Posted in Uncategorized

The re-usable shipping suitcase

When I was in high school, a friend of mine had to move away with her family. She and I wrote letters back and forth for about a year or so, until we finally lost touch. I’m not sure who sent the last letter…but my guess is that life just put a pause on the touch-keeping for each of us. The exteriors of our letters were super creative. We drew little doodles on the front of the envelope. We attached random stickers to the front and back. I once used 1 cent stamps to cover the entire front of the envelope to pay postage. It was legal to do this…and I got away with it and never forgot it. This little interaction among creative friends helped to fuel the idea of the reusable shipping suitcase almost twelve years later.

I own a few online stores in which I find popular items and re-sell them. One such treasure was a suitcase that I purchased from a thrift store for $3. I sold it online on my Facebook group page for $10. It cost about $10 to ship it. While I was figuring out how to ship this thing to the buyer, I thought of how ironic it was that I was shipping an item designed to transport and ship items. I wasn’t sure what the post office would accept as “correct” shipping procedure, so I decided that I would wrap the suitcase in a black trash bag and tape it over as a cover.
When I arrived at the post office, and the postal employee asked if there was any thing fragile, liquid or potentially hazardous inside, I told her it was a suitcase and giggled about it. I then asked her if one could just ship a suitcase without wrapping it in anything.

Her response was: you can ship a suitcase without it being wrapped in any paper or plastic cover packaging—as long as the clasps where the suitcase opens are taped down or locked with an airport lock & key (designed to lock suitcases during travel).  I’m assuming this is their policy so that it won’t pop open in transport.

The idea that washed over me was one of shipping the suitcase back and forth between friends or family as a re-useable package!!! Less waste will be accumulated by not using cardboard boxes, tape (if using an airport lock) and other general packaging supplies. If you find a lightweight suitcase, that is a bonus move. Shipping a reusable package suitcase like this one will be a much cheaper shipment every time! You won’t have to find that roll of packaging tape when it is ready to be mailed.

Our Goal? Find one light weight old suitcase and mail it to Grandma Cindy as a portal for all mailing treasures. She lives across the country in California, so we tend to send and receive many packages from her.
How to create your re-usable suitcase:

Step 1: Obtain a plastic report cover (the kind with the little plastic slider that holds the pages together along one long end)

report cover

Remove the slider tab {Can be seen on the left hand side (white) in the image above}

Step 2: Measure the length of one short side of the report cover and cut the same length in self adhesive velcro. An easy way to measure both at once is to adhere stick the velcro (the grabby side toward the soft side) together, then cut.

Step 3: Place the velcro, with the backing peeled off into the edge of the report cover plastic. Be careful! This stuff is VERY STICKY. Make sure it is where you want it inside the report cover before you allow it to touch the plastic or it WILL stick.

Step 4: Tape down or sew both long ends and one of the short ends, leaving one short side open. This will create a flap opening. When you get to the end where the velcro is attached, make sure you sew to the edge of the velcro.

sew the report cover

Step 5: Write out both addresses onto one 8.5 x 11 letter sized paper. One address on top, one on the bottom: both on the same side of the paper. Fold the letter sized paper in half between the text of each shipping address. Fold so that each address is visible when the letter is flipped. Place the address sandwich into a laminating sleeve and laminate. Trim the edges of the laminate sleeve so that it will fit inside of the laminate pocket from the fourth step.

Step 6: Attach the plastic sleeve onto the suitcase. Tape the pocket down on three sides, leaving the velcro opening free of tape. If you wish, you may use some spray adhesive, hot glue or double sided tape to adhere the underside of the packet to the suitcase.

Ta-Da!!!!

You now have a re-usable way to mail the suitcase or package.

Now, get creative with the process. Ask the person you are mailing back and forth with to attach a sticker, design or other artwork onto the suitcase each time they receive it. Make sure someone adds something new to the suitcase package before it ships each time. This way, when your treasure arrives in the mail…it will have a new addition of creativity and design. How exciting to get such a thing in the mail!

