December blues, the sadness of being far away from loved ones

Do you feel it too? End of year sadness and December blues? I don’t know if it is the darkness, the cold, the fact that another year has passed way too quickly or that you realise that you haven’t seen friends or family for a very long time. End of year melancholy. Homesickness for a home that it no longer yours. It’s not easy when you have moved away.

A comfortable coat that no longer fits

I’ve been an emigrant since I was 26. That is almost 14 years now. Fourteen years away from my motherland, the soil I grew up on. I almost feel like a tourist now when I visit. A strange combination of familiarity and foreign-ness. When I arrive back in the area I was born in, it feels like an old, comfortable coat, but after a while I also realise it doesn’t fit me anymore.

And now I uprooted for the second time ten months ago, finding my feet on foreign soil yet again. It’s been very exciting both times I moved country, for very different reasons. The first time around I moved to Scotland to be with my love and subsequently stayed more than twelve years to build up a life together, get married and start a family.

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December blues and juggling family

This year we moved to Spain, because we both desired a new adventure, more sunshine and a different lifestyle for our family. And because well, a change does one good and all that. Good decision so far? Yes, although it’s not a permanent holiday like some people cheekily put it. School settling in dramas, language barriers and navigating the bureaucracy are just a few of our struggles this year. But hearing my little boys babble in Spanish to their teacher and the babysitter fills me with pride.

And now it is almost Christmas. Everyone who has family living far away will know this dilemma: where will we be spending Christmas this year? With my husband’s parents living in Wales and mine in the Netherlands, this has always been tricky. And then when your own parents decide to separate, things get even more complicated. Families, eh?

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Looking back and standing still: another year has past

In Spain it doesn’t get any easier. Flights are a bit longer and not necessarily cheaper, despite more of the low cost airlines flying in our direction. So it’s a puzzle. This year we are actually skipping the family Christmases all together and are flying back to Scotland. Catching up with as many friends as we can possibly cram into two weeks. But it feels funny and these decisions are never without guilt. But then that is also the case when you decide to celebrate Christmas with one family and not the other. How do you juggle this issue?

So yes, December blues, although not in a depressive kind of way. Just reflecting. Taking a moment to stand still and be thankful.

This month most of us will reflect on the past year and all the things that have happened. The good times, the crappy times, the parties, the holidays, the busy work weeks, the day-in-day-out kids routines, the weeks that flew by. All the people you met, the new friends you made, the people you said goodbye to. The pets you have lost or that came into your life. The houses you moved out of. The things you felt really bad about, but didn’t matter in the end. The things you failed to do, but everyone has already forgotten about. Another year gone. Kids are growing up too fast, parents are getting older. What will next year bring?

More moments together. That’s what makes life meaningful.

This is a (Spanish) video that speaks more than a thousand words, even if you don’t quite understand what they’re saying. Friends and family speaking fondly of each other and how much they enjoy spending time together, and admit they don’t do this enough. At the end of the video the filmmaker tells them how much time in their life they actually have left together if they continue to see each other as often as they do now… Yep, a lot less than they thought. Days rather than years. Hours rather than days.

 

Artificial Christmas tree or real tree: the pros and cons

Real tree or artificial Christmas tree? What’s in your home? I am going to warn you, I am biast. I have always preferred real Christmas trees over fake ones. Just because I love authentic, nice things and a plastic tree just never fitted that picture. Still, I wanted to look at the options more closely, because more and more people have them nowadays for various reasons. Some claim it is in fact a more eco-friendly option than buying a real tree year after year, only to throw it outside after a few weeks. But a plastic tree…environmentally friendly? Not sure. By the way, did you know the fake tree was invented by a U.S.-based toilet bowl brush manufacturer, the Addis Brush Company? This company created an artificial tree from brush bristles in the 1930s, acting as the prototype for modern artificial trees. Interesting little bit of history, right?

