Music Monday: Seu Jorge

ROSS ELLIS 12" jacket

I've been craving The Life Aquatic lately. I love that movie; the actors, the sets, the story and of course the music. I first heard of Seu Jorge via The Life Aquatic and have loved listening to his minimal and enchanting music ever since. Seu Jorge and Almaz are releasing their self-titled album later this Summer, but in the meantime I've downloaded their single, Everybody Loves the Sunshine.

Thanks so much for your encouraging words on Friday :) You'll be happy to know that I did finally get in touch with Big Chuck, and he's great. Lola (that's what I've named our new car) has a key, and although I still don't have health insurance I've vowed to live an extremely careful life until it kicks in. I also hope that in my frustration I didn't offend any of you with my profane language (I said sh*t). If I did, please forgive me, and I promise never to swear on my blog again (mom).

Have a happy Monday, and enjoy the sunshine!
xx Bess


Welcome home, sorta.


I'm having a moment.

A moment of frustration and anger.

I tried to wait until it passed to do today's blog post but, dear friends, I don't think it's going to. I don't want to bore you with the details, about how it looks like (thanks to provinces who don't talk to each other) I'm going to be without health insurance for the next SIX months - in CANADA, as a CANADIAN citizen. Good, well done. Or how the car I purchased is now sitting at the mechanics waiting to get certified except the tow-truck driver who towed it there seems to have misplaced the KEY. Awesome, thank you. Or how Big Chuck is suddenly MIA in Berlin while I need to get in touch with him to make important financial decisions. Excellent, really.

Oh well, shit happens.
I wish you all a happy weekend,

(image: wailintse)


Perfect Pairs

In honour of the heat wave we're experiencing here Toronto, I thought I would do a lemon-lime inspired Perfect Pairs post today. I find these colours (and flavours) so refreshing. I hope you're staying cool where ever you are and enjoying these record breaking temperatures!


Other perfect pairs I'm enjoying,

Summer dresses + sandals
lemon + water
warm nights + convertibles

...how about you?

Have a great Thursday!
x Bess


Small Business, Small Steps: Getting to the good stuff


I ran into a friend this week while I was out and about in Toronto. She is an accountant / artist and managed the books for a dance company I worked for a few years ago. Of course, after we caught up, I had to launch into my many small business questions and soak up any and all free advice she was offering. After a few minutes of her telling me the biggest money wasting mistakes that most small businesses make - namely, setting up their new business like a giant corporation and registering for things they really don't need, I realized that I had been gearing myself up to do just that. In reality, my business can be operated on a much smaller scale while still being on the up and up in the eyes of the government. I can pretty much just keep operating as I have been, filing receipts, keeping track of expenses, having a separate bank account for English Muffin money (doesn't have to be a "business account" either), and life should be grand.

I was so happy to run into my friend because it put my mind at ease about a lot of business-y items that were big question marks to me. I feel like the next few weeks can really be dedicated to expanding and developing the English Muffin product line and I can finally get to the good stuff.

Have a great Thursday,


Canadiana: Galerie CO


Here's a little bricks and mortar shop I found while I was in Montreal. Galerie-Co is a cross between a gallery and a retail store. They offer objects from around the world all designed to benefit the environment, the people who make them and ultimately those who buy them.

I was particularly intrigued by the Bookstack 100 cardboard shelves by Italian design company A4A design. They are made from 100% recycled cardboard and are both extremely light and extremely strong. Imaging how easy it would be to move these!


Visit Galerie-Co at,
5235 boul. Saint-Laurent
Montreal, QC

or online,

Have a great Tuesday!
x bess


Music Monday: Pirate Radio


On Saturday I watched Pirate Radio, a great movie with an all-star cast and an equally star studded soundtrack. I may be a little late to the party, I guess this movie has been out for a while now, but if you haven't seen it - you should. It's a great story about a quirky cast of characters, their love of Rock n'Roll and how they stick it to the man (the man in this case being the British Parliament).

The soundtrack is full of iconic music from the 1960's; The Beatles, David Bowie, The Who, Dusty Springfield, Jimi Hendrix and so many more. I also found a few character playlists; special musical playlists that writer-director Richard Curtis created for each of the DJs featured in the film.


