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Is your home your sanctuary?

It's winter. The mornings are dark, evening starts early. I actually like these long, dark days. I find them as exciting, even if not as lovely, as the long summer nights when it seems that daytime never ends. In June, I'm regularly asleep and usually awake before and after the light has receded. I am never awake in the dark!

I love being out of doors. I'm easily rejuvenated by wandering around or digging in the garden, by a walk down to the ocean and back, and from time spent on the forest trails. In the winter, however, when I arrive back indoors, it is a very different experience than in the spring and summer. In the summer especially, I am only ever quickly passing through the house, never staying in long.

Vintage floor lamp in living room with gallery art wall behind. Works of art by Etienne Zack, Gordon Smith, Atilla Lukas, Jack Shadbolt, children's art and more.

Original Artworks by My Husband Etienne Zack, Friend Gordon Smith and Other Artists - and My Children

In the winter, my home becomes a refuge. A refuge from the cold and wet of the season. And a refuge from all the energy I expend, all the outward movement of the rest of the year. In the autumn, I dabble at recharging. But come winter, I plug into myself, into my home, and I let the healing and rejuvenation take over. It's akin to all the cell regeneration that takes place every night of the year while you and I are asleep. But it's more than just my skin healing and repairing - (though I am very grateful for this taking place every night of the year...combined with the aid of my nightly skin care regimen) My very heart and soul are rewired over these quieter and slower months of the year. A time when traditionally we move further inwards and can become reacquainted with all the nooks and corners of who we are. It's a sleepy and tired time of the year. With all the busy-ness around us, with all our to-do lists, we tend to resent the tiredness. But doesn't being sleepy also mean that we get to dream more? That's one of the wonders of the season: more time to dream. More quiet and aloneness to know that you are dreaming your own dreams instead of someone else's.

Slow Botanicals wild rose soap bar on white windowsill along with vintage silver clock, and photo of children in vintage silver frame.

Handmade Wild Rose Soap and Vintage Trinkets

I don't know about you, but I like to wish others "sweet dreams" before bed. I can't imagine ever suggesting a nightmare before retiring for the night, or the season. I like to have a good night, too. In spring, I set up a garden where I can feel amazing outdoors through the days and seasons ahead. To ensure feelings of ease and positivity. The same goes for indoors. I want to create a very personal sanctuary (knowing, of course, that I am NEVER shooting for perfect in my home. That would be stifling, restricting, strangling, unlivable), knowing that when winter (or illness, or even paperwork) keeps me indoors, that I am intentionally setting myself up for an experience that is nourishing, softening and encouraging. For a time of sweet dreams.

Slow Botanicals garden with blue wooden bench and blue handmade ceramic coffee mug and book by Anthony Trollope. Rudbeckia is blooming beside the bench. Background is of the lush garden.

The Garden Bench that My Husband Found and Refurbished

I feel that every object in my home presents a symbolism of sorts that activates aspects of me, of my family, of friends who are invited in. What parts of ourselves do we want to encourage? What do we want to accentuate? What inspires us? Makes us feel good? I don't want to accidentally surround myself with things that when they talk to me, share only sentiments that are generic and one-size-fits-all. Or created through mass manufacture by people who I will never know or have the good luck to share a meaningful chat or a coffee with. I know we can't avoid this entirely, but I think we are setting ourselves up for greater day-to-day happiness when we surround ourselves with stories and memories and objects inherently spirited.

Blue couch and brown couch with shite antique wall to ceiling and wall to wall bookshelves in background filled with books and a vintage telephone.

A Treasure - These Were the Original Bookshelves at Our Local Library In my own home, because this is what we both love (and our kids do, too - but they are still growing and in younger states of becoming, so I can't really speak for them), we have furnished our home with antiques and handmade furniture. I appreciate the antiques, because I love the mysteries they arrive with, knowing that there are all sorts of histories attached to them that I will never know but with which I get to live. In handmade furniture their is so much life. There is the nature of the materials, ideas that are built one at a time and even mistakes made. When I think of how someone else's creativity and capabilities are right there in the room with me, translated into something so essential and functional, I feel grateful that I get to live every day amidst their expressions. And when one of us is the maker, the effect is closer and dearer. The fulfillment and thanks that I feel are even greater. Simply because we know the stories that go along with the furnishing. For instance, the coffee table in my studio was built together by my husband and son when my son was small. and my husband didn't know how to build. There are dowels everywhere, because my son was so excited to put these in. And well, as my husband didn't quite know what he was doing, the table certainly has character. I look at the table every day and often remember to enjoy the travel back to another time and another place. When we lived in Montreal, where people throw everything, every week, out onto the curb to be taken away, my husband and I came across an antique door that we liked. Balancing cette porte on the pedal of my husband's bicycle, we carried it home. In its initial form, the wooden legs were built by my husband. We ordered a piece of glass from a local glass business. Voila, we had a dining room table that I still love more than any table I've owned.

