Raising Compassionate, Globally Conscious Children

Hippie in Disguise ro and sen Chassin Rideau Canal

Environmental Consciousness. Social Change. Mindfulness. Global Compassion. Minimalism. Holistic Living. Arts. Adventure. Education. Inspiration.

These are words that drive me, that I try to knit together in the way I live and in the way I raise my children. They are also words that perfectly describe the Global Guardian Project.

Last August I wrote about my friend Rebecca‘s new idea: The Global Guardian Project, a digital multimedia capsule for children and families that teaches about the world, global stewardship, sustainability, plants, animals, social and environmental activists, and lots more. The capsule is basically an interactive digital magazine for families to help learn more about the planet, country by country.

The intent of the Global Guardian Project is to expose ourselves and our children to the wide world of not just nature, but the intricate connections between human cultures and the ecosystems that support us, with the ultimate goal of helping us raise the next generation as global guardians, stewards of the planet.

Hippie in Disguise Rideau River Ottawa

With this in mind, the capsules are designed to educate, but also to inspire action. That is, to cultivate a greater caring for the earth and all its inhabitants and to inspire us to take small (and big) actions to improve the health of our planet for the collective good. The capsules were initially very popular with homeschooling and worldschooling families, as they cover a lot of science, geography, art and language curriculum, but they have also become popular with families seeking more enriching digital (“screen”) time and others just interested in learning more about the world. I should mention that while the capsules are digital, they can easily be printed, so if you are not keen on screen time then you can read the capsules the old fashioned way: on paper.

  • What is a learning capsule? Picture a digital magazine that is interactive, with videos to click and watch, art and activity downloads, links to TED talks and other resources, as well as beautiful photography, original art and lots of educational facts and information, interviews and more.

After receiving my first capsule I got even more excited about the project, there is really no resource like the Global Guardian Project out there. The multimedia format is unique and engaging. The content is interesting and inspiring. But most importantly, the core mission of the project: to raise a generation of global change makers by teaching children about how to care for the earth is so critical and close to my heart that I knew I wanted to be involved in helping the project grow. As the weeks and months passed I found myself suggesting ideas, writing content, working with contributors and generally being an all-around cheerleader for the project.

After noting my enthusiasm and my tendency to write a lot (sorry, for this long introduction, by the way..) Rebecca asked if I would like to be the Guest Editor for the upcoming capsule on Canada. To say I was excited would be an understatement. I said yes, though I invited my trusted writing (and life) partner, Matt, to plan and edit the issue with me. I invited some great thinkers, artists and friends to help out too: artist Erin Wetzel, nutritionist Kylah Dobson and permaculture farmer Zach Loeks. Together, with the team of Global Guardian Project regulars, we put together an amazing interactive digital magazine.

Global guardian Project Homeschool Curriculum Canada Animals Plants

And….the issue is now available for purchase from Global Guardian Project’s website either as a single issue (“a la carte”) or as part of their monthly subscription program. If you subscribe, you save considerably, and you get the advantage of building on learning each month, especially with the world map activities. As well, you can cancel at any time, even after one issue.

Here’s a little preview:

Each capsule is comprised of:

  • Over 50 pages of facts and information covering the country basics like size and geography, endangered animals and how we can help them, indigenous plants, related vocabulary and definitions for new words like (fossil, aerodynamic, habitat and so on), book reviews, and much more.
  • Videos showing children taking action in their local communities, for example by helping turtles.
  • Healthy, local recipes and demonstration videos
  • Profiles of activists, ecological leaders and inspiring people from the featured country to inspire action
  • A podcast guided meditation appropriate (and fun) for children and families
  • Art projects and downloads, such as colouring sheets
  • Map projects and other interactive activities
  • Lots more!

I hope you’ll consider buying one for yourself or someone in your life. While the capsules are geared to children (ages 3 and up), homeschoolers and teachers, lots of adults have been saying they enjoy them and have learned a lot from reading them. If you know Matt, then you know he has a knack for finding really cool facts and stories about natural phenomena. Keep in mind, the capsules make a great last minute gift for any occasion, since there is no delivery time.

  • You can buy the Canada edition ($16.99) or subscribe to the series for $13.49 per month, using my discount code HIPPIEINDISGUISE.
  • If you subscribe by January 14th, 2017 you will receive the Canada capsule, if you subscribe after you will get the Sri Lanka capsule, since a new capsule is released to subscribers on the 15th of each month.

You can read more about the Global Guardian Project here, you can visit their website here, find them on Instagram @globalguardianproject. If you sign up for their email list you’ll get a free mini capsule about Ocean Life. Why not try it out?!

Any questions, please leave a comment below.

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Winter Wonderland bridge to Gatineau Quebec

Inhaling the Season, Inhaling the Moment 

Winter Wonderland bridge to Gatineau Quebec

Yesterday, our city had its first snowstorm of the season. Ordinarily, we would have significant piles of snow by now, but El Niño has been kind to us this year. However, after two months of unseasonably warm snowlessness, winter arrived. Yesterday, incidentally, was also my first day back to work after the Christmas holidays. Having that extra day added to my weekend felt like bliss…

I came downstairs to Matt setting up to make pancakes with the children (lucky guy gets the whole week off, as his school is closed for the holidays). Matt looks up and says “You’re not wearing that to work, are you?! It’s snowing! It’s cold out!” I’m dressed in teal tights and a mid-length dress. “You’re biking in, right?” he asks. “Of course!” I reply, “It’s only minus 12!” I’ve commuted  by bike year round (as has Matt) for almost twenty years, so there was no question in my mind about whether to ride my bike to work. (And let me tell you, I’m not a tough person or someone with anything to prove. In reality, I’m a bit of a wimp.) Each year there’s a day or two when the snow is just too deep to pedal through and I have to walk in. But surely today was not that day, it was only the first real snow! No, no, on this day, I confidently assumed that, like in other years, people were over-reacting to the snow. That is, over-compensating by wearing too much clothing and avoiding travel. No over-reaction would come from me! Each year, as winter settles in people become accustomed to the conditions and they remember how to carry on with their usual life in spite of the winter (sorry winter, I don’t mean to spite you, it’s just a turn of phrase). Knowing this, I tell myself, assuredly, that there’s no reason not to wear a dress or to ride my bike. A glance out the window confirms that, indeed, a lot of snow has fallen and is continuing to fall. Hugs and kisses delivered to my loves and out the garage door I head into the snow, with my bike, of course.

