15 Mins With.... The Creators of #SlowLiving_

In the last 2 podcasts, I've been exploring the theme 'Capture' and gathering stories from creatives who record and share their creativity using a rich variety of media. In exploring this word, I've thought a lot about Instagram and the many makers I've discovered thanks to community hashtags. It made sense to invite Melanie and Danielle onto the blog today to share their Slow Living Project. You can find Melanie as @geoffreyandgrace and Danielle as @hippieindisguise

My own Slow Living inspiration

My own Slow Living inspiration

Please introduce yourselves and your online spaces

Hello, I am Melanie, the mother behind the lifestyle blog Geoffrey & Grace. I wanted to create an online space that would be a home for wholehearted and creative living, as they are two things that are fundamental to how I live my life. I am a writer and maker and have a big love for photography. Along with three other makers I co-created Margot, the beach hut makery.

D: And, hello, I’m Danielle. I am a mother of two, working full-time as a government advisor, pursuing my artistic interests on the side through photography, blogging and creative collaborations. My website is Hippie in Disguise, where I focus on art and adventure with my children, with a slow, eco and minimalist focus. I like to share stories, interviews with inspiring parents, minimalists, creatives, small brands and shops. The space is also home to my nature-based creative projects, like my Mother Nature leaf dress. In addition, I’m currently on the editorial team at Enfants Terribles Magazine, a European children’s fashion magazine focused on play, creativity and imagination. Basically, I don’t sleep.

Image via @hippieindisguise

Image via @hippieindisguise

How did you both meet?

We found each other on Instagram. When I had the beginnings of the idea for a slow living project, I knew I wanted to collaborate with someone, and Danielle was the first person I thought of. I thought the project would be just her sort of thing, and I had a feeling I would enjoy working with her. 

D: Like so many friendships, we met online, through Instagram, as Melanie said. Social networks have been an amazing source of inspiration for me, but also a new way to connect with people who share my interests. I love that social networks enable us to connect with people regardless of geographic location.

Image courtesy of @geoffreyandgrace

Image courtesy of @geoffreyandgrace

For those who have not discovered it, what is your Slow Living hashtag?

It’s a year long project with the aim of helping others (and us) think about how they can have a piece of ‘slow living’ every day. Each month we choose a different theme to focus on, for example the first month looked at exploring the world around you (#slowliving_explore), and this month we are celebrating the change of the seasons with the hashtag #slowliving_bloomandharvest. We want the hashtag to help people think about those precious moments of stillness that are there every day, but we are sometimes in too much of a rush to see. 

D: Melanie said it well, the Slow Living Project, as I like to call it, is about bringing people together and inspiring each other around the notion of slow living. For me, slow living is really about presence, about living in the moment, fully, wholeheartedly, without that time travel forward and back that our minds are want to do. There are monthly themes, for example, in September we focused on ‘create’. Over the course of the year we want to look at all the different ways we can bring a slow living approach to our lives, through the seasons and holidays, in the home and outdoors, with family and friends.

Image courtesy of @hippieindisguise

Image courtesy of @hippieindisguise

Why did you choose to collaborate in this way? 

To me Instagram is all about those special little moments that are captured and shared. Plus, photography is one of the things that helps me slow down and find some stillness. It therefore seemed obvious to use Instagram as a way to create a community (through the hashtag) and disseminate some slow living. This seems kind of obvious to write, but when we slow things down, there is the opportunity to be more wholehearted and present with the moments we have. I think it’s those wholehearted, connected moments, that keep us all going.

D: Both Melanie and I are very visual people, we love to capture moments visually and to view others’ images for inspiration. We thought sharing slow living moments visually would work really well and would attract people, it also sets aside any language barrier that might come with capturing and sharing moments through the written word alone. Even though not everyone can read our blog posts, as the hashtag travels through the Instagram network others can pick up on it through context and by viewing the images under the hashtag gallery, and then join in.

Image courtesy of @geoffreyandgrace

Image courtesy of @geoffreyandgrace

What have you enjoyed the most about people's contributions to the hashtags?

