Slow Living Project: Reflect Photo Selections

About this time last year, Melanie and I were ironing out the final details of our Slow Living Project / Collaboration, and discussing how we hoped to build a community of friends and photographers that were passionate about sharing the beauty, enjoyment and challenges of slow living. A community that would welcome new people each month who wanted to share their experiences and learn from others. We’ve been overwhelmed and delighted by the community that has blossomed. And now, with coming up to almost a year of nurturing slow living, we wanted to take some to reflect on our journey, and so we chose to focus June’s theme accordingly with word ‘Reflect’ — using the hashtag #slowliving_reflect.

Thank you for sharing your moments of reflection through words and images. We were quite inspired, and, as usual I had a very hard time choosing a selection to share with you, so please visit the hashtag to enjoy all that was contributed this month.

There are always many beautiful photos in the galleries, but I’m especially drawn to ones that have explored the theme creatively or in metaphorical ways. I’m also partial to captions that dig deeper into the theme. With this in mind here are some of my favourites.

Twins: teaching us about reflection and difference

Mama 2 the little ones Slow Living Project Reflect

Photo by @mama_2thelittleones

 

Reflecting nature’s beauty onto paper

Kunstkiekje Slow Living Project Reflect

Photo by @kunstkiekje

 

Reflecting on a year together

Photo by @blowyinthewind

Photo by @blowyinthewind

 

Reflecting on hard work and the ways of nature

Photo by @frakturfolk

Photo by @frakturfolk

 

Reflecting, infusing and preserving nature into cloth

Photo by @petalplum

Photo by @petalplum

 

Reflections on a shining soul

Photo by @rachelthomasjones

Photo by @rachelthomasjones

 

Reflecting light, colour and life

The Happily Ever After Slow Living Project Reflect

Photo by @thehappilyeverafter

 

Reflecting sky, sea and soul

Photo by @ourbeautiful_adventure

Photo by @ourbeautiful_adventure

 

Beautiful photos with inspired captions on reflection

Photo by @jenni_isdancingintherain

Photo by @jenni_isdancingintherain

Photo by @justordinaryfolk

Photo by @justordinaryfolk

Photo by @findingjoyforus

Photo by @findingjoyforus

Photo by @ksenijaisa

Photo by @ksenijaisa

 

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 added their special moments to the hashtag gallery. No matter how many entries we see in the gallery each month we are overwhelmed and inspired by how you explore the theme, both through photography and through words.

As with all our monthly themes there’s no reason to stop using the hashtag on your images, you never know who or what it might inspire in someone else. I noticed last month that #slowliving_create is over 4000 photos under the hashtag. And that our generic hashtag #slowliving_ is growing steadily too. Let’s keep the slow living momentum going! Slow and steady, though.

Special Announcement: 

To close out the year, we decided to return to our first theme ‘Explore’ using the hashtag #slowliving_explore. Add the hashtag to your Instagram photos that fit the theme to be part of the gallery and inspire others on their slow living journey. We would love to see how you explore the world and slow living.

This month will be a little different from the usual. Melanie and I will curate a collection of our favourites to share in August on Instagram, our blogs, and on our Pinterest board ‘Slow Living Moments’. But to celebrate our year and to thank everyone for building this beautiful community we will be offering prizes to a few folks who have contributed outstanding photos to the #slowliving_explore collection this month. We have partnered with Magic Organic Apothecary to offer 6 prizes. Each winner will receive a gift box containing their Daily Cleaning Ritual and Aphrodite Facial Oil. MOA makes the most delightful and consciously made organic herbal facial care products. You can read all about them here.

To enter for a chance to win a prize:

  • Add the hashtag #slowliving_explore to your photos (as many photos as you wish)
  • Follow @MagicOrganicApothecary + @geoffreyandgrace + @hippieindisguise on Instagram
  • Competition closes August 19th, so photos submitted after this date will not be considered for prizes
  • Good luck and enjoy! We can’t wait to see what you share.

As a reminder our Pinterest board is a great place to get a quick glance at all the selections we’ve shared so far and to get a good dose of visual inspiration. You can check it out here.

You can find previous month’s selection by searching my blog: “explore” “nurture” “love” “renew” “raise” “bloom and harvest” “create” “gather

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

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How to Make All Natural Temporary Tattoos from Dried Flowers

10 Ways to Live a Greener, More Sustainable Lifestyle

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

Fleur Lyon Peaceful Posy The folk Maker

Creative Mother Fleur Lyon: Peaceful Posies and Squares of Strength

“Never suppress a generous thought” – Camilla Kimball

Fleur Lyon Peaceful Posy The folk Maker

I’ve been following Fleur Lyon on Instagram, formerly known as @thepeacefulposy, now @thefolkmaker, for about a year or so now. As I became familiar with her creativity and mothering I became more and more inspired to reach outside of the Instagram platform and have chat with her. You see, Fleur creates beauty, but beauty with deep purpose, and I knew there was more to discover about her. So I asked Fleur to share a bit about herself with me and what I learned filled my heart. Fleur is a mother of three and a natural creative. In the year that I’ve been following her she turned her creativity toward helping others through two different projects: Peaceful Posies and Little Squares of Strength. (Read on to the interview to find out what these are about and how you can get involved!). Hearing about Fleur’s background and her passion for helping others it all made sense to me. Fleur is quite humble in how she shares on Instagram, so her open conversation was a treat and quite illuminating. Thank you, Fleur, for sharing and for reminding us how kindness, generosity and creativity matter, and when done with great purpose can make an important difference in the lives of others.

Dear Fleur, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?  

