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In our media-saturated lives, an ever-increasing number of messages revolve around “loving ourselves.” The notion of self-love may mean something different for everyone, but the intention behind it is the same—to take charge of our own well-being and happiness.

Here are some ways you can bring acts of self-love into your daily life.

Set Boundaries

Before committing to too much, or doing something that you don’t want to do, check in with yourself. Setting boundaries is a way to know and understand your limits. When you set boundaries, you improve your relationships with yourself and others.

Focus on Your Own Life

Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Try not to waste time comparing yourself to others. If you can get grounded in what you’re doing and where you’re going, you'll be closer to discovering what it is you truly want out of life.   

Practice Self-Care

This may be as simple as taking care of your basic needs - i.e. eating well, getting regular sleep, moving your body, or relaxing. This may slo involve more TLC, such as: cuddle time, taking a bath, creating a beauty routine, or carving out some creative time.

Be Mindful

Breathe full, deep breaths, as often as you can. Breathing slowly helps bring awareness into the present moment, and helps us find acceptance for others, as well as ourselves.

Make Time for What You Love

Find out what makes you lose track of time, and do it! This is especially important for those who aren’t quite ready for the other tips listed above. Making time for what you love can include anything from getting together with friends, playing an instrument, building things, or playing a sport.

Whatever ways you choose to be good to yourself, the essence is always the same—you are valuable and worthy of it!

Acting on impulse can be fun. This month, that lure toward temptation will seem irresistible. Forbidden fruit will always entice us, but ultimately each of us must choose to take that bite. We could blame our actions on impulse. Yet even when we act on impulse, choice remains at the heart of it. When we give in to impulse, we ignore the protective boundaries we’ve build for ourselves and others. We’ve created these limits for a purpose—not to hold us back, but to help us grow. Like a garden thriving in a vast field, we are best when we cultivate small sections of ourselves. This month we will strive to remember the importance of boundaries, even as we skip back and forth across them.

Zodiac illustrations by Katie Maasik

Aries by Katie Maasik

ARIES
(March 21-April 19)

This month I am going to move. I am going to move across space, yes—but I’m also going to move the ones around me. My voice will exhilarate and inspire those who need to hear it. My bold style will cause a stir. I am finding my confidence again, and important people are taking notice. But I won’t let myself be roped into their fickle judgements. I’ve learned that with movement comes freedom. The less restrictions I put on myself, the freer I am to explore. I won’t let others bring me down. Instead, I will make this month all about transporting myself and others from one powerful experience to the next. 

Taurus by Katie Maasik

TAURUS
(April 20-May 20)

Making friends has become easy for me. Everywhere I go, other people follow me! They’re attracted to me like moths to a flame. Yet if I slow down, I recognize that my inner fire is fed by silence. I love the energy others bring into my life, but too much outside activity disrupts my rhythm. To make sense of my experiences, I need time for contemplation. This month will bring me avenues toward that silence. I can choose to race past these opportunities, or I can take a risk and wander the long, meandering paths toward peace.

Gemini by Katie Maasik

GEMINI
(May 21-June 21)

My family has created many things for me. Opportunities yes, but also boundaries to break down. I feel myself drifting from the weight of my past, but I miss the burden. It comforts me like a heavy blanket. Generations of women before me had to reconcile their futures with my family’s colourful past. I can learn from their successes and failures. I can turn to family members who are not related to me through blood. Partners. Their bonds are made by choice. How do these people navigate my family history? How do they find a place for themselves? I will trace the lines of their histories to draw my own. I will own that limb on the family tree that belongs to me, or I will start my own tree.

Cancer by Katie Maasik

CANCER
(June 21-July 22)

Animals will show me the way this month. The animals in my life possess a quiet understanding of the world. They can teach me many things. Together we communicate without words, and savour each moment. We share joy over the smallest surprises. Animals remind me to breathe in the smell of earth and dirt and rain. They show me how to laugh off embarrassment. How to move on from my failures. They show me that life is easier when I don’t take things personally. When I loosen up. When I am able to fill myself to the brim with pleasure. This month I will release my guilt and enjoy a few beastly indulgences.

Leo by Katie Maasik

LEO
(July 23-August 22)

I may feel like I’m crawling through a tunnel this month. I won’t know why I decided to duck inside this lonely underground, but I’ll know that it feels like a big mistake. Others warned me not to go, but I saw something special down there. I thought everyone else was afraid of the unknown. I was proud to venture places others wouldn’t dare! Now I’m confused and miss the world above me. I miss the sun on my face. I miss my friends. I miss the sounds of life. But the silence of this tunnel has felt good. I’ve cleared my head. Now I can head toward the hatch, open it up, and look outside once more.

Virgo by Katie Maasik

VIRGO
(August 23-September 22)

This month I will hunger for recognition. I’m not asking for a parade or a standing ovation. What I seek is a quiet respect from those around me. An acknowledgement. A smile. A tip of the hat. Something to keep me going. I am strong, I’ve always been strong. But it’s my turn to slow down. Someone close to me will help me. If I ask, they will grant me the gift of time. This person will shoulder my heaviest responsibility. I will be able to close my eyes, calm my restless mind, and breathe. But if I want this break, I will need to ask for help. I think I project assurance, but my loved ones see through my confident exterior. They know I struggle alone. They want to help me—I just need to tell them how they can.

Libra by Katie Maasik

LIBRA
(September 23-October 22)

It’s funny how music only has so many notes—yet we’ve been able to create so many beautiful songs. This is how I feel about my own abilities. I have a small box of talents. I hone them every day, so that I may create beautiful things. The more I examine my talents, the more hidden features I uncover. My talents are multi-faced. When I use my talent in an unexpected forum, I am surprised by my new capabilities. But perhaps these skills are not new. Maybe they were always there, but I didn’t know where to look. This month I will look at my talents in a new way. I will consider an alternate way of using them. A way that makes them sing.

