2016 So Far

A couple of weeks into the new year, and I’m just now getting around to this post! I hope the holidays were full of family and good food, and that you’re all feeling recharged, rejuvenated, and ready to take on another great year.

I am still one week away from my due date, so anxious and excited would be the biggest understatements to describe how we’re feeling about the impending arrival of our fourth family member! I, especially, am feeling beyond ready to welcome this little bundle of a girl into our lives, because if I’m being honest – pregnant and toddler wrangling on the daily is plain … hard. I just continue to remind myself that I physically can’t be pregnant forever, and before long, we will all be getting acquainted and getting to know the latest and cutest addition to our family.

With so much excitement (and adjustment, no doubt) awaiting us in 2016, I am looking forward to taking it all in in somewhat of a scaled back way. I will probably be a little quieter on this space for the next couple of months, for no reason other than to just focus on us as a new family of four. Stick with me, though, as I will remain active on Instagram and Twitter. and of course try my best to get back on here with updates and photos when I can. I’m also looking forward to sharing some of the plans I’ve been working on for the work side of my life. But you’ll have to wait until spring/summer for that one :)

Here are a few photos from the last little while. Enjoy, and hope you’re having a great week!

 

We celebrated Thea turning two with a Minnie Mouse themed day!

|| Cake by Jacqueline at Cake Affair & topper designed by Justine Ma ||

This cookie decorating station was a hit, and super simple to whip up.

She was really into decorating this year, and surprisingly wasn’t too interested in dismantling any of the tree after the fact – thank goodness!

On Christmas Eve, we decided to head down to the Legislature Grounds, and we’re so glad we did. You can’t really tell from these photos, but it was an exceptionally cold evening. It was a short-lived visit, but the beauty sure made up for it!

Our last Christmas as a family of three! Something tells me that the exact picture of this time next year is going to look a whole lot different!!

xo,

Kassey

// Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

See & Do in #yeg || Holiday Edition

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a good friend asking me for recommendations on what to see and do in the city over the holidays. A friend of hers will be bringing her boyfriend to Edmonton for Christmas, and she wanted my “expert” advice. I laughed when I read that part, because…expert?! Despite being born and raised in Edmonton and area (my friend is a former Edmontonian, too; now Calgarian), I hardly consider myself an expert. More suitable titles I’d be quick to claim could include city lover, fun seeker, or even cheerleader (because I’m always trying to sing our city’s praises to whoever will listen!) But I was up for the challenge and excited to share some of the things that pop into my mind when prompted with a question like this. (love ya, MT! I really enjoyed putting this together!)

Exploring the city, whether by day or night, has changed for us a little bit since becoming parents, but I tried to include spots that would appeal to all kinds of people, children in tow or not. Most of the places below are ones we have experienced and can attest to why they’re on this list, and others are here because they’re on our radar and we hope to tackle them in the near future. I know I’ve probably missed a few as well, but to fill that gap, I like to stay informed through my favourite, go-to sites like Explore Edmonton, Share Edmonton, Where.ca, and Twitter.

So here it goes! I hope you like it, and please do share your favourites with me!

Image: Iconoclast Coffee via Vue Weekly

You can tell something ranks highly with me when I create a category for it all on its own! There’s something I love about incorporating a delicious and warm coffee or hot chocolate on a cold winter day, and even more so when you can make it social and meet with friends for a catch up. My picks below include places that boast an abundance of charm, a really fun atmosphere, and that showcase really cool parts of Edmonton.

Rosso
Leva
Little Brick
Transcend
Credo
Remedy Cafe
Iconoclast
Lockstock
Coffee Bureau
DaCapo
Duchess
Elm Cafe
District Coffee
Burrow
Cafe Bicyclette

Image: Parlor Italian Kitchen & Bar via Explore Edmonton

My late night suggestions will surely differ from those coming from someone who’s evening is not dictated by a toddler (and a soon-to-be newborn in five short weeks!) :) But a lot of the restaurants listed here spill over into late night spots, anyway, so it’s a win-win in my mind – great food plus a great night all around.

Rosso
Leva
The Marc
Tres Carnales
Rostizado
Woodwork
North 53
The Common
Parlor Italian Kitchen & Bar
Corso 32
Three Boars
Cibo Bistro
Bar Bricco
Dovetail Deli
Farrow Sandwich

Image: skating at City Hall via Explore Edmonton

I continue to learn and get excited about really cool, outdoor activities to take in throughout the winter months. Not knowing what these friends of my friend were into, I took a more broad approach in recommending holiday activities. You could call them more winter-friendly as opposed to holiday-specific, but a fresh white blanket of snow and some twinkling lights give me the warm holiday fuzzies any day!

