the beauty of tumbled leaves

In those times when I have an overwhelming list of things to do, the things that clears my mind best is stilling & slowing & simplifying….. playing with tumbled leaves, with fallen (or snipped) petals, gathered mushrooms, collected pebbles, or found sticks. All these things make me feel calm, centred, mindful, present. Turning off outside noise, ignoring incoming messages, shutting my phone and diary. And simply playing. PLAY IS THE BEST, don’t you think?

Firstly, I go for a walk, a meander, a wander, a wonder. In my forest, down to the creek, up to the dam, along the driveway, along a beach, along the road, in a field. Or sometimes I simply drift around little studio room and gathered up supplies, and things that I’ve collected on previous slow outings. Things that call to me to say come and play.

I want to remind you all that I have a 2yr old at home with me full time, but my husband also works from home. We tag team spending time with our little one (and the big ones when they’re not at school), with our own creative work practices. I ask (sometimes not so nicely) if I really *need* 20 minutes on my own. I think, if you have the chance, it’s vitally important to create pockets in your day without your children on you – at you. Give them something to play with beside, something quiet that they’ll love too. Sometimes that might only give you 2 minutes, but sometimes 2 minutes is like eternity if it’s all you get. When River is sleeping I’m trying to make sure I utilise that time for quiet doing jobs, and when he’s awake I do emails and such (which means mostly I’m writing & trying to think, while he’s noisily beside me. I mostly pretty good and writing an email and half-blocking out the crazy family noise, while still keeping an ear open for when I’m needed). So, I’m just reminding you that I have to actually carve out – create – this time that I need for myself.

I’d love to know what you do when you’re in need of some SLOW QUIET MEDITATIVE time. Please let me a comment here or even on Instagram.

slow & simple Christmas traditions : hand stitched Christmas stockings

 

Part of my slow & simple seasonal Christmas was to make some new traditions. Or more like – redefine and place more ritual around them. Something like that. With my little one now big enough to understand all the Christmas magic, the big kids have been talking to him about a lot of how it all works. And we’re bringing it into our everyday for these weeks leading up to Christmas. I decided to do away with the pillowcases and make some hand stitched stockings for the kids – hopefully next year we’ll be able to find them to keep the traditions going!

I must admit I did take a little longer to come around to the Christmas magic this year, but then with a few twinkle lights in our life, and going out together to collect a tree (really it’s a fallen branch, with no leaves filled with our special decorations). The kids made treats to gift their friends – which I much prefer than just buying a packet of candy canes, I must admit. It makes me happy seeing them in the kitchen baking for other people, and then packaging it all up and writing notes to everyone.

 

So, this week I pulled out some felt fabric scraps and some strands of embroidery thread, and sat down to stitch the stockings for my three babies. I thought it would take a whole lot longer, but I kept it simple and these only took a few hours – with many get-up to see what Little One wants to read, eat, play, do, show me….. My girl is on holidays already, so she sat beside me and stitched her own; which made me immensely happy. Because really Christmas isn’t about stockings, or things, it’s about the creating of those things, the time spent together, talking while you’re making, thinking about the joy of reaching your hand inside on Christmas morning. Hanging them up along a beach-found branch. And nibbling on chocolates while you’re doing it.
That’s why I love using felt. These are actually made with some organic cotton quilt batting I had little scraps of. It’s soft like lambs wool, but perfectly easy to sew and won’t fray. Felt, old blankets, anything like that is great for kids to do their own stitching with, because you don’t need to worry about the edges fraying, so you can simply sew the sides together. And is it’s a little bit wonky, and some stitches go astray it doesn’t matter. One day in 3, or 5 or 10 years you’ll look at those stitches with the biggest smile and a pang in your heart.


Here’s how to make your own HandStitched Christmas Stockings:
+ Felt or an old blanket
+ A needle not too small, not too big
+ Embroidery thread in assorted colours
+ Ribbon or string or wool to make a hanging loop
+ A scrap of other fabric – we had some bird fabric, you could use flowers, Christmas trees, or even hand embroider whatever shapes you want. Stars, snowflakes…
+Draw the shape you want on scrap paper – make it bigger than you think, because a) the edges take up seam allowance, & b) more space for Santa’s gifts!

