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!


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.

Page turners. Holiday Book recommendations

Off on your holidays soon? Or just in need of some book tips? Holidays are the ideal time to catch up on that reading list. It is always helpful to get some book recommendations, so you don’t have to spend too much time browsing the shop – or amazon. I have been reading a couple of great books lately, so I thought I give you a little review of both. They are both very different, but great reads and not too heavy on the brain. Let’s face it, you are on holiday after all.

man in a hammock reading


book recommendations:
The Circle. Dave Eggers

This book really gave me a wake-up call about our obsession with the internet. What will it be like in the future? Mae, a young professional gets hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company. She feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity. They are promoting a new age of transparency and want everyone to be on board. Mae can’t believe how lucky she is to work for them. But how dangerous is the Circle really, when even governments are being convinced to buy into their systems? The Circle is a book that is obviously fiction, but is not that far from our current reality and the way we use social media. This is a very topical book that draws you in, making you feel slightly uncomfortable at times, but is also highly enjoyable. A great holiday read.

Buy the book

book recommendations. the circle dave eggers


book recommendations:
The Forgetting Time. Sharon Guskin

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I read a book so quickly, because I couldn’t put it down. The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin is a wonderful and touching story about previous lives, whether or not you believe in it. Four-year old Noah lives with his mother in New York. He keeps having nightmares and calling out for his ‘other mother’ and that he wants to ‘go home’. He says his name is ‘Tommy’, not Noah. His teachers at school can’t handle Noah and his strange stories and behaviour. Doctors suspect schizophrenia. His mother is desperate and one night when she is googling her son’s symptoms, she comes across a researcher whose work is centered around reincarnation. She is obviously sceptical, but decides to find out more, to try and ‘cure’ Noah from his troubled mind. When they go on their mission to delve into Noah’s past life, they find out the gruesome truth… The Forgetting Time is a great book about life, love, motherhood, and loss. Two mothers, two different sons, one soul. It is a story that will definitely stay with me for quite some time.

buy the book

book recommendations. the forgetting time sharon guskin


*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. This means that if you decide to order the books I recommend, Amazon will thank me by giving me a small percentage of the earnings.

Top 10 Vintage shops in Valencia

Valencia is a city where you can walk around aimlessly for days and still not get bored of the abundance and vibrancy of colours, street art, cafe’s, parks and many different little shops. Of course, with such a great vibe, there’s bound to be some real vintage treasures to be found. Do you love vintage shopping and finding a unique vintage souvenir when visiting a different city? Here is my Top 10 of vintage shops in Valencia.


vintage shops in valencia


1. Madame Mim

Calle Puerto Rico 30, Russafa, Valencia 46006
Hours 11:00 AM – 2:30 PM, 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Facebook page

Dimly lit as if entering the costume department of a 1920s theatre, you will find a weird and wonderful cabinet of curiosities. Glamourous sequined evening wear from bygone eras, retro telephones, a wall full of shoes, sparkly jewellery and racks of wearable vintage fashion, all reasonably priced. They call themselves a ‘second hand freak shop‘, but this is certainly one of the best vintage shops in Valencia.

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2. Flamingos Vintage Kilo

Calle Cadiz 17, Russafa, Valencia 46006
Hours 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Facebook page

Packed with fashion from mainly the 1980s and 90s, this shop is a great place to stock up on vintage jeans, dungarees, crop tops, maxi skirts and floral dresses. Also the perfect place for guys to get kitted out with a cool hawaiian shirt and denim jacket.

IMG_5726.JPG


3. Aiecle vintage store

Calle Cádiz 26, Russafa, Valencia, 46006


Probably the one with the best shop front of any of the vintage shops in Valencia, there is no way you will walk past this one. Aiecle Vintage Store is located just around the corner from Flamingos Vintage Kilo in Russafa. The shop stock is similar, with plenty of colourful 1980s and 90s vintage to choose from. Wearable outfits for OK prices.

vintage shops in valencia


4. Used

Calle Pinzón 1, Old town, Valencia 46003
Hours 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Facebook page

Used is a popular shop, online and offline and sells quality vintage, ranging from 1980s sports wear to vintage Levi’s denims. The hipster in you will drool over its collection. Find Used in the old town in the centre of Valencia.

5. Needles & Pins Vintage

Calle En Bou 3, Old town, Valencia 46001
Hours 10:30 AM – 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Facebook Page

A gem of a vintage shop right in the middle of the historic city centre of Valencia. Here you will find a colourful collection of vintage and handmade clothing and accessories. Plenty to choose from, whether you are on the hunt for a special summer dress or a cute top.

