Sunday, 25 December 2016

merry christmas 2016!

12 / 25 / 2016

Happy holidays from our family to yours, and sincerely wishing you the very best for now and always. We're spending the rest of the year enjoying some much anticipated time together as a family of four, and hoping for a slow and simple Christmas. We will be signing off of the blog until January and I'm looking forward to doing some reflection on this year and everything we're learning from it!

I also want to say that I'm feeling so full of gratitude for getting to connect with you truly amazing people through this small space on the web. Thank-you so much for reaching out, commenting on posts, attending the workshop, sharing your perspectives and connecting through instagram and facebook, it means so much to us.

xo, Jacquelene, Patrick, Juliette + Louise

Monday, 19 December 2016

Workshop Gift Certificates

19 / 12 / 2016

By Taya Chapman
Its baaack; the dreaded Mercury retrograde.  And it will last until the beginning of January.  Except this time you shouldn’t fret about it.  There is no better time for it than during the holiday season and at the end of a tumultuous 2016.  Instead of putting all your energy into accomplishing a task, relax and be reflective.  Evaluate the path you took and think about where you’d like to go next.  Take note of all the obstacles you overcame and be proud you made it through what many think was a rotten year.  There won’t be much forward momentum in our lives right now, so just be present and enjoy time with family and friends. 
As for technology, well it might fail you, but what better time to turn off your computer and put your phone down. Communication might break down so do your best to listen and speak empathetically.  Sarcasm doesn’t translate well in text message so save your witticisms for another time.  Travel is also affected and you could be delayed, so you might as well have back up plans if you aren’t where you intended to be. Essentially, in order to get through this time happily, be spontaneous, be creative and enjoy the scenery on your detour. Once Mercury moves forward again on January 8th, you as well can move forward in a more productive manner. 

So enough about Mercury Retrograde; on Wednesday the sun leaves carefree Sagittarius and enters loyal Capricorn.  Each year during this time we slowly switch from craving festivities to craving familiarity.  Capricorns are known for being family oriented, sensible & determined.  So after Wednesday spend some quality time with loved ones, take care of those around you and re-energize yourself so you can hit the ground running in the New Year.  And most importantly Venus, the planet of love, is still in friendly Aquarius so you shouldn’t have any troubles putting a little love in your heart this holiday season.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

our special tree

18 / 12 / 2016

Patt is home again after nearly a month away and is now on time off, so we are on vacation and loving having him here with us! It finally feels as though Christmas is on its way, let the holidays begin! We waited until he got home to go chop down our Christmas tree- a recent tradition that I hope to stick to, and it was so worth the wait.

 The week Patt arrived was so so cold- dipping to below -30ºC (-23ºF) with windchill; really too cold to go for a stroll with the girls, meaning we were keeping busy running the roads and doing activities inside. A couple of days before Patt arrived I took the girls to the playzone at the mall near our home to get some of their energy out, and here we caught a virus that hit us like a ton of bricks. The girls next to never get sick, but when they do it really knocks them out. It all started the next evening when both Juliette and Louise were up throughout the night throwing up. The following evening I caught the virus, making for one of my most challenging times of parenting alone, and I'm just thankful that it came and left quickly. The evening after that Patt arrived home, just as we were all on the mend, and we smothered him with hugs and kisses. Two days of Netflix had us all antsy to get out, but then of course Patt caught the virus too. Luckily his recovery coincided with some warmer weather, so we could get out to the forest to find our tree!

We ventured out to Sibbald Creek again today, where, with a $5 permit, you can chop down three Christmas trees! Along our walk we tried taking our family picture, balancing my phone in Patt's gloves, that we wedged into our axe, which stood upright in the snow; truly innovative photography! 

