The Sweet Meadow

Why we all need to be lazy

living the sweet life, travelAishe Besim
The habit of doing nothing at all is incredibly important to our individual and cultural well-being. Far from laziness, proper idleness is the soul’s home base. Before we plan or love or act or story tell we are idle. Before we learn, we watch. Before we do, we dream. Before we play, we imagine.
— Nikaela Marie Peters, The Kinfolk Home

Recently somebody asked me what I do for fun and I drew a blank. Seriously.

Not that long ago I could have answered that question pretty easily - hiking, photo taking, gardening, reading, taking a bath, road tripping, cooking. But running a business is all-consuming and I've found myself stuck on a cycle of eat (sometimes), sleep (not enough), work (like a dog), and repeat.

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But that is all about to change! I was reading an article in Fete magazine about the benefits of lazy days. Much like sleep, downtime allows the brain to process the huge amount of data that is poured into it every day. Prolonged relaxation is what our mind needs to consolidate and problem-solve, to rejuvenate and to restore creativity, balance and productivity. 

Relaxation activities have also been proven to trigger the production of feel good hormones including serotonin and oxytocin, which enhance mood, create better sleep and even offer naturally occurring pain relief. 

But we've known that all along, haven't we? As the classic nursery rhyme sings, "Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream."

Just the other day I was watching an Instagram story from women's mentor Tara Bliss, who was on holidays at the time. She was talking about how taking time out, while beneficial for you as an individual, is also sometimes exactly what your business needs. In other words, it works both ways - your business needs a holiday from you too. 

So that's exactly what I'm doing. At the end of August this year the cafe will close for 10 days and I will be going on my first proper holiday in over three years, to Bali! 

I have promised myself I won't feel guilty about scheduling in days to do nothing, knowing that their ultimate function is to help me bounce back and perform at my peak. 

I have held on to a quote I read years ago about fashion designer duo Viktor and Rolf, who grew up in the depths of suburban Holland. When asked how their upbringing influenced them in becoming the amazing designers that they now are, they put their finger on the creative tendencies of suburbanites: "Because it was so boring. We had too much time to dream."

Looking forward to boring days spent amongst the rice fields of Indonesia. 

ABx

Photo of Lauren Bullen in Ubud, Bali

Photo of Lauren Bullen in Ubud, Bali


 
I’m lazy. But it’s the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn’t like walking or carrying things.
— Lech Walesa
 

The Good Oil - How to Use Essential Oils Everyday

essential oilsAishe Besim
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I believe that for every illness or ailment known to man, that God has a plant out here that will heal it. We just need to keep discovering the properties for natural healing.
— Vannoy Gentles Fite, author

My introduction to essential oils was a practical one. I was about to open The Sweet Meadow in 2016 and was looking for a healthier peppermint flavouring to make our peppermint slice (if you're in the cake decorating aisle at the supermarket, have a look at the ingredients list in the 'peppermint essence'- it's alarming!). 

Through my research I stumbled on an essential oils brand called doTERRA, went along to an introductory workshop held by Wellness Advocate Sammy Morgan, and the rest is history! I would now use at least 20 different oils every day, which help to support me physically, mentally and emotionally. 

The key with essential oils is to use less oil, more often, rather than a lot of oils once or twice during the day. Ways I like to use oils on a typical day include:

MORNING
Peppermint or Lemon - When I first wake up, I like to place one drop of an invigorating oil on the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and take a few deep breaths. Usually I'm still so tired when I wake up, so a zesty oil really helps to get me in the mood to get going!

Clove, Oregano, or OnGaurd - I'm a big fan of oil pulling (an ancient Ayurvedic medicine practice), and rather just use plain coconut oil like I used to, I now add a drop or two of one of these oils with my coconut oil. All are anti-bacterial and help to remove germs, although clove is especially high in antioxidants and is great for oral health. I tend to opt for oregano if I feel like a cold or flu is coming on.

Wild Orange - Sometimes I add a drop of this oil to my oats or granola for breakfast - yum!

Tea Tree, Lemon, Lavender, Geranium, Frankincense - These are all amazing oils for the skin. I add Tea Tree to my cleanser, Lemon to my toner and a mix of Lavender, Geranium and Frankincense to my oil-based moisturiser. I only need to add the oils once, when I first purchase the skin product. Generally I work off a dilution ratio of 5 drops of essential oil for every 10mls of carrier oil. So, if my bottle of rosehip oil (moisturiser) is 20ml, I would add 10-12 drops of essential oil once, and use as normal until the bottle was empty. 