Our reusable shipping suitcase

Here is the suitcase package we created for Grandma Cindy. I purchased the suitcase from a flea market for 14 cents. It is very small and lightweight. Also, as you can see, the pocket has been adapted with a zipper opening instead of Velcro. Mix it up! Add your own flair!  Save some money.  Use less materials.  Surprise the postal worker with a little unexpected package 🙂

Posted in Community, Festivals, Nature, Uncategorized

Of Two Worlds: The Empowerment within the Girl with the Plastic Bag

I consider myself to be quite natural. I enjoy walking barefoot upon the earth.  I dig in my garden without gloves.  I don’t wear makeup.  I don’t dye my hair.  I often have un-shaven legs and rarely ‘dress up.’  These things have compiled over the past six years, mostly.  It began with becoming a Mother.  Many mothers know that self care can often take a back seat as we choose to become selfless for our children.  In the center of my journey into motherhood, I began to look deeper into my own human existence.  Children can prompt deep discussions and thoughts like this.  They change you.  They change your body.  They alter your mind.  They make you stronger.  They help you grow.

At first, I was uncomfortable with the transition of becoming, well… counterculture.  Not many women my age (I’m 36) have “let themselves go” quite like I have chosen to do.  There aren’t very many understandable answers to the question “Why?” when it comes to these decisions, at least not by the typical standards of the USA’s society.

Question: “Why don’t you dye your hair anymore?” 

Answers:  “Because I don’t want to have any more filters placed upon my appearance.  Because my true hair color is grey/silver.  Because my scalp burns from the chemicals of conventional hair dye.  Because my skin breaks out when I use hair dye. Because I don’t want to pay $60-100 every two weeks to cover up a skunk stripe/tree ring.  Because it is empowering.

Question:  “Don’t you want to stay clean outside?  Why don’t you wear shoes or gloves?  Aren’t you afraid of bugs and disease?

Answer:  No.

(lol)

More descriptive answer: “I am a mammal of the Earth.  This is my environment.  Why would I choose to be afraid of my environment?  It’s just dirt.  Dirt can be healing.  There are many beneficial microbes in soil.  These microbes typically outweigh the bad guys. I don’t have biophobia.  I don’t choose to live in fear.

I have conversations/ Q&A Sessions like these all the time with friends, new and old, who feel comfortable enough with me to inquire.  Each time this happens, I find myself in mourning.  “Why aren’t there more people like me?”  I wonder. Thoughts of societal programming pass through my seemingly unhinged thoughts. “Why is it such a big deal to just… choose NOT to?” Have I gone wild?

Humans have been trying for a very long time to become civilized beings.  We work to be able to pay lots of money to have the privilege to hide our body odors and poop in potable water. We alter our appearance to avoid being judged. We are led to believe that if we don’t get all “gussied up” (I’m southern), that we will never succeed in “the real world.”  We will never be rich.  We will never be successful. We will never be powerful, lest we wear the mask.  Lest we hide our flaws. Lest we act civilized.

I recently met a wonderful woman who is becoming well known in our area for her ability to use natural building materials (cob, pise, clay) to create art and dwellings.  For a period of time, she lived in a cob house with no electricity. (I found myself a bit jealous of this.) She walked barefoot around her cob house… and she LIVED!  In my opinion, she was able to truly live.  To live simplistically.

After quite some time of living as a creature of the Earth, she later returned to what many would deem to be basic living:  a carpeted apartment.  Upon her return to the stick built world, she found herself appalled at the feeling of carpet beneath her feet.  She also found the electric lighting in her apartment to be brash and intrusive.  She had been used to walking around her cob house with a lantern.  It took her quite some time to adjust back to our normal human standard of living.  She later found herself being interviewed by a reporter, who quoted her to say that “She had gone too wild to go back.”  What a great story.

This past weekend, our family took a camping trip to Turtle Island Preserve, home of Mountain Man, Eustace Conway.

eustace-conway-mountain-men_01
Eustace Conway

Eustace has gained internet fame and popularity for his ability to really, truly, live off the land.  He lives entirely off grid, in a home built using trees and materials from the land.  He has his own sawmill.  He grows food and raises livestock.  He started a 501c3 Non Profit known as Turtle Island Preserve.  He has battled local zoning officials and municipalities to fight for his right to live off the land, and to teach others how to do the same.  Legend says that this man even traveled across America on horseback.

