Skip the Christmas gifts this year, let’s cleanup the ocean

Just admit it, the whole idea of going into town or online looking for Christmas gifts again this year is not filling you with much joy. Or is it? Why do we do it? Why not just spend time with our loved ones, eat food and create memories? We all have so much stuff already and we really don’t need any more gifts. Certainly not anything made of plastic. If you need a gift, buy everyone books instead. Or handmade soap. Silver earrings, beeswax candles, wooden toys, tickets to the theatre. Buy art. Buy vintage. And wrap your gifts in paper.

No plastic this year, please.

Imagine how powerful it would be if we all stopped buying plastic? What a Christmas gift to nature that would be.

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This year has been a year where a lot of awareness has been raised about the plastic problem. Finally, the whole plastic problem seems to become mainstream and generally seen as something very urgent by most people. This is a positive movement, because the more people feel something needs to be done about it, the more likely governments and big corporates will follow and actually change laws which would make a real impact. Only recently the EU parliament banned single use plastic from 2021. In the meantime, there are some pretty amazing people already working day and night to combat the plastic problem.

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“Someone’s got to do it”. A young inventor starts the Ocean Cleanup

You may have heard of this guy, Boyan Slat, a young Dutch engineer who at the tender age of 18 invented something that could clean up the oceans. Although this was initially a project as part of his degree, six years later the idea is now a non-profit organisation called The Ocean Cleanup with over 80 people, developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. By utilising the ocean currents to their advantage, their passive drifting systems are estimated to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years’ time. The very first prototype has just gone out for testing in October 2018. Exciting times! And doesn’t it restore faith in human beings to do incredible things, if they want to – and care enough? Being Dutch myself, I am feeling very proud of Boyan and his incredible drive to make a difference.

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Micro plastics in your food

The test phase has now begun, mainly collecting all the larger pieces of plastic in the water, some smaller as well. The micro plastics are of course much harder to catch. Micro plastics are the bits that fall off the larger pieces after being in the water for a long time, the flakes, crumbs, the tiny pieces of plastic. These micro plastics are the worst, as they are eaten by fish – and subsequently eaten by us. Research has shown that micro plastics are now even discovered in many other foods and even beers, simply because disintegrated plastic becomes so small that is enters our water system. Imagine what that does to our health… It is therefore vital that we stop plastic from going into the rivers and oceans in the first place, and catch it before it starts to disintegrate into micro plastics.

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I would love to see The Ocean Cleanup become so successful that it becomes the start of a real change and cleanup of all the oceans. To see this inspirational young inventor Boyan Slat and his team come up with even bigger and better ideas to help us combat the ridiculous amount of plastic that we as humans have put into the environment. Of course, this project and the ones needed to cleanup all the other plastic floating around in the seas costs a LOT of money. I for one will swap my Christmas gift list this year for a donation to this cause.

Raise funds

If you feel encouraged too and excited about this like I do, perhaps consider thinking outside the (gift) box and ask Santa for charity donations this year. Surely clean water without plastic is worth more than yet another posh fragrance on your dressing table. The turtles will thank you for it.

Read more about The Ocean Cleanup

Donate to The Ocean Cleanup

Set up your own Fundraising Facebook Page

Aligning your values and business to find the ideal client

Running a business is great but sometimes you find yourself wondering where to take it next. You are doing what you have always been doing, which may work fine. If that is still giving you joy and it pays the bills, then keep going! Or maybe you have drifted away from your original concept over the months or even years. Maybe you wanted to try out different things, offer more services or just changed things to earn more money. And then you suddenly ask yourself:”Hold on, what is it that I am actually offering and to whom?” You may even find yourself feeling a little bit lost. How do you get your business back on track, or even on a different, much better track? It is all about aligning your own core values with those of your business and finding your ideal client.

Find the ideal client for your business

Separate identities

For years I felt I had two separate work identities. Sometimes they overlapped, but mostly they existed parallel. On one hand I worked as a marketing and communications manager for arts organisations, writing, editing and creating all their promotional material. On the other, I started my blog and business Nina’s Apartment, first as a hobby, then also as a shop. This work was all about vintage furniture and interior design. Sure, I used my arts and marketing knowledge to promote Nina’s Apartment. But they were two totally different jobs.

Adapting and changing

Right now, after a period of moves and changes, growing a little older and developing different interests, my blog is changing. I no longer want to only write about vintage, I want to write about life and the things that matter to me. That still includes vintage and design (because I love it), but it also includes everything else that adds to a ‘soulful life’: being mindful, being creative, eating healthily, conscious buying, caring for the planet and each other.

