Tag Archives: environment

Crafted wooden toys, made with Love

When we are looking for new products to bring to Ulula, we use our heads and our hearts equally, in the belief that if both are in agreement, we feel that we have found the right product!

When we started looking to expand our range of toys, our hours of buying and trying led us to Hohenfried.

In this modern world, Hohenfried Heimat feels to us a real gem in our midst. Hohenfried is an open community of learning for disabled adults and children, providing sheltered accommodation, schools, and employment in organic agriculture, craft workshops, carpentry, gourmet kitchens, and bakeries. Hohenfried is not simply a ‘place’. It is a home; a field of learning, a gathering of people, wildlife and most importantly of all, purpose.

Sitting in the Bavarian Alps, the landscape alternates between woodlands and meadows with flowing transitions between nature and the areas of living and working.

For Ulula, the wooden rattles that came to our attention made us fall in love! The rattles are made in the community workshops, and are made entirely of local timber, cut mostly (and sustainably) from trees grown in the communities own grounds; the toys are beautifully machined, and finished only using pure vegetable oils.

The various rattles or greifling (clutching) toys are handmade to the renowned carpenter, pedagogue, and educational theorist Hugo Kükelhaus’s original 1930s ‘allbedeut’ designs. Kükelhaus was a well-known German architect, educator and environmentalist, who designed a range of special baby toys which promote sensory, motor skills and the imagination.

Hohenfried Dreilochring Rattle
This beautiful, chunky, handmade wooden rattle, containing two balls of beechwood securely enclosed within an outer ring of strong cherry wood, makes a lovely, gentle sound when shaken. The silky, smooth surface is finished with a natural oil so you can rest assured it is safe for little mouths, and the size is perfect for little hands to grab, hold, explore and shake. A quality rattle, made with love, that is certain to become an heirloom. Comes packaged in an unbleached cotton drawstring bag.

Hohenfried Kugel Rattle

This handmade wooden ball rattle is made of pear tree wood with an inner ball of hard cherry wood. The ridged, textured surface is finished with a natural oil so you can rest assured it is safe for little mouths, and the size is perfect for little hands to grab, hold, explore and shake. Comes packaged in an unbleached cotton drawstring bag.

“My mum had a rattle just like this, and as soon as she saw it at Ulula she had to get it for my little one – it already feels like an heirloom because of the familiarity, and my LO loves it so much x” Johanna

Hohenfried Urfisch Rattle
This fun, eternally classic, quality handmade wooden rattle contains a wooden inner ball which makes a pleasing sound when shaken. The multi-textured surface is finished with a natural oil so you can rest assured it is safe for little mouths, and the size is perfect for little hands to grab, hold, explore and shake. A delightful rattle, beautifully made with love, that is certain to become an heirloom. Comes packaged in an unbleached cotton drawstring bag.

 

Hohenfried Greifling Rattle
This lovingly handmade wooden ring rattle contains a central bar holding three loose disks which make a lovely sound when shaken. The silky, smooth surface is finished with a natural oil so you can rest assured it is safe for little mouths, and the size is perfect for little hands to grab, hold, explore and shake. Comes packaged in an unbleached cotton drawstring bag.

“Love this so much – it is so beautiful to hold, and just brilliant for my son – he is teething, and he loves a good gnaw!!” Anna

 

Making family traditions – celebrating Christmastime together – the countdown to Christmas Eve

Ulula is based at Rush Farm, a biodynamic farm in Worcestershire.frozen-scene

Between March and October, Rush Farm is supported by a wonderful group of volunteers who find us through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Organisation – a movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers.

new-calf

our December arrival

The volunteers are fondly known at the beginning of their stay at WWOOFers, but by the time we are all hugging goodbye, they have become one of the family. This means that we are now very much an international family on the Farm, as is Ulula with all its wonderful worldwide customers.

We may not be ‘together’ on the farm across the winter months (a time of ‘rest’ for the farm so no volunteers are needed), but sharing our winter traditions and memories is very special.

frozen-plantOur winter family and community traditions are instilled in us when we are little, and these memories and feelings stay with us as we grow up, and we bring them into our world anew when our own little ones arrive. For us, we always decorate the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve – our German roots!

