Thursday, December 24, 2015

merry christmas!

merry christmas form our family to yours!

we made a little family video/ slideshow to include with our holiday card this year.
you can view the video HERE.

cheers! xo

Thursday, December 10, 2015

christmas to do...

there is nothing like a good ol' dose of christmas to get you out of a gloomy funk, and this year the thorburn family is REALLY excited for christmas! well- finn and i are... jeff goes along with all our crazy ideas.

all my life i have been a huge christmas celebrator. i love the traditions and decorating and baking and family and making everything (perhaps a bit overly) meaningful. this year will actually be our first ever christmas just the three of us. we are heading to calgary on the 27th, but never in the 12+ years jeff and i have been together have we ever officially spent the entire day without chunks of extended family. as someone who very much loves a full house, i'm a bit mixed on my feelings about it, but i am really excited to make it a special day and do a few things we might not normally do (like, we might GO OUT for christmas dinner instead of making a big feast! gasp!)

it's probably no surprise that i have spent more than a few hours rummaging through pinterest finding ALL the things that i'm certain will make this christmas just right. and how unfun would it be if i wasn't overindulgent in my sharing of these ambitious projects?

so, here are a few of my favourite things found floating around the internet time will tell if any of them actually come to fruition.

i'm super late in getting a wreath made for our front door this year. if i'm being honest, i still have a stack of slowly rotting pumpkins waiting to be composted. but i've always loved the simplicity of wreaths like the one above. and i could likely forage for the needed supplies in our yard. (though i probably should have done this yesterday when the sun was shining.)

i stumbled upon a rather large bag of very old cinnamon in my cupboard recently (i'm still totally stumped by where it actually came from...), and deemed it the perfect excuse to make these cinnamon ornaments. i remember having them on our tree as a kid, and each year eagerly inhaling all their sweet cinnamony goodness as we unpacked the ornament box.

i for some reason cant stop buying cheese. we don't even really eat that much cheese these days, but every trip the grocery store has me coming home with various cheese options. i keep thinking it will be good to have for when people pop by, but so far, i have just eaten most of it. (hey man, half a block of fried halloumi totally counts as dinner!) i did however pick up some imperial cheese the other day with full intentions of making these cocktail crisps that my friend anna shared on my 12 days of baking feature last year. that is assuming i don't eat all the cheese first.

each year, finn and i pick an ornament project that we make together. this year, we decided on some variation of a pinecone elf. i like the sweet little faces on these guys.

my friend katie and i have been daydreaming over these momofuko cornflake, marshmallow and chocolate chip cookies. it's an involved recipe with many steps, but we have agreed to tackle it together. it will also probably help us to SHARE a recipe rather than having the whole batch to ourselves. ;)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

december 1

today would have been eli's due date.

it's a day i have reluctantly anticipated- obviously full of sorrow and tender emotions. my heart, which i have spent the past few months trying to piece back together, is of course, still so very broken.

since august i have thought about what this day would look like. i thought i would go to our special place at the beach and spread some of eli's ashes- a spot he could forever be with roo and i could return to whenever i needed to be with them. i thought i would go to the forest and find the most beautiful tree to place one single chrismas ornament on. something that would bring a smile to the faces of all passersby. i thought i might be able to keep it together. carry on with this day, go about it all without turning into a huge mess, but instead, i have crawled back into bed and don't know that i really want to get back out. 

perhaps though, today is the crux. that the bumps from here on out will not be as enormous as the ones previous. tomorrow, no longer will i be anticipating the day that could have been. i wont be fixated on the worry and over-thinking and unknowingness of december 1st. i'm not naive enough to think there wont still be hard days, that today is in any way the end of my journey, but i can feel a shift - like there is a rush of fresh air about to flood in, and for the first time in a long time, i am not worried about what comes next. for now, that's enough.


the day we found out that eli could not survive, i asked jeff if he could take some photos of us at the beach. i wanted to always have a beautiful memory of the time i was given to carry him with me. jeff shot them on film and just got the negatives developed a few days ago. after he scanned them in, he had planned to edit out some of the dust spots, but i couldnt let him do it. the imperfectness of them is perfect for what these pictures mean to me

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

two months.

some days are harder than others. some days you know you have pushed too hard for too long, not been gentle enough, and tears flow more freely than feels comfortable. some days sitting quietly without a single word to share gets you through. some days you need to pour it all of your head, out of your heart- drudge it up then slowly gather back every broken piece and place them together again.

