Shopping Locally for Christmas: Plateau, Montréal.

Shopping local can mean two things: shopping from locally owned businesses and shopping for things made locally. Ideally, both. For this season I decided to try to do this for all my Christmas shopping. I live in Montreal in an area called Plateau Mont-Royal and both the city and the borough are known for their artists and artisans, so perhaps this is not such a challenge.

At this point I am about halfway through my Christmas shopping, so this post is as much about the things I have already purchased as about the places I like to frequent regularly, as well as where I intend to purchase some of my Christmas gifts this year. I also wanted to pay tribute and give props to all the entrepreneurs out there: to the artisans and to the local businesses that support them,  many of whom started out and hang on by a thread of crazy passion. Passion for the craft, for innovation, and for the rediscovery of forgotten traditions. And lets not forget the sheer tactile delight of a thing well made. So here’s to all of you, and here are a few of my favourite (handmade) things:

  1. La Bobineuse de LaineA Plateau institution that has existed in various locations and incarnations for over 60 years. This store is a mecca for anyone with the knitting bug as they specialize in yarn – Bobineuse de Laine literally means wool winder. Its current owner has taken the store to a new level of community presence and commitment by broadening the inventory to include things like macramé twine and giant wool roving; opening up the store to local artisans (including yours truly) and their products; offering lots of workshops and participating in fairs and events. They also have an online store. This year I purchased (who’s getting it is a secret…) a skein of naturally hand-dyed yarn by Bleu Poussière. Such a perfect trinity of local-ness, with the wool being a Québec Dorset. Beautiful!Bleu-Poussiere-Taiga-laine-picby-CMars
  2. Les Petits MonstresA children’s clothing store owned and operated by the delightful Galina, who aimed right from the very beginning to fill the store with locally handcrafted products. Here you will find everything from hand-made cloth bibs to toques and baby safe soaps and cosmetics. Les Petits Monstres currently carries five of my baby safe products. This store is soon closing however, so if you want to take advantage of some amazing 50% off deals, hurry! The store closes on December 22, 2017.
  3. La Grande Ourse. This store is owned and operated a gentle grande dame and retired Rudolf Steiner teacher. Although most of their finished products are imported from Europe, they also carry toys and items made locally, as well as materials to make your own Waldorf inspired crafts with. As the owner herself once told me: “there is one thing in this store you can steal: ideas.” If you would like to read about something I have made with their craft supplies click here.
  4. Boulangerie Les Co’Pains d’abord. With three locations in the Plateau, this is the perfect place to get some tasty stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, or even your Christmas bûche (order early!). Anyone who wishes to argue with me, ask me what I mailed across the ocean to my mother last Christmas (answer: their fruitcake). This is also a great place to stop at during your Christmas shopping and take a load off. Recommended favourites: the chocolate truffles, tarte choco-amande framboises (I have one of these EVERY week!), and the hot chocolate, which is particularly good with a croissant or a palmier, each a little masterpiece of crunch, flake and buttery goodness.
  5. La Maison des BièresIf you happen to know a beer enthusiast, or be one yourself, this is the place to go. They not only carry an extensive inventory of locally made beers, but a wide variety of small batch artisan brews to suit every taste. They have a great selection of stouts and dark beers, which are great for making dark rye breads, and other Christmas type breads. Pictured below: Oat Stout soap (made with an oat stout from Québec brewers Microbrasserie du Lièvre), and the prop beer which I will be using to make my next beer soap with: Mille Iles Oat Stout. Both equally delicious by the way. oat-stout-soap-flora-&-pomona (29).JPG
  6. Rose Café MontréalThis is another operation that looks to support local artisans and the local crafting community, by providing a meeting space, a retail section as well as venue for various events and workshops. Some of the products sold here are by artisan-entrepreneurs and some local hobby crafters who sew or crochet at home on their spare time. This year I bought two things from some of these crafty local ladies: a fabric case (perfect for pens, makeup or knitting and crochet needles) and a set of croched necklace and bracelet, appropriately, rose colored! Rose-Cafe-Montreal-crafts-picby-CMars
  7. Craft Markets. Every year there are more and more craft markets. There are the huge classic blockbuster ones like the Salon des Métiers d’art, and the smaller markets of non-profits like On Sème’s November Market, or even fundraising markets like the Rudolf Steiner’s Christmas market. No matter where you go there are a few obvious benefits to shopping at craft markets: you get to meet the artisans themselves, the artisan’s and crafters often bring their best selection and a wider selection and at a better price than what you might find in retail outlets. Here are my market purchases this year:

From On Sème Marché du Novembre:

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Close up of Ceramic Bowl by Élise Rubin:Elise-Rubin-ceramic-bowl-picbyCMars

From Rudolf Steiner’s Christmas market.

