Making Your First Wreath

Last year I made a wreath for the first time — and it was way less daunting than I expected.

I was *super* intimidated by the challenge — but still had this weird desire to do it. I posted on Facebook with a few questions, like… where do I buy wreath things? :) … and before you knew it, I had all the info I needed. First timer tip: just pop into a florist or nursery and they’ll be able to hook you up with what you need! :)

I popped over to Dykhof Nursery (in North Vancouver) and picked up a wreath ring, some twine, cedar, eucalyptus and magnolia leaves. I then sat on my kitchen floor for maybe 4 hours and created my wreath.

I felt focused and mindful as I tied each piece onto the ring. It was a necessary and nice dose of yin to a very yang time of year.

This year, I’m excited to make a wreath again… I’m switching it up from solo-wreath-making this year though! Instead, I’m excited to join a community class and will be wreath making with Forage & BLOOM in Deep Cove.

If you’re keen to make a wreath this year, just do it. Check out your local florist/nursery or one of the wreath workshops in our community. It is not as daunting as it first seems, and heck, our moms used to make them all the time in the 90’s. :)

Upcoming wreath workshops: 

My 1st wreath!

  • November 29th at 6pm with Serpent Botanical & Neighbourhood Quality Goods (more info)
  • November 30th at 6pm with Bauble Babes & Nineteen Home (more info)
  • December 2nd at 11am or 2pm with OAK + FORT Home & Our Little Flower Company (more info)
  • December 3rd at 9am with Bauble Babes & Nineteen Home (more info)
  • December 4th at 6:30pm with Full Bloom Flowers (more info)
  • December 7th at 7pm with Forage & BLOOM and Bluhouse Market (more info)
  • December 14th at 7pm with The Wild Bunch (more info)

If you’re keen to get your festive on in another ways, the Fall for Local Holiday Market is taking place at The Shipyards in North Vancouver on December 9th. They are also hosting a free DIY wreath workshop.

Merry and bright. You do you this holiday season.

Buying Our First Home

Towards the end of last year, we realized that we were ready to leave the rental market and although TOTALLY intimidating, wanted our own home. 😬

We spent *many* months trying to figure out what was important to us, and danced between staying in Mt. Pleasant, buying a condo in the West End, and briefly considered houses in East Van. We were struggling with the decision because it felt *so* permanent. It felt like we had one opportunity to enter the housing market and if we didn’t leap now, we would be priced out.

Throughout the process, we talked a lot about how we wanted to design our life (current & future), and both recognized that nature, the ocean, access to mountains & trails, silence, the stars and room to grow (a family) were all important to us.

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A Broken Jaw & Lessons Learned Along the Way

Just over 8 weeks ago we flew down to LA for a mini-vacay. The plan was sunshine, sports and soul recovery. ☀️

Here’s the thing though… life doesn’t always go as planned.

Less than 24 hrs after we arrived, Elliot was in a cycling accident in Malibu. He ended up with a broken jaw, broken teeth, a pile of face lacerations, tons of stitches, abrasions, etc!

The last couple months have been a whirlwind, and also, super freaking hard.

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Back to the Grind

ForScreenshot 2016-04-12 18.16.13 the last 10 days we’ve been on “vacation.” Not that kind of vacation where you book time off to escape, travel the world, or staycation tho…

We are lucky to work for companies that recognize that closing up shop (over the holidays) is important — and encouraging “employees” (bleh, so formal) to recharge, relax and reflect on the last year (and the year to come!) is super important!

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Finding your Dream Apartment

At some point this fall we decided that we weScreenshot 2014-12-13 15.49.11re ready to {and were excited to!} move in together. Yay! We both didn’t want to move during the holiday season, so we decided on February 1st.

What we didn’t realize at the time, was that if we wanted to move in February, we likely had to find a place in December. If you didn’t already know… December is THE holiday season. ;) It’s a tremendously hard time of year to accomplish pretty much anything. It’s also a hard time of year to find an apartment and/or rent an apartment…

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2013 Blogging

Capture

In 2013, I wrote 41 new posts — which in all honesty is itty bitty compared to previous years. There are many times this year where I’ve felt like I can’t write publicly {I know, I know — goes against what I’m about}. I’ve been confused as to if I’ve felt censored, or just not ready to share what I’ve been thinking. More to come on that in the next few weeks.