It’s so lovely to have a glimpse into other people’s lives through the photos they share and the captions they choose to write. I am continuously inspired by the community that is growing as a result of the hashtag. I also love that the slow living hashtags are continuing to develop and be used even when we have moved on to another theme.  

D: Well, obviously, there is the visual and intellectual inspiration the images provide. But, what I’ve loved most is seeing the many ways people interpret the same word. Each theme has captured people’s imaginations in different ways, and this has translated into a beautiful range of captured moments. I underestimated the variety we would see, it has been a lovely surprise.

Image courtesy of @hippieindisguise

Image courtesy of @hippieindisguise

Finally, how do you like to capture the month's theme and bring everything together before moving on to another month's focus?

We have a list of words that we are hoping to use throughout the year. Each month though, we think about what the following month means for us, and what it might mean to others. We then talk about a suitable word that will capture people’s imaginations and inspire them to want to get involved.

Danielle and I got to meet last month through FaceTime and it was great to be able to talk face to face. Otherwise, lots of emails are exchanged as we both have been struggling to select the photos that are our favourites for the month. There are so many beautiful images shared in the gallery, and we always have a very long shortlist. We do a monthly ‘blog round up’ about the project on our blogs, and between us we aim to convey the spirit of the community over on Instagram as well as the wonderful creativity that is present in the gallery.

D: We each take our own approach and individually choose our favourites from the contributions and then compare notes to see which we have in common. These common favourites are shared through Instagram in a grid of 4. Then we each post our individual favourites to our blogs -- which usually requires a lot of further trimming down, as we usually have 30 favourites each! So, it’s always a nice surprise to see what Melanie posts and how she strings the selections together. I like that we take our own approach to selecting and curating the images. For me, I tend to choose images that reflect a diversity of interpretations of the theme, I’m also a little biased toward images that had a particularly insightful caption or images that capture children through the theme. We like each month to have a fresh focus, so based on how the month develops and what we see in the gallery we choose a new theme from our brainstormed list of ideas that will allow people to expand their thinking around slow living and capture something new.

Guest Post: Martine’s Motifs

In this month of slowing down I've thought a lot about new skills, dwelling on simple tasks and enjoying a good fling with being polycraftual. Someone I've followed in her polycraftual exploits is Martine, the queen of crafts as far as I'm concerned. I asked Martine to guest post for me this month and amazingly, she found time to pop in and say hi! It's an honour to host Martine here, she's bursting with ideas and inspiration.

Martine hosts the iMake podcast from her Guernsey based home and writes for several publications. I first fell for her amazing ability to write tutorials- I found myself wanting to branch away from knitting and get seriously into soap making and crochet! 

Here's her thoughts on a little motif work...

Martine of imake

The word “motif” doesn’t seem be used in conversation very often, which is a shame, as it’s rather a lovely sounding word with a variety of meanings. A motif can be a decorative design, or a pattern, or sometimes a symbol. It can also be a reoccurring or dominant theme in writing, artwork or music. For example, Guernsey (my island home) is a motif featured often in my podcasts and photography.

Whatever your incarnation of “motif” is, it seems that in most cases, motifs are not just decorative they can be meaningful. Here are a few examples of where I have used motifs in my creative endeavours. 

My Favourite Things

In August 2014 I hosted a knitalong and our chosen project was the “My Favourite Things”  Infinity Scarf by Jill McGee. It’s a stranded colourwork/fair isle scarf knitted in the round as a long tube, then grafted at the ends. The utterly joyful part of the making process is choosing your own motifs to feature in the scarf (the idea being that they represent your favourite things). 

My scarf included coffee cups, flowers, squirrels, sheep and an Apple logo. It also included a number of traditional fair isle bands ­ those bits weren’t particularly meaningful, I admit, but they looked pretty!

This scarf is, without a doubt, the best thing I’ve ever made. The design process was incredibly enjoyable and the constant pattern changing meant that the project was completed quickly. Seeing KAL participants’ pattern choices, and learning about the reasons for their choices, was also quite wonderful. 