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Frankincense, Copaiba - I place a drop or two of both of these oils under my tongue every morning. This is the closest I'll get to taking a multivitamin. I seriously think these oils are gamechangers and should be used by every single person on this planet! They both help build and maintain healthy immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems. They are also amazing for skin health and on an emotional level, can help soothe anxious feelings. There are countless studies about the positive effect both of these oils have on our internal health - do your own research. 

Diffusing - As I'm getting ready for work, I like to mix a few different essential oils into my diffuser. I change up my blends daily, but usually I like to incorporate a citrus oil (for energy), a woody oil (for grounding) and a floral oil (to make it smell nicer, basically!). My favourite combo is Citrus Bliss (citrus), Hawaiian Sandalwood (woody) and Ylang Ylang (floral). 

Pure-fume - I still use conventional perfume on my clothing (Santal 33 is my fave), but essential oils are the only perfume-type products I'll put directly on my skin. At the moment I'm layering Jasmine & Rose oils on my wrists, neck and chest. I also like placing 2-3 drops of the oil blends Balance and Elevation on the soles of my feet as I head out the door. doTERRA's Balance blend helps to lessen stress (I need A LOT of help in that area), while Elevation is the perfect blend to increase energy. 

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DigestZen - This oil is magic! I place one drop of this oil mixed with a little coconut oil directly onto my stomach after meals and gently massage it into the skin. As the name suggests, this oil blend aids in the digestion of food, helping to reduce gas or bloating. Hands down one of my favourite oils. 

EVENING
Diffusing - When I get home one of the first things I do is get the diffuser going again. My oil blends at night tend to be more soothing. I like Lavender Peace, Vetiver, Cedarwood, Whisper or Console at night, and generally steer clear of any zesty, citrus oils. 

Tea Tree, Citrus Bliss - These oils are my go-to when washing the aprons for The Sweet Meadow! I add a couple of drops of each to the water as it's filling up in the washing machine. Tea tree is known for its purifying properties, while Citrus Bliss is an energising oil that can help uplift people's moods (hopefully it rubs off off on the staff!). 

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Cooking - The herb-based oils like Coriander, Basil, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Oregano and Rosemary are great to use in savoury dishes in the kitchen. A little goes a long way though. These oils are potent. Start with dipping a toothpick into the oil and adding it into your sauce/curry/dish and go from there. I use about 6 drops of peppermint oil when making a batch of our peppermint slice, but that feeds about 30 people! 

Aromatic Dressing -  I've been using coconut oil as a body moisturiser for years, now I just add four or five drops of essential oils to the mix too and call it an aromatic dressing! Like my diffuser blends, this changes daily, although I generally find a way to incorporate my favourite smelling oils, like Hawaiian Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Elevation, Citrus Bliss, Whisper, Jasmine and Bergamot. 

Geranium, Tea Tree, Lavender - I've pre-added drops of these oils to my shampoo and conditioner, as both are great for hair health. 

Manuka - I love earthy scents like Manuka to help me wind down and de-stress, but I also mix Manuka with coconut oil and apply it directly on cuts, burns and any eczema on my hands (the joys of working in hospitality). 

Hawaiian Sandalwood - I've mentioned this oil a few times in this post. I think this is the most heavenly scented oil I have ever smelt. It's been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac, and while I love to use it on my skin for it's health benefits, I love adding a drop or two to my pillow so I can take in the aroma as I fall asleep. This oil also happens to be one of the most expensive in doTERRA's range, but even if it were double the price, I'd find a way to purchase it. I honestly think I will use this oil every day for the rest of my life. 

So how do you get your hands on these oils? doTERRA works in a similar way to Costco (stay with me here). Purchase a yearly membership fee ($35, or choose an enrolment kit instead to waive the fee) to create your own wholesale account. Order the oils online at wholesale price and wait for the magic to arrive! More details and instructions here

What are you waiting for? Lift the lid off the bottle and get smelling!

Video - The Smallest Detail

videoAishe Besim
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To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail.
— Giorgio Armani

I'd been admiring the work of former Echuca local Beth Morrison for a long time. I thought our first birthday would be the perfect time to approach Beth to create a short film for The Sweet Meadow.

I gave her a pretty vague brief - I just wanted her to produce a film that felt like viewers were "peeking over our shoulders". I wanted people to see the finer details that all come together to deliver a Sweet Meadow experience. 

I think she nailed it. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to work with Beth now before she gets way too famous for me and I can't afford her! Check out more of her work here


Filmmaker Beth (left) with florist Lisa from Wallingford Flowers (aka the dream team). 

Filmmaker Beth (left) with florist Lisa from Wallingford Flowers (aka the dream team).