River Valley Adventure Co – snow shoe tours through the river valley
Sleigh shuttle in Old Strathcona – five pick up locations throughout the area
Outdoor skating – various locations
Tobogganing – fun for adults and kids alike
Skiing – Edmonton Ski Club, Rabbit Hill, Snow Valley, Sunridge Ski Area
Cross-country skiing – various locations

Hope your week is off to a great start! xo

Kassey

// Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

#yeg Spotlight: Holiday Gift Guide 2015

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and I’m excited once again to share my list of a few local favourites that I will be shopping and gifting for the holidays (you can check out my round up of last year’s locals here, who are producing wonderful things yet again this year!)

I know not everyone gets excited about Christmas music immediately following Halloween, or the decorations popping up faster than you can say “boo!”. But, truth be told, I am totally one of those people that has Christmas movies and mugs on rotation all year round. Regardless of where you stand on the Christmas excitement meter, the task of shopping for the holidays can be daunting; even dreadful at times. But if you’re making a commitment to shop locally, and that’s something you enjoy anyway, then I hope to inspire even the slightest bit of cheer with my collection below.

Clockwise:

Transcend Coffee Subscription
Coffee. Delivered to your house. Need I say more?! This local shop has made gift-giving to the serious coffee lover so much easier. You select the type of subscription you want, length of time you wish to send coffee to the recipient’s home, and Transcend takes care of the rest of the logistics. I have almost signed myself up many times…

The Skinny
For all of those impeccably dressed little ones in your life. This shop carries everything from cute and modern swaddle blankets to outfits that make you want to request the same in adult sizes. All of the shop’s items are curated by the lovely (in every sense of the word) Erinn, and can be shopped either online or from their trendy, underground storefront in Vacancy Hall of the Mercer Warehouse.

Top Knot Style
I recently gifted one of these luxurious and beautiful cowls to my sister for her birthday, and it’s taking everything in me not to order one of everything else for myself and the rest of my family! All hand made, right here in Edmonton!

Pura Botanicals
I have yet to experience the beauty and serenity of Pura’s brand new space located on 124 Street, but what I know from pictures and experiences of friends of mine that have been, I can’t wait to discover more. Eco-friendly, sustainable, and effective skin care is a gift everyone must experience, right?

Berg and Betts
Stylish accessories made from the heart. This local company truly works magic with their hands as they transform scrap leathers into beautiful watches of various styles, and tassle necklaces that are highly coveted by any fashion girl at heart.

I don’t want to end this post without mentioning the holiday markets, because that is where you can get your hands on even more uniquely Edmonton goods:

Make It Edmonton – November 26-29
Cory Christopher Christmas Market – now until December 20
Royal Bison – November 27-29 + December 4-6
Shop the Loft – December 12

It’s fun and exciting to me to find that perfect holiday gift for the special people in our lives, but it’s giving, in general, that excites me the most. In keeping with our family tradition of giving back, this year we have decided to donate to the organizations that will be supporting Syrian refugees coming to Edmonton. An unavoidable issue in the news these days, this is something that lives very close to my heart. Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter, granddaughter and niece of immigrants, who faced similar struggles (though the circumstances for coming here were different, in some cases). Or maybe it’s because we have a young family of our own and can’t help but see our own daughter in the faces of the young children and their families on the treacherous journey to a better life. Either way, if my family’s contributions help make even the slightest difference, then it’s something we’re ready to dive right into. Here are the links to some information we found helpful, and where/how to donate:

Direct help in Edmonton: Mennonite Centre for Newcomers

Canadian Red Cross

UNHCR Canada – The UN Refugee Agency

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re having a great week! xo

Kassey
//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences\\

Work || Ultimate Upcycle Challenge

I recently wrapped up a project that I am really excited to share here. Part of my excitement comes from the beauty and creativity that came out of this work, and the other part of my excitement stems from the organization that all of the proceeds benefited. Allow me to explain further.

I had the pleasure of coordinating and managing a group of local media and design personalities that were selected to participate in a media challenge for the Edmonton Fall Home Show. Over the course of a couple of months, I worked closely with this group to answer questions, provide guidance and help keep them on deadline. The other big player in this was a branch of Habitat for Humanity (HFH) called Restore, which is the social enterprise part of HFH, accepting donations of gently used pieces of furniture and then reselling them to the public at a greatly reduced price. So, what was the challenge at hand? Our group of locals were tasked with selecting a seat or chair from Restore and, using their creativity and a box of supplies provided by one of the show sponsors – Rust Oleum, they had to upcycle and inject some life and love back into this pre-loved piece. The finished products were up for auction at the Edmonton Fall Home Show (which ran from October 23-25, 2015), with all proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity Northern Alberta.