Trace the pattern piece onto your felt and cut out two pieces. It doesn’t matter with felt which side is the outside/right side and which side is the inside/wrong side, but if you’re using somewhat with an obvious outside/inside then make sure that you place the two layers together when cutting, with the wrong side facing each other.
With a light pencil draw the child’s initial on the front side of the stocking – if you have time / space their whole name can be lovely too. I’m working with simple and finished before Christmas!
Using whatever stitch you like – mine is a simple running stitch – hand stitch the name letter. Fancy lettering is pretty. Have you seen this amazing stitched alphabet? Again, I’m working on a time-frame + toddler-time… so simple letters still looks beautiful and works well.
Cut out and stitch on the design. I used running stitch that you can see, but you could also stitch it on with a hidden stitch.
Once you’ve added all the decorations you want to the outside pieces, lay the front and back pieces together and pin. Then blanket stitch around the whole edge. Make sure you stitch in the loop as you’re going. Maybe a few extra stitches on that part to make sure it doesn’t come out when the kids are enthusiastically pulling at their stockings!


Now – put on some twinkle lights, light some candles and hang those pretty stockings up ready for Santa. We leave home baked biscuits, some milk and possibly a chocolate for Santa, and of course Australian grown reindeer carrots for those hard-working reindeers who need as much energy as we can all give them!

 

*This post was sponsored by Woolworths Australia. Tutorial and all words are mine.

foundling ~ conversations with fashion

I first stumbled upon foundling in the way we do nowadays on internet land & Instagram… following lovely trails here and there, and coming across beautiful places to stop for a while. Whenever I find something that catches my eye, I often screen-snap (you can’t tell me I’m the only one!), but then I delve deeper into finding out a little more about it. I love to discover and connect and seek more than just the one picture on Instagram. When I first saw foundling, the face they were locals to me was even more interesting because I love to check out the amazing talent in our Northern Rivers region.

I had a little chat with Kim, one half of the sister duo, and love the way their lifestyle and upbringing shows in their clothing. The fact the cuts and fabrics are trans-seasonal fits well within my fashion ethos of wearing clothing for many years. These pieces are designed and made to outlast and become a vintage item in your wardrobe – which sounds pretty good to me!
I am totally drooling over all their pieces – I love my long kimono and wear it numerous times a week (eeekkkk I just noticed it’s on sale too!), but am also coveting this indigo tiered skirt, this maxi dress, martinique button down maxi dress (great for breastfeeding), and I wonder if the kids would let me lounge if I wore the lounge pants!

Can you tell me why you started Foundling? Where did the initial ideas come from?
My sister and I both have a passion for design and having grown up locally, our favourite styles are often influenced by genuine vintage prints, patterns and cuts.  We felt that what was available in the marketplace had become too disposable, the quality that used to exist in garments was no longer evident in all but the most expensive clothes, which are out of reach for most women.  I guess we believed that we could put our own twist on vintage, with an emphasis on tailoring and manufacturing so that our pieces would one day hang alongside the vintage classics.