I’m a Mumma to 3 little girls, I make bespoke woollen posies in my little online shop. My posies are handcrafted with yarn and natural twigs that I collect from underneath the big gumtrees on our property.  I am always creating, singing, playing with flowers, and daydreaming. I love working with natural and repurposed materials where possible. I used to make little hand-painted comfort dolls that I dressed in vintage florals and donated to children in orphanages. I am heading in the direction of my wool and materials being even more natural and homespun. I have dabbled a little in natural eco dyeing of wool and silk which I hope to do a lot more of, and I received a beautiful vintage spinning wheel for my birthday recently, so I am truly looking forward to starting to spin some of my own wool.  I dream of some gorgeous woolly alpacas roaming on our property in the future.  I also started a kindness project last year called the Little Squares of Strength Project which I will talk a little more about later.

Fleur Lyon Little Squares of Strength

What part of the world do you live in? 

I live in an enchanting little village town in Western Australia called Balingup, full of beautiful rolling hills. Our family moved to the country about 2 years ago to escape the faster pace of city life, and to have a bigger space for the kids to roam free, where we could live a slower, more simple lifestyle. Here we embrace the wonders of nature, a more homemade life, a creative life, and a greater sense of community.  While we build a little farmhouse on the top of a hill, we have been living in caravans for quite some time, and now a little shed (while we still sleep in a caravan). Although as a family of five, this has been rather challenging at times, this way of living in some ways has forced us to experience the simpler life, more time outdoors, and to be more grateful for small things.

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

We have three little girls aged 2, 4 and 7. They are all quite different. Lilliana, our eldest is very creative and crafty, and she loves to sing, but she is also quite studious and factual, and loves her schoolwork and reading.  Willow, our middle child is a little quieter and really loves cooking, imaginary play, and sensory play. Ivy, our littlest is bursting with energy, loves to perform, and loves nothing better than lying in the mud or playing in the dirt and sticks on our property. I love that they are all so different, but they all share a love of creativity and the outdoors.

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Do you have a favourite quote or words you live by? Favourite books?

My favourite quote is “Do small things with great love.

My favourite magazines to read are Frankie, Peppermint, Country Style, Taproot, Slow Living, and Womankind.  

My favourite book is A Table in the Orchard by Michelle Crawford.  I can relate incredibly to Michelle’s thoughts and dreams of their move away from the city to a simpler life. Her stories of homegrown, cooking, and countryside life fill my soul with warmth and inspiration and I could read Michelle’s beautiful words over and over again.

What are your core family values?

Gratitude and kindness.

How do you spend most of your days?

A typical weekday for me would go like this:

Before school – hectic times while I help our 2 older girls get ready for school while Ivy is craving attention too. I would say this would be the most challenging time of the day when the sibling rivalry and all of the chaos happens, and I need to remind myself to be patient, breath through it all, and try to make it fun.

After dropping Lilli and Willow off at school, Ivy and I sometimes stop off at the post office, and then we go for a walk around the streets close to home.  This is when I take in the magnificent scenery that surrounds us – the rolling hills, the vineyards, the orchards, and at this time of year the beautiful leaves that are just starting to change into vibrant Autumn colours and fall from the trees. Ivy and I usually collect a few leaves and flowers on our morning walk, which I play around with later for a moment of calm, and use in my photographs of my posies that I make. Often when the girls see me playing and creating with leaves and flowers they like to do it too. They have also tried some natural solar dyeing. I love it when they see me creating and take an interest in it too.

After our walk  Ivy has a play outside while I make myself a coffee I do some creating at the outside table.  Between crocheting posies and cups of tea I push Ivy on the swings and chat to her while she plays.

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Then it’s some quiet play inside, lunch, and watching playschool on the TV while I get a few household chores done if I can, and photographing my posies,  and then it’s nap time for Ivy. During Ivy’s nap I try to catch up on anything else that needs doing. Housework is not really my forte! I’d much rather be creating, but I do try! Then it’s time to pick up the girls from school, followed by playing outside until Daddy gets home, or sometimes a little screen time, then dinner/bath/homework and the bedtime routine.

There are of course other days when Ivy and I go to playgroup or to the fruit and vege shop together, or the park.

What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

My most favourite thing is when we are outside our little shed, the girls are playing under the trees making cubbies, playing in the sand, or swinging on the tyre swing, I am crafting, and my husband Nigel is pottering away in the garden.  We also love going out for picnics and exploring together.  And the girls love to help their Daddy in the vege garden.

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What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about love, peace, flowers & leaves, being creative, trying new things creatively, music, singing, homegrown, homemade, and nature. I am passionate about styling, and making our living space a warm, cosy, inviting home, wherever we are. I am also passionate about empowering and supporting minority groups of women. I am passionate about raising our three girls as healthy, independent, strong, gentle, free-spirited, loving, kind, creative human beings. And I am passionate about keeping a loving, supportive, equal relationship with my husband Nigel, continuing to honour each other’s strengths and weaknesses, continuing to work as a team to raise our children and complete everyday tasks, and continuing to build our dreams together, doing everything with love.

What inspires you?

So many things! Nature, the moon, flowers, live music, our children, rolling hills, the ocean, the forest, simple things, homegrown fresh produce, colours, other creative souls (especially through Instagram), vintage, and the 60’s/70’s “barefoot and flowers in your hair hippie” era.

I loved your hashtag #slowfloralstyle, why did you start it? What is it about?

I love playing with flowers and leaves. Often when I am having a tough day or just caught up in the busyness of life, I find myself using flowers (and tea) to slow myself down, even if just for a moment or two, and my mind feels instantly calmer.  Sometimes it’s by creating flower mandalas, or sometimes simply picking some garden flowers and making a little bouquet.  I have noticed through Instagram that a few people find playing around with flowers peaceful, and I think it’s especially important as a mother to create little moments of self-care throughout your days.  So #slowfloralstyle is about finding little pockets of floral calm in your day. And I just love scrolling through this gallery every week, so many beautiful images!

