Friday Inspiration

December 19, 2014

you_think_you_have_time
Not to be a Debbie Downer when all is supposed to be merry and bright, but this quote jumped out at me this week because a friend of mine just passed away. He wasn’t young, but he wasn’t old, either; it seems much too soon for him to leave the life and people he loved.

His sudden departure got me thinking about how I walk around as though I have all the time in the world. I think most of us do that to some extent. One thing I’ve realized about myself, having plenty of years and decisions to look back on now, is that I have a tendency to take too long to act — particularly when it comes to big decisions. I can see this pattern throughout my life, but now that I’m aware of it, I’m trying to step out and take bigger risks and jump on things sooner than I might have otherwise.

The death of my friend — an amazing guy and a kindred spirit — is another reminder that you just never know when your time is up. He certainly didn’t know it six weeks ago, when we had our last conversation. In fact, we talked about death and suffering and life and faith, and neither of us could have imagined it would be our last time to talk of such things.

If we were granted a hundred years, it still wouldn’t be enough time. Rather than make us feel rushed, though, I think it can make us more determined to spend the time we have on what matters most in life, and to savor the moment. To my mind, it’s a good resolution to take into the Christmas holidays and a new year.

Billy C., rest in peace — and may perpetual light shine upon you.

Image unknown

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by Margaret Cabaniss

peanut_blossoms
Holiday baking seems like one of those things that people simultaneously love and dread about the season: It’s just not Christmas without gingerbread, but it can be so. much. work. — particularly during a time when your to-do list is already a mile long. Last night capped off a day wherein I made twelve dozen cookies, so I feel like I’ve had a bit of crash course in big-batch holiday baking this week. If a tower of Christmas cookies looms in your future, consider a few tricks to help save your sanity:

Keep it simple. No less true for being obvious! Stick to one or two (maybe three) recipes that you know well and that are worth the effort — something where it just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without them. Streamlining the process keeps you from overbuying ingredients and overcommitting yourself to elaborate treats that take more time or input than they’re ultimately worth. If you just have to have the variety, consider a cookie swap with your friends: Everyone bakes a big batch of one item to share, so each guest can take home a sample of everything.

Another way to keep it simple? Do your holiday baking the week after Christmas, when there are no more gifts to buy, cards to write, or suitcases to pack. Most people are home from school or taking extended vacations that week anyway, so there’s much more time to relax and enjoy the process. Christmas lasts 12 days, after all — why not spread out the cheer?

frozen_dough
Freeze your dough. 
This was the single handiest trick I used all week. It’s a lifesaver when your office holiday party is in the middle of the week, but you know you won’t have time to start from scratch the night before. Instead, I mixed up a big batch of dough when I had extra time over the weekend, froze individual portions, and then was able to quickly bake off exactly the number of cookies I needed later in the week, right when I needed them, even when I was low on time. Yes, some cookies freeze fine after baking, but I never find them to be quite as good after defrosting — certainly not compared to the freshly baked variety. If you’re going to go through the trouble of freezing anyway, make it on the front end.

The Kitchn recently posted this handy list of doughs that freeze well, and those that don’t (basically, lots of butter: good). Gingerbread and sugar cookie dough freeze great flattened into disks and wrapped in saran wrap and foil (or a ziploc bag); I froze individual balls of peanut blossom dough on a tray before dropping them in a ziploc bag, so they’d be easy to portion out later. My biscotti dough did fine in the fridge overnight, too — and Deb’s recent recipe for gingerbread biscotti is killer.

gingerbread_cookies
Break up the process
. Even when you do have the time to mix, roll out, bake, and decorate your cookies all in one sitting, I generally don’t enjoy spending hours baking and decorating and still having a mess to clean up in the kitchen afterward. Breaking up the process into manageable chunks means you can do the messy work one day, and the fun baking/decorating part with the kids later. Bonus: You can be doing two things at once this way (baking while you cook dinner, for instance), and your kitchen doesn’t have to remain a wreck through the whole process. For these peanut blossoms, I made the dough one afternoon, rolled the balls that night after dinner, then baked the cookies a few days later. Sometimes just getting to walk away and do something else for a bit breaks up the monotony and makes it all more enjoyable.

