#yeg Spotlight: Holiday Shopping

The festive spirit has been evident in our home for a few weeks now, but my excitement really amps up the moment Halloween is over. Christmas is, without question, my favourite time of the year, and I have enjoyed holiday shopping this year with my favourite little shopping companion by my side. I really like to support local businesses as much as I can, so I turned to a few of my favourite local makers (and discovered some new ones along the way) when thinking about what we wanted to gift this year. Below, my go-tos and why I like them so much:

1. Justine Ma: Design & Hand Lettering
Can you remember a time when a handwritten note didn’t give you an extra special feeling? I can’t, especially when it’s this level of beautiful and perfect. Justine’s custom hand lettering is appropriate for pretty much all occasions and reasons for gifting, and will make a most heart felt and memorable gift. Her merchandise can be found in various local shops throughout the city, and she is a regular in the craft show scene, the details of which you can keep up with through her Instagram feed. It’s a gorgeous feed, and it’s sprinkled with appearances of her equally gorgeous family. You’re welcome :)

2. Sylvia Soo Leather, Art & Design
I haven’t really stopped gushing about Sylvia since I discovered her, and I have equal parts lust for her leather goods as I do her sweet personality. I first learned about her through an interview my friend, Gillian, did on her blog, The Noteworthy (you can read all about Sylvia here), and then I had the chance to meet her at the Make It Show last month. Clean, minimalist and impeccable craftsmanship are but a few of the ways I would describe Sylvia’s work. And while you’re perusing her site, I would encourage you to read about how she got started in leather making. It will move and inspire you in ways you probably won’t expect.

3. Jacek Chocolate Couture
There’s chocolate, and then there’s Jacek Chocolate. More than just a delectable, bite-sized treat, they’re nice to look at, too; I’ve actually heard of these being referred to as edible art! We upped our chocolate giving this year by grabbing a few beautifully boxed goodies, and in turn, we’re supporting a really cool local business. While I haven’t met the master chocolatier behind all of this, I’ve heard Jacqueline’s passion for the art is contagious. And by the evolution of her business, from home-based to storefront in the heart of downtown Edmonton, I’d say this passion injection is a good thing.

4. Duchess Bake Shop
I think all of Canada knows of Duchess Bake Shop by now, as they have truly established themselves as a prominent, top tier, bakery. It also represents all things beautiful and French, from the savoury Croque Monsieur to the pristine decor, it’s as if you’re hanging out in Paris for the day. Their cookbook, released earlier this fall, shares not only recipes, but tips, tricks and beautiful photos to help us recreate our favourites right at home.

5. Plum Home + Design
Beautiful things abound under the roof of Plum. For the antique lover, or the kitchen warrior, the crafting queen, or the office organizing nut, there is something for everyone. Each item in this store is perfectly curated to create the most charming shopping experience (online shopping is available, too!), making it really difficult not to walk out with something for yourself. Or that adorable baby in your life – Baby Plum is an expanding portion of this local business, and it’s a whole lot of soft, cute, and beautiful.

6. Evoolution
The wide variety of infused oils and vinegars available here make gift-giving a very smooth ride. I have been on the receiving end of an Evoolution gift, and I’m always so excited to put the new oil and vinegar pairing to work. For those Jamie Oliver types in your life, a gift set or individually chosen pairing just begs for experimentation. A sure win!

I would love for you to share some of your local favourites with me! I’m always looking to add to my list of local go-tos.

Have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Images via:
http://www.plumhomeanddesign.com, my own, http://www.jacekchocolate.com, http://www.duchessbakeshop.com, http://www.evoolution.ca

Winterizing

There once was a time in my life where I really disliked winter. It was from about my mid teens to my early twenties, and it was that time when I couldn’t be bothered to own a proper, sensible pair of winter boots, or a bulkier, down-filled coat. I’ve come a long way, friends, and I will even confess to you that I look forward to winter as much as I do summer. What?!?!

For Christmas this year, Alex and I decided to gift each other, and Theodora, proper outdoor winter gear. With Theodora being a little bit older now, we want to be able to get out and enjoy winter activities and stay warm and dry while doing so. Here is some of the gear we are coveting:

By equipping ourselves with these items, we hope to remove any barrier to getting outside due to lack of proper clothing. I’m also really looking forward to getting out and rediscovering the joy in snow covered hills, whether we’re sliding, skiing or rolling down them. Winter, we are ready for you, clunky boots and all!

Hope you’re having a great Monday!

xo,
Kassey

Also…
Edmonton’s Winter City Strategy is something I have enjoyed reading and staying updated on. Maybe you will too.

The best Christmas light displays in Edmonton. We plan to check a couple of these out…how about you?

