Perfect Pairs

1. Constellation Papercuts 2. Thorns Three Oxidized Sterling Silver Ring



Spring is in the air, can you feel it? Of course you can! Yesterday I heard birds chirping and it was warm and sunny and +6 degrees, ahhhhhh... We have fresh flowers in the living room and they make the whole apartment smell wonderful. Hurray Spring, it's so nice to see you again.

My perfect pairs for this week...

green sprouts + dark brown earth
sunshine coming through the windows + tyke following it across the room
no more boots + no more long johns!

Have a wonderful day :)
xx bess


Canadiana: C Comme Ça

C Comme Ça

I love this felt basket from Montreal-based design studio C Comme Ça. It would look so cute on our coffee table, or next to the door to gather keys, change, etc...

Artist Cindy Cantin's custom handmade home accessories and protective cases for devices like iPods, iPads and iPhones, are made from eco-friendly materials including merino wool felt and recycled leather. I saw Cindy's work at the Puces Pop show a few weeks back and it's just as lovely in person!

C Comme Ça

To see more from C Comme Ça, visit their website or Etsy shop.

Have a great Tuesday!
xo bess


Muffin Mondays

Muffin Mondays

For those of you longtime English Muffin Blog readers, you may remember a little series from back in the early EMB days called Muffin Mondays. That was an over-ambitious idea of mine, to feature a muffin recipe that I baked over the weekend every Monday morning along with pretty photos. Needless to say, it was a little tricky to keep up. However, I've been on a baking kick as of late and thought you might like the recipe for one of my favourite new muffins, Maple Oatmeal Apple Muffins - they're so good!

For those of you living in the northern hemisphere, these muffins are perfectly timed with the abundance of maple syrup available right now. For everyone else, I highly recommend splurging on the good stuff because the delicious maple flavour really makes all the difference. I've substituted white flour with whole wheat, and rolled oats with steel cut oats. The steel cut oats give the muffins a little crunch and delicious nutty flavour. Dare I say these muffins are actually good for you? Even my most picky eater (Big Chuck) said "I really like the healthy bits!". Well, now I can die happy.

Maple Oatmeal Apple Muffins
(this is my version of Food.com's recipe)

• 1 cup steel cut oats
• 1 cup apple chopped into bit-sized pieces
• 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
• 1 egg
• 2 tbsp. canola oil
• 2/3 cup maple syrup
• 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry* flour
• 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/3 cup walnuts

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Soak the steel cut oats in enough warm water to cover them for 15 minutes. Drain off the excess water.
2. Combine the oats, apple, yoghurt, egg, canola oil and maple syrup in a medium bowl.
3. In a larger bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nuts.
4. Fold the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Careful not to overmix.
5. Spoon batter** into 12 muffin cups.
6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes clean.

* I didn't use pastry flour, just plain old all purpose whole wheat, they still turned out super yummy :)
** You may find the muffin batter to be a little wetter than usual, that's due to the excess water from soaking the steel cut oats. Don't worry though, the little oats will soak it all up as they bake.


Have a great Monday!
xo bess


On Line

Once upon a time I was a dancer. Everything I learned about space, line, shape and form came from standing in the middle of an empty cube. The world renowned choreographer and dancer, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker makes it look effortless in this piece performed at the MoMA as part of their On Line exhibit.

Enjoy your weekend,
xx bess


Small Business, Small Steps: Catch up

My New Business Cards

Grab yourself a cup of tea, because I feel like I have so much to catch you up on! Life has just been buzzing along over here at English Muffin HQ and there are a few special items I'd like to share with you.

Really exciting news!
The English Muffin Blog was listed as one of Chatelaine Québec's top 10 most inspiring design blogs from Québec and around the world! I was so surprised (and shocked) to see my little blog appear with fellow Montreal-ers Holley & Gill and Damask & Dentelle, as well as bloggers from around the world like Design Sponge and Decor8! What a great way to start the week. You can check out the article here (en français).

Guest Blogging over at Small for Big
I wrote a little blog post on some of my favourite pieces to brighten up a nursery or kid's room on the kid's blog Small for Big yesterday. It's a real kaleidoscope of colour!