Last year you undertook an amazing project Little Squares of Strength, can you tell me about it?

I started the #littlesquaresofstrength project last year as a way to bring women crafters from all walks of life, all over the world, together as a community, to send love and kindness to other women who needed a bit of encouragement and support sent their way. It was about each person crafting one small square, that would come together with many other squares to form an incredible blanket of strength and love.  

LIttle Squares of Strength

My background is in women’s studies, women’s health, and working with very marginalised groups of women, and for many years I have taken a strong interest in supporting and empowering women.  Now that I have had children I love coordinating the #littlesquaresofstrength project alongside my online posy business, as something that gives back, and makes a difference to the lives of those women who are unwell or having a tough time.  In addition to the #littlesquaresofstrength project, I also have a hashtag #posiesforpeace which I use for my handcrafted posies.  For every posy I sell, I donate $2 to various organisations that help to make the world a more peaceful place.  Last month this money went to safesteps.org.au – helping to keep women and children safe from domestic violence in Australia.  This month the money is being donated to destinyrescue.org ~ rescuing children out of sexual slavery and exploitation. My plan is to continue donating to a different charity each month.

Last year, the #littlesquaresofstrength project was about sending blankets of love to women who were having a tough journey. This year, the project is about mother + child blankets.  People can nominate a little one who is having a tough time, and collaborative blankets will be sent to children and their mamas.  This year I have a team of volunteer stitchers who are helping me out with the joining of squares into blankets.  The guidelines for making and sending squares are all on my website. You can knit, crochet, weave, sew, stitch, or embroider a 16cm x 16cm square, and send it in to be part of a #littlesquaresofstrength blanket. You can be as unique as you like with how you make your squares, and even the most simple and basic squares are wonderful in the blankets! Just imagine wrapping yourself in a blanket that is made up of squares handmade by women all over the world, infused with so much love.  This is what the #littlesquaresofstrength project is all about.

What are your dreams for motherhood?

My dreams for motherhood are to create an environment where our girls feel that they can express themselves freely, creatively or otherwise. To have a relationship with them in which they feel that they can be open and communicate easily. To raise them in an environment that encourages them to dream, to be imaginative, to feel that they are supported in whichever direction they choose to take in life, to show kindness and empathy towards others, and to have a healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. To teach our girls that partnerships should feel equal and supportive.  To fill their lives with music. Music from all genres and cultures, all over the world. And to make life fun!

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Thank you, Fleur!

You might also like my post:

How to Make All Natural Temporary Tattoos from Real Flowers

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

glimpses into our home: at {mine}

Hippie in Disguise At Mine Home Interior Dried Flowers

I’ve said more than a few times that I’m not inspired by interiors. But I suppose what I meant to say that I’m not inspired to photograph them. Really, all I want to photograph most days are my children’s activities and the beauty of the natural world. However, I’m very much inspired by the function and beauty of interiors and I love to look at beautiful interior spaces and design. But, am I compelled to pick up my camera and take pictures of interiors or my own space? No! And this is because I am most interested in capturing moments, more than beauty. Spaces without action don’t feel like moments to me. Interior home spaces are a retreat from action, as I see it. Our home interior is styled as a place of calm, like a sanctuary away from the busy outside world. At home I need to feel stillness, peace, and calm. As much as I love the bursting natural colour, texture, and busyness of the natural world (as depicted in the majority of the photos I share here and on Instagram) the same is not true for our home.

My ideal home interior is a predominantly white with small touches of colour manifested in:

  1. pieces of the natural world (the world of flora: flowers, sticks, branches, pinecones, acorns, leaves, but also stones and shells);
  2. useful items that can add colour temporarily to a space (like hanging a beautiful dress or hand spun yarn on a hook on a white wall), and;
  3. art, handmade goods and heirlooms.

I hadn’t put much focused thought into what my interior style was until I joined at{mine}an online social network focused on sharing real home interiors and the stories behind them. I’d always decorated the spaces I inhabited based on intuition, meaning: what made me feel comfortable in the space. But knowing that I was now putting my interior space out into the world, I wanted to sit back and reflect on what thesis our interior space put forward. With Instagram, having a large following, I am inclined to share moments and ideas that I hope will ignite thought, inspire action or create pause; having a large audience I reflect on what good could come from what I share. And so, I took this approach to my at{mine} page.

Now, our home is not entirely in sync with how I would love our home interior to feel, but that’s okay, I’d rather take a slow approach to decorating, and update things to my taste and comfort when updating is needed. Case in point: our home had been freshly painted when we moved in. Ro’s room was alternating bright orange and green walls. Yikes! (She called it her “pumpkin room”, not affectionately). However, we waited six years to repaint it, because environmentally speaking we couldn’t justify painting over perfectly good paint.

Dried flower crowns made in the summer hung as decor (post: “Mindful Picking”)

So, coming back to my interior’s thesis, I reflected on the spaces in our home that felt right to me, that aligned with my sensibility, and then asked: ‘What do these spaces evoke? What do they look like?’ Well, first, they are white. A white canvas, not to be coloured in physically, but mentally. A blank slate upon which I can daydream because I don’t feel overstimulated visually.

