Cafe Hop

The winter months can be hard. Sometimes the weather does not cooperate and it’s tough to get outside for a walk. Maybe you’re leaving home in the dark and coming home to the same light. At this time of year, it’s can be helpful to focus on the little things – the small joys in life that bring pause to your day and make you smile.

In early December, we sat down for some festive treats and started talking about our favourite local cafes that serve excellent food and drinks and provide a warm, comforting atmosphere. These are a few that we came up with.

What are some of your favourite cafes? We’d love to hear from you!


Moja Coffee

1412 Rupert Street, North Vancouver

(604) 983-MOJA

A few years ago, I tweeted my three favourite places to buy an Americano in Vancouver. Moja Coffee noticed and asked if I’d tried theirs. I hadn’t. I couldn’t believe there was a small, locally owned coffee roaster and cafe in North Vancouver! I tried one of theirs and three years later, it remains my favourite. Moja is my go-to place for buying beans. Their staff are friendly and knowledgeable and you can peak through the window at their roasters and see piles of burlap sacks waiting for the machine.


105C-4390 Gallant Avenue, Deep Cove, North Vancouver

(604) 971-4340

Sunnyside opened last Summer in Deep Cove. The cafe/store has a delicious variety of loose-leaf teas which can be ordered by the cup or bag. The tea takes a few minutes to make, which is not a problem since the time can be spent browsing the beautifully curated collection of ceramics, books, textiles, homegoods and bath and body products. Sunnyside does not have the space for a large amount of seating, but if it’s a rainy day and you’re lucky, you can snag the cushioned window seat and watch the Deep Cove traffic. If you’re willing to brave the weather or the sun is shining, the ocean or forest is only steps away.

Our shop was originally inspired by the idea of discovering an abandoned cottage somewhere in the dense woods along the sunny side of Indian Arm. We loved the idea of bringing it back to life, filling it with things we loved and inviting our friends for tea.

Thomas Haaschoc-kitchen_gallery

998 Harbourside Drive, North Vancouver


I’ve spent many a happy morning luxuriating over hot chocolate (smooth, velvety) and an almond croissant (pure decadent indulgence!) at Thomas Haas Patisserie.

Thomas Haas himself is an interesting man. Europe-born, an avid cyclist, he is quoted as saying: “no dream, no life.”  I often remember this quote, when I look for inspiration.

Best not to leave your trip to Thomas Haas too late in the morning as it tends to get busier then. Parking can also be a challenge, so why not bike or walk there? Good way to make up for the calorie-laden croissants.  I believe they are closed Sundays.


639 East 15th Avenue, Vancouvermatchstick_shop1
(604) 558-0639

Matchstick has a cozy atmosphere with a modern West Coast flair. There is a bustling, European feeling to this café in the Fraser Street neighbourhhod. Join into the friendly, easygoing atmosphere of this little gem of a place!

At the core of Matchstick is our desire to take that which is common, like a daily mug of coffee, and produce it with the highest level of care and attention. We believe that something familiar can still be special. Perhaps we would go so far as to say that it must be special; for it is the everyday, simple, common experiences that tie together the rest of our hectic, fumbled, and unpredictable lives.

Coffee has an outstanding capacity to connect people.

6East Van Roasters

319 Carrall Street, Vancouver

(604) 629-7562

I am very fond of this little café, a vibrant coffee shop with extraordinary chocolate and cookies made in-house. Friendly staff, heritage tile work, and neat signage make this an uplifting place to relax with a drink and sweet snack.

Designed to provide training and employment to the women residents of the Rainier Hotel, East Van Roasters creates organic ‘bean-to-bar’ chocolate and coffee roasted and prepared on site. 

Come in and see how chocolate is made right from the bean!

Words by KD, Calm Pond and Cassandra Van Dyck


Review of Sheehy’s “Passages in Caregiving”

Last year I read Gail Sheehy’s “Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence”, and I highly recommend it, in particular for her insights into the 8 Stages of Caregiving, which are:

1. Shock and Mobilization: Advocate with Authority

2. New Normal: Turn Illness into Opportunity

3.Boomerang: Summon Family Meeting

4. Playing God: Accept what you cannot change

5. I can’t do this anymore! Create a Circle of Care

6.Coming back: Replenish Your Lifelines

7. The in-between stage: Prepare your own path to comeback

8. The Long good-bye: Love is letting go, together

With regard to creating a circle of care, I recommend the following website:

Care calendar

My church used it recently and it was very helpful. You can organize meals and other help for families in need during an illness or other major life event.

There are many more resources in Sheehy’s book. Go explore!


Calm Pond

Self-kindness for caregivers


When life feels a bit overwhelming, when caregiving is stretching your capacity to the limits, when patience is difficult to practice, when you are worn out mentally, physically or emotionally (or perhaps in all three ways), self-kindness becomes even more essential for caregivers. Sometimes folks who are supporting others with the many tasks of daily life get bogged down by the lists of appointments, household duties and personal care tasks to be done. Often, caregivers are called upon to give a good portion of their energy towards the good of others … to the extent that their needs take second place.

When I think about the practice of self-kindness, a few ideas come to mind:

*Giving yourself permission to step away from engaging with others. This means paying attention to where your boundaries are, and honouring your limits as a person.

*Pausing to notice when you are being self-critical. This is sometimes referred to as ‘self-talk’; the messages we tell ourselves silently, without speaking them out loud.

