Nina’s Apartment is 10 this year!

e book styling with vintage

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


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.

£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

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.

plastic-bag-sb10063890a-001.jpg

 


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.

oxeloscooter2.png
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.

https---i.ytimg.com-vi-XpS0huGbJZY-maxresdefault


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.

micro-white-scooter-lifestyle-fold-SA0031.jpg
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.


 

Choosing schools in Spain. Emigrating with children

Moving abroad with children means making important decisions around schooling. Choosing a school in Spain means getting to grips with a whole new system, and lots of choices. Do you put them into a local school or a more international one? We moved to Valencia earlier this year and had to make decisions about schools in Spain for our native English speaking 4 and 6 year old sons, who had no Spanish whatsoever. Here is some information about schools in Spain and the different aspects to think about. *I am of course no expert, so this information is purely my personal experience and knowledge.


Choosing schools in Spain: preparation

Before the move we had done some research into choosing a school in Spain and particularly schools in Valencia. We visited a few too while my husband and I were over for a recce trip. Were we going to go for an English, bilingual or Spanish school? And what curriculum is best? It is hard to know where to start and like most expats, we looked at the best known private international or bilingual schools first. This was only because they are mentioned most in forums and on expat websites. There are so many

other choices which could be much better suited to your children and your lifestyle. It is worth ‘shopping around’. They may also save you quite a bit each month if you don’t have the funds or the desire to commit to private school fees.


multicolored abacus photography

Schools in Spain: Public, semi-private or private

I was blown away by the vast amount of schools Valencia. They range from public schools, semi-private schools (‘concertados’) to private schools. Many schools have nursery, primary and secondary school/baccalaureate all in one building. That way your child can stay in the same school their entire childhood. No wonder parents get quite anxious about finding the right school.

Public


Public schools are state-run, Spanish, and many parents are happy with their children to go here. They are free, but you pay monthly for the ‘comedor’ or dinner hall at school. That is if you want your children to eat at school and not come home for lunch. The public schools, there are of course many, are the trickiest to select as an expat. You just don’t have any knowledge about which ones are good. Also, if you don’t know where you are going to be living yet, it is pointless trying to enroll them since you need a postcode within the catchment area. But if you are looking for a way to get your children to speak Spanish as quickly as possible, going to a local, Spanish school is a good option.

Semi-private / concertado


The semi-private, or ‘concertado’ status means that they are run and paid by the state but as a parent you contribute a monthly fee to receive the extras that a school offers. This could mean perhaps an extra teacher per class, more freedom in terms of their curriculum and how they design their classes and activities. A lot of the semi-private schools are religious (Catholic). And whereas some of them charge about the same as most private schools (which is around a minimum of 300-400 euro per month per child, often more), others charge very little and are in fact very affordable.


Private, English or Spanish schools in Valencia

There are also a great number of private schools in Valencia. Some are small, other very large, and they are based on either the Spanish, British or American curriculum. The best known among expats are the Amercian school, Caxton College, British School of Valencia, Cambridge House and Mas Camarena. There is even a French Lycee. But there are smaller ones too, such as Los Olivos.

person s wearing white and black low top sneakers
Photo by Rogério Martins on Pexels.com

Even though a lot of the private, bilingual or English speaking schools call themselves ‘international’, almost 100%  of the pupils are Spanish children. Many Spanish parents nowadays want their offspring to become fluent in English. Future job prospects are important in a country where unemployment rates are still at almost 25%. Being English speaking therefore has advantages. The ‘international’ part has mostly to do with the fact that half or almost all lessons are taught in English or the curriculum is based on the American or British system. It also means for many of these schools there are waiting lists.

what language: Spanish, English, bilingual or…Valenciano?

