The Baby Bird and the Snail: Nature Storyboarding Acts of Kindness

Collected natural treasures nest story of bird and snail

Today is International World Wildlife Day, last year I shared some ideas about how we can help conserve and protect wild plants and animals. I hope you’ll read that post when you’ve got the time.

This year, in honour of World Wildlife Day, I am sharing a story Ro wrote and storyboarded when she was 8. It is a story of a baby bird who lost her mother and made a new friend, the snail. The image she created that inspired the story is shown above (my photo, her arrangement).

During the warmer seasons, when snow and ice do not cover the ground we are always picking up little pieces of beauty as we walk about the city from one place to another. We are, as many of you know, pedestrians by default. Being walkers, slowly moving through the city, we always come home with a variety of pretties: feathers, shells, pinecones, flower petals, and so on. One day when we came home Ro decided to story board with the treasures. Ever since she was quite young she had played with a felt story board, which she loved. On this summer day, she decided to translate this activity into a new context using natural treasures. To begin, she used some white chalk to make a framed background on our porch and then went to work creating. When she was satisfied with her creation she called me over and shared her story.

The beauty she had created visually, and more significantly the beauty of the story itself, was so touching I had to take a few photos and transcribe the story. It’s been 3 years now, and finally, the right day has arrived to share.

Here is Ro’s story:

The Baby Bird and the Snail

“One day a baby bird’s mother went out as usual to find food, but did not return. An accident took her life.

The baby bird was heartbroken and cried in the nest for many days.

Others heard the cries and figured out what happened, so they began bringing gifts of food and beauty to sustain the baby bird.

The nest became surrounded in gifts, but still the baby bird did not emerge.

And so, a young snail decided to risk it’s own life and go into the nest to comfort the bird.

The bird was so touched by this (risky) act of kindness that she realized others cared for her and that she would have a friend to go through life with.

The end.”

I hope this story will touch your heart, inspire acts of kindness and connection across species and ways of life, and that you’ll be inspired to create beauty with natural, sustainable materials.

Today is World Wildlife Day, so hug a tree, kiss an animal, and love all life. Find, make and share the beauty of the natural world and simple acts of kindness. Raise yourself, raise others, raise positive change. Together we can raise a generation of global guardians.

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Dreaming with Little Creative Factory

“It is a happiness to wonder; it is a happiness to dream” — Edgar Allan Poe

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This season I had the great honour of collaborating with Little Creative Factory to photograph a few pieces from their spring 2016 collection of children’s wear.

Little Creative Factory is a slow fashion brand based in Barcelona, Spain. Under the creative direction of Cristina Fernandez, Little Creative Factory is guided by a desire to “work for the planet and its inhabitants in a sustainable manner.” Slow, sustainable, local manufacture is at the core of Little Creative Factory production and, in turn, its message to the world that “there is nothing better we can do for our children than preserve their future.” Given this, Little Creative Factory is not about trends or designs that will be irrelevant next season — that is fast fashion. In contrast, Little Creative Factory strives to design atemporal pieces that are not only classic, but durable. The simple pieces, consciously designed from a less is more perspective, allow each customer is to infuse their own style and personality into the garment, bringing their creativity into the light.

There is something indescribably special about Little Creative Factory clothing. My husband, who doesn’t give any thought to clothing, remarked on how beautiful and well made the clothing was, saying that the garments were “heirlooms for sure.” I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’m not often inspired by clothing. I’m inspired by passions and creativity, but generally not things in themselves. However, with Little Creative Factory clothing I found myself inspired — like a little creative factory of ideas, myself.

Last weekend, we spent Sunday at the river and then slowly meandered back to our neighbourhood to share a backyard meal with friends. As we meandered, we collected wildflowers in the path of a city mower and lilacs from uprooted landscaping. Our friends have an outdoor bath so we asked if the children could enjoy a fancy bath with flowers. Our lovely friends happily indulged us. What follows are some of the beautiful moments captured as we let our creativity unfold.

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Ro wears the vintage bathing suit in mauve, farmer’s long skirt in blackboard, and chic farmer’s hat in blackboard. Little Creative Factory also carries boy’s clothing, photographs of which I will share in a future post.

Thank you for your interest in slow, sustainable clothing and for supporting the work of independent creatives. You can follow Little Creative Factory on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and find their collection online here and in many stores and online shops worldwide.

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The Slow Living Project

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Slow Living Photo Selections: Bloom and Harvest, Take 2

Another month of the Slow Living Project, and another set of inspiring images has been collected — this time under the hashtag #slowliving_bloomandharvest. This past month, Melanie and I wanted to focus our slow living on the season’s changes: the harvest in the northern hemisphere and the blooms of spring in the southern hemisphere. Thank you for sharing your moments of beauty, contemplation, stillness, and connection. We were very inspired, and had a hard time choosing a small selection to share with you, so please visit the hashtag to enjoy all that was offered this month.

