Operation Canada Goose, pt.3

canada geese

The final installment of our move to Montreal is quickly approaching. Tomorrow I'll be heading back to Toronto after a fun week at the cottage and then on Wednesday Big Chuck will be arriving home from Vienna!! We'll probably head back up north to see his parents and then begin rounding up our furniture and head east to move into our new home. It's pretty exciting! To be honest that's about all I've got so far. Details like how the heck we're going to move all our stuff I've sort of left till my team member is back home. It's difficult making all these plans on my own. Well, maybe difficult is not the right word, I guess it's just not as much fun.

So, I'm going to be taking a little break from English Muffin and the blog. Although you may not be seeing much of me on the interweb, I'll be doing my best to document all our adventures and be back in early July with a recap. Also in the works is a new project for English Muffin and I'm hoping to be able to get that off the ground asap. I promise I'll be working hard while I'm away, be it moving furniture, organizing our new Montreal life or prepping for new design projects, and be back to fill you in on everything.

Have a great couple weeks!
xx Bess




Meet Mr. Otter, the newest member of the English Muffin family. I think he's got the right idea, I otter be swimming too!

Have a wonderful weekend!


Perfect Pairs - In Pink

Looking through my Etsy faves, I noticed I had a few adorable pink finds bookmarked. So here's a mini Perfect Pairs, in the colour pink.


1. A Letter to You print 2. The Pink Piggy

Pairs I am currently enjoying...

muffins + tea
sounds of the water + the trees
tyke + macy

...and you?

Have a great Thursday!


Small Business, Small Steps: Break Time?


I was going to write a post on the challenges of unplugging and really taking a break from work, when you are your company. How it makes me feel guilty and feel as though there are a million better things I could be doing with all this time.

But, I'm not.

Instead I'm going to use this break from English Muffin to work on other design projects and tie up some loose ends because, let's be honest, there's only so long a fair skinned girl can bask in the sunshine (and today it's raining).


Have a great Wednesday!


Cottage Finds

The sun came out, (as well as lots of flies) so I decided to take some shots of the treasures that have been both hiding and in plain sight here on Drag Lake.

The clipboard. It's now mine, I asked for it as a prize for all my spring cleaning hard work. I think it's going to look so cute hanging on the wall of my new office. I can clip on the day's to do list as well as keep important papers at my fingertips.

The Reader's Digest magazines (circa 1960) are no secret. I think I've read every one of them at some point during my summer stays. They're pretty hilarious.

Some prints from the hard cover Reader's Digest Condensed books, also from the 60's.

Three boxes which I have made my dad swear up and down he will never throw out. He uses them to store wood next to the fireplace. I've tried many times to bring one home with me, but apparently besides being beautiful they are also useful.

A pocket glossary of building terms, good to have around.

My dad's Popular Science and Hot Rod magazines. Cars were so much cooler back then. These must be worth something - not that we'd ever sell them!

That's all for now. Time to head outside to enjoy the sun :)

Happy Tuesday!


Grey Skies

I made my way up north on the weekend to our family's cottage. I'm planning on spending the week here, and thanks to modern technology (like the good ol' internet) I am able to stay in touch with you lovely readers. I was going to post photos today of some fun vintage finds I discovered while doing a little spring cleaning with my dad yesterday, but armed only with my iPhone I'll have to postpone those plans until the sun comes back out.


It's a stormy day here. Windy, cloudy and on the verge of raining. I think I'll go make myself a pot of tea.

Happy Monday!


Perfect Pairs

Holy guacamole, it's Friday! Here are some perfect pairs to ease you into the weekend.

pairs 3

pairs 2

pairs 1

My perfect pairs for this week:

rubber boots + oversized anorak
peanut butter + toast
new projects + encouragement

...how about you?

Have a lovely weekend :)
x Bess


Le Wedding

So, you may remember that just over a year ago I got engaged in Spain to the one and only, Big Chuck. You may also remember that up until a week ago I'd been dealing with some serious anti-wedding sentiments. Not anti-marriage, don't get me wrong - I'm super excited to become Mrs. Big Chuck, it's just that I wish I could skip the whole spending tons of money, planning till my hair falls out, detail-y stress-y thing that is the wedding. But, I think we've found a good solution. And if all goes according to plan, I'll be a Mrs. in a matter of a few months! (I just got really excited typing that last sentence.)

The the logistics of the wedding coming together nicely, my mind is now going through all the little things that I have to tackle in order to make our event minimal yet stylish. The first thing (well, second - the dress was the first) is the decor for the reception venue. We aren't going to do a sit down dinner, so I've been thinking of ways to display the food and drinks nicely. Of course, my first stop was Sunday Suppers, those ladies set the prettiest tables. Here are three that I think could work very well.

Sunday Suppers

Sunday Suppers

Sunday Suppers

What do you think?

Happy Thursday!
x Bess


Small Business, Small Steps: Making space to create

love house

As small business mavens, we can sometimes (ok, all the time) get bogged down by the endless and daily tasks of running a business. Even when sales are relatively slow, there are so many things about my own business that I want to do, or re-do, or just be done with all together that it's hard to find time to create. I find that those pesky to-do's can really take over and slow down my momentum considerably. That's why I'm super stoked to be working on some new and exciting projects here at English Muffin. It's so great to let my left brain quiet down and trust that all those tasks will get done one way or another, they always do. Sometimes I get so focussed on learning how to be the best entrepreneur I can be that I forget how this business has evolved thus far, organically. I tackle things as they need tackling and at this point I'm still so small that I doubt the IRS (or Canadian equivalent) is going to be knocking down my door due to my accidental infractions.

