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Big life in a Tiny house with Whitney Doerksen

I have always been all into small living spaces. I think my passion started when I was about 12 and had to share on bedroom with my two siblings. I always really valued my private space and that is when I started to find ways how to manage even in the smallest room. Later on I found out that I prefer to live in smaller space even when I have a choice. I am fascinated by efficiency and perfection of tiny homes – everything has its own place and it is just exactly enough. And one day I came across lovely Whitney on Instagram and her tiny house! And she was kind enough to share her story and journey with us. I obviously already read it and had such a blast so I am sure you will all enjoy it. So here it goes, say hi to Whitney and David Doerksen and their tiny home!
1. Since you have no blog Whitney (yet) could you please tell us a little it more about yourself? Where do you live, why, what do you do and what are you passions?

Hi! My name is Whitney Doerksen. I am a Canadian currently living in Bolivia with my carpenter husband David in our tiny home in the woods. Eleven years ago, my parents relocated our family here so that Dad could work with street kids in the city of Santa Cruz. Since then, my family has returned to Canada and I left the city to teach English in a tiny Low-German speaking community in the country. I married a hard working local boy with all the skills imaginable (all of which came in handy). We like plants a lot so we spend most of our free time making our little piece of earth as jungle like as possible. I’m also pretty passionate right now about learning more about Instagram and how to be part of the beautiful, artistic, creative community it is. I also enjoy building relationships with the people around me in a language that is becoming less and less foreign (finally!!) and serving in the local church.

2. The reason I started following you was that I came across your profile and saw you and your husband built a Tiny House! Can you tell what tint house means?

I read somewhere online that anything under 500 square feet is usually considered a tiny home. Our home is about 230 square feet with a loft of 60 square feet. It’s quite little, but it can still hold all things necessary, and quite a bit of unnecessary stuff too if you cram it in there. Now according to David, tiny house means, “not too much unnecessary stuff”, and I agree. that’s where I’ve needed to change and grow. Before we went tiny I loved the IDEA of less possessions and a simpler way of life, but this does not come naturally to many of us. It has been a long process trying to re-wire my mind into letting go of things that have already served their purpose. It’s not just about the size of our home, for me, tiny house means letting go of those things that are unimportant in order to make room for what is.

 

3. Why did you decide to do this and not build a regular house or live in an apartment?

One word: chores. Regular houses = too much house work. That pretty much sums it up for me. No, that was only part of the reason. For the first 10 months of our marriage were able to “house sit” for friends of ours. They have a beautiful *large* home and I will forever be thankful for the two lessons that that house taught me:
1) Not having to make monthly payments for housing is really comfortable, and
2) (Surprise David!) Whitney is a terrible housekeeper.

I always thought I would make a great domestic but it turns out there are so many other things I’d rather dedicate my time to. Living in a third world country also meant that we did not have to follow any protocol or building codes and that we would need no permit and would be breaking no laws no matter how we decided to build. We had so much creative freedom and were able to build the house almost entirely with the cash we’d saved while house sitting for our friends. We entered the tiny house movement not because we wanted to try something new or because it’s what people are doing but because we wanted to own our own home and this was as far as our money went. What a happy coincidence.

4. Did you and your husband design the house yourself? What did your conversations look like?

We did design our house ourselves and it was very enjoyable but included plenty of trial and error. The process began with Whitney spending a lot of time scrolling through Pinterest “oohing” and “aweing” and sticking her phone in David’s face way too often. We soon began to feel like we were standing at the grocery store in the shampoo aisle with 5,000 different kinds of shampoo and no direction. That’s when David sat down with a sketchpad and pencil and as he puts it, “followed the lines in his head”. He would sit for an hour our two drawing and dreaming and then he would show me his sketch and ask “like this?”. My inner child then had a chance to add or subtract at will. We planned and re-planned until we had enough of a plan to start building. David bought some materials and began building in the evenings and weekends right next to his dad’s carpentry shop. After four months full of long hours, late nights, and plan b’s David had given life to his sketches and we moved into our first home, virtually debt free.

5. I see that most people could find this way of living as limited or complicated, what are the odds and benefits of living as you do?

I find that the pros and cons of living tiny tend to go both ways. For example, I absolutely LOVE that there is so little square footage to clean, but this means that we must be very proactive in returning things to their place after we use them because if we don’t, it doesn’t take long for disorder to take over the house (and my headspace). Another pro/con is that this space feels perfectly cosy and even spacious for the two of us, but as soon as you stick even one more body in here it begins to feel crowded. What I love about this is how it pushes us outside. We spend most of our time with company sitting outside which our tropical climate allows for almost all year ‘round. On the days when I long for more space and cabin fever starts set in, I go for a walk. On the days when I want to slam doors and be alone but there’s no where to go, we work it out. This lifestyle may not be for everyone but I would recommend it to anyone with the opportunity to try it. The countless pros of practicing contentment in simplicity far outweigh the cons.