Product Details
Hers (clockwise): Helly Hansen Blanche Parka, Pompom hat, North Face Freedom LRBC Insulated Pants, Polar Mittens.

His (clockwise): North Face Men’s Gotham Jacket, Stripe Wool Hat, North Face Men’s Freedom Pants, Mount Ski Gloves.

Baby’s (clockwise): Printed 3-in-1 Jacket, Baby Nugget Beanie, Ski Overalls, Winter Mittens.

Celebrating One Year of Theodora

Last weekend, we celebrated our not-so-little baby’s first birthday, and throughout that day, I found myself revisiting some advice I had received just before my wedding day. A friend of mine told me to make sure I took a moment to really look at what was happening around me to soak it in because of how fast it goes by. The same totally applied for Theodora’s birthday; on the day we celebrated with a few little friends, and the night before the party, too. I couldn’t believe that the heart-shaped rice crispy pops and tissue paper poufs I was making at 2:30 in the morning the night before were for our very own daughter!

(Don’t judge me, but I feel like I need to be honest here – I had the help of not only Alex in these preparations, but also a glass of wine. It tastes so much better in those wee hours of the morning!)

The afternoon was filled with exactly what we hoped for – laughter, tiny people chatter, singing and eating. Although too young to really remember this milestone birthday, we hope that these pictures will help Theodora understand how excited we were to celebrate her.

People warned me of this, and it’s true – the first year goes by at lightening speed. Everything is so new, and you’re stepping into the monumental responsibility of raising a child in the safest, healthiest and happiest way that you can. Here’s what has made us feel ok about how fast it went – we did our best to be in the moment, every step of the way. Whether those moments were at 2:00 am consoling cries, or the fourth time in the span of half an hour changing, yet, another diaper, we just reminded ourselves that this was part of the deal. And what incredible, priceless results this deal has yielded us.

Have a great (warm) week!

xo,
Kassey

Also, hello December and Cyber Monday! When did that happen?! Here’s a list of some of the best Cyber Monday sales to shop. A great head start to Christmas shopping, if you haven’t already started.

One way to do some Christmas shopping (or treat yourself) and support local businesses and artisans is to check out the Royal Bison Art & Craft Fair. It runs again next weekend, December 5-7, and is VERY worth checking out!

Party Details
Cake topper and huge pink balloon: Confetti & Sparkle Party Shop
Cake: Cake Affair (delicious and amazing!)

New Job: Mom

November 24, 2014. This is the day that I would have technically returned to work after maternity leave. Except I’m continuing my at- home journey with Theodora, and to be honest with you, there’s no place I’d rather be.

It was an unexpectedly difficult decision because I was in a job that I absolutely loved. For the last eight years, I worked for a business school managing a portfolio of professional development programs. My colleagues were amazing. My boss and people I reported to – even more amazing. And the people I got to meet and interact with on a daily basis were a true gift. I think a person’s years of development can be loosely compartmentalized into childhood, teen years, and adult years, and I spent most of my formative adult years in this place. A place I was very proud to call my day time home. The downtown pod that I happily walked into every day was brimming with intellect, energy, ideas, and style . It was impossible not to be a fashionable group being only steps away from some of the best shopping destinations in the city. When I became pregnant and people would ask me if I planned to return to work, my response was always “of course!”. It wasn’t a question of “if”; rather it was a question of capacity (full time versus part time).

And then Theodora was born, and everything changed, almost instantly. I was amazed at how quickly my heart swelled with a love I never understood until she was in my arms. Just like that, we were beginning this new chapter as a family of three. When we left the hospital and jumped into our roles as parents, I kept thinking back to something my dad had told me many years ago. My parents always believed that I would excel at anything I put my mind to, whether it was education, work or any other life passion. But my dad also said that among my drive to succeed, he always saw me as a person deeply rooted in family. Now maybe it was my stellar performance as the oldest child (this is where you all can laugh), or maybe it was his compiled observations of me growing up, mirroring the values and morals that he and my mom raised me with. Either way, this strong, magnetic pull I was feeling towards our brand new daughter suddenly became so much more clear. This was what I wanted my next job to be: mom.

The thought processes and discussions that ensued between Alex and I were lengthy, and were revisited time, and time, and time again. This was no easy decision that could be made in a day, despite how sure I was so early on. We weighed the financial impacts, as well as the impacts this would have on my career long term. From the many angles we looked at it, and despite a couple of moments of fear, one thing remained clear all along: this was the decision that felt right for our family, and for me.