today- the 20th of october, marks 2 months since eli's birth and death. two months that feel like an eternity and a flash of light all at the same time. most days are good, but some are not.

as i struggle to shake the dark cloud that glooms over me this morning, i realize these days are always needed. tears still need to escape, sadness and grief still need to be felt. after all, the sting of sorrow is what makes the sweetness of good days that much sweeter.

this past weekend i worked up the courage to use my tarot cards again. i have had a hard time using this deck - it continually gives me messages that are needed to be heard, but often incredibly hard to work through. this weekend though, i drew one single card, asking simply for a message to help get through this next phase of life. something i needed to hear to continue moving forward. and the message i received was loud, clear, and welcome.

nine of wands | by kim krans

'as nines usually imply, your journey is nearing completion. but on this final stretch you find yourself growing weary, with doubt and fear running through your mind. the nine of wands asks you to rally your confidence and realize how far you've come. lift your eyes and take a few more steps. soon all your hard work will start to pay off.'

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

eli forrest

a friend of mine once told me that in numerology, each person has numbers in their chart that are good. they can yield happiness, good luck, even abundance. but along with the good, is always the flip side- numbers that for some bring hardship, grief, and challenging situations. when i miscarried roo two summers ago, she speculated that my difficult number might be 3. at the time, it didn't mean much to me, but as i enter my third summer of hardship in my 33rd year of life, i continue to see the number appearing over and over again.

the past three july's have felt a lot like groundhog's day for us. hospital stays, career transitions, and a genuine feeling of upheaval, chaos and the deepest sadness.

july 12th, 2013, i lost roo,  a baby i had been carrying for 19 weeks. it was an incredible shock, and something that took a very long time to process and begin to heal from, but in the end, jeff and i both understood this loss was meant to be part of our life's journey. as difficult and heart breaking as it was (and still is), we came out on the other side feeling much softer and grateful for all we have been given in our lifetime.

after roo's passing, we found out two things. first, that he had trisomy 21, also known as down syndrome. jeff and i both went through further testing to see if we were genetic carriers for chromosomal abnormalities, and were told neither of us were. roo's condition was completely random and by chance. the second thing we learned was that i had an aneurysm on the artery of my spleen. the surgeon explained that the size and location of my aneurysm likely wouldn't have caused me problems EXCEPT during pregnancy. your blood volume increases so much that my small aneurysm suddenly went from having a risk factor of less than 5% chance of rupture to over 70% chance of rupture. long story short, losing roo may have saved my life.

fast forward to july 11th 2014- exactly one day shy of roo's passing, and i was back in the hospital having my aneurysm repaired. it was a long and painful recovery, but one that eventually worked out, and now my spleen is a-ok.

after impatiently waiting for my spleen to heal, in early march of this year, we found out we were expecting a baby again. we were overjoyed and of course, completely terrified, but we worked hard to remain positive and optimistic. we found out my due date was december 1st- roo's due date was december 3rd, so venturing along an almost identical timeline was both nerve wracking and healing.

at my first midwives appointment, they detected my blood pressure was high. too high to ignore, so my care was passed off to the doctors of internal medicine at BC womens hospital, and an amazing and kind obstetrician, dr. steele, who we had met two years prior during roo's loss.  i was comforted in knowing he had been with us from the start, and knew all our family had gone through.

those first few months of pregnancy were really emotional and stressful for me- i found myself sad, angry, even a little resentful. after all we had been through, this was supposed to be EASY, and it was not starting off that way. i was put on medication to help control my blood pressure (a decision that  for me was incredibly difficult to agree to), and was faced with endless doctors appointments to make sure things were stabilizing and going as expected.

july 12th marked the two year anniversary of roo's passing. i think for me, getting to this anniversary signified a huge emotional hurdle- if we could make it past then, i could worry less and feel more secure moving forward. everything WOULD be ok. we ventured to the beach to skip stones into the ocean, like we always do for roo, and spent a special evening together as a family. it was a difficult day, but one that was made a little bit softer knowing finn and roo had another sweet sibling growing inside me.

a few days later we were scheduled for our first real ultrasound. i was all kinds of anxious going into the appointment, but kept telling myself it would be ok. the technician did measurements (and told us we were having another boy!) afterword, she left to go consult with the doctor. when they both returned and the doctor took over with the imaging, i immediately started to panic- i knew this wasn't a good sign.