Second, these spaces have small touches of bright colours from flora or useful objects that infuse energy and liveliness. My emphasis on natural objects comes from an interest in bringing nature and natural colour into the home, reminding us of our embeddedness in nature, that we are not separate from nature, but are nature. When it comes to decorating with useful objects, this is me in my ‘minimal mode’. I do not like having things around that are not used (except for art, which serves a different use function, see below). You will not find a knick knack in my home (if the term ‘knick knack’ is not colloquial to you it means: household trinket or ornament). I know that many people are quite the opposite, my husband is one of them. He loves a space jam-packed with things, for him this visual stimulation leads to new connections of ideas, it’s stimulating in a good way. (Don’t worry, I let him clutter up the basement to his heart’s content.) But for me external clutter, clutters my mind. The bad kind of stimulation, over-stimulation.

So, back to useful objects. I like to decorate with useful objects such as clothing with beautiful textiles, hand bags, balls of yarn, copper mugs, and so on. These items add colour to a space, but serve another, more primary purpose in the home. I like this especially because the decor can change easily according to mood and season. With a white canvas background, there are infinite possibilities when you decorate with low cost, dual purpose items.

Mustard peasant skirt by Nico Nico hung on a cupboard hook, living wheatgrass grown in an appetizer dish

Finally, art marks our interior space significantly. As I’ve said before, I live in family full of professional and amateur artists. Literally, everyone but me is an artist. Because of our family fortune — that is, being born into a family of artists — we have a lot of beautiful art to hang and display, mostly paintings and illustrations. We also dedicate a good portion of our wall space to display Ro and Sen’s work. Our walls are not covered in art, because I do need white space to calm my mind (I know what you’re thinking: “Danielle, you need to meditate more!” I know, I know). But living in a space filled with art is important to us. Art is beautiful, and beauty in itself is important. But art also has a use function in terms of intellectual stimulation and inspiration. It’s always been important to Matt and me that our children are exposed to art, fine art, public art, all art, and that the children always have access to art materials. Every room in our house has a piece of art hanging, something made within our extended family, that is beautiful and inspiring. Going to a gallery is one thing, an important thing, but more important to me, is seeing the beautiful things that people we know, people we share blood with, made. In this way, the children don’t see art-making as out of reach, they see it as part of their everyday life.

One of Ro’s first weavings, from her cardboard loom, hanging from a window hook

So, all this long-winded intro is a way of saying that I’ve been thinking about our space and what I wanted to share with and inspire in others. You’ll see on my at{mine} page that I’ve shared my approach to interior spaces:

“interiors inspired by minimalism and nature, decorating with useful, beautiful, artful and organic objects.”

Pretty simple, right? But it took a while to get there. What I intend to share with this ‘philosophy’ is a sort of mindful decorating informed by our human connection with nature, our need for beauty and creativity, and conscious of environmental impact. Mindful decorating is slow, conscious, thoughtful. Slow decorating means decorating once. Not every few years to update with trends. It means knowing yourself so that you bring objects into your home that will always bring you joy.   With my philosophy on decorating a little more refined now, I’m excited to be part of the at{mine} community so I can explore how others set up their spaces. As always, I’m primarily interested in what feelings are evoked by a space, more than the stuff that fills them. But for those of you you may like to know where items in others’ homes came from the photos are often tagged with the store source. I would love it if you joined the community or visited my page, it’s free and super easy. Like, easier than signing up for Instagram! And you can join without having to share images, if you are just looking for inspiration or to connect into conversations about interiors.

Visit my at{mine} page: at{danielle chassin} (to see the photos I didn’t share here)

Or, explore the at{mine} community from their homepage

If you are on at{mine} comment below and leave me your user name so that I can follow you back!

I would love to know your thoughts on interior space. How do you approach decorating your interiors?

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

Slow Living Moments: Gather

Another beautiful and inspiring month has come to a close for the Slow Living project. It’s no surprise that Melanie and I continue to draw inspiration from your images and words each month. (If you are new to this blog Melanie and I started a  year-long slow living project back in August. Each month we invite others to share their slow living moments, and each month has a different focus.) In December we focused on the theme ‘gather’ and all that it means to us and you, whether it’s gathering with people, family, friends, gathering our thoughts and intentions, gathering food, treasures, provisions, gathering inspired us and inspired you. Thank you for sharing!

As always, I was particularly inspired by those of you who shared images that gave a double meaning to the word, but also those images that captured gathering from nature to nourish ourselves and gather knowledge, gathering as a creative activity, slow gathering of heirlooms and natural treasures, gathering that truly can’t be rushed, gathering that is mindful, thoughtful, slow. I always love seeing how you include children in slow living by passing on knowledge and traditions. I was touched by the honest moments of gathering strength and resolve to get through the challenges of life. I have such a hard time narrowing down my selections, each image and caption inspires me in some way. So please go ahead and savour all the contributions under #slowliving_gather.

**Please look up these lovely, talented photographers, especially because many have very insightful captions that accompany their beautiful images.

Gathering amongst gathered treasures

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Photo by @lightlovers

Gathering nostalgia

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Photo by @vibekelentz

Food: the quintessential gatherer

Photo by @fareisle

When two is the perfect gathering

Gathering to collect and create, living the season

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Photo by @_bearhut_

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Photo by @petalplum

Slow gathering heirlooms  

Reenacting a most famous gathering

Photo by @mrsnomi

Gathering strength, literally, metaphorically

Photo by @ekwetzel

Gathering bravery

Photo by @lillywren

Gathering as nature chooses

 Patient gathering

Gathering wishes, dreams, hopes

When space gathers a mind

Photo by @loopygibbens

Photo by @loopygibbens

Gathering knowledge of the season

Photo by @megchittenden

Photo by @megchittenden

Gathering for a new season

Photo by @ottimade

Photo by @ottimade

Gathering and ungathering

Photo by @petalplum

Photo by @petalplum

Gathered treasures gathering our thoughts and intentions  

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

Thank you to everyone who participated this month and shared their slow living moments. Please join us, old and new friends, in January as we explore the theme ‘renew’ in the context of slow living. In many places around the world January and the new year are a time to renew oneself, restore and resolve to improve ourselves, to hold true to our beliefs, and to make ourselves new once again. As always, please feel free to interpret this word broadly and in a way that resonates with you. Please share your images with the hashtag #slowliving_renew so others can be inspired. We’ve also begun using the hashtag #slowliving_ for all our images in the project, so that we have a hashtag that covers the whole year. Feel free to use it yourself.

