Shinrin-Yoku – Learning to Take in the Forest

I hadn’t heard of Shinrin-yoku until last winter, when I came across an article explaining the restorative, calming, benefits of the practice. There are full studies on the effects of forest bathing being held in Japan, noting reduced blood pressure, improved mood, increased energy levels, improved sleep, an increased ability to focus and even accelerated recovery from surgery or illness.

Having purchased this property while working in a fairly stressful job, I can attest to how just taking ten minutes to breathe outdoors here, staring up at the tree canopy or sitting on the ground did far more to calm my racing mind than a glass of wine.

The concept of Shinrin Yoku is simple: visit a natural area and walk in a relaxed manner. I would argue, one does not even need to walk — simply choose a spot, and sit still. Oh, and leave your electronic leash (cell phone) in the car.

The science behind it is fascinating, for example, many trees give off organic compounds that support our “natural killer” cells that are part of our immune system’s way of fighting cancer.

Over the last few months, Dave and I have done more digging into elements of the practice of Shinrin-yoku. We have found it’s best if you can take in nature through all five senses, and we have noted that many of us busy Americans need to be coached in what “walking slowly” is. No fitbit. No hiking. No goal except to simply relax.

To that end, Dave and I have decided to host a Shinrin-yoku workshop here at Oakleaf on Oct 22nd. We will practice breathing, take a guided, slow walk through the forest, enjoy site-made tea and refreshments and learn how to fully engage with the beauty of the wild — and meet some like-minded folks interested in the benefits of the forest.

We decided on a Sunday, so you can start your week off right.

It’s better than a hike, I promise. Get tickets here.

Cris (and Dave)

 

 

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Summer’s Last Hurrah Dinner

Confession time: I, Cris, am a tableware hoarder.

chiniserie, dye, table setting, table, dining, outdoor

I’ve wanted an excuse to create an “ocean” themed table for ages, ever since I first found this vase some years ago. As time went on, I found more pieces that related to it — flower holders, salt and pepper shakers…

And then it just happens that my family has three birthdays in September. And that one of those persons is usually not in town.

And it also just so happens that Mom and Dad come back from the Bahamas with yummy things like lobster and crab that Dad found while snorkeling. And suddenly a table concept was born. With only a day left before the last day of summer, it was to be Summer’s Last Hurrah — a nod to all the fun and joys of summer, with a menu to match.

Bonus: I had to play with dye to make the linens I needed for an “ocean” theme. Gosh, how terrible.

Friends, I give you Summer’s Last Hurrah.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take many photos of the meal itself. We had crab, rockfish, lobster, roasted vegetables, the best rice pilaf ever…. and then for dessert we had Key Lime pie, blueberry cheesecake and a strawberry cake. It was fabulous.

I was also terrible about taking photos of the crowd — but it’s family and sometimes that feels awkward, no? We had a great time. And, I can say the front porch can easily dine 16.

I had so much fun making the linens I’m not at all opposed to making some for anyone who wants some. I’m still working out specific color abilities with dye, but I’d do my best to get colors you like 😉

Setting tables is a serious passion of mine — I’m so grateful to have Oakleaf, with all its various places to set up to my heart’s content virtually anything I can dream up, and so many family and friends who put up with my madness.

Happy first day of Fall!

Cris.

 

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Revealing the Barn

Well, kinda revealing. It’s not finished — but considering where we started a few months back, the transformation is coming along well.

barn exterior angle

oakleaf cottage barn exterior

We had a deadline that we never expected would be tight, but with all the rain this spring it took for-ev-ah to get dirt and rock up here. Also, due to our location, a lot of work has to be done by hand. Mostly by two people. Myself, and Dave. I’ve got some pretty cool muscles going after slinging a pickaxe so often. Who needs a gym, when you are remodeling a barn on the side of a mountain?

barn deck oakleaf cottage

Our deck is complete, save we will be changing out the farm-fence look to tension wire in the very near future. It’s 16×50, and feels outright amazing – like you are in the treetops. After we stain it in a couple of months we can add pots and some minor furnishings out here for our Cottage guests to relax on while watching the sunset. We’ll be leaving lots of room for morning yoga, which some recent guests found the deck to be perfect for.

barn interior daytime

Inside, we are still working as well. The floor will get poured SOON, and we have some really cool details that will go into that. After that, we can install the lighting on the posts (and down the center), and we will be using reclaimed brick on the posts to give the barn a different, but solid, look.

first event

Our first event, a rehearsal dinner, went super well. Everyone loved it, and we loved watching how guests spilled out to explore the property and trails, some assisting newly walking kiddos who held on to their parent’s fingers — both for balance and to pull Mommy and Daddy everywhere. We were completely exhausted, but even through that were thrilled to see how people interacted in the space. It’s just as we dreamed.

bar area

We literally pulled our temporary bar together using the original lower stall doors about 2 hours before the event started. We were sooooo down to the wire. We’re happy it looks halfway decent, but looking forward to installing the original design with bar sinks and an undercabinet fridge. It will have a floating/locking island that can be used too, for greater versatility of space. But it dresses up nice.

barn at oakleaf cottage

Early this week, we had a small group of people come through to have a look at our little construction project, so we set out a little wine and cheese. I loooove pulling greenery straight from the outdoors in decorating a space.

tired dog barn party

Our tripod dog, Cookie, was completely worn out from playing host/official greeter and spent the majority of two hours right about here.

Work continues out here — this week, Dave has been installing the beams and details on the ceilings on the sides of the barn. It has a steel structure, which is nice and sturdy but not terribly pretty. From here, it’s all cosmetics.

new beams

We can’t wait to see what neat events will be in store for this place over the years, and have a number of great seminars and nature-related events in the works. Watch our events page or follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss out!

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xoxo-

Cris & Dave