Scorpio by Katie Maasik

SCORPIO
(October 23-November 21)

I get frustrated with routine. When I feel forced into ritual, I lash out. I berate people. I scoff at what brings others joy. I refuse to “celebrate the small things” because I’ve got my sights set on something much bigger. I want my life to be fantastic. I want to fill it with interesting people and memorable experiences. I want the things that others can’t have. I’m pretty good at getting those things. But when I chase after the shiny, I don’t see the grey. And the grey is where the good stuff is! It’s in the margins. In the hyphen. It’s the nuance between black and white. But it takes patience and discipline to tolerate all that grey. Grey is confusing! Understanding the grey requires solitude and contemplation. I can get that quiet when I want it—I just have to want it. Maybe I’ll try it this month. Just set aside a few minutes, nothing extreme. I am curious. Let's see what happens...

Sagittarius by Katie Maasik

SAGITTARIUS
(November 22-December 21)

This month I will find myself in the centre of some lively parties. Booze will be a big player in my own personal drama too. Good or bad, its presence will make itself felt. I like the dull blur that alcohol brings to my sharp edges. It’s true, I thirst for something more. But instead of figuring out what that could be, I prefer to focus on feeling good. People think I don’t know that, but I do. Everyone is so quick to judge. I won’t let it get to me. Instead I’ll focus on these parties. I love my people, and I love my place beside them. My way doesn’t have to be their way. I think I’m finally getting to be okay with that.

Capricorn by Katie Maasik

CAPRICORN
(December 22-January 19)

This month I will create something beautiful—and useless. I’ll need to fight every urge in my body to assign purpose to my creation. I just can’t help it. I feel passionately about utility. I am someone who makes myself useful. I expect the same of the objects around me. My tolerance for unproductive things (and people!) is low. I despise wasted time and energy. I want everything to come together and do its part. But somehow, this month, I will accidentally create this useless, yet beautiful thing. It won’t make sense to me at first. I am going to hate it. But if I leave it out for others to see, my opinion may change. When others appreciate its beauty, suddenly it has a purpose—to be seen, to be remarked upon, to be considered. Perhaps I will be able to see the usefulness of such an object. It could be art.

Aquarius by Katie Maasik

AQUARIUS
(January 19-February 18)

I sometimes believe I have more than one soul mate. I mean right now there’s a handful of people with whom I feel an intense connection. Sometimes that connection is physical, sometimes it’s mental. What I take away from it is the feeling. After all, that connection may be a rush that only lasts a few days. Or it may be a deep understanding that leads to a lifetime partnership. No matter the duration of our relationship, I know my connection to these people is real. There are only so many times a person is overwhelmed by love. I’m going to enjoy every single, tiny manifestations of that love.

Pisces by Katie Maasik

PISCES
(February 19-March 20)

This month is going to feel like a blessing. I will feel rested, and able to access the silence I’ve been craving. A peaceful reprieve like this has the power to illuminate a new side of myself. I will gain access to a deeper knowledge. My body has been busy storing this knowledge inside.  My body has been waiting for the right moment to share it with me. Now is that time. I am going to feel fully alive for a long stretch. I will travel far. I will swim upstream with newfound purpose. I will use my wisdom to teach others. I will show them a new way of looking. I will look at the world in a new way. I will look at myself in a new way.

Dark, dreary and cold weather can leave you feeling tired and lazy. Your energy levels lower, and you can feel little to no motivation. That’s why slow, mindful morning rituals become an even more important part of your self-care during the colder seasons.

If you need a little inspiration, here are my top 5 rituals to start your morning right!

    • Practice Gratitude
      • Your alarm has gone off and it’s time to start the day, but before you reach for your phone and check emails, Instagram or Facebook, take just 2 minutes to close your eyes, set your intentions and start your morning with gratitude. This simple step can reset your entire take on the day, and inspire positivity in the face of another dark winter morning.
    • Breathe
      • After your mindful start, reach for aromatherapy to set the mood for your day. My go-to for winter mornings is a blend of lemon, frankincense and cedarwood. This grounding yet uplifting combination energizes and motivates you to make the most of your day. Add a couple of drops to your diffuser and take 5 deep breaths before moving on.
    • Hydrate
      • Now, before anything else, reach for a glass of water. After a (hopefully) long sleep, it’s time to slowly wake your body up and encourage gentle detoxification before breakfast. I love a simple glass of water with freshly squeezed lemon or a combination of mint, filtered water and chlorella—a blue-green algae native to Japan and absolutely packed with nutrients like potassium, chlorophyll, magnesium and beta-carotene.
    • Move
      • Now, try a quick and gentle 1 minute stretch, or use a dry brush to encourage blood flow and healthy circulation after a deep sleep. This easy step will wake you up more quickly than your daily cup of coffee, without the crash!
    • Nourish
      • Now that you’re prepared to properly digest and assimilate nutrients, it’s time to eat! To prepare you for the day ahead, reach for a warm smoothie or cup of overnight oats filled to the brim with important nutrients and healthy fats. Remember to eat slowly and with intention. Chew your food thoroughly and put your spoon down between bites. Try to mindfully enjoy each and every bite.

    It doesn’t take much time, but you’ll notice that starting your morning with focused intention and gratitude allows space for more positivity and joy. And at the end of the day, don’t worry—after all, spring is right around the corner!

    Strawberry & Rose Overnight Oats

    Ingredients

    • ½ cup (heaping) rolled oats
    • 2/3 cup homemade rose & cashew nut milk
      • 1 cup soaked cashews 
      • 2 cups rose tea
      • 1 soaked medjool date
    • 1 tbsp chia seeds or ground flax
    • ½ tsp vanilla extract
    • Pinch of salt
    • ¼ cup chopped organic strawberries
    • Glug of dark maple syrup

    Instructions

    • For the nut milk
      • Place cashews in a bowl, cover with filtered water and soak overnight
      • Boil water and pour over 2 tbsp rose petals - allow to steep overnight
      • In the morning, add 2 cups of rose tea, cashews and medjool date to blender
      • Blitz on high speed for about 1 minute 
      • Strain through a nut milk bag into a sterilized jar (keeps in fridge for approximately 5 days)
    • For the oats
      • Whisk together oats, chia, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, strawberries and cashew milk in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Spoon into a jar with a tight fitting lid
      • Close and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight before eating
      • In the morning, stir and add a bit more nut milk if necessary
      • Top with extra chopped strawberries and rose petals
      • Enjoy!

