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In life, we have to find the motivation to fight, to say forget it, I don't deserve this, and strive for better. We need to know when to let go, and when to move on. Continue to make it happen, but do it for you, in your own time. Be genuine, and remain motivated by your own desires—not by what you think others expect from you. You never know when the slot machine of life is going to pay out big. The house often wins, but if you keep playing, and you keep trying, your luck will surely improve. Embrace the small things that can change your day, like having a good conversation with a friend, or greeting a stranger on the street.

Horoscopes by Tara Chloe. Zodiac illustrations by Katie Maasik

Aries by Katie Maasik

ARIES
(March 21-April 19)

This is the month where I really get to focus on the “self” stuff, the things I’ve been meaning to do for myself, but never get around to doing. This type of stuff is really important to me. It grounds me. It helps me find my truth. I like to win, but it sometimes feel like life is setting me up for a fall. This is natural. I have to take the tumble with pride. I have to look at the big picture of everyone’s lives and realize that sometimes it is okay, and that it even makes sense to make an error. You have to accept that you’re only human, and born to make mistakes. Falling down gives you strength, and lets you rise up, despite whatever. Noticing this with your loved ones is good as well: accepting and loving people for who they are is key. Stop trying to always change everything or add something or go somewhere. Not everything has to be an action. Sometimes it’s better just to let things be. Reach out to people when you need to let out off steam. Don’t suppress your feelings, let them out, and don’t even be shy: be obnoxious about it!

Taurus by Katie Maasik

TAURUS
(April 20-May 20)

For the people that matter to me, I have a lot of love in my heart. Sometimes I hold back and let something be—yet with the people I love, that loving urge is often there, but tends to go away when I am frustrated. I want what I want, and I won’t settle, but I do think that I will have to wait—because in the past, most of the best things have come to me in time. Then, there are some matters that haven’t shown their true colours yet. These issues haven’t been sorted out properly, and there’s still a lot in the works. Much can happen. It’s fine though, I don’t have to have it all figured out, even if I won’t stop calculating it all in my head. I know I am at my best when I am able to sit back, relax, and have a good laugh. The little things are pretty important to me. I just have to learn to let the trivial stuff go, and focus on what really matters.

Gemini by Katie Maasik

GEMINI
(May 21-June 21)

I say things. It’s not that I mean to say things in a bad way, but sometimes, especially if I’m intoxicated, I can say something highly inappropriate. I don’t even remember what I am saying. I have no control over my tongue. It’s fine, I always send my apologies out the next day, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling terrible. That’s not really who I am. Everyone knows a Gemini can say one, two, or a hundred things they don’t mean. I can’t help it if I focus on what is important to me, and who is important to me. I know who I don’t want to associate with, and I make that pretty clear. Sure, there are a lot of people I would party with, and I’m down with my work colleagues, but the list of people that I open my heart up to is pretty short. I can be ruled by anxiety: I literally bounce from one place to the next. I can’t stop. I have a complex mind, and I need to be stimulated most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love to relax (when I can). I’m all for that quality Netflix and chill time (but not binge-watching Stranger Things, solo if you know what I mean). It’s just that, on the whole, I like to keep things exciting in my life.

Cancer by Katie Maasik

CANCER
(June 21-July 22)

I have learned that I am happiest when I am doing my own thing. For me, by me. I do want to be in charge, despite my Cancer ways, but I want to be in charge of something I like. Something that I am good at, something that will sell. Though, it’s really not all about the money in this case. I’ve been making moves in my life that will advance me towards my goal. I want to be a part of projects that I am passionate about—without authority figures. I don’t always talk about it (at least not in too much detail), but I do think a lot about the future, and what I could plan for ahead. I want to start and be part of something I am proud of, even if that is a trip across the world. I want to say I am a lot more goal-orientated than people think. I’m a water sign: I was born to dream. Finding the hustle to my flow will be essential, as I need a little muscle to help me stay a float.

Leo by Katie Maasik

LEO
(July 23-August 22)

I see things that bother me and I try to ignore them, but I can’t help it. I do have an ego, and I am sensitive to what people say, especially if it’s negative. Most importantly, I need to feel like my partner sees me as strong, and truly values my input. I want to have my say. I feel I could excel in these next coming years, and that I have the potential to really make it, but sometimes the personal stuff gets in the way of the dream. I don’t want to run away from things or problems, but sometimes it’s easier to pack up, leave, and do something fun, rather than have some big, long annoying conversation about it. I do want to say how I feel more, I just don’t want to go over things like a broken record. I want seamless communication that goes perfectly—if only everything could always go perfectly. I know it can’t, so I’m going to take it day by day, and just hope for the best. It could get better, or it could worse, but I’d like to believe that time will take me where I need to be.

Virgo by Katie Maasik

VIRGO
(August 23-September 22)

Work is very important to me, which is why I try to do a really above and beyond job. I invest my time into work, and put everything else last. This has affected my relationships in the past, but my mate knows that I like to be producing and showing my sign of service at all times. At work and at home, I give a lot—but I play the field nice and cool. I don’t rush into forever with just anybody. This usually requires a lot of thinking. I can’t help but size people up, I have a strong analytical side to me. I see people for what they are, and for what they stand for. I know if someone is giving money out of obligation, or if someone is trying to slide their way out of the cheque. I have very strong instincts, and once I have an instinct about you, it will be really hard for me to forget it. I am prone to that “forgive them, don’t forget them” ideology. I like to focus on the facts, and if the facts show that you’ve led me into trouble in the past, that could very well indicate future trouble. I try to coast as much as I can with people who don’t matter to me, but with the ones I love, my head is always above water.

Libra by Katie Maasik

LIBRA
(September 23-October 22)

I can rely on friends to help me through, but I know I need to find my own way too. Sometimes I need too much, not necessarily materially, but emotionally I can demand a lot from other people. I am a demanding friend because I expect to be involved. This usually isn’t a problem because I’m often chosen and included. I am happiest in the mix of things. I also admire the all-loving neutral who has no problems with anyone, and gets along with everyone. Libra is often known as having multiple marriages, in that they might be married, but they are also married to their friend. I am a sign who looks both ways, and admires the beauty of both streets. Libra is usually open sexually, and will explore different sexes, and various relationship dynamics. I also enjoy one-on-one intimacy and love, though it is common for me to be the one less interested in the relationship. Libra is like a butterfly: I don’t like to stay one place too long, but if I do, it means we’ve found a true match.

Scorpio by Katie Maasik

SCORPIO
(October 23-November 21)

I’m really going to try to remember all the wise stuff that I said to myself when I was drunk. I am often too busy working hard, running around and doing stuff for others, that I often forget to address my own wounds. When I’m insecure, I’m likely throw myself at potential partners, while me at my securest tends to avoid love like the plague. I may dance to love’s tune a little, but I usually have other priorities when I am single. When I’m partnered up, I am a hopeless and devoted lover. Sure, sometimes Scorpio is hard to find. I am mysterious and introverted about a lot of things, and I have plenty of secrets of my own. Whatever I’m doing, I need to make sure it’s something I really love. For Scorpios, happiness really does matter, and excuses are exactly that: excuses. It’s never too late. It’s my happiness, I am going to go after it at all costs.

Sagittarius by Katie Maasik

SAGITTARIUS
(November 22-December 21)

I only get angry when I am upset, and I don’t like to be upset. I like to be friendly and fun, like that person who works the room and the waitstaff, and somehow gets everyone a discount. I want things to go my way. There, I said it. I try really hard to make the most out of life, but sometimes it feels like a lot of work, and for what exactly? I’ll get there, I just want to be doing it all, all too soon. I’m content with a steady pay cheque though, and some people to love me, and spend time with me. Truthfully, there is a part of me that likes to be alone, and I will take my space for that. It might seem like I am 24-energy, but I certainly have my moments where I need my privacy. I have been known to pick adventure over romance; well, really I just want them both: I want to find a partner who loves to travel and do things. I want to see the world on my own dime, but if someone takes me there fully-expensed, I won’t complain either.

