The Yugen Nature Club

In our 70's kitchen getting ready for a meeting

In our 70's kitchen getting ready for a meeting


Some of my best memories from my pre-teen days were from brownies. My first time sleeping overnight in a tent was at a Brownie campout - same with campfires and the tasty treat that is smores!

I was also an overly enthusiastic badge collector in Brownies. I loved all the challenges and earning my ultra-cool badges and wearing my sash each week with all my hard work sewn on to it. It makes me a bit sad that the sash and all those badges got lost somewhere along the line, I would love to still have them all.

When I decided to create some of my own badges I wanted them to have the same feel as those Brownie merit badges. So I just started my very own merit badge club.

Welcome to the Yugen Nature Badge Club. Yugen is a Japanese word that loosely translates to meaning “a profound awareness of the universe that triggers feelings too deep & mysterious for words”. Why did I choose this word? Part of the point of the Yugen club is to educate and encourage you to embrace all the goodness that comes with being in nature, and to give something back to your natural surroundings.

All badges come with a journal and an activity prompt that revolves around the theme of the badge - you pretty much have to earn your badge, much like we did in Brownies and Scouts!
Friend of the Bee is our very first badge to help bring some much-needed attention and love to our pollinator friends. And your chore for this badge… is to build a bee batch in your backyard to entice bees into your backyard. Check out the Friend of the Bee badge now in the shop - and also there is a special combo listing for the Bee badge couple with a pre-order for the next badge: Forest Explorer!

Sign up for the Yugen News newsletter so you can stay on top of each new badge that is released, we’ll also be sharing cool stories as well as your instagram pics (as long as you use the tag #YugenNatureClub so we can find you!) If your photo is one we choose to share you’ll also get some free swag - along with all that notoriety ;)


ten trees

photo courtesy of tentree - found here

photo courtesy of tentree - found here

I don't actually know when I first heard of the company TenTree, but I remember thinking they were the coolest kids on the block right away. But now that I've dealt with them, and am in love with the product I have from them I HAD to share them with you.

Let's start off with a wee bit of the backstory....

photo from

photo from

I liked this photo on instagram. Not just because it's a gorgeous shirt, but when I learned the meaning behind the name tentree.

(These guys have the BEST feed, if you're into nature and adventure and all the hidden parts of our beautiful planet. If that's you FOLLOW THEM)

I sent this pic to a friend through instagram.

She loved the picture too. (we both love the wild and wonderful outdoors)

Months later she came to visit and brought me a belated Christmas gift. It was this - but in the t-shirt version. In green.

Some people just get you!

Let me tell you a bit about TenTree and why you should love them too.

  • They're Canadian - based out of Regina, Saskatoon (not necessarily the first place you think of when you think of big bountiful Canadian forests, but yes, they do have lot's of trees!) Ok, so not all of you reading this are Canucks, but we can all appreciate the feel good of a local company doing good and doing well.
  • The name.... it's not just a name. They plant TEN trees for every purchase made. And they don't just plant trees in Canada, they also plant in Madagascar, Senegal, Nepal, Ethiopia, India, Malawi, Kenya, Haiti and Cambodia.
  • They believe in responsible manufacturing and want to be an example in the garment industry, promoting fair labour practices and safe working conditions.
  • tentree wants to be more than garment company, they are working to leave a lasting impact on the communities they work with. They partner up with not-for-profits and the communities in the areas they are planting, hiring locals to help work and manage the areas.

The list goes on. I love my comfy new tee, and oh yeah, the spring jacket I purchased. I'd been searching for a new jacket for awhile and just couldn't feel good about anything I found. Until tentree.

But wait, there's more...

So, every purchase comes with these cute little tokens. Each one has a unique code on the back, which you can register on the company's site, so you can track the trees that have been planted for your particular purchase. OMG, this right up my nerdy alley!

Now, the first token I got registered no problem. There are my 10 trees, planted in Madagascar. But after I bought my jacket and went to register that second code, I got the worst message ever. "This code has already been registered". Now, ok, this means that trees have been planted. So really I shouldn't be sad. But, like I stated already, the nerdy side of me just wanted to be able to track all my trees. In a cool infographic. So sad.

I emailed tentree. Not to complain, I showered them with all the love I was feeling, except for the nerdy sadness I was having over my already used code. Really just to let them know this had happened because as a small business owner I know when you offer such a cool service you'd want to know if it wasn't working. What followed was easily the Best Customer Service EVER. Erin was her name, and she was fully apologetic and explained they'd had a glitch in the coding and some were duplicated and assured me that regardless of whether or not the codes get registered, the trees are indeed always planted. Then offered to send me a token. Well now there was no need for that, that's just a waste. So she sent me a new digital code. Now I can track both my tokens and all 20 of my trees. And honestly, this little extra effort is what really makes me love tentree the most. And why I wanted to share them with all my peeps. Even if you're not into stylin' tees like me, maybe you can pass on the story of a good people, doing good things.

