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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Hey Mama: A community for creative mothers

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a Linked In for creatives (but, maybe one with better aesthetics)? A community of creative mothers who share your interests but also share your experience of balancing motherhood while pursuing a creative career? A space where you can find friends and potential collaborators, but also be discovered yourself? Well, wish no more. Hey Mama, a curated community of creative mothers, where people can discover and be discovered, launched today. Hey Mama’s goal is to help connect incredible women to collaborate, inspire and work together. Doesn’t that sound amazing?! And overdue!

Over the past few months, I’ve had the honour of working with Katya and Amri, the two lovely women behind Hey Mama, helping them in little ways with navigating the world of IG moms and brainstorming ideas for their website. These two have such energy and big ideas it is hard to contain. As much as they wanted to learn from me, I wanted to learn from them. In just a few months of chatting and exchanging ideas we really tested and proved the value of making these creative connections and what they can bring to life.

With their busy schedules and big dreams, and each raising a toddler, Katya and Amri found the time to answer a few questions for me about how they became friends, how Hey Mama got started and what their hopes are for the future. I hope you enjoy reading what they had to say.

First off, how did you two meet?

Amri: We met through our daughters when they were babies. I was working full time and Katya was working from home. A babysitter had left my daughter’s favorite blanket over at Katya’s house on a play date, so I posted a “Desperately looking for Katya” message on the local mom’s board. Luckily Katya spotted the message and invited me over for playdate.  We had a total mama crush moment and that playdate turned into a glass of wine and so many more adventures. We come from totally different social circles and career paths and probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. I’m always really grateful for that blanket.

Katya: What started over bonding over a pair of shared JBrand jeans became our realization that we both were craving a friend that we felt was truly close.  Amri and I definitely hit a period after about a year or two of being friends that we got really close, and ever since Heymama she’s like my work wife. I don’t know what I would do without her!

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Tell me a little bit about yourselves: children, hobbies, background.

Amri: We both have girls the same age 3.5. Mari is my daughter. I’m originally from Florida and nothing makes me happier than a day at the beach or the pool just any kind of water! I’m into all kinds of design. My husband and I are about to start on a gut renovation project of our new home in Brooklyn. I love making things, sewing, crafts, and cooking. We have a pretty great garden and I’m into whipping things up from the garden and having friends over for a feast. This past season I started jarring tomatoes and giving them as gifts. I also love yoga and just being outside with my family.

Katya:  My little wild is Liliana Rae. I’m a single mama and was born in St. Petersburgh, Russia. I came her as a little one with some very courageous and brave parents! They moved to Brooklyn, and the story goes that my mom would go into grocery stores asking for blowjobs (she needed a blow dryer).  Growing up in New York City I was had access to some incredible cultural and fun social experiences.  Thanks to my tiger Russian mama, I studied at School of American Ballet at Julliard, played piano, painted and much to my mom’s dismay went clubbing like a NYC kid does!  Now I love to introduce Lili to as many museums, music, dancing and travel as I can.  I’m just moving to Brooklyn Heights and looking forward to getting back to my Brooklyn roots.

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What sort of work did you do before you had children?

Amri: I spent a decade curating cool fashion and products for major magazines like Glamour and Cosmopolitan. I’m a stylist and a fashion editor.

Katya: I come from a sales, social and digital marketing background.  I’ve worked with some incredible startups helping them grow and scale.

How has having children changed your perspective on life and career?

Amri: Before I had my daughter my life was all work, then drinks and dinners after work every night. Once Mari came along my priorities totally changed. I had this tug in my heart that I needed to get home to her, to be more available, to experience things with her. I now understand it is important to slow down and appreciate what we have right now. Things are just flying by, she gets bigger everyday and I can’t go back and make up things, it’s just right now. Being a mom has taught me patience, which I still struggle with. Before I was all deadlines and rush, but no one rushes a toddler putting on their shoes. Anyone who tries to learns it take twice as long. This has been my most important lesson from Mari to sit back and wait and enjoy it.  I wanted to find work-life balance and a career that catered to my important role as a mama, this is the place where Heymama came from. Unless you have a child, it’s hard to understand the importance of connection to other women who face these same challenges and who struggle to be great parents and have something outside of that too.

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Katya: Having Liliana completely changed the course of my life.  I was in my mid-twenties when I decided to take the plunge to motherhood and was the only one of my friends to do so. It’s one of the reasons meeting Amri meant so much to me. Liliana is my true north. When I’m with her, I feel whole and complete. Like my other leg is there and I’m not sure how I walked without it.  She’s taught me to just let things be, a little messy, not so perfect, enjoy the small moments and most importantly to be silly. She’s a natural comedian and I laugh most with her.  Working full time I feel as though I miss a lot, so I’m looking forward to creating a better work-life balance that allows me to have work I’m really passionate about and be present when my daughter needs me.

