Waiting for the Right One: Our Essentia Organic Mattress

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise

We recently got a new bed mattress and to honour this special item (simple things are special to us) we bought some flowers, a rare indulgence. I had planned on letting the children cover the bed in petals and bounce around, since we’ve never owned a mattress that has bounce I figured they would enjoy that. But, my little boy, Sen, had other plans. The photos that follow depict the making of his “flower sculpture”, which turned out to be the most perfect, organic way to appreciate our new mattress (which happens to be made from plants and infused with essential oils). The dried flower sculpture now sits on the shelf above our bed.

Please enjoy the photos and I hope you’ll read my post about how and why this mattress came into our life and why I feel so strongly about it as a product. But first, let’s start with the back story.

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

About 8 years ago an Essentia mattress store opened in Ottawa, the city we live in here in Canada. At the time we were sleeping on a 5-year old terribly uncomfortable futon mattress (I cannot overstate this enough). Being environmentally-minded consumers, we sourced and had custom made a futon made entirely from recycled cotton t-shirts and wool, we were assured it would be comfortable and last 10 years. But from day one it was uncomfortable. It was lumpy and slanted — I always felt like I was going to roll off the bed — a bit of an unnerving feeling when you’re trying to fall asleep. We figured it would take some time to settle and, besides, we weren’t about to waste all the materials, effort and money that went into the mattress. Months went by and the mattress never improved…it really only got worse, much worse. Being students and young parents we had no money to replace the mattress so we made do, which we are pretty good at doing. (Did you read my post about how we’ve been eating our meals at a desk for over 15 years, because we can’t afford to upgrade to a bigger, sustainable option? Ya, we make do.)

The point of the story is that after 5 years with the lumpy futon we were more than ready for a new mattress, but wanted to make sure we bought one that was ethically and sustainably made, and much more comfortable. After years of bad sleeps (I’m talking waking up every hour of every night from discomfort), we were ready for a good night’s sleep (and to reap all the health benefits that come from good rest).

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

Essentia mattresses are certified organic, plant-based (vegan-friendly!), biodegradable (!!), and ridiculously comfortable. After we walked into the store, laid on a few mattresses, we were sold on them. We decided that when we had the money these would be the mattresses we would invest in.

Years passed and our finances never really improved, so we kept sleeping on the lumpy futon. The slant in the mattress got worse. The lumps became more accentuated. It got to the point where we would take turns sleeping on our love seat because it was more comfortable (despite the obvious fact that we couldn’t stretch out on it).

My sweet sister (who is generous beyond words) caught wind of our sleeping woes and gave us a synthetic memory foam mattress topper for our futon. Many people I know use these memory foam mattress toppers for extra comfort, as they add a nice layer of supportive cushion to a mattress. But, being the health nut that I am I didn’t want to get one as I’ve read terrible things about the off-gassing, since the foam is synthetically made with chemicals and treated with fire retardants. Basically a toxic cocktail you sleep on 8 hours a night — not something I was itching to do (no pun intended).

I didn’t want to say no to my sister’s generosity (and she had let the mattress topper “breathe” for a while at her home) so we accepted the kind offer and looked forward to a good sleep. The topper was quite comfortable, but when we woke up in the morning my daughter was covered head to toe in hives, she was visibly swollen and in a lot of discomfort. She is not the allergic sort of child, she has no known allergies and is generally in good health and has a strong immune system, though she does have very sensitive skin. I quickly googled “foam mattress allergy” and found a tonne of photos of people covered in the same rash. I researched further and found that many people have terrible reactions to memory foam. So, we took the mattress out of the bedroom, disposed of it, and that was the end of foam mattresses for us.

Then, a few weeks later I happened to get an email from Essentia asking if I would be interested in reviewing one of their products. I couldn’t believe our luck! As a rule, I always so ‘no’ to any product sponsorships unless I already use the product (or want to use it but can’t afford it), so this was perfect: I received something I had wanted for 8 years in exchange for an honest review.