6. What is your favourite part of your tiny home and why?

There are so many things! Green floors, glossy white ceilings and walls, giant windows, etc.
But if I have to choose one thing it is the kitchen counter and table. These things count as one because my husband chopped down the tree, took it to be cut into boards and built the counter top. To put the sink in he had to cut out a large piece of the counter and he used this piece to make the table. I was so impressed by his resourcefulness and don’t miss a chance to show him off. That counter and table really embody our whole tiny house journey. It’s been about using what we have right in front of us creatively to give life the ideas in our heads.

7. I can see a lot of nature in your pictures, inside and outside. Is connection with nature very important to you? Why?

I’m a nurturer by nature. I love people and relationships and I desire to see them grow. I am also an introvert and find investing in living, breathing, human relationships super taxing (especially when it comes to teaching mini humans). I think that’s why my plants, indoor and outdoor, are so appealing to me. They still need my attention and care but are much less demanding than real people (myself being one of those needy demanding types). They teach me patience and reward me for it faithfully with new growth and beauty all the time. I see God in nature, I see myself in nature and it has beautified our journey in the most amazing way.

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Instagram Gratitude and Numbers Game

I often hear things like “I only got 10 likes”, “I only have 100 followers”, “I only have 10k followers”, “I only sold one painting”. “I only… (insert your own)”. We want more of everything and often don’t even know why, it just seems like a right thing, adult things. We want to make more money, own more objects, have more friends, attract more followers. Don’t understand me wrong, I am no different, or dare I say I wasn’t? I think our egos just like a pat on the back in a form of another milestone, another goal reached. We compare ourselves to other with no deeper reason and just want to get what they have, and of course we often look at those which have more. And yet we don’t see what we have already achieved and don’t really understand what those achievements mean.

Once I hit 10 000 followers it really hit me back. Suddenly I realised, shit, those are actually real people. It is not “10k”, it is a ten thousand humans. Smaller city or a bigger village. Even if there is 100 people which followed you, of which you don’t know the majority of them, that is 100 individuals, human being which took their time to look at your stuff you put out there and they actually enjoyed it so much they want to see more of you, so they follow you. Those are folks with jobs, partners, kids, dogs and cats, houses and gardens and their own lives, hobbies and destinies. They are often people “outside” Instagram, just a regular everyday gals and guys, they don’t understand all this algorithm drama, they just enjoy what we do.

One of the things which made me totally change my view on this whole numbers game was an article from Kevin Kelly called 1000 True Fans. It is ridiculously practical but mind blowing article! And honestly, who need hundreds of thousands or millions followers anyway? Some people do I guess, but I am pretty sure most of you don’t. Once you have some sort of skill or craft, you don’t need masses. You just need all those right people, those which really want to follow you and love everything you do. These are important and those matter to your recent and future work. You can see yourself that there are some followers which are just glad you are posting and they just like what you do for you. They will rarely complain or dislike something. Those are your diamonds and you should take care of them!

And those who unfollow? Good! Because they were not the people for you, they were nor your tribe neither your future friends. It is sort of like not breaking up with the boyfriend you know is not any good. Instead of trying to convince yourself and him that you are a perfect match, you could already use all that effort on someone who appreciates you. I used to get so disheartened when my numbers were going down or people didn’t like my new picture enough. But slowly but surely, with working on myself, I care less and less. And as Tara Swiger amazingly explains in this podcast episode, with every other no you are statistically much closer to the future yes. (I love her and her podcasts are totally life changing, promise)

So when my self doubt really creeps on me, I try to imagine all those people in one room.  Those which voluntarily clicked on my Instagram profile and click a little heart under every picture. Those who read my thoughts and communicate back! That would be bloody concert hall in my case, but even with a couple of hundreds, phew! Noone force them to follow me, noone paid them to either (not judging here). They just genuinely like what I do. If you think about it, it is such a privilage to get such an instant feedback and respond. If you look back in history, well, most of the artist never really found out they were appreciate until they were long dead. Nowadays we are in touch with out audience in one click. And they are not only numbers, they are human beings, so don’t forget that.

 

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What happens when you don’t ask anyone

 

If you are a major over-thinker, this is for you. If you feel like you need others approval for basically everything, this is for you. If you can’t decide anything ever, this is also for you. I and some of you with me have tried an interesting challenge this past week, making our and only OUR decisions for whole week. I was so surprised how many of you found this helpful or just went on board because you know this troubles you as well. And I was utterly shocked about how much I ask for approval of other all the time. I will definitely continue next week and these are which could help you if you struggle with making your own decisions as well.

The point of the challenge is fairly simple. I learnt it from the Podcast Over it and On with it with Christine Hassler (which is such a help if you like sort of “self-therapy” kind of stuff, it gave me so much while suffering with depression, let me know if you want me to talk about it more) and it goes like this: Try to make your own decisions for one week and see what happens. Don’t ask for anyones permission, don’t ask anyone for their opinion, don’t ask for approval, just do what your guts tell you. As I love to say, you gotta risk it to get a biscuit. And it doesn’t have to mean buying new house, okay, I am talking about the most basic decisions like what t-shirt to wear or what to have for breakfast. So what did I learn after first week?

