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f&f Family Journal

Summer Robertson

I am a mother of 4 beautiful children living countryside in a tiny home with my sweet family. We founded fawn&forest in 2007 with an intention of creating a shop that reflects our love for living simply with children.

preparing for winter

by CPC Strategy

 Seasonal shift, winter rhythm | fawn&forest

 

I spent much of October transitioning our home for the cold weather ahead, something I so enjoy — out with all summertime wares, a bit of deep cleaning & washing and in with all things warm & cozy, preparing my family for the freezing cold and inevitably wet weather in 4 simple steps.

 I sorted all of our clothes, those to wash & tuck away for next year, donate or sell. Only cool weather clothing is kept out.  By only keeping what we will be wearing available cuts down on clutter and mess, especially when little hands dig through the drawers (and are not so concerned about putting things away).

  I worked through all surfaces gathering any clutter or collections from the summer, dusting as I went. Keeping things minimal means my work is quick but it's important to have a rhythm in place to keep a check on clutter, piles & nonsense. I sorted my "out" pile by discard, donate, items for storage (summer clothes & fans!) as well as a few keepsakes to tuck away. 

  I pulled out the winter things from storage — winter clothes for the children, hats, coats, boots, lanterns & candles etc. I checked for what fits, what will work for this season, what to mend & then made a list of anything to be purchased. 

  I worked my way through washing — pillow covers, winter blankets, sheepskins, curtains etc., vacuumed the sofa, cleaned the space heaters and sorted through my pantry shelves & baskets. 

I've noticed such a big change in the ease of our day to day when I only have on hand what we need for the season. I tuck everything not needed away (such as in the attic, storage or garage) as to not add to the daily clutter. We're now set & snug and ready to enjoy the chilly season ahead.

And! If you're curious, a few of my favorite wintertime essentials:
Mouse in the House Wool Sweater
Rain People Wool Bonnets
fawn&forest Wool Socks
Elks & Angels Sheepskin
Nui Lamb Booties

 

 


Maker q&a | Sarah Box of Chasing Windmills

by CPC Strategy


One thing I absolutely love about keeping shop is connecting with inspiring makers & business owners. It has been a delight to work with Sarah & JP Box of Chasing Windmills this past year and I am honored to kick off our Makers Series with such a thoughtful company.
A heartfelt thank you to Sarah for taking the time to share with us the soul of her family & giving us a peek into her day. 


What are 3 of your simple joys?

We always try to make a point to verbally express our gratitude for the simple joys in our lives. So, thinking about the simple things we most often we give thanks for, these kind of words can often be heard from our children-



“Mmmm, mommy this is SO yummy” - I cook A LOT. My sister writes a food blog over at Gather&Dine, so I’m often inspired to cook wholesome and fresh meals we can all gather around and enjoy together. Thankfully, both of our kids enjoy a variety of food, and sharing a meal has become one of our cherished parts of our every day.



“Can you believe nature is so beautiful?” - On Saturday mornings, we try and get out together and explore the beauty of the outdoors. Whether it’s a nature walk, bike ride, or picnic, it is always awe inspiring to soak in the beauty of Colorado. Our kids often personify what they see on our Saturday morning explorations — a large, relatively flat boulder perfect for climbing is their “Mother Rock,” a shallow cave at Red Rocks is “Mother Cave,” and so on. In only the way a child can, they’re forming nurturing connections to their environments :)



“Ohhh I feel so cozy” - Whether it’s sipping some hot cocoa or tea, snuggling under a blanket to read, or taking a warm bath, we all love to feel cozy. I guess that’s why we love merino so much!

 


Walk us through an average day in the life of you family.
My day starts sandwiched between our two children :). While we never planned on having a family bed, here we are! Our children fall asleep in their own beds, but 95% of the time will wake some time in the middle of the night and kick Daddy to the basement and have sleep time with Mama. I have a “remain in bed until 7 am” rule, so we usually start our day then with free play for the kids while I make breakfast and then off to getting ready for school.