Capricorn by Katie Maasik

CAPRICORN
(December 22- January 19)

If I tell you I’m totally cool, and laid back, and not judging you, I’m lying. I can’t help but be a bit black and white sometimes, and I don’t always have the right words. I have practical knowledge, but I don’t have the ability to soothe you. I can reason with you. I can take care of you. I will do anything to get your validation, but I won’t toot my own horn. I want stuff. There, I said it: I want stuff. Most Capricorns are workhorses who want to make it big, so it’s no secret that I have big dreams for myself. I am attracted to that life of luxury and prestige. I want a partner who compliments. Someone I wouldn’t consider leaving. I would even have a partner who is established in their own light, so that we could be a team, some kind of a power couple. Capricorn wants the finer things in life. They’re lying to you if they say they don’t. The truth is, if I’m hard-working, I usually get everything they desire. You get what you work for, or in Capricorn’s case, what you won’t give up on.

Aquarius by Katie Maasik

AQUARIUS
(January 19-February 18)

If you’re a friend, I’m not going to be able to see you on the regular. It doesn’t change how close we are, I honestly just have so much going on all the time. I have a lot of different friends that I’ve bonded with across the world on various occasions. My schedule gets full fast. Not to say that I don’t have a partner or best friends that I see often. It is actually more likely that Aquarius will be single then taken, but when I am in a partnership, it’s usually with someone who can hold their own. Aquarius isn’t really the babysitter type: I have a wandering eye for adventure. Sometimes Aquarius needs to not let other people’s choices affect them. My concept of love, and accepting people for who they are is also important here. Aquarius has high expectations of love, and sometimes I don’t see that my life is going a whole lot better than I think it is. Aquarius always needs to be counting their blessings. I’m learning not ask for less, and say thank you for what I’ve already got.

Pisces by Katie Maasik

PISCES
(February19-March 20)

I’m still waiting for it to be time, and the wait has got me on edge. It’s the wait for something good. Sure, there are good things in my life, but I am waiting for that big moment. I need to start my empire. Pisces are so gifted and talented, but they lack the pushy quality of getting there first. The potential for networking is in me, but I’ve got to figure out how to make effective connections. Pisces is all about doing the next big thing, and creating wow-material. This could be a time to start planning for new tactics, which will benefit my life. I’m going to stay positive, and know that it’s really just a matter of time. As last in the Zodiac, Pisces is destined to wait. In work, friendship and love, I am bound to hit the jackpot. But first, before I can find success, I must believe that I can have the things that I want.

             Photo credit: Lena Bell
Aromatherapy as Self-Care

The more I learn about the process of aromatherapy, the more I realize crafting oil blends is one of my favourite forms of self-care. The entire ritual is deeply nourishing. You first check in with yourself and become aware of what it is you need at that moment. You then choose a selection of oils, and begin crafting a custom blended potion, just for you.

History of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy can be traced back over 3,500 years to the Egyptians who believed that smoke rising to the heavens would carry their wishes and prayers to the gods. The Egyptians would burn woods, incense, and herbs and spices to communicate with their deities. During Egypt's third dynasty, today's popular oils like frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, cedarwood, and juniper berry, were also used to preserve bodies for the afterlife.

The term aromatherapy was first used in 1937 by French chemist and perfumer, René Maurice Gattefossé, who used lavender oil to soothe a burn on his hand. He discovered that minute amounts of essential oils are absorbed by the skin and interact with the body chemistry.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are volatile oils extracted from plant matter—think of zesting a lime, or rubbing a mint leaf between your fingers. Essential oils are made up of hundreds of chemical components, and each oil offers many physical and emotional benefits. For example, lavender is antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic, and helps to encourage wound healing—but at the same time helps reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall feelings of calm and well-being.

How Do I Use Essential Oils?

Essential oils can be used a number of different ways – in massage, steam inhalation, hot or cold compress, in the bath or in DIY skincare and perfuming.

Kelsey's Favourite Warming Winter Blends

To help you get started with aromatherapy, I’m happy to share a few of my favourite winter oil blends. These blends will keep you feeling warm, cozy and healthy when the temperatures begin to drop.

DIY Rose & Black Pepper Bath Blend

In cold winter months, this is my go-to. Sensual, grounding, and warming—this blend is wonderful when added to bath salts or when used for massage. Black pepper helps stimulate circulation, rose encourages feelings of love and sexuality, cardamom is warming, and patchouli grounds and acts as an aphrodisiac!

Ingredients:

  • 3 drops black pepper
  • 4 drops patchouli
  • 2 drop rose absolute
  • 3 drops cardamom

Directions:

  • Add to 30ml of almond oil, mix well, and add to epsom salts. Relax.
    DIY Seasonal Stress Relief Blend

    Around the holidays, this is a wonderful blend to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Frankincense is my go-to oil for stress and meditation, orange is uplifting without the stimulation of other citrus oils, cedarwood is amazingly grounding, and ginger warms while it helps encourage circulation and digestion.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 drops frankincense
    • 2 drops ginger
    • 4 drops orange
    • 3 drops cedarwood
    Directions:
    • Add to 30ml grapeseed oil, and use as a massage oil on the abdomen after a large meal; or add 3 drops of the essential oil mixture to your favourite diffuser.
      DIY Rosemary & Lavender Immunity Blend

      This blend is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse that helps promote circulation, reduce inflammation, and increase feelings of well-being. Rosemary and juniper together help reduce swelling, water retention, and joint inflammation. Ravensara helps to support respiratory health, and lavender does whatever you need it to—it’s an adaptogen, how cool is that?

      Ingredients:

      • 2 drops rosemary
      • 2 drops juniper
      • 4 drops ravensara
      • 4 drops lavender
      Directions:
      • Add to 30ml of arnica or st. johns wort macerated oil, and use for body massage, focusing on any areas of pain or congestion.

      It’s empowering to create blends that target the specific ailments in your life right now. Aromatherapy is another powerful tool to help you take your health into your own hands. Enjoy :)

      Kelsey

      Should you ever get the chance to sit down with Margherita Porra for a chat about packaging, you may find yourself free-diving into a spirited discussion on the history of design, fashion, and cultural trends.

      In our hour-long conversation, the erudite founder of Arithmetic Creative shone a light on her process for redesigning the look and feel of Woodlot’s packaging, waded into the history behind the loaded term unbranded, and delved into the Maker movement and its effect on corporate branding.

      Here are a few highlights from our animated discussion with one of Vancouver’s brightest design visionaries.

      On Designing the Woodlot match strike

      The image of the match strike is so simple and easy to understand, but it has multiple meanings—there’s a deeper, underlying dialogue there. You may not notice it the first time, but the more times you see it, the more it reveals.

      When I was spending time away from the city, I kept thinking about how nature can be so lush and beautiful and abundant; how it can be destroyed, yet it can rebuild itself, and how that can be a metaphor for our own lives and problems.

      WOODLOT candle

      A huge fire wiped out a massive forest on the way to the cabin I share with my husband, and the first time we went there, we felt devastated as we drove through the barren land that was once home to endless trees. But over the years we’ve witnessed the flowers and moss growing back, and now the trees that were just charcoal are growing leaves again. It got me thinking about the power of fire, and the idea of igniting something: whether it’s igniting creativity or giving life to change. This particular fire was started by a careless act—one simple strike can mean so much—but nature has rebuilt itself, just as we can rebuild ourselves.

      I’m so fascinated with the cycle of life: the more time I spend in nature, the more I’m inspired by it. Even just watching tall birch trees in a storm: when you see the storm, it’s this intense wildness, but the trees just bend with it. They’re still standing afterwards because of their deep roots. I think we all aspire toward that kind of flexibility and resilience.

      On Friction

      The other side of the match strike was the idea of tension. You can’t light a match without friction. You need a rough surface to create that flame. It’s that friction and tension that takes the work that we already thought was good, to be so much better. To me the match strike is a perfect metaphor for Woodlot because Sonia and Fouad are always innovating. They never want to be stagnant or rest on their laurels. Rebuilding is a huge part of innovation and their process with Woodlot.

