How to Support Yourself During the California Fires

It is a devastating new reality to be consistently experiencing the effects of the fires that have been erupting in California.

My heart goes out to those families who’ve had to evacuate and to those who’ve lost everything. Words cannot even express how devastating this feels.

A lot of us have been enduring smoked fill skies, and noticing adverse health effects. Headaches, nausea, dry skin, cough, runny nose, etc. I’m personally experiencing several of these symptoms right now, and if you are too, you’ll want to read on.

I felt inspired to share my personal self care methods for times like these. These are some simple, easy, and supportive things we can do to help our bodies in dealing with the smoke.

  1. Wearing a Mask.

    This is huge. If you choose to do nothing else, but one thing- this needs to be it! Think about it… You’re not just inhaling tree smoke, but you’re inhaling all the various chemicals from buildings, cars, homes, factories, etc etc burning down. Those white N95 ones will protect your lungs and you can find boxes of them at hardware stores.

  2. Hydrate

    Smoke is so, so drying and your body is working on detoxifying it all. So drink plenty of water throughout the day and TEA!

  3. Tea

    My favorite herbs to steep for a respiratory tea are Grindelia/Gum Plant, Yerba Santa, and Tulsi. Mullein is also a good one. Marshmallow Root is amazing as well, but you have to make a decoction of that first (Boil, then simmer water with the root in it until the liquid is reduced by at least half) and add a splash of that to tea. Drink as much of this tea as you can per day. If these loose herbs are hard to get a hold of, Yogi Teas makes a nice respiratory blend with many of these same herbs in it!

    Other herbs that are supportive for their mineral content and moving toxins out of the body are Nettles, Horsetail, and Milky Oats.

  4. Immune Support

    Again, your body is detoxifying a lot of crap from the smoke so you want to support yourself as though you’re clearing an illness. My favorite immune support herbs are Echinacea and Elderberry. I also like making a tea with Hibiscus which is naturally very high in Vitamin C.

  5. Magnesium

    You are probably depleted, so taking a supplement of this is key!

  6. Limit Sugar and Alcohol

    I’ll repeat it again… your body is detoxifying right now. That takes a ton of effort and theres no reason we need to be putting more toxins into our bodies at this time.

  7. Skin Care

    Dry brushing… something I’ve recently been getting into, is excellent for stimulating your lymphatic system which is helping your body to move toxins out.

    Salt Baths are wonderful for nourishing your skin and putting the minerals back in.

    Moisturize! This smoke is so drying and it’s a good idea after every shower to moisturize your whole body. Sometimes I’ll use pure coconut oil for this. Any natural oil, shea butter, or salve is great.

  8. Sinus Oil and Steams

    If you’re having issues with your sinuses, you can give them some reprieve with a sinus oil. I love mine from an herbalist which is tulsi infused olive oil mixed with essential oils of peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus. Rubbing this inside my nostrils is the best thing! You can also make a steam. Bring a pot of water to a boil over the stove and add one or more of these same herbs- Eucalyptus, peppermint (or anything in the mint family), and lavender. Put a towel over your head and place your face right over the pot and inhale the steam!

    Additionally, if you have a diffuser, I really recommend the Breath essential oil blend from DoTerra.

I hope this helps! Stay safe, hydrated, and moisturized. Lots of love.

May the rain come soon!!

Blessings,

Katie

How did I get into Farming Flowers?

I get asked this question a lot, so I thought I’d make a post about it. It depends on how far back you go. I could let you know how I’ve grown flowers since I was a little girl. How my mom let me have my own garden space in all the houses we’ve lived in and let me have complete control over it. I could tell you how we would spend hours at the nursery oohing and ahhing over plants deciding which should come home with us and if we had enough space to plant them among our existing plants. These formative years have played in major role in why I grow flowers, as it’s something that has soothed my soul for as long as I can remember.

However, farming and gardening are completely different. How I landed into FARMING flowers was through bees.

Yep, that’s right. It was through our pollinator friends. I studied biology at a small liberal arts college in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and managed to land two internships during the summers of my undergrad BOTH in regards to studying native bee populations… one was through The Chicago Botanic Gardens and I was based in the prairies of Minnesota, and the other was through Oregon State University. It was both of these experiences that helped me land a summer research assistant position through UC Davis. The very next day after I graduated with my bachelors in Biology, I was driving my new leased Nissan Sentra out to California. I was doing it! This Wisconsin girl has always wanted to travel Westward, and this was my chance.

It’s safe to say that I became enamored with California right away. I was in Davis, which is a particularly charming town with an infamous farmers market, permaculture community, and beloved food Co-op. Artists are celebrated in Davis, biking is the preferred mode of transportation, and no one looked at me funny for wearing tie dye. It was safe to say, I felt home.

