a slow & simple seasonal Christmas – how to tips

 

ideas on Slow & Simple Seasonal

With “the big day” less than a month away, I’m seeing a whole lot of Christmassy fuss on Instagram. I must admit, my social media circles are very lovely and probably don’t even represent the full craziness of the modern world. Which scares me even more. I used to work in retail, and it horrified me the amount of money people spent on stupid things; things they neither needed nor actually wanted, much less couldn’t actually afford; but there’s this perception that a certain amount of money and certain size & quantity of gifts equates love. I’m more interested in letting my children know I love them by spending my time with them……. but I get the feeling that’s not the norm in our societies.

If you’re wondering how to bring some simple slow living ideals into your Christmas month day, I thought I’d share some of ours.

Make the opening of gifts a special time – As a child, each year our parents would gift us meaningful thoughtful items – a new beautiful outfit (not Christmas themed, but something to last for years and years), a book or some music, and one-or-two other special things. Our gifts were always wrapped amazingly – we would save the paper each year, and re-use it again and again and again. I can probably find some wrapping paper at my dad’s house from my childhood days. Us kids loved the specialness of wrapping as much as my parents did; my dad is quite the expert at not needing to use sticky tape (which means your paper doesn’t get torn). Christmas morning was a time for special togetherness, not tearing paper from plastic toys the second we woke up. We’d wait for everyone to wake up, make fruit salad and coffee, and then gather around our potted plant tree and open gifts one by one by one. This is what I love doing with my children now; reminding them that the giving of gifts is as special and magical and the receiving of gifts. Watching the person’s face as they open the present you’ve made or thoughtfully purchased for them. Not intent on tearing your own gift apart and not caring what anyone else is doing.

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Talk about what giving gifts means, have an open conversation with your children – We are open with our kids about the cost of Christmas, how much all the gifts cost financially to our pockets as well as to our Earth. If they want a certain something that doesn’t fit within my ideals of what I want to see in our home, or spend our money on; we talk about it. Do they really need it, or want it. Why do they want it? Will it last, or break in a short while? What can they maybe have instead? Without denying our children all the joys of childhood, we guide them sometimes gently, sometimes a little more emotionally, towards a different way of thinking. This is harder some years, easier other years depending on their ages, their friends, what their list is…. I go over my own way of parenting again and again each year, making compromises and asking them to make compromises. Our ideals don’t always overlap, but we work through it. Begin now with smaller children how you want to continue = they won’t build the expectations of large expensive gifts if they haven’t been raised that way. Remember, that spending time on your children shows love in different ways than spending money. Money is time – choose where you want to spend your time.

Encourage home made gifts within your extended family, or request certain gifts – In a lot of the online forums, and social media groups I’m part of one of the biggest challenges to slow simple living can be extended family and friends. They look at us and shake their heads, pondering why we’re denying our children all the good toys, and make up for what we don’t give our children, by over-gifting. My advice is to be clear and honest, but also understand that we’re all living different journeys. Sometimes emailing or texting in advance about your gift wishes helps rather than having to talk in person. Often suggesting an item helps. I’ve found over the years, friends are keen to fit into your wishes, but sometimes don’t know where to start and where to buy, what they could possibly make. Give them clues, hints, ideas or even be very specific and guide them to websites or products. Remember that not everyone has the time or skills to hand craft something, just because you think it’s a good idea. Giving enough time for friends and family to look at your options will help immensely, and not they’re stressing because you’re forcing your ideals on them last minute. Subscriptions to magazines, art centres, museums, etc are great gifts to give and ask for.

Petalplum - Slow & Simple Seasonal Christmas ideas

Keep it simple – seriously, this should be the easy one… but it seems our society loves to complicate and over-do everything. By simple I mean: your Christmas tree. Truly a tree made from a fallen branch decorated with children’s home made stars and angels is truly more beautiful than a perfect cut down tree adorned with every single bit of tinsel possible. Let go of copying someone else’s Pinterest idea, and let your kids guide you in how to use what they have to create something beautiful. Toilet paper rolls do really make fabulous tree decorations!

Learn to say no over the coming month. Don’t take on having to cook or bake for someone else if you truly don’t want to do it. It’s ok to say no, with a smile and no guilt. When friends visit you, they really are coming to spend time with you. Make your home beautiful, and your food delicious, but pare it back – spending the whole party in the kitchen isn’t slow or simple; it’s stressful and you miss all the meaningful conversations and special times with friends and family. Ask everyone to bring something along, to lighten the cooking, make simpler meals and less of them. Food waste at Christmas time (and all year around in fact) is a massive strain on our environment and our farmers. Australians waste $8-$10billion of food each year, while many people are going hungry. Christmas can be a time to change your ways of wasting food – thinking about slow living every single day, not just when it suits.