Let me start with telling you something about me. Have you ever heart of Gretchen Rubins Four Tendencies? She divides people into four group based on how to you react to outer and inner expectations. I am a Questioner with a Rebel tendency. Meaning that I am a sucker for information, do never ending research before I get into something and suffer with never ending FOBO (Fear Of Better Option, yes, it is a thing). And if I don’t find any strong reason for doing something, anything, you find me not engaged what so ever. So more I doubt myself and what I do more I ask others what should I do. And it al become an evil circle because they of course often answer “wrong” and I doubt myself even more. How to get out of it? Don’t ask! Just don’t do it. I feel like I gained much more confidence this week just trying to do everything myself. Not consulting my decisions, my work, just going for it. Because at the end of the day you often find out you just can do it and it feel great.

I ask a lot of people a lot of questions. Sometimes when I am not sure about my photo to post on Instagram, I send it to all my Insta friends and ask which do they think is better. Before I shaved my head I asked possibly every person I could reach, offline and online. But when you really think about it, what does it even matter what they think? When I shake of all my insecurities and doubts for the second, asking someone about what sweater to buy just sound so silly! Even the closest people to you and people who know you the best will always somehow project their wishes on you, so they will recommend the solution which they think is the best for you based on their vision of you. And we all know that disappointing feeling after someone “chooses” wrong for us. “I though he knows me so how could he say green one?”. And it makes my self-doubt worse and worse because it feel like people don’t get me at all. 

So during this week trying not to ask for anyones opinion or permission I realised how annoyed I am at myself. I know that different life events made me who I am right now but I also know I have never been that kind of person who would ask for anyones permission or even cared. I was always wearing crazy stuff and was so confident it what I did and just did my think. I was brave and just did everything I wanted and didn’t care if people like it or not. I was myself and that was my biggest strength. I realised that I still have a way into finding my real, strong self. I am being honest and opened with you and you can see yourself that I am changing every day. You can tell in my photography that I am finding my true style through trying different things. Just scroll back through last couple of months and you will surely see the change.

I managed to buy myself a craft supplies and not asking for any permission to take my time to do useless things. I also finally ordered a sweater I was trying to choose for almost two months. I also posted all the pictures as I loved them and didn’t think about anyone else, just posted for myself. Is that enough? Definitely! I felt sick in my stomach making some of those decisions without approval.   

What’s next?

I will definitely continue. What could be really helpful if you want to join is to journal. How you feel about the decisions, what did it meant, if your anxiety comes or not. I will definitely do that as a challenge continue. I also want to take my destiny more into my hands, I want to make even more decisions based on how I feel about it and create opportunities I have been sort of waiting for until now, waiting for other to approve what I do. I am not willing to wait until I am ready anymore because that will be, well, never. I will keep you update in my posts! Thank you for all your support lovely people.

 

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On embracing seasonal change and slow life with Helen Redfern

Todays reading is something very special to me. Since I started to follow Helen Redfern of A Bookish Baker on Instagram I was really curious about her life on the countryside, with a dog DogFace, a duck DuckFace, hens and the rest of her human family. So I tried my luck and asked her kindly for an interview, whether she would share her knowledge and bits of slow countryside life with us. And she said yes! I know you you will all get so much join and value from the chat we had so enjoy reading and if you don’t follow her yet, head over her magical Instagram!

 

For everyone who doesn’t know you, can you tell me a bit about yourself? Who are you, what do you do etc.? Where can people find you?

My name is Helen and I write online as A Bookish Baker. The bookish bit was to reflect the reading and writing side of me and the baker was because I baked a lot of cakes. Over the years, however, my interests have become wider (chickens, ducks, the seasons) but the name stuck.

Now I like to think I tell stories online through words, photographs and video.


You live on a beautiful countryside. What made you move out from the city and start a totally new life? Can you share with me your countryside story? 

It wasn’t a deliberate decision. Our only priority was to move to a house with more space (our old house was on a modern English housing estate with a postage stamp garden) but just as the wand chose Harry, the house chose us. And we had far more space than we’d anticipated!

With the new house came land and we also inherited three ducks. Which led to us getting chickens, a dog, a cat, more ducks, more chickens, planting an orchard, planting more trees, experimenting with wildflowers, more chickens, more ducks…one thing just snowballed into another. My husband had to rein me in because otherwise we’d have alpacas, pigs and donkeys by now and I’d never get any writing done!

When we first moved here I felt everything was urgent. I needed to get chickens immediately, but didn’t know where to start. That thought stressed me out for weeks. Same with the tree-planting and the wildflowers. I hate wanting to do something but not knowing how to do it. Long story short I ended up burning out – which is ridiculous as, on paper, we have an idillic, ‘slow’ life.
So I had to learn to slow down. I had to stop rushing about from one job to another and just sit and watch the chickens and ducks for a while. And, once I started to do that, once I started to notice the seasons and changes in the weather, I started to recover. This then seeped into my writing, my Instagram and my blog.


