November 08, 2017

Gifts for Minimalists

I've been working hard to simplify over the past few years, but I still enjoy meaningful, well-made items.  Here are some of my tangible gift ideas for aspiring minimalists.

1. LEUCHTTURM1917 Dotted Hardcover Notebook - for bullet journaling, or daily notes - I'm kind of smitten with these notebooks.

2. Black Pitt Artist Pen 4 Pack

3. The What Matters Pencil Set - a daily reminder from my friend Melissa over at Print Therapy to focus on what matters MOST.

4. The Sleeveless Revolve Dress from Encircled - this dress is amazing.  I currently own it in grey and the navy is on my wish list.  Ethical fashion, sewn in Canada, I have visited this company in-person and I just love everything about the brand and the clothes. 

7. Chasing Slow - I love this book.  I bought it in the digital edition as part of my simplifying process, but I love holding books in my hand, and this is one I wish I had a physical copy of.  

8. Digital Subscription to Simplify Magazine - some of my favourite bloggers on the topic of simplifying have created this quarterly digital magazine.  I love when a new edition arrives and I can make some time to curl up with a cup of tea to read it.

9. Beeswax Candles - I'm currently burning these.

10. Shop local and find a beautiful naturally lip balm or soaps - I love Tval Skincare and East Coat Glow lip balms, both locally made.

October 07, 2017

Handmade Marathon: Hereness Thereness

Editor's Note: I originally fell in love with Amberlea's gnomes and play houses, in particular because I had a little fabric play house like this when I was little.  Learn more about her handmade business here. 

(+) Tell us about your business
I make children's toys out of fabric that's been printed with my own illustrations. Wee fabric houses, hand puppets, finger puppets, and I've just recently finished writing and illustrating my first children's book, about a globe-trotting Gnome's adventures through Southeast Asia.

(+) How did you get started?
About 5 years ago, I left my job as a graphic designer, and my husband took a sabbatical from his job, and we backpacked around Asia for 7 months. I had been thinking about starting an Etsy shop for a while, and with the time away, I was able to solidify what it was I wanted to do and make. When I got back, I began sewing, drawing, prototyping, and after a couple of months was able to open my shop and start doing craft shows.

(+) The gal behind the business - Tell us about yourself, how do you spend your Saturday mornings, a little glimpse into your life, your family etc.
Hi! I'm Amberlea, a maker/graphic designer/yoga teacher, living in Ottawa with my husband (my highschool sweetheart; this year we're celebrating 20 years together!), our 3-year-old son, and our two cats. 

I've been home with my son since he was born, and working on my Etsy shop and doing freelance graphic design in my "spare" time (or, rather, during naptimes, though naptimes seem to be something of the past, lately!)

Summers in Ottawa are awesome, and Saturday mornings we often bike to the farmer's market, to the river for a swim, or to a park. Or sometimes my husband will run errands with our son, and give me a bit of quiet time to get caught up on work.

(+) What inspires you? Where does your creativity come from?
Anywhere and everywhere. 

It could be a photo from an ad, or a diagram at the dentist's office, or the way the light filters through the trees during golden hour, or the raindrops on kale in the garden — literally anything — often I'll get a spark of an idea when I mis-see something; like when I see a face in the texture of a wall, or a landscape in the grain of a floorboard, (or the classic "that cloud looks like a bunny jumping over a tree!"). 

My mind will start running with the tiniest thread of an idea; it's actually a frustrating problem to have so many ideas, and not have the time to follow all of them through! I try to collect as many of these random strands of thought in my sketchbook, to save them until they become big and loud enough that I HAVE to do something about it :)

(+) What's one thing you would like to improve about your business?
Marketing. Spend some effort to direct traffic to my Etsy shop — with seasonal craft shows and word of mouth, my shop has been maintaining enough traffic as I can handle with my limited time. But now with my son getting older and more independent (and starting part-time preschool in the fall!), I want to start ramping things up again.

(+) What is the best gift you have ever given or received?
While my husband and I were traveling, I saw a beautiful carved wooden buddha statue at a shop in Tegallalang, Bali, but the store was closed. We couldn't find the store owner, so I just decided it wasn't meant to be. The next day we were set to leave for Java, and while I was at a yoga class, my husband rented a moto, drove back to the shop, which was still closed, found someone to call the owner, waited for the owner to come, and managed to buy the statue and get back before I did. And then he kept it hidden in his own backpack for two weeks until my birthday, and then gave it to me. I cried, quite a bit :). I was so touched. And you have to understand this is not a tiny statue, it's fairly large, not something easy to carry around in a backpack!