Selling to the wrong client

At the same time I have started a new life abroad as a freelance copy and content writer, mainly with online clients. I needed the work, so I first just accepted every job I was offered and found myself writing web pages for commercial outfits selling things I was not even interested in. I got myself onto freelancer platform Fiverr, but I constantly got haggled down or sent enquiries and then nothing. Clients were not valuing my expertise and clearly just needed “to get a job done” by any copywriter who could do it for the lowest price and as quickly as possible. It felt like you got handed a wet napkin after all the time and effort you put into the work. Do you know that feeling?

Bridging the gap between your values and your work

Then recently, I was speaking to an online business coach who held up a mirror. “Your whole face lights up when you talk about a certain client”, she said. “It looks like that is the sort of person you want to work for”. She was right. I enjoy writing for passionate people who have heart centered businesses, such as creative practitioners, life coaches, mindfulness and yoga teachers, eco friendly businesses and others who just love making the world more beautiful and help others.

I realised that I needed to bridge the gap between my two business identities. The gap also between my personal values and the work I do. Become one. Align everything. My soulful living blog can become my soulful writing business. No more identity crisis.

finding the ideal client and aligning your values

So how do you make everything flow better?

Define your values

Once everything is aligned, a business can flow much more easily, attracting better clients. But in order to get there, you need to define your values first. Secondly you need to decide who your ‘ideal client’ is, so you can create a niche, fine tune your message and attract this person.

Values can be anything from ‘friendly’, ‘hard working’, ‘efficient’, to ‘high quality’, ‘exclusive’ and ‘approachable’. Whatever defines you as a person and your business. Values are the things that we find important and are a basis for our behaviour, our principals and influence of character. It is best to choose a maximum of six values to focus on in your business.

The ideal client

Once you know what your values are, it’s time to have a good think about who your ideal client is. If you could choose the perfect client, who would you want to work for? What does he or she look like? If you say, I work for “small businesses”, or “anyone interested in art”, you are keeping it way too general. You make it much harder for yourself to attract customers this way. After all, you’ll have a lot of competition if you don’t make yourself stand out a bit more. It is scary to let go and make yourself only focus on one or two types of client, but it will pay off.

What is your message and who are you speaking to? Come up with one or two imaginary clients who you ideally want to work for and write down everything about them you can possibly think of. What they look like, where they live, what work they do, their family situation, their lifestyle, where they hang out online. If you have a clear picture in your mind of your ideal client, it is so much easier to promote yourself effectively to them with the right message – in the right location.

finding the ideal client by creating a niche

Creating a niche: what problem are you solving?

Your ideal client has a problem (a need) and you can solve it for them. This is your niche. Don’t solve a hundred different problems for a hundred different clients. Zoom in on one or two things you do really well, which your ideal client will be looking for. What is it that your ideal client needs and how do you solve this problem? This will be your key message in all of your marketing.


Example 1: health coach

If you are a health coach who offers coaching help with diet and lifestyle, your ideal client may be someone dealing with weight issues or health problems. Your values could be ‘health’, ‘motivation’, ‘achievement’, ‘commitment’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘life changing’. You will be helping them solve their problem by offering expert advice on diet and lifestyle, so their health – and life – improves, long term.

Example 2: A designer

Another example can be a designer creating unique, personalised wedding invitations. Your values could be ‘unique’, ‘creative’, ‘high quality’, ‘fast working’, ‘beautiful’ or ‘good communication’. The ideal client will be young couples who are engaged and value a creative take on traditional invites. And they need them on time to be able to invite their guests. The ‘problem’ you are solving for your ideal client is to offer beautiful personalised wedding invitations that arrive on time.

It may feel a little scary to let go of certain clients and not aim at a broad audience anymore. I feel it too! But the more you fine-tune your values, your niche, your services and your ideal client…the easier everything gets. Your marketing message writes itself, as you will know exactly what you do and for who. You will be able to write your web copy much more easily, because you have already defined so well what you’re about. And as you now know who your ideal client is, it will be much easier to find them – and sell to them.

Need help with your web copy?

Nina’s Apartment is 10 this year!

Happy birthday to me and my wee blog! I started the blog Nina’s Apartment back in 2008, can you believe it? No, I neither can I! I started the blog because I craved having an online place where I could gather ideas about styling with vintage. I also wanted to share upcycling projects and inspire readers to be more original in their interior decor choices. Ban beige! Was my first tagline.

A few years later I even had the joy of running my own shop under the same name, selling vintage furniture for four years. It is wonderful to give vintage pieces a new lease of life with paint or reupholstery. To rescue an unloved old teak sideboard from a garage, restore it and seeing a young family fall in love with it and give it a new home.