    - Kelsey

    xx

    In honour of February being the month of love, I wanted to share some herbs that I use to nourish my heart on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Listed below are five of my favourite heart-warming herbs for you to enjoy with the ones you love.

    heart herbs

    Hawthorn/Thornapple (Crataegus sp.) - this thorny tree produces berries that are high in antioxidants, protective for the physical heart, and soothing as a herbal tea 

    Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) - in traditional herbal medicine, the oil extracted from rosemary leaves are used to increase circulation in the body and strengthen the heart

    Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata) - the essential oil produced from these flowers are used in aromatherapy to calm and slow down the rate of the heart

    Rose (Rosa sp.) - the petals can be steeped into rosewater, or distilled into an essential oil to emotionally comfort the heart

    Holy Basil/Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) - this flowered plant is most commonly infused as a tea and, according to Ayurvedic traditions, it nourishes the spirit and energetically uplifts the heart 

    Send some love to your heart this month, by adding one or two of these herbs to your herbal tea, diffuser, or cooking. 

     

     

    If you have any pre-existing heart or medical conditions, consult with your herbalist, naturopath, or health care physician before experimenting with any herbal remedies. 

    February is a month of love. Valentine’s Day celebrates the love between partners, but love comes in many powerful forms. Love can unite us and break down our boundaries. When fear threatens to cloud our vision, love reminds us of what matters. Love is the force connecting us when we stand together. Love will help us crack the wall so the light can shine through. But love can only take us so far. When people we love are in danger, we take action. We gather together and show our numbers. We will remind strong forces outside ourselves that fear is not an answer we will accept. Together, we can break through. Together, our love can do great things.

    Zodiac illustrations by Katie Maasik

    Aries by Katie Maasik

    ARIES
    (March 21-April 19)

    I have a serious question. Why is it, that when the past chooses to repeat itself, it only ever repeats the bad stuff? When I see the danger approaching, I have to laugh. I know this trouble! I’ve seen its kind before and it does not bring a lesson that I need to learn again. I know its hardships very well. I’ve fought and overcome this beast countless times before. Yet here it is again, all up in my face! Maybe I didn’t scare it away well enough last time? I admit I’ve been busy, quietly working away on my own life. I’ve been creating happiness for myself, no one can fault me for that. For the first time, I’ve stopped looking over my shoulder. I’ve finally felt peace! I won’t let the beast ruin this for me. And yet...I’ve heard whispers. They say that while I’ve been safe, others have never known my safety. They say they need help. Maybe it’s time to step up and use my power. Perhaps the past is repeating itself for a reason after all..?

    Taurus by Katie Maasik

    TAURUS
    (April 20-May 20)

    I want to find someone I can respect. I want to look up to someone again. Maybe it’s difficult for me to find this person because I’m a leader myself. I resist following others. But even a leader needs an example to follow: even I have my blind spots. I want to trust someone who can point out my weaknesses, someone who will help me strengthen them. I want a mentor. But where do I look? Perhaps this person is already in my life. Perhaps my heart has pointed them out, but I've ignored my instinct. Maybe I was afraid to get closer. The energy from confident people is often intimidating. I know whoever this person is, they will not need anything from me. I know their happiness will come from within. Materialism is something I struggle with at times. I want the things around me to broadcast my success! I need possessions to prove that I am who I say I am. I think a mentor can help me grapple with this. If I can gather the courage to seek out this person, perhaps they can show me the way toward fulfillment.

    Gemini by Katie Maasik

    GEMINI
    (May 21-June 21)

    I will take on a new name this month. The name could come in many forms, with many results. It may be given to me freely, or bestowed on me with a heavy responsibility attached. I may choose to snatch up this name to make it my own. It may signify nothing more than harmless fun, like a dumb nickname earned on a wild night out. On the other hand, the new name could give rise to big changes in my life, with fresh responsibilities. Names have always been very important to me. I sense their significance and power. I’ve seen how a name can be a great blessing or curse. If I choose to take on this new name, it may shield me and cover me like a disguise. I could find myself entering unusual places, and creating strange connections with people I never thought I’d meet. This name is my ticket to new experiences. I'm ready for the challenge.

    Cancer by Katie Maasik

    CANCER
    (June 21-July 22)

    In the past, I’ve been the one to remain calm during catastrophe. People I care about look to me to make sense of the chaos. They think that my calm comes from courage, but I know better. My calm comes from acceptance! I figure if I’m on the way out, the least I can do is go out with dignity. Okay, I’m joking...mostly. I like using my black sense of humour to lighten the mood. But these days I haven’t been laughing so much. It’s hard to even muster a smile when there’s trouble everywhere I look. I’ve been doing the crab thing and retreating into the safety of my shell, but I’m the only one who fits in here! I’m okay, but what about everyone else? Seems like now is the time to dig out a foundation for something. It will start out small, but over time it could become the base of a great shelter. A shelter that could put a roof over the heads of many people. I carry my sense of home with me everywhere I go—perhaps it’s in me to share that comfort. 

    Leo by Katie Maasik

    LEO
    (July 23-August 22)

    Not to sound full of myself, but everyone wants me right now! They want my ideas, and my energy, and well...some of them want more if you know what I mean. It’s fun to be in demand! I’m super energized by all the attention, but maan! Everyone wants my input on every little thing! Close friends are sad that I’m so busy, and new friends want to see more of me. I feel like dozens of people are each trying to take my time. I’m getting divvied up like slices of pizza over here—if this keeps up I there won’t be any of me left! I seriously gotta take a step back. It’s just hard when there’s so much going on. I want to be a part of everything! But yeah, I gotta take a breather. All this attention is addictive. I can be healthy about it, or I can jump right into the chaos. Guess which one I’m going to pick? Hah! 