I wore Louise in the hiking carrier for the first little while, but took it off to let her explore along the way. She wasn't quite sure what to make of her new found freedom, so I carried her for most of the time in my arms, but it was so sweet to show her the plant life up close. Louise was bundled up, but she loved feeling the spruce needles graze her nose. She's become so expressive in her tone, and nods and shakes her head to all our questions. She is no longer my little baby, but I love love love who she has grown to be.

Along our walk in the woods Patt and Juliette stumbled across the most magical frozen brook. Juliette was loving her time exploring with her dad. She is so thrilled that he is back with us and wants to play with him forever. It makes my heart explode time and time again to see how close she is to him.

This picture below makes me smile, because Juliette wore almost exactly this outfit on the day I found out I was pregnant with Louise. Here's a picture on instagram if you would like to see- and actually I was wearing the same outfit back then too! 

Juliette rode on Patt's shoulder's and covered his eyes with her mittens. When he exclaimed he couldn't see anything it threw her into the biggest fit of giggles. She thought it was the best game and of course kept on playing it. He was very generous in his blindness of course.

We found good trees everywhere, and mostly meandered in the forest just for the pleasure of being out there together. The scent of pine and the sense of being completely away from everything else was enchanting. I don't think you can get the same feeling from anywhere else. It felt as though we were in our own storybook. None of the Christmas trees in the wild are big and bushy, but just that we have this memory of finding our own tree makes me love how special it looks.

 And of course, our other tradition- eating cookies on the tailgate after finding our Christmas tree. Big love for this little family of mine.

Friday, 16 December 2016

archived post: home again

15 / 12 / 2016

This post was originally posted on August 15th, 2012. I was trying my hardest to live a life I wanted post-heartbreak. This involved throwing myself into everything I could think of that was fun or brave or adventurous; I wanted so much to be interested in my own life. It was also a time of asking myself a lot of big questions, reflective about where I was going, physically and metaphorically. So much of my life had been deconstructed, and the limbo of trying to put it back together was apparent.

Hey! Things are good- everything was sorted out. I thought I might be moving, and the cost-apartment ratio was bumming me out- rental costs are insane out here! Fortunately I found a new lovely roommate to take over the miniature room and I have moved into the big room again. It's so strange being in here, after barely stepping foot in it for the last 8 months. It feels as though I've been transferred to the past, but not... I'll be laying in bed thinking about putting something on the dresser drawers, and then I'll realize that I'm thinking about the dresser drawers that were in here before I moved into the miniature room. Any ways... I'm making this room my own!

Also I went to Vancouver Island for a camping holiday- so astoundingly beautiful- and so good to spend time with my family. On one day we went hiking through this old growth forest called Carmanah, where trees grew 300 ft high, slowly growing over time, seeing centuries pass by. It stirs my imagination. It felt difficult to leave the island this time... seeing children growing up, seeing a vibrant community with values that align with mine, having friends who live there. My heart is in two cities: I love Calgary so much and feel that I am part of this budding community, but I also feel that I am missing something that only the west coast can provide. What to do? Visit more often :)

Since arriving back there have been lots of good things on the go at least. I'm running around doing my dance class, lawn bowling, planning my next trip, getting my house sorted out. (I have to make a recommendation here: I've been cleaning and dusting my little house and have been using an all-purpose cleaner I made after getting the recipe from my friend Jessica's blog. It's the best all-purpose cleaner I've ever used and I completely suggest you try it. I make mine with lavender Castile soap and add fir needle essential oils: delicious scent!) Life is busy, but in a good way.


I remember when Patt and I broke up I had moved out of the room we had shared together in favour for the much smaller second room- it was a change I needed. But after time past and finding a new roommate I was good to go back into the master bedroom again. Such a strange feeling that was to go back though. The roommate that moved in had answered my kijiji ad, and she has since become one of my great friends (and is interestingly moving to Chile next month!) And even though that was the only time I visited Carmanah it left a deep impression on me- in fact I considered Carmanah as a baby name when I was pregnant. 

