Sushi Serving Sets are here!

Sushi serving sets for Spring and Summer: Suck it, stupid winter stews!

Try saying that five times fast!

As we write this, more snow is falling from the skies and settling on the chin-high snowscape that is our lawn. We can't wait to throw open the windows, set up the sunroom and dig our hands into the dirt.

Sushi is one of our favourite foods, but it sometimes feel odd to eat this cold meal in the depths of winter (plus the nearest sushi restaurant is three towns away!). But we can dream about all the sushi we will eat once the warmer weather is here - and we can't wait to serve it on our new Sushi Serving Set!

The minimalist design gives a nod to the Pagoda, with beveled edges and a floating look achieved by using two feet to elevate each platter. Choose from sets for 2 people or 4, and add our handmade chopsticks if you like!

We've done a small limited-edition run of these, so if you like them, don't wait! Buy them here or in our etsy shop.

PSST! Wannw win a set on Friday April 4th? Subscribe to our B&B Love Letters and you'll find out how to enter!

Wine Racks coming soon!

We've pulled a fresh baked batch of reclaimed wood & recycled leather wine racks out of the oven - just in time for this Saturday's Urban Craft Market in Ottawa.

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When we return, these bad boys are going straight into our online store!

Bath Caddies! A sale and a giveaway!

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Everyone knows the best way to chase the winter blues away is to SPA it out, amirite??

And yet... we don't all have the means to treat ourselves to hot tubs, steam rooms and massages.

Never fear, we're here to help. We want to celebrate our spanking new website AND stick it to winter. That's why, for the next 48 hours, our ready to ship bamboo bath caddy is only 59.99! Simply use the coupon code SUCKITWINTER

 


Featured Designer: Michelle of Simone's Rose

We are super-stoked to inaugurate our Featured Designer Series with Michelle Maynard, the incredible talent behind eco-conscious womenswear line, Simone's Rose.

We have had the pleasure of being wearers of Simone's Rose as well as collaborating with Michelle - in fact, Michelle is the one who makes our vintage kimono fabric chopstick sleeves! The material is all offcuts from the Simone's Rose studio.

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We have always been so impressed with the seamless way that Michelle incorporates eco-practices into her business - we think she's an incredible example, and she has certainly inspired many of the eco-minded decisions we have made while running B&B. 

The mandate of Michelle's Canadian fashion label, aside from creating gorgeous romantic clothes with impeccable tailoring (not to mention feats of fabric folding) is to "affect change by supporting and implementing sustainable and ecologically conscious business practices and projects internally, locally and across the globe". No small feat! She does this by using organic and fair trade fabrics, vintage textiles and trims, as well as deadstock. As she says; "After all, it's all about having style – both in the way we dress and the way we affect people and the world around us!" Who can argue with that?

We asked Michelle to speak about the importance of eco fashion & running en eco-conscious business.

B&B: Why is eco fashion important to you?

Michelle: Eco fashion for me is more about a lifestyle than a thing you "do" so to speak.  I believe that clothing can be made ethically from materials that are sustainable for our environment without compromising style. There is so much excess around us, it kind of drives me crazy.. sometimes I think the world has gone crazy!  I mean, do we really need $5 Walmart t-shirts that fall apart after one wash?  (Lets not even get started on what someone got paid to make that t-shirt.)  That seems so ridiculous to me and that's why eco fashion is so important.  

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B&B: How does Simone's Rose embody an eco/sustainable philosophy? How do you put it into practice?

Michelle: Everything I use for my collections & business is carefully picked for its sustainability or eco friendliness.  Even my designs are built around it! If a particular dress causes too much fabric waste I'll tweak the design or come up with a better way to do the pattern so it makes more sense where that's concerned.   I also use recycled paper products for my packaging and eco friendly shipping supplies.  If I choose to purchase a fabric locally, it has to be pretty awesome, the end of a fabric bolt and/or supporting a great local business (because that's important too).   

B&B: What's the hardest part about "going green", both with your business and your life?

Michelle: Its actually not that hard to be conscious about the environment!  When you start implementing small changes to your life, they become habit and part of your lifestyle.  I don't really see any drawbacks with choosing a recycled shipping product vs a regular shipping product for example.  It may sometimes cost a little bit more money but in the end its usually not that much and its a better choice.  The same goes for fabrics - I would much rather use a gorgeous organic cotton or hemp textile that feels great against the skin than a slick polyester covered in chemicals.  There's really no choice to be made there so I don't really see 'going green' as a challenge in any way.

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B&B: Where do you think people or businesses should start when they want to begin "going green"?

