Haven Living

Plant based is the new black July 17, 2017 13:31

If you've followed my Whole Food journey you'll know I'm a huge advocate of how our diet impacts our health. What we put into our body truly does reflect our skin health not to mention an entire host of other things! 

Over the weekend I jumped on the wagon and watched What The Health. Wowza! 

I have a little girl who chose to go vegetarian last year, so it opened up a whole avenue of plant based foods that made me excited. As a collective unit our home has decided to explore plant based and remove animal products from our diet and see what that journey brings. The littles and I spent the day whipping up some delicious vegan foods from Oh She Glows to satisfy them on summer holidays! 

Who doesn't love Chocolate?!? I can't say enough about these muffins. Rich and decadent and a big ol' hit with the kids! (Even the little picky one) I used a raw powdered cacao to add an extra kick of antioxidant power. 

Find the recipe here: http://ohsheglows.com/2012/08/06/oil-free-chocolate-zucchini-walnut-muffins/

Have you tried plant based and what's your best advice?! 

xo Desja 

SUMMER MERCANTILE ~ POP UP SHOP! June 06, 2017 22:18

Well then Port Alberni! By the sounds of the rumor mill it's high time I say it out loud....I pulled the plug on the move to 3rd Ave. 

I know what you are all thinking...whaaaaat the heck?!! 

Don't panic! This was a tough decision but I feel it was over all the best move. Or not move...I suppose. 

Let me put your minds at ease. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and I respect everyone's concern and possible upset over this decision. It was not made in haste.

1. NO I did not fund the massive renovations, nor am responsible for the contractor, the timeline of construction or the decision's made in regards to final completion.

2. Early on in the project, I was given a beautiful rendered drawing from the architect that reflected a beautiful wood facade that was a great representation of our deep history. Although the finished exterior is unbelievably beautiful and a HUGE improvement, I was definitely disheartened to see the final results were not what I was expecting. There was a project management company hired in the early Spring to streamline the completion. I had the pleasure of working with Jay briefly and have nothing but the most respect for him. 

3. There was originally a finished studio space that we had plans to use for Tashia Potter Photography. The space was removed, which caused changes in the plans we had to our original business. Without the studio space, it meant the shop no longer worked for Tash.

4. I was told verbally that the lighting would be industrial pot lights, which would fit beautifully into our plans for the interior finishing. In early spring I discovered that they were in fact florescent. With the landlords blessing, we were able to switch them to suit the space more efficiently, however this was a cost I was unwilling to in cure in a building I didn't own.

5.  A few weeks back, I was told told there was talk of another amazing local shop going into the space, which was a reflection of very poor communication within the relationship with the landlord. The option to possibly share the space with some fabulous ladies was presented, and had I not had an in depth business plan in place with other incredible artisans, it may have been a very viable option, as our brands are very like minded, and I frankly adore the girls. I have nothing but faith in their own business model although it just wasn't going to work for my plans moving forward. 

These, along with several small details happening behind the scenes, including an understandable increase in leasing costs due to the massive amount of money put into the building due to it's disrepair. In order to keep lease cost down, I had anticipated that I would move forward to finish the flooring and the interior lease hold improvements at my own expense. However as time moved on, and it became increasingly aware to me that we would miss out on the anticipated tourism for 2017, I felt in my gut, that I would be taking on much more than I could carry. 

Had I known that the building would require such significant repair, on such a long timeline, I would not have made the decision that I did in moving forward. My original goal was to be open for May 2017, to access the tourism and have time to sublease my current location. 

Sometimes we make decisions based on information we have at the time, and when we move forward things change and evolve. I feel the space is amazing, and they have worked extremely hard, and done and exceptional improvement to the Uptown corner. I have nothing but the most respect for Realm Structures design team inc, and Jay's incredible vision. If you think it looks good now, wait until you see the future! The space just no longer fit my business projection, and I felt that moving forward was not in my best interest. After seeing the incredible response from our online survey, I see that we have an AMAZING following, and am thankful for your continued support during the last 10 months of stress and expectation. 

This is actually really exciting to me to finally share some great news. Soon as the decision to let go of the space, Tashia and I had the most perfect shop fall into our lap!

Summer 2017 we will be hosting a series of pop up shops, artisan workshops and free paint demo's to coincide with the SUNSET MARKET, Wednesday nights from 6-9pm at the old Coho Book Store, between Archie's Hair and Golden Dragon. 

We have so much great information to share with you all!! I know that you are itching for details and what the future holds for the shop. Stay tuned to our facebook page for exciting detail to come. This is the summer of creativity, and I hope you will be a part of it! 

Thanks for popping in!



Paint it pretty April 18, 2017 22:30

"I have an old dresser I've been debating painting....but I'm scared".

I hear this more often than I could ever account! This was the exact reason I ventured to Victoria BC, on beautiful Vancouver Island in March to the Country Chic Paint Conference.


{if you've never been to Victoria in the Spring, you MUST put it on your life "to do" list!} 

This trip was a really necessary layer for my business. I LOVE painting furniture but have reached a point where I've run out of time to be creative and run out of creativity to make the time to do what I love! 

Most importantly, I found myself fresh out of new ideas to share with my customers who, like me, are always looking for new ideas and fresh inspiration. 

What I found, surrounded by fellow entrepreneurs and women in business from across Canada and the United States, was a wealth of information I couldn't have imagined! There is something incredibly inspiring about watching a woman gracefully embrace the retailers that carry her products, and who in turn, respect and celebrate her climb to success. Rosanne and the Country Chic girls are such an incredible inspiration for me, and how I strive to build a team for Haven. 

Aside from a ton of business building seminars, all of us had the chance to get our hands into the products, which was probably my favourite part of the entire weekend. 

There are so many products I hadn't even thought to work with! I honestly can't wait to show you all the techniques I learned. 

