It's the Little Things

Memories, things & bits that have been making me happy lately.

Thinking of how soon I'll be working at the vineyard again, finding little wonders like dew covered spiderwebs or nests full of robins eggs or birds i never knew existed.

The nights spent writing at my desk lit only by white icicle lights and flickering candles, accompanied by a soundtrack of my purring cat and the scratch of my ink pen running across the page.

Hikes through evergreens and the beams of sunlight that spot the soft floor, making every step a different temperature.

Listening to the music I blasted last summer while dreaming about races down dirt roads on adventures to nowhere in particular.

When dogs I love recognize me from across the street and drag their owners over so they can get a head scratch and check my pocket for treats.

Reading prose or books or poetry that are so beautiful i can feel them in my body and soul as though they've temporarily taken up residence deep within me.

The moment when you’re having an honest conversation with someone and you feel a little less alone in the world.

When I ask Tyler to lie down with me “just for a minute” after a big breakfast but then we end up curling into each other and napping like cats for hours.

The sound of a summer bonfire late at night and the soft voices that surround it.

Looking out my window this morning and seeing water run down the street for the first time in months while the thermometer reads above freezing for the first time in what feels like forever. 

Believing that Summer's intoxicating touch may finally be on its way.


8 Ways to Make the Most of Winter's Last Breath

Winter in a cold climate is beautiful at first. Christmas feels more magical, and New Years intentions feel fresh when everything is a pure white. But once the holidays and first month of the year passes, the season has long lost its charm and newness and instead feels like a long cold purgatory that has no end in sight. Last year we had snow until mid-April, and although I'm worried it will be the same this year, I've been trying to push back against the winter blues and wanted to share them with you in case you've been feeling the same. 

Wake up with the sun and rise with intention. In a few months the sun will be rising much earlier, making it harder to watch the day come alive as you sip your morning coffee. Being able to stretch slowly as the first rays of light illuminate the sky, journal your day's intentions as the birds start their morning song, and wash your face as the first ray of light streams through the window just may help your body feel more in tune with the natural world.

Read a wintery book by the windowsill as the snowflakes fall while you warm yourself with a cup of tea or cocoa. I read The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey last month and it helped me settle into the season. The book has a slight fairytale feel to it and Ivey's imagery is absolutely beautiful. It is set in 1920's homestead Alaska and her writing perfectly portrays how Winter's harshness is also what can make the season beautiful.

Bring a bit of green inside. It's been months since I've seen the grass and looking outside only to see 3 feet of white piled on top of my summer garden has me feeling that Spring will never come. This weekend my boyfriend and I are going to go to a greenhouse and adopt a few potted herbs and plants to take home and place on our windowsills and tables. By bringing some life indoors, I will be reminded that it won't be long before I'll be spending hours in my garden outdoors again.

On the days when the snowflakes are big and soft, bundle up and venture outside so you can catch one on your tongue. Challenge your younger siblings, the neighbourhood kids or anyone who is young at heart to a snowball fight – loser makes hot chocolate! Create snowforts, build a snowperson or do anything else that reminds you of childhood snowdays long left behind.

Find your nearest outdoor rink, rummage through your parents' attic for a pair of skates, and experience the thrill of skating outside, no matter how wobbly your legs may be. If possible, try to track down some hockey sticks and a puck. As a kid I waited all year for the trip to my Uncle's cabin where I could play pond hockey amongst the mountains, and even now the sound of my skates ripping across the lake gives me one of the biggest natural thrills I've yet to experience.

On dark snowy evenings wrap yourself in an extra scarf and venture outside. Leave your headphones at home and listen instead to the sound of your boots touching virgin snow. make footprints on the fresh snow and watch how your breath fogs while snow dances under the streetlights as the world is so quiet, yet so alive all at once.

Fill your home with light. String fairy lights around the rooms you're in most, light scented candles whenever your curl up on your couch and light a fire if you have a wood stove or fireplace. Although the days have gotten longer since the solstice, February can often feel like the darkest month now that the lights and decorations of the holidays have passed. Soft, cozy lights will help keep your spirits up until we are met once again with those long summer nights that we crave so much.