My job was something that I knew very well; however, my new mom job continues to prove that I still have a lot to learn. Thank goodness for my mom, who is always there to listen to my questions, and always very kind and gracious with her answers, no matter how silly I might sound. As a person who thrives in a busy environment and loves having something to do all of the time, motherhood is a great fit! Yet, that only occupies a portion of my brain that is all things baby, growth, development, and the next foods to introduce. I still crave being able to use the other part that reminds me of a time when the creative, business juices flowed freely! In an attempt to keep that part of my brain chugging along, I have made a bit of a promise to myself. I will do what I can to stay current, whether it’s by taking on similar projects from home, volunteering, or staying in touch with my former colleagues and see how that might work out (actually, that last point is a given, cause I just like my former day time family too much). And maybe some of these won’t work at this time, which is okay too, because this is not intended to be a permanent circumstance (I plan on, and look forward to, going back to work one day!).

There is something very cool and meaningful about one chapter coming to a natural close, with the next one opening. I’m so excited, and I feel so very lucky to be able to do this. Countless times, I have heard how fleeting these little moments are, so to be able to spend this time with Theodora means the world to Alex and I. Not only have our families rooted for us in this decision we have made, but I have been completely overwhelmed (in the best way) by the words of congratulations and support I have received from my former colleagues.

Feeling so lucky, with a very full heart.

xo,
Kassey

Our Weekend in Pictures: Showering a Baby and Celebrating Love

This past weekend was one that I had been looking forward to for quite a while, as I hosted my very first baby shower. We celebrated Baby Amelia, the daughter of very dear friends of ours. You know the kinds of friends where you look forward to the day when their kids get married, so that you can say “I’ve watched you grow up!”? That’s these friends. And needless to say, Thea has a new partner in crime.

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Shower games can be a hoot, but we decided on only one so that guests also had the opportunity to visit and catch up with one another. A few finger foods, cute babies, and great company amounted to the perfect way to spend a rather cold afternoon!

Later that evening, we took a jaunt over to a wedding reception for friends of ours that recently got married. The beautiful couple eloped in San Francisco, and as if these two weren’t stunning enough, the breathtaking California forest where they exchanged vows provided a backdrop like no other. I’ll say no more and just invite you to click here to enjoy some of their photos.

Their celebration took place at the cool downtown eatery, Parlor Italian Kitchen & Bar, and it was everything a fete of love should be. Some romance. Lots of pretty. Great tunes. Just an all around, good, good time. It was such an honor to be part of this joyous night!

Happy Monday, and happy week!

xo,
Kassey

Shower details
Custom hand-lettered frame ~ Justine Ma: Design & Hand Lettering
Cupcakes ~ Those Cakes She Bakes
Baby Shower Bingo cards ~ free printable available here

Stuff I Saw & Loved

1. We live in a winter city, which brings with it all sorts of beauty and fun. But this huge snowball fight in an unknown location is going to make it even more awesome. (metronews.ca)

2. Even princesses have stylists. (vogue.com.au)

3. Five words: Kate Spade New York x GapKids! Sorry, credit card. And Alex. (gapcanada.ca)

4. My mom did (and still does) this for me, and I want to do the same for Theodora, always. Here’s some advice I hope to remember when we enter that part of life when little feelings can get hurt. (joannagoddard.blogspot.ca)

5. A good reminder: the ten commandments of skincare. (theluxelife.com)

6. If you’re hoping to start Christmas shopping, and you want to support local artisans, do check out Make It! The Handmade Revolution. It runs from November 20-23 at the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert. Discounted early bird tickets are still available! (makeitproductions.com)

Have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Our First Halloween

Confession: I have never really liked Halloween. This may come as a shock to those that don’t know me, but will be no surprise to those that do. The excitement of a costume, made or bought, has not been my thing since about grade seven, and even then, I think my get-up was a recycled idea from a couple of years prior (a gypsy).

Fast forward fifteen years, and suddenly I am convinced I need just one more decoration, and one more Halloween-themed snack idea. Gasp! Having a little one really changes these sorts of things! We dressed little Thea as Minnie Mouse this year, because it was just too darned cute, and Minnie happens to be one of her favourite stuffed animals.

I was also excited to host our monthly mom’s meet up that day, so I thought it would be really fun to have a little Halloween party. We had a great morning hanging out, snacking and admiring all of the adorable costumes. A great way to kick off a festive weekend!

It goes without saying – these babies could melt your heart every day, not just Halloween! And these moms I’ve met, and can happily call my friends, warm my heart. They’re the best!

Conclusion: I am now a Halloween liker. Not quite a lover (yet).

I would love to know – what have been some of your most successful Halloween costumes, either for yourself or your little ones? I’m going to start collecting ideas for next year :)

Happy Monday to you, and a very happy week!

xo,
Kassey