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Our Summer Getaway // Stillwater Cottages

A few weeks ago we embarked on our first ever group cottaging adventure to Huntsville Ontario. My friend Kim stayed at a little place called Allen’s Landing (now Stillwater Cottages) with her family 2 summers ago, and since then has been insisting it’s the perfect place for us all to bring our families.

She wasn’t wrong.

Stillwater Cottages is a small cluster of 4 simple cottages on Clear Lake in Perry Township.


View from the laneway as you enter the property

Owners Clarence and Ingrid Dykstra live on the property in a larger home, and just in front of their spot sit 4 sweet little cottages that you can rent for approximately $1000 for the week. We decided that if we were going to rent, then we should try to rent all four cottages so that we’d know everyone on site.


Clarence and Ingrid’s Home

Brad and I claimed one, and the others were occupied by our friends Kim and Pete (and their two boys), Josie and John (and their two kids), and my sister Meghan, her husband Jeff and their four kids.

Between the four families we had 10 kids and 8 adults.


The whole crew. Still smiling on the last day!

Ages ranged from 6 months to 40 years young…and thankfully the younger generation never did do the math required to figure out they had us outnumbered.

The week was amazing.

The space had a great waterfront with multiple docks, a lillypad, 3 kayaks, 2 paddle boats and a small beach. We had a fire pit, a climbing structure which the kids basically lived in (and on), a swing set and loads of toys. The kids just played played played.


Boys digging for God knows what at the beach.


Treehouse of dreams.


“Mom! Check out my cape. I’m going to jump!”

There was even this amazing waterslide which no child was too small to fly off of.


John takes CeCe for a wee rip

This is our normally super cautious, over-thinking, “what if?” Clementine hurling herself off the wrong side of the slide, and knee boarding for the first time.


My heart explodes.

Besides the littlest girls, Clem was a woman among goofballs and had no trouble rising to the occasion, leading the charge in games made up as she went along.


“Ok boys. Here’s the challenge. Everybody grab a ball and try to get it in this bucket without falling off the playhouse. Kay? “

I think, for me, the best part of being a parent is witnessing my kids having experiences like this. I know they won’t soon forget how much fun they had, and so so many memories were made.


Kids ruining a perfectly good game of bocce ball.



Spending this kind of time with their cousins was especially awesome.


Cousins pondering life. Cohen and Griff.


Cousins chillin’ like villains. Griff and Olie.

I don’t remember the last time I spent more than a few days with my sister and bro in law (not to mention my friends!) and getting to hang with my nephews and niece with zero agenda was just something really special.


View from Cabin 2.


Two of my best besties. Josie and Kim.


Melissa, John and Isla. Mixing things up and sharing the parenting load.


Auntie Lou with CeCe, Isla and Hanky Joe.


The magic hour. Aka time for s’mores.


Henry experiments (unsuccessfully) with marshmallow eating methods.


Watching this guy relax was pretty special too.


Brad reading approximately 1.5 pages of his book before being interrupted.

We made a couple of day trips into Huntsville to visit Deerhurst Resort (perfect solution to a rainy day at $20 per family for unlimited swimming, playing and arcading. Clem won the jackpot!) and the famous Kawartha Dairy (note to my future self: go for the kiddie cone) but other than that we were more than happy to stay put on our little compound away from reality.


Olie showing the early signs of Bubble Gum Ice Cream overload.


Our attention starved son, Olie, Rory, Clem, Cohen and Henry.

I was honestly prepared to be staying in less than ideal conditions. Because, generally speaking, that’s what cottages are. Cobwebs and sand in your bed sheets basically.

But Stillwater Cottages, is everything you need and more.

We rented Cabin #2.


Our home for the week. Cabin 2.


Front door to our cabin


Screened in porch


Dining space


Our cabin had two bedrooms.

One master with a queen and a second with a double bunk bed that slept 3.


Master with queen.


View from Master doorway.


Kids room.

The place had electricity (WiFi!), running water (drinkable!!), a shower and flushable toilet. We brought our own sheets, but you can rent them for only $15 a room or something super reasonable. I can’t remember, but I know it was worth it.


