Grounded Gifts: A holiday series, Day 1 – Flying Bird Botanicals Tea

flying-bird-botanicalsFlying Bird Botanicals Harvest Moon Red Chai

This year for the holiday season I’m doing a gift guide called “Grounded Gifts,” featuring nature-inspired goods from designers and artisans. Most of the gifts will be small enough to fit in a stocking and under $40. I think stocking stuffers are the most delightful type of gift. Last year, Matt and I skipped the big gifts entirely, and just gave each other stockings full of thoughtful goodies.

These beautifully designed tea tins from Flying Bird Botanicals stopped me dead in my tracks when I first encountered them in a museum gift store in Seattle. They have flavors with whimsical names like Dream Catcher, Peace of Mind, and Twilight Mint, in both tea bag or loose leaf form. This Harvest Moon Red Chai really hits the spot after dinner when you want a rich and flavorful tea without the caffeine. It’s delicious with some honey added. All of the ingredients are organic. Plus, the packaging is full of pretty details that make it a thrill to see every time you open your tea cabinet.

Stay tuned– the next Grounded Gifts installments will be posted next week. This Friday, I will be sharing my top picks for artisan holiday cards. In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving! Here in Portland, we are expected to get 5-10 inches of snow tomorrow night, so there is a flurry of pre-storm activity while everyone rushes to get their errands done.

If you’re looking for more ideas, check out last year’s Festive Stocking Stuffer Gift Guide and a Mulling Spices Recipe.

 

Camera Play and November Rambles

sweet-pea

Today I’m writing a chatty post about nothing in particular. Sweet Pea and I are basking in the sunlight in our living room. It feels good to soak up some warmth, as it has felt exceptionally cold where we live.

I’m ecstatic to report that this Tuesday’s post will be my last post shot with my old Canon 10D camera. I’ve upgraded to the 70D, which I’m over the moon about. But there’s something just a tiny bit sad about saying goodbye to the first camera I used when I started getting interested in photography. The 10D was the camera I had when I first started this blog, when I took my first photo class, and I’ve taken it on countless trips to document memories. It just wasn’t cutting it anymore for the quality of photos that I want to take– the body was malfunctioning and the lens was sub-par. So I’m ready to move on, bidding farewell to my first love.

This week I’m looking forward to four days of vacation time, spending time with family, and making this Apple Cranberry Pie. And can’t forget my traditional family favorite, Sweet Potato Casserole. What are y’all cooking for Thanksgiving?

My 28th birthday this week was loads of fun. I received some Richardo’s Coffee Liqueur in the mail from my fairy godmother. Boy is it good. Also watched the sunset over sangria at Top of the East, a cocktail bar on the top floor of Portland’s tallest hotel, which kicked off a fun evening planned by my mister. Took a day trip to Kennebunkport with my mom. Received wonderful news about one of my besties moving back to the east coast from far away. Devoured some chocolate caramel cupcakes from East End Cupcakes, thanks to my colleagues. So it’s been a memorable week! Unlike other birthdays which have sometimes been thoughtful and reflective, this one was just downright fun and celebratory. Complete with party hats.

On Tuesday I’m starting a holiday gift guide series, so keep a lookout for that. I hope you all have a happy and warm Thanksgiving this week!

xo, Ariel

A “Me Year” Update

The road to Katahdin

Last winter I posted about how I was feeling antsy, then over the summer I wrote about pursuing a “Me Year,” where I focus on myself and following my heart. Taking care of myself, listening to my inner compass, and trying new things. This week I turn 28, and there is only a little more than a month left to the year, so I figured now is a good time to share an update.

I feel really great about how far I’ve come. I’ve been devouring books all year learning about things that interest me, and I’m starting to feel pretty knowledgeable about them. I’ve also taken three series of classes — knitting, photography, and graphic design. Two years ago I would have told you that those are things other people do, but not me. I’ve ventured outside my comfort zone and enjoyed it. Once you start to do that, your comfort zone grows with you. This year I also attended my five-year college reunion. It was interesting to talk with my friends from school about life and what we want out of it.

I’ve journaled a lot this year and spent some time by myself in nature. I’ve come to realize that it’s okay that I have eclectic interests and not one straight and narrow passion– it’s a blessing that I feel passionate about craft, business, nature, and design, all at once. I’ve figured out my values and priorities in life, and I’m feeling grounded in them lately. Grace Bonney wrote recently about how people change over time, and that’s part of the joys of life. She says she reminds herself to, stay open-minded, light on my feet and remain open to the idea that what “defined” me in my 20s may not continue to define me in the same way a decade later.

Now that I’m feeling more whole, to be honest, I’m getting a little tired of thinking about myself so much. I’m going to head into the holiday season focusing on my family, my friends, and the new year ahead with the projects it holds in store.