I step into the snow. Ah…it turns out the snow is light, fine, and the slippery sort. If you’ve lived with significant snow in your life you know that there are many types of snow. Understanding their properties first hand informs us of what to expect and how to act (ahem…). Growing up in Canadian cities with major snow accumulation, being an outdoorsy person, I know what I’m in for with this snow (ahem…). A test ride on my bike confirms my intuition, the wheels spin like an exercise bike that doesn’t move forward. No worries, I tell myself, I will just push my bike through the snow until I come to a main road, which certainly will have been plowed or at least compacted by car commuters. I begin down my street, passing a fellow cyclist neighbour who is shovelling and says to me: “Biking in, eh?” (Which, if you don’t understand Canadian, is a kind way of questioning the logic of biking on such a day). Not even slightly deterred, I call out “Of course! I just need to get to a main street, then it’s smooth sailing!” I continue on. As I turn off my street I can see what’s usually a busy residential street ahead that would ordinarily be cleared of snow due to its through traffic. Hmm, not so today. I decide I will have to take a detour to a more main street, the Main Street in our city, Bank street.  This means pushing my bike for an extra four blocks, but what choice do I have? (Turning around is not an option, eye roll).  And besides, if I’m honest, the adventure of it is a big part of the fun. Yes, fun.

I continue on, two blocks later, I come upon a friend of Matt’s, an avid outdoorsman, cyclist and athlete, he’s shovelling and calls out to me: “You look like a Dutch woman, are you off to race cyclocross?” This is meant as a joke, as I’m wearing a dress and clearly only crazy, competitive cyclists would persist with riding a bike in such weather, and would only do so because they didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to race their bike. I laugh at his joke, which I really only get because I’ve lived with a cyclist for almost twenty years. I reply “It’s just a little snow, I’ve commuted for years! I used to live in Montreal!” (Which is a Canadian joke, because Montreal gets huge dumps of snow AND has crazy drivers, if you commute by bike in Montreal you earn a badge of bravery). I continue on to the end of his block, and looking up ahead I notice a photographer snapping photos of pedestrians walking by, he aims his camera at me and starts taking pictures. I suppose a woman in a dress with a bike in this weather could make for a good photo story. I recognize his body language and realize it’s Justin Tang of the Canadian Press, who I’ve met a few times around town. “Hi Justin!” I call out. “Oh hey, Danielle!” He snaps a few more photos and then we chat about the weather and a few other spots where he could get some good photos of people in the storm. “Have great day, enjoy the snow!”

 

I continue on one more block and am now at the busiest street in town. Well, look at this…it hasn’t been plowed, and there’s only one lane open in each direction, even the city buses can’t pull over to open their doors for passengers because the snow is too deep. At this point, I concede that I cannot ride my bike to work. Well, I could, but it would mostly be pushing my bike, it would be dangerous in this traffic, and it would take way too long. (I do need to arrive at my desk at a reasonable hour!). I park my bike at a nearby condo tower, out of the way from snow plows (which will undoubtedly pass by soon, #optimism) so that it doesn’t get hit and run down by a plow (yes, it happens…a lot).

I hop on a city bus and arrive at work late, but given the weather, no one is concerned. I love these days. While there is normally so much concern that we attend work for the full hours, so as to ensure we have enough time to get everything done, on bad weather days, another logic kicks in: we can get done what needs to be done in the time available. I work away at my desk for a few hours and then an email comes in advising our team that we can leave work early due to “deteriorating” weather conditions (what?! The weather is amazing!). Doesn’t sound or look like anything has deteriorated to me, it’s beautiful outside! Without delay I put my boots and parka on and I’m out the door of the office tower.

I love to walk. I would probably walk everywhere I went if I had the luxury of time. I would love to walk to work and home each day, but this would rob me of time with my children (yes, it would feel like robbing) by adding 45 minutes each way to my commute, essentially leaving me with about an hour and a half of waking hours with my children each day. Not enough! So, I bike to work in order to delay my departure and bike home to rush my return. But yesterday’s weather allowed no rushing, even the city buses were crawling along. So, out of my office I happily stepped, knowing that circumstances were allowing me to walk home without any inner guilt that would stem from selfishly choosing to walk and thereby stealing time from my family.

I work in the bordering city, bordering province in fact, which is separated from Ottawa (city), Ontario (province) by a beautiful river (where we spend many summer days), there is a long bridge connecting the two provinces. I love walking this bridge, the river, the energy of the rushing water, beautiful Victoria Island situated at mid point, the old stone buildings built along the river, trees and hills, naturally formed. I know that it’s serendipity’s gift that I get to walk home in this gorgeous weather. I know that it’s impossible for me to rush myself. And so, I just inhale it all, inhale the season, inhale the moment. Inhale, exhale. Slowly.

 

As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t often move slowly outside of my time with the children. My job is hectic, my commute is rushed, and so this weather is a gift to move slowly, to savour. And I know it. Thank goodness, I know it.

The walk is beautiful, passing the river, trees, wild rose bushes where we have gathered petals in the summer, then moving more into the city centre, the downtown streets, passing by statues accumulating snow, traffic lights glowing through frosty flakes. It’s all beautiful. An hour and a half later I arrive at the condo building where I had parked my bike. Snow plows clearly haven’t passed by yet and my bike is in perfect condition, albeit half buried. Did I mention it’s still snowing? I unlock my bike and continue my walk home, pushing my bike through the unplowed streets. I’m glowing from enjoyment of all the unexpected in the day.

As I walk the 6 blocks to my house, I pass the same avid cyclist neighbour who flatteringly referred to me as a Dutch woman, “Still shovelling, eh?” I call out in a humorous tone.”Pretty much!” he replies. I continue on, passing other neighbourhood folk who I don’t personally know: an older couple happily chuckles as they see me pushing my bike, I grin to myself and them, happy to give them a good laugh. “Great day for biking!” I call out. More laughter. I continue on, passing another person every few houses, each smiles and chuckles away at my silliness, but also, I intuit, because they too have been overly optimistic about Canadian weather on occasion, their smiles belie this truth. I pause and realize I’m delighted to be giving people a reason to laugh at the weather and to have an extra laugh in their day. This day, this weather, has been a gift.

I arrive home to find out that Matt’s longest friend reported to him that this day was the hardest bike commute he’s ever had (he had to carry his bike through the snow). He’s a hard man, he’s been commuting forever, he’s lived in the mountains. Matt tells me I should have skied to work. But I’m really glad I biked.