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What is Hey Mama all about? And how did you come up with the idea?

Amri: Heymama is a social and professional network for cool and creative mamas. Our goal is to curate a community of inspired and imaginative moms and give them a space to share their worlds, discover new people and opportunities, and collaborate. We’ve found that unlike so many other communities, moms are really supportive and want to lift each other up. There is plenty of room for all of us to be successful we can only benefit from helping others.

Initially Katya and I started this project to connect moms purely for friendship. As we met with so many women to talk about our vision, we found a common thread that everyone we fell in love with had a creative venture, project, career, or brand that they were passionate about. We started wanting to connect all these women and that’s how Heymama started.

Katya: What we’ve found along this road is that the more mamas we meet who have started projects of their own, the more invigorated we are. If we can get these women together, we have a feeling that something magical will happen.

Who do you expect to be active users of the Hey Mama website?

Amri:  Moms who want to collaborate on creative projects with other moms, those who want a place to display their creative work and to be contacted for work/projects. Moms who want to easily communicate with other creative moms. Moms who are really into Instagram but don’t blog and want a space to publish content, those who want to discover cool brands. It’s great for women who want to get in touch with creatives on the other side of the world. So far we’ve been hearing from stylists, photographers, bloggers, Instagram influencers, creative directors, shop owners, designers, Etsy moms, interior designers, artists, the list is really endless. 

Katya: That about sums it up!

What are you hoping to achieve with this new platform for creative mamas?

Amri: We want to become an essential resource for these women to put themselves out there, be discovered and discover new talent. Our dream is to bring together a global community of women and build beautiful things for ourselves, each other, and the rest of the world. We aim to inspire and enable these awesome mamas to be successful in their endeavors and connect them with brands that match their lifestyle. We’ll be featuring inspiring success stories and opening up chats with these women to encourage women to take risks and launch their own projects.

Katya: We hope to create a passionate community in the digital world but also allow those women to connect in real life.  So we’d love the day to come when you’re anywhere in the world and you can you meet a heymama for a glass of wine or a coffee, and next thing you know you’re working on a project with someone in Paris or London or Jaipur!

What are people going to love about Hey Mama?

Amri: We think that moms are going to love our community.That they will be able to learn some things from women who have faced similar challenges to what they are facing. We want Heymama to be a place to get inspired.

Katya: We hope mamas love that you can get a bit more in depth and learn more about a person’s story behind their brand. How they started, challenges they faced and tips they’d like to share with others. Most of all, they can see who wants to connect and for what so it might feel a bit more inviting to reach out. 

What do you see as the next big step for Hey Mama?

Amri: We’ve been taking this one small step at a time. Right now we’re excited that our Beta site is up so we can get feedback from our mamas. The next step is to see what the community wants more of go with that. We’re excited to have some IRL (in real life) events and get people together as well.

Katya: The next big step for us is to continue to build awareness amongst our users and members, and also create really good partnerships.  We’d love to work with brands as well as social and digital and events.

When you dream about where Hey Mama is in a year’s time, what does that look like?

Katya: In a year’s time I imagine we’ll have a proper office, with a bigger team of incredible women and thousands of members who are making it happen daily. Get up, be awesome, repeat. Let’s see how that does in 365 days.

Amri: I hope we’ll have connected thousands of women to each other and to great brands. I’m excited to see what kind of collaborations come about. Yes, a real office would be great and a few more people on our team, but if we can help just a few people then this is all worth it.

Find Hey Mama online here or on Instagram @heymama. And find me on Hey Mama right here.

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Living Simply, Living Fully with Inspiring Mother Hannah

When I started planning this series of interviews, I knew I wanted to include Hannah. There is nothing overtly heroic about the way Hannah shares her life on Instagram, and I really like that. Hannah is a humble woman, who has much wisdom and beautify to share, but does not take herself too seriously. Similar to Josie, Hannah’s effect is cumulative.

Hannah shares pieces of her days at home with her two boys, who she homeschools. I enjoy reading Hannah’s simple reflections and reminders to appreciate the things that are right there in front of us, that are too easy to take for granted. When we can appreciate and truly enjoy what we already have, the way our life is already furnished with beauty, like the scent of lilacs or the greening of grass after a long winter, our lives are full and there is nothing left but to enjoy it. There is no pursuit, there’s just right here, right now. Living simply, Hannah is guiding her boys in the best of ways: showing them how to find pleasure in the everyday and nurturing their creativity by leaving them unencumbered by too many toys. By sharing her life through Instagram she’s inspiring me, and I imagine many others, to look closer to home and closer to the natural world to find those things that ignite our imaginations, that quench our thirst for beauty, that complete us.

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What part of the world do you live in?