Pure Green Dream Team
As the new illustrator (yipee!) and member of the Pure Green Magazine re-design team, I am having the time of my life! I tweeted the other day that every little thing I work on for Pure Green makes me happy, and it's so true. I am one lucky duck to be working with a some of the most amazing and inspiring women I have ever met. Honestly friends, I think you are going to fall in love with the new PGM (psst, our official re-launch date is Tuesday May 24th!!). There are lots of goodies in the works between now and then, so stay in the loop by visiting the Pure Green Blog.

Let's be friends!
After way too many months of ignoring English Muffin's Facebook page, I have finally given it the love and attention it deserves. It's looking good and waiting for some new 'likes' from nice people like you.

English Muffin is now selling on Supermarket. Yay! I'm so pleased to be part of a curated online selling venue. englishmuffin.supermarkethq.com

Oh! Last thing!
English Muffin has a new logo. I've been really slow to implement it, but it's already on my business cards (photo above), so expect to see it rolling out this Spring.

That's all for now. Have a wonderful Wednesday!
xo bess


Canadiana: anita

Water Garden Napkins

Today's Canadiana Tuesday post is on fellow Montreal designer, Anne from anita. Anne has studied design in both Montreal and Toronto and has worked in a variety of different techniques including ceramics, monotype and watercolour painting. Her latest project is a line of minimal paper and linen products inspired by her appreciation for design and natural, simple living.

I love Anne's simple and nature-inspired designs. The colours and shapes are so serene and her Water Garden Napkins would look just perfect on our black kitchen table! Hmmm, I may have to hunt those down.

The anita line is available in selected stores in both Québec and Ontario. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any links to an online shop.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!
xo bess


Happy Spring!

Paule T.B by Noémie Vaillancourt

The sun was shining in Montreal all weekend long - like streaming in through all the windows kind of shining, the perfect way to welcome Spring! It wasn't terribly warm outside, but you wouldn't have known from the way that people were dressed, it was like we all decided that if we dressed for Spring then it would feel like Spring. May have to try that again... it's snowing here today.

Despite Winter's last hurrah, I'm still in a Springy mood. And, I think you will be too after watching this lovely video of one of my favourite illustrators, Paule T.B., painting the front window at the Unicorn boutique. The photos and video are by Noémie Vaillancourt and the music is by I Blame Coco.

Paule T.B from Noémie Vaillancourt on Vimeo.

Happy Monday!
xo bess


Thinking of Japan


I haven't said much about the terrible situation in Japan on the blog yet, but it's not because we aren't thinking about it or moved by the images of devastation here in our home. It's because the issue seems so huge and my simple expressions of sadness and empathy for the Japanese people feel like so much less than what they need.

Last night, Big Chuck and I found some artists who were creating work in support of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. It's not much, but we purchased some pieces in hopes of sending a least a little bit of financial aid to those who need it most.

Sankaku Lavender Sachet - Yokomono Studio

I bought these lovely Lavender Sachets from Yokomono Studio. I found them via the Lake Jane Blog. And, the great chotto omoshiroi poster from Pikabooks, seen above. Charles bought a couple stickers for the Toyota that say Hope in Kanji.

If you would like to find work from other artists supporting Japan, Jan from Poppytalk has a great list.

Have wonderful day,
xo bess


30 years old

Today is my 30th birthday! It sounds like a pretty big number, and I expected that I would feel some anxiety or a little fear about the weight of the big 3-0, or at least a bit different when I woke up today, but nope – still the same me. There are so many wonderful things going on right now in both my personal life and with English Muffin, that it seems silly to want to put the breaks on, to think that best isn't yet to come. With all the ups and downs in life I want to be present and positive in each and every day. That's what 30 means to me.


Have a wonderful day!
xo bess


The Makers

Big Chuck and I are bound for Toronto this weekend, we're having a little pre-birthday celebration with my family. The real deal isn't until Tuesday, but I'm the kind of gal who subscribes to a birthday week, especially for one this monumental!! While we're scrambling to pack up all essentials, I thought I would leave you with this inspiring photography project...

