Monday, 30 January 2017

01 / 30 / 17

By Taya Chapman.

A recap on where the celestial bodies are hanging out: the sun is in Aquarius, making innovation easier; Mercury is in Capricorn, so mental processes will be methodical and efficient and Mars is in Aries, encouraging everyone to be courageous and make progress. Essentially the mind is sharp, but the heart won’t be on point these days.

Today Venus, the planet of love, enters a retrograde phase, meaning it appears to move backward in the sky and for the next 40 days or so, our perception of relationships may be skewed.  Now is considered an inopportune time to make big changes in your love life.  It is also considered a terrible time to start a new relationship as you could make poor and hasty decisions, but this is going to be a challenge as Venus enters Aries on Friday and you will probably be bolder and more game to flirt than you have been in a while.   Your heart will desire more but be patient and use this time to re-assess your values, decide what you really want and how you truly wish to go for it.  Later, when Venus turns direct, you can make those things happen.

Friday, 27 January 2017

let's explore

01 / 27 / 17

Happy Friday all! Great things that have happened this week are: finding a new workshop venue, getting back into the pottery studio, and my sister earning the promotion she worked so hard for. Conscious living has been on my mind a lot recently; its so good to see our efforts being realized. Do you have goals you are working towards?

This morning I'm enjoying a few childless hours and will meet a friend for coffee at Rosso, but I'm also very excited to be taking Juliette and Louise ice skating on my own this afternoon (and work off some of the chocolate I ate last night)... Then this weekend the girls and I will be attending a "sprinkle" for the sweetest new baby, and on Sunday I'll be going to Bridal Fantasy with my newly engaged and very pumped friend Roisin. 

Here are a few fun links that have captured my interest this week...

Motivated: how a single mother got ahead.


Would you take this workshop?

Patt makes these for the girls every snowfall.

Building half a house. Incredible.

All sorts of heart-eyes for this beautiful lodge.

The sweetest coats.

I'm thankful to our friend Richelle for taking this photo.

I'm checking my mailbox for a delivery from this very cool shop!

And in other news...

Enjoy the weekend friends.

P.S. The Northern Living Series: A homestead in Nova Scotia and Feast & Forage tickets!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

like a girl

01 / 26 / 17

I remember being in elementary school, playing sports in gym class and hearing my teacher (my teacher, who teaches me) call out to the class over and over again "you're running like girls!" How strange as a child to be confronted with my gender as derogatory.


My sister, my daughters and I attended the Women's March on Washington here in Calgary this past weekend. I was proud to be in attendance. It meant the world to me that I could show my children that everyone around them cared about girls and women. Juliette asked questions about the signs people held up and about what was being said; being able to explain the concepts in 3 year old terms was so basic and positive: girls and boys are both important, care about all people even if they are different, and her body is hers.

My reasons for attending the Women's March hit close to home after working in social work prior to having children. I understand now how the basic rights of vulnerable women and families are too often denied; it is difficult, if not impossible, for this group to navigate our complex social and political systems without hitting dead ends. I appreciate that the March was intended to draw awareness to the intersectionality of feminism- how race, religion, ability and sexual-orientation interplay with the experience of womanhood. How privileged am I as a woman to be born white rather than indigenous is a testament to the open inequality in our community. To have a forum to show all women that we support them, and to show our leaders that equality is important to us, is essential.

Some inspiration from around the web:

Trans Women are Women:

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

01 / 25 / 17

In our first Northern Living Series post we interview homesteader Marissa Froese, who lives on a small farm in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia with her husband and three daughters. Here she shares her experience of living and working in a rural community on Canada’s east coast.

Background: I grew up on a small ranch/homestead in western Canada, while my husband Dan grew up spending many hours on both sets of his grandparents’ farms in Ontario. Dan and I lived together in British Columbia up until 5 years ago when we moved to Nova Scotia. In British Columbia I stayed at home raising my daughters, and my husband was ready for a change in work. We badly wanted a small farm, or at least a few acres of land, and so for a year's time we seriously considering the move from BC to Nova Scotia before taking the leap to do so.