So what’s the truth? What are the options and what are the pros and cons of real versus fake trees?

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Real Christmas tree: Pros

The smell

You can’t beat the smell of a real Christmas tree. The fresh smell when you brush against the branches. It fills your home with Christmas!

You support local business

By buying a real tree from a local tree grower, you support local business. These businesses spend all year caring for their trees so that you can take one home and enjoy it during the Christmas holidays. Some vendors make it into a whole experience: getting you to pick your favourite tree, wrapping it up, selling hot chocolate and coffees on site to warm up. It can be a lovely trip out for the family if it’s somewhere picturesque in the countryside, on a frosty December morning.

It is natural. And biodegradable.

If you hate plastic, you want a real tree. A real tree from nature. Falling needles and all. No point trying to convert you, as a fake plastic Christmas tree will not enter your house. Real trees are authentic. And they will not sit in landfill forever.

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Real Christmas tree: Cons

Needles

Some are worse than others, but all real Christmas trees will at some point lose their needles. Central heating is the main cause and then there are kids and pets brushing against it. You’ll be sweeping up and hoovering almost daily and if you’re really unlucky, your tree is not looking great anymore by the time it is Christmas day.

It gets thrown out every year

I don’t know about you, but I always feel sorry for the Christmas tree the first week of January. Decoration taken down and off it goes, dragged through the hallway and out the front door onto the pavement. All bare and needles brown and dropping. It’s done a good job, but poor tree.

They cost money…every year

Real Christmas trees are pricey. And on top of gifts, food, drink and maybe travel, it is an extra cost in December you could maybe do without.



Artificial Christmas tree: pros

They look perfect

Look at the image above. Perfect. No lop sided trees with one side thicker than the other. Or funny looking tall ones with a long thin top which makes the topper bend down. A fake tree is perfectly shaped in a perfect shade of green and with perfectly even spread of branches.

You can leave the decorations in

If you’re really short of time, energy or are just plain lazy, you can get a ready decorated fake tree. Job done. Fold it up, put it in a bag and store it away for next year. Boring and uninspiring? Perhaps. But convenient it sure is. And not everyone loves being creative and crafty.

You reuse it every year

No need to shop around for trees, just get it down from the loft and put it up. It saves money for sure. If you buy a high quality one, you’ll be using it for many years. My own parents-in-law apparently have had their artificial Christmas tree since the 1980s. That sure is a durable solution.

vintage advert for artificial christmas trees

Artificial Christmas tree: the cons

It still ends up in landfill

No matter how many years you use your tree for, it still is plastic and at some point in the future will end up in the bin. I wonder how many of those sold in the 1960s are still taking pride of place in the living room this December. I know, you say, but what about all the other plastic household things you use that will break at some point in the future…kettles, light shades, garden tools, buckets, bins, toys, etc… Yes, you are right. But perhaps next time you need to replace those, it’s worth looking for non plastic, more durable alternatives too. In case of a tree, it is easy to make that decision right now. But if you already own a plastic one, keep it forever!

There is no smell

Nothing beats the smell of…plastic? I suppose you could light a fragrant candle in the room to add some seasonal smells, but they sure won’t come from your artificial Christmas tree. If you like the smell of nature, a fake tree won’t do the job.

Toxic ingredients

Fake trees are questionable in terms of human health. Today’s artificial trees are typically manufactured with metal and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic. In addition, many older varieties may contain lead, used as a stabilizer in the manufacturing process.


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Conclusion

The artificial Christmas tree is non-recyclable and non-biodegradable, meaning they will sit in a landfill for centuries after disposal. An artificial Christmas tree will last on average five to seven years, meaning you’ll eventually have to dispose of it, and many secondhand stores will not accept them. There’s also no guarantee the LED lights will last the whole time you own it, and they can’t be removed and replaced like with a real tree.

I believe it is a good idea to choose natural materials over plastic as much as possible, so you can guess what I am supporting.