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Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Have you subscribed to the Global Guardian Project yet? These 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

Talking Slow Living on Ruth & Ragnar

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I get asked a lot about slow living and minimalism and how I bring these to life in our family. Well, first I should probably tell you that most of my week is anything but slow. I work full time outside the home in a very hectic job. I work in politics in Canada and not only are the days hustled, they are highly unpredictable, chock full of emotional people and high stakes situations. I’m a naturally calm person, people often describe me as “zen,” which is probably why I’ve survived in my job. However, after working in this environment for a few years I started to notice that I carried that hustled, stressed energy home with me. I would furiously clean and tidy all evening, I would speedily move from one task to another, and multi-tasking was the only way I did anything. On the weekends I would hustle around doing errands, taking Ro and Sen to a list of activities and catching up on my social calendar. I couldn’t seem to find a slo-mo setting… Read the rest of the post over on Ruth & Ragnar.

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Shop Love: Little Heirloom

Last season I had the honour of working with a small Canadian shop, Little Heirloom, to help spread the word about their lovely shop. Little Heirloom is an online store specializing in small ethically produced children’s wear brands. The shop is a little dream come true for Taralyn, a lifelong dreamer and entrepreneur, who took inspiration from her new motherhood to leap into the unknown and follow her interests in a way that would allow her to be more present with her young toddler. The shop is still very small and working to establish itself, so I wanted to help get the word out about this excellent shop, with a most excellent woman and family behind it.

Honestly, I’m not someone who cares much about fashion trends and season releases, but when I started to see sneak peeks of the Nico Nico Clothing fall line I got really excited. Something about the colours and textures spoke to me. I was immediately inspired to capture beautiful moments of my children in the clothing. I’m telling you, this has never happened before! So I picked up a few of my favourite pieces from Little Heirloom and let our adventure-seeking ways take their course, what resulted were some beautiful moments.

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I’m really in awe with how the Nico Nico line seems to form a dialogue with the landscape, whether we’re in the city or the forest or on the beach, the clothing seems at home, making you feel like you are exactly where you should be. I’m so happy to have invested in this line of organics. And, now I understand a little why some people get excited about fashion.

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I love to learn from mothers who have started their own business while raising children. So I asked Taralyn if she could share her story here. Read on to hear from Taralyn, herself, and to see more photos of the children enjoying themselves in clothing from her store.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, the person behind Little Heirloom. What is your background? What are you passionate about?

My name is Taralyn Fodor, and I am the founder/owner/operator of the online children’s apparel website Little Heirloom. I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, but recently moved back to the city with my family after living in Montreal and Toronto for almost 8 years. I have a background in Art History and Design, but I also work as a buyer for a local apparel brand here in the city. I do a lot of juggling as a mother, business owner and buyer, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I am passionate about my family, first and foremost, but I also have a soft spot for design, travel, and art.

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same denim poncho fits both kids, winning!

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How many children do you have and how would you describe them?

I have one son, Levi, who is 2 and a half. He is the wildest, most engaged, energetic, fearless, hilarious and social little person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He is truly chock-full of personality, and he never stops talking. Any moment spent awake for Levi is full of dialogue – be it with us (his parents), a friend, or someone imaginary. I love hearing him chatter away while playing with his toys, listening to him re-enact scenarios from earlier in the day, or talking about something I had no idea he even knew existed. It gives me fantastic insight into his little mind.

What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

As Levi gets older, our choice activity changes. It used to be a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium or Science World, but now going to the beach is our favourite. We really love getting outside and taking advantage of the beautiful city we live in.

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What did you want to be when you were a child?

This one makes me laugh, because I have always wanted to own my own business. I used to set up these roadside stands where I could sell things. I’d sell drawings, flowers (well, they were probably more like weeds, but who’s keeping track…), and anything else I could come up with. I just loved interacting with people and selling them something that made them happy. I guess nothing has changed!

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Did your career aspirations change once you had a child?

Interestingly, I became more focused on making my aspirations a reality. I knew that if I didn’t try it would never happen. In the beginning, running my own business also offered me the flexibility I needed to spend more time with Levi.

What is Little Heirloom and why did you decide to start your own business?

Little Heirloom is a website dedicated to selling high-quality, stylish and ethically produced children’s fashion. We like to focus on smaller, independent brands that are a bit harder to find. I originally wanted to create an online store to offer brands I love to the Canadian market, as no one was selling them here, but the demand for our designers has us shipping all over the world now!

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I love the name Little Heirloom. What does that name mean to you? Why did you choose it?

When I was thinking of a name for the shop, I kept circling back to the core concept of the store: to offer timeless, high-quality clothes that can be passed down from sibling to sibling, and even generationally. The idea of a sweater, romper or pair of shoes becoming an heirloom, a special memento of childhood, meant a lot to me. The name Little Heirloom sprung from that.

How do you choose the brands you carry?

They have to be beautiful, un-fussy, ethically manufactured, and above all else: well made. I also put them through the “Levi Test” as I like to call it. If I don’t like how the clothes wear and wash with my little guy, I won’t carry them in the shop.

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What are your dreams for Little Heirloom?

I would love to add more labels to our roster, and build out the collection we carry to represent even more exceptional international brands. Maybe there will even be an in-house line someday!

When you are all caught up on work what do you love to do?

I’ve been trying to allow myself “alone” time. It’s harder than you’d think! But when I manage it, just getting to a yoga class or riding my bike is wonderful.

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Readers: Little Heirloom carries premium brands, such as Nico Nico (the clothing pictured in this post), Red Creek Handmade, boy+girl, Misha & Puff, Soor Ploom, Goat Milk NYC, at excellent prices and ships internationally. She also carries the most charming line of toys, Des Enfantillages, made here in Canada (adjustable skipping rope and felt pompom slingshot pictured in this post).

The Canadian dollar is low now, which makes it especially economical for international shoppers to buy from Canadian shops. You can find Little Heirloom online at www.littleheirloom.com and on Instagram @littleheirloom.

Sen’s salt water sandals and Hunter rain boots are from Mini Mioche. Ro’s moccasins are from Canadian Aboriginal-owned brand Manitobah, offering a complete year-round line of moccasins and mukluks.

A special thank you, as well, to the kind women at Nico Nico Clothing, who helped me source sizes 8 and 10, to fit Ro.

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When in Rome: The Ottawa Edition

In the news! I was by asked my friends (Carina and Bree) over at Peaks & Harbours to contribute to their series “When in Rome” where they profile cities in terms of their fun, artful, adventurous and family-friendly activities. Sounds like a great resource, right?!

We live a pedestrian lifestyle, so we are out and about walking around Ottawa every weekend, rain or shine, sun or snow. Ottawa is bursting with natural beauty, art experiences and adventure, so it was pretty hard to pick my favourite three spots to share. If you know me well, maybe you can guess…

Find out here.