This is why I created Sample Saturdays for the month of April. I want to play with the product and show you all the fun things you can do with paint! Sample Saturday was a way for me to showcase a featured product each weekend, allowing customers to get first hand knowledge of the products, ask questions, receive consultations on projects and get to see and touch the product without commitment to purchasing or taking a workshop. This was so inspiring for me, and I want to share with you the tips and tricks to help take your painting to the next level! Plus I kind of love talking to people so it was a win-win as far as I was concerned! Hahaha! 

I think my favourite product combo right now is Texture Powder + Crackle. I have a slight obsession for the weathered coastal look. I started a Haven Living Pinterest board called Weathered Coastal Painted Furniture....I can't stop obsessing. I mean come on, who doesn't love a good chippy piece of painted furniture?! 

All in all, it was a unique opportunity to hear from other entrepreneurs the way they've run workshops and how they inspire their own customers. It left me feeling very aware that I have a great opportunity to share with you all so many fun products and techniques that have inspired me to get back into teaching and painting.

I was extremely humbled at the opportunity to learn as much as possible about business, as well as how other retailers run their shops. Not often does one get to pick the brains of other successful companies and take with them the lessons they've learned. This is why I love working with Country Chic. We all share a common thread of support instead of competition, and I felt that sensation so vividly as I sat in a room with 60 other driven, successful, intelligent women. See what paint can do for you?!? Hahaha! 

Now I know you all have an "old dresser you've been debating painting...but you're scared". Am I right? 

Don't be afraid! Paint is not forever. It's a creative way to create change within your home. It's a cathartic outlet that helps you to think and process life. It's a way to overcome fear and accomplish something you think you can't. It's rewarding and gives you so much satisfaction to see your home come together. But most of all it's addicting. Trust me. I know. One day your thrifting beautiful furniture, the next you've opened a shop! 

Happy Painting- hope to see you Saturday for the Texture Powder and Crackle live demo at 1pm.

 • Check out the website for upcoming workshops in May.

See the "Follow Your Arrow" project in the shop on Saturday while I showcase the products. 

As always I love to see your projects! Tag us on Instagram @havenlivingshop to show off your pieces! 

xo Happy Painting, Desja 

New Year. New Shop?! January 13, 2017 19:30

 Well the news has been circulating for months now, with whispers and conversations around Haven moving uptown. I currently spend most of my days fielding questions of curiosity and excitement about what's to come and our timeline of the pending relocation.

I'm still working behind the scenes, trying to establish a formative timeline of this move and massive renovation that is currently underway, but here's some details and insight of what I was so excited to finally share!  

Haven Living will be moving to the corner of 3rd and Argyle, into the pivotal cornerstone of our Uptown core. This will increase our exposure tremendously, while placing us front and center with some incredible like minded  businesses that already reside on the busy strip. Being just up the road from the Harbour Quay, means a significant increase in tourist exposure and foot traffic that we just don't acquire in our current location. This move changes the face of Haven Living, and I could not be more excited. 

The building looks considerably larger than our current location, although the square footage is roughly around only 500 sq feet more than our current space. Hidden behind the doors at our downtown location is our manufacturing kitchen, which we have significantly outgrown. The new location offers the opportunity to restructure our manufacturing facility for be the most efficient as possible. More than 1/4 of the floor space will become manufacturing. This shift allows me to refocus more on the wholesale side of my business, and allow me the ability to focus more on my retailers and online shop. This building will be undergoing a MASSIVE renovation, timeline of completion to be determined as we go. This is a much larger project that we originally anticipated, so we are trying to be patient and put plans into place for a smooth transition when the shop is completed.

One of the main things than resonates with me, has been the incredible love from all of you in regards to the Canadian Crafted brands that we carry in the shop. To have a baby boutique that is EXCLUSIVELY Canadian crafted is beyond amazing. From skin care, to clothing, I could't be more happy than when customers rave about brands such as Vancouver Island based Modern Baby and Port Alberni's own A & Gray. As time has marched on it has become apparent to me that THIS is what I am. I am a Canadian brand shop. 

(Image courtesy of A&Gray) 

So I choose to embrace it, and take it to a higher level. The new shop space will boast an incredible array of local Port Alberni artisan's in one way or another.

Joining the team will be Rob Gentleman of Green Earth Wood Works. Rob will not only have a space dedicated to his reclaimed wood furniture and custom furniture business but will be an intricate part of the interior design and building of our shop floor. His talent and incredible furniture is something I can hardly wait to showcase! He has a passion for adding to our workshop schedule and I look forward to all the fun plans we have happening behind the scenes.

I couldn't have a team without mentioning my own personal assistant and real life Pepper Potts to my chaotic Iron Woman, Jamie Del Rio. This girl is not only my right hand with keeping the shop running fluidly, but we share a serious love of vintage furniture and salvaged goods. In recent months Jamie has taken over our custom paint pieces and has found a passion for refinishing salvaged furniture. She is immensely talented and I can't wait to showcase her painted furniture, give her a space to help inspire customers, educate people on how to invest in their own furniture with paint, and to give her a functional workshop space. Jamie has recently stepped into the position of running the wholesale department, product ordering and handling our online sales. She is set to take over as manager of our new location. 

With all the changes set to take place, I could never begin to describe how finding the perfect branding guru to take all my thoughts to reality changed the direction of the branding of our new space. With all great things comes change. I felt it was time to take Haven Living to the next level and encompass all of what we are and what we are shifting to become. My passion for supporting Canadian artisans is coming to full fruition and being able to bring Tashia Potter on board is fiercely exciting. Tashia and I work incredibly well together creatively and she inspires me with her incredible photography and social media skills. This past April Tashia also won an Excellence in Business Award for her social media work in building The Heart of Vancouver Island. Tashia will now have a beautiful studio space in shop to focus on her photography and digital media. She is taking the lead on our re-branding of Haven Living.

