Our First Anniversary at Black & Smith Country General

Three years ago (as Facebook reminded me, with one of my "memories") we put an offer in on our first home.

I joke (only partially) that buying this house was both the best and worst decision that we ever made. The worst decision because it has been a HELL of a lot of work to fix up (and we're still fixing it), with just about every conceivable problem arising at some point in the process. It has been an exercise in patience, a challenge for our relationship, and continues to be a project that we spend hours on each week. We are two people who are driven by growth. Our home is growing, it's thriving, it's changing. It's not what either of us had expeceted. But that's why buying this place was also the best decision we ever made.

Though an exercise in patience, our workshop/store/home/garden has taught us a lot, and given us a purpose - many goals to work towards, milestones to meet, and barriers to break down. Sometimes when I look at pictures of this place when we first bought it, I don't even recognize it. I don't really recognize me at that time either.

Last year (after two years of paying commercial property taxes, and staring at a giant empty room) we decided it was time we did something with this space of ours. We opened a shop. It started as a showroom for my pottery and a space to highlight the work of some other local makers. We had organic jam and nut butters, soaps, pillows, some wooden toys, coffee and tea. That was about it.

Since this time last year, the shop has expanded to carry a wide and carefully curated selection of all the things we love, all the things that (I believe) will help you to live a more beautiful life. These objects bring joy to the everyday, delight to the mundane. They brighten up your living space, and (I speak from experience on this one) can bring hope to some of the darkest days in your life. They are made by Canadians - handmade by artists with families and homes of their own - lives they are supporting by creating beautiful things.

We're celebrating our first anniversary of being open, our "First Birthday" if you will, on December 3 + 4.

Please join us for the celebration. Help us to celebrate the good work that all our makers do.
Join us in celebrating Canadian craft.
Sharethe love of handmade this holiday season.

... and tell a friend! (:

Follow Friday: @sexdrugshamont

One of my favourite users on Instagram is @sexdrugshamont

Contrary to the name, there aren't photos of sex and drugs at all. There's a lot of Hamilton though, in all its glory.

This feed shows the beauty of a city that outsiders think is dirty, gross, and scary. Anyone who's never lived in Hamilton (or even been there!) might have nasty things to say about this city that has its roots in industry. But Hamiltonians... we love Hamilton.

This feed shows the abundance of parks and green space. It highlights unique architecture - historical and modern. You'll find stunning photos of sunsets over the bay, sprawling forest and eye-catching skylines. You'll see all the things there are to love about Hamilton. Go on over and Follow along!

How to be Happier - POWER HOUR

I have been listening to more and more podcasts in the studio these days. For two main reasons. One, because I learn stuff; filling my brain with probably useless facts, but filling it nonetheless, is a bit of an addiction of mine. Two, lately music lets my mind wander too far, whereas podcasts keep me focused.

My new favourite podcast is Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Gretchen is the author of best-selling books The Happiness Project and Better Than Before. She and her sister give tips for living a happier life and how to develop good habits. They are a hilarious duo.

This week, I thought I'd try one of their tips. They call it the Power Hour - when you take one hour a week to get something (or many things) done that would otherwise NEVER get done. These are tasks or chores that don't have a timeline attached to them, so you could literally NEVER do them. For some this might be sorting through tupperware bottoms and lids, it could be replacing all the burnt out lightbulbs that you never got around to. It could be cleaning the inside of the kitchen cupboards or sorting through old junk in the attic. Whatever it is, you spend one hour a week doing it, and you will feel happier.

This week is my first time hosting classes in my studio space. I NEEDED the power hour. Since leaving Sheridan 3 years ago, I have moved dried out clay from studio to studio without ever reclaiming it. I have left pots that need to be smashed pile up. I have about 8 teapots that just need handles attached, but have I attached them? NO! After every woodfiring I have a collection of pots that need to be ground down or burnished before they are saleable. Have I taken the dremmel to them? NO!

I have all this crap in my studio that needs OUT. So this week I started with the dremmel. I spent two hours (because I was on a roll!) dremmeling wadding off the bottoms of pots, drilling out holes that had been filled with ash and grinding off sharp bits. I even dealt with all the pots that needed to be smashed.

I've only had one Power Hour so far, but I can tell you that smashing pots with a hammer did indeed make me happy.

I hope you take an hour to get something done in your home. It is INCREDIBLY satisfying. Plus, listen to this sweet beat  on repeat while you work and the whole process will be way more groovy.