Like I said, there was so much that I loved about this work! I didn’t participate in the challenge myself, but I felt SO inspired once I saw these creations displayed at the show. Incredible results, with a tie in to a really incredible organization. I keep thinking back to my new friend, Sharon, who works for HFH and who I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with at the show. We bonded over the design and creativity that came out of each individual’s work, but she was also really excited for what this meant for Habitat for Humanity. Thanks to the flurry of activity and buzz this challenge generated on social media, it would no doubt bring more awareness to HFH, Restore, and the endless possibilities that can come out of a bit of time and creative thinking.

The participants ranged from radio personalities to designers and bloggers, and they were just an awesome group to get to know! While I’d love to share everyone’s work here, I have selected a few who are friends of mine, and who gave me the a-ok to gush about their work all over again. And there was one chair in particular that made me shed a tear when I learned I got outbid. Sigh. It wasn’t meant to be, I guess!

Anyway, enough talk! It’s time for some before and after photos. Enjoy!

Justine Ma, Designer
Justine Ma Design & Hand Lettering

So beautiful, right?! It’s a little difficult to see in the “After” picture, but Justine hand lettered a caption, which she then had screen printed onto the fabric that covered the actual seat, and it says “Let Yourself Rest”. A pleasant reminder on any given day.

Christine Shankowsky, Blogger + Designer
Just Bella Blog

Another beauty, but this one also has a bit of sass! The color combination is so fresh and girly at the same time; this is sure to inject a whole lotta personality in a space!

Funnily enough, Christine and Justine both picked the same chair (structure-wise) and created two very different, but equally stunning redesigns!

Diana Tidswell, Blogger + Designer
204 Park

Alas, the one that got away. Diana’s balance of glam, girly, and minimalist was all on point for me here, and it truly was love at first sight when I saw this “After” photo!

All photos thanks to the participants themselves who snapped, tweeted and blogged them.

For more show coverage, you can look back on the hashtag #EFHS15 (on Instagram & Twitter) for some of the other participants’ chairs.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week! xo

Kassey
//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences\\

#yeg Spotlight: HUNT AMOR

Do you ever think about the days when it was common to visit the tailor or seamstress for a bespoke garment? Or to the well-known shoemaker who could fix anything and everything, and also whip up a pair of custom made shoes? There’s also the jewelry maker, who will sit and listen to the intricate and personal details and create an individualized piece of jewelry that will adorn your body and tell a story for years to come. Blame it on the nostalgia in me, or the fact that, deep inside, I have actually been an 80 year old since I was about five, but I find myself wishing for these things to be commonplace again.

Thanks to Edmonton being awesome and hugely supportive of grassroots and entrepreneurial initiatives, there are a couple of local businesses that are making new again what was once considered old. Slated for a #yeg Spotlight on here in the not-too-distant future, Poppy Barley is taking Canada and the world by storm with their made-to-measure footwear; Todoruk Design is elegantly bringing back couture, bespoke and the atelier; and then there’s HUNT AMOR, a local jewelry designer who is showcasing their talents through four different lines: custom, utility, fashion, and the newly released Kindred collections.

A few HUNT AMOR originals that I have my eye on

Clockwise: Hex Cuff, Kindred Vera, Baby V Drop Earrings

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of attending the most ultimate and cool party which celebrated the release of the new Kindred collection. I will let the photos below do the talking, but everything about the night was perfectly suited to the brand that Amor Carandang and Chris Provins have created: the venue (Tomnuk Design Studio) the music, and the crowd. It’s so evident these two have garnered a lot of well-deserved love and support through their hard, dedicated work and genuine, down-to-earth personalities.

// Party photos are all captured by Jody Bailey \\

I’m keeping an eye on what Amor & Chris release next, because without a doubt, I will love it and I will shop it!

Happy mid-week! xo,

Kassey
// Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\

Modern Crafting with Made Social Co.

A few weeks ago, a pretty little confetti-laden invitation popped into my Inbox, and it was to the launch of Made Social, a modern take on a crafting night out. I was so excited about this, because behind it all are two friends of mine, Andrea and Christine, who are two supremely talented and creative ladies.

These are not your typical how-to kinds of workshops. Think of it more like a beautifully styled night out where you also get to snack, laugh and craft the night away. Have you ever found yourself wanting to gather a group of girls to go out and do something more than grab coffee? Made Social is the perfect answer! Christine and Andrea work to make each workshop equal parts charming and social with no detail overlooked. And, at the end of it all, you walk away with a specially hand-made piece.

This inaugural evening involved making a yarn wall hanging, which you’ll see in some of the pictures below. Now, I don’t consider myself the craftiest of people, but these were simple to make and the outcome is something I love even more. So much so that I actually have the perfect spot in mind to hang it in the new nursery!