Read more about Martine's Cowl  here  on her website

Read more about Martine's Cowl here on her website

Cross Stitch

I’ve had a love affair with cross stitch for years, but, try as I might, I cannot seem to finish a large project. Small -projects, though, are totally achievable and completely satisfying. There are lots of free resources online for cross stitch motif patterns ­ alternatively grab some graph paper and felt pens and design your own. One of my favourite cross stitch projects was creating and stitching my own QR code ­ it’s both meaningful (it’s a link to my website) and functional (it works!) 

Martine's tutorial  How to Cross Stitch a QR Code can be found on her website,  here . 

Martine's tutorial  How to Cross Stitch a QR Code can be found on her website, here


I’m a compulsive doodler. My doodles invariably feature a whole host of motifs, often relating to the situation or my feelings at the time. Doodles aren’t just a tool to pass the time in meetings though. They can look fantastic on handmade greeting cards, scrapbook pages or as part of your website (scan them, tidy them up in your photo editing software of choice and then you’ve got completely unique, personal motifs for your website). Here are a few of my doodles.


Over To You...

Do you use motifs regularly in things you create? Are they meaningful, decorative or both? I’d love to know.

Thanks for reading, TTFN.

Martine XOX


You can find Martine on her online home iMake as well as sharing her ideas on Pinterest, FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Thanks so much Martine!

15 Mins With.... Hart + Honey

A couple of weeks ago I launched a new feature for the blog, '15 Mins with....' and have been having so much fun getting to know some of my favourite people. Today I'm sharing some words from Lily and Ashley, the creators behind Hart + Honey, a collective that produces a journal that I adore- Study

15 mins with Hart and Honey (Study)

 Please introduce yourself in your own words and what it is that you create. 

We are Hart+Honey Collective : a partnership between Lily (photographer) and Ashley (stylist+designer) that began in effort to explore the beauty of creative collaboration. We host an online space to encourage and provide resources for creative individuals and produce a single-topic nature journal STUDY which we release three times a year. 

Your journal places collaboration at the heart of it's success, from the way you produce it as a team to the other magazines and artist you work with. What does collaboration mean to you?

We began HH in 2013 after helping one another on various personal and professional projects. It quickly became obvious that when working together our final product was stronger -- more eyes, opinions, experience and encouragement made the process more fun and the results more interesting. Since then we've passionately encouraged other freelancers to join forces and work together! It can be exciting to go out on your own but quickly become a lonely endeavor when working solo. Collaboration means working together to create something bigger and better than either one could have achieved on their own. 

15 Mins with Hart + Honey

How has your collaboration made you stronger as two women working in the online/ publishing world?

When we approach other artists or companies with ideas and submission requests, having two names and an exposition product definitely adds some credibility to our work. It's like saying "look, there's already a second person on board with this, you should be, too!" They see our commitment to each other and our work and I think that gives them a basis of trust to collaborate with us. 

You host a segment online aimed at supporting creative communities and businesses. Why have you devoted so much space on your online home to for this?

We are passionate about people doing work that they love. Whether it's full time, part-time or the extra work they do in their free time. Featuring folks online introduces them to a whole new audience and encourages gives our readers a first hand, honest account of how other people are doing work they love. It's our way of giving them a big ol' twenty first century high five. 

15 Mins with Hart + Honey

Each study is a publication that practices a finely tuned focus on one particularly topic. How do you think this helps you find new talent to write and create with?

It's been so fun to seek out and be introduced to people in fields we might not otherwise overlap. For instance, our 2015 winter issue will study WOOD so we've been talking with a really talented photographer who happens to be a park ranger. For the Sea Issue we sat down with a good friend who spent a summer on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska. And spent two days on a sheep farm photographing for the wool issue.  It's been fascinating to learn about these respective fields offering a "behind the scenes" look at the things we all enjoy and consume but don't always have access to first hand. It's truly been a STUDY for us - like homework and field trips that we get to assign ourselves! 
And because each issue is a specific topic, people are really excited to suggest makers or Chiefs or stories that they associate with it - I think it feels more personal that way



Who would you like to see featured in 15 Mins With? Let me know, I love to discover new stories!