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6. Ruzafa Vintage

Vintage for the home has not really caught on here in Valencia yet, but there are some great little shops if you look for them. For midcentury furniture and retro accessories, try Ruzafa Vintage in Calle Puerto Rico. A mix of chairs, storage, lots of lighting and smaller items. And a lovely purple shop front.

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7. Second Chance

Gran Vía Germanías 41, Valencia 46006 map
Hours 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Facebook Page

Now don’t be put off by its unattractive shop front, because inside it is a treasure trove. Find anything from Atari computers to 100 year old oil paintings, and from vintage trunks to second-hand bikes. Prices can be a bit steep for some things, but nothing says you can’t try and do a bit of haggling. Worth a browse, for sure. Find it on the edge of Russafa, along the busy Gran Via near Estación del Norte .

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8 Studio vintage

Calle Purisima 8 bajo, Old town, Valencia 46001
Hours 10:30 AM – 2:00 PM, 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM. Closed on weekends.
Facebook page

A lot more upmarket than the previous shop and particularly interesting if you actually live in Valencia and want to invest in some gorgeous midcentury pieces for your home. But we can look, right? This shop sells vintage design from Spain, France, Britain and Scandinavia. Go here for a good sideboard, some funky lighting or a comfy teak Danish armchair.

vintage shops in valencia


9. El Monstruo


Hours: 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Facebook Page

El Monstruo is one of the vintage shops in Valencia offering a fabulous eclectic mix of vintage, customised and handmade. There is in fact an in-house taylor. You can choose a vintage fabric and get your own shirt made. If you want to browse ready-made clothes, there is plenty on the racks, ranging from 1950s petticoats to cute sixties blouses and much more.

vintage shops valencia
vintage shops in valencia


10. Sabotage

Calle Purísima 5, Old town, Valencia 46001
Hours 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Facebook Page

This concept store and gallery,  across from Studio Design in the old town of Valencia, has a wonderful mix of art, prints, handmade and vintage finds. Some amazing framed artwork as well as screen printed bags and other handmade items by local artists. Well worth a look.

vintage shops valencia vintage shops in valencia

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!

Get the juices flowing: Five easy ways to boost your creativity

Are you an artist, musician, designer or otherwise creative person? Then you probably know that feeling, that no matter what stage in life you are at, whatever job you have chosen or lifestyle you are leading, if you have a creative streak in you, it just has to come out or you feel itchy. Still, sometimes you feel the burning desire to create…. but you can’t focus on anything or don’t know where to start. Perhaps you wanted to write that book, become better at playing the piano or continue to paint after you finished a great art course last year. But you didn’t. Another problem many creatives have – and I see you nodding – we all have too many things on the go but none of them are finished. And then there is procrastination. Here are five easy tips to boost your creativity and help you get motivated again!

Five easy ways to boost your creativity


1. Create a Pinterest Board with 12 projects for a year

Oh, I see you thinking, oh dear Pinterest, the ultimate station of procrastination! Yes, I know, we all spend too much time on it, drooling over interiors, recipes and pretty stuff. But there are some useful pins on there, really and they can boost your creativity. Try creating a brand new board and only pin creative ideas or projects on there that you know you are able to manage and finish. Perhaps a super easy sewing project, a simple printmaking technique you always wanted to try or an idea to upcycle a piece of furniture.

Choose 12 pins and give them a name: ‘Project January’, etc. That way you can focus on one easy creative task each month and you know there is a new one coming the next, which will hopefully give you enough of a drive to complete them. You know that each finished project will give you a great sense of accomplishment, so don’t be over ambitious and pin wisely.


Five tips to become more creative


2. Start a creative journal

Draw, stick, paint, collage, collect and write. Journals are wonderful little books to help you to boost your creativity, try out different art techniques and visualise ideas. The nice thing about journals is, is that each page offers a new opportunity, a fresh blank page. There is no right or wrong, it is your personal journal, do what you like. Nothing in your journal has to be of great quality, it is a place to dump your thoughts, your scribbles, stories, mind maps, save cut out images and other items that catch your eye, and it will be a lovely thing to keep. You can refer back to it in the future if you need some inspiration or a reminder of creative ideas or genius brain waves.

I did a wonderful workshop called ‘Creative Sketchbooks’ last year with artist Fenneke Wolters-Sinke at Fenfolio in Scotland, who showed me that you can be truly free in your journals. She taught me how using old illustrated books offer a great basis for multimedia techniques using stamps, paint, scrap paper, fabric and collage techniques among others, with the existing text and pictures making an interesting base layer. Do you have an old illustrated book lying around you no longer use? Give it a go! What is the worst that can happen?