Rough & Tumble Handbags, Made in Maine

rough-and-tumble-maine rough-and-tumble-bag-lining

 

I remember being a teenager and watching Grace Kelly in the classic Hitchcock film, Rear Window. She said that a woman always hangs her best handbag on the side of her bed. Well, I don’t do that, but since then, I’ve liked the idea of a classy lady having just one bag for everyday use. One that you truly love and that will stand the test of time. I try to buy a new bag only once every couple of years, and make those purchases count. Qualities I look for are quality material and craftsmanship, a nice lining– I like printed fabrics, functional, goes with almost everything, work appropriate, and ideally, made in the USA. I found this handbag, which was a birthday present to myself (oops), at KColette in Portland. It is made by Rough & Tumble, a small company based in Norway, Maine run by Natasha Durham. The material is a shimmery leather in a color called Black Rock Navy, which is difficult to capture accurately on camera.  There are plenty of pockets inside, and the straps adjust so you can wear it three different ways. Artistry is the details, and one thing I love most about this bag is the printed linen lining. The light color makes it easy to find what I’m looking for, too. Looks like I’m all set for the next 2 years.

Tour through Blogland

You may have heard about the Tour through Blogland that’s making its way through the blogging community. Joanna of LOVE, JOANNA  kindly included me in her contribution to the Tour last week. The series invites bloggers to answer four predetermined questions, and then introduce their readers to other lovely blogs. So, let’s jump into the questions!

1) What am I working on?

I’m working on a holiday-themed posts and other seasonal content. You’ll start seeing these posts appear during the week of Thanksgiving. I’ve also been working on a big project that I will share on the blog in January– stay tuned!

2) How does my work differ from others in its genre?

There are many wonderful blogs that focus on handmade goods, DIY projects, and design. I would say what makes mine different is my focus on nature. A love for the natural world is infused into almost everything I do here on the blog. I’m curious, what do you think makes Folkloriat different? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

3) Why do I write/create what I do?

There so many reasons. I wanted to create something new that didn’t exist before, something I could share with other people. A blog provides a built-in platform for that. I am passionate about nature and handmade goods, and combining them together in one place happened organically.

4) How does my writing/creating process work?

Usually it starts with something visual. I’m inspired by something in nature or a beautifully-designed item that I want to photograph and share with readers. I start with the photo, and let that guide my creative process. I like to write as well, but the visual is what excites me the most.

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Now I’d like to share with you the blogs of 3 kick-ass women.

Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens

rowdy-kittens

courtesy of Tammy Strobel

Tammy is the queen of simplifying. I first heard of her through the film TINY about people who live in tiny houses. Her blog, Rowdy Kittens, is all about the simple life, or in her words, “Go small, think big, & be happy.”

As she reflects on turning 36, Tammy writes, “In my 20s, I felt compelled to please everyone in my life and an intense desire to buy a bigger house, designer clothes, and a fancy car. Now, I’m living with less and loving it. Creating a simple life rooted in flexibility and gratitude has given me the gift of time, presence, and wonderful relationships.”

 

Camille of Wayward Spark

Camille lives “off the grid” in the Oregon forest with her husband and two kids. Her blog, Wayward Spark, focuses on beautiful photography documenting her family’s homesteading lifestyle.

 

Jessika Hepburn of Oh My Handmade Goodness

Jessika, who is based in Nova Scotia, is the owner of Oh My Handmade Goodness, an online center for creative people, with an entrepreneurial spirit. Here’s how she describes the company: “Since 2010 OMHG has been a gathering place for the open sharing of creativity, community and collaboration. We’ve worked together daily to gather and celebrate our diverse stories, talents and knowledge while asking important questions through our site, chats and events. What started out as a resource for the handmade community has grown into the first cooperatively owned social network, a community for the head + heart + hands.” You can read more about Jessika’s story here.

 

Screen printed linens from Linea Carta

linea-carta-pillow linea-cartasimilar pillows here

Linea Carta is a line of home and paper goods based in Berkeley, California and designed by Diva Pyari. Her original calligraphy and patterns are swoon-worthy. The natural linen material is screen printed with water-based ink, and is a nice way to add some happy color to a neutral environment. I can’t help but smile every time I look at the ladybugs. This pattern reminds me of when I first moved to Maine and my family lived in a rural place where the ladybugs suddenly appear in swarms on the outside of our house at a certain time of year. There’s something very cheerful about them, isn’t there?