    Virgo by Katie Maasik

    VIRGO
    (August 23-September 22)

    My nighttime visions show me who I can become. In my dreams, I move swiftly and easily through the air. I feel weightless and joyful. My burdens are released from on high. They fall from my body and plunge deep into the waters below me. I lose sight of them as they sink into the unfathomable darkness. I am sad, though. I know when I awake, I will be back in the depths, treading water with my burdens weighted beneath me once more. But when I sleep, I see the lightness. I feel peace. If I truly desire it, this peace is attainable in my waking life too. But it’s so much simpler for me to remain here, treading water. I know I can access this peace—I’ve already felt it within me—I simply need to let go, look down, and see what’s holding me back.   

    Libra by Katie Maasik

    LIBRA
    (September 23-October 22)

    I’m balancing my work ethic with my desire for new things. Tbh, I think freedom is tipping the scale for me. I want to give myself a break, and break free from the comfort of my routine. I mean I love doing great work, but if I don’t keep to a rigorous schedule, things fall out of whack. I hate when that happens! Everything always in its place, please. Plus I haven’t been feeling like my usual efficient self. There’s a fog hanging over everything. So yes, a little leisure may be the antidote for all this labor. I know I don’t need to travel far, but I do need to pick up and move somewhere new for awhile. Maybe I'll venture to the next town over. I could take a walk, eat at a new restaurant, look at some cute dogs—whatever it is, I need something novel to bring a little colour into this grey. Time for a much-needed jolt!

    Scorpio by Katie Maasik

    SCORPIO
    (October 23-November 21)

    I like to get down to work. I’m lucky because I’ve always been free from the burden of impressing people. No one motivates me except me. My drive has always come from within. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I don’t care about others. In fact the whole reason I do a good job is because I want to do my part! We’re in this together whether we like it or not—we might as well work hard to make it easier for everyone. What I really despise is when people think I don’t notice when they’re slacking off. Just because I can carry you, doesn’t mean I want to. This month I’m going to encounter someone who looks like they’re messing around. From every angle I can see, this person is simply wasting time. But I’m going to fight my instinct to tear into them—because there’s something going on with them beneath the surface. I know all about hiding weakness—which is exactly what this person will be doing. I’ll need to soften my blunt approach this time. They may have a growing problem that I can help cut away, before it gets out of control and entangles the rest of us. 

    Sagittarius by Katie Maasik

    SAGITTARIUS
    (November 22-December 21)

    I like to romanticize the past. I have this idea that things were better back then, but when I stop and think about it, I’m actually having some of my best times right now. Part of that is the headspace I’m in. I used to worry more. I think I used to get too inside the heads of everyone around me. Now I’m okay with letting them think what they think. I keep inside my own head, I worry about my own needs. Turns out my head is full of enough stuff to keep me occupied anyway. I’m feeling so creative these days! I’m making cool shit and really seeing the world in technicolour. I might still wear my rose-coloured glasses now and then, but I’ve decided it’s okay. I need a little dose of romance in my life. As long as I remember to keep my needs in focus, I can give myself up to a hopeful dream now and then. 

    Capricorn by Katie Maasik

    CAPRICORN
    (December 22-January 19)

    The thing I’ve been building is finally up and running. It took me years to plan it out. I doubted I would ever get it the way I wanted, but all those long hours I spent toiling alone are finally paying off. Now it’s finally complete, and I can rest as it does its work. So why do I feel strange? I realize I’ve traded uncertainty for peace and security. On the surface, that should make me happy—I like a solid foundation to stand on. But I also like to work hard. I like the struggle. Nothing has ever felt real to me unless I earned it. And now this: freedom, time to myself, a wide space to fill. It’s overwhelming. The thing I built is running well right now, but it would take so little to hijack it. Maybe I should break it down! Then I’d have a purpose again! But I know this isn’t the answer.  I will spend this month tinkering and honing my skills again—I will find a new project. A new passion. A new thing to build up and make me feel alive. 

    Aquarius by Katie Maasik

    AQUARIUS
    (January 19-February 18)

    I like doing things my way. I’ve got a unique way of seeing the world and making my mark. In the past when I’ve let others take the lead, the results are well...let’s just say they weren’t what I expected. Whenever I let other people lead, I almost always wish I’d stepped in earlier to help things move in the right direction. Does that make me a control freak? I like to think of myself as a creative director, but maybe I do tend to micromanage the people closest to me. It’s just that since they’re such a reflection of me, I want them to be great! I put a lot of pressure on them. I guess I could give them—and myself—a break once in awhile. This month I’ll try to let go and accept another person’s vision. Often people want to give me things, but they’re afraid the gifts won’t impress me. I’m going to let them know I appreciate them as they are. I’m going to be grateful for the effort they take with me. In turn, I’ll ease up my own efforts—so there’s room for their vision too. 

    Pisces by Katie Maasik

    PISCES
    (February 19-March 20)

    Love feels elusive to me sometimes. I can feel closed off when other people are connecting. I often feel left out on my own. But this isolation is self-inflicted. In truth, I’m surrounded by love—it’s just not the type of love I’m expecting. I have a version of love in my mind. I seek it out in its entirety, and nothing else will do. But I am learning to let love have its rougher edges. Sleek, idealized love is no longer for me. I am ready to open my heart. I know opening up leaves me vulnerable, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I look around—I mean really look—I’m going to see the love I seek. It’s there in the kind words from a friend, and the warm smile from a stranger, yes. But it’s also there in the hearts of a few special people. These are the people who understand me most. These are the ones who see my true self. The ones who help me remain open, so I can love them back. The ones who want to love me the most, if I will let them. 

    julia khan anselmo woodlot

    Julia Khan Anselmo is the founder of Feisty Feast, a series of long table dinners where speakers share stories and inspire meaningful conversation. Thank you to Julia for inviting us into her beautiful home We shared some tea as we spoke of family, friends, and the resilience of the feminine spirit. 