What are your tips and tricks for keeping holiday baking manageable this time of year? Any classic recipes you make every year?

Images: Margaret Cabaniss

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Are You an Elephant Parent?

December 17, 2014

Mama and baby elephant
We’ve talked about various parenting styles here before, and everyone’s heard of the “tiger mom” book, as well as how to raise kids the “French” way. Now there’s a new method making the rounds: elephant parenting.

Priyanka Sharma-Sindhar, who was raised in India but is now raising her own family in the U.S., recently wrote in the Atlantic about this style of parenting. She describes elephants’ parenting style as very nurturing toward their young — no tough love or strict rules for baby elephants, thank you very much. Sharma-Sindhar says this is very similar to her own parents’ and grandparents’ parenting style in India — little discipline, few rules, and no responsibilities until a child is five years old.

Here in the U.S., however, the prevailing parenting style encourages grit, determination, and independence in toddlers. Sharma-Sindhar says that her elephant instincts often make her feel like a parenting outsider here in the States: While she admits there is no perfect way to parent, the way she wants to do it is rooted in her culture, something that’s foreign to most Americans. (I can’t help but think she might find more support in the attachment parenting community, even though elephant parenting isn’t quite the same thing.)

This whole notion of elephant parenting makes me curious. I recall being told when we were in Ethiopia that children there are given free reign until about age five; after that, they’re more rigorously disciplined (sometimes harshly) and expected to toe the line. Prior to that, however, there are few rules and no responsibilities or expectations. (That explains why some kids coming to the States at the ages of 4 and 5 are not used to having rules imposed upon them, especially if they had lived mostly with birth relatives prior to their adoption.) It made me wonder if this style of parenting is common in many traditional cultures, not just India’s.

Have you heard of or witnessed this style of parenting before? What do you think: Are you an elephant?

By the way, I’m so sorry that comments are still not showing up in the comments boxes. I can — and do! — still read them, even though they’re not appearing publicly. I’m still troubleshooting the problem and hope to have it fixed soon. If any of you are WordPress experts, let me know!

Image: Marina Cano / Solent News via Rex USA at NBC News

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Winter Brunch

December 15, 2014

Smitten Kitchen's Winter Fruit Salad
I’m a big brunch person and always have been. You can go savory or sweet, incorporate traditional breakfast foods or creative lunch dishes, and drinks like mimosas or Bloody Marys (or my favorite, Bloody Caesars) are entirely appropriate. What’s not to love?

We have a weekly ritual of weekend brunches here: On Saturdays I make it at home, and on Sundays we often go out. In warmer months I concentrate on lighter fare, but a great thing about brunch is that so many dishes work for any season, you just change up the toppings, or the sides, or add a cold or hot drink, depending.

My all-time favorite brunch meal is some kind of quiche with a salad. I posted my favorite quiche recipe before: Zoe’s Easy Breezy Quiche. It’s extremely versatile and a real crowd-pleaser; I make it a lot when guests are in town and have served it for every occasion. An accompanying winter salad can be beautiful and satisfying, with seasonal fruits like figs, pomegranates, pears, apples, and dates.

I’m a big Eggs Benedict fan, too, and while I don’t make it a lot at home much (not sure why), I often order it when I’m out. As long as the whites of the eggs aren’t too runny, it’s always a winner, and while I love the classic rendition, I enjoy creative takes on it, too — like using toasted corn cakes or infused Hollandaise sauces or different kinds of meats or seafood.

Since I tend to go for savory brunch dishes, I make stuff like omelets, frittatas, and burritos, and lately I’ve been doing different versions of shakshuka (a Tunisian dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce). Smitten Kitchen’s recipe is a great one to start with, but I make it even easier on myself: When I have left over meat or tomato sauce, I warm it up, throw some poached or fried eggs on top, and serve  with a side of vegetables.