Alternatives

Buy a tree in a pot

Don’t like the thought of sad dead trees on the doorstep after Christmas? You can of course opt to buy a fresh Christmas tree, in a pot. You can then plant it in your garden after Christmas is over and dig it up again next year. The question is always whether it survives after having lived in a heated living room for a good few weeks, but it is worth a try. Don’t forget to water it!

Adopt a tree!

How about giving it back to the grower? You enjoy it over Christmas and then it goes back ‘home’, where it gets looked after for another year. Not a very mainstream option yet, but it does exist. Find out more on Adopt a Christmas tree schemes or do a Google for your own local area.

Go Minimalist

Don’t want a tree at all? Decorate a large house plant. Or collect a few nice branches from the forest on your next walk and place them in a large vase for a minimalist look. Ideas plenty.

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Go radical

I will just leave this here. Merry Christmas!

The cutest no plastic gift ideas for children

Need some ideas for no plastic gifts for children? I’m with you. Birthday parties, Christmas presents, gifts brought by visiting relatives, children get a lot of stuff. And if you have young children like me, this stuff amounts to a lot over the months and years. Boxes full of toy cars, action figures and dolls and a whole lot of plastic you’d rather not have in your house. It’s messy and half of it the kids don’t even play with. I bet most parents would agree. Still, a child’s birthday or Christmas requires a gift as you don’t want to see sad faces. How about not adding to the heap of expensive commercial plastic toys, but bringing something imaginative instead? Here are some suggestions I love.


A Craft & bead box for creative little hands


Got a cute vintage tin or a wooden box with a lid? Or how about pimping up an old shoe box? A lot of children around the age of 5-8 or older love to make things like bracelets or necklaces, so create a beautiful treasure box for them! Fill a box with old beads, ribbons, buttons, scrap fabric and string and let their imagination do the rest. I know I would have loved to receive a box full of things like that.

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Image: Aunt Peaches

A wooden tree compatible with Lego


I love it when companies make their stuff compatible with other brands. Smallable, which has a fantastic range of wooden toys for children, sells this plywood tree for a very reasonable £16 that is compatible with Lego bricks. There is also a castle and a space ship in the same series. Check out their other beautiful wooden toys here.

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Board games and other family fun


I must admit, I’ve never really been one for games, but being a parent I kind of had to get into it. Snakes and ladders, Ludo, Memory, Uno, you name it, my kids love it. I don’t know whether it’s the game itself or the fact that you are playing it with them and they can beat you, but I sure score some brownie points when I get on the floor or around the table for a board game. We were given a great wooden Snakes and Ladders/Ludo combo board a few years back and it gets used every week. Definitely not something that will end up in the forgotten toys corner any time soon. Charity and second-hand shops usually have games in stock, so worth checking. If you rather invest in something high quality and new as a gift for the family to enjoy together for years to come, then John Lewis is a good bet.

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DIY Frame lacers for fine motor skills


Frame Lacers are a colorful DIY toy that doubles up as a great fine motor skills activity for kids. Got a tiny child in your life? Make them one of these!

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Image: Babbledabbledo

An invention box or ‘robot box’ for explorers


Do you have a child in your life who loves taking things apart or figure out how stuff fits together? Gift them an ‘invention box’ or ‘robot box’! Create a robot box for the toddler in your life using outdated technology. Find old CDs, floppy disks, cables & cords to create a fun bin for toddlers to imagine with. For the older child, fill a large box with more fiddly things they can put together. Nothing better for their creativity than open ended learning and discovery. Check out Research Parent for ideas on what to include in the box.

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Image: Research Parent



 

Turn Black Friday into Green Friday! Six alternative ideas to try

Happy Green Friday everyone! Your Facebook timeline and Inbox will be bombarded with Black Friday ads today trying to lure you into spending money on stuff you don’t really need. Tempting, I know, because wow, such big discounts! (or…are they really?). Here is a little reminder for some feel-good and guilt-free alternatives. Please share this post to remind others too….because advertising is powerful and people will be spending way too much on Amazon today! 😜Let’s support the small guys today or, hey, just have a coffee with a loved one instead.