The busiest day of the year was November 3rd with 935 views. Woop! That’s the day I went on a rant about Instagram and how people need to start embracing their true selves. Yep, true story. The post: #RealTalk.

Some of my most popular posts have been from previous years — thank you to everyone who’s still reading the story of my breast lumpectomy. Although it feels like I was writing that post an eternity ago {2010}, I still flashback to that summer every day.

My readers have come from 119 countries — with a whole pile of fan girls {and boys} in Canada! This year I’ve grown a readership is Bosnia and Latvia, which seems pretty random — and awesome!

Thank you for reading, pushing me to dream bigger and being a constant source of inspiration.

Happy 2014. xo

A Grateful Heart

UntitledLast weekend I celebrated Christmas with the family {… early!} and today I’m en route to the UK. A little bit wild — and proof that I’m oh so very blessed.

I had been thinking about my flight to the UK over the past few weeks. As much as this vacation isn’t supposed to be about crossing things off a list or doing work, I knew that I needed to spend some time writing.

A half hour into the plane ride, I pulled out my laptop and pounded out word after word. The plan? To reflect on this year, pulling out the highlights, learning’s and please-don’t-let-this-happen-again’s… {will be posted early in the New Year}.

If last week, someone would have asked me how my year went, I likely would have said — horrific. It’s been a tough one. But once I started reflecting and writing, it became very apparent that although a whole bunch of shitty stuff happened this year, there has also been a hell of a lot of good.

So I switched gears from my reflection post… and started writing friendship love notes aka “gratitude bombs.”  You know those people in your life who just get you, those people who stay with you through thick and thin, those people who add so much value to your life, you can’t even put it into words… those people, are who I wrote to.

This year I have let 2013 get the best of me. I have gotten caught up in life, the day-to-day and often lost sight of the present. With that has come a whole pile of learning. One thing I’ve learned is that life is short and it can change in an instant. More than ever, I know the importance of speaking up, wearing your heart on your sleeve and getting comfortable with vulnerability.

I sat there on the plane writing my love notes thinking do these people know how much they matter to me? I honestly had no idea. Once I started going through my year, I very quickly realized I couldn’t have done it without them. They challenged me, they supported me, they pushed me to think outside of my sometimes-psycho thought process… they got me to today.

And for that, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Merry Christmas from London. xo

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” –  William Arthur Ward

The 3 R’s

1Last week I went on one of those types of breaks where you need to find your sanity and start over again. Ever been on one? I go on them every now and again… This one was pretty major though, as I’d been putting it off for about oh, say, 8 months. You know what happens when you put off shit? It blows up in your face and you wish you had dealt with it in the moment. ;) The plan? 6 days out of the office. No work. No email. Minimal social media.  The goal? Perhaps inner peace, rainbows, unicorns and anything else that would fit in that realm. It went like this….

 

Wednesday

  1. Wake up at the crack of dawn.
  2. Check email. Bad.
  3. Check email again. Double bad.
  4. Start thinking about the last time I took a vacation. Like a real, unplugged vacation. Whoa, a long time. Like 3 years ago. Bad.
  5. Realize that I need to re-program myself. Gah.
  6. Do nothing.
  7. Pretend like I’m ok with doing nothing.
  8. Spend a considerable amount of time deciding on an outfit.
  9. Rush over to my photographer’s studio to get headshots done. Laugh, smile, push my bangs out of my face — and repeat.
  10. Meet up with Kate and head to Sunset Beach.
  11. Discover that gold shoes aren’t winter beach attire.
  12. Do nothing.
  13. Do nothing.
  14. Go to sleep way too late. Like, WAY too late.

3Thursday

  1. Sleep in.
  2. Pickup rental car. Drive to America.
  3. Stop in Blaine, WA to check out the cutest cafe: Little Red Caboose.
  4. Drive to Birch Bay, WA to go for a run. This is what happens when your love for running takes over your brain.
  5. Run through Birch Bay State Park. A blissful 8k along the ocean.
  6. Hang out. Do nothing.
  7. Drive to Bellingham, WA.
  8. Find brekkie: Old Town Cafe.
  9. Stop in at Fairhaven Runners. Try on 67 pairs of runners and realize that Saucony Kinvara’s have made me very very picky.
  10. Drive to Marine Park to catch the sunset.
  11. Drive to Burlington, WA to hit up Lululemon outlet. Unnecessary.
  12. Stock up on pantry goodness at Trader Joe’s. Fall in love with every hipster boy in the joint.
  13. Head to Target to get the essentials – shampoo, conditioner, bobby pins, a nightie, the usual.
  14. Mentally prepare for Border Patrol.
  15. Get sent ‘inside’ at Border Patrol. Pay taxes.
  16. Take wrong highway and end up en route to Hope.
  17. Arrive home exhausted out of my mind.
  18. Ignore iPhone.
  19. Fall instantly asleep.

