She strikes an elf-like and enchanting figure on her Instagram, her riotous fluffy mass of sun-blond hair flying behind her as she runs through the sunlit trees, sits by ponds playing a tin flute, or gathers berries to create incredible homespun recipes. Russian sprite Ellen Tyn is known as @liskin_dol on Instagram (where she boasts over 111,000 followers), Foxy Chest on Etsy (where, if your fingers are fast enough, you can catch her hand-embroidered and handmade goods before they disappear seconds after being listed), and Woodland Patterns on YouTube (a channel full of dreamlike and idyllic videos sharing cozy recipes and forest walks through the four seasons). But little is known of her beyond the magical glimpses we get into her life, happily lived in a cabin on the edge of the Karelian forests in Russia. We had to know more about this incredible young woman who embodies both Mori Girl magic and fairy-tale fantasy.
When we asked Tyn about her love of the forest, her enthusiasm was palpable. “I call myself a woodland creature because I just can’t imagine my life without high pine trees and moss-covered lands. The forest is my friend,” she says. “It’s a great creature, hugging me and telling me fairy tales to inspire. It always makes me absolutely happy.” The forests outside her home, where she roams daily, are full of lush wonders. She describes recent encounters with foxes as she passed through the woods, with hedgehogs in her garden, and with roe deer and rabbits. The most dangerous encounter in her memory was meeting an elk when she was out gathering blueberries. But surprisingly, even the rabbits of her woods can be loud. “Once, I felt like the earth was shaking,” she recalls. “I thought the biggest animal was running toward me, but when I turned around I saw a rabbit—a big one, admittedly!”
When she is not able to be out in her beloved woods, she brings the woods to her. Her home is filled with pinecones, branches, and lichens. Such mementos are a necessity for her, since she often creates crafts and takes photos with the beautiful bits and pieces of nature. However, the wonderful side effect is a house that smells like the woodland surrounding her. Tyn also tries to bring charms and enchantments into her daily tasks. “I think of them like kinds of magic,” she says. “You cook breakfast—you make magic, for example. Isn’t it wonderful— you take various ingredients and then make something very delicious!” Tyn is self-taught, and learned many skills from her mother as well.
Spring is a special season in her domestic pursuits. Floral cuisine is a spring ritual: She makes jam from rose petals, dandelion wine, lilac ice-cream, and nettle pancakes. Many of these items are harvested from foraging trips out into the woods. Herbs, mushrooms, and berries are all delicious ingredients she gathers from the woods and fields.
Certainly Tyn lives a whimsical and charming life, one she has learned to share with her global audience in a way that makes us all want to run away to a cottage on the edge of the forest. But it isn’t always easy. “I can’t call my life slow, because living in nature isn’t easy, and you always keep busy with many things to do every day,” she says. “If you want to be productive, you can’t afford to sit in blankets and sip coffee for hours. So I just try to live with no fuss, focusing on the tasks at hand and pausing sometimes to enjoy the moment, the beauty of the world.”