Choosing schools in Spain, and Valencia, comes with another question. What language will my child be taught in? I believe that the younger the child, the less important it is what the main language is they are taught in and whether or not it is a British (or other) curriculum. Obviously children will learn Spanish much quicker with full immersion. Most expat parents with teenagers say their children adapted better to their new environment in an international school with a curriculum similar to what they were used to back home, especially if exams are on the horizon. A toddler? They just want to play and within weeks they’ll come home using a handful of Spanish words already.

Bilingual schools in Spain


There are a lot of bilingual schools (English and Spanish), with some following the Spanish curriculum, some the British. Some are 100% English spoken schools and then there are some other foreign languages with their own schools too (French, German). Last but not least, this is Valencia and they have their own language called Valenciano which is a bit like Catalan, although I am sure the locals will tell me otherwise.

Valenciano as a compulsary subject


Valenciano is compulsory in all schools, private or not, with a minimum amount of hours per week. It is a political thing, and depending on who the mayor is in any particular year, the hours could go up or down in the curriculum. Most schools choose to teach subjects like music, religion or science in Valenciano in addition to the actual Valenciano language classes, to make up for the required hours.

girls on desk looking at notebook
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Creating multilingual children

A lot of expats freak out about the whole Valenciano thing and get frustrated that their kids have to study it, but to me it’s just another language. This is my humble opinion. Surely it can only be beneficial for a young child’s brain to learn plenty of different languages? The biggest argument against Valenciano I hear all the time is that “they only speak it in the Valencia region so what’s the point?”. Now I am Dutch and Dutch isn’t actually spoken anywhere else in the world other than the teeny tiny Netherlands and a few old far away colony islands in the Caribbean. Any expat child moving to the Netherlands has to learn Dutch if they are not in an international school. Also not particularly useful as a world language.

Your child may not stay in the Valencia region when he or she grows up, but they’ll have had the benefit of studying another language. They will pretty much be able to understand Catalan too as a bonus. Just my personal opinion, you may feel differently. The only advice I can give is to ask the school if it is possible for your child not to get Valenciano lessons until his/her understanding of Castellano is good enough.

How to get a space in a Spanish school?

When you choose schools in Spain, the next question is, how to get your child in it? Now this is the tricky bit. Like everywhere, good schools are hard to get into. Almost all bilingual or fully English semi-private and private schools are very popular among the Spanish parents. They all want their brood to speak decent English. This means it is not easy to get a place.

Spanish parents often start looking at their preferred school almost as soon as their baby is born. Then they enroll their kids as early as they can possibly start. In Spain this is the year they turn 3 and in the private schools that are offering preschool childcare, they even babies accept babies. So by the time you arrive from abroad with your 4 and 6-year old, especially halfway through the year, classes are full. You may find yourself having to put your kids in a school that wasn’t even on your shortlist.

School enrollment times in Spain

Enrollment time is usually mid May and school websites and the local municipality publish the exact dates on their websites . To enroll your child in a public or concertado school you need to live in the right catchment area to score enough points. Other factors are whether you already have siblings in the school and some other criteria – check your council website for the details. For private schools the postcode area is not a concern, but they may still have waiting lists. Many private schools have school bus transport around the city.

painting and drawing tools set
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Choosing schools in Valencia: ask other expat parents

I hope this post has been somewhat useful for those of you thinking about moving to Spain as a family. It is tough knowing whether you are doing the right thing for your children! At the end of the day, you can start with one school and change down the line if it is not working out for you. I have heard that many people do this. It is also a good idea to join some local Facebook groups and check other people’s opinions on schools. Without one central international school in Valencia, expat children go to many different schools everywhere around town.

Be aware though that asking about schools on these forums is a bit of a mine field. Everyone has their own take on things. What suits them may not suit you and your family. Some love the all singing all dancing international private schools with the beautiful facilities and the matching price tags. Others sing the praises of their little local public school in their own neighbourhood. “The facilities may be poor but the teachers are fabulous”. If you have time, ‘shop’ around. You may just find a hidden gem.