The pollinator research team I was a part of took me all over the county to various farms of all different sizes. We observed, counted, and took samples of native bees from farms that were huge, mono-crop, and conventional as well as from smaller, more diverse organic farms. This opened my eyes to farming in a whole new way. First off, I realized the bounty of crops that could be grown here and not just during the summer, but during the winter, too! Being from Wisconsin, my view of farming had been very limited to corn, soy, and dairy. I still remember the very first time I saw a pomegranate tree. It was full of flowers, and I was full of wonder. There are a lot of other crops I saw, and tasted for the first time. Persimmons, kumquats, jujubes, and loquats were some of those. Additionally, eating a FRESH PEACH off the tree for the first time was an ethereal experience. I had fallen in love with the idea of farming and growing all these amazing crops. I knew that when my research term was over a few months later that I would not be ready to go back to Wisconsin. So, the day came when my summer bee work was complete and I was desperate to learn farming.

 Bombus vosnesenskii on vetch

Bombus vosnesenskii on vetch

By some luck or divine order, I got a job working for Toby Hastings at Free Spirit Farm. His was my favorite farm that we studied bees at. He grew the most gorgeous organic vegetables, flowers, fruit trees, and blackberries on 3 acres. Later, he added chickens to the mix. He gave me a chance with zero farming experience, and I learned how to harvest all of these crops with speed. I learned what quality looks like as his San Francisco restaurants accounts only accepted the absolute best. I would pick his brain about growing these crops at any chance I got, and I filled my belly with the freshest and tastiest food I’ve ever experienced. I also worked harder than I ever had in my life, but felt strong, healthy, and fulfilled in doing so.

 Sun golds at Free Spirit Farm

Sun golds at Free Spirit Farm

It was my second season working for Toby when I had this Ah-hah moment. I could farm flowers I thought! I knew a lot of farmers struggled to make a decent living with growing vegetables, and I also knew that flowers were a luxury item and commanded a much higher price than vegetables. Plus, I have always been passionate about flowers! I thought my idea was brilliant, and when I get an idea, I go full force into making it happen. When I wasn’t harvesting for Toby, I was researching and dreaming of farming flowers. I bought The Flower Farmer book by Lynn Byczynski and signed up for The Specialty Cut Growers School, which took me up to Washington in the Spring of 2013 to learn from Diane Szukovathy, Dennis Westphall, Vivian Larson, and Joe Schmidt. This was incredibly eye opening, inspiring, and charged me in a way that I needed. When I returned, I got started. Through connections, I found a private piece of property to grow my flowers on in the same town as Free Spirit Farm, where I was still working. I set out to farm by spreading compost on the field, laying out irrigation, and starting seeds at my friends’ place in a dilapidated plastic hoop-house. I had grand plans of doing a flower subscription/weekly bouquet share while still working for Toby because I couldn’t afford not to have steady income. I would farm 8 hour days harvesting vegetables and then head over to my flower plot to farm another 2-3 hours before going home. My days were long, and if you are at all familiar with California central valley summers, my days were also brutal. I’ve never experienced such intense heat and nonetheless, working in it all day long. Somehow, this still didn’t deter me from farming. My bouquet subscription plan did not work out, but I did manage to have a standing order of 10 bouquets/week with the Davis Food Co-op. I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into farming and it gave me back fulfillment, abundance, and a sense of purpose. Although I realized at the end of the season that I needed to explore different options for farming, I felt hooked on farming flowers not only as a job, but a way of life.

 My first patch of zinnias

My first patch of zinnias

I’ve come a long way since this first go at flower farming. I’ve learned a lot and still am constantly learning. Mother Nature is the most humbling teacher, and I’m filled with stories of not only successes, but also epic failures. Though I have been gaining confidence of myself, as a farmer as the years go on, there was a HUGE learning curve in the beginning, not only to farming itself, but also to growing flowers in a completely different climate. Wisconsin zone 5b is vastly different from California zone 9b. I often reflect back to these earlier years of farming when I feel like things are particularly difficult. I remember how I just dove in, fearless and strong willed. I remember the joy I was gifted in return, and I know that I can keep going.

Have a look through these images to see my first go at flower farming in 2013. I’ve narrowed it down as best I could to 15 images. It’s a mixture of farm photos with some of the first bouquets I’ve made. As always, thanks for reading! 

Transitions

Hey there.  I’m glad you’re here to read about this. It’s not always easy to share personal hardships, so I've been quiet lately. With 2017 coming to a close, I find myself doing a lot of reflecting and also ready to just let go and welcome in a new year with new possibilities. I feel that it is important to be open and transparent in the most authentic way that I can. It helps to talk about the challenging times because we’ve all gone through some; we’re not alone.

