Do you have a morning ritual? If so, what does it consist of?
This changes for me often from time to time, depending on my current rhythms and environment. Since moving full time to our home in upstate NY, I like to wander out to our vegetable garden and see how everything is growing. If I go early in the morning, it is still dewy and feels somewhat magical. Most of the time my daughter will come with me, and we will see if anything is ready to be harvested.
Do you have any self-care or beauty habits that you consistently practice?
I love to brew medicinal teas for specific well-being needs. At the moment, I am drinking a lot of cats claw and cistus, which are both strong antiviral remedies.
My consistent beauty habit has always been to cleanse my face. I do this always, every day — no matter what. I like to alternate between cleansers; I use a gentle plant based cleanser for my morning ritual and another for the evening.
Describe your home in five words:
Serene, secluded, textural, illuminated, lush.
Do you have personal practices for living or well-being that create a reduced environmental impact or are zero waste? (share a recipe, practice or how to)
Our family strives to consider low impact in most every aspect of our living. Whether it be from sourcing our power from wind and solar, or from making conscious choices with our waste. It is just part of our ongoing mindset. Living in harmony with our surroundings — giving back what we take, blending with our environment rather than intruding upon.
This year, we have started to grow some of our own vegetables — particularly those that are not available at our local farmers market. We try to source most all of our produce from local farms and small businesses with ethical practices. By supporting our local community we are able to help our area thrive, and also minimize our impact.
We are very lucky to have a package-free pantry store in our quaint town. This allows us to shop for most of our supplies in a zero-waste manner.
I love to first look to what resources I have available to me, before rushing to buy anything new. If I can make it with things I already have, I will. We try to re-use our waste in creative ways that also benefit our surroundings. Everything can become cyclical — I once read that there is no such thing as waste, only wasted resources.
My mother taught me a wonderful trick in making an incredibly potent fertilizer from your waste: With your waste of used coffee grinds, eggshells (can be from raw cracked egg or cooked), and the scraped inside layer of banana peel, collect over time as you dispose of each, grinding the cracked eggshells as much as possible. Stir the mixture each time you add to it, making sure to bring the bottom layers up for circulation.
When your plants (both indoor or outdoor) need a lift, poke a small hole in the soil, and place some of the mixture in. Cover it back up with the soil. This can also be used scattered over the top of soil as an organic pest deterrent in your vegetable garden.
Try as we might, humans will inevitably negatively affect the environment in some ways, both on a local and global scale. With this in mind what are some specific intentions and convictions that you hold close?
Since becoming a mother, my intentions and convictions on my environmental impact shifted overnight. I became ever more conscious that my action and decisions would implicate my daughter’s future surroundings. I want her to be able to experience this world and to be able to subconsciously immerse herself in its beauty — without restraint. Perhaps that is also why we decided to relocate upstate full time — so she can experience this firsthand, and learn how to preserve it. I feel it is my responsibility to teach her how to live lightly, how to live slowly, and how to make conscious choices.
What is a project for home or living that you have recently started or finished? (share a how to, recipe etc)
My husband and I recently decided to build a vegetable garden on our property. It is something we have wanted to do for a very long time but wasn’t possible while we lived a dual lifestyle between NYC and upstate NY. We chose a sunny site on our property that was on quite a steep slope but adjacent to a small natural spring that flows into the woods. We used mostly materials available to us on our property — disassembling old stone walls using and trees as fenceposts. The idea was to blend with the existing landscape. Because of the intense labor in using the stone and non-invasive tools, the whole project took months — probably more than it should have — but it is something that will now last some time, and has become a hearth for us. In growing the vegetables, we are slowly learning as we go. Some things are growing better than others; sometimes things get eaten by the overwhelming abundance of “friendly” creatures we have here. All in all, it has been good to work with the earth if anything at all. We will see what comes of it.
What distracts you? How do you remain centered?
I get very easily distracted. Often I'll start one thing and end up working on ten others simultaneously as they jump out at me. I find it helpful to consciously pull back, re-prioritise, and work on one thing at a time. Once I am able to do that, I become focused and immersed entirely, with intention. The term “ichigyo zammai” refers to a Japanese Zen philosophy- the practice of doing one thing at a time. It helps me to remain centered.
How has your relationship with your immediate surroundings and the environment at large adapted or changed through the years?
Over time, I have become much more conscious of my footprint and how even small actions can have such long lasting impact on the environment. When you become aware of it, you very easily become hyper obsessive about trying to do “the right thing”. I have slowly and methodically transitioned my practices to become as low impact as possible. For me, making a sudden switch seemed counter-intuitive — replacing every day tools that I already owned that still function and purpose, just to be using the “right” or “zero waste” object didn’t feel like the right thing to do. It has been a slow and careful process.
My relationship with my immediate surroundings has greatly changed since relocating to my home in upstate NY full time. I have become much more immersed in the wildlife and nature surrounding our property. The overwhelming sense of isolation here also makes me feel responsible for nurturing its habitats. It is incredibly rewarding to see how your actions and the way you interact with your land can really affect its wellbeing.
Describe a practice in living well that you admire from someone in your community.
My mother has always lived very harmoniously with her surroundings. She respects food, and its sources. She respects all forms of life. She finds use and re-use for every little scrap of fabric, or string, or paper, or food scrap. Her experiences and hardships in life taught her this, as did her mother and father before her. It is somewhat of a family practice. Always mending (as does my father), never discarding. She is forever patching and darning, in the most beautiful and precise ways. It has been engrained in me through my upbringing. Her inventiveness never ceases to amaze me, and inspires me to do the same. I often feel completely mind-blown by the ideas she has. She is an engineer by trade — this is her mindset. Nothing passes through her filter, nothing ever goes to waste. She uses what is around her, and transforms it into greatness.
Share a well-loved family recipe:
Something my mother and grandmother both make/made. It is very simple, but somehow satisfying, and very pure.
Farm cheese, Radish and Green onion spread
Farm Cheese (I used an Australian Feta from our local cheesemonger)
Green Onion or Chives
Slice of fresh bread — preferably Rye
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional caraway seeds
Finely chop the radish and green onion.
Mix with the cheese.
Spread onto toast, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with caraway seeds.