E Book Styling with Vintage

In all those years, while blogging, sourcing and selling vintage and even designing people’s rooms for them, I often got the same questions. “How do you know what vintage to buy?” “Can I make it look good with the rest of my interior?” “How do I make things work together well?” I decided to gather some of my thoughts and knowledge on it and create a little Guide for you! It’s a pretty little booklet with some great bite-size lessons and tips to spark ideas, give inspiration and help you get started on your own creative decor project.

And in return? It would help me so much if I could somehow earn a tiny bit of money from my blog after keeping it going and sharing my ideas for free for all those years. It’s not a lot, less than the price of a coffee and cake. Will you support me? It would be an amazing birthday gift! 🙂


E Book A Practical Guide to Styling with Vintage


E Book Styling with Vintage

A Practical Guide to Styling with Vintage

12 pages + front and back cover. Print quality, high resolution PDF.
The book includes numerous full colour photographs for inspiration, six practical styling lessons, an exercise to get you thinking and four style sheets to help you create your desired look.

After payment I will send you your E Book PDF within 24 hours.

£4.00


Preview

 


Who is this e book for?

This 12-page booklet is for people who love vintage furniture and using vintage finds in their own decor, but perhaps find it hard to select the right piece or how to make it look good in their home. Or perhaps you don’t know how to combine it with what you already have. And how do you prevent your decor from looking like a time warp? This E booklet is a helping hand to assist you in styling your home with vintage finds and furniture, create balance and make it all come together.

The lessons in the book are great reminders of what to think about when buying and styling with vintage; the style sheets serve as practical guides to create a certain ‘look’ and the lists are great to bring with you on your shopping trips. It is a high resolution PDF so you can even print it out.

Let me help you create an interior that reflects who you are and what you love…and stands the test of time. Enjoy!


Or…if you don’t want the E book but would like to buy me a birthday coffee instead, then you would be absolutely amazing too! A BIG thank you for supporting me.

coffee with heart shape milk

Buy Nina a coffee

I don't start writing before I have had a good coffee in the morning. Thank you for kick-starting my working day!

£2.50

The tricks of the mind and how they hold you back

How is your day going? I am feeling a bit overwhelmed today. Trying to get my head around becoming self employed in Spain but the bureaucracy is really daunting, as expected! Being self employed in the UK is a breeze compared to here. A tax return in English is one thing to get your head around…but in Spanish? And that four times a year, with VAT and very detailed book keeping plus big fines if you make a mistake or are a day late! Eeeek! I really feel I don’t want to do it anymore. Anxiety is kicking in.

anxiety in expats

Discovering yourself

I have not felt like this for years, thought I had left all that insecurity behind by now. I mean, I’ll be 40 next year. But no. Everything feels very wobbly all of a sudden. My steady foundation has turned into jelly and I am trying to find my feet. I guess we all go through these phases in life. You feel pretty safe and secure for a while, in control even, you think you know who you are. Got life sussed. Then BAM, you get presented with a brand new set of challenges that make you question all your values and what you stand for. It can even reveal sides of yourself you never knew you had. Anxiety for example. It is confrontational to say the least. It spices things up in life, yes, but it is tiring and emotional. Oh, and did I mention the language barrier? All part of the roller-coaster of moving countries.

anxiety in expats

Leaving the comfort zone

I remember how I felt 13 years ago, on the brink of emigrating first time around. I had not yet moved to Scotland, but I had flown across from the Netherlands for my very first job interview in English ever, which I was not quite fluent in yet. It went SO bad that I wanted to dug a great big hole right there. I was very nervous, struggled with the language and felt so small, embarrassed and stupid. Out of my comfort zone in front of three people asking difficult questions. I remember afterwards I cried and thought, stuff that, I am just going to work in that cafe over there serving tea and cake! I am not good enough for these types of jobs, way too scary. Of course, a few months later, another job came up and I got it. I was so proud of myself for biting the bullet and putting myself through it again. Another daunting interview. I still feel how happy I was when they called me to say I was hired.

So here I am 13 years later in Spain and I feel exactly the same. Happy but anxious. Excited but lost. Scared. Throwing up the barriers. I want to give up, not put myself through the complicated mill of freelance life in a foreign country. I want to hide under a large sun umbrella hoping it’ll all go away.

Monsters in my head

I am creating great big monsters in my head and keep thinking:”What if I screw up, what if I don’t know what to do, what if I don’t earn enough and can’t pay the monthly fees? What if I fail?” I need to remind myself I am not the first one who has done this and that there is help out there. There is no failing, only trying. But right now I just want somebody to hire me to serve tea and cake. Por favor?

