All posts by Maria

Adopting a pack of African Wild Dogs

Recently our family adopted a pack of African Wild Dogs through African Wildlife Conservation Fund as a way to support the effort to save these wonderful and charismatic creatures from going extinct. African Wild Dogs, also known as Painted Wolves, are incredibly brave, intelligent, playful and loyal to each other. And they are also Africa’s second most endangered carnivore.

And although fortunately to them they aren’t on anyone highly priced list, African Wild Dogs suffer greatly as unintended victim of poacher’s snares. African Wildlife Conservation Fund, along with a number of other organizations, work relentlessly to patrol the bush in search of snares as well as any animals who are in need of help.

I also adopted a pack for our forest school, which has gave the children at the school a lot of joy and served as a springboard into a lot of fun games and learning activities, which if yo’d like you can read about here.

Who are African Wild Dogs

As this animal is not wildly known I wanted to share this beautiful documentary by Kim Wolhuter that is generously available for free from PBS NATURE.

If this video fails to load you can find it available for free here on PBS.ORG.

The snaring problem

Here I wanted to share with you a few videos showing the remarkable work of rangers saving animals from snares. Unlike real world, all of these videos have positive outcome. Thankfully to the work of rangers and veterinarians animals who were harmed by snares get assistance and are back with their families. And it is incredible to know that a small regular donation, that is about a cost of 2 cups of tea or coffee, goes a long way to make the invaluable work of these rangers and vets possible.

A beautiful nature series about Africa

At the end I wanted to recommend BBC’s Serengeti series. It is beautiful and engaging and you can see some incredible stories of loyalty, strength and dedication that people typically think of being human-only traits. As all nature shows it is not without some heartbreaks, but that is life. Yet it doesn’t get into gruesome detail, and instead shows you the incredible beauty and resilience of life, and incredible bonds between animal families.

Caring for leather shoes

caring for leather shoes

I wanted to make a quick post about how we care for boy’s Bisgaard leather winter shoes. We are using Bisgaard TEX boots for the third winter and are extremely happy with them — the boys spend up about 6 hours outside 3-5 days a week all through the winter and their feet never got cold or wet, the shoes are lightweight and have excellent grip. You can see more photos and details abut these winter boots for children here and here.

The pair of shoes in the photo are on their 2nd winter. They are used extensively each week due to how much time our kids spend outside while attending forest school. And with us living in the Rocky Mountains I think our terrain is particularly rough on the outdoor gear. Yet, the shoes are holding together wonderfully.

Recently I realized I never shared how we care for them. The care is really quite simple, but I think it makes a big difference in keeping the shoes waterproof and lasting for a long time in good condition.

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Fall leaf mobile craft

fall leaf craft with children

This year we had a long and beautiful fall here in Colorado’s Front Range, and so we have collected a lot of leaves during our times in the mountains where boys attend their forest school program. We called them ‘forest jewels’.

In this quick post I wanted to share with you one of our crafts with those beautiful fall leaves. It is very simple. We made this craft with kids both indoors and outside, although having a windy day would make it challenging. This craft is also low waste — it uses forest finds such as leaves and sticks, and the only other supplies needed are a small amount of regular white glue and a bit of biodegradable string or twine.

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Waders — our latest addition to kids outdoor gear

waders for kids

We have great and warm rubber boots. We have fantastic mud pants. But when it came to playing in a creek both boys inevitably would end up wading too deep and getting their boots filled to the rim with icy water. Because keeping track of the how deep the water is a thing for grown ups, but is really not that important while you are 3 or 5 years old exploring the world. 🙂

One of the parents from our forest school recently shown me waders she had for her little boy. Since we don’t do fishing I never even heard or seen of such thing before. What great invention they are, especially for the nature loving kiddos!

waders for kids
waders for kids
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2020 Bisgaard TEX boot update (our 3rd pair)

kids winter gear sustainable nontoxic

I wanted to post an update to the previous blog post on winter shoes by Bisgaard for kids. By now we are on our 3rd pair and using these shoes for the 3rd winter. We spend extensive time outdoors, especially since we have started a forest school. Last winter, with Ale´ we did 3-4 hour hikes 4 days each week all through the winter. And just this week the boys did a 5.5 hour program in cold weather doing a 5 km hike. And these shoes continue to be a compete success.

Where to buy and choosing the right size

For information on where we order our Bisgaard shoes (sadly not easily found in US) and my tips for choosing the right size consult this original post on Bisgaard TEX boots.

Read on this post to learn about the reasons we enjoy these shoes and why I recommend them. As always this post is not sponsored.