Write a list of your priorities – what do you love most about Christmas, how does that make you feel, why do you love that? Include those into your days, but don’t worry about having to need other people’s over-the-top expectations. Train yourself and your children into wanting a different way of living, but simply starting it. Choose this year to NOT go to any shopping malls. Do gift shopping at local craft markets, or online with indie makers, or make your own gifts. I truly think most of us have more than we need, so making something small and special rather than spending money just because is our way of saying no to the consumerism of Christmas. After having worked at shopping malls for many years, I don’t go anywhere near one during the whole Christmas period. To be honest, I don’t go to one during the year unless absolutely necessary. That piped Christmas muzac and the tacky cheap decorations are enough to keep me away, let alone the hoards of people carrying plastic shopping bags.

Make new traditions – ask your kids, your partner, your family what they want from your new family Christmas. What would be special to them? While I loved the whole morning of family breakfast and opening gifts with my parents and siblings, that looks different with my kids; but I have made the decision for us to be home each Christmas morning so we can begin our day with the slow quiet magic of Christmas, not the hyped up tear-open-everything that it could be. This does mean we have to drive on Christmas day to be family, but it’s important to me (and us) that we have our own traditions and ways of making the season meaningful to my children.

Don’t take on guilt & don’t give guilt – Oh families and Christmas and any big seasonal times seem to come with stress, heated discussions, fraught tension and a lot of guilt. Learn to not take it on. Oh, I don’t say that lightly at all. It’s super hard. But if you think clearly about it, it is a journey you can move towards. Minimising guilt in family situations. I’m not saying be a doormat and let your siblings/in-laws/whoever take over on Christmas Day, but if you don’t let it get to you, then they don’t have the power over you. Remind yourself it’s their deal and not yours…. Walk away and breathe if need be. The streets are often quiet on Christmas Day, so go for a walk and enjoy some time alone away from the stress of family.

Simplify your home – In these coming weeks, the last weeks of school, and the build up to end of year, if you have less mess and piles of need-to-do around your home you’ll feel lighter and more carefree. You’ll possibly have more time to say yes to taking the kids out for a walk, or standing in the garden watching the moon rise (rather than stressing that the food isn’t cooked yet). If our large kitchen bench is piled up with things I wake up every morning feeling tight and wound up – when I remove the mess, and keep it clean I have a lighter head, and more likely to be a happier person to be around.

Don’t buy into the consumerism, but don’t be the Grinch – You can have a beautiful balance of the joys of Christmas, without the need to spend a fortune, or be the opposite and not spend anything. It’s ok to find the balance that suits you and your family. Having an Advent Calendar filled with chocolates isn’t the end of the world, buying a Barbie doll won’t destroy your daughter’s feminist ways, and the rest of us won’t look at you with disdain. Take small steps towards the way to want to live, but do it with meaning and truth for yourself, not to be living a hashtag. But step back sometimes and remember to prioritise what you want. i.e. – don’t go to the supermarket with hungry children because they’re always going to ask you for things, and you’re always going to be worn down to buying it. Be gentle with yourself, plan and prepare in advance. Start now, rather than a week before Christmas.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. This is just a few from me. I think everyday we can make small changes, but also everyday we have to remember to be gentle with ourselves and not guilt too much that we’ve made mistakes.

Petalplum - SLow & simple seasonal Christmas Ideas

Why I’m teaching ‘a creative year’ ecourse

I thought you might like a little background on my new online course, and why I’m sharing a whole year of Creative Making. For me making is an everyday “need”, and I know I’m lucky to be able to get my fix every day; but I also work hard to keep it that way, and make sacrifices to indulge in my passions. I’ve also learnt many ways to work creative living into everyday life, around children & daily errands, and other jobs as well as regular life.

I wanted to show you how you can change a few a things and learn some new skills to change your outlook on your own creative self. I’m so passionate about people finding their creative voice — I truly believe that every single person is creative in some way or other. And it makes me sad when people feel blocked to discover their artistic side. Shame or guilt or simply being told you’re not good enough has stopped many an amazing creative – putting standards of quality on ourselves dimishes the journey, the feel and the processes of making. Looking only at the outcome, rather than revelling in the doing & being with creativity, often makes people declare ‘I cant’. I’m all about letting you know that you can! You might never be perfect, but you’ve started and that’s the best thing ever.

Filming my basket weaving ecourse using my broken phone (cracked screen) & elastic bands to hold the phone onto the tripod. But the quality of the film is all sorts of lovely – well….I hope you think so!!Filming myself teaching & talking is totally new to me, & a little bit scary, but I’m so eager to learn it all, but also just to have a go even if it’s not perfect.

I love teaching & sharing my skills & knowledge, and this ecourse is such a fun way for me to connect with more people than only those of you who live nearby. It’s available to anyone with a computer & Internet, and anyone who ever was told they weren’t creative…. This isn’t about copying Pinterest worthy art projects, this is about jump-starting what making actually means & feels like to you. And it’s about finding a meditation within your making. About making time for yourself in a day or a week.

My aim for this whole year is to guide you through different projects, skills, techniques that build upon each other, but work independently too. While each month is a finished project, there’ll be an underlying hope that what you’re actually doing is discovering your creative voice, delving past the need for perfection into the feeling of what using your hands, heart & hand can do for your mental & physical beings. I truly believe that craft can heal the soul if you give yourself the time to talk internally with your inner child (the child who may have always made amazing things or the one whose parent always told them they weren’t good enough).