Four mornings a week, our children attend the local Waldorf school. We love the Waldorf philosophy, especially its reverence for the magic of childhood and also its fostering of an appreciation of nature. The first time JP and I walked into a Waldorf classroom, it just felt right for us, and we’re grateful for the community. It is also the only time during the week that JP and I can really work together on things for Chasing Windmills. After school, we enjoy lunch together as a family. It is definitely one of the biggest perks of being work-at- home parents!

In the afternoon, JP returns to work, while I spend time with the kids. I will have them do 30 minutes of quiet time or so while I clean up from lunch. Then, we will spend some time reading together or doing a simple craft activity. Afterwards, they often will get lost in their own play between the two of them, which allows me a short bit to do some of my own reading or preparing for dinner. An hour or so before dinner, JP usually wraps up work and often takes the kids outside to play while I have the quiet kitchen to myself to cook. Some times the kids will also help me cook depending on the meal. I always have little hands ready to help chop, stir, and of course, taste test!

By 7 pm, we are starting our bed time routine, which consists of bath time every other night, and reading 3 stories. On week nights, JP reads to them while I head to work for the night, and on weekends, I enjoy the reading. They equate school days with “Daddy reading nights” :).

I will usually work until about 11 pm. The challenge of two work-at- home parents is that there isn’t a lot of mommy and daddy hang out time in the evenings! I suppose this is the trade-off for having some flexibility in our day time schedules and shared meals every day. But now that school is in session, we do get to enjoy some time to ourselves while working together, and will indulge ourselves in a date walk around the block or to the neighborhood croissant shop :). Then I’m in bed and asleep by 11:15, until the kids wake me for snuggle time ;)!


What 3 resource would you recommend for living an intentional life?
To be honest, we did not even really think about this concept until we had children. We were definitely flowing through life before then, enjoying many things, but never took the time to really think about the kind of life we wanted to lead. That all changed the day our twins were born! Having children definitely awoke something within us. We started asking ourselves what values we wanted to share with our little ones, what kind of example we wanted to be in the life that we lived, and how to empower ourselves and each other to be the creators of our lives together. But besides our children being natural inspirations for living deliberately, our three resources would be:

Being part of a supportive community. Many of my friends locally are creatives, and there is nothing better than being able to share the journey with like-minded mamas. Our Waldorf school community is also an invaluable resource for us with parents and teachers that are all striving to live intentionally.

Books!  JP is the avid reader in our family and loves reading excerpts to me, but every now and then we’ll read a book together too.  Some of our favorites include Simplicity Parenting and Free to Learn — books that inspired us to make conscious choices as parents and embrace the beauty of childhood.

Instagram has also proven to connect me to so many mamas that are huge inspirations. Summer, you are one of them! Your words and way of living always give me something to think about in my own life. Some other favorites that often blog about having a purposeful approach to achieving a simple life are @readtealeaves, @mama_2thelittleones, @mamawatters, @twentyventi, @magnesium_blue, @hippieindisguise, and I’m sure I’m forgetting many other favorite bloggers!



How do your beautiful twins influence Chasing Windmills?
Chasing Windmills came about as part of our journey to live deliberately once we had our twins. So, they have influenced us in every step of the way! As we thought about what we needed in our lives to be happy, what inspires our hearts, minds, and souls, we were ultimately led to this vision for Chasing Windmills: We wanted to share our respect and appreciation of what Mother Nature provides with our children. One way that we do this is by the clothes we wear and the goods we consume. We love the adventurous spirit that embodies merino, and as a natural fiber, clothing our children in merino is consistent with many of the values we have in regards to caring for the world around us.

Our children also love the outdoors, and at school they play outside every day throughout the winter too. So, practically, we sought to make clothing that would be comfortable yet technical, beautiful yet simple, and just as ready for a good snuggle as play in the outdoors. In the winter they absolutely love rolling out of bed in their long johns, all ready to put on their snow pants and off to school!


What is your connection to Merino Wool? Did the material itself inspire you to start
Chasing Windmills or do you have a background in textiles/apparel?
We do not have any background in textiles, apparel, or retail for that matter! We stumbled upon merino wool almost by accident.  At a time when we both held corporate gigs, I brushed my hand across an orange merino wool t-shirt at a store and loved how it felt, so I gave it to JP as a gift.

