Charlie's Birth Story

For those familiar with Enzo's birth story, I am happy to share Charlie's went much differently.

We always knew there was a chance I would develop preeclampsia again in future pregnancies. This time, from the first trimester, my OB-GYN monitored me very closely with extra tests and scans at each visit. I checked my blood pressure regularly at home. I also took other preventative measures he recommended, including extra Calcium supplements and baby aspirin to thin my blood.

It was scary knowing that I could very well put my body through the experience of Enzo’s birth and aftermath again, but I trusted we would catch the signs sooner if I did develop preeclampsia. 

Sometime in the second trimester I asked Jeff if he was nervous. He replied that he had been preparing himself for the possibility that I could die due to complications and that was how he was coping with the stress of it.

Moving into the third trimester, everything was looking great. We were all confident the pregnancy would continue to go smoothly.

At 28 weeks we were scheduled to go to Phoenix for a getaway. The night before our departure from Winnipeg, I admitted to Jeff that I was stressed about developing preeclampsia while traveling. Even though we had travel insurance, I heard horror stories about certain treatments being excluded from coverage. I feared delivering a premature, million dollar baby in the US and seriously thought about sending Jeff and Enzo on their own. 

But we all went. And on day 2 we found ourselves in the Chandler Regional Medical Centre emergency treat a sprained ankle and large gash in each of my knees. But that's a whole other story with gross photos that I won't share. I'll just share the 'before' picture:

Phoenix Hike

At 35 weeks I coordinated my last wedding (Alli's of Alli Mae Fresh Events - love that girl!), with the assistance of my mom (as usual) and Jeff, before my self-proclaimed maternity leave. (For any curious wedding planners out there, this is the latest I would ever do a wedding again. It was manageable with the extra hired help, but exhausting!)

Winnipeg Art Gallery Wedding
Emily Janzen and Alli Girardin Winnipeg Wedding Planners
Feast & Festivities Team
Winnipeg Art Gallery Wedding

Images by Megan Steen Photography

At 36 weeks we finally moved into our new home we spent the previous 8 months renovating. It was a mad dash to unpack the house and get settled. By 38 weeks, I had unpacked all the boxes and organized the house. Things felt ready, and I was sure I was finally relaxed enough that our baby would come any moment. I began having irregular contractions, anywhere from 1-5 per hour. Though they never became regular, or more painful. I kept busy with Enzo, yard work, and other small projects around the house for the next week. 

At 39.5 weeks I noticed less movement from the baby. I put on a pot of rice for dinner, but quickly decided I was not taking any chances and turned off the stove. I thought, even if it ended up being a false alarm, there is no shame in having things checked out. I packed up Enzo and myself and we went to St. Boniface Hospital. I told Jeff to stay at work. After an hour, it was determined everything was fine, but they expected I would go into labour "within 24 hours - 48 at the most".

Those words completely changed how we lived the following days. Jeff called his parents to come over the next day to help finish up some loose ends around the house, before it all got put on hold with a new baby around. The next day we had my parents over. I took long naps and showers. Jeff and I ate oven-baked s'more dip every night while watching a movie, thinking it would be our last one together for a few months. I soaked up one-on-one dates with my first born, Enzo. The irregular contractions continued to confuse me though past 48 hours for several more days, and I started to feel like the waiting and uncertainty was unbearable. 

At 40.5 weeks one evening, Jeff came home to me frantically cleaning the house. I said, “everything is dirty!” I quickly had a long list of everything I (unnecessarily) wanted to clean once Enzo was in bed. After dinner I hopped in the shower for some time to myself while Enzo cleaned the floor of the bathroom. (I did not ask him to do this. He wanted to help clean because he heard me say everything was dirty.) It was then that I realized my contractions were getting more consistent and stronger. I started to think things may be happening. I decided to put aside the cleaning, and our usual s’mores dip as of late, and decided to just go to bed. We texted our parents to let them know to stay on alert that night.

One hour later, I woke up to some painful contractions but managed to drift back off to sleep. Another hour went by and I was awake again with more painful contractions. I started timing them. It was happening!

At 2am I got up to do my makeup, hair and get dressed while Jeff continued to sleep. I didn’t have the opportunity to relax around the house like this with Enzo’s birth, and I always fantasized about the time at home in early labour when hearing other’s stories. I desperately wanted to feel pretty, strong, and in control. Not puffy, scared, and helpless like last time. 

Once I was ready, I asked Jeff to get up for the day so he could start helping me. He got ready, called our parents to head over, and we went to the basement to finish watching our movie, Steve Jobs, which I highly recommend by the way. I alternated between standing and leaning on an exercise ball for the contractions.

