Life, Show

An Open Letter from the Organizers

I’ve been organizing Cheerfully Made Markets (formerly the Handmade Harvest Craft Show) for 6 years. I’ve actually lost count of the number of shows under my belt, but it’s somewhere around the 20 mark. At this point I consider myself a professional. I hope the makers who participate in my events would too.

In 2013 I began working closely with Etsy Canada to organize the Etsy Made in Canada show, and it brought the whole thing to a new level. My audience grew, I befriended dozens of new Ottawa makers and I became someone people think of when it comes to handmade goods and craft shows in the area.

As fun as it is to watch my little craft show baby grow these wings, it also comes with a lot of responsibility.

It has become increasingly difficult to put on a show without a great deal stress. I’ve developed sleep issues and anxiety attacks, I’ve gained weight and have developed some seriously awful nail biting habits.

It’s gotten to a point where I’ve had to seek counselling to deal with the juggling of it all.

This probably sounds incredibly dramatic, but it’s something that I’m really struggling with and have decided to “get it out there” in order to move forward. I’ve become great friends with some fellow show organizers through my Etsy partnership. One of those girls is Melissa Lowry, the top-notch organizer behind Makeology. Melissa and I have become sounding boards for one another and have co-written a blog post that, if you are a maker who participates in crafts shows, you might find enlightening. Or enraging.

I hope it’s the former.

You can read it on the Makeology blog here.




    Taking Better Pictures // I Get By with a Little Help from my Friends

    I’m trying to take better pictures.

    I’ve got this great little shop full of awesome stuff. I spend tireless hours merchandising and making everything look beautiful, and then I take crappy, dark images of everything and post them to social media.

    It would be impossible to capture the actual feel of the shop in 1 dimension, but I can’t help but think I could be doing a slightly better job.

    Because I know that you can’t be good at everything (Oh, I try…oh lawwwwwd how i try), I believe that asking for help is always a super great idea.

    So today, in a fit of frustration at simply NOT being able to achieve what I want to with my photos, I contacted my friend Justine McNeely and asked if she could come see me in the shop, have a closer look at my Instagram feed, and give me a diagnosis/recommendation for improvement.

    Best thing I did all day. All week even. (And I did some good stuff this week).

    The first thing we agreed upon is a lack of cohesiveness in my social media feeds.

    Personally, I think my followers like that I’m not striving for any sort of perfection. And that it’s pretty obvious that I’m capturing moments as they occur without worrying too much about composition and lighting…but there are some editing features I could certainly be taking advantage of.

    Justine’s diagnosis? Pick a lane and set a few rules for myself.


    When possible shoot products on one of 3 backgrounds in the shop so that viewers are taken TO the shop when they see the pics. Rather than having items on a boring old white background.

    I believe Justine’s words were “Walmart shoots on a white background.”

    Not that there’s anything wrong with a white background (obviously) but it doesn’t really speak to what makes Cheerfully Made special. If that makes sense.FullSizeRender

    Group products together by layering on top of one another and don’t be afraid to have them cropped within the picture.

    Shoot in the square so things don’t get too disrupted when uploading to social media.

    IMG_6789Brighten everything up a bit to make everything a little more “cheery”. Adjust shadows and saturation, but not too much. Keep it real. Just not ugly real. Leave that for the kid pics :)

    FullSizeRender (1)

    Already things look better.

    Not perfect, but better. I’m not trying to pretend I’m a photographer, but it’s always fun to tweak a skill and get the perspective of someone who knows her stuff.

    Those three pics were taken just on my iPhone, but I did have Justine take a few product and shop shots because I think it’s the balance I’m missing. Toss more professional shots in the mix and I’ll give off a more polished look online.


    IMG_8594  Look at this adorable place.IMG_8597



    Stay tuned for a post about that wicked sign. Made by this guy.


    Don’t follow me online yet?

    Check me out on Instagram and Facebook to see how things are going to evolve around here.

    I mean theoretically. Good to have goals.

    xo Em

      Life, Make

      Before + After // My DIY Office Makeover

      Photo Credit: Sarah Evans, Shoebox Pics

      My latest home makeover project was a true labour of love.

      First things first. The BEFORE pic.

      Courtesy of our real estate agent. (Keep in mind the major wide angle on this baby. Look at the size of that doorway. It’s just a standard sized walk through and this pic makes it look like we need to get ourselves a set of french doors.)


      OMG so boring. So so boring.

      Another built in. For the love.

      Here’s what I’ve done with it over the past 12 months living here.


      Just ever so slightly embarrassing. Between the laundry basket full of ill-fitting clothes I need to donate, to the stack of invoices on my desk, to the baby thermometer…the chaos is real folks.

      It’s all too real.

      Continue Reading

        Life, Make

        Recipe // Shamrock Shakes with a twist

        We love celebrating St. Patrick’s Day around here. Always have.

        My dad’s name is Patrick.

        His mother’s maiden name was McCarthy.

        He believes this is his holiday, and so since I was a kid we celebrated St. Patty’s like it’s his birthday.

        All that really meant was green milk with supper, and Shamrock Shake’s at McD’s, but with my kids I’ve kept the tradition of eating green going.

        Personally, I’ve really been eating a lot cleaner lately (no really), so McDonalds was kinda out of the question. Fortunately one thing I love even more than a well-themed holiday, is tricking my family. Especially into eating something healthy.

        I took to the kitchen and shook up the Shamrock Shake recipe into something entirely (almost) good for you.

        Continue Reading

          Life, Make

          Art Therapy // My first abstract art piece

          After high school, in lieu of taking a year off to “find myself”, I went to Sheridan College for a one year program called Art Fundamentals. It’s the kind of course that kids who want to get into Sheridan’s esteemed Animation Program take to give themselves a leg up the following year. And it was the kind of course I needed to get my artistic jollies out before moving on to my career focus of advertising.

          I loooooved Art Fundamentals. We did everything from charcoal life drawing, to photography, to textile printing, to glass working, to 3D design.

          T’was amazing.

          It was exactly what I needed. It gave me the essential base skills for so many things, and has truly made me the type of person who isn’t afraid to explore a new artistic medium. It also taught me how to live (platonically) with boys. But maybe we’ll talk about that another time.

          Something I used to love more than anything was painting.

          I haven’t done it for years, but when I started my latest home reno project in my office, I knew I reeeeeally wanted to save some pennies by tackling a bunch of DIYs.

          Big art. The room called for Biiiiiig art.

          (I’ll show you the whole room in a Before + After post to follow. Just hold your horses. I haven’t finished yet.)

          My friend and neighbour (BONUS!) Sarah Jaynes is an art teacher at a local area high school here and an incredible artist. She’s the girl behind this project, and this Instagram account documenting her budding business. (I carry her charcoal prints in the shop).

          Sarah has quickly become my art project enabler. She was all over the idea of teaching me through the process of an abstract piece, and honestly, I could NOT have created anything like this without her fine tutelage. (STAY TUNED FOR A WORKSHOP!)

          I booked a date with Sarah, bought myself a big ass wooden canvas, and away we went.IMG_4987

          Inspired by THIS ARTIST I’ve long coveted on Etsy and  THIS RUG I purchased on Society6 from Barbra Ignatiev, Sarah went ahead and pulled out the colours we needed to work with.


          You can copy me and nab one of her gorgeous rugs here! OMG do it.

          IMG_5026 Continue Reading