after what felt like an eternity, the doctor finally broke his silence. they had noticed some issues with our baby's development. it looked as though parts of his brain weren't entirely formed, that his heart had some abnormalities, he likely had a cleft pallet, and that overall, he was measuring small in growth. i could feel my whole body go numb and immediately tears poured from my eyes. jeff asked what the doctor thought this could mean- he explained that all these issues combined suggested a chromosomal abnormality- likely trisomy 18 (or edwards syndrome.)

my panic immediately turned to complete disbelief. how could this possibly be happening to us again? after all this time- all we had been through. all the hoping and pleading and longing - how could we possibly have another chromosomal issue?

we got home from the hospital late that afternoon. both of us completely devoid of any feeling. i reluctantly started to google trisomy 18, realizing a diagnosis would almost guarantee to be a fatal one for our sweet boy.

but we were united in our belief that all we could do was remain hopeful. we had to stay positive and hope for the best.

stories flooded our way of ultrasounds not being accurate, of doctors speculating things, but everything turning out fine, of people going through similar experiences but it all ending positively. i struggled to find a balance between hopefulness and the reality of the situation. feeling immense guilt over my tears and heartache. trying my hardest to make the best of our long days and even longer nights, all the while reminding myself that nothing had yet been confirmed. we carried on planning and hoping for the best, but each little flutter or baby kick suddenly opened a giant hole of sadness my heart knew all too well.

july was continuing it's reign as our most difficult month.

we returned from a few weeks of visiting family in calgary - something all the doctors and specialists and counselors agreed would be a wonderful idea-  surrounding ourselves with family, friends and support. the day after we got home, we had an echocardiogram done of the babies heart to get a clearer idea of what his defect really meant. we were saddened to learn the hole was a very large one between the left and right ventricles, along with a leaky valve. both things that could potentially be repaired with surgery after birth, but coupled with his other concerns, and the possibility of trisomy 18, was one the cardiologist would not feel comfortable operating on. we met with more doctors and specialist on that very long day, each meeting looking more and more bleak. we finally headed home after having an amniocentesis that would tell us definitively whether or not it was trisomy 18.

the weekend seemed to take forever to pass. waiting for the results was heart wrenching as i flipped back and forth between wanting and not wanting to know. i hoped harder than i had ever hoped to get some positive news, pleading for a miracle. desperately hoping this was not trisomy 18, and that somehow he could be ok. it would be an uphill battle, but one we were desperately willing to accept if it meant our sweet boy could survive.

but when the genetic councilor called on that quiet tuesday morning, i knew immediately from the tone in her voice that the news wasn't the answer we had desperately hoped for. our baby had trisomy 18.

the next day we faced another full day of appointments. the conversations immediately took on a different tone. no longer were there hints of hope or survival or possibility. things shifted to what our wishes were, various levels of intervention and inevitable outcomes. my health became the center of it all, something i hadn't even considered in our previous meetings. it had been a difficult few months with my blood pressure, and although things were ok in that moment, there was no knowing if and when pre-eclampsia could hit. i had also started to show signs of ketones in my urine. something the doctor said could be early signs of gestational diabetes, but in all honesty, i think was likely caused by my stress-induced lack of eating.

as much as we thought it wouldn't, knowing he couldn't survive changed things for us. realizing he would not be able to have his heart repaired meant it was no longer a matter of if, but when. we were of course scared how this would all play out without family near by, readily available to help with finn when we needed it. we had already relied so heavily on our friends and support network in vancouver these past three summers - so many favors had been called in, so many requests to watch finn during the revolving door of appointments. it all just felt like so much.

after a lot of soul searching, long conversations, tears and desperately hoping for a sign of what to do, with our doctors, we made the most difficult decision to induce labour.

the next morning, we arrived at the hospital at 7:15am. they started the induction, and at 10:43pm on August 20th, our beautiful son, eli forrest thorburn, was born quietly into the world at 25 weeks.

it was an experience we were paralyzed at the thought of going through, each next step feeling like it would be the absolute hardest part, but to our surprise, it was incredibly peaceful. we were so fortunate to have had the most wonderful nurse by our side. the moment she walked into our room, i looked over at jeff and sobbed- i knew immediately she was exactly who we needed to get us through- so kind, gentle, genuine and respectful. holding our hand through each step, guiding us when we were too terrified to carry on. she lovingly gave us every opportunity and experience new parents would hope for, all the while treating both of us and eli with the deepest kindness. we truly could not have done it without her. 

