Custom Name Print - Giveaway!!

Geez, I hope my baby is this cute!! My friend Claudia, I mentioned her on the blog the other day (she's the one who recommended the awesome City Mini stroller to me) is having a giveaway on her blog, Aux Petits Oiseaux, to celebrate her sweet daughter Alice's 6 month birthday. And guess what she's giving away? A Custom Name Print from English Muffin - hooray!

Happy 6 month birthday Alice!!

I hope you have a wonderful day,
xo Bess

Photo: Claudia


Canadiana: Haramaki Love


As a newbie to this whole being pregnant thing, I'm wondering how long I can go without setting foot in a 'maternity' store. There's just something about that word that makes me cringe. I don't know, maybe I'm being silly. I'm sure there are lots of nice maternity shops out there, but the word combined with my natural disdain for shopping has got me looking high and low for ways to keep my current wardrobe growing with me.

This is why I'm extra thankful for my friend, Julia. Julia is the owner of the wonderful Montreal-based online shop, Haramaki Love, and an expert on all things pregnancy related. When I started to notice that the buttons on my jeans didn't want to do up anymore I gave her a call and ordered two of her haramakis. What is a haramaki you ask? Well, a picture (or two) is worth a thousand words...


Haramakis are a tube of fabric, 95% cotton 5% lycra, that you can wear over your pants and under your shirt—which, if you're pregnant will cover up those unbuttoned buttons and unzipped flies. The word haramaki comes from the Japanese words hara meaning centre of the body and maki meaning to wrap up. Julia fell in love with these special tubular garments while living in Japan and is now sharing her haramakis with her North American customers. I'm completely addicted to mine and wear them everyday. I have a regular black one (pictured above) that I wear over pants and shorts and a long one that I wear over leggings to cover my bum. They are super versatile and provide me with comfort and peace of mind as I walk around the city with my pants fully undone ;)

I think I'm also going to appreciate that added layer of warmth come winter. Of course, haramakis aren't just for mamas-to-be, I know I'll continue to incorporate mine into my wardrobe once the wee beast has arrived.

You can learn more about Julia's haramakis and order your very own on her website, and be sure to check out her blog too.

Have a terrific Tuesday!
xo bess

ps. That's me at 22 weeks!


Weekend Recap

My weekend started out with a bang—literally—as in me banging my head against the wall trying to get rid of the stinky skunk smell that Tyke brought into the house. He got sprayed right in the face in our garden and then proceeded to run through the entire house (stopping only to smear his skunkified self all across our cowhide rug) and all the way to the kitchen to snort at me, indicating he needed help. I've never smelled a skunk's spray so close up, so at first I was baffled as to what had happened. It all became clear though when I went to the backyard to look outside and saw the (otherwise cute) little white-striped critter waddle away. Three days later I'm sad to report that we can still smell remnants of Pépe Le Pew.

The weekend however ended on a high point. On Sunday during the day we ventured out to do our weekly grocery run and take a look at the City Mini stroller that was recommended to me by my new-mom guru and friend, Claudia. After seeing her stroller in action I was sold, and we went to the store to have a look for ourselves. It was pretty exciting, I think that's the first time I've been in a store dedicated solely to baby things. It was another milestone for us, making this baby thing a little more real.

But, the absolute highlight of the weekend was finding this gem on Saturday afternoon...

Map map2

A vintage map of Europe (en français) from our local flea market! It measures approximately 6' x 6', and if I tell you how much we payed for it... well, let's just say it was the deal of the century. Big Chuck and I have been admiring it ever since. We've propped it up in the living room for now, but I think we might give it a try in our bedroom too. I'll keep you posted!

Have a wonderful Monday!
xo bess


Weekend. Phew!

What a week! Our home has been a little stressy these past few days as Big Chuck's been going full tilt on some projects for work. Poor guy, he's pretty much chained to his laptop and has been walking around with a rather crazy look in his eye ;) I have become very proficient at editing science documents and working in Microsoft Word (cringe).

