Little Blue Canoe Blog

Back to School/Work/Reality- A Stationery Lover's Guide to September

 I don't know about you, but I love summer. I love the warm nights, indulgent visits to the local ice cream shop, BBQ's with friends, and the overall relaxed routine of "life".

With September just around the corner however, I start to get giddy. I can't wait to get back into more of a routine. I revert to using my grocery shopping lists, look forward to scheduled fall activities, try for an earlier bedtime, and aim to goal set while also checking items off my "to do" list. A lot of people find January the month for fresh starts, but for me, I am starting to think that September is that month.

The stationery lover/addict in me loves restocking the pen collection, bookmarks, journals and notepads, and other goodies that help me stay focused and on track. Below, I have compiled some of my favourites from the shop. Please enjoy!

PENS & PENCIL CASES

A good pen is imperative. I keep a pen in my purse, car, home office, kitchen, basement, bedroom...pretty much a pen is in every room of the house. You never know when you need to write something down. Be prepared with these awesome paper pens. For those of you in school, these pens won't break the bank if you loan them out or lose them. One way to help keep your pens organized is by using a cute pencil case. I have also seen people at the grocery store using pencil cases to help keep their coupons organized. Both the typewriter keyboard and lined paper cases are perfect!

NOTEPADS/ORGANIZERS

Oh gosh, you don't even want to know how many notepads I have. I have ones that I love for meal planning/grocery shopping, and then I have ones for weekly planning, list making, and goal setting. Depending on your list loving level, you are bound to find something to help you stay focused and organized. Once I committed to meal planning, our family stopped wasting so much food and didn't overspend at the grocery store. On Sunday night, my Husband and I will do a quick "week at a glance" review of what we all have going on in the coming week and then plan accordingly. I also love making a list and physically crossing off each "to do" after I have done it. It is so therapeutic.

Kids tend to like filling in the weekly planners as much as you will, as you can add stickers and use fun coloured pens, crayons, or markers.

 

PAPER CLIPS/PUSH PINS

Fabric Push Pins are a great way to spice up a bulletin board. The ones shown here come in sets of six. The clay crafted paperclips help keep your documents together, receipts neatly organized, and books/binders marked. Available in a bunny, cloud, whale, pineapple, and heart. 

NOTEBOOKS

Of course we live in a digital age where so much is done online or on our computers/smartphones. This is why LBC offers different sizes and styles of notebooks. Small/Big, Lined/Blank, Neutral/Patterned. A notebook is just one of those items that you may never think you need or want, until you need or want it. Why not just even keep a small field notebook in your bag/purse/backpack and jot notes, doodle, daydream, pass out information to new friends or coworkers. A small notebook in the glovebox of your car is never a bad idea to make notes of oil changes or small fixes to your vehicle. If or when you ever sell your car, you can also include the little notebook for the buyer. 

BOOKMARKS

Fun bookmarks are great for holding your place when reading a novel, but they can also jazz up a text book, work papers, cookbooks, etc. LBC proudly offers traditional tasseled bookmarks, along with darling magnetic style ones. You are bound to find something you will like. A nice card and a cute bookmark also make a sweet gift for a birthday guy/gal, or thoughtful (and inexpensive) gift for someone who just went away to school or moved cities/countries. I personally enjoy giving a birthday card with the little cupcake bookmark in it.  

CARDS

Now you may be asking yourself why cards are a back to school/back to reality must have. Well, perhaps you know someone going off to college or university or is starting a new job? Perhaps you know someone that has severe summertime sadness and just needs a pick me up, ha! Whatever the reason, giving or sending a card never goes out of style. 

Also, these darling lunchbox notes are perfect for a child/spouse/significant other when you want to brighten their day. Wish that special person good luck on an exam, all the best on a business proposal, or just let them know you are thinking of them. I used to have a friend in elementary whose Mom would always doodle and draw on her brown paper lunch bag. It was always so cute, and all these years later I sure remember it, so I am sure she does, too!