In other news... now I want to get married on a boat! There's this great scene where January Jones who plays Elenore, and Chris O'Dowd who plays Simple Simon, get married on the deck of the ship. The set is so pretty and simple, decorated with colourful bunting flags, garland and records swaying in the wind. Here, have a look for yourself - wouldn't this be a dreamy wedding?!

Happy holiday Monday!
x bess

(images: Pirate Radio)


Friday Faves

Flickr Faves
1. goodness can come in piles..., 2. The Cupcake House., 3. 85/365 - ice-cream cheers, 4. buttermilk biscuits, 5. it's outside time!, 6. DSC_5624, 7. Untitled, 8. what i did with the fabric, 9. My new pencil case

I thought I would send you off into your long weekend with a few pretty pictures. Above are some of my favourites on Flickr.

Have a wonderful long weekend and don't forget to pack your sunscreen!
x bess


New in the Shop

I've added another map to my map print series. Joining Canada and the United States is the Map of Europe print - a great print to inspire your little one to discover all the wonderful countries that make up the European continent.

Map of Europe

Map of Europe

The maps are available in blues & greens or pinks & browns. The size and colours and customizable so don't be shy if you have a special request for your new map print.

Have a great Thursday!


Small Business, Small Steps: Pinching Pennies

Money on Tree

Last weekend I bought Megan Auman of Craft MBA's Business Growth Planner, a pdf workbook to help you create a concrete financial plan for your business. Apart from my 2 go to small business books, Craft Inc. and The Boss of You, I have not spent any other money on actually learning how to go about setting up a profitable small business.

Does this seem odd to anyone else?

I've spent years working on, learning and forever trying to improve in my chosen field, however I have virtually no business experience and those are exactly the skill that I am relying on to make my craft/art my living. Hmmmm, this sounds fishy.

I've thought about hiring a consultant or taking some online workshops but have yet to pull the trigger. The only reason I was brave enough to invest (ok, it was only $10) in Megan's guide was because I was already a big fan of her work and was confident I wouldn't be let down. As it turns out her Business Growth Planner is exactly what I need at the moment.

I am an expert soul-searcher, a professional goal-maker, and tireless product developer, however the one thing that I always manage to put-off tackling is the money. I really wrestle with the risk of investing a substantial sum of money into products and not having them succeed. This is where it all comes full circle though. After reading the Business Growth Planner I realized that part of my fear is that since I have yet to tackle English Muffin's finances they are still a big unknown to me. However, if I can project the revenue I stand to make because of the money I invest up front, and have a very clear plan about how I am going to make that happen, then the thought of money flying out of my bank account and into English Muffin is somewhat less daunting.

I personally don't think I'll ever get over my fear of spending money, be it on me or on my business. Except for my recent iPhone purchase (!!), I rarely spend money on anything besides rent, food and the occasional dinner out. What I do need to work on is understanding that taking my business to the next level is going to involve a financial stimulus package courtesy of yours truly.

So, my question for you is:

How did you muster up enough courage to make that initial investment in your small business?

Pinching Pennies

(image: Elin Ivemo)


Mission Accomplished

Jacques Cartier bridge

Well, I did it! Mission accomplished. I've secured Big Chuck, Tyke and I a great new apartment in Montreal, Ville-Marie to be exact. Above is a photo of the Jacques Cartier Bridge which is just a short walk from our new place. I think it's so pretty.

The new place pretty much fulfills all the requirements on our must-have list. It's got a big, awesome kitchen (with non-slamming drawers!!), outdoor space (a mini backyard), dog-friendly (although it does say animals are forbidden in our lease, but they made an exception, Tyke better be on his best behaviour!!), 2 bedrooms (one to sleep in, and one as an office / guest room), 2 bathrooms (not originally on the list, but I'll take it), washer / dryer and dishwasher, close to Big Chuck's new university, close to some outdoor fruit and veggie markets, and last but not least two great guys as our landlords. July 1st is our move in date, so I've got lots of organizing and planning to do in the meantime.




Now that my mission has been accomplished, I'm heading back to Toronto. I'll be spending today on a bus (7 hour trip!).

Have a great Tuesday,


Music Monday: Jill Barber

Jill Barber

I know it's Monday morning, but today's Music Monday artist is one I think should be enjoyed on a lazy Sunday evening. Singer, songwriter and Canadian girl, Jill Barber, recently released a new album called Chances. I listened to the whole thing and then some last night on the adorable vintage radio on her website. Her smokey, soulful voice goes oh so well with a glass of wine and a warm Spring evening.