I love connecting, and the best part of an evening like this, for me, is the chance to meet fellow bloggers and reconnect with those I’ve had the opportunity to meet since starting this little blog of my own. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this city is FULL of creative and ambitious individuals who are all working on really cool things. To meet and connect with people like this is always really fun and inspiring. Not to mention the wow-factor of the individuals and locally-owned businesses that played a part in making this night happen – our space for the night (the amazing Project Loft), the always stunning floral decor by Fabloomosity, and so many more (all linked at the end of the post) all contributed to making the night feel really special and exclusive.

I saved the best part for last because no party is really complete without a photo booth. And you guys, this one involved confetti!!! Captured below is more of the fun throughout the night, including a group shot of everyone who participated in the launch.

Top row L to R: me, Diana of 204 Park, Jenna of Plum Home & Design, Erinn of Shop the Skinny, Stephanie of All About Ami, Justine of Justine Ma Design. Bottom row L to R: Kelsy of Twirls & Travels, Holly of In the Fun Lane, Amanda of Natural Mommie, Andrea of Andrea Hanki Photography, Christine of Just Bella Blog, Jenna of Hobbs Photography, and Linda of Linda Hoang

I always know it’s a good night when I set out with intentions of taking a bunch of photos, only to come away with one or two decent-quality pictures on my phone because I was too busy chatting. This night was no exception, and I wanted to send a HUGE thanks to Andrea for documenting the evening through these photos you see here, and providing them to us to share with you :)

Made Social will be holding their next modern craft workshop on October 24, and registration opens tonight! Stay tuned on Instagram for more details on how to get in on the fun because, trust me, you don’t want to miss out!

Thanks again, Christine and Andrea, for including me in the launch of your exciting new endeavor! Can’t wait to attend the next one!

Happy crafting, and have a great week…xo!

All photos courtesy of Andrea Hanki
Shout out to the local creative businesses involved (although not all pictured above):

Amanada Nogier, Industrial Designer
Carousel Paper Co.
Confetti Sweets
Contessa Macarons
Fabloomosity
I Love the Moon
Justine Ma Design
Plum Home & Design
Pura Botanicals
Uppercase Press
The Project Loft

A Summer Recap

Yesterday started out as a rainy, September day, and it made me think “Hey, this would be a good time to reflect on how we spent our summer”. There’s no time like the present to share that with you, right?!

In short, it seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye, as the summer months tend to do. It was a busy one for us, but we managed to get away on a couple of small trips (pictures to follow below), enjoyed a lot of what was happening here in Edmonton, excitedly planned and celebrated my sister’s wedding (stay tuned for photos from the very talented Carmyn Joy), and all the while, I am growing baby #2. Surprise! Depending on whether you follow along on either my personal or blog Instagram accounts, you may have seen a few photos revealing a rapidly growing bump. We are SO excited to be expanding our family, and with another baby GIRL!!! This pregnancy has brought along its fair share of sickness and next-to-nothing energy levels, but thankfully I have left that behind in the first trimester and am happy to be feeling more like myself these days (save for a bad back).Life is going to get a whole lot girlier around here, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. January can’t come soon enough!

Back to the recap. Back in June, we took a trip down to Calgary for the annual Greek Festival that the community puts on. This trip was twofold – partly to perform with my Greek dance group and partly to have a little family getaway.

Here’s the dancing gang, Kyklos (that’s me in the top row, third from the left)

At the Calgary Zoo, trying to snap a picture with Thea before she runs away (something she loves doing nowadays)

Grabbing a coffee at the famously rich and satisfying Phil & Sebastian in Chinook Centre

We took the road down south again later on in the summer and spent August long weekend in Canmore. This was the first time I had spent actual, dedicated time in the town, and it didn’t take long for me to fall completely in love. It’s scenic, quaint, and has something for everyone. We can’t wait to go back, and perhaps experience what winter in the Rocky Mountains is like (mental note: sign the family up for skiing lessons first!)

While in Canmore, we hiked the Grassi Lakes trail which came highly recommended from a few friends. Despite not making it all the way to the top (thanks to my pregnant huffing and puffing!), we are so glad we did what we could. It was a scorcher of a day, so to conquer what we did was a pretty great feat! Here are some of the views we encountered along the way.

It was another great one for the books! We have said this more frequently in recent years, especially since starting a family of our own, but there’s something so cool and fulfilling when you can dive in and explore the gems within your own province; your own backyard, so to speak. And to think there’s so much more of this great province to uncover.

With summer officially behind us, I am ready to embrace the cooler temperatures and all of the beauty that fall brings. Oh, and Starbucks’ pumpkin scones :)

Happy Wednesday…xo