You can read all about Madagascan trees here as well as Eden Reforestation, the company they work with. As of this posting 4,666,190 have been planted in Madagascar by tentree. High Fives all around!

You can also follow their blog, which has lot's of info on tree planting and reforestation programs here.

Have any tree planting stories to share? I had some friends who worked as tree planters as summer jobs, and it sounded grueling, but so rewarding. And all that time in the outdoors! Maybe I have a new calling....?

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Wild and free

Welcome to our new home. Well, it's our first home, so I guess not really our new home. 

Whatever, you get it. 

Why am I building a home here, in this space?

First, let's start with you I am.

This is me. Michelle. 

That's me on a winter adventure in Finland - somewhere around the actual North Pole. As much as I love Canada, Finland has some of the most mysterious and enticing woodland areas I've ever experienced.

This trip reminded me of what it was like to be a kid. To just wander and explore. Something we kind of lose with the day to day goings on of adulthood. Since then I've been trying to incorporate that kind of whimsy into my daily life.

I've pretty much worked my whole adult life as a Graphic Designer and I love my work. After enough years though I wanted to do something of my own. So I started a stationery company - some of you might have been following me since those thunderpeep days - happy you're here on my new journey! 

Having my own company was awesome. For a while. One day I realized I just wasn't happy with what I was doing, I needed it to be more. To mean more. To have an impact. So I stopped. People were shocked - but I've never been one to worry about others thoughts on my life. So I put thunderpeep on hold and took time to get back to myself. I published a couple of books. I found my voice. I found my passion. I found my way back to the woods.

So, in case you might not know this - I'm a 100% tree hugging, animal loving, mountain hiking environmentalist. I really try not to be one of those overly preachy, in your face, why don't you care about the planet, stop your wasteful ways types. I've always tried to be more of a follow by example kind of friend of the planet. But yes, I will always have a fairly loud voice when it comes to issues that revolved around the environment ;)

These days people are being inundated with all these doomsday articles and movies telling you to do this to save the planet, don't do that because it harms the planet, you start to feel like you can't do anything right. Of course, people are going to become overwhelmed and eventually dismissive of environmental issues. They've forgotten what the fight is actually for. We've become detached from the source of life and adventure and magic that is the natural world. We're nothing without all the good stuff Mother Natures provides us. It's more about politics these days, than it is about passion.

So, now why this new space?

When it was time to really start thinking about how I wanted to proceed with my business, the ideas evolved over a 6 month period. One idea snowballed into another into another. Sometimes being creative is hard on your decision-making abilities! But then one idea started to really resonate with where I was in my life. The idea of building a podcast out of all the crazy stories I come up with, to try to inspire people back out into nature, to remember why we need to protect it. I've always loved the art of storytelling, so this crazy new podcast medium was just what I was looking for. I took this great class with CampTech and here we are 6 months later. A new company that just wants to promote a movement back towards a greater appreciation for the natural world. I'm not completely leaving thunderpeep in the dust because she's been such a big part of my life, I can't just cut her out now. The thunderpeep shop will still exist with all the fun things we'll be designing, to share in our nature-loving ways!

We need to look to the basics to really have an impact and in a small way that's what I'm hoping to do here, in this space. Take us all back to those magical moments from our childhood. When we would just be open to wandering and not afraid to get lost in the woods. To explore and find joy in the little things. You don't have to go on bit epic adventures but hopefully, these stories will help you want to get back out into the wild open spaces and lose yourself - or get lost with your tribe. Even if it's for a few moments. Guaranteed those few moments will lead to longer moments...

10 things you should know before you embark on this journey with me..
1. I love anything to do with Trolls. Not the mean, internet bullies, but the odd creatures that tend to live mostly in Scandinavian folklore - but are totally real
2. I love all kinds of urban legend creatures, folklore - the stranger the better
3. I live in a big city (for the moment) and pretty much hate it. I need lot's of trees to get lost in and mountains to wander and oceans to float over
4. My friend Steph got me addicted to tea. Like pretty much all kinds of tea. I drink it excessively now. Except for Matcha - because it just makes me go a bit bonkers
5. I'm now in my 40s and when my hair started losing its colour (ie: the white hairs started growing in) I decided to go from a nice brunette to a much more in your face platinum blonde (except for those times I get to add in all the fun colours like peaches and pinks) And I'm loving it!
6. I love books. I love reading books from the library but I can't resist buying really well-designed books. I have tons that I have no intention of reading they are just purely eye candy on my shelves. Sometimes I just pull them down and just look at them.
7. My day job is still as a Graphic Designer. I mostly work in small business branding (if you want to work with me you can get in touch through my contact page) but my background and real passion was always publication design - these days I just design my own books now ;)
8. One day I'd love to be part of a whale researching trip. A really long one, just being out in the ocean with the whale sounds and waves lapping against the boat.
9. My spirit animals are Moose and Narwhals
10. I strongly believe in having a voice and standing up for what you believe in. I would gladly throw myself in front of anyone or anything to save nature from the evil clutches of humans