      WOODLOT packaging

      On Telling Woodlot’s Story

      Sonia and Fouad have such a great story, so the new packaging is influenced by their personal histories. That to me was the missing part from their branding and packaging—Sonia being Indian, and Fouad being from Lebanon—they both have such rich personal stories that so are ingrained in how they make their products. To not talk about it visually seemed like a disservice.

      Since I didn’t want to overshadow or disrespect the space the brand had already been living in, I didn’t include any patterning on the outside. Instead, I focused on creating a hybrid design to mix the Indian and Lebanese influences, on the inside of the box—which is also a reflection of how Sonia and Fouad built their business. The inspiration for how they were raised is there on the inside, just as that inspiration appears visually within the box.

      On the Power of Personal Artifacts

      Everyone has objects that mean something to them. Objects hold meaning, they tell stories. There a reason we find bizarre objects left hidden in tombs and pyramids from centuries ago: it’s because they meant something to people. They’re relics. When you’re getting to know people in a short period of time, you need to get them to open up. If you just straight-up ask people to answer questions, you’ll get the answers they’re used to telling—you won’t necessarily get something that will unlock the layers. I find it’s great to ask people about a sentimental object, because even if the object doesn’t outright inspire a later design, the conversation that comes from them talking about the object can be very influential.

      On Library Books

      I remember spending hours in the library. I’d beg the librarian to let me photocopy the private selection of books because I couldn’t take them out—the knowledge in those books was my golden inspiration. But now all you need to do is go to Pinterest and take a few screengrabs. We’re in this volume-creation mode. We’re creating so exponentially right now and exhausting ourselves. It’s kind of nuts to me. (laughs)

      On Tactility

      Years ago, when I made my first distress print, I literally opened up a photocopy machine and let the light flood in. Then I took the sheet of black, crumpled it, pulled it out, and did it again and again—I had toner all over my face, and on my shirt—then I flattened it, scanned it, traced it in Photoshop, and turned it into a vector so I could have the most authentic distress possible. Now you can buy ready-made vector distress online—but the difference is in the authenticity. People can tell when something has been touched by hand, and that resonates.

      WOODLOT candle

      On Package Design as Gift-Giving

      Materiality was so important to us: the tactility of how these boxes feel. I’ve always looked at packaging as gifts. I love picking out gifts for people, but I don’t think we give enough gifts to ourselves. Since we are consumers, we naturally buy things—so what better way to utilize the skill set of packaging, than to help people gift something to themselves?

      I look at a box as not just a vessel to protect—that is one function of it for sure, to keep the object safe—but how can we make the box look like a gift in a store, and then behave like a gift later on? Say you bought a candle for yourself because it looked interesting or pretty in the store. When you take it home and open it, you’re forced to have a moment with yourself: with the string tied around the washer, it’s a forced slowness. You can’t just rip it open and throw it away. Instead you start to feel the preciousness of the product, and your personal experience with it. As you open the white box there’s a build-up, and that surprise splash of colour inside offers a pleasant surge of delight.

      WOODLOT candles

      On “Unbranding”

      Sometimes unbranded refers to the logo, sometimes the packaging, sometimes the experience of the brand. So it depends on how we’re looking at it. It’s a catch-all term that can mean different things to different people. Typically unbranded is defined as stripped-down, with a simple minimalistic logo, and not a lot of text or colour. I’ve been designing for close to 15 years now, so it’s great to see the cycles and trends repeating. Once you’ve been around awhile, you realize that these “of the moment” trends have deeper roots.

      ...for Big Brands

      When you dig into the world of unbranded fashion, we see big brands stripping down their image, which serves a different purpose than it would for smaller brands and Makers. Selfridges has a sub-shop in their boutique called Quiet where they’ve taken big iconic brands and unbranded them. So you’ve got big brands like Nike without the swoosh and Levi’s without the arch—which amplifies the unbranded trend.

      Simpler designs that are less focused on the name of the brand and logo can be quite beautiful and enticing, but it’s working most effectively for capsule collections of big brands because they have the cachet of a known brand. A customer can look at the indigo denim so synonymous with 501 jean and know that it’s Levi’s. You can see a certain running shoe, and know it’s Nike. Big brands can afford to dip into the unbranded trend; whereas with makers who just started their own business it’s a different situation, because no one knows who they are yet. If you look like everyone else [by following the unbranded trend], how can you create awareness and stand out in a crowded marketplace? It’s important to distinguish between a carefully minimalist product range with a clear brand focus, and that of something so completely stripped down that it lacks memorability.

      ...for Makers

      There’s a lot of beauty, body care, and home brands that are stripped down and minimalist. Everyone is starting to look the same. [The unbranded design] is lacking memorability, and it’s very easy to replicate. So when there’s a lack of visual storytelling, who’s to say the next person can’t emulate it? It’s much harder to copy things that are deeper and personalized and an expression of the maker’s unique story.

      WOODLOT soap bars

      On Innovation

      [The market] is changing so quickly, and it’s only getting quicker and quicker. At first my heart pangs for all these makers, but then I think, no it’s okay. It forces the maker who’s doing their thing to move on to something new and different. One of my favourite things about makers is how ingenuity is ingrained in the way they think and behave. They’re constantly evolving, often because they don’t have an abundance of income or resources at their fingertips. One of my favourite sayings is: scarcity forces innovation. The lack of is what forces creativity: whether it’s a lack of money or materiality—that’s what forces the creativity.

       

      Nomi Chi
      Credit: Lauren D. Zbarsky

      Nomi Chi is an artist who describes their practice as "looking at things and making things." When Chi isn't tattooing out of Gastown Tattoo Parlour, Chi creates visual art in a range of mediums: from traditional painting and illustration, to large-scale sculpture and mixed media. Chi recently painted a mural at the inaugural Vancouver Mural Fest, and curated a group art exhibition called Dirty Knees that examined issues of mixed racial identity with refreshing frankness and dark humour. Nomi recently chatted with us about the art scene in Vancouver, tattooing from a young age, and how they balance self-care with a steady stream of creative projects.

      Can you share your story of how you found your way to art and tattooing?

      I started tattooing quite young. My art was going in a subversive, darker direction and I think some friends may have suggested tattooing as an interesting medium to explore. I was introduced (by my mother) to a fellow down the street from us who was a tattooer: he mentored me, although I wouldn’t call our arrangement an apprenticeship for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I didn’t really learn very much. I was so young, and would make many, many bad tattoos over the years. To this day I wouldn't consider myself much a technical or adept tattooer.

      Did you always feel like an artist?

      I assumed the identity of artist when I could support myself with my art. Actually, it may have been a title other people lent me and I just went with it. But it was definitely not an always thing.

      Between tattooing and illustration work you’ve got so much on the go, yet you still manage to do more creative projects on the side. What are you most excited about these days?

      Next year is looking to be a bit lighter in the tattooing department—I think I want to travel a bit less, and work on my gallery practice! I am spread thin these days with so much going on, it is hard to me to be fully present.

      Where do you get the energy?

      I have an anxiety disorder, and my particular flavour of anxiety drives me to constantly make things.

      What recharges you and keeps you going?

      Podcasts, and time out with friends.

      Do you have a self-care routine?

      My self care list includes taking myself out for a nice snack or coffee, going for bike rides, taking care of sundry, low energy tasks like tidying my workspace & answering emails, and having too-long baths with lots of fragrant products while also playing videogames in said baths.

      Nomi Chi mural
      A colourful, large-scale mural painted by Nomi Chi for the Vancouver Mural Festival.

      What does peace look like for you?

      Peace is looking back on a day of productive art-making, and knowing that I’ve finished or made progress on a piece that demonstrates or goes beyond what I know of my abilities. Peace is also saying "fuck it" to art and production, and being a human with other humans who I cherish.

      How did Dirty Knees come about?