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Our forest school to-go faves

best kids outdoor gear sustainable and zero-waste

In one of our earlier posts I shared that last year my family has started a forest school in our area. It’s been a lot of fun and of course a lot of hard work. But we all have been really enjoying having a community of outdoor loving kids exploring together on a regular basis each week. And having my kids spend 4 to 8 hours 3 days each week year around in nature with their friends has been incredible!

best kids outdoor gear sustainable and zero-waste
best kids outdoor gear sustainable and zero-waste

Here in this post I wanted to share the outdoor gear and accessories they have been using and enjoying during their forest school time. In the past I have shared our favorite winter gear, as well as our favorites for the wet and muddy season. For summers they simply wear white shirts made from organic muslin fabric and shorts, all sewn by my mom for them. Summer hiking shoes is the only area where our search for the best gear still continues, as we are yet to find something I could recommend.

And in this post I wanted to share some of the accessories we’ve been using on our hikes. As always, the products are sustainable and ethically made and their mention here is not sponsored.

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Fjallraven Re-Kanken Mini backpack review

Fjallraven Re-Kanken Mini backpack review

Before I get into my review of Kanken Mini backpack, I want to quickly share with you 3 facts that stood out for me as I did a bit of research about this company prior to buying the backpacks.

  1. The fox isn’t just for the logo.

    Fjällräven actually means arctic fox in Swedish. Sadly, these beautiful animals are at the brink of extinction as a result of fur industry and now climate change. Fjällräven is involved in Arctic Fox recovery program in Sweden through co-funding as well as supplying field equipment. I think that is just amazing!

  2. Keeping plastic bottles out of the oceans

    The Re-Kanken backpacks are made from 11 used plastic bottles each, with lesser use of water and energy in the production process as well!

  3. On-going research into sustainability practices

    The company has a comprehensive set of sustainability values and appears to do an on-going research in this area to keep on improving its operations so it leaves lesser and lesser impact on our planet.

Ok, now that I shared these cool facts with you, here comes my review. 🙂

Fjallraven Re-Kanken Mini backpack review

This Spring as boys were turning 3 and 5 years old I wanted to get them new backpacks. Their old backpacks made by my mom from some upcycled old garments were adorable and very loved by both of them, but they outgrew them. And as we didn’t have any old fabric or garments around which were suitable for new backpack sewing I decided to go ahead and buy them their new backpacks.

I was hoping to find kids backpacks made of canvas, with no synthetic materials. I didn’t find anything of that sort in children’s size (not to say it isn’t somewhere out there), but I quickly discovered Fjallraven brand and was impressed with their sustainability values. I now discovered that it is apparently a very trendy brand as well and if you want to get likes on Instagram just wear a Kanken backpack :))) . But the reason why I chose these backpacks for the boys is because of the company’s sustainability values, great craftsmanship, functionality and perfect size for young children.

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Zero-waste kitchen: cleaning supplies

zero waste kitchen cleaning supplies

Hello friends, I wanted to take a moment and share with you few easy swaps you can make in your kitchen to eliminate or greatly reduce single-use plastic waste. I’ve tried many different products sold at various zero-waste shops, and these are the items that ended up working best for us.

About plastic pollution

Before I jump into sharing with you what has been working well for our family I wanted to share with you a little bit about why it matters.

 

Many people are under impression that as long as we put our plastic waste into a recycling bin it will be taken care of. But sadly we produce such colossal amount of plastic than recycling industry simple can not keep up with it and vast majority of our plastic waste ends up littering our planet and will remain there hundreds of years.

Here, in the above images is the very sad reality of where our plastic trash ends up.

And if you use instagram check out these profiles — @ourgoodbrands, @no_plasticwaste and @plasticfreedom_ — both for eye opening images of what is happening with plastic, and for some great inspiration of things you can change in that regard.

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What we are wearing in wet and muddy season

As always, this is not a sponsored post. The reason for the post is to merely share with other mamas brands that are sustainable and make great things for our little wildlings to help them be comfortable, healthy and spend as much time outdoors as possible.

Here in Colorado’s front range the Spring has arrived early this year. At least it seems so to me 🙂 It is still middle of March, but the snow is melting away in most places, our daffodils and tulips started caming out and I see first cautious signs of Spring on our walks in the forest as well.

As it’s been wet and muddy I put away our winter shoes and snow suits, and switched to wool-lined rubber boots and mud pants which I don’t know how we would do without. Especially with Eleon who loves mud with passion! 🙂 The moment we dig a whole in a garden he climbs right into it and just lounges there watching us work or pondering about life.

