YEG LOCAL Gift Guide – 50 Local Gifts Under $50 (2018)

The holiday season is upon us! The eggnog is poured, the Christmas tree is up, the holiday fireplace channel is on, and many of us are starting to shop for the perfect Christmas gifts to give to our friends and family!

This year, many Edmontonians (including myself) are making a conscious effort to support more local businesses, makers, and artists by purchasing locally-made and locally-sourced products!

So, this holiday season, I challenge you to purchase as many locally-made products for your loved ones as you can.

And in the spirit of local love, I’ve come up with a list of 50 locally-made gifts under $50.00 (for anyone and everyone on your Christmas list).

Enjoy!









And there you have it! 50 local Edmonton-made gift ideas under $50.00 for anyone and everyone on your list this year.

I hope you enjoyed browsing through this local #yeg gift guide as much as I enjoyed making it! Be sure to show some love to the companies mentioned above on social media and at upcoming holiday markets in the city.

Until next time,

Paige Simpson.png

My Favourite Shops on 124th Street

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Edmonton's 124th Street is one of my favourite streets in Edmonton because of all the amazing local shops and restaurants located there. So, I thought I'd make a list of my favourites! 

Here are 6 Edmonton local shops and restaurants on 124th street that are killing it: 

1. Zwicks Pretzels

I swear, these are the best pretzels in the city (and don't even get me started on their McZwick Sandwich!). If you're looking for a delicious soft pretzel with the perfect amount of salt and butter, you've gotta check this place out! 

2. Lipstick Empire

I've been getting laser hair removal treatments at Lipstick empire for almost a year now, and every time I come into their shop, I feel so welcomed and comfortable. Not to mention, their employees are second-to-none! If you're looking for any kind of medispa treatment, Lipstick Empire is the place to go. 

3. Tiramisu Bistro

The fact that Tiramisu Bistro has an entire menu specifically dedicated to spaghetti makes my heart happy. Also, Jenny and I shared two phenomenal desserts here a couple of weeks ago (and I'm still drooling).   

4. Salgado Fenwick & The Barking Buffalo Café

You can't go wrong with locally made garments and coffee! Every time I'm on 124th Street, I make sure to stop by and order an iced chai latte. 

5. Duchess Bake Shop 

This one speaks for itself. If you're looking for delicious gourmet French pastries, this is the place to be. All of their pastries are made daily in-house from scratch. Not to mention, their space is adorable! 

6. Acquired Taste Tea Company 

I'm a tea-aholic and the Acquired Taste Tea Company feeds my addition. But seriously, this tea shop is one of the best out there and has any tea you could possibly need (and even some you didn't know you needed). If you love tea, this is a must-stop shop! 

 

I hope you enjoyed this list of my favourite local shops on 124th street. Make sure to go show these local businesses some love! 

 

 

Until next time, 

Paige Simpson.png

I'm a published Author!

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I'm officially a published author!! Yes, you read that right. 

One of my short stories titled Withered Petunias was chosen to be published in an anthology called the Bolo Tie Collective (Volume 3). The book is published, printed, and finally in my hands! 

It is so surreal to see one of my short stories printed in a real anthology. I never thought my creative writing would be published this soon — especially while still attending University. 

I want to thank the entire Bolo Tie Collective team and my two volunteer editors for tirelessly working with me and supporting me throughout the writing process. 

Here is a super short synopsis for my short story titled Withered Petunias

"After his wife dies of a heart attack in her late thirties, Dr. Raymond Mitchell looks for love again by attending a local speed-dating event."

If you'd like to pick up a copy of the Bolo Tie Collective (Volume 3), you can purchase a copy at the MacEwan Bookstore. By purchasing an anthology, you are supporting myself and many other talented writers who have poured their souls into the poems and short stories printed in its pages.  

 

Until next time, 

Paige Simpson.png

7 Date Ideas For Fall in Edmonton

The leaves are changing colour, the air is crisp, and the pumpkin spice latte is back. Dust off your brown leather boots and plaid scarves — It's finally time for cute Fall dates! 

Below are 7, "Paige-approved" Edmonton date ideas for fall! 

