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

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.

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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!

Mindful Walking: Finding patterns and textures

Have you ever tried Mindful Walking? To take the time to look at the buildings, walls, nature, patterns around you when you are walking from A to B?  I can’t believe how much I was glued to the seat of my car back in Scotland, totally missing that connection. I am doing a lot of walking and cycling right now since moving to Spain. It is really energising, as well as making me much more aware of my surroundings and being in the moment. What have you noticed today on your travels?

Mindful walking. Noticing textures


ground hog day

We are all so busy rushing from home to work and back, dropping off the kids, picking them back up, going home, cooking dinner, bath time, bed time, squeezing in an exercise class if we’re organised, and then it all starts all over again the next morning. Ground hog day. Days fly by, life seems monotonous, we’re being lived by our never ending to-do-list. Sounds familiar? I bet it does.

Mindful walking with children

the joy of just walking

Do you remember how you used to enjoy the little things as a child, walking slowly beside your parents, kneeling down to study a bug on the pavement, staring at the clouds, noticing funny shapes in them? Running your fingers along the textures of the walls and fences, touching leaves, rocks, sand, just to know what it felt like. No rush, just taking it all in. We didn’t need a mindfulness course to learn how to do this, as a child is is your second nature. We must have lost it on the way somewhere.

Mindful walking. Finding calm and patterns

mindful walking to reduce stress

Do you own a mindfulness book? Signed up for yoga classes, fancy going on a meditation retreat? All these things are all super popular right now and why? We must be stressed out and out of balance. We’re seeking a solution to feel in control again, to feel alive and in the moment. Nobody enjoys feeling under pressure all the time. Life is rushing by and we want it to stop. But rather than scheduling in another organised activity in your busy diary, why not just put on those walking shoes  and go outside for a little walk?

Do some mindful walking straight after the school run, in your lunch break, after dinner. Feel the fresh air, breathe. Even if it is a ten minute stroll around the block, your mind and body will thank you for it.

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Mindful Walking. Eight tips on how to start

mindful walking with toddlers

Beautiful shady terraces for hot days

If you are lucky enough to live in warmer climates, or get a decent summer, you probably sit in the shade quite a lot when the sun is at its hottest. Trees are obviously great as natural umbrellas, but here are some more inspirational images for creating a beautiful hideout for the summer, under reed covered pergolas, sails or wooden veranda roofs.

(To enjoy this post even more, I suggest clicking on this Youtube link and use the calming lapping waves as a background sound…Done it, yes? Told you it was good.)

And…relax.

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AirBnB

A fabulous way to experience – or pretend you own – a house in the sun, is to rent a house through AirBnB. Much more interesting than a boring self catering apartment in a complex within a resort, often off the beaten track and certainly more personal. Have a look for some stunning places in Greece or Spain.

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Beautiful shadows and shelter created by the roof made of branches. Image source
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Creating beautiful roofed patio areas

Having lived in Scotland for over twelve years I know a fair bit about its summers and how they are usually over in a flash, if you get one at all. You may get a gorgeous day or even a week where temperatures hit the upper twenties, but the rest of the year you’ll be wearing a jumper and probably a coat. There actually is a saying up in Scotland: ‘There is no bad weather, just bad clothing’. But do you know that feeling, when it’s been a sunny day, you have just laid the table, ready for a nice al fresco dinner or a BBQ, cushions on the chairs, wine poured…and then it starts to cloud over…and rain. Yes? Let’s look at how we can create beautiful roofed patio areas to enjoy the outdoors in all weather.

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Thank goodness there are solutions (other than moving), including building some useful roofed structures in the garden. People seem to like their wooden summerhouses in the UK, but they are usually not very big and may only have space for two seats at the most. Larger roofed outdoor spaces, like verandas, would give people a lot more opportunity to sit and entertain outside while getting shelter from the weather.

I have gathered some images in this post of roofed patio areas which might give you some ideas if you were thinking of creating your own wonderful all weather outdoor space in the future. Have a great summer, rain or shine!

For all of my collected garden ideas, please visit my pinterest board

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A simple solution and not too expensive for creating a roofed outdoor seating area 

 

Verandas for shelter and outdoor seating areas

I love verandas. Just a little bit of roofed area alongside your house can give great shelter from some rain or a chilly breeze. Even if it is just to dry your washing.

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A narrow veranda, but enough to keep you dry


Below is another example of a roofed outdoor area attached directly to the house, but slightly bigger. It even has space for a swing. And who says you have to stick to traditional garden tiles?

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A great monochrome decor in this larger veranda space
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Jazz up your space with some unusual outdoor tiles

 

Installing wood burning stoves for cosy evenings outdoors

In my home country the Netherlands, a part of Europe also generally known for their wet summers, large roofed patios or ‘garden rooms’ are very popular nowadays. Often combined with a shed or garage, these sheltered areas are great for creating a relaxing corner with outdoor sofas and even a wood burner to add some heat in the evening.

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Add an outdoor wood burner for extra cosiness
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Just like being on the beach, right? Just create heat with a fire.

 

Small roofed patios for shelter

A roofed garden area doesn’t need to be big, it could be just a small space to cover your favourite comfy seat, or a small table and some chairs. I love the space below, with the large swing and the outdoor rug.

29 Fascinating Backyard Ideas on a Budget
Just enough to keep you dry…

Large outdoor living rooms

What a fabulous big garden room this is in the image below. Again an example of what is quite popular just now in the Netherlands. Great decor, including lighting and artworks, and still space for a tool shed beside it. I would happily sit here with some friends and a glass of wine, wouldn’t you?

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Move your living room outside!
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It may be raining, but if it is warm enough to sit outside, get out and enjoy your garden

Aluminium pergolas for sun and rain

Ever hear of aluminium pergolas? Biossun is a company that makes these things out of recycled materials and they are pretty cool, especially if you prefer something a bit more sleek and contemporary instead of the ones with heavy wooden rustic beams. The Biossun is a swivelling slat pergola that ‘regulates the temperature in all seasons and protects against heat, wind and bad weather.’ Basically, it can be fully open to let the air through, half open to give some shade from sun or shut when it is a rainy day but it is still warm enough to sit outside. They can be built against your house or freestanding in the garden. Looks like a neat solution. If you live in Scotland, our friends over at Papillon Landscaping are the only local supplier of this structure, so get in touch with them if you want to know more.

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Also great shelter for a hot tub (oh, doesn’t this look inviting…?)