Michelle: I think starting with small changes is key to adjusting your business or lifestyle.  The next time you need to order paper for your printer, think about your choices... Is it recycled paper, is it made from bamboo, is it super white slick bleached paper and it doesn't need to be? The same goes for building your wardrobe.. why choose a cheap dress from the mall made from chemical covered polyester when you can have something that is not only made from a better fabric but also made in Canada or by a reputable company?  Consumers have an infinite amount of choices these days and it all starts with making small steps.  Why waste your hard earned money on clothing that will be tossed in the 'donation' pile and inevitably end up in the garbage?  I think spending a little more money on one item of quality that will last you a very long time, feels good, does good and looks great is a fantastic start.   Check out Etsy or search the web for local designers, pop in to your local boutiques rather than the mall and visit some arts & craft shows the next time there's one happening in your town or neighbourhood!    You never know what or who you will discover.  Going 'green' is just about making choices, it won't hurt & you'll be better off, I promise!  

Out of The Woods #1: Hardwood vs Softwood

What is the difference between hardwood and softwood?

Rachel thought it would be fun to answer a question we get often from clients. Little did she know how complicated the answer can be!

The quick, simplified answer to the question "What is the difference between hardwood and softwood" is that hardwood is the wood of broad leafed deciduous trees (the kind that shed their leaves in the fall), whereas softwoods are the wood from needle leafed evergreen trees (which retain their needles all year long).

You can stop reading there if you like. But if you wanna get your geek on, let's get technical!

Hardwood: a maple with seeds

Hardwood: a maple with seeds

We had to turn to our Tree Nerd friends to fully understand this, and what we learned is pretty cool:

Reproduction

The actual distinction between hardwood and softwood lies in plant reproduction.

Hardwoods are angiosperms, and angiosperms are flowering plants. So they reproduce by making flowers that produce pollen and ovules, and get busy either via wind (like maples, poplars, birch) or by attracting pollinators with showy flowers (like Rachel's favorite Magnolia).

Softwood trees (conifers) are gymnosperm. Get this: conifers are a much older group of plants - they are so old that flowers had not evolved yet.

[DUDE. That calls for a whole other post about the evolution of trees.]

In fact, 'Gymnosperm' means 'naked seed'. This means that they do not have that protective ovary around them and aren't in an enclosure.

At this point, I asked the Tree Nerds why a cone isn't considered an enclosure and they agreed it was pretty silly and confusing. They explained that instead of flowers, the conifers produce what we call cones, "but are really super specialized, modified leaf and stem tissue. Almost all conifers pollinate and disperse their seeds on the wind. The cone protects the developing embryo/seed just like the fruit does - from insects and drying out and the elements. It's just not as advanced, evolutionarily."

Softwood: a conifer wtih cones

Softwood: a conifer wtih cones

The Terminology

Now, it must be said: the terms “hardwood” and “softwood” are actually pretty misleading.

It sounds like they refer to material density, right?

But they don’t. Most hardwoods are indeed pretty dense - but pick up a piece of Balsa, a hardwood, and you’d think you were picking up styrofoam! It’s so light that Balsa is often the wood chosen for model plane building.

Be they technically hardwood or softwood, it turns out that interesting correlations can be drawn between the speed at which a tree grows and its density. Slower growing trees produce wood that is more dense while fast growing trees produce wood that is less dense. Cool.

Choosing Hardwood vs Softwood

So how do we decide which woods to work with? There are all sorts of things to consider when making the choice, like budget, rigidity, flexibility, hardness, coloring and “figure” (We'll explain figuring in another post!).

So usually it isn’t about choosing hardwood vs. softwood, but rather choosing a specific wood that best matches your various criteria.

When it comes down to it, we here at B&B tend to stick to a small selection of native and locally grown hardwoods that are available, durable, and gorgeous.

Big thanks to Carissa Brown at Memorial University of Newfoundland for the Tree Nerdery!

Lifting the veil...

Welcome, welcome! We are so very excited to unveil the brand new B&B website, store, blog & Love Letters!

The most important change is that our website is now BEAUTIFUL & FUNCTIONAL, just like our B&B goods. No more of Rachel's shoddy half-baked HTML hackery, hooray! 

But it doesn't stop there...

SHOP for your favourite B&B products right here on the site!

EDUCATE YOURSELF with our blog: there are fascinating articles about wood, features on awesome independent eco designers, and much more to come!

BEAUTIFY your day with snapshots of life here at Silverwood.  

INJECT GOODNESS in to your inbox by signing up for Our Love Letters.