Could you tell me more about the transition? It might be quit challenge for someone living in the big city to suddenly be in the middle of nowhere. What did you have to learn, what did you have to accept or leave behind? How are those two kinds of living, city vs country, different? 
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Why shaving my head was the best idea

They say you should find you niché and write only very specifically about the things which are within that group. But after reading this one article I decided hack no. My view on the matter is that if it can help anyone or if it can bring any value into your life, then I will write about it. Exactly two months ago I shaved my head and it was a life changing experience in all possible ways. I got a lot of questions about this whole event and maybe some of you didn’t dare to ask me. There were no noble reasons leading to this decision but it had and still have a huge impact on my self esteem and the whole view of myself. And it was one of the best crazy things I have ever done and I do not regret nothing. Would I recommend it to everyone? Definitely not. Here are some observations.

 

You need to be ready to handle it

This is probably the most important part of all of this, so I am putting it as a first point so everyone reads it (since I know I write novels and most of you probably fall off). Don’t shave your head if you are not 110% sure of the consequences. Before I did it I was lucky to chat with amazing Ella Narbrooke and she shared her “Why I shaved my head” story with me. Reading about her experience made me realise I can handle it and I can live with my decision. It sounds so stupid, I know, but trust me if I tell you it is not so easy to walk around with shaved head, especially as a grown-ass woman. You get questions, tons, people react different way and not always nice, you get attention, because it is not so common, you get “I am so sorry” look because you look like a cancer patient. People have a lot of assumptions when it comes to, well, anything. My friend told me “You just have to look happy so people understand you are not sick”.

The fact is that until I did this I did not realise how much I was hiding behind my hair on the photographs for example. There is almost no picture where I wouldn’t have at least a curl over a part of my face. I was not so fond of my face before. I didn’t like my teeth, didn’t like my nose, you name it. Suddenly there is just you by yourself, as is, and you can’t run away.

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How can you exercise your creativity

I often hear around myself: You are so creative! and I am not a creative person at all. Creativity is often considered some sort of artsy thing, something only the crafty people which likes to draw and make stuff have or use. The way how I see it (and how Wikipedia sees it), it is the way of thinking, figuring out new ways and finding solutions, creating something which has not been around before. Everyone can be and is creative no matter what you do. Did you tweak a recipe a bit or even made your own sandwich without any prescription? Here you go, you were creative! It is a skill like any other and you can get better in it more you practise. So today I have some tips for you how to develop and discover your creativity no matter what you do, who you are and where you are on your journey in life. We can’t all be Picasso but well, maybe we can make our life more fun?

 

1. Do something out of ordinary

Sometimes we get so stuck in our routine, what is comfortable and familiar, that our brain gets a bit bored. Of course it is always easier and nicer for our ego to do something we are good in or we are used to doing. But what if you tried something you have never done before? It doesn’t have to mean embarrassing yourself on a yoga class (as I did last time and was laughing at myself the whole 90 minutes of pain and torture).

Try to take another street on the way home, try to wear new outfit, just pick something totally random (you know how you always figure out some great combos on the vacation, because you just have to combine what you have?). And if you want to challenge yourself a bit every day, great exercise is to try doing all the daily routine activities with the other hand then usual. And let me tell you, that will wake your brain up! As easy it sounds brushing your teeth left handed is a task requiring full concentration and presence.

 

2. Do it for doing it

This was one of the best creative advices I got, actually from my boyfriend! I felt really stuck one day, had the afternoon dedicated to take photos (9 to 5 job struggles) and I just couldn’t do it. Nothing went right, photos looked shitty and new ideas were not coming. After a tiny mental breakdown my boyfriend told me: just go and do it, don’t think about it so much, just go and take pictures, of anything, just for the sake of doing the activity, for fun, with no agenda.

That day I took one of my most favourite pictures because truth to be told I didn’t care, I was just experimenting, thought it wouldn’t work anyway and had so much fun! So maybe if you are writer and don’t feel like you have anything to write about, just write about that! Or about your breakfast, day at work. No-one has to ever see it but you will feel so much better afterwards and probably get a great result. You will also get into a habit of doing the activity and it will build up your confidence and creativity level.

3. Do something else

Being creative on demand can be very hard and with a time pressure it gets even tougher and sometimes it is just not the right time. After many and many hours of trying and pushing and crying and quitting, I figured that the best way is just to get out of it. If I for example want to redecorate my living room but no matter how I move things around it looks like crap, I just leave everything as it is in the middle of the room and have a cup of coffee with a bit of a reading. Or if I can’t take photograph as I planned, I just go for a walk.

I know we don’t all have a luxury and sometimes you just have to bite your tongue and do it because of the deadline or a schedule. But creativity if you have not practised a lot, is very hard to force. The way how to be able to create on demand is to be prepared and I will speak about it in one of the next articles.

 

4. Re-create

Do you remember that time when you had a great idea and you felt on the top of the world and finally fixed what seemed like couldn’t ever be fixed again? Sometimes thinking about our creative success and reverse engineering it can help us find the way how to be creative in another fields of our life. Most of the times creativity is about the process, about the way how we approach a problem or a task and cut our way through. Try to consider how did you get to the idea last time?

