happy new year + thank you

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all of my wonderful readers! I hope that you've had a great year. I want to thank you so much for stopping by the blog and leaving your comments, or for just spending a few minutes checking in with English Muffin and the daily happenings in my life. I really enjoy having this little corner of the internet and hope that the blog has been a fun and interesting place for you to visit in 2009. Of course it wouldn't be the same without you, so thank you, thank you, thank you!
I am really looking forward to the new year, there are some exciting adventures on the horizon for English Muffin, and for Big Chuck and myself. (more on that soon!)
I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year, and look forward to 'seeing' you back here in 2010.

Have a wonderful last day of 2009!
Bess xx

(photo: Library of Congress)


Roasting Chestnuts

Roasting Chestnuts
Roasting Chestnuts

In the wintertime we love to stop by the chestnut man's hut and buy a few warm and tasty treats. So, over the Christmas holidays we decided to try to make our very own roasted chestnuts at home. It's so simple and they taste almost as good as the ones from the vendors - they have the special roasting pans, what can I say?! If you're looking for a warm and delicious winter treat I would definitely suggest giving these a try.
For more detailed instructions click here.

Happy Wednesday!

(photos: Bess Callard)


p i ' l o

p i ' l o

These gorgeous photos and handmade designs are from Toronto-based designer Heather Shaw's collection, pi'lo. Heather works out of a coach house behind her Victorian home in downtown Toronto. I love the simplicity and imagination, especially in her kids collection. On my list: one cape, one crown and a couple of those pointy toe stockings.

p i ' l o

pi'lo ... website
pi'lo ... etsy shop

(photos: pi'lo)


Chrismas Eve in Vienna

Christmas Eve in Europe is basically equal to Christmas morning in North America. Big Chuck and I discovered this when we went looking for a glass of punsch on Christmas eve. We didn't find any Christmas Markets open but instead enjoyed strolling through an almost eerily quiet city. Charlie is a maverick at shooting at night, he tries to teach me about adjusting the settings but my lack of patience prevents me from really learning anything of value ;) thank goodness I have him to record some of our memories.


Christmas Tree




I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! See you tomorrow,

(photos: Bess Callard)


from me to you

Christmas Card 2009

Have a wonderful holiday and we'll see you on Monday!

(Christmas card design: Bess Callard)


Christmas Thank You's

Custom Thank You Printable

I know the big day hasn't arrived yet but I've been working on a post-Christmas project, a Custom Thank You Note and Card Printable. The kids featured on the cards are completely customizable, you can choose hair, skin and clothing colour as well as choose from 3 different hair styles for the girls. Wouldn't this be a really fun activity to do with some kids (yours or a friend's) over the holidays, and just think of how happy Grandma and Grandpa would be to get one of these handwritten notes from the grand-kids!

Custom Thank You Printable

Available in my Etsy shop now!

(photos: English Muffin)


Mjölk (say mi-yelk)

The bloggers behind one of my favourite Toronto design blogs Kitka, Juli and John, have just opened a new store in the city called Mjölk (say mi-yelk). From the sneak peeks they've shown on their blog they are carrying some really beautiful Scandinavian and Japanese items. I love the felt stockings and ballerina slippers from Pia Wallén and of course her warm and woolly Crux Blanket, the wooden toys for children and Scandinavian prints and textiles too. It looks like a great shop and I can't wait to see everything in person when I'm back in Toronto.




2959 Dundas Street West (west of Keele)
Toronto, ON
416 551 9853

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10-6, Sunday 12-5

(photos: KITKA design toronto)


señor poncho + snow


We had a visitor this weekend, the four-legged kind. Poncho, or Señor Poncho as we like to call him, came to stay with us while his mom was in Spain. Both Tyke and Poncho stayed pretty close to the heater all weekend because of this...


SNOW!! It's pretty fun to get snow in Vienna. Firstly, because it makes an already beautiful city ever more lovely - if you can image! Secondly, because it barely ever snows in the city and I got a chance to wear my Canadian winter gear, namely my Sorel boots and super warm fur hat (thanks mom!).

I hope you had a nice weekend :)


orange beautiful + hopenhagen

I read this quote on the BBC website this morning regarding the progress of the talks at the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, "The summit as of this morning is a summit in crisis." Achim Steiner UNEP. I had hoped to discover something a wee bit more positive after a long night of talks in Copenhagen, but alas...

Santa, if you're reading this, I think you should drop this lovely Motivate Prints 4 Pack from Orange Beautiful in the stockings of the World Leaders this Christmas.

Motivate Prints 4 Pack - Orange Beautiful

What do you think? Too subtle?

And for some happier news... I love these posters by illustrator Andrew Bannecker for Coca-Cola, apparently they are up all around Copenhagen.



posters: Andrew Bannecker

Have a happy and hopeful weekend everyone :)


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

marimekko present

Look what came in the mail yesterday! I was so excited when the postman handed me this Marimekko print shipping box. Of course it came from my aunt, uncle and cousin in Finland. Can't wait to open it, but we'll do our best to hold off until Christmas morning.

And guess what else?! It's snowing!! Yay, Christmas is coming to Vienna too. Now, it's not snowing in the way that you are probably imagining - big fluffy flakes that require snow boots and shovels to conquer, no... so far there might be about 1 mm of snow accumulation in some areas, and these are some tiny little flakes, but at least it's something.