BONUS! We're celebrating by putting our ready to ship Bamboo Bath caddy on sale for 48 hours - and giving one away! Learn more here

We'd also love to hear what you think of the site, and please let us know if you stumble upon any bugs or glitches!

 

We Heart Moms & Bath Caddy Bonus!

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We made too many. And now you get a sweet deal! Just in time for Mother's Day.

We did a large run of bamboo bath caddies for a hotel and had a bunch left over.

So if the tub fits, you get a handmade B&B bath caddy for $99 instead of $145!

Want to gift the caddy for Mother's Day? Simply purchase before midnight EST on Sunday May 5th,

and we will send your bath caddy via Xpresspost, which is guaranteed 4 business days within North America.

That's not all!

Additionally, get $5 off if you spend more than $50 on anything in the store!

Use the coupon code WEHEARTMOMS before midnight EST Sunday May 5th.

Click here to start shopping!

Green Wedding Dreams

Despite not having had a wedding ourselves (nor any plans to anytime soon), we've had weddings on the brain a lot lately. We've been best man/groomsman/bridesmaid/maid of honour/emcee, made many products for friends' wedding, strangers' weddings, and recently showcased our wares at Ottawa's Indie Wedding Show, Wed By Hand.

We love the current trend of rustic, nature-inspired garden weddings with an emphasis on being green. Weddings are notoriously wasteful and we commend all efforts to leave less of an impact on the planet with your special day. We have added a bunch of items to our line to cater to requests we've received. Here's a little wedding round up of our favourite items sprinkled with nuptial-oriented B&B goods.

Rachel is obsessed with this bespoke wedding dress from eco-indie fashion label Simone's Rose. Just imagine a barefoot bride walking across the dewy grass in this beauty!simones-rose-wedding-dressIn the summer here at Silverwood, we always have jars full of flowering herbs from the herb garden. You don't want to let all your herbs go to flower, but chives are one of the few that flower early, and they make the most incredible bouquets. Those purple blossoms and bright green stems would just pop from antique tinted blue glass jars, don't you think?

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These white birch place card holders make a lovely compliment to jars full of chive flowers. We rent these, just contact us if you're interested in details!

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We love the beautiful artisanal letter press wedding invitations from Montreal's Tartine Paperie. If you are going the DIY route for your invites, why not use seed paper? A few summers ago, we enjoyed three large planters full of gorgeous wildflowers that started out a friend's wedding invitation.

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 12.11.35 PMA really great way to incorporate a slideshow into your wedding reception is to use the picture frame function on your iPad - you create an album with your adorable romantic pictures in it, choose that album in the settings for the picture frame, then simply press the flower icon on the home screen of your iPad. It'll play an endless slideshow loop of that album, without going to sleep. Just remember to fully charge your iPad!

We created this tablet stand from a heavy maple log. A minimalist and sturdy way to hold your tablet on the reception table by your guest book.

tablet-stand-4Speaking of guest books, we make a wedding album that doubles as a guest book - the chicago bolts allow you to add more of the FSC certified archival quality paper. Why separate the photos captured on your special day from the heartwarming notes left by your guests?

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We love all of Dallas Curow's wedding photography, and especially this snap from her styled wedding shoot, Underwater Garden.

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 11.47.22 AM Our scrap veneer bunting is a really versatile decoration - use it decorate your walls, run it across the garden, cap the ends of each row of seating - and when you're done, simply compost it!

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We love the current trend of using slices of log as a cake stand. Until we have a bandsaw big enough to slice logs, we have this vintage walnut cake stand that Rachel refinished and woodburned, as part of our new section "Refurbished by Rachel".walnut-platter-5When all is said and done, don't forget to thank all your friends and family who helped make your special day a reality! We had a "blast" (pardon the pun) making these custom rifle bookmarks with riveted recycled copper bullets for groomsmen who had organized a skeet shooting themed bachelor party. groomsman-bookmarks-4We also offer sets of chopsticks that make great wedding favours or even a wonderful wedding gift for your getting-hitched friends!

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Window Treatment

window-trim-detail After two straight months without a day off, we were close to losing our minds - and so we self-imposed a real weekend.

What magic!

We spent Saturday walking around the lake and reading books on the couch. And then Sunday was spent learning to trim a window for the first time in our lives.

DISCLAIMER before you read the rest of this post - this is one of those "really boring mundane why would i want to know that and read about it" blog posts that's mostly meant to keep friends and family from feeling like Aaron and I fell through a hole in the lake. Consider yourself warned!

