On the 13th day of Christmas, Grand Forks gives to you…

Meet Jason and Sofi.



They’ve recently moved to town and are the proud facilitators of the Travelling Rainbow Market we’ve added to Grand Forks this past summer. You can tell by their hand knit outfits that they’re people of the land and full of passion for all things natural. They’re all about family and that’s what we want Grand Forks to be all about too!


Not only are they out and about setting up markets that sell fresh local produce and local products, they also are busy little bees making beautifully unique candles, and all things leather, including wallets and bracelets, belt buckles and rings.

They’re not so hard to find, and you can find them setting up their booth at most craft markets in our area, so look them up!


Here is our interview with them!

Tiff: Tell us what inspired you to make and sell the goods that you do?

Jason: Our main motto is “Made through us, not by us.” Meaning our creative process is done through us, giving homage to the Creator as we are a part of creation. We’re also inspired by the idea of creating something that makes someone else happy. And that’s what it brings it all back to, spreading the love and happiness.

Tiff: We know you’ve been very intentional about your lifestyle for your family. Tell us how that came to fruition and why its important to you.

Jason: Growing up in the city, watching our parents going day in and day out, with only the illusion of achieving something, but working hard for 40+ hours a week, and making someone else richer. In this life, all we really have is time. Time is our only true currency, how are we spending it?

For us, working at something you don’t enjoy is not satisfying for the soul or physical body. So, living a simpler lifestyle and taking care of basics, you enjoy and appreciate the luxuries in life as they are presented to you. Spending time as a family is most important to us and with entrepreneurship, we get that opportunity, to be together more often than if we were working a 9-5.

With living an ‘alternative lifestyle’ or what we like to call it, a ‘simple’ lifestyle, we have also had the ability to travel and live life in multiple locations around the earth. In our travels we have met some of the most interesting people, talented artisans, and have experienced some wonderful situations.

Tiff: Give us a peek into the work involved in preparing your goods for sale?

Sofi: We have no set schedule, that’s the beauty of creating art. Some days we multi task, doing multiple projects, or some days we dedicate a whole day to one task.

Tiff: Why did you choose Grand Forks to live?

Sofi: When we decided to leave our jobs in Toronto, I worked in the corporate financial industry and Jason worked as a carpenter downtown. With only faith, we set out to travel west. We left our home in Toronto, sold most of our belongings with no initial plans, just a dream to give birth to our daughter on Salt Spring Island. On travelling through Canada, we were referred by a friend of a lady that lived on the mountain, to a small town of Grand Forks. We stayed here for a few weeks and fell in love with this little town. But at the time we continued our journey to the coast and had our baby on Salt Spring as planned. Through opportunity, we returned later to GF. We love the mountains, being close to nature, a huge contrast from living in the big city of downtown Toronto.

“I choose a community of trees over a community of buildings. And I know I don’t see this alone.” – Nakho Bear.

Tiff: What is your favourite part about living in GF?

Sofi: For us, not only is it being close to nature, but also the people we’ve met. Being social people, it’s important for us to create relationships with people. Its a quirky town, but it’s got some really good people here.

Tiff: If someone would like to purchase any of the items that you make, where can they find you?

Jason: You can catch us on the market circuit here in the Boundary, including the Travelling Rainbow Market Indoor Pop-ups events. You can also find us on our social media outlets, under Great Spirit Designs – we’re on instagram and facebook, as well as


We are also super excited to announce that we will be offering different craft workshops at Kettle River Crafts. Here is a list of a few workshops we will be hosting:

tie dye,

leather bracelets,

moccasin making,

soy candle making as well as a series of workshops called “Brojects”


So, go get your last minute gifts or stocking stuffers through Jason and Sofi! And stay tuned people! ONE MORE POST!! Our GRANDE FINALE coming up next!! Don’t miss it!

On the 9th Day of Christmas, Grand Forks gives to you…

Come with us now, into the dangerous,


colourful world

of Savanna, Justin, and Alf’s BoardRoom Cafe!


Maybe you’ll get lost there and never return, but you won’t be sorry when you open their door and find yourself surrounded by boardgames of all shapes and sizes, treats to make your eyes pop, hot and tasty food… and the sound of fun drifting about in every corner.


Perhaps there’s a mystery to solve, or a world to save, or just some laughs to be had with friends. In any case you can leave the boring, the mundane, and the work outside and step into a world of play.