In April we revisited a favourite theme ‘Bloom and Harvest’. This time around the seasons have switched, with it being spring in northern hemisphere and fall in the southern hemisphere. Like the first time around, we loved how you captured the colour and beauty of these seasons. Personally, I was quite inspired by the images that cleverly combined blooms and harvest: reflecting on the dying bloom, harvesting flowers to create blooms in a new context, capturing the bloom of the harvest, and thinking about bloom in a broader sense: the blooming child and the blooming mind. I always have a special fondness for images that include children, that is, I am inspired, comforted and given hope to see children raised from a slow approach and children learning about the wild natural world. With this in mind here are some of my favourites.

Beautiful blooms

Blooming bellies, babies, families and minds

Blooms harvested

Cultivating children’s creative, helping hands

Melanie’s selections can be found over on her blog www.geoffreyandgrace.com.

Congratulations to those who were selected for the blog, and thank you very much to everyone who has added their special moments to the hashtag gallery. With over 1600 entries to the gallery we were overwhelmed by the participation this month. As with all our monthly themes — #slowliving_explore, #slowliving_create, #slowliving_raise, #slowliving_gather, #slowliving_renew, #slowliving_love and so on — there’s no reason to stop using the hashtag on your images, you never know who or what it might inspire in someone else. Let’s keep the slow living momentum going! In December we started using the hashtag #slowliving_ for all our images in the project. Feel free to use it yourself, especially for any photos you love but don’t feel quite fit the theme of the month.

As mentioned on my Instagram account earlier this month, the theme for May is ‘nurture’ using the hashtag #slowliving_nurture. Melanie and I want to see and be inspired by how you nurture yourselves and others, how you take time to slow down and nurture health, creativity, connection and all the important things in life. Use the hashtag #slowliving_nurture on your Instagram photos to be part of the gallery. Please feel free to join in even if you have never participated before. As usual, Melanie and I will curate a collection of our favourites at the end of the month to share on Instagram, our blogs, and on our Pinterest board ‘Slow Living Moments’. And by the way, our Pinterest board is a great place to get a quick glance at all the selections to date and to get a good dose of visual inspiration.

You can see previous month’s themes and selections ‘explore’ here,‘create’ here and here, ‘bloom and harvest’ here, ‘raise’ here, ‘gather’ here, ‘renew’ here, ‘love’ here.

Thank you to everyone who shares photos and inspires us to live slowly, wholeheartedly, with gratitude. Best wishes for a beautiful and nurturing month! xo, Danielle

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

natural easter egg bath bomb diy with flowers

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

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

natural easter egg bath bomb diy with flowers dried

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

Here’s how we made them:

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

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

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

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

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

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You might also like my post:

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How to Make All Natural Flower Tattoos for Children

Read dried flowers for temporary tattoos

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

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

Real dried flower temporary tattoos soft star shoes

Real Flower Temporary Tattoos Soft Star Shoes Hippie in Disguise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Join us for a Botanical Advent

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

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

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

botanical advent flower art

Botanical heart advent in process

botanical advent flower art heart

Botanical Heart Advent, by Ro

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

botanical advent flower art

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

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

botanical advent flower art rainbow

Flower Rainbow, by Ro

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

 

Flowers for Your Health: Calm-a-Mama

Probably around the time when I started practicing yoga, 18 years ago, I started seeking out natural remedies and health supports in place of conventional medicine. Over the years I’ve researched and tried almost everything from herbal tinctures to homeopathy to essential oils. Personally, herbal and floral remedies along with essential oils have been the best health supports for me and my family. When Ro had a very hard time sleeping more than 45 minutes straight at the age of 1, I used lavender essential oil in combination with flower essences to support her sleep. It felt like a miracle to see these simple natural supports help her sleep longer and more soundly. Since then I’ve sought out more knowledge and increasingly used essential oils and tinctures with my family. These days when the children are feeling sick or not themselves they will ask for an oil or drops — they’ve grown up thinking of these first. In fact, I’m not sure either of them knows what Tylenol is.

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A few months ago I met Hannah Garrison who recently started a business Calm-a-Mama that specializes in herbal and flower supports for children and adults. I was really excited to find a company making blends to support common family needs like “sleep” “focus” and “calm”. We’ve been using Hannah’s drops for a month now and absolutely love them. The only trouble is that they are so tasty the children are coming up with symptoms so they can “have a few drops” everyday! It’s the same with essential oils, once you start using them, you find you are using them everyday for something, but it feels good to be reaching for this sort of bottle.

