Flatter Your Figure with Emily and Fin

I’ve had the same body type since I was about 14; average bust, smaller than average waist and larger than average hips, thighs and derriere. I would say I’m somewhere in between an hourglass and a pear shaped figure. Let me also say before I continue that over the years I have grown to love my body, and nothing written below is meant to be insulting towards my figure, it’s just realistic.

My biggest issue is not with my body itself, but with the fact that I have always loved clothing styles that are made for someone with a “boyish” or “petite” figure. I know the general rule for buying women’s dresses with my proportions–go with a fit and flare. The tight waist accentuates my smallest curve while the full skirt hides and minimized my fuller “bottom area.” So almost every dress I own is that style, and that’s perfectly fine–except sometimes I long for something different: a pencil dress. I’ve always admired the classy and classic silhouette. I cannot even count the number of pencil dresses I have tried on in the past 20 years, but I can tell you the results were always the same. If it fit my bottom half, the waist of the dress was baggy around my torso creating a saggy, floppy looking top half. If it fit my waist and bust, it’s a guarantee that it would be straining and pulling inappropriately around the bottom, which would undoubtedly end up in a split seam or some other wardrobe malfunction.

When I began working at Sweet Brier Boutique in Parrsboro, I immediately admired Manager Ashley Ellis, who is very petite and athletic, in a blue polka dotted Emily and Fin pencil dress. I gushed compliments on how perfectly it fit her tiny frame. When it came time to take my employee photo, she asked if I’d like to try it on. I laughed at her foolishness, told her I’d never get my thighs into a dress that looked like it was tailored for her, and grabbed a black and white fit and flare from the rack. The fit and flare looked great, as I knew it would and I shelved any thought about trying to squeeze myself into that exquisite pencil dress I’d admired so much. I looked longingly at it whenever I passed the Emily and Fin rack, and when there was only one dress in my size left, one evening after my last customer left and the door was locked, I took it back to the dressing room–just to see. I fully expected to leave feeling disappointed and dejected. Have you ever read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? It’s a teen novel about four friends with completely different body types who wear the same pair of jeans and magically all look fantastic in them.

Well, when I looked in the mirror I was certain that whoever made those jeans must have made this dress as well, because the same dress that looked so amazing on my petite coworker also made me feel like a knockout.

Once the shock and delight wore off, I took a closer look at the dress and realized it wasn’t some sort of sorcery that was making this dress so divine, it was good old fashioned quality craftsmanship.

Both the lining and the dress were made from a high quality cotton and each stitch and seam was sewn with care and attention to detail. The modern, timeless style did not pull or strain–it held my curves in a strong and stable fit that was nothing but flattering from all angles. The pockets were an added bonus! Not that I will be giving up my fit and flares–they suit my body type and will always be a fashion staple for me. But after 20 years of looking for the cloth equivalent to the love of my life, I finally found it in the blue polka dot Robyn Dress, thanks to Emily and Fin.



The Mirror


The Mirror

IMG_8017I am always watching for items to display at the Sweet Brier Boutique or to creatively up-cycle. I admit it is one of my vices! On this day I am picking up a vintage mirror from a gentleman in Parrsboro who has chosen to ‘simplify’ his life and sell many of the items he and his wife Sally acquired over the years.

But as can happen in a small community this was to be much more than a ‘pick up.’

Ron Levy greets me with an invitation to sit in his living room and catch up. He points to some of the beautiful treasures he is selling. His father built the wooden plant stands — solid wood from Lunenburg where he grew up. His wife Sally was a quilter and her quilt racks are over there. She collected those angels too … until her death three years ago.

I have known Ron much of my life. He worked with my father. He is a well-known real estate agent in the community. And I know his children. But what I didn’t know is what brought him to Parrsboro 47 years ago.Ron tells me a story I had never heard before.

He and Sally were living in Ontario. They wanted to move east and had the opportunity to go to other locations including Prince Edward Island. But it was the promise of tidal power that brought them to Parrsboro. ‘There was so much hope and opportunity,’ he says. My jaw drops. Forty-seven years ago?

I ask him what needs to happen to make tidal power more than a hope and a dream. He is firm. “It needs a dedicated team working on it. We need to be proactive. It can be done,” he says.

He reminisces about the days when he and my dad helped bring the hospital to Parrsboro and started Parrsboro Industrial Commission with help from others of course. Volunteering. Community. Action.

“My father would always say: ‘When you make your living in a community, then you need to give back to that community.’ And that’s why I’ve been involved in our town for so many years.”

It’s this spirit of giving back that has Ron volunteering as Captain of a Relay for Life Team called Ground Breakers 2 – Growing the Seeds of Hope. For this year’s project, close to 1,000 books (yes they’re Ron’s) will be for sale in his garage at 96 Jenks Avenue in Parrsboro this Saturday, August 1, between 9 am and 12:30 pm. ALL sales to to the Cancer Society.

image1After a little tour of his home, Ron shows me the mirror I had come to collect. “Open it,” he says. Inside I discover it’s a lovely jewelry case too … simply perfect for the Sweet Brier Boutique!