Regardless of your motives, the exotic lattes and teas will surprise you, the atmosphere entice you and the people, well… the people will just fill you up with cheer.


Savanna and Justin have created an idea more than a place – and it’s all about what makes up the best parts of the words family and friends. Go there yourself, and see!

And while you’re there, pick up some Christmas gifts – there’s a plethora of games to choose from!


Here is our interview with them:

Tiff: What was the inspiration behind starting a board game cafe? What is your favourite part about what you do?

Justin: Board games were a family tradition that transformed into a mutual passion in our marriage. That passion combined with Savanna’s experience in hospitality… it made sense to mix those elements together into something that was our own. Alf brings years of business experience, administration skills and ties to the community that are invaluable. When we all decided to partner up, it truly became a family affair, and that makes it even more special for us.

Our favourite part of what we do is the sense of community we feel. Our customers are what make us get up every day.

Tiff: Tell us why you think life is better when you play board games? What is your favourite game?

Justin: Life can get pretty serious sometimes, and it’s easy to get caught up in being busy. Playing often gets overlooked as we get older, while spending our time ‘being adults’. We think it’s really important to hold onto that playful part of life, because it can be gone before you know it. We work hard, but it’s just as important to us that we play hard as well. That’s exactly what we often end up doing on our days off. It’s hard to pick a favourite game, but a few favourites include, Through the Ages, Great Western Trail, Fluster, Catch Phrase, and Heaven & Ale.

Tiff: Why did you choose to set up shop and live in Grand Forks?

Justin: Savanna was born and raised in Grand Forks, and after being away and travelling the world for 20 years, we decided to go back to some roots and settle down. Alf built the cafe building in 1991, and when it came up for sale it was too serendipitous to pass up. We had dreamed of doing a board game cafe for years, and with the support of family we were finally able to do it.

Tiff: What is your favourite part about living here in GF?

Justin: Our favourite part of GF is the sense of community. The feeling that ‘we’re all in this together’ lives here and no one thinks twice about helping each other out. This was not only very apparent during the flood, but we get to see it every single day.

Tiff: What types of Christmas gifts can someone buy at your store? 

Justin: We have over 200 games, puzzles, gift cards (in any denomination that never expire) dice, hoodies, play passes (for future play), bumper stickers, geeky earrings, keychains, magnets, ornaments and more. We also have a promotion going on all of December where if you give bucks, you get bucks. For every $50 you spend in gift cards, you get 5$ for yourself.

So if you’re looking for some holiday cheer or some Christmas gifts, head on down to the Board Room Cafe – you can find it on Market Street.

Stay tuned this Thursday for our 10th entrepreneur! We’re working our way up to 12… and maybe even a bit beyond with some of the cool businesses we’ve found irresistible!

On the fourth day of Christmas, Grand Forks gave to you…

If you close your eyes for a small moment, and imagine yourself sitting over a steaming mug of freshly brewed coffee, you will have an idea of the fun we had with creator of Juggernaut Coffee, Katie Mitchell.

We didn’t get a chance to write down our interview with her, so this post is a little different from our others, a little more informal just for a change of pace…


We arrived at her small farm on a cold afternoon to a very friendly welcome, and a somewhat chaotic atmosphere (she has one pair of cute little two-year-old twins, and two dogs – need I say more?).

Katie was right in the middle of roasting us our very own fresh batch of beans, outside on her porch, and it was such a delight to experience her at work.

(No, this is not how she normally roasts her coffee – it was an experience reserved just for our pleasure, as her brand new coffee house and workshop is under construction at the moment.)



As she turned the handle on the big pot full of coffee beans, we chatted about how and why Katie chose coffee as her business.

Katie has a background as a chef, and this new venture into coffee roasting is just the kind of sensory experience you might expect a talented chef to excel at. Fragrant steam rose up in the air as we watched, and Katie paid close attention to the process even as we discussed her business with her.

She casually mentioned

  •  the weight of the pot, (it changes apparently)
  • the changing smell, (from a grain smell to a coffee smell)
  • the sound of the popping, (there’s different kinds of popping that happen during the transformation!)
  • and the colour of the beans

all things she pays close attention to as she roasts! It wasn’t long before our mouths were watering at the tantalizing aroma that wafted through the air.


One of the things Katie is most passionate about, is the fair-trade, ethically sourced business she does with small farms in Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Honduras.

Her suppliers go directly to the farmers and ask them what they want to sell the coffee for. It means Katie pays more for her coffee, but the quality is better, and knowing where it’s coming from and that she’s being fair is what makes the whole thing worth it for her!