after eli was born, we stayed up until the early hours of morning holding, loving and memorizing every tiny detail of him. it was an incredible gift to get have him with us. he had finn's little nose and light eyelashes- jeff and i couldn't help but smile each time we stared at his sweet face- he looked so so much like his big brother.


this time in our lives has obviously been so incredibly difficult. where we were full of understanding and softened by the loss of roo, i struggle with the flood anger and resentment this time around. i'm constantly plagued with thoughts of how i should be mothering three little boys, but instead, i'm here- once again trying to keep afloat as i navigate the deepest of grief. the hardest part feels like my loss of faith. faith that good things happen to good people, faith that desperate cries for a miracle can be answered, faith that perhaps i'm not as good of a person as i once believed i was. i know these feelings are LARGELY untrue and with time, will dissipate. i will get back to a more stable and understanding place, but right now, in the thick of it all, it feels endless.

i hope that we can be stronger, softer and kinder when the tears begin to dry and the dust starts to settle. i want to be a better person for all my boys- to have this heartbreak manifest into something much bigger and more meaningful than the hurt that buries us right now. but i also so desperately hope that this third summer of hell marks the last of my cursed '3's';  that for once, my unwavering belief that good things are right around the corner for us can finally be true.

and i think deep down, i know that they are. our blessings are immense despite our struggles. i'm just hopeful our weary hearts can rest a while.

and my dear, sweet eli- you are loved beyond words. forever and always.


* thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who has helped carry us through these past few months (years). i truly do not know where we would be without the love and endless support of our village. 

Friday, September 11, 2015


"They say a place becomes yours only after you lose something precious there. The earth absorbs your grief and then, moist with suffering, new things begin to grow in your likeness. Separation makes you better at love. Weeping makes you easier to laugh. Dying makes you better at living." 

By Dreamwork with Toko-pa | Artwork by Kelly Louise Judd (

Sunday, July 5, 2015

maple baked beans

this past weekend, we were invited by some new friends to our first ever 4th of july bbq. i was a little too excited about it (more so than i was for any of the canada day festivites we had planned) and spent a bit too much time pinterest-ing and mulling over the perfect dish to contribute. on the morning of, i finally decided to make up one of my new favourite recipes- maple baked beans. it felt perfectly american to bring a crock full of baked beans to a bbq, and knowing there would be few vegetarians in the group, it offered a great punch of protein to the spread of options.

this recipe is from the 'oh she glows' website. i was gifted her cookbook last fall and have quickly fallen in love with many of the plant-based recipes. these baked beans are sweet and tangy, a complex mix of so many beautiful flavours, but also the easiest thing to whip up. i crave them regularly and am more than happy to have leftovers as the flavours just get better with time.

this is the perfect recipe for your slowcooker, but alternatively, you can cook these on the stove top, or bake them in the oven.

maple baked beans
from oh she glows

:: ingredients ::
4.5 cups cooked navy beans (approximately 3 small cans)
8 oz/1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 large sweet onion, diced OR 1-2 green onions (I recommend sweet onion)
3 - 4 tbsp blackstrap molasses
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
a handful of dried cranberries (optional. i never use these, but some people might like them)
sea salt to taste

:: directions :: 
rinse and drain navy beans or soak and cook dry beans according to package directions. 
slow-cooker method: throw drained and rinsed beans into the slow cooker. 
chop the onion and place the onion, molasses, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, salt, tomatoes and cranberries if using, into the slow cooker and stir well. 
cook over high heat for about 4-5 hours (however they can be eaten after just a couple hours of cooking), or cook them on the lowest heat setting for 7-8 hours. m
check the beans and give them a stir from time to time so the dont burn. 

once ready, scoop into bowls, and top with a bit of maple butter or drizzle a bit more pure maple syrup on top (not needed, but definitely adds a little extra yum)

Friday, June 19, 2015

salt spring island

whew, its been a while!

in all honesty, the spring and summer months always seem to bring with them an overwhelming flood of hecticness- burstingly full days of hanging with friends and hopping all over this beautiful city. of course, we love every minute of it and would have it no other way, but it obviously means less time for picture taking and blogging.

a few weekends ago we took a little weekend trip over to salt spring island and i figured the slower pace of island life would be the perfect opportunity to drag out my real camera. i didn't actually end up using it all that much, but i did manage to get a few photos of the sweet little farm we stayed at (foxglove farms incase you are headed that way - we highly recommend it!) and a small snippet of our lazy days spent at the beach. just a really wonderful weekend.