1. Pick a Pumpkin at Somerset Farms 

You two can spend the day picking pumpkins at the picturesque Somerset Farms, located just 45 minutes outside of Edmonton. Once you've picked the perfect pumpkins, take them home to carve them together for Halloween (and don't forget to season and roast the seeds!).   

2. Find Your Way Through the Edmonton Corn Maze 

What's more romantic than getting lost in a maze together? Nothing. The Edmonton Corn Maze is open from September 4 to October 21, 2018. 

3. Go Apple-Picking Using the Edmonton Edible Fruit Tree Map

Want to know where to pick fresh apples in the city? Use the City of Edmonton Edible Fruit Trees Map! This map will help you find apple, cherry, and plum trees throughout the entire city so that you can get your picking on! 

4. Bake a Pie Together with Fresh Local Produce 

After you've bought some fresh local produce, or picked some apples yourself, you and your significant other can bake a delicious pie together! Here is one of my favourite apple pie recipes. 

5. Visit the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival 

Calling all Edmonton foodies! The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival is returning to Edmonton October 19-20, 2018. Sample wine and gourmet food samples with your significant other at this must-attend fall festival! 

6. Take a Fall Segway Tour in the River Valley 

Segway past the colourful leaves of the Edmonton River Valley, feeling the crisp autumn air on your face. Make sure to book an Urban Segway Tour with River Valley Adventure Co. — you won't be disappointed.  

7. Go for a Walk in the Mill Creek Ravine

Before the trails are covered with snow, take a stroll in the beautiful Mill Creek Ravine with your significant other! Not only will you both be getting your steps in, but you might also see some cute dogs on the trails (and, who doesn't like cute dogs?).  

 

I hope you enjoyed this list of super cute Edmonton fall dates! In the comments below, tell me one thing you love about your significant other. 

 

Until next time, 

Paige Simpson.png

5 Things To Do In Edmonton With Friends Instead of Going To The Bar

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Don't get me wrong, a weekend on Whyte Ave drinking with your best friends is always a good time, but sometimes it's fun to try some new weekend activities that don't involve a hangover.  

Here's a list of 5 of my favourite things to do in Edmonton with friends, instead of going to the bar: 

1. Board Game Cafe 

If you know me, you know I love board games. So, adding a board game cafe to the list was an obvious must. My favourite board game cafe in Edmonton is Table Top Cafe on 124th Street, but there are a couple of others in the city as well. At Table Top, it's only $5.00 per person to play as many games as you want for as long as you want! Not going to lie, my friends and I usually stay until closing time (cue Semisonic song here). If you like board games, I guarantee you'll have an amazing time! 

2. Art Gallery 

Okay, I know what you're thinking — art galleries are BORING. But, hear me out! Visiting an art gallery with friends can be a super entertaining experience! It's exciting to walk around the gallery and see how the people in your friend group interpret art pieces differently. Sometimes there are even interactive art installations which are always fun to participate in. Better yet, the Art Gallery of Alberta hosts free admission nights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5-8pm. Also, If you're a registered Alberta Post-Secondary Student, you get in for free all the time! 

3. Escape Room

There's no better bonding between friends than when you're all stuck in a room and have to put your minds together to try and escape! There are tons of different escape rooms around Edmonton to try out, so what are you waiting for?! 

4. Elk Island National Park 

Okay, so this suggestion involves a little bit of a trek outside of the city, but trust me, it's worth the drive. Elk Island National Park is one of my favourite places on earth. If you and your friends are into hiking, canoeing, or kayaking, Elk Island is the place for you! You can rent canoes and kayaks at the Astotin Lake Recreation Area. 

5. Tour a Craft Brewery 

Edmonton has a thriving craft beer scene with tons of diverse craft breweries spread around the city. Who wouldn't want to tour a brewery and learn how they make the beer that we love so much. Not to mention, you'll get to sample a ton of delicious, locally-made beer! For example, Alley Kat offers brewery tours for just $15.00 per person! 

 

I hope this little list gave you and your friends some ideas for future outings! Let me know which one was your favourite in the comments below. 