On weekdays, JP wore a suit and tie to work.  On weekends, he wore his orange t-shirt.  He felt at home, at ease, and at peace in merino.  Whether hiking in the mountains or running errands around town, JP just felt better wearing the natural merino fiber. Merino soon became a representation for the kind of life that he wanted to lead- one filled with adventure, simplicity, and a connection to the natural world.

And so, when our children were born, we sought to clothe our own children in this wondrous natural material — not just for its many amazing properties, but for the journey and lifestyle that it embodies.

What challenges you, personally? In business?
My answer is…a lot!

We’ll start with challenges on the business side. In general…I tend to lack patience. It’s something I’m practicing, but it can be challenging with our business because everything we do takes a significant amount of time. With merino wool, all of our fabric is custom printed and dyed, with large minimum ordering requirements which is a challenge for a small growing business! My wish list is long for things we could make. But with merino children’s clothes being a fairly young industry, we have to take each style slowly to see how the market will react before we can work on develop something else. In a way though, it is consistent with our values to take things slowly. We never want to be in fast fashion; instead, we want to honor timeless goods that will be treasured.

For challenges personally, they are all kind of wrapped up with our business too. It’s what happens when you run a business from home! It can be difficult for me to keep my business life and home life separate, so I tend to always have some business thought in the back of my mind. I need to remind myself often to be present, pause and enjoy this beautiful life. It can be hard for me and JP to not always focus on work when we are together without the children- we need to force ourselves some times to talk about something else besides Chasing Windmills!

You are a husband & wife team -- tell us more about that! Do you both work fulltime for Chasing Windmills or do you have other adventures as well? [My husband and I work together as well, I am always so intrigued!]

We like to think we’re a pretty good team ;).  As a two person company, we literally do a bit of everything!  Over time though, we’ve fallen into our distinct roles with Chasing Windmills.  JP handles all the order fulfilling, accounting, inventory- management, responding to emails, customer service, and other “boring” jobs that I know are important but I’m glad I don’t have to do them ;).  JP is also a natural writer, and so he usually writes the first drafts of our blogs and a lot of our website copy.

I’ve become the voice and face of Chasing Windmills, however, because JP never quite figured out how to log onto our Instagram account…ha!  So, I manage our social media and maintain relationships with our customers.  In a lot of ways, I am building our brand on a day-to- day basis.  I’m also the primary driver for our creative direction, including obsessing about colors and prints from year to year (JP is colorblind, so I’m on my own there!). We have a lot of great people helping us too, from our fabric supplier in New Zealand, to our pattern maker and factory in North Carolina, and I work with all of them to make our vision come to life. In addition to Chasing Windmills, I’m also a photographer (oh, and that’s another one of my Chasing Windmills’ jobs too!).  I used to shoot weddings, but these days I’ve been focusing more on family sessions. 


Meanwhile, JP will soon be a published author!  His book, “The Millennial Lawyer,” will be out this December.  Before starting Chasing Windmills, JP practiced law.  This past year, he’s launched a consulting practice advising law firms how to connect with and motivate Millennial attorneys.  In his book, he weaves his personal experiences as a talented but unfulfilled young attorney with social sciences and research into the Millennial generation. It’s pretty much the only non-parenting or non-business book I’ve read in the last few years! And I’ve gotta say it’s really good :)


Name your family's favorite children's book.
It seems to change from season to season or month to month. They tend to get fixated on one book and want to read it repeatedly for a good stretch of time. Some long time favorites are “One Morning in Maine” (JP and I both graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine, so it’s a special place to us), many Elsa Beskow and Jan Brett books, and currently my childhood Berenstain Bear books!
 

SHOP  CHASING WINDMILLS  For a limited time (November 8, 2017 - November 12, 2017) save 10% on all Chasing Windmill with code WOOL at checkout.


My Favorite Cups for Small Children

by Summer Robertson

 


My favorite cups for small children — essentials for a clutter free cupboard!