Savour this last bit of hibernation. Soon Spring will arrive and you will cast all the heavy blankets aside, but for now relish in the last few blasts of cold air by retreating to your bed and burying yourself in blankets and warmth. Make your bedroom your den – put a canopy over your bed, place soft rugs on the floor and surround yourself with the softest of textures. Come March you can paw your way out of the layers, but this month is the perfect time for you and maybe a loved one to spend your evenings in a state of hibernation while you store your energy until Spring.


Waiting for the Sunrise

Ambleside Beach Sunrise by Northern Rustication

Ambleside Beach Sunrise by Northern Rustication

Ambleside Beach Sunrise by Northern Rustication

Ambleside Beach Sunrise by Northern Rustication

Ambleside Beach Sunrise by Northern Rustication

Ambleside Beach Sunrise by Northern Rustication

Ambleside Beach Sunrise by Northern Rustication

Ambleside Beach Sunrise by Northern Rustication

Ambleside Beach Sunrise by Northern Rustication

Sometimes all you need to do is return to the shores of your childhood with a cup of coffee and the one you love and watch as the sun slowly rises with the sound of the gulls. The silence and darkness is always thickest before the dawn, and it reminded me of the words I grew up singing long ago. "Though the sorrow may last for the night, the joy comes in the morning."

 Ambleside Beach, West Vancouver, December 2014. 


The 8 New Releases I Can't Wait to Read in 2015

must read books in 2015

I've recently realized that I've never posted about books before, which I found slightly strange considering I'm an indie bookstore worker by day and a constant reader by night. My favourite parts of my job are when I get to match a reader to their perfect read and when I get to hear about all the forthcoming new releases, and I figured I could do a little bit of both here.

I've listed some of the new releases that I'm most excited about, but this is nowhere near an exhaustive list of all the good books that will be released this year. I tend to read books about the struggles of being human and mankind's relationship with nature, choices that are reflected on this list, but you just may find something that interests you regardless of your reading preferences.

must read books in 2015

All the Bright Places // Jennifer Niven // January 6, 2015

I'm so glad that this book is being released right at the beginning of the year, as it's been on my to-be-read list for months. Jennifer Niven's debut novel follows the unlikely friendship of a boy, Finch, and a girl, Violet, who meet on top of a bell tower where Finch talks Violet out of jumping. Teenage love stories are a dime a dozen, but rarely does a story come along that portrays mental illness and suicide in such a realistic and unflinching manner. Already set to be a film starring Elle Fanning, All the Bright Places promises to be a funny and heart-breaking read about young love, old struggles and the art of trying to get by.

Binary Star // Sarah Gerard // January 13

Sarah Gerard's lyrical account of a young woman struggling with anorexia and the road trip she takes with her alcoholic, long-distance boyfriend has been creating quite the buzz throughout the literary community. While circumnavigating the United States, the two protagonists happen across a book on veganarchism and believe they've finally found a direction for their lives, a direction that will keep them from fading away. An intense read about two lost lovers and the society that keeps them sick, I preordered this book as soon as I heard a fellow bookseller raving about it. Check out an excerpt of the book here.

Etta and Otto and Russel and James // Emma Hooper // January 29

Eighty-two year old Etta's greatest unfulfilled wish is to see the ocean – a wish made difficult by the fact that she lives in the rolling farmlands of Saskatchewan, some 2,000 miles away from the Atlantic. One morning, she wakes up early and takes a rifle, some chocolate and her best walking boots and begins walking towards the waters of Halifax. Meanwhile, her husband Otto waits patiently back at their farm, left only with his memories and letters he writes to Etta but never sends. This book comes recommended by my most trusted book reviewer and I'm hoping it will whisk me away like Michael Crummey's Sweetland did earlier this summer.