I’m putting heart and soul into this course, and I’m hoping you notice that. I really do want to make a difference in some small meaningful manner.

And in the spirit of being honest, I also want to mention that I do truly think this course is value for money. I’ve priced it at a rate that I hope it doable for people’s budgets, so that everyone can benefit. But I also hope it pays me for the time it will take to create each months content. So >> if you love the course, I would love you to suggest it to your friends, family, colleagues & community. To support me as a Creative Maker in my business, I truly do value your kind words. (And if you don’t love something about the course — PLEASE tell me….I’m always wanting to learn and understand new ways of doing things, and I’m open to different ideas. I value constructive criticism…rather than you not being happy, please do speak up!).

The course starts on 1 Dec and runs for a whole year. Each month you’ll receive a new set of videos with instructions for different projects and crafty skills. December is basket making and using kitchen scraps to dye your raffia. More details can be found through my teachable ‘school’ where the Ecourse is based.

My dad’s chickpea dahl ‘channa masala’ {a recipe}

Today I made my dad’s chickpea dahl. My dad is one of the best cook’s I know. ……maybe the best..?? Anyway, he’s a pretty excellent cook. We grew up eating his good healthy real made-with intention, thought, care, love meals. My mum was a great cook too.

I think childhood memories of food and cooking and being in the kitchen with your parents are some of the strongest memories I have. I think maybe my siblings have similar strong food memories.

A couple of days ago Ari told me he wanted to make hummus for his school class party. He makes a pretty delicious hummus. As I won’t buy tinned beans, it meant I had to soak raw chickpeas for his hummus making – so I decided to soak and cook a big batch at once. Which led to deciding what to make with the other chickpeas. And of course it being cosy fire-weather and warm nourishing dinners, I decided to make dahl. Luckily I got to ask my dad how he makes his.

So – here’s the recipe. In case you want to make:

Eric’s Channa Masala

(as with all my recipes, quantities are fairly inaccurate as I’m not so good at measuring…sorry. I think that’s the best way to cook – but instinct and to your own taste).

Ingredients:
1 cup dried chickpeas
3 cloves local or Australian garlic* diced
a knob of fresh ginger grated
1 onion diced (I use the purple ones because I like the caramel sweetness better than brown onions)
2t cumin powder
2t coriander powder
2t paprika or chillis
2t sea or rock salt (the one in the photo is pink Himalayan rock salt)
5-7 tomatoes diced
Olive oil or cooking oil
Fresh coriander.

The day before you want to eat your dahl you’ll need to soak 1 cup dried chickpeas. Just regular water will do (of course we have beautiful rain water, so you should use filtered water if you have town water). Leave them in the saucepan to soak overnight. And then the next morning top up with water and put on to cook. The longer you soak them, the less cooking time they take. Bring up to the boil and then leave to simmer for some time – may take 1-3hours. Skim any scum that comes to the surface. You want to turn the heat off before they are fully cooked – a little bit of bite left, don’t let them cook until falling apart.

Heat a heavy based fry pan (I have a beautiful cast iron one that my parents gave me when I first left home all that time ago and I use it every single day) and add olive oil. I let the oil heat a teeny bit, then add the onion, garlic, ginger and salt and fry until all nice (don’t burn it!), add the tomatoes and spices and fry until the tomatoes start to break down. A good five minutes at least.

Drain the cooked chickpeas, but keep the cooking water. Add the drained chickpeas to the fry pan spicy sauce and fry for a further 10 or 15 minutes. Return it all to the saucepan and add a little of the retained cooking water if need. Put the lid on the saucepan and allow to slowly simmer for at least 3 or so hours. Stir occasionally and if needed add more of the cooking water, though the tomatoes make it nice and saucy on their own. Taste the chickpeas and see if they’re well cooked and have soaked up the flavours. It can slowly simmer for more than 3 hours if you have the time.

Add freshly torn coriander right at the end, just before serving.

Serve with basmatic rice.

You can also add potatoes and kale during the cooking process if you want to make it a more vegetable meal. Though we like it plain like this and serve it with pan-crispy spiced potatoes which are super yum!

Enjoy. And think of the memories you can start making for your own children to have.

ALSO – in other wonderful and exciting news – our new benchtop was half installed today. Will be finished very very soon. Can’t wait. It’s so beautiful. We’re all  dreaming of standing in our new kitchen and cooking and sharing and being in the space. Can’t wait to show it to you. And maybe have some of you over for sharing a meal together!

Beautiful spotty bowl by Elke Lucas.

*do not ever, please please, use imported from China garlic. Local garlic grown in your country is much tastier and better for you. Garlic that has been imported from China has been irradiated.

always seeking simplicity

Life has been crazy lately. I know I keep saying, or at least I feel like I keep saying this. Ahh. It’s a whirlwind of all things all the time. All my stupid talk of breathing and slow living and intentional – it seems beyond useless when the everyday reality is doing the school run, spending all morning feeding Bubba at nap time, washing the dishes and then thinking about what food we need takes up all the brain power I have. I have no more space. I’m like those horses you see with blinkered headpieces on, where I can’t see beyond my nose, can’t think past this single one day’s events or activities. How can I plan what I’m doing next week when I barely even get through one whole day with any focus or thought power left over.