In her workshop huge bags of organic beans sit, ready to be roasted – and they’ve come all the way across the world, from little farms (some where she’s their only client!) that she knows, personally, get a competitive price for their product. She urges everyone to know where they’re getting their coffee from, and that the people who are producing the beans are getting paid what they should.

“Coffee is a commodity,” she said, “people are always trying to undercut the price of it.” Working with small farms, and a supplier who carries the same values as her is the only way she’ll do it.



When we asked Katie what inspired her to start Juggernaut Coffee, she chuckled. “I was buying so many green coffee beans that my supplier asked me if I was already running a business. I told him no. I just have twins. I’m that tired.”

But the conversation got her thinking, she said. She had wanted a business that allowed her to be home with her kids, that she might be able to do “out in the wild” as she put it, on her own turf, as she loves the solitude and freedom of rural life.


With a very handy husband, who knows the ins and outs of construction, and her own chef background, knowing how to navigate health codes and organic certification, it was the perfect opportunity. There is no other roaster in Grand Forks, and there’s always an appetite for great coffee.

“Coffee is appealing,” She said with a smile, “because it’s dynamic and always changing. Conditions are always changing globally, as well as in Grand Forks, we have the challenge of adapting and consistently getting a high quality product.”

When we asked Katie what advice she would give to coffee lovers – she said “Don’t keep your coffee in the freezer! Only buy what you need. Drink it within a week to get the best out of the beans!”

You can buy Juggernaut Coffee’s different blends (Dark and Espresso) from the Wooden Spoon, Jerseyland Organics, or contact Katie on her instagram account @juggernaut.coffee, or call her at (250)442-3430.

What a great way for you to spend your Christmas morning! Over a freshly brewed, freshly roasted cup of coffee!! Yum!

We highly recommend Juggernaut, what a great business to support – a local business concerned with ethics that support other far away local businesses!

Stay tuned this Thursday for our next entrepreneur!!


On the third day of Christmas, Grand Forks gives to you…

We give you… Vanessa Heerschop.


Saucy, hardworking little bee who’s set up a Crossfit gym right down town. She’s designed a space where you will feel welcomed and safe as you improve your own beautiful self. Vanessa will be there to guide you as you try out new things and work your body into a strong and healthy machine.

She hasn’t always been all muscle and toned the way she is today, she’s had to work her way up, and she knows all about what it feels like to think you’ll never get there.

As a young mom and nurse, she’s experienced the intimidation of walking into a gym where you instantly feel the weight of a whole lot of eyeballs looking your way. In her space there will be no judgement. NIL. Only a team to cheer you on as you try out new and fun workouts.gfshoplocal-2

It might look a little crazy, you might feel a little anxious… but I promise you it’ll be fun and friendly — you’ll leave feeling supported and strong with new friends to encourage you in our community.


What are those boxes, balls, kettle-bells and rings you say? Why just some toys you get to play with as you work!

Here’s our little chat with Vanessa:

Tiff: Tell us how you became passionate about health and fitness.

Vanessa: I’ve always been active, but really fell in love with group fitness and CrossFit while on maternity leave with my daughter. Belonging to a community that encouraged and supported me was pivotal for my physical and mental health during a time that could have been very isolating. In addition, as a Registered Nurse I believe in the power of healing ourselves with physical activity and lifestyle in addition to or sometimes in place of medication or other medical management. Hearing people say they are no longer experiencing pain is one of the many joys I get out of my job.

What is CrossFit?

Vanessa: The million dollar question! Essentially it’s a coach-led group fitness class that is different every day. The movements performed in CrossFit workouts are ‘functional’ which means they help us move better in our daily lives as well. It’s completely adaptable and scalable so everyone of every ability can get a good workout.

Tell us about your vision for Humble Fit Collective?

Vanessa: Humble Fit Collective is intended to be a place where people, who may have previously felt intimidated or scared of gyms can feel safe and comfortable working out. I believe that feeling physically strong and capable helps us feel better about ourselves and in turn fosters our ability to be better partners, parents, and community members. My hope is that by reducing fear and other potential barriers, Humble Fit Collective can be a place people can access more easily so they can reap those rewards of physical activity and be the best version of themselves.

What type of person should do CrossFit? Any advice for someone who is unsure whether they can do it or will like it?