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Apple Picking in mini mioche

I love capturing our seasonal traditions though photography. Last weekend we went apple picking for the first time this year. It was lots of fun and hard work, which for a child are usually the same thing. Sen’s favourite part was using the ladder, which he moved and readjusted about a hundred times for pure enjoyment, meanwhile, Ro kept moving from tree to tree searching for the perfect apple with the perfect leaf. We completed our visit to the farm with some good old fashioned hay jumping and a game of tetherball. Sen figured he was pretty much a Junior Farmer by the end of the day.

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I decided to outfit Ro and Sen in their mini mioche basics, so that I could capture their hard work in the closest thing I had to farmer’s attire: overalls and a shirt (the overalls sadly are getting small…so if you are wondering about sizing they are each wearing overalls two sizes too small). I don’t remember how I came across mini mioche, but it has been a few years now that Ro and Sen have been wearing their lovely line of organic basics, designed and made every step of the way here in Canada.

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imageThere can be a temptation, when budgets are tight, to spend our dollars on stand out pieces in our wardrobes, a special dress or a unique item, something that has impact. Basics typically don’t stand out in a wardrobe, and so it may be the place where we are tempted to cut costs and buy from discount stores, like Old Navy or Joe Fresh. And yet, basics are the backbone of any wardrobe, they are the ‘go tos’ to complete a look, they typically get the most wear, and are the heart of a reliable capsule wardrobe.

We love special pieces of clothing, but know that investing in quality basics is important. Supporting local shops and local production, and buying organic is important no matter whether the item stands out or not.

As many of you know, I love to learn from mothers who are also entrepreneurs and artists, hear about how they balance life and how they started their business. I think you’ll enjoy hearing from Alyssa, the woman behind mini mioche.

imageHow would you describe Mini Mioche in 5 words?

Simple, cool, comfortable, sustainable and practical.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, the person behind Mini Mioche. What is your background?

I previously worked in wholesale fashion and owned a fashion sales agency in Toronto selling adult clothing brands to retailers for about 12 years (I sold it in December 2014). After I had my daughter 7 years ago, I took a little bit of time off (like a month or so) and during that time I came to the conclusion that as much as I loved fashion and my wholesale business, I wanted to do something that was a little more creative and that I could have more control over and so drawing upon my experience and contacts in the fashion industry, I set about designing and launching the first mini mioche infant basics collection.

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imageYou call yourself a serial entrepreneur, what do you think draws you to start something new?

I have always said that I have an addiction to newness.  Part of it is that I definitely get bored easily and love to be challenged constantly. I have a lot of ideas and also have ‘focus issues’, that combined with the fact that I am really not risk-averse, means that I like to embark on new ideas and projects often. Part of the reason I sold my other business is that I recognized how important focus is when it comes to anything really – but especially growing a business.  So that is my new goal – to try not to get distracted by other ideas and to just focus solely on growing this business and making it really amazing.

Why did you decide to get into designing children’s clothing?  

I’ve always loved baby and kids clothing – even before I had children of my own.  There is something about mini versions of adult clothing that just kills me. I am a total jeans and tees kind of girl and I wanted to dress my daughter in a similar aesthetic. After she was born, I was surprised at how hard it was to find nice, well-made, decently priced, soft infant and kids basics – especially in neutral colours like grey, white, black etc. I couldn’t stand all the stuff on the market at that time with cheesy sayings or graphic prints. As I mentioned before, I was also looking for something new and more creative to do at that time and so mini mioche was born.

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What did you want to be when you were a child?

I always wanted to do something involving fashion – I think I wanted to be a personal shopper, although I’m not sure that even existed back when I was a kid.

What does Mini Mioche mean? Why did you choose this name for your brand?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I referred to her as ‘mini’ the entire time she was in utero.  She was born full term and healthy but she was mini – weighing only 5 lbs 4 oz so the name stuck for a little while. She is 7 years old now and so not mini!  My mom always shared my love of beautiful, well-made children’s clothing and when I was little she used to shop for me once in a while at a store in the Yorkville area of Toronto called Les Mioches. I really wanted to include the word ‘mini’ in the brand name since it was meaningful to me and I just liked how it sounded with the word ‘mioche’, which is sort of a slang word meaning tot or brat in Parisian french.

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imageOrganics, sustainability and local production are important to you. How do you translate these into your designs and your business model?

These things are all intrinsic to the mini mioche brand. From the beginning I wanted all of our clothing to be made locally and ethically by people who are paid a fair living wage and are treated well.  We still do basically everything here in Toronto from knitting the fabric to dying it, to the cutting and sewing.  We design our own graphics and have them printed locally. We partner with other local designers and companies on various collaborations and capsule collections (such as bookhou and Heart & Habit).  All of our fabrics are knit from organic cotton yarns and we try not to use any plastic at all – we don’t receive product in plastic bags and we don’t ship it in plastic.  We try to be as sustainable and environmentally conscious in every part of our process and we also believe strongly in supporting local business, including local manufacturing.

I have loved your collaborations with Toronto design-duo bookhou and blogger Brandy Mercredi. How did those collaborations come about?

Brandy, who is the blogger and designer behind Heart & Habit, and I met a while back now – to be honest I can’t remember exactly how – I think she wrote about mini mioche on her blog and we just started chatting from there.  A little while ago she reached out to me because she had some ideas for a line of graphic tees that she thought would be right up our alley and as it turns out, it was!  Our first collaboration launched in spring 2014 and we just launched our third collection together. For fall 2015 we have something really amazing lined up.

I have always loved and admired bookhou’s beautiful products and prints and one day a thought just popped into my head: ‘How amazing would those prints look on our clothes’?  So I sent the owner, Arounna an email and the rest is history – we just launched our third bookhou for mini mioche collection for fall 2015.

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Everywhere I go with my kids when they are wearing your clothing, I hear adults tell me they want them in their size. Do you plan to expand the line? What about Mama Mioche? 

So this goes back to your second question – the one about being a serial entrepreneur.  I do hear requests for adult versions of our clothing often and I never say never, but for now I am all about ‘focus’ and that means just sticking to baby and kids apparel – at least for now.

Do you have any new projects in the works?

We always have new projects in the works but our primary focus right now is on our online business and growing that, so most of what we are doing is geared towards making that a more functional aspect of our business and an amazing experience for our online customer.

What has made you the most proud of what you’re doing?

The reality is that starting a business and growing a business is really, really hard.  I don’t have anyone telling me what to do or how to do it. I have had to figure it out on my own for the most part and along the way I have made some (very big) mistakes.  There were many days where I questioned what I was doing and why I was doing it and if it was worth it.  So I guess I would have to say the thing I am most proud of is just that I am still here, doing it and that it is growing and actually working pretty well.

When you are all caught up on work, what do you love to do?