Coming up to these last weeks of school, and the lead up to what ends up being the busy hectic stressful time of year I’m re-thinking lots of things. How my days drift away, pulled mostly by a 2yr old who just wants to play and explore, and have his mama by his side at all times. How it seems I’m in the car more often than not, driving here and there for different events or reasons that I can’t barely fathom fit into what I thought I wanted. Not in a bad way, just in the way that you end up tumbling down a different path than planned or even vaguely thought about.

I know a lot of this currently has to do with be mentally and physically exhausted, breastfeeding full time takes so much out of my body. All day all night. He’s not drinking as much during the night, but he’s still there right beside me asking for me, holding on and needing me 24hrs a day. I know that’ll all change soon enough and things slip into a different version of how the new is.

But until then – I’m working out ways to save my sanity, and to make sure I actually get my to-do list in a rational manner, not rushing to deadlines constantly and screaming at my kids because the house is always a mess. Usually I try to do everything all the time; half an hour on the computer while Sam drops the kids at school (and has Bubba in the car with him), or a few minutes here and there while River tries to drag me away… neither of which leads to real thought-processes. Fitting creating work into moments around family.. while sipping coffee before the school rush, or while River is playing for 3 minutes on his own, or in the car while we’re driving somewhere. None of this leads to real dedicated creative artistic practice. It’s excellent for getting my craft on – oh golly yes, so good to work within the family days… but in terms of artistic personal development it doesn’t leave much room.

How do you do it? How do you make it work, fit it all in? Squeeze the extra moments out of the days?

Here’s how I’m going to try:

  • Set regular days for regular activities – i.e. every Monday is home-duties day
  • Narrow down what I work on each week, set structure for my creativeness where I flip and change each moment / each day what I’m working on. One thing per week. Will that work for me and my multipotentialite personality? Probably not. Maybe let’s say one ‘project’ each week.
  • Schedule days without the children – a whole day just to myself. To not have to make breakfast, or scurry them out the door, not have to make dinner or think about the time all day long.
  • Spend 15 minutes each evening writing my thoughts on the day and my list for the next day.
  • Work on simplifying the house and the daily mess that seems to build up.
  • Go with the flow….. I must admit I’m fairly good at this generally, but at certain times when I’ve got lots on my mind it becomes harder – but last week after my daughter’s circus class during the weekday we decided a picnic dinner by the river was just what we all needed. Saying “yes” to the right things is sometimes so simple and I forget that.

It’s an always journey, I think/feel – there’s not final destination… the more simple we become in our daily life the more I long for, aim for, wish for. To bring it down right to the bare minimum of nothing – but is that possible if I’m also actively part of society and those complications (family, friends, school, money…..).

Tell me, if you will – what are you doing to tread your simple path…. how do you navigate the complicated challenging times, the ‘unsimple’ parts of life…. ??

live with intention by Petalplum :: on simplicity

Gathered Treasures : Forest Finds

I’ve been making photos of some of the treasures I gather up around our forest home. I’m enjoying doing this a lot. Taking the pieces from the scattered forest floor, where they often times get lost amongst the brown of leaf litter. And putting them against a white background. Showing off these simple moments in a new environment. I’ve been sharing them on Instagram, but thought some of your who don’t play over there might like to see them too.

I have been finding more feathers over the past few months than ever before. Gathering up their soft fluttery-ness makes my heart soar and my head sigh. They have come from all sorts of birds – emerald forest pigeon, white cockatoo, moor hen, lorikeets, parrots and more…

What treasures have you been finding and enjoying lately?

Coconut Cake – Pretty flowers & a recipe

Cake solves lots of problems, don’t you think. You know, not massive world issue problems, but those tiny at home daily challenges problems.

The making of a cake, for me, is such a restorative process (mostly). I love thinking about the cake I’ll make, and gathering the ingredients  – seeing if we have the right things, or making do with what we do have instead. I love the preparation – getting the butter and eggs out. And then thinking about the sharing of the cake – that’s the lovely part. Sitting down together and cutting into a cake.

So – cake is good. Yes?

I wanted to share a current go-to cake, with you. It’s easy to make, quite healthy, very delicious and ever so pretty when you want to pretty it all up. (Those of you who read this blog know that I don’t often use a recipe – but there are times I need to know a cake will work with no issues and this one ticks so many boxes in terms of look, taste, ease of making and fairly healthy).

Coconut Cake with (coconut) Cream
 6 fresh free-range eggs, separated
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup plain flour (I use spelt or whatever you want)
2 pinches baking powder
2 cups shredded coconut or 1 cup shredded + 1 cup dessicated.
180g butter, melted (I always use salted butter in my cake cooking – it adds that little speck of salt)

For cream ganache / filling
1-2 can of coconut cream – place in the fridge for 24hours before ready to use
2-4T coconut sugar (the coconut sugar will turn your cream a beautiful golden colour)

How to:
Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly butter a 16cm spring form cake tin.
Using an electric beater, mix the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the yolks and sugar until thick.
Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the yolks, with a third of the sifted flour. Repeat until all mixed together, then gently add the coconut and melted butter and fold through until just combined. It’s ok if some of egg white can still be seen.
Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40mins  until golden and pulling away from the sides. Leave to cool and then remove from the tin.