Vanessa: All you need to participate in CrossFit is a good attitude. We welcome anyone and everyone. You will always have a coach leading you and teaching you every movement. They can also always adapt and change movements depending on injuries, mobility concerns or other potential limitations. My best advice would be to try it! Most people find themselves pretty hooked once they do. It’s more than a workout, it’s an hour spent with people who become your cheering squad, your inspiration and your community.

What can someone expect when they become a member of Humble Fit? Do you offer other classes than CrossFit?

Vanessa: We currently offer CrossFit classes 5-6 times a day, 5 days a week. In addition we offer yoga of differing styles which is include in membership. On Saturdays we run a community class that is different each week. Sometimes its CrossFit, sometimes a group run or hike, sometimes yoga, or even nutritional seminars, all also include in a membership.

If someone wants to join or purchase a pass for someone else as a gift, how can they go about that? 

Vanessa: passes and gift certificates can be purchased online via the following link: https://humble-fit-collective-studio.triib.com/buy-gift-certificate/ or stopping into the gym weekdays 10am-12pm or 4:30pm-6:30pm

Tell us a bit about you and why you’ve chosen to live in Grand Forks.

I’m originally from Kelowna, BC. but have been living in Alberta for the last 5 years with my Lethbridge born husband. We welcomed our daughter Navy into the world 3 years ago and decided we wanted to raise her somewhere smaller, and where she could be outside comfortably and safely most months of the year. We chose Grand Forks as our close friends relocated here 3 years ago and we wanted to be able to raise our family alongside them and theirs.

What is your favourite part about living in GF?

There’s too much to list! I love the community. I love walking down the street and knowing half the people I run into. Everyone is down to earth and welcoming. I love that we can be anywhere really in under 10 minutes. I love being back in the mountains, I love the entrepreneurial spirit here, the amazing group of mothers I’ve gotten to know. We’ve only been here since June, yet we have a support system that feels as thought it’s been in place for years.

So we’ll leave you with that – if you’re curious, go and have a chat with Vanessa, or check out Humble Fit Collective online. Maybe you have a friend looking for a new challenge, a new work out or a fresh start – maybe you want to buy a trial pass for yourself! It might be an unconventional gift, but it’s a good one!

Stay tuned this Monday for our next entrepreneur!

On the second day of Christmas, Grand Forks brings to you…

Riley Friesen, owner of Knotty Oak Designs, works in a cute little corner of her house, where the light streams in from a small window to the side and bounces off of a large wooden desk. It’s a beautiful, cozy space, just right for getting creative. gfshoplocal-11

Her tools and bits are placed here an there with beautiful rounds of wood propped up in all the corners and free spaces of the room.gfshoplocal-10

Riley welcomed us in to do a little snooping, and talked with us about how she’s worked her way up from painted signs to the challenge of wood burning. But that’s not all she does. In a big beautiful chest on the floor next to the desk are all her crocheted pieces, everything from blankets to tea cozies.

This young mom and entrepreneur was a lot of fun to talk with, easy going and casual, curled up in her chair as she worked, making us feel right at home as we chatted.


Her designs are beautiful, full of geometrical shapes and simple, clean lines that catch your eye. She’s hard at work at the moment, getting ready for the upcoming Christmas craft show, where she’ll share a booth with yours truly, Kettle River Bath and Body! Come on out and find us there if you can!

Riley is currently beginning a new project for all those of you looking for Christmas gifts – a subscription box of goodies in partnership with Kettle River Bath and Body. Come and catch a glimpse of what it’ll look like and pre-order one for yourself or a loved one!


Here is our interview with Riley.

Tiff: Tell us about the different things that you make?

Riley: For the last couple of years I’ve been really into Pyrography, and using my burning tool to create some cool stuff. This year I’m working on more decorative pieces, where in the past I did a lot of signs that seemed to be on trend. I’ve also got bamboo cutting boards, cork hot plates, and wood disk magnets, and, of course, Christmas decorations! There there is my first love… crocheting. It’s my wind down time after a day. Kid goes down to bed, make myself some tea (or wine if it’s been a day), curl up in my favourite chair and start creating. I’ve always loved slouchy toques and big chunky Infinity scarves, so I’m doing a lot of that this year.

Tiff: How did you get started doing what you do? What inspired you?