Ladies & Gentleman welcome to Haven Living & Neighbourhood Mercantile. 

We are not a "collective". We are a shop that is passionate about supporting neighbourhood artisans or "merchants". Thank you so much for the kind words, excitement and support in regards to this impending relocation. Our hope is to provide a space to inspire & support our local community, while helping to revitalize our Uptown core.  

Within the space will be a large workshop area for not only our own furniture painting workshops, but a space for rent to local artisans who are looking to teach classes of their own. We want to create a space that opens up the door to inspire our community.  

* We are currently sourcing fresh and amazing Canadian Crafted brands to join our line up of best selling goods.

Baby Boutique | Organic skin care | Gentlemen's Section | Vancouver Island made furniture paint | Cards | Candles | Eatables | Jewelry | Bath | Furniture | Art | Decor|     Workshops | Photography


Week 2 - Whole Food. Whole New Year. January 06, 2017 20:30

If you've been following my journey via FB on The Whole Life  you've had front seat action to witness how I have implemented whole food, meal planning and daily life struggles into this crazy mom life I live. 

I am probably one of those people who gives TMI, but here's my thought on that. Life is too darn short to be anything less than vulnerable. The messages, comments and emails from women around me is all I need to know that my own personal struggles are making a difference for the people around me who maybe thought they couldn't succeed at something as big as owning their own life. I do not see myself as a strong woman. I am no stronger than any of these incredible women around me that I admire. I am stubborn. I am strong willed and I do my best to find the positive in a pile of negative.

Then, and only then can you begin to change your life. 

Even if you don't know it yet, you are capable of great things. NO ONE else gets to decide that but you. NO ONE other than you has the power to go after what your soul really yearns for. Here's the tricky part.....figuring out what exactly that is! 

In the month of December, I had some news that could potentially ruin the brand that I have worked so hard to build. Raw ingredients that I use in the formulation of several products has been discontinued. #epicfail. My heart sank. I thought I was going to have cardiac arrest. In the center of my busiest season, Christmas, I was faced with some big decisions that had to be made on the fly, that would impact the future of my products. 

So I called in the big guns. Behind the scenes I have a fierce girl tribe, who I trust immensely and respect to the highest level. Jamie, Tashia and myself had an impromptu meeting to figure out the direction of the brand. I came to the consensus that with the pending move to our new location, this was the perfect time to re-brand our entire line. From top to bottom. I am a firm believer that universe hands you exactly what you are suppose to receive when you are suppose to receive it. The tricky part is to PAY ATTENTION. So as I embark on the horizon of a new Haven, I am excited to say that I am digging deep into my esthetic roots.

I have spent the last month evaluating my core philosophy behind my brand. Evaluating what makes ME different that all the other competing skin care brands out there. It came to me in the depth of night, as most visions for my life do, lol. WHAT makes ME different is that I am and esthetician. I am passionate about what I create. I can over come the bumps and formula hick ups I've encountered, so I spent December going over our recipes and researching, and phoning manufacturers and processing my next move. Excellence only happens after you've failed. Heck, if everything was easy, life would be sooooo boring. Hahaha!

I am an esthetician. I believe in the power of raw ingredients. I believe in the healing benefits of my products, and know that this is the tip of the iceberg as to what I am capable of curating. THAT is what makes me different. I don't make these products to make money. My intention behind my brand is to create products that help heal the skin, and are authentically chemical free, that make a difference in peoples daily life and that are curated to be more than just another product on the shelves with my competitors.

How does ALL of this play a part in my Whole Food journey you ask? Well, food is the building block for our entire system. It occurred to me, that the link between our diet and our skin is so much more powerful than anyone thinks. How could I bond the philosophy of my company and my lifestyle? What are my core beliefs about the life I want to create and how does that passion encompass my life. 

I am a firm believer in sourcing local and ethically raised meat from local farmers. I shop at the local fish market and at the farmers markets. I try and use the 100 mile concept if at all possible. I purchase organic at my local grocery stores. I read every label now, and have made eliminations and swaps in my children's diet that reflect a more whole food approach. I plan ahead. I talk about nutrition with my children and what the different foods do for our bodies. I research and read as much as possible. Everyday I just try to make better choices. 

As a busy momma and #girlboss, the biggest obstacle I face is meal planning! I hear it all the time from women like me. How do you do it?! Well, here's how I do it. I plan ahead. I grocery shop on the weekends and take a day to prep as much as possible. Guess what, it sucks lol. Guess what else? It kept me on track until I got the hang of it. I promise the struggle gets easier with a little planning and some inspiration.

Below is this weekends grocery list and meal plan. The recipes I feature can be found on my Whole Life Pinterest Board. 

This week take time for self care and reflect on the person you can be in 2017. You are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Don't EVER forget that!

I hope these meals inspire you to dial in your nutrition and challenge yourself to eat a little more wholesome this week!

Weekend Prep:

*Bake chicken breasts and make ahead Fiesta Chicken Salad.

*Prep your chicken, cut up potatoes for Monday's slow cooker meal.

*Cut up Broccoli to bake for Mondays dinner. You'll bake all of the broccoli you'll need to include in Tuesdays casserole.

*Make mayo to have on hand for the week ahead.

MONDAY- January 9

Breakfast - Grain free "oatmeal

Lunch - Fiesta Chicken Salad over spinach or greens of choice.

Dinner - Slow cooker whole chicken with potatoes and carrots + baked broccoli

* Assemble casserole with left over chicken and broccoli.

* Bake your sweet potatoes for tomorrows breakfast.

*Put bones back into slow cooker overnight to make bone broth.

TUESDAY - January 10

Breakfast - Twice baked Sweet Potato (substitute prosciutto for bacon)

Lunch - left over fiesta chicken salad over greens of choice 

Dinner - Chicken Broccoli Casserole

WEDNESDAY - January 11

Breakfast - left over twice baked potato

Lunch - left over chicken and broccoli casserole

Dinner - Slow cooker meatballs in marinara sauce + over spaghetti squash

*prep your roast for the slow cooker tomorrow.

