winter reflections + tidings

21 December 2012

since moving to a country environment, i have started to track the seasons in a way i never have before, even though growing up in the North i have always felt so intimately connected to, and affected by, their ebbs & flows. while i have always been detail-oriented, taking notice of the little things that often go overlooked, the past year has changed me. out here, away from the noise of the city, i have learned to slow down. to pause in the middle of the woods and simply listen, taking in my surroundings with every breath and sense in my body; to take a break from my research and writing and wander outside simply to stand in the middle of a snowfall, feeling the cold, soft flakes on the skin of my face as i look up—and not only once in awhile, but regularly, at every opportunity. slowing down and taking pause is something i deeply respect about winter, even in its turbulence when it snows us in, stranding or preventing us form going anywhere. it is a season capable of teaching us how to take small steps towards a slower, more thoughtful and meaningful life.

since the first snow last month, winter has started and stopped countless times, moving from cold temperatures back to warm ones before plunging once again into deep cold; from light snow barely dusting the ground to heavy snowfalls, rain, freezing rain, hail, and still more snow, creating sheets of ice and hardening the earth—what have become the frenzied characteristics of a bipolar Canadian winter. but in whatever form, winter is here (to stay) and i welcome it. just this morning we woke up to a fresh blanket of snow, renewing the winter landscape and prompting me to go outside and, as contrived as it might sound, take in the fresh beauty. to take a wonderful little moment to myself. 

while i know i will grow tired of the cold in the coming months, the magic has only just begun, making me feel like i am experiencing winter again for the first time. the startling, frigid beauty contained in the smallest of details: a delicate snowflake, soft snow adorning the branches of pine and spruce, a frozen bud or needle closed in on itself, frosted treetops, an icicle frozen in time like a distant memory, jack frost quivering on windowpanes, frost-covered eyelashes and beards, gently falling snow that seems to hang, unmoving in the air; the way that snow changes the light, producing a field of colours and the most amazing range of whites and greys in what at first seems to be a barren, colourless landscape.

and so maybe my photos are overdone or seem a little tiresome, but they celebrate something simple and yet monumental, something dear to those who live here: a still & quiet beauty, a wonder contained deep within the winter landscape, but that also shimmers so visibly across its surface as it reaches out with open arms. there is a strange comfort in winter, as if it wraps us up and gives us permission to slow down, even if only for a short while.

for those of you dreaming of a white Christmas, i suppose this glimpse into a winter wonderland is my humble gift to you. a gift of beauty & wonder as we nestle in to celebrate the holiday season with the ones we love. as we try to slow down.

i also want to take a moment to thank you for visiting my blog this past year, for sticking around and engaging with its original content as i have worked hard to construct something thoughtful and meaningful. i have been reflecting a lot on blogging and my relationship to it lately, on what i want this space to look like and where i fit into an evolving blogging culture.

to that end, i want to leave you with a few wonderful and evocative posts from writers whom I admire and respect on blogging meaningful. on producing more carefully curated and thoughtful posts that celebrate process and writing, and on building small, meaningful relationships based on respect and a willingness to accept constructive criticism:

 Erin of Design For Mankind's post on "slow blogging," with an emphasis on research, thoughtfulness, storytelling, and writing, on crafting a culture of blogging based on less rather than more. i am happy to see a commitment to this approach from a prominent blogger.

 Jane's thoughtful reflections on how we support each other in the blogworld, in which she criticizes the notion of "automatic support" and outlines the consequences of giving our support uncritically and too readily, proposing a new model of support that aims to be more meaningful.

 Hila's "Lesson's Learnt," a reflection on her experience of blogging in which she challenges the notion of an all-encompassing blogging community and revisits her thoughts about how little writing is valued in the indie blogging community since she wrote this landmark post together with Jane earlier this year.

wishing you love & warmth, and tidings of comfort & joy.



all photos are my own, taken with iPhone 4 and edited primarily with VSCO Cam.

fresh (paper) flowers

14 December 2012

with the fast & dirty arrival of winter, i find myself longing for the sultry days, greenery, and florals of summer. while winter, too, is beautiful, and i have been enjoying the transformation of the local landscape into a winter wonderland, i am not fully prepared for the impending deep freeze and long winter months.

so when i happened upon these clever fresh (paper) flowers from design studio Itunube, i couldn't imagine a more delightful way of passing the Canadian winter. a collection of 32 flowers printed on newsprint, Fresh Flowers was designed by Sandra Bautista not only as a format to catalogue a series of photographed flowers, but also as a way of having a display of flowers on your table everyday, with a different flower for each day of the month. you simply choose one of the flowers, place it as the cover, make a roll with all the pages together, and display it in a vase. brilliant, right?