At the time when I wrote this post Patt and I had stopped talking or messaging each other, though we were on each other's minds. He had emailed me in May, saying he was going to marry me. I replied a month later, keeping the tone friendly, but not wanting to encourage something I wasn't sure should be pursued. He didn't respond. We both had to find satisfaction living our own separate lives, though we knew we would see each other in October at our mutual friends wedding...

Monday, 12 December 2016

something in the stars:

week of December 12th, 2016

12 / 12 / 2016

By Taya Chapman

Are you feeling extra witty today?  Quick thinking is in the stars this week with the full moon in the constellation of Gemini tomorrow.  Possibly contributing to a couple restless nights as your mind will be racing with new ideas and perspectives that you’ll want to share with others.  For a few days before and a few days after the full moon you will be fully charged with confidence in your communication abilities.  Expect enlightening moments and maybe a little TMI seeing as people are feeling extra talkative these days.  As with most full moons you will feel a bit anxious leading up to it and more relaxed after it passes. Secrets will be harder to keep but do your best!
And as swiftly as this sharp wit comes it will leave you without saying good bye.  This is because Mercury turns retrograde next Monday the 19th and your tongue will suddenly be tied.  People tend to dread Mercury retrograde, when the planet appears to move backward in the sky, so let’s prepare for it now. Mercury rules your intelligence, communication, travel and technology.  The retrograde phase might present itself when you have a confusing email exchange with another and neither of you are sympathetic to the conversation.  Or you might have one of those days (probably many) when you are running out the door and you can’t find your keys, phone or mind.  Your desire to throw your computer out the window will be greater than ever.
Basically everything appears more difficult, even the simplest tasks will be taxing so you should take advantage of your clear mind now.  Take care of all the important errands ASAP. Plan your upcoming travel, social gatherings, and intellectual projects to the minute so that everything will go as smoothly as possible during a time when things won’t go smoothly.

Coincidentally Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and the full moon is currently in Gemini so you have an opportunity to be quick on your feet this week before you stumble a bit next week.  Don’t stress too much though… next week I’ll have tips on how to benefit from Mercury tripping you up.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

braving the cold + pine needle tea

09 / 12 / 2016

The temperatures here are dropping steadily as we approach winter's equinox, hovering around -21ºC for our daytime high (-31ºC with windchill). It's the type of cold that bites your exposed skin as you rush to from one point of shelter to the next, challenging your will to leave the house in the first place. Nevertheless, the girls and I get out. We'll see people walking down the street, meeting at cafes and going about their Christmas shopping in the most breathtaking landscape you can imagine. Truly the fallen snow against the evergreens and prairie brush is the most stunning environment.

The snow forces us to dress warmly and with Patt being away the last three weeks for work, I'm feeling particularly hearty as I shovel our walkways and bundle our children up to go out. What I wonder the most about this cold is "how did the native inhabitants and pioneers do it?" There is so much more skill to living in this environment than I'm remotely aware of, and I'm in awe of the knowledge those people living here long ago possessed. There is so much mystery attached to this land and I hold such a fascination with North American history because of it.

We haven't gone for a nature walk for the past four days, it being so cold that I'm not fond of the idea of taking Louise out. She's walking more when we're out these days, but at nearly 15 months old she'll lose her balance fall over in the new snow, and it really is too cold for her to be stationary in the carrier we have. Nevertheless, yesterday as the children napped in our warm car, I dashed out through the snow (falling in a small tree well along the way!) and grabbed a handful of Ponderosa pine needles. The rosehips we collected earlier this year were finally fully dried out and I've been desperate to mix them and the pine needles to create our own winter tea.

I've become completely enamoured with these "Duckies" shoes (as I've been informed they are called by two east coasters). They are the best shoes I've ever worn! Okay, that might be a stretch, but its been a long time since I've gotten really excited about my shoes, and it makes me laugh a little that I'm feeling this way over rubber footwear.