Creative journal example with scrap paper, cut outs, layering and drawings
This is one of my own creative journals, using an old children’s storybook instead of a blank sketchbook. These are pages I did together with my 6-year old son, who also enjoyed the activity!

 

Creative journal example with scrap paper, cut outs, layering and drawings


3. Start an Instagram account

Just like a paper journal, Instagram can be your own personal dumping ground for things that catch your eye, by taking snap shots of them and posting them on your Instagram page. You can make it public or keep it private, that is up to you. Perhaps you have a love for textures, or a certain colour. Or maybe you have always wanted to do a photographic series of vintage cars? Of people? Of plants? I recently started another account myself, taking pictures of colourful street art and other things that catch my eye in Valencia (@coloursofvalencia).

Instagram shows all your images in a grid and it can give you a real boost seeing your ideas and images all together, forming an overview of your creative journey. You may find a certain theme emerging. It also encourages you to go out and take plenty of photos. If your account is public you may even get fellow creatives commenting and you could discover some other interesting accounts giving you more ideas in the process.

patrick-tomasso-88398-unsplash.jpg


4. Set up a Mastermind meet-up with other creatives

This is a slightly different idea, which you may or may not like, but could be interesting to try! I have seen it work very well for women in business, who come together once or twice a month for coffee and discuss their challenges, certain topics and things that are perhaps keeping them from moving forward. Many times they end up collaborating, giving each other fresh ideas or pointing each other to contacts in their networks. I don’t see how this could not also work well for people feeling a bit stuck in their creative lives.

You could pick a topic each time or even plan a visit to local galleries to get fresh ideas and boost that creativity. Hook up with two or three creative friends or contacts you know that could benefit from a Mastermind meet-up and get the ball rolling. If anything, you’ll expand or revive your social circle, which can only be a positive thing.

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5. boost your creativity by Switching off the internet and mobile phone

Hold on, not just yet! But you get it, right? And yes, I did just encourage you to start a Pinterest board and and Instagram account. Guilty! But we can all admit that we are probably spending way too much time online, wasting an enormous amount of hours scrolling through pointless posts and photos of people we hardly know on our Facebook timeline, chatting on WhatsApp, and doing really not much at all that stimulates our brain, let alone our creativity. It is a worldwide addiction that prevents us from picking up that brush, the neglected guitar or switch on the sewing machine. Even reading a real book.

Let’s all try and break that habit, myself included! Be more mindful, go for a walk to let new ideas flow into your mind. Once the wifi is off, what else is there to do that makes us happy? Yes, plenty! You can start small, by choosing one day or night a week and dedicate this to creating. I promise you, you will be proud of yourself.

Do you have any other tips to boost creativity? Please share them below or on the facebook page. Happy creating!


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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

Because life is more than just Decor. Soulful living.

So you probably noticed I have mixed things up a bit on the blog, writing about more serious things in life as well as interior design. Soulful living, right? Life has changed for me in the past two years and although I am still madly passionate about eclectic decor, vintage furniture, art and design (oh yes!), I would like to build my blog into something more wholesome than just pretty pictures of beautiful homes and gardens.

Some have suggested I might have entered a midlife crisis (I am hitting the big 4-0 next year! Eeek!), looking for the meaning of life, but I wouldn’t call it a crisis. On the contrary, I’d like to call it a wonderfully delicious midlife adventure! Are you coming?

Nina's Apartment. Blog about Lifestyle, Interiors and Soulful living.


From upcycling to mindfulness: it is all soulful living

Whether you love upcycling and buying vintage or meditate each morning and grow your own veg, whether you bring up your kids in a mindful way or support local artists and designers… to me it is all soulful living: giving meaning to your life and that of the people around you, trying to be a good human and not wreck the planet.

Vintage chair in Valencia. Soulful living.
Image: a vintage shop in Valencia @colourofvalencia

Buying consciously, thinking critically, keeping an open mind. The world is not always what we like it to be but we can at least try and make our own little bit of difference while we are here. With my blog ‘new style’ I want to still offer my creative view on things, share inspirational ideas and decor projects but also write about life in general (because I love writing!), personal stories and stuff that has come on my path as an expat – from Holland via Scotland to Spain. Life as a mother, an adventurer, a creative soul, an eternal optimist. Check out the Life & Soul section of the website for the latest stories.

Some of you readers may say goodbye because of my ‘more real life – less decor’ blogging approach, but I hope most of you will stick around! And perhaps I will attract more like-minded souls on the way. As always, THANK YOU for being by my side.

Nina x

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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!