As I drive away, I ponder the stories and I think about a little town on the Bay of Fundy still filled with hope and possibility … ready for action.

Thank you Ron.

Fresh faced makeup without the mask

I think most women have something that makes them feel self conscious when they look in the mirror. For me, it’s always been my dark under eye circles. I have tried everything to minimize their appearance, from more sleep to cucumber slices over my eyes, but the only thing that seems to work is make up. And not just any make up, it has to be high quality otherwise it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a gun shot wound–still very noticeable.

So imagine my delight when Sweet Brier Boutique started carrying da lish Cosmetics. I’d heard of da lish before. A Canadian company, da lish used natural products full of antioxidants such as shea butter and sunflower seed oil, so your skin benefits from long term use of the products. In fact, their products are 75-85% natural–afar cry from some brands which use only 10% natural ingredients.

But one of the lines on the da lish website is, “Foundations that help perfect and even out your complexion without the makeup mask.” I was pretty sure, in order to make any progress in hiding my circles, that I actually needed a mask. But to my delight, when I tried it out, I found out that I didn’t! The da lish line minimized the circles and provided a clean, natural look for the day.

What’s your biggest beauty worry? Leave me a comment and I will try my best to help you find a solution!


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Vintage meets modern when mom and daughter tour Parrsboro in Sweet Brier dresses

Hi it’s Heather here. I’m the owner of the Sweet Brier Boutique and love to explore our little seaside community of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, with a different kind of lens. On this day, my mom Zena and daughter Sarah were along for the ride. So off we went with an iPhone, our puppies and some Sweet Brier clothing just waiting to be seen!

On our way to the beach we stopped off at the local Tim Horton’s. As we entered the parking lot we were greeted with a parade of vintage cars in every shape, size and color you can imagine. The Cumberland Car Club was out for a weekend drive. They say timing is everything:) Sporting one of our new Emily and Fin vintage style dresses (oh how I love these classic and comfortable dresses with their lined skirts and tiny polka dots we just brought in from England and the great thing is that you can buy them online at http://shop.sweetbrierboutique.com/products/claudia-dress), I dashed over to the proud owner of a gorgeous blue 1969 Dodge Coronet. ‘Do you mind if I have a picture taken with your car?,’ I asked. ‘Sure he says, take it for a spin if you want!’

With Sarah taking IMG_5157pics I bounced around the parking lot saying hello to the car owners who were visiting from parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. One of them kindly pointed out that I still had the tag on my dress. ‘I know,’ I said. ‘I’m advertising for the Sweet Brier Boutique just down the street!’ ‘What a great idea!’ she laughed.

One of the highlights of our day was stopping by this car. Clearly the owners have a sense of humour!

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I mentioned looking at things with a different kind of lens. We didn’t plan to look at vintage cars this windy Sunday morning. Yes we could have zipped through the drive-through at the coffee shop and headed to our planned destination at the beach. Instead, we stopped to marvel at the beauty of these old classics and meet their owners. Oh the stories they can tell. And you’ll hear them … if you just listen.

I’ll be back next time with more photos and stories from the historic Ottawa House in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.

Cheers! –  Heather

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Unapproachable Jeweller Hans Durstling Transforms Bay of Fundy Agate into Authentic Art

A few days ago Ashley and I enjoyed a visit at the Sweet Brier Boutique in Parrsboro with Hans Durstling. We’ve been seeking out people with a passion for their craft and offering to showcase their work. Nothing could have prepared us for the charm, wit and incredible talent of Hans or the ‘Unapproachable Jeweller’ as he likes to call himself. (He is actually very approachable, don’t let him kid you.)

Hans was first intrigued with the treasures of the earth as a 12 year old living in Truro Nova Scotia when neighbours brought him to Parrsboro where he discovered agate and amethyst near the cliffs along the powerful Bay of Fundy. Since then, Hans’ journey has included opal cutting for the president of the American Opal Society in Los Angeles and teaching and demonstrating at the world’s premiere gem exposition in Tucson Arizona. He is also a former CBC radio journalist. What impressed us most about Hans was his desire to be part of a community and to give back to that community by teaching and sharing his craft. This is what Parrsboro is all about … building a community of artists and artisans.

Back to the jewellery:) Ashley and I were anxious to see the beautiful agate pieces from a secret location in Parrsboro that Hans had, with great care and imagination, transformed into works of art and reminders of the sea.


There is more to the story but for now suffice it to say we are now thrilled to offer a limited collection of Hans’ Bay of Fundy Agate Pendants here at the Sweet Brier Boutique as well as some stunning copper bracelets. Thanks for the visit Hans! See you soon. We hope:)