      Dirty Knees was born of some social media interactions/observations I’ve been having with my peers who have similar racial backgrounds (I am Japanese/Jewish, and a 4th generation Canadian). There are a lot of shared experiences, and also a lot of diversity in how we feel we are perceived, and where we place ourselves in the world. Most of the artists involved have illustration practices which often privilege aesthetics over message, and I felt that this could be an opportunity for all of us to use our art to talk about experiences which are important to us. The title Dirty Knees refers to the playground rhyme: "Chinese/Japanese/Dirty knees/ Look at these!"

      Nomi Chi Sakana no onnanoko
      Nomi strikes a pose with 
      Sakana no onnanoko, one of the pieces she created for the Dirty Knees group exhibition.

      It seems like the way we talk about that personal experience of moving through the world as a person of “mixed” heritage—and even the language we use around it—is changing drastically. Do you feel like the conversation is changing?

      I feel like these discussions, and the language we use to talk about race (and sexuality, gender, class, etc!) have been going on for a long time, but they're definitely becoming more ubiquitous and accessible! And that is very exciting.

      Do you plan on curating more shows?

      Maybe. Probably. It has been incredibly rewarding, but I’m a studio artist at heart.

      How do you find the art scene in Vancouver?

      There are buckets of talented, hardworking, and thoughtful artists in Vancouver. The city however is not very hospitable to artists, or art spaces/events. From my perspective there are not many people buying gallery art, so a lot of (gallery) artists sell their work online or otherwise outside of Vancouver. So it is difficult living, but the community is very supportive.

      How about about the tattoo industry?

      I do not know of any tattoo shops struggling to make ends meet in Vancouver, and there are a lot of tattoo shops here. I see a lot of aspiring tattooers in Vancouver finding their own way into tattooing, which has created a bit of tension between older, more traditional tattooers and this new generation of art students making their own iconography. I mostly keep my head down and focus on my work, and I don’t have much to complain about.

      What changes would you like to see? 

      I think we could use more spaces that facilitate low income communities… maybe a few less condos, but I know that might be a tall order.

      Lastly, how can people get tattooed by you?

      There is a handy FAQ on my website which answers this question! 

       

      This is a busy time for many of us—but more importantly, it’s a time to get things done without the weight of distraction. Take the time to find a moment when you can search for inner peace within yourself. Let the small things go, and try to turn your mind off when it gets too noisy. Be mindful of a moment, and just allow yourself to participate in it! Find something you love, whatever it may be, big or small—and relish it. Life is too short to get caught up in the negative. Let yourself live fully: you never know what could happen.

      Horoscopes by Tara Chloe. Zodiac illustrations by Katie Maasik

      Aries by Katie Maasik

      ARIES
      (March 21-April 19)

      I have the will to do a lot of things (sometimes all at once), but I know that I need to be careful with overdoing it. I will feel the burn, which is why I am reevaluating what truly matters in my life. I don’t want to waste my energy on anything that doesn’t feel worth it. I might be devising ways to manage my busy life, and this may cause stress, but I won’t feel it for too long. I have a way of getting through tough times and making things in my life even better. When there is conflict, I let it build my relationships to be even stronger than they were before. Sometimes I place anger or resentment on the wrong person, but I am learning to pick my battles carefully. Life isn’t long, and a lot of the time it’s not worth saying a word. I can know better, but it doesn’t mean I have to tell that person that I know better. As an Aries, it is valuable for me to look at every angle before I make an emotional decision. As a proactive Aries, I’ve got the gifts to really make it all work, and when I go at the right pace, I will be highly successful in your life endeavors.

      Taurus by Katie Maasik

      TAURUS
      (April 20-May 20)

      There is nothing wrong with giving new things a chance and branching out. I might even attempt to do this because I am curious about new stuff. I know I like to stick to what I know/what I love the best, but I am working on opening up my level of trust to new people. Out with the ordinary, in with the new: I want something that will excite me. I don’t always welcome everyone into the layers of my full truth, but when I care about someone I will go to many lengths to make them happy. I like to be a help to others if I can be, but every now and then I require a good ego boost. I’ve got a lot of pride, and I wear it well, but every hard-working person needs to be told that they are doing a good job. I probably am doing a good job, but I set such high expectations for myself, I’m not always satisfied with the results. I like what I have, but I still want more. That’s the Taurus nature, to constantly collect more, see more, and be more, and that’s exactly what I plan to do this month.

      Gemini by Katie Maasik

      GEMINI
      (May 21-June 21)

      It will bother me if you don’t like me, but in that case, I probably don’t like you either, and it’s fine—except I won’t act like I don’t like you. I won’t stop dazzling you with my charm and intellect, and you can pretend it doesn’t rub off on you, but I know that it does. Gemini is the master of hospitality: I know how to make people feel good and welcomed. I will go out of my way for you when I want to impress you. As an excellent communicator, I remember things that people say, and if they’ve been loyal to me, this means the world. Some Geminis are prone to drama and enemies, but at the root, we just want to be loved. As a Gemini, I have to let go of certain things that keep me from getting what I want. Sometimes I overthink things (including relationships), and forget to go with my heart. But I can’t be afraid of change, I need to embrace it. While it’s easy for me to let go, I still struggle to trust someone else.

      Cancer by Katie Maasik

      CANCER
      (June 21-July 22)

      I love when my life takes me places I never imagined to go, or when I meet someone who I instantly want to spend every day with. People might think I don’t have the ability to speak my mind, but I will let you know when you are ticking me off. Sure, I can take a lot, but I am sensitive and do expect a certain level of respect. I’m not one to take crap from anyone, even if it appears that way. I see people for who they really are, and I know straight away who I want to associate myself with. I tend to be very sincere, and this has got me in trouble, but it has also got me places, and added to my wealth of wisdom. The more I experience, the more I seem to grow. I can’t say that I am stationary or staying the same. Yes, some of my thoughts on matters and people are pretty set in stone, but I am ready for that great life shift: I am ready to build something new or be taken to a new place. Sometimes I get cozy in one place for too long, but I want to prepare myself for a new and potentially challenging experience.

      Leo by Katie Maasik

      LEO
      (July 23-August 22)

      I have been fortunate to be surrounded by the light of lasting and fulfilling love. I am grateful, but sometimes my luck takes a sudden turn for what appears to be the worst. It can be painful, but it’s not a problem: I will continue to fight for the things and people in my life that matter. I want love in the worst way, but I don’t want love that is the worst. I work hard at being someone that others will value. I care, and I stand by the passions in my life that drive me. I know I’ve got real, raw, natural talent, which will take me places. I know that I play a huge part in my success. I am driven to be someone worth knowing, or to do something that I love. I want to make a name for myself, but I also want to find that love that’s perfect, ground-breaking, earth-shattering, and epically sweet. I want to go after the right things (and perhaps some different things), as the old tricks I keep trying, simply aren’t working anymore.

      Virgo by Katie Maasik

      VIRGO
      (August 23-September 22)

      I can’t help but shine at something I excel in. A big part of who I am is figuring things out, which is why I will be successful when I put my mind to it. I don’t like to fail. I will do the work, and usually it pays off. I have the ability to separate my social side from my work side. I am serious about what I do, and give more than 100 percent at all times. I’m not a huge fan of authority figures, but I seek their approval and try to stay on their good side. I’m happy if I am in love, but I am in no rush to make concrete plans because I believe that will all fall into place—if it already hasn’t. Virgo has a personal timeline of the life goals they want to achieve, and how they want to achieve them. This being said, if you have a Virgo partner, chances are, he/she is very devoted to you. Virgos don’t pick just anyone to be with. They are picky and prone to people who challenge them. They want someone who will help them to become an even better human being. Virgo is a thinker who wants to know what you think.

