Free Gardening Products

“These 10 free gardening products will get you moving in the garden without dipping into your wallet”

Finding alternative ways of coming up with the same, if not better, end result is so satisfying and will also help keep your volume of recycling stuff down. Always a good thing!

1.Cardboard Tubes

Toilet rolls and kitchen towel rolls can be cut width-ways to make tiny bottomless pots for your seeds to germinate. Squash ‘pots’ into a tray and fill with seed compost. Although watering will slowly ruin the cardboard, it doesn’t matter! And when the seedlings are ready to plant out or pot on, the cardboard easily peels away from the soil. If you can guarantee the cardboard hasn’t been treated with any chemicals, the whole pot can be planted and the cardboard will eventually rot away on its own.

2.Food Waste

All food waste must be composted. Composting is becoming quite an art form, and special composting bins can be bought, or very simply made.

There are many different theories and each gardener will find his or her preferred way. Keeping the compost fairly warm is the overall key to a good result. Or, if you’re in no hurry, simply keep adding to a heap, and dig out the bottom when required. Sieve before using and the compost will be ready for planting small plants and even seeds. A nutritous gardening product!

3.Old carpets, large damaged cardboard boxes

and similar materials can be laid over the vegetable plot in autumn to help prevent those early spring weeds appearing. Spread over a whole patch and weigh down with stones or logs. Lift off on a sunny day in early spring a few days before digging.

4.Paint trays

Keep old roller painting trays and similar containers for seed trays. Punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Add a little fine gravel before filling with seed compost. Seed trays shouldn’t be deeper than 15cm. NB: Make sure all traces of paint have been washed from the trays before using.

5.Yoghurt pots

All plastic yoghurt or dessert pots can be washed and saved for re-potting seedlings. Make a hole in the bottom of each and add a little fine gravel before filling with compost or soil.. pots can be expensive and recycled yoghurt pots are perfect free gardening products. Some manufacturers these days are on the ball and may be using biodegradeable pots instead of plastic – which is ideal because you can then re-plant the whole pot.

6.Glass jars

Glass jars with sealable lids are excellent for storing seeds, beans and peas for planting next season. (Safe from mice as well) After washing the jars, dry in the oven to remove all traces of moisture before storing your seeds. Collect dark glass jars, or wrap paper round clear jars to prevent seeds being damaged by light.

7.Lolly sticks and twigs

Lolly sticks make perfect row markers in your seed trays or greenhouse beds. The wooden ones won’t last for ever but you can at least write on them with pen, pencil or crayons. ( Free gardening products the kids can help recycle!)

Collect a few fallen twigs on a woodland walk if you can. They don’t need to be longer than 30cm but should be fairly straight. Then when you get home, give them a quick wash if needed. Make some flags by simply folding a small piece of paper and tying, sellotaping or sticking in anyway you can to one end of the twigs. Write your seeds name when you come to sow them!

8.Wire coat hangers

Make mini-cloches with discarded or broken wire coat hangers. Pull into a square shape. Please be careful when bending wire hangers – they can hurt! Place the hook in the soil and push down gently until the natural bend in the wire rests on top of the soil. Place another a short distance away in your seed bed to create two ends of a cloche. Now throw over a sheet of plastic and hold down with logs or stones.

Note: this will work only when creating very small cloches, but it’s still a free gardening product you can make from your wardrobe.

9.Clear plastic

Although we’re all trying to reduce our plastic consumption, sometimes you find yourself with plastic packaging that can, perhaps, be used again. Keep any clear plastic containers that could be placed upside down over a plant. Cut a mineral water bottle in half to make two handy individual cloches. Large sheets of clear plastic from packaged household items are fine for throwing over mini coat hanger cloches. When using plastic in the garden, make sure it doesn’t start decomposing or shredding any bits of plastic in your soil.

10.Aluminium bottle tops and DVDs

Keep aluminium tops from milk or juice bottles, and also coloured foil around beer or wine bottles. Thread together to make a bird scarer. Simply thread with thick cotton and hang on your fruit bushes before the birds find the new fruits.

Old CDs and DVDs also make good bird scarers, threaded together on a rope. A large enough knot needs to be tied on either side of each disc to keep them in place.

Look out for other free gardening products from kitchen throwaways such as…

-Old kitchen spoons and forks for transplanting tiny plants in the greenhouse.