Sometimes I look through my old photographs or old interior drawings I did years ago, just to gather and pick up my brain again. And the computer inside your head can often spark a new wave of creativity combining all the old good stuff together. Or if you feel like you have never produced anything creative, just copy someone else. Even the best artists are learning buy re-painting the famous artists. While doing it you might find your own way and ended up somewhere unexpected.

 

5. Let’s overthink it one more time

Now you might think I got totally mental because I am contradicting myself and you can often read that overthinking and creativity doesn’t go together. Just let me explain. Did it never happened to you that you had this issue with something, lets say you didn’t know what to buy your partner for anniversary, and then it came to you, out of nowhere, while sitting no the toilet? Well I do this on purpose, all the time.

My brain is very analytic so I like to think a lot about ,well, everything, but when I want to cook an amazing meal or maybe create a new photograph, I think about it in my head. I literally cook the meal in my head, with all the details, I repeat it, correct my mistake and that allows me to be very efficient when I go an actually do it. I just keep the task or the problem parked in my memory and come back to it whenever I have some time. Handy thing is to have a notebook by your nigh stand because you often get the best ideas just before falling asleep.

 

What is your way to unleash and possibly develop your creative skill? I would love to know! Share your tips in a comment below.

 

 

 

 

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5 tips on how plants encourage slower living

I was thinking a lot lately about how to connect all my passions together. Didn’t figure it out yet, although the working version is : Meaningful slower living with humans and plants. So this time, I teamed up with my friend Sarirah and she wrote for us really thorough article about the ways plants and nature help us live slower life. I am sure you will enjoy it and if you fancy a read and more slow living ideas, you should definitely check Instagram and sign up for her Free 7 Days of slow living Guide and lovely newsletter on her blog. She has so much wisdom about intentional living and I am glad to share her view on slowing down with plants! 

Nature​ ​is​ ​a​ ​slow​ ​living​ ​lifestyle​ ​teacher.​ Plants​ ​are​ ​in​ ​no​ ​rush​ ​to​ ​grow​ ​up.​ ​They​ ​will​ ​take their​ ​time​ ​growing​ ​stable​ ​roots​ ​and​ ​strong​ ​stems.​ ​Enough​ ​leaves​ ​and​ ​spend​ ​energy​ ​turning to​ ​face​ ​the​ ​sunlight​ ​and​ ​only​ ​producing​ ​flowers​ ​when​ ​the​ ​time​ ​is​ ​right.​ ​(On​ ​a​ ​much​ ​larger scale,​ ​trees​ ​will​ ​wait​ ​decades​ ​to​ ​make​ ​their​ ​debut​ ​at​ ​the​ ​top​ ​of​ ​the​ ​canopy).​ ​Taking​ ​care​ ​of plants​ ​forces​ ​you​ ​to​ ​slow​ ​down​ ​and​ ​work​ ​at​ ​their​ ​pace.​ ​Appreciating​ ​that​ ​some​ ​good​ ​things take​ ​time​ ​and​ ​when​ ​you​ ​finally​ ​see​ ​those​ ​beautiful​ ​blooms,​ ​it’s​ ​overwhelmingly​ ​more satisfying​ ​than​ ​you​ ​thought​ ​it​ ​would​ ​be.​ ​Perhaps,​ ​the​ ​same​ ​could​ ​be​ ​said​ ​for​ ​the​ ​work​ ​that we​ ​do​ ​and​ ​the​ ​people​ ​we​ ​try​ ​to​ ​grow​ ​connections​ ​with.

I’ll​ ​keep​ ​this​ ​short​ ​for​ ​you.​ ​Five ​ways​ ​to​ ​embrace​ ​slow​ ​living​ ​through​ ​the​ ​world​ ​of​ ​plants.​ ​Pick one​ ​and​ ​give​ ​it​ ​a​ ​go​ ​this​ ​week.​ ​And​ ​remember,​ ​it​ ​matters​ ​not​ ​that​ ​we​ ​may​ ​be​ ​approaching colder​ ​seasons​ ​and​ ​the​ ​peak​ ​of​ ​Summer​ ​blooms​ ​have​ ​passed.​ ​Embracing​ ​the​ ​seasonal​ ​shift and​ ​the​ ​wonder​ ​each​ ​season​ ​has​ ​to​ ​offer​ ​is​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​journey.

1. Clear mind

Indoor​​ plants​​ are ​​more​ ​than ​​just ​​their ​​appealing​ ​indoor ​​jungle ​​aesthetic. ​​​Spider plants,​ ​Chinese​ ​Evergreen,​ ​Bamboo​ ​palms​ ​etc.​ ​are​ ​all​ ​brilliant​ ​housemates​ ​to​ ​keep the​ ​air​ ​clean.​ ​Especially​ ​great​ ​if​ ​you​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​work​ ​with​ ​paints​ ​and​ ​other​ ​high-fumed chemicals​ ​and​ ​materials​ ​for​ ​work​ ​or​ ​play.​ ​Clean,​ ​filtered​ ​air​ ​eases​ ​our​ ​breath​ ​and helps​ ​to​ ​clear​ ​foggy​ ​minds.

