Building Relationships with Neighbours

Community building picnic with neighboursIt can be difficult to meet people in an apartment building. Everyone values their privacy, and often the only time we run into anyone else is coming or going. We are really lucky to have some great friendships with neighbours in our building. Some relationships we had before we lived together and some we gained after we moved in.

Since we built a community garden on the property, we have been spending some time out there and having conversations with people we didn’t get to know before. It’s been nice to participate in and build a community where we live. I am anticipating the harvest season as I’m sure we will have the opportunity to share vegetables, recipes, and meals. We have already received plants, tools, and gardening tips from our generous neighbours.

Community building picnic with neighboursWe typically gather with our neighbours for a dinner one night each week. It’s fun to connect with friends in close proximity. It’s a great opportunity to share what’s going on in our lives, to find someone to water your plants while you’re away, and to learn how to save 75 cents for each load of laundry. We have even experimented with sharing items in our community. There is one vacuum that gets passed around to a few different suites on our floor, and we’ve also been sharing an economy size bottle of dish soap.

Two of our neighbours left for the summer to work in another province. We had a fun little BBQ/picnic to send them off. We were able to enjoy the beautiful weather so early in the season. Everyone pitched in and contributed something to the meal. I’m thankful for our growing community and all the support and friendship it’s given me.

Community building picnic with neighboursWhat do you think about getting to know your neighbours? Does it concern you that you might lose some of your valuable privacy? How do you connect with people in an individualistic society?

Real Life Together: Moving past difficult times

blossoms

I hope you don’t mind if I share something a bit more serious today.

The last few months have been quite interesting for us. We have had some ups and downs. Many joyful moments and some that were filled with pain. There have been times where we have felt like we should lose all hope but for some reason become filled with immense gratitude. It has been a season of growth, of change, of opportunity.

A few months ago I left my job at Starbucks to begin working in the same office as Jordan. It was an exciting opportunity, as I had little to no previous experience in that position (Admin and Marketing) and because Jordan and I would be working in close proximity. It worked out really well. I was challenged in many ways to build new skills and get comfortable in a new work environment. Jordan and I also really enjoyed working together. We enjoyed commuting together, eating lunch together, making jokes about our coworkers/customers together… It made me feel like Jim and Pam from The Office.

It was a really joyful season for me. I enjoyed the proximity to Jordan, the regular schedule, the free evenings and weekends, making a decent income, and being able to put aside a good amount of savings. We felt secure and ready to move ahead in life.

Amidst this season I became pregnant. We weren’t really sure if we were ready to be parents yet, but we had been considering it for a short while and quickly became really excited for this next step in our lives.

Meanwhile Jordan began to consider his career path. He had already been feeling stuck in his current situation. His passion is music and recording, but with his office job he didn’t have the time to really build a client base and take on many projects. We decided that it would be best for him to take a risk in his career sooner rather than later, before new responsibilities took over. We would take a hit financially, but we could still get by on my income alone. An opportunity became available for him to volunteer and help out at a local studio, and he quit his job in order to focus on music. It made my schedule more challenging, but it was worth it to see Jordan work towards his dream career.

Jennifer and JordanWhen Jordan was in the last couple weeks of his job, we lost the baby. I was about 7 weeks along. It hurt, physically and emotionally. We had so much joy and excitement anticipating what it would be like to know our little one. We were crushed.

Luckily we found support in our community. We had family and friends who helped pick us up and dust us off. I was amazed by the number of people we know who had been through a similar experience. I was encouraged by their genuine empathy. I wondered about where I would be if I didn’t share so openly about my experiences. Would I have gotten the support I desperately needed? It’s circumstances like these that are difficult to talk about. So often we would be enjoying the lighthearted company of friends and would wonder if it is worth bringing up something so sad and heavy. In our experience we found it was definitely worth it. The depth of our relationships were increased when we made ourselves vulnerable, revealed our struggles, and asked for help.

We slowly recovered, and although we still have moments of sadness when we remember our loss, we have infinite hope for the future.