 

Until next time, 

Paige Simpson.png

My Personalized Facial Experience at Kaya Kama Hammam & Day Spa

If you have been watching my Instagram stories lately, you know that the past couple of weeks have been difficult. While coping with the sickness of a dear friend, I received devastating news about medical complications of a family member. This, on top of the regular work I had to complete for the week, left me extremely emotionally tired and drained.

As many of you know, it's difficult to take care of yourself when you are focussed on your loved ones. Personally, I find it tough to cater to my own needs and nourish my own body in times like these. But last week, I was lucky enough to be pampered by the lovely Carolina at Kaya Kama Hammam & Day Spa with a personalized facial! This was my first facial ever, and after the experience I had at Kaya Kama, it definitely won't be my last.  

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Before the facial even began, I sat down with Carolina (the sweetest aesthetician ever) for an in-depth consultation about my skin. We talked about my skin's problem areas with sensitivity, acne, and dry patches. We also discussed the products that I was currently using in my skincare routine, as well as the amount of water I drink on a daily basis (Guilty as charged—I definitely don't drink enough). 

After my skin consultation, Carolina stepped out of the room to gather products specifically catered to my skin. Since I have extremely sensitive skin, she made sure to chose all-natural Eminence Organic products that would soothe my skin and cause me the least amount of irritation and redness. While Carolina was gathering the products, I had time to slip into the towel gown that they had provided for me, and started to relax. The facial room at Kaya Kama was decorated with dimly lit tea light candles, and playing in the background was soft relaxing music. To be honest, this moment at Kaya Kama was the first time in a long time that I was able to clear my mind of all of life's stressors, and simply enjoy a bit of relaxation and pampering. 

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The personalized facial process at Kaya Kama includes cleansing, exfoliation, hot towel press, steaming, extraction (when necessary), facial massage, and a mask catered to your skin type. During my personalized facial, Carolina walked me through the entire process by letting me know which products were being applied and by asking me how each product felt on my skin. This allowed me to stay in control of my appointment, while still allowing me to relax and unwind. 

Each product that was used on my skin smelled delightful, and after each product was applied, I could feel my skin become more refreshed. Not to mention, in between each step, a hot towel press was applied to my face which was LITERAL heaven. Honestly, I was so relaxed during my facial that I probably could have fallen asleep (good thing I don't snore, hey?).

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After my facial was complete, Carolina left out all of the products she used during our session for me to look at, along with the sweetest hand-written note. I left my appointment feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. It was almost as if I'd just stepped out of a meditation class or something — I know it sounds weird, but it's true! Who knew that you could leave a facial feeling that renewed and rebalanced? 

If you live in the Edmonton area and are considering any kind of spa or medi-spa treatment, I would highly recommend visiting Riti and her team at Kaya Kama Hammam & Day Spa. They offer facials, laser hair removal (with Diode Laser YAG technology), massages, waxing, tinting, threading, and even manicures and pedicures! To learn more or to book an appointment, you can contact Kaya Kama at 780-988-5554, or visit them online at www.kayakama.com

 

Until next time, 

Paige Simpson.png

Artist Spotlight: Kristine MacDonald (Smithstine Copper)

On April 14, 2018, I had the pleasure of visiting Kristine MacDonald — the sole owner, designer, and maker behind Smithstine Copper — at her lovely home studio. For those who don't know, Kristine is a coppersmith based in Edmonton Alberta known for her beautifully intricate, nature-inspired copper jewelry and wares.

If you live in the Edmonton area, and frequent the many markets the city has to offer, you have probably stumbled upon Kristine's work. I came to know of Kristine through her Instagram page about a year ago, and since then have been in love with every piece she crafts. For those who have yet to follow her, please do @SmithstineCopper or @kmacsmicle, where she posts lovely photos of her handmade Copper Jewelry and daily life as an Edmonton maker! 

Kristine's quaint studio is nestled in her back garage, complete with light wood paneling on the walls and plenty of natural light to brighten the space. Her studio is truly the definition of a makers studio — homely and rich in culture. On her workbench, tools were spread, and copper pieces were on display. 

While visiting, I asked Kristine a few questions so that we could all get to know her — and her craft — a little better. 

How did you get introduced to your craft? 