2. Growing edibles

From​ ​little​ ​pots​ ​of​ ​herbs​ ​to​ ​looming​ ​tomatoes​ ​on​ ​the​ ​vine,​ ​growing your​ ​own​ ​food​ ​is​ ​an​ ​exciting​ ​journey​ ​and​ ​one​ ​of​ ​many​ ​benefits.  Imagine stepping​ ​out​ ​into​ ​a​ ​little​ ​garden​ ​area​ ​and​ ​picking​ ​homegrown​ ​produce​ ​to​ ​use in​ ​your​ ​cooking.​ ​The​ ​flavours​ ​are​ ​stronger,​ ​the​ ​colours​ ​more​ ​real​ ​in​ ​their gradients​ ​of​ ​red,​ ​blushing​ ​yellows​ ​and​ ​irregular​ ​sizing. The​ ​appreciation​ ​of​ ​knowing​ ​how​ ​much​ ​time​ ​and​ ​effort​ ​and​ ​work​ ​went​ ​into putting​ ​that​ ​food​ ​on​ ​your​ ​plate​ ​resonates.​ ​It​ ​connects​ ​you​ ​with​ ​your surroundings​ ​and​ ​reminds​ ​of​ ​the​ ​balance​ ​between​ ​giving​ ​and​ ​taking.

3. Plant​ ​care​

​​A​ ​process​ ​that​ ​requires​ ​patience.​ ​Learning​ ​to​ ​go​ ​with​ ​the​ ​ebb​ ​and​ ​flow and​ ​patiently​ ​ride​ ​the​ ​waves​ ​has​ ​been​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​harder​ ​slow​ ​loving​ ​struggles​ ​for​ ​me. And​ ​whilst​ ​in​ ​work​ ​or​ ​the​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​time​ ​I​ ​allocate​ ​to​ ​spend​ ​exercising​ ​etc.​ ​can​ ​still have​ ​me​ ​rushing​ ​around,​ ​plant​ ​care​ ​cannot.​ ​It’s​ ​not​ ​possible​ ​to​ ​rush​ ​the​ ​care​ ​of​ ​your plants​ ​and​ ​flowers​ ​without​ ​jeopardising​ ​the​ ​process.​ ​Sometimes,​ ​it’s​ ​taking​ ​your​ ​time learning​ ​the​ ​right​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​care​ ​for​ ​each​ ​individual​ ​type​ ​of​ ​plant​ ​you​ ​have.​ ​Or​ ​carefully watering,​ ​checking​ ​for​ ​moist​ ​soil​ ​or​ ​a​ ​health​ ​check.​ ​Misting​ ​the​ ​leaves,​ ​wiping​ ​them down,​ ​pruning.​ ​Noticing​ ​your​ ​surroundings​ ​-​ ​where​ ​has​ ​the​ ​best​ ​light​ ​in​ ​the​ ​afternoon, which​ ​way​ ​should​ ​your​ ​plant​ ​be​ ​facing?​ ​All​ ​movements​ ​of​ ​slow,​ ​deliberate​ ​actions. Perhaps​ ​small​ ​spaces,​ ​little​ ​kids​ ​running​ ​around​ ​or​ ​curious​ ​pets​ ​make​ ​it​ ​harder​ ​for​ ​you​ ​to own​ ​and​ ​look​ ​after​ ​a​ ​plant​ ​family.​ ​Whilst​ ​there​ ​are​ ​many​ ​plants​ ​that​ ​require​ ​minimal​ ​work, these​ ​last​ ​two​ ​are​ ​with​ ​you​ ​in​ ​mind.

​​4. A​ ​foraging​ ​adventure​ ​​

Part​ ​of​ ​embracing​ ​slower​ ​living​ ​is​ ​soaking​ ​in​ ​your​ ​surroundings. Slowing​ ​your​ ​pace​ ​so​ ​you​ ​can​ ​notice​ ​the​ ​small​ ​details.​ ​Cracks​ ​in​ ​the​ ​pavement,​ ​daisies peaking​ ​out​ ​between​ ​the​ ​grasses​ ​and​ ​wildflowers​ ​hiding​ ​around​ ​your​ ​doorstep.​ ​Next​ ​time you​ ​go​ ​for​ ​a​ ​walk,​ ​look​ ​out​ ​for​ ​any​ ​flowers,​ ​conkers,​ ​pine​ ​cones​ ​along​ ​your​ ​path.​ ​Perhaps you​ ​may​ ​collect​ ​a​ ​bunch​ ​of​ ​buttercups​ ​and​ ​daisies​ ​to​ ​sit​ ​fresh​ ​in​ ​a​ ​tea​ ​cup​ ​next​ ​to​ ​your morning​ ​brew.​ ​Or,​ ​as​ ​Autumn​ ​rolls​ ​around,​ ​forage​ ​for​ ​the​ ​most​ ​magnificent​ ​fallen​ ​leaves​ ​in all​ ​of​ ​their​ ​golden​ ​and​ ​burnt​ ​orange​ ​glory.