Do you remember what was happening in your life around the eclipse in August? It was quite profound for a lot of people I talked to, and indeed it was for me. It was also my Birthday (Aug 17th), which was just days before the solar eclipse on the 21st.  Derek and I had quietly been struggling in our relationship for some time prior and I believe it was this merge of events that became the catalyst for me to let go of our relationship. We separated, and it was devastating to say the least. It was not from a loss of love, but rather a healthy decision. This actually made it feel more painful. In many ways, I’m still working through the tough emotions. Shame and guilt were some of the strongest in the beginning. 

I ended up moving out of our family home soon after, and very gratefully landed at a friend’s house temporarily.

 Daffodils, a symbol of New Beginnings, bloomed for me in September! That's 5 months early!!

Daffodils, a symbol of New Beginnings, bloomed for me in September! That's 5 months early!!

I’m so very grateful for my farming community as it was Jay of Hearty Fork Farm and his wife, Catherine, who opened their home to me which then led to Nalin and I being welcomed into our current home in Winters. We now live with Jeremy/Farmer Shep and his girlfriend, Kim. I’ve been so humbled by the experience of generosity and feeling lifted up by my community. I’ve not only re-connected with friends, but I’ve been allowing myself more focused attention, which had been lost for a while. I’m so happy that I’ve signed up for a new women’s circle being held by Kirsten Elise. It’s been very empowering and transformative in the way I’ve been able to move through energy. It is also worth mentioning that I am very grateful for Derek and the support he’s provided so far with moving and transitioning despite going though such heartache.  We are navigating our new paths now both as individuals and co-parents.

 In the front yard of our new place making me a pie

In the front yard of our new place making me a pie

Nalin has been adjusting along with us, and is doing well. We continue to allow him the space and support to feel his emotions and to know he is so well loved. He’s excited about “new house” as he calls our place, and even though there are tough moments, he is naturally happy day after day.  It helps that he still has the home he was born at and grew up in while he’s with Derek. The flower farm is also still comforting and familiar, so he’s been able to adjust somewhat easefully to just “mama days” and just “daddio days”.

 I've managed to execute 4 weddings since the separation. This photo was from my sister's wedding in Wisconsin.

I've managed to execute 4 weddings since the separation. This photo was from my sister's wedding in Wisconsin.

And so, what does this all mean for my business? I’m at a crossroads where I could either do everything I am physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of to propel my business forward and sustain the life style and career that I love OR I could sink. Obviously, the latter is not an option for me. I’m heading into year three, and so very grateful to have been able grow this business slowly. I’ve been given the gift of being able to be present as a mother to Nalin without any childcare since birth, and also to not have that pressure of needing my business to provide for the family. For this, I truly thank Derek and I also thank all my friends and family who have supported me with flower purchases along the way! I thank some of my first wedding clients who believed in me to execute the flowers of their dreams, even when it was all so new. Because of the amazing support I’ve had along the way, I actually broke even the first year. I’m profiting a bit this year, and next year will be different. I need my business to fully sustain the life I have now.

 Also since the separation, I've planted nearly 1,000 spring plant starts and over 1,000 bulbs/corms with my best helper here. Farming continues no matter what!

Also since the separation, I've planted nearly 1,000 spring plant starts and over 1,000 bulbs/corms with my best helper here. Farming continues no matter what!

It’s an exciting time and also a terrifying time for me. I’ve been doing what I can to learn and grow my business. I’ve met with small farms advisors to talk about moving forward and hiring. I’ve invested in Jessica Zimmerman’s Business Behind the Blooms course and that has been deeply helpful for realizing how I can attract the wedding clients I desire to work with. I’ve watched webinar after webinar after webinar of some of the leaders in the industry. I started listening to business podcasts. I’ve been updating my website little by little, and have a running list of goals I want to reach in January. I’m also so incredibly grateful that I’ve been chosen to win a Floret Scholarship, and am thrilled beyond words to dive into the course, which starts in January!

I hope me writing all this has given you a better sense of this path that I am on and has perhaps shed some light on the difficulty of this transition. It has been quite the emotional journey of heartache and loss, moving, still mothering my son and providing him support, farming, and maintaining my business all simultaneously. The point of this post is not to have your sympathy, but rather to connect and honestly share what I’ve been going through. My intention is to be my authentic self in the most genuine way that I can. I want to be transparent for my customers and followers along this journey. It may look like everything is absolutely perfect through the beautiful flowers on Instagram, but the truth is, we’re all human and we’re all going through life which sometimes presents us with challenges. I like to think of myself as a perennial optimist. I can always see the light even in the darkest of challenges. That’s how I know I’ll be okay.

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Katie

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