"Seven years ago, I started taking community silversmithing classes as a hobby and really enjoyed it. It started out just for fun — it was something I'd do in my dad's garage — but it slowly built up into becoming a business when I started selling my pieces at different markets around the city."

What does a coppersmith do? 

"Basically, I'll start with a sheet of copper and will saw it all out by hand with a little tiny jewellers saw to create different shapes. Sometimes I will solder them together using a torch. Then I will hand etch them to make different designs. Basically, as a coppersmith, I create small-scale medal things like rings, cuffs, necklaces. It's kind of similar to blacksmithing or welding, but just on a much smaller scale."

Describe your idea of artistic success. 

"My idea of artistic success would be to produce less. I would love to be able to create more intricate and interesting pieces and sell them for more. Success, to me, means more creative freedom and more time to devote to a project. But all of that really depends on the clientele you have. Right now, my clientele are very much like me, so I try to make pieces that I think people like me would like, and I try to price my pieces at values that people like me could afford."

Do you have any long-standing influences when it comes to your art? 

"Usually my pieces are inspired by the trips I go on. Most are inspired by my trips to the west coast, camping trips around here, and the places that I love around Edmonton."

How do you decide what to create next? 

"If I have an idea in my mind of a piece that I'd like to create, I will usually just drop everything and make it; even if I have a bench full of other things on the go. Since this is both my hobby and my job, it is important that I give myself some creative freedom to create the things I want to create."  

Do you have any favourite pieces? 

"My favourite piece I've created is a copper collar necklace with two hand-etched humpback whales kissing." 

What is your most important tool as a coppersmith? What is one thing you can't live without in your studio? 

"My saw is definitely my most important tool because that's what I cut every shape out with. But, I also can't live without podcasts. When you're working alone in a studio all day, it can get boring. I listen to probably 10 to 15 podcasts a day." 

If you would like to learn more about Kristine MacDonald or would like to see more of her designs, you can browse her website at Smithstine.com. Smithstine Copper Jewlery is also on display at several Edmonton retail locations such as Tix On The Square, The Muttart Conservatory, Homestead Coworking, and The Royal Alberta Museum.

Keep your eye out for Kristine this May at The Royal Bison Art & Craft Fair, as well as the Etsy Made in Canada Spring 2018 Market

 

Until next time, 

Paige Simpson.png

World Kindness Day in YEG

Did you know that November 13th is known as World Kindness Day? I had no clue that this holiday even existed until I was acquainted with the KindnessYEG initiative!

KindnessYEG was created by Edmonton's own Cara Haubrich. The Initiative was born after Cara met a woman by the name of Angela Frattaroli while on vacation in Victoria, British Columbia. On World Kindness Day (November 13th) every year, Angela would selflessly purchase thousands of flowers, tag them with kind words, and hand them out all over Victoria to put a smile on the faces of others. Inspired by this selfless act of kindness, Cara knew that she had to bring the initiative to Edmonton in the form of KindnessYEG. 

KindnessYEG works to encourage random acts of kindness throughout the city of Edmonton, and it's surrounding communities. On World Kindness Day (November 13th) every year, Cara, along with several other selfless volunteers, hand out flowers around the Edmonton area in hopes of putting a smile on the faces of those that may need it. 

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This year's World Kindness Day (November 13th, 2017), I had the pleasure of volunteering with KindnessYEG by handing out flowers around the City of Edmonton. The KindnessYEG team was set up in Southgate Centre as well as Londonderry Mall to hand out flowers to unexpecting shoppers.

Myself, along with KindnessYEG's creator Cara and three other volunteers, managed to flood Edmonton's malls with over 4000 flowers, (the most in KindnessYEG history)! We handed out many of the flowers in person and left a few on the windshields of vehicles parked outside. Each flower was hand tagged by volunteers and wished recipients a happy World Kindness Day as well as encouraged them to pay the kindness forward. 

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While volunteering with KindnessYEG, I met so many courageous Edmontonians who were kind enough to share their stories with me. Many expressed their appreciation for the KindnessYEG initiative while explaining their current struggles and hardships. It warmed my heart to know that my little act of kindness had made someone's day a little bit better. 