We live in the US, in the great big state of Texas, in a tiny cabin by a small country town. My husband and I have done quite a bit of wandering since we married and are probably not settled in for good yet, but this is definitely one of my favorite places we’ve lived. One of the first things we noticed when we were new here was the regular sound of braying from our neighboring donkeys (somehow they always sound like they are being attacked by lions, mournful and desperate) and how much brighter the stars look in this part of the country.

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

We started out wanting to have about 12 children, but after having two we decided to take a good long break from all that children-having. Our two sons, Duncan and Phineas, are 5 and 4. Duncan is eternally curious, wanting to understand how life works and always asking me questions about everything. It can be exasperating at times but the truth is that I love and admire his thirst for knowledge. I know it will serve him well, and I’m ready to be impressed by whatever he chooses to do with that smart little brain of his. Phineas is my sweet snuggle bunny. When he’s not snuggling up to his mama he’s a man of action! He loves playing with toy cars and riding his bicycle. He’s often outside doing one of those two things, or interacting with the dogs. Dogs are his favorite. He’s got a great sense of humor and a twinkly sparkle in his eyes.

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What are your core family values?

Our faith is very central in our lives. Whatever decision we make as a family it’s always important to us that our spirits remain strong and nourished. We value honesty and kindness, simplicity and groundedness, and don’t take ourselves too seriously.

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How do you spend most of your days?

I spend almost all my time at home. We are a one car family, so when I say I’m a stay-at-home mom, I mean it in the most literal way! Usually my days consist of homeschooling, cooking, cleaning…you know, all the exciting stuff. I’m always happiest when I’m doing something that connects me to the earth. Whether it’s working in my garden or hanging laundry on the clothesline, especially if I can throw music into the mix somehow. There is almost always music playing around our house!

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

Our most  common family activity is going to the park. Another thing we love to do  together (although we don’t get to do it quite as often) is go yard sale-ing or  thrift shopping. A lot of our possessions are second-hand, and it’s a fun way  of beating the system when you don’t have a lot of money. Our house is extra  tiny, though, so I usually have a giant “donation” pile tucked away somewhere so we can keep the clutter at a minimum. Out with the old gently used, in with the new gently used.

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What are you passionate about?

I love beauty. I’m in a constant state of longing to surround myself with beauty. I want to create it in written form, in visual form, in my home, in my yard, and in the sound waves around me. Creating beauty gives me strength and makes me come alive. I also dream of living a life that is in harmony with nature, taking care of my spot on earth and not contributing to pollution. I’ve realized that for our family it’s not an “all in” or “all out” kind of thing, though, but a process of growth – in knowledge and commitment – towards the final goal. If I’m failing in one or more areas to live out my ideals, it doesn’t mean I don’t care or I’ll never be successful. There is always room for growth and improvement, and there is always hope that the growth and improvement will take place if we hold onto our desires.

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What inspires you?

Lots of things! Creative women. People who are dedicated to sustainable living. People who live passionate lives. Pinterest! It stretches my brain and feeds my thirst for loveliness and teaches me ways of living life that I never would have thought of on my own.

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Thank you Hannah for sharing your world. Readers, please find Hannah on Instagram @flutterbyhannah.

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A Wild and Beautiful Life: Inspiring Mother Jessica

It definitely takes a lot talent to style and construct a photo well. But it takes a whole other kind of talent and vision to see and capture the beauty of what is already right there in front of you. Perhaps, the most beautiful thing to observe is real human connection, whether this connection is with another human or another species. I think most of us have felt this sort of connection at least once, for some of us we feel this daily. These connections with others are constantly happening between people around us, but it takes patience and a keen intuition to catch a glimpse.

Today, I’m sharing my interview with Jessica Lindgren-Wu, a mother, partner, former dancer, and photographer. When you see Jessica’s photos it is immediately obvious she is an artist. Her photos are among the best I have encountered not only on Instagram and VSCO, but more broadly in the world of contemporary photographers capturing childhood, real childhood. Her photos are at once beautiful and gritty, energetic and calm. In many ways she reminds me of Sally Mann, one of the world’s most famous (and, yes, controversial) photographers, known best for her work photographing her children. To me, the magic in Mann’s photographs lies in how well they display the connection Mann has with her children. It is clear she spent thousands of hours with her children, observing them as their lives, their play, their emotions naturally unfolded. This magic is what I see in Jessica’s work. There is something very pure, very authentic, very genuine about her photography. But more than that, her photos could only have been taken by a mother, a parent, a caregiver, who is deeply connected with h/er children.

I have never been someone who enjoys a photograph for the technical skill it displays or the beauty of the subject alone. There has to be another layer that tells a broader story or conveys a larger message. For me, Jessica’s photographs are technically and aesthetically beautiful, but most importantly they tell a simple but all-important story of slowing down, connecting to each other and to the moment, and being content. Now, that is a beautiful life.

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What part of the world do you live in? 

We live in a Suburb to London, England.

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

I have four boys.