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

We got ourselves a Stratami Queen mattress and our sleeps have been truly blissful ever since! I can’t say enough good things about the mattresses and pillows that Essentia makes. There is nothing green-washed about their products, they are fully  organic, plant-based, sustainably made and (amazingly) biodegradable — so even after the mattress is out of use it can fully decompose, rather than hanging out in landfill indefinitely!The mattress comes in fully recyclable packaging too. I have not come across anything near as environmentally-friendly and comfortable in my research. Click here to read their certifications and eco-standards, it’s a long, impressive list.

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

Essentially the mattress is made from rubber plants (hevea milk) and is the world’s only all natural memory “foam” mattress. It has that crazy comfort of synthetic mattresses, without the off-gassing that makes you sick over night or over the long-term. As well, the mattresses are guaranteed for 20 years, which is hard to come by with mattresses these days. The mattress is covered in an ultra-soft organic cotton cover (I didn’t believe it was cotton, it was so soft!), which you can remove and wash, if required.

When we laid down to sleep that first night on our new mattress, our little boy, Senny, got into bed first and smiled, but a curious smile. He said: “Mama, I can’t believe I’m saying this but, I don’t think I’ll need a snuggle to fall asleep tonight. The bed is snuggling me!” Senny is such a snuggly child, he needs snuggles more than anyone I know, but he felt on this mattress like he was being snuggled just right. He drifted off to sleep and woke up in the morning super happy and ready to bounce on the bed!

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

If you happen to live in a city with an Essentia store I recommend you make a visit, the staff are very helpful and not at all pushy (Big thank you to Alana at the Ottawa store who let me ask every question under the sun and happily answered them all). Normally, I dislike shopping with my children because I can tell they are bored being stuck inside a store, but when we visited the Ottawa store, I had to force them to leave after over an hour in the store! They had such a good time lying on the beds and relaxing, they said “Mama, seriously, you can stay at the store as long as you want! We want to lie on these beds forever.” I don’t know if there’s any science behind it, but the mattresses seem to calm my children down. (Essentia also sells direct online if you aren’t in a position to visit a store).

Although I would have liked to have a comfortable mattress sooner, I’m glad we waited to get an Essentia mattress because it is ethically and sustainably made and I know I won’t have to replace it for a very long time, if ever. When Matt and I first got together we made a pact that we would always buy things that last, even if it meant waiting longer to be able to buy something of quality. Long-lasting things are more sustainable for the planet and ultimately cheaper in the long run. Waiting to buy things also teaches you a lot about what you can live without, and while we lived a long time without good sleep, it’s not something I would advise. A good sleep is something that gives back in terms of health and quality of life, and is worth investing in.

essentia organic vegan sustainable natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise flower rose sculpture

essentia organic natural memory foam mattress hippie in disguise

Matt has a whole list of reasons why he loves the Essentia mattress that are different from mine. He’s high-performing athlete competing in elite and pro cycling races almost year-round, so for him the mattress is about good recovery from training, getting deep sleep so he can perform again the next day. In addition, as someone who has long suffered from insomnia, his mind was blown by the fact that the mattresses have a signature smell (from the essential oils and plant ingredients), so that people can develop a strong olfactory association with their sleep space and fall into a sleep that much more quickly. He thinks its pure genius, and I have to agree with him.

All in all, we are thoroughly impressed with the mattress and will surely be investing our money in another one for our kids — so we can get them out of our bed! But for the time being, it hardly seems fair to not let them sleep on an Essentia.

You can follow Essentia on Instagram @essentiagram

You can visit their website and online shop www.myessentia.com

In the News: Project Calm, Mindfulness through Making

GIC_08_calmcoveruk

A few months ago I was approached to contribute to a new magazine titled Project Calm, a mindful magazine for creative types. Project Calm is all about “mindfulness through making”. It was an honour to be asked to contribute as mindful creativity is to close to my heart and soul. It’s also serendipitous that the magazine was launched during the Slow Living month focused on nurturing, given the magazine aims to help busy folk slow down and nurture themselves through craft, encouraging us all to channel our energies into creating mindful beauty.