*assemble ingredients for quiche

THURSDAY - January 12

Breakfast - Kale and egg quiche (omit the cheese and miso)

Lunch - left over meatballs in sauce over spaghetti squash

Dinner - Slow cooker Pulled Pork (omit brown sugar) + green beans + fresh salad (make enough salad for left overs tomorrow night) *shred the left over pork before you pack it up for tomorrows dinner.

Friday - January 13

Breakfast - left over kale and egg quiche

Lunch - Spring mix or greens of your choice with canned salmon and ranch.

Dinner - Crispy Carnita's with green salad

SATURDAY - January 14

 Breakfast - Eggs, pan fried potatoes and prosciutto. Avocado and fruit. 

Lunch - Left over protein with salad, or any left overs that need to be used up.

Dinner- Appie Night- Spinach & Artichoke Dip. Hot Wings with Ranch and raw veggies. 


SUNDAY - January 15  

Breakfast- Breakfast casserole (this serves as left overs to start your next weeks breakfast) Substitute the chicken sausage for ground turkey

Lunch - Left over protein with salad, or any left overs that need to be used up.

Dinner - Oven Roasted Chicken + potatoes + steamed asparagus or green beans.


A Whole New Year! January 01, 2017 21:53

Hello New Year! Hello Whole 30! 

As hard as I tried to hold onto my whole lifestyle, I have to admit the holiday season kicked my butt! As most of us I was run off my feet and it lead me to surviving off of Starbucks Peppermint Mocha's. At the beginning of December it was a Grande, made with coconut milk, 1/4 sweet , no whip.......by the end of the month I ended up going full fat, dairy, whip and an extra shot of espresso!

The occasional cookie turned into me shoving them into my face as I ran between my shop and mother hood. Let's face it, Whole 30 went out the window and that is just going to have to be ok. Good news is that here's what I know for sure! It's not "If" we fall that reflects our progress, it's how we get back up that really counts!

So here's my PLAN for the New Year! I'm starting Whole 30 on Monday January 2 and would love if you would join me! You can join my face book group The Whole Life to see the progress I have made so far, and to follow me during the next month as I get back on my feet. 

For meal planning made easier and yummy recipes, you can follow Haven Living on Pinterest and follow my Whole Life board, where I  focus on Whole 30 recipes and inspiring blogs to keep you motivated during the days you'll struggle. Because there will be days you will struggle! 

Below is my meal plan with groc list.

There's probably a lot of items you already have in your pantry, and remember a lot of items are for your entire month, like herbs etc.

I have 3 small kidlets in my home that also eat whole (with the addition of treats and dairy and wheat) . Adjust your list as you need to for your family. We eat A LOT of produce, so your list may look different:) 

I am really excited about getting back to basics and back to whole foods again! I hope this inspires you and give you the tools you need to find your best health in 2017!! As always I am here for any questions you may have. Follow along on FB and get interactive with me!


1.Prep your Mayo

2. Pre cook Chicken Breast

3. Pre-Mix Ranch dip

Breakfast - Breakfast Pumpkin Custard

Lunch - Buffalo Chicken Salad - on a bed of spinach or spring mix + fruit

Dinner - Slow Cooker Roast Beef (shred beef for Tuesday's dinner) 



Breakfast - Left over Pumpkin Custard

Lunch - Left over Buffalo Chicken Salad + fruit

Dinner - Shredded Beef Taco Salad



Breakfast - Breakfast Twice Baked Potato (prosciutto instead of bacon) + fruit

Lunch - Chicken and Veggies

Dinner - Creamy sun-dried tomato chicken



Breakfast - Kale Breakfast hash (recipe on previous blog post - The Whole Life)

Lunch - Left Over Sun Dried Tomato Chicken 

Dinner - Salmon and Dill Sauce, steamed asparagus and sauteed zucchini in olive oil, garlic and dried dill.



Breakfast - Left Over Kale hash

Lunch -Left Over Salmon 

Dinner - Rosemary Lemon Chicken, Steamed asparagus, green beans pan fried in olive oil and garlic.

*Wednesday - Marinate whole chicken - Fresh rosemary, juice of 2 whole lemons, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 clove of garlic, sea salt and fresh pepper



Breakfast - Breakfast Casserole

Lunch - Salad of your choice with any left over proteins

Dinner - Hot Wings - Veggie plate and homemade ranch



Breakfast - Left over breakfast casserole

Lunch - Salad of your choice with any left over proteins

Dinner - Creamy and smokey pork chops



The Whole Life July 29, 2016 12:51 2 Comments

The last two months have seen me part take in a serious journey for my health. One which has not only opened up the way I perceive my "diet", but how I feel about myself in general.

The work/life balance has always been a challenge for me as a mother, but opening the shop took on a life of it's own, and I unknowingly had put myself on a shelf and stopped living and began "surviving". That survival saw my health steadily decline, I compromised my diet and lost what little I had left of me. I woke up one day and realized I was not being authentic to myself anymore. I had some big adjustments to make, and starting with food was my #1 concern. I had no idea it would lead me down a path I had been searching for.

I began a program called The Whole 30This was not a "fad diet" but a serious Hail Mary for my mere existence. I needed something that was structured, had tight rules, and a plan for me to focus on. Was it tough. Yes, there were days for sure. Was it worth it? Oh man, you have NO idea! It was life changing!! I'm nearly 3 months in from my first day. It is now my lifestyle. I am always tweaking my macro's and adding in exercise where I can, but being so busy that can be a challenge. My current life goal is to survive summer with all the kids alive! 