The Makers Project

The Makers Project

The Makers Project

The Makers Project by photographer Jennifer Causey is a project documenting the people in her city of Brooklyn, NY, who make handmade and artisan products. She captures the people behind the products, often hard at work in their studios or kitchens, finding out what makes them tick, inspires and keeps them going. Her photos are beautiful and her passion for the project palpable. It was so hard to select only a few images to share with you here on my blog, so I highly recommend you visit the project's site to see the complete stories and photos.

The Makers Project

The Makers Project

After seeing all the talented artists at the Puces Pop show last weekend, this is a project I think would be just as successful here in Montreal as it is in Brooklyn. Maybe we could woo Jennifer north of the boarder?!

Have a wonderful weekend!
xo bess


Small Business, Small Steps: My First Craft Show

Puces Pop - English Muffin

Last weekend I participated in my very first craft show. 'Craft' almost feels like the wrong word, although it did happen in a church basement (very craft show-y, no?) the quality of the artists there was truly impressive, and conjured up more of a feeling of art and design show - in a church basement. But this post isn't really about the oodles of talented folks showing their work at Puces Pop (for that you should check out Michelle's post on Poppytalk), this post is about my experiences and what I learned, and more importantly what I can share with you.

A Little Push

This whole journey really began when I decided to apply to show my work at Puces Pop. You may remember I did a blog post after visiting the show for the first time back in October. When I received an email announcing they were accepting vendors for the March show I initially brushed it off, thinking my business wasn't ready yet, it would be so much work, but most importantly I felt like I didn't have enough new work to show. Luckily, Paule was over at my place taking photos for her illustration around that time, and she convinced me that the March show would be a great opportunity to test the waters, and that my fears about not showing anything new were unfounded as most people at the show would never have seen my designs. Touché! So I applied and a few days later found out I had gotten in.

T - 30 Days

After receiving the "congratulations you got in" email, I had about a month to prepare. Here's where I had the first mini meltdown. The meltdown wasn't about anything in particular, a month is plenty of time, mostly it was about having no idea what had to be done during that month. Random to do's kept popping up my head; I need a tablecloth, I have to frame prints, I can't forget change, and so on. I searched my favourite blogs for craft show how to's, first time experiences, or a list of must haves, but all my searches came up pretty empty. So here's what I wish someone would have posted for me...

Your Ultimate Craft Show Packing List

You'll need:

• a tablecloth (find out the exact dimensions of the table provided, if no table is provided you'll need one, and a chair or two)
• display items (frames, easels, stands, etc... things you'll use to display your work)
• pricing signage (price tags, a pricelist; have one for yourself as well as one on display)
• additional signage (business name banner, info sheets, general item signage and descriptions)
• office supplies (tape, double sided tape, stapler, markers, pens, dot stickers, scissors, elastic bands, calculator)
• receipt book
• cash box / purse
• change (I took $180 in change; 10 x $1, 10 x $2, 10 x $5, 10 x $10. If your prices end mostly in 5 then take more $5's and so forth)
• packaging supplies (kraft paper, stickers, thank you inserts, plastic/paper bags, tissue paper, ribbon, etc...)
• business cards!!! (I handed out so many, it would have been such a shame to not have had them)
• additional booth components (Big Chuck built me a structure to display my framed prints on)
• tools (the structure had to be assembled, so remembering the drill and screws was really important)
• camera (you'll want photos of your pretty booth)
• decor (bowl of candy, flowers, bunting, business card holder, etc...)
• the goods (whatever you're selling, bring some inventory if you can)
• display examples (I found that people like to touch the prints so have some for display purposes and encourage people to be hands on)
• a notebook (so you can write down all the things you want to remember)

I want to thank @neawear and @sewlounge for answering my tweets and making helpful contributions to my Puces Pop Prep list.

Puces Pop - English Muffin

Rainy with a chance of blizzard

I knew going in to this March show that it would be slower than the one I went to in October. I was counting on it in fact. I wanted to be able to test the waters without feeling too much pressure and Mother Nature was definitely on my side. Saturday was pouring rain, in fact we had a rainfall warning here in Montreal, and Sunday morning brought chilly temperatures, fresh snow and a blizzard. But people still came out, and while you can't control the weather you can take advantage of a slow day by talking with customers, experimenting with your display, and soaking up everything that is going on around you.

