Year: 2014

Oh My! Gift Guide: Book Week

Oh My! Gift Guide | Book Week

This holiday season, we’ve asked some of our favourite creatives, bloggers, makers and OMHG members to join us in rounding up great gift ideas. This week, we’re all about books – books for little people, books for big people, books for creative people. Books, books, books! Make sure to read all the way to the bottom of the post, where you’ll find a fun surprise! But first, here are the books we think will make great gifts this holiday season:

Show Your Work

Kim’s Pick –  Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

“Showing off what we make – for fun, for sale, for other people – is the way we get our creations noticed. Artist and writer Austin Kleon lays it all out in this tiny, perfect book: why sharing is important, and how to do it so it makes you happy. This book would be a great gift for anyone you know who makes stuff, especially if they blog about it, do it for a living, or want to blog about it or do it for a living.” – Kim Werker is an editor, writer, and podcaster, and the author of Make It Mighty Ugly.


Lyndsay’s Pick – Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad

“This is a magical book of two little girls cooking their way to understanding the world. My two year old son and I both love it equally. It shows them making terrible mistakes in the kitchen (fallen tiered cakes, escaping octopus tentacles, burnt fish) and then continuing to learn and try, eventually coming up with beautiful simple french dishes that give adults back their sense of childhood. It’s a story of friendship, cooking and discovery. The illustrations are what makes the book truly special – Julie Morstad is an artist and illustrator and I’ve always loved the vintage children’s book feel of her artwork. I also simply adored any books with drawings of food or cakes or dessert when I was a kid – they’re the books from my childhood that stand out, so I hope this one will stand out for my son when he looks back.” – Lyndsay is a baker, blogger, freelance writer and photographer. Her main focus is Coco Cake Land, a modern cake and desserts blog featuring original cake tutorials, recipes and simple modern party ideas. She lives in Vancouver amongst the mountains, ocean and urban life with her husband and toddler son.  

lettering books

Shauna’s PickCreative Lettering and Beyond & Hand-Lettering Ledger

“Creative Lettering and Beyond is a great beginner’s how-to guide to learning lettering. (Though I’m a bit biased as this is my book!) And the Hand Lettering Ledger by the super talented Mary Kate McDevitt is one of my favorites in terms of inspiration. I love looking at her gorgeous lettering and love that she shows how-to steps.” – Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn is a hand lettering artist and illustrator living in Orlando, Florida. She loves vintage typography and emphemera and has an unhealthy obsession with purchasing books that she doesn’t have room for. Her work can be seen at and prints can be purchased at

Easy Gourmet

Marisa’s PickEasy Gourmet by Stephanie Le

“I love pretty much all kinds of books but I have a serious weakness for beautiful cookbooks. Easy Gourmet is filled with tantalizing taste combinations and stunning pictures that will leave your stomach growling. From the simple to the sublime, the spaghetti to the shrimp rolls, Stephanie’s recipes challenge you to get creative in the kitchen while producing gourmet dishes that don’t need to be saved for special occasions. I think this book would be a wonderful addition to any cookbook collection.” – Marisa Edghill is the author of Washi Style (UK edition / US edition) and a featured artist in Pinterest Perfect. 


Jessika’s Pick – Goodness in Unexpected Places gift pack from House of Anansi Press

“Marisa tweeted me a link to this set last month and I immediately bought the books for my 10 year old Ila but also so I could read them first. The Cat At The Wall by Deborah Ellis is about a little girl who finds herself reincarnated as a cat into a Palestine village in a house with a small boy who needs help and finds the answer to how one cat, or any one creature, can make a difference. In A Simple Case of Angels by Caroline Adderson it is the holidays but no one in Nicola’s town seems very happy. After her dog gets in trouble Nicola winds up volunteering at a local seniors home with a friend and they find out some of the residents are being held against their will. Freeing them brings out the very best in both Nicola and her badly behaved dog June Bug. Both of these books will make hearts of any age grow three sizes bigger, all filled up with goodness, giving, and grace.” Jessika is the cooperative director of Oh My! Handmade, learn more about her here

Creative Block

Shauna’s Bonus PickCreative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas by Danielle Krysa

“This is a go-to book for sure. I love this because it makes me feel less alone when I get artist block as well as giving me ideas on how to push past those blocks.” Filled with advice and projects from 50 successful artists, this would make a wonderful pick for artists and creatives in your life.