On my end, I've been trying to wrap up the 2012 English Muffin calendar. I had hoped to have it done by today, but I'm still missing illustrations for January, March, May and December. Perhaps I'll be able to knock off a few more this weekend. In addition to a bit of work, I'm sure I'll also be devoting some time to Pinterest, an obsession that has made a comeback since I started "shopping" for baby things. If you're looking for a little inspiration of your own, you can follow me on Pinterest, I think I've pinned some real goodies!

...like this baby onesie hoodie


Have a great Friday!
xo bess


Perfect Pairs

I've got some Perfect Pairs for you today! Fresh from my Etsy favourites folder... hope you like.

Crocheted House ShoesBaby Quilt

Green Sticks BraceletGreen Moose Cushion Cover

Going Hunting ScreenDwelling Print

My own perfect pairs for this week go a little something like this:

tiny kicks + summersaults (courtesy of the beast!)
me + Big Chuck (having kitchen dance parties)
refreshing breezes + long walks

I wish you a wonderful Thursday!
xo Bess


Canadiana: down home amy

Down Home Amy

How sweet are these little bibs from down home amy?! I've featured the Vancouver based artist on the blog before and was so happy to see that Amy has added bibs to her shop (just in time for bébé!). down home amy designs are all illustrated, printed, designed and sewn by Amy herself using organic and recycled materials—sounds good to me, now I just have to decided which adorable print to choose!

Down Home Amy

Down Home Amy

Visit Amy's shop, and blog.

Have a great Tuesday!
xo bess


Food for thought...

food for thought

And food for eating.

That pretty much sums up my weekend. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about (what else?!) our eagerly anticipated arrival, le bébé. Thank you so much for your comments on my post on Friday, you were really generous with your opinions and advice and I really appreciate it. To be honest, the overwhelming response to my question of whether or not to start a new blog for all things baby related was a little surprising. I thought people would be all for it, however many of you commented that you would prefer to see a day or two dedicated to my baby ramblings here on the English Muffin blog.

Your feedback got me thinking about my desire in the first place to take this new part of my life and set it apart from the rest. I know it's just another blog, one dedicated to a more focused subject, but as I've moved from one phase / location / career to the next I have never felt the same urge to set a part of my life aside from the rest. Perhaps I'm feeling a need to try and control the coming unknown, or feeling overwhelmed by the hugeness of what Big Chuck and I are about to jump into, or maybe I'm reading way too much into this and I just wanted a place to go all gaga over the baby.

I started this blog as a way to share and connect with others, and boy oh boy, I've gotten that and so much more out of it. So, I think I will take your wise words to heart and continue posting on all things English Muffin / Bess & family related here. As I enter what is sure to be one of the most exciting chapters of my life, you can watch it all unfold right here on my trusty little blog.

Have a wonderful Monday!
xo bess


I did it...

... I posted everyday this week on the blog! My oh my, it's been a while since I've done that. I guess I could blame it on being pregnant, or being busy or just being tired, but I think the real reason is I just haven't had much to say. Ok, scratch that, I haven't had much to say that isn't 100% baby related. My little beast has not only taken up residence in my tummy, but also in my brain. All day long it's like there's a background tune playing in my head and it goes a little something like this, "baby, baby, baby, baby, baaaaaby!" and so on. Poor Papa Chuck can only take so much, and I don't want to make the English Muffin blog all baby-fied for those of you could honestly care less - I get it, trust me. 

Which brings me to my question. Do I start (yet another) baby blog? On one hand I say yes, it would be a great place to let all these baby thoughts/questions/feeling loose. I could connect with other people who are experiencing the same thing or have been there before, and build a little mommy community like I feel I've done with so many designers and creatives who have become good friends through this blog. On the other hand, I feel like such a cliché. That's really the only downside ;)

What do you think, friends? Any thoughts?

