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As the year draws to a close, we yearn for satisfying resolutions. We want to believe we can check each box off our list. That we can untie the strings around our fingers and forget. But it is not in our power to close every door that leads to darkness. Nor would we want to. Our paths will continue to wind into the new year. The forks in the road force us to pause. The twists and turns will challenge us. But we will not move mindlessly. We will move with purpose, and use each new experience as a chance to consider how far we have come. The future is filled with possibilities. Now is the time to reflect. So that when we are called to choose, we will know in our hearts which path we must pick.

Zodiac illustrations by Katie Maasik

Aries by Katie Maasik

ARIES
(March 21-April 19)

This month I may feel nostalgic for another time, when loved ones felt closer and everything seemed to come easier to me. I know it’s natural to seek comfort in my memories. I don’t mind indulging the past, as long as I keep my feet planted firmly in the present. After all, I am about to see the results of the hard work I’ve put in these past few months. My future will soon outshine my past. But first I need to be patient with myself. I must accept that even I (mighty Aries!) will falter now and then. Sometimes my life feels like a test that I can pass with flying colours. Other times it feels like there’s always another meaningless hoop to jump through. Lately I’ve felt like these hills I’m climbing are more like one giant, insurmountable mountain—but I refuse to admit defeat. I won’t let my people down. I will continue to lead. I’ve learned it’s the unexpected challenges that guide me toward the highest rewards. So I will keep moving forward. I will stay strong. My sights are not far off. I can see the summit ahead.

Taurus by Katie Maasik

TAURUS
(April 20-May 20)

I feel out of touch with the world lately. I usually pride myself on my practical, no-nonsense approach, but these days a strange sense of vertigo has been interfering with my ability to find level ground. I am taking on too much. I need to step back and breathe. I will find a quiet place to orient myself, and refocus on my own needs. I am letting too many people pull me in too many directions, but I will soon feel the end to this dizziness. This month I will let the anxious heat float off my body. A cool breeze is about to blow through my life and refresh my spirits. I see this breeze arriving in the form of a thoughtful gift, a free-spirited traveler, or a surprising financial reward. The winds are changing, and they bring with them new joys and relief from pain. I am here, ready and willing, to greet them when they arrive.

Gemini by Katie Maasik

GEMINI
(May 21-June 21)

I can’t help it, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I want to share and talk about everything, all the time. I love communicating and meeting new people, but sometimes my need for connection can backfire on me. I can be loud! I can be impulsive! I can definitely be the black sheep! And this month I truly feel like I’ve got a target on my back—like the ones closest to me are loosing all their arrows upon me. I don’t deserve this! I give and I give, yet my efforts are taken for granted, even laughed at! But just watch me. I’m not going to do what they expect this time. I’m not going to fire back. Nope. Instead I’m going to gather my wits and work on a plan. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve got myself into some pretty sticky situations in the past—but I’ve also gotten myself out of them too. So don’t give up on me yet. I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Trust in my resilient nature. I just might surprise you.

Cancer by Katie Maasik

CANCER
(June 21-July 22)

This month I see myself flying high over a great chasm. My sensible side says to enjoy the marvellous heights I’ve reached, to revel in my achievements—but I’m drawn to the darkness below. The mystery of the unknown calls to me. What will I find there? Danger, yes—but also excitement and self-knowledge. Insights into the self are often hard won, but the closing of the year is offering me many opportunities to look hard into who I wish to be. The space between me and them may feel unfathomable, but the high ground is already mine—I just need to reach out and offer a hand up. Though I typically enjoy using my power to influence the ones around me, I am in a unique position to share my wealth this month. Instead of holding fast to the things and people I value, I will release them. I will choose to grow with the ones around me, and try to listen, even when their viewpoints differ so drastically from my own. I will do my best to offer them my generous side.

Leo by Katie Maasik

LEO
(July 23-August 22)

Ever since I can remember, I’ve stood out from the crowd. People are drawn to me. I’ve never had to put much work into making friends. I’m not ashamed to say that being popular is important to me. I like being surrounded by fun people who like to have a good time. Self-expression comes so naturally to me that I often find it difficult to be around quiet or reserved people. Their distance infuriates me—I just want to shake a reaction out them! This month there is one person in particular who is posing a challenge to me. This person is a closed book. My usual charms are not working on them. I find their reticence very alluring, they’re like a puzzle I’ve become obsessed with solving—except you can’t solve a person! So instead I’ll be spending this month mooning around thinking about them, until the next beguiling soul comes around and catches my eye.