51-year-old Eustace Conway, who currently resides on a 1,000-acre plot of land he calls Turtle Island in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, got his first taste of living at-one with nature when he spent a week in the woods at the age of 12, completely empty-handed, making his own shelter and living entirely off the land. That stint in the wilderness sparked a fire in little Eustace that led to many more adventures. From GQ:

When he was 18 years old, he traveled down the Mississippi River in a handmade cedar canoe. When he was 19, he walked the 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail, surviving on only what he could hunt or gather along the way. Over the next few years, he hiked the Alps (in sneakers), kayaked across Alaska, scaled cliffs in New Zealand and lived with Navajo in Mexico.

When Eustace was in his mid twenties, he decided that he wanted to study a primitive culture more closely, so he flew to Guatemala. He got off the plane and pretty much started asking, “Where are the primitive people at?” He was pointed toward the jungle, where he hiked until he found a remote village of Mayan Indians. He lived with the Indians for months. They liked him a lot.

As I’m sure you probably guessed, Eustace’s adventuring didn’t stop after hanging out with the Mayan Indians in Guatemala. In 1995 he and his brother Judson rode horses across America, from South Carolina to San Diego, in 103 days! They reportedly set out after eating a hefty Christmas dinner and arrived in And Diego just before Easter, surviving “off the land” the entire journey, which included roadkill deer and squirrel soup. They slept in the barns of folks they met along the way, or else snoozed beneath the stars when weather permitted. And perhaps most shockingly of all, there were no sponsors for the trip or reality show cameras along for the ride.

Source

Obviously… this man is a legend. Eustace Conway, The Last American Man, is an idol for Nature lovers around the world.  From my experience at Turtle Island, I can tell you that those hills attract allllll different types of people. The eccentrics.  The “dirty hippies”. The herbalists.  The stilt walkers wearing a swan hat.  All the wild ones.

Here’s a quote from Eustace himself.  I feel that it pretty much sums up the experience that many of us nature lovers seek.

We created a place where people can get in touch with the roots of humanity and connected with the resources and abilities that sustain our existence. We simplfy our day to food, shelter, water, and clothing which enables us to see more clearly the picture of how we fit into the bigger circles of life; our food chain, water cycle, Eco system, and environmental economics.

We break rocks to make stone tools, bend bark to fashion baskets, and spin sticks to create fire. We drive horse and buggy, plow gardens, dry wild persimmons, cook stinging nettle, watch the morning light first hit the tree tops and lift a rock in a stream to see what mysteries reside there. We watch a spider weave a web or 42 butterflies stir at our quiet passing.

We enchant the overstimulated apathetic bored spirit within us as we wash the dust off by standing in the rain watching the deer come closer, listening to the wren’s call — not just hearing but listening to the wild things as if they matter and then realizing that they do.

At Turtle Island you can meet people who really live in the forest and take immediate responsibility for their actions. We work with groups of all types from business professionals to elementary classes. We are eclectic, diverse, spontaneous and creative we offer a door to a renewed vision of an ancient natural reality that governs all. With a few sticks and bones we can wake up your world!

In Peace,

Eustace

Being Star-struck is an interesting thing.  When you first come into the presence of someone who is living an existence you admire, your inner self wants nothing more than to make contact, in some way, with this person.  The first time I met Eustace, I didn’t even introduce myself. I wandered into a conversation on a walk toward the outdoor kitchen, where we had been invited to eat after being a vendor at Turtle Island’s Families Learning Together Event. The group was discussing the conch shell used to signal the guests of the Island (which is not an actual island) that dinner was ready.  I shared with the group, making eye contact with Eustace, that my mother used to ring a large cast-iron bell to get me to come back inside from outdoor play.  Eustace shared that his mother used to do the same thing with a bell.  That moment was enough for me 🙂

This year, I saw Eustace a few times.  Once, at another shared dinner in the outdoor community kitchen and again as we were packing up our tent and booth contents to prepare to leave the Sunday morning after the event.  I didn’t speak to him this year, but what I saw the second time he passed by triggered the need to write this blog.