Let them play! The sacredness of free play in childhood

Is it just me, or is being busy a badge of honour nowadays, not just for adults but for children too? Parents ferry their children around from one after-school activity to the next. They go to piano lessons on a Monday, tennis lessons on a Wednesday and art classes every Friday afternoon. Already exhausted new mums are putting themselves through the hassle of baby swimming lessons. Parents seem to be afraid that their brood misses out on becoming the next Einstein or Andy Murray and want every free moment in their kids’ lives to be ‘educational’. Otherwise learning apparently does not happen. And then there is of course peer pressure. How about some calm parenting?

Just playing freely without a grownup in charge almost seems rare in the lives of modern children. What ever happened to ‘freerange parenting’? Surely, most of us were brought up like that and it did us no harm. No constant supervision, no constant entertainment, no constant demand to achieve and produce visible results. Freedom to just be a child.

Today I want to make a plea for the return of mindful neglect.

mindful parenting

It is almost impossible to arrange a play-date on a weekday, because most kids have extra-curricular activities every day of the week, on top of homework. Why? Does it really set them up to become incredibly good at anything? Develop a life-long love for learning? The full diary in their young lives perhaps teaches them that life really just is a busy to-do-list.

Calm parenting: give the gift of time

When I was little I was a stubborn little girl who didn’t want to do any activity outside school whatsoever. Not that my parents didn’t try and encourage me. They did. I just did not want to do it. No tennis, no ballet, no music lessons. Go away. Not interested. And you know what, for my parents’ attitude I am grateful. They may not have pushed me to take private sports and music lessons, and I was unable to play the piano like fellow twelve year olds, but instead they gave me time. Time to play and to be bored. Time to figure out what I like. The opportunity to learn how to feel happy in just my own company.

Natural curiosity, taking action when ready

When I was about 10 years old I eventually asked my parents if I could join the local gymnastics club. I also wanted to do art classes on a Wednesday after school. I chose my own interests, when I myself was ready and motivated. Until that moment I sat quite happily at the kitchen table drawing. No adult intervention whatsoever. I played with Lego and my barbies, built dens with my sister or played hide and seek with the kids next door. As a teenager at fifteen I discovered a forgotten guitar in the attic and taught myself some chords. I have been in bands ever since. I didn’t have to be ‘exposed’ to music lessons from an early age. No, that doesn’t make me special, and maybe I would have enjoyed music lessons at 5, who knows, it just shows a different approach to parenting. Letting things be. I was always going to find the things that interested me. And having time to figure that out, made me love it even more.

calm parenting

So what am I trying to say with all of this? I believe (but who am I but a mother with a humble opinion) that the rise in anxiety among even primary age children, comes from somewhere. Whether it is a crazy busy schedule, too much competition, high parental expectations or watching too much rubbish on Youtube (let’s not go into that, right), I strongly believe in free play.

Keep free play sacred

So much playtime has already been taken away from them in school, with kids as young as 3 years old learning how to write their name and do simple maths. It makes no difference academically if they would start at 6. As parents we can at least try and make free play outside of school sacred. Have them join football or do ballet, sure, if they want to – but also build in that bit of calm at home. Downtime. No matter if they lie on the floor yelling that they’re bored. Don’t worry. Bored is good. It serves a purpose.

Calm parenting. The importance of free play

So much research says unsupervised playtime in childhood essential. It is more important for the development of social skills than any adult led workshop or extracurricular class in childhood. Still, as a society and as parents, we believe we’re at risk of falling behind academically. Learning to read and write and count is important and schools have their role to play. But children will struggle to become independent, happy and well balanced adults at the end of childhood if they never get a moment to themselves. How will they know how to be at peace with themselves without the need for constant reassurance, distraction and entertainment from outside?

calm parenting. the importance of free play

As a mother of two boys I try each day to be a good mum. Each day I wonder whether I did and said the right things and not screwed them up. It is not easy figuring out calm parenting and finding the key to motherhood. Still, instinctively I feel underscheduling is the way to go for my family. I want to encourage a calmness in my boys and an appreciation of the little things in life. I want them to be creative, resourceful and contented. Soulful living, right?

Calm parenting and creating resilient children

I hope to see more unstructured play in the park without helicopter parents trying to join in. Unstructured play in the garden without a well meaning parent leading some kind of Pinterest activity. Building Lego without the instruction book. Making stuff out of rubbish without the help of a grownup. Letting siblings quarrel without immediately trying to solve their argument. Letting them figure it out for themselves before intervening.

No pressure. Trust. Mindful neglect. Conscious neglect with the sole purpose of creating happy, mentally stable, sociable and resilient children. Kids with empathy. Kids who know the world doesn’t only revolve around them. Good humans. It seems a no brainer and common sense, but we have forgotten how to put it into practice. Or we are afraid to put it into practice. Because all the other kids…

calm parenting. the importance of free play

Children are naturally curious. They don’t need to be taught how to learn. They know. Children have a natural desire to discover the world for themselves. Give them that space. Even though you as a parent may think your child is not learning much at a particular moment and you feel you need to teach them stuff, their brain is working hard. If they have questions, they will ask them (oh yes they will!).