For the coconut cream ganache – Place one can of the cooled cream and 2T of the coconut sugar into bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy. One can is enough for one layer of cake filling.
To ice cake – slice cake horizontally into either 2 or 3 pieces, through the middle. Spread the coconut cream filling over each layer and carefully place them on top of each other. You can leave the top naked or cream it as well. This is the fun part – so I’ll leave it up to you to decorate as you like. Toasted or large flakes of fresh coconut on the top is lovely too.

Decorate with non-toxic or edible flowers. Please be sure you check that the flowers aren’t poisonous before serving to your guests!

You can make as many layers as you like – make 2 cakes to make a giant cake stack of 6 layers!

Coconut cream is more of an ‘adult’ taste, so you can just as easily use regular whipped (cows) cream. You shouldn’t need sugar with this as it’s sweet enough on it’s own. We like whipping it in a jar – shakey shakey. Fun and easy. (Half fill a glass jar with regular pouring cream – make sure the lid is tightly closed. Then shake shake shake and keep on shaking until it turns to nice thick cream. This is a fun to do with kids as well. Just make sure you keep checking on it; if you shake too much you’ll end up making butter.)

{I have started using a 16cm cake tin, instead of my usual 22cm as it makes a smaller but taller cake. I’m loving the tall cake layers at the moment, but not needing the giant 22cm size cake for smaller gatherings or family nibbles. This recipe is suitable for a 22cm cake tin – it makes two well-sized layers}.

*Recipe is adapted from “Coming Home” by Cathy Armstrong.
*Photos of pansy-topped cake are taken by Leah from Such Wild Grace at my weaving workshop gathering, a few years ago. The cut-pansy cake photo is by me. Other photos are by me, at my daughter’s 7th birthday party earlier this year.
Pansy-topped cake has coconut cream and 16cm tin used.
Zinnia-topped cake has regular cream and 2x 22cm tin used.

This post was originally written on my Petalplum blogspot blog – I’m moving a few posts over here because I think they’re still beautiful and worthwhile sharing.

Ode to my library

Dear local library,

Thank you for your shelves of cookbooks to ooogle over, thank you for your art & reference sections to help with my kids’ school assignments, thank you for your ’90s & ’00s daggy craft book (oh some of them are the best ever, for real!), and thank you for ordering in the modern crafty books I spot on Instagram (so I can borrow them 20 times in a row).

Thank you for having a semi-decent dvd selection, so we can have 3 whole weeks to watch all the bad drama and action movies we want. Thank you for having an excellent kids section, and sticking with th Dewy-Deci system so my kids can learn how to find their own books. And for having friendly librarians who talk to my kids like the intelligent interesting they are.

And dear library, thank you for having strong and solid shelves, for my toddler to climb onto. And for your lovely staff to turn a blind eye to his antics – shelf climbing, pulling dvds from shelves & re-sorting them, throwing all the stuffed toys from the play section around and lining the chairs up in a row across the walkway. And for not ever once shushing us.

Sweet lovely library, looking out over the fishpond (will the turtles come back soon we wonder), from my childhood. Thank you for updating yet staying nostalgically as special as I remember. And thank you for wiping out overdue fees when you see how flustered I am that books got lost under the kids’ beds again.

Dear library. I really do love you! And I love that if I can’t make it in to borrow books for my voracious book-eating children, we can borrow them on audio for free as well. Have you discovered talking books? I seriously didn’t believe my kids when they first told me how good BorrowBox was – perhaps I should read more parenting books that will remind me kids know lots of excellent and great stuff, and listen to them more!

Do you library visit? What’s your favourite current read? I’ve just built a bedside table from my favourite tomes – hopefully there’s no overdue library books hiding in there!

Instagram – it’s a beautiful world….q&a with some Insta-crushes

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Anyone who knows me, knows I love Instagram. Golly, even my dad knows and he doesn’t own a mobile phone, have a Facebook account and has to ask me every time he wants to order a book from Amazon (but he doesn’t know how to You-Tube and play suduko!). While I started my Instagram account close to 6 years ago, it took me at least a year or two to realise the amazing potential Instagram has for our creative indie business. And every week I learn something new about that little space of squares – being an addict I’m constantly researching the newest updates and insider info… can’t help it. Which is why I love sharing with you guys, who possibly don’t have as much time as me to do all the Insta-practicing {I don’t have a tv – that’s my defence!}.

I’m running an Advanced Instagram for Creative Business workshop this coming Saturday, alongside savvy marketers Dotti Media, so thought I’d get some other IG addicts thoughts too….. You can book a spot at the workshop here – it’s at The Craft Parlour, on the Gold Coast.