SK's Shakshuka
Speaking of Smitten Kitchen, have you ever tried Deb’s Boozy Baked French Toast? When you’re  up for a luxurious brunch, dig this one out. French toast is one of those brunch meals you can’t go wrong with. You can dress it up or down with toppings, use different breads, and serve it with various sides.

Pancakes are like that, too. They’re probably the preferred brunch meal in my house. I’m always looking for recipes that don’t call for white flour. My go-to recipe uses sprouted spelt flour, and I use buckwheat a lot in pancakes, too. I made gluten-free pancakes recently (using a flour blend from Pamela’s), and they were surprisingly good. (I’ve even made pancakes just using almond flour, and while they weren’t my favorite, my kids ate them up.)

As for pancake toppings, I’m a fruit, coconut cream, and maple syrup kind of girl. But sometimes I like mine with just some butter. Maybe because I’m a huge crepe lover (another good brunch food!) and find the best crepes need little more than some lemon juice and honey or homemade jam (or mushrooms and onions for a savory version).

Winter brunches should be comforting, so things like grits and polenta, porridges and oatmeal, even hearty soups can work really well. Even hearty cobblers jammed full with apples and pears work well with a side of sausages or bacon.

What about you — are you a brunch fan? Got any favorite brunch dishes or recipes to share?

Images from Smitten Kitchen

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Friday Inspiration

December 12, 2014

Unknown Quote
It’s my birthday today, and ever since I hit my 40s (wasn’t that just yesterday?), every time my birthday rolls around all I can think about is what a privilege it is to get older.

Yes, I’m starting to hate my neck, and the gray is getting harder to hide, and when I see college students they look like babies (because they really could be my babies). But more than anything, I’m grateful on my birthdays now…grateful for another year, for my family and friends, for the gift of motherhood, for my health and my faith, for the opportunities I’ve had (and have), and for so much more.

There’s a lot I’d love to write about aging, and maybe I will eventually. Right now, however, I need to get on with a very full day, which includes taking my daughters out for a girls’ lunch together — a tradition I started on my birthday after they arrived. Later, the whole family will head to a ramen noodle bar at the food market I love, where I can also indulge in my favorite chocolates.

Somewhere in there I’ll have to throw some candles on a cake and blow them out — for my daughters’ enjoyment, mainly — and on Sunday, I’ll be getting together with a group of friends for a fun birthday and pre-Christmas brunch. (I’ll try to Instagram some of it.) Oh, and I think we may get our tree tomorrow!

Any plans this weekend? And how do you feel when your birthday rolls around — does this quote speak to you?

Image via Pinterest

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How’s your December going so far? Have you made progress on your holiday gift lists, or are you still trying to find time to even think about it? Before it gets too close to Christmas, I wanted to mention a few companies I really like for holiday gifts for kids, in case you need some ideas…

Barefoot Books

Barefoot Books Christmas
I love Barefoot Books. Started by two moms in 1992, Barefoot is all about combining beautiful art with captivating storytelling. What also drew me to their products was their attention to cultural and social diversity. It’s not always easy to find books that I’m excited to give my daughters, and Barefoot delivers.

Under the tree for S and H this year will be two books from this new princess series, as well as the award-winning World Atlas, which I can’t wait to see. Barefoot’s Greek Epic Book set with CD would be perfect for a child over 8, and I love their Greek Myths set, which is on sale right now. Barefoot has lovely bedtime books for little ones, too. (I’m eyeing a couple for my two-year-old nephew.) Here’s their Holiday Gift Guide, if you want to check it out.

(For Christmas delivery, be sure to order before 11 a.m. EST on December 15; after that you’ll pay extra for faster shipping. Shipping is free on orders of $60 or more.)

Prima Princessa
Prima Princessa
Prima Princessa sent me one of their DVDs a couple of months ago, and I was curious if my daughters would like it. They did–and many other kids apparently do, too. Another company created by two moms (moms run the world), Prima Princessa focuses on teaching children ages 3-6 dance steps while exposing them to professional ballet performances. In each show, a ballerina fairy named Prima Princessa takes a group of preschool age children to see a condensed version of a classical ballet, and in between acts the children practice ballet steps they’ve just watched.