Bringing mindfulness to craft and creativity is so important (which I wrote a little about here, in relation to picking flowers and making flower crowns), both in terms of the personal, spiritual and mental health benefits of mindfulness, but also the environmental benefits of being mindful about how and what we create. I am always inclined to create from natural materials as much as possible, so that our projects have no waste from packaging and is fully compostable (for example, Ro’s halloween Mother Nature costume, made from real leaves, or our holiday Botanical Advent).

For this first issue of Project Calm, I contributed my Real Flower Temporary Tattoos tutorial. It is so exciting to see my work in print!

GIC_08_p8-9_naturenews_72dpiCopies are almost sold out, so if you’d like one order soon. They are available for purchase here.

Here’s a little sample of what you’ll find in the issue among the four sections covering Home, Nature, Travel and Mind & Body:

  • Paper-based crafts to make, colour & create
  • Positive features to inspire and enrich
  • Case studies and profiles of successful creatives
  • Travel, retreats and courses to try
  • Papercutting template on card
  • Paper animal kits
  • Poster with floral illustrations

Or, you can take a look at the preview here…

 

Thank you to my friend Erin, the florist, who collected discarded petals and flowers for my tattoo project. And, thank you to Kate for connecting my work to the folks at Project Calm.

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How to Make Easter Egg Bath Bombs with Flowers + Essential Oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy with flowers

I freely admit that the naturally dyed Easter eggs I see on Instagram (these ones!) and Pinterest (these ones!) have me feeling a little underwhelmed with our own vegan Easter crafting traditions. For a few years now, I’ve wanted to naturally dye wooden eggs but haven’t found an economical source for the wooden eggs. We’ve been making our own bath and beauty products for the last year or so (deodorants, creams, toothpaste and so on) and it occurred to me when I was getting our Easter decorations out that the plastic Easter eggs we use for the egg hunt would make perfect bath bomb moulds, so I decided to try it out with the kids. And, low and behold we found our Easter egg, vegan friendly, crafting tradition! (Note: After years of frustration related to buying aluminum wrapped chocolates, I decided to buy reusable plastic eggs that I could fill with dried fruits and other treats, rather than put aluminum foil into landfill).

Making the bath bombs was really easy and a super fun activity for the children. They got their hands into some dough, designed their own scents from mixing essential oils, and crumbled dried flowers. A sensory and very satisfying experience! The bombs smell great, are healthy for sensitive skin and soothing for the soul. On top of this, you can make the bombs with common household ingredients that are likely to be in your pantry or available at the grocery store.

natural easter egg bath bomb diy with flowers dried

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

Here’s how we made them:

  1. In a bowl combine: 2 cups of baking soda, 1 cup of potato starch (you can also use corn starch or cream of tartar), 6 tablespoons of Epsom Salts (you can also use sea salt).
  2. If you want to make different scented bombs, then separate the mixture evenly into a few bowls — we separated into four bowls.
  3. Crumble approximately 2 teaspoons of dried flowers into each bowl. We did different combinations to get different colours. For example, a pink egg from wild roses, and a green egg from blue hydrangea. Make sure to finely crumble the flowers because the bits will go down the drain in your bath so you don’t want to clog it up. Although, as Ro said: “It would be the nicest clog ever!”
  4. Add 7-10 drops of your favourite essential oils to each bowl. I use Do Terra essential oils which are very high quality (pure) so I didn’t need many drops, if you use a more conventional essential oil you may need a few more drops to get a strong enough scent. We used lavender, wild orange, balance, serenity, citrus bliss, eucalyptus and melaleuca in different combinations.
    • Lavender, balance and serenity are calming.
    • Wild orange and citrus bliss are energizing and refreshing.
    • Eucalyptus is great for opening up the air ways especially if you have congestion or a cold.
    • Melaleuca, also known as tea tree, is a natural anti-septic, is soothing and smells great.
    •  I’ve included links above to purchase from Amazon, but if you are interested in opening an account with DoTerra to get oils at a significant discount email me: hippieindisguise1@gmail.com
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of melted (liquid) coconut oil to each dry mixture, if separated into four bowls. (Overall you would add 6-8 tablespoons to the entire mixture).
  6. Using a spray bottle or a teaspoon to very slowly add water and mix, only add water until the mixture is crumbly but will hold together if you squeeze it in your hand. At this point it can be pressed into your egg moulds. Pack the moulds fully and firmly so that as they dry they will hold shape. I let ours dry in the egg mould for 2 days although 1 day was probably enough.
  7. Gently open the moulds. A few of our eggs crumbled from over excited hands, so be careful.