Many of the windows in our house are in the unsightly "framed by a raw edge of drywall, insulation and foam" stage - that is to say, untrimmed. It's been driving us nuts but we haven't been able to find the time to fix it.

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We started with the kitchen window since it's the most public eye-sore. It took us the whole day since we weren't working from pre-milled stuff - we milled our own trim from large pine 2 x 8s, since we have the tools and the wood.

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We decided on a built in shelf with a little half round detailing, and a lintel top instead of the standard miter corners. Maybe a bit ambitious, and we did almost give up half way through- but the thought of adding it to our already long To Do list for the coming week saw us through.

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When we stepped back and admired our handiwork, we couldn't believe how good it looked! And satisfying. There's nothing like doing NOTHING for once, and then doing SOMETHING that isn't just for sale or someone else's enjoyment.

Super hard to get good pictures of a window frame when you have insane amounts of snow glaring off the camera lens so here you go. Oh, and the lovely tulips were left here  after a photoshoot for a magazine feature on B&B, details to come!

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Gratuitous tulip shot.

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Wed By Hand

postcardWe will be in Ottawa this Sunday, with a table at Wed By Hand! We will have samples of our wood wedding albums, centrepiece ideas, branch candles, customizable wedding favours like our chopsticks sheathed in gorgeous , and our new wood bunting! Screen shot 2013-02-07 at 12.43.12 PM

Our bunting is made from scraps of wood veneer. Veneer is wood cut very thin, intended for applying to plywood structures to give the illusion of being made from solid wood - it is challenging to work with as it is prone to breaking, so it tends to create a lot of scrap or waste material. We happily adopt veneer scraps and the bunting is a lovely way to turn otherwise wasted material into the icing on your party cake! We use natural fish glue, made in Quebec, to apply the veneer triangles (with the grain running diagonally to minimize breakage) to biodegradable cotton butcher twine, also made in Canada. Once the bunting has seen its share of celebrations, it can be simply be composted or burned!

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Another goody we will be launching at Wed By Hand is our salvaged wood chopsticks, now available in vintage kimono scrap fabric holders, made for us by the wonderful Michelle of Simone's Rose. A lovely and light-on-the-planet wedding favour idea!

 

Community Effort

Just a short post since we're overwhelmed with big/new/exciting/scary projects. It's been a very challenging week with lots of growing pains for us here at B&B. On this blustery -30 celsius day at Silverwood, we came across this gorgeous photo, taken on the dock at the lake, by our friend Christian Mouzard. It's such a great way to summarize how grateful we are feeling for having such incredible friends, family and customers who have been there for us through thick and thin. You guys rock. IMG_7149

Arm Wrap Harmony

cherry-arm-wraps-garinWe recently shipped off this pair of cherry arm wraps, and we are super stoked about them. They are intended for the two arms of the same couch, and so we made them from the same piece of cherry - you can see the gorgeous wood grain cross the surface of the two wraps. And cherry gets richer and darker over time, so that's fun too. If we're lucky, we'll see a pic of these in their new home!cherry-arm-wraps

Hand made magical and miraculous moments

magical-moments As proponents of recycling, reusing and minimal and conscientious consumption, we sometimes have conflicted feelings about the fact that we make products for consumption. We try to keep those objects as functional as possible, and do everything we can to make our business tread lightly on this planet, but sometimes we wonder if the answer is to sell everything we own and become monks.

We had some pretty special moments this past holiday season that reminded us that we can be makers of things, and feel really good about it too.

For example, we received this message from a client who had purchased a pair of chopsticks for herself.

"Tonight I ate dinner with my B&B chopsticks and I was thinking that each bite was coming to me via a tree that had fallen near your house via you picking up the fallen limb via you using your hands to carve and craft and smooth and adorn this utensil. It was kinda this spiritual, love-filled, connected-to-the-universe moment where I FELT what it means to utilize something handcrafted. And it was awesome. And I wanted you to know this 'cause THIS WHAT YOU DO ALL THE TIME EVEN IF NO ONE KNOWS IT!! You put love in objects that live in people's homes and that diffuse love slowly but surely."

Like, WOAH. That made us feel pretttty darn good about ourselves.

And then there was Allyson & Darryl.

Allyson contacted us via this very wee blog after stumbling across one of the gajillion sites that have pinned, linked, DIYed and shared our couch arm wrap. She knew the arm wrap was the perfect present for her husband Darryl, who is currently house-bound due to a serious aneurysm and stroke that he miraculously survived.