I prefer open cups and not a single sippy cup unless we're out & about. Given the chance, small children (as young as 9 months) are quite capable of drinking out of a cup without spilling, given a bit of practice & starting with a small amount of water. There's a lot of Montessori thought behind this that I appreciate but even more, not being afraid as a mother to allow my children the space to learn something for themselves — it opens up a lot of respect & trust between mother & child.

Small glasses & even shot glasses work well for small children (which ensued much laughter with my first son 11 years ago!) but I've found having a "cup of one's own" reiterates that respect.

Heirloom Pewter Cup
Currently my daughter Lucy, age 2 uses the small pewter cup — it's a bit pricy but if you add up the cost on all the plastic sippys one would use over the course of time, it ends up being a good chunk of change and a lot of ugly clutter. The Pewter Duck Cup is Lucy's only everyday cup & worth the heirloom price point.

Ceramic Animal Cup
For tea & such the ceramic cup is indispensable. It can break of course but has been another opportunity for learning & respect.

Klean Kanteen
For outside & away from home, Klean Kanteen is my favorite, it's a workhorse & made of stainless steel with replaceable tops (no yucky straws). We will be adding Klean Kanteen to the shop soon along with french Duralex, a shatter resistant favorite!

 

These essentials are available in the shop, HERE!


Autumn Morning Tea

by Summer Robertson

We have been enjoying cool & quiet autumn mornings at home this week. Before we sit down to our morning basket time I make tea for myself & each of my children. Tea always seems to set the tone for a cozy, peaceful morning together, even for little ones. Our favorite tea at the moment is organic rooibos vanilla which is naturally caffeine free and perfect with cream & a touch of honey. 

Our morning basket time is a time we set aside to read aloud the books in our reading basket which we keep in a cozy spot next to "mama's reading chair". We read through all kinds of books and topics, but seasonal books with pictures, stories about nature and animal adventure always seem to have a special spot. We take weeks & months reading through novels, poetry and history ... little bit of everything for each of my children, ages 2 through 12. 

Here is a list of a few things in our Autumn Basket this month:

All Creatures Great & Small by James Herriot
Autumn by Gerda Muller
Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor
Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock
Tales of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Essential Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

We spend about 2 hours a day reading together, so our basket is quite full & changes often : )


Teatime & Heirloom Ceramic Cups
My children love using our beautiful heirloom ceramic cups, perfect for tea or as a little pot for all the yummy autumn applesauce to be scarfed up right now!  Available in the shop,
HERE.

 

 


essential homemade stain remover

by Summer Robertson

 

I think one of the most challenging aspects of having a thoughtfully simple (limited) wardrobe for our family is caring for stains — right? After investing into (or making) such essentials the most dreadful thing to happen is a messy stain to ruin it all.

After much failure, I've landed on a homemade solution that has worked well for us — hydrogen peroxide mixed with a big squeeze of natural dish soap stored in a amber bottle (as hydrogen peroxide loses its properties when exposed.) A quick spray on any stains & muck marks right as it goes into the laundry basket quickly addresses any issues while still being gentle enough on fabric such as merino wool. I am still stumped by set in banana stains and chocolate on wool but this simple, inexpensive solution has worked well to keep most every other stain from setting in.

It's sort of old fashion to put value in taking care of my family's wardrobe, but it's a skill I have enjoyed learning. #fewerbetterthings

For variations on this simple homemade stain remover, be sure to read all the comments on my instagram post

My favorite merino wool tees by Chasing Windmills, pointelle tank by Goat-Milk & Wayda Scarf (more in stock soon!)


Labor Day Sale

by Summer Robertson

 

I hope you've had a wonderful Summer! 

As our rhythms change with the seasons I start to pull together my thoughts on what is needed for the season ahead.

New long sleeve shirts and a cozy set of pajamas is on the list for each of my children. If you've had a few things on your list, be sure to shop our Labor Day Sale...

Use code LABORDAY for 10% off through Tuesday, September 5th .

 

Please note that rewards discounts cannot be combined with a sale discount code. 
(*Excluded brands: Oeuf, Naturepedic, Monte, Stokke, Nursery Works & Babyletto.)