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

No surprise, the children couldn’t wait for Easter to use the bath bombs. We found they worked really nicely. They didn’t fizz around (you need to add citric acid to the recipe if you want fizz, but citric acid can be hard on the skin so I don’t add it to my recipe) but they smelled really good and easily melted into the bath water. The crumbled flowers floated to the surface of the bath and made the bath water extra fancy. The coconut oil was soothing on the skin and the essential oils gave off a delightful and calming aroma. Overall, the bombs were a success.

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

If you have any questions about how we made the bath bombs please leave a comment and I will be happy to answer. For an amazing tutorial to make naturally dyed wooden eggs visit Fareisle Blog here.

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You might also like my post:

How to Make All Natural Temporary Tattoos from Real Flowers

Garbage Free: How to Make Your Own Delicious Cashew Milk

How to Make a Mother Nature Leaf Dress from Real Leaves

Drawing a Day: A Summer Drawing Project

Want to find me in other places?

How to Make All Natural Flower Tattoos for Children

Read dried flowers for temporary tattoos

When flowers are blooming over the spring and summer, the children and I are constantly picking up fallen petals and blossoms for little projects. We press them, dry them, make mandalas and do all sorts of creative things. Something both kids love to do is wear flower petals as an alternative to face paint. I’m fairly particular about what goes into and onto their little bodies so I generally discourage face painting and temporary tattoos because I’m not sure of what’s in them. A fun, easy and beautiful alternative has been using flower petals applied to the skin with a little coconut oil or a salve (I used this one). We just apply a little to the face and then the petal adheres easily. Depending on the rigidity of the petal they stay on for longer or shorter periods of time – but no matter what they have fun with it! We’ve found that more supple, flexible petals work best because they can easily ply to the contours of the face.

When I was on Pinterest a few months ago I came across a photo of an arm covered in flowers. The tattoos looked so realistic I clicked through the link and discovered that a makeup artist, named Verity Cumming, had in fact used real flowers as temporary tattoos. For her process, she had dried flowers and then applied them to the arm using synthetic glues, such as eyelash glue, to keep the flowers in place. I knew a glue would not feel great on the skin, especially for children who tend to be more touch sensitive, but also that glue isn’t the healthiest on the skin, so I decided to develop my own technique to affix the flowers as temporary tattoos.

Real dried flower temporary tattoos soft star shoes

Real Flower Temporary Tattoos Soft Star Shoes Hippie in Disguise

First, there were a few failures. (I thought I’d share them here, so you don’t repeat my mistakes) I tried using some flowers that we had pressed and dried and no matter what we tried they were simply too brittle to hold together on the skin – they crumbled. I realized they were too dry. Next I tried using some fresher flowers and petals, but these were either too heavy (from water content) or not supple enough/too rigid (from water content). They needed to be drier. But, have you ever noticed that if you let flowers air dry they tend to dry from the outside to the middle? I knew that if I let them dry naturally they would still crumble at the edges from being unevenly dried. So I tried to accelerate and even out the drying process. I adapted Verity’s technique of drying the flowers with paper towels in the microwave (using fabric dish towels instead of paper towels, because zero waste is a good thing right?).

