Ice Storm Experiment

Ice Experiment

It's been a Big Week for Big Chuck. He's been working on a tree icing experiment simulating ice storm damage to trees, similar to the big ice storm that happened in Quebec and the eastern provinces in 1998. I was on site for a few days and helped him with different aspects of the projects. Yes, you may now call me a jr. scientist.

Ice Experiment

The basic concept was to use a watering system to simulate rain and build up ice on the tree's branches until they broke. The tree was already set to be removed because of a building project on the site, so rather than being cut down to make way for new development, it died in the name of science.

Ice Experiment

Once sufficient ice built up and branches began to break, Big Chuck and his team took measurements of the branches to determine the weight of the ice that caused them to break. In a natural event the ice melts before scientists can reach the forest, due to blocked roads and downed power lines.

Ice Experiment

After spending days outside under the "freezing rain" Big Chuck would come home with clothing that was literally frozen. And I suffered a small cut on my hand too. We're pretty tough in this family.

Have a warm and toasty weekend,
xo bess


Do you like my shoes?

Source: via Bess on Pinterest

I'm addicted to Pintrest. It took me a while to get into it, but since its true (addictive) power was revealed to me - that was on Friday evening, I haven't looked back.

What is Pintrest's lure you ask? The never-ending inspiration. It's like going into your favourite store and putting everything you love in your bag, taking a dress off the rack and maybe the shoes off a stylish sales clerk, peeling off a swatch of the wallpaper and snapping up the amazing lighting fixture. And - the best part, you can see what others have in their bags too and grab those. Really, it's just a big inspiration klepto-party, and I love it.

Are you on Pintrest - if you are I want to follow you! Here are my pins, go take a look!

Have a wonderful Wednesday,
xo bess


Canadiana: the lime shop

I've been doing a lot of baking lately, mostly muffins but I also recently made a delicious apple spice cake. I'm going to post some recipes on the blog soon, but in the meantime I thought I'd feature some lovely aprons from Oakville, Ontario shop the lime shop. Aren't the prints sweet? (Just like your yummy baking!)


Be sure to pop by the lime shop where you can find more handmade aprons and handprinted tea towels and totes too. And check out their blog for sneak peeks of what's to come!

Have a wonderful Tuesday!
xo bess


Weekend Recipe

Picture 1

I've got an illustrated recipe for my world famous Sweet Potato Pie over on the Pure Green Blog. Check it out!

Have a wonderful weekend!
xo bess


Just popping in to say...

...that it's an exciting day here at English Muffin!

Etsy - Hindsvik Video Stills - 5
(still from "There's No Place Like Here" Etsy video)

Firstly, the sun is shining and the temperature has risen above 0˚C - gasp!

Secondly, the lovely Alex & Mina from Sending Postcards are featuring the English Muffin Shop on their blog and we're giving away a Map Print. Go enter!

Thirdly, I'm still over at the Pure Green Magazine blog. Today's post is about the wonderful and creative things you can do with a boring old wooden pallet. You'll be shocked (and awed). And yesterday I posted the awesome video of Pure Green contributors Hindsvik shot by Etsy. Another goodie!

Have a great Thursday!
xo bess


Outside In (guest blogging at Pure Green)

Hi friends,

I just wanted to let you know I'll be guest blogging over at Pure Green Magazine's blog for a few days. I hope you'll stop by to say hi! Here is yesterday's post, all about bringing the outside in.


I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Wednesday,
xx bess


Canadiana: Nicole Tarasick

Nicole Tarasick

Great Lakes, Canada Goose, Montreal airport code - one of each please! I love Nicole Tarasick's work and was reminded for her greatness by the lovely Celine MacKay, editor-in-chief of Pure Green Magazine. Her pillow designs are so simple, stylish and yes, Canadian. You know I have a soft spot in my heart for my home and native land.

Check out Nicole's shop to see more of her silk-screened totes and pillow cases.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!
xx bess


I heart you

Pink Hearts No.2

Happy Valentine's Day!

Big Chuck and I 'celebrated' yesterday. We started the day with croissants and pain au chocolat, yum! Then we took a romantic trip to Ikea where we spent too much money - as usual, followed by another romantic trip to the grocery store, built some furniture, ate some Pho and ended the day with a movie and some popcorn. The perfect Valentine's day if you ask me, the perfect 'any' day really.

x's and o's to you all!


Perfect Pairs

1. 1940's Sailor Top 2. Vintage Life Preserver



I think this is one of my favourite perfect pairs posts yet. It's funny how these images come together, even after I select a pair I continue to see new and wonderful reasons why they work so well together beyond my initial reason for choosing them. Sort of like a dog and their owner, they grow on each other. The other day Tyke and I were walking down the street and I realized that we have the exact same colour winter jackets, navy blue. I wonder if I'm starting to look like my dog?

My perfect pairs this week:

Me + Tyke (wearing our matching winter jackets)
apples + spice (=yummy cake)
white christmas lights + dimmer switches

How about you?

Have a wonderful weekend les amis :)
xox bess


Small Business, Small Steps: Advertising

decor8 - press

On Tuesday I got a wonderful surprise - English Muffin was featured on the decor8 design blog. This is huge, friends. Huge. Every Tuesday blogger Holly Becker rounds up her five favourite Etsy shops, and this week my little English Muffin got a nod. I couldn't be more pleased. My Etsy shop has been bumpin' ever since, and between packaging orders, communicating with customers and dashing to the post office (I spent $91 on shipping yesterday) I had a little realization: I need to get more eyes on English Muffin. I believe there is a way to do this, ah yes... advertising.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a bit of a Frugal Fanny and try not to spend more money than I need to. Up until now, this method has served me pretty well. It's allowed me to test the waters, showing me that even with my minimal investment (aka risk) I have something viable here in English Muffin. However, lately as I plan for the future and think about how to grow my business, I keep facing this pesky "you've gotta spend money to make money" mantra repeating in my head, which brings us back to advertising.