The DVD we saw, “Prima Princessa Presents The Nutcracker,” would be a perfect stocking-stuffer for a little dance enthusiast. It features England’s Birmingham Royal Ballet and includes mini-ballet lessons from students at the School of American Ballet, the official academy of the New York City Ballet. The show has aired on more than 400 PBS and public television stations nationwide, and you can find it on Amazon both as a DVD or instant download.

Princessa Productions also has DVDs for Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, and on their website you can find a Ballet for Beginners book, a ballet dictionary, ballet coloring pages, crafts for kids, preschool games, and listings of ballet schools and ballet companies nationwide.

Tea Collection

Tea-Collection-Fall-2013
I’m currently a little obsessed with the children’s clothes at Tea Collection. (I managed to snag a few dresses for my girls online during the Black Friday sale.) Founded by (yet again) two moms, Tea’s mission is to “bring worldwide culture and modern design to children’s fashion.” And they seem to do it well. I was impressed with the quality of the garments when they arrived and love the way they mix colors and patterns.

Their new Citizen Blue line is sweet — I love this Java Garden Keyhole Dress. And this Backpacker Happy Hoodie would look adorable on any of my (many) nephews.

I’ll be sticking to the sales at Tea Collection — especially since I usually need two of everything — but it’s great to know about ethical clothing companies for kids that do high-quality stuff. If you’re looking for some special clothes this season, you may want to check them out.

Any companies or products your eyeing for kids’ gifts this year? I’d love to know!

Images: Barefoot Books, Prima Princessa, Tea Collection

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The Art Wall

December 8, 2014

Wall Art
I finally got around to creating an art wall in our living room for the girls’ masterpieces. They create so many things that I “ooh” and “ahh” over, and I’d been wanting to do something other than letting it all pile up in different corners before finally getting around to putting it in their art portfolios.

So on a rainy day before Thanksgiving, I strung up two pieces of thin twine on our old brick wall, found some miniature craft clothespins, and got to work. I chose a variety of their recent pieces and made sure I showcased an equal amount of work from both girls.

I love how it turned out, and S and H love seeing their work on the wall. It also helps them to make a connection with the art they see at the museums we visit. Art is not simply for the privileged few, and I want them to have an appreciation for the art they see and make from a young age.

Art Wall 2
The toughest thing is always trying to figure out what to display, what to toss, and what to save. The giant portfolios I bought to store their art are already bursting at the seams. I don’t keep everything, but I store what I think shows how they’re developing creatively, as well as anything I think would be fun for them to look back on.

If you have kids, what do you do with all the stuff they create? Do you toss most of it? Save it? I love some of the solutions Leah came up with for the same problem in this post from back in the day… How do you incorporate your kids’ art in and around your home?

Images: Zoe Saint-Paul

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by Margaret Cabaniss

people-who-love-to-eat
I’ve done a SlowMama holiday gift roundup for the past few years now (2011, 2012, 2013), but for 2014, I had big plans. I was going to be prepared — so starting way back in January, I began pinning gift ideas that appealed to me as I came across them throughout the year, thinking that, come Thanksgiving, I’d have my list pretty much made for me.

Well. I just took a look at that Pinterest board full of great gift ideas, and I realized that 95% of them are food- and booze-related. (Hey, I love what I love.) So rather than attempt to pull together a comprehensive list of every good thing this year, I’m just making one list of some of my favorites that would make fantastic gifts for your own similarly single-minded loved ones.