Living well in a tiny house

Last week I watched the documentary TINY on Netflix. It follows a man on his mission to build a tiny house, and introduces you to many other tiny house owners, along with tours of their dwellings. These houses are usually under 200 square feet, and on wheels. They are well-designed, partially out of necessity; every part has to be well-planned in order to maximize the use of extremely limited space. They are also well-made, often a labor of love on the part of the owner (though companies like Tumbleweed allow you to buy one if you’re not a do-it-yourselfer) The layout usually involves a living space, kitchen and bathroom on the first “floor,” with a loft above for sleeping.

I don’t plan on selling all my stuff and building a tiny abode, but I am fascinated by the idea of it. Owning items that you truly love and use regularly, and nothing more. As TINY asserts, the standard American Dream is to acquire more stuff– a bigger house, a pool, more gadgets, more clutter. The more successful you are, the more you can afford to buy.  TINY offers a different kind of dream. A dream of a good and simple life with meaning. One of the homeowners interviewed for the film, Tammy Strobel, says that she was working as an investment manager and commuting over an hour a day before she reached a breaking point and decided to quit and build a tiny house. As she phrased her outlook, “Do you really want to spend your time working at a job you hate to buy crap that you can’t afford? …In a lot of ways, I think tiny housers have figured that out and re-prioritized their time to focus on relationships.”

All this tiny house business got me thinking about what I would keep if I were to have a tiny space. I’m not certain of the answer. When I moved back to Maine from Boulder at 24, my boyfriend (how husband) and I packed up all of our belongings into our Honda Civic and gave away or sold the rest of what we owned. I opted to keep some books, my computer and camera, old journals, my most-used apothecary and makeup items, kitchen necessities, and best clothes.  Now that I’ve put down roots, I’ve collected more things, but thinking about living small makes me wonder what I would keep if I were to downsize once again. What would YOU keep? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Farmhouse Pottery’s Dreamy Workshop in Woodstock, Vermont

farmhouse-pottery

Wouldn’t you love to move to a spellbinding town in Vermont and open a light-filled pottery studio? Zoe Zilian has done exactly that, and her business is flourishing. The number one place that I visited during my October trip to Vermont was her studio and shop, Farmhouse Pottery in Woodstock. Aside from being familiar with their dreamy Instagram feed, I had little clue how much I was going to love it. The studio was bustling with activity, and the shop brimming with excited out-of-towners who were giddy with excitement to be there (myself included). Farmhouse Pottery makes gorgeously simple wheel-thrown pottery with a natural aesthetic. Their creations are stamped with a subtle yet distinctive laurel symbol that manages to be both classy and humble. In addition to stoneware, the shop offers honey, candles, a few textile goods, and a well-curated selection of jewelry, all styled beautifully amongst bundles of dried wheat, yellow flowers, and wooden boxes. Zoe was a cheerful and gracious shopkeeper, eager to chat with me about our mutual love for Maine and Standard Baking Co. It’s great to see an artisan doing so well in a small town. Proof that it’s possible to run a successful creative business and also live in the country close to nature.

I came home with a match striker, and had trouble resisting the laurel pie dish and beehive croc. And if I had a dog, I most certainly would have snatched up the farm dog bowl.

 

Best websites for creative learning

Craftsy

One of the wonderful perks of living in the 21st century is that we can learn just about anything from the comfort of our own homes. I’ve noticed a surge in the number of resources for online classes in the past year, which I think is great. They give folks the opportunity to learn new skills that they may not have access to otherwise, due to time limitations, location, or money. Here are a few sites that look promising.

Craftsy:

Craftsy offers courses in sewing & quilting, jewelry, paper crafts, painting, drawing, woodworking, gardening, cooking, and fiber arts. Many of them range between $20-30, and you can download the HD video lessons and reference sheets. For example, if you are new to cooking, you could take Simple Soups from Scratch, which would give you 6 lessons, printable materials, and the ability to ask questions of the instructor. I know someone who has taken classes with Craftsy and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Creative Bug:

Creative Bug’s courses will teach you about sewing, paper, yarn, jewelry, quilting, making apothecary items, holiday crafts, and wedding crafts, among other things. They have some real heavy hitters on their “faculty,” like Fancy Tiger (super cool Denver fiber crafts store), the iconic illustrator Lisa Congdon, and the stationers who founded Hello!Lucky. The way it works is that you buy a subscription to the site (they charge by the month) for $10 and you can watch any of the classes that they offer. Pretty darn affordable. In fact, I think I’ve just talked myself into signing up right here and now.

Udemy:

Udemy is the least “artsy” of the three sites listed here, but it is the most versatile. You can log on and learn about anything, from yoga to photography to how to write a business plan. There is something for everyone here, but the classes can be expensive. They range from $10 to hundreds of dollars, depending on the nature of the class.

What are your favorite sites for online classes and tutorials?