You can see other month’s themes and selections by searching my blog: “explore” “nurture” “love” “renew” “raise” “bloom and harvest” “create” “gather

Our Pinterest board ‘Slow Living Moments’ includes all photo selections from the project visit it here.

Thank you to everyone who shares photos and inspires us to live slowly, wholeheartedly, with gratitude. Best wishes and happy new year! xo, Danielle

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Zero Waste: Wrapping Gifts with Fabric

About 10 years ago, Matt’s mother decided to wrap all the Christmas gifts she was giving in fabric. A frugal, creative woman she didn’t enjoy, nor see the point, in wrapping a gift in beautiful paper only for it to be torn off and wasted, it seemed like a bit of an obscene luxury and careless of the environmental impact. For a few years already, Matt and I had been carefully unwrapping gifts so as to be able to reuse as much of the paper as possible, but admittedly it took a little fun out of the whole gift exchange. The fabric wrapped gifts she brought, on the other hand, were beautiful and appeared fancier than traditional paper wrapping and bows, and no extra special handling was needed to unwrap them. Win-win!

Photo not mine, view it and it’s source via my Pinterest board

A few years later, and I don’t remember how I came across it, I learned about the practice of Japanese fabric wrapping using a wrapping cloth known as Furoshiki. I’m certainly no expert in furoshiki, but  I can tell you that from the idea of furoshiki developed a set of wrapping techniques, where fabric is used to package things for transport or gift giving. It is said to have been developed out of a sense of waste consciousness and caring for the environment.

Since this time I’ve used fabric to wrap gifts when I have some on hand (otherwise I reuse paper).

If you ask Google you’ll find there are different techniques for boxes and bottles and other general shapes too. There are also lots of tutorials if you search ‘furoshiki’ on YouTube and I’ve pinned some favourites to my ‘ g i f t ‘ board on Pinterest.

Aside from gifts, there are also techniques for wrapping picnic lunches and meals for transport, where the fabric folding and wrapping comes out looking like a little basket. There are also folding techniques for shopping bags, flower bouquets and more. All this to say, if you want to wrap something in fabric as a gift or to travel with, then there is a furoshiki technique that can do the job. All you need is some scrap fabric (old sheets, scarves, silks, linens) to work with. No tape, no string, no glue. Although sometimes it’s fun to embellish the wrapping with a scrap of ribbon or yarn.

Photo not mine, view it and it’s source via my Pinterest board

Don’t be fooled by how pretty the furoshiki wrapping looks and assume it is complex. Every technique is simple and involves very basic folding and knotting. Gift wrapping in under 2 minutes — 1 minute for a pro.

This year I used some of Ro and Sen’s play silks from Sarah’s Silks to wrap gifts. The play silks we have are long rectangles, so I folded them over in thirds so I could work from approximately a square shape, but there is no great precision required in the size of the fabric relative to the size of the wrapped object, but generally a bigger piece of fabric is easier to work with. Using play silks to wrap gifts for children has the added bonus that the wrapping is a gift itself. Imagine a child unwraps a gift and is just as excited about the wrapping!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Overall, gift wrapping with fabric is easier (and faster) than wrapping with paper as you don’t need tape, ribbon or scissors. In my experience, people react positively to fabric wrapping: children find it extra fancy and adults usually have an ‘aha’ moment, like “hey, what a great idea!” In addition, fabric wrapping is more economical, encourages reuse and repurposing, and is environmentally friendly. Win-win-win! Try it out and please share the idea!

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Interview with a Minimalist: The Devine Family

Photo by @thedevinetribe Geraldine Devine Bee Eco Wraps Butterfly

As I said in my first post in this series, I think there are many ways to be a minimalist and many ways to focus and apply minimalism in our lives. At the same time, one area of focus tends to radiate out over time and influence other aspects of our life.

For me, minimalism started with a strong urge to have much less stuff in our home. I am a mother working outside the home at least 50 hours a week. I am also an obsessive tidier, I like my spaces neat and sparse, because it is calming to me. After a day of hustling around at work, I want a serene, low stimulation home environment to welcome me, not a trail of toys, socks, odds and ends. However, being away from my children for so many hours a week, thousands of hours each year, I cherish my time with the children, and so I have a rule that I won’t tidy and clean while the children are awake. (Confession: I’ve broken this rule a few times). When I was off on maternity leave it was easy to sneak in some tidying while the children napped, but once I was back to work, my only opportunity to tidy was late in the evening after the kids were asleep. This wasn’t a healthy situation since I was robbing myself of downtime, time with my husband, and time to myself.

One evening when I was rushing around tidying up before I went to bed it hit me like a tonne of apples: the only solution was to have way, way, way less stuff. Because less stuff equals less tidying. It’s pure math. I also knew it wasn’t fair for me to push my own clean freak ways on my husband and children, it’s not their comfort zone, it’s mine. I shouldn’t nag them to tidy constantly and I shouldn’t waste my downtime on cleaning. So I decided to immediately start giving away things that we didn’t need. Things the kids hadn’t played with in a while. The extra muffin tin. The back-up rain boots. The spare cutlery. The college books gathering dust. As time went on, I felt lighter and more at ease, the children focused their play on a few toys rather than aimlessly going from one toy to another, and overall there was a greater sense of calm and focus in the home.