Stop beating yourself up. You are a work in progress; which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once.” –Unknown

*Re-connecting with something you love to do. Try recalling a time when you felt alive doing an activity such as writing, hiking, painting, or traveling (day trips to nearby places are a good !)

*Choosing to focus on what is positive about your situation. This includes appreciating the things you are doing well, such as being thoughtful about how you prepare healthy meals for you and your loved one.  To choose: to select freely and after consideration.

I hope you are on the path to discovering how you might nurture kindness for yourself. You are every bit worth the five-star treatment!

Healing comes from letting there be room for all of “this” to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. Pema Chodron


In Our Own Backyards: Karen Van Dyck’s Cures for What Ails Us

karen van dyck

Karen Van Dyck is a professional herbalist, natural health consultant, educator and perfumer from Vancouver Island. In this interview, she shares the story of her path to natural health care and some tips for using scents for energy and relaxation.

Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell us about your journey in to natural skin care?

When I was a child growing up on Saltspring island, we used to rub seaweed on our skin, dig clay from the banks for face masks, put lemon juice on our hair to sun streak it, and put aromatic flowers in jars of rainwater to make perfume. This elemental connection to nature was more important to me than I knew at the time.

The lightbulbs started going off when I was studying herbal medicine and learned a very important thing – the body has an inherent ability to heal itself if you give it the natural building blocks it needs. This includes the skin as the largest working organ of absorption, protection and elimination. Working as a natural products specialist for a pharmacy chain, I saw that the cosmetic industry (in the interests of money) was mystifying what should be a natural solution to skin issues. Like pharmaceuticals, they lived in a world of patented synthetic molecules, that were highly potent, but they strained the liver and left a damaging trail in the body. They can result in eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dryness and fungal rashes. My philosophy is simple: cleanse, hydrate, nourish and protect – with whole food molecules from nature.

During my eight years in pharmacy, I developed a philosopy that nature in all its complexity and balance held potent solutions for beauty and health. I had the priviledge of attending many seminars and workshops, and also had access to the compounding lab. People started asking me for natural alternatives. My first creations were not elegant! I took a natural cosmetic formulating course with the Cosmetic Formulators of the USA and used what I learned to formulate using superfoods (foods that are highly nutritious and powerful) instead of isolated patented synthetic molecules and thus Natures First Beauty Bar was born.


Can you give us a sneak peak in to your creative process?
My clients usually come to me with an ingredient/food that they want to develop into a line; like fermented rice paste from the sake makers on Granville Island, or aronia berry from Ontario… and then I put my thinking cap on. I research the ingredients and all their powerful nutrients for their skin/health properties. Then I use the traditional methods of one step extraction (distilling, fermenting, tincturing, maceration, infusing) to stabilize the foods for use in products. I consider each of my formulations a work of art, and I use organic, sustainable, unrefined butters, oils, essential oils and other ingredients to produce a skin care product that is highly functional, beautiful and supportive of skin health. One thing that I love is that my products are not clear or bleached white – you can see through the colour that the wonder of nature is in each jar.
Scents can be very powerful. What would you recommend to someone who need more energy? For someone who would like to relax?
I completed a three year program in natural perfume with Aftelier in Berkeley California. Aromatherapy uses steam distilled essential oils, and perfumery uses resins, tinctures, absolutes, concretes (the waxy part of flower blossoms) and other mysterious and amazing ingredients. All of nature is therapeutic, but essential oils have the highest profile for their therapeutic effect since they enter the bloodstream quickly. Every person is different and responds differently, but if someone is needing more energy because they are tired – I would recommend peppermint or eucalyptus. If they are writing an exam – add rosemary to that. If they are needing mood uplifting, citrus oils like grapefruit and lemon work. If a person needs energy because their hormones are out of whack – I would recommend rose geranium. If people are tired because they are highly stressed, I would recommend lavender, ylang ylang, sandalwood or grounding oils like patchouli. These oils are also relaxing and calming. For enlightenment or focus – rose and sandalwood are wonderful.

The world of aromatherapy can seem overwhelming! What advice would you give to someone who wants to experiment with scents?

To make a simple aromatherapy blend – choose a balanced blend with an equal amount of each note [and blend with a base oil such as jojoba]

top note:
1. citruses like pink grapefruit, bergamot, lime, lemon, orange
2. spices like black pepper, ginger, coriander, cardamom
3. light woods like cedar or rosewood, fir or spruce

middle note:
1. florals like rose, jasmine, lavender or ylang ylang
2. herbs like rosemary, sage, fennel
3. spices like cinnamon or nutmeg

base notes:
1. resins like myrrh, frankincense, benzoin, peru balsam
2. vanilla
3. Indian grasses like patchouli or vetiver (only a small amount!)

To have a more uplifing blend – use more top notes
To have a more grounding blend – use more base notes

A cautionary note for people with low blood pressure – stay away from lavender since it definitely lowers blood pressure and can cause dizziness. If you have high blood pressure, lavender should be your best friend!

What has the world of natural health taught you about taking care of yourself?

A connection to nature brings profound health benefits. Whether it is watching a sunrise, walking through a forest or swimming in the ocean…. Health is physical, mental and spiritual. Beauty is Health. There is an old saying that a remedy for what ails you is within 10 feet of your back door. Herbal teas are the best and fastest ways to recieve that remedy. Natures bounty is our food and our medicine.