We found and purchased an old farmhouse on 7.5 acres in Nova Scotia. We sold or gave away everything that couldn’t fit into our 12ft trailer, loaded in our dog, our one year old and three year old daughters (with myself being four months pregnant with our third daughter), and made the 4500km trek across Canada.

Our life now, far away from family and all that we were used to, has been challenging but we love it here on our wee little farm.

On the “slower pace” of life: For us, the real draw of Nova Scotia was the chance to have a small farm and a slower pace of life. Many days, we laugh at the idea of the “slower pace” but truly life is different here in our rural community. Life is slower and more weather dependent, which can be a negative or a positive depending on how you look at it. We enjoy seasonal living; working in the garden in the summer with long hours of hard work, and winters spent closer to the fire, doing school work, or working on projects.

On the warmer months: We arrived to our farm just as summer was beginning. Glorious summer. It’s so beautiful here in the warm months when we spend hours upon hours working in our gardens in the sunshine. It’s hot, but an ocean breeze is usually coming up off the bay and tidal river that we live next to. Plus, we always know that the ocean is just a short drive away.

Autumn is my absolute favourite time of year, we’re harvesting all kinds of home grown food from our gardens and the leaves are changing colours in a glorious display. It’s cooler but so pleasant after a hot summer.

On farming in the winter: By the end of November the rains come and everything gets sloppy and muddy. Caring for our animals becomes much more difficult and we long for the frozen days of winter when we won’t have to slog through the mud to milk the cow and haul feed and water to our menagerie. Usually true winter doesn’t come until after Christmas when the snow starts to really pile up and we know we are in for the long haul.

It varies from winter to winter, but there is usually a snowstorm in our valley every week or so. While the temperatures will at times dip down to -30°C (-22°F), usually the weather sits -10°C and -15°C without the wind chill, so not too cold except that the humidity drives the cold deeper into your bones. We also have many warm days throughout the winter with temperatures melting all of the snow, and often it rains as well.

Because of the wind, there are often 3-6 foot snowdrifts in our yard. One winter we had to keep raising our fence wires so the cows and pony wouldn’t walk over the fence. Finally, we just had to feed them constantly to keep them in, though we would wake up in the morning to see the pony out of his pen, munching on the haystack!

On making hay while the sun shines: I run an Airbnb and my husband has a photography/design business. Both occupations have a seasonal element: we have less income during the winter months that we have to plan accordingly for. From June to November, both of our businesses are very busy, along with all of our garden work. We call it “making hay while the sun shines” and it’s our reminder to keep going even when we feel worn down.

Living rurally, the weather really impacts our travel. Unlike when we lived in BC and Alberta where the cold made the snow lighter, here the wet, often blowing snow makes driving incredibly more difficult, so we are more likely to have to reschedule appointments or miss work days. The winter winds are also quite taxing on trees and buildings, so in the summer we often need to do repairs such as replacing roof shingles on the house (though we now we have a tin roof), mending broken fences or fixing damaged structures.

On being in tune with nature: I’m not sure if it’s because we now work so seasonally with our jobs, gardens and animals since moving here, but we now are far more in tune with the changing of seasons. We prepare in advance for harvesting in the fall, and animal care and fireside living in the winter, planning and prepping in the spring, and gardening in the summer. We pay attention to the frosts that sweeten apples and rosehips for harvesting, and plan cider-pressing days for then. We’ve also learned the weather in late winter is ideal for running the Maple tree sap for Maple syrup.

On having time to celebrate: Solstices and Equinoxes are now marked and celebrated in our calendar. We are of Christian faith and so we observe Holy days throughout the year, such as the season of Advent in December with the lighting of advent candles and awaiting the celebration of the coming of Christ on Christmas day and Epiphany on January 6th. I love that these aren’t just things that our girls read about in books, but are how they experience life.