The needles of a Ponderosa pine are long, fan-like, and grow in groups of three. They contain significantly more vitamin C than lemons and oranges, and are incredible immune boosters and decongestants for the winter time. They are safe for ingestion in humans, though have been known to terminate pregnancies in cattle who eat significant quantities of this pine, so out of precaution pregnant women are warned against consuming Ponderosa pine needles. I chose to make tea with this pine variety after researching material on foraging plants specific to this region by published academics, and by consulting an arborist to help identify this tree.

Isn't this the most beautiful medley of ingredients? The combination of dried rosehips, mint leaves and orange zest with the pine needles is so dreamy. It's recommended that you make the tea with fresh (and preferably young) pine needles, but you can also store the ingredients together in a mason jar for a couple of weeks. Wouldn't this be a lovely hostess gift or a thoughtful Christmas gift?

As I mentioned in a previous post we have been given a lot of honey this year, including this darling little jar and I had to show you. I think this photo makes the jar larger than it is in real life! This is no way a sponsored post, we just really enjoy this local honey. I mixed some in with the tea and the sweetness of the honey along with the fragrance of mint and pine was amazing- Christmas in a cup! Juliette and I kept on exchanging sips of this tea because she loved it so much.

I hope everyone is staying warm as we move forward into the holidays! We're baking (and tidying up like crazy) because Patt will be home soon and our holidays will begin! I'm hoping it warms up a tad, because we're going out to chop down our Christmas tree when he gets back. :)

Pine Needle Tea, with Rosehips


A handful of Ponderosa pine needles, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
5 dried rosehips
1 tsp of dried mint leaves
A pinch of orange zest
1/2 tsp raw, unpasteurized Canadian honey


Combine ingredients in a mug or small tea pot, press with spoon to coax out pine needle oil, then cover in nearly boiled water (boiling water will reduce the amount of vitamin C in the tea.). Steep for 10 minutes, or until the pine needles sink to the bottom of the mug. Stir in honey, sip, and feel your body being warmed and nourished.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

this time last year...

07 / 12 / 2016

Patt and I took our one year old and newborn to the forest and chopped down our Christmas tree.

Monday, 5 December 2016

something in the stars:

 week of december 5th, 2016

05 / 12 / 2016

By Taya Chapman

December is here, let the festivities begin. The sun has been in adventurous Sagittarius for a couple of weeks stirring your inner social butterfly by creating a desire to explore and connect. Daring Sag inspires us to branch out and build a new understanding of others including that person you may have previously thought was a weirdo. Embrace this time by opening your mind.  

Within this new found bravery you may feel vibrant and focussed because Mercury, the messenger, has been in conscientious Capricorn for a few days encouraging everyone to think before they speak.  This is never a bad thing especially in the boozy month of December. Thankfully the Cap influence will make it less likely that you will say something regretful at the office Christmas Party. Communication with clients, coworkers or Auntie Mary will be clear and precise right up until Mercury enters the dreaded retrograde phase on December 19th.  If you have any legal contracts to sign, major projects to finish or complicated toys to assemble then do it within the next 2 weeks while our minds are clear.  Afterwards turn your brain off for the holidays

In spite of all this bravery & lucidity, matters of the heart are about to get crazy when Venus, the planet of love, enters offbeat Aquarius on December 7th. You might suddenly decide to pursue the one you can’t get off your mind. Or you might inexplicably find a peculiar person very attractive. Everyone will feel a bit more flirtatious so enjoy it.  If you are in a relationship already, tenderness will come easier this week, embrace it.  Make a date for some place eccentric and hold hands the entire night.  Love… it’s all about love.  Give your best friend a hug, help someone in need, post kind words in comment sections, put your phone down, make eye contact & call your mom.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

something in the stars:

introducing Taya Moodie Chapman

05 / 12 / 2016

In the time while Patt and I were apart, I met Taya Moodie (now Chapman) in an airport line up for an international flight to London. She was with her now husband, Brad, a friend of mine who happened to be only a few feet ahead of me in line for the same flight. With her easy laugh and relaxed personality we instantly became friends, and by the end of our transatlantic flight she convinced me to join them for a holiday in Prague. Since then Taya and I have enjoyed five seasons of lawn bowling together, have attended each others weddings, have gotten silly on the dance floor, and I was even so fortunate as to be at the home birth of her son. Our friendship has grown over the years, and I count myself lucky to know her.