Through trial and error I figured out the best way to make all natural temporary flower tattoos. Here’s what worked:

1)      Gathering: Gather fresh flowers and petals of any and all sorts available to you. We don’t generally buy cut flowers or pick them, but we still have an abundance of sources of fresh flowers. Do not pick! Be resourceful! You can find fallen flowers and petals in gardens all the time. In the winter I visit the florist and ask if I can pick up blooms from the floor or use their floral “waste” from bouquets. They are always happy to share and curious about what I plan to do with the flowers. An opportunity to have a conversation about using flowers creatively!

2)      Preparing: Cut as much of the stem off as possible, this is easy with flowers like hydrangeas and pansies. You want to end up with a very flat flower for application. For flowers that have a hard or thick stem I recommend pulling the petals off and drying them individually.

3)      Drying: Lay a fabric dish towel over a large plate. Lay the flowers out on the dish towel. Place another dish towel on top to sandwich the petals between dishcloths. Then place a second plate over the dish towel. This will help to flatten the flowers. (The layering is: plate, towel, flowers, towel, plate). To dry them evenly I heated the plate and flower stack in the microwave for 40 seconds. I found that some flowers needed longer. If you are using many different types of flowers I recommend drying similar flowers together, they are more likely to require the same amount of time, and therefore you have less risk of over- or under-drying some flowers. To know that they are dry enough, just lift up the plate and towel and do a visual check, you will probably see some wet spots (flower sweat!) on the towel. Touch the flowers: if they feel limp and look flatter than before they are good. If they still seem rigid, then heat them a little longer. Once they are flat and limp, lay them out to finish drying in the air. They will still feel somewhat soft and moist, but I found they can’t be completely dried, they need some moisture for them to stay intact when tattooing. It sounds complicated, but once you try it I think you’ll see it’s pretty easy.

  • Warning: Some flowers will transfer their colour to the dish towel, so use a towel that you don’t mind getting a little stained.

4)      Applying: I used a beeswax salve with lavender oil in it (because I know it’s soothing on my children’s skin and they love the smell!), I applied it to the skin where the flower would go, then gently applied the dried flower, gently smoothing the flower onto the skin and letting it adhere to the salve. For most flowers and thin petals this is enough. In some cases you might want to add a little salve to the exposed part of the flower (the part facing out/visible) to help smooth the flower onto the skin more.

The flowers and petals stay on pretty well like this. The smoother the petal is to the skin the longer it will stay in place. These are certainly not as long-lasting as a temporary tattoo that is glued on but it’s still lots of fun for the kids (and yourself!) and provides a fun way to decorate your child that is natural and encourages them to learn about flora. You could try experimenting with using natural glues like honey, agave, or syrup, I’ve heard these work well too. The advantage of salves is that it’s good for the skin.

Flower tattooing is a great opportunity to learn about flowers with your children, for example:

  • You can teach them the names of the flowers as you apply them
  • You can talk about which flowers retain their colour through drying and which change
  • You can feel and talk about the different petal textures

As with all of my “how to” posts and DIYs please feel free to ask questions in the comments or share your feedback, there’s always something I’ve forgotten to include in my explanation!

UPDATE: This tutorial was recently included in the publication Project Calm: A magazine for mindful creatives. You can read more about it here!

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If you are interested in Ro’s shoes they are from Soft Star and are available through this link. Soft Star is an American shoe maker (men, women, children and baby shoes). All Soft Star shoes are handmade, using end-to-end environmentally friendly processes and materials. Ro’s shoes are the Hawthorne model (adults). Sen has the Swift model from the children’s range.

