Posts in Lifestyle
Community Meet-ups
All images thanks to    Eleanor McAlister-Dilks

All images thanks to Eleanor McAlister-Dilks

Nature, the seasons, living simply, and making time for creativity - all were up for discussion at our two community meet-ups these past few months. In day-to-day life we may not all have the opportunity to converse with others about these topics. With the love and passion we have for them, meeting like-minded souls who feel the same is so empowering!

Conversations and connections that enrich our lives were continued or begun during those few short hours.

First, in October, we headed to the Attenborough Nature Reserve in Nottingham. New faces were welcomed as we sat in some late summer sun, before heading out on one of the circular walks. Eleanor led a few mindful activities along the way, such as “grounding”, where we connect with the earth beneath our feet. Unfortunately the earth beneath mine was a patch of nettles but I enjoyed the concept all the same!

We stopped a while as the waters lapped by our feet to enjoy a warming tea, an apple from our orchard, and a little crafting from foraged twigs to create a star. Mine still hangs from the shed and lightens my day as I reach for my wellies each morning.

Our second meet-up in Edale was hampered by train strikes, but those who made it through met in the tiny National Trust cafe and talk began of the new year that had only just begun.

Soon we braved the weather, and as the harsh winds bit our cheeks we walked on and were prompted to write some seasonal reflections on what surrounded us that blustery day. A hard-earned rest beneath a bridge was accompanied by mulled apple juice and a brief wassail to fortify us to complete our walk.

Our connections and feelings of community were also fortified, and plans were devised for more meet-ups around the country. Larger ones planned by Eleanor for those that can travel, but smaller gatherings too, arranged and attended by those in closer proximity to each other. The relative ease of these for other to attend will mean our community continues to grow, to flourish, and to nourish.

Jessica Townsend creates slow and sustainable fashion at House of Flint. Follow her behind-the-scenes on Instagram here.

Lifestyle, CreativeContributor
Lady Farmer Slow Living Retreat 2018
All images by Meaghan Clare Photography

All images by Meaghan Clare Photography

Lady Farmer is a sustainable apparel and lifestyle brand, striving to cultivate a community for those seeking independence from existing food and fashion systems that are harmful to the planet and its people. They offer functional, fashionable, sustainable clothing and products for the intentional lifestyle and a resource for the modern woman of all ages who yearns for a simpler way of life. 

The first Lady Farmer Slow Living Retreat was held in November at the beautifully restored Zigbone Farm in Sabillasville, MD, located just over an hour outside of  Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD.  This gathering was a weekend exploration of a sustainable living, celebrating community, connection and self-care, designed for the modern woman seeking an inspired and healthful life through changes in energy management, consumer behaviour and daily rituals. A full weekend immersion in workshops, speakers and a supportive community, all taking place in a beautiful natural setting with exquisitely prepared farm-to-table meals,  this experience was intended to provide participants with the tools to create more slow and intentional living for themselves and their families. 

The retreat began on Friday evening with a reception welcoming approximately forty-five women arriving from locations far and wide, from local to international.  Many came from Washington, DC or nearby locations in Maryland and Virginia, but others came from distant states or from as far as Canada and France. A heavy rain meant that the planned bonfire was moved indoors to the living room of the cozy old farmhouse, where strangers soon became fast friends over wine and snacks around the woodstove. 

The weekend programming was launched on Saturday morning with opening remarks by Mother-Daughter team and Lady Farmer co-founders Mary and Emma Kingsley, followed by a presentation by keynote speaker Amy Dufault, a sustainable fashion and lifestyle writer.  Amy is the Director of Digital Content & Communications for the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator and a co-creator of the Food & Fibers Project,  a project that looks at the connections between what we eat and what we wear. Speaking on the problems in the fast fashion industry and conscious consumerism, she was the perfect spokesperson for the intersection of sustainability in food, clothing, and lifestyle.

The rest of the day unfolded as participants were given a selection of workshops to attend. Topics included slow gardening, affirmation journaling, exploring personal cycles and rhythms and gathering energy and power from nature.  Though there were numerous talks and workshops offered, scheduling allowed for attendees to take time to reflect, explore and get to know the rest of the Lady Farmer community gathered. 

The day culminated in a special meal on Saturday evening, a beautifully prepared farm-to-table dinner featuring delicious, locally sourced fare, including organic, biodynamic wine and a signature dessert. It was a highlight of a weekend celebrating the best of slow living-- community, sharing, learning, and nurturing. 

The retreat continued on Sunday with a full day of programming lead by environmental educator Shayn Gangidine, exploring the healing benefits of being outdoors. In an engaging talk,  Shayne discussed our historic connection to the land around us, as well as modern research in the effects of nature on brain patterning.  Workshop participants went outside to observe their surroundings, gather objects or meditate, mixing relaxation, mindfulness, and whimsy. These and other guided activities, such as nature art and prompted journaling, gave them the knowledge and tools for enhancing their lives and those of others through meaningful interaction with the natural world. 