In no particular order:

polenta-serving-board-mark-weinberg
Polenta serving boardI didn’t even know this was a thing until I read a post on The Kitchn about hosting an Italian polenta supper party, but I was immediately on board. (Er, so to speak.) This would make such an impressive presentation, even if you’re not serving up a trough of polenta on it.

homemade-gin-kit
Homemade gin kitI have no idea whether this gin would actually be any good (though early indicators are encouraging), but it looks like an awesome experiment anyway — and the closest you’ll get to making your own booze without a pot still or bathtub. A fun gift for the home experimenter — or, if they’re more a whiskey fan, try Wassmund’s whiskey barrel-aging kit.

trubee-honey
Trubee honey
We’ve talked here before about how hard it can be to find good raw honey; Trubee offers to ship it right to your home. I love their description of the honey created by their “free-range” bees as “the taste of nature in a particular place and time” — and they have different honey “vintages” to back it up. Pick up some beeswax and lip balm while you’re at it.

pdt-cocktail-book
Cocktail books. 
This entry is a twofer because I couldn’t pick just one. I think of bartender and cocktail blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler as sort of the Alton Brown of the booze world, breaking down the whys and hows behind a truly excellent cocktail in The Bar Book. Then help them put those newfound skills to good use: Jim Meehan’s PDT Cocktail Book lays out more than 300 cocktail recipes, including classics and new favorites from his celebrated New York speakeasy, in a gorgeously illustrated guide. I’m volunteering now as taste-tester.

white-whale-cocktails
White Whale mixers. Meanwhile, if they want a great cocktail the easy way, without all that fancy book-learnin’, try a small-batch cocktail mixer — just add the spirit and garnish. Hide the bottles in the kitchen, and no one need be the wiser.

rancho-gordo-sweet-sampler
Rancho Gordo Sweet SamplerI mentioned their fantastic beans in a past roundup, but they do sweet care packages, too. This one holds all the ingredients (…well, almost) to make a pretty extraordinary bananas foster.

old-salt-trader-set
Old Salt Gift SamplerIf their tastes run more toward the savory than the sweet, try a selection of gourmet sea salts. That black powder looks amazing.

gg-sideboard
G & G Mercantile’s Sideboard
And finally, if you can’t choose among the above, just get them the whole kit and caboodle: Garden and Gun‘s Mercantile shop offers a gift subscription to some of the amazing Southern food and drink they feature in their magazine throughout the year. This is the care package to end all care packages.

Not pictured: vintage barware, tea towels, a subscription to their favorite cooking magazine…the options here are pretty much endless. For more unique gourmet gifts and accessories, check out the rest of the G & G Mercantile or Food52’s Provisions.

Where else do you find great food-and-drink gifts? Any favorites you’re giving (or hoping to receive) this year?

PS — Don’t forget all the great homemade treats you can give as gifts this time of year: Try some roasted rosemary pecans with cranberries, chocolate truffles, or a thoughtful housewarming gift

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I love talking to social entrepreneurs — particularly adoptive parents who find innovative ways to connect with and help the countries where their children were born. Lisa Scott is one such person. She found my blog one day and dropped me a line: Not only are we both from Nova Scotia (she still lives there), but each of us is privileged to be raising Ethiopian daughters.

When Lisa shared the launch of her new business, Second Life Ethiopian Artisans, I knew I wanted to tell you about it. Lisa has curated a gorgeous collection of handmade Ethiopian goods, and some may be ideal for your holiday gift lists. Plus, Lisa’s own story is pretty fascinating… 

Scott Family

Zoe Saint-Paul: Congratulations on your new business, Lisa! Everything about it is right up my alley. What inspired you to launch Second Life Ethiopian Artisans?

Lisa Scott: Thank you! This business was a slow and natural evolution. It originated during my first visit to Ethiopia as a new mother. In 2008, I travelled with my husband and 5-year-old son to Ethiopia for a month to meet our daughter and prepare her for the journey home with us. Our primary concern was her adjustment, but we also wanted to use our time there to learn about Ethiopian culture firsthand.

Like many adoptive parents, we were firmly committed to maintaining our daughter’s culture. We live in Eastern Canada where our city has fewer than 1,000 Ethiopians, and only about six kids adopted from Ethiopia. The community here has been so loving to our family, but opportunities to come together are limited. I felt the need to travel back to Ethiopia and experience more of the country, and this opportunity came in 2012 when I volunteered with Canadian Humanitarian. It turned out to be one of the most valuable experiences of my life.

