26.4.10

Auf wiedersehen!

VW

I'm just popping by to say hi and to take a little break from all the packing. I really don't know how I thought I was going to fit everything (clothes, shoes, papers, books, artwork, toiletries, bags, and Tyke's food) into 2 suitcases. I may have been dreaming yesterday when I took a look at all of my stuff, and a look at both of my suitcases and thought, "no problem!". Problem, big problem. I guess I'll have to continue the clothing purge.

Needless to say, I have no musical selection for you today, and probably won't be around much tomorrow or Wednesday... hummm, this week might be pretty quiet here on the English Muffin blog as I settle into my new/old life. But please check back on Thursday, hopefully I'll have some fun new things to share with you then.

Happy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday!
x Bess

(image: tetsuo5)

23.4.10

I'll miss you too

drawings5

One of the best parts of about teaching is saying goodbye. (I don't mean that the way it sounds.) Of course, it's sad to say goodbye to students, but in the grand scheme of things you're just a stepping stone on their journey and when it comes to a close it should be a happy event and not a sad one. What I find so rewarding about this last exchange, is when they share with you what your time in their classroom really meant to them. I think teaching can at times be a bit one sided at times. Every time I go into the classroom, my goal is for the kids to have a positive experience and for them to know that I am there to help them, and cheer for them, and be open to whatever they throw (sometimes literally) my way. Kids on the other hand, are not so concerned with the experience that I am having at the front of the room. That's why it's so nice to hear, and see, at the end of our time together that all my hard work and energy really did pay off. They really did learn something - and they had a fun time doing it.

I got piles and piles of cards and pictures from students during this, my last week of classes. Below are a few of my faves.

drawings3

"Bess I love you
And Bess I hope that you
arrive home safely and
please Bess: call me
when you are there. Mama's
telephone number -----
home number ----- "

I totally would call, except this grade 1 student forgot to leave his/her name. Darn it.

drawings4

This ship drawing is by one of my favourite students in grade 3. He rarely speaks and has a learning disability. He spends the entire class drawing and colouring in the most intense and mesmerizing way I have ever seen. I'm telling you, this boy is destined to be a great artist.

drawings2

I got a chuckle out of Donald Dack.

Hope you have a day full of hugs and kisses and pictures from kids in the near future.

Happy Friday!
Bess

22.4.10

Perfect Pairs

pairs1
1. Retro Wood Sign 2. Double Chocolate Doughnut Tote

pairs3

How delicious does that Chocolate Doughnut Tote look? Good enough to eat, I think so too!

Here are my perfect pairs for the week:

pink + red
hugs + kisses
naps + saturday afternoons

... and you?

Happy Thursday!
x Bess

21.4.10

Small Business, Small Steps: Crafting an MBA

will return

I don't have much to report on the state of my own small business this week. My life over the past few days has really been focused on wrapping things up here in Vienna in preparation for the big move to back to Canada. So far this week, I have been saying goodbye to my students, organizing furniture sales, speaking to various utility and property management companies, and best of all, fighting with my Canadian bank (don't even get me started!!).

I can however share a wonderful series that's happening all this week over at Crafting an MBA on small business and growth. What perfect timing, I know! I've been eating up all of Megan's articles so far, and am really looking forward to reading the rest. This one in particular, about matching your expectations with reality, really resonated with me. I think what she said is so important, not only for the health of your small business, but also for your own mental and emotional health. If we go into a venture with completely unrealistic expectations, then there is only one way to go, and that's down. If you approach something being both prepared and realistic, then there are so many more possibilities for growth, and for you to take pride in your all of your accomplishments.

I hope you visit Megan's blog and read some of her posts. I've found them really helpful and would love to hear what you think too!

Have a great Wednesday :)
Bess

(image: anja mulder)

20.4.10

Canadiana: Noémiah Bijoux

noemiah

I came across Noémiah's jewelry shop on Etsy a long time ago. That's why I was so surprised when I went through my bookmarks of Canadian designers that I had yet to feature her here on the blog. Well, better late than never as they say!

Noémie Vaillancourt is the Montréal based designer behind these lovely necklaces and earrings. As you can see from the photos of her work, she is endlessly inspired by the delicate nature of feathers and the beautiful and original ways they can be used in jewelry. I am not someone who wears a lot of accessories, but I would love one of those super long necklaces, they're so cool!

To see more from Noémiah you can visit her website, Etsy shop or follow her on facebook or twitter.