A self professed carb addict, I wasn't quite sure how I would manage cutting bread/buns/muffins/doughnuts, etc from what had become a toxic daily habit. So in the 2-3 weeks prior to my start date I began removing the tough foods I loved most from my diet and replacing them with things like sweet potatoes for breakfast. I have never been a big "greens" fan. I struggle getting spinach and mixed greens into my diet. As for kale you could pretty much not ever mention it. It was NOT going to happen. A 20 pack box of Tim Bits, yes, but kale.....nope.

I began searching Pinterest for new recipes in the evening to replace my night time binge eating I had grown accustomed too. Instead I found new an inspiring ways to eat vegetables. I started looking for foods that excited me. I didn't have to worry portion sizes, my main concern was just focusing on whole food and making changes.

Little by little I began to make changes that added up to huge results for me. I literally crave whole food. I have no interest in the foods I used to indulge in, and in fact I can now recognize how sick they have been making me. 

If changing your life is something you're ready for, here are a few tips and tricks I have used to get make my busy life a "whole" lot easier. Summer is the perfect time to be eating as local as you can, taking advantage of fresh fruit and veggies that are in abundance right now!!

  • Grocery shop on Saturdays, so that you have Sunday to do as much prep work as possible.
  • Plan slow cooker meals on your busiest days and make enough to ensure left overs to either freeze, use for another weekday meal, or for lunches through the week. 
  • MAKE YOUR LUNCH RIGHT AFTER DINNER! I can not stress this enough. When you are cleaning up dinner, pack your "planned overs" right then and there. Mornings are busy and if you don't plan ahead, you'll end up eating a box of Tim Bits under your desk at work while you wash it down with tears of your failure.
  • Invest in a great travel system for your food. I purchased the INNOVATOR. The best investment I have made for myself. 
  • Get a great water bottle. I use Tupperware because it's life time warrantied and I was tired of buying garbage that kept leaking!!
  • Make ahead a few servings of chicken, roast and steamed sweet potatoes that you can keep frozen for emergency meal prep on the days things don't go as planned. This is one of the most valuable things I can offer you. you'll be thankful you did.
  • Ensure your freezer is stocked with frozen vegetables & fruit on the days you run out and need something quick!
  • Explore blogs and the internet for recipes that keep you excited. Eat a variation of different foods every day to balance your macro nutrients. 
  • Blueberries, blackberries, cherries, watermelon, nuts and hard boiled eggs are great pack-able foods for summer travel or camping snacks.
  • Include your kids!! Focus on less packaged treats and more fresh fruit. Cutting out processed sugars is one of the best moves you can make for them.
  • Invest in great meal planner. These cuties are available at Haven Living for $15 and include a magnet for hanging on the fridge. If nothing else this week, try something new and begin to implement veggies in new ways.

Here is the recipe for my Kale Breakfast Hash. I eat a variation of this every morning by switching up my greens, meats and fruits. It's my favorite way to get my greens right now!

Life is busy, but with the right tools you can simplify meal planning and make big changes! I hope this is exactly what you need to utilize all that summer has to offer and start your clean eating journey! The link to this recipe is on our Pinterest board here: The Whole Life.

xo Desja

The brains behind the brand June 29, 2016 13:55

Who is Desja?

The brains behind the brand of course.

If you've checked out the website or seen me profiled on several blogs and instagram, or read about my journey, you would see that I am a mommy of three who is super passionate about skin care!

I am also crazy in love with several Canadian made brands and love having the chance to support them in their own journey. This is why I love having a shop that blends all the things I love most. 

I have been in the cosmetology industry for nearly 20 years since the first day I began shampooing clients at a salon in my home town, I was bitten by the bug. I carried on to become a licenced stylist, ethetician and make up artist. It was my passion. Moving into developing a skin care brand become something I was excited about. I feel that is what sets me apart from so many other up and coming brands. A lot of research goes into my brand and the products I curate. I love to know that my products do much more than just smell great. Knowing that the raw ingredients I work with and the essential oil blends I create nourish the skin and the spirit. 

Here's the top 10 weird facts about me.

1. I am an only child and grandchild, which is probably why I dive head first into terrifying things. I had an awesome (probably unrealistic) sense of "I can do anything!" 

2. I chose to have 3 children because my son would have been the end of our genetic line, as my husband too is an only child. Meaning our children have ZERO biological aunts, uncles or cousins! (super weird right)

3. I used to speak in a British accent when we would travel because I thought it made me sound more distinguished. (because when you're an only child you do whatever the heck you want since there's no one there to call you out on your weirdness)

4. I once briefly dated B.B. Kings son. 

5. I actually never wanted children because I planned to travel extensively.

6. I can sing 

7. I am beyond terrified to fly because my brain can't understand how the plane stays in the air. I have panic attacks and become the crazy person on the plane who is positive we are going to crash. (soooo I'm a ton of fun to travel with)

8. I get a lot of anxiety in busy public spaces or driving in big cities.

9. I am surprisingly traditional. I would be a 1950's house wife any day

10. My creativity doesn't ever turn off, so I can get burnt out pretty easily and learning the work/life balance is something I am working really hard on! 

I hope that you love the brand and shop as much as I do! Thanks for stopping by and finding out a little bit more about me and Haven Living. 

#consciousbeautyproject March 02, 2016 11:43

The Conscious Beauty Project was inspired by my children. As a mother of three, it is so important to me to instill a positive idea of what is considered "beautiful", and create a conversation that hopefully spills over to their peers. With more and more pressure for women in both the media and in our surrounding lives, I feel passionately that now is an opportunity to reach out and support in ways we never could before. 

The conscious beauty project is designed to inspire women and young girls to not only be conscious of the words we use to each other, but to be conscious of the ingredients we choose to use in our skin care and beauty products. 

Chemical conscious & kindness conscious. That is the mission of the #consciousbeautyproject.

~ a percentage of sales benefits women in our community.

