Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years Eve!

Ohhhhh New Years Eve. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this evening. I love the idea of it- setting new intentions, fresh starts, staying up late to celebrate with friends that are dearest to you... But I totally loathe the logistical nightmare this evening causes- trying to figure out transportation (ugh! cabs!), the pull and guilt around which commitments you should commit too, and (at least with Jeff and I) our complete inability to stay awake until midnight EVERY YEAR! (No matter how hard we try!) The last few years, we have opted to stay home, make fondue and have a wonderful evening just the two of us, and this year, I am very much looking forward to doing just that- Cheese fondue for two, followed by chocolate fondue with our favourite fruits and cakes. Our sweet friends the de Boers, dropped off a little gift box of treats and Prosecco to celebrate our engagement, so we have that chilling away to be enjoyed tonight! All beginnings of little traditions that I cant wait to share and continue with Finn as he gets older. 

What are your New Years plans or traditions?



Monday, December 26, 2011

yippy for christmas!

Christmas was totally wonderful around our place! It was a pretty quiet day with just my parents, brother and my grandma (we normally have 20+ family members for dinner). Simple, quiet and although many faces were greatly missed, it was a really really enjopyable time.

We also got a few really amazing and thoughtful gifts this year. One REALLY exciting one in particular...
Jeff and I are getting married!!! Jeff totally surprised me and casually popped the question while we opened presents with Finn. I started to cry and Finn had the biggest grin on his face when i showed him what I got. The ring is amazing! I am not really a conventional diamond girl, and found this ring a long time ago on etsy and somehow Jeff remembered- It is a raw herkimer diamond with big prongs wrapped around it- It also has a little heart on the back of the prong setting that is my favourite part of the ring. Needless to say, I am REALLY excited, our families are really excited and I think Jeff is really excited! Before Finn, I never thought I wanted or cared to get married, but as our friend Carli so sweetly put it, getting married after kids was more of a celebration of "look what we've become" rather than "whats up ahead". A marriage of our family, which I very much look forward to.


Finn also got some incredibly wonderful and thoughtful gifts from his uncles- both such sweet, incredible men! (Doing Finn's middle namesakes proud!)
Jeff's, brother Kyle, sent Finn a beautiful elephant carved from quartz rock and a really sweet letter. Kyle always had an elephant in his room growing up and hoped this was something Finn would keep and when he saw it, he could think of his Uncle Kyle.

My brother Nathan, gave Finn too many presents this year, but the sweetest one was a jar filled with all the change from his pockets from the last year. It's a significant amount of money I'm sure, but it was so thoughtful of him to decide that Finn should have it to do whatever we feel is best.

Genuinely a wonderful Christmas filled with love and happy memories. Thanks to everyone who was part of those memories. xo

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tiny Treasures: Christmas Edition

We have a few really special Christmas things- items that have huge sentimental meaning or that Christmas just wouldn't be the same without. Christmas eve feels like the perfect time to share and reflect on those things, as well as offer a little peek at what our place looks like around Christmastime!

My mom made this ceramic Christmas tree when she was first married. It has always been my favourite decoration and the one thing I insisted on setting up. A few years ago, she passed it along to me so it sits on the island in our kitchen and every morning when Finn wakes up he makes sure we turn it on.

When my brother and I were really young, we made these little elf mice out of walnuts with my Grandma. I think they used to have bodies and be riding chocolate bar toboggans, but those have long since been eaten leaving me with just the heads, so I turned them into ornaments. I store them in my stocking and smile from ear to ear when I find them each year.

I talked about these stockings last week, but Jeff's mom loving made both of them and they are one of my favourite things to bring out at Christmas.

Our little tree. It took a lot of hunting to find a tiny little tree for our tiny little home.
I made most of the decorations around the house this year- my favourite being this simple white paper chain.
presents wrapped :: a clove filled orange ready to mull some cider
Letter to Santa and chocolate covered pretzels
Tired little monkey in his Christmas eve jammies and new slippers

Day 12: Simple Acts of Charity

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 12

For our final day of Christmas giving, Jeff, Finn and I selected a few local charities that are important to us and align with our values. We made a small donation to each and sent along a letter thanking them for the important work they each do.

Below are the charities we chose- A (very, very short) list of some of the amazing organizations doing incredible work here in Calgary,

CAWST -
Over half of humanity lives without clean water or basic sanitation. CAWST provides education, information and resources in water, sanitation and hygiene to organizations and individuals that work with local populations in the developing world. They generate local ownership and leadership for addressing water and sanitation issues and provide the opportunity for people to make informed choices and actions by sharing knowledge and skills.