(image: Jill Barber)


Marché Jean Talon

Marché Jean Talon

Marché Jean Talon

Marché Jean Talon

Marché Jean Talon

A little impromptu Saturday afternoon post in honour of my trip to the Jean Talon Market this morning.

I hope you're having a nice weekend :)


Montreal, Week 1


It's been 1 week since I arrived in Montreal and think all in all it's been a good one. It was really nice to have my sister and her boyfriend here for the first couple days. It's always best to break in a new transit system with friends!

The apartment hunt, although a little rough at times is going well. I think we're pretty close to getting a place - although I don't want to jinx it so that's all I'll say.

Montreal has been music to my ears. Ever day a little more German gets replaced by French (yipee!). Although, I have been accidentally combining the two languages - not good, people look at me like I'm crazy! While I'm here on a specific mission, it's also been a nice mini-vacation. I've been getting to know my new city and am really excited to explore even more once Big Chuck and Tyke arrive. I'm saving all the good bits for them.

I haven't been taking many photos with my "real" camera. I find the iPhone just so much handier, although the quality of the pictures isn't the greatest, but they do have a certain charm about them, non?!


Have a great weekend :)
x Bess

Perfect Pairs

1. Claudia Bag 2. Bess Skirt

My perfect pairs are rather practical this week:

allergy pills + spring
microwaves + sweet potatoes
iPhone map app + new city

... and you?

Have a wonderful Thursday!
x Bess


Small Business, Small Steps: Hiatus

Le Boulevard

My Etsy shop is closed (temporarily), I forgot to do a Canadian Tuesday blog post yesterday, I haven't dropped off a parcel at the post office or picked up an order at the printer's in what feels like weeks - and of course, I didn't do any of my homework. English Muffin is effectively on hold for the moment as I try to find Big Chuck, Tyke and I, a place to live in Montreal.

So.... if any of you lovely readers know of a smashing apartment that is coming up for rent for July 1st, that accepts dogs, please let me know - I will forever be in your debt!

I'm sorry I have no business-y stuff to share today. I hope yours is thriving :)

Happy Wednesday!


Music Monday: coeur de pirate


I'm a big fan of CBC Radio One, and a while back one of my favourite radio programs, Q, introduced me to french chanteuse Coeur de Pirate. When the host of Q, Jian Ghomeshi, had her back again last week, I decided to check out the rest of her album online and am so happy I did. Coeur de Pirate is Béatrice Martin, a 20 year old classically trained pianist from Montreal, Canada. Her voice is soft, sweet and little bit quirky – and who doesn't love listening to those french lyrics floating through the air?
Visit her MySpace page to sample her album for yourself.


All Aboard!

Toronto 7

Today's the day I say ciao for now to Toronto and Bonjour! to Montreal. My sister, her boyfriend and I are heading out shortly on my maiden voyage to Mtl. It's quite possible I am the only person in Toronto who has never been to Montreal, people gasp when I tell them my dirty little secret, and then proceed to tell me how much I'm going to love it. So, I'm ready to begin this new chapter in my life and embrace all that Montreal has to offer; bagels, poutine, french air kisses, the habs and the je ne sais quoi that surely awaits me.

But, before I depart, one more shout out to the big smoke, hogtown, Toronto the good, what ever you call it, I'll always call it home. I went for a stroll yesterday to clear my head (and find a bank machine) and ended up taking some photos with my favourite new iPhone app. Enjoy!

Toronto 6

Toronto 4

Toronto 8

Toronto 2

Have a great weekend, and I look forward to blogging next week from Montreal!


Perfect Pairs

1. The Seward Tote 2. Anchor Pendant

1. Mini Bowl in Pelmet Design 2. Mobiles

1. Vintage Gardening Gloves 2. Vintage Red Gingham Button Down

I hope you enjoy today's perfect pairs. I'd love to have all of these items in my life. Really loving those vintage gardening gloves and the anchor pendant.

Some more of my favourites this week:

Lake Ontario + sunny days
skinny jeans + over-sized jackets
family + friends

How about you? Any perfect pairs in your life lately?

Have a great Thursday!