It is easy to put men like Eustace up on a high, moss and dew covered pedestal.  “This man is really doing it”, you think.  This man is living the life.  My opinion of Eustace, after seeing him ride by on a dirt bike, has increased in admiration.  Here’s why.

In my experience of being a simple, meek, transitioning Gypsymama, I have ran into the purist crowd.  The crowd full of judgement, at all times, willing to point gnarly, dirt covered fingers at anyone who uses modern conveniences…especially gas powered conveniences.

Early in our trip to Turtle Island, I found myself feeling guilty about driving our large, gas guzzling truck into this pristine Island wilderness.  A part of me wanted to unpack our belongings and set up our tent right away, so that we could hide our vehicle in one of the provided parking lots, in order to blend in better with this memorial to natural living. As I unpacked the belongings of myself, my husband and our two young boys, I began to feel more comfortable and welcomed– “no more modern inconveniences!”– I thought to myself.  I’m ready to live wild and free, if only for a few days!  That’s about the time that the calm winds of Turtle Island picked up a plastic grocery bag that I had used to pack the boys’ shoes.

I was inside the tent at the time of the crisis, placing our thermarests and sleeping bags into position for en evening’s rest.  “What!??!”  “Where did that come from!??!?!” “Get it!!!” I heard being yelled outside the tent.  My husband, Aaron came to the tent entrance and poked his head inside, “Did you leave a plastic bag outside?”  Daaaaaamn.  Yes.  Yes I did. Apparently I had not weighted it down enough after removing a pair of shoes. Luckily one of our new friends was able to rescue the bag from the branches of a nearby tree.  In my mind, I was instantly deemed the camp impostor.  I came to this mountain top with the enemy as a stowaway.  I would be branded a sheeple and be pummeled with spit and tomatoes.  This of course, did not happen.  It was a simple mistake, quickly forgotten– yet a maddening reminder of the “outside” world.

This all too familiar feeling, of being the girl with the plastic bag, looms as a heavy fog above my awakened mind. It haunts me.  I want to be the girl in the cob house!  Not the girl with the plastic bag!  Societal norms compress my open mind, forcing it back into a box. Modern day conveniences become inconveniences stuck in nature’s branches.

All too often, we judge each other.  Our egos are checked and tested.  We are reminded that we must do better and that there are more things to be done. We pick and choose our battles.  We compost our processed foods and brew our fermented beverages with mass produced tea packets.  Can one ever be completely free of this tower we have built?  The tower which holds our health, our beauty, our petroleum, our freedom?

When Eustace Conway rode past us on his dirt bike, some unseen, weighted force was released from within me.  I was trying.  I care.  I try and I care. I have a respect for the Earth, and I do my best from within the belly of the beast to reject the products and methods introduced to me that I don’t agree with.  I primitive camp, but I burn gallons of gasoline to get to the camp site.  I own cloth bags, but plastic bags are better for muddy shoes.  I use cloth napkins in our kitchen, but not to clean up our puppy’s accidents.  Double standards abound.  I am in this world, I am of this world.  I am not a purist, but I do try to live as naturally as possible– changing my will power from day to day, introducing new practices into our home in an attempt to live a better life.  In an attempt to be the change.  In an attempt to be wild and free, and no longer the girl with the plastic bag.  I struggle between these worlds.

~*~*~*~*~*~* Wendy

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Biophilia hypothesis:  the idea that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.

It is suspected that the increased dependence of the human species on technology has led to an attenuation in the human drive to connect with nature. Wilson and others have argued that such declines in biophilic behaviour could remove meaning from nature, translating into a loss of human respect for the natural world. In fact, the loss of desire to interact with the natural world, resulting in a decreased appreciation for the diversity of life-forms that support human survival, has been cited as a potential factor contributing to environmental destruction and the rapid rate of species extinction. Thus, reestablishing the human connection with nature has become an important theme in conservation.

Read more about this theory, here.