Creative Identity... Fluffy Fibers

It's wonderful to round off this month's exploration of Creative Identity with a guest post from someone who has really inspired me creatively. Today, I would like you to meet Isabelle of Fluffy Fibers:

Feature: Isabelle of Fluffy Fibers

Feature: Isabelle of Fluffy Fibers

"Looking back at the past ten years since I started building a handmade wardrobe, I realise my creative life and my personality have been nurturing one another organically from the start. It really goes both ways. Building a handmade style may start with a certain idea you have of yourself; but when you give your creativity free reign and allow yourself to gravitate naturally towards certain shapes, certain colours and styles, what you end up making turns out to be more truly you than the story you might have more or less consciously be planning to tell about yourself.

Before I started making my clothes, I believe I had a pretty standard style for a young woman of my age and cultural background (i.e. France in the early 2000s). I didn’t have many distinctive pieces that truly defined me, except for a dress that my grandmother had made for my mum when she was my age, and that I adored wearing... I was utterly awed by my grandmother’s ability to create beautiful shapes out of a piece of fabric. That handmade dress is of course where it all started.

Anna Dress By Hand London

Anna Dress By Hand London

Creating a handmade wardrobe has allowed me to define myself in a way I had never achieved before. I have long stopped to feel self-conscious when I wear a handmade piece – because that happens about every day! With time my sense of style has fine-tuned itself to reflect exactly the way I wish to appear. It is only in retrospect that I can say, I am all for simple lines with one or two special details; I gravitate towards solid colours rather than prints, with the exception of florals. There can never be too many botanical motifs in my book - and in my wardrobe!

I was recently inspired by the Design Along and the #aninspired2015 to design a shawl that I had been dreaming of for a while... What makes me happiest about it is that it conveys so perfectly the style I feel is my own. 

Creative identity does not just stop at the aesthetics. For me, it is also part of an ethics. Building a handmade life for yourself is certainly about creating beauty around you - and I am utterly convinced that contributing to the world’s beauty is a kindness of its own. But it can also be a means towards a more responsible, sustainable life. Our relationship to artefacts, to things, is so different when we have created them. We care for them differently. The pieces I made ten years ago are still like new, and remain among my favourite to wear today. I love the continuity they offer me in my creative process and self-construction - because one is inseparable from the other. They may not be as well finished as my current projects, but I cherish them for reminding me of the path covered.

As time goes by, I have been increasingly concerned about finding supplies that are ecologically responsible. The wonderful thing about producing your own clothes is that you get to control everything from the very start. This year I knit a cardigan out of British Blue-Faced Leicester that I had spun, and left undyed. It is safe to say this piece is entirely biodegradable!

Feature: Isabelle of Fluffy FIbers

Feature: Isabelle of Fluffy FIbers

One of my creative goals for this year is to learn how to dye yarn and fabric with plants, to guarantee a raw material that is ever gentler for the Earth. The journey is endless... and the wonderful encouragement and stimulation we can find within the fibery community allow us to always find more inspiration, and to feel increasingly confident about making individual choices."

Do you have any thoughts on #Creative_Identity? Join the conversation (@aplayfulday)

Creative Identity... LapinBlu

Reflecting on my Creative Identity this month caused me to feel truly grateful for the inspiring online spaces of fellow bloggers and makers. This week, I will be sharing ideas, thoughts and insights from some of these wonderful people across Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (@aplayfulday) and of course, here on my creative home.  

Today, I would like you to meet Sarah- Louise of Lapinblu

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

"I read a quote from Eric Jerome Dickey the other day which said,

"It's impossible to explain creativity. It's like asking a bird, 'How do you fly?' You just do."

And, that's how I feel. I'm not really sure how to explain or define my creative identity - it just is. It's a deep rooted part of who I am and have always been. It's a need that must be fulfilled. 
What I can say is that how I fulfil that need varies from day to day depending on my mood or where I am. It may be in my home - changing up a shelf display, some DIY, cooking, re-organising, or shifting an entire room around. It may be through work - styling, shooting & writing for my blog or planning projects. It may be in how I try to approach my everyday - my routines and habits. It may be through making, crafting, tending my plants, or just taking a little moment to faff - to make something pretty, to play, or to notice little details around me, and to document that.