My mom arrived quickly to join us at the hospital, and Jeff’s parents not long after to stay home with Enzo. She said I looked nice - hah! Mission accomplished.

At 4am we left for St. Boniface Hospital. While trying to leave, I had a contraction in the house, on the steps, and once again right before getting into the car. I was dreading the ride and sitting uncomfortably in the car, but it was such a short ride I only had one more contraction while seated before we got there.

I was 4cm with consistent contractions when we arrived in triage. The nurse would send me to labour and delivery once I was more dilated. I laid in bed while baby’s movements and heart rate were monitored. Everything still pointed to an uncomplicated birth.

I found a few methods helpful in coping with the pain. Sometimes I would count the holes in the room’s curtain very slowly with each deep breath. Sometimes I stared at my mom or Jeff and squeezed their hands, imagining them taking some of the pain away. Other times I imagined Enzo was there, and I had to be strong for him so he wouldn’t be scared (or scarred haha!) Between contractions I closed my eyes and ‘slept’.

We hadn’t seen a nurse for what felt like a very long time. When I finally caught her peeking in around 6am, I asked when I was going to be checked again. She was surprised I asked, as she had been peeking in the room and seeing me sleeping, assuming things weren’t progressing. Mom laughed and said I was very good at relaxing. So the nurse checked again and I was suddenly at 6+cm. I would be transferred to labour and delivery in the high risk unit very shortly (jusssst in case things went downhill).

I wanted to cry. My mom said I could. And I did. I sobbed. I felt a wave of relief to be making it so far with my body still in control, knowing things were progressing in a healthy way. I felt like I was winning!

In my new room was Jeff, my mom, and two lovely nurses (how are St. Boniface L+D nurses always so amazing!?) 

I was surprised I wanted to continue laying down for labour. It was necessary I lay down for Enzo’s labour, and I hated it. It felt uncomfortable and forced. Leading up to the day I told myself I would stand or kneel this time. Anything but stay in bed. In reality, I felt much too exhausted. It was amazing to be able to drift off to almost a sleep-like state between the building contractions, and I could only drift away if I were laying down.

Sometimes I hyperventilated from the pain. Jeff, mom or the nurse would snap me out of it. 

Sometimes I felt so strong. I could keep my eyes closed and go into a meditative state. I was able to picture my body not as mine, but as someones I was witnessing from the corner of the room. I imagined it was not me feeling the pain, and rather another entity. 

Sometimes I would exclaim I didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t want to be in labour! I wanted it to be over. I was exhausted, mentally and physically. 

Sometimes I made everyone in the room laugh. (Seriously, the nurses told me I could labour with them any day because I was so much fun, hah!)

Progress slowed. My water hadn’t broken. I stayed at 9cm for a long time, despite my body telling me to push. For 2 hours I fought the urge to push. 

I had no energy left. My mom told me over and over again I would find the energy. And I did.

Around 9:20am my OB-GYN doctor arrived (it was a miracle he happened to be working at the hospital that day). I was at 9.5cm. By body wasn't totally ready to push, but I could try.

I gave it my all.

I satisfied the urge to push on my next contraction and my water finally broke. Our baby was making his entrance.

Two more pushes. Our little Charlie Jay was in my arms already at 9:40am!

What a surreal moment, holding my baby as he took his first breath. An incredible honour and I was instantly in love. I spent time looking over all the little details of this new body. His chin dimple, brown hair, and strong frame.

It was a proud moment for all in the room.

You probably guessed there was no Part 2 for ‘Jeff’s side of the story’ this time around, and you’re right. I did it. I saw it all this time. A story I can tell and cherish all on my own.


Hundred Acre Wood First Birthday

Out of all the events I get to be a part of, I think Enzo's birthday each year will always be some of my favourites.

With Enzo's second birthday just around the corner (literally this weekend), I thought I'd reflect on his first birthday here on the blog.

First Birthday Cake

The Assiniboine Park Nature Playground was (and still is) one of our favourite places to play with Enzo in his first year, so we thought it would be the perfect location to hold his first birthday party. Once I decided on the location, the Hundred Acre Wood inspiration followed.

Assiniboine Park Nature Playground
Assiniboine Park Nature Playground in Winnipeg

I hope you enjoy all the candid photos of this special day, captured by Victoria Anne Photography!

