f&f Family Journal
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.
CONNECTING with our children — When I was little I would leave a note for my grandma to find right before I left her house and she would secretly hide one for me to find, usually tucked in my books or toys. We would write to each other often in between visits — real letters! I loved reading her cursive and was recently thinking how significant it is to "secretly" connect with our children.
It often seems I don't have enough hours in the week to spend that beloved quality time alone with each of my children but I have found over the years that these little written admirations passed back & forth connects & satisfies us in much the same, quiet way.
This year I have have started a journal between me & each of my children to write and draw our love for each other ... We are using a large cashier Moleskine notebook but anything will do.
I make sure to write clearly and always end my note with a question so my children have an inspired start in their note back to me. I also include cute drawings and plenty of inside jokes. If your children are younger and not yet able to write, simply create drawings for each other which tends to communicate beautifully.
Writing back & forth between with children must have an element of wonder & curiosity. Isn't it exciting to get a letter? Sometimes my children & I forget to reply and tend to gently remind each other with a new note in the journal or a nudge but it is never a forced activity with expectations. If you have a hesitant writer (a child that is just learning or otherwise struggles with it) extend understanding & gentleness. This journal between your child & you is a place that nurtures trust and encouragement.
Happy Valentine's Day, dear friends!
Enjoy 10% off with code LOVE at checkout.
Sale ends Monday, February 12th.
Some brands are excluded including Stokke, Oeuf, Babyletto, Bumbleride, Monte & Naturepedic. Cannot be combined with rewards discounts.
One thing I am not minimal about — books! From the start I have filled my children's life with as many books as our budget would allow. Books nurture the natural curiosity of childhood and I think we could forgo nearly all early childhood learning tools and fill all those cozy moments in our children's days with books.
There's a remarkable connection that happens with our children when we read out loud together and I have found it unnecessary to directly teach my children a rote style memorization of colors, numbers or the alphabet — these basic elements come alive and become real in a tangible way when we read together, which inspires conversations and future adventures together.
Books with such beauty in reference to the world around us are what educator Charlotte Mason refers to as living books and I couldn't agree more! We now have a handful of favorites in the shop from beloved authors such as Gerda Muller & Elsa Beskow ... shop all BOOKS HERE.
I'm starting to set out a few new winter-y project stations around our home both inside & out for my children to work on as they please. — today, snow dough.
It's a gluten free play dough with peppermint essential oil added in. It's simple recipe as with all play dough, except this one uses rice flour which makes the dough extra white and snow-like —
1 cup white rice flour
Heaping 1/2 cup tapioca or arrowroot starch
Shy 1/2 cup fine sea salt
Small splash of oil
15+ drops of peppermint essential oil.
Mix together well with 1 cup near boiling water. If it's sticky, I add a bit more starch.
I like to keep cookie cutters & a small rolling pin nearby in a basket but little toy animals (especially winter animals!) are fun to have play in the snow as well. Play dough can indeed be messy at times but worth the joy. Store in an airtight jar.
Roll any extra dough into an oval and smush your child's handprint into it. I don't seem to do this every year, and as imperfect as they are, I'm so thankful to have these little moments captured all these years later!
I think all of us mamas have special ways we nurture our children, especially when they're feeling hurt — minor bumps or crashes that result in big emotions and require more mama love & comfort than medical attention. In our family my children know I will always come to the rescue with coconut oil salve & a soft cloth, my panacea for most everyday ailments.
I came across the idea of creating a special "Hurt (or healing) Basket" in the book Mitten Strings for God by Katrina Kenison which is a bit different from a traditional first aid kit. I had an a-hah! moment, wondering why I had not gathered all my mama comforts into one spot? I promptly did, of course and here's what's in my basket: a heating pad (a bit of warmth is calming), a handful of small, soft cotton cloths, a couple different salves, a homemade calming spray, lip balm, a natural sea sponge (with a bit of warm water to wash away the dirt on scraped knees.. ) and a few different essential oil rollers, because sometimes all you need is your mama & to smell something soothing.
These items, personal to how we both mother and the rhythm of our family evoke comfort and calm nerves, fears and even sooth those nights when our little ones have a hard time falling asleep.
For more ideas on creating your own comfort basket be sure to read my instagram post - it has so many inspiring comments!
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet, the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Let the Holidays begin! As a way of saying thank you for shopping with us, enjoy 10% off!
Save 10% with code HOLIDAY at checkout.
*Restricted brands: Bumbleride, Monte, Naturepedic, Stokke, Oeuf, Babyletto & Million Dollar Baby.
*Please Note: rewards points & store discount codes cannot be combined.
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.
1 — 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).
2 — 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.
3 — 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.
4 — 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.