      Libra by Katie Maasik

      LIBRA
      (September 23-October 22)

      You can say that you hate drama, that you want no part in it, but sometimes you create it for yourself. It is important to be strong and confident in your choices, and not let other people cloud your decisions. You have the ability to express such beautiful harmony onto the world. You have a luminous charm, and a friendly spirit: lead and focus with that. Concentrate on how you can manage your time better. Schedule what you need to do so you don’t feel behind, because you will feel regretful if you miss out on something you love. You will lose things if you get too caught up in the Libra world. La-La-Land is fun, but it’s not going to pay the bills. Making friends is one of the best things in life, but it’s not always the priority or purpose of a situation. Identify where you may have gone wrong, and try to repair the matter. Don’t blame others for your downfalls, that’s a cop out. Instead, look at the bigger picture, and see how you fit into it. Take accountability for your actions and try to exert the talent that you have to offer this world. Libra has so much to offer, they just have to know it and refrain from looking back!

      Scorpio by Katie Maasik

      SCORPIO
      (October 23-November 21)

      I know I was given this amazing energy to tackle situation in a way that others can’t. I make for an excellent boss, and can’t help but lead the team by nature. Scorpios are highly intelligent and have a sense of control that is so sneaky, and so strong, you will fall prey to it without even knowing. It’s true, I do provide guidance for others, and this makes me feel good. I sincerely enjoy helping people, and do what I can to put them at ease. I know that when I am ready and willing, I will start on my self-goals. When in reality, I am constantly working on my self-goals—it’s just that there are so many. Sometimes I overload with information and it is hard for me to focus on just one thing. Regardless, I am confident that everything I desire (and sometimes suppress) will come to me in time, but I’m not on the hunt for it. If I’ve found it, I’m likely content, or entangled, and totally unprepared to unhinge myself. Right now I have to focus on what matters the most to me, whether that be my job, my relationship or my family. I have my priorities, and it would be a rare thing for me to stray away from them.

      Sagittarius by Katie Maasik

      SAGITTARIUS
      (November 22-December 21)

      I’m not afraid to work on my own if it means getting the results that I want. I trust my own answers, and feel confident about what I have to bring to the table. I want to lead the conversation. I want love, but I also want career, and my personal drive has taken me down an exciting path. I crave adventure, and want to know what’s next. Living in the moment is great, but I need that moment to be exceptional. Being around the right people also makes a huge difference. I have to trust the company that I keep, and know that I am in a place where it is really okay for me to be myself. I know that I can turn it off and on when I need to. I have a natural knack for business, which is why I am capable of keeping things cool with people and making life-long connections that benefit my interests or industry.

      Capricorn by Katie Maasik

      CAPRICORN
      (December 22- January 19)

      I’m always chasing the dream, and sometimes it seems like I am merely chasing, but I know in time my hard work is going to pay off. Everything is going to click, but I know I’m not the type to just let things go. It takes me time to get over things. I want to be good to people, but I will be selective of who I truly bring into my life. I set the bar high, but I know that in a lot of cases, I need to lower it. I need to be happy with what I have, and stop dwelling about what I’ve lost, or what I could/should have. It takes me time to connect, which is why when I do, it’s so hard to say goodbye. I don’t build things with people only to tear them down. I like to stick around and stand behind my choices. At the end of the day, I just want to make things work. I do feel defeated when I can’t, but then I know there is always something in the wings, waiting for me to conquer. Once I put on the right hat, I know I can keep myself in the right places, with the right people.

      Aquarius by Katie Maasik

      AQUARIUS
      (January 19-Fenurary 18)

      It has been reported by several Astrology books that Aquarius is a gossip sign—and this is partly true—but you’d have to annoy me or piss me off before that would happen. We Aquarius are actually known best for our friendliness. We have a strong ability to form friendships while keeping the emotional connection aloof. We aren’t always keen to settle down. Aquarius are big thinkers and we contemplate love much more than we feel it. As an Aquarius, I know that once I find my groove that I will be happy. Things tend to happen to me which open my circle of people, and enhance my well-being in life. I don’t let myself sweat the bad stuff for too long, because I know my personal goals and aspirations are more important. Aquarius is second to last on the Zodiac line, which means things will come, but they won’t come straight away. It is true that good things come to those who wait, and many Aquarians are feeling the effect of that notion.

      Pisces by Katie Maasik

      PISCES
      (February19-March 20)

      They always tell you that not everyone is going to like you in life, and that what other people think about you is none of your business. While there may be some truth to that, I can’t help but be hurt when someone sees me the wrong way. I only intend good things. I know I can be impulsive, and sometimes do and say things that maybe I shouldn’t, but my heart is in the right place. I hate fighting more than anything, and I just want to get along. I know that in order to be content I have to do what I love, and do it is as often as I can. I have the tendency to get bogged down by a love interest. I can’t make this my focus. Even if I have a partner, it’s important that I focus on my needs too. I am not going to sacrifice my life dreams for love. Even if love is all I want, I also do crave more. It’s important for me to also provide myself with self-love, and stop looking for outside reassurance. I can’t let my happiness be wrapped up in another person. I need a destiny of my own in order to truly feel like my existence matters. I want to contribute, and it is important that I find an outlet which allows me to do so.

      Transitioning into Fall Skincare

      Skin can be finicky. Its delicate balance is affected by so many things: stress, diet, product sensitivities, and even seasonal changes can create imbalances that leave your skin looking dull, dry and irritated. Luckily, as we move into fall, there are a few easy steps you can take to ensure you don’t lose that beautiful summer glow.

      • Switch it up 
        Excess water (especially hot water) can strip the skin of the natural oils that protect and nourish it in the drier seasons. Your best bet? Put down your gel cleanser and try a milky one to balance your skin’s natural oil production–without leaving you high and dry.
      • Exfoliate
         Clear away dead skin cells with weekly exfoliation to ensure your serums, oils, and moisturizers are performing at their best. Look for natural exfoliants like wild rosehip seed powder, lotus seed powder, and rhassoul clay that gently exfoliate without irritating sensitive skin.
      • Get oily
         Have you tuned into the facial oil craze yet? Even though this tip seems trendy, it’s for good reason. Plant oils high in essential fatty acids will deeply nourish the skin, and support the structure of skin cells, leaving you with naturally plump and hydrated skin. Try jojoba oil—its a liquid wax that mimics the skin's natural oil production.
      • Treat it right
         Weekly masks are a chance to not only treat your skin to potent, radiance boosting ingredients—but to kindness. Because taking time out for self-care will help you feel great from the inside out.

      Skin Superfoods: DIY Facial Masks for Your Skintype

      If you're looking for a face mask to help soothe and nourish your skin as the seasons change, look no further than your fridge:

      Add Radiance with a DIY Lucuma Face Mask

      Lucuma is a subtropical fruit native to Andean Valleys of Chile, Ecuador, and Peru. that is high in beta-carotene and zinc. Combine the lucuma with probiotic rich coconut yogurt, radiance boosting rosehip, and enzyme rich strawberries to create an easy DIY face mask that will balance and nourish your skin.  

      Ingredients
      • 5 strawberries
      • 1 tsp lucuma
      • 1 tsp rosehip oil
      • 1 tsp coconut yogurt
      Directions
      • In a small bowl mash strawberries
      • Add lucuma, rosehip, and rosehip to strawberry mixture
      • Apply to clean, freshly exfoliated skin - leave on for about 10 minutes before cleansing off and following up with your favourite moisturizer

      Firm & Purify with Greens: DIY Blue-Green Algae Mask

      Mineral rich blue-green algae chlorella, and its cousin spirulina, make a silky, nourishing treat for the skin. Add them to purifying kaolin clay and antibacterial palmarosa to cleanse and gently exfoliate your skin. 

      Ingredients
      • 1/2 tsp chlorella
      • 1/2 tsp spirulina
      • 1/2 tsp kaolin
      • 2 tsp comfrey macerated oil
      • 3 drops palmarosa essential oil
      Directions
      • Add 1/2 tsp chlorella, 1/2 tsp spirulina and 1/2 tsp kaolin powder together
      • Add 2 tsp comfrey macerated oil and 3 drop of palmarosa essential oil to the mixture above and mix well
      • Apply with a clean foundation brush to freshly exfoliated skin, leave on for about 10 minutes (or until dry) before cleansing off and following up with your favourite moisturizer.