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K is 15. He is an incredible focused, caring and self-motivated young man. His plans and dreams for his life are elaborate and thought thru. He is studying 3D design at college since September. He builds computers and free climbs in his spare time. K likes cooking and making yummy veggie curries. He clears tables in a local restaurant on Saturday nights to pay off a loan from me for computer parts. We are amazed at his size as he has outgrown every family member. K is like a big, kind bear. I love that he still hugs me tight every day, and hope he never stops giving his mum a squeeze.

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T is a super social, fast talking, deep thinking and kind 12 year old. He is a self-taught gymnast and does some crazy flips. At the moment he is practicing a 720 backflip. He collects fossils and gem stones and other curiosa, like animal bones.  He deeply dislikes competition, and arguments and is known to solve conflicts with the most unusual techniques. T reads a lot of manga comics and is learning Japanese, so he can catch the new episodes on-line as they become available in Japan first.

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E is a sparkling 7 year old who loves life. He plays hard and plays well. He has intense periods of creative outbursts. One month it is drawing. He can sit for hours producing drawing after drawing. The next month is lego, and he builds whole lands on his bedroom floor, the next it might be robots, minecraft, dragons and recently he discovered skylanders. I swear I can see his brain grow at these times. I adore his focus and intensity. He announced he taught himself to read just before christmas, and indeed he did. He loves music and has some great moves, including a great shoulder spin.
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S is 3, and a half. That half is very important. He can’t wait to grow up. He feels a lot, in that passionate three year old way. He is great fun and likes playing with his brothers and friends. S is full of superhero tales and eye twinkling mischief and tells me his tales with the most endearing facial expressions. He has some amazing lego building skills for his age. S likes animals a lot, especially pigs.
 
What are your core family values?
Our core family values come from my husband and my own personal experiences, our humanist values and our belief in freedom and creative problem solving. We aim to find common preference and try our best to meet every family members needs and wants without judgement at all times. This is of course hard at times and with so many individuals to consider, but for us it is worth the extra effort and very much what we strive to get better at daily. Of course with freedom comes respect for others at all times, just so you don’t think it is utter chaos or kids running disrespectful riot.
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How do you spend most of your days?
Every day is different. We are a very flowing family with somewhat unusual, very flexible timetables. We have a loose weekly plan and daily commitments that we plan our projects, wants and needs around. We spend most days together. I personally look after the home, cook and help facilitate the boys life and learning for the biggest part of the day. I do make time daily for some essential self nurturing.
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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?
We spend a lot of time outdoors. Hanging by the sea, or in a woodland, is something every family member enjoys.
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What are you passionate about?
Freedom, equality, creativity and life.
What inspires you?
Love, nature, people, art and truth.
Visit Jessica online at her website WildWuzle.com, on VSCO or Instagram.
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Hippies on Nordstrom

As Mother’s Day approaches, Nordstrom is publishing a series of interviews with moms on what motherhood means to them and what they’ve got on their Mother’s Day wish list. When Nordstrom initially emailed me I assumed they had the wrong person or had accidentally sent a bulk email. Oops. But no, after I had a few conversations with the lovely Nordstrom Blogs team, I realized that they wanted to represent a range of moms and perspectives in the interviews. The series does have one common thread and it has something to do with children’s art…I will leave you with that teaser, in the hopes that skip over to the blog and have read.

Thank you, Nordstrom, for including me in your mix! I love an opportunity to talk about my thoughts on fashion and acquisition, and, of course, my kids and their art! Link to my interview here.

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Magic Feathers

Last September Kristin, the owner and designer behind the kids organic clothing line, Gardner and the Gang, decided to hold a children’s art competition. Children were encouraged to submit drawings under the theme for her SS15 collection: Magic and Rock ‘n’ Roll. The winning drawing, chosen through open voting, would be incorporated into the SS15 collection.

I loved the spirit behind Kristin’s competition, encouraging children to draw and supporting young artists to pursue their passion. I talked to Ro about it and she decided to submit her Magic Feathers drawing that she had drawn as part of her daily drawing project. The drawing itself had been inspired by a photograph that Kirsten Rickert had shared on Instagram. Isn’t it lovely the way the Instagram community knits itself together, connecting people across vast distances in these beautiful ways?

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Initially, Kristin had planned on donating the profits of the shirt sales to support access for children to art lessons – a very worthy investment I would have to say. The value of art education should not be underestimated. When Ro wrote to Kristin about her inspiration for the drawing and her passion for protecting animals, Kristin decided to invest the money in another way: to protect endangered animals. This is what both Ro and I are most excited about, the shirts are symbolic of a greater cause and will hopefully inspire conversations between parents and children about animal protection.

This morning on the way to school I told Ro that her shirt design was for sale on the Gardner and the Gang website. She replied: “Mom, I’m just so happy that I drew that picture, because so many animals will be saved.” My heart is so proud.