  1. Buy Art


    Art, it makes you happy, it is unique, you can’t have enough of it AND you make a creative individual do a little happy dance when you buy from them. What else do you need to know? This is my personal number one when it comes to buying presents at Christmas – or for any occasion. Where to find art? Pop into a local gallery, find local artists at fairs and markets this season or browse artists on sites such as Artfinder, Etsy or Redbubble.

  2. Buy Local


    It is very convenient to buy everything at the click of a button from Amazon, and we’ve all done it, but don’t complain when another shop in the high street goes out of business! Go out there and support your local stores, craft fairs and Christmas markets. Every penny spent locally on Green Friday or any time of the year goes back into your local economy and keeps your neighbourhood, town or village alive.

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  3. Buy Vintage


    Vintage toys, vintage clothes, vintage jewellery, vintage homeware, beautiful vintage collectables. Totally guilt-free because it already existed anyway. And do you know how much love and time goes into sourcing these beauties, by passionate, knowledgeable and very dedicated vintage shop owners? I know, because I used to be one! And I know many of my vintage trading friends will 100% agree with me. And what is more unique as a gift than to give someone a gift with a story to tell? Go and support these hard working vintage treasure hunters.

  4. Swap something


    Got clothes you no longer need? Books you’ve read, too many kitchen items or gardening tools? Organise a Swap Shop! It’s a lot of fun getting a group of friends together and make each other happy with items you no longer need. I did it a few times with clothes and I tell you, they were one of the best little parties I had. A few clothes rails are handy to display the clothes, or just use a large table and some baskets for smaller items to rummage through. Expect plenty of laughter, silliness, drinks and nibbles and time for a good catch-up while others are trying to squeeze themselves into each other’s old evening dresses. You get the picture. Go and do it. It’s great.

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  5. Buy Eco-Friendly


    How about creating some lovely hampers with eco-friendly items on Green Friday? Great for those New Year’s resolutions to finally give up on plastic bags and chemicals in your bathroom and kitchen. Think of Beeswax food wraps, a bamboo takeaway coffee cup for on the road, lovely handmade natural soaps wrapped, etc. Also check out the Ethical Superstore for guilt-free gift ideas.

  6. Make do and Mend


    Got a pile of clothes lying in the corner that need buttons sewn on, gaps repaired and patches stitched on? Before you spend too much money in the Black Friday ‘sales’, go and put the kettle on, pick a Netflix film you were meaning to watch for ages and fix those holes.


Happy Green Friday everyone!

Eco-friendly packaging ideas for Christmas

Gift boxes look very pretty under the Christmas tree – or at any occasion. So do gift bags and pretty shiny wrapping paper. But after buying the gift itself you don’t really want to be spending more money on something that is going to end up in the recycling bin within minutes after opening. Some rolls of paper are hellishly expensive, let alone cute boxes with bows and sparkly bags. Time for some creative eco-friendly packaging ideas!

1. Toilet rolls turn into gift boxes

I admit, it may be a bit weird to some, but genius it is. Jewellery and other small gifts are best presented in a box. But why buy little gift boxes when you probably have at least five empty toilet rolls sitting on the window sill in the bathroom, or in the paper recycling bin.

toilet roll gift box

2. Brown paper: eco-friendly packaging for Christmas gifts

Recently on Facebook a post went viral about wrapping paper not being recyclable and how we should all use brown paper instead. Now although this is total nonsense, about the wrapping paper not being recyclable (unless it is covered in glitter or laminated), the idea of brown paper as an alternative eco-friendly packaging idea for gifts is lovely! The plain brown paper lends itself really well to creative additions, such as stamps, a lick of paint or just nice string and some greenery. A great way to add a stylish ‘Scandinavian touch’ to your Christmas party. Spend next Sunday making your own unique paper and impress your family with beautifully wrapped gifts. Plenty of inspiration on Pinterest.