See more books we love over on our Pinterest board!

But wait, before you go – a special announcement! To spread our love for Books, we’re declaring this week Book Week! We’ve teamed up with publishers and purveyors of awesome things to bring you a week of giveaways. Each day we’ll be sharing a new and exciting giveaway! Here’s a hint of what’s to come and where to find it…

Oh My! Book Week | 5 Days of Bookish Giveaways

Monday – that’s today! See details below.

Tuesday – Does colouring bring you great Joy? Find Tuesday’s giveaway over on the Oh My! Handmade Instagram account.

Wednesday – While Pinterest might not be perfect, it is bursting with creative inspiration. Wednesday’s giveaway will be found on our Pinterest Books Board.

Thursday – Making doesn’t always have to be pretty, in fact, sometimes it’s better when it’s ugly. Join us on Facebook on Thursday for this mighty fun giveaway.

Friday – A special surprise for one and all! Make sure you’re following Jessika on Twitter so you don’t miss out on the fun!

Oh My! Book Week | Day 1: Creative Lettering & Beyond + Jet Pens Sampler - enter on

We’re giving away a copy of Creative Lettering and Beyond featuring our very own Shauna Lynn + a set of 5 brush pens from Jet Pens * – Shauna’s favourite pens for lettering!

*In case of a Canadian winner, Jet Pens prize will be a $25 gift certificate.

Giveaway open to US / Canada only. Winners chosen at random on Monday, December 22.

Enter here by letting us know your favourite books for gifting (or a book you’d love to receive!) in the comments. Get an extra entry for sharing one of our giveaway graphics on your website, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

This giveaway is now closed – Congratulations to Catherine Denton for her winning comment! 

Special thanks to Walter Foster, Jet Pens, Peter Pauper Press, Omiyage, Sasquatch and Scout Books for supplying us with all these awesome goodies to share with you!

Stop the Hustle: On Slowing Down, Stepping Up & Paying Attention

Stop the Hustle | Oh My! Handmade

hus•tle (ˈhʌs əl)
v. -tled, -tling,

  1. to proceed or work rapidly or energetically.
  2. to push or force one’s way; jostle or shove.
  3. to be aggressive, esp. in business or other financial dealings.
  4. Slang. to earn one’s living by illicit or unethical means.
  5. Slang. (of a prostitute) to solicit clients.
  6. to convey or cause to move, esp. to leave, roughly or hurriedly.
  7. to pressure or coerce (a person) to buy or do something, esp. something illicit or ultimately unprofitable.
  8. to urge, prod, or speed up: Hustle your work along.
  9. to obtain by aggressive and often illicit means: to hustle money from unsuspecting tourists.
  10. to sell, promote, or publicize aggressively or vigorously.
  11. to jostle, push, or shove roughly

[1675–85; < Dutch husselen, variant of hutselen to shake = hutsen to shake]

The Free Dictionary, Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary

For many this is the season of hustle when consumers and businesses large and small are swept up in a selling, shopping frenzy. Publishing this on the 10th anniversary of the day I registered my first handmade business and during our winter slowdown seems like perfect timing. I know the internet has little time for long form these days but my words don’t fit in convenient boxes lately so I hope you’ll make time when you are able to slow down and dig in. This is all about getting to the goodness always waiting at the centre when we stop the hustle, slow down, and really step up for each other.