Three statement chandeliers to make with embroidery hoops

Today I am going to show you how to make an embroidery hoop chandelier. Create some fabulous decor pieces with embroidery hoops. Super easy, but stunning and they are very decorative both indoors and outdoors. Use them in your home interior or as party decoration. Try them as lampshades or as mobiles suspended from the ceiling of a nursery or other room. Add some fairylights for extra sparkle.


An embroidery hoop chandelier with photos

Super simple idea, but looking great: three wooden embroidery hoops in different sizes, suspended and attached to one another with thin metal wire. Glue small wooden pegs onto the hoops at equal distance. Print off your favourite black and white photos and clip them in place around the hoops.

Of course you can do this with all kinds of paper, they don’t have to be photos. Try vintage postcards or book pages as an alternative.

An embroidery hoop photo chandelier
Image: The Nester
book pages chandelier with embroidery hoops
Image: divertissementblogdotcom

Create an Embroidery hoop chandelier with ribbons

You can go for the three tiered embroidery hoop chandelier for a real statement piece or keep it simple and start with one hoop. Make just a small hoop or fill a hula hoop with long strips of fabric for more impact – the latter would make a stunning center piece in a wedding or summer party marquee too. All you need is a large batch of similar length ribbons or strips if fabrics in your favourite colours and tie them to the hoop until the circle is full.

embroidery hoop chandelier with ribbons
Image: Pinterest
embroidery hoop mobile chandelier with ribbons
Image: Pinterest

Make an Embroidery hoop mobile with felt and paper

The possibilities are endless. You can literally tie anything to a hoop as long as it is secured and not too heavy! How about saving up those wine bottle corks? Doilies? Tiny glass bottles with fresh flowers? Origami crane birds! Paper flowers, felt balls, feathers, little crocheted animals…you name it.

Hang your embroidery hoop chandelier over the dining table, in a corner of the living room or create something cute for in the nursery. You can even hang the hoop sideways and turn it into a bohemian dream catcher… Here are some more ideas.

crocheted animals mobile for nursery embroidery hoop
Image: Miss Moss
embroidery hoop mobile for nursery with felt balls
Image: Etsy
bohemian dream catcher with embroidery hoop
Image: Bridal Musings
paper circles mobile with embroidery hoop for nursery
Image: Etsy

Disclaimer: In this post I have included affiliate links to Etsy and Craft and Create who will pay me a small percentage of what you spend if you choose to click on the links and buy craft supplies from them. This of course helps me to keep going as a blogger. Your support is much appreciated!

Fresh flowers: five different ways to display them in your home

Who doesn’t love a vase filled with fresh flowers on the table? Perhaps it is in my Dutch blood, coming from the land of tulips, but a colourful, fragrant bouquet is one of the little things in life that makes me truly happy. You could buy a bouquet from the shop and put it straight in a vase at home, but  try and be a bit more creative when arranging flowers and make your bouquet go further. Not a fan of colourful flowers? Choose greenery from the garden! Here are Five different ways to display fresh flowers in your home.


1. Use vintage finds for flower arranging

Who says flowers need to be in a glass vase? Think outside the box (or vase!) when arranging flowers and try an old tin bucket, milk jug, or anything else that looks pretty and can hold water without leaking. Perfect to add that eclectic, bohemian touch and  vintage flair to your interior.

flower display in a vintage tin bucket
Image: Pinterest
Pink blossom in a tin bucket French farmhouse
Image: Bloglovin
wild garden bouquet flowers in a vintage jug
Image: Pinterest

2. alternative flower arranging: Oversized branches in a glass vase

For some quick and easy statement pieces in your decor, try putting a large leafy branch in a large glass bottle or vase. Maybe you have some great shrubs or plants in your garden that need pruning anyway, or just buy one or two beautiful big branches from the flower shop. Usually branches like these last a good few weeks too, which is another great thing about them.

oversized branches in glass vase as focal decor piece
Image: Starfish Cottage
arranging flowers with oversized branches in a glass vase
Image: Pinterest

3. Hang ’em up high: arrange flowers in tiny bottles

Got a collection of little bottles? Any will do, go through your bathroom cabinet or use small lemonade bottles and start arranging flowers in an original way. Even small jars can be used, such as jam or mustard jars. You may want to do a little hunt down charity shops and flea markets to add to your display. Use metal wire or twine to wrap around the bottle necks and secure them to a hoop or a wooden branch suspended from the ceiling or window frame. Fill them with a bit of water and place small single flowers in them. How unusual, but pretty!