While attempting to covertly measure the couch, Allyson realized the arm of her couch wasn't a rectangle, and actually had one angled side. She asked us if it was still possible to make an arm wrap for it. We brainstormed the procedure, figured out what measurements we'd need from her and said "let's do it!". Allyson gifted Darryl with the arm wrap on Christmas, and then gifted us with an intimate video of Darryl opening his gift. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, lemme tell ya.

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Allyson and Darryl's story is incredible, and we are so honoured that our simple arm wrap is woven into it. We want to share it with you here, in Allyson's words:

"On February 6th, 2012, Darryl suffered a catastrophic aneurysm and stroke. As you're probably aware, most people don't survive an aneurysm, and if they do, they are often left with severe mental and physical impairment.

Darryl is originally from Toronto. I'm from Vancouver. When he collapsed,  he was in Toronto, and I was here in Vancouver. I received the call, and was advised to get to Ontario as soon as possible. I flew out immediately. When I was enroute, I had no idea when I arrived at Pearson if Darryl would still be alive. I tear up just thinking about it.  At that point, he was in an ambulance being transported to Toronto Western Hospital.  I was told that he would need to undergo a very rare and risky procedure - a cerebral bypass. This particular surgery is so rare, there's only one neurosurgeon in all of North America whose qualified to perform it. This doctor just happened to be in Toronto. I was also informed, that if he survived the procedure, he would most likely still succumb within 7 days due to "complications". Initially, he was doing well, but began to develop pneumonia the 3rd day after surgery. At that point, he was moved from Neuro ICU into the highest level Acute Care ICU. Sadly, most patients in that ward don't ever get to go home...

With the grace of a higher power, and the skill of Dr. Tymianski and his team, Darryl pulled through. Even though he was still considered "critical", it was a start...

After a month in Toronto Western, and another couple of months at the Toronto Rehab Institute, he was finally released.  He has suffered memory loss, and some minor physical issues, but he's done remarkably well. A miracle, really :)

I came across your product through a blog. When I first saw your wrap, I immediately knew it would be the perfect gift for Darryl. He's not able to work yet, so he spends his days at home, working on his continued recovery (often with a cup of tea and nowhere to rest it :)

When I first discovered your Etsy store, and then your website, and read more of your personal story, this line literally jumped out at me:

The story of Blisscraft&Brazen is a love story, set to a soundtrack of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.

I couldn’t help but smile…it was fate…we were meant to cross paths :)

When Darryl's condition was at it's most dire, on a ventilator and unable to speak, he made a gesture that probably only I would understand. He wanted to listen to music on his iPhone. I asked the nurse if it would be okay. Cell phones aren't allowed in ICU, so the nurse said she could do one better. She appeared a few minutes later with a very rudimentary one-button remote that played "Hospital Radio" (shockingly, even in his weakened condition, Darryl had absolutely NO problem holding the remote :).

The very first song that we heard was: Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”. Your soundtrack song :)

In spite of all the tubes, IV's, and machines attached to his body, Darryl's toes very slowly started tapping in time to the music. It was a sign…he was going to be alright, and our love story would continue :)

In closing, I really just want to express how much we appreciate your finesse, skill, talent, kindness, and unwavering commitment to beautiful and sustainable products.

We will treasure your "art". Please know it's found a happy home where it will be well-loved and cared for :)"

We're so grateful for the ways in which we have connected with other people, people who have touched our lives in a profound way, in ways we never knew possible... and all through a "thing", a product, albeit handmade with lots of care and love. We're floored.

Valentine's, B&B style!

valentine-chopsticksWell, hello there! Happy New Year!

Whoa, so...2013 is two weeks old! And already feels like old news around these here parts!

We have about seventy five draft blog posts, Country Lessons, reflections, thank you's, How Tos, and general updates... there was definitely no plan for our first post of the year to be about the next commercial holiday!

Believe us, we are total Valentine's Day sceptics and know all too well that high expectations on this overly commodified occasion can result in disastrous and nightmarish Valentine's Day memories.

We also know that when you DO stumble across the perfect gift for your lover, or when things have been rough on the homefront and your love life is need of a gesture of goodwill, Valentine's is a great opportunity to take the time to say "I love you".

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And so we've put together a humble, functional and touching valentine's gift package, that's perfect for foodies, lovers of asian take out, or the fast eater in your life (eating with chopsticks is a great way to force yourself to slow down and savour your food!)

For $50 CAD, you get:

:: two handmade chopsticks made from salvaged wood, with distinct faceted detailing!

:: free shipping!

:: free stamping of you and your lover's initials!

:: romantic b&B gift-wrapping and surprise goodies!

Check out the listing for all the details!

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