I decided to ask a few of my favourite Australian indie businesses, some are creative makers like me, some have online shops, some have in real life studios where people come along to visit and do workshops and all things like that. Some of them I’m sharing today, some I’ll share another day. The cool thing – all these q&a happened on Instagram, via direct messages. I probably don’t have to tell you that most of us check IG more often than we check our emails – I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had everyone replying within an hour of me sending messages, if it had been via email. What do you think?

The questions are:
1. I love IG because….
2. IG helps my creative business….
3. Other online marketing I use for business…… but my favourite is IG because….
4. How do you best communicate with your customers?
5. What’s your best tip for IG for business?

Made in Lisa Land – Lisa handcrafts beautiful baskets, woven wall hangings, cushions, and teaches workshops. She doesn’t even have an online shop but sells directly through Instagram.
1. It’s daily inspiration, it’s a comfortable way for me to share who I am and what I love in picture form, it opens up the world to me and lets me interact with people and brands worldwide while still having that close, cosy community feeling.
2. …..be seen!! The connections I’ve made through IG are mind blowing. Most of my business is now workshops and nearly every venue I teach at has found me and approached me though IG.
3. I started on IG. Had an Etsy store for a little while, but found I primarily connected and sold through IG. Also Facebook.
4. I love that IG is photo based…. it made it easy when I started as I didn’t have to write much and sharing ‘me’ was not my thing. But I have grown through IG because people want to know about the maker or the brand and they want / like the story. It makes sense because I feel the same looking at others’ feeds! I’ve evolved now to include information, snippets of me, my process, there’s conversations, private messages; I’ve made friends!
5. For me it’s been to post regularly and find that balance between sharing my work and sharing some of me because the personal connection is always important.
Petalplum Blog - Instagram :: it's a pun-my world :: Lisa Land

Dotti Media – Miranda and Angela are super savvy social media marketing gals – who inject fun into the world of marketing. I mean look at those smiles – but wait till you hear them laugh! They run workshops, online courses, share heaps and heaps of marketing info gold through their Facebook group and webinars.
1. It allows us to connect with so many amazing people around the world doing things you never even knew were possible. You don’t have to be friends, you don’t have to follow them, you can just search and you will find. This is also known as the IG rabbit hole….
2. We love the collaborative opportunities of IG to build our following. In turn this has resulted in new clients and customers.
3. Facebook, Facebook Ads and email marketing. I love IG because it’s fun, it doesn’t have to be perfect and you get to really show your personality. Oh and for the puns. I love to make puns on IG and people seem to get them. (Miranda talking here – I do our IG, while Angela works the FB magic).
4. Through puns! See above…. No really, one of our big changes over the past year has been owning our brand and our biz. We’re never gonna be the most perfect online marketing agency but that’s not who we’re trying to be. I use IG as a way to share our knowledge with other biz owners to hopefully inspire them to do more than just ‘whack up an image and hope it gets a few likes’.
5. Post at least once a day. Post at the right time. Find a bunch of hashtags that work use them all the time. Stay away from generic hashtags like #love or #happy because you’ll just attract spam. Post quality content….. Geez just one? I could talk about using IG for biz all day……..

{oh hey – lucky we’re running that workshop together!!!!}

Petalplum :: Instagram : Dotti Media

Little Tienda – Em is the sweetest gal anyone will ever meet! She runs the best online shop ever – selling highly covetable, ethically made clothes with a Mexican vibe. Little Tienda has a loyal Instagram community who support Em’s shop as well as her business. Last year someone tried to steal the Little Tienda Instagram account & community, trying to fake that she was the real Little Tienda someone managed to get Instagram to shut down Em’s account. Due to the overwhelming support of Little Tienda’s connected, loving, supportive community all was put right and the lovin’ continues….
1. It allows me to communicate, curate and control my branding whilst being front of house with the customer. Plus it’s loads of fun.
2. Because what I do is best visually communicated plus requires authenticity and one on one communication with my customers. IG allows my indie business to stand in its own and tell my story without all the noise of others. It’s all on me if content is working or not, I like that.
3. Facebook but I’m not terribly present there. IG feels more engaging and relevant for my business. I think you find so many like minded creatives and the support is simply heart warming.
4. Hopefully through honesty and a real gratefulness that they support what I do. I’m pretty ecstatic that folks dig what I do. I try to create beautiful imagery that lets us all escape for a moment just enjoy what it is. I feel like when you sell hand made pieces, that the connection of appreciation for the art and consideration of the talent and skill it holds needs to be absorbed. I hope that comes across.
5. Be honest, be grateful, be engaging and supportive to people you feel a kinship with. Create content that not only inspires other but inspires you to do better. Don’t ever feel like you are not enough or compare yourself to others. Enjoy it as it can be a real game changer if your intentions are bang on.

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OH MY GOLLY – so many good words there. I’d love to know what your answers would be… leave a comment sharing what you love most about using Instagram for your business. Which of these tips had you head-nodding or gave you a real a-ha moment?

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Skinmade – natural beauty care (& a discount).

A few years ago I was introduced, via Instagram, to a beautiful and local-to-me skin care small business, Skinmade. I’ve been loving using their organic and natural products each day. These are products made with thought, intention, care and a commitment to bettering the environment as well our skin. The simple packaging appeals to me – I don’t need (or want) excess packaging or gimiky products, I prefer to use products that have pure simple ingredients and are easy to add to my daily routine.