You might also like:

Garbage Free: How to Make your own Delicious Cashew Milk

Ecominimalism: Minimalism and Sustainability Talking with Robin Kay

Top post: Any Occasion, Sustainable Gift Guide for Children

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Join us for a Botanical Advent

Around this time in 2014, my friend Emma (on Instagram as @takeapicturelady) invited her friends and followers to participate in a botanical advent. She had started one, somewhat spontaneously, the year before and, as is often the way with Instagram and other social media, it’s more fun when people join in.

The idea of the botanical advent is to work with flowers and plants (or other natural / botanical materials) to make an arrangement each day of the advent. For example, many people arrange petals and leaves in the shape of a number (the day of the advent). I personally was challenged enough by the idea of coming up with an arrangement each day, that I didn’t need the added challenge of making a number. Instead I enjoyed playing with colour (as I do!), texture and pattern to come up with a botanical arrangement to mark the advent each day.

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I soon realized making an arrangement each day was even more of a challenge than I expected, with very little daylight in December (and me away from home for all but about 20 minutes of daylight) it was hard to get an arrangement done and photographed in so little time — each day. Then there’s the fact that we don’t buy cut flowers or pick plants; we only collect. We soon realized we had not sufficiently collected enough natural materials over the fall to have a lot of variety to work with in making the arrangements. And then there are those days, when you don’t have creative inspiration. Some days I pushed myself through and made something anyway, and other days I asked Ro or Sen to make an arrangement for me. (Of course, I gave them full credit!)

botanical advent flower art

Botanical heart advent in process

botanical advent flower art heart

Botanical Heart Advent, by Ro

It turned out to be an excellent idea to ask Ro and Sen to contribute to the botanical advent making. Ro loved having a fun early morning project to wake up to, and Sen was very proud to do as his big sister and make “beautiful flower rainbows like Rowee.” He loved, too, that he was trusted to handle the delicate dried flowers. I was particularly delighted to see how gently he handled the fragile dried flowers and the fine motor skills he used to arrange tiny dried berries, the patience required to move a berry back to its place 4, 5, 6 times when it rolled away. After the advent was done they both continued to ask to play with the flowers over the course of the winter. (Previously we had mostly done this outside in the summer making nature mandalas and natural story boards.)

botanical advent flower art

botanical advent flower artSo this year, having learned from last, I’m involving the children from day 1, we’ve gathered more natural treasures (pinecones, flower petals, dried leaves and so on) and are ready to start our botanical advent on Tuesday, December 1st. Please join us! And, feel free participate even if you can’t do an arrangement every day.

Visit the posts that were tagged #botanicaladvent to get an idea of the arrangements people shared last year.

botanical advent flower art rainbow

Flower Rainbow, by Ro

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Have you subscribed to the Global Guardian Project yet? They are monthly learning capsules for children and families to learn about global stewardship. Each month features a different country’s wild life, landscape and challenges, and includes art projects, activities, meditation, recipes and more! Use my discount code: HIPPIEINDISGUISE for 10% off , you can read more about it here

 

Mindfulness & Making a Flower Crown

I had planned on sharing photos, of our recent trip to the United States, in chronological order. But as I was biking home from work today, I was struck very strongly with the urge to share our experience making a flower crown with Kaity Ferrell while we were in Nantucket, which happened closer to the end our trip. I hadn’t planned on writing a post about making a flower crown, since it was a spontaneous activity, but it was such a lovely, mindful learning experience that I wanted to give it it’s own space on the blog.
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Now, first off, for those of you who don’t know me very well, I do not let my children pick flowers, pluck leaves from trees, tear at grass, or in anyway take the lives of plants needlessly or for aesthetic reasons. This is not because I have any special knowledge of what a plant death is like, but out of an interest in living consistently and holistically, as much as possible. We do not eat animals or animal products, and limit the inclusion of animal fibers in our wardrobe, including them only when they are the more environmentally friendly option. We do this because we don’t think it is our human right to take life. Animal life or plant life. Having said this, we know that, however mindfully and carefully we tread upon this earth, we do take lives. We eat plants plentifully to nourish ourselves. And we certainly indavertently and accidentally take the lives of countless animals, mainly insects, as we go about our lives. However, when we had children we decided that we wanted to be as consistent as possible with our children in terms of the belief that taking a life is not a given right, a life should not be taken lightly, and a life should never ever be something we take “just because we can,” because we are a dominant species. Picking a flower is easy to do, a young child can do it with little effort. If and when our children do take lives we want them to be mindful about it and always limit it as much as possible. Enough of a diversion into our flower politics…on to making a crown.