Arranging flowers in a Bohemian way with vintage hanging bottles
Image: That’s Chic
arranging flowers with a minimalst flower display in hanging bottles
Image: Kate Young Design

4. arranging flowers by Taking the bouquet apart

I often do this when some of the flowers in my bouquet are old and gone, I take those out and rearrange the ones that are still looking fresh. You can also cut them a bit shorter to make them fit in a different vase – or display them in a group of different size bottles, jugs and vases, together on a tray or table. Ideas for arranging flowers are endless.

arranging monochrome flowers in glass bottles
Image: Flowerona
arranging flowers in groups of vases and bottles
Image: Apartment Therapy
arranging flowers in vintage glass bottles
Image: Pinterest

 


5. arranging flowers the minimalist way: Monochrome bouquets for simplicity

Don’t like bold and vibrant colours with lots of different types of flowers? Keep it simple and go for monochrome. Pick a bunch of white roses or tulips, with a little bit of greenery if you want. A perfect, classic and sophisticated way of arranging flowers.

monochrome flower bouquets
Image: Flowerona
monochrome bouquet in mason jar
Image: My Winter garden

The most beautiful garden party ideas

Summer is here, time to throw a garden party! Celebrate the beautiful weather with long tables on the lawn, fairy lights strung in the trees, wild bouquets on the table.

You can choose a theme or just make it as colourful as you want, using whatever you can find. Perhaps you have a fabulous eclectic collection of bowls that would make a great display on the buffet table. Or are you a star at making different punch and cocktails? Display them in large pitchers on a drinks station.

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Today I gathered some beautiful ideas to make your garden party extra special.

 


Vintage furniture at garden parties

Who says you need to sit on plastic chairs at your garden party? If the forecast is good, why not put some comfy seats around the table? Or a sofa on the lawn? Hang a chandelier from a branch!  It sure offers a fab look and it’s great for taking photos.

Vintage chairs at a garden party.
Vintage chairs at a garden party. Image: Bridesmagazine.co.uk

Fresh flowers from the garden

Create tiny bouquets from the flowers in your garden and place them in bottles and glasses on tables or even hang the vases from branches with some twine.

flowers in bottles hanging from twine party decor
Image: Pinterest
garden bouquets for summer party
Image: Pure Wow

a cluster of Balloons for a garden party

What is a party without a balloon? Try clustering them together for more impact or fill them with helium to make them float above the table.

Pink balloons as table decorations
Image: decoist.com


Paper decorations for your garden party

I always bring out my colourful fabric bunting for any party, as it lasts and looks wonderful, but a good alternative – and not too bad for the environment – are paper decorations. Pom poms, flags, lanterns, paper chains, anything to create that whimsical atmosphere at your summer fiesta. The more colourful the better.

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paper decorations garden party
Image: pretty little party shop

DIY hula hoop chandelier: beautiful for a garden party

How great is this idea? Indoors and outdoors, this hula hoop chandelier makes a beautiful statement. Hang it from the roof of a veranda or from tree branches above your dinner table. This example has ribbons in different colours tied from a large hula hoop, combined with strips of paper, some perforated with circles. There are also strings hanging down with circles sewn onto them to make short garlands. For evening parties, string some fairy lights inside to light it up.