-Leaky buckets for harvesting small quantities of potatoes, carrots etc;

-Light wooden boxes for harvesting salads through the summer, and transporting pots etc;

Keep an eye on that rubbish bag and turn today’s throwaways into tomorrow’s free gardening products!

Happy Gardening

Linda x

P.S. This handy download will be invaluable if you’re just starting out on your gardening journey. Feeding family and friends on organic fresh veggies is sublime!

Growing Everyday Vegetables

Growing Everyday Vegetables takes you step-by-step through the process of growing, harvesting and storing ten everyday vegetables:

Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Garlic, Lettuce, Onions, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Zucchini.

And, as an added bonus, there are recipe ideas for every vegetable, so if you have a glut, you can serve deliciously different recipes that the whole family will enjoy, without getting bored!

Choose from your favourite online bookstore:

Amazon (US) , Amazon (UK) , Apple Books , Kobo , Payhip , Barnes & Noble , Etsy

Knitting Seasonal Dolls

Recently, I collected all the Ekokid patterns published so far, edited like crazy and came up with a fabulous new book!

With 10 patterns usually sold at £2 each, the book seemed far too expensive at £20 so I half-priced it at a tenner, but even that sounds far too much for a digital copy so halved it again!

Now you can get all 10 patterns in one download for a fiver 🙂 Cool huh?!

But more to the point, it’s just in time to get knitting for ANY season. Create a whole collection of dolls and their wardrobes for Easter, Halloween, Christmas and partying! They’re quick to knit and once you get going with the patterns, you’re likely to come up with some new ideas for fabulous clothes to keep your teenage dolls happy and played with!

You’ll only need one pair of knitting needles for the whole book and some yarn of course. Here’s a list of the bits and pieces I use when knitting small items like dolls or toys:
I pair of 4mm needles (U.S size: 6 and old UK size: 8)
A darning needle, or similar, for sewing pieces together
A pair of scissors
Paper and pen/pencil

Good to have:
*Large headed pins. These are useful for marking features and pinning pieces together before sewing.
*tape measure – for measuring yarn to verify you have enough, especially if you are using very small oddments.

Materials you’ll need for the basic doll:

25g. (about 60 metres) of flesh colour yarn
8m of ‘boot’ colour or 4m of ‘shoe’ colour
15g. (about 35m) of ‘hair’ colour
Washable toy filling – non-allergenic toy filling is available from most craft outlets and needlecraft shops.
Embroidery cotton for features

Give them a go. These dolls are such fun to make and can be custom made for each child. And they are easy to dress and undress – no stiff plastic legs and arms to manoevre – so little hands can join in the fun too 🙂

All the individual Ekokid pattern books are listed here Ekokids

Happy Knitting!
Linda x

P.S. Grab your pattern download now and get knitting!

Contents:

Introduction
Abbreviations
Tools & Materials
Tips
Basic Doll Pattern

Clothes:
Easter Outfit – dress, basket of eggs and bonnet with flowers
Halloween Witch – dress, spidery cloak and pointy hat
Christmas Time – cloak, tunic, knickerbockers and bobble hat
Girl about Town – hat and coat, ball gown, hoody and cut-offs
Party Pack – skirt, flares, dress, tops, bag and headbands
Back to School – skirt, waistcoat, beret, t-shirt and school bag
Gardening Gear – overalls, hat, roll-neck, trug and vegetables
Mermaid Costume – fishtail skirt, cape, crown and fishes
Bedtime – Blanket, pillow, nightie, pyjamas, slippers & more
Bits ‘n’ Bobs – Hats, bags, belts, boots and shades
End Note

Happy Knitting!

Choose from your favourite online bookstore

Amazon (US) , Amazon (UK) , Apple Books , Barnes & Noble , Payhip , Kobo , Scrib’d , Etsy

Growing Mint at Home

MINT (PEPPERMINT) (mentha piperita)
(SPEARMINT) (mentha spicata)
(perennial)

About Mint

Mint is probably one of the best known herbs in the UK, if only for its accompaniment to roast lamb! The essential oil in mint is used in many medicinal and cosmetic preparations as well as in the kitchen.

It is a hardy perennial and a prolific grower. It is suitable to grow in pots and containers as well as directly in the herb or vegetable garden, in shady spots where nothing else seems to grow. It is prolific though and will take over a large area rapidly if not contained. Mint will often come back a couple of years after it’s been ‘removed’ from the area. Plant where it won’t disturb the rest of the garden.