I love to hang out with my hubs and two kids.  I love to spend weekends skiing up north or relaxing at the cottage with good family and friends.  I love to shop. I love binge watching really good tv.  I also never turn down a good glass of wine.

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You can find mini mioche online at www.minimioche.com, where they sell their in-house line of organic basics, but also all sorts of premium brands, shoes, and accessories. Think Herschel, Salt Water Sandals and Hunter Boots. You can also find them on Instagram @minimioche.

**With the Canadian dollar weak these days, it is a great time for American and international shoppers to take advantage of Canadian prices.imageimage

Interview with a Minimalist: Carina

There is so much goodness in this interview that I just don’t know where to start. Carina, who I’ve interviewed before for my Inspiring Mothers series, is a minimalist and mother of two. She is an artist who paints and illustrates, and also works in arts outreach. Her story is particularly inspiring because it was a significant life event that brought about an “aha” moment. In that moment all that was truly important to her became crystal clear. I love that while years have passed since her epiphany it’s effect hasn’t grown dim. She has managed to continue to draw from this experience in order to cultivate a life of purpose, enjoyment, adventure, and fun. A life filled to the brim with moments and memories. There are so many nuggets of wisdom packed into her answers, read slowly and enjoy!

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Let’s start with a little bit about you. Who are you? What are you passionate about? How do you like to spend your time?

My name is Carina. I am passionate about the arts and the outdoors, and making memories around these two things with my family. I am a big advocate for accessible art experiences, supporting local creatives and businesses, and connecting communities. I adore painting and illustration, and encouraging my kids’ love of art, stories, and adventure. We are lucky to live so close to the ocean, the mountains, and everything in between. We all love camping, my husband fly fishes, and my kids and I are crazy about surfing. I’m also passionate about the community of rad women that my bestie Bree and I have connected with through our west coast lifestyle site www.peaksandharbours.com.

How many children do you have and what are they like?

I have two children, and they are so wonderfully different from each other.

My daughter Finn is 9 years old, with a blanket of long dark hair, usually under a wide-brimmed hat and framed by long feather earrings. She is a fast-friend-maker, an incredibly observant girl, and can often be found blissfully reading and writing stories. Appropriately, she wants to be both a published author and an actor (“they don’t call them actresses anymore mom”).

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My son Augustus (Gus) is a cheerful, golden-haired sweetheart. He loves to choreograph dance videos, and is happily curious about everything from how the body works, to the life-cycle of plants and animals. He is a cuddler, and feels things deeply, especially when he thinks that a friend has been wronged – he will always come to your rescue! He adores his sister Finn. And when she gives him the time of day, he is on cloud nine.

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What part of the world do you live in?

I live in Vancouver,  in an area of the city called Mount Pleasant – very aptly named. It’s an idyllic little urban community, where I also work, where my children go to school, and where we spend time with friends. I love that we are able to be so local and connected in a big city. I grew up in a very tiny town, and it reminds me of that way of life – minus the horses tethered to the school fence and the tractors parked in driveways.

Do you have a favourite quote or words that inspire you?

There is no certainty; there is only adventure.” – Roberto Assagioli

Change is constant, and once you realize that it’s exciting, not scary, you can embrace it once it happens, and enjoy the ride – or least see the importance of some of those journeys of learning.

Good for her, not for me.” – Amy Poehler, Yes Please

Everyone has their own way of doing things that work for them, and that’s wonderful. It doesn’t mean that we have to feel bad if it doesn’t work for us.

You are an artist, what inspires your work? Do you have issues with keeping the amount of art supplies you have in check?

That is a tough one! My art has changed so much over the years. When I was doing my first degree years ago, I was working in photography, and soundscapes with video and audio installations. Yes, super avant garde stuff – ha! I really felt like I needed to be loud and cinematic so people could hear what I was trying to say, which had a lot to do with being a new mother, and trying to define who this new person was that I had become. I realize now that I can be a mother, and also be an individual at the same time, and that being ambitious doesn’t mean that I am a bad parent.

Currently, I am back to the drawing and painting I fell in love with as a child, but with more experience (both in years and technique). I love the ‘low-fi” – ness of it. I don’t need a large desk of technical equipment to create a painting or illustration.

In terms of my own art supplies, my style is quite minimal (how appropriate!), and I do keep my art supplies minimal as well. I will not buy another palette of watercolours until something has actually run out, and I won’t stock up on ten versions of a similar paintbrush; because I just don’t need it. I do find it hard when I’m actually in an art supply store – I always get that surge of excitement of all the possibilities. However, I have enough experience to now know that if I surround myself with too much, I get overwhelmed with choices, and will not allow myself to fully commit to one project. This rings true for me in finishing a painting, and also in other areas of my life.

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I believe there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you?

I would say that minimalism is a way of life for me. It’s not just about living materially small in our 750 square foot apartment, but also how our little family approaches life. Maybe a few examples might be the best way to answer:

  • When I find myself feeling anxious about the week’s tasks, errands, etc. I start to look for the path of least resistance.  I am working on saying “no” more often and accepting that when I am stressed out at all the things I need to do, it’s because I chose to do them. So if I can cancel some unnecessary meetings downtown, or find gymnastics classes for Gus closer to home so we’re not driving across town three times a week after work, that keeps things simpler and less stressful.
  • I rarely bring in something new into our home unless it is really going to make us smile – like a local artist’s work, or a carefully curated collection of shells the kids have found at the beach. I try to buy local and sustainable as much as possible, and I pare down anything that has too many multiples. I take things to consign or to the thrift store at least once each season. There’s no need to have more than four towels in our tiny linen closet, and the kids don’t need 16 pairs of socks each.
  • When thinking about how to spend our money, after all the bills are paid, we always look to what experiences we want to have, not what things we want to buy. Cyrus ties his own flies for fishing, and will update a rod or reel. I recently was able to get my own wetsuit for surfing, and one day hope to have my own board. The kids really want to go to Playland this summer, and have a goal to do that at the end of August. More traditional activities can be expensive in Vancouver, so when we’re all on board with saving money to achieve these goals, it makes it exciting to have something to look forward to and more meaningful when you get there.

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What is your story? How did you get started on a minimalist path? What drew you to minimalism or what motivated you to become a minimalist?

I have always been a fan of simple living, but my two big leaps into minimalism were when my husband and I separated, and when I took a trip to India.

