Saturday, 1 October 2016

Simply Seasonal: Autumn foraging

To me, one of the best things about autumn is the foraging for conkers, acorns, beechnut shells and pine cones. I can’t help myself but bring back a handful of things every time I take the dog for a walk. We are so lucky to have a wood within 10 minute walking distance!

Out for a walk with "Regi"
Once I am home, I usual arrange my finds either in a bowl with candles –

Or along the mantelpiece. I also like to use dried flower heads such as from my hydrangea bush in the garden –

I hope you like my little displays and that I might have inspired you to go out walking and start foraging yourself!


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Simply Lifestyle: A hygge life

Welcome back readers! I can’t believe that I haven’t blogged for nearly a year!

Life has just been incredibly busy (some of it good and some of it bad), so blogging felt a bit of a chore which is why I decided to give it a break. Now that things are more settled again, I feel inspired again to pick up my pen (or keyboard). I have recently read a book called “The Cozy Life” by Pia Edberg which explains all about the Danish “hygge”. Here is an extract of her book:

What is Hygge?
Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) is both a noun and a verb and does not have a direct translation into English. The closest word would have to be coziness,but that doesn’t really do it justice.
While hygge is centered around cozy activities, it also includes a mental state of wellbeing and togetherness. It’s a holistic approach to deliberately creating intimacy, connection, and warmth with ourselves and those around us.
When we hygge, we make a conscious decision to find joy in the simple things. For example, lighting candles and drinking wine with a close friend you haven’t seen in a while, or sprawling out on a blanket while having a relaxing picnic in the park with a circle of your loved ones in the summertime are both hygge.
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Though hygge is often a planned affair, it can be as simple as curling up and reading a good book on the sofa. It’s about surrounding ourselves with everything we love and treasuring the moment. In a big departure from modern culture, we intentionally enjoy the domestic and personal aspects of life, rather than rushing through them just to make it through the day’s tasks. We seek and embrace that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
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This sums up my philosophy of life in just a few sentences. Maybe it is because I was born and raised in North Germany which isn’t a million miles away from the Danish culture and also the German concept of Gemülichkeit. Whatever the reason, I hope you have enjoyed today’s blog entry and feel inspired to join the “hygge” lifestyle! If you want to read a bit more about it, check out the following:

“Hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt.”                               
                                                                                                      Tove Maren Stakkestad


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Simply Seasonal: Advent Decorating - Home Tour

Now that the first Sunday of Advent has crept up on me, my thoughts are turning to decorating the house for Advent. Even though I am not religious, I simply love to decorate the house and if you have small children, it is certainly a magical time of year.

One of my favourite things in the world is to go out for a long walk in the woods and collect foliage and pine cones that I can then use to make my own Advent decorations. One of the things I always make, is my own Advent “wreath” (only it is not a wreath but a large, decorated glass plate). The ring or wheel of the Advent wreath of evergreens decorated with candles was a symbol in northern Europe long before the arrival of Christianity. There is evidence of pre-Christian Germanic people using wreathes with lit candles during the cold and dark December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended-sunlight days of Spring.

Another thing I always decorate is my mantelpiece. Even though I would prefer natural greenery, I have opted for the practical solution of using fake ivey (covered with silver glitter) and fairy lights which give a lovely, cosy feeling at night time.

One thing that cannot be missing from any advent decorating theme, especially if you have children, is an advent calendar. I bought this re-usable calendar years ago when my boys were still little and even now, with the eldest being 17, it is still a must!

I tend to have different colour schemes for different areas of the house and whereas the main living room / dining room is usually decked out in white and silver tones, I use a more traditional colour scheme in the kitchen / utility area, including wooden decorations from Germany.

Whatever your decorating style is, remember that less is more. Aim for that cosy feeling and little touches of Christmas which will help you relax and unwind.

Look out for my 'Advent Things To Do' and inspirations over the next few weeks!


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Simply Seasonal: Halloween

Halloween celebrations have become bigger and bigger over the years and even though I sometimes think it is too commercialised, it can also be a lot of fun - especially if you have children. 

However, I wanted to explore a more grown up look with maybe just touches of Halloween decorations, rather than going for the full-blown American tradition.

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Stick to a black and white colour scheme to keep things simple and elegant:

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Use minimalist table decorations:

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To achieve a simple but elegant table setting, decide on a colour scheme and use different candles; colour co-ordinate your table cloth and napkins and just use a handful of Halloween decorations in the middle of the table or fill jars with sweets for decorations.