Virgo by Katie Maasik

VIRGO
(August 23-September 22)

This is embarrassing to say, but I know I can be great. I’ve seen how successful I can be when I apply myself. I can create wonderful things. I can bring people together. I can lead. But the same keen perception that enables me to achieve so much also hinders me. I can envision every future, and imagine every possibility. This vision can overwhelm the people around me. I need to work on my patience. I see pointing out mistakes as an efficient way to correct and move forward. But my blunt direction can sound like harsh judgement to some. This month I will not soften my approach as I have in the past. That approach has only hindered me. Instead I will invite my colleagues to see as I see. I will offer words to fill the gaps. I will translate my language for all to hear and understand. And I will shift slightly to allow myself to hear things from their angle. At first our dissident voices will sound like noise. But over time, we will hear a new dimension and depth to our shared expression. 

Libra by Katie Maasik

LIBRA
(September 23-October 22)

I’m fighting against the way things are right now. I have an image in my mind—a perfect illusion of how the world should work, and people could be. But my reality is not matching this image. In fact it’s not even close! I’ve been here before. I know what to do. I will examine my perfect model. I will try see it for what it is: a beautiful fiction of my own imagination. But who’s to say I can’t create parts of my perfect world? I am creative and bold. I can make my ideas happen. This month I will create harmony by making a place of my own. Starting small is the way. I will retreat for a short time, in order to heal. When I have access to my full power, I am a conduit of peace for others. My vision of the world inspires them. I help my loved ones see themselves as I do. I help them live their best lives. I can live my best life too. I may think that striving for balance will lead to my happiness. But I enjoy switching the weight on the scale too much. Happiness will only come for me when I accept myself as an imperfect being, one still worthy of love. 

Scorpio by Katie Maasik

SCORPIO
(October 23-November 21)

I’m not sure what started it, but something strange has been brewing inside me for some time. Quiet mornings alone, brisk walks through the rain, time spent curled up with my animal friends—these experiences have only heightened the feeling. Could it be...contentment? I can feel my hard shell in danger of softening. But I am pleased for the chance to let my guard down for once. All too often I find myself carrying the load alone, yet lately my burden seems lessened. I will look around this month. I will notice the kind souls around me. These are the people close by who are easing my pain. They do this with no expectation of reward. It is up to me to recognize them, and bring them closer to me. My intensity is useful because it drives away those who fear action and change. But these helpers are quietly communicating a desire to follow me. They share my vision for a more sincere and just world. Together we can build something truly great.  

Sagittarius by Katie Maasik

SAGITTARIUS
(November 22-December 21)

On the surface I appear cool and unruffled, but there’s a fire raging inside me that never seems to let up. I know it’s up to me how I choose to use the energy, but I still find it difficult to harness the power. I can feel it swirling fiercely around me, but I’m often afraid to put it to use. Maybe it’s because the people I love have been burnt by it before. This time it’s different. I can wield my power. I’ve seen how my fire can warm my friends and family—and raze my enemies to the ground. I’ve grown a lot this year. New friendships have rekindled past passions. I’ve brought light back to parts of myself that I thought were snuffed out for good. I am ready to reinvent myself by drawing on the best parts of my past selves. I seek out the unfamiliar, but I am drawn back to the comfort of the rare people who have retained my attention over the years. I see most relationships as transactional, but some, like the connection I share with those in my inner circle, have the power to transform my life for the better.

Capricorn by Katie Maasik

CAPRICORN
(December 22- January 19)

I find immense joy in my work, especially when it allows me to create. I am a builder. I like to bring the images of my mind into reality, and share my art with others. I can work with others, and often enjoy the feeling of collaboration. But to build my best work, I prefer time alone. Yet solitude often invites loneliness into my heart. When I’m in the flow of my work, I am invulnerable to its gloomy pangs. Yet when the thrill of creation has passed, I am vulnerable and loneliness descends like a fog. I won’t lie: sometimes I enjoy wallowing in the sadness. Other times those idle days can wind me up. Suddenly I move from slothful to speedy. But in this manic state I cannot access the usual joy I find in my work. I toil without purpose. It is the movement that keeps the darkness at bay, and so I move. This month I will strive to be mindful of my movements. I will leave my safe place. I will allow others a glimpse of my process. I may even invite a trusted few into my creative space. Then when I am lost, they will know where to find me and pull me back out again. 