Mary and Emma closed out the retreat that afternoon with a Q and A conversation wrapping up the weekend and a sneak peek at what’s next for Lady Farmer.  In addition to an abundance of learning opportunities, the weekend was a wonderful experience of friends old and new coming together to be nourished, restored and inspired by all things slow living.


So, you might ask,  who are these Lady Farmers who gathered for a weekend retreat in the country? What drew all of these women together? 

Whether she owns and cultivates country acreage, tends to a home garden or dwells in the city with a desire to create space in her life for more sustainable living, the Lady Farmer sows the seeds of slow living all around her.  She is any women who cares deeply about personal connection, cultivating meaningful relationships with the people in her life and the land under her feet. She chooses, uses and purchases thoughtfully, understanding her individual impact on the world and the future. She has a motherly instinct, whether for her own children or all children, embracing the idea of the world as a village and tending to the growth of her community. She brings an open heart and a conscious mind to living on the earth. These are the women who came together for the  Lady Farmer Slow Living Retreat 2018. 


Visit the Lady Farmer website to sign up for their newsletter and get more information on their sustainable apparel line, lifestyle products, blog and upcoming events.

Lifestyle, CreativeContributor
Emotional Cosiness in Your Home
Image:  Bright Corner

Light is fundamental to our well-being and happiness.


“The light that surrounds us on a daily basis has a huge impact on our brains, our mood and our mental health and yet, on the whole, we tend to pay it very little attention.”

Karl Ryberg, Light Your Life: The Art of using Light for Health and Happiness


Sunlight increases serotonin levels which in turn makes you happy but during the winter months our source of natural light is greatly reduced. Therefore, lighting your home correctly is important to make sure you create emotional cosiness, leaving you feeling happy.

The Danish have a word called Hygge, meaning a quality of cosiness and comfortable feeling of contentment or well-being. Mood lighting is a massive part of this, big bright lights like hospital or office lighting makes you feel uncomfortable and on edge. For a well-lit happy room, you need to have several light sources, creating areas of darkness as well as light, giving a space character and personality, creating an inviting atmosphere.

Flickering light from candles and fires are also great for a space, they create a sense of life and energy making you feel relaxed. Fairy lights also have that twinkling, magical effect, they add a sense of wonderment and adventure to a room.


“You want to create small caves of light around the room”

Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living


Colours such as red, orange and yellow evoke feelings of happiness, optimism, creativity, success and energy. So warm coloured light bulbs with a low lumen number, are best for that cosy, dimly lit, happy vibe.

Winter can be tough, especially after the festivities of Christmas, so leave your fairy lights up all year round. Good interior lighting design is crucial for emotional cosiness. Look at your lighting arrangement in your home, make sure it creates mood and ambience making you feel inspired, warm and happy.


“Light is the magical ingredient that makes or breaks a space.”

Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, Elle Decoration


Chloe Harrison is the founder and owner of Bright Corner, who design and make simple wooden LED lights. Follow her on Instagram to inspire a happy home with a calm and cosy atmosphere.

LifestyleContributor
My Countryside: Jessica Townsend
annie-spratt-707871-unsplash.jpg

Today Jessica Townsend tells us a little about ‘her’ countryside.

Callum: Where in the world is ‘your’ countryside?

Jessica: The heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds, a small village surrounded by fields and sky. It’s where I grew up and I was instantly drawn back here when I left the big city life for a slower pace. This landscape is home - from the muddy paths leading to my front door, to the bird who every day calls me to the second tree on the left in Farmer Terry’s field – I know it all so well.

 

Callum: Earliest countryside memory?

 Jessica: The land where our house now sits was once part of the fields that surround it. I remember when my parents first bought the land, seeing nothing but long grasses and running through them getting stung by nettles. When I do the same now it always brings me back to that moment, when we first came to this place and called it home.

 

Callum: Why do you love the countryside?

 Jessica: I love the quiet and the noises that disturb it - the chatter of birds, the rustling leaves, the whispers of the wind. I love the absolute solitude that can be found just moments from my door, and the inspiration that can be found in it. But most of all I love the amount of sky. The Lincolnshire Wolds are relatively flat and at times it can feel like the whole world is nothing but wide, open skies. It makes me feel free.

 

Callum: You have 24 hours, anywhere: describe your ideal day in the countryside.

 Jessica: I would start the day with crisp, autumn sunshine overhead and a steaming coffee outdoors, followed by a walk with the dog through paths of red and gold. Rosy cheeks are a must, and a stroll through the woods wouldn’t go amiss. The day would end with a lakeside pub and a warming cider as we wait for the stars to appear.

 

Callum: Favourite season and why?

 Jessica: Spring first comes to mind, as I love the sense of new beginnings and nature coming to life. However, after becoming part of the Creative Countryside Community I’ve been shown such beauty in the autumn months that I may be a convert, especially after the never-ending summer we just had. Autumn is also a time I can wear socks, boots and jumpers everyday and that definitely has my vote!


Check out Jessica’s slow fashion at House of Flint.

LifestyleCallum Saunders