When I finished my Master’s Degree in 2011, my husband and I separated for 2 ½ years. It was hard and painful, but also a really powerful experience. When we split our things, I realized that the only thing I wanted were the pictures of the kids, and the only thing I needed was a home to raise my kids in.  Nothing else mattered. What I also quickly discovered though was how much I needed my friends and my family. I have always been a fast-friend-maker (like Finn), but I was floored by how the good people around me rallied without judgement, helped dry my tears, fill my cupboards, and made me feel whole again. That was an important time in my life for sure. I learned how resilient I was, how everyone has a story, and how love truly is all you need. Happily, we are all together again, and we both had similar epiphanies about how we wanted to live as a family – and we haven’t looked back!

In 2012, I took a trip to India to do research on art and architecture there for my PhD. When I got there, all the naivety I had about being a worldly traveller went right out the window and I went into full culture shock. It is a country that continuously saturates every sense to a dizzying level. I saw very small children, barely clothed and dirty, that were so hungry they were peeling paint off buildings to eat. You quickly realize just how fortunate you are by accident of where you are born. I also saw a lot of happiness in India, from children who had almost nothing. Their delight in finding a bridge to jump off into cooling waters filled the air with laughter and joy. It is easy to see in such a place of contrast how unnecessary all our extra things are, and how fortunate we are to have access to simple amenities and health care.

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Are there people you look to as minimalist role models?

I think that I inherited some of that Scandinavian minimalism from my Swedish father. He was always big on saving for our trips to Sweden to visit family, and we went on many camping and road trips as a family. My childhood was filled with amazing adventures, and I am so thankful for that. I’ve also been influenced by my thoughtful Italian mother, who always emphasizes keeping things that bring you joy, and discarding things that do not – especially when those things are attached to a past you need to get rid of.

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Are there any books, websites or other resources that have inspired your minimalism?

I have read The Minimalists, and The Japanese Art of Tidying, both interesting books but I am still waiting for someone to come out with a book that addresses how to be minimalist with children, and without a huge cash reserve that allows you to immediately drop your daytime job without worrying about putting food on the table.

I love Alison Mazurek, who lives right here in Vancouver with her adorable little boy in a 600 square foot apartment about 4 blocks away from me!  She has her own blog www.600sqft.com and is also a contributor to Peaks & Harbours. She has a similar mindset in that she takes to the outdoors when things feel small, and focuses on quality local goods over a quantity of “things.”

In what ways/areas do you struggle with maintaining your minimalist goals/values? What is your weakness?

Books! Both for myself and for the kids. I’m trying to be better at going to the library for my reading fix, and encouraging the kids to do the same. It’s a work-in-progress!

Does your household abide by minimalism or is this more a focus for yourself? Why?

I think we all abide by minimalism. We do not purchase toys or extra gadgets for our kids unless it’s a birthday, or Christmas, etc. Pokemon was a big craze for them a few months ago, and they saved their money and bought all their Pokemon card packs and binders themselves. Of course, we will help them here and there with allowance money. When Gus decided he was not interested anymore in his Thomas the Tank Engine set a couple of years ago, he took pictures of them all lined up, put them on Craigslist, boxed them up, and handed them over to the guy that bought them (He was four!). He beamed with pride, and took that money to get his first Star Wars Lego kit. I do find that they are less and less interested in amassing the newest trendy toy. I think Gus has more money saved in his piggy bank than I do! Because he’s not sure what he wants to spend it on, and so he doesn’t. Finn will always buy more books, but we will also go to the library, because her piggy bank just can’t keep up with her insatiable appetite for more stories.

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Have there been any struggles with the other people you live with about living in a minimal way?

Honestly, it’s been such a positive experience that I can’t think of any time that we’ve come into conflict about it. Once and a while, the kids briefly lament that other parents have bought their kids an entire American Doll set complete with a giant wardrobe, and I say how nice that is, and how if it’s that important we can work towards it. More often than not, the novelty quickly wears off and they forget they ever asked for it.

Have you had any positive or constructive (or negative) experiences with friends or family related to minimalism?

I have had nothing but positive experiences! When people come over, if they are parents I usually find them peeking into a doorway wondering if I’ve hid the kids’ toys there – ha! They are amazed, and then excited, that our small apartment is so light and welcoming, without it wanting anything.

In what ways has minimalism improved your life?

I think that when you pare down the extraneous things, you live your life more honestly and genuinely. An example I would give is when I finally gave away all my textbooks from university that I knew I was only keeping to be impressive. I had so many books that I had on display because I felt like they represented all my years of hard work, and would show visitors how educated I was. I think it was really me feeling unsure of myself. When I finally admitted that I was probably never again going to pick up that 1000 page book on psychoanalytical theories, or the multi-volume text on Ancient Greek political systems, what was left was a real representation of who I was and what I actually found interesting. Books on art, funny stories, and beautiful illustrations. It feels amazing, and I don’t mind whether visitors notice that or not.

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What have been some unexpected experiences you’ve had with minimalism?

I am a less anxious person after really embracing minimalism. I used to struggle with anxiety in my early to late twenties. When things become pared down at home, and I focused on positive relationships, I became more confident in myself and the anxiety just melted away. It’s an ongoing process for sure, but I can definitely say that myself and my children, we are all much more chill and content living this way.

What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?

If you haven’t used something in a year, chances are you’re never going to use it. When I’ve felt overwhelmed with picking through the kids’ things (especially the bits of impossibly tiny accessories for toys), I will dump an entire drawer that they haven’t opened in a while, into a tupperware bin with a lid, and stow it away for a few months. They never ask where those things have gone. And when I feel like it’s been long enough, I organize things out into thrift store and consignment store, and they will get the money from their toys.

Do you have any goals for this year or the next few that you want to share?

My big goal that I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now – but am finally in a place to attack it, is creating albums out of pictures of the kids’ artwork. When you live in a small space, it’s tough to store pieces of different sizes without crushing and damaging them, and it’s hard to pull out an enormous box and go through it in a way that doesn’t create a giant mess. My goal is to take pictures of their favourites, and make them into a book. This way they can look at them easily, show them to friends, and be proud of their work for years to come.

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Thank you Carina! Readers: you can find Carina on Instagram @carinamarienilsson; on her outstanding lifestyle site www.peaksandharbours.com; or her personal site www.carinamarienilsson.com.

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You might also like my post:

Ecominimalism: Minimalism and Sustainability

13 Ways to Simplify Your Wardrobe

Interview with a Minimalist: Alison

Malas and Human Connection

Summer Lists: Sun, Sand and Strawberries

Want to find me in other places?

Ottawa Meetup

I have come into contact with so many kind, creative and inspirational people through the Instagram community. People from all over Canada, North America, and the world. I know that some of you are local to me, and so the time has come, I want to meet you in person!

