book store, library, Nana & Papa's house AND an after supper walk for ice cream.
I decided to let Clem go to bed a little later that her usual 7pm shut 'er down and that has worked quite nicely I must say.
In fact, she's still asleep and it's already just after 7am.
Of course, since she's not up, her brother is, but c'est life.

His four month un-birthday was yesterday and last night the kid slept from around 9pm to almost 6am, so that's pretty respectable for a boy his age. I won't complain over nearly 9 hours of sleep from a newborn.

We're going to Evan's (Josie and John's son) 1st Birthday party today, so we'll be forfeiting a nap, but hopefully that will only mean another good sleep tonight.

I know. This post is riveting.
I'll try to take lots of good pictures at the party today to make up for it.


Friday, May 20, 2011

One down. Four to go.

Well that was a long night.
Who are these single parents of two? They all deserve medals.
Or at least a lifetime supply of coffee and under eye makeup.

Everything started off innocently enough.
I managed to get both kids happily bathed, smelling like roses and in their jammies.
I put Griffin downstairs so I could read Clemmie her bedtime books without distracting her from her routine too much.
I knew he'd cry, but also that he'd live, and put Clem to bed.
Two books and a story.
Easy breezy beautiful.

When I got downstairs the boy was beside himself, but I consoled him back to a happy state and even managed to eat supper. (Which I had the foresight to make in advance knowing my window of opportunity would be a small one.)
45 minutes went by.
I can totally do this!

And then.

A screaming two year old over the monitor.
"Something's scaring me mom!" "There's a bug! There's a bug!" "I need another storyyyyy!"

45 minutes! Wasn't she asleep?
Doesn't she realize this is only the first of five nights we have to do this?
I decided to pick a time on the clock that, if she didn't stopped screaming by then, I would go to her.
I never should have gone.
It was like I completely lost my mind.

Or, if I was going to go, I never should have brought Griffin with me.
I went up without him at first, but could hear him screaming blue flipping murder and came back down.
Naturally she screamed even louder over the fact that I'd left her again!
I called my dad.
"Dad. I need your hands here."

That in itself wasn't a mistake, but letting Clem know her Papa was here, however, was.
"Papa. YOU read a book."

So Papa read her a book.
And when Papa reads a book, Papa takes his time and uses different voices, and inflection, and makes it just a little more fun than when mom reads a book. (In my defense, if it was my first Mercer Mayer rodeo, I might take a little more time with it myself.)
So when I came in the room again to announce I'd read her one more book and then it'd be bed time, it was Niagara Falls all over again.

We got through it.
I read a book, and told another story and left her with a "I'm not coming back until tomorrow morning" and went downstairs again to relieve dad.
Griffin didn't fall asleep until 9:30 (not the worst for a 4 month old but so much for time alone) and then I did some freelance work until 11pm.
I should have gone to bed earlier.

I fell asleep just fine, but woke up at 12:30 and tossed and turned until at least 3:30.
Then Griff woke up at 5:30 to eat and Clem work up for the day at 6:30.
So I'll be loads of fun today.
The sun better shine or I might not have the energy to do this all over again tonight.

Thankfully the boy is still asleep now at 8am and Clementine is munching a Cheerios and watching Toy Story on the couch.

So the big question is, do I try it again on my own tonight or do I call in the reinforcements?
I mean, I AM their mother. I should be able to do this.
I kind of want to prove it to myself even.

But I know almost for certain that she will attempt the same antics again.
They worked after all.
I'll just have to have a plan of attack in place this time.

I'm thinking Gravol.
For one of us anyway.

Happy Long Weekend!
Really looking forward to the post-bedtime fireworks. Really.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Thursday

It's Thursday morning.

Brad has just left on his annual boys camping trip north north north of Sudbury and I'll be home with these little goofballs for a whopping 5 sleeps.

I'm hooked on the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone.
I know all you "real" photographers are rolling your eyes.

We'll survive I'm sure.
And besides, I'll accumulate my fair share of "mommy points" while he's away.
Already planning ways to cash in on those when daddy gets home.
I'm thinking girls movie night with my lady friends.
I've been dying to see Bridesmaids since it came out.

I may actually enjoy myself while he's away.
Not that I don't enjoy life with him at home, it's just kind of nice to be able to beat my own drum sometimes.
It'll be five days without channel surfing anyway.

Right now I'm sitting in Starbucks (I know, I should be at Equator, but I had to get out of town or risk getting caught up chatting) with Griffy sleeping at my feet in his car seat, trying to maximize on this little bit of free time.
My little brain is a buzz with new ideas.

The first one being that I've decided to reinvent the shop.
I was so inspired by the vendors at Handmade Harvest that I've decided to integrate more handmade product lines into the store.

Truth is, I've always been a little insecure about how much stuff is imported from India, China, Thailand etc.
I really do make an effort to buy ethically produced items for Blackbird, but it's a challenge sometimes.
By carrying more handmade products not only can I have a story to tell about where they came from, but I can support people who are doing what they love.
And that, I love.

Holding this past show got me really thinking about how little creative work I've been doing for myself lately.
I love to paint, and also sew for example.
But I've found it almost impossible to do either since Clementine was born.
As soon as I pull out the sewing machine, she's up there on the chair wanting to create.

So the sewing machine is moving to the shop. And so is the easel.
(Not to mention the button making machine I just bought online! Custom buttons available soon!)