(+) How do you celebrate special occasions?
With friends. We don't host many parties, but we like to have friends over for birthdays and Thanksgiving. For birthdays there's a homemade cake (or sometimes someone will bring some beautiful treats from one of the many amazing bakeries in town), and lots of food, and if it's warm weather, we'll hang out on our back deck, where there's lots of space for the littles to run around.

(+) What do you do when you make time for yourself (you and only you)
Yoga. Run. Read. Journal. Quilt. Movies and popcorn at home with popcorn after the kiddo's in bed. Ah, alone time. It doesn't happen often, but I do love it when it does!

You can find more hereness & thereness here: 

Web (+) Shop (+) Instagram (+) Facebook

August 22, 2017

5 Unique Airbnb Vacations in Newfoundland and Labrador

Does it feel as elusive to you as it does to me?

I've spent a lot of time of the past year trying to create more balance and simplicity in my life, and yet....somehow another Summer is coming to a close and it feel like it went by all too fast.

How is it that I'm getting my little NJ, my firstborn ready for Grade 1 as she sings "Despacito" at the top of her lungs in the car?

How is it that even when I'm relaxing

If I've learned anything about time, it's that some of my favourite time (and memories) is with people I love and care about.  I will spend (almost) any amount of money for a group trip with my girlfriends (and was very fortunate to do just that this Summer as we celebrated a wedding together).

I don't care (much) about new purses and jewelry or having the latest "whatever" from a certain brand.  I care about quality and making memories.

So the next time you need a special gift for your spouse, partner, girlfriends, or family, think about a little retreat or getaway to make MEMORIES.

Those are the moments of time that count the most.

As you might know, I'm in love with Airbnb for travel.  Here are some of my suggestions for a getaway gift experience in Newfoundland and Labrador.

5 Unique Airbnb Vacations in Newfoundland and Labrador

5 Unique Airbnb Vacations in Newfoundland and Labrador

1. The 'Ome Pod in Burlington, Newfoundland is on my weekend getaway WISH LIST.

From the Airbnb listing
"Perched on the edge of a rocky point facing south, this minimalistic eco-pod has all the comforts you need. Beautiful hardwood floors, tongue & groove pine walls, vaulted ceilings, tall sliding glass doors on three sides taking in the spectacular sunsets and ocean views. Literally meters from the ocean, this location could not be any better".

5 Unique Airbnb Vacations in Newfoundland and Labrador

5 Unique Airbnb Vacations in Newfoundland and Labrador

2. For the adventurer - this Blue "Barn" might be your match.  I love the "tiny house" vibe and the proximity to nature, plus this area is one of my favourites in the Province. 

From the Airbnb listing:
"This shed is about as old and simple as any barn can be. Originally the barn of the house, it has been converted into a livable space, with some creature comforts". 

5 Unique Airbnb Vacations in Newfoundland and Labrador

3. The Fry Heritage House in Brigus, Newfoundland

From the Airbnb listing:
"Located in the historic and picturesque town of Brigus, you'll be able to explore all that the Avalon Peninsula has to offer. At the end of a busy day you can enjoy quiet solitude and sit on the deck surrounded by century old rock walls and smell the ocean air".

5 Unique Airbnb Vacations in Newfoundland and Labrador

From the Airbnb listing
"Escape to this tranquil retreat located less than 1 hour outside of St. John's in the town of Mount Carmel. With 8 acres of natural beauty for you to explore, you can take in the view of Salmonier Arm from the deck as you unwind. Several interesting features including out buildings and a plum orchard in the back".

5 Unique Airbnb Vacations in Newfoundland and Labrador

5. If you want to splurge or make it a group thing, this luxurious home directly overlooks St. John's harbour for a world class view from all angles.

From the Airbnb listing
"This stunning home is located in one of the most historic & whimsical areas of St. John's, known as The Battery. Every window has awe-inspiring views that bathe the space in lots of natural light".

Memories > Things

For my husband's 40th birthday this year, we are taking a trip to NYC together in lieu of gifts. While we can't always afford to take this kind of trip, we are both really looking forward to experiencing it together.

Memories >Things.

We are, of course, staying in an Airbnb rental for our trip.