These traditions are unique to each family, region, country and each generation, and we carry them with us, whether we stay in the country of our birth, or find ourselves somewhere different. ‘Different’ brings opportunities – for both enjoying, and learning other families’ traditions. We blend them into our very own happy ever afters. Just as it should be x

Christmas Eve in Poland (PL: Wigilia)

polish-ceThe Supper. On this special evening, we sit together with our family and have a supper of special food, singing carols (PL: kolendy) and opening Christmas gifts (dedicated only for good kids!). Gifts may be found under the Christmas tree – we can be very lucky because on 6th December we have Santa Claus and he leaves gifts under the tree, and then again on 24th Dec under the Christmas tree we have presents again – nice! 

 At first we pray together. After that, we share between each other something like communion wafer and we wish each other all the best. People are living in a hurry these days. It happens that it’s once in a year when people have time to visit their families to say warm words of love to each other. I hope this tradition will never die and become everyone’s daily “routine”. We polish-christmas-eveare lucky to have such a great people around us, and it concerns you too, guys.

Then, we eat. We eat a lot. Nobody is proud of it, but we do it anyway!! 

After hours of eating, singing, all the gifts and food, most people start to watch Home Alone. In some families they can sit without telly and talk and sing bit longer. We are going to the Church for ceremony that is on 12:00 AM – in cities that could be earlier.

Food: There are some differences between sides of Poland. The old tradition says that should be 12 dishes (but nobody I know is quite sure how to count, for example is bread a dish or not 🙂 ). Main thing is that the dishes are not with meat at all. Mostly is Fish, things are made from flour, and vege stuff.

Menu for Wigilia:

  • Beetroot soup with small raviolis with mushroom stuffing (PL: Barszcz czerwony z uszkami)beetrot-soup
  • Mushroom soup (PL: GRZYBOWA)
  • Polish dumplings (ravioli, pierogis) – with cabbage and mushroom stuffing, and common ones with potato and cottage cheese stuffing. (PL: PIEROGI)
  • Very popular are fried Carp Fish in the bread crumbs. But other fish is sometimes now used, and is cooked in different ways 
  • Second popular fish is vinegar herrings with onion apple and sour cream pierogi
  • Beverages: drink is special compote from dry fruits
  • There are always some cakes – a popular one at this time are poppy cakes

There is also a tradition that one chair & one plate by the table is empty. That means we are ready to welcome any refugees or homeless people on this day, so they might join us.

radek-and-asia

Radek and Asia, Poland x

 

 

Making family traditions – celebrating Christmastime together – the Christmas Tree

Ulula is based at Rush Farm, a biodynamic farm in Worcestershire.

frozen-scrapeBetween March and October, Rush Farm is supported by a wonderful group of volunteers who find us through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Organisation – a movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers.

The volunteers are fondly known at the beginning of their stay at WWOOFers, but by the time we are all hugging goodbye, they have become one of the family. This means that we are now very much an international family on the Farm, as is Ulula with all its wonderful worldwide customers.

We may not be ‘together’ on the farm across the winter months (a time of ‘rest’ for the farm so no volunteers are needed), but sharing our winter traditions and memories is very special.

frozen-walk-boots-and-flashOur winter family and community traditions are instilled in us when we are little, and these memories and feelings stay with us as we grow up, and we bring them into our world anew when our own little ones arrive.

These traditions are unique to each family, region, country and each generation, and we carry them with us, whether we are stay in the country of our birth, or find ourselves somewhere different. ‘Different’ brings opportunities – for both enjoying, and learning other families’ traditions. We blend them into our very own happy ever afters. Just as it should be x

My Christmas is always full of childhood memories. Even I’m twenty three now, we celebrate Christmas every year in the same kind of way. I love that! nativity-under-tree

Christmas to me means time to calm down and to enjoy a special time of the year with my family, the people I love.

At the holy night my dad always prepares the food, which is very special because during the year he never does. And I have to admit he makes it really really good!

The biggest moment for me is the time we all together open the door to the room with the Christmas tree.

It’s liketree magic! The whole world seems to stop for this moment.

And before we start to eat the delicious meal between harmonious candlelight we all together sing the German Christmas song ‘Oh Tannenbaum’.o-tannenbaum

Wishing you all peaceful Christmas time and good future for Ulula,

Marisa, Germany

Making family traditions – celebrating Martinmas together

lantern-walkBefore our little ones came along, we’d best confess that Martinmas wasn’t a part of our lives, but being invited to be a part of first the story, and then the singing as we strode out on our Lantern Walk at their kindi that first November was wonderful! We discovered this amazing opportunity to be together under the stars, singing with our lanterns. How fabulous!