On SAD: One of the major challenges for me personally in living here is the lack of sunshine during the winter months. It’s not so much the shorter days that affect me but the grey dreary weather. I deal with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), as well as other depression, so the winter months are very difficult for me in that regard.

On the plethora of winter activities: Most of our outdoor activity is spent in daily chores; milking the cow, hauling water, feeding all the animals, filling the wood stove, shoveling snow to make clear paths and clearing the driveway. For fun we have a small pond for skating on, which the girls spend hours on when it’s frozen. We’ll go sledding and take advantage of our community snowshoe lending program. Ice fishing and rabbit trapping, as an addition to our desired local diet, is something that we are getting into and is another winter activity.

The winter months tend to see us sticking more closely to our fireside and our homeschool schedule. Winter is when our daughters spend more time working on reading and math, as well as art and various handiwork projects. I’m an artist and creator so I can always work indoors on sewing or needle felting or knitting or decorating or painting, as well as helping my daughters on their projects. We are slowly renovating our home and winter is our chance to get to those projects.

On time spent together: Our summer months are so busy and full of interactions with guests, we often need a breather from activity and time to catch up on home projects in the winter. Have I mentioned that we spend a lot of time by our wood stove? We heat our house with a wood stove, and the draftiness of this 118 year old farmhouse has us tucking in close while we read, work on projects, play music or just warm up after completing outdoor chores. In many ways, it brings a lovely closeness that we really value.

Time spent with friends is often either sledding, attending skating parties or enjoying a quiet knitting night with whoever feels like braving the weather. We also love music and so have kitchen parties or just music with our family.

On wool: We wear wool. Wool, wool and then more wool.  Seriously, wool is our best insulator. For the past few years, I’ve saved up and used gift money from grandparents to invest in quality wool bedding and clothing. We visit great thrift stores where I’ve been able to purchase most of our wool blankets and wool sweaters, hats and coats. We all wear a wool base layer that doubles as pyjamas and wool socks, sweaters and hats. Honestly, its probably the adults in the house who struggle with the damp cold the most, but we all love layering up and taking off a layer if we get too warm.

For footwear during the winter months, we’ve found that a cold temperature-rated, lined rubber boot with a good pair of socks is the best option for keeping feet warm and dry. A sheepskin liner in the bottom is fantastic and can be pulled out to dry quickly by the fire if need be.

I had never seen so much vintage wool clothing and rubber boots in circulation until I moved to the east coast. On the rare occasions that I’ve been to a mall in Halifax (Nova Scotia’s major city), I’ve even seen rubber boots being worn there as a fashion statement.

On time spent away from the farm: Having a small farm, with all our livestock and poultry, makes it complicated to leave for more than a night or two. We have friends who very generously farm sit for us so that we can visit family every few years. We have taught one friend how to milk our cow but as much as a sunny vacation seems tempting during the dreary months, logistics and finances keep us pretty close to home most of the time. However, we make the most of what we’ve been given, and in the summer we love taking day trips to the beach or going on an overnight tenting trip by a gorgeous nearby lake.

On keeping a sense of humour: When we moved to Nova Scotia, one thing that struck us as odd were the old homes that had a barn attached to the house. We would ask to each other, “why would anyone want the barn with all its smells and mess attached to the house??" Then two winters ago, we were hit with snowstorm after snowstorm all winter, and as we lugged bucket after bucket of water through the wind and snow that was sometimes waist deep, suddenly we understood exactly why one would choose to attach the barn to the house.

Thank-you so much Marissa for sharing your life with us! You can read more about her experience living in Nova Scotia on

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

archived post: life is good

01 / 24 / 17

This post was originally published on November 17th, 2012, nearly a year after Patt and I first broke up. After not seeing or talking to each other for nearly 7 months time we reconnected at our mutual friends wedding on October 6th of that year. I was too nervous to attend the wedding on my own so I brought a good friend to be my plus one, and was reassured by the bride that Patt wasn't bringing a date. I tried playing it cool at the wedding, drinking beer (I'm more of a cocktail woman myself) and getting the bartender's phone number, but I was hyperaware of everything Patt that evening.