 You were raised in Byron Bay – hi local peeps! – did your upbringing in this uniquely beautiful place have an influence on your business and your designs?
We actually grew up in a few places ranging from Oberon near the blue mountains, a fairly remote part of New Guinea and then Lismore where we were schooled, which at the time was very alternative and yes, it most definitely influenced the designs and patterns that we gravitate towards.  We also spent alot of time (and now live & work) in Byron, so the surf culture must have been influential as well, the combination of which has resulted in a pretty laid back take on vintage, a love for loungewear and pieces that are perfect for this type of climate.  I think lots of our customers buy their holiday wardrobes from foundling as the fabrics and cuts are just perfect for travel and beach destinations.
You talk about being beautiful on the inside as well as the outside – tell me what this means to you, and to the Foundling business, and how does this affect your business practices?
We are both mothers of children who range from 7 years old to 14 years old and the thought of sweatshop labour is abhorrent to us.  So when we started the label, we spent a bit of time investigating where we could manufacture our range safe in the knowledge that the process would be ethical, hence our enlisting a sedex accredited facility in India.  India was also our choice because of their long and beautiful history with textiles, its a country that celebrates the art of attire, pattern and colour.  Our factory is a family run business with a long history in the industry – interestingly, three years in to our partnership with them, we are now their longest standing client, albeit we are still their smallest by quite a big margin.  Fashion labels dont generally develop long standing relationships with their manufacturers because they shop the business around based on pricing, but we are very committed to growing a relationship and we know that we get the very best from our supplier rather than haggling over small amounts which ultimately results in the manufacturer trying to cut corners.
We also sponsor a number of children in developing countries including Syria and Cambodia.
Can you share a little more about the ethics of Foundling? Why was it so important for you to create a label that cares as much about the environment as the people making the pieces? Was this hard to set up, or to continue working with? Or have you found it easier with time?
I have to be honest and say that we haven’t focussed on environmentally accredited fabrics, albeit this is something we are trying to explore with our manufacturers.  The difficulty we find is that manufacturing ethically naturally comes at a higher cost, a cost which is difficult to amortise over a relatively small production run.  If we then add organic certified materials, the price point will become prohibitive however as the label grows and we can invest in larger production runs, that will definitely change. 
Where do you find your design inspiration? You visit India often, this must be an amazing source of ideas, colour, patterns – do you soak it all in and design when you get back to the relative tranquility of Byron Bay or do you sketch and design wherever you are?
The inspiration seems to come from all over the place, one of our prints for Summer for example was inspired by a very old batik remnant a friend used as a tablecloth, whilst another came about after we both read a book about colonial life in the tea stations ofIndia called ‘coronation talkies'(which was a great book BTW).  Not long after, I visited the tea stations whilst holidaying in Sri Lanka then together my sister (‘Lee’) and I talked about how the pattern should look and what colours would feature.  Lee is a classically trained illustrator so she then brings the idea to life so that we can brief our team in India.  However India is definitely an ongoing source of inspiration – they have a seemingly haphazard use of colour that just works every time. Every time I stroll through markets, you can’t help but be inspired. That often manifests itself in styles like our Namaste pyjamas which is our own block print inspired man-style lounge set, with a pop of neon to give it our own twist.  I also absolutely love their traditional jewellery and we often stop and ask people if we can photograph it so we can replicate the design with our jeweller in Udaipur. 
What’s it like working together as sisters – any tips on collaborating and working with family?
We have pretty much always worked together with the exception of a time when I was working overseas.  I used to work in advertising management and often worked alongside Lee who was at the time, an art director. When I later relocated to Byron and we spoke about ‘foundling‘ as a concept, she not long after bought a house in my street…so our kids play together every day and we work together every day.  Of course its not always plain sailing, when we travel we argue over the temperature of the air conditioning or who gets the window seat…nothing insurmountable.
What’s your favourite piece in your current collection – why?
I have to say our St Malo lounge set because I wear them every night (I have a few pairs on rotation) and without fail, they make me happy every time I climb into them after a shower.  I guess when you wear something so much, it has to be a favourite but aside from that, I love my quilted hippy bindi blouse because its my go-to with jeans and I love the classic print and colourway. 
Anything else you’d like to share with the Petalplum readers about your special brand?
Yes, I think lots of people who choose foundling wouldn’t realise that what they are buying is pretty unique.  Our print or embroidery runs are sometimes as small as only 100 garments total worldwide, which is probably about one tenth the size of even small australian labels, so if you like unique, we’d love you to check out our site foundling.
*all images used with thanks to foundling, from their website & cookbooks. I was gifted some beautiful items of clothing to wear, but this post is written with full love for the foundling brand & clothing range.

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

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?

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!

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.

Continuing the plastic free journey – 5 simple tips you can implement

So Plastic Free July is over, but that doesn’t mean you need to quit all the good that you’ve started. In fact, now is the time to really reassess how you went and how you want to continue. To look at the challenges you came up against, as well as the wins that you had. Yay! Don’t stop the conversations in your family, with your friends or even at the supermarket. Keep on working towards less plastic use in your life every single week.

I wanted to share with you some of the simple ways that we reduce plastic. These become everyday ways of living, so you don’t need to think about it too much. I believe that we’re all going to have the best chances of change if we don’t make it too hard for ourselves. The reality is we’re all busy, stretch as it is already past the extra time we have to make everything from scratch, go the extra distance to get food from a different place, or re-think everything we eat, wear or do. It has to be simple otherwise it won’t last, it has to fit into our lives in a semi-streamlined manner. That’s not to say it will always be easy. Sometimes it’ll be hard. My kids keep challenging me, I keep challenging myself, regular everyday stresses of life keep challenging me. I find that the times we fall down are when we’re extra busy, tired, stressed, over-worked. We buy things we wouldn’t normally – to treat ourselves when we’re feeling down, or to make the evening a little easier for that day only. That’s ok – remember. That’s ok. Our current society isn’t geared towards plastic free. Some days it’s seriously hard to push against that, to live a different way, to say not the children (or ourselves) and not buy the plastic things. Some days I just give in, wearily.