Friday

  1. Sleep in.
  2. Roadtrip to Ikea Coquitlam to do a return. Not so fun fact: Ikea Richmond has been on strike for the last eternity and they’ve cut services, including returns. 35 people also doing returns. Grateful that I brought earbuds and Ben Howard is on Rdio.
  3. Decide that I should stop by Metrotown Mall; haven’t been there in forever. Bad idea.
  4. Spend a couple hours at the mall. Hours I will never get back.
  5. Waste precious life moments in traffic.
  6. 4Drop by Home Depot in search of some man help. Spend a considerable amount of time chatting with Jared and Manny about wood screws, studs and the weight of my headboard. Leave with supplies and think, “Dave, needs to help me with this.”
  7. Stop by lululemon SSC to hug a friend. Necessary.
  8. Drop off rental car.
  9. Walk home in the crisp cold — perfection.
  10. Receive new headshots and squeal with excitement {…thank you Chris Thorn!}.
  11. Head straight to bed at a really reasonable, if not, early hour. Sleep is critical for a high functioning brain!

Saturday

  1. Sleep in. Realize that I slept more soundly than I have in ages.
  2. Deal with my chaotic home.
  3. Think about drywall anchors. Determine that I don’t actually know what to do with them.
  4. Get distracted.
  5. Do nothing.
  6. Do nothing.
  7. Check Twitter and see a tweet from Chris Guillebeau about mistake flights aka danger land aka stop now, cut your credit card up, proceed with caution.
  8. Tell myself that I need to stop booking flights and race entries on a whim.
  9. Go back and forth on what cities I should visit in 2014.
  10. Hesitate.
  11. Decide life is short.
  12. 7Book flight to Australia. Boom.
  13. Message Cecilia to see if she’s running the Goteborg Half Marathon.
  14. Hesitate.
  15. Book flight to Sweden. Double boom.
  16. Weee!
  17. Do nothing.
  18. Nap.
  19. Do laundry.
  20. Wait for flight tickets to arrive.
  21. Refresh.
  22. Refresh.
  23. Refresh.
  24. 12 hours later, flight to Australia is ticketed!!!
  25. Refresh.
  26. Make Kiva donation. Lend Bon in Cambodia money to pay her daughter’s school fees.
  27. Refresh…

Sunday

  1. Accept the fact that I only slept 90 mins last night and move forward with my day. Oh hey insomnia, you’re BRUTAL.
  2. Refresh.
  3. Refresh.
  4. Get frustrated that second tickets haven’t arrived yet.
  5. Refresh.
  6. Realize that these mistake fares have added stress to my life.
  7. Refresh.
  8. Realize I’m no where near organized for my day when my sister and niece call to announce they’re at my front door. Oops.
  9. Head to Terra Breads for tea lattes and sweet treats.
  10. Take the AquaBus for a little tour around the harbour.6
  11. Adventure in the Kids Market at Granville Island. Play play play.
  12. Pick up local goodness from the Market — fresh pasta from Zara’s {to die for}.
  13. Visit the Aquarium — turtles, dolphins and beluga whales, oh me, oh my.
  14. Family dinner.
  15. Head to bed at ‘mom time’ — 9pm!!!

Monday

  1. Wake up — rested. Amazing.
  2. Check email. Flight to Sweden is finally ticketed {36 hours later}!
  3. Decide today is the day I learn about drywall anchors! Google. Realize I’m going to have to use a drill bit. Ugh.
  4. Decide today is not the day I learn about drill bits!
  5. Do nothing.
  6. Deal with a whole pile of life shit I’d been putting off.
  7. Feel better.
  8. Go for a quickie run around the seawall. Every step counts.
  9. Do nothing.
  10. Head to appointment with the Life Doctor. Ehhh.
  11. Meet up with Alex for tea and real talk.
  12. Stretch it out at yin with Elle Basten.
  13. Realize that I haven’t thought about work in days.
  14. Head to bed filled to the brim with gratitude.