The kitchen was small but all you’d ever need and came fully equipped with dishes and cutlery (like corkscrew AND cheese grater equipped!), fridge, stove, coffee maker and microwave.



Living room with tv

Though we had a “no electronics” rule for the week, it sure was handy for me to be able to check emails, and in the evenings we made a mutual agreement to let the kids pass out in front of a movie so we could better enjoy adult time by the fire.

And enjoy it we did.

The BEST part about this place is that we get first right of refusal on booking the same week next year. I really hope that we can come again.

I dunno know though.

We’ll have to ask Griffin and see what he thinks.IMG_1986

Until next time Stillwater Cottages!

xo Em


Birthday Thoughts // Giving all the F*cks

It’s my birthday today.

I’m 38 years old. (I wish I could tell you I’ve never kissed a girl, but there are too many witnesses and anyways, who hasn’t?)

I’ve just spent my weekend with old friends and new kids, thinking about how lucky I am to live in a world where, on your birthday, your Facebook blows up and, as a result, people honk as you walk down the street screaming “happy birthdayyyyy!!!” out their car windows.

Where friends come over for a bonfire and bring everything needed for a sleepover.

Just in case.

Where neighbours come by with handmade presents and thoughtful cards, and someone from high school with a shared birthday (who you haven’t seen in ages) sends a beautiful message at midnight because it’s officially our most auspicious day.


Adding to my collection of original artworks by Sarah Jaynes. Love you SO much Sarah.


Midnight messages from an old friend.

Where your aunt invites you to dinner because your folks are away, and your husband makes you a G&T without asking simply because it’s 4 o’clock. And it’s your birthday.

I am SUPER ok with being 38.

Like so okay it’s not even funny.

I am so proud that it’s taken me ONLY 38 years to accumulate SO many wonderful people in my life.

Everywhere I go I am lifted up by someone.

There may be bad moments in my days but there are no bad days. Because people are generally amazing and thoughtful and giving with their love and their time and their energy.

I keep seeing people write about how being in your forties is especially awesome because that’s the decade you can stop “giving all the fucks” (pardon the French) and just “do you”.

But I’m not really interested in giving less fucks.

I’m over here feeling pretty darned dedicated to giving as many fucks as possible because I believe that giving “all the fucks” is what makes the world go round.

Giving all the fucks shows people you care about them and want them to succeed. I feel like people give me loads of fucks every day. Loads of them.

You know what I mean.

I’m grateful.

And I’m not going to stop caring about what people think. I may not internalize everyone’s own personal drama like I have in the past, but I’m still going to care. A lot.

Because caring makes us better. And it’s contagious. And it’s my birthday for like 7 more hours so you kinda have to.

xo Em



Life, Make, Show

Write a New Story // Etsy Resolution 2017

We are well into January and I’m still thinking about resolutions.

It’s something I kind of do all year really, always striving to do more, do better.

It’s a curse, and I know I’m not suffering alone with it either.

I feel you out there. Making plans, maybe even purchasing a few tools to get them going, and then letting life get in the way of actually setting aside the time it’s going to take to launch.

Generally speaking I’m actually quite good at accomplishing the things I set out to do, but there are still a many many areas of that need some work.

Because I think I am seen to be a bit of a “do-er” however, I get asked often how I get so much done. I get asked questions like “How did you know that would be a good idea?”, or “What made you so confident it would work?”, or “How did you know where to start?”.

I’m going to tell you something right now that would shock a lot of bank managers.

I didn’t. I don’t know. I just started.

Here’s my secret.

I have been blessed with the blind confidence that if I put my mind to something, I can make it happen. I dunno. Maybe I’ve watched Field of Dreams so many times, there’s a whispery little cornfield in my ear repeating “If you build it, they will come”  so often it’s become my mantra.


I get an idea, I tell myself I can do it, and I. Just. Do. It.

Sometimes I try it on for size by actually telling people about what I AM doing, even before I AM doing it. Then I kinda HAVE to do it, and so I DO.

Is that nuts?

That’s a bit nuts, but by golly Miss Molly that shit works.

And that’s what I mean about “your story”.

Those little things you tell yourself, or others that, good or bad, eventually become reality. Some call it “self fulfilling prophecy”, and I’m here to tell you it’s the real deal. The only problem is, more often than not we are telling ourselves the wrong things to be successful. We start writing the wrong stories.

