December has finally arrived, and with it is the season of gift giving. Personally, I always find Christmas shopping – or shopping for any reason – very difficult and very frustrating. Maybe it's because I'm a guy, but there just seems to be so many stores and so many sales that I always get pretty overwhelmed, especially when it comes to shopping for children. In an attempt to ease the pain of holiday shopping, I have reached out to three local businesses around Regina to tell me a little about who they are and what they have going on this holiday season. Have you ever visited these locations? Let me know about it in the comments below!
1. Kids Trading Company
Located in the south end of Regina, Kids Trading Company has been a part of the Regina community for the past 15 years. Here you can find a mixture of new and gently used children's clothing, shoes, toys and accessories.
Enjoy shopping in a local store where the friendly staff knows the products and can help you find what you need, like warm winter boots from Kamik or waterproof mittens and fleecy hats. Brands like Desigual, Hatley, Yogini, Billabong and Mexx will give you lots of options for great quality clothes in the latest styles. Need a baby gift? Shop their baby section for the cutest sleepers and practical accessories like Amber teething necklaces and muslin blankets.
For Christmas their Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty, Aloka Sleepy Lights or maybe a pair of Padraig slippers will make someone on your list very happy! While you shop, your child will have fun playing with their train table, or reading a book in our big, comfy chair.
You might be interested in their consignment program, where you can earn money from your child's outgrown clothes, shoes and toys. Shopping their second hand section makes so much sense too, with great quality brands at affordable prices that were outgrown long before they were worn out.
While you're here, be sure to sign up for their free rewards program! They will give you a store credit worth 10% of what you spend in the store after only six visits - and did I mention that your member card stays in the store so you don't have to give up any wallet space?
Dessart Sweets is a retro candy and ice cream store in the heart of the Cathedral area. They specialize in retro candy (remember Lucky Elephant popcorn?), Dutch licorice, imported candy from the UK and the US and they have the largest selection of Jelly Bellys in Regina.
Christmas is a fun time of year to visit to get unusual stocking stuffer ideas. They carry Dutch specialty items like Taai Taai and Speculaas cookies as well as a huge selection of Dutch licorice.
Be sure to check out their soda selection too! You'll find over 20 different kinds of root beers and sarsaparillas, Pop Shoppe sodas and the whole line of Boylan's sodas.
Grace Avery-Parkman is a traditional and digital illustrator based out of Regina, Saskatchewan. Grace graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Regina in 2015, and is currently busy creating all kinds of original artwork and running her little shop, “Forest Floor Arts”. She loves making plush toys, art prints and other small goodies and sells her work across western Canada at farmer's markets, art sales and comic conventions. Grace also teaches art classes, and enjoys crocheting and playing ukulele.
In 2014, Grace began selling her work locally and has since attended numerous events with her handmade goods. Watercolor painting has become her medium of choice in recent years, and she currently has a catalogue of over 50 original art prints. The subjects of her paintings range from mermaids to monsters, and she loves fantasy.
Most recently, Grace has begun designing and sewing original handmade art dolls. She sells both printed dolls- which are adorned with cute watercolor characters, and entirely hand-painted dolls. Grace also self-published her first full-length graphic novel in May 2016, titled “Lesser Beasts”. She hopes to publish a new book in 2017, alongside a slew of new dolls and prints.
Part 12 of my cross Canada series takes us to the smallest province in Canada, Prince Edward Island. However, don't let the name confuse you: PEI is actually 232 islands!
PEI also happens to have smallest population of any province in Canada, with only 146,300 people as of 2014. This means this province has less people than my hometown Regina!
Being so small, however, it was difficult to find images on Instagram. That isn't to say there's nothing there worth seeing! Quiet the quandary, actually. PEI has a few very unique locations that drive their tourism. One of them is the gorgeous themed village of Avonlea, named after the village in the hit novel "Anne of Green Gables" published in 1908. This story, and the subsequent stories, follows Anne, a red-haired "fiery" orphan who grows up on PEI. The story is an international bestseller, and is strangely very popular in Japan (or so I've been told)!
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shut its doors in 1970. A year later, in 1971, it would briefly reopen and house inmates from Holmesburg Prison after a devastating riot. After the prisoners were returned to Holmesburg, Eastern State would sit empty for over two decades. It would rot, decay and collapse. Trees and shrubs would grow into the structure and a clowder of cats would take residence. These hallowed halls would sit empty, the only noise being the chatter of startled birds and the trotter of feline paws.
The following decades would see various discussions of what to do with the building. Eventually, it was decided to preserve it and turn it into a tourist attraction. Although it officially opened for tours in 1994, attendants would have to sign a waiver and wear hardhats before entering until 2008. They had 10,000 visitors the opening year, a number of tourists not seen in the prison since 1858.
From 1829 to 1970, Eastern State Penitentiary underwent a variety of changes and transformations. This massive, sprawling, 11-acre complex was founded under the belief that solitary confinement was the cure needed to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. It was believed criminals who served in solitary confinement would turn to a higher power to reconcile with themselves for their crimes – hence feeling "penitent". To assist in this process, each cell was equipped with a slit window on the ceiling nicknamed "The Eye of God". It would be the only light source available to the inmate.
As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.