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I have an inquiring mind and so I asked Kristin a few questions about herself, the competition and her clothing line. And, now, I can see why she was swayed by Ro’s love for all animals.

Why did you hold a children’s art competition?

I thought it was a nice idea to involve the people I design for and make it a fun happening.  If we can help encourage children to use their artistic talent then that is a good thing and such a good feeling too.

What is the plan for the money earned from sales of the Magic Feathers shirt?

We will donate all the revenue from the sales to a cause chosen by Ro. In this case we will adopt endangered animals through WWF (the World Wildlife Fund).

What is your background, where did you grow up, what did you study?

I am from Sweden, I grew up in the countryside close to animals and nature. I have studied media communication, visual communication, photography and graphic design. My degree is in Visual communication.

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

I had all sorts of dreams, but the main one was to have a huge farm. However, I have always been terribly allergic to furry animals, so that is a bit of an obstacle, and the fact that even if I am a country girl at heart, I am also an adventurer and I love the pulse of a big city. I get totally mesmerised by New York City. Like seriously, goose bumps constantly whenever I visit. I will live there some day, at least for a little while.

How did you get started designing clothing?

It all started with me having my first baby girl, Ava. With a background in graphic design and a strong fashion interest, these are what made it all start to move forward.

How would you describe Gardner and the Gang clothing in 5 words?

Quirky, fashion, meaningful, fun, comfortable.

Why does Gardner and the Gang mean? What’s behind the name?

It is named after my daughter Ava, she is named after Ava Gardner. I loved her strong personality and her story . The gang is all the other kids that want in.

What are your sources of inspiration for the line?

I always get inspired in the most unexpected places. A thread through all my designs would be a wish to convey a message to all kids: Do not live with prejudice, open your mind to new cultures, you will learn something. Even if the message is not so obvious I always draw characters that are somewhat outsiders, strong personalities. The message is simple, be yourself: that is as cool as it gets!

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

The fact that children really seem to like wearing my designs.

Your design aesthetic seems perfect for a fun youth line. Do you plan to expand the line?  

Yes, slowly but surely.

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

I love to do yoga, and to go running with some good tunes in my earphones. Clears my mind. These occasions are very rare though, haha, my life is mostly, kids, work, sleep…

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Thank you so much to Kristin for supporting young artists and the World Wildlife Fund.

If you are interested in buying a shirt visit Gardner and the Gang, the shirts are limited edition!

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Wit and Wisdom from Inspiring Mother Nelly

Today’s inspiring mother is equal parts wit and wisdom. I’ll be honest I started following Nelly because her captions were just too good. She has a great sense of humour and real talent for conveying the hilarious situations and conversations parents and children get themselves into. I would follow her even if she posted photos of white walls with captions. She’s that good. That’s not to discount her photography, because the woman can take beautiful photos.

I’m really glad I got the chance to ask Nelly a few questions about her parenting, her kids and her passions, because (well, besides getting lots of funny words out of her –- my hidden agenda) she shared some wise words too; words that could only come from a parent who is really connected and engaged with their children and is deeply self-reflective. Nelly’s perspective really shows an appreciation for what we can learn from living with and really observing children, in particular with regard to kindness and forgiveness.

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What part of the world do you live in?

I live in a small riverside village on the east coast of England, about an hour from London, along with most of my deeply dysfunctional, big, hilarious, buffet loving family. My village has strong roots in music and art, as well as some keen ping-pongers. It’s basically full of hippies and unintentional hipsters (who could no sooner define the word than they could give up their allotment). I can safely say it’s one of the weirdest places on earth. Also, you’re not worth shit if you don’t have a boat. And I don’t have a boat.

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

I have two daughters, Cecily (5) and Lorelei (2). I see threads of similarity between them; an innocent awkwardness that they share, but by and large they are very different creatures.

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Cecily is an introvert, a little shy and anxious at times, but very quirky and completely full of love. She has the most beautiful soul; I can’t imagine a kinder person. Every morning she calmly sits up at the table (whilst I desperately try to get us all ready) and quietly makes a gift for someone she was worried about the day before. She chooses art and craft above all activities, quietly gathering things and making small but independent little choices. She can be very misunderstood (quiet people often are) but to me she is a tiger: stoic, brave, both playful and solitary, and hugely protective of people in the face of injustice or adversity.

Lorelei is a whirlwind. An all singing, dancing, laughing, idiosyncratic, strange little whirlwind. She relishes human interaction, eye contact, and is very tactile. She wears her feelings very externally; she’s as bold, open, and free as an ocean; but is weakened greatly at the hands of unkindness, and feels rejection deeply. She brought light and laughter into our lives after some very dark years. She is my little elixir.

I also have two cats, three chickens, and two tortoises. But I like them a lot less than I like my kids.

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What are your core family values?