  1. Be Organised – I’m writing this for me, because it’s when I haven’t planned our week out then we fall down. When we are rushing or tired or there’s no lunches for the kids that I let go a little. Setting plans of what day you’ll bake the biscuits  or bread (instead of buying them), what day you’ll soak & cook the legumes (instead of buying them), planning the farmers market shop into your regular weekly shop. What are your kids having for school lunches for the next 2 weeks? Write a plan – oh golly…. I seriously think school lunches can be the toughest in terms of plastic free because of peer pressure. I’m pretty proud that our lunches have always been plastic free; my kids used to be the only ones at their school, but thankfully now with more businesses making it easier to find these excellent items and a lot of schools rallying behind plastic-free lunches there’s more and more kids taking cool & groovy lunch boxes to school. (I’m going to share some of our plastic free lunch box tips next week).
  2. Arm yourself with great, yet easy, items to help you on the way. Saying “no” to plastic bags at the supermarket, or even the farmers market or fruit shop, is SO much easier when you have a system of what to use instead. You can’t be carrying an armful of tomatoes every time you forget your bag. These produce bags are designed to make it easy for you to remember to take them with you, to use them, and they weigh less than 1g on the scales. In fact they’re made from recycled plastic themselves, so there’s a double yay! Make sure you always put them straight back into your basket, reusable shopping bags or your handbag so you already have them when you’re out.
  3. Embrace the plastic free living with lovely reusable items – coffee cups, water bottles, straws and disposable cutlery are some of the worst offenders in the plastic world. Seriously you use a coffee cup or straw for less than 10 minutes and then it hangs around in our environment for eons and eons. Taking your own glass or metal drink bottle and reusable coffee cup (seriously there is proper street creed presenting your own] cup at your local coffee shop, and they’re designed to fit under the machine, so no barista grumps) is easy, and people don’t look at your strangely at all. I love that those coffee cup makers are now making glass cups too, I love drinking out of glass. Taking a straw, fork or spoon does take a little more pre-thought – but you can find some great tutorials online to make your own little fabric pouch to carry it all in (I’m going to share one with you as soon as I have my new studio & therefore a sewing desk!). I carry little spoon-forks in a fabric zippered purse I made, and metal straws are easy to slip into my handbag too. Often you have to pre-empt people giving you straws & forks, as it’s so automatic for them. When you’re ordering your milkshake just remind them gently a few times.
  4. Set yourself some goals and what items are non-negiotables in terms of what you’ll never buy/use, as well as what items you know you can’t replace (even if for the short term). I never ever buy tinned veges, beans, etc (ok – sometimes when my son declares he needs nachos that very night and needs kidney beans that haven’t been pre-soaked & cooked). I never ever get water in plastic bottles; I’ll buy juice in glass instead. I’ll never ever get plastic bags at the checkout. But I will buy my kids very-occassional treats in plastic packets, we do buy cheese, coffee & milk (when necessary) in plastic. Sometimes it’s about some give & take, what you can each day. If you’re making changes then even small steps are much better than no steps.
  5. Be gentle on yourself. You’ll slip up, I know it. Well – unless your some version of perfect, then please tell me your ways. But the truth of anyone I know on the plastic free/ low plastic journey is that there’s some items you simply can’t get plastic-free, and some things it’s really hard to compromise on. I wrote a list here of some things; this is the reminder to be gentle on yourself. Forgive yourself and move forward.

I’d love to know where you find  your inspiration for plastic free livingonline forums, magazine articles, friends in real life who can motivate and encourage you. And of course online friends. I have great conversations on Instagram about plastic free living, slow living and the journey towards it all. Let me know what blogs you’re reading or what books. If you want to read some more, check out my sustainable living posts.

Are you on the plastic-free journey for life? Do you think joining Plastic Free July helped you start, or have you been living plastic-less for a long time? I love that it’s a growing conversation in our communities (both in real and online). Having these real discussions, sharing advice, tips and products to use really helps to make it easier.

*this is a sponsored post. I only ever work with brands who align with my ideals, my lifestyle, my way of living, as well as brands that I think will benefit or interest you, my reader. For me to be able to bring in a little extra by sharing some brands I love means a lot of me, and I thank you for supporting me and the brands I’m collaborating with. Plus Biome is a pretty amazing site filled with so much excellent stuff…. there’s at least 5 things I want from their site right now!