Three words I would use to describe Taya are: adventurous, open-minded and grounded; qualities that she brings both to her work in urban planning, and to her passion for astrology. With her talent for understanding astrological connections, I was thrilled when Taya agreed to write a regular Monday post forecasting the astrological outlook for the week ahead, entitled "Something In The Stars." I know you will find these posts engaging and well-researched, so please check in for a light-hearted read at the beginning of your work week! 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

feast & forage 2016!

02 / 12 / 2016

I can't even describe to you how much my heart is glowing thinking about our wreath-making workshop, Feast & Forage. When I started dreaming up ideas for this event I hoped for an evening of thoughtfulness, nourishment, laughter and connection: a room filled with inspired creatives, filling their bellies with wintery treats, relaxing with a glass of champagne in hand, sharing their stories and learning from each other.

We filled the space with white, gold and copper, alongside the opulent colours of foraged greenery, twigs, dry brush, pinecones and moss. It was the most amazing crossing of decadence and winderness. 

We drank Veuve Clicquot champagne and felt truly indulgent. It was an ordinary day made to be so much more special! Setting up the workshop had me running all over town that day, and I can hardly tell you how good it felt to hear the pop of the cork when the first guests arrived. 

Of course our rosehip obsession continues; they looked so lovely spread over the brie.

The holiday treats made this event feel so festive! We ate snowflake sugar cookies, chocolate covered oreos, dolce de leche brownies, macadamia nut shortbread and so many other yummy goodies. Deirdre is such an accomplished baker!

Call me gluttonous around food and drink- I love it so much! The day started out so beautifully, with frost covering the plant life and tree branches all over the city. When the workshop began snowflakes were falling gently outdoors. It was so lovely to be in the warm glow of the Lantern Room, surrounded by the early darkness of winter.

Feast & Forage tickets sold out on the weekend before the event, and we added a few more spots to fit as many people in as wanted to participate. I genuinely loved meeting each guest as they came in. They were mostly strangers to each other and myself, and were in all different chapters of their lives, but each person was so warm and interesting. It was so sweet to see the connection between everyone as the night progressed.

I love this picture! The tables began to look like a forest floor as the evening progressed.

Friends and I built the copper frames in the week before the event. I loved how delicate and beautiful they looked on their own, but they were such a lovely addition to the wreath's aesthetic. 

The energy in the room was so relaxed and positive. Conversation was flowing at each table, and it was so interesting to overhear such a range of topics and thoughts. The guests were all so smart and funny and talented; such an amazing group together in one space.

The weeks leading up to Feast & Forage set me on the biggest learning curve. There were so many ideas I envisioned and making them a reality constantly challenged me. I'm so thankful for my brother Christopher for helping care of my daughters while I wandered around the forest collecting greenery, and again during the workshop since Patt had to be away for work. And also overwhelmingly grateful for my sister Sarah, who contributed so significantly in all areas of this event, from start to finish, to help make this workshop a reality. She did everything alongside me, and it would not have been possible to pull this off without her. Thank-you Sarah and Chris.

We were having so much fun by the end of the evening and got a little silly with our group shot! Shelby was such an integral part of this evening. A huge thank-you for capturing the essence of what Feast & Forage entailed. She is so calm and thoughtful, and such a burgeoning talent in this city. I highly recommend her!

Eucalpytus and berries: Peaseblossoms Flowers
Holiday treats: Sweet Relief Pastries
Champagne: Veuve Clicquot
Chalkboard: Fir Tree Chalk