A few weeks later I was laid off from my job. I was surprised. I wasn’t sure what I should be feeling in that moment. I wondered about how we would make ends meet without any stable or substantial income. I considered the opportunities this opened up for me. The ones it closed. The issue was mostly money. I had decided years ago that I wasn’t going to let money dictate my life. I’m glad I made that choice. Instead of overwhelming anxiety, I felt peace. Instead of a sense of loss, I held on to a sense of opportunity.

With all this extra time I’ve had, I’ve been able to start a blog! I’ve been growing and challenging myself a lot. I’m excited to see where this crazy adventure will take us. I’m amazed by the peace I have had through all of this. There is a great, rich future ahead of us, I know it. I just don’t have any idea what it will look like. But I believe it will be even better than I could have imagined myself – just like how my life has turned out so far – with many blessings that I had not anticipated.

Jennifer and JordanHave you struggled with with an experience you felt might overwhelm you? How do you talk about difficult topics with your friends and family? Have you ever felt peace when circumstances around you have told you that you should feel otherwise?

If you have been through something similar I hope you have had someone in your life to share it with. I want to make this a safe place and build a community of trust and honesty. If you would like to talk with me about these topics, please send me an email at jenniferdrinksteaATgmailDOTcom. I would love to hear your story and to share more with you about my experiences.

Photos by Ivy Hofs @ivyrachel_

Planting My Garden

Community GardenLast summer we enjoyed growing a few veggies on our balcony. We had a small but delicious and convenient harvest. It was nice to have fresh lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and carrots to make a salad on demand. Living in an apartment doesn’t always give you the option to grow your own veggies. Luckily, some other families in our building shared our love for gardening, and we convinced the landlord to let us build a simple community garden on the property this spring.

Garden TrellisSprouting lettuce Spring and summer have come early this year. The last few weeks have been WARM and so sunny. We may have skipped those April showers this year. Jordan and I planted our garden a few weeks ago and we have already seen it grow.

This year we planted snow pea seedlings, onions, garlic, lettuce, kale, and cabbage. A neighbour kindly gave us some cherry tomato plants and some potatoes to grow as well. On our balcony we planted blueberries, arugula, more lettuce and some flowers.

Garden lettuce growingI love watching the green take over. It’s such a breath of fresh air to life in the city. One of our favourite things to do in the summer is to have some friends over and have a BBQ on our balcony. Then we sit out and watch the sunset light up the sky behind the mountains with pastel hues, creating a silhouette masterpiece.

Lately I’ve enjoyed sitting out in the garden in the morning and sipping coffee (tea for myself) with neighbours. It’s a good way to start the day. The simplicity of nature and new growth and the joy of sharing life with friends helps me gain some perspective for the remainder of the day.

Garden patio setI built a little trellis for our snow peas to climb. I was inspired by this one. I used wooden BBQ skewers and glue-gunned them to create a chevron pattern. Unfortunately as you might notice in the later photos, Jordan decided we should move the trellis over a couple inches. This was a fatal move for the trellis. We may have ripped it apart in a few places. It doesn’t help that I also knocked it over with the hose while I was watering. Now it lies in pieces. Time to rebuild. I’m not sure what I will do this time, but I need something stronger.

Garden broken trellis

Do you have a garden? What are your favourite things to grow/eat? Any advice for a black thumb/newbie?

Ginger Lemon Sunshine Organic Green Tea

Ginger Lemon Sunshine Organic Green TeaHey friends!

I wanted to share this lovely tea with you. I love the kick of ginger and tang of lemon in this tea. It’s such a bright flavour.

The ingredients are fairly simple: green tea, ginger pieces, lemon peels, lemongrass, and natural flavours. All the ingredients are certified organic.

Ginger Lemon Sunshine TeaGinger Lemon Sunshine TeaThis is one of my favourite teas on a sunny afternoon. It also makes a great pick-me-up tea on a gloomy winter day.

I love teas with ginger because of the benefits for my tummy. The green tea also contributes many antioxidants to keep your body healthy.

This tea is best brewed at a temperature of 175°F for 2 minutes. I used one tablespoon of tea for my teapot. This tea can also be brewed again, up to 3 times, which gives you great value.

If you would like to give this tea a try, you can order it here.

Ginger Lemon Sunshine Tea

Now I feel like curling up and getting cozy with a good book. What things do you like to do to relax and unwind?