      Enjoy these recipes, your skin will thank you! :)

      Dara Dammann - Britney Gil Photography

      Dara Dammann is a natural textile designer and stylist based in Vancouver. We first discovered her beautiful work when it was tied around a bouquet by the lovely Nassi Soofi (talented girl bosses do often flock together). Dara's one-of- a-kind designs are seriously gorgeous. We sat down to learn more about her creative process, and what she loves most about running Symmetry & Grace.

      All photos by Britney Gill.

      When did you fall in love with textile design? 
      I would have to say it was about six years ago when I was going to school at Emily Carr. I have always had a love for interiors, design, and of course, linen. It was when I was at school that this love became more of an obsession. My teacher Eleanor Hannan taught me that there is no right or wrong when it comes to putting colour and pattern on cloth. Charllotte Kwon also had a lot to do with my growth and passion for textiles. She is a true master when it comes to natural dyes. Being surrounded by so many knowledgeable, intelligent women, it’s no wonder I fell in love.

      Symmetry and Grace - Britney Gil Photography

      Where do you go to get inspiration for prints? 
      The ocean mostly. I grew up on the Island and am enamoured with the beach, the layers of mountains, and the palette.

      Do you have any heroes in the design world? 
      Daniella Witte is a Swedish interior stylist and part of the team at Elle Decoration. Her design is bang-on, with super clean styles, and beautiful neutrals.

      Can you give us a brief take on what is involved in creating a one-of- a-kind print? How long does it take? How dirty do your hands get? 

      Regardless of what it is that I am making, every piece needs to be scoured before it gets dyed (a hot water wash with an industrial detergent to pull any sizing, starches, waxes). The fabric is then tied to create a resist, soaked, and dyed. Depending on the dye or depth of shade, it can take anywhere between one to four hours to complete the dye process. I let everything rest overnight, wash and dry it again, press each piece, and go from there.  If it's a scarf, I then hand-fray the edges. If it's a pillow, I cut the all the yardage and then sew each piece.  With shower curtains, I trim the fabric to the appropriate size, finish the seams, and hammer in the grommets. My hands don't necessarily get all that dirty, but my textiles are a labour of love and I do everything myself. I use similar techniques to recreate resembling patterns, but every piece is a little bit different, which I think is the beauty of them.  

      Symmetry and Grace - Britney Gil Photography

      What has been the most rewarding thing about launching Symmetry & Grace? 
      Receiving photos of my textiles in other peoples’ homes. I don't think that will ever get old.

      Do you have any tips for those thinking of starting their own business? 
      Be patient with yourself and the process—good things take time!

      Dara Dammann - Britney Gil Photography

      How do you unwind when you’re not hard at work? 
      I love to share a bottle of something fabulous with my man and watch him make dinner.  It's the best.

      Which natural beauty rituals do you swear by? 
      Exercise, water, and eating well. Champagne is natural too, right?

      To learn more about Symmetry & Grace and find where to get your hands on Dara’s textiles, visit symmetryandgrace.com.

      Thank you, Dara!

      xoxo
      Team Woodlot

      Fall is the season of new starts, do-overs, and fresh beginnings. Now is a great time to try something different, as September is a hot month for relationships and dating. Many summer flings wash up, and new potentials may pop up. Venus (the planet of love) moves into Libra, and Mercury in Retrograde begins in all its glory. Remember, this will affect your communications (Mercury rules communication) and interactions with others. While you may be affected by this, Venus in Libra is a positive influence that will linger from Aug. 29 – September 23. Regardless of what energy comes your way, try to fall into something that makes you feel good, and embrace the new season with a healthy, humble and happy heart!  

      Horoscopes by Tara Chloe. Zodiac illustrations by Katie Maasik

      Aries by Katie Maasik

      ARIES
      (March 21-April 19)

      At this moment in my life, I know it’s not the time to stress about matters which I have no control over—even if I’d like to have control over them. Instead, I want to allow myself to fall into the free gap of something new and rejuvenating. Something that I am not just good at, but something I really enjoy—something that will make me feel good about my well-being. Mercury in Retrograde will challenge me to communicate the things that are truly going on for me. I know I have what it takes to rise above (essentially anything), and I know that I can solve my problems effectively when I take the time to think about them rationality without anger. Once I gain some sense of order, once I have an idea on how to map out what I want, I know I will be in a better place. I also know that I can make it happen, even if that requires me being more patient. While this will all help me, I also know that I need to lose control a little bit, and enjoy myself more. I want to get the most out of life, and really feel like I am living. I know that I am due for some inhibition-freeing fun, but even then I need to pace myself. Keeping a good pace is key to me surpassing obstacles in order to find inner harmony.

      Taurus by Katie Maasik

      TAURUS
      (April 20-May 20)

      I never feel out of control in my life (well, I wouldn’t say never, but it’s not a common issue) because I always take care of certain things. I wish I could control all the little things that I don’t talk about straight away—or that I could find a way to talk about them without sounding demanding. Mercury in Retrograde may force me to communicate concerns ineffectively, and I will try to keep a watch on that because it’s important for me to keep my cool. It’s obvious when I feel a certain way, but I don’t always speak on it, as I like to pick my battles. I hate fighting just for the sake of fighting. I would rather focus on the pleasures in life, which can soothe me, like a great trip, a satisfying drink, or a delicious meal. When I’m in my light, I work hard and I usually get what I want. Just when people think I am stationary, I surprise them by doing something totally un-basic and un-boring. I want to make the most of my time, and do the things I love over and over again. It’s not that I am a total creature of habit, but I happen to like what I like, and like it a lot. The people who know me, love me for my signature tastes! I have a side to me that is silly and fun-loving, and when you truly get to know me, you understand that I am the type to get all my ducks in a row (in my own way). For me, it’s usually just a matter of time before it all falls into place!

      Gemini by Katie Maasik

      GEMINI
      (May 21-June 21)

      It might feel like my feet are hitting the floor, but not for long, as I will be back up in the clouds, chasing some project or planning something new. The Fall month of September represents production, and I always want to make the most of my time and ensure that I am producing. I feel better knowing that I’m able to accomplish a lot with my day. Sure, I get lazy, but I would rather be out and about, and a part of something. I admit that I do like to know what I‘m doing in advance, but I can’t always promise how long I will last. You have to keep me on my toes, and keep me entertained. I also can’t promise that I won’t do something impulsively. If you want me, you’ve got to impress me on every level, but especially mentally. Yes, I am highly visual and notice physical flaws, but if I love your mind, and your energy, none of that matters. I can be the devoted lover you dreamed about, I just have to know that you are the right one for me. This Fall is a great opportunity for me to cherish what’s most important in my life, and to express the love that I feel for the people who stimulate me on a consistent basis. Gemini in love gets caught up in action, I’m happiest when I stop to take a moment and appreciate my love.

      Cancer by Katie Maasik

      CANCER
      (June 21-July 22)

      I know I am happiest when I go with the flow and let life take its natural course, but there’s a part of me that just wants to know what will happen. I like when I am with people, but sometimes I have my limits. I do need time to revert back into my Cancer shell and reflect on life. There are so many things that I keep to myself. I will share them with a partner or friend that I really trust, but even then I have my limitations for opening up completely. It’s not to say that I don’t want to be surrounded in love and light—I do. I want to help foster something and see it grow, I want to be good for another person, but I also need to ensure that I am 100% good with myself. My best moments are when I am laughing and making other people laugh. When I feel comfortable I can be my entertaining and engaging self. But I can have a shy side too, so I have been known to go off and do my own thing at times. I like to feel a sense of home in my surroundings: the more comfortable I am, the more I will open up and allow myself to live in the moment. This is why building a home with the people that I love and trust is so important to me.