  • All natural artisan soap by Blue Moose Soap. I might as well admit, that this is a gift to myself.
  • Stuffed animal in the shape of a Dalahäst for my toddler, by the mother and daughter team Almonte-Bravo.
  • Knitted sheep’s wool toque for children. This hat is seriously soft, wellmade and even has a liner along the brim (I will try and find the maker of this hat and will edit it in).

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How about you? Do you have a favourite craft market, artisan or store that offers artisan wares? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you so much for stopping by and remember, handmade is best made 😉

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Flora & Pomona at La Bobineuse!

I am very pleased to announce (belatedly) that as of 2017 the delightful wool store La Bobineuse carries Flora & Pomona’s Lanolin Enriched Wool Wash and Felted Soaps, both pictured here below:

 

La Bobineuse is located in the Plateau neighbourhood in Montreal. This store has been in the area for nearly half a century, a mecca for fiber enthusiasts, knitting addicts and beginners alike. They also offer classes on how to knit and crochet (which I plan to take as soon as possible). I spent lots of time in this cozy store last winter – buying skeins of beautiful turquoise merino, luscious baby alpaca and sheep’s wool (yes, I can’t even knit) – so I’m very happy and proud to see my Wool Wash and felted soaps on their shelves.

La Bobineuse is located at 2196 Avenue du Mont Royal East, Montreal, QC H2H 1K3.

Antique Teacup Aromatherapy Candles

 

What are they?

Antique teacup aromatherapy candles are a beautiful way to enjoy the benefits of essential oils, especially now that the colder months are upon us. Right now I have three different aromatherapy blends – Calm, Happy and Relax – in three different cups: a dark rose pattern, a dusty pink rose pattern and a blue flowers and vines pattern.

What are they made of?

These all-natural soy candles are made with 100% EcoSoy, a wax made from non-GMO soy and a cleaner alternative to paraffin. Most commercially available candles are still made with paraffin wax, derived from petroleum oil, which releases the carcinogens benzene and toluene when burned. As an added bonus soywax is also biodegradable, non-staining and easy to remove! The wicks are made of 100% cotton and also primed in soywax. To the wax I add my own blend of pure essential oils and then this is poured into an antique tea cup and left to set.

Why teacups?

I select teacups that are made with fine china, have distinct features that I enjoy, like gold rims or interesting handles and that have a feeling of  history to them. Some have matching plates and some I have matched with plates from other sets. In the end each candle is unique. While it is cute to set a candle on a plate it also serves a function to catch possible spills and make it easier to transport a lit candle with hot wax in it.

Aromatherapy?

The aromatherapy blends were designed to create specific “odorous” ambiance and give relief to the stresses of the daily grind. I imagined the candles being used at the end of the day, while having a nice bath, or having a warm cup of tea and reading a book. As a mom I know that these moments are few and far between but much needed and can do wonders to the tired worn mamas and papas out there. So here are the blends:

1. This is a woods blend I call Relax. It is a blend of Siberian pine, cedar wood and ho wood. Ho wood is an ecological alternative to rose wood which is now a restricted  and endangered species. Pine, cedar and ho wood all have stress reducing properties, and this blend is designed to reduce nervous stress especially. If you can’t take a walk in the woods, this candle will give you a little “forest bath” in the comfort of your own home.

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Aromatherapy Candle in Antique Teacup: a woodsy blend of pine and cedar to help you relax

2. A rose blend called Calm made of palmarosa essential oil, ho wood and Victorian rose aromatic essence. An aromatic essence is 100% natural but is not an essential oil. It is derived or extracted from plant material through alcohol distillation and mixed with organic vegetable oil. Palmarosa, ho wood (known as the peace oil) and rose are both calming and soothing, perfect if you are feeling wound up, irritable and in need of a bit of peace. It also smells really nice 🙂

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Aromatherapy Candle in an Antique Teacup: a rosy blend of palmarosa, ho wood and rose creates a calming atmosphere.

A. A citrus blend called Joy made of lemon, grapefruit, lemongrass and bergamot essential oils. Research shows that the smell of citrus can lessen stress and makes people feel happy. Remember that perfume from the 90’s, Happy? It is mostly citrus. The smell of citrus can lift your mood, brighten your day, and take the edge off frayed nerves. So a citrus candle might just be what the doctor ordered for those long dark and cold winter months: brightening in both senses.

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Aromatherapy Candle in an Antique Teacup: a blend of citrus essential oils to brighten smiles and lift frowns.