A few years later I started hearing about minimalism, not the minimalism I had studied in art history in university, but minimalism as a lifestyle. I was curious, so of course I went to trusty Google for answers. There I found that there was a small “movement” growing around living minimally. I also read about people who had taken a more broad approach to minimalism. For them, minimalism wasn’t just about less stuff. Minimalism could be applied to our lives as a mode of operation. For example, friendships and relationships, cultivating close, connected friendships with fewer people, rather than having dozens of friends that we see a few times a year, it’s just quantity, not quality. I also heard about how minimalism started in different ways for people, some it was financial loss and the requirement to part with most of their possessions, and the realization that they were fine, and even better, without the burden of things. For others, it was a reaction against the fast pace of life and constant communications, the now, the instant, the quickness, and wanting to return to slower, more meaningful ways of relating and communicating with people.

Since then I’ve been intrigued to hear from people about how they got started living minimally, what their initial focus was, and how it has evolved. When I came across the Devine Family, who live off-the-grid in Australia, and are focused, by matter of circumstance, on minimizing their waste and not producing any garbage, I was immediately fascinated. Their minimalism started from a very practical life circumstance: no garbage collection in their part of the world. With their zest for life and excitement about living simply, close to the earth, and renewing older ways of living, they took the challenge head on and haven’t looked back since. I hope you’ll be inspired by this amazing family and their commitment to live sustainably, simply, close to the earth, and in a very minimal way.

Bee Eco Wraps the Devine Family

*Please make sure to follow the Devine Family on Instagram @bee_eco_wraps and visit their webshop www.beeecowraps.com where they sell beautiful, handmade food wraps from organic fabrics and bees wax. This is not a sponsored post! I just love what they do and want to support their great efforts.

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

Farm, markets, Steiner school, organic cafe, beach. Press repeat!

Nature, community, music & gatherings of like minded people. Craft, cooking, sewing, gardening, homesteading. We embrace Permaculture, Biodynamics, and Sustainability with a goal to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The Ocean is the medicine of our souls. Sun, Salt & Surf heals all for the Devine Family! Becoming parents brought us from being environmentally aware observers to active participators in making a difference. We are conscious of the current issues society faces and are serious about creating a sustainable future.

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

Archi, 10, is the family comedian, acrobat, entertainer and the best big brother the girls could wish for. Arjuna, 8, is the sweetest soul, gentle, artistic and caring. Mirrah, 4, is an ethereal treasure, a pixie with the wildest of imaginations. Soma, 1, is our little Lion Cub. She is raised by the Clan, participates in every aspect of our lives and never misses a beat. She is pure love, humour and has emanated peace and tranquillity since birth.

Devine Family Children tree house zero garbage waste

What part of the world do you live in?

Our Farm is on the subtropical Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia.

You live off the grid in a completely self-sufficient home. Can you tell me about your dwelling and your way of life?

Simple, natural, soulful. A treehouse with enormous character. It was a 1920’s Tea House with a rich local history. Put back together by craftspeople that came at just the right times! Every piece of timber is recycled. It rattles, shakes and evolves with us. We took out the walls other than one big gorgeous family sleeping space, a big other worldly bathroom & a big cellar/ pantry space. Our kitchen is the epicentre. Massive decks amongst the bamboo were constructed out of the old railway timbers. We have treehouses, forts and fairy gardens galore!

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A Spiral Vegetable Garden fills our kitchen & Mama’s whimsical fantasies. Fruit trees provide an abundance of subtropical fare. Mangoes, lychees, avocados, guava, over 100 Tahitian Limes. A 3 acre spring fed dam full of silver perch and yabbies. We are very secluded and completely surrounded by State Forest, yet fortunate to be close to the amazing Noosa beaches and thriving Markets.

Your lifestyle is, in part, focused on waste, that is, not creating any. Can you tell me more about your journey to a zero waste lifestyle? How did you get started minimizing waste? And how far have you come?

Slow life, Zero Waste, terms often used for this lifestyle, yet we are so very busy and love waste and the fabulous compost it provides! Our goal is to minimise the impact of our choices. Plastic is very heavily woven into this society’s supply chain. Every day we open a new door to achieving a deeper level of disposable waste free living.

Our waste consciousness was accelerated due to our remote location. We do not receive a garbage disposal service and are subsequently responsible for all rubbish that we generate. With the consequences of waste to personally deal with an awareness of the absurdity of single use disposable items came to the forefront of our attention.

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We get busy with baking bread, cucumbers to pickle, kefir to brew, pumpkin seeds to dry out, compost to turn. The very action of these humbling tasks brings about a consciousness & presence. Somewhere along the way, the concept of single use plastic becomes outdated. An appreciation for the beauty of a sturdy fermenting jar, a pair of shoes that feel like they will last a lifetime, a hand knit woollen jumper….. a beautifully smelling, aesthetically pleasing wrap for your food…. just became essential…. a daily reminder of a state of mind that values and respects what matters.

Garbage is a somewhat recent phenomenon, historically speaking. Have you had to find creative solutions to minimize your waste or do you find yourself turning to older methods that most of us have abandoned? 

Yes! We get creative, plan ahead and study the masters of reusable. What we’re talking about doing here is not just part of a Green Revolution… It’s a Renaissance. People have been working with nature this way for eons. It seems that we’re just learning to do what society has unlearnt and forgotten. Historically, many cultures sealed jars with wax and our Outback Drovers traditionally used oiled cloths to protect their food. Homesteaders have been wrapping up food in waxed cloths for centuries. Bee Eco Wraps became our passion as we delved into the wisdom of yesteryear.