Posted in Community, Inman, Inman South Carolina, Inman, SC, local businesses, Uncategorized

“Blades Giving Back” at Studio 18 on Mill

The 29349 Inman Times

“Studio 18 on Mill” is nestled in downtown Inman’s row of historic buildings. Operating from a building that has kept a history of hair artists under the same roof for generations, Studio 18 moved in to what used to be Fox Barber Shop. Barber Ben Fox helped groom the hair of Inman citizens from the same location, 18 Mill Street for many years. Studio 18 carried on the history of the building when they opened their doors 13 years ago in 2003. Local citizens may not visit owners Leslie LeMaster and Sharon Daugherty for a shave…but they are certainly stopping in for a haircut, nails and a bit of style.

Not all citizens, however, can afford the luxury of one of life’s pleasures…a haircut. A haircut may be considered a monthly necessity to you and I, but to some, this basic form of grooming and self-care is just not practical…

View original post 126 more words

Posted in Bamboo, Gardening, homesteading, Landscaping

Weaving a Split Bamboo Privacy Fence

Years ago, I built a small, keyhole, cob bordered garden on the back side of our house, next to the back deck.  This little garden has been my sanctuary.  I sit and watch the birds eat out of a glass feeder from a chair I spray painted bright colors.  The chair has a little yellow sun on it.  I like to sit and gaze upon “the nature” from this little seat outside.

All of these years, as great as this garden has been described, it has also had a bit of a problem… it is in a prime spot for all of the neighbors to also gaze upon the garden, and me in it.  Now, call me crazy, but when I’m out in my garden feeling all spiritual and connected, I don’t like the feeling of being watched.  Perhaps no one is looking at me and it is all in my head… but after much conversation with my husband, we decided that a decorative little privacy fence would serve as a nice mental block, even if no eyes were directed my way.

Aaron split whole bamboo canes that he has kept covered behind our back garage using a new bamboo splitter that he purchased off of the internet.  Bamboo itself has become a passion for both Aaron and I.  We grow it, craft with it, eat it and marvel at its brilliance.  Bamboo came into our lives due to my need for privacy, years ago… and it has once again stepped in to help with this recurring issue.
Here’s a little video time lapse I put together of Aaron and I building the bamboo fence.  We used green, metal garden “T-Posts” to secure the whole bamboo canes which serve as support for the split bamboo that we weaved through the canes.  It is a pretty simple, yet effective design.  Aaron came up with it 🙂  I took a lot of video of the entire process.  I am slowly working on putting a full-blown blog together using all of this video.  In the meantime, here’s a short time lapse of the project we are working on:

Posted in Food Production, Uncategorized

A Homemade bread making demonstration: FREE online live video

Over the past few years, I’ve been asked numerous times about homemade bread making. I have been making bread for our family instead of buying it, off and on for about two years.  When I first began making bread, I was quite intimidated.  I found conflicting information across the internet regarding techniques and recipes.  I tried many different ingredients, oven temperatures, water types, brands of yeast, flours, etc. until I finally settled on just a few simple ingredients.

To celebrate the launch of this new site, I am going to give a free online LIVE video on the Dandelion Soul Creative Facebook Page.

Here’s the text I have created for this event:

Learn how to make your own bread using 4 simple ingredients! I have been making homemade bread for my family for a few years. I have had many people ask me how to make it, what recipe I use, what the ingredients are, etc.

To celebrate the launch of the Dandelion Soul Facebook Page, I’ll be offering a free live demonstration of the process I use to make my own bread. I hope you will join me!!!

Here’s a list of what you will need to gather up so that you can make your own homemade bread along side me in your own kitchen:

One bag/package of Bread Flour
Salt (I use Himilayan Pink Salt)
Water (preferably filtered)
Active Dry Yeast (buy the paper package trio or a glass jar full)
Bread Pan (for a shaped loaf bread) OR Pizza Stone/ pan for the oven
Coconut Oil/ Olive Oil or another oil to grease your pan

Join me on Monday, March 6, 2017 at 8:00 AM as you sip your coffee from the comfort of your own home.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1813881945528731/

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Posted in Etsy, Uncategorized

Combined efforts and the Creation of an Etsy Shop

Due to popular recommendation by friends and family,  I have created an online store to sell handmade products, crafts and other cool stuff.  These will be items I that both myself and my husband, Aaron, have created. Our Etsy store will serve as an online spot to sell our creations, all in one place.  There will be lots of primitive style items made from bamboo and gourds– because we have sort of fallen in love with each of those plants 🙂

Thanks for stopping in!  Here’s a link to our Etsy store:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/AncientDandelionSoul

Posted in Food Production, Uncategorized

Why Dandelion Soul?