    All photos by Alison Page

    Describe your work. When did you first know it was what you wanted to do?

    I am the founder of Feisty Feast, a long table dinner event that brings women together to connect over a divine feast, meaningful conversation, and beautiful atmosphere. It’s an exciting time to be a woman and, I believe, it's one of the best times to be a woman. It’s so important for us to come together and lift one another up. My events are intended to unite and empower women in the feminine spirit and to give women in the community a platform and a voice to bring to light the many, many issues that affect us.

    "My events are intended to unite and empower women in the feminine spirit and to give women in the community a platform and a voice to bring light the many, many issues that affect us."

    julia khan anselmo woodlotjulia khan anselmo woodlot

    I’ve had eleven events thus far, all ranging from stories of how women have endured and healed—from living with a terminal illness, to the idea of exploring non-monogamy, to learning about the positive effects of slow fashion and natural dyes, to female sexual empowerment. I strive to create a warm, open-minded, safe and magical space for women to commune, listen and talk. It's my goal for the women who attend my events to leave feeling inspired, well fed and to go out into their communities uplifted and hopefully open to holding space for the women in their lives. All the magic happens when we let our guards down and share the most vulnerable parts of ourselves.

    julia khan anselmo woodlot
    I knew what it was I wanted to do after getting laid off from a job in a company I had always wanted to work for in 2013. That was a tough time for me, I went on Employment Insurance for a year and explored what it was that I actually did with my time, rather than what it was I should be doing because of my previous work experience and the university degree I hold. I was meeting incredibly inspiring women, cooking and exploring different cuisines from around the world, and hosting dinner parties every week, so I began Feisty Feast.

    Describe your space and your favourite parts of it.

    I’m in love with beauty and aesthetics and creating beautiful spaces. My home is a sanctuary for all the things that are important to me. Cooking and hosting dinners, meditation, tea, making love and creating. My taste and sense of style are inspired by a sense of classic old world interiors, textiles collected from travels, and a strong western influence from Alberta. I try to only purchase and keep things in my home that are functional and mean something to me. We live in a world where people consume so much, so I’m making an effort to be more intentional with my purchases and surround myself with only the essentials. 

    "We live in a world where people consume so much, so I’m making an effort to be more intentional with my purchases and surround myself with only the essentials." 

    julia khan anselmo woodlot

    What is the toughest thing about being your own boss?

    For me, it’s a combination of self-doubt and discipline. I’m getting better and having a routine practices like tea and meditation, yoga and running are useful. I'm easily distracted. I feel I could accomplish so much more if I were to able to direct my focus, but it's a challenge and I'm getting better!

    julia khan anselmo woodlot

    Do you have any rituals that help you unwind at the end of the day? 

    I prefer a morning practice as opposed to the evening because it helps me steady my busy mind and get me to a place of focus. I have a dedicated tea practice that was introduced to me a few years ago by my dear friend Nathalie Kelley. It involves setting up a space to come and rest, to just be and think and drink tea. The practice and ritual of pouring tea is where I love to begin my day. But, a long hot bath at the end of the day with a fine glass of Japanese whiskey is pretty great too. And, one more! I love cooking with friends and having a big communal Sunday supper, with African Jazz and a lots of candles: Woodlot candles, of course.  
    julia khan anselmo woodlot
    julia khan anselmo woodlot

    What is:

    ...a piece of art you wish everyone could see?

    My educational background is in Art History, so this is a very difficult question for me to answer because it’s hard to choose just one piece! But I’ll do my best. I’ve always been drawn to art that is experiential and art that uses the body as a medium to communicate a message.  Though I have never experienced this art piece, or performance artwork personally, I feel it would be a powerful one. I first learned about the artist Marina Abramovic while studying in London in 2008 and am inspired by her steadfast relationship with the themes of endurance, vulnerability, and power. Her Piece The Artists is Present is one I wish everyone could experience, including myself. Maria sits in a red dress in the gallery space from open to close without getting up. Open entering the space the audience is invited, one by one to sit across from her at a table and look into her eyes. I think having that space and time to do something so intimate with a complete stranger is powerful.

    julia khan anselmo woodlot

     ...a book you wish everyone would read?

    I’m reading a book by Esther Perel called Mating in Captivity that’s enlightening on the subject of desire in long-term relationships. In her book she discusses the philosophical question of whether you can desire that which you already have. Through eloquent and relatable examples, she draws on the history of love, marriage and her knowledge of sex to give an honest and realistic understanding of modern love, sex and relationships, and the pressures we all experience. I find her writing exceptional, it's a very difficult book to put down. I'm also enjoying Rupi Kaur's book of poetry, Milk and Honey. Kaur is a young Canadian writer of Indian decent sharing her life through words on being a woman of colour, universal shared experiences of femininity, abuse, relationships, sex and family. She speaks to my heart.

    julia khan anselmo woodlotjulia khan anselmo woodlot

     ...a place you wish everyone could visit?