I'm thinking of starting small, a little English Muffin ad carefully placed on a relevant blog. This week I had the benefit of decor8's prime real estate, and there is of course no substitute for the endorsement of a trusted blogger, however with even a fraction of that exposure I think an English Muffin ad would be a good investment.

So friends, are there any blogs you love that you think might be a good fit with English Muffin? Have you had any experiences with advertising that you'd like to share? I'd really appreciate any tips!

Have a wonderful Thursday,
xo bess


Canadiana: Hazel & Hunter

Hazel & Hunter

Salut les amis! Today's Canadiana Tuesday artist is Montreal's own textile design and upholstery studio, Hazel & Hunter. I love these organic and handprinted linen pillows, part of the 'Petits Mots' (little words) collection. I think a Bisous or Moi et Toi pillow would be a perfect addition chez Bess et Charlie!

Hazel & Hunter

Maybe we could even teach Tyke to communicate using the Oui...Non pillows. Hmmmm, he could rest his chin on his answer to our oui ou non questions.

Be sure to visit Hazel & Hunter on Papernstitch for 10% off your order.

Have a great Tuesday!
xo bess


I give you the World...

World Map - pinks & browns

... now for sale in my online shop.

World Map - blues & greens

thanks! xo

Weekend Back-Up

bess - boat

I was downloading my iPhone photos to my computer this weekend to make sure I didn't lose any of them (my friend Michelle left her iPhone in a taxi last week - but got it back, phew! And, Big Chuck's hard drive died on Thursday) in an untimely technology disaster. (Dear readers, don't forget to back up!)

It's fun to scroll through all the random photos from the last 8 months and remember moments that may not have been exceptionally important, but made it onto the phone none-the-less. The photos from the Summer really caught my eye. Saturday was a lovely day here in Montreal; the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the snow that hasn't left the ground since mid-December was starting to melt. But, before you could say Snowtastrophe another 10 centimeters fell that night. And now we're back where we started.

I think I can honestly say I'm starting to get a little tired of all this snow. Remember flip flops? Summer dresses? Sun-kissed skin? Ya, me too.

Have a super Monday!
xx bess


Puppet Party

I was on Etsy looking for perfect pairs when I stumbled on to the lovely shop by Hong Kong artist, Furze Chan. After seeing these adorable DIY Paper Puppets I decided to put Perfect Pairs on hold till next week, I think you'll see why.


Bear, sheep, rabbit, monkey, penguin, fox... I want you all! Oh, the fun puppet shows we could have together.


And they're only between $8 and $10. I see a puppet party in my future.

Have a wonderful Thursday!
xo bess


Canadiana: Bess & Charlie - Birch Bark

Birch Bark Wall Art

The Birch Bark Wall Art Post: (This might get epic)

I can't begin this post without paying tribute to the artist who created the original Tuohi (Birch Bark) Wall Element, designer Tapio Anttila for Showroom Finland. I first saw this piece at John and Juli's shop Mjölk in Toronto and absolutely fell in love with it. Big Chuck and I love to have natural elements in our home, and this modern and clean piece with it's warmth, texture and grand size certainly left an impression on me.

I never thought that I would have the chance to have my very own Tuohi Wall Element - let alone undertake one as a DIY project. The occasion presented itself perfectly however, when after visiting Mjölk on the Thanksgiving long weekend Big Chuck and I arrived at the cottage to find a recently felled birch tree, bark intact. My dad gave us the go ahead to harvest as much bark as we like and at the end of the weekend we brought a big bag home with us.

Birch Bark Wall Art

And so the project began.

Here's what we needed to get this job done:

• two 2' x 4' 1/2" plywood pieces (we would have bought 4' x 4' but our car wasn't big enough to get that home)
• brass plated mounting hardware, wood screws and airplane wire
• X-acto knife
• ruler and/or template
• cutting surface (we cut on the plywood)
• birch bark removed from 13" - 15" logs (we used about 14 different pieces/logs)
• carpenter's glue

Birch Bark Wall Art

We began by cutting out a 12" x 12" cardboard template that we could use to estimate how many tiles we could get out of each piece of birch bark. Some yielded two, most only one. You have to account for variation in surface texture, holes and the like. After selecting all the best pieces I began cutting out our 12" x 12" tiles, 16 to be exact. As you may have guessed, birch bark is a tricky material to work with, it was difficult to measure accurately because it isn't flat. If I could give you a tip I would suggest that you steam the pieces (which we did after they were cut) first.

Birch Bark Wall Art

Once all the tiles were cut, we steamed them over a pot of boiling water. This method worked nicely and we ended up with relatively flat pieces. Now comes the fun part, placing them on the plywood. We played around with different locations, alternating between light and dark, more textured pieces and less. When we were satisfied with our results we started at one end of the plywood and began glueing. Don't be shy with the glue! We glued one to two pieces at a time, weighing them down with heavy objects and leaving them for at least 30 minutes before moving on to the next pieces. This is when I realized this project wasn't going to be done that night.

Over the course of the next week we slowly glued all our tiles down and trimmed any edges that weren't perfect. Big Chuck attached the two pieces of ply wood side by side using a piece of wood and attached the mounting hardware to the back. Using our trusty stud finder we located a stud in the exact place (lucky!) that we wanted to hang our birch bark wall art, and... voilà!

Birch Bark Wall Art

It makes me happy every time I look at it, and adds a lovely warmth to our home.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!
xo bess