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

My staycation was no where near perfect, but I can definitely say it was — progress. I went from being absolutely wired, high-strung and frustrated to being carefree, happy and motivated. I had been going back and forth whether I was going to get ‘life stuff’ done while I was away from work… Part of me knew I needed a break from personal work, as well as, professional work. The other part of me knew that my personal work needed to get organized at some point and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do it. I decided the latter was going to be able to help me move forward into 2014 with a bit clearer of a mindset.

My first day on vacation was hard, but no surprise, it got easier. I think a lot about how I have programmed myself and organized my life. My usual is go, go go, while being continually consumed in conversation, relationships and technology. The feeling that I had on my first day off scared me. I didn’t know what to do with myself — and felt, absolutely lost. Where was that girl who loves to read and write? The one who picked up calls from friends instead of ignoring them? Gone?

When I actually reached that moment of checking out of work and focusing on me, I realized I was exhausted. I felt grateful for the opportunity to check out of work for a week. I felt thankful for a support system who continually looks out for me {regardless of how delusional I’m being}. I knew I had to commit to — relax, recharge, renew. Those 3 R’s would be the key to coming back to  ‘life’ filled with enough energy for my day to day and excitement for the future.

I forgot about what I wanted to get done over the week and decided that anything {or nothing} was acceptable. I committed to myself that I would take it one day at a time and that I would allow myself to change plans if I wanted to. I gave myself the green light for sleeping too much, getting caught up in a book, getting lost in my thoughts and eating peanut butter cups in my bed {guilty as charged}.

A few things that have been top of mind this week:

  • Examine what you tolerate.
  • Be selective in your battles.
  • Do more of what makes you happy.
  • Rest is just as important as training.
  • Slow down — start living.
  • Embrace simplicity.

A huge thank you to two friends — much gratitude to Jen for always pushing me to take care of me and to Elliot for continually reinforcing the importance of soul recovery.


Thinking about taking a staycation? A few tips before you head into solitude:

  • Start prepping for your vacation days before you walk out of the office. The easiest way to head out on vacation worry-free is to feel comfortable with where you’re at. Catch up on work, ensure critical areas are being covered and make sure to set your out of office.
  • Leave your computer at the office. Do you need it while you’re away? I didn’t think so.
  • Disconnect your work email and calendar from your smart phone. Yep, remove it.
  • Turn off all smart phone notifications. I’m not one to use notifications to start with, but seriously, you don’t need to be notified of every single freakin’ Instagram heart. It’s added noise in an already chaotic world.
  • Run errands. You don’t want to spend your whole vacation running errands and crossing things off your to-do list. Try and do it ahead of time!

While you’re away, make sure to:

  • Walk away from your smart phone. You know what? When you’re ‘doing nothing’, you don’t really need it. No need for Google Maps, Facebook status updates or checking the weather 64 times a day. Turn on airplane mode and travel back in time to 1991 when we weren’t all obsessed with technology.
  • Minimize plans. Don’t book yourself all day, every day with adventures, activities and commitments. You won’t have the opportunity to recharge.
  • Be a tourist in your own city. Get lost in a new neighbourhood, adventure to the beach or mountains or check out a new cafe. Every city has treasures that are waiting to be discovered.
  • Treat yourself. You deserve it.

Be Bloggin’

Last week I received this email:

A Girl Named Jillian has been nominated for the  2013 Canadian Weblog Awards  in the Life and Sports, Fitness & Recreation categories.

The 2013 Canadian Weblog Awards are a juried competition — no voting! — with nominations that are open in 34 categories between February 1st and October 31st, 2013. The nominees shortlist will be announced on December 1, 2013, and the winners will be announced on December 7, 2013. A running blogroll of the nominees is kept throughout the year so that we can highlight Canada’s blogging talent. 

Congratulations, and good luck!

2013 Canadian Weblog Awards

Shit damn. Sweet! No voting?! Double sweet!

High five to to whomever nominated me. Absolutely honoured. I’m just a girl, blogging my thoughts, pretending that I live in a bubble where no one reads this thing. For real. xo

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