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3. Recycled paper eco-friendly gift bags

Gift bags. Just like gift boxes, these are not cheap considering they are probably only going to be used once – or if you are frugal and keep them in the storage cupboard afterwards – a few times. Anyway, you will also have a pile of magazines lying around, or newspaper, which can easily be turned into cute, homemade and very Pinterest-worthy gift bags. Want to give it a shot? Check out this page on Pinterest for ideas and tutorials to create your own beautiful eco-friendly packaging.

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4. Recycle last year’s Christmas card into Gift tags

Still got last year’s Christmas cards in the decorations box? Cut them up! You can make very nice gift tags with them. Or if you don’t need tags, why not try some paper Christmas bunting?

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Eco-friendly Christmas decoration without tinsel

Who’s up for making some eco-friendly Christmas decoration? Christmas is a time of indulgence. Too much food and drink, too many gifts and a house full of decoration. Fun times for sure, but every year tons of plastic tinsel end up in landfill, as well as other stuff like broken fairy lights, plastic baubles and other Christmas decoration. Because stuff is so cheap these days, it is very tempting to go to low cost supermarkets and pound/euro/dollar stores and fill your basket with new glittery pieces every year. I’m no saint, I’ve done it too! Because sometimes temptation gets the better of you and you think, nevermind, it won’t make much of a difference if it’s just me doing it. But it does.

Five DIY alternatives to tinsel

Today I am suggesting some alternative, fun and in most cases far more durable alternatives to plastic tinsel. Let’s get making! No time or skills or too much faff ? Find decorations at your local craft fairs or have a browse on Etsy.

1. Paper Christmas decoration

Last year’s Christmas cards cut into circles, stars or triangles make great garlands and bunting. Paper chains are easy and fun to make too. Get the kids involved on a rainy Sunday afternoon! Possibilities are endless with paper and an ideal way to kick off your eco-friendly Christmas this year. Keep it really simple or turn it into a more complicated project with folds and creases, or sew the pieces onto a string.

eco-friendly Christmas

eco-friendly Christmas

2. Christmas decoration with poms

Oooh…do you remember making these at school? Pom poms are so much fun to make and easy enough for little hands to help too. Use up old wool, or unravel an old scarf or jumper if you really want to go down the upcycling route. Tie them onto a string and create a fabulous home-made alternative to tinsel. Hang them in the tree or use as a garland. Read my other blog post about Christmas pom poms here.

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pom pom garland Christmas

3. Eco-friendly Christmas decoration with pine cones

For a nice minimalist, kind-of Scandi look, go and collect pine cones on your next walk in the woods. Add a bit of silver or white paint to the tips if you like for a nice Christmassy touch.

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4. Fabric Christmas bunting

Bunting is easy to sew and fun to create from any scrap fabrics lying around or old clothes. Choose reds and whites to make one in Christmas colours. Another easy idea is to cut triangles out of burlap and just sew the tops to a ribbon to create some home-made bunting. Still more fabric lying around? Make a wreath!

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5. Beads and buttons

For more delicate looking decoration for your tree or fireplace, try stringing beads or vintage buttons (or remove them from clothes you no longer wear – you could use the fabric for bunting or a fabric scrap wreath!) on a thread at regular intervals for a ‘necklace’. Reusing your old clothes and buttons is a great way to create eco-friendly Christmas decor.

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christmas garland with vintage buttons

Zero waste Christmas gifts: five great ideas

Who’s up for some more ideas for zero waste Christmas gifts? In this time of climate change and plastic waste everywhere, now is the time to become more conscious in every part of your life, and certainly at Christmas. It is time to think outside the gift box! Not all gifts have to be expensive or new. If your loved ones know you and the way you feel about zero waste and conscious gifts, they will be grateful for the thought and effort you have put into finding or crafting something especially for them.