Calgary Sexual Health Centre -
Calgary Sexual Health is a community-based organization that provides access to non-judgmental sexual and reproductive health services and supports across the lifespan. They have a TON of invaluable programs and some really wonderful people working for them!


Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary -
Servants Anonymous provides long-term programs, ongoing support, hope and wholeness to young women (with or without children) who are victims of, or are at risk of, sexual exploitation.

Distress Centre -
A 24 hour confidential crisis line that connects people with a helping hand and a caring ear. Their goal is to improve the quality of life in our community by providing crisis support, information and referral services without discrimination.

Momentum -
Momentum offers hope and opportunity to Calgarians living in poverty. Through award-winning programs designed to build personal, financial and social assets, Momentum empower Calgarians to take control of personal finances, learn to use computers, secure meaningful employment, borrow and repay loans for business, and even purchase homes.

Merry Christmas Everyone! xo


Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 11: Breaking Bread

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 11

We LOVE Sidewalk Citizen Bakery! Jeff and Finn go there every Friday and stock up on organic sourdough loaves, sourdough croissants, sticky buns, scones and other amazing treats! Aviv, Michal and their staff are the kindest people - generous, idealistic and forward thinking about what business and community should look like (they donate a portion of all of their sales to local charities, have an ongoing presence at local farmers markets, use almost exclusively locally sourced ingredients and deliver bread by bicycle every week). Not to mention they make truly amazing products- It's a treat in itself just to visit their bakery. I knew I wanted to do something that involved them- their business is exactly what community looks and feels like to me, so I thought it would be nice to buy one of their customers a loaf of bread. I wanted to leave it up to Aviv and Michal to decide who of their customers would be most deserving of this, so we just gave them an envelope with some cash in it and the same note saying to pass along some kindness.


Downloadable Bird gift tags by Rebecca's Misc.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 10: Food for Thought

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 10

Perhaps one of the more obvious needs around the holidays is donations to local food banks. There is a collection site near our house, so for all of December, we have been gathering non-perishable food items. Just picking up a couple extra things when we grocery shop and cleaning out the pantry for items we might not use or that we can do without. The impact of doing it over a the period of a month was really great! Being so spread out, it wasn't a noticeable monetary contribution on our part, and we now have a large hamper of items to take and donate to families in need.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 9: Thank you mail

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 9

I cant even imagine how insanely busy the people at Canada Post must be this time of year. I'm sure its a chaotic time for all the employees at all delivery companies, but we thought we would say a little thank you to our everyday mail carrier. We placed a little package of baking along with a thank you note in our mailbox... hopefully just a little pick me up to get them through the next couple of hectic days.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 8: Good Neighbours

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 8

{A little bit of background for you} - There is a family that lives in the building across the street from us - very kind, very busy and always on the run. They have three young children and the mother is constantly trucking them all over the place. A new family moved into our building about a month ago. They recently moved here from Africa and when they moved in, they had a sign up in our building asking if anyone had children at the school near by that they could help with getting their two kids to and from school. I wished we could have helped and regularly thought of them after seeing their note. The other morning, Jeff and I were sitting having coffee and we saw the mother from across the street come out of their building- just like she always did, loading her three children into their van. But soon after, I noticed the two children from our building come out - they held hands as they crossed the street and got in to the van too. I don't know what it was, but there was something so totally heartwarming and sweet to see that these families had been able to connect and help each other out and it made me realize I really wanted to do something special for this family. Being a mom, I understand how difficult a balancing act it can be to fit everything into a day- but having 3 children, and then happily taking on two more - I can't even imaging. She is truly an incredible woman. I struggled with what to do for them - there are some cultural differences between us and I didn't want to do something that they may have been uncomfortable with, so figured I would play it safe. We picked up a gift card to a near by local grocery store and tucked it under the windshield wiper of their van - no need for a note about passing along kindness on this one.



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 7: Modern Day Caroling

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 7

Jeff and I frequent a coffee shop near our house called Phil & Sebastian. They have the BEST coffee ever! It is totally unlike anything you will have tasted before, and they roast their own (direct trade) beans right here in Calgary. The location nearest to our house is actually in a busy mall, so I thought it would be nice to leave a little Christmas cheer for hectic shoppers to find on break from their busy day. I made a mix CD of all of my favourite Christmas songs and left them on the table with the message (as always) to pass along some kindness. It's kind of like a modern take on caroling. Ha!
(You can have a little listen to my Christmas mix below. Enjoy!)


Day 6: word on the street

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 6

I recently fell in love with some of the street art popping up in the neighbourhood I work in (I did a blog post about it over at Green Calgary). Super sweet, inspiring words spray painted on random street corners around the community. I'm WAY to chicken to pull out spray paint, but thought chalk on street lamps would be the perfect winter alternative.