Have a great Tuesday!
Bess

(images: Noémiah)

19.4.10

Music Monday: Santigold

santigold

Have you heard of Santigold (formerly Santogold)? If not, you're going to love me for introducing you to her.

Big Chuck first played me her song Lights Out, off her debut album Santogold, a few months back and I was hooked. We downloaded the whole album and it has been a favourite over here at English Muffin HQ ever since. Her music is a mix of indie rock and electronica, but to be honest it's best to just go here and have a listen for yourself. We love putting her album on when we need a little motivation to, say... pack up and/or sell all the contents of our apartment, or when we're looking to throw an impromptu dance party for three (me, Big Chuck and Tyke) in the living room. In any case, check out Santigold here, and I hope you enjoy her music as much as I do.

Have a great Monday!
Bess

16.4.10

3 things to make you happy.

Happy Thing No. 1

Last Friday on the blog I had a video of the smartest kid you ever did see. This week, I thought I'd follow that up with the cutest kid you ever did see. Thanks for the link, Mom!

My kids must speak French so they can sound that adorable!!

Happy Thing No. 2

Would you like a chance to win an English Muffin print? Shak-Shuka is having a giveaway on their blog, so pop on over for a chance to win your very own Bicycle, Ice Cream or Veggies print.

Happy Thing No. 3

The weekend! Have a great one.
x bess

15.4.10

Perfect Pairs

pairs3
1. My Colorful Garden Print 2. Pennants, Yellow on White

A bit of an eclectic mix today, but somehow I think they all work.
Here are some pairings I've been enjoying this week:

umbrellas + rubber boots
new friends + new opportunities
thank yous + you're welcomes

...and you?

Have a wonderful Thursday!
x bess

14.4.10

Small Business, Small Steps: Me + Shak-Shuka

shak-shuka

I'm so happy to let you know that English Muffin prints are now available at the adorable eco-friendly online children's boutique, Shak-Shuka. This is my second wholesale account and it was such a pleasure to work with them from start to finish. In fact, it's a perfect example of how social media, in this case Twitter, can increase your business' visibility and facilitate relationships and opportunities.

I can't remember how I found Shak-Shuka on Twitter, but something must have piqued my curiosity and I decided to check out their website. I loved the look of the shop and decided to follow them. Joslyn, one half of the Shak-Shuka team, followed me back and sent me a message asking for my wholesale info. Luckily I had created a line sheet (wholesale catalog) a while ago for another potential account and forwarded that to her. From there it was pretty much smooth sailing, she placed her order and I filled it, and followed up with product shots for their website.

I feel pretty lucky that both of my wholesale experiences have been really positive and (to be honest) with very little effort on my part. I have yet to approach any shops on my own and I think that's where it will get a little scary. However, before I do that I am going to do some serious research on developing the wholesale side of my business. Don't worry, I promise to share all the goodies I find.

How about you? Have you had any success with wholesaling your products? Have your experiences been positive? Any tips for me?!

Bess

ps. Go visit Shak-Shuka!


13.4.10

Canadiana: Hh - À Hauteur d'homme

Hh
1. + 2. Arthur 3. Geneviève 4. Bruno

A few weeks ago, Kate, from one of my favourite blogs, the goodie life, posted about this great company in Montréal called, Hh - À Hauteur d'homme. They produce furniture from local and ecologically sustainable (FSC certified) Quebec wood. They have a policy that for every tree they use they plant a new one, and believe that in a world of mass produced, larger than life goods, we should respect nature and see it as our equal. They have a wonderful manifesto on their website (in french) if you want to read more.

Combined with their wonderful philosophy, is a modern and simple line of furniture. I love the Arthur support, perfect for a kitchen or office table (also - a great price!). Bruno is adorable, I'd use him as a side table and of course he would double nicely as a stool when we have company over.

I can't wait to check out the rest of their pieces at the shop that Kate recommended in Montréal, Buk & Nola.

Happy Tuesday!
Bess

12.4.10

Music Monday: Lykke Li

The more I listen to this song, the more I want to. Swedish pop singer, Lykke Li's Dance Dance Dance is enchanting, sweet and the perfect way to ease you into the week.

Enjoy...



You can find this track, along with many other wonderful melodies on her album, Youth Novels.

Happy Monday!
Bess

9.4.10

What adults can learn from kids

Love this!



Isn't she so smart and funny?! And boy oh boy, do I totally agree.

There is something magical about being around kids, and I think it's that they have no clue what came before or what will come next. Life is about living in the moment and doing what you want. I think it's a great lesson that adults can learn from kids.