Colleen and I are in talks with my landlord to rent an additional space in the back of the building for Blackbird storage to make room for our brand new in store studio!! (Incidentally, the gorgeous, lofty office space above my store is available for rent. Email me if you want more details! emily@blackbirdshop.ca)

We'll be able to create things in our downtime, offer weekend and daytime workshops, and get our craft on whenever the mood strikes without having to return the dining room back to its original state.

The plan is to launch the studio space as well as the Handmade Department of the shop by July.
You can be sure I'll document the process. (We have some plans of our own, but if any of you have a vision, I'd love to hear from you! Design challenge anyone!?)

I am beyond excited about the possibility of this.
Honestly, I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.
We were talking about renting a different space altogether for a workshop studio, but this makes so much more sense.

I better get moving here.
The boy is starting to stir (how dare he!?) and mama better get to the grocery store if these babies are going to eat today.

See you soon!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Handmade Harvest SPRING!

I know.
AWFUL that I haven't posted about Handmade Harvest on here yet.
But I just did a little write up over here.
Hop on over to see some great pics courtesy of jemmTale Photography.

I'll be back soon!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Blog linking...Blinking? Whatever.

So excited/terrified/peeing a little that Handmade Harvest is only ONE WEEK AWAY!!!
The swag stuff is rolling in and so are the Google Alerts letting us know that folks are talking about us.
Can't wait for next Saturday.
Why can't every day be craft show day?

Check out the latest from our a few of our blogger friends:

From Re-hash

I know there's more out there. This is just all I could find with one hand on the keyboard and the other snuggling my boy.
You would be disturbed by the number of posts I've written while nursing.
Or maybe you'd be impressed.

Too much info?
Hope to see you all Saturday.
More posts to come as soon as I find the time to take a few shots of the amazing swag stuff!

Em (and, technically, Griffin)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dare to Compare

I know. I've never done three posts in one day.
Like I said. It's rainy.

Just found an old pic of Clemmie.
I think she's about 4 months here, so a bit older than Griffin is now but aren't they identical?

Clementine 4 months
Griffin 3 months

Ok. That's it for real.


Just sayin'

If you ever want to buy me something...

Few things

Deservedly so, I've had a pretty bad cold since my Pop Up Shop last Friday.
My body is pretty nice to me and usually holds out until after a big event to break down.
But that still doesn't make it much fun.
Pity party over though.

I am happily positioned behind my computer at the shop on a rainy Saturday, ticking things off my to do list, sipping a half bold half smooth Equator coffee (because I'm difficult), singing along to Jason Mraz on the stereo, and hacking up a lung between customers.
Not to worry. I've already cracked out the hand sanitizer.
You'll be fine if you visit.

So let's do a little housekeeping.


We are OPEN: Friday 11-4, Saturday 10-5, Sunday (closed), Monday 11-4.


The Pop Up Shop was a big hit.
Though we didn't officially open until 5pm, we had a few 4:30 door crashers and I think that kind of enthusiasm should be rewarded...so we opened up shop early.
It was a flurry of flying scarves and jewelry and "can I try that on if you're not taking it"s for about an hour and a half and by about 6:30 the crowds had died down and it felt like 9pm.
Me working on an up sell. Apparently I'm pigeon-toed. Excellent.

The line up. (aka. my favourite pic of the bunch)

Awesome body forms on loan from The White Lilly.
Saw horse turned shelf courtesy of the landlord and Colleen's creative brain.
Christmas lights courtesy of my mom.
Amazing what a little twinkle can do to dress up a place.

Some happy shoppers taking advantage of the free manicures courtesy of Carmel Broughton of Carmelized.

Personally, I think this one was better than the October event.
We had a bit more space and a lot more stuff, so I haven't been subject to any angry "We got there at 7 and there was nothing left" emails.

I'm thinking of taking this concept online so watch for that.

Thanks to all who came and helped (eventually) put my 3 month old through college.
The two year old is getting a scholarship. It's already decided.
Which brings us to the next item on our agenda.


Griffin is officially 3 months.
Making it acceptable to wear 3-6 month clothing, although he's been in it since about 3 weeks old.
Eesh. These kids are big.
Since I have been pretty bad about journalling baby number two's progress, I figure I should at least keep updating my blog with pictures.
I think I had a whole scrapbook full of memories by the time the Cleminator was 3 months old.
Griffin's got a few grainy iPhone uploads and that's about it.
Thankfully, our children are so darned adorable that other people have been inclined to snap a few pictures.
Here are some shots from our trip to Fulton's Pancake House last weekend courtesy of Dan Greenberg.

Clemmie sucking down a maple lollypop between bites of pancake.
With a side of attitude.

Griffin sleeping like the little angel baby that he is.
Looking uncannily (a word?) like his big sister at that age.

AGENDA ITEM FOUR: Handmade Harvest

Once again the Humm has written a great article about the show next month.

I am so proud of this event.
Colleen and I, not to mention the vendors, have pulled out all the stops to make it great.
The swag bags, to give one example of what I mean, are DEFINITELY going to be worth lining up for.
It's going to take everything I have in me not to steal one to be honest.
But that would be wrong.
And you know how I believe in karma.

Let's just say you won't be going home with just a handful of coupons. I mean, there will be coupons. But there will also be ummm...JEWELRY and, um, little fabric WALLETS and, um CANDY.
The first 50 shoppers will get all of these things and more.
So come early!!

Since my last post I've also had a chance to get to know another one of our sponsors - Lilly White.
You can read our interview with her here.

That's all for now.
Happy Easter everyone!!