Have a warm Wednesday :)


Shop Local + Toronto Style

For today's Canadian content I wanted to mention Poppytalk's Shop Local guide. In case you haven't seen it yet, Jan has created a guide of handmade sellers from Canada, the US, and Internationally. It's a super resource for doing a little last minute Christmas shopping and you don't have to worry about long overseas shipping delays (ahem... English Muffin)!

Elk Pillow
Toronto, ON

In other news... Jane from Ill Seen Ill Said recently wrote a post for home deco blog four walls and a roof's Style and the City feature on Toronto. An interesting article on what Toronto style is, and some of the city's native talent. You can check it out here.

Style and the City: Toronto
Style and the City: Toronto

Have a great Tuesday :)


Christmas Markets in Vienna

Nothing says Christmas time like the Christmas Markets around Vienna. Little huts are set up in a mini village formation in various public spaces around the city. Punsch and glühwein are the drinks of choice and there are many edible treats on hand too. From chocolate covered strawberries to warm roasted chestnuts, various types of smoked meat and even crêpes, it's impossible not to indulge a little. Of course, once you've filled your belly with food and drink, it's time to explore all the craft stalls selling Christmas gifts and pretty little ornaments.






photos: Bess Callard

I hope you had a nice weekend too! Have a great Monday :)


Bird Watching

Thursdays are my mega Kindergarten days. I teach English to five kindergarten classes and one grade 4 class. It's a whirlwind day of running around the city and playing games, reading stories and singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" until I can't stand the sound of my own voice.

Yesterday at the end of my last class, Ludowiko, a little 6 year old boy I teach, reached into his pile of artwork and fished out this lovely bird for me. How sweet, an early Christmas gift for me! So now the bird lives in our living room among our tall grass installation. I think he looks right at home.



Have a great weekend :)


Busy Busy Beaver!

I've been a busy beaver and didn't have time to prepare much of a post for today.
So, enjoy your day everyone :)

photo: not an artist


Custom Animal Name Designs

I've added a new design to English Muffin's Etsy and Big Cartel shops, Custom Animal Name Designs. After only being in the shop for a couple of days I've already got a few orders! If you're interested in giving a Custom Name Design to one of the youngsters on your Christmas list this year, let me know soon - the holidays are just around the corner. You can get more details here.

Also, I've added a link to the sidebar of the blog where you can sign-up for English Muffin's Mailing List if you haven't yet. The old link on my website suddenly stopped working a while ago, so if you've been eager to receive news and deals from English Muffin you can now sign-up! See the sidebar --------->

Custom Animal Name Designs by English Muffin

Have a great Wednesday :)


Canada in Copenhagen

As the world leaders make their way to Copenhagen for the UN Conference on Climate Change, I just wanted to take this opportunity to send them my hopes and wishes for a clear and aggressive resolution on cutting green house gases, and positives steps forward to deal with climate change.

Pia Jane Bijkerk "Brandywine Whistler"

Pia Jane Bijkerk "Canada Mix"
photos: Pia Jane Bijkerk

You can send them a greeting too!

Happy Tuesday,


Krampus and Nikolaus

Long before Santa Claus, there was Saint Nikolaus and his evil counterpart, Krampus! This past weekend in Austria, children were visited from both of these Christmas figures bringing with them either gifts of goodies and toys or presents meant to punish naughty children. My friend Mark bought these Zwetschken Krampus dolls (made from prunes) for his little girls - how scared would you be to wake up on Saturday morning to find these guys staring at you from the breakfast table? Yikes!

zwetschken krampus
(photo courtesy of Mark Long)

I should mention that these little girls got much more that a couple of stinky Krampuses, the next morning Nikolaus brought lots of toys.
Thanks for the photo Mark :)

Happy Monday everyone,


Where in the world...

would you like to be right now?

I wouldn't mind a couple weeks in this beautiful Swedish cottage. FYI it's available for rent.

Dos Visits Henriette and Peter

Dos Visits Henriette and Peter

Dos Visits Henriette and Peter

Dos Visits Henriette and Peter

Dos Visits Henriette and Peter

Dos Visits Henriette and Peter

Dos Visits Henriette and Peter

Dos Visits Henriette and Peter

Dos Visits Henriette and Peter

Dos Visits Henriette and Peter
All images from Dos Family

Have a warm and cozy weekend,


Christmas Tree Alternatives

Looking for an alternative to the traditional Christmas tree? I've found a few that are sure to bring holiday cheer to your home and shake up your Christmas tree traditions a little.

I love this spiral tree, perfect for a modern family gathering - and easy clean up too!

Christmas Tree Fabric Wall Decal
The fabric wall decal tree can be used year after year. No need to even take it down after the holidays, its pretty colours can take you from Christmas right through to Summer.

studio choo
How about some mini trees, a lovely table arrangement for Christmas Day dinner.

Christmas Tree
Move your traditional tree to from the living room to the kitchen, that way you can admire it while you bake your Christmas treats.

A pretty Christmas branch brings the outdoors in. Take a stroll through the woods after a big storm, you'll have lots to choose from.

Have a happy Thursday!