It has now become a family tradition for us to celebrate this special day – we sometimes make new lanterns, and sometimes we use last year’s… we always make sure we have one each of course! The anticipation of waiting for dusk to fall and getting our wellies on to walk is wonderful!

Sometimes we walk as an extended family group, and one year when ill health restricted how far we could go, there were just the two of us and we wandered along the pavement beside our home singing away together!lantern-walk-drawing

We had never made a relationship with what Martinmas actually is, but have enjoyed enormously learning about it for this blog! Martinmas is on November 11th, and is a wonderful festival.  “This day celebrates the burial of St Martin of Tours (316-397 AD) who devoted much of his life to establishing Christianity in France, and became one of her patron saints.”*

Many of you will perhaps know the story he was most famous for – that of meeting a poor beggar at the city gate, who was shivering in the cold.  Martin drew his sword and cut his own cloak in two and gave one half to the beggar.  Legend has it that Christ appeared to Martin in a dream the following night dressed in the piece of cloak Martin had cut.

“Martin’s half cloak brought hope and comfort to the beggar – his compassionate gesture may warm us also, and protect us from wintry despair.”*

gnomes-with-lanterns

To celebrate Martinmas, we carry lanterns, walking together, singing, as a symbol of the small light we can shine into the dark wintery world. When we make our paper lanterns, we are making a protection for the flame that joined us and began to shine for us at Michaelmas. Our lantern light may be only one small, fragile light, but each and every light “brings relief to the darkness”*.

Here are our own two favourite Lantern Walk Songs:

dsc08945I go outside with my lantern: A Lantern Walk Song
I go outside with my lantern, my lantern goes with me.
Above the stars are shining bright, down here on Earth shine we.
The cock does crow, the cat meows, la bimmel, la bammel, la boom.
‘Neath heaven’s dome till we go home, la bimmel, la bammel, la boom.

I go outside with my lantern, my lantern goes with me.
Above the stars are shining bright, down here on Earth shine we.
So shine your light through the still dark night, la bimmel, la bammel, la boom
‘Neath heaven’s dome till we go home, la bimmel, la bammel, la boom.

Glimmer, lantern, glimmer: A Lantern Walk Songdsc08957
Glimmer, lantern, glimmer.
Little stars a-shimmer.
Over meadow, moor and dale.
Flitter, flutter, elfin veil.
Pee-wit, pee-wit, tikka-tikka-tik.
Rucoo, rucoo.

Glimmer, lantern, glimmer.
Little stars a-shimmer.
Over rock and stock and stone.
Wandering, skipping, little gnome.
Pee-wit, pee-wit, tikka-tikka-tik.
Rucoo, rucoo.

lanternIf you want to learn the tunes, there are wonderful video clips here:
http://astorytellingofcrows.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/lantern%20walk%20songs

A beautiful story which could be told through perhaps a puppet show or simply by being told to listening ears before your lantern walk can be found here:
http://www.waldorflibrary.org/images/stories/Journal_Articles/GW3808.pdf

All Year Round includes instructions and patterns for three different lanterns, or these sites also have wonderful suggestions for your family lanterns: http://lusaorganics.typepad.com/clean/2011/10/how-to-make-paper-lanterns.html

Which ever songs you sing, and wherever your lantern walk takes you, have a very happy Martinmas!

*All Year Round: Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton, Marije Rowling

Making family traditions – celebrating Bonfire Night together

“Remember remember the fifth of November,bonfire
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot.” Anon

The sorry-old-tale of the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament  in 1605 has been well preserved in our British folklore. It is fun to find ourselves teaching our little ones the poem, and sharing how we celebrated this day when we were little – because each family has their own way to celebrate together, and we share these ‘traditions’ when we share our memories.