Stories like “I’m not a morning person”, or “I’m so disorganized”, or (and this is one of the worst) “I can’t do that”.

The key to being a successful person, and reaching your goals is to flip the switch on this crap talk. I can’t make you a morning person (I’m not one either, but I sure can fake it), but I can help you become a “I am really productive between the hours of 1pm and 6pm” person.

“I’m so disorganized”? Flip that sucker on it’s bum and bing bang boom, we’ve got “I use tools like scheduled reminders and label makers for keeping my life in order.”

And “I can’t”? Well there are just SO many ways of dealing with that one.

My personal favourite is to just remove it from my vocabulary, but I know that’s not easy. I believe that everything can be tackled when broken into bite sized bits.

“When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time” (Creighton Abrams).

For me, that means research and lists.

When I first began thinking about opening the shop, I got super excited, followed almost instantly by totally overwhelmed. But I knew I wanted to do it so I had to chop that baby up into tiny little nuggets. Location, Funding, Staff, Product.

And then I broke those nuggets into smaller nugettes like store front on Mill Street, Line of Credit/Family Loans, Tamara/Friends, Local Makers I know, and 3 months later I opened the doors to Hello Yellow (now Cheerfully Made Goods + Markets).


Opening day at Hello Yellow, July 2013

So what do you want to do differently this year?

Write it. Say it. And start making a conscious effort to banish any negative talk from your mind.

You are so powerful.

You’ve just gotta start using that power for good and good will come.


Me, happier than a pig in sh*t on opening night.

A lot of you seem to have “grow my business” on your list, and some have already begun asking me about upcoming craft shows, specifically Etsy Made in Canada. We WILL be hosting the show again this September (get on our mailing list and stay in the know!) and if this is something you have been dreaming about applying to, I’m going to give you a great tool to DO IT.


Shopper among the crowds at Etsy Made in Canada / Ottawa

It should be noted that you do NOT have to have an Etsy shop to participate in every one of our shows, but for the Etsy: Made in Canada, you do. If you’re not especially savvy with technology, opening up an Etsy shop can feel overwhelming. Not to worry, you’ve got lots of time.

In an effort to help all of us, Etsy has come up with a series of steps and tutorials to help you launch and/or perfect your Etsy shop. It’s called Etsy Resolution and this is the 2nd year in a row they’ve run it.

All you have to do is visit, enter your email address, and beginning January 27th your inbox will start receiving little bite sized steps, tips and tricks to both launching, and killing it on Etsy.

No, I am not being paid to endorse the program.

Yes, I have done it myself and, as a result, can attest that it’s exactly what you need to get off your wee crafty tush and start selling.

So there you go.

This year’s story is going to be different because you’re going to take action one step at a time. Whether it’s growing your business, or spending more time with your family, or making new connections, or ALL of those things. You can DO it.

I’m here if you need me.

xo Em


Living Room Makeover // My Arhaus Inspiration

We’ve been in the green house for about a year and a half now, and I’ve slowly been making this space my own. The kitchen is my real whale, but that’s going to have to be our last project I think.

I want to get it right and that means a significant amount of saving. It’s basically torture for this instant gratification girl.

Our living room may not get as much use as a kitchen will, but for now it’s the main space we gather when visitors come knocking.

After my office makeover got a little publicity, I was contacted by Arhaus (a great home decor website) with a challenge to show them what I might do with our living room given a little inspiration.

This room has a ton of potential. We’ve got 3 windows, a fireplace, hardwood floor and french doors (that lead to the sunroom) to work with. Here’s the realtor’s before shot.

You know, for giggles.

D81_0744-LR5 D81_0752-LR5 D81_0756-LR5

Pretty great right?

So I’ve gone a little cray on the colour and pattern in the other rooms you’ve seen, and I think that’s what Arhaus was hoping I might do with the living room as well, but this space needs to be a little more chill. Suuuuuper cozy and the kind of room you can be comfortable enough to put your feet up in.

We’re doing Christmas in this room people. And I don’t know about you, but that means we’re gonna need a couch I can LIE on and not feel like I’m wearing a darned back brace I’m sitting so flippin’ straight.