DIy hula hoop chandelier
DIY paper chandelier. Image: http://shannonberrey.com


Create furniture and decor with pallets for your garden party

Pallets are a great way to add some cheap extra furniture to your garden party decor. They are practical and look nice and rustic and you can stack ’em up high if needed. Use them to put the cakes and desserts on or turn them into a bar. Another idea is to turn them into a low table across the lawn with blankets and cushions on either side.

Pallets as party tables
Image: Style me Pretty
pallets as a centre piece and party table
Image: comoorganizarlacasa.com


And of course…drinks

Last but not least: don’t forget the drinks. Ice lollies only for children? No way! Make a batch of Gin & Tonic lollies and share them out at your party. Guaranteed a hit and pretty too. Mix your gin and tonic together with some lime juice in a pitcher (measured as you would in a glass) and pour it into ice lolly molds. Drop a a few slices of cucumber in it and freeze.

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For those looking to make their wine a little bit pinker, create a ‘pimp your prosecco’ bar! Also perfect for sparkling water for the non-alcohol drinkers (just call it ‘pimp your bubbles’!)

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Have a fabulous fiesta!

Moving abroad as a family with young children: settling in Valencia

Moving abroad on your own is one thing, but when you have two kids, a husband and a couple of cats tagging along it is a different ball game. Especially when half of the family is Dutch and the other half British (hello Brexit!). It can feel pretty overwhelming. Think about all the paperwork you have to get organised, in particular when you are not fluent in the language of your new country yet. Our first quarter was one with ups and downs. Moving abroad as a young family is wonderful, but not without its challenges.

We moved to Valencia in Spain earlier this year and it was hectic! Our boys, 4 and 6 years old, are at the perfect age for moving abroad, at least, that is what people keep telling us. Still, it is a huge change for these little ones. It certainly can cause a lot of anxiety and meltdowns. After all, we took away all they had ever known in their short lives. Their home, their garden, their school and nursery, their wonderful childminder, their friends, neighbours and village.

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. Moving abroad as a young family


The kids, I must admit, are OK now. But not without a good two to three months of very emotional behaviour, abandonment issues and absolutely not wanting to go to their new school. It has been in the past month only that both of them have been happy to walk into their classrooms by themselves. I am very proud of them. It must have been a nightmare those first weeks, being in an unfamiliar environment, not understanding a word.

Anxiety in the first few months of moving abroad as a young family

My boys were proudly announcing to every man and his dog back in Scotland that they were going to go to a Spanish school and making new friends. The actual settling in phase however was far from pleasant. Once the novelty had worn off after a very exciting first day, they soon realised this was reality. It was not nice at all being put in a strange Spanish school ALL day and having lessons different from their old school. The times were weird and the days long (9am to 5pm!). There were strange teachers, strange children, all speaking in a strange language. How scary can you make it for little ones without their mama by their side? Needless to say, for at least eight weeks every single morning was a drama.

I just waited for you to come back

I had to walk my normally very confident, happy 6-year old into his new classroom where the teacher literally had to peel him off my legs. He was clinging onto me, begging and screaming not to be abandoned. It was awful. I left many a morning in tears, feeling so, so guilty about the whole move and what I was doing to my children. Was this really worth it? Why was I being so selfish? Had I been naive?

This was not what I had in mind at all for my family, starting a new life in Valencia. My youngest was only slightly better, but also always crying at drop off. At pick up time both boys were generally calm, usually telling me their day had been ‘ok’. But I shall never forget the day when I asked my youngest what he had done at school. He replied with:”Nothing mummy, I just waited for you to come back.”

 

Moving abroad with a young family in Valencia.


Ending up in a 100% Spanish school with zero Spanish

The selection of schools did not go entirely to plan either. In November of last year we selected this great bilingual semi-private school on the outskirts of Valencia. We even chose to rent a house in the right postcode area in order to be eligible to enroll the boys. A bilingual school would be best in our opinion, to learn Spanish but also still get a good English based education so they would not struggle too much.