Home is what you make it March 01, 2015 22:12

So many of us are inundated with spectacular images of glorious homes, through magazines, facebook, instagram, and pinterest. These glorious images can leave us to believe that we need to spend our hard earned pennies on extremely expensive pieces just to "keep up with the Jones".

 False. I think there is a spectacular movement happening right now, and I love hearing it every day! People are hoarding junk! And I love it. People are creating their OWN style. Style that comes from grandma's hand-me-downs. Style from the thrift stores, and yard sales. Style that had become their own signature....not bought a department store. And I love it.

There is nothing better than hearing the stories of what people are painting, when they come to the shop to buy their first can of Chalk + Clay Paint. The colors they have agonized over, the finish they want, the items they are creating the piece around. A pillow, a painting, and old heirloom lamp. It fills my soul to watch them fall in love with a piece of furniture saved from an uncertain future, now to become loved and cherished. 

True style has no guidelines. Styling a space is truly about taking unique items that make your heart smile and creating art with them. Maybe they don't all match. Maybe to some, they are not the most beautiful things. Maybe your art is simple, salvaged from a yard sale....but it speaks to your heart. At the end of a long day, your home should speak to you heart. 

As I have trolled the internet, looking for beautiful painted pieces, with character and charm, these are a few of my favorite things that hopefully inspire you to create a home of inexpensive luxury. A can of paint goes a loooong way to creating a beautiful space!


I love the use of vintage pieces in this image. Pieces you may not have thought to put together, but create a warm and inviting effect.

The old phone on the pedestal table, beside an old weathered chair. Both in a warm natural wood that offset the cool paint of the gray dresser, yet bring the wood of the oar into the space.

The warmth of the gold mirror, lamp and candle holder offer the same effect and tie in the gold frame from the vintage picture on the wall.

Image courtesy of - Pinterest









The combination of leather and wood, combined with industrial pieces, works perfectly in this space. The color scheme works magic as it leaves you feeling warm and cozy, although the pieces that ground the space are cold by nature. 

The maps, encyclopedia's and geographical pillows give the space a slightly educated feeling. Combined with the filing cabinets, you feel as though this room, most likely a home study, belongs to some one who has a love of travel. 

The worn, painted wood floors, welcome you with natural effect, yet off set the dark and rich colors that encompass the room. This room has a heir of sophistication, yet is entirely created using ragged, and well used pieces. 

Image courtesy of-  Pinterest







This is such a great example of what you are capable of doing with a simple can of paint. How many of us grew up with the dated rock fireplaces, that over time, really show the age of a house.

Some of them however, beautifully done, may not be the look you are going for. A simple paint over, finish can do wonders, saving you a ton of work and a lot of pennies. 

The addition of the crown molding at the top adds such sophistication, yet would an inexpensive solution for camouflaging a rustic mantle, if needed.Simple thrift store baskets bring a natural warmth to the stark white, while the vintage MEDALTA pot and the edge of a vintage reupholstered chair, adds texture to the space, while complimenting the white and neutral color scheme. 

Image courtesy of - Pinterest






These are three perfect examples of how to incorporate paint into your own space, creating your own sense of style, utilizing what you may already have at home. 

1. Painted furniture is always a quick, simple way to refresh your space. It's a great way to begin the evolution of your home. 
2. Painting worn, neglected floors can be a cost effective way to update your home without the huge bill of new flooring. This may not work in every home, but sometimes it's worth it to think outside the box. 

3. Painting a huge feature like a fireplace can be hugely rewarding and is a fun way to update without the cost of a huge renovation required when revamping a fireplace. 

With Spring on the horizon, hopefully you are inspired to refresh your space, and begin to create a style in your home that is all your own. Not sure where to begin? Join me in one of our Ce Ce Caldwell Paint classes for a hands on tutorial and a great chance to be inspired to evolve your space. Don't live near Haven Living? Check online for upcoming classes with a Ce Ce Caldwell retailer in your area.

Happy Painting ~ Desja

Bye Bye Boutique? February 20, 2015 22:14

Wow! I can not believe that we are approaching the end of February! The last 2 months have been unbelievable as I have met the most amazing people and am touched by the excitement and love you all have poured into Haven Living. A heart felt THANK YOU is just not enough! 

Since opening the doors on December 1, the success of the shop has caught me completely off guard in the best way possible! I am still trying to figure out the learning curve that comes with being a shop owner, and have found myself really trying to hone in, on what Haven Living is all about and the direction I want to take the shop. Upon opening the store, my goal was to fill the space with pockets of "lifestyle" items and take the time to see where people gravitated. I am still new to Port Alberni, and am still finding my balance among the community. I can't believe the support from local boutique owners, and am truly in awe of how well these businesses are doing here. There are some pretty fabulous boutiques here in Port Alberni, and the truth is, honestly, at this point I just can't execute the clothing section as well as the established boutiques already are.

Now that I have had the opportunity to reflect on the growth of the shop, I have decided to shift towards more accessories, jewelry and growth in the the children's boutique and the body collections. My goal has always been to carry unique Canadian made items, gift ware and continue to expand the Haven Living Skin Care Collections, so that Haven Living continues to be unique and fresh! 

That being said, there are some pretty AMAZING things happening at the shop in the coming months! As some of you may have noticed, the website is getting a slight overhaul. It was time to make changes and adapt to carrying many of the products I have in store, ONLINE! With so many emails and requests for items seen on instagram and facebook, I felt it was time to appeal to the online followers, so beginning March 1 you will all have the opportunity to be a bigger part of Haven Living whether you live locally or a far!

Beginning Saturday February 21 until Saturday March 7, ALL clothing in the boutique is up to 50% off, and remaining stock will be pulled off the shelves in preparation for all the good things to come! Get it before they're gone! 

Thank you so much to each of you for your continued support, whether it's been online, in store or at one of our amazing retailers. I can't wait to see Haven Living begin to take shape and grow to accommodate so many amazing Canadian artisans, local and a far, I am so excited about what's to come, and I know that you will be too!