I hope you feel excited for fall and ready to tackle back to school, back to work, or just plain back to reality! From August 19 - September 5, enjoy 15% off any item in the Stationery & Fun section of the store with the code: SEPT15 

What item/items help keep you organized for back to school/work/reality?  I would love to know!

Kelly

LBC Travels - Top 10 Highlights from 48hrs in Tofino, BC

Back in May, the family and I went out to Vancouver Island to visit my parents in Nanoose Bay (just outside of Parksville). My parents just sold their house out there so it was a bittersweet trip. I used to go to the Island as a baby/kid and have then been going out every year for the past 12+ years. 

Because we knew this trip would be extra special and possibly our last visit to the Island for a while, my parents graciously offered to watch the boys for a few nights so that Chris and I could drive to Tofino. Tofino is one of my favourite places in Canada. For those unfamiliar with Tofino, it sits on the tip of the Esowista Peninsula at the Southern edge of Clayoquot Sound. It is quite possibly one of the most magical and beautiful places you will ever see.

I would like to share with you my Top 10 highlights from the wonderful 48 hours we had in Tofino, BC.

1. LUNCH AT THE BLACK ROCK OCEANFRONT RESORT 

When you are driving into Tofino, you come to a fork in the road. Left, you go to Ucluelet (about 40kms from Tofino), and right, Tofino. We did a quick pit stop in Ucluelet and enjoyed an amazing lunch at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort while overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was an overcast day and the waves were crashing on the giant rocks. A refreshing club soda and some poutine (and a burger for Chris) is always a great way to start a mini-holiday!

2. SCORING AN OCEAN FRONT HOTEL ROOM FOR A GOOD PRICE

We booked our accommodations rather last minute (oops), but were lucky to snag an ocean front room at the Best Western Tin Wis Resort. The resort is located on Mackenzie Beach and about a five minute drive into downtown Tofino. The resort is well kept, clean, and right on the beach. The staff were incredibly kind and helpful, and there is a Surf shop (Tofino Paddle and Surf) right on site as well. Perfect for Paddle Boarding or "learn to surf" lessons. The resort was reasonably priced (accommodations can get pretty darn pricey around town, especially in the summer), which was an added bonus.

3. CHECKING OUT THE LOCAL SITES AND SHOPS

After checking in, we headed into town to check out some of the local shops and walk down by the water to watch the seaplanes take off and land.

I had followed the Caravan Beach Shop on Instagram for some time, so it was fun to pop into the store and meet Jen, the beach loving babe that owns the store. She loves to surf and was a kind, yet mellow soul. Her shop has lovely candles, cards, surf apparel, backpacks, etc. 

4. COCKTAILS IN THE GREAT ROOM AT LONG BEACH LODGE RESORT

This stunning resort sits on Box Bay Beach, about 7km south of Tofino. The Long Beach Lodge Resort is incredibly cozy and welcoming. It is the perfect place to watch the surfers or perhaps witness a wedding. The afternoon we were there, there was a small wedding that was having their photos taken in the Great Room which was rather lovely. We had the perfect view of the ocean from our comfy chairs and enjoyed watching the surfers. 

5. HAVING AN IMPROMPTU BEACH PICNIC

We headed back into town to see where we should go for dinner. Tofino has so many amazing restaurants. I felt a little overwhelmed by all the incredible options, so we decided to grab some food from the local CO-OP, drinks, and a few slices of pizza from Tony's Pizza (down off Main Street). We took it all back to the beach behind our hotel and set up the perfect date night. I had bought a Tofino Towel Co. round towel last year and always wanted to "break it in" while visiting the real deal, so it worked out perfectly. People were out walking their dogs, having campfires, strolling the beach, and playing frisbee. It was so peaceful.

6. CATCHING AN AMAZING SUNSET

After dinner we strolled along the beach and watched as the sun started to set. If you are lucky, you will catch one of the famous "Tofino sunsets" (that I am sure you have seen in photos). The stars totally aligned for us and we watch the sun go down behind the ocean and rocks. Simply stunning. 

