Category Archives: home

friday favourite – unexpected gifts

A regular reader of our blog sent us each a cool Scandinavian dishcloth from a company called Jangneus.fullsizerender

I can’t wait to get the cloth wet, it looks like fun! And particularly special since it was totally unexpected. Great sketching and doodling patterns too! Thanks KL!



The fireplace was the centrepiece of the renovated family room in our farmhouse. One entire wall was brick with a substantial wood burning feature on what seemed like half the length of the wall, to a little kid. It was the 70s version of an enormous flat screen entertainment centre.

After the kitchen,  this hearth was the heart of our home. Which might explain my obsession with fireplaces. But they have to be wood burning. I know gas and electric ones are easier, more efficient and “cleaner”…but they totally flop on ambiance, for me.

It might have been a rite of passage in our house – along with first learning to drive a tractor before you got the keys to any car – that you could build a well-structured fire. The positioning and proportioning of kindling to the progressively larger logs. And if you needed the bellows to fan it…well, that was really just cheating.

I have carried the love of making and stoking and gazing at fires with me – campfires, other people’s wood stoves, anything I can stack and light.

Every year, about now, when the duvet and socks appear – I long for even just a little wood stove in the corner of my living room.

I’ll soon be sitting by this one in a lounge at Rancho La Puerta.



creativity & clutter

I have spent most of my life interested in clay. It’s been an on again off again relationship. After my last long hiatus, I started up again about 5 years ago. I had read somewhere about the exercise of making 100 similar items to gain proficiency. This seemed like a good time to tackle the 100 project. Since I love coffee mugs, I decided I would make 100 of them. I would keep notes about handles and glazes and finally make my perfect mug…HA!

I made red ones and blue ones, I made tall and short, I made perfect swooping handles and awkward little ones. And I made 100. As the project was wrapping up my husband gently asked what I was planning to do with all the mugs. Hmmm. I hadn’t thought about the problem of creative clutter. Then it came to me – I would have a sale and donate ALL the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity. It would be too awkward to have a sale and keep the proceeds since my friends would most likely be making a mercy purchase. But if I charged $20 and gave it all away…maybe people would feel okay about taking home a mug.

The sale was a success, I sold all the mugs and decided to apply the 100 project to bowls.

Same idea, different vessel, different charity. This time I picked the local food bank and when the project was over they took a picture of me handing them an oversized check for $2000!

Fast forward to last September and I once again wanted to tackle mugs in search of the elusive combination of design, colour and function. I didn’t keep count this time but ended up with the same problem of creative clutter. The newlyweds selected 8 for their new life together. My friend LKG selected 10 for her lake retreat. And still I had plenty.

Then it hit me. We were hosting the post-wedding brunch and would be serving coffee to 75+ guests…what if I casually offered them to people after they drank their coffee?!?

Brunch mugs

Brunch mugs

Bingo. They found new homes. Win Win. I think it’s time to switch to knitting for awhile!






there’s a pro for that

I love supporting the local economy, and not just with food, books, yarn. When I need help with something around my house, that I don’t know how to do or don’t really want to learn that skill…I turn to a pro.

That pro is often my brother who built a beautiful garden shed, and just installed my new clothesline:-).

studio lights

That pro is sometimes a friend who just loves to prune my decades-old lilac bush.


That pro might be a friend who cuts my grass. Or the pro who built a path to my shed by reusing the materials he installed about 15 years ago.


Or the pro who designs beautiful paths and places in the yard.


I love sharing the workload…with people that love to do what I don’t. They are good at it. And it helps the local economy keep churning too.


Hudson Bay stripes

Canadian followers will know about the iconic stripes of the Hudson Bay Company. Canada’s first and longest merchant began business in 1670 – and you can read more of the history here.

We started giving the classic wool blankets as wedding gifts to nieces and nephews when that generation began to get married. The classic point blankets come in various colours – including the striped version below, red with black stripes and grey with black stripes. There is a rich history to their woolen warmth. Made in English, they were traded by the company (along with other goods) for beaver pelts from native fur traders.

We have recreated the four stripe pattern on handknit throws.


And we’re slowly buying up the various totes and throws they sell to spread the stripes across the continent.

Although now U.S. owned, the Hudson Bay stripes continue to stand out in a crowd.



friday favourite – flower CSA again!

Below is the email from Grace at FiveFork Farms for my flowers this week. I am loving going to the market on Saturday morning to pick up my flower share and get her great emails. Can’t wait to sign up for next year!

Daffodils, also called by their botanical name ‘Narcissus’, are typically the first blooms to usher in spring here in Boston. We’re all familiar with the standard bright yellow “King Alfred” daffodil with its signature large trumpeted cup, but what you are receiving in your share does not resemble that characteristic form whatsoever. We hope you’ll be delighted by how unique these flowers are!



creating space

I spent about 15 years planning an addition on my house. When I finally sat down with a designer to imagine how I would work in the space, I needed to come up with my list of must haves. Lots of sunlight and a desk-in-kitchen space were high on the list. I was inspired by the work of this company using reclaimed barn boards.

Last week, my kitchen desk was installed and I now have the perfect creative space to work. The desk is an old pine board from a friend’s barn, sanded and stained just right by our brother.

My sketchbooks and pens are finding their place. And the dog has found a spot close to my feet. I didn’t realize how inspiring the right space could be!