there is also something wonderfully practical about displaying paper flowers in a vase. not only do they not require water and will not wilt (although i think wilting and decay are part of the beauty of real flowers), but they are also safe for our feline friends. i've been reluctant to bring fresh flowers into the house ever since our cat, Hunter, was poisoned from eating lilies last year and lost one of his nine lives (although he was deathly sick, thankfully he pulled through and recovered!). if you have a cat like ours who will eat any fresh or leafy green thing, bringing fresh flowers into your home can unknowingly put them at risk if they turn out to be toxic. short of finding the perfect non-poisonous flower, perhaps Fresh Flowers is a good solution? 

the newsprint book would also make a lovely gift and is much easier to send by post than natural flowers. it would certainly brighten my day!

all photos courtesy of Itunube

a poem for the night

12 December 2012

it’s been snowing steadily all day. and all day, as i looked out from where i sit at my writing desk, i have been waiting with the best composure i could summon to share this poem. i discovered it through an excerpt beautifully illustrated by Éireann Lorsung, writer, poet, and designer/creative director/editor of MIEL books (who also has a doctorate in Critical Theory!). as darkness falls, a crisp quietude unfolding across the land and pressing up against the windows, i am poised, now, to welcome the night with this wonderfully solemn and deeply felt poem by Wayne Dodd:

Of Rain and Air

All day I have been closed up
inside rooms, speaking of trivial
matters. Now at last I have come out
into the night, myself a center 
of darkness.
Beneath the clouds the low sky glows
with scattered lights. I can hardly think
this is happening. Here in this bright absence 
of day, I feel myself opening out
with contentment.
All around me the soft rain is whispering
of thousands of feet of air 
invisible above us.

from Sometimes Music Rises (Georgetown Press, 1986).

photos are my own.

seven years

07 December 2012

andrew and i celebrated our seven-year anniversary yesterday! it was the day of our first date seven years ago, and we have been inseparable ever since. now that we are (newly) married, i wondered if our new anniversary date would replace our old one, if our wedding date would somehow take precedence as our "official" anniversary. but that original date holds too much magic and significance in our lives that we decided to keep both, giving us two anniversaries to celebrate. that means at least two romantic dinner dates and two special bottles of wine to share, just the two of us, every year (we have a reservation at our favourite local fine dining restaurant tomorrow night for a quaint five course dinner—our first in a long time). i hope that we maintain the tradition even as we have children and grow old together, our lives getting even busier before slowing down to a time when it will be just us again. andrew + sara and all the years made of love, of all the little things that fill us. 

i had been saving a bottle of Domaine du Clos de la Procure Côtes de Provence 2010 that i bought in Montreal for a special occasion, to enjoy with my love when were together again (we were living apart at the time, andrew in the country and me in the city). last night finally seemed like that perfect occasion. the wine—a wonderful blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, and a hint of Syrah—was exquisitely woody, with a light spice and subtle floral undertones. and it had the most beautiful label and cork imprinted with the silhouette of a moose. if there ever was a wine to celebrate our love, this was it.

the photo of the two of us is an old one, and one of my favourites. it was taken by photographer Johann Kwan at my graduation from The College of the Humanities in 2007, capturing our spirits at the time perfectly. Johann has always had a way of doing that and his original photography is truly gorgeous (i should note that the quality of the digital copy i have is not very good, and i both cropped and added a filter to the photo). you should really have a look at some of his more recent photo work.

so here is to celebrating long and lasting love. here is to you, my sweet & rugged andrew. and here is to all the romantics; thank you for indulging me.

wishing you a wonderful weekend, full of... love.

deux choses

03 December 2012

1. "Hi-Lo" Hudson Bay Axe by Best Made Company.
2. White Axe + Wood, a collaboration between porcelain artist Aleksandra Pollner and woodworker Emmett Smith. available at Object.

a few good things no. 6

30 November 2012

i cannot believe today is the last day of November. where has the time gone? where have the days gone? i feel like i should be suffering a panic attack because i have SO MUCH WORK TO DO. instead, or perhaps as a way to calm myself, i put together a few good things that i have been coveting and collecting over the past month or so. YES, some of these goods might be on my holiday wish list (it's called a "wish list" for a reason), and there are a very select few to which i might have already treated myself or in which i plan to invest. but for the most part, sometimes it is enough simply to appreciate good craftsmanship, commitment to quality, attention to detail, and reverence for simple & honest beauty—values that i try to uphold as i encounter and sift through what often seems like an unending barrage of objects and ideas in my daily life.