We arrived in Valencia late February. Although the staff of our preferred school suggested that there was a high probability of at least one of our children getting a space (in infantil, the Spanish equivalent of nursery), this unfortunately turned out not to be the case. With the school not being fully private, it was the council who eventually decided and they were unable to provide a space for either children. What a disappointment! We had already moved and the children were at home. What to do next?


Our 6-year old has to be in school by law, so the council was obliged to find us a school in our area. They were only able to offer us two spaces in a local Catholic ‘concertado‘ (semi-private) school we had never even heard of. We are not religious ourselves and were also worried about the 100% Spanish school they were suggesting for our children, so we were apprehensive. We were also very annoyed with ourselves for not visiting more schools beforehand. But we shouldn’t have worried, as when we arrived at the school for our first introduction, the staff greeted us like family, kissing us on both cheeks and making us feel very welcome. We were the only foreigners in the school. The school turned out to be lovely.

MAKING FRIENDS AND NAPPING AT LUNCHTIME

The kids in school, young and slightly older, are all very kind. And although my eldest son gets a tad bored of them all trying to practice their two words of English during break-time, he has already made friends. Teachers all work together to adapt lessons for our eldest, who of course didn’t speak a word of Spanish.

The local language Valenciano (yes! another issue when enrolling your children in a school over here, as they have at least four hours of it each week!) is toned down for the time being in order to bring the kids up to speed with Spanish first. During the first few months at nursery, his lovely teacher let our exhausted 4-year old nap in the classroom while she took the rest of the kids outside to read them a story so he could fall asleep. How sweet is that?

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NO HOMEWORK, VEGETABLE PLOTS AND TRIPS TO THE THEATRE

Another plus at our school is that there is no homework, which is rare in Spanish schools – but for which I am so grateful! School days in Spain are very long, so having to spend even more time staring at letters and numbers really isn’t what I believe any kid age 6 should be doing after school. The school also has their own vegetable plots and they do plenty of (affordable) school trips to museums, theatre and other out of school places.  Teachers with terrible Spanish accents teach English at the school, but my kids being native English speakers already, I don’t mind at this point in time – we do plenty of reading with them at home.

For now, it is good, so we will stick with this school for at least the next year before reviewing our decision and deciding whether this is going to be the school for our boys long term. Just now, all we care about is that our boys are happy, fit in socially, make friends and become fluent in Spanish. Within two months my children were able to understand basic sentences, use some words and count to 30 in the most adorable Spanish accent. That is at least something to celebrate!

NEVER GIVE UP. Street art in Valencia. Moving abroad as a family


MOVING ABROAD A YOUNG FAMILY…four months later

We are now almost four months here and the boys are doing much better, integrating at a faster speed than us. They are both happy to go into school by themselves, no more tears. They are having swimming lessons in Spanish and will also be going to summer camp in July (in Spanish of course!) at our local sports centre. On the weekend we often hang out with international families. This gives them a bit of a break so they (and we too!) can ‘just’ chat in English. Learning a brand new language is tiring!

Our youngest is a sponge, knowing so many words in Spanish already. I guess for him it doesn’t really matter what language he is learning, as he is only 4. He is still developing his English grammar and vocabulary as well. He happily picks a Spanish book at bedtime now, rather than English or Dutch and is hardly aware of it.

Routine, cuddles and a safe home environment

Our six-year old is still showing some anxiety and a need for reassurance, especially at home. I can understand the reasons why and we are trying our best to just be there for him. Being in a Spanish speaking environment all day not knowing what is going on, must play havoc on your brain! Sleep, routine, cuddles and a safe family home is the best cure.

Now summer vacation is here (oh my, nearly three months long!). Perhaps the boys will have their huge anxiety issues again in September when school is back, but a teacher told me that most Spanish kids have exactly the same issue after such a long break. At least a row of other parents and their upset children will join me in the first week of school. To be continued…

Moving abroad as a young family in Spain