I travelled with a group of people, including several doctors, to do medicals on children, and my role was to do presentations on grief and loss to the guardians of orphaned children. I was allowed into the lives of so many women, mainly grandmothers, who wanted to share their grief around the loss of their child and their desire to help their grandchildren deal with it. It connected me face-to-face with the different degrees of loss for these women and children. I, too, had lost my mother as a child, and my daughter had lost her birth mother through adoption, so I was proud of the work and honored to do it. While I was there, I found time to visit carpet makers, weavers, and art galleries. I brought home bags full of treasures — and while I didn’t know it at the time, this was the birth of Second Life Ethiopian Artisans.

The adjustment home from this trip was difficult. There was so much to process and I jumped right back into my professional life supporting vulnerable families at a pediatric hospital. I wouldn’t trade the trip for the world, but I knew it wasn’t something I could do regularly. I couldn’t really talk about it with anyone — even my family — because it was too hard to verbalize. What I could share were the amazing gifts I bought home. They gave me an opportunity to share stories of the people I met and the culture of the country.

Second Life Toys
ZSP: For any budding entrepreneurs out there, can you share what the process was like to get this business off the ground?

LS: The recommended way to start a business is with a business plan. I consciously didn’t do that. Not that I advise this approach; it depends on your expectations. I wanted to share the high-quality handmade products made in Ethiopia and to show consumers that you can get some of the best quality goods in the world at a fair price and provide fair working conditions. I also wanted my son and daughter to hear the daily dialogue of doing business with Ethiopians, and for them to understand both the process of importing, as well as how it translates to quality of life in that country.

I started to research the importing process and the access to goods. I thought long and hard about the name of the business and the image it would project. I knew I wanted to start very small, and to feel the direction of the business and respond accordingly. My first shipment arrived in the fall of 2013. I financed the shipment on my own and, through word-of-mouth, I sold out. I resorted to more of a plan for my subsequent orders: I sourced out a graphic artist to take photos for the website and began a catalog of products. I tailored my order to the quickest sellers and took a bit of a risk on some of the items I had no experience with, such as household goods like throws, towels, and tablecloths. The household goods have been crazy popular, and this fall I’ve been developing the next stage of business: wholesaling.

My word of advice when starting a business is to be conservative with your financial risk and follow your gut. I started this business while I was still employed part-time. I left that job recently, for a variety of reasons, but I never expected to have immediate personal revenue from this business.

Second Life Ethiopian Towels
ZSP: Where do you source your products, and how do you select them?

LS: Fibers have always been one of my main loves, and during my first trip to Ethiopia, I visited the former wood-carrying women who were working in a cooperative as weavers. The products they produced were outstanding, and I was buying one for everyone I could think of. The weavers work in a compound at the base of Entoto Mountain, where so many women carry wood to earn a living. These women were producing, on average, two scarves a day and were involved in all aspects of running the business. Their children were in a preschool on site, and they all had access to health care. Each season, these women release a new line of colors and patterns and I select from them. It’s very difficult to choose which ones, and sometimes I get them all! This year, these weavers also fulfilled a custom order for my business: Together we designed and produced a child’s striped scarf in four different colors. The proceeds from the sale of this scarf will go to vulnerable children in Ethiopia through Canadian Humanitarian.

The jewelry came to me through my cousin — also a mom to a beautiful Ethiopian daughter. During her last trip to Ethiopia I asked her to pick me up some interesting jewelry — and she delivered! My socks were knocked off when she told me how this jewelry was being produced on Entoto Mountain by women living with HIV. I took the little brochure provided with the bracelets and started an online search. Once I made contact, I reached out to another business that worked with this group to ensure the organization was sound and fair.

The third group of artisans came to me via word of mouth. Internationally known for their superb products and world-certified as fair trade, I felt they were a great fit for the types of products I wanted to showcase. My first order was a few scarves from their catalog, and my orders have increased each time.