This celebration also gives us a wonderful reason for a family bonfire and the sparkles of fireworks that brighten the night sky. The perfect time for us to say together this wonderful poem:

Fireworks Nightfirework
Who is drawing pictures on the black night sky?
Swirls of red and yellow up so high, so high?
Noisy cracks and bangs make the babies cry.
Who is drawing pictures on the black night sky?
 Julie Tonkin

 

The ritual of a ‘celebration fire’ actually stems back of course from pagan times – the key moments of the year such as the transitional moments of spring and autumn were celebrated with a fire, and even now, most of us love the occasion of a bonfire – flames can be so mesmerising and heartening to watch, and of course, making the bonfire is such a special act for the whole family to be a part of. A favourite song of ours to sing when we are making is bonfire is:

Heave and heave-ho**bonfire

Dray the branches to the heap,
To the heap, to the heap.
Drag the branches to the heap,
Heave and heave-ho.

Pile them high and stack them steep,
Stack them steep, stack them steep.
Pile them high and stack them steep,
Heave and heave-ho.

Pack the spaces strong and firm,
Strong and firm, strong and firm.
Pack the spaces strong and firm,
Heave and heave-ho.

Stand well back, it’s time to burn,
Time to burn, time to burn.
Stand well back, it’s time to burn,
Heave and heave-ho.

When we were little, in our family, we would enbaked-potsjoy the bonfire, the sparks, the flames, dancing fire fairies, and of course, the being out late!! Then our parents would cook baked potatoes in the embers, wrapped in tin foil – delicious!

Bonfires are a wonderful opportunity for little ones to ‘stay up late’ – and this time with permission! To be out under the night sky is very special, able to gaze at the stars above, and enjoy the fire fairies amongst the flames of the fire.

And, of course, it doesn’t have to be a large the-gnomes-around-the-bonfirebonfire.

A small fire for your family of gnomes is perfect, especially if together you have been gathering collecting-for-autumntreasures collected in your garden and on your autumn walks, which can be brought together to create a wonderful way to celebrate the end of Autumn; A Gnomes’ bonfire party*!

To create a Gnomes’ Bonfire Party “prepare a small fire… and allow it to establish a good bed of hot embers. waiting-for-the-conker-to-pop

Seat all the Autumn Garden gnomes comfortably at a suitable distance from the fire and then gather every pod, leaf, cone and other scrap from the Autumn Garden that the gnomes have not been able to use, and feed them into the fire one by one.

They will each burn in an individual way – some with a bright flare, some with a crackle, some with a shower of golden sparks. (Chestnuts and acorns that have not been pierced with a knife may explode, so be sure the fire is guarded.) Take time to enjoy each ‘firework’, but leave the pine cones until last – if the conditions are right and they are undisturbed, they might turn to gold before your very eyes!”

And for the Gnomes?? Perhaps a feast as a rcakeeward for all their hard work…

 

…but be quick! It will soon be gone!its-going-fast

 

 

 

 

bonfire-gnome

 

However you celebrate this night together, happy Bonfire Night!

 

 

 

 

*All Year Round: Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton, Marije Rowling   ** Julie Tonkin, and Candy Verney – adapted from a traditional song

Holle Organic Baby Milk Now CO2 Neutral

Holle organic baby milks are now certified CO2 neutral, a unique achievement for the environmentally aware baby food company.

Holle organic baby milk CO2 neutral

Holle’s organic baby milks are now CO2 neutral

The only baby milk in biodynamic quality is now CO2 neutral.

The complete life cycle of Holle baby milk formula – from the cows’ feed, the complete production process through to the transportation of the formula to wholesalers such as Ulula –  has recently been certified CO2 neutral. Which means every time you buy Holle baby milk you can be assured you’re not only giving your baby the best formula but are minimising your impact on the environment. Look for the logo on every Holle baby milk carton and read on to learn more…

Helping Parents Reduce their Carbon Footprint

Parents who have the highest expectations when buying their baby’s food often chose products in biodynamic quality. Here at Ulula we’re particularly pleased to be offering such a large range of Demeter, as well as organic, certified baby foods. This environmentally aware direction pioneered by Holle baby food is now being taken to its next step by moving to carbon neutral production as a way of helping parents reduce their carbon footprint – one product line at a time.

 Biodynamic Baby Milk for a Naturally Lower Carbon Footprint

The CO2 balance of Holle baby milk formulas – the summary of all global warming gas emissions which result directly or indirectly from the products – is already significantly less than when compared with conventionally produced foods.