7. SURFING

Chris and I had both wanted to re-try surfing. Each of us had done it on family holidays when we were younger, but we wanted to do it together while in Tofino. We signed up with Surf Sister and spent 4 hours at Chesterman Beach. We had a great lesson on the beach, and then hit the water in our winter wet suits (I get cold SO easily, and I was not the least bit cold!). I am a somewhat fit person. I can wake surf and do some yoga, and let me tell you...I got my buttinski kicked. I couldn't even get up. Chris and I blame it on the fact that we are "tall people", but I think it is just really hard. We met the nicest people and had wonderful instructors (I had our rad instructors' names written down and can't find them anywhere. I want to say Jess and Steph? Sorry if I am wrong, but everyone was just lovely, none the less!). Chris's board flew out from underneath him while I happened to be underwater. I got cracked in the head, but he claims that is the one time he happened to stand up. I guess it is his word against mine. 

8. TACOFINO

If you know me at all or follow any of my social media accounts, then you know I often talk about food and my love affair with it. Located at the back of a parking lot just off the Pacific Rim Highway, Tacofino is a food truck that is a town and tourist favourite. Surfers will often come here after a day on the water and can fuel up on amazing tacos, burritos, and gringas. Since this was a "snack" before dinner, I was tasteful and only had two fish tacos and a smoothie. WOW. So fresh and so amazing. I am thinking about it all right now as I write this.

9. MASSAGES AT THE ANCIENT CEDARS SPA (AT THE WICKANINNISH INN)

Years ago, my Mom had taken me for a massage at the Ancient Cedars Spa and we got the private Cedar Sanctuary, which is the little hut that sits nestled in the rocks by the ocean. I never stopped thinking about that massage or the sound of the waves during my treatment, so I convinced Chris we had to try to do it. When we booked, they couldn't quite guarantee that we would get the sanctuary, but I did let them know my preference. I was on cloud nine when our massage therapists came to get us and we were being taken to that hut! You start your treatment with a nice foot soak in a copper tub, while you talk about what kind of massage you want (pressure preferences and areas that need the most work) and choose your Tofino Soap Company essential oil. I chose 'Beach Stone', as I love rosemary and eucalyptus. 

The massage and experience were just as incredible as I had remembered, and I am so happy we got to have that experience together! A definite spurge, but oh-so worth it!

10. STROLLING LONG BEACH

Leaving Tofino, we stopped at Long Beach. I needed to snap some photos one last time. Long Beach is the largest and longest beach in the Pacific Rim National Park. It is known for being one of the earliest and most popular surfing locations in BC. It is fun to stroll the beach while watching the surfers catch the waves. 

 

Thank you re-exploring Tofino with me! All thoughts, opinions, and photos are my own. I know Chris and I only scratched the surface, but I would love to hear if you have been here before or would like to go. What is the one thing that was/is on your "to do" list while visiting?

Happy travels!

xx Kelly 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating LBC's Birthday: A reflection on my first year in business

Well just like that, I am here. I am celebrating one full year since I launched Little Blue Canoe on July 1st (Canada Day), 2015. The past year has truly been a wild ride. I am sure that a lot of business owners say this, but I now understand why. I have gone through every emotion and have challenged myself in ways that I never thought possible. To understand where LBC is now, I would like to first take you back to my launch in 2015.

July 1, 2015

I stayed up until well after 1am the night before because I was so excited, nervous, and anxious to have my website go live that morning. I had poured over one hundred+ hours into getting everything ready and it was about to be "go time". Before going live with the website, I had done some family and friend sales and got a great response. I was riding high off a combination of this and my anticipation of the website launch. A little naively, I thought that I would have people swarming the site and that I would be packing orders all day and night while trying to keep up with inventory. I actually thought "what if the site crashes from being so busy?". That is not exactly what happened. I don't want to say you could hear crickets, but there were very few orders (eight to be exact). I couldn't help but feel deflated and disappointed. Had I not advertised enough? Was my shipping too high? Did my customers not like what I had to offer? Were they just being nice when they liked my posts on social media? So much doubt started to creep in. That was only day one.