There are about 1000 different types of mint but only about 5 or 6 of these are worth cultivating. Peppermint is the most popular and probably the most useful variety. Peppermint can be used in sweet and savoury dishes and is a recognised healing herb. Spearmint and pennyroyal mint are also popular varieties to grow at home. There will usually be a choice of varieties available in your garden centre.

Mint has been used as far back as Roman times and has been cultivated in Europe for many years, although there wasn’t a lot recorded about the plant until the 17th century

Growing

Mint will grow in virtually any spot and will take over the whole area if not checked. It is very suitable for container growing but also will do well in a shady part of the garden, where perhaps not much else will grow.

Ideally mint should be contained. Plant in a container that has been sunk into the ground, or alternatively in pots on the windowsill or outside on the patio.

Like most herbs, mint prefers a rich well-drained soil but likes moisture so a shady spot is ideal where the soil doesn’t dry out too quickly. The area mustn’t be waterlogged though. Dig over the ground and mix in some well-rotted manure or compost during the season before planting.

It’s very important to contain mint unless you want a field of it. Sink a bottomless container such as an old bucket into the ground, or dig a deep hole and line with black plastic. This won’t contain the plant 100% but it will help. Alternatively, stick to container growing.

Mint will propagate easily from seed as well as by separating the roots and re-planting. Sow seed in early spring and keep moist and weed-free until the plants are large enough to handle. Then pot them up or plant in the garden.

To propagate by root division, simply break off the root and re-plant in potting compost until it has established a good root system and then plant out.

Garden centres and plant suppliers often have pots of mint ready to plant out. Look at the labels before buying – there are many different varieties available including eau-de-cologne mint, which isn’t very suitable for mint sauce, but will produce a lovely scent in the home if grown indoors.

Mint is a hardy plant and doesn’t need an awful lot of looking after but a mulch occasionally will help keep the moisture in the roots. The roots are shallow and can dry out quite quickly. This should only need doing if the plant is growing in full sun or there hasn’t been much rainfall.

Mint can occasionally suffer with a rust disease and should be pulled up and burnt if symptoms occur. Grow new plants away from the affected area. This disease can be caused by bad drainage, too much water generally or simply a virus in the soil.

Pick leaves as you need them, and remove the flowers to produce more foliage.

Storing

Hang sprigs upside down in a dust free area in paper bags. The leaves can then be crumbled and stored in an airtight jar to be used for flavourings and mint tea. Mixing fresh leaves with vinegar is another way to store mint. Again, keep in sealed jars.

Medicinal uses for Mint

Mint is well-known for its medicinal qualities, and is regularly drunk as a tea or eaten in the form of a candy after meals to aid digestion. Many people swear by a cup of mint tea every day to keep colds and flu away. It is also a good remedy for nervous headaches and stress.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

P.S. This text was borrowed from 20 Everyday Herbs

20 everyday herbs

A potted history of twenty everyday herbs, step by step growing instructions, storing ideas and even medicinal uses.

Basil … Bay … Celery … Chives … Coriander … Dill … Fennel … Garlic … Horseradish … Lavender … Lemon Balm … Lovage … Marigold … Mint … Nasturtium … Oregano … Parsley … Rosemary … Sage … Thyme.

’20 Everyday Herbs’ is packed full of everything you need to know about growing herbs at home for everyday use. A must-have!

Choose from your favourite online book store:

Amazon (US) , Amazon (UK) , Apple Books , Kobo , Payhip , Etsy , Barnes & Noble

Coriander, the Curry Cheat!

Growing coriander in your garden really will put spice into your life! The coriander plant is two plants in one – a spice and a herb.

The pungent seeds are the spice, and the leaf is the herb part

Chopped fresh coriander will add a mild curry taste to any dish, which means you can save on buying or making curry sauces.

.

Coriander has been grown for many centuries as a medicinal and culinary herb.

The Chinese believed it to have life-lengthening powers, and it has been referred to in history as an aphrodisiac.

Coriander has a very strong smell and defined taste. It is used chiefly to flavour curries, soups and stews.

I’ve always grown coriander from seed. It tends to germinate well and will re-seed itself in moderate climates. A coriander patch can look after itself for years!

Amazon is a good place to start if you want to buy your seeds online. I found these organic seeds at a good price (UK)

Coriander – 1000 Seeds – Organic

“Ideal for containers / windowsills or open ground with well draining soil and full sun.”

Coriander Seeds

Positioning

Find a nice sunny spot for coriander. It is native to warm climates, and likes the sun. It will tolerate some shade but avoid draughty or cold spots.