I'll Meet You There // Heather Demetrios // February 5

Seventeen year old Skylar wants nothing more to escape her town of Creek View, a town here the only future for young women is one in a double-wide trailer with a baby on the hip.After graduating, the only thing standing between her and art school is three months of minimum-wage work – until something happens that leaves her torn between her dreams and those she loves. Nineteen year old Josh escaped Creek View a year back when he joined the Marines, but is forced to return after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan. When he meets Skylar at his job at the Paradise Motel, their shared isolation results in a beautiful friendship against a dark backdrop of alcoholism, poverty and war.

must read books in 2015

Our Endless Numbered Days // Claire Fuller // March 17

A father obsessed with survivalism takes his eight year old daughter from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods and tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed in this gripping and chilling debut. When Peggy finds a pair of boots in the forest and beings to search for their owner, she unknowingly unravels the series of events that brought her to the woods and, in doing so, finds the strength she needs to go back to the home and mother she had lost forever. A story of growing up, the perils of isolation and obsession, and the power of trauma, Fuller's debut will be a perfect companion on my first Spring camping trip.

It's a Long Story // Willie Nelson // May 5

Having recently turned 80, Willie Nelson has written his complete, unvarnished biography leaving no moment or experience unturned from Texas and Nashville to Hawaii and his legendary bus. Although this is not Nelson's first book, this is the first “tell-all” style biography and it promises to shed light on everything from his drive to write music to his biggest lows (his bankruptcy) and his biggest highs (the founding of Farm Aid). As a lover of classic country artists such as Willie, Johnny and Merle, I'm looking forward to reading this on my front porch this summer as I replay memories of my time in Nashville between the pages.

If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For // Jamie Tworkowski // May 12

In 2006, Jamie Tworkowski wrote a piece called To Writer Love on Her Arms about helping a friend through her struggles of addiction that immediately went viral. Nine years later, the non-profit that his writing gave birth to has raised millions, is an internationally-recognized leader in suicide and addiction prevention and is a source of hope and resources for people worldwide. Jamie's first book is a collection of essays that invite readers to admit their pains, believe that hope is not admit and know that it is always okay to ask for help. Tworkowski is a huge inspiration in my life, not only as a philanthropist but as a writer, and I so look forward to reading this in May.

The Mountain Can Wait // Sarah Leipciger // May 19

As a lover of the wilderness and an inhabitant of a rural village, books with strong nature writing and small town politics are always winners with me and Leipciger's debut is sure to be no exception. A telling of one family's unraveling in a Canadian Rocky Mountain logging community, The Mountain Can Wait tells the stories of a reclusive single father and a disappeared son who must each confront their private demons if they are to have any hope of reconciliation and redemption. This novel hailed for its beautiful imagery and psychologically gripping plot and I look forward to reading about a setting I love so dearly.

Which of these books are you thinking of reading? If none of them have piqued your interest, let me know what you like to read in the comments and I'll see if I can find you your perfect book match.

Also, let me know if you'd be interested in more book-related posts – I'd love to hear what you think!


On Round Trips to Nowhere and Dusted Evergreens.

We were ready. Car packed, sweaters pulled tight, a cooler tucked in the back seat. Prime viewing windows claimed, playlists curated, sleepy eyes adjusting to the lack of morning light. We planned to chase the fog a thousand kilometers from West to East, from the Pacific to the Kootenays and arrive by early evening to a cabin in the mountains filled with family and old memories.

Sixteen hours and eleven hundred kilometers later, we returned home, defeated.

Up until the early afternoon, we were making good time. We stopped only for gas and drove through rain and snow, through mountains and valleys. The weather was rough at times, leading to squeezed hands and tight breaths as we drove on highways with no visibility and passed cars stranded in ditches but we carried on, anxious and excited to arrive. I was nodding off to Johnny Cash, head leaned up against the window, when I heard my dad and sister comment on how it had been several minutes since they had seen any Westbound traffic.