Over the years I found few great brands that make high quality, beautiful, toxin-free and sustainable outdoor gear for the children. So I wanted to make a post featuring all our favorites for this time of year when some days are still cold and some already warm, but you can always count on it being wet and muddy.

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Organic cotton and wool socks for kids

organic socks for children knee high socks wool socks for children

This year the winter has flew by fast. As we are heading into Spring with its ever changing weather, mud and puddles I wanted to share a quick post about recent addition to boys’s outdoor gear. On one side something like socks seem insignificant, but they can make all the difference in keeping little feet warm and comfortable, while roaming the outdoors.

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Mud pants — wet and muddy season’s essential

mud pants for children
mud pants for children
mud pants for children

When it comes to wet and muddy time of year I don’t know what we would do without mud pants also called rain pants! It is probably one of the best inventions, next to the rubber boots to help keeping kids happy and moms sane. :). Truly.

rain pants for children

They are very roomy and made of thin waterproof material, so could be used on a warm day just over shorts, or on a colder day over wool tights. I think some people even use them as their winter waterproof layer over thick wool pants. I love that they have strong elastic and a strap at the bottom so that you can pull them over the rain boots. This way when the boys very energetically stump in the puddles nothing gets into the rain boots. The other great feature is that they go up to armpit level covering the sweater or jacket, thus keeping them also protected during splashing or if kids sit around in mud. 🙂

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The reason I’ve been gone from the blog — we started a forest school!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s being that long since my last blog post — almost 6 months! A lot has happened since then. We had our first vacation in many years and spent some time to Puerto Rico, which was so amazing! Visiting the Caribbean was a dream of mine for years. The boys still talk about wanting to go back there almost daily. And today as I’m writing this post we are sitting out in self-isolation as COVID-19 continues to spread through Colorado and the world in general.

Otherwise our lives have been going the usual ways — we still have been trying to reduce the use of plastic anywhere we can, buy things consciously, tend to our garden, and find other ways to leave lesser foot print on the planet. I’ve discovered some new wonderful plastic-free and non-toxic products that I’ve been wanting to post about. I also have been wanting to share some really incredible books I read. But I just haven’t had time. The thing is, over a year ago my husband and I have decided to open our own forest school. It has fully consumed most of my time. But it has been a really wonderful and rewarding experience, and I am happy to finally having a moment to share a little bit about it with you.

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Gardening in Colorado’s Front Range: fruit trees

 colorado front range gardening growing fruit trees and berries

Hi folks, this post is region specific to share some of the things what we’ve learned in the 7 years of living and gardening in Colorado’s Front Range. Although we come from a family of gardeners and have had lush gardens in our home country, gardening at this altitude (6,975 ft or 2126 meters) has given us a lot of challenges. But gradually we found what seem to do well and give good results with least effort. And while it does take work and often comes with many heartbreaks (those late Spring 2 foot snowfalls) it is so worth it!

Whether or not you live in Colorado or at another high-altitude (and not very garden-friendly) place on Earth I hope you find this post helpful to you as well.

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Use your end of the season florals for zero-waste decorating

Hello, now that it is summer I wanted to share a quick little post about how flowers make the prettiest decorations for gift wrapping. Here I used just some of the roses from our own yard that already finished blooming and dried right on their branches. But you could use any other flowers that are abundant in the region where you live. I also really like using some of the herbs for decorating, such as rosemary, thyme or lavender. Those I just clip fresh and add to the little ribbon I’m tying around the gift. They add loveliest smell to the wrapping making it even more special.

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The midsummer tomte and the little rabbits

The Midsummer Tomte and the Little Rabbits

You might remember around Christmas I shared one of my most favorite children’s book — Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits. It is one of those stories that touches deep into my heart and makes me feel like a little child where everything around me is magical again! And I can read over and over and over again with my boys. And now that it is summer, I wanted to share another book about the very same Tomte and little rabbits, but this time it is about Midsummer, or Summer Solstice, celebration.

Midsummer isn’t something that is celebrated in my home culture or here in America, but ever since I was a child I wished there was some special celebration during the summer when we would decorate everything with beautiful flowers, stay up late playing outside all into the night, eating special foods and listening to live music. Wouldn’t that be so beautiful?!

And then I came across this this lovely story that weaves together magical creatures, animals, traditions and seasons into a wonderful and charming story where they celebrate summer, decorate everything with flowers, sing songs and dance all night! Just like I always dreamed. 🙂

So I hope you read on and fall in love with this book as much as we did!

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