Switching gears from business Bess to creative Bess was not as easy as I had hoped. There are so many distractions on my computer (ahem... Twitter, Facebook, the internet at large) that sometimes it was a challenge just to open Illustrator, so much so that Adele from modernemotive called me out on Twitter last week...

modernemotive @BessCallard Have you opened Illustrator yet young lady? ;)

Umm, no - I hadn't.

Once I did start to brainstorm and get my creative juices juicy again I managed to come up with an idea for a new line at English Muffin. I think it's a logical next step and hope to get the ball rolling on this soon enough.

So, I'd love to know...
How do you make space for your creativity while running a small business or working a 9-5 job? Do you find the time once a day to do something creative, or do you like to block off larger more focused chunks of time?

Have a great day!


Canadiana: Radio Canada


Does it get any more Canadian than this?

Well maybe, if there was a beer drinking moose in the shot relaxing next to a pristine lake while listening to the hockey game on this gorgeous Radio Canada and sporting a plaid shirt, maybe then - but I think this is pretty close. I don't know if you know, but I love the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and am a religious Radio One listener, even to the gardening shows and the dreaded "Between the Covers" - not as exciting as it sounds, it's about books.

How happy my little life would be to have a Radio Canada radio, designed by Science + Sons, sitting next to me while I design the day away... unfortunately it's still just a prototype :(

Have a happy Tuesday!

(images: Science + Sons)


Music Monday: Janelle Monáe


This weekend while catching up on some of my favourite blogs, I came across Anna from Door Sixteen's post on Janelle Monáe. Intrigued by Ms. Monáe's amazingly styled photos and gorgeous looks I had a listen to some of her music. All I can say is style, style, style! Music, dancing, fashion - this girl's got it.

Take a peek for yourself.

Happy Monday!


While the cat's away...

Last night I was out running errands, and when I came home my mom presented me with some clear and undeniable evidence that Tyke blatantly disregards the rules about modern furniture when I'm not home. Here are some photos of him on the Eero Saarinen 1948 Womb chair clearly enjoying its soft comfortable cushions and good vantage point.


Have a great weekend!


Perfect Pairs

Last week's perfect pairs were all sunshine and lemon-lime. This week the bluish-grey rainy skies have inspired something a little more subdued.

1. Soft leather ballet flats 2. Accordion Music


Couplings I'm enjoying...

long walks by the lake + my dog
burrito boys + wedding sos
problems + solutions

... how about you?

Have a terrific Thursday!
x Bess


Small Business, Small Steps: Blogging


I started this blog after I opened my Etsy shop because I read that blogging was a great way to "support your business". What that statement meant exactly, I had no idea, but I figured that anything that was going to get me more online exposure couldn't be a bad thing, especially for an online business. I should mention though, that I hummed and hawed over starting this blog for a long time. I was sure that after a few weeks I would delete it, feeling silly sitting at the computer writing to no one. However, on September 21, 2008 (that's over 2 1/2 years ago!!) I wrote this post, an since then have rarely missed a daily blog post. At times it's been a struggle to sit down at the computer and think of something intelligent to say, or find some great product to share, or a piece of small business wisdom to pass on. But the overwhelming majority of the time, my blog has been a place to share with you. I don't pretend to be a guru or expert on anything, and more often than not I'm putting my random ideas or thoughts out there, sort of like we're chatting over a couple of yummy croissants at a little cafe.

So why am I talking about blogging when I should be talking about small businesses, you ask?

Well, because I've been thinking a lot lately about the role that my blog plays in my business. Although from time to time I'll share a new item in the shop, lately, as English Muffin has been quiet (all that will change soon enough!), I've been adjusting the content of my blog to be less about the particular goings on at EM and more about my interests, inspirations and ideas. For example, I've started the Small Business, Small Steps series which seems to have a nice little following, and in doing so have had a couple great opportunities to share my work with a wider audience. I think that is essentially what that statement I read back in 2008 meant. By sharing with your audience and customers you support the business by bringing in more eyes to your work and inviting people to learn a little more about you.

But Bess, all this "sharing", "supporting" and "inviting" takes time. Do you actually see a financial benefit?

Good question! I have no idea. Well, that's not completely true. I check my Google Analytics and see where traffic is coming from for my website and shop, and indeed lots of it does come from my blog. Whether those views result in sales I can't be sure (there's probably some way to tell, but at this point I have no idea). Blogging is great, but blogging can also be a full-time job depending on how much time you invest in it. And the real kicker is that the posts I spend hours writing are always the ones that get the biggest response. While I'm writing this, Illustrator and Photoshop are closed, my brainstorming list of new products for English Muffin is sitting under a pile of papers and my belly is getting hungry for lunch meaning I probably won't get to design work until later this afternoon.

For me, blogging is something I do for free, and at times I struggle with how much time it takes and whether it might be better to do it less frequently. However, my blog is something that keeps me connected to online friends and customers, it gets me excited about finding wonderful new products, about featuring my fellow designers and about sharing my ideas on growing a small business. The idea of not having it makes me feel a little lost, oddly enough it's become part of who I am.

How about you? I'd love to hear your thoughts on blogging and the role it plays (or not) in your small business or life.


(image: Rev Dan Catt)


Canadiana: The Vintage Cabin

The Vintage Cabin is based in Toronto, Ontario, and has the perfect accessories to style your own vintage cabin, or in my case, new Montreal apartment. Here are some of my picks from their shop:

The Vintage Cabin

How fun would that 70's teak fish be? I would definitely use it as a serving dish, maybe throw in some mixed nuts or pretty wasabi peas.

The Weber Costello globe would obviously go in my office / guest room on top of an antique highboy dresser or on a bookshelf.

There's currently a black wood medicine cabinet in the bathroom and I'd love to replace it with a vintage medicine cabinet - so much more fun for your guests to poke around in.

And finally, the mid-century lamp would look amazing on my crisp white English Muffin desk.

Have a great Tuesday!