Mommy Confessions November 18, 2014 10:10 1 Comment

Motherhood. There are no words to explain the joy, bliss, love, despair and exhaustion all rolled into the delicious little ball that are my children. I have three of them. My third is a spirited child. She is unlike the other two in every way. It confuses me on a daily basis. I confess...some days I wonder if I used all the good parenting up on the older two and I'm just praying she survives. She does NOT self entertain, unless you call creating havoc in the house, entertainment. She could care less about toys, unless it's the big kids "off limit" ones. She is into every drawer, every cupboard, climbing, destroying, and generally just into everything. All. The. Time. I'm exhausted.

Yesterday was exceptionally tiring, as I had a full house of "mommy jobs" to catch up on, after a weekend of soccer, hockey, a birthday party, and working in the store until the late hours of the night laying floors and painting. Not to mention all the emails, and business I had to accomplish yesterday, all while trying to keep baby at bay. 

I confess, I was in my pj's until 4:30 yesterday. It was THAT kind of day. So when the big kids arrived home and baby was content to play downstairs with them, it gave me an hour grace to throw in dinner, shower and regroup before the evening chaos began. 

She has been cutting her 2 yr molars, and it has made her skin awful, her disposition miserable, and has given her insane diaper rash, which we rarely struggle with. So last night during my escape from mother hood, I was unaware until well after dinner that she had been sitting in a dirty diaper. Her bottom was raw and blistered. (insert mommy guilt and shame here) I put her in a tepid bath and used the Sprout Soap clean her up . She screamed and sobbed from the pain. I felt awful. So as I struggled to get a diaper on a screaming, tired miserable baby, I grabbed the Soothing Spray. I figured this was as good as a time as any to put it to the test! As I misted her down she screamed "owie". Now this could be because it may have stung, it was chilly from being in the drawer, or because she literally says "owie" to anything she doesn't like. Socks = owie, Apples = owie, Carseat = owie. So my admittance to this fact may be tainted. I will however agree that given the state of the blisters on her. it was most likely painful. Which is exactly why I was happy I didn't have to wrestle her down and rub Salve on her. It would have been awful.Soothing Spray I saturated her. I mean to the point it was dripping off her skin. I closed up the diaper, jammy'd her and hoped for the best. The hysteria subsided pretty quickly after that.                                                                                            This morning when I changed her, her skin was slightly pink, but all the rash, blisters and redness were gone.  I was pretty thrilled to see such a great change overnight.                                                                                                                                                                                         So as I watch her climb up the back of the kitchen chairs....I will hope today is less chaotic. Hoping I can successfully accomplish being mommy, business owner, curator and decorator all rolled into one, and find 20 minutes for a tea. Mother hood, no said it would be easy, they said it would be worth it.

Happy mothering, and I hope you survive the day ~ Desja

Sweet As Sugar November 02, 2014 18:20

What is Body Polishing Scrub, how does it work, and what makes it different than every other sugar scrub on the market? What's the difference between that and the Body Pumice?

These are my FAQ's. So of course I thought I should fill you all in on the how's, what's, and why's of the Haven Living Body Collection. 

What is Body Polishing Scrub?

It is a full body, 100% natural sugar scrub that can be used from your face to your feet. It can be used daily as a face cleanser, make up remover, shaving oil, or to exfoliate any part of the body you choose!

How does it work?

Remove a nickel size (or larger) amount of scrub from the container with a clean utensil, into the palm of the hand. Add enough water to create the consistency of soft butter. Rub gently over skin to be exfoliated. If using on the face, after desired exfoliation, liquefy product with warm water and rub over eye lids to remove eye make up. If using on legs, liquefy sugars to create a shaving oil and use in place of creams or soaps for a super close shave. Use a hot, damp face cloth to remove all excess product. If product is not thoroughly removed, it will feel sticky to the touch. Rinse again with water.   

What makes it different

The Body Polishing Scrub has a unique consistency that is reminiscent of a rich body cream, with the benefit of sugar to exfoliate. I designed this collection with several things in mind. Firstly, I wanted it to maintain the sugar composition and prevent them from melting too quickly once water was introduced. It allows you to gain more control over how much exfoliation you want. Secondly, I wanted to bring the melting temperature up so that in hotter weather the product would not liquefy and cause crystallization of the sugars. Thirdly, I wanted the product to have a dense, rich creamy texture that would spread beautifully on the skin, be rich in antioxidants, high in emollients and moisturize without leaving the skin feeling oily, but rather smooth and hydrated. 

What's the difference between the Body Pumice?

The Body Pumice is one step higher in exfoliation. It is a moderate, not mild exfoliate that is best suited for the body, NOT the face. The Body Pumice Collection was designed to utilize different ingredients with the natural sugars, to create unique and unusual ways to stimulate the skin and exfoliate simultaneously. 

The entire Body Polishing Scrub Collection was designed for the face, but benefits the entire body. It has a mild exfoliate from the natural sugars that prevent damage to skins delicate surface on the face. All of our products are esthetician designed, and made to protect, heal and nourish the skin. Each blend has a unique purpose for the skin and spirit, and is meant to establish over all health. The entire Body Collection is curated using organic coconut oil, non-gmo soy, and pure essential oil blends. 

That is the in's and out's of the Body Collection! With an exclusive Gentlemen's Collection on the horizon, we will not be stopping here! So much more in store for Haven Living and I am loving the feedback from all of you! Thank you!

Are you dying to know the top seller right now?! Snow! With a refreshing blend of warm vanilla, peppermint and spearmint, it is making everyone's list for the upcoming holiday season. Don't fret, when the season is over, Snow will be part of the permanent collection! (it's my favorite)

Happy scrubbing! Desja

Soap Opera October 27, 2014 19:57

As the Baby Collection gains momentum and excitement builds over the collection, many people have been asking what the "new" products will be, and if I have plans to launch a liquid soap with the Baby Skin Care Collection. My answer to that is NO. Nope. Nada. 