It started with seeing Hustle everywhere. A quick Etsy search for ‘hustle’ results in thousands of items with the word shining in gold scripty font on everything from pencils to prints, even your baby can rep a onesie on the virtues of conning each other in the name of personal progress. Currently the word is being used to mean working hard in your business or toward your goals with everyone from would-be business gurus to lifestyle bloggers laying down the same brand of hurry up and get what you want. There is even a conference to learn how to be a better hustler.  Regardless of intentions words have hidden meanings and using this one as motivation might deserve some thought about what is really being said.

“When we lift language, context crumbles” –John MacKenzie

Hustle as a word dates to 16th century Middle Dutch but the historical origins go back to 15th century heretic Jan Hus and his role in sparking the Hussite Wars. The word ‘huseln’ eventually came to mean an enthusiastic movement or recruitment for nasty purposes and over time evolved into what we know as hustle. The word in many communities still means to con, force, push, coerce and manipulate. Hustle implies the world is a place of scarcity and struggle so you are going to have to work harder and fiercer than anyone else to get anything you want.  Common usage of hustle as slang came up out of inner city communities through channels like hip hop and R&B, no matter how much it gets shined up or what we want to believe, it is a word wrapped in the struggle of people trying to rise in a world that won’t let them.

For most of us the casual use of hustle diminishes the very real troubles of those who are just hustling to make it to the next day. Seeing it splashed everywhere by people who have every opportunity at the same time events are unfolding in the USA in Ferguson, our own Canadian First Nations communities, and so many places of severe inequality around the world seems perfectly emblematic of what is most damaged between us culturally, within our communities, our families, and ultimately within myself.

The problem with hustle is that it is hungry and always wants more. Another word for consumption, hustle can’t be full or content because to be still is to be complacent or left behind,  I wrote about this and the Metrics of More vs. the Metrics of Enough in 2012. It isn’t just the semantics of the word Hustle that I’m caught up on but everything it represents-frenzy, panic, urgency, coercion, and ultimately oppression of each other in the crab scrabble to climb out of the bucket. To hustle is to live for the high of the future – tomorrow is going to be better so you better bust your ass today and not let anyone get in your path. Unfortunately hustle is addictive, competitive, insatiable and absolutely everywhere.

Hustle pits you against everyone else leaving no room for common goals, shared humanity, or humble giving. Instead of building the path by walking together hustle wants us all in our own individual steamrollers flattening each other in the rush to the finish line. Hustlers don’t have time for silly concepts like unity or cooperation, they are far too busy planning world domination or courting celebrity.

If you’ve loved or been an addict you know that hustle fills the void. When you are in a place of addiction to anything, whether it is the high of adrenaline or the distance of heroin, you hustle for a fix. As a culturally mashed up child of the inner city, a former addict, and someone who has held loved ones through both overdose and withdrawal I’ve seen hustle in many forms. I’m always trying to spot it in business, community, and daily decision making but this year it was especially personal.

For the past 11 months my mom and I have been on a healing + hustle busting journey together. Ten years ago when my oldest daughter was born my mom was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of severe trauma after trauma throughout her life. Back then I was 21 and struggled to understand fully what the diagnosis meant or how to support her. Last January after a year of depression, poverty, and overt racism in her apartment complex my mom sunk into a black place of near constant anxiety and ended up in the ICU on life support when her body shut down. Sitting beside all the machines breathing for her something shattered in us but we didn’t break like it seemed at first, we were broken open.

“I met a woman once when I was a teenager. I knew she had gone through a lot but she was so strong, so compassionate. I asked her how she could be the way she was, and you know what she told me? You can be broken, or broken open. That choice is yours.”

Erica Bauermeister, Joy for Beginners

Since then I’ve spent a lot of time learning about PTSD and how to step up into a new role with my mom as a caregiver and support system so she can weave the broken bits into a new whole. I had to learn how to stop the hustle in myself first so I could slow down and step up. My job became being a master of spotting where I participate and fuel frantic thought and how I have the ability to guide both my mom and myself into a place of calm and safety.