Minutes later, we ground to a halt. We kept the car running, my dad’s foot on the brake, but soon put her in park after five minutes had passed and cars began to queue behind us. Soon it became apparent that there must be an accident, and a quick twitter search revealed that the only highway in our area of BC had been closed - a terrible accident had occurred. No further updates would be posted for another ninety minutes, so we had no choice but to sit tight just three hours from our family.

Big Christmas snowflakes were falling all around, covering the evergreens with a thick blanket. With nothing else to do but make the most of the moment, my sisters, my love and I got out of the car and walked down the middle of the Trans Canada Highway. We were in a pretty remote area, about thirty minutes away on either side from even a gas station, so everything was untouched. However, the increasing number of sirens and the number of minutes passing began to cast a somber shadow across the whole experience.

Finally we received an update. The highway would not reopen for at least another nine hours. We had no choice but to turn around and start thinking about whether we would stay overnight and finish the drive the next day (which would leave us with only a day and a half to spend with family) or turn around completely. After driving Westward for forty-five minutes and realizing that all the hotels were completely booked with other stranded travelers, we realized that our only real option was to head back the way we came for another eight hours and sleep in the same beds we made that morning while our family reunited without us.

We were crushed. Phone calls were made and plans were debated, but there really was no other option. We would be traveling for 16 hours only to end up back where we started.

We spend the first hour in silence and passed another two semi-trucks in ditches while on the road. Blinding winds and snow and fog caused us to hold our breath again, even more so as details of the accident were released. A semi truck collided with a passenger vehicle and two people lost their lives.

We didn’t make it to our family, but at least we left knowing we could try again next year. Two people didn’t make it home, and never will.

If only, we kept saying. If only my sister didn’t delay us by looking for that book. If only dad didn’t set off the alarm. If only we left ten minutes earlier. At first our if onlys were said with the intention that we would have skipped the delay, but soon after realizing that the crash occurred just ten minutes before we got near the site of the crash we realized perhaps it was the little annoyances that saved our lives.

2014 was a year where I constantly thought “if only.” If only I joined that club. If only I took that class. If only I didn’t choose not to job search right away. If only I didn’t take that risk. If only I said goodbye.

some photos by the lovely juniperanne

Usually my “if onlys” were negative, causing me to think of the good things that didn’t happen. However, maybe I’ve been looking at it the wrong way. Maybe things are happening the way they should, and I just can’t see that yet. Maybe things aren’t happening according to plan because the plans I’ve made for myself ultimately wouldn’t’ve satisfied me anyways.

I’ll never know how things may have been different in 2014, just as I’ll never know if we could have been taken that day had we not been delayed. But perhaps it’s the approach and attitude that matters, not the potential results. Perhaps it’s how we see how we could be benefitted when things go wrong rather than how we dwell on the things we may or may not have lost.

May 2015 be a year of new opportunities, joy among hardship, and peace that surpasses understanding for you all.


For You - November Desktop Calendars

November is a funny month. The most stubborn of leaves hang on to their tree while the looming clouds threaten snow. Temperatures start dipping in to the negatives, but the cold doesn't lock into your bones like it will in January. Christmas is around the corner, but festive songs still sound out of place.

To help you stay on track during this disorienting month, I threw together a couple of desktop calendars for you to use. Both are photos I took while driving through the Kootenays and the Rockies. I hope you like them - if you end up using one, let me know!


on autumn fog & a lullaby of rain

Today was a day of fog & rain, of nature's beautiful decay, of dampness that chills your core and awakens something primal deep within. Today was the first day I've worn a touque since April, the first day since the Spring that my fingers had to dig for warmth in my pockets. I left for my walk to work an hour early and took the extra 45 minutes to capture a moment in an ever changing world.

There's something about the rain and fog that makes me feel more alive. I think it must be the native Pacific NorthWest part of me for while I find energy in this moody tranquility everyone else complains of it's settlement into our little farm town. All I can do is hope it stays so that I can keep falling asleep to the sound of raindrops pounding on the window, the familiar lullaby carrying me away.
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