Do you love Airbnb as much as I do?

If you've never experienced an Airbnb I highly recommend checking it out, you can save $50 off your first stay.  A few tips:
  • always search using "entire home/apartment" if you want to have rental space to yourself (Airbnb also has a "private room" option where you can stay in someone's home)
  • always read reviews and ratings and choose spaces that have recently been well-reviewed
  • do your research - check maps to make sure you know the exact area where the home is located. 
Happy Experiences


July 04, 2017

Handmade Marathon: Antisewcial

Editor's Note: A few weeks ago I spotted a new-to-me local business and I knew it would be the perfect way to jump back into the Handmade Marathon series!  Thanks to Megan from Ragmaw (who you might remember from this Handmade Marathon feature a few years ago) for the introduction.

Tell us about your business

Hi! I’m Carolyn, owner and solo sewist of Antisewcial’s handmade natural fashion in Newfoundland. I am a mom of two active boys and a proud RCMP spouse. My goal in life is to do more of what makes me happy and surround myself with people, places and things who bring in the light and spark my creativity.

How did you get started?
After living on Vancouver Island in British Columbia for 8 years, I fell in love with everything inspired by nature and handmade. My favourite pastime with my family was (and still is!) visiting local markets and finding unique handmade treasures that you can feel were made with love.

I actually remember the first time I purchased the cutest pair of organic pants for my 1st born. It was an emergency purchase after my little one had their very first public *accident* in their pants! Haha! First of many to come, these perfect little pants are still in #2’s closet and look brand new. The quality of these handmade pants couldn’t even come close to anything else I had owned in the past. The material is divine and you can feel the intention and love behind them.

Ethical, sustainable and handmade, you complete me!

What inspires you? Where does your creativity come from?
Over time, my life became focused less on consumption and more on simple, clean living. When my family and I moved back home to Newfoundland it was a fresh start and we make our consumer purchases conscious ones.

I dove in to create a space in my home, and my life, that would inspire me to do more of what I love, sewing and creating natural fashion. In an era surrounded by disposable fast fashion it is difficult to find great, simple, ethically-made basics, especially for children, that are not heavily branded from head to toe. I love putting a fun twist on everyday cozy clothes and creating comfortable clothing that kids want to wear. All of the clothing that I design is made from bamboo or organic cotton fabric and made for Newfoundland’s unpredictable weather.

My goal for Antisewcial is not to outfit as many people as possible or make as much money as possible (sorry darling husband!) but to continue my journey doing what I love and hopefully inspire others to support the local makers out there in our community. I sew because it makes me happy and I hope it makes you happy as well!

What's one thing you would like to improve about your business?
Something I would like to improve about Antisewcial is time! I think we are all looking for a little more time in our day to get it all done. Working at home with two small pre-school aged children, and a husband who works away, definitely has its challenges. I would like more time to sew and create and even add in some of my "Blow Me Down" Hoodies for adults, but that is not my reality right now. My time will come, I know it will! When it does, I will have more time for Antisewcial, but I bet I will be a sappy mess not having those two little ones pulling at my measuring tapes, pins and fabric scraps.

What is the best gift you have ever given or received?
One of the best gifts I have ever received was after my little boy, Tobin, was born. My co-workers got together and they each took a week to make my family meals as I recovered. Each week one person dropped off their homemade meals and even included some for the freezer. It was so thoughtful and so incredibly helpful. We really didn’t need to worry about meals for over a month. I was living very far away from family and it made us feel so loved and cared for.

What do you do when you make time for yourself (you and only you)
Making time for myself is a difficult one for me and I could use some help in that department. I recognize the need for taking time out but I seldom make it happen. Time for myself these days is usually spent sewing or doing absolutely NOTHING when my children go to bed.

You can find more Antisewcial here: 

Shop (+) Facebook (+) Instagram

June 26, 2017

Thoughtful Gifting

Hello, June 2017.
It has been over a year since I have written and shared here.

I started The Petit Cadeau blog so that I could share ideas with you that brought me JOY, and for a little while over the past year, that joy was missing.  I didn't mean to take such a long break away from here (good intentions, right?) but I knew that the past year would be a "year of transitions" - going back full time to my 9-5 job, and balancing 2 small kids & family along with a small business, so I decided to focus my limited energy on Petit Mail for a while.