    I think it’s important to visit wherever your roots are from. To know where you come from and find out how that has shaped you and your family; to know your ancestral history so you can better understand yourself is important in my mind. My mother is Trinidadian and my father, Portuguese, but I grew up in Calgary, Alberta. It was so far removed from extended family and family traditions, I always felt out of place there. My mother sent me to Trinidad when I was five years old to learn about Trinidadian culture, and meet my many aunts, uncles and cousins. I remember it was overwhelming because there were so many of them, but it left a strong impression on me and gave me a better understanding of my mother and where she came from. It left me wanting to learn more. A couple of years ago, I went to Portugal and felt very at home and connected to the land, culture and people. This year I will be going to India where my ancestry on my mother’s side of the family is from. I’m so excited to receive all of the challenges, beauty, and wonder that India has to offer.

    julia khan anselmo woodlotjulia khan anselmo woodlotjulia khan anselmo woodlot

    January marks the beginning of a great transformation. Last year was a difficult time for many of us. We were forced to make difficult decisions about the lives we were living, and the people we would like to become. Positive changes are coming later in the month, but 2017 kicks off with mercury still in retrograde. We must prepare for breakdowns of all sorts, as miscommunication will rule us until January 8th. Be wary of technology, especially when sending messages through email and texts—there are simply too many occasions in which our intentions can be misunderstood. Mercury retrograde is always a tumultuous time, but we must remember that even chaos has its value. Only through struggle can we reach our full potential, and form a sincere vision of the people we can become. Stay strong, our vulnerability will push us closer to truth. 

    Zodiac illustrations by Katie Maasik

    Aries by Katie Maasik

    ARIES
    (March 21-April 19)

    I usually have a solid idea of what I want. When people around me say I should want something different, I rarely give in. I’m a natural leader and people trust me. But sometimes I do go too far. Sometimes I need to step back, and wait a moment before jumping to a decision. I’ll need to be extra patient this month or my ambition may get the better of me. I know if I want to be a great leader, I need to learn how to share my power. Over the next few weeks I’m going to feel overwhelmed. Delegating some of my responsibilities will help everything make more sense. It’s hard for me to truly trust people, but I am going to work hard to open up. The more knowledge I share with the people around me, the more relief I will feel as I begin to unload my burdens.

    Taurus by Katie Maasik

    TAURUS
    (April 20-May 20)

    There are pieces of my life that I want to reimagine this year. Now is a good time to step back and evaluate, to think about what I want. If I’m honest with myself, I’ll admit that I’ve been working hard to uncover something. I am finally ready to tackle the skeletons in my closet. It’s not going to be easy, but I know if I can move beyond simple black and white, I will find something wonderful in the grey. As someone who sometimes clings to easy answers, I know this is a big step forward for me. I am so open to complexity right now! I know I will always value tradition: it reminds me of what I love, and helps ground me in the past. But this month I will examine the structures that hold these traditions in place. I can build on the values that make up my foundation, and let go of the shaky beams propped up by habit alone.

    Gemini by Katie Maasik

    GEMINI
    (May 21-June 21)

    I am going to be so busy this month. I can’t believe how much my checklist is growing! But it’s a new year! So why isn’t my slate wiped clean? I’m ready to forget about my mistakes and start all over. But when I look around, the blur of the holidaze is still fogging my vision. All my little indulges have started to add up! It looks like I’ve racked up a debt that’s going to weigh heavily on me for awhile. Ugh, but what else is new? I’m used to living beyond my means. Often it’s the only way to get what I want! Starting this month, I am going to work hard. I will check items off my list and earn my keep for real. I’ve learned the hard way that my big dreams come with even bigger price tags. So this year I am going to be much more intentional with my choices. I am going to slow down and plan my movements. I won’t fill the void with things I don’t need. Instead I will seek out love. I will spend my time creating memories with the people I trust. Their guidance is a rope that can pull me out of this hole I keep digging.

    Cancer by Katie Maasik

    CANCER
    (June 21-July 22)

    When people talk about “self-care” I get stressed out. It feels like one more thing I’m expected to be good at! If I don’t meditate for an hour every day, does that mean I’m a terrible person? That I’m not enlightened enough? Does my Instagram feed need more yoga poses and less dog noses? But petting cute dogs makes me feel good, and I’ve never been the flexible type! I feel so overwhelmed by all this advice. External voices are so loud that I can’t hear my own. This month I promise to set aside time to think about what I truly value. The holidays are wonderful, but they also brought a lot more stuff into my life. I am ready to concentrate on how I feel inside, instead of accumulating more things to decorate my outside. I am looking forward to clarity. This year will pose many challenges, but I’m going to learn a lot. First things first. I will focus on how I treat myself, instead of what I decide to treat myself to.

    Leo by Katie Maasik

    LEO
    (July 23-August 22)

    I’ve always felt in touch with my body, but lately it feels like a stranger. My brain is doing all the heavy lifting, and it’s starting to take its toll. My mind can’t stop racing. I’m constantly restless, and I can’t concentrate for more than a minute at a time. I’ve tried using technology to solve these problems: now I can count my steps, and track my heart rate, but I’m still overwhelmed. What should I do with all these stats? And how come this new sleep app isn’t helping me sleep better? I feel so worn out and disconnected. It’s like my body is trying to talk to me, but I can’t hear it over all this noise. Maybe I need a break. This month I’m going to take a breather from the mayhem. All this monitoring is putting me at a remove. I can’t completely disconnect, but maybe I can shut things off for an hour or two. I’ll go for a walk and leave my phone at home. I’ll turn off my laptop and read a magazine. Whatever I do, I’m going to do it slowly and with purpose.

    Virgo by Katie Maasik

    VIRGO
    (August 23-September 22)

    Maybe I’m being myopic, but last year didn’t seem so bad! Everyone else was struggling to stay afloat, but not me. I guess I’m just lucky? I mean sure, I had some setbacks, but it’s nothing I couldn’t handle. I’m the most competent person I know! People depend on me. If I couldn’t hack it, we’d all be in some serious hot water. I can’t let my weakness show, I don’t want to alarm people. If I let myself dwell on things (just a few things, really!) I might be able to pick out a few personal problems. Let’s see...well, my work felt scattered. I was pulled in every direction but forward. And my love life surprised me more than once, and not always in the good way. And my health has been better. But overall I handled everything! There’s a few holes in my boat—but so what? It’s not like I’m sinking. Hahaha…okay yes, I’m laughing nervously. Maybe I have been slightly in denial. Alright, alright, I suppose it’s time to bail out some of this water this month, before I spend another year in over my head.