1. this ancient floral leather pouch from ANN-YA captured my heart the first time i laid eyes on it. i am wooed by the warm, golden leather suede and feminine rose print, combined ANN-YA's no-fuss style. so exquisite. i have also been a wee obsessed with the combination of golden honey/amber brown and black lately. is it that obvious?
2. gorgeous oxfords handmade from vintage Moroccan rugs & leather by TEN & Co. (via Miss Moss).
3. madeline dress by Dear Creatures at Summerland. that rich golden brown colour pairs just as perfectly with cream as it does with black.

4. i've been crushing on this Falconwright golden brown leather clutch printed with a white claw pattern, which has magically disappeared from their online shop as i am preparing this post (guess it's sold out, and with good reason!). Toronto ladies Sandi Falconer & Danielle Wright have something good going on.
5. i am a lush for silk. 100% pure silk. i am also in love with the new MILL MERCANTILE shop and its appropriation of "the same quality, craftsmanship, and authentictiy that's usually reserved for the world of menswear" for women. YES. this pleated colour block blouse in copper & black by Billy Reid is only one of the shop's many treasures.
6. i have a strange and particular affinity for rock (well, maybe not-so strange given that i grew up in a heavily rocked mining community) and this art print by RK DESIGN captures it perfectly.

7. there can only be one case for my new MacBook Pro Retina, and i've decided that this wool and leather heritage laptop folio by London-based hard graft is it. i have to protect my investment with something good and beautiful, right? saving my pennies, or sterlings.
8. wool Susan cardigan made in Scotland by Howlin by Morrison. another beauty from MILL MERCANTILE.
9. L.L. Bean's classic 100th anniversary Maine hunting shoe. the way to a town & country woman's heart.

10. baby soft merino wool Annie cowl neck sweater in chestnut from TOAST.
11. i have long been searching for an affordable weekend bag for those occasional, but sometimes frequent, trips. could this weekender from Everlane, a shop with a new online-only retail model, be the one?
12. i recently happened upon the gorgeous Hudson Made New York. i am in awe over this flame-blackened is beautiful set, featuring a large Hudson Made black walnut cutting board and a collection of handcrafted, flame-blackened cherry wood cooking & serving utensils by Jonathan's Spoons. i love the aesthetic and feel of a masculine, dark wood-themed kitchen. my husband is an incredible (and ex-professional cook), after all. i follow his lead and try to indulge his indulgences.

13. i can't wait to get my hands on this book by Bryan Nash Gill, Woodcut. there's someone special on my list whom i think might appreciate it....
14. beltane necklace by Species By The Thousands. perfectly bewitching. 
15. these understated little bronze CLUSTRUM earrings are my favourite from Stone & Honey's latest collection, ARCOS. i think they've been overshadowed by some of the other works in the collection and deserve more attention.
16. there is something incredibly sexy about unisex accessories, like this wool fringed scarf in banded black from the 2012 Pendleton Portland Collection. available here (CAN), here (US), and here

17. stunning bronze antler and crystal necklace designed by Hannah Ferrara of Another Feather exclusively for CISTHENE
18. i have heard nothing but good and wonderful things about Belmondo's THE CLOUD face cream, organic skincare made in small batches in British Columbia, Canada, so i finally decided to go ahead and try it. i recently ordered a jar and am delightfully awaiting its arrival. 
19. Hudson Bay millenium bay point blanket, a Canadian icon, at Vancouver's Old Faithful Shop. we have a vintage one in green and it is one of my most cherished possessions. it keeps us warm through just about anything and will forever remain an heirloom in our family. 

shop sale + news!

22 November 2012

✚ enjoy 20% OFF everything in the shop from Friday, November 23 through to Monday, November 26 with coupon code: LITTLEBLACK.

 nova lily is undergoing some exciting re-branding, including a name change and new designs, and will be moving to a new home in the new year, so this will most likely be the last sale in the Etsy shop before then. 