My boy has also been using the oat & lemon myrtle scrub, which you combine with the castile & lemongrass cleanser to create a gentle yet very effective and lovely to use face cleaner. His skin (and mine as well) looks and feels so soft afterwards. I can’t decide which moisturiser I like best – I’m using the rosehip & cucumber serum for refreshing daytime use, and the vitamin E & balsam as a night time cream. Both are nice and rich, yet not heavy – which is perfect for the coming Summer.

When I was younger a friend of my mum’s started a skincare range, and my sister and I helped her sell it. We learnt a little about the products and the ingredients, and got to enjoy using beautifully made natural skincare. Finding Skinmade has been a wonderful way for me to use something that fits within my lifestyle and environmental ethics, while supporting a local business as well. It’s important to do each little thing we can in our regular purchases to make differences in our environment, our economy and our personal welfare. Choosing a skincare company who doesn’t test on animals, uses organic and local ingredients and makes a conscious decision to support the environment in their manufacture and packaging is an easy way to make such a change. Next time you go to the department store to purchase your new moisturiser and a million cleansers and such, have a think about the what you are actually putting on your skin, where and how it’s made, and what happens with the excess packaging afterwards (Skinmade has a fabulous program where you can return your glass bottles for reuse – just another way they are actively committed to environmental consciousness).

I asked Claire and Genevieve to share a little about their beautiful products and their business. They’ve also shared a 10% discount code (find it at the end of the questions) so that you can try out their range yourself – you’ll find their products very reasonable before the discount, so this is an added incentive! And make sure you add one of their super soft bamboo facecloths to your order.

Why did you start Skinmade?  

After having children it really opened our eyes to what we were using on our skin – especially our babies skin. (Did you know that a leading brand of baby oil has only two ingredients: mineral oil and fragrance. Mineral oil coats your skin like glad wrap so it can’t release toxins. It also interferes with the skin’s natural immunity barrier. And unspecified fragrance is usually synthetic which can cause major skin irritation and even cause dizziness. It horrifies me to think we lather this on our new born babies).

So we started Skinmade – making up our own plant-based oil blends using recipes passed down from our mother in-law. We felt like there was a gap in the market for affordable, good quality, plant-based skincare. There is no shortage on the market, but most if it is very expensive.

What makes it special?  

We use really good quality, mostly organic, plant-based ingredients, subtle earthy scents – nothing overpowering and we keep our products as simple as possible. They feel really clean and light on the skin so they can be used by the whole family.

What’s your favourite product and why?
Claire: I have fair, dry skin so my favourite product is the Vitamin E + Balsam cream. Sometimes when I run out(yes that sounds crazy as I am the maker) I will use pure rose hip oil until I make a new batch. When I get finally get my hands on a new jar my skin feels so supple and nourished.

Genevieve: My favorite product is the castile and lemongrass CLEANSER.  I have normal kind of skin that can get a bit oily at times.  This cleanser feels so nice and gentle and the smell of it is very fresh and light.  I use it with an organic bamboo face cloth and the scrub.  It was very hard to formulate this product as there is nothing natural that foams, except organic liquid castile soap, which is what makes this cleanser so special.

Tell us a little about the making process, and what you love about the ingredients you use.
We spent a lot of time with a local naturopath learning about oils and herbs, and perfecting emulsification etc. I think for both of us two of the most exciting parts of making skincare is seeing the cream emulsify. It really is amazing. And secondly when we come up with new essential oil blends.
Our first priority is to make a product that is 100% natural, second is to make a product that is nourishing, healing, and rejuvenating. Affordability to our customers is really important to us, so you won’t see us using exotic ingredients such as gemstone crystals from brazil, caviar or snake venom. Instead we use the highest quality ingredients that are more sustainable and readily availablesuch as jojoba, rose hip, essential oils, shea/coco butter, vitamin e and aloe vera. We source organic and local where possible.
How do you work together – what are your roles in your partnership?
We mostly do everything together. At the moment Genevieve is pregnant so Claire has taken over making the product and Genevieve looks after ordering, shipping, online enquiries etc. I think we really compliment each other in our business partnership. We both bring unique skills and ideas to skinmade, and when one is having a busy week with family or work commitments the other steps in and picks up the slack. We have a good laugh when we are together.
What are the challenges of having a small handcrafted skin care business?
We both have busy families and work part time, so it is often a challenge to find time.  One of our biggest challenges is getting skinmade out there.  Once people try it, they love our products for life, so we are constantly thinking up ways to promote the brand and reach as many people as possible.

Skinmade has been around for just over a year now, how are things going? What are your plans for the future of your business?
We hope to grow the skincare range to cater for more skin types and also develop a range of natural remedies for children such as a breath easyessential oil mix, chest rub, natural insect repellant and, head lice repellant. We are very committed to minimizing waste and are working behind the scenes on developing 100% compostable packaging. Our beautiful skin tea range comes in 100% compostable containers, so we aim to extend this across the range.