Kindness and joy are two fundamentals. I want my children to laugh every single day of their lives. We sing and dance and talk silly all day long, even when I’m in pain or unhappy. Having fun is so important, but never at the expense of kindness. We talk always about ways to be kind and caring to family, friends, strangers, the environment, animals…. even to people who are unkind to us. I’m learning a great deal from them too (children are without judgement, and are incredibly forgiving). I applaud their kindness above all else.

Respecting and enjoying who they are, and being patient and understanding with them; are things that both also mean a lot to me, and things that I need to constantly work on; as a parent.

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How do you spend most of your days?

Acting like a bunch of dorks. Often half naked. We read, draw, make dens, dance, cook. We talk about poo a lot. Like, a LOT. Standard. In the summer we do all of the above, just outdoors (I want to say apart from the half naked bit, but that wouldn’t be strictly true). We also see friends most days; we have some real good ones.

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

We love snacking, and we love nature, so snacking in nature really floats our boats. Picnics in woods, by the river, at the beach, that’s how we roll. We also love camping (which sits well within the aforementioned favourites). My hope is for us to one day travel a lot as a family too.

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What are you passionate about?

I’m a very political person, so to save you all the tedium of hearing about my various opinions on education, healthcare, equality, the environment, foreign affairs etc, I’ll simply say ‘politics’. I also read like a motherflipper.

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What inspires you?

Cliché alert: my children. Unequivocally and without apology, they are the best people I have ever met.

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Thank you, Nelly, for indulging me with your witty answers and sharing your reflections on parenting.

Readers: Nelly’s blog, poetically entitled Mother, Lover, Wanker, is a must read. She doesn’t publish often, but when she does you don’t want to miss it. You can also follow Nelly on Instagram @nellyrandall.

Creative Mother Kaity Ferrell

Today I am launching a new series of interviews with creative mothers. Mothers who have started their own business, mothers who are artists, mothers who live a creative lifestyle. These are women whose passions line up with the work they do each day. The thing about passions is the you have that feeling that the energy you are putting into them is contributing something valuable to the world and to the lives of others.

Like a cliché come to life, once I had children my priorities completely changed. No longer did my passions lie in a career pursued outside the home, my passions were right there in front of me, making messes, asking questions, and giving endless snuggles. Living in Canada, I am fortunate to have been able to stay home with each child for a year. But if it had been financially viable, I wouldn’t have gone back to work. I would have stayed home with them until they were in school full days or maybe longer. Who knows, maybe I would have homeschooled them?! I still hold out hope that I might be able to craft a life where I spend my work hours doing something I enjoy and feel passionate about, and so I am drawn especially to women who have been able to do this for themselves.

I am excited to have Kaity Ferrell as my first first creative mother feature. Kaity is the owner of Fare Isle, a small business that focuses on farm to table foods, skin care and wellness products. All Fare Isle products are made by hand from her organic garden and wild harvesting. I met Kaity through Instagram and was first drawn to her because she posted the most beautiful and scrumptious vegan food dishes. She is more than a chef though, everything Kaity touches becomes beautiful. To me Kaity is an artist who plays with plays with food, flowers, colour and texture to create a feast for the senses.

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As I got to know Kaity, I was also inspired by her as a mother and as a person. She seems to have curated a balanced life for herself, filled with family, friends, creativity and passion. Her life is not about the things she has accumulated, but about the experiences she fosters for family and friends. As a mother she is giving her son many gifts: her presence, her love and the foundation of a life cultivating and cherishing moments.

Enough of me talking, read on to hear from Kaity, herself.

What part of the world do you live in?

Nantucket, a magical faraway island situated 26 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I feel so blessed to call this place home.

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

My partner and I have one son, Iley, who turns 4 this summer. Iley is a bright-eyed curious playful boy. He loves food and will eat almost anything we make, and loves to help with the cooking. I would say his favorite activities are riding his balance bicycle, building with legos, and treasure hunting in the forest. He has a contagious belly laugh and those hazel eyes of his are always full of mischief.

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What are your core family values?

Honesty is important to us. My partner and I try to instill in Iley to be truthful always. This quote always sticks with me, “Truth is an offense but not a sin”, not to say that speaking the truth is always an offense, but that it is better to speak the truth and risk offense than to lie. Togetherness, family time is so important to us. Kindness is equally as important; kindness to all beings and to the earth.

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How do you spend most of your days?

I work from home on a flexible schedule, thankfully. My partner and I rise and make a cup of tea before Iley wakes up. Then we make breakfast and work while Iley plays. Iley and I run our daily errands midday and then try to sneak in an afternoon adventure outdoors, weather permitting. We make and eat dinner early. We head out to watch the sunset from the beach when we can and then return home and have quiet time in the evening. I usually work some more at night after Iley falls asleep.

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

We love family walks to the beach from our house and also family bike rides in the summer.

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What are you passionate about?

I’m a passionate foodie at heart. I love developing recipes and styling and photographing them for my blog.

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What inspires you?