Feel good & Guilt-free

You can be creative, make things yourself, buy second-hand or pass things on you no longer need and would make a great gift to someone who would appreciate it. And certainly don’t forget the non-material presents such as time spent together and vouchers for a day out. It may not help our economy much if you keep your purse shut, but you’ll save the planet and create a fabulous feel-good factor.

First of all, here is the ethical gift giving triangle!


zero waste christmas gifts


Here are my suggestions for zero waste Christmas gifts:

For the reader

A book from your shelf

Have you read some amazing novels or biographies this past year? Pass them on! Share the joy with your dad, your neighbour, your auntie, your best friend. Books are adventures, journeys in the mind and snuggled up me-time all in one. Tie them with a ribbon and add a box of their favourite tea.

zero waste christmas gifts

For the young parent

A baby-sitting voucher

Did someone in your family or circle of friends have a baby this year? Or are in the middle of the crazy busy toddler years? I bet they are dying for a date-night or just a little bit of time away from their cherubs. To feel normal again and have some adult conversation. Trust me, I’ve been there. A baby-sitting voucher will come as a very thoughtful gift. If you feel even more generous, add tickets to the cinema. They will love you for it.

For the children

A board game or a bag of toys from the second-hand store

Skip the Toys r Us and other plastic horror stores and head straight for the charity shop for zero waste christmas gifts. Sure, not everything is plastic-free, but at least it is second-hand. Jigsaw puzzles, giant diggers, dinosaurs, dolls houses, wooden toys, they may have a little scratch here and there but small children will see those gifts as brand spanking new and get just as excited. If slightly older children have not yet been tarnished by computer games and Xbox sets, they may appreciate a board or family game (and otherwise, maybe convert them!). Do they know how to play chess or monopoly?

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For the sweet tooth

A tin of homemade cookies

If you are a baker, everyone will love your eatable gifts. Zero waste Christmas gifts for sure, as I bet not a crumb is left. Find some lovely vintage tins to put your biscuits, fudge, cakes or other homebakes in, or make paper gift bags. Another idea is to get the kids involved and get them to do the baking. Sure grannie or their teacher will appreciate that!

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For your loved ones

A quality time voucher

In the same category as the babysitting voucher, gift quality time. Design a lovely voucher for a day out with a special friend, family member or your children. Or a voucher for a spa day, a dinner or a trip to the museum. Possibilities are endless and quality time beats and shop bought gift.

No Plastic Christmas gifts: stoneware mugs

In this time of trying to be plastic-free, it is nice to also shop for no plastic Christmas gifts. I love ceramics and pottery and it is incredible how many gorgeous examples you can find when looking around.