✚ also, please note the following deadlines based on destination to receive gifts in time for the holidays:

within Canada: December 15 
United States: December 8 
everywhere else: November 27

✚ happy weekend!

deux choses

21 November 2012

1. Fly Away, a visually arresting photograph by Brigitte Niedermair.

2. Fortnight Lingerie's oh-so gorgeous Jolene long line and high waist knickers from their 2012 collection, forever a classic. available here (CANADA + on sale!), here (US + also available in limited edition rose/ivory + first look into Fortnight's much anticipated 2013 collection, Asteria), and here (US + on sale). 

personal confession: no one can compete with Jolene. she is my most cherished bra & knickers set in my lingerie drawer.

these days

17 November 2012

these days, it's been getting cold, prompting us to pull down the wool blankets and exchange the cotton sheets for flannel. ever since our mattress warranty claim was settled and we got the brand new oh-so luxurious replacement mattress, we've been spending A LOT of time in bed. we climb in early at night, where we finish our days out together, and i stay in bed as long as possible in the morning after andrew leaves for work, drinking coffee and starting work from beneath the layers of blankets as i snuggle with the animals. i swear that they conspire to keep me there.

these days, i've been doing my work from the dining room table (when i'm not in bed, that is). it's a large, unfinished pine wood space overlooking the kitchen and beside the sliding balcony doors that look out onto the backyard. i draw the curtains to let the light in and i draw them to shut out the dark. the heavy cotton floral curtains given to us from my wonderful mother-in-law. they are like an embodiment of her: traditional with a modern flair, rustic, whimsy, beautiful, spirited. being in their company makes me feel loved, safe, and ever-inspired. 

these days, i have been focusing almost single-mindedly on my dissertation project (almost, because there are of course endless distractions that keep me from absolute devotion to my work and thus from full productivity). i find my mind wandering, dreaming, and thinking about all the things. 

These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
And all the times I had the chance to.

(Nico, "These Days")

i spread my projects and desires across the surface of the wood table from which i work, but even as i actively so so - all day, every day, day in & day out - there are always things i never get to. i drink cups of lady grey tea and stage still lives. i play with the cats and take their portraits. i collect books for research and books for pleasure, for moments of rapture and escape, for moments often overlooked or forgotten. i am distracted by my surroundings; in a room of my own.

these days, i muse about having a real digital SLR camera, but for now i make do with my old Nikon point-and-shoot, my iPhone, and the brilliant editing software designed by Visual Supply Co.

portraits of the majestic, stoic, and ever-handsome, Dr. Hunter S. Thomcat. he's been a little displeased that Glasgow has been stealing all the attention here lately. he's also developed some slight attitude problems adjusting to the new kitten (jealous? inconceivable!), so i thought i would give him a prominent spot here. he has been such a central part of our lives over the past six years, he really does deserve it.

the joys of adopting a young kitten: they're ever-so sweet but also full of SO MUCH TROUBLE. introducing, for the first time, Little Miss Virginia Woolf. she's slowly finding her place in the family and even gets to participate in group snuggles in the morning now.

this week i posted about the early morning and my new relationship to it. as difficult as it can be to get out of bed some mornings, the beauty that awaits is always worth it. yesterday morning's frost was truly exquisite, making the whole yard glow with a white frosted mist warmed by the golden sun.

still lives:

1. andrew has been bringing home lots of moose antler sheds from the bush lately, adding to our ever-growing collection. this particular white-tailed deer skull and antlers is one that we brought back from Alberta two years ago. it has been hanging around the past couple weeks waiting for us to hang it on the wall, but i have been enjoying its company.

2. sweet little Herriott Grace cake flags leftover from our wedding + a gorgeous knitted short-sleeve shirt, made in Canada, that i recently thrifted.

3. lady grey tea in one of my favourite vintage teacups and an old teapot from my Nana. perfection.

collected works:

1. good night, day: modern & minimalist knitting patterns, by tara-lynn morrison. first edition.
2. A Pictorial History of Wilderness, poems by Laressa Dickey & published by MIEL.
3. Penguin Books "Great Ideas" edition of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own.
4. The Anatomy of Clay, poems by Gillian Sze.
5. issue no.1 of Sad Girls, a lovely little illustrated zine made by girls who make things and have lots of feelings.
6. A Guide to the Northwest Territory, poems by Josh Wallaert, also from MIEL.

collected works no.2 (on hysteria):

1. Aura Hysterica: Les exercises de la passion (1992), an artist's book by Montreal artist Nicole Jolicoeur.
2. Georges Didi-Huberman's The Invention of Hysteria: Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of the Salpêtrière.
3. The Hysterical Alphabet, text by Terri Kapsalis with drawings by Gina Litherland.
4. Nicole Jolicoeur's Traité de la perfection (1996).

early morning

12 November 2012

Enormous morning, ponderous, meticulous;
gray light streaking each bare branch,
each single twig, along one side,
making another tree, of glassy veins...
The bird still sits there. Now he seems to yawn.
excerpt from ELIZABETH BISHOP, "Five Flights Up

my mornings lately have been early. too early, perhaps. but i am learning how to appreciate what often seems like an ungodly hour; the quiet, the still, the haunting, the earthly. i am trading in my night owl for the early bird.

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