I purchase products that I myself would want to wear or have in my home. The older I get, the less I buy — but I want the best quality and something meaningful. Every piece I carry is something I would purchase myself and would be proud of to give as a gift.

Second Life Jewelry
ZSP: How often do you get new products in? Would you recommend anything in particular for the holidays?

LS: I get orders in the spring, and in the fall for the holiday season. The products take quite some time to produce, so I typically order three months in advance. It’s hard to make recommendations, as I love everything!

In the under-$30 price point, the earrings are beautiful. Hoops are very fashionable at the moment, and the hoops have beads of silver, copper, and brass, so they go with everything. And who doesn’t love a scarf? Grandma, babysitter, teacher, sister, aunt, or uncle. They are easy to ship and no sizing necessary. Our scarves are made from hand-spun Ethiopian cotton or silk, hand-dyed and hand-woven.

The runaway hit has probably been the organic Omo towels. You’ve not felt cotton until you’ve touched these. The hand towels are popular in the bathroom and the kitchen and make perfect hostess gifts. You can wrap one around a bottle of wine or a bag of coffee and have a one-of-a-kind gift. The larger towels can be used for so many things: In our home we use them as bath towels — they easily wrap around my 6’5” husband, dry quickly, and just get better with each wash. Most of my customers have been purchasing them as couch throws, tablecloths, yoga mat blankets, and baby blankets. They’re beautiful and feel so good that I find customers looking for a reason to buy them.

Lisa Scott and Daughter

ZSP: What are your dreams for Second Life Artisans?

LS: My dream is that this business will never waiver from its roots and spirit. I want the products to speak for themselves, for my customer to never look at a mass-produced product the same way again. I also want people to feel connected to the people behind the products by knowing the stories behind what they buy.

On a personal level, my dream is that this business will allow my family to continue to discover Ethiopia and build relationships there. My daughter is Ethiopian-Canadian; I am not, but through the miracle of becoming her mother, I fell in love with her birth country. So much is gained in love and life through adoption, but so much is also lost. I cannot replace all my daughter has lost, but I can show her that her family is invested in her culture. My dream is that this business will generate enough income for us to make regular visits to Ethiopia and that both of my children can participate in knowing the artisans and in selection of our goods. It would be pretty neat if my kids’ first jobs were working for Second Life Ethiopian Artisans.

*****

Lisa, thanks so much for sharing the story of your inspiring new business! I love how you’re finding a way to incorporate Ethiopian culture into your family’s life. I must say, those towels sound divine and are now on my Christmas list! I’m eyeing a few other things for gifts, too.  

I hope SlowMama readers will consider supporting businesses like Second Life Ethiopian Artisans this holiday season: Not only will you end up with handcrafted, high-quality items, but you’ll be helping lives on the other side of the world. Besides her website, you can connect with Lisa on Instagram, too.  

Images: Lisa Scott

 

 

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Friday Inspiration

November 28, 2014

You Are Loved

I hope all my American readers had a very happy Thanksgiving day! We celebrated with a traditional turkey dinner and all the trimmings — a farm-fresh bird, cornbread and sausage dressing (B’s fave), lots of sides, and good ol’ American apple pie (I tried this gluten-free pie crust recipe for the first time and it turned out great!)

Best of all, we had family with us, which is such a treat, since it’s rare that we spend holidays with family. I almost nibbled my little nephew because he’s so adorable, but luckily I stuck another bite of pie between my teeth.

The quote above — spelled out in embroidery — is simple, and yet one of the most important messages for each of us to comprehend. Holiday times can sometimes remind us of how much we’re loved. But when gatherings with loved ones are stressful or challenging, I think it’s even more important to remind ourselves that this statement is true. And to say it more often to each other.

Is there someone in your life who needs to know how much you love them? And when you hear, “You are loved,” what do you think and how do you feel?

Have a lovely weekend and I’ll see you back here next week!

Image: pamg on etsy

 

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