“We live in a very remote area, and so to go on a nature hike, we just need to step outside our front door”. Katrien van Deuren – @growingwildthings – has 50k Instagram followers, revelling in her tales of a simple, creative existence. Nell Card digs a little deeper…
Katrien van Deuren and her husband Francesco live in a remote farmhouse in Italy with their twin boys, aged four. They are expecting their third child this autumn.
Growing Wild Things
Our mornings are… usually quite slow. The boys tend to wake up quite early – around 6am – so we take our time getting up. We chat over breakfast and enjoy some free time during which I try to get some chores done, do some yoga, or sit down with some knitting project or other, while the boys play by themselves. Then we think about heading out.
My kids mainly wear… natural (and, if possible, organic), handmade or ethically-produced clothes that are comfortable and durable enough to withstand our many outdoor adventures. Each of the boys has about three or four shirts in organic wool and silk or cotton by brands such as Cosilana, Engel and Hocosa.
And then they can complete the outfit they chose to wear that day with pieces from some of our favourite brands like Nievaknitwear (for beautiful hand-knitted pieces) or Errandikids (who makes truly comfortable garments in plant-dyed “peace-silk” that is produced without harming the silk worms). Soon, we’ll also be adding some stunning, handcrafted trousers and jumpsuits by Redcreekkids to our wardrobe, something we are very much looking forward to.
I cope with clutter by… being organised. One of the things we strive for as a family is to live with less. Everything we do own has a specific place. I especially like to use large baskets and crates to store the children’s belongings in: toys, hats and scarfs. That way, the boys can easily get the things they need, ànd help me out by putting everything back where it belongs once they are done using them.
I never leave the house without… my camera. Through the lens of my ”old” Canon EOS 1000D I have learned to look at the world in search of beauty, even when things get hard, or beauty is not easily found.
When they’re not looking I… knit, and knit, and knit. There’s always at least one unfinished project on my needles, and I hardly ever just sit with my hands in my lap; they’re always moving, always making. It’s been that way for me for as long as I can remember, but now that I have children, I find that there’s even more purpose in the things I make. I never have to sit and think about what I could possibly make next… Quite the opposite: there simply isn’t enough time to make all the things I would like.
There’s always someone who needs a new pair of fingerless gloves, or a set of sleeping bags for their wooden figurines. And to see my boys wearing and using the things I make is the best kind of encouragement to keep going, to knit faster. Above all, my knits speak of the love and dedication I feel towards my family. And it is in that very same spirit that I’m trying to knit, sew and crochet as much of the tiny-sized wardrobe as I possibly can for the baby boy that will be joining our family this autumn.
I encourage creativity by… always having pencils, paint, scissors, glue and some good quality paper and notebooks readily available for the boys. It’s all stored on a large windowsill next to our dinner table. They know they can always just go there and take something out to get to work.
I’ll never be able to part with… Oh my, I’m pretty sure that just a few short years ago I would have been able to write quite a list of things I thought I would never be able to part with. The truth is, there are of course some keepsakes I would be really sad to lose (my grandmother’s old bread knife, the beautiful black moonstone ring I got from Francesco), but through my journey into motherhood, the decision to move into an old farmhouse, losing most of my possessions in storage due to water damage, and living on an incredibly tight budget, I have discovered that the only thing that truly matters to me are the memories I have of us, living this life of ours here on the hill.
When all else fails we… go for a walk. We live in a very remote area, and so to go on a nature hike, we just need to step outside our front door. Even a ”quick stroll” down the dust road that leads from the main road up to the house gives us the chance to get some fresh air into our lungs, and fill our heads with ideas. Our favourite excursion is a steep downhill hike that takes us from the house, into the woods, and to a magical place by the river where lizards are dragons and boys turn into the captains of adventurous wooden ships.
Follow Katrien on Instagram for beautiful images of her family, and their inspiring life; growing wild things in rural Italy : @growingwildthings
Does reading about Growing Wild Things and Katrien’s simple existence make you long for a different type of life? We’d love to hear your thoughts below…