Aquarius by Katie Maasik

AQUARIUS
(January 19-February 18)

Some days I feel like an old soul. Other days I feel like I was born yesterday. In one moment I can see the world as a broken, chaotic place, and in the next, a bountiful source of hope and renewal. My mood is ever changing. I am overwhelmed by all the paths I could take, and all people I could be. I’m told “still waters run deep,” but lately I’ve been feeling a strong urge to express myself in words. I want to write again, to record the minutiae of my day. I imagine it may reveal something profound to me, or at least reveal the mysterious patterns that organize my mind and habits. If nothing else, it’s nice to clear some space up there in that cluttered head of mine. There really is something to bringing the inside out. What’s the point of all this knowledge if it stays traps in my head? As this year comes to a close, I will focus on sharing my passions with another, and passing my skills along to those who could benefit from them. If I grant myself the authority, I can be a great teacher. 

Pisces by Katie Maasik

PISCES
(February19-March 20)

As the year closes, an overwhelming sense of “coming home” will wash over me. Something has been driving me toward the familiar. I miss the faces I once knew well, the sights and sounds of the places I’ve left behind, but I also fear them. I am very good at creating a bubble wherever I go, but the energy it takes to sustain it exhausts me. I feel depleted by the effort. I’m ready to return to the place I know best. I will rest there. I will recharge. I will heal among the people who knew me when. But to see the good people, I must confront the ones who look down upon me. Suspense and anticipation swirls around me. These forces push me toward my future—one that will only come to fruition if I can soothe the ghosts of my past. My intuition tells me this month will be one of great strength and regeneration, but only if I am brave enough to return and reconsider the places that made me who I am.

seasonal affective disorder treatments

Written for Woodlot by Dr. Deanna Weiss, ND

As I write this, it’s pouring rain, there’s a foggy blanket in the sky, and everyone’s bundled up outside. It’s that time of year where some of us start feeling more sleepy, less motivated, and may be dealing with unexplained sadness. Some struggle with it to the point of getting the diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), while others notice a slight change after the days become noticeably shorter and colder. 

To encourage getting out of bed on those dark mornings, I have put together a list of ways that may help. Here are 7 lifestyle tips to cope with the winter blues:  

7. Try light therapy

Switch a SAD lamp on for 20 minutes as soon as you wake up. This helps trick your brain into feeling more refreshed, as the light inhibits melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for balancing our sleep-wake cycle and causes that listless feeling of sleepiness. A regular sleep schedule is important for balancing our mood and energy, so try to stick to a consistent bedtime if you can.

6. Start your day off right

Create a positive morning ritual to help get motivated for the day. This may include putting on your favourite upbeat music, lighting a palo santo stick to set a positive mindset, or drinking a delicious and nourishing tea.

5. Take care of your basic needs

Make sure you are eating well this time of year. That means cooking meals high in protein to help build the body's chemical messengers. These vital messengers are in charge of motivation (dopamine), energy (adrenaline), and self-worth (serotonin).

SAD remedies

4. Book a relaxing treatment

This is a great way to do something good for yourself, especially since you don’t have to do much at all! Beneficial treatments that may help beat the winter blues include: massage therapy, acupuncture, and infrared sauna. Twenty minutes in an infrared sauna can stimulate endorphins, and create an overall feeling of well-being.

3. Make plans

Even when you don’t feel like it, stay connected. Making plans with a friend is a great motivator to get out of the house. Even a simple meet-up for coffee can help boost your mood.

2. Move your body

Sign up for a new exercise class, or bundle up in your winter or rain gear, and get outside. If you are still not motivated to venture into the world, roll out your yoga mat and do some simple stretches on your floor at home.

1. Check in with yourself

Lastly, and most importantly, when feeling down or unmotivated, ask yourself: “What do I need to feel well today?” Your answers may include one of the tips listed above, or they may be something unique to you. Either way, listen to your body pay attention to your needs, and if you need external support, seek help from a friend or local health care professional.