I'm not sure what was going through Patt's head, but after taking something of mine at the wedding he "owned up" about it, and wanted to give it back to me a couple of days later. When we met again he told me about his feelings of wanting to see if we could try again. Rationally I was hesitant, but also curious and hopeful. We decided to spend time with each other as friends, and see if anything lead from there. After trying to be friends, but also secretly dating in a non-committed way (which is way too difficult for us serial monogamists), we discreetly booked a weekend away in beautiful Fernie, British Columbia. At this point neither of us wanted to tell our friends and family that we were seeing each other because we didn't want to tell them that we fell for each other, again, if it didn't work out...


I spent last weekend in Fernie with a good little group, having some meanders, seeing the little city in its off-season. Its a very sweet, slow-paced place in November. It definitely had a close-knit sense about it, and I'm looking forward to going back one day. The short work week flew by, I can't believe its the weekend already! I saw AR and her little baby this week for a really wonderful visit, so nice to see the two of them for a real chat. And DL got engaged! Too many exciting things going on over here. As for me, I'm just puttering about, trying to keep the house clean (my bed has been made for two weeks straight- imagine that now), staying out of trouble. Enjoy the weekend all!


Obviously I was crazy about Patt and he was for me. After the weekend away we decided to see each other exclusively while still keeping the relationship under wraps. Little did we know how significantly our lives were about to change.

Monday, 23 January 2017

01 / 23 / 17

Since the sun moved into airy Aquarius last Thursday I hope you have felt a little lighter on your feet. This Friday the New Moon will also be in Aquarius. This relationship occurs monthly (when the Sun is opposite the moon within the same sign) and the corresponding influence is the best kind of internal struggle; one that produces results and is a chance to reinvent yourself. So this weekend do as Aquarians do; ignore the cautious voice in your head and try something new, unusual & exciting.

After nearly 6 weeks in Pisces, Mars enters fiery Aries on Sunday. Mars is also the ruling planet of Aries and is characterized by a warrior; following instincts and making impulsive yet reasonable decisions. Don’t be surprised if some of this trailblazing action seeps into your mental processes. The next 6 weeks will be all about forging ahead without looking back. As well as making progress in areas of your life that have been indecisively stagnant. Mars, and those ruled by Aries, are irritated by indirectness and unpredictability from others, and you might now feel some of this annoyance as well. Be sure to turn this impatience into enthusiasm and get out there and make things happen!

Friday, 20 January 2017

let's explore

01 / 20 / 17

How was your week? We were renewed by our weekend away in Edmonton and have spent the rest of week enjoying the warm weather and exploring our own beautiful city. My brother just got back from visiting my parents in Ontario, so the girls and I ate lunch with him yesterday at Bite in Inglewood (I had the vegetarian chili) and then went to pick up Feast & Forage supplies at Luke's Drug Mart in Bridgeland. While out, Juliette requested that we go on a nature walk every time we left the car, so we headed straight to the park upon arriving home to play hide-and-go-seek in the pine trees, walk on slippery ice and forage pine cones (an activity as much fun for the girls as hunting for Easter eggs.) Yesterday evening we played 'Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum' (where upon I am a giant and the girls are tasty morsels) and Juliette told Giant-Mummy not to eat her sister; eat this pinecone instead! And she pulled a pinecone out of a corner of our living room to satisfy my hunger. The giant was sated.

This weekend I'm taking my daughters to the Calgary chapter of the Women's March on Washington, and the girls have been invited to Taya's son's construction worker-themed ice-skating birthday party! It should be a good one. To continue with Let's Explore this week, here are some fun links from around the web...

These prints are getting me so inspired for our block printing workshop.

Seriously motivating, the Women's March on Washington is happening tomorrow!

We're thinking of painting our bedroom

Patt made me three(!) mixed-cds on our second date. One song I still love.

Speaking of my love, I made a reservation for us to eat here when he gets back.

Do you drink cider? 

Lets go snowshoeing!