As usual, I wanted to interview Hannah to learn more about her and why she decided to pursue this business. I learned that Hannah is a very energetic entrepreneur with multiple projects and businesses on the go and that she has a passion for supporting mothers (she reminds me of two other great mothers I’ve interviewed Heather Mudry of Mama Malas and Alyssa Kerbel of Mini Mioche). I hope you will enjoy meeting Hannah and please feel free to ask me questions about natural supports I use with my family, I’m always happy to share.

Tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your background?

Well, I went to four colleges after growing up in NYC.  I danced ballet, seriously, for years and then majored in anthropology.  I always cleaned my room without prompting and have always been slightly scared that something terrible is about to happen.

What part of the world do you live in?

I live in an imaginary world, where everything is clean and organized.  Oh wait – you mean for real? My family and I (and my businesses) are based out of Providence, Rhode Island (USA).  I grew up in NYC and I have to say, at this point in my live Providence suits me better!  It is beautiful, small enough to master and yet large enough to have good art and smart people.

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

I have two kids – Camilla is 5 and Isaac is 2.  I get nervous about describing them because I don’t want to pigeonhole them. So right now, today, Isaac is giving me a run for my money.  He is amazing and hysterical, but a total and complete handful. Camilla is the best big sister he could ask for and in general she is a shining light. She is very precise and determined and all about mastery and planning. But emotional, so emotional.

What are your core family values?

That we show up and stay honest. My husband and I try to set the tone for this by really being open communicators about our feelings.  I want our home to be a safe space where the tricky stuff can still arise and be handled.

How do you spend most of your days?

Feeling guilty that I should be with my kids more or feeling guilty that I should be at work more.  I am totally stuck in the trap of nothing is right. But at the same time, I know it is all okay.  I know I cannot be a stay at home mom and work full time. I know this is only temporary and I am really doing the best job I can.

What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

I’d say anything outside. We pretty much get along well and are happy doing anything. But, I’d say that as a unit we are out best outside. That can be yard work together, gardening, going to the beach or hiking– anything that gets us in touch with nature.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about moms.  And moms helping moms.  So I’ve recently had a trickle down interest in feminism,  I recently read Wonder Women by Debora Spar.  At one point she says, “…she could not do it all. No one can. No one does. Yet women today are laboring under an excruciating set of mutually exclusive expectations: a double or triple whammy of hopes and dreams and desires. To be madonna and whore. Mother and wage earner. Smart but not arrogant.  A leader but not a bitch. And because they can’t possibly be all those things at once, women are retreating to the only place they can, the only realm they have any chance of controlling. Themselves.”

And I don’t want to be that person, at odds with all the other women and in the position of impossible. So I am passionate about empowering women.  And right now that’s about putting some healing back into their hands.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 8.07.13 PMWhat inspires you?

Right now I am mostly food motivated…But in general, everything inspires me. Which can, honestly, be a bit problematic.  Mostly though, I am driven by helping other women…seeing other people thrive is my passion and my inspiration.

Can you tell me a bit about Calm-a-Mama?

Calm-A-Mama is my newest baby.  I have run other businesses before but nothing that I felt so strongly and passionate about.

Calm-A-Mama drops combine two gentle methods of plant healing. First, we make USDA organic botanical water extracts and then add flower essences to them.We preserve the tincture in glycerin, resulting in a USDA Organic, alcohol-free supplement that is gentle enough to be taken by infants and yet incredibly effective on the emotional and physical bodies. Safe for the whole family and made from the highest quality organic ingredients

You advocate for simple everyday self care for mothers. Can you talk more about this?

Generally, I take something that I am really interested in and I make it into a business.  I assume, that being human, a lot of other people out there will also dig what I dig.  And I figure if I am so fired up about something and excited and passionate, that it will come through and entice others.  Right now the world is busy, stressed and overwhelmed – and a great counterbalance to that is slowing down and paying attention. Essentially, intentionally caring for one’s well-being amidst this madness.

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Why did you decide to start a business?

I’ve never had a choice.  It is just what I do.  Business is in every cell of my body.

Did you life goals and career aspirations change once you had a child?

Yes and no.  They didn’t change so much as they adjusted. They shifted. They made space.  I assume they will continue to do so as we cruise out of toddlerhood.  My goals are like koi – adjusting to the available waters.

Mint

What are your dreams for your professional work?

To keep going.  To live through it.  To keep the balance.  To keep helping people.

What are your dreams for your family?

I want my family members to be full, to live their fullest, to feel their fullest, to try and to seek and to soar.

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Thank you Hannah! Readers you can find Calm-a-mama online here and on Instagram here or Facebook here and Twitter here.

Hannah also keeps busy with these other projects and businesses: www.wearyourmusic.com, www.OMstack.com and www.hannahgarrison.com.

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Mindfulness & Making a Flower Crown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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