Honestly, over the past year, I haven't focused much on thoughtful gifting OR my creative side.  It has sort of been a year of survival, but I finally feel like I'm finding the balance again, and I have missed writing, missed creating, missed sharing ideas here, with you.

I'm already planning posts and new #handmademarathon features for the coming months.

I feel excited, and inspired again.  I hope you'll continue on this journey of handmade, simple, unique and thoughtful with me.

In the meantime, here are a few things I'm loving right now:

(+) The Art of Simple Podcast

(+) Beeswax Candles - I'm burning these right now

(+) Books: A Year Between Friends |  The Futures

(+) Duolingo App

(+) A Simplified Wardrobe: Project 333

May 24, 2016

The One Thing I Really Want For My Birthday This Year

it's getting to be that time of year when I start thinking about my birthday..

not from an age perspective, I could care less about being another year older, and besides, you're only as old (or young) as you feel.

if you've been following along recently, you'll know that I'm working toward taking things slowly.
focusing on what really matters

here, I talk mostly about the things we gift to others
today I spent some time thinking about what I would like for my birthday this year.

the answer, dear friends, is TIME.

your thoughtful gifts, tied up in bows or string..they are lovely.  I appreciate them so much
but it's not what I really want

As I spend 34 years walking along this little journey called life, the thing that is most important to me is spending time with the people that I care about.  and I don't get nearly enough of that.

here's the thing.  if I make you a part of my life, in whatever capacity that may be, you are important to me (this might be a page from my introvert's guide to life).  and here's what I really want from you

call me up, or send me an e-mail to check my schedule
plan an hour, a half day, a day, an evening

let's go for a walk
a hike
let's go to lunch
to dinner
to brunch
let's have a coffee
let's get tickets to a special event
let's go for a drive and sit by the ocean and catch up
if you are far away, let's schedule a phone call or a video chat at a good time for both of us (this can be more complicated than it first sounds)
go to the park and eat ice cream
let's talk to each other
let's catch up
let's be

a while ago, I discovered Christina Crook's TEDx Talk Letting Go of Technology (well worth your time to watch) and during her talk she says the most fantastic thing

"present people, people who look you right in the eye, are a rare and wonderful breed"

your presence is the best present
this is what I really want this year

April 20, 2016

How To Simplify Gifting with a "Signature Gift"

It's no secret that I've been on a bit of a journey to simplify things in my life.  Gifting can sometimes feel....stressful...if you let it.  

Lately the idea of having a "signature gift" has been really appealing to me.  Growing up, a cousin always sent a holiday package with a few surprises, but always her hand-rolled beeswax candles.  Those were her signature gift, and every year I looked forward to that delightful beeswax smell wrapped up in a brown paper package. 

Simplify Gifting with a Signature Gift

What is a signature gift?
To me, a signature gift is a gift that you give to everyone for the same occasion. It simplifies the process of thinking about gifts, while still being thoughtful. 

There are many possibilities for signature gifts, but here are some that I find inspirational for a variety of gifting occasions.

(+) Simple DIY flower bouquets - collect small, unique or vintage vases, then put together simple bouquets of in-season flowers when you need a gift.  

Simplify with a Signature Gift

(+) DIY surprise envelope books (for gift cards or small objects)

(+) A book that you love and know others will love as well.  I frequently purchase books in multiples and gift them to friends.  My caveat is that I only gift books to fellow readers.

(+) For kids, a snail mail subscription like Petit Mail

Petit Mail Subscription for Kids - give a subscription gift

(+) Jewelry from the same shop or artist/maker

(+) A Homemade Breakfast Basket

(+) A loaf of homemade bread wrapped in parchment and twine

Simplify Gifting with a Signature Gift

(+) Handmade mittens - if you don't knit, shop local and support a maker in your community.

(+) Handmade clementine wreaths (find the tutorial here)

Simplify Gifting with a Signature Gift

(+) Mason jars of homemade Granola - I use this simple + easy 5 ingredient recipe for my granola, and it's delicious. 

(+) The gift of your time or experiences ( I wrote about gifting your unique skills here - don't underestimate how many people might appreciate this!)

(+) Basket of fresh, in-season berries

Special Occasions 

(+) Gift certificates or money wrapped in a handmade LOVE gift bag

(+) Heirloom tooth fairy pouches

I would love to keep growing this list! Do you have a signature gift idea that you love to give? Connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and let's keep the conversation going.