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

I think it's such a shame that people feel put off in their school days & live with a belief that they aren't capable of creativity. I don't believe that at all. I believe all of us have it inside us. It just has to be tapped in to, by finding the thing that makes your heart sing.  
In fact, by it's very definition, creativity is really about process. No-one can tell you how to BE creative. You just have to want to try - you'll find your own path & what it means to you personally. But I can tell you that it takes time & action; a willingness to keep going and to express yourself; a wholehearted approach and a bit of attitude...

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

If you want to do something, do it. if you want to try something, try it. And don't be disheartened if it doesn't go quite as you expected the first time - there is no right or wrong. Keep doing it. Keep trying it. Learn from it, grow from it, and seek ways to get better. Even if you don't find immediate fulfilment, it may well lead you on to something that will. (I don't claim that to be fact, merely personal experience).

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

Feature: LapinBlu & Creative Identity

And I don't believe creativity is just found in art & craft - you could try learning an instrument to play or write your own songs; growing something to create a cutting garden or indoor jungle; baking or cooking from scratch, creating your own recipes as you go; learning to use a camera or your phone to document your everyday or perhaps try creating video stories; maybe try writing daily - poems, thoughts, essays - see what comes out; or simply start with a practical skill that would be useful to you right now - you may just find you want to do more."

Share your thoughts on Creative Identity this week: #creative_identity 

Featuring Gabi Cox of Chroma Stationery

Last week I shared my joy at one of the best journals I've ever bought (and I've bought quite a few). Today I'm sharing an interview with Gabi Cox the founder of Chroma Stationery

Chroma Stationery personalised notebooks

Tell us about Chroma Stationery 
"Chroma Stationery is a brand all about colour. I have always been fascinated by peoples relationships with colour, why they have favourites and hate others. Colour evokes emotions, feelings and memories and can remind you of people, places and moments in life. This is why there are 20 colours available across the three current Chroma ranges."
"Chroma also provides a free embossing service allowing customers to create a truly unique notebook. I gift wrap each order as I believe that everyone deserves to open a beautiful parcel and receive a personalised product no matter their budget!"

Chroma Stationery font and logo

Why journals? 
"I love notebooks and have collected them for as long as I can remember. I also found that the current market was full of either boring, corporate looking notebooks or more ‘childish’ notebooks covered in patterns. I wanted a plain, no fuss notebook in a beautiful colour. There was also a divide in the current market price wise - you could either spend a fortune on a luxury notebook or pennies on a very boring, bad quality one. I wanted something in the middle! "

chroma story.jpg

Do you keep or use a journal?
"Yes I do! I am an avid note take and list writer. I am always jotting down ideas and thoughts and keep a notebook next to my bed at all times. I would be lost without my journal."

embossed journal via Chroma Stationery

Chroma feels like a very personal journey- from the names of the colours to the personalised product. What do you love most about growing your own company?
"It is very personal and I love creating personal products for every customer. Thanks to the personalised embossing, each notebook I put together has its own story behind it - I love this idea!"
"Growing my own brand is so exciting, I love working for myself and learning as the company grows. Nothing beats watching something become successful due to your own hard work."


An Inspired 2015 design

Love what you see? Don't forget you can get your hands on this collaborative design that Gabi and I created for you and it's 20% off till March 31st 2015. 

To order the A Playful Day embossing design shown above (front: 'An Inspired 2015', back: 'playful days') please visit the Chroma website, choosing your colour notebook and the colour of embossing - your notebook will then feature the A Playful Day design! Remember you can choose whether your book is spiral bound or not and dictate what the paper will be inside. The discount code is - PLYFLDY1. Code will expire 31st March 2015 so grab yours now! 

Be sure to let us know on social media by tagging me (@aplayfulday) or Chroma (@chromasationery) and #aninspired2015.