    Libra by Katie Maasik

    LIBRA
    (September 23-October 22)

    I have been laying low for awhile, but I don't feel shameful about it. I needed to heal. I dealt with some heavy things last year. My desire to hide away was only natural. To recharge I had to escape and get away from it all. But I’m finally starting to feel stronger. My wounds have hardened into tough scars. I know it’s time to venture out into the world again. I’m ready to face the familiar sights and sounds that once overwhelmed me. I have developed new ways of being that will help me thrive. But I am going to be rusty, there’s no doubt about that. I will falter more than once. I will struggle. My new ways may startle old friends, but I will be patient. If they’re meant to remain in my life, they’ll come around. Most of all I will be patient with myself. I will remember how far I’ve come. And for the first time in a long while, I will let myself hope.

    Scorpio by Katie Maasik

    SCORPIO
    (October 23-November 21)

    Strangers usually raise my suspicion. When I turn a cold shoulder to newcomers, others look down on me. They assume I’m close-minded, but they don’t know the trouble strangers can bring with them. I do. I’ve created a beautiful ecosystem of people and places that are dear to me. My life is a delicate balance. But it took me a long time to put it in order—and the last thing I need is someone new barging in and disrupting things! So why do I have a feeling that’s exactly what’s in store for me this month? I’ve been raising my fences higher, but maybe I’ve been going about it all wrong. I know, I know—now and then I should open the gate. But it’s hard for me! What if all the good things I hold dear fly out the door and away from me? What if the newcomers bring unfamiliar traditions that challenge my own? Strangers often signal change. I need to prepare. Whether I’m ready or not, change is coming.

    Sagittarius by Katie Maasik

    SAGITTARIUS
    (November 22-December 21)

    I love my home, but I get restless facing the same walls each day. To stir things up, I often venture out to seek new experiences. My travels have introduced me to interesting people from all walks of life, and I like to file away each new personality type I encounter. This knowledge has instilled me with confidence. I like to imagine I’m a good judge of character—I even think I’ve got a good grasp on why certain people do the things they do. That’s why last year, when someone close to me betrayed my trust, I was shocked to my very core. Their deception blinded me with so much pain and self-loathing that it was easy to miss the power I was unlocking inside. That pain awakened new abilities within me. As the first month of this new year begins, I am still mining my core for strength, but hindsight is finally offering me a window. I can begin to see my breakdown as a chance for true reformation. I'm ready to come back, stronger than ever.

    Capricorn by Katie Maasik

    CAPRICORN
    (December 22- January 19)

    I’m off to a wobbly start for 2017. I feel a little like Mariah Carey during her NYE performance: I’m ready to kill it, but nothing is lining up right. People aren’t doing their jobs, they’re not pulling their weight, and I’m left looking like the fool. But what are you supposed to do? Sometimes things are out of your hands. So far I’m just rolling with it. If last year taught me anything, it’s that laughter is my best survival tool. For these first couple weeks, things will feel completely out of control. I just might start laughing a little too hard. I’ll probably freak out the people around me, but that will just make me laugh even harder. What can I say? The madness helps keep me sane. As the month goes on, things will quiet down. I’ll grope for the control levers, and finally switch off some of this noise. Until then, I just gotta hold on.

    Aquarius by Katie Maasik

    AQUARIUS
    (January 19-February 18)

    When things go well for me, I get caught up in a wave of excitement. I can’t help it! Once I see the light of possibility on the horizon, I storm ahead into uncharted waters. My enthusiasm has led me to great things. But sometimes it’s led me to big complications—like it’s going to this month, when others begin to blindly follow my lead. I may try to convince them to stay back where it’s safe, but it’s too late. They’ve seen the opportunities my brashness can bring. If I truly want to avoid some serious complications, I’ll need to step into a teaching role. This won’t be easy. My natural charm gets me out of most jams, but I’ve never tried to pass my power of persuasion on to another. My charms usually only work for me! I suppose if I practice lending my power to others, instead of only using them for my own gains, it could feel natural after a while. Hey, I guess in the end it works out for me too: I feel at my best when I’m helping others.

    Pisces by Katie Maasik

    PISCES
    (February19-March 20)

    When I look back at 2016, I see way more lows than highs. I don’t know if that’s my fault, but I’m praying that all these negative vibes are on the way out. I just can’t take it anymore—last year was full of too much heartache! One thing I will say, is that I’m proud that I was able to meet my troubles head on. When it comes down to it, I showed a lot of courage. And all those great people I attracted last year? They’re going to stick around and keep supporting me. When times are rough, I will move closer to what matters. For me, that’s the family I’ve created for myself. I will begin this new year by reaching out to those who helped me through my struggles. Maybe I can return the favour: maybe I can be the strong one for once.

    The holidays generally mean more stress, less sleep and mindLESS indulgences that we would ordinarily skip. Unfortunately, all of this (and more) can contribute to issues like unwanted weight gain, low energy levels, mood swings and an angry, inflamed complexion!

    Luckily, with just a few minor adjustments, this holiday season might end up being your most mindFULL one yet!

    • Just BREATHE
      • The excitement of your favourite treats, festive cocktails, and time spent catching up with friends and family often means forgetting to be present in the moment. Take time out for a mini-meditation (just three big deep breaths will make a difference) during the course of your evening and stop to notice your surroundings. This pause in activity will allow you to recognize if you’re still hungry, if you really need that second (or fifth) glass of wine, and whether or not it’s time to wrap it up and head home!
    • Pick & Choose
      • During the holidays, you may feel short on time and stressed out when it comes to getting everything done. Remember—you don’t have to say yes to everyone! If you don’t have the time, or if you’re feeling tired and in need of a good sleep—just say no. Boundaries are incredibly important for your overall well-being, and can help keep you sane in the midst of the holiday chaos.
    • Is This Worth It?
      • When it comes to indulging in your favourite holiday treats, always ask yourself: is this going to make me feel more or less healthy? Is this culturally significant? Is this a 10-out-of-10 on the delicious scale? Is this worth it? When do you decide to treat yourself always remember—a decision that is intentional and mindful means there is no guilt. 