This is because 50% of the emissions caused through biodynamic milk production are absorbed in the soil. The cows graze on biodynamically grown pastures which increases the soil hummus and binds carbon. Furthermore, the cow’s fodder is produced on the same farm and is free from synthetic pesticides. This means that no soya-based feed needs to be imported from outside because the cows feed on native grass, lucerne and hay. All this taken together significantly reduces the CO2 balance. Also, Demeter farmers work the arable land with much gentler methods, which also has a positive influence on the balance. For example, ploughing methods prevent soil erosion and better binds carbon.

Holle baby milk’s CO2 balance was calculated on the basis of the Greenhouse Gas Protocols put together by the certification body TÜV Nord Cert GmbH and fully complying with the requirements of the United Nations. The total of all global warming gas emissions for Holle baby milk formula production is just 3,250 tons CO2 per year. This compares roughly with the CO2 output of around just 100 families in Germany within the same period.

Socially and Environmentally Responsible Carbon Offsetting

To offset these remaining emissions from the production of its baby milk formulas, Holle supports an international composting project in a 350,000 square metre area of Egyptian desert, converting the land for organic agriculture. I’ll tell you more about the Seekam project in a future post and show you some photos of the miracle project that is converting desert to arable land – all powered by Holle baby milks.

Whenever possible seasonal, regional, CO2 neutral and, of course, biodynamic are for Holle simply the best choice for healthy and sustainable baby foods. Their 80 year history is testament to their continuing drive to provide the best quality organic baby food. Ulula is proud to partner with Holle to bring you baby milk and baby food you can trust to help your little one thrive. Naturally.

Five Reasons to Choose Organic Baby Food

Organic baby food is good for your baby and planet; it is kind to our animals and wildlife and choosing organic baby food allows consumers to make a big difference – simply through the way you shop. With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why organic food delivers such good value for money.

Choosing Organic Baby Food is Better for the Planet

Amazingly, over 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions today come from food and farming. Nitrogen fertiliser manufacturing is the worst offender. To produce just one tonne takes one tonne of oil, seven tonnes of greenhouse gasses and one hundred tonnes of water. Organic farmers work with nature to feed the soil and control pests.

By putting less stress on the environment, organic is a more sustainable choice, especially as around 30% of the average consumer’s carbon ‘footprint’ comes from their food choices. By choosing organic baby food – you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Organic Baby Food is Better for Your Baby

Organic baby foods have  higher amounts of beneficial minerals, essential amino acids and vitamins than other baby foods. Organic baby food avoid pesticides and all controversial additives including aspartame, tartrazine, MSG and hydrogenated fats. Organic food contains higher levels of vitamin C and minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants and Omega 3.

International studies find that organic plant products contain more anti-oxidants such as phenols and salicylic acid, known to protect against cancer and heart disease. The same studies also show that organic animal products contain more polyunsaturated fatty acids, which also help to protect against heart disease.

Organic Baby Foods are Kind to Animals

Animal welfare is at the heart of organic food systems. Organic food standards for meat and animal products rigorously protect all aspects of animal wellbeing – from rearing, feeding and shelter, to transportation and slaughter. Organic animals are free to pursue natural behaviour because they have plenty of outside space to thrive and grow, and are not routinely drugged with antibiotics. Organic standards prohibit cruelty and guarantee truly free-range lives for farm animals.

Many shoppers don’t realise that organic meat and animal products are also free range. Where Ulula baby foods contain eggs and meat the organic certification symbol guarantees you that the animals  have been reared to the highest level of free-range standards. Birds are looked after in much smaller flocks, spend most of their lives roaming outside on fresh grass and have much more space in their houses.

Buying Organic Baby Food Encourages Wildlife

The UK Government’s own advisors found that plant, insect and bird life is up to 50% greater on organic farms. Organic farming relies on wildlife to help control natural pests, so wide field edges are left uncultivated for bugs, birds and bees to flourish. They are also not sprayed away by the fertilisers, chemicals and pesticides routinely used on non-organic farms.

Organic Baby Foods are Guaranteed GM Free

Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are banned under organic standards. Shoppers wanting to avoid GM products may be surprised to know that over a million tonnes of GM crops are imported each year to feed non-organic livestock, which in turn supply our supermarkets with pork, bacon, milk, cheese and other dairy products.

Is there really a better place to think about the environment than at the table where a mother feeds her baby? Every mouthful we feed to our babies is a vote for, or against, the planet and the survival of future generations. Let me know your thoughts and experiences.