*Going back to the chicken comment, I almost had a heart attack doing this - I was so freaked out that people were watching or someone was going to yell at me. The messy, rushed writing and bad photographs are a result of that.

Finn has a Michael Franti book that my sweet sweet friend Heather gave to him when he was born. It is  one of his absolute favourites, so we read it multiple times a day. Before she gave it to him, she sent it to Michael to inscribe - he wrote: 'Finn, be peace'. So simple yet powerful - we love it a lot. 

a new stocking

I love stockings! Especially when they have meaning or stories behind them, and even more so when they are old and have been part of Christmas memories since childhood (like Jeff's!) I have never really had a special stocking, and the one I have had for the last few years was just picked up at a holiday store. I wasn't totally crazy about it- It was fine, but sitting next to Jeff and Finn's lovingly handmade stockings (both made by Jeff's talented and sweet mom) mine just looked out of place. It did have hope though and I had a vision for it. I found some perfect plaid fabric (an old shirt of Jeff's that had a whole in it), and one episode of 90210* later, my stocking was one step closer to being what I hoped for!

*Yes, I sometimes watch 90210. Actually, I watch a lot of really bad TV shows. We don't actually own a TV, but every now and then (especially and usually while crafting) I love to get into some really bad television shows. America's Next Top Model, 16 and Pregnant, New Girl, Jersey Shore- I realize I totally have a problem.

I still hope to put my name on my stocking- probably with embroidery, but might ask my friend Stacey to help with that. She has some amazing embroidery skills! I just need to decide on a colour.

Before & After
Chapeau, Finn (made by Jeff's Mom for Finn's first Christmas) me, and Jeff

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 5: Warmer Hearts

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 5
We live in a densely populated area of the inner city surrounded by a lot of other condos and apartment buildings and as a result, have many people coming around looking to collect bottles and other items out of the dumpsters in our alley. (We have actually found some amazing treasures dumpster diving on our block- everything from vintage chairs (multiple!), a wicked shoe rack and a brand new, Canadian made wooden sled for Finn). There are a few regulars that we have come to know over the years- some of the kindest neighbourhood folk we have met yet. We always have wonderful conversations and exchanged smiles and waves when our paths cross, so I thought it would be nice to leave them a little Christmas surprise. They spend a ton of time outdoors, so along with some baking, we left them a scarf and a note to keep warm and (as always) pass along some kindness. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 4: Comfort and Warmth

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 4

Very near our house is a beautiful building called the Awo Taan Healing Lodge. With a mission to provide shelter and community services, guided by Native traditional teachings, to anyone affected by family violence and abuse, Awo Taan offers a lot of important programs and services, but most notably acts as an emergency crisis shelter for aboriginal women (and their children) effected by violence. I think the work they do, although completely heartbreaking, is incredible, selfless and such an invaluable resource to our community- When I started the idea of this project, they were the first group I knew I wanted to do something for.  I contacted them a few weeks back to see if there were specific items they were in constant need of. Their response was quite simple - towels, sheets, blankets, pillows, socks, diapers, and feminine hygiene products for their families. We collected items from their wish list and delivered them with a few kind words of gratitude and love for the staff, volunteers and families that work and live there. Words cannot express how grateful I am to have such a loving and supportive family. I have been very fortunate to have not been touched by family violence during my lifetime, and my heart genuinely goes out to those that have- today and always. xo


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 3: thrifty pick me up

Jeff and I frequent the Value Village up the street from our house. It is by far the best second hand shop on this side of town and although I sometimes protest their (much too high) pricing on certain items (pottery usually), it's pretty much always a goldmine of treasures and I rarely leave empty handed.

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 3

I thought it would be fun to hide a few dollars around the store- each one attached to a message saying to pass along some kindness, but also hopefully adding a little perk to someones day.


notice the name of the book...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 2: Take a Smile...



Random Acts of Christmas, Day 2

I hung a few of these signs around town, in our condo and in the building I work in.
Fingers crossed it gets a few grins and hopefully a few smiles passed along!
 
If you want to start a smile fest in your neighbourhood, you can download and print a PDF of the sign I made HERE

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 1: A Free Ride

A few weeks ago, I talked about my 'Random Acts of Community' project that I planned to start in the 12 days leading up to Christmas. I seriously have no idea where the first half of December went, but today is day 1. So with that-

Random Acts of Christmas, Day 1

Bus tickets left in bus shelters around our neighbourhood- each had a note attached wishing the recipient a wonderful day and asking them to pass on some kindness.
(Thanks to my sweet sweet friend Paula for all her help with the delivery!)