What’s the ‘secret’ to beautiful skin, in your opinion?
Never believe the marketing ploys from commercial skincare brands about getting rid of your wrinkles or making your pimples disappear over night. The secret to beautiful skin extends well beyond what you put on it. Firstly HEALTH. Good health including diet and exercise… Secondly HAPPINESS. Balance in your life and finding happiness and mental strength. These are the building blocks for beautiful skin. Finally skincare. Your skincare should always be plant-based with no harsh chemicals. It should leave your skin feeling clean and nourished. It should basically be edible.
Why is local and handcrafted so important to you, personally and for your business? Can you share with us some other local makerswho’s work you love?
Buying local is reducing environmental impact, creating more local jobs, investing in the community, buying something unique and encouraging local prosperity. But most of all you are buying something from a real person who has made the item with love. 
We have a huge crush on handmade pottery at the moment such as thrownbyjoHarvest ClaySusan SimoniniKanimbla Clay.

We are loving the vege died clothing range from Vege Threads and the up cycled kids range from Alfie Children’s Apparel.

We get weekly veggie boxes from Farmer Foster (Murwillumbah) and make food for our kids from Jude Blereau whole food cookbooks. 

We are saving up for some recycled furniture from Simply Recycled Furniture.  

Anything else you’d like to add, please share ~
We would love for you readers to have the chance to try our skincare. Use the code: petalplum to receive 20% off Skinmade.

Check out the website, and make sure you read the blog with some really interesting (and scary) info about beauty products and ingredients. 

Connect with Skinmade on Facebook

*all images by me, except b&w one of Claire and Genevieve from their website. 

raising global children – guardians of our future

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Raising conscious, thoughtful, considerate children can be hard. Raising my children to grow into free-thinking, emotionally aware, environmentally active, socially conscious humans sometimes feels impossible. Sending them out into the world with all my ideals shoved down their throat isn’t the answer, but letting them only listen to their teachers or peers isn’t the answer either. It’s finding a balance of sharing my own ideals and ways of living, while also letting them discover their own ways – their own thoughts, expectations of themselves. Letting them discover their heart-felt way of living in the world.

Guiding them gently is my way. Being clear on who I am, but giving them the space to discover who they are, how they fit in. Education, in my mind, is one of the best ways my children see what’s going on in their world, and can choose to be involved or how active they want to be to make changes. But education itself takes time to find the right learning tools, the best resources, the accurate information. Luckily they know that not everything on the internet is the right answer, they know to question things, dig deeper, find more answers, ask another expert. We talk about that a fair bit – how just because it’s written (in a book or on the internet) doesn’t make it real or right or the only solution. How they have to use their brain and their heart to come to their own conclusions.

Being children of this generation my kids love using online resources to learn. Videos and moving pictures, clicking to the next page, being able to quickly search something else….. THOUGH – Let it be known loud and clear – they love love love reading real paper books, and flipping through a giant resource book (bird books, art books, world maps, etc etc). For us it’s finding a balance of real paper books combined with online resources. Our home library shelves simply aren’t big enough to be filled with all the everythings they want to learn about, information they want to devour. But sometimes, do you think finding online resources can be hard? Scouring through to find accurate information that’s not filled with ugly photos, or strange references, or clickable popup adds.

Recently my lovely online friend Danielle, from Hippie In Disguise, (find her beautiful life here on IG as well as on her blog), told me about a new online project she’s been had the pleasure of watching a friend create. And when I saw it I got a bit excited too. I can’t wait to see all the future resources that my kids can access. It’s called Global Guardian Project, and is a monthly zine / resource guide featuring a different country each month. It focusses on environmental, social and humanitarian aspects inspiring children on how they can become change makers in the world. With stories of local families, ideas for making change in our own families, beautifully stunning photography, recipes, projects and so much more – this is a resource to welcome into your inbox every month.

Global Guardian Project

My kids aren’t homeschooled, but my idea of educating my children means that their learning doesn’t stop once they leave the classrooms. For me to be able to off them some beautiful resources to educate and inspire them means we can extend their learning while empowering their concept of how they fit into the world, and how small changes they make can have a giant ripple effect.

There’s a beautifully inspiring mini-zine about the Oceans, showing the quality of the issues, so you can a sample of what you’ll be receiving. The first issue is all about Brazil, and is available for pre-order over here – there’s so much excellent information and beautiful photos, as well as inspiring downloadable artprints / projects. Future issues will also have cooking and more art/craft projects as well.

The lovely Global Guardian Project founder, Rebecca, has given me a discount code for you to use to receive 10% off each monthly learning packet – use PETALPLUM to receive the discount. If you subscribe you’ll receive a beautiful looking world map posted to your home, so the kids can see exactly the region they’re learning about. The first issue is Brazil, and I can’t wait to find out more about this colourful vibrant country. {For the whole of Thursday 11th August there’s a 20% discount by using my code. So go try it out now.}

*I receive a small affiliate % from your purchase using my discount code. I only ever work with businesses whose ethics and ethos fit within mine, and who I think you, my dear reader, will benefit from. I thank you for supporting these small businesses, and for supporting me in this small way as well.