Podcasts We Love: How I Built This

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We are all podcast listeners here at the studio. Solo work at the jeweller's bench or potter's wheel is the perfect time for it. There are so many great ones out there, and one current fave is How I Built This With Guy Raz.  Every episode tells the story of a different entrepreneur, and as you might guess from the title, how they built their businesses. It's the real stuff, with all the high highs and low lows. These people created huge things, and seeing how they got there is so inspiring.

Episode to listen to: Kate Spade: Kate and Andy Spade

Handmade Houses: A Century of Earth Friendly Home Design

By Gillian Johnson

  Photo: © 2012 Kodiak Greenwood

 Photo: © 2012 Kodiak Greenwood

Left entirely to my own devices I would be in absolutely no rush to build a “proper” house. Living off-grid in my 17 ft yurt is pretty much all my dreams are made of. I love the process of filling the water jugs and carrying them down, attending to the fire and creating systems that will conserve my resources and sustain me as efficiently as possible. It is a kind of living that is creative in ways I never imagined. I don’t long for modern conveniences while there (well, maybe refrigeration from time to time), the structure has been surprisingly resilient through all sorts of extreme weather and the birdsong, sound of wind blowing through the trees and the coyotes howling against the moon rising fills me with wonder every day.

My undisturbed dream for the land would be to have yurts, tiny houses and tree houses scattered through the forest but with the regulatory restrictions applicable in my area I have to make some modifications to the vision and build a primary structure. There are about a million restrictions to take into consideration with the house design to ensure it will be satisfactory to the many regulatory bodies that have a say, making the breadth and depth of this portion of the project intimidating to say the least. But I am doing it, just about to swan dive off this cliff and among a number of other emotions am excited for all the knowledge to learn and people I will meet along the way.

While compromising on building a primary structure at a minimum square footage, I am unwavering on using natural building principles and ecological design models as guides for this build. Amidst my research I came across the perfect inspiration book, “Handmade Houses” by Richard Olsen. He exposes the roots of “green architecture” by visiting homes in which cost-cutting, DIY improvisation, eco consciousness, art and craft simultaneously converge and shares fabulous photos of houses that embody all these characteristics. For these builds, the designers and builders, wholeheartedly embrace handcraft as a buffer against the prevailing cultural obsession with all things technologically new and as a result have created structures that are so much more beautiful and soulful than most you will find in our world of ever increasing uniformity. Follow along on the blog for more updates on the build!


“There is a fine line between what we want and need. If you make what you need, you may find that it is also what you want.” Alexander Weygers

How To Hygge

Making time for adventures in nature, taking pleasure in the simple things in life, and sharing them with others. These are some of the main approaches to Hygge. In case you haven’t heard, Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish concept which loosely translates to cosiness.  More than simple ‘cosiness’, this term encompasses enjoyment of nature, simplicity and healthy hedonism. As Signe Johansen, author of How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life explains, hygge is  “The magic of everyday life, choosing hope and a can-do attitude over fear and despair, and making time to be kind both to yourself and others”


Sounds amazing, right? Shouldn’t we all be practicing hygge all the time? Perhaps easier said than done in our world of stress and work and general busy-ness! Johansen shows us the essential elements of incorporating hygge in your life with an informative book of recipes, home decor recommendations, and general ideas.

Here are some pro tips from the book on how to hygge:

•spending time in nature calms you. It allows you to step back and reflect on the very essence of what living is about.

•being active at all ages is essential. Find a sport or activity you enjoy and remember: it’s about feeling great, not looking a certain way.

•keep food simple and focus on naturally nourishing foods that will sustain you. Slow down to eat: savour those moments during the day when you can enjoy a delicious meal.

•Inebriation is decidedly not the end goal, but alcohol is a great ‘attitude adjuster’ when consumed in moderation.

•Being kind isn’t just about the self, and those moments of quiet solitude. It’s also about spending time with others, about being sociable and taking pleasure in simple things together.

The Outsiders


“ We are all Born Explorers”

A showcase of artists, creatives, entrepreneurs all with the common inspiration of outdoor adventure. “Because an adventurer is not something that you become, it is something you are when you are born.” This book is a celebration of people of that have never stopped wondering or wandering and are creating art, products and projects that share this magic with others. The following is a list of some our favs from the book but check it out because there are loads of inspiring brands, bloggers and artists featured (feeling proud to see so many Canadians featured)

Yamatomichi - an outdoor gear brand focusing on the production of lightweight backpacks and related essentials for mountain-go-ers.

Tree Tents - a spherical treehouse that offers year round, above-ground shelter for up to two adults.

Norquay - a Canadian brand dedicated to the art of camping, applying new design ideas to traditional items. They offer handcrafted, handpainted canoe paddles whose colors and patterns are inspired by the beauty and heritage of Northern Canada.

Sitka - a Canadian Lifestyle brand with signature product the Hobo Knife, a multitool that honours the adventure of life on the road and made in collaboration with Case XX.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Wilder Life


This gorgeous book can be appreciated exclusively for its imagery, but even better is the range of DIY projects and old world skills they highlight throughout. Giving readers valuable knowledge on how they can simultaneously explore their creativity and interact with the outdoors.

This book was born out of the Wilder Magazine which began in 2011, “a publication with a goal of connecting the dots between twenty-first century living and the slow pace of the outdoors.” It takes the reader through each season, exploring categories of growing, cooking, home + self-reliance, beauty + healing and wilderness and contains recipes, DIY’s, skills and quotes that they consider as crucial foundational elements for an incredible natural experience.

We plan to be visiting this book as much as we possibly can this coming year, in fact have considered quitting everything just so we can do all the projects, all the time. We will start with making natural dyes, our own household cleaners and then head out into the woods and practice building our own outdoor shelter.  Stay tuned, we will share our projects with you all here and on instagram.

“All we have, it seems to me, is the beauty of art and nature and life, and the love which that beauty inspires.” Edward Abbey