What helped make the connection between Hustle and PTSD is learning more about what is known as the Fight or Flight response and how it affects our sympathetic nervous system. Hustle and PTSD (as well as anxiety, addiction and stress) stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and produce stress hormones. Adrenaline causes blood to move to the action centers of the brain telling it to increase heart rate and blood flow and we get a sudden surge of energy as hormones flood the body.  The trouble with this?

The sympathetic system’s activity breaks down the body when stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol run unchecked. When this system dominates, energy is diverted from healing, building tissues, and eliminating waste. The energy for this system comes from demands placed on your glands (as opposed to the kind of energy that comes from eating food). And while it feels good or great at first, it is often followed by fatigue or even a crash. Over time, too much sympathetic nervous system activity breaks the body. 

Source: The Suppers Program, Fight or Flight vs. Rest and Digest

High stress situations like struggling for survival or dealing with constant trauma cause the body to exist in a constant state of hustle, hustle, hustle, then collapse. Collapse happens when the body can no longer deal with the elevated levels of stress and the immune system begins shutting down. Stress impacts our creativity, our problem solving, and our ability to collaborate effectively. Coping with PTSD or a panic disorder is like being kept in that place against your will all the time and not being able to find the escape hatch. The choice most of us have to slow down is harder to recognize when you can barely remember to breathe. So if the stress of hustle isn’t healthy why do we choose to buy into the idea that ‘working like a boss’  is something to covet or make decisions from a competitive place instead of a collaborative one? Even when the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Survey states current predictions indicate by 2030 depression (and other stress related illnesses) will be the leading cause of disease burden globally?

Scarcity. Consumption. Expectation. The Metrics of More. Hunger.

“All sins are attempts to fill voids.” Simone Weil

Have you ever been truly hungry for something? It is a terrible desperate need, much like the emptiness of hustle since the two are all wrapped up in each other. When we are hungry for anything be it food, love, power, travel, recognition, friends or success the hustle often creeps over us. It makes us narrow our focus to that thing we don’t have and unable to recognize all options we already have access to. We start to think that the only way to get to our dreams IS the hustle.  Changing the pattern from scarcity to abundance is really the simplest, hardest work. It involves the willingness to slow down, fill up, and pay attention, every single day regardless of how chaotic the world around you is. This isn’t some sit on a pillow and ohm three times kind of meditation, a practice of cultivating positive thoughts, or a course you need to pay for- it is much easier then any of that and requires nothing but what many of us are blessed enough to have access to. Our bodies were made for it after all.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” and inside us we contain the opposing force to our own Fight or Flight response called the Rest and Digest response or the parasympathetic nervous system. This response is the one associated with healing, digestion, building immunity, and cleaning our bodies of toxins. Since it is the biological opposite of Fight or Flight we physically can’t enter that state while we’re stressed or riding adrenaline, so what will get us there?

Unlike the quick high of Fight or Flight that gives us a surface leap of energy and action, getting our bodies and minds into a state of Rest and Digest takes more time, and doesn’t have a fancy tagline. Simple whole food, a place to feel safe, the comfort of connection and community, and what may matter most-creative, sustainable work to unite and quiet our heads, hearts, and hands. Crafting anything with time and intention whether it is a garden plot, a friendship, or a well rooted business, grounds and connects us to a deep well of resiliency and an internal strength that refuses to be hustled. 

This year when my mom was discharged from the hospital without a home I hustled to keep her from homelessness and give her the stability she deserved in order to heal. But it was only when I slowed down enough to pay attention that the crisis found a resolution and the real work began. Many times since then mom and I have navigated Fight or Flight and the panic that comes over her through talking on the phone. With love, safety, and the kindness of strangers + friends her blood pressure has lowered without medication, increasingly she turns her thoughts and body to a place of rest, and has applied to school and been accepted with the dream of getting her masters degree. By my taking the time to really pay attention to her she was able to start giving herself that same attention and learn to spot the internal hustle before it takes over. This isn’t easy work-she lives on $220 a month yet she is planning a future and for the first time in years spends more time counting her blessings than tallying her losses.