5. Preserving nature

Perhaps​ ​your​ ​foraged​ ​arrangements​ ​won’t​ ​last​ ​long​ ​in​ ​a​ ​little​ ​jar​ ​on​ ​your​ ​kitchen​ ​counter. Something​ ​i’ve​ ​loved​ ​to​ ​do​ ​since​ ​I​ ​was​ ​a​ ​child​ ​is​ ​press​ ​little​ ​flowers​ ​and​ ​leaves​ ​by​ ​resting them​ ​inside​ ​large​ ​books.​ ​You​ ​could​ ​even​ ​do​ ​this​ ​with​ ​daisy​ ​chains.​ ​As​ ​the​ ​next​ ​season​ ​rolls around,​ ​open​ ​that​ ​giant​ ​dictionary​ ​or​ ​encyclopedia​ ​to​ ​discover​ ​a​ ​new​ ​dimension​ ​of​ ​beauty from​ ​the​ ​once​ ​fresh​ ​flowers​ ​that​ ​you​ ​picked.

If you want to get in touch with Sarirah you can find her on her Blog or on Instagram where she shares beautiful pictures full of flowers and nature. Share some love and say hi since she made so much effort to write these amazing tips for us, will you? 

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#ThisAutumnLife / Join an October Hashtag Game!

The Autumn is officially here and for many, it can be a really daunting season. It is starting to get darker, weather is moody and unpredictable and it can be hard to find a creative energy at times. But we decided to turn it around and make this season the most creative ever! That is why my dear friend Sarirah (@prettynotinc) and I decided to create an Instagram Hashtag Project for all of us to share and enjoy everything beautiful Autumn has to offer.

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Photo styling on a zero budget

So you don’t have any money or a-ny-thing to use for styling your photos or your home. So you give up. Give up beautiful photos or memories you could have, give up house which feels homey, give up your dreamy Insta career. NO! I have never spent any money on a special props only for photography purposes (are we already Instagram friends?). My home is super tiny, I am trying to live minimalistic lifestyle and don’t really have many things either. But remember one simple rule: everything you need you already have. Either in your creative mind or somewhere around you.

Everything is easier with money, that is the truth, but more then ever, especially on a tight budget, I realised how truthful saying “time is money” is. So if you don’t have even a one buck to invest, maybe you can invest a couple of minutes instead. And if you want to tell me that you have NO time to spend, well, just count those minutes you were wining about not having a-ny-thing to take a pictures of and use them wiser next time. Because here are five tips on how and where to get those yummy photogenic and Insta worth-it props totally for free.

And if photography with sustainable mindset is something you really want to learn more about, sign up to my newsletter! First is going out 1. September and it will be packed with photography tricks and tips! Read more about it here if you like!

But now to the topic! Welcome to a class “Styling on a zero budget 101” with my favourite hashtags!

1. #cupsinframe

People like to see things they know in a ways they are surprising, interesting or somehow new and beautiful. You don’t need anything fancy here. Don’t think about the fact that they are not new, clean, neat and such, noone wants to see that anymore. Great example is Fifi of Whimsy and Grey and her #mydirtysink. She photographs her dirty sink and dishes in most elegant way, telling the story and inspiring people. With a dirty sink!

And don’t let me start on mugs! We are all guilty of good mug shot (heh), very well known Instacliché. But with a bit of creativity and story telling, cups became some of my most popular shots ever with zero investment except my creativity and time.

If there is something you really like and speaks to you or represents what you do, don’t be afraid to use it several times in different setting or just make a series out of it. Maybe you are using your favourite cup every Sunday in a different room, with different outfit, or just a different angle. Maybe as Julia of Humphrey and Grace you use a cup as a centre piece and decorate what season gives you around it. Try to find your own voice and don’t worry too much.

2. #botanicalcreativity_

Nature is there for everyone and so easy to access. Even when you live in the city, there is always little park, grassy area or some weeds growing around the road. And everyone has at least one plant at home, right? People love plants and taking care of them, plants make people happy and your photos interesting. If I am taking a portrait or some photo at home and feel like it is rather boring, something is missing or photo is too empty, I stick some plant into it! Just a tiny bit, to create nice atmosphere, contrast, frame the scene, etc.

And if you don’t have any plant at home, try to pick some leaves, ferns or other green anything on the way home from work. Simple fern places as a tattoo on my body is my most successful photo so far with over 3 thousand likes which is huge considering I had about 3 thousand followers back then! Add some leaves on your table setting, put simple branch in the vase! For more inspiration just check the hashtag #botanicalcreativity_ or #botanicalpickmeup and you will see what I mean 🙂

3. #handsinframes

You might think I am going crazy here but #handsinframes can do magic for the mood of your photo and your engagement. I was surprised myself but photos with hand in it, even when only holding something, do always much better then the flatlays and photos without when it comes to likes and comments. I guess people need the human touch, literally, so they are more drawn to the photos with some parts of human body. Of course face would be even better but if you don’t feel comfortable to be a part of your photoshoot, hands will do.