No no no. We need a great couch, a chunky coffee table, and some moody lighting.

I’m talking durable textiles, a chunky rug, and a space that can host as many bums as possible.

About a month after we moved in, I bought a mint’s worth of this beautiful Dwell Studio fabric and hung it ragged and un-hemmed in the windows until my mom offered to sew it into curtains for me.

(Note: This works every time.)


That’s kind of how I like to start every room I makeover.

I find one thing that I love, usually a textile or something with colour or pattern, and then I use it for the inspiration for the entire room. Sometimes it’s a piece of pottery, or something one of the kids coloured at school. Sometimes it’s a throw or a pillow (or a throw pillow). In this case, it’s this fabric.

So we’ve got our pop of colour.

Perusing the Arhaus website for furniture and decor to pull the place together, I came across pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

This uphostered sofa is made in the US (aka won’t fall apart if you move it like pretty much everything I ever purchased before the age of 30) and offers the perfect balance of comfort and practicality.

I’m not going to tire of this style anytime soon.


Baldwin 89″ Upholstered Sofa in Trinidad Flax via Arhaus

It has NO SKIRT (v. important if you want something that doesn’t look like you inherited it from your nana) and, (my favourite part) ATTACHED cushions.


I can NOT tell you how unhinged I can become if the mother lovin’ couch cushions are in disarray.

Let it be noted that I am aware it’s probably insane to let something like couch cushions drive you to drink…but we all have our things.

You know you have your thing.

I really want to create a conversational space, so I’m looking for two smaller, perhaps a bit more contemporary chairs to sidle up to the couch. I feel like you can go a little less practical with smaller pieces of furniture because they’re easier to break up and place in other spaces if you decide to change the room up, and generally speaking, they’re not as great of a financial investment.

Unless of course, you want two, which, I mean, oooooobviously.

Enter the Brekan Chair.

Be still my heart and tell me this menswear inspired tweed doesn’t just make you want to plunk down and swing your legs over the arm.

Brekan Chair in Tribeca Pewter Brekenside

Seating? Check.

Now I needed a sturdy coffee table that people could put their feet up on, but, you know, wouldn’t.

Of course they wouldn’t, but they’d be so comfortable in the room, they’d think about it, and then realize that’s pretty disrespectful and, like, not do it. You get it. I know you get it.

I love the Palmer Coffee Table in natural oak.


Palmer Rectangle 2 Drawer Coffee Table in Natural Oak via Arhaus

It’s nice and solid with clean, modern lines, and I really like that it has 2 drawers where I can tuck some extra napkins and tea lights to have handy when I need them. Which is always because tealights last approximately 7 minutes. Which is probably why they come in bags of 17 million.

I envision this table on a chunky knit ivory rug.

The kind of rug that will make me absolutely lose my sh*t if someone spills red wine on it. Or anything.

Why I do this to myself, I’m not sure. But the heart wants what it wants Selena Gomez.

It wants what it wants. Specifically something like this:

Chunky Braided Wool Rug

Only 50 percent of the rooms in this place have ceiling lights, so I find the living room pretty dark.
I like a dim living room, especially one with a fireplace, so I think all this place needs is a few corner lamps.
Someday I might like to add some pot lights on a dimmer, but for now, something like the Clarence Floorlamp would do me juuuust fine.

Clarence Floor Lamp in Antiqued Brass via Arhaus

This really is a beautiful website.

I know, I know, it’s not Canadian. Our dollar is the pits and ordering from the US can be a nightmare, but Arhaus DOES ship to Canada, so there’s no headache there.

For a dash of flare (and because I’m not an animal), I’ll add some throw cushions like these:

Moroccan kilim pillows for your boho chic living room, from Baba Souk:

Via Babasouk

And some accessories like, oh maybe, this stupid cute planter


Via Etsy

…and some big ole woven baskets for all the magazines I can’t bare to toss.


Toss a big plant or two in the corner and we’re golden.

Image result for house plant

Looking forward to pulling the room together in time for fall.

AKA the most wonderful time of the year. Stay tuned for the final reveal!

Happy Fall Y’all!
xo Em

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.