      Leo by Katie Maasik

      LEO
      (July 23-August 22)

      The Fall will be good for me, but it will involve readdressing some things that I’ve put on the backburner. I know ignoring the issues will not help them go away, even if sometimes I really wish it would! Leo doesn’t like to to pay attention to what’s negative, and would rather focus on how things are working out. Except the things which Leo needs to deal with are not always negative; in fact they could make life a whole lot easier. I don’t want to lose things that I have a lot invested in, especially my heart. This means means more to me than anything. I care so much for the people who are in my life that sometimes it’s hard to communicate with them in a way that is not loving. For Leo, the heart can often act as a compass as it directs me in ways that may not always line-up with my self-needs. Regardless, good times are ahead, I just have to remain true to myself, and own what I feel without regret or hesitation. If I ask for what I want, I just might get it. If I can’t get what I want, I won’t feel defeated, instead I will seek out someone who is prepared to give it to me. My needs are important, and I can’t put those on the shelf in order to save something that might not be worth saving. Things will unfold as thy will, but there is someone out there who will match your love, who will appreciate you in all you glory.

      Virgo by Katie Maasik

      VIRGO
      (August 23-September 22)

      I have this way about me that I might not even notice, but it appears that people value what I have to say. The people closest to me do come to me when they want to talk about something serious. I have power. Virgos are known for their intellect, and more and more, I notice that people are opening up to me. This is because I have the earthy, grounded, moral advice to really help someone in a real, and honest way. I hate being phony, and only admire modest confidence, which is why it is important for me to surround myself with genuine, loyal people. People like this appreciate what I have to say and appreciate it when people see my way with things. They know that If I like something that I really like something, and my opinion matters because I do have good taste. People are always telling Virgos not to worry, but that’s how we thrive, we are very analytical people who like to figure things out. This Fall I am going to open myself up even more and embrace the good things that are around me, I will work hard as I always do, but I will make quality time for those that truly matter. When I let go of inhibition, which can be hard for me to do, I know that I can enjoy the moment. Regardless, I will always speak my mind and speak the truth, and that is what people have come to respect me most for.

      Libra by Katie Maasik

      LIBRA
      (September 23-October 22)

      This is the perfect time for me to make my move, maybe a big move, and put some heart and soul towards that investment I’ve been putting off, and really start to let my passions roar. Taking a backseat has proven to be a smart move in the past, but with some things I know I have to be more forward and more forward thinking. The things I don’t release will only bother me later, and as I aim for harmony in my life, I know that not everyone can always be satisfied. I can do my part to keep my attitude in check, and treat people the way that I wish they would treat me. When people compliment me, I will say thank you because I will work on trusting that their kind words are sincere. I am charming, and can sometimes let my charm get me into trouble, but when I am using it with the people I love, I often win. I want to explore life, live and really do things, I want to bring people together and be a part of a group of friends that really motivates me through positive encouragement. There is an artist in me, which I will try to let shine this season, slowing but surely I will bring out my gifts and show the world what I can do. So many Libras have already reach that place of personal harmony and self-confidence, it’s only a matter of time before I do.

      Scorpio by Katie Maasik

      SCORPIO
      (October 23-November 21)

      It makes me feel better when I know that I am giving something back to something or someone that matters. My heart is selective, but it is huge for the people that I love. I do admit, that a part of me would like to see something good returned to me, but I am willing to keep my head down and keep working until that happens. I know I have strength I am willing to lend that strength to anyone that I care about who might need it. I am not however willing to ask for the things that I want for myself, there is often too much work that needs to be done. I want love, but I need time for love and to be with a partner who understands that I have other life commitments that take up my time. Mercury in Retrograde could challenge me as I often do bite my tongue, I express myself and my feelings, but sometimes I have so much I want to say. I will try to keep my communications gentle and effective as I experience this, knowing that I do have a wise response in me if I take the time to find it. At the end of the day, I do not wish to hurt anyone I love, and helping the feelings of people in pain is something that matters to me. Giving does make me happy, but I have to find a balance to ensure that I am getting some quality time for myself and my own needs.

      Sagittarius by Katie Maasik

      SAGITTARIUS
      (November 22-December 21)

      There’s a part of me that can’t be stopped, that won’t be stopped—I need to keep going! I am strong emotionally, and don’t let a lot of things keep me in a sour space for too long. A lot of small things can irk me, but I try to find a way out of it. I do look for that loveable escape wherever I can find it. I find it easier to get up and walk away. The Fall is a great time for the Sagittarius to nuzzle their way back into routine, and draw back attention to the things and people they are committed to. Sagittarius loves to contribute and do a good job, but they also love to see and do, and have to ensure that they find a balance between their destiny and their desire. Now is the time to make that change, or go forward with what has been holding you back and needs improvement. I work to make it happen and put my mind towards everything that I accomplish. Sagittarius will tolerate having the things that they want, but there is a part of them that wants it go bad, and they need to go full force into the Fall wanting it and demanding it. Some of you have been waiting too long, and now is the time to really seize the moment!

      Capricorn by Katie Maasik

      CAPRICORN
      (December 22- January 19)

      It is important for me to be succeeding in order to feel like a success. When I am not succeeding it puts me in a bad place with myself because I put the pressure to accomplish upon myself. I work hard because I want results, but I have to learn that it is OK if I don’t always get them, especially when I really need to. I’ve been wanting to see a change in my life for some time now (many of you have already began to see it), and I feel this is a good time to start working away at it slowly. I know I can’t go into anything feet first, I know I have to give myself life and be pragmatic. I know I have to be ready. I like to know that I played a part in helping myself solve my own problems. I don’t really like to ask for help, but I will also say that I will try to learn to ask for it more. I want to stay a float, and I know that I can do this, and that it will require a lot of positive thinking. I work hard, it’s in my blood, I wouldn’t feel natural if I wasn’t working away at something—it does make me happy! I have to learn to expect ups and downs, and know that my hard work will pay off as long as I keep up a level of consistency. There is an ability for me to let loose and I need to embrace that side of myself right now. I can’t handle too much clutter, but when things are simple and relaxed, I can enjoy myself. I will make more room for leisure as I know that I need to unwind and enjoy these last moments of summer.

      Aquarius by Katie Maasik

      AQUARIUS
      (January 19-Fenurary 18)

      I know I have the ability to get past pretty much anything (even if there were times that I questioned this), it seems no matter the weather or season, I keep going. I don’t like to stop. Quitting is not often in my nature. I do believe in second chances. I do get hurt, I have been hurt, and things do bother me, but I often see that there is more, always more—something more is always waiting for me! I know that there is more to reach for, more to strive for, more to live for, more to experience, and more to try and do. I know that if one ship sails opposite of my direction that another ship will come to me, and it’s that thrill that keeps me going, keeps me digging, meeting new people, working hard, travelling and making new friends. This thing we call ‘life’ can be really exciting (it’s what you make of it), and when you let soak you in. When you’re doing this, you can learn the most valuable lessons possible. You can learn to walk in someone’s shoes. I want to hear other people’s stories and share my own. I truly want to make a difference in this world. I want to be able to say that I can see the good in everyone, and I really do try to exercise this notion in my daily life! This Fall I will keep an open mind and an open heart to all of the experiences that lay before me!

      Pisces by Katie Maasik

      PISCES
      (February19-March 20)

      I know my intentions are always in the right place, it’s just that sometimes I am unaware of my surroundings. I don’t mean to be, but I am prone to escaping and reverting into the dream world. I am hell-bent on knowing that one of my dreams will come true. Even if they don’t, I will continue to dream big, but I know that I need to put in the work, and not put things off till last minute. Like any Water sign, I have my ever-changing moods, and I have my difficult moments, but I don’t like to be a mean person. I feel badly afterwards. I’d like to think that I am a kind person. I want to say hello more (even if I do have a shy side) and treat people with the respect I’d like to receive. I do believe, that it is better to kill them with kindness. I know that it is up to me, and the disposition that I choose to exude. Mercury in Retrograde is dangerous as Pisces can put their foot in their mouth when they are dissing out their empathic honesty. Try to refrain from reacting, hold back and see what comes your way. You will be pleasantly surprised as 2016 was coined as a promising time for The Fish, and things can only get better from here. The Fall, I am going to start something new and commit to doing something that’s just for me and my passions. Sometimes I get boggled down by relationships that aren’t mutually beneficial. I want to be a part of something that makes me smile, and I am done giving too many chances to the wrong people. I think it is best if I stick to what I know best, keep trying to learn and develop, but perhaps keep some of my inner truth to myself. I will find a way to utilize my perception, which won’t harm my interpersonal relationships and will benefit me in the long run!

      woodlot heatwave
      Skip the overpriced air conditioner with Woodlot's Top 8 natural ways to keep cool.