The Dandelion is one of the most misunderstood plants in the United States.  Despised by homeowners and constantly attacked by poisons and lawn mowers– the Dandelion is dismissed as a weed.  It’s blooms are picked by children and gifted to Mothers.  Photographers ask clients to dance in Dandelion fields. The Dandelion is frowned upon once it sprouts from a lawn, yet many take pleasure in blowing the seeds from its white, fluffy, spherical head.

The Dandelion, in fact, is a very valuable, fully edible, nutritious and mildly delicious medicinal plant.  In progressive cities in the United States, people farm Dandelion and sell the leaves as salad greens to the public at farmer’s markets.

Here’s a slide that my husband, Aaron, prepared for a Permaculture presentation he prepared for The Spartanburg Men’s Garden Club:

36

As you can see, the Dandelion, to me, is more than just a weed.  However, if you were to perform a simple internet search using the key terms “weed killer” or “weed control”, you’d find multiple images such as these:

Why do we have to hate on the Dandelion so much?  What is this strange desire we have, here in America, to have perfect, green, grass-only lawns?  My thoughts lead me to the need to control nature– which I find mostly silly.

weed

/wēd/

noun

  • 1. a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.

The perfect cultivated lawn, as it is defined today by many, is “weed” free.  Long ago, people actually grew food on pieces of property they owned.  In fact, the desire for a grass-only lawn came to become standard once the rich, wealthy elite began growing grass as a lawn– to brag about their wealth, in a sense.  One need not grow food on their property if they were wealthy enough to grow grass instead.

Lawn History

The lawn appears to be a European invention, which makes ecological sense because the moist, mild, climate of Europe supported open, close-cut grasslands. (The less temperate climate of North America does not.)

Some of the earliest lawns were the grasslands around medieval castles in France and Britain, kept clear of trees so guards had an unobstructed view of approaching, perhaps hostile, visitors.

In the 16th Century Renaissance, lawns were deliberately cultivated by the wealthy in both France and England, though they were more likely planted with chamomile or thyme than with grass. Both of these ground covers make excellent alternatives to grass in modern lawns.source

 

Aaron and I have two young boys.  We understand the thought process behind having open spaces in our landscape for play and entertainment. The dandelion, to us, represents many things that we believe to be wrong about what is accepted in our society.  Aaron and I are “careless” because we allow dandelions to reproduce and bloom all over our yard.  Let your non-grass grow for long enough and you might in fact, get a visit from Environmental Control…and I say this from experience. Landscapes which “allow” grass/plants to grow more than 16 inches draw attention, which is often negative.  People just aren’t used to seeing it.  My hope is that this will change over time, quickly.

grow-food-not-lawns

People who hold opinions such as “dandelions are not weeds” are often categorized as “nature freaks” or “hippies” and are cast to the fringes of society.  Many of the things Aaron and I do to our landscape (Mostly designed by Aaron) are not traditional in any sense.  We have a a small permaculture food forest backyard garden.  It is very eye catching, because it is so different.  We aren’t afraid to be different.  The Dandelion seemed a good plant-world mascot for our endeavors.

We aren’t alone in our thinking as the dandelion as a valuable plant.  In fact, the popular tea brand, Traditional Medicinals, offers a Dandelion brew.

th

One morning, while sipping my tea in morning contemplation, I snagged a quick photograph of a message on my tea bag that spoke to me.

Traditional Medicninals  aren’t the only ones who offer and profit from a product that people pay money to eradicate from their lawns.

This blog will offer opinions, discussions and facts about topics such as these (not all “weeds” are bad), along with recipes, crafties, photos and other projects.  I am excited to share future creations and promote my thoughts and beliefs here.

-Wendy