Elim Chu
All photos, credit: Brit Gill

For as long as she could remember, Vancouver-based stylist Elim Chu knew she wanted to pursue a career in fashion. After enrolling in fashion design school and finding out she was failing half-way through the program, Elim had to consider other ways to enter the fashion field. With the help of her instructor (and some research via Vogue and the Rachel Zoe Project) Elim began to see styling as a legitimate career worth pursuing.

Elim's journey as a stylist began at the lululemon lab where she dressed mannequins and advised on visual merchandising. From there, Elim became the first dedicated stylist at the lululemon head office, and she now works for herself full-time. Elim helps her clients create something fresh with the clothes in their closets, and encourages them to focus on how their clothes make them feel. Team Woodlot sat down with Elim to learn more about her approach to styling, and how her friends at the Vancouver consignment store My Modern Closet are inspiring her work.

What styling services do you offer your clients?

I do traditional styling at editorial and ecommerce photo shoots, and I help brands create content for their social media channels. I also offer wardrobe edits and styling inspiration to help people feel confident in their clothes. I find that when people go shopping, they often bring items home and don’t how to incorporate them into their existing wardrobe. My approach is to look at the clothes my clients have already, as opposed to telling them to go out and buy more.

Elim Chu

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Definitely the wardrobe edits! My clients range in age from 25 to 50 and I've learned so much by working with them all. Despite differences in age and demographic, most people experience the same challenges when it comes to clothes. Some people feel a boredom with their options, or an uncertainty about how to put outfits together. Others refuse to support fast fashion, and desire to buy quality pieces over quantity. I'm so impressed with these women’s efforts to make a stand for more intentional dressing and shopping, and I'm seeing a growing number of people starting to adopt this philosophy.

The idea of a minimalist capsule wardrobe is super hot right now. Have you ever created one for yourself? What would be in your capsule wardrobe?

Funnily enough, I just finished participating in a 10 items for 10 days challenge! I was inspired by Lee Vosburgh of the Style Bee. I'd created a mini capsule wardrobe before when travelling, but I'd never done an intentional challenge like this. What I learned is that I can wear the heck out of a slip dress! Some other key pieces included a skinny turtleneck for layering, two pairs of jeans, and a classic coat. (Note: Elim documented her challenge via Instagram, check it out: @elim_chu)

Do you have a style icon?

Yes! From a young age I have been drawn to Kate Moss. It may be because she is a supermodel, but I love how her personal style is always evolving, and that she wears her clothes with complete confidence. I also admire Tom Ford’s commitment to beautiful basics, and the Olsen twin’s lean towards androgynous style with hints of feminine elegance.

When did you get involved with My Modern Closet?

I was interviewed for their blog and during that I met Chloe (the founder of My Modern Closet). Chloe reached out afterwards to let me know that she loved the services I was providing, and wanted to know how we could work together. During this time, we were both fresh to our businesses and we've been supporting each other ever since!

What have you learned since working with Chloe?

Chloe was the first person who made me realize that what I was doing was eco-friendly. I'd never considered my approach to styling to be sustainable until I started working with her. This honestly blew my mind and opened me up to a new world. I now approach shopping in a more considered way, and I am asking questions of brands before I purchase from them. Before I used to just go to a store and buy something, but now I read through a company’s sustainability policies, and really do my research before making a purchase. Chloe has helped arm me with these questions and as a result, I've had to abandon some brands who don't have the answers I need to feel good about buying from them.

Elim Chu

How often do you shop now?

I typically shop once a month, at most. Previously my shopping was much more frequent and not as intentional. I've made a move towards more thoughtful shopping and now I look to consignment stores more and more to find the pieces I love.

How do you relax and treat yourself?

A daily indulgence for me is starting the morning by reading and enjoying a cup of coffee. I treat myself to a workout class at Tight Club or Ride Cycle Club monthly, and splurge on a facial on special occasions! My husband and I also just went on a yoga retreat with The Social Yoga which was amazing. Generally, I love treating myself to experiences rather than things.

Do you have any natural beauty or self-care rituals? If so, what are they?

It wasn’t until my thirties that I started thinking about what was in the beauty and self-care products that I was using all the time. Isn’t that crazy?! I met the founders of Woodlot and Harlow at an event a few years ago and loved hearing their stories and learning about what is in their products. The charcoal soap was and still is one of my favourite products. I also swear by washing my face once a day, and choosing beauty products that are green.

Thanks for sharing your styling wisdom with us, Elim!

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