      The dog days of summer are upon us, and one thing is for sure—we.are.hot. While running out and buying the Cadillac of air conditioners may feel like your only option, this will be a burden to your wallet and, to be real—it isn’t the best thing for the air in your home. The good news is that there are many cheaper, greener ways to cool you down when a heat wave hits. Here's eight easy ways to keep it breezy during a heatwave.

    • 8. Turn your lights down low
    • It may sound simple, but dimming all the lights in your place is a surefire way to lower temperatures. When the heat rolls in, turn off your lights, shut the blinds, and tune into a breezy summer movie on Netflix.

    • 7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
    • The number one way to avoid heat stroke is to drink all the water. Make sure to bring a water bottle with you wherever you go, and to get in those eight glasses a day at all costs. Want to up the cool factor? Add cucumber or mint to make your water extra chilly (and delicious).

    • 6. Hit the floor
    • It’s science: hot air rises. On those restless, hot nights when you just can’t get cool, make a cozy fort on the floor with light cotton sheets or blankets. This will not only conjure nostalgic sleepover party feels, but will also help you chill out when it’s hotter-than-hot.

    • 5. Spritz it
    • Before bed, at your desk, or when you’re on the go, Woodlot mists are a lifesaver in the heat. Both the Palo Santo Mist and the Lavender Bergamot Refreshing Mist are wonderfully cooling. Stash them in the fridge then throw them in your purse before you head out for the day, or spritz them on your pillow just before bed for a calm, cool slumber.

    • 4. Macgyver your AC
    • This trick may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie. Fill a bowl with ice and place it at the base of a fan. The air will blow off the ice and release an extra chilled air. It’s the closest thing there is to magic.

    • 3. Be cool
    • When you get home after a long day and your place is just as hot as it is outside, cold compresses are your best friend. Wet some washcloths with cool water and leave them in the freezer until they’re as chilled as you can handle. Place the washcloths in spots that typically gather the most heat. Think: forehead, neck, armpits, and behind the knees.

    • 2. Lighten up
    • When you’re choosing your pj’s in a heat wave, opt for natural fabrics and cottons to maximize airflow. Synthetic fabrics and polyester will cling to sweaty skin and leave you feeling sticky. If the heat has reached critical level, you may want to be brave and ditch all the clothes. Birthday suit sleeps are kind of the best.

    • 1. Say no to the stove
    • The last thing you need on hot summer nights is added heat from the stove. Skip the stove and whip up a salad, a smoothie bowl, or something quick, heat-free, and easy.

      Until next time—stay cool, friends!

      Xoxo
      Team Woodlot

      Summer means long days and longer nights, farmers markets, camping, and even a cheeky patio cocktail (or two!). But as a holistic nutritionist, I'm constantly working to increase nutrient density—especially when it comes to my cocktails. Full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this is one of my favourite botanical treats to enjoy outside when the breeze is warm and the sun is beating down!

      DIY Rose & Elderflower Kombucha Cocktail


      Makes 4 

      Ingredients:

      4oz rose & elderflower tea

      8oz sparkling elderflower soda (I used Belvoir Elderberry Presse)

      8oz Rise Rose & Schizandra Kombucha

      16oz sparkling wine or prosecco

      Juice from 1-2 limes (to taste, depending on preference!)

      Edible flowers 

      Directions:

      • Steep 2 tbsp of rose petals and 1 tbsp of elderflower in boiling water for 10-15 minutes
      • Strain and place in your fridge long enough for it to cool completely
      • Add tea, sparkling wine, kombucha, elderflower presse, and lime to a cocktail pitcher, and add edible flowers (to make it look beautiful!)
      • Serve cold over ice. Enjoy!
      Remember to indulge mindfully and bring awareness back to every minute! Take a sip and notice the unique combination of flavours, the fizz of the sparkling wine on your lips, and the feel of the warm sun beating down on your skin.

        Flower Power: better than your average vodka water?


        Rose:
        Rose petals are a good source of vitamin C and calcium, and are thought to increase feelings of joy and well being. Cooling and balancing, they make a perfect addition to a refreshing summer cocktail.

        Elderflower: Support your immune system with antioxidant rich elderflower! Anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and high in a flavonoid called quercetin, elderflower may also be helpful for reducing allergy symptoms!

        Kombucha: Fermented sweet tea that provides b vitamins, enzymes, and organic acids, kombucha is a wonderful way to support the health of your gut.

        Schizandra: Known as the ‘five flavour berry’ due to the fact that it’s simultaneously salty, bitter, sweet, sour, and pungent. Schizandra is known as an adaptogen—meaning it acts as a general tonic for the body, helping to increase energy levels, improve mental clarity, and support the body’s ability to handle stress. I also consider schizandra a ‘beauty berry’ because its so wonderful for skin health!

        Green Hangover Cures
        Craft up anyone of these easy elixirs to help kick your hangover to the curb!

        • Mix together water, maple syrup, lemon, and sea salt to re-balance electrolytes and re-hydrate your poor body.
        • Brew burdock root, nettle, and peppermint tea to help reduce nausea, improve digestion, and help encourage the removal of toxins while supporting your liver.
        • Combine ginger, raw honey, and turmeric to help reduce inflammation, soothe an upset digestive system, and keep your skin looking its best—so no one will even know what you were up to the night before!
        Holistic Tips for the Morning After

        Since summers in Canada are short, I don’t want to waste even a minute feeling under the weather on those mornings after I've had a few too many. To make sure I’m still feeling amazing after a late night, I just follow a few of my favourite holistic hangover tips!

        Keep Hydrated While You Party
        We all know that alcohol contributes to dehydration, which can mean dull skin, headaches, and irritability. Solution? While you're partying, switch it up and have a glass of water between each cocktail—you’ll thank yourself the next morning! If nothing else, chug a few glasses right before bed to help re-hydrate your body while you sleep.

        Get Your B’s
        B vitamins play an important role in health and wellness, and help us maintain stable moods, clear skin, and a strong immune system. B vitamins also help the body process alcohol more effectively, but unfortunately, they become drained when the liver is busy processing your kombucha cocktails. Your best bet? Take a high quality B complex before bed to help reduce hangover symptoms like irritability and anxiety.

        Support the Gut
        We're quickly learning the importance of the delicate balance of bacteria housed in the gut. Interesting new research has linked gut flora to digestive issues, mental health, chronic skin irritations, and more. Unfortunately, excess amounts of alcohol can easily disrupt that balance. A nice solution is to take a high quality probiotic and fermented food like kimchi, kefir, or sauerkraut to help support your gut flora on the morning after.
          Eat Well!
          A meal high in healthy fats and protein will do wonders the morning after—and no, I don’t mean a greasy meal from the breakfast café down the street! Alcohol can deplete us of important nutrients, which is why we’re often left reaching for salty, fatty, and carb-heavy foods the next morning. Scramble up some omega-rich eggs, add avocado, greens, and top it with a bit of spicy kimchi–you’ll be surprised at how much better you'll feel!

                Thanks for reading—I hope you're all having a beautiful summer!

                  

                Kelsey

                 

                ** Note - the information provided in this article should not be mistaken as medical advice. If you have any serious health concerns or are taking any prescription medication please consult your primary care practitioner before introducing any new herbs to your diet.