Riley: I have a lot of Artists in my family. Both my Nanas are amazing painters, my dad and my Papa do woodwork, and my mom is so darn crafty she could put the rest of us to shame. So I think I got my creative side from all the wonderful people I have in my life to look up to. My mother-in-law actually taught me to crochet about 10 years ago… she taught me to knit, but I’m an instant gratification kind of person so once I started crocheting I never picked up the needles again. Wood has always been around me. I grew up in the bush and my dad is a carpenter. So creating something out of wood runs in my blood.

Tiff: What is the most satisfying part of making the things you make?

Riley: Other than the creative outlet which I so desperately need in my life, probably people’s reaction. I think if you stare at something long enough you actually start doubting that its any good. But when people are stoked on your work, it definitely gives you a little spark to keep pushing on and creating new pieces.

Tiff: Where can someone purchase your handmade items?

Riley: The GFSS craft fair is on Saturday Nov. 24th, and I’ll be there selling. I always welcome custom orders too. People can find me on my facebook page: Knotty Oak Designs, my instagram account @knottyoakdesigns or just email an order to knottyoakdesigns@outlook.com I’m hoping to get a website up in the new year!

Tiff: Why do you choose to live in Grand Forks? And what is your favourite part about living here?

Riley: My husband and I grew up in Vernon, and we loved the freedom and security it offered. We spent 3 years grinding in Northern Alberta and knew that before we started a family we wanted to settle down somewhere that somewhat resembled ‘Old Vernon’. Bran had spent a lot of his youth boxing in GF so he took me for a visit and I fell in love. Within 6 months we had bought a house, left Alberta, and made GF our home.

My favourite part is probably the sense of community and security. I love the comfort of knowing my son can grow up somewhere he can be free. He can ride his bike around town with his friends, or meet buddies in town and I don’t need to worry. (He doesn’t do that yet though, he’s only 7) I also love the lifestyle in the boundary. We are so lucky to live in an area where you can go and adventure in your backyard. There is never nothing to do… and for the most part its free. River days, camping, campfires and friends that have become family. That’s what GF is to me. Plus… I got Nana and Papa to move to Jewel Lake… just sweetens the pot.

So we’ll leave you with the option of contacting Riley about your Christmas needs, and maybe stopping by to say hello at the craft fair!

Stay tuned for our third entrepreneur this Thursday! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover over the next few weeks before Christmas – lots of wonderful people coming your way! Keep your eye out for our blog posts twice a week til we’re done this series!

Grand Forks days of Christmas

I have a little gift for you now that Christmas is on the horizon. It’s a charming little package, buildings boxed together in fun little squares, one wide market street and a couple of schools spilling out children, as they laugh and play and grow. You’ll find it sprinkled here and there with colourful maple trees and all kinds of houses, big and tall ones, short and small ones, all of them nestled between two rushing rivers. This gift is ready and waiting for you to explore, and it is called Grand Forks.


In the next few weeks, I’d love to show you little parts of it – mainly, it’s new and young entrepreneurs. Why, you ask? I could tell you all kinds of statistics to support why you should shop local, I could try to convince you with numbers. You might have heard them somewhere, you’ve probably read them. It goes something like this: money spent at a local business generates 3.5X more wealth for the local economy than when you shop at those big box stores.

But this is the heart of what I think: Grand Forks is worth unwrapping.

I want you to see it as a Christmas gift.

And I want you to experience the joy of being part of something – the warmth of connecting in a place where people wave and say hi to you on the street. Where business owners know each other and do their best to help each other out. Where things like floods and fires bring out the everyday heroes and everyone sticks together to get each other through to the other side. Where you can make a difference by investing in it.


Maybe this year you could forgo the big shopping malls and the easy, no thinking kinds of gifts that are so quick to be forgotten, and instead shop local. Yes, that is my challenge to you: shop local.

Because when you do, you’ll only make Grand Forks warmer. More appealing. More investable and stronger. A town worth unwrapping and one where you just might find a home.


Stay tuned for our first day of Grand Forks Christmas gifts on Thursday!


When we go out to market…


There are just times when you need to dress up and get out to meet the world. And that is what we do, once a week all summer long. Everyone puts their best foot forward – lotions, soaps and sprays, chapstick, body butter and deodorant – all gathered in neat little lines and piled up high in pretty gleaming tins.

Farmer’s markets are like little treasure troves of talent no-one knew existed. Everyone shyly steps forward with all kinds of natural products, handmade clothing, jewelry  and healthy organic food to share. Really, it’s just a party and you should stop at one if you ever have a chance. What could be better than supporting local artisans and growers while chasing a healthy lifestyle yourself?

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