Small Business, Small Steps: Growing Up

eames elephant

I've officially been back in Toronto for 1 week. I've had time to get over my jet lag, time to visit with my family and friends, time to tackle pressing banking matters and time to get myself as settled as I am going to be. What now? Cue paralysis due to impending huge risk. That's a new syndrome I just came up with, feel free to diagnose yourself with it too – if it applies.

I have been the queen of procrastination lately, possibly helped along by my recent iPhone purchase, but more likely due to not knowing where to begin. I've been to the bank to ask about opening a small business account. I've been to the post office to inquire about the best shipping methods for my products. I have been visiting the "how to register a business in Ontario" website over and over again. I have been doing all of these things and more without being able to commit to any of them. I feel like I'm running around in circles and unable to actually take a step forward. I need a plan. I need a business plan.

A couple weeks ago, Megan from Craft MBA had a great series on her blog about growing your small business. As you know, Craft MBA is one of my favourite small business blogs and I often go there for advice and a good kick in the pants. I bookmarked one of her posts from growth week on creating a plan for growth (a.k.a. a business plan). Here are the main points she believes your business plan should include:

Your vision and mission statement - done and done! If you've been following my Small Business, Small Steps series we covered this a few weeks back.

Your goals - Megan says this step is not typically included in standard business plans, but for me it's a crucial one! In order to plan the future of English Muffin I need to visualize where I want to go and what I want to achieve, by writing those goals down it helps to define them and make them real.

Your market strategy - This step involves getting all your ducks in a row. Deciding how and where you are going to spend your money, produce your product, which venues to sell in, etc...

Your business strategy - Megan asks, "How will your business actually make money?". Hmmm, good question! Your business strategy is where you'll explore what kind of business structure / model you want to have.

Your financials - And last but not least, the cash. How much are you going to charge for your product in order to make a reasonable profit. How many will you have to sell a day/month/year in order to reach your target income?

So, my homework for myself this week is to complete steps 2 and 3. How about you? Any small business news you'd like to share? How is your business plan coming along? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.



Canadiana: Lake Jane

Lake Jane

One of my favourite bloggers is from right here in Canada! Lake Jane is written by Montreal girl, Marie-Eve, who not only writes a fabulous blog, but also has a great little Etsy shop. Marie-Eve has recently added a wonderful new print to her shop called, I Heart Montreal. As you know, Big Chuck and I are Montreal bound and couldn't be more excited. I can't wait to fall in love with all of Montreal's neighbourhoods, just like Marie-Eve.

Also available in her Etsy shop are these really pretty Personalized Family Trees. I think they would make a perfect Mother's Day gift, don't you?!

Lake Jane

If you don't already read Lake Jane – you should!
Lake Jane's Blog

To get your very own I heart Montreal or Personalized Family Tree print visit,
Lake Jane's Etsy Shop

Have a great Tuesday!

(images: Lake Jane)


Army Issue

dog tags

On Saturday, my mom and I went to check out our local Army Issue store. She was in the market for some dog tags, the season's must have accessories. We were surprised to find out that you can have anything you want printed on them right there in the store, and so we started racking our brains for something fun and original to put on them. We ended up choosing the following three phrases which have become well loved sayings in our family:

dog tags

Together we will succumb

One word - no excuses

I live vicariously through myself


Watching the sales girl imprint our clever statements onto the dog tags was the best part.
She used an antique Graphotype machine (like the one above), as they had during the 1st World War.

You can order your very own personalized dog tags here.

(Graphotype image: life.com)

Music Monday: Thao + The Get Down Stay Down

Good Monday Morning! It's so nice to be back. I'm all nice a settled now, here in Toronto - but not for long! On Friday I'm heading to Montreal for a couple weeks to officially start the hunt for our new apartment.


I was racking my brain for a Music Monday selection and decided to share one of my old faves, Thao and The Get Down Stay Down. I've been listening to her 2008 album, We Brave Bee Stings and All for the past couple years. Here's one of my favourite tracks, Beat, click here to have a listen. Her voice is a bit unusual, Big Chuck finds it starts to get on his nerves pretty quick. Personally, I really like it. I'm not sure exactly how to discribe it, nasal? raspy? whiny? Let me know what you think.

I'll be back later today with few more goodies.

Hope you have a great Monday!

(image: Thao and The Get Down Stay Down)