When I started researching the concept for the Baby Skin Care Collection, I wanted it to include products that I myself would use on my children and products that would be the most nourishing and beneficial to the skin. After all, with the recent flood of information pertaining to the chemicals in drugstore children's products, I felt it was extremely important to utilize my years of esthetics knowledge to design a skin care collection with the littlest people in mind. As a mom of three, I knew that if I had concerns in regards to what I put onto my children's body's, so must other mama's. 

Many of us don't realize that our skin is the largest organ of our body! It is a functioning system, and as a result, absorbs everything you put on it. Think about that? That's frightening. This is why I am sooooo passionate about what I create and release. I feel that not only are the quality of the ingredients and raw materials extremely important, but the reasons I choose them to be equally of value. Soap is not always just soap.

All soaps contains a lathering agent. It's the quality of the lathering agent and the addition of moisturizing and nourishing fats, that are personally my biggest concern. Plain and simple, liquid soap needs a much heavier lathering agent than a bar soap does, due to the water content that makes it liquid. That agent is called Sodium Borate.....it's the same compound used to make Borax laundry soap. For Health Canada reasons, it is labelled safe for usage, and typically contains below .1%. Fair enough, it's deemed "safe" by Health Canada standards. It does not however, contain any moisturizing agents that would aid in nourishing the delicate skin, protecting the acid mantle or preventing an allergic reaction, and counter acting the dryness of the skin caused by the sodium borate.

How many times have you washed your face with a foaming cleanser and it felt tight and dry? That's because you've stripped away the skins natural oils and there was nothing in that product to prevent them from being literally washed away. Are you following me? Now you're thinking....ahhhhhh? Right?

As humans, we have a little invisible protective barrier on our skin. It's called the Acid Mantle. It's like the ozone layer for your entire skin surface. It acts as a barrier to bacteria,viruses and contaminants that may penetrate the skin. These contaminants are alkaline in nature. The more alkaline the pH balance of the skin, the more infection a person will have. For instance, acne is created when the skin is at an alkaline pH level. Alkaline is defined by a pH level of 7.0 and higher. Guess what the natural pH level of these "natural" liquid soaps (containing borax) are.....7.0-7.5! 

Baby's are born with NO ACID MANTLE. Meaning that they don't have ANY protective barrier on their little skin to protect them from the bacteria, viruses and contaminants that may penetrate the skin. Add the use of liquid soap, with borax, and a high pH level, and you run the risk of skin rashes, irritation, dry patches, eczema and a host of other potential issues.  

Goats milk is the CLOSEST to the skins pH. It is rich in naturally occurring fats, oils, and proteins that nourish and help to maintain the natural balance of the skin. A natural vegetable emulsifier creates a very mild lather, which is counter balanced by the incredible moisturizing properties of the vitamins, amino, citric and unsaturated fatty acids found in goats milk. Of all the research I did, this was by far the winning choice. The half spherical shape fits snugly in the heel of the hand, allowing one to hold a wet, slippery baby with one hand, while creating a lather with the flat side directly onto the child. Bathing little's isn't as easy as one may think!

All of the information I have compiled for you today has been based on my research, my years of education, and my personal and professional opinion as a mommy and an esthetician. I believe in the products I am creating for my children and hope that as I send them into the world, you too will love them, and feel good knowing that they were curated with years of education and experience behind them.

The Sprout Goats Milk Soap is Hypo-Allergenic, Non-Comedogenic, Biodegradable, contains No Detergents, No Surfactants, No Sulfates, No Alcohol, No Sugar Solutions, with No Animal Testing. It is Gluten Free with a food grade plant base, derived from sustainable growers. It contains pure essential oils for fragrance and zero synthetics. It contains 10% pure liquid goats milk in a 100% pure natural glycerine soap base. It is GMO free.

As a mother of three and an esthetician with over 15 years of experience and education, I created the Baby Skin Care Collection to provide choices to other mommy's just like me. No matter what soap you choose, liquid or bar, do your research. Hopefully today you learned a little something new, and thought a little bit about what you put on your most precious asset. After all, we focus so much on what we let our children put IN their body, yet sometimes don't think about what we put ON it. Because frankly, we have enough to think about! 

Warm regards, and happy mothering!




What is Haven Living September 02, 2014 22:00

With nearly 20 years experience and knowledge in the esthetics industry, and driven by a passion for non-toxic, chemical free products, Haven Living was created to fulfill the void for the chemically conscious consumer. A hand curated, aromatherapeutic collection of sugar based, body and facial exfoliating scrubs that are not only chemical and preservative free, but formulated with a balance of essential oils to create a product that is healing for the skin and spirit. From the face to feet, it has amazing aroma-therapeutic properties, making it one of the only authentically natural products on the market.
As a mother of three, the desire to create a line of body products specially designed for babies and children that contained zero chemicals and no preservatives was a top priority. To develop a product that would not only nourish baby’s delicate skin, but contain healing benefits of pure essential oils. The decision to source as many organic, local and gmo-free ingredients as possible, resulted in Sprout ~ a baby skincare collection. This line of healing balms, soap and soothing spray, has rich healing properties for delicate skin, and aroma-therapeutic benefits, for the tiniest of spirits.
The desire, to not only create my own product line, but to support the handmade, local industry was the concept behind Haven Living. With so many big box chains on the landscape for shoppers, the ability to be unique, stand out and support local women in business was a driving force behind Haven Living. 
Home décor, uniquely painted furniture, paint classes and custom painted furniture will be available. Boutique, jewellery, and children’s wear are some of the products you’ll find in store and online. Haven Living’s personal line of Baby and Body skin care products, hand- made in store, and found in select retail locations across the lower mainland of BC, is what Haven Living is all about.