Calm parenting: lead by example and stop overscheduling

Children learn by example and copy our behaviour. What example is a stressed out, tired parent making life way too busy?  Instead, show calm. Just be. Say nothing. Trust your child in his or her own learning. Silence and time are essential ingredients for stimulating creativity and imagination and they are so precious. Childhood is short, please let’s not take away the magic.

Further reading

An article that really resonated with me:

Why are our children more entitled than ever before?

Some great blogs and Facebook pages on the topic of free play and parenting:


@playcounts

playcounts.com

@amotherfarfromhome

@theteachertom

Upcycling tutorial: make a tote, basket or rug with plastic bag yarn

The plastic problem is still huge and creating big problems in oceans, in landfill and just generally making the earth look very ugly. Still, I am an optimist, and I believe change is coming, not tomorrow maybe, but we are heading in the right direction. People are generally becoming more aware of the ecological impact of especially single use plastic and social media is full of posts showing ideas of how to reduce the use of it in your own household. I am still guilty myself of doing unplanned, spontaneous grocery shopping, subsequently accepting single use carrier bags. I buy coffees on the go in takeaway cups. It is hard to be consistent and strict about these things while they are still constantly offered to us.

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Last year India banned all forms of disposable plastic in Delhi. Europe is proposing a ban on single-use plastic items such as cutlery, straws and cotton buds in a bid to clean up the oceans. The legislation is not just about banning plastic products. It also wants to make plastic producers bear the cost of waste management and cleanup efforts, and it proposes that EU states must collect 90% of single-use plastic bottles by 2025 through new recycling programs.

upcycling tutorial

So that’s a bit about where we are at with single use plastic…but what about turning single use carrier bags into something that is usable for much longer, while they are still in existence? I am always in awe of how creative and resourceful humans are around the world. Who knew you could knit and crochet with the stuff?


How to make plarn?

 


1. Make a Crocheted tote bag our of plarn

 

plarn tote bag upcycling tutorial
Image and tutorial (in Spanish): La ventana azul

Image: MontClairMade


Plastic bags can be incredibly versatile and turned into very strong yarn for crocheting. When choosing bags for your project, consider color and texture. Select bags that are similar in thickness to create an overall good effect. Combine different coloured bags to create a pattern of colour, colour changes and patterns.

Supplies you’ll need:

20-25 clean grocery bags
Plastic crochet hook, size 6.50mm K
Scissors

Ready to give it a go?

Take me to the tutorial


plarn basket upcycling tutorial
Image: Jessyratfink

 

2. Make a basket out of plarn

A waste basket…out of waste! I love baskets for all sorts of uses, including toys, craft supplies, hats and gloves at the front door or yes, for paper waste.  How cute is this one made out of plastic carrier bags? And even better, no crocheting required.

Want to learn how?

Take me to the tutorial


3. Make a rag rug out of plarn

Great for outdoors, at the front door or in the bathroom, rag rugs made out of plastic carrier bags make surprisingly great mats. Here is an upcycling tutorial on how to make them. No crocheting needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eco friendly transport around town: adult scooters

I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to scoot away on my brand new ‘patinete’ or adult scooter, when I bought it in Valencia this spring. I felt like a kid again! Living in a city where you use public transport a lot and distances are sometimes a little bit far to walk (and arrive on time), it is extremely handy to have a portable vehicle to get yourself from A to B just that little bit faster. Adult scooters are perfect for short journeys, the school run or your daily commute with public transport.

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My trusted Oxelo scooter

My little boys have scooters and yes, they are usually associated with children’s activities, but believe me, the adult version is just as much fun. Wind in your hair, stepping away, gliding with ease, passing pedestrians and saving time. What’s not to like?

Scooters or patinetes (for the Spanish people among us) come in all shapes and sizes, with or without hand brakes. I bought an Oxelo adult scooter from Decathlon recently, for 119 euro. No hand brakes (instead you have a foot brake – you slow down by pushing the mud guard down on the back wheel with your foot), but it is foldable with a strap for easy carrying.  Even the handle bars fold inwards so you basically carry a scooter over your shoulder the size of a large bag. And not too heavy.  Very useful when getting on public transport! You can get actual carrier bags too if you want to take your scooter with you on longer journeys.

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Electric scooters

There are also electric scooter available these days, which I must admit, look very attractive, especially at times when I am trying to push my non-electric scooter uphill, in 32 degrees heat. They are quite a lot more expensive, but would be a good option if you have difficulty walking long distances or need something a bit faster but still portable and easy to manoeuvre.