Friday, December 9, 2011

photos of things lately

All images by Jeff Thorburn

Coffee break with Uncle Sean
LOVES trains. Ridiculous amounts.
warmer fall park play days
dress up at fort Calgary
a trip to the science centre

this moment - 2011-12-09

{this moment} - a friday ritual. a single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (inspired by soulemama)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

a little bit

One of my dearest and sweetest friends is getting married in June! I am so lucky (and excited!) to be a part of the wedding and have had so much fun with all the planning and brainstorming. It's going to be incredible! I helped make a little blog for Becky and Blaine- it's full of love stories and lots of neat resources for their wedding guests, but i think the coolest part is the bio's Becky and Blaine each wrote about the the wedding party. There is something so wonderfully insightful about the things people think to say about you. Little details you would never mention if you were to speak about yourself- an openness we are maybe a little timid to normally share. Whatever the reason, I really loved what Becky wrote about me, so thought I would share it with all of you.

'Jessica and Becky met 5 years ago, shortly after Becky moved to Calgary. They instantly connected and Jessica introduced Becky to all the hip joints in Calgary including: The Market Collective, Midori Sushi, The Farmer’s Market and Beano. Jessica is obsessed with recycling, antiques, and gardening. She has played a major role in planning Becky and Blaine’s wedding, including creating and launching this incredible blog! Becky admires Jessica’s style, creativity and eye for design. Jessica does not own a television, avoids using or buying anything plastic and makes her own household cleaners, all while keeping up with the Kardashian's. Jessica works for an environmental non-profit called Green Calgary, and lives with her boyfriend Jeff, their 1.5 year old son Finn, and their dog, Chapeau. When Jessica isn't blogging, you can find her at home baking fresh bread, out and about riding bicycles with her adorable little family or feeding the neighbourhood chickens.'

Basically sums up my life. :) And yes, I will admit that I really really REALLY love any show involving the Kardashian sisters. ugh!

I love you Becka and am SO stoked for you and Blaine!
All my love! XOX

Becky and Blaine's Wedding blog can be viewed HERE
(Becky has some incredible tattoos, so check out the "about becky + blaine" tab on the blog to see some pictures! total hottie!)
We apparently really used to like dress-up and theme parties

little present unwrapper

video

Monday, December 5, 2011

Potty

We got Finn a potty a while back, but he doesn't really get it yet. He just likes to carry it around the house and show it to people when they come over to visit. Lately he has started to really like sitting on it- sometimes he will get you to take off all his clothes and then won't actually sit down, others he will sit on it forever with all his clothes on. Last night he peed on the floor beside the potty. I think it will still be a bit of a journey before we all get the hang of this.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Finn and a few of his good friends

We had SUCH a wonderful afternoon playing with the babes (and parents) from our prenatal classes way back when. I have talked about it before, but words cannot express how truly grateful I am to have each of these families in our lives. We have stayed in closed contact since our babies were born (almost 20 months ago! eeeeep!) and although we don't get together weekly like we often did when the babies were just wee little things, we are always able to pick up where we left off and continue to have meaningful friendships in the process. We love all of you so much!!

We tried very hard to recreate this picture that we took last Christmas, but it proved to be quite a challenge now that we have toddlers that do more than just prop themselves up on the couch.

as close as we could get
Finn and Gethin weren't so keen on keeping the ears on. Athena didn't mind though.
Ellen wanted no part of the group shot (probably a wise decision keeping her teenage years in mind) and Malek really loved the ears after we were done taking pictures with them. :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Moment - December 2, 2011

{this moment} - a friday ritual. a single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (inspired by soulemama)



Thursday, December 1, 2011

advent

I had the (last minute, very rushed and not so awesome in the throw of it all) idea to make an advent calendar for Jeff and Finn to count down the days until Christmas.

I made 24 pretty little packages- one for each morning in December that we can open together. Inside are a variety of little treats- some are filled with notes with ideas or things for us to do as a family (new traditions and festive activities), some have awesome little toys or games (we have a fantastic toy store here called Livingston & Cavell and I had the BEST time picking out little treasures to share with my boys. I even found a mood ring for myself that has taken me way back to my days of crushing on Macaulay Culkin while watching 'My Girl' on repeat! Love it!), and of course, various sweet treats (lots of Jeff's favourites!) I had so much fun planning, shopping, and wrapping each item, and now I'm excited all over again because I have already forgotten which present is happening on which day! Definitely a new Christmas tradition that we will continue for many years to come.



We also had the idea to make a 12 day advent at work to count down the days until Christmas holidays. We use an old wine box covered with craft paper and a super cute downloadable advent print out from Oh Happy Day. We are planning to fill each day with homemade treats that we will all contribute to, with the last day being a bottle of wine that we can all share.