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Please join Ro, Sen and me for an informal picnic and play at Vincent Massey park. This is large park, with grassy fields, trees and boulders to climb, clean bathrooms, fountains, barbecues and picnic tables. Situated near the river and some nice lookouts (no safe access to play in the river though). The idea is to meet in a casual way and connect in the real world, let our kids play, and have some good conversation. Photo taking is totally optional!

When: Thursday July 9th, 2015, from 10:30 am-1 pm, easy come, easy go

Where: Vincent Massey Park, see map here, we will be set up around S2 area, more information about the park is here

Who: Everyone is welcome

I would recommend each person bring water and snacks for themselves and their children. Please feel welcome, but not obliged, to bring something to share. There are picnic tables where potluck items can be placed. Lots of parking is available and close to where we will be set up. Parking rates are $1 for 30 minutes up to daily maximum of $7.25.

Please send me an email or leave a comment below if you are interested in meeting up. While my inclination is to keep things minimal, simple food and free play, it may also be nice to have something special to mark the event. Please be in touch!

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Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 2.06.28 PM   You might also like my post: Interview with a Minimalist: Kylah of Seasonally Nourished

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Swan by Kellie Diguanco Interview with a Minimalist

Interview with a Minimalist: Kellie

Kellie Diguanco artist Interview with a Minimalist Vancouver

The visual artists I know personally tend to be obsessive collectors, with studios and homes filled with supplies, found objects and inspiration. I don’t consider myself an artist, but I do like to make pretty things, arrange dried flowers, and sketch. Keeping in check the amount of supplies I have around the house is an ongoing battle for me. Whether we are minimalists or not, we all have objects, stuff, things, paraphernalia, gadgets and gizmos that accumulate. They may be very practical items, they may be sentimental items, or somewhere in between.

What I have found interesting in much of the writing about de-cluttering and minimalism is that people struggle most when it comes to parting with sentimental items such as souvenirs, diaries, and family gifts. While I do understand this perspective, what I have found I struggle with most is parting with practical items, like the four extra bath towels, the second muffin tin and the wall clock, that I definitely don’t need, but know are very useful items. I suppose this is when my environmental consciousness really kicks in, because each time I am ready to part with an item, I need to know that it is going to someone who will use it well. I can’t simply de-clutter my house by putting things in the waste bin. Finding the time to donate items to the best places, like bicycle parts to Bicycles for Humanity, running shoes to the Soles4Souls or the Running Room, kitchen tools through the Freecycle network can be a challenge, when all I want to do is say goodbye to my stuff and hello to clear space. It takes patience and time to do it right. And so, I am constantly reminding myself of this, when it would be really easy for me to put things in the trash or donate them to a generic charity bin that may not be able to make good use of the items. All this to say, I think that the environmental impacts of de-cluttering need a bit more air time and consideration, and so I was very pleased when Kellie (interviewed below) mentioned this to me in her interview.

Kellie is a minimalist, mother of four, artist and book lover. I was excited to talk with Kellie and hear how she lives minimally because, well, four kids, art and books usually make for a very cluttered existence! Kellie shares how having less stuff allowed her to have a more open mind, free of mental clutter. She also talks about how her boys are thriving having less stuff and more experiences. I hope you enjoy the read.

Interview with a Minimalist

Let’s start with a little bit about you. Who are you? What are you passionate about? How do you like to spend your time?

I am a Texas transplant to Vancouver, British Columbia [Canada]. I’m passionate about children, the creative mind, and inspiring others. I spend my time reading LOTS of books to my children and students and getting outside to explore nature with my four boys because Vancouver is a beautiful place to explore.

You are an artist, what inspires your work?

Children are the biggest inspiration for almost anything I create. They have a raw, uninhibited imagination. I like to create things that will inspire imaginative play or thoughts. I also keep in mind the lasting effects, how it impacts the environment. The state of the world has everything to do with what we teach our children now. Having less, but something with good quality.  Everything I make has a person in mind, and I put so much passion into it, that it must be something so beautiful and worthwhile that I would keep if for myself.

Interview with a Minimalist Nature Collection

How many children do you have and what are they like?

I have 4 little boys and they are so different. My oldest is the introvert, passionate, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He gave a TEDTalk in November. My second son is very gentle and cheerful, you can always find him skipping or singing. My 5 year old is a cuddle bug and 3 year old has quite a Batman obsession. My house is full of noise and energy but also a large amount of curiosity and we are all relentless about reading.

Interview with a Minimalist Children Playing Outdoors

Do you have a favourite quote or words that inspire you?

I have many, I love a good quote but this one always fits me:

“You have more to do than be weighed down by ‘pretty’ or ‘beautiful.’ You are a fiery heart and a wicked brain. Do not let your soul be defined by its shell.” ~Michelle K.

I believe there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you?

Living in Vancouver as a family of 6, minimalism is a way of life. If you want a tidy house with a big family, you need fewer items.  Minimalism, to me, means owning fewer things.

Why do you identify as a minimalist? In what ways are you a minimalist?

We have always purged and kept our house full of fewer things for space reasons, but it started to make a big difference in the way we felt. We felt better, happier with fewer items. I have always been passionate about caring for the environment and fewer, better things makes less of an impact on the world. I am always hoping the world will be a better place for my children.

Interview with a Minimalist Children Playing Outdoors by Kellie Diguanco

What is your story? How did you get started on a minimalist path? What drew you to minimalism or what motivated you to become a minimalist?

We have always purged and donated our things, but our biggest change came when we had to stage our home for putting it on the market. We became minimal very quickly, and we all actually enjoyed it better. The kids even talked about how clean their room felt and how they liked the feeling of it.  We found ourselves outdoors more, it’s hard to explain it,  but that’s how it impacted us. We always loved camping and going outdoors but we began exploring more spaces and our lives were focused much more on experiences.

Interview with a Minimalist Children Playing Outdoors by Kellie Diguanco

Are there people you look to as minimalist role models?

I really enjoy Alison from 600sqftandababy. I love her hashtag #fewerthings. I have learned so much, like recycling your running shoes at Running Room. I love reading your journey and all the interviews you have. I think everyone has a different journey and we can all learn from each others experiences.

Are there any books, websites or other resources that have inspired your minimalism?

I read The Life Changing Art Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I enjoyed it but it didn’t talk a lot about recycling, which is also an important issue to me.

In what ways/areas do you struggle with maintaining your minimalist goals/values? What is your weakness?

My weakness is children’s picture books. I am very choosy about the books I actually buy for my home, they must have exquisite illustrations and I prefer they have teachable moments. That being said, they can add up because there are lots of wonderful books. It’s my struggle.

Frida Kahlo by Kellie Diguanco

Does your household abide by minimalism or is this more a focus for yourself?