Which surfaces are best for adult scooters

Non electric scooters are particularly great on the flat or downhill, on smooth surfaces. Unless your scooter has big rubber tyres, don’t ride with them on old cobbled streets or very uneven roads. You get the idea, bumpetybump. Not great. Tiled paths are fine, although the bigger the tiles the better. In quiet residential streets I sometimes ride on the tarmac, as this surface is obviously ideal. Just make sure you watch the traffic and get back onto the pavement when it gets busy (yes, mum).

Wearing a helmet is always a good safety measure. If you live on a hill, it is a must. These scooters gain speed fast when going downhill, especially with a 75kg/150lbs adult on it. You really don’t want to hit a rock or curb and go flying without being protected.

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Micro-scooters is another great shop to find your ideal portable adult (or kid) scooter. Micro-scooter

Scoot to the gate: your micro scooter with built-in case

For the geeks among us, or rather the commuters who are traveling a lot, there is the Micro Luggage Scooter. No more running to the gate at the airport pulling your trolley case on wheels or clutching your cabin bag. And killing time waiting for your flight will never be the same again. Imagine the smooth surfaces in that departure lounge…

Happy scooting!

micro luggage scooter

 

6 Simple and Minimal Ways to Style Your Home

Minimalist living. Have you tried it? I have seen lot of bloggers and social media influencers pop up lately who talk about minimalist living. We all own too much, don’t we? It is suffocating. And where on earth do you leave all the stuff? I would love a house with less clutter myself. One day. Today on the blog have blogger and stylist Lisa Ramirez of  Casa de Rami (www.casaderami.com) sharing some ideas with us. She’s done it. She’s cleared the clutter and feels so much better for it! How did she do it?

minimalist living. scandinavian white kitchen
Image: Pixelbay

 


Lisa Ramirez Casa de Rami
Lisa from Casa de Rami

Lisa: I went through a major transition of ridding my home of all the unnecessary, so my family could live a more minimal life. This new way of living helped me realize that I was in fact over cluttering my home. I owned too many items that no longer served a purpose or fit in with my own style. Much of it was sadly the result of overbuying when my husband and I purchased our first house a couple of years back. Back then we felt the need to have to fill every room to the brim. But after downsizing to a smaller space, I learned that it’s not about how much you have, but what you have, and how you style it to serve multiple purposes.

From overbuying to downsizing

Styling your home in a way that makes you never want to leave is the number one goal for most of us. Displaying items and decor that speak to our personality and make us happy instead of feeling overwhelmed. Having a space that welcomes and comforts us, and doesn’t make us want to turn around and walk right back out. Those are the goals. But where do you draw the line between over doing it and getting it just right? In a society that constantly screams “More, more, more!”, how do you keep the balance between minimal & straight up too much. Here are some of the things I did to create a more minimalist home.


1.Clear out the clutter

This can be a fun process! Letting go of physical items is freeing. The more you toss, the more you gain. Make a plan and get going! Go through cupboards, closets, the basement. If you’re a family of four, you probably don’t need twenty plus coffee mugs, right? Pick through them, get rid of the ones that are chipped or broken and keep the good ones. Same for dishes, bowls, silverware. If you haven’t used an item in over six months, do you really need it?

Minimalist living. White kitchen
Having a minimal amount of serving ware allows you to be able to display it nicely on an open shelf or glass cupboard. Image: instagram.com/mariloubiz/

 


Go through your drawers, donate clothes that no longer fit you, and toss the ones that are too broken or stained to fix. Same for shoes, and accessories you no longer use or care for. And if you share your home have others do the same. If your kids are too young to decide, do it for them, ESPECIALLY when it comes to their mountain of toys! The more you clear out, the less you have to maintain and clean up. After the clutter is gone, you’ll be left with a new found appreciation for what you DO have – all of which serves a purpose, and you’re more than happy to keep and display in your home.


2. A place + purpose for everything

Now that you’ve cleared out the clutter, you should be left with only that which you truly need, and those unique + special items you love. Display them and use them. Everything should have a spot it calls home. Whether you want to display them on a shelf or keep in a cabinet, choose a proper place for each every single item.

Minimalist living. Clear the clutter
Clear jars aren’t only stylish, but just as functional. Image: instagram.com/lorewilbert


3. Display what you love + what makes you happy 

This part should be easy seeing as how you should only be left with items + decor that you love & enjoy. Display it all proudly. Style it with other items that pair well and create a cohesive balance. You want it to not only look good, but to also create a vibe of simplicity & calm.