"Tut-tut. It looks like rain", I thought when the forecast in the days leading up to the party called for rain on and off all day. But every good party goes on rain or shine, so we decided to hold the party under a shelter instead of the grassy woodland clearing we originally hoped for. Lucky for us, the rain stopped right when the party started and we quickly moved everything out into the sun that was trying to find its way through the clouds.

Family Photo in Rain Boots
Boy with Balloons
First Birthday Balloons
Blue Balloons
First Year Collage
Assiniboine Park Birdhouses

All the food was made at home with some help from my mom-in-law (she's a party food wizard), including wraps, pooh sticks (breadsticks), hermit cookies and veggies and dip. My favourite snack was these adorable little acorn looking treats, simply made out of mini chips ahoy and Hershey kisses glued together with royal icing.

Picnic Table
Acorn Treats
Picnic Table
Garden Arrangement
First Birthday Cake

Since we had people of all ages at the party, I needed games that were fun for everyone. I scoured the local antique shops for vintage honey tins with which we played bean bag toss. The pin the tail on Eeyore was made from a black canvas I free-handed on with white pastel.

Bean Bag Toss
Outdoor Game
Outdoor Bean Bag Toss
Bean Bag Toss DIY
Pin the Tail on the Donkey
Pin the Tail on Eeyore
Pin the Tail on Eeyore

Near the end of the party the kids smashed a beautiful bee hive piñata Jeff and I hand-crafted with paper mache and bubble wrap. The bubbles popped with each hit and were such a delight for the kiddos. Thankfully when it broke there were no bees inside!

Beehive Pinata
Hitting Beehive Pinata
Beehive Pinata DIY

With a lot of movement around saving the bees, we sent guests home with wildflower seeds to plant in their garden. I picked up little kraft envelopes from Michaels, stuffed them with wildflower bee-blend seeds from Westcoast Seeds, and tacked on home-made labels with care instructions.

Birthday Favours
Bee a Good Friend
Wildflower Seed Packaging

A big thank you to everyone who came to celebrate that day and helped make it happen The day was so special. (Family all the way from Regina came to celebrate)! Enzo had such a fun time, and I can't wait to make it all about him again this weekend!

Group Photo
First Birthday Cake

Melissa and Paul's Midnight Fairytale Wedding at Evergreen Village

Melissa and Paul, two absolute sweethearts, came to me really early on in their engagement. All they knew was that they wanted their wedding day two summers into the future and it had to be an outside ceremony. Evergreen Village was the perfect spot for their wedding day.

Feast & Festivities Melissa and Paul
Wedding Party

We bounced between a bohemian soft colour palette and deep, jewel toned colours for a bit until they decided that navy and purple was a must have. Oh, and gold of course! We called it a 'Midnight Fairytale' colour palette.

Wedding Reception
Ceremony Aisle
Wedding Centrepiece

Melissa wore a mermaid blush dress, complete with lace and beaded details. I love the subtle hint of pink!

Manitoba Bride
Mother of the Bride

True to tradition, Melissa and Paul chose to wait to see one other until the moment Melissa walked down the aisle. When they arrived at Evergreen Village, they took turns hiding from one another in the 100-year-old farmhouse for wedding party photos outside.

Country Wedding

The beautiful old tree on the property served as the backdrop for their ceremony. We added over 30 meters of delicate white fabric to complete the look. Sheryl Hunnie lead a beautiful, emotional ceremony. Melissa and Paul wrote letters to one another and placed them in a custom wood box to read on their first anniversary and replace with new letters every year.

Wedding Ceremony
Ring Bearer
Evergreen Village Wedding

I loved the family heirlooms Melissa added to her bouquet by Fache Floral Designs.

Fache Floral Design Bouquet
Wedding Rings

They started the reception with their first dance to Powerful by Major Lazer and Melissa sung nearly the entire song to Paul while they danced. One of my favourite moments of the day was when Melissa danced with her father. Family and friends spontaneously circled them and blew bubbles. It was so sweet!

First Dance
Father Daughter Dance

Congratulations Melissa and Paul!

Images: Sugar & Soul Photography | Planning and Design: Feast & Festivities | Floral Design: Fache Floral Design | Venue: Evergreen Village | Videography: Michael J. Scott Productions | Sweets: Laugh Love Cakes | Marriage Commissioner: Marry Me Hunnie | Linen: Planned Perfectly | Chairs: Bel Ayre Rentals



9 Manitoba Made Holiday Host and Hostess Gift Ideas

Whether you're joining a holiday party or simply swinging by a friend's to catch up this busy holiday season, a small gift in hand goes a long way. Today I've rounded up some of my favourite gifts for any host. The best part? They all support local Manitoba makers, so it's like two gifts in one.