As for me, when I stopped my hustle I was able to think clearly and without even looking found the work that mattered most. I became more aware of the ways we hustle each other online/offline and how I don’t want to participate. I found it harder and harder to engage with an internet that acts more like a full blown panic attack than the friendly cooperative neighbourhood it once was so things slowed as I figured a new way forward. That slowness made space for unbelievable opportunities to really learn about myself and why handmade/making matters including learning how to weave myself into the whole and gathering to begin making real community. I travelled from one end of Canada to the other from Prince Edward Island to Cortes Island, talking to thousands of creative people, finding and sharing with the dearest friends and comrades. While I worry for our communities and the world seems like a never-ending newsreel of trauma, in each moment I am pretty much happy all the time. Instead of leaning in or leaning out I choose the middle path of abundance – to plant firm roots and invite you to share the harvest. 

Hustle is human and a reminder we are not long from our caveman origins when Fight or Flight really was essential to our survival, it just isn’t serving us well anymore. If we want to start healing so we can act on the very real suffering in our own hearts and communities we might want to stop relying on adrenaline and start relying on our ability to pay attention, choosing rest over fight and digest instead of flight.

What is the opposite of hustle? What can fill the void? I believe part of the answer is and always has been keeping handmade at the heart of our communities. Simone Weil also had part of the answer for us in her eloquent writings on Attention to the Real and the union of Thought and Work. To her the art and act of paying attention and using our head, heart, and hands was both prayer and an invitation to grace. She believed that truly paying attention to another person or a cause was not only an act of compassion but ultimately rebellion. We have always had the power to be creative citizens who manufacture our own collective success instead of passive consumers of hustle.

No matter how lost I have been this year or in my life I come home to handmade, to what makes me not only human but humane is where there is healing and abundance. Making something with care and thought whether it is a meal, a letter, email or blog post, a work of art or design, a relationship, a safe home, a community, or even a slow social movement is the ultimate act of paying attention. In times of mass distraction where the biggest, newest, bestest thing is always one click away paying attention to what is in front of us and then making more from those resources is revolutionary.

“We can blossom and grow in contentment.” -Genevieve Olejnick 

This year the internet seemed more sure than ever of the answers to life, the universe and everything, how to manufacture success, gather clubs of sameness, and streamline our hustle so the bright ‘new economy’ looks suspiciously like the old one while crisis after crisis set fire to social media. The more we shout statements the more questions I have…

If we all stopped hustling online + offline and started paying more attention to each other, would we realize we already have enough and start sharing instead of scrambling for more? Would we spend more time connecting and less time consuming? Reach out to our neighbours? Cultivate more compassion and engagement with everyone? Imagine if we gathered in our local communities just once a month to cook and make a meal then share our skills/gifts with each other? If we stopped to make as a real community, would we fight less and value contentment more?  

Maybe then we could all stop the hustle for what we think we don’t have, slow down enough to step up for each other and ourselves, and really start sharing the abundance all around us.

Because the thing hustlers forget about is that no one gets anywhere in isolation. There are no ‘self made’ people. In every success story there are small gifts and helping hands, people who were willing to share their time, knowledge, and resources. There will always be those of us who refuse to join the crabs in the bucket and instead choose to stand on the rim and lift our siblings out.

Ours is the movement of abundance. There is no limit to our gifts, our associations, and our hospitality.

We have a calling. We are the people who know what we need. What we need surrounds us. What we need is each other. And when, we act together, we will find Our Way. The citizen’s way. The community way. The democratic way.

We are called to nothing less. And it is not so wild a dream.

Community Capacities and Community Necessities, John McKnight

All these thoughts (and more) are informing the plan I’m crafting for my future. I started my journey to a handmade life before Facebook, Twitter, or Etsy even existed and I’ll be here making my own way while lending a helping hand to others for decades still to come. The river can go on rushing and hustling on it’s way without me, I know in the end it always ends up at the ocean. The big, real, powerful things don’t have to rush for anyone, they are timeless enough to wait for us to come home.