Friday, April 10, 2015


i don't know where the time went, or how this boy of mine is officially leaving babyhood behind, but yesterday, my sweet finn turned 5.

things he loves are every growing : cars, trains, bike rides, lego, ninjago, and play fighting with his buds. baseball and running at the park, snuggles with his bunny, and taking chapeau for walks. swimming (so long as he doesnt have to put his face in the water), colouring, balloons and perfectly warm baths. tepid milk, crackers of most kinds and pistachios are his favourite treats. he is a child of simple pleasures- he really only likes about a dozen foods, and isn't super keen on anything too sweet. vanilla ice cream is his biggest indulgence, and periodically, the chocolate from a kinder egg.

may you always keep your strong will and unwavering opinions, your kind and tender heart, and your innocent ability to be completely unfazed by peoples differences. you are such a rad kid and one i tear up thinking about each night before bed, and one i smile thinking about each morning before you open your eyes.

we love you so much, finn. happy 5th birthday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

onion skin easter eggs

every easter, for as far back as I can remember, my grandma would dye eggs with onion skins. she would bring them over to my brother and i, still warm, with a little story about how the easter bunny had been by and left them for us.

in addition to being an environmentally friendly alternative to the synthetic dye kits sold in stores, they also make for some unbelievably beautiful eggs - and a happy family tradition i am excited to carry on with finn.

onion skin easter eggs
12 eggs at room temperature
the skin from 8-12 onions (i used a combination yellow and red onions skins)
4.5 cups of water
3 Tbsp vinegar
olive oil, as needed

remove eggs from the fridge and let come to room temperature
in a stainless steel pot, add water, onion skins and vinegar.
bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to low heat.
cover pot and let simmer for 30 minutes
remove pot from heat and let cool on the (on the counter or outside) until liquid is close to room temperature.
at this point, you can either strain out the onion skins (this will give you a uniform, all over dye on the eggs) or you can leave the skins in the pot (this will give you a marbled look, like the eggs in my photographs)
add the eggs to the pot and bring the liquid to an easy boil over medium heat.
cover and simmer for 10- 20 minutes, checking the colour periodically by gently raising the eggs out of the pot with a slotted spoon.
Once desired darkness is reached, remove eggs from pot and let cool (its a good idea to keep the egg carton for this step)
when cool enough to handle, massage a little bit of olive oil into the eggs, wiping off excess and polishing the eggs with paper towel. this will bring out some amazing deep, rich tones.

i used a combination of white and brown eggs, but as you can see, i don't notice much of a difference between the two.  these eggs are safe to eat if kept refrigerated afterward.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

a city scavenger hunt...

my incredible and talented friend carina has made yet another amazing downloadable scavenger hunt list for your kiddos- this time, highlighting some urban staples. this scavenger hunt is perfect if getting out of the city is not on the agenda for the day- keep this activity in your back pocket and enjoy happy children while you run errands around town.

you can download a printable version of the urban scavenger hunt list HERE
view the forest scavenger hunt list carina created HERE
and be sure to check out carina's awesome blog, peaks and harbours HERE

Sunday, March 8, 2015

a forest scavenger hunt...

over the last year, finn and i have spent many afternoons exploring - searching for pine cones, homes for fairies, chirping birds, feathers... finn LOVES having a list he can carry around and check off as we go along, so i do my very best (which is really quite horrible) to draw pictures of things we can seek out.

my sweet friend carina is an incredibly talented artist with an abundance of skills, so when i had the idea to to make and share a really nicely illustrated scavenger hunt list, i knew she was the one to talk to. we spent some time working out the details, and this weekend, she shared the first of several scavenger hunts- a forest theme perfect for little or big kids alike to get outside and explore with.

in the past, finn and i have collected items in a bag to later bring home and craft with (think nature journaling, mobile making, natural weaving or pressing flowers and leaves to later make beautiful prints or cards with.) but we have also spent time letting finn photograph our findings - giving him an old phone or camera and allowing him free reign to work at his own pace and photograph items as we go along. whatever you decide, this is such a fun adventure and a really easy way to get kids excited about being outside!

carina will be illustrating a few more scavenger hunt lists soon! we have plans under way for an urban hunt and a beach hunt, so stay tuned.

in the meantime, you can download carina's illustrated forest list from her website, peaks and harbours HERE, and check out more of carina's beautiful illustrations HERE.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

across the country + back: good friends + traveling pics

a small collection of photos from stops and small towns along the way. good friends and family are spread all across this country, and we are so grateful to have spent time with all of them. xo