Over the next week, a few orders continued to trickle in, but still not nearly as many as I had hoped for and worked towards. I had invested so much money and time into this business, and when I didn't see an immediate return, I got nervous. What had I gotten myself into? Was this "passion project" a pipe dream?

Fast forward to present day...

I am actually sitting here laughing at myself as I write this. Not in a bad way, but in a really incredibly grateful and reflective way. I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason, and without a doubt, everything happened the way it was meant to.

FOUR THINGS I HAVE LEARNED IN MY FIRST YEAR OF BUSINESS:

  • Play to your strengths - what I mean by this is I spend the most time where I feel most comfortable. I love people. I love packaging orders. I love doing little photo shoots for my social media accounts. I love the "little things". I love creating personal relationships. I am not a big fan of accounting for instance, so my Husband helped with my corporate return, GST filing, etc. He likes it, he is good at it, and together we have become quite the team. I of course have to know what is happening in my business, but with him at the helm of the number crunching, I can enjoy the other aspects of my business.
  • Focus on what you can control - I truly can't control if people will buy or not, but I can work to increase my SEO, the products I carry and the vendors I align with, the message I am putting out to the public, the tone/feel of the company, the relationships I value, and the passion I have. I believe in what I have created, and I know that the customers I have do, too. 
  • Let Social Media be your friend, not foe - Oh wow, I think I could write a book about this one. There was a period of a time a few months after I launched that I felt myself going down a very dark hole in regards to this. IG/FB/Twitter make it so easy to compare yourself to others and can quickly derail you from you joy and your focus. As a fairly strong willed and confident 35 year old, I was rather disappointed in myself for allowing other accounts and their "likes/followers" affect me so much. I could see it becoming a slippery slope, so I sought professional marketing/communications help and it got me back on track (thank you, Nicole!). I don't have any of those apps that show me who unfollows me (because, not to be rude, I don't care), and I put all that energy and time into actually growing my business instead of worrying about everyone else's. Also, let's be honest...most social media accounts show you the highlight reel. I am no different. I like to put up posts that reflect me, my personality and my business. I really enjoy using social media for just that now, to be social. I value the people that I interact with and work hard to make sure each comment is acknowledged. It takes time, but now the time I spend on social media is a happy time.
  • Be Thankful - I love how easy this is. I have always tried to practice this in my personal life, even on those really hard days. Doing so while running a business should be no different. I am so incredibly grateful for my friends, my family, my customers, my vendors, and those that give me advice/guidance/feedback along the way. I am thankful for the days that I have one order just as much as I am on the days I may have ten. I am thankful for the learning curves, the small victories, and the hustle it takes to make my dream a reality. I often used to joke that I was "Living the dream one latte at a time" (heck, that's why I got a mug made for LBC with that saying). Now there is less sarcasm and more truth in that statement. 

I have no idea what is in store for me in year two, but I can tell you...there is a an electric tornado of energy that I have swirling within me. I am really excited to introduce you to my "The Happiest Collection" (debuting next week!), while continuing to work with my amazing vendors, adding some new product, and "Curating Canada". I liken LBC to a tortoise and not a hare. I hope that being slow and steady is what continues to bring my company success. And to those eight customers I had on Canada Day last year, I am so thankful that you jumped online to place an order. You got the ball rolling and it hasn't stopped.

Thank you for being a friend of Little Blue Canoe!

xx Kelly 

 

 

#CANADALOVED - The Making of a Hashtag Project

Postcard design by Lianne Charlene Creative - liannecharlene.com

I have been incredibly excited to share this blog post with you. I wanted to provide a little insight as to how the making of Little Blue Canoe's new mailer/hashtag project came to be. 