Oh My! Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Oh My! Gift Guide | Stocking Stuffers

This holiday season, we’ve asked some of our favourite creatives, bloggers, makers and OMHG members to join us in rounding up great gift ideas. This week we challenged our contributors to share tiny treasures and stocking stuffers that are $25 or under. Here’s what we picked:

alp & ash

Marisa’s PickAngel Ornament from Alp & Ash

“One of the loveliest parts of the holiday season is decorating the tree – unwrapping and placing the ornaments – each one a memory of Christmases past! These charming angel ornaments from Manchester’s Alp & Ash would make a wonderful addition to any tree. Who wouldn’t love finding one in their stocking? You can even customize the ornament by combining your favourite hairstyle and dress designs.” – Marisa Edghill runs, an online purveyor of all things cute, clever & crafty. Follow her on Instagram @omiyage_ca for daily doses of colour and inspiration.

cocoa honey

Fatema’s PickDark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee from Cocoa & Honey

“They say the best gifts are the ones that are hard to part with, or what you would like to receive yourself. Heather a pastry chef and now chocolatier runs Cocoa and Honey a Nova Scotia based organic chocolate shop with her own unique mix of flavors. I would  love unwrapping her mouth watering delights which make them great stocking stuffers in my book.” – Fatema is the designer behind Silver Lily Jewelry. She is obsessed with the gorgeous hues and sparkle of gemstones which she makes into keepsake jewelry in her modern classic style.

Oh My! Gift Guide | Marble and Milkweed

Jessika’s PickMini Rose & Chamomile Facial set from Marble and Milkweed

“The lovely Karen brought her mini facial set to our Maker’s Retreat in October and it was so sweet I came home and dropped very broad hints about how nicely it would fit in my stocking! The handcrafted natural botanical skin care and teas from Marble and Milkweed are beautifully packaged and the perfect little gift for someone who could use a little nudge to take time for treating herself to the simple pleasures. It is a wee bit over the $25 mark so you could always just choose one full size jar! ” Jessika is the cooperative director of Oh My! Handmade. 


Stephanie’s Pick – DIY Origami Birds & Foxes by Britta Manger

“These cute little birds and foxes come to life when you fold them, they make the absolute cutest fun stocking stuffers! Your kids will have to work a little to create their new friends and then they can use them to make a mobile or to put on a little play! Creative gifts are the best, aren’t they?” – Stephanie is the treasure hunter behind Baba Souk, an online boutique for creative cool cats, indie design & craft lovers. A colorful oasis to buy the best of handmade gifts and to get inspired.

sara picks

Sara’s PickWit & Whistle’s Rubber Stamps and Em Dash Paper Co’s Notebooks

“I love Wit & Whistle’s collection of – you guessed it – witty and punny rubber stamps. Last year, I got a couple of stamps and they ended up being my favorite “tiny treasure” in my stocking. And because I can’t help myself, I also love the mini notebooks from Em Dash Paper Co. Emily has a handful of hand-drawn designs that always make me giggle or fist pump – especially the Oxford Comma For Life design – YES.” – Sara Does is equal parts snarky paper goods, serious business services, and the regularly scheduled change of mind. Follow her on Instagram for snark, sarcasm, yoga practice, and local love.

fb holiday

Bonus Pick – Omiyage Washi Tape

I’m going to be cheeky here and suggest my own shop for this category! Holiday themed washi tape makes a great stocking stuffer plus both kids and adults alike love pretty tape. And it’s fun to wrap too!

See more great stocking stuffer ideas on our Pinterest board:

Follow OMIYAGE’s board Stocking Stuffers on Pinterest.And follow OMHG’s Etsy Gift Guide.

Don’t forget to check out our other gift guides: Week One – Creative Gifts, Week Two – Giftable Art, Week Three – Gifts for Kids, Week Four – Animal Gifts, Week Five – Gifts For The Home.

What would you love to find in your stocking this year? Share your ideas in the comments!