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If you are hosting a party for children, check out the Real Simple website for Halloween games!

Have a spooky time!


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Simply Seasonal: Autumn Decorating

As much as it pains me that summer has now finished and the nights are drawing in earlier and earlier, I also enjoy the glorious display of nature that comes with autumn. The colours of autumn foliage, heather, berries, conkers and pumpkins are all reflected in autumn decorating. 

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Interiors can be made cosy by using additional blankets and throws, cushions, log fires (if you are lucky enough to have a working fireplace or wood burner) and candles. 
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Owl motives are particularly on trend at the moment and they look particularly great as candle holders:
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You don't however, have to use an 'autumn colour scheme' and can still bring autumn touches to your home, using non-traditional colours. I particularly like how this mantelpiece is decorated in muted blues and white:
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Happy decorating!


Monday, 31 August 2015

Simply Location

When buying or renting a home, one of the biggest factors is location and this is quite often determined by lifestyle choices.

Are you a country or a city person?

Even if you are a city person and thrive on the hustle and bustle of city life, not many people can afford to live in the heart of the big cities of the world and therefore live in ‘suburbia’ and commute to work. 

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If you are lucky enough, you can do it Scandinavian Style and have a flat in the city and a weekend retreat in the country.

Alternatively,  you could have the best of both worlds and choose to live in a medium sized city where the countryside is only just on your doorstep.

Even if you can’t afford to live in your favourite town or city, there is nothing to stop you from going there occasionally to enjoy the amenities. 

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Are you single or a family person?

As a single person you will obviously have completely different priorities to someone who has got children. Your priorities are more likely to be which leisure amenities are in your area, ie. Cafés, bars / clubs, theatres, shops or gyms.

As a parent, you will be more concerned with parks and playgrounds in your area (especially if you haven’t got a garden), nurseries or day care centres and also school catchment areas. How far is the nearest  supermarket  and or doctor’s surgery?

Can you afford to live close to work or need to commute (access to public transport)?

Ideally, we would all love to be able to walk or at least cycle to work but most of us will either have to use public transport or the car.  Work out what the longest commute is that you can realistically stomach every day.

I used to live on the outskirts of London and my commute to work was an hour every day as the train would stop at every single station on the way. Now I live in the Midlands and the train from Rugby to London, for example, takes 50 minutes. Admittedly, the price of the annual ticket will be much more but this could be offset by cheaper house prices, so work out what the best option is for you.

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How much storage space do you need? Parking for cars?

If you are a sporty person like myself, you will definitely need some storage space for all your equipment. If you have a house with a garden, you will also need space for gardening equipment, pressure cleaner, garden furniture, outdoor children's toys etc.

Do you need off road parking for your car(s) or is there on-street parking? If living in a city - can you rent a garage space somewhere or need to get resident's parking?

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We usually end up compromising on some things but work out for yourself what you cannot compromise on.  As I am an outdoors person and only ever feel truly alive outdoors, I need to be able to access the countryside easily to go cycling, running or hiking. I am lucky enough to live in a small village on the outskirts of a city and within driving distance of one of Britain's most desirable towns - so best of both worlds!


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Simply Seasonal: Coastal Decorating

Another great thing about summer is that can update my home with my favourite decorating scheme - coastal / seaside decorating. It was always my dream to live by the seaside by unfortunately, I have ended up living as far away from the coast as you can get in the UK. However, that doesn't stop me from using seaside objects to remind myself of where I would like to be in the future and/or of favourite holiday places.

One of the reasons why I am so drawn to coastal decorating, and why it is so popular in general, is that it uses all my favourite colours. You have probably guessed by now that I am not a big fan of bold colours and that I favour the more muted tones of white, greys, sand / beige and blues. 

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Muted colours, combined with natural elements such as shells, pebbles and drift wood is pretty much perfections. There is also the additional benefit that you can collect a lot of those elements yourself to make simple but stylish table decorations. Simply find a nice plate, bowl or glass storm lantern and add sand, pebbles, shells and candles or tealights and create a simple but effective display.
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Another thing I like is that you can update various areas of your home by just simply adding colourful cushions, wall decorations or signs and you don't just have to stick to the living room but can add touches to hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms and of course the garden / balcony.

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I hope to get to the seaside at one point during the summer but in the meantime I just enjoy my little bit of beach at home! Hope you will too!