I can already hear some of you screaming “but I don’t have a tripod”. I have solution for you too. First option is to have only one hand in the frame and shoot with the other. If you feel a bit more adventurous, you can set your phone on timer and hold it in your teeth. That way you can manage to stick both hand in elegant position into your shot. I also saw people taping the phone to the ceiling or the top from of the window. No excuses!

If you need some inspiration, have a look at my Pinterest board dedicated to hands and their positions.

4. #simplethingmadebeautiful

Bottle from a wine or a beer becoming a vase, nice tea box becoming a treasure chest, egg shells are super photogenic. Think about the things you would usually throw away and maybe save them for rainy days. Or maybe you keep the ribbon which used to be a bag handles and use them next time, maybe you can use a maison jar as a fancy smoothie glass (haven’t we all?) or as a lantern filled with fairy lights.

Sometimes the simplest object you look at every day can become a million dollar shot! You know, that old spoon from your grandma, really used book or any book at all, stained chopping board. Those average bits with personality are perfect props for everyday photos.

I love to go through the free magazines, especially those from interior stores are usually gorgeous, and I look for inspiring or beautiful pictures. Sometimes there is a page with amazing texture or pattern you could use as a part of your styling, sometimes maybe interesting quote or nice portrait. Many places offer free postcards with amazing pictures, business cards are sometimes real gem too. I am not telling you to go around and beg or steal. I hate that myself! Just be more mindful about what is going through your hands and think twice before throwing it away.

5. #foreverfaffing

Almost all of my flower photos which are usually the most successful are styled with foraged flowers from around the road, forrest, meadow, park, you name it, I was there. I even got myself tiny gardening scissors which I have in my pocket all the time, just in case I need to snap something on the way home or on my walks.

And if flowers or greenery are not what you do, there are plenty other options! Pebbles, feathers (which I am secretly hiding in my drawer because my boyfriend thinks they are full of germs), wood washed out of the ocean, shells and acorns, you name it! Remember when you were a child and everything picked up from the ground was so exciting? Find that child again!

And don’t worry that there is no more flowers now because the summer is over. There is something growing or blooming all year around and following and styling the seasons is great fun. If you feel like you are missing some seasonal inspiration or ideas, sign up for my newsletter. I will send you tons of seasonal tips, advice and inspiration for every month!

I am not talking about eatables because that is so obvious you figured it out long time ago. But if you didn’t, food is the easiest prop to get. We all have to eat, so there is no extra cost and it doesn’t take any space in your storage. You can take beautiful seasonal shots using food as a decoration. Autumn is all about pumpkins, lovely dark red apples, or you can bake pie and just pop it into the photograph.

Today I talked about PROPS but there is so much more you can do on a zero budget with a tiny effort to make your photos instantly better, more interesting or incredibly inspiring. Stay tuned for a second part which will be all about different tricks and techniques you can use to make your photos look amazing!

And as I mentioned, more detailed practical tips on photography can also arrive every month in your mailbox.

 

Kisses, B.

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Simple life might not be so easy

I didn’t  know what I really wanted for a very long time. Well, one could say over 30 years. As an over-achiever and perfectionist it was not an easy task to solve really. After some heart-breaking months feeling like I have nothing to do here (and by here meaning our planet), I found out it was much easier to figure out than I thought. I just really want to live a simple life. As a perfectionist I tend to wait until more than ready and then share/act/write/do. Well not this time. I want to share with you every little and simple step while I walk the walk rather than waiting to share all I know after my life is perfect. Because the illusion of perfect life got me where I am in a first place. So no, thanks.

As Brooke McAlary from The Slow Home Podcast always says, simple doesn’t mean easy. Simple can mean something totally different for you and me and it might even change during the course of months or years. But…

… having a closet full of not fitting, crappy clothes doesn’t make life simple
… having home full of things you don’t use or remember why you have it doesn’t make life simple
… having diet based on junk and comfort food doesn’t make life simple
… having a unfit weak body doesn’t make life simple
… having a job which doesn’t motivate me enough to wake up in the morning doesn’t make life simple
… and having a six figures worth of debt definitely doesn’t make life simple, easy nor perfect

And the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I have amazing boyfriend which is just the best thing which ever happened to me, I have great friends I met thanks to the social media I would never dream of, I am quite healthy and happy. I am so grateful for what I have but will all that stress hanging over me from not so great part of my life, I can never fully enjoy what I have. Imagine the loveliest picnic with a huge cloud over your head. It might rain any minute, or maybe never. But wouldn’t it be better to have an umbrella or better a tent to be safe and sound?

There is a lot to be done and I usually end up doing too much and being totally overwhelmed. So this time I decided to take is slowly, step by step, sharing with you what I learnt and found out, what works for me or not and I would love to hear what works for you! And hopefully at the end of this quest I will be able to live my simple life in a small house in the middle of nowhere, with couple of ducks, dog and cat and with a great wi-fi connection so we can still be in touch. It will never be perfect and I know that now. I just hope for happy and simple.

Barb