Have a great weekend!
Bess

8.4.10

Perfect Pairs

pairs3
1. Vintage Danish Teak Bird 2. Travel Handbag



pairs2

A few couplings for your enjoyment today. Some more pairs I've been enjoying lately:
peace + quiet
backyards + bbq's
lists + sharpie markers
... and you?

Enjoy your day!
Bess

7.4.10

Small Business, Small Steps: 123 Jump!

jump

Last night, we sold the first piece of furniture in what I hope will be a swift and painless moving sale. It was our little red teapot that sold for €5. It's interesting that with that first sale, it was like firing a starting pistol, and now we are in full-on Operation Canada Goose mode. (That's our moving to Montréal mission's code name.)

My brain is pretty firmly planted in the future and my lists of things to do are constantly running through my head. The future of English Muffin is a big part of those plans, as once in Montréal, Big Chuck and I have decided that I'll take some time to focus solely on EM and see if I can't make a real go of it. That's right, I'm taking the leap into full-time self-employment. I have a lot of stress about this, to be honest. I worry about money, about having the ability and the skill to run a real business, about the thing that as entrepreneurs we're not supposed to be afraid of, but I totally am: FAILURE. That said, it's an incredibly exciting opportunity and I'm so happy with where life has taken me. I never would have thought... any of it!

On the business side, there is so much to do to get English Muffin off the ground, and so many things I want to re-do as well. Our time in Vienna was a perfect testing ground, and now I'm confident that people are interested in my work, and that it might be time to *gasp* invest some real money in my company. To date, I've put in very little money, and basically (with the exception of my Animal Alphabet Posters) print everything as it is ordered. I think this was a good way to do things, especially in the beginning. It allowed me to jump in and start, and the risk to me financially was very minimal. However, this model doesn't allow for very much product expansion or development, and if I want to move my business forward, I believe that's where the future lay.

So over the next few weeks, I'm hoping to get a *gasp, again* business plan of sorts together to help guide me through the next few months and years. I have big plans for this little muffin, and as always will post my progress, successes and failures, right here on the blog.

How about you? Have any of you made a similar transition with your small business? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Wednesday!
Bess

(image: B$/ram)

6.4.10

Goodbye... Hello!

Picture 1

Hello!

It's so nice to be back. I feel like I haven't written a proper blog post in ages. After a week of teaching English Easter Camp and then a nice three day long weekend, I am refreshed, recharged and soooo excited.

I have some really great news to share with you. In exactly 3 weeks, I, along with Tyke (our dog) will be on a plane bound for Toronto, Canada. Big Chuck has secured himself a new job in Montréal and I'm heading over first to do some re-con work (ie, find us a place to live). It's amazing that three years in Vienna is almost up (time flies!!!), and that the European chapter of our lives is coming to a close (at least for now). It's been quite the experience and I think we've both grown a lot since arriving here. So much has happened... we can now claim to speak German, we visited some of Europe's most wonderful cities, we are returning engaged (!), English Muffin was born here, we've made some great friends and had some great times. It's going to be sad to leave... but only for a minute, because we're both so excited for the next chapter to begin.

I'm so happy the cat is out of the bag. We've known about the move for a couple months now, but mum was the word until Big Chuck gave the official go ahead for me to announce it to the internet. Now I can shamelessly solicit all of your favourite Montréal shops, restaurants and tips.

Bonne Journée!
Bess


3.4.10

Happy Easter!

Easter Treats

Happy Easter to all of you! I hope you are having a wonderful long weekend with your family and friends. We took a walk to the Easter market today and snapped lots of pics. I'll have more up next week when I'm back to my regular blogging schedule on Tuesday.

Have a relaxing few days off and Happy Easter!
Bess

1.4.10

News

A little news from English Muffin HQ this week...

bloesem kids banner 1

The wonderful kids design blog, Bloesem Kids is having a contest for a banner re-design. Here are my two entries.
bloesem kids banner 2

I couldn't decide whether the little girl was a bit too much or not for a blog banner, so I did a version with her and one without. Irene from Bloesem Kids said she would announce the winner today (thursday) on her blog, so pop on over and see who the lucky designer is.


modernemotive header

Last week, Adele from the modernemotive blog asked me if I would like to be part of her "This Self-Employed Life" interview series. I was so honoured, and of course said yes. You can read the whole interview here. (thanks Adele!)

Happy First Day of April!
bess