The sea – whenever I am feeling stuck I head straight to the ocean and the salty sea air, the sound of the surf and the sand between my toes always clears my mind. I will forever be in awe of a fiery sunset and a rainbow after the rain. The incredible work of honey bees amazes me-since becoming a hobby beekeeper and watching them work around the garden I just cannot believe what they accomplish. The scent of my son’s head gives me tingles all over and I hope that never changes-what magic is this!? The beauty of a just picked tree-ripened peach, its juice running from my mouth after the first bite is pure heaven. Basically everything in nature inspires me and i am grateful to live in a place surrounded by natural beauty. I’m not sure I could make it as a city dweller.

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Did your career aspirations change once you had a child?

I wouldn’t say they changed, but rather I gained the confidence to go after them and make them reality.

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What is Fare Isle and why did you decide to start your own business?

Fare Isle is a culmination of what I love: sustainable living, growing food, herbs and flowers, making small batch foods and body products by hand, and sharing our recipes and stories on the blog. I’m doing what I’ve always wanted and am happy. And to be able to share this all with our customers, followers and friends is more than I could ever have dreamed.

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What are your dreams for your business?

I am focusing more energy on developing recipes and writing in hopes to move my business more toward freelance work and writing a cookbook. That’s what I really love to do the most. I would also love to host destination workshops on the island; an idea that has been floating around in my brain for some time now, and I would love to make it happen this summer. We’ll see!

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Visit Kaity on Instagram @fareisle and check out her website and recipe blog.

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Let’s be friends! Come find me…

Inspiring Mother Josie: @josie.hendrick

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I have had this post ready to go for about three weeks now, but each time I thought of posting it, I hesitated. Something told me I hadn’t captured Josie just right. It is hard to describe Josie and do her justice. There are the obvious things, like the elegance of her gallery — full of sandy beaches and blue skies, the smiles of her sweet daughter, and everyday scenes captured beautifully. Less obvious is the gentle mama and friend wisdom she passes on in her understated captions. Josie comes across as that no drama friend, who always seems to know just what to say, without being preachy or a know-it-all, and probably without knowing just how wise she is. The kind of person we all need in our life. Josie’s effect is cumulative. If you don’t instantly love her, you certainly will over time. She’s a keeper.

Side note: Josie should be a tourism ambassador for the UK, I mean who knew there were gorgeous beaches like this?!

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What part of the world do you live in?

We live in Bournemouth, Dorset which is on the south west coast of England and apparently is one of the sunniest spots in the country, something I definitely appreciate whether it’s actually true or not! It’s the most beautiful spot to raise a family, with miles of sandy beaches and forests and open countryside within easy reach. For someone who loves being outside it’s a perfect place to live, I’m very glad we moved from London.

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

We have one daughter, Amelie, she’s nearly three and if I had to describe her in three words I would probably say: affectionate, passionate and chatty! She talks constantly to herself, to us, to random passers by. It’s definitely one of the reasons why this age is my favourite so far, she’s such a joy to be around and her natural curiosity and wonder at the world is rather awe inspiring to watch, and helps when I try to be patient with the thousandth ‘why?’ of the hour 😉

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What are your core family values?

Be kind and compassionate. For me that’s the root of everything. That doesn’t mean you float around never getting irritated and being happy all the time, just that you approach everything you do and everyone you meet with an open heart. I know that sounds a bit cheesy, it just seems that in this modern life there’s a tendency for people to be anxious, defensive and closed off. Even if we all want to connect to others and be happy, the frantic pace of things seems to get in the way and create a tension that we don’t always know how to ease. I, like all parents, want my child to be happy and while I think you never can know what life will throw at you, if you can be compassionate to yourself and other people you will generally be more contented and find life’s ups and downs easier to handle.

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How do you spend most of your days?

We potter at home a lot, Amelie likes playing by herself and I’m working on doing up this big, old somewhat dilapidated house of ours on a budget, so we’re quite busy working alongside each other on our own little creative projects. We also spend as much time as we can at the beach or the park and in the garden. Compared to London where we just had a tiny concrete garden, there’s so much accessible open space and sand in Bournemouth we take advantage of it a lot!

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

We like little trips to pretty local spots but we also just spend a lot of time at the beach together. The good thing about this age is that she’s not easily bored and is happy with a bucket and spade and some sand.  We’re also big fans of finding a nice pub after breathing in some fresh sea air, and relaxing with a good glass of wine.

What are you passionate about?

A lot! I’m quite a passionate, emotional person so it doesn’t take much to have me talking animatedly.  It’s funny how since becoming a mother I’ve had both so little time to think about myself and yet so much. I’ve never thought more about what matters to me, and what’s irrelevant to the bigger picture than in the past 3 years or so. In essence I’d say I’m passionate about trying to live as authentic a life as possible. Living according to my values and bringing up my daughter to be a good, kind person who follows her heart and trusts her own instincts. And enjoying all that life has to offer in all its glory. There is always fun to be had and I like enjoying life. Although, I think it can be so hard sometimes to live a good life. It’s like we’re all a bit worried it might pass us by and we want to make sure we’re living it well, or at least seeming to so that we keep up with the Joneses. I feel like being authentic is the real ticket to living well and it’s through that we can see what we want to change in our own lives and the lives of others.