Charity Shops, artist’s studios and Etsy for no plastic Christmas gifts

I used to regularly visit charity shops in Scotland to find vintage and more modern studio pottery, but unfortunately in Spain it is not that easy to find second-hand stuff. Luckily there is always Pinterest and Etsy to get my ceramic fix. Plus of course, nothing beats popping into an artist’s studio or gallery to see ceramics up close and – if allowed – touch those beautiful tactile textures. The fact that they are handmade by someone and that none of them is exactly the same, makes it extra special. Do I sound like I’m obsessed? I guess I am. Today I am sharing some beauties I have come across lately, available on Etsy with international shipping. Ideal as no plastic Christmas gifts.
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Ceramic Espresso Cup Set, €37.21
This unique ceramic cup set features hand-painted details in yellow, white, and blue splatters. The perfect combination of a minimalist aesthetic with a rustic homespun charm. Very striking.
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Mug without handle, with saucer.  €27.00
I love textures and shaped in ceramics. You can almost imagine what it feels like to hold this chunky mug. It comes in a beautiful blue-ish glazing, with a small unglazed border at the bottom of the cup. This mug has no handle.
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Ceramic coffee mug. €21.39
The white glaze on the interior of these lovely mugs overlaps and bleeds lightly into the colour on the outside. These mugs are ideal coffee mugs or tea mugs and work perfectly on their own or as a set in a combination of colours. no plastic christmas gifts Frosty blue stoneware mug €26.22 Warm your cockles with a steaming cup of tea from this beautiful, rustic mug glazed in a wintery matt blue-green glaze.
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Skylight large pale blue green gloss mug. €35.65
This mug is the perfect shape to get a good hug round your coffee. The handle is large and comfortable, and can fit either two or three fingers in, depending how you like to hold your drink.
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Set of 2 ceramic beaker cups. €39.00
This set is made of speckled stoneware and colored clay in pink. Glazed internally and on the edge in a glossy transparent lead-free glaze and left unglazed on the outside with a raw matt texture. A wonderful texture and lovely soft colour palette.
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Botanical Leaf Ceramic Coffee Mug. €45.60
Bring a spark of nature to your morning coffee or afternoon tea. This mug is hand formed in white stoneware with leaves painted and carved in speckled stoneware. The body is glazed in glossy white and the bottom is unglazed. The perfect mug or tea cup for your kitchen, office, or as a gift.

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

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

No plastic this year, please.

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

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

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

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

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Micro plastics in your food

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

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

Raise funds

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

Read more about The Ocean Cleanup

Donate to The Ocean Cleanup

Set up your own Fundraising Facebook Page

Get a minimalist Scandinavian Christmas decor with no fuss

Almost the end of November. A month until Christmas. Who’s got the decorations out yet? Who loves a bit of minimalist Scandinavian Christmas in their house this year? Now here’s a thought. We can either find our toddlers shattering the pretty sparkly baubles on the floor, the dog eating the tinsel and discover those pesky fairy lights all still tangled up in a bag from last year – and there’s always at least five lights not working – or we leave the box up in the attic and keep it simple. Just a nice tree, a couple of branches, a wreath maybe. More eco-friendly too, especially if you were secretly considering getting a plastic tree this year (you weren’t, were you?). Boring you say? Well, let me show you a few ideas on how to create a beautiful Scandinavian Christmas decor in your home this year. You may like them.


Keep things white (and green)

Leave the gold and red baubles up in the attic this year, and go monochrome. A true Scandinavian Christmas decor has plenty of whites, natural wood and wicker, greenery and simple fairy lights. Group some lanterns together on a table, at the fire place or in the window. Use white or grey sheepskins as throws and rugs for texture and warmth.

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Use clear bottles as Christmas decor

Who knew it looks so pretty to drown a little branch in a bottle of water? Gather empty clear bottles in various sizes and use them around the house as decoration. Also nice on your Christmas dinner table with candles.

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thatscandinavianfeeling.com

 


Create your own Gift wrap with brown paper

Don’t forget the gift wrap in your minimalist Scandinavian Christmas adventures! Cheap rolls of brown paper, string, simple tags and some leaves will make very beautiful, stylish parcels you’ll sure impress the guests with.

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image: thesefourwallsblog.com


Use Eucalyptus as Christmas decoration

Eucalyptus makes for great decorative branches at any time of year, so Christmas is no exception.

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Wooden sign from Etsy


Twigs and branches in oversized vases as christmas decor

It’s all about keeping things simple. Find a large big vase or bottle and fill it with a few nice branches of a pine tree or something with red berries on it.

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annixen.blogspot.se


The green wreath

A nice green wreath on the door or indoors is always a winner. Make one yourself or buy one ready made. Remember, less is more to get that Scandinavian Christmas look.

 

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Farmhouse Wreath on Etsy

 


A naked Christmas tree

What, a tree but no baubles? Yup. And a good looking tree doesn’t need any really, or very few. Just a nice big pot or basket and maybe some fairy lights.

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Saved from thatscandinavianfeeling.com