Any food we don’t grow is bought at market. Trade and commerce is a pinnacle of culture. Geraldine particularly loved this & studied Anthropology at University, exploring the daily lives & rituals of cultures worldwide. In our travels we have lived amongst market cultures and fell in love with this as a source of social interaction. We all thrive and feel nourished with our interaction with the stall holders. With baskets and jars in hand, market life has provided our waste free immersion into this bustling and enriching cultural family experience.

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

We don’t want to fear our future, nor put our head in the sand. We want to gain momentum, excitement, faith & confidence in paving a future that will work. And give ourselves the tools to live in beauty in the face of the adversity that will come our way in this current society. To minimalise it. What matters. For us, love, family, nature, health. To be bold, humble, conscious.

Minimalism for us has become our state of being. A daily choice to minimalise the chatter in our minds, our possessions, our interactions with anything that depletes us.

What is your story? How did you get started on a minimalist path? What motivated you to live a minimalist and sustainable life?

As we learnt to slow and pay attention to the details of daily life we expanded and moved into a deeper connection with ourselves others and our place in the world. To find a real sense of meaning and purpose.

Family is the pinnacle of it all. We have both lived quite exuberant, excessive, wild & opulent lives! Diverse existences. For Geraldine the highlight of childhood was my time spent on a farm. Pure, slow, beautiful. Defining my very being & influencing every part of my journey. A determination was etched to make this a reality for this family. For Matt the time spent in Japan infiltrated his soul & defined his minimalist existence. He focuses on the natural world. He accepts the impermanence of life and seeks to remain humble. He is actively involved deepening his knowledge. He retains simple practices that allow him to remain focused amongst the turmoil!

Devine Family Garbage Free Bee Eco Wraps

In what ways do you struggle with maintaining your lifestyle? Have there been any struggles with the other people you live, friends or family with about living in the way you do?

When the children get lured into the trappings of consumerism, we have learnt to see it as an opportunity for growth & learning. To extend ourselves to offer a better natural option. To grow our imaginations as well as theirs.

The children are technology free. People often ask how how we have the time. Take away television, shopping centres, time opens up. Children are helpers, participatory in daily life. The children’s imagination is their greatest gift. We push through boredom barriers. Steer them away from quick fixes, immerse them in nature, saturate their souls with the raw & natural opulence & beauty of nature. Simplicity. Attainable goals. Gently allow them to witness the perils of plastic, sugar and the harsh realities in an age appropriate way. Make it an exciting mission to be on board the coolest train in town. The kids feel they have the magic golden ticket. The good cause.

As we said no to plastic, sugar and technology we took it as our responsibility to offer a better option. To be creative in enthralling and enticing them with delicious organic food that they took part in sourcing, growing, preparing, serving. Or by surrounding them with fodder for their imaginations. Tree houses, wooden toys, craft, animals, books. I have put boundless energy into creating self motivating tools for the kids. To nurture their minds to think for themselves and weave in and out of magical wonderlands in their imagination. To offer tasks that teach them the practical skills of cooking, weaving, building, cleaning. To minimise their lives, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming and so they don’t shut down through fear. Nature offers the best tools for learning.

It has been a journey! A minimalist point of view has been hard for well meaning friends and family! I give our family and friends enormous credit in supporting us in upholding our values and complex criteria for each purchase. To embrace our choice in stepping away from consumerism. We all have quite a laugh at our different choices and paths in life! Love and a great sense of humour conquers all!

What have been the benefits of your lifestyle?

As we tune in to and get excited about the rhythms of Nature’s bounty we feel grounded and a part of a whole. We delight in the company of local farmers and growers, market stall holders and local artisans. We feel inextricably connected to the cycles of the Seasons, the rhythms of Nature and from this comes a deep sense of purpose, simplifying our understanding and acceptance of life. The children also emanate peace and stability. It is a world that they can see, feel and understand.

We have slowed and channeled our energy toward specific tasks with intent and positivity. To impose order on our wandering minds through the acts of gardening, cooking, creating, singing.

Devine Family Bee Eco Wraps

What advice can you offer to people interested in living a more minimal, sustainable lifestyle?

Get excited. For us it has been the best journey of our lives. We found as we were strengthened by the inherent benefits of the lifestyle we were able to face the challenges with greater confidence. The research and preparation is fun! The information out there is limitless! Learn from your elders. Visit the dairy with your own pail to make our own cheeses, butter, yoghurt. Many Farmers offer butchering to your specific requirements. We have found local butchers love the idea of wrapping meat plastic free and lament the loss of butchers paper. Buy in bulk with your own jars or baskets. A little preparation yes, but when you see the beauty of your produce in a wicker basket and jars, you will know and feel that this is the way it should be!

Allow yourself a gentle awakening to the perils of plastic! Create a list. Step by step challenge the disposable parts of your life. Sustainable toothbrushes, shampoo bars, henna, beauty products. As you get healthier through this lifestyle you need less! Equip yourself with the tools to reduce waste. A mason jar each, a favourite op shop spoon. Lots of wicker baskets. A great dishwashing cloth, scrubber, soap nuts for laundry, solar power, tank water.

Look at ways to trade goods, or delve into the magical world of vintage!
It doesn’t necessarily have to be land driven. We have lived on a standard block & embraced an enriching & sustainable life. So much to learn about fermenting, felting & sewing tapped into a local like minded community.

Are there people you look to as role models in terms of your lifestyle?

The market families, each other, our family, the other cultures we have come to know on our travels, the cultures that have retained a minimalist sustainable life with a reverence for nature.