Smiling little girl with pink hair in braids sits in yellow chair at glass covered door dining table and eats with Peter Rabbit ceramic dish set.

Breakfast at Our Door Turned Dining Table

Bouquet of Rose Bonbon Cosmos, Cosmos apricotta, dahlia Ferncliff Illusion in vintage flower vase on top of glass covered vintage door dining table with window in background letting in late summer light.

Simple Flowers From the Garden in a Vintage Vase

But it's not only the large items that count. The smallest, most used, every day bits matter, too. The set of silverware and the pink iced tea glasses that were my grandmother's. The stained glass almost-sphere that we found in a little shop and decided to turn into a lamp. The wooden spoons and vessels, fashioned from branches of maple that blew down in a storm.

Home grown garlic bulbs in a hand made wooden garlic dish made from Maple wood that is from a maple tree that blew down in a storm.

Handmade Garlic Dish for Homegrown Garlic! We Have So Many Hand Carved Utensils and Vessels to Love

Ceramic mugs and bowls, even a toothbrush holder, created by our children at ceramics class, bought from a local potter's studio, gifted by a dear friend.

Slow Botanicals Warm Weather Soap Bar in hand made ceramic soap dish made on outdoor fire from local Point Roberts Clay. On windowsill and surrounded by rocks and other natural objects.

Organic Hawaiian Black Lava Salt Bar

Resting in Homemade Soap Dish Made of Local Clay

Hand woven and hand sewn dish cloths and towels - it's amazing how much more enjoyable washing the dishes is made by these touches; same goes for the windowsill above the kitchen sink filled with vintage flower vases, special stones and seashells, and hand carved trinkets. The toy box made lovingly out of papier maché when I was pregnant. The hand crocheted, wool sacks that have always held my children's toys and which will I am sure become repurposed as the kids grow older, possessing not only new purpose but sentiment.

Little girl smiling in disney princess halloween costume and weating vintage gloves that are too large. Sitting in front of hand made jacquard curtains.

Handmade Curtains that I Sewed Many, Many Years Ago

At my son's birthday celebration this week, I gave my son a vintage silver spoon which my cousin personalized with a special message that I chose. My son will have this spoon to treasure his entire life, with the capability to remind him each and every day how much he is loved.

Little boy with long hair sits in Japanese food restaurant and opens birthday presents which include the custom made Wandering Tulips silver spoon that he is holding in his hand.

Love it that My Preteen Son is Excited About a Personalized Vintage Spoon

And, of course, there is artwork. I can't imagine living without original artwork on my walls. It is a contribution to the happiness of my life that at times of stillness, when resting on the couch, eating meals, or just staring off into space, I can be absorbed by the paintings, drawings and dried flowers placed on our walls. Each of these works seems to possess a soul of its own, and, like good literature, each piece teaches me, inspires me, challenges me and fulfills me. When I actually know the artist behind the work, all the better. Then, I liken the experience to a very generous gift, sincerity at its source, delivered straight to my spirit.

White wall on which hangs Slow Botanicals natural wreath and print by Gordon Smith. White table underneath has vintage, hand made stain glass sphere lamp.

One of My Everlasting Wreaths, Our Stained Glass Find, Print by Gordon Smith

This can all be contrasted to the emptiness I feel from the excess of mass production. Surrounded by objects that have no genuine source, I feel drained and exhausted. This home feels like a house that could be anyone's but most definitely not my own. There's no sanctuary there for me. And I do need that sense. It might be a weakness, but it is true. Like winter snowflakes, no two houses should ever be alike. I do believe, I do feel firsthand, that the more unique of a home you have, the more personal stories it contains, the more individuals who have touched the furnishings of your surroundings, as they are made or passed along, the the easier it is to replenish, reconnect and reaffirm ourselves during the time indoors. The time spent inside our most personal of space. That this is a way to sweet dreams.

On white windowsill there is a vintage English china saucer that is pink and gold. On the saucer are red and white hand felted valentines hearts with red delica bead embroidery.

Felt Sweethearts Brighten a Windowsill

Window with snow and snow covered western red cedar tree in background. In the window there are dry flowers hanging and an assortment of hand made clay vessels made by the family who lives in the home.

Dried Flowers From the Garden


Clay Vessels Made Together by our Family

Please visit Slow Botanicals to discover special handmade finds for your own home. Make your home your sanctuary.

Wising you all the best,

Chwynyn PS If you've enjoyed this post, can I ask a favor of you?

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Slow Botanicals are available at

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