Enjoy the weekend all, we'll be back here on Monday with 'Something In The Stars.'

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Northern Living Series

an introduction

01 / 18 / 17

Since we're in the depths of winter, I wanted to do something special to see us through the coldest months. I am truly excited to tell you that Wild Fir Tree recently partnered with six other northerners for a new weekly post called The Northern Living Series. Every Wednesday, starting January 25th, 2017, we'll feature one person from across Canada and Scandinavia to share with us their unique perspectives on cold climate living. Each northerner reveals thoughtful insights into their beautiful, challenging, and always fascinating way of life in the north as they experience it. I was blown away by the similarities and differences between the lives of the contributors, and it was captivating to read each submission as they came in. I hope you will find your own common ground with each Northerner, and have your eyes opened to the spectacular range of lifestyles amongst this amazing group. Thank-you so much to everyone who agreed to participate in this engaging series!

list of contributors

Marissa Froese // Nova Scotia, Canada

Kathryn Reid // Vancouver Island, Canada

Resa Davén // Sweden

Joel A Scott // Manitoba, Canada

Jean Polfus // Northwest Territories, Canada

Lisa Ferland // Sweden

Check back with us every Wednesday for The Northern Living Series and to connect with these fascinating people as they share their stories. We hope you enjoy it!

our winter weekend away in edmonton

01 / 17 / 17

Earlier this month I had the idea to go to Edmonton for a weekend getaway with my daughters, just to get out of town while Patt is away working. I messaged my sister Sarah (↑ centre) and my brother's girlfriend Veronica (↑ left) to see if they would be interested in coming with us last weekend, and they willingly agreed. Our biggest motivation for going to Edmonton in winter, a city in the subarctic, was to visit their ice castles, but there are so many other attractions and child-friendly places to visit, we knew it would be a weekend packed with interesting experiences. 

As our trip fell soon after the Christmas holidays, we wanted to do our weekend away on the cheap and we managed to keep our costs low by sharing a hotel room and by forgoing eating at restaurants (despite some amazing recommendations I'll share with you soon). Here is a visual tour of our fun weekend away...

Edmonton is 2 hours and 40 minutes north of Calgary, so we left on Saturday morning, making it to the Edmonton's Old Strathcona Farmers' Market for lunch. Old Strathcona is a vibrant pedestrian district that I have heard about for years, so I wanted to finally check it out. The Farmers' Market is open from 8am-3pm on Saturdays and did not disappoint. Market stalls featured homemade items and delicious food, and there was plenty of people-watching to be found. I loved how non-commercial it was, with individuals and families selling their items behind the booths they made themselves.

I gave Juliette $5 to spend on something she wanted, and almost immediately she found these colourful macarons to feast on. She gave her money to the woman at the stall requesting very seriously the birthday cake macaron with sprinkles. She had such a reverence for exchange taking place, taking the small paper bag containing her cookie along with her change, then saying "thank-you" to the seller. She was so proud to show us her cookie afterwards. It was so sweet to watch her learning these skills.

For lunch we found such an eclectic variety of food to eat. I got a brisket sandwich packed with salt 'n' vinegar chips for myself and the girls (we were on vacation!), while my sister found vietnamese salad rolls, and Veronica got a vegetarian dish with sauerkraut. Edmonton has such a diverse population, including a large community of Ukrainian settlers, and this cultural aspect was reflected in their bustling market.

*** Louise sat in her own chair, with my sister tying her in with her scarf. She is still so small. ***

Juliette and I loved the bright and beautiful colours of the wool at this stall. The woman here dyes the wool herself, and is also an incredible fibre artist. She told us that the Old Strathcona Farmers' Market sticks by the rule "We make it! We grow it! We bake it! We sell it!" Everything sold was made, grown, baked and sold by the vendors themselves. **Spoiler alert: Juliette and I chose a yarn of green wool for the wall weaving workshop I'll be doing in the next couple of months (!)