Minimalist bedroom hygge
From the sweet message above the nightstand, to the stylish hats on the wall. It’s all being displayed in a way that says “these are some of my favorite things”. Image: instagram.com/cynthia_harper_


4. Take your time sourcing new items

After your big clutter purge, you may realize that you’re left with almost zero to no decor items. That’s OK! That’s actually a really good thing. That means you never really cared for what was in your home, and now you can start building a collection of items that will create the character and space your style speaks to. But try not to buy it all at once. Sometimes when we try and do this either at one particular store or online, we get easily overwhelmed because of all the choices that are out there. Take. Your. Time. You don’t need to fill your space in record speed. It’s not a race, but a journey. Pick out pieces little by little. Think it over, and you’ll see that your efforts will create the space of your dreams!

Minimalist boho living. The bedroom
Everything seen here has taken well over a year to source and put together. Our bedroom is finally coming together because we took our time to decorate and style it based only on what we truly love and makes us happy. Image: @casaderami


5. Cohesiveness is key

Creating an environment that has balance & simplicity is the perfect way to harmonize a space. Pieces that blend well in terms of color, style, texture & pattern help unify a room and bring it to life.

Minimalist interior design tips
From the bright whites & neutral tones, to the pops of dark blended with wood & greenery. It all creates a wonderful cohesive vibe. Image: instagram.com/cynthia_harper_


6. It’s all in the details

Details are what tell the story of your home. A picture of your family, an inherited heirloom sitting on the mantel, a worn out dresser that’s been given a hardware upgrade – it all speaks and lives in your home. This goes back to displaying only that which you love and makes you happy. You want to be able to look around your home, and have guests look around too and think, there’s a beautiful story to be told here.

Make it cozy, make it warm, make it inviting, make it yours.

 

Minimalist interior style tips
At a glance, there’s a majestic sense of history in this room. From the old fashion piano, to the vintage candlesticks on the mantel. Your home should tell a story. Image: instagram.com/mariloubiz/

For more inspiration from Casa de Rami:

www.casaderami.com
www.instagram.com/casaderami
www.facebook.com/casaderamiinteriors
www.pinterest.com/casaderamiblog
www.twitter.com/casaderami

Velvet inspiration: soften up your decor

Velvet is the one fabric I can’t walk past without touching it. Can you? It is very much on trend just now and many home interior stores are selling cushions, upholstered furniture and soft furnishings in this luxurious material. Here is some velvet inspiration to soften up your decor. A roundup of some gorgeous products for the next season. Enjoy!


Velvet fabrics for soft furnishings

velvet in home decor
Image: Dekoria

Rich velvet-like texture gives a luxurious look with irresistible soft to touch feel. Go for a decadent interior or bejewel a room with a few velvety touches for a must have look of 2018. Embrace the velvety look and give your living room or bedroom an on-trend plush update.

Where to buy velvet fabric?

Dekoria has a fabulous collection of fabrics that are – very useful – washable at 30 degrees. Affordable too at £17.00 / metre.


Luxurious velvet sofas

velvet sofa chesterfield in home decor
The Wellingtone sofa from Graham and Green

If you are looking for a beautiful luxurious sofa to make that grand statement in your interior, Graham and Green have a good selection. The one pictures shows the ‘Wellington 3-seater, a timeless sofa inspired by the classic chesterfield, in a royal blue velvet material. Luxury meets comfort here. It has beautiful scrolled arms and a plush button back finish creating a decadent focal point for your living room. Request a free swatch of your favourite colours to see and feel the material up close.

grey velvet sofa midcentury modern homelia
Image: Homelia

 

I really love this one, looking very midcentury modern and sleek. A long, rectangular 3-seater sofa from Homelia, online destination for luxury & designer homeware and furniture. The silhouette adds structure and style to a room whilst its plump back and seat cushions offer sink-in comfort as you completely stretch your legs out along its length. The small, angled legs in varnished chestnut add design-led flair.


Make a statement with a velvet armchair

If a 3-seater sofa is bit too much for you, why not go for a single armchair to add a smaller sophisticated statement to your interior? There are many shapes and sizes and with just the one chair you could go for something a bit more daring and different.

Knoll velvet dining chairs
Image: Knoll

A true vintage classic, these gold Platner armchairs by Knoll. No boring interior for you if you invest in one of those. Place them around the dining table or add a single one to your sitting corner for a wow factor.


velvet armchair in home decor
Image: Made.com


MADE
has a great selection of velvet armchairs, in both minimalist and bolder styles. I like this one with the elegant copper metal frame.