Over the Christmas holidays, I was enjoying a coffee catch-up with my friend, Nicole, of Bot Communications, and I told her I wanted to start an "online conversation" about how my friends, family, and customers love Canada by using one common hashtag. Together, we bounced some ideas off of each other and #CANADALOVED was created.

This hashtag project will look to create a sense of community by sharing what connects us in our passions and our pride. 

The #CANADALOVED mailer will be included in every order, as well as being a hashtag to use on Little Blue Canoe's associated social media accounts. I want it to get you thinking: How is YOUR Canada loved?

On the mailer, I have shared how my Canada is loved, with the people, places, and experiences that lend themselves to making my world a more vibrant and exciting place. I also send orders outside of Canada and I wanted to be inclusive of my international customers as well. A hashtag transcends borders and continents, just like our love for Canada.

When sharing photos, tweets, and posts, please use the hashtag to share how YOUR Canada is loved!  

Join the #canadaloved community:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/canadaloved or #canadaloved

Instagram: @canadaloved and #canadaloved 

Twitter: @littlebluecanoe and #canadaloved

 xx Kelly

Notes of Love: Letters from my Grandma.



I thought that Valentine's Day would be a really great day to write about something and someone very near and dear to my heart.

I often acknowledge the fact that I love to send letters and cards. One of the biggest perks about running my online shop is getting to include a handwritten note with every order. Today, I want to tell you about writing to my Grandma.

My Grandma Breeze lived on a farm in Owen Sound, Ontario. Growing up in Calgary, we didn't see her often, but when we did, it was always really special. I have the most amazing memories from our times out at the farm. Picking raspberries, leaving milk out for the cats, exploring the old barn, driving snowmobiles, and so much more.

At the Farm

 

My Grandpa passed away long before I was even born, so sadly I never got to meet him. My Grandma was sweet and easy going. She loved Tim Horton's, Dairy Queen chocolate dipped cones, walks to the Post Office, naps, catching up on the daily news, and "puttering" around.

When I was old enough to write my own letters and cards, my Mom would often say "You know, I bet Grandma would love to hear from you". So that is what I would do. I would find some really great stationery, decorate the envelope, and then mail her a card or letter. Over the years, we essentially became pen pals. I always found it so relaxing to spend that 10-30 minutes writing her.

We would write about anything and everything. I would tell her about school, work, boys, friends, what my Sister was up to...you name it. She would write and tell me about my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins, her siblings, the cats down the lane, what she did that day or that week (and usually what the weather was like, isn't that what most older people like to do? Ha!). She loved to talk about all the effort I would put into decorating the envelope that her card or letter came in, as I would often embellish it with stickers and drawings. She would often reference taking it to a few of her favourite places around town and "showing the folks". It was so sweet, and I always loved hearing how much she enjoyed that.

My Grandma passed away in April of 2007 at the age of 98. She continued to write me well into her 90's. I truly believe her love of writing and weekly trips to the post office that helped keep her brain sharp all those years.

Grandma's 95th Birthday Celebration!

I have saved every card and letter that my Grandma has ever sent me. My 16th birthday card, letters congratulating me on my first job, everything. At any point I can sit and read her letters and instantly be taken back to those moments in time. It always puts a giant smile on my face, and makes me feel so grateful for the love of writing and snail mail that we both enjoyed. My Husband can read the cards and letters and get a sense of the wonderful woman she was and the relationship we had. Down the road, I will read the letters to my boys and show them photos from my visits to the farm.

 

My Mom said when she was cleaning out her place after she passed away, she found a shoebox with all my old letters in their decorated envelopes. That brought such a smile to my face, knowing that she cherished all our correspondence just as much as I had.

In today's world, a lot of letters just aren't sent anymore. I promise you that you will never regret taking that few minutes to slow down and enjoy the process of putting your pen to paper. You never know whose day you will make. I appreciate every card and letter I have ever been given, but especially from someone that is no longer here with me. Having saved all those cards and letters to look back on, my Grandma IS always here with me.

xo Kelly