Beeproject Apiaries - Neighbourhood Honey

Beeproject Apiaries is doing some amazing things for our city with sustainable urban beekeeping. What's cooler than honey from one of Winnipeg's backyards? Nothing. Each Neighbourhood Honey has it's own distinct flavour, so you can choose a honey from the host's neighbourhood, or an area close to their heart.

|  find Beeproject Apiaries at these retailers and the neighbourhood honey exclusively at the Dec. 17 @luckygirlpopup

Coal & Canary - Candle

What's a gift guide without Coal & Canary? These candles come in so many fun (and cheeky) options, and they smell ah-maze-ing. My personal favourite is 'That Hot Barista' somehow. I don't even like coffee. Coal + Canary is THAT good. Photo by @jenniferbiancacalligraphy.

|   where to find Coal and Canary


Mud + Stone Studio

These two hardworking ladies are making beautiful hand thrown ceramic dinnerware, serve ware, mugs, and pots, among other things perfect for everyday use. You may have even noticed their wares while eating at a local restaurant. Pictured here are some of their one-of-a-kind serving trays.

|   where to find Mud + Stone Studio

Cheese Mongers

Fairly new to Winnipeg's food scene, the Cheese Mongers are sourcing trending and long-time favourite cheeses for the foodie in all of us. They'll even pull together a full-on cheese board, complete with a wine or beer pairing, knives and accompaniments. Photo by @murlifestyle.

|   custom order from The Cheese Mongers

Smak Dab Mustard - Flavour Pack

Look for their new gourmet mustard flavour pack. It's a generous sampling of their top four selling flavours in one. I love the Canadian Maple Mustard, especially since it is vegan and gluten free, something we all need to be conscious of.

|   where to find Smak Dab Gourmet Mustard

Kate + Norah - Scandinavian Bead Garland

Known for their modern children's play tents, Kate + Norah just introduced some minimalistic wooden bead garlands to their product line. Sign a bead with the year and they make for a cute addition to any Christmas tree.

|   Find Kate + Norah at the Third + Bird Forks Market Pop-Up

Fat Lye Soap

Handmade. Vegan. Beautiful. Plantable Labels. So much goodness in one little package, and especially perfect for the conscientious hostess. 

|   Find Fat Lye Soap Co. at the Dec. 17 @luckygirlpopup, @hutkshop and @shop_public

Rogue Wood Supply - Sacred Ground Smudge Stick

The perfect little gift to bring along to that housewarming holiday party. This handsome bundle of white sage and cedar is an all-natural incense for cleansing and energizing the the home.

|   where to find Rogue Wood Supply

PipCreek Farm + Studio - Un-plastic Food Wrap

I came across these amazing all-natural food wraps this year and just had to get them for our kitchen. The un-plastic food wrap is beeswax-based, compostable, and reusable for up to one year. Use it to wrap granola bars, cheese, leftovers, or whatever you keep wasting plastic wrap on.

|   where to find PipCreek Farm + Studio

How to Choose Your Wedding Theme

Aside from some overall financial and logistical planning, you'll want to choose a wedding theme in the early stages of planning your wedding.

If you already have a location selected, design your theme around its existing character. If you're still open to a variety of venues, you can use your theme to eliminate any venues it wouldn't jive with.

A well designed wedding balances colour, texture, and mood to create an overall theme. That theme extends into every detail from the venue to itineraries, to flower varieties and linen texture, to stationery fonts and tableware. There becomes so many opportunities for personalization with the theme that consistency is absolutely key.

You may find it surprisingly difficult to narrow down a theme you are going to be happy sticking with in the long run. With Pinterest, Instagram, blogs and publications, there is so much inspiration out there to get caught up in and flip flop you from one theme to the next.

So, how do you choose your theme? Make it your own!

Find inspiration from:

  • Your venue (this is important!)
  • Favourite colours
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Places you love
  • An era you wish you could travel back (or forward!) in time to
  • Seasonal surroundings
  • Your personalities
  • Your style
  • Trends in fashion, pop culture and interior design

When you've struck inspiration, take a moment to elaborate on it. Brainstorm the colours, textures, mood, era, objects, and experiences associated with it. Create a new Pinterest board and save items from your list to visualize it all together. Now you have a wedding style to work off of!

If you still don't know where to start, or you've found inspiration but are stuck when it comes to turning it into a complete wedding style, get in touch with me. I'll work with you to create your very own visual mood board and pull together the perfect team of vendors for your one-of-a-kind wedding.

Let's chat about your wedding style!