 


Snuggle up under a velvet blanket

velvet quilts
Image: Graham and Green

Because the evenings are getting chillier, little feels more luxurious and comforting than to snuggle up under a super soft blanket. These  Quilts With Printed Reverse (240 x 220cm) by Graham and Green are double sided and welcoming in every way. Besides that, the two colourways, Coral Red and Slate Blue are perfect colours for the winter months, treating your bedroom to warm tones while while the nights are getting colder. The quilt is soft to touch and showcases a neutral cotton reverse that has been embellished with hand block print work in a pale blue, inspired by floral Indian patterns. I’m sure I’d be loving these for a very long time, possibly forever.


 

How to be Happy. Interview with author Jacqueline Pirtle

How to be happy? Walk into a bookshop and you’ll find shelves full of books on happiness. We’re all looking for tips and tricks to lead happier lives with less stress and more focus. I recently stumbled across 365 Days of Happiness, a new publication full of daily inspirations to help you mindfully work towards living a more vivid experience of daily happiness. It is a rather, excuse the pun, happy book, with bitesize tips to start the day and focus your mind. Perfect for those of you who are not into heavy duty personal development books, but just need that little reminder each day that life really is OK.

I interviewed Jacqueline Pirtle, life coach, healer and author of 365 days of happiness and asked her about the book and what makes her happy.

Jacqueline Pirtle 365 days of happiness book


Jacqueline, happiness is a hot topic right now. Everyone seems to want a piece of the cake. What makes your book different?

Happiness is a great hot topic, yes! I believe that happiness is not something you do, but something you already are. It is about finding it inside of you. You are happiness and happiness is you, you two are never separate, but always one, so wherever you are, that is where happiness is too. To me this means that everyone wanting to be happy in fact means that people want to be more themselves, more of their truthful being. A beautiful way of living and experiencing this physical life.
My book is different in the way that it teaches mindful happiness, so no matter your circumstances, nothing has to change for you in order to be and live your happiness. You just have to start.

Are you a happy person by nature of did you become happier with time? What drives you?

I certainly have a very happy nature, but honestly I have my backpack of traumas,
hurts, health issues, worries and ups and downs too, just like everyone else. It is
part of living this physical life. The importance is how I look at, and feel about all these experiences. I believe that everything always happens for me, never to
me. Which makes everything and everyone always a gift for me, no matter what.
That creates a pressure-free way of living, where being happy and happier

is possible. Feeling good drives me. That is happiness for me.


Jacqueline Pirtle 365 days of happiness

You are originally from Switzerland, have lived in various other countries and now live in the US. Do you see big differences in happiness per country? Can you give examples that have inspired you or perhaps shocked you and given you a wake up call?

I love to travel and to really open myself up to every new place; to live and learn
what it is all about… every country in Europe that I traveled to was different and had
different values to teach. Every state in America I traveled and lived in
is different and teaches wonderful values. Every different country in Asia that
I traveled to had golden wisdom to teach…

I love to really, really experience every single thing and make it part of who I am. Here are a few: in Switzerland I learned about feeling safe, that staying private is nice, and to celebrate beautiful nature. Italy taught me about the essence of living a life full of beauty, food, and laughter. In the US I learned about thinking “big,” that “everything is possible,” and to “just go for it.” In Asia I learned about mindfulness, deep-ness, kind-ness, and whole-ness. In Madagaskar I learned about simplicity, nature, and smiles. And on every beach I was, I learned about simply “breathing” and “being.”


Happiness...you have to choose it, commit to it, and want to be it._


Are you ever miserable? When feeling low, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

Miserable is a strong word… But yes, I do have times when I am not feeling good. But even that realization of “I am not feeling good” makes me feel good, because I know that it is a gift for me. For example: If I don’t feel good in my body, it is my body’s gift of telling me, “Hey, you are not taking good care of yourself!” This realization gives me the
chance to shift again to feeling better. If I don’t feel good emotionally, the gift
lays in looking at what old believes and feelings I can release. Either way, when I don’t feel good, I make sure to love that moment and do whatever it takes to shift to feeling good.
The key is to acknowledge that you are not feeling good without any judgement,
then to accept, respect, appreciate, thank, and love the “what” or “whom” you are
not feeling good about. Then out of that pressure-free and resistance-free space

you can shift yourself to feeling better with whatever you need to do for yourself.

I believe happiness has a lot to do with counting your blessings and not sweating the small stuff. If you had to bake a cupcake of happiness, what would be your three main ingredients?

Gratitude. Love & Kindness (counting it as one). Excitement.

Jacquline Pirtle is not only an author, she also works as an energy healer, mindfulness & happiness coach.Find more about here on www.freakyhealer.com

365 Days of Happiness is available on Amazon. Order the book


*Disclaimer: in return for writing this interview I received a free copy of the book. I only review books and products that I feel suit the topic and ethics of my blog. This book made me very happy!