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When we arrived on the island of Nantucket our first host, the absolutely divine, Kaity Ferrell, along with her son Iley, greeted us at the port. Their big smiles and sweet souls wrapped hugs around us as though we’d been friends forever. It was a beautiful welcome. Kaity took us to a favourite beach and then after some time in the sun and a dip in the ocean we returned to her beautiful, simple homestead.

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I am not someone who plans their day, even while on travel. I really like to be spontaneous and go with the flow of where things take me. So, of course, upon arriving at Kaity’s we had no particular idea of how we would occupy our time. While Sen and Iley set to playing with Lego, Ro and I were curious to see Kaity’s garden, where she grows fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. Given that Kaity’s garden is source of ingredients for her foods and the goods she sells, we were surprised by how much space was afforded to growing flowers. I asked Kaity what she used them for and if she sold them at the farmers market. She replied “I sell some, not many, but they are just beautiful to have around, right?” Yes! I felt a little silly for assuming that she would necessarily pick or cut them for her products and goods.

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As Ro and I admired a bouquet of flowers, that was now a few days old, sitting on Kaity’s dining table, Kaity suggested that we make a flower crown. Not surprisingly, we have never made one, since we would never happen to find and collect enough fallen flowers (with stems intact) on a given day to make one. In that moment, I instantly felt as though this was the right time and place to make a flower crown. Kaity’s reverence and connection to her garden and the lives she grows there assured me that if ever there was a time and place for respectful, mindful picking, it would be done here, with Kaity as our guide. My intuition also told me this experience would deepen Ro’s respect for plant life and wouldn’t lead to a slippery slope of picking flowers for aesthetic purposes.

Ro and I followed Kaity around her garden as she gently cut a few flowers, naming them as she did and talking about her experience growing them. Once she had a small bouquet cut, she sat with Ro and started to braid the flowers, explaining to Ro how to continue the braid and how to handle the flowers with care. Ro took the flower braid and continued until all the flowers had been used. Then Kaity looped the braid back on itself and tied it securely with some kitchen string. The braid was the exact right length for Ro’s head, with no wasted flowers. It was as if it was meant to be! But I also knew there was some sort of deep embodied knowledge in Kaity that allowed her to know exactly how many flowers to cut, and how the braid would come together.

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Overall the experience of making a crown with Kaity was wonderful. While on an intellectual level, I have to admit that cutting flowers was a conflicted experience for me. On a bodily level I feel at peace with the experience. Ro wore the crown for the rest of the day and evening, and Sen, without any prompting asked to wear it too! We saved the crown during the rest of our travels gingerly protecting it in our picnic basket, and it will, in its dried form, hang on the wall in Ro’s room (see it here), as a reminder of our experience with Kaity, but also as a reminder to live mindfully and with respect for all life.

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Thank you very much, Kaity, for hosting us in Nantucket and for sharing your positive energy and kindness with us. Readers: you can read more about Kaity in my interview with her here and please find her on Instagram @fareisle and on her awesome website www.fareisle.com and her blog here.

Clothing details: Canadian-made merino tops worn by Ro and Sen by Luv Mother; Ro’s plaid tunic by Kids on the Moon; Ro’s dijon skirt from Little Heirloom; Sen’s organic striped leggings by Mabo; Ro’s sandals from Mini Mioche.

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