A napkin with delicate handstitching, a scented candle that purrs like a crackling fire, a perfectly-proportioned mug that lies in your hand just so. These are the simple pleasures of a product made with true care and attention to detail. During even the busiest times of the year, handling such items fills us with contentment, even reverence. We're invited to linger.
As the snow gathers around us in drifts, I wanted to take the time to curate some lovely products that can be used for holiday entertaining or a cozy party of one. Each item, made with care (and often right here in Manitoba), will hopefully remind you and your guests to pause and remember what a precious thing it is to share food and space with those we love - family, friends, pets and our very own selves included.
Jason and Karen Hare create household objects that honour the character and beauty of wood by bringing it to life in daily routines. Each piece is distinctive, organic and beautiful. As I run my fingers across breakfast plates in various stains, I'm amazed at their buttery softness - a trait the couple is keen to help you maintain since orders are typically accompanied by a generous helping of wood butter.
Although each piece may feel like a delicate artifact, Karen would encourage you not to be too precious with it. She'd tell you to throw a fried egg on there or a sizeable chunk of brie, just be sure to give it a quick and loving hand-wash afterward.
Purchase: Root Cellar
Leanne creates some of the most precious and unusual pottery I've ever laid eyes on. Her wares are fired in a wood-fire kiln out of a fairy tale in rural Manitoba. Wood ash and the unique atmosphere of the kiln lend each piece a distinctive character and colouring, often with little-to-no glazing. Each item is small, lovely, and cradles easily in the palm of your hand: perfect for a casual sip of red wine, a shot of espresso or a small cup of coffee.
Chelsea's vibrant napkins and table runners combine fun patterns (meticulously stamped and dyed by hand) alongside mindful details like delicate handstitching. Although she now lives and works in Vancouver, Chelsea spent years in Winnipeg while earning her degree in Environmental Design at the University of Manitoba. She is happy to ship her lovely items to your home, and they even come with a 105% like and love guarantee.
For me, Rachael's tablewares recall an undulating landscape or a small pool of oil spreading across a shallow puddle. Each piece is a true work of art: just as functional as it is beautiful. Winnipeg born, Rachael's been hard at work marketing herself while making lovely things since her graduation from the University of Manitoba back in 2009. Just last year, she became the youngest and one of the newest members of The Stoneware Gallery on Corydon.
Owner and floral designer Tatiana Penner got her start working in a local greenhouse and flower shop. Now she owns Oak & Lily, one of my favourite florists in the city. Her beautiful arrangements, often displayed in tall mason jars, burst with carefully-selected buds alongside lush greenery. They'll catch your breath with unexpected wonder - a cleverly placed cluster of waxflower peeking from beneath a blooming peony, or a tightly closed bud jutting out at just the right angle. The shop alone is worth a visit. It's completely lovely.
Purchase: Website or in-store
The best word to describe Heather's arrangments is luscious. Roses in full bloom bend beneath their own weight, offset by a spray of wildflowers and a playful olive branch. I feel like I should be perched on a velvet cushion eating a decadent slice of chocolate cake while I'm in their presence.
Recently, Heather's been collaborating with MUR Lifestyle to host workshops like the sold out Wreath Workshop on December 6th. Check her gorgeous instagram feed for photos of lovely flowers and information about upcoming workshops.
Purchase: Academy Florist website or in-store
Mud + Stone are the pottery superstars of Winnipeg. You can find their pieces all over the place - gracing the tables of deer + almond and the shelves of spots like 84 and 1/2 and Normandy Shoppe. Recently, they teamed up with wood furniture-restorer Cadence from The Whiite House. The result has been a small collection of truly beautiful mugs and pitchers in creamy clay and teak. I ran over to Tiny Feast the day they came in stock. Each one is beautiful in its deceptive simplicity, and the handle grip is so comfortable. They just feel right.
Purchase: in-store at Tiny Feast
Let's face it, we've all had to do some stinky business in someone else's home and it's never a great time. I prefer to save guests embarassment and unpleasant odour without noxious sprays. A well-placed box of matches and Manready Mercantile's Throne Spray are my go-tos. Made with essential oils and fresh spring water instead of harsh chemicals, a few quick spritzes will leave your washroom smelling like citrus or pine needles instead of, well, you know.
Handmade in Houston, Texas, Manready was founded by Travis, who started out making candles in his apartment. Over the years, the brand has expanded wildly, but their core values remain the same - American Made, chemical free, quality products, unisex but great for men. Unfortunately, they don't ship to Canada (yet), but if you have an American friend or postal box, or find yourself headed south, you may be lucky enough to purchase some of their goods.
Purchase: Website // brick and mortar shop in Houston, Texas
Particularly for those who are sensitive to scents, Barletta Beeswax candles are a fantastic option. Made entirely from pure Manitoba beeswax, these candles have a very light, honey-like scent and they will naturally purify the air in your home. You can buy them in plain tapers, columns or fun seasonal shapes. With light shining through delicate beeswax tendrils, I love the way the pine comb shape develops as it burns.
Natassia crafts botanical body products using homegrown organic ingredients natural to the prairies. Her handsoaps are a special treat. Breathing in the Balsam Fir, your nostrils will be filled with the sensation of rolling around a forest floor. Her soaps foam nicely and give off just enough scent without being overwhelming. Natassia's been fascinated by the medicinal and cosmetic uses of plants since childhood, and you can feel her passion in every wash.
Although Amanda and Todd have met with much success with their candles, their approach to production remains small in scale. On any given day, you'll find them working away in their warehouse space just off of Notre Dame alongside a single employee. (The only other is their social media star.) Coal and Canary's soy and vegetable oil blended candles burn beautifully: they have just enough scent without being over powering; the wax evaporates cleanly and evenly; and the unique wooden wick emits a gentle purr, akin to the crackle of a small firepit.
In addition to popular sweet and spicy scents like Chunky Knit Sweater, you can now purchase from the affordable Coal and Canary holiday collection. My particular favourite is All I Want Fir Xmas - a perfect stand-in for the scent of a real Christmas tree for those whose homes don't have the space or means to accomodate one.
A big thank you to my dear friend Callie Lugosi for her help with staging, hand modelling and photography as well as the many makers and local businesses for their cooperation and participation in this post. Also, thanks to Joel and Amber Green for volunteering their beautiful home for the shoot. All food items purchased from La Grotta Mediterranean Market, coffee vessel is a Stelton from Parlour Coffee.