Puces Pop - English Muffin

Real World vs. Virtual World

About two hours into the show I thought to myself, I'm not so sure if I fit in here. The vendors at Puces Pop are so cool. Cool with a capital C. English Muffin — not so high on the cool factor. I'm talking guys in tight jeans, hoodies and better hair than me. (Gosh, I really sound like a grandma). What I'm trying to say is that I thought I would fit in better at a show that was geared to kids/parents/families. However, over the course of the weekend I did interact with a few families, lots of aunts and uncles and people who were buying for themselves or their friends. I saw that almost everyone who passed my booth (ultra cool dudes included) would smile when they looked at my Polar Bear or Otter prints, that many folks were map lovers and boy did I have a selection of maps for them. I talked with other artists and illustrators who I never would have guessed would like my aesthetic but went on about how polished and cohesive everything looked, I had people ask me if I was from Montreal because my style was so unique. I'm not saying this to toot my own horn, but because this was probably the most valuable experience I had all weekend, watching people interact with my work. Having only ever sold online, I've never seen a customer's expression as they were looking at one of my prints. I've never heard their first impressions or witnessed the decision making process as they wrestle between the Otter and Dachshund prints. It made me realize that as excited as I get when I make a sale in my online shop, there's a customer on the other end who is just as excited! Who knew?

Here, take my card

I gave out so many business cards over the weekend that even though sales weren't through the roof I have a feeling I'll be getting a few orders from the Montreal area in the coming weeks. Even if I don't, I've planted the English Muffin seed and hopefully those people will think of me the next time they need a baby gift, or artwork or even design/illustration work. So many people commented on how nice my cards were that I was really happy I paid a bit extra to have them matte laminated and corner rounded. One woman said that no one is going to throw out such a nice card, a point that I hadn't really thought of - but so true! Spend that extra money on beautiful cards, people will keep them forever.


There are a couple things I'll do differently for next time, a few lower price point items, some more French options, tweak the table display a little, but overall I feel really good about my first craft show. There were no major stumbles and I even managed to eek out a tidy little profit!

Mostly, this experience renewed my excitement about English Muffin. Interacting with customers is really an invaluable experience and I have visions of new products for craft shows to come. Even with my initial apprehension, all the hard work and time that went into preparing and the crummy weather, I really am looking forward to the next chance I get to show my work. So if any of you are reading this while on the fence about a doing a craft show yourselves, I hope my experiences will encourage you to go ahead and do it. It is definitely scary at first, the car ride to the show on Saturday morning was the scene of my second mini meltdown, but like Big Chuck said, "It's going to be one of the best things you've done." So right Big Chuck, so right.

xo bess

photos: Charles Nock


Canadiana: Paule Trudel Bellemare

I'm so excited to share the latest work from super talented Montreal-based illustrator, Paule Trudel Bellemare. I've featured Paule's Girls + Dogs Series previously on the blog as part of Canadian Tuesdays, but that was before I had met the lovely illustratrice and before we had a mini photo shoot for her Spring illustration series.

Tyke by Paule Trudel Bellemare
Tyke and I were lucky enough to get the chance to pose for Paule, and I'm so excited to be receiving one of these prints in the mail in the coming weeks. How cool is that?!

Thanks Paule, Tyke and I are so thrilled that you asked us to be part of this project. I'll treasure our portrait pour toujours!

To see more of Paule's work, visit her Etsy shop. She's also got a great blog too.

Have a great Tuesday!
xo bess

ps. Tomorrow I'll have a recap of my experience at Puces Pop. Looking forward to telling you all about it :)


Show time

Puces Pop

This first week of March is promising to be an exciting one. On March 5th & 6th I will be participating in my first craft show - Puces Pop, here in Montreal. So, I've got a big list of things to do between now and Saturday morning.

I'm already feeling a bit nervous, wondering if I have enough product, worrying about how to display everything, and trying not to forget important details - like price tags and change! If you've done a craft show before and have any tips, I'd love to hear them.

And... if you're in Montreal this weekend it would be great to see you! Do stop by and say hi. Here's a list of other vendors that will be at the show.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!
xx bess