After the Market we perused the shops along Old Strathcona's Whyte Avenue with its brightly coloured shops, bookstores and intriguing restaurants. I loved the tree lined streets that were lit up as the sun set, and can imagine how beautiful it would be in the summer with all its foliage. While outdoors was frosty, the stylish interiors of the shops were welcoming with brightly lit rooms filled with plants and warm colours. My three favourite stores were: Laurel's On Whyte, The Bamboo Ballroom, and Vivid Print. Also I want to say how friendly and helpful people were as we navigated our stroller in and out along the streets. I loved how easy it was to be there with my toddlers.

Bamboo Ballroom

Juliette's pom-pom!

Vivid Print

Laurel's On Whyte

We were all obsessed with this chicken toy found at Ten Thousand Villages. The little chickens' heads bobbed up and down, pecking at the 'food' in the centre. I would have liked to get it, but the minimalist inside me said better to see this as a fun attraction for the children on their trip and spend money only on items we truly love.

When we started to get hungry we headed to the West Edmonton Mall on the way to our hotel to get our bearings and to pick up a bite to eat. If you have never been there, the mall is enormous. It's the second largest in North America, and I will describe it as being an amusement park with stores. We walked past a water park reminiscent of a Mexican resort, a full-sized skating rink, a pirate ship, a mini golf green and an aquarium. I'm also told there is an actual amusement park in the mall, so I'm pretty confident with my description. 

Following the mall we checked into our room at the Hampton Inn and Suites. Given that we were sticking to a budget I was completely surprised and impressed by this hotel. My sister found this place through her work and we all shared one room which was still plenty of room for us for the night. The hotel included three pools (a deep pool, a kiddie pool and a hot tub) and offered a hot complimentary breakfast with our stay- perfect for our needs. As soon as we got to our room we changed into our bathing suits, letting the girls jump on the bed before going down to the pool! I put a ridiculously adorable video up on instagram of them jumping on the bed, they are the cutest.

After a busy day both girls slept soundly through the night. The adults had plans to hang out and drink cocktails after they went to bed, but instead I ate way too many chocolate mini eggs then fell asleep cuddling Juliette, haha. The next morning we ate our complimentary breakfast (waffles with jam and sprinkles, because we were still on vacation), let the girls run up and down the hallway, and took one more dip in the pool.

While packing up the car with our luggage my sister and Veronica discovered that my car battery died after an interior light was left on all night. They were lucky to find a family in the parking lot with a mechanic dad who helped boost the car and tighten the battery. Thank-you! We were able to leave the hotel just in time to get to the ice castles for our ticketed time.

The ice castles were the highlight of my trip. Made of filtered river water sprayed through (just) one fire hose, the ice grew into towering walls and structures, forming rooms and plazas to walk through. Thrones and slides became interactive ice sculptures for all to enjoy, and tunnels were built in the walls for children to explore. It was truly an awe-inspiring winter experience.

True to my sentimental self, my favourite moment was when Juliette reached to hold my hand, and then asked Louise to hold hands with her as well. I am dizzy with love getting to explore the world with both these bright and beautiful girls.

Sarah and Juliette went down the ice slide together! It looked like so much fun!

Five Queens

My camera and I didn't really know what to do with all the different lighting in the ice castles, but I kind of love how this overexposed one turned out with Juliette. 

And my sister snapped this one of us walking toward the car. I look ever the city-slicker, but I love how Sarah captured a picture of how we so often are at the point in our lives, with Louise on my hip and Juliette's hand in mine. 

We drove back to the West Edmonton Mall to watch the sea lion show before heading back to Calgary. We arrived a little late, so we caught the show from the balcony above, which was still enthralling. Sea lions are without a doubt intelligent animals and I'm interested in learning more about them with the girls when we go to the library next.

On our drive back to Calgary we stopped for one more treat at the Donut Mill in Red Deer (I swear we are healthy eaters most of the time!) It was such a fun weekend, spent with great company. Thank-you so much Sarah and Veronica for helping provide such an incredible experience for the girls, and for sharing many of the pictures included in this post.