#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.


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

//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

//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,

// 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
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

Showering the Bride!

Happy Monday and hello! I’ve been a bit absent around here lately, mostly because of a busy few months, plus it’s summer time and we’ve been out and about enjoying this heat. And there has been some intense heat in Edmonton so far!

Amidst our melting in this long stretch of +30 temperatures, we threw my little sister’s bridal shower last week, and we had the prettiest afternoon full of love, laughs and amazing food. We went with a sewing theme, as the soon-to-be Mrs. loves all things needlework and crafting. We included subtle details throughout the decor, like the spools of thread and buttons on the food cards pictured below, similar cake and cupcake decorations, complete with our favors – mini/emergency sewing kits that you can toss in your purse.

This beautiful wristlet was made by the talented girls at Fabloomosity. For all things floral that are every bit stunning as they are unique, you want to get in touch with these ladies. They’re a dream!

There’s something about small and intimate showers that makes for a perfect afternoon. We spent the day catching up, taking some girly pictures, and enjoying each other’s company. Throw some delicious snacks in there, and well, it doesn’t really get much better than that.

And every shower needs a little duvet tester!

The big day is less than two months away, which is crazy to believe! That might just be what I love so much about weddings – that there are a few smaller events and celebrations that take place in advance of the wedding day, making it seem like you’re celebrating the couple for months and months.

Here’s to another couple of months of fun, spoiling and enjoyment. Have a great week!


Talking about: French Immersion

Discussions between spouses once you have kids become injected wth things you never thought you would talk about in your day-to-day. Not that we don’t chat about the things we used to before! It’s just that now, our conversations include things like “did you read the latest anti-vaccination article going viral on Facebook?” or “The Baby Centre email I got today talked about tantrums – what good timing, hey?” In the last few months, we’ve revisited the topic of immersion programs and whether or not that’s a road we want to go down when it comes time to enroll Theodora in school.

Initially, each of us were split on the subject. I was all for it, coming from the perspective that the younger you can expose a child to other languages the better. They are sponges at these young ages, after all. Alex, on the other hand, was a little more hesitant, more so from a practicality point of view – what language would we choose, and would she realistically use it?

I grew up in a bilingual household with Greek being my first language. As a result of this, my fluency today is all thanks to those early years of listening, learning and speaking the language, and my French studies came to me quite easily and enjoyably in my school years. My French now is nowhere near being able to strike up a conversation, but I could probably get by. And this isn’t to say that my current level of Greek couldn’t use any improvement; it definitely could. But it has really cemented for me how important it is to start as early as possible if I want our child to pick up on a second language. Since I’m with Theodora 95% of each day, I’ve been speaking to her in Greek pretty much from day one in hopes of hearing her little voice speak a word or two in the near future.

We have decided to go with it and have chosen French immersion as our program of choice (we’re ahead of the game, I know, but her school days will be here before we know it, I’m sure – sob, sob!). Now, maybe part way through, she’ll hate it and ask to participate in the regular stream, at which point we will of course discuss and proceed accordingly. Not everyone is a languages person, and we would hate to place that kind of pressure on her. On the other hand, maybe that will be her normal and she’ll embrace it like a champ! I am also of the firm belief that the more languages you know or are exposed to, the easier they come.

Time will tell, but I’m curious – have any of you with kids had similar discussions? If you have enrolled your kids in an immersion program, has it been valuable? Have you had to re-learn the language yourself in order to help with assignments?! Clearly we have a bit more homework to do…no pun intended ;)