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A small act of kindness, like handing someone a flower, can create such an impact in the world. If we treated every day like World Kindness Day, by spreading a little bit of kindness to those around us, the world would be a much happier place! It is so easy to hold the door open for someone, to talk to someone who may be feeling lonely, to lend a helping hand to a neighbour, or to pay for the coffee of the person behind you at Tim Horton's. I encourage all of you to spread a little bit of kindness, wherever you are in the world, every single day. 

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Speaking of spreading some kindness...

Cara Haubrich, the creator of KindnessYEG, pays for many of the flowers out of her own pocket. As a University student, these flowers can be extremely expensive, (especially when you need 4000 of them). If we could spread a little kindness Cara's way by donating $1.00 to $5.00 towards next year's bunch of World Kindness Day flowers, we could help keep the KindnessYEG initiative alive and Cara's pockets a little more full! 

If you are able to donate, be sure to visit the KindnessYEG Go Fund Me page, or contact Cara directly through any of the KindnessYEG social media profiles. To learn more about the initiative, visit the KindnessYEG FacebookInstagram, or Twitter pages. 

 

Until next time, 

Paige Simpson.png

Artist Spotlight: Giselle Denis

On November 3, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending a studio art show hosted by the lovely Giselle Denis! For those who don't know, Giselle Denis is a fine artist based in Edmonton Alberta known for her bright and bold paintings of nature. She is also a performance painter at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton. 

If you live in the Edmonton area, and frequent downtown Edmonton, you have probably seen the gorgeous Mother Nature mural made by Giselle. The mural was a part of the Vignettes Design Series and is displayed beautifully on the side of the City of Edmonton Reuse Centre. 

I first came across Giselle's works through her Instagram page. For those who have yet to follow her, please do @GiselleDenisFineArt. She posts lovely photos of her artwork and day-to-day life that can brighten up anyone's day! 

Giselle's studio show was held in her country home, amidst the freshly snow-covered pine trees. Her quaint picturesque home was truly the perfect place for this event to be held. On the kitchen table, wine, hot apple cider, and snacks were laid out for her guests to enjoy. Her artwork was displayed throughout her home in every space imaginable, bathrooms, bedrooms, staircases, and all. 

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In the basement of Giselle's home was her studio space. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Her studio space brings the perfect amount of warmth to her home as well as her artwork. A wood-burning fireplace sits on the side of the space, surrounded by large wood-framed windows leading out to the winter wonderland outside. 

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In the corner of her studio space sat a musical area, complete with a piano and drumkit. Her paintings that hung and sat around the room created a homely and inviting space, a feeling that I have never felt while viewing art in a public gallery. 

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Although Giselle was busy chatting with many attendees of the event, she made sure to come and say hello for a couple of minutes. It was fantastic to get to chat with her for a bit and tell her how much of a "Giselle Denis fangirl" I am. Lol. Her husband Neil also came to talk to me and my boyfriend for a bit and was probably one of the nicest people I have ever met! 

Giselle's artwork speaks for itself. Her art is bright, bold, textured, original, and every painting has a specific story. She even made sure to include a small paragraph beside each one of her pieces, discribing the inspiration behind them. 

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Giselle's artwork has a special place in my heart. Every single time I see one of her paintings, a feeling of joy overcomes me. One of my favourite paintings of hers is a figurative work titled "Dance Your Future". From the moment I laid eyes on this painting, I saw innocence spread throughout the canvas. This piece makes me feel like a child again, with not a worry in the world. It brings me a sense of serenity and happiness that no other painting has ever done before. Luckily for me, "Dance Your Future" was displayed at Giselle's studio show, and seeing it for the first time in person was truly magical!   

This studio show was the first event of Giselle's that I have attended, and I was truly blown away! Her home was so inviting and was the perfect place for her artwork to be displayed. I had a wonderful time touring her home and viewing her artwork, and will most definitely be attending any of her future events! 

If you would like to learn more about Giselle Denis or see more of her artwork, please visit her website www.giselledenis.com

A special thanks goes out to my wonderful boyfriend, Sushami Pomerleau-Piquette from Almand Photography for capturing the images that are displayed in this blog post. 

 

Until next time,

Paige Simpson.png