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 \\

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#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\\

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

#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

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

#yeg Spotlight: YEG Love Letters

I like to believe there is more good in the world than there is bad. Last week’s shootings in Ottawa, which claimed the life of an innocent and devoted soldier, tested that faith for Canadians.

As I was scrolling through my Instagram feed that day, though, I was reminded of a really heart warming project here in Edmonton – Love Letters to Strangers. The name basically says it all; letters are placed in random and unassuming places throughout the city, containing uplifting messages, and words of love and encouragement. The fairy godmother behind this, Ashley Green, distributes them with no hidden agenda. Just a genuine desire to turn someone’s day around for the better.

Untitled #36

While I have yet to come across one of these letters for myself, I can imagine how good I would feel if I did. And it's these smile-worthy actions that create powerful ripple effects, serving as a reminder that a few words from the heart can really go a long way. Until I find a letter, I will continue to find joy from each Instagram photo I see, snapped just so, so the location remains vague and unknown.

You can learn more about Love Letters to Strangers by visiting the website (there’s even a way to donate to the cause!), or see what Ashley is up to more regularly through Instagram. A larger scale projects exists, as well, if you’d like to reach out to strangers internationally: The World Needs More Love Letters.

Enjoy, and have a great week!

xo,
Kassey