 

 


switchel

by Summer Robertson

Switchel is fun to say & fun to drink and has been one of our unexpected hits this summer that I am excited to share with you!

It's an old-timey drink to stay hydrated in the summer heat that's super nourishing, inexpensive & simple to make 
— and my children love it!

Shake together —
2 cups. water
2 tablespoons organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar
tablespoon raw honey* 
A heaping 1/4 tps. cinnamon

This makes roughly 1 serving that i make in the glass milk bottles shown above. However, take the simple ratio of water / acv / honey and adjust as needed. 

* Heating Raw honey kills all the nutritional elements. The honey will eventually dissolve in the switchel. However, to speed this up, simply add a bit of room temp water to the honey and stir with a fork to make it more fluid before adding it to the switchel.

Switchel is best ice cold but my children love it room temp as well. It is somewhat tart, slightly sweet and not at all overpowering. Unfiltered apple cider vinegar is incredibly nourishing to our bodies — balances PH levels in the body, is great for digestion and aids in detoxifying the body.


You can add smashed berries, ginger, turmeric etc., but really the honey/cinnamon combo is so refreshing & simple. 

Click HERE to see a few of my favorite cups & such for children.

 


the family bed

by Summer Robertson

Concerning sleep I fall into the category of "do what fits your family rhythm". This far into motherhood I know what works for one family may not work for another and that's the beauty of it. When I was pregnant with my first child 12 years ago we set up the nursery, the crib, the bassinet. But once baby was in my arms so much of what I thought changed, it didn't feel right. My newborn was relentlessly unsettled and fussy and he just needed to be close to me. Co-sleeping just felt right, it worked, we all got sleep. We realized that we really enjoyed the closeness with our baby, it was comforting for us all.

So we ended up with the Family Bed, sharing sleep with all of our 4 children at various times over the years. Our two year old daughter is the only one that still sleeps with us -- I sense she still needs the closeness and well, living in a tiny house during this season of our life doesn't allow for separate sleeping quarters. We're all cozy and content.

A list of my favorite Family Bed sleep essentials:
Lambskin
Holy Lamb Wool Mattress Topper
Holy Lamb Wool Pillows
Snuggle Me Organic Co-Sleeping baby lounger 
Naturepedic Organic Mattress
Holy Lamb Family Bed Bumper

And those beautiful organic sheets?

My friend Lauren has a company called Blaynk that crafts bedsheets from cotton, wind & water -- AMAZING! Watch her truly inspirational video HERE & back her Kickstarter! Blaynk is off to an incredible start with nearly a 75% backing in the first day! 

Blaynk will be available in the shop soon, can't wait!! 


summer capsule wardrobe for children

by Summer Robertson

A couple years ago I started weeding through my children's clothes in order to simplify, streamline and bottomline, have less laundry to contend with. Here is a peek at my daughter's basic summer wardrobe, a capsule of simplicity. Add in a couple dresses & rompers and these handful of items are truly all that she has worn this summer. 

Intentionally purchasing fewer items has allowed me to be more thoughtful in my selection, focusing on quality of materials & versatility -- linen for children is so practical and lightweight merino wool is surprisingly cooling on hot days!  #fewerbetterthings

I'm still working out a blog post with details of my approach but until then, take a look at a few of my favorites this Summer ...
 goat-milkChasing WindmillsBillie BloomsBriar Handmade and Tortoise & the Hare.

 


A summertime sale

by Summer Robertson

"All in all, it was a never to be forgotten summer —
one of those summers which come seldom into any life,
but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which,
in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing,
come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world."
—L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams


If you've had your eye on something, be sure to shop our Summertime Sale...
Use code SUMMER for 10% off through Monday, July 31st. 

Please note that rewards discounts cannot be combined with a sale discount code. 

(*Excluded brands: Oeuf, Naturepedic, Monte, Stokke.)


Summer Robertson

I am a mother of 4 beautiful children living countryside in a tiny home with my sweet family. We founded fawn&forest in 2007 with an intention of creating a shop that reflects our love for living simply with children.

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