We all abide by minimalism. We store our kids toys away and they alternate them in and out every now and then. It’s like getting a new toy but it’s actually ones they have already had and forgotten about. We have only kept the ones that have a lasting life either by quality or by fad. If they won’t love it in a week, it can’t stay.

Have there been any struggles with the other people you live with about living in a minimal way?

My husband likes clothes, but I can see the impact in his choices now.

Have you had any positive or constructive experiences with friends or family related to minimalism?

It has had a positive influence. When I started to minimize my art supplies, I realized I had more than I needed. I was able to find great homes for what I didn’t need. I decided to only make something for someone specific or for the shops that sell my items by their request. I want to make special things, that someone can treasure and that will have a lasting impact. I started making wood dolls for people that inspired me. At first people thought that it was strange. I think because most people that give you something want something in return. For me, it was a way of creating something unique and beautiful for someone that sends beauty out into the world. It’s been a fun and interesting art process.

Interview with a Minimalist Kellie Diguanco 4 boys

In what ways has minimalism improved your life?

Having fewer things leaves your mind open to less clutter in life. You focus more on the essentials, which for us is health, family and experiences.

What have been some unexpected experiences you’ve had with minimalism?

I didn’t not expect my children to flow with it so well, they enjoy less clutter, that was surprising to me.

What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?

Start now, for some it’s one big purge and others it takes longer to let go.

Interview with a Minimalist Kellie Diguanco

Do you have any goals for this year or the next few that you want to share?

I have some big dreams, focused around children and literacy. The current project I have just finished, is a line of cards for kids that promote creativity and handwriting , called Lisky and Lulu, and I will continue to share my love of books over @thekaleidoscopeca.

Readers: You can also find Kellie on Instagram @kelliedigs and on her website The Kaleidoscope. She’s a busy woman!

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Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

 

Urban Adventures or Wanderlust with Kids

With spring weather around the corner, the children and I are getting excited for our first urban adventure of the year. We’re pedestrians year round, walking almost everywhere we travel to in the city; however, in the cold weather months the walking is more for the purpose of transportation than it is an activity unto itself. In the winter we walk with a destination in mind. In the spring, summer and fall, walking is the destination. Wander, weave, flounder and flow, the streets, alleys and parks around us form a patchwork of sights, sounds, smells and sensations underfoot.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve craved walking: wandering without purpose throughout the city, the countryside, just exploring and waiting for the unexpected to present itself. I suppose I had wanderlust, though I certainly hadn’t heard of the term when I was a young teen who wished to spend her off hours wandering aimlessly, rather than shopping or hanging out at coffee shops. It seems wrong to say “aimlessly” or “without purpose;” certainly the walking restocked my energies and delivered inspiration by way of silhouettes, architecture, graffiti, street performers, weeds growing rampant under a loading dock.

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Sen’s rabbit tee by KLT works and organic harem pants by Mini Mioche

Aside from wanderlust, my environmental preoccupations motivate me to move around in the least harmful way I can. Using my own motor is not only healthy for me, but healthier for the planet. When I met my husband, Matt, he was similarly disenchanted with moving himself through space using anything other than his own body as a motor. He loved to explore and find new spots in the city and its rural outskirts. However, he wanted to move and explore by bicycle. He had no interest in going for an after dinner walk, or leaving an hour early for school so we could take a meandering detour to get to class. We spent many years separately doing our own after dinner ritual. Now after a decade or so I’ve worn him down…or rather he’s learned to love a good wander. He still rides his bicycle at least three times a day though!

We live in the downtown of our city, so there is a lot to discover within walking distance. And by walking distance, I mean we can walk somewhere (at a child’s pace) in 2 to 3 hours or less. Most often, we spend more time getting somewhere than the time we actually spend there, because the walk is just as enjoyable. This ‘breaks’ the common rule that when you drive on a trip somewhere you need to spend at least triple the time there to make the ‘car time’ worth it. Unless, of course, you are a road tripper, and the drive is the destination. But I digress….

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Sen’s monochrome rainbow tee by Sweet Luka Mo

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One of the first thoughts I had when I learned I was pregnant was that I would have a new excuse to spend hours wandering the city while pushing my baby in the pram — which is a very common way to ‘nap’ your child where we lived at the time. As my children got older I wanted to find a way to nurture a love for wandering, admittedly to serve my own interests, but also because I think there is a lot to learn from wandering. Both learning from the space in which you wander, but also to learning about ourselves. Wandering cultivates a sense of curiosity in and reverence for the mundane, which I think are necessary capacities to develop and nurture, particularly in a fast-paced and over-stimulated world. I could go on and on about all the positive things that wandering teaches us, but I will save some for future posts, since I’ll be posting about our urban adventures over the coming weeks and months. (I need to save some goodies so you’ll come back for more!)

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While off with the children for a few weeks during the last two summers, we would alternate days at the pool park, with a picnic to last us the day, and days wandering the city. At first, Ro would ask “when will be there?” She was focused on a particular destination: the river, the bakery, the gallery. But over time, she began to enjoy the walks themselves and became a more keen observer, looking down streets and alleys, finding dirt paths that could be interesting, and taking an interest in leading us toward discovery.

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Sen’s owl raglan by Pop Kids USA and organic striped leggings by Sweet Luka Mo

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For Sen, being much younger, he still very much lives in the moment, so he enjoyed the wandering and didn’t expect to “get somewhere.” He especially enjoyed our walks when I called them adventures. “What will we discover today, Sen?” I found it really helped, for both children, to give them a few things to look for: a flower they’ve never seen before, a sculpture, a spot for a picnic. It gave them an orientation for the walk and raised their sense of observation. As the summer went on, they no longer needed prompts from me, they would just let loose and see what struck their fancy as they walked along a sidewalk or path. I was very happy to see they had come to love wandering. So much so, that at times I found myself trying to usher them along more quickly, for they wished to stop to greet every snail crossing the sidewalk or count all the different varieties of wild flower on a hill — not to mention the childhood classic: picking up every single stick to bring home. Perhaps I’d gotten a little too much of a good thing going. But seriously, I couldn’t fault the activity of letting children roam, discovering, spending endless hours outdoors, learning the map of their city through the movements of their own body. We have gotten to a point where can be a great distance from home and Ro can always lead us back. And Sen can lead us about half the time. As a parent of urban children, I think it is a great asset for a young child to know how to navigate the city themselves.

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All in all, I’m pretty happy that my children enjoy my favourite pastime. But more importantly, I see the great benefits wandering provides them. Chief among these is appreciation for the path as much as the destination, which brings about the potential to reframe everything we do.

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Photo 9-26-2014, 3 42 39 PM

Sen’s organic leggings by Mini Mioche

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