Have a wonderful Friday, and last weekend of the summer!!
xx Bess

ps. That's me earlier this week, 20 weeks


Canadiana: Hazel & Hunter

Hazel & Hunter
•  forest clutch - organic, hand-dyed

It's been a little while since I've done a Canadiana Tuesday post, and well, technically I guess this would be a Canadiana Thursday post, but when I saw Hazel & Hunter's new Out of the Woods collection last night I was inspired to share my favourite pieces with you.

Hazel & Hunter
smoke clutch - organic, hand-dyed

One of the best parts about Hazel & Hunter, besides the gorgeous textiles and prints, is that everything is made with sustainability in mind. High quality natural and organic fibers are locally sourced and pieces are handmade by Julie in her Montreal studio. I know that H&H textiles (in particular the pillows) are a favourite of Pure Green Mag too.

Hazel & Hunter
hunter clutch - organic, hand-printed

The new collection is available in their online shop, and be sure to check out the Hazel & Hunter blog too.

Have a great Thursday!
xo Bess


Wise Words

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

My friend Anile posted this great video of Ira Glass (my hero) talking about the early years in an artist's career. It's so true what he says here, and I feel like I've been, and am still at times, very much in the land of "beginner". It will probably be something I'll always wrestle with, I think that having only completed a year of formal graphic design school will always leave me with a self-taught chip on my shoulder. But, it's also important to recognize how far I've come. I constantly feel like my work is improving, even looking back on things I did only a few months ago.

I just want to watch this film over and over again.

Hope you had a great Wednesday!
xo Bess

(ps. Thanks for sharing Anile :)


Dog days of summer


I was downloading all our summer photos onto my computer last night and came across this series I took of our dog, Tyke, rolling in the grass. He'd just come out of the lake and was have the best time stinking himself up / drying himself off (who can be sure?) that I had to capture it on the camera.

He's going to be so embarrassed when he sees this ;)

Have a great Tuesday!
xo Bess


Sunday au marché


The weather is starting to get cooler here in Montreal. We had a gorgeous weekend with lots of sunshine and a nice cool breeze. On Sunday, Big Chuck and I went to Jean Talon market to check out the end of summer harvest. There were plenty of deals to be had, especially on bushels of tomatoes, red peppers, and garlic.

We came home with fruits and veggies and lots of menu ideas. I made this delicious Lemon, Yoghurt, Blueberry/Blackberry cake with some blueberries I picked up and some left over blackberries we had in the freezer. It turned out really yummy! And coming later this week, a mixed fruit crisp. There's something about the cooler temperatures that inspire me to bake. I love spending Sunday afternoon listening to the CBC's phone in show, Cross Country Check-up with Rex Murphy and taking my time baking up something yummy in the kitchen. A pretty perfect end to the weekend if you ask me.

Happy Monday!
xo Bess


Getting to know you

This past Tuesday Big Chuck and I got to know our little beast a little better. We had our very first ultrasound and got to see the tiny feet, arms, hands, stomach, brain, heart, and face of our baby. For those of you who have been in that same position, you know the one - craning your neck to see the screen, hoping not to miss a moment or a movement, and clenching every muscle in your body so you don't accidentally pee on the ultrasound bed, you know how magical the experience is. As newbie parents we were probably way too chatty, asking about everything we were seeing while the ultrasound technician was trying to train an intern (oops), and of course doing it in our very best broken French.

The best part of the whole appointment was hearing that everything looks normal. Thank goodness! What a huge relief it was to find out that not only I am not just full of doughnuts and pineapple chicken, but there really is a baby in there, and that our little guy/gal is doing just great.

We left the ultrasound appointment with four photos, but this is the most "human" looking one. I think the baby has my nose ;)


Have a great weekend!
xo Bess

ps. We don't know the sex of the baby - at least, not yet ;)


Happy Friday!

Nothing says Happy Friday like some killer hand dancing...

Have a wonderful weekend!
xo Bess


End of Summer SALE!!

End of Summer SALE!

I'm having an End of Summer Sale in my shop! All 8" x 10" maps are 50% off until Tuesday September 6th - that means they're only $10!! I know, what a bargain!

Have a great Thursday,
xo Bess