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

To remain simple, minimal and inspired as we traverse a sustainable life with four children a farm and growing business. To strengthen our goals and daily rhythms to encompass a broader gathering and flourish in the inspiration and energy of makers, growers, bakers, artisans, families and community. To maintain the serenity that comes from slowing down and paying attention to all we find meaningful. To connect with moving slowly and treating things, people and ourselves gently. To have gratitude and reverence for the beauty of life. To feel empowered to make a difference. To harness a consistent, grounded and authentic Eco business that is a subtle tool in a burgeoning change toward a minimal, conscious and sustainable way of life. Bee Eco is a simple product, a daily change of habits that might spill over to other areas of life as it becomes apparent just how easy and beautiful reusable items are! In turn a broader attitude change may envelope our collective habits!

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An immense thank you to the Devine Family for sharing their life, words and images with my readers. Readers: you can find the Devine Family on Instagram @bee_eco_wraps and read more about their life as well as purchase their Eco Wraps on their website www.beeecowraps.com.

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You might also enjoy:

Interview with a Minimalist: Kylah

Garbage Free: How to Make your own Delicious Raw Cashew Milk

World Wildlife Day: What you can do to help conserve and protect wild plants and animals

Love Your Mother: The Most Sustainable Clothing by Luv Mother

Top Post: Any Occasion, Sustainable Gift Guide for Children

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

kristen mittler oldjoy instagram mother

Inspiring Mother Kristen: @oldjoy

kristen mittler oldjoy instagram mother

Contentment.

This is what comes to mind, again and again, when I think about Kristen, this week’s inspiring mother. I first started following Kristen, known as @oldjoy on Instagram, because her photos capture beauty and simplicity in perfect harmony. Yes, her photos are undeniably beautiful. But, as some of you know about me, aesthetic beauty isn’t enough to keep me interested for long. No, I need layers and depth behind the surface.

What you will find in Kristen’s gallery are mostly photos of her days at home, with her two sweet children. Things are uncomplicated. The days are routine. You will see that they spend a lot of time in bed, equal only to time spent eating cake. Their life is simple and routine. And as you will come to know, their life is full, full to the brim. Kristen, through the reverence she shows for daily routine, for the simplest of things, like folding laundry while watching her baby nap, shows us how these moments are what make life, these moments are what bring happiness, through contentment with the present. There is no striving. There is no lack.

And so, there is depth in simplicity. There is depth in contentment. Living these everyday moments as  the  moments in life, reflects a profound understanding of the gifts of life.

Please read on to hear from Kristen, herself.

What part of the world do you live in?

i live in dayton, ohio, usa. i have lived here for nearly ten years now. this small city is where i met my husband and began my family.

kristen mittler oldjoy instagram mother

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

i have two children and another on the way early august. my oldest child, eleanor, just recently turned seven. my sweet girl is just that … very sweet. as soon as her feet hit the floor in the morning, she is ready to chat, play and create. her energy keeps her learning constantly, but sometimes can bring her a bit of frustration. she is homeschooled and when she accomplishes something, she is ever so proud and ready to tell the world … but when she struggles, she feels it so strongly. this girl could move mountains with her emotions alone. she is brave and forgiving and can give a hug better than anyone else i have ever met.

my second child, wolfgang, is fifteen months old. he is what they would call a handful. the boy is as curious as they come. if you find yourself babysitting him and you wonder, “could he get into that?” the answer is, yes and he most definitely will. he makes us laugh continuously. he loves to dance and blab and discover new things. he will do big things when he grows up. hopefully good things.

kristen mittler oldjoy instagram motherkristen mittler oldjoy instagram mother

What are your core family values?

our values are simple. speak clearly and honestly. never make the other person wonder what it is you exactly just said. express your needs. express your struggles. ask for help. you can cry alone if you want to, but never feel like you have to. wake up every single day with the goal of being the light in your family’s life. “be loving.” is what my husband always says to us when things get tense.

kristen mittler oldjoy instagram mother

How do you spend most of your days?

i spend most of my days at home, with my children. as a homeschooling, stay at home mom … our day to day life is extremely routine. wake up at 7:30am, breakfast, begin school, quiet/nap time, lunch, finish school, another quiet/nap time, play time, dinner, baths, books, bed at 8:00pm. i love our structured life and am very excited to add another babe into the mix.

kristen mittler oldjoy instagram mother

What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

my favorite thing to do as a family is spending the day in the woods. if my husband has a day off throughout the week, we will explore a new woods around our area. it feels so good to escape the city for a bit and get some good ole fresh air. the kids are able to explore and run free and my husband and i can walk side by side, hold hands and unwind. it’s so nice. usually we bring our field journals and take breaks to sketch what we find along the paths.

kristen mittler oldjoy instagram mother

What are you passionate about? 

i am passionate about being a mother. you probably knew i’d say that 🙂 i have reached the point in motherhood that i just cannot imagine life without my children. they are my sole purpose for living. they are the reason for my happiness. they are the reason i get out of bed everyday with a smile on my face. they are my soul mates.

kristen mittler oldjoy instagram mother

What inspires you?

i am inspired by other mothers, absolutely. i am inspired by the women i meet on social media and seeing glimpses of their lives. finding ways i can improve myself, not only as a mother, but as a woman, too. i am inspired by strangers. the people who are completely comfortable in their own skin and it is obvious to everyone around them. i love that. i am inspired by a sunny day. by a really good hamburger. and by a long walk alone in the rain.

kristen mittler oldjoy instagram mother

Thank you Kristen for sharing your words of wisdom. Readers, please visit Kristen on Instagram or visit her website, Moonschooling Eleanor.

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

Have you subscribed to the Global Guardian Project yet? These are monthly learning capsules for children and their 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 and read more about it here.