    The Best Chocolate Truffle Recipe Ever!

    Rose & Cacao Chocolate Truffles

    When I choose to indulge, I often reach for these easy nutrient-dense, homemade fudge truffles. Although still technically a dessert, they’re low in sugar and absolutely packed with some of my favourite skin-saving nutrients like calcium, magnesium and potassium to keep me looking and feeling my best this season!

    Makes approximately 20 truffles

    Ingredients:

    1/2 cup coconut oil
    2/3 cup organic crunchy peanut butter
    4 tbsp cacao powder
    4 tbsp dark maple syrup
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2-4 drops food grade rose essential oil (depending on taste preference)

    Directions:

    1. Add all ingredients to your blender or food processor and mix until smooth.

    2. Pour into a freezer safe dish and let set for at least 1-2 hours until firm.

    3. Remove and scoop one tsp-size amount at a time.

    4. Shape into a ball and roll in more cacao powder.

    5. Top with rose petals—because we eat with our eyes first! 

    Truffles will keep for up to four weeks in the freezer: if they last that long!

    I hope you all have a beautiful holiday season! Enjoy!

    destress herbs

    Written for Woodlot by Dr. Deanna Weiss, ND

    It’s that time of year again when many of us feel excited yet overwhelmed with celebrations and commitments. Besides taking care of your basic needs (getting enough sleep, eating well, not overbooking your schedule) I wanted to share a few other ways to support yourself during the holidays.


    Listed below is my favourite collection of plants to help calm your body and mind this holiday season:  

    destress herb

    Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

    This soothing herb is calming when prepared as a loose-leaf tea, or refreshing when added as an oil to a dark chocolate treat.

    destress herbs

    Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

    The calming scent of lavender encourages us to take a deep breath this holiday season. Sprinkle a few flowers on a baked treat (such as shortbread cookies), add the essential oil to a diffuser, or tie a sprig of lavender onto gifts for your nature-loving friends.

    destress herbs
    Orange (Citrus sp.)

    Fresh oranges paired with cinnamon and cloves is a holiday staple for many. Use the essential oil as an uplifting aromatherapy, or simply add orange slices to holiday beverages like mulled wine or hot cider.  

    destress herbs

    Oat (Avena sativa)

    Eating cooked oats the morning before a day of festivities grounds and supports your nervous system. Bake oats into a granola or crisp, and combine with fruit for a nutritious and delicious dessert option.

    destress herbs

    Sage (Salvia officinalis)

    Before your guests arrive, light bundles of sage to cleanse the rooms of your home. This season you may also want to try cooking with crushed sage leaves: add sage to your favourite savoury dishes, such as cranberry stuffing or roasted potatoes.


    Written for Team Woodlot by Elizabeth Hammond

    The season of rich foods, boozy drinks, and dietary indulgence is upon us! Not to worry—our city has a host of healthy options that provide a much needed reprieve from holiday fare. Whether you’re touring, visiting family, or just taking a break from cooking, we’ve got some suggestions for healthy (and delicious) spots to try this month.

    Arbor Vancouver

    Arbor

    If you’re a vegetarian or a regular Main Street dweller, you’ve likely tried the award-winning restaurant The Acorn. Opened by the owners of The Acorn, Arbor delivers the same plant-based ingredients in a more low-key environment and menu. Inventive appetizers like the broccoli popcorn and cauliflower nuggets paired with a stacked wine and cocktail list make this an ideal happy hour spot. The holidays can induce a craving for comfort food. You won’t miss out on that at the Arbor with its to-die-for veggie burgers and unique take on the classic mac and cheese. Arbor’s inviting space and thoughtful dishes offer a calm reprieve from the merry mayhem of December.

    Virtuous Pie Vancouver

    Virtuous Pie

    Virtuous Pie did the unthinkable: they made pizza healthy. Spun out of a desire to create delicious food that’s good for you and the planet, Virtuous Pie serves up a plant-based take on the dynamic duo (aka pizza and ice cream). While the idea of pizza without "real" cheese may seem sacrilegious, each pie uses nut-based cheeses that are entirely drool-worthy. Attention needs to be paid to the Stranger Wings pie for its amazing name and ability to make cauliflower taste alarmingly close to buffalo wings. While take-out is always an option, if you stay, you can enjoy your pizza with a selection of local juices, wines, and beers. Bon Appetit!

    Harvest Vancouver

    Harvest Community Foods

    If you’re looking for a quick and healthy dinner on a cold night, Harvest is your best bet. Located in the heart of Chinatown, Harvest is an organic grocer that also sells addictive noodle soups. Each bowl is made with homemade broth and organic vegetables and meats. The small but mighty menu offers both seasonal and vegetarian options that will leave you feeling warm and satiated.

    Juice Truck Vancouver

    The Juice Truck

    Hungover from last night’s Christmas party? Need some energy to brave the mall? Battling a winter cold? Hit up the Juice Truck to solve (almost) any holiday woe! This beloved truck now has its very own storefront that serves up a range of juices, smoothies, and bowls that will help you feel amazing during this hectic time of year. Some must-try menu items include the ever-popular Green juice, the Almost Chocolate smoothie, and the Macro Bowl.

    Heirloom Vancouver

    Heirloom

    Heirloom offers a vegetarian menu in an elegant setting that would be ideal for visiting in-laws, a holiday dinner with friends, or Sunday morning brunch. Almost every menu item has a vegan modification and are all delicious enough to please even the most devout meat eater (seriously, the owners are converted omnivores). If you’re in a party mood, Heirloom also offers a full list of specialty cocktails along with local beers and wines. When you’re ready to take a break from the turkey, Heirloom will be ready and waiting with some vegetarian goodness.  

    Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season!
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