What inspires you?

In essence I’d say, photography, the sea, my daughter, and noticing the little things, the silver linings that are so easy to miss but make life all the more vivid and beautiful.

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Thank you Josie for sharing your wise words and beautiful photos. Readers please visit Josie on Instagram @josie.hendrick.

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Inspiring Mother Sara: @me_and_orla

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Themes are starting to emerge across my inspiring mothers series. Slow, connected living. Time spent with family and friends outdoors and being creative. Minimalism and simplicity — which I don’t consider to be the same, but both imply figuring out what is important in life and focusing our energy there. Today’s inspiring mother, Sara Tasker, is someone who exemplifies simplicity.

When I first encountered Sara her world seemed totally foreign to me. Foreign in the best kind of way. Sara lives with her partner and their daughter in the countryside, on a continent across the ocean from my own. The town they live in and their pace of life seems idyllic, and contrasts sharply with my own fast-paced life as an urbanite living in the downtown of my country’s capital city. The bubbling busyness of a big city can be invigorating, but when you feel as though you can’t escape the fast-pace, rather than it energizing you, it can become a drain. No matter our circumstance I think most of us need opportunities for respite. Looking at Sara’s life in photos is definitely visual therapy — the view out her window onto a rolling hill, light and shadow falling across a table — it is my respite.

Over time, I got to reading Sara’s blog, getting to know her a little better and found that we share more than I had expected. We are foreigners geographically, but not as people. Sara, too, is seeking a life of greater simplicity. Wait…what? I thought she had already arrived at destination Simplicity? Looking at her pace of life and her simple home, how can things be simpler? And yet, I learned that Sara was focused on finding ways to simplify her life. I thought about my own life and my own home — people have suggested to me that I have found simplicity (as if it is something you can find…). People have said, for example, that my home is “so sparse” and expressed astonishment that Ro only takes one class outside of formal school. These sorts of comments never fail to surprise me, because from my perspective our home is cluttered and I still wonder if ballet twice a week leaves Ro with enough down time. Like many things, simplicity is relative. And, like many pursuits, the path is long, and most likely the destination is never reached.

Sara still exemplifies simplicity to me, but she also reminds me that we are each on a path, that we are always arriving, and yet, never arrive, and that is exactly where I should be.

What part of the world do you live in?

We live in a little village in West Yorkshire, England, tucked away in a valley between steep green hills. It has a pub, a post box and no shops – unless you count the man who sells his eggs with an honesty box! We moved here last summer from the city, & it’s a dream come true.

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

So far, we have one daughter, Orla, who is 2. She is fierce and independent and sharp, but also the most naturally sweet and thoughtful person I know. She’s sunshine and thunder clouds, all at once, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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What are your core family values?

Respect is a big one – my partner, Rory and I both work with young people with learning disabilities, so for us it’s unthinkable to dismiss someone’s wants or needs simply because they are less able to understand. I try my best to never say or do anything to Orla that I wouldn’t to Rory – not treating her like an adult, but treating her as an equal.

We’re also working hard as a family to live more simply, and keep clutter and materialism at bay; investing in memories instead of ‘stuff’.

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How do you spend most of your days?

Three days a week I work, driving a fairly long commute with Orla, and arriving home in the evening with just enough time for dinner and bedtime. I’m getting increasingly busy with Instagram & blog related work, too, which is wonderful, but often means my evenings are spent working at the computer alone. The rest of the time I try to make up for this by living slowly – baking, walking, cooking, playing with Orla. We spend a lot of time in bed, even in the day!

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

Nothing. Not literally nothing, of course, but just to have no plans or agenda. We might walk down to the stream and throw in stones, or collect firewood in the forest. We’ve recently got really into baking sourdough bread, which is a great family activity! It’s such a luxury to be just the three of us, living life in our lovely home.

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What are you passionate about?

Great design, living well. Motherhood. Feminism. Raising girls to know they’re worth so much more than they’re told.

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What inspires you?

Everything! The landscape where we live, the seasons. My friends, my daughter, and, of course, the wonderful community I’ve found through Instagram. I love starting my day looking through my feed, and seeing what people are doing in Japan, how people are living the good life with what they’ve got in America or Australia or Korea. I suppose it sounds like a total paradox, but connecting with other mamas and creatives through the internet really helps me to live more simply, and disengage from the modern world.

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Thank you Sara for sharing pieces of your world. Readers: you can visit Sara Tasker on Instagram @me_and_orla or on her blog.

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