Grow a few plants here and there among your vegetables. The smell deters aphids and other garden pests. It doesn’t worry the birds though!

Planting

Prepare the soil to a fine consistency and remove weeds and large stones.

Coriander seed should be sown about half an inch (2cms) deep in rows 9-12 inches (25-30cms) apart. However, I’ve simply scattered seed around in the vegetable plot and had great success with growing coriander. I used the seed I had collected from my plants the year before and therefore had plenty to play with.

But if you’re starting from scratch, don’t risk wasting them. Sow them in lines as the seed packet tells you.

Sow a few very short lines of seed here and there around the whole garden, remember to add a line to your herb beds.

Generally, coriander can be sown fairly early in Spring, but you should check the growing recommendations on your seed packet to make sure.

Water your seeds in and keep weed-free.

Growing coriander in containers

As with most herbs, coriander can be grown in pots, and even kept indoors ( in fact, keeping a coriander plant near an open window can deter flies from entering your home all summer )

Keep soil watered and well-drained. Feed with an organic fertilizer every few weeks to help the plant produce lots of leaf.

Looking after coriander

Keep weed-free and watered during very hot temperatures. Otherwise, just pick and use!

Add a few chopped coriander leaves to salads, boiled potatoes, potato salads, stews, soups, curries.

In a moderate climate – when the temperature doesn’t get below freezing for more than a couple of weeks during the winter – you may be able to leave your coriander patch to re-grow itself year after year.

Coriander is an ‘annual’ and will produce seed and die. Leave some plants to drop their seed naturally and clear the dead plants later. Hopefully, in mid-late spring some of these seeds will germinate. Dig up the new plants gently if you want to move them, when they have 4-6 true leaves.

If your soil is very acidic, add a little nitrogen but adding nutrients can impair the taste of the herb, so should be avoided if possible.

Storing

Coriander leaves are best used fresh, but as with most herbs it can be stored reasonably
successfully.

Drying

Either hang whole stems upside down in a dark airy place for a couple of weeks, or lay out on racks to dry in the sun, turning regularly. When completely dry, crumble into glass jars, label and store out of direct light.

Drying does take away some of the strength of taste and scent.

Freezing

Freeze quickly on trays and store in freezer bags. Label.

Storing coriander seeds is probably the most efficient way of capturing the coriander taste long after the plant has died. Simply collect and store in a glass jar with airtight lid. Store out of direct light.

Add seeds to pickles, soups and stews all through the winter, and remember to keep a few for sowing next year!

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

P.S. I extracted this text from 20 Everyday Herbs – a handy download if you’re thinking about growing some herbs this year.

20 Everyday Herbs

A potted history of twenty everyday herbs, step by step growing instructions, storing ideas and even medicinal uses.

Basil … Bay … Celery … Chives … Coriander … Dill … Fennel … Garlic … Horseradish … Lavender … Lemon Balm … Lovage … Marigold … Mint … Nasturtium … Oregano … Parsley … Rosemary … Sage … Thyme.

’20 Everyday Herbs’ is packed full of everything you need to know about how to grow herbs for everyday use. A must-have! Choose from your favourite online bookstore:

Amazon (US) , Amazon (UK) , Barnes & Noble , Apple Books , Kobo , Payhip , Etsy

Find Your Passion

FindYourPassion-pinterest

What’s Your Passion?
Did you ever wonder how some people manage to find time for ‘hobbies’ and ‘pastimes’ when you are only just fitting in everything you HAVE to do in the space of each 24 hours? The answer is passion.

It’s been said many times before, but the phrase ‘ if you want something badly enough you’ll get it’ is 110% relevant to our everyday lives.

Are you passionately committed to keeping a clean and tidy house? Then I would hazard a guess that your house is clean and tidy most of the time.

Are you passionately committed to your job and promotion prospects? The chances are you are on your way up that ladder right now.

However, the majority of us live our lives according to the passions and sometimes the whims of everyone around us. Why? Because we never stop to think what we actually WANT, what we actually LOVE or what we are passionate about.

Do you really, deep down in your soul, believe that the world will fall apart and no-one will like you if you don’t keep your house clean? If so, then take a few tiny baby steps out of that box and remember the dust will be there tomorrow… your friends or your dreams may not. Phew.. Now there’s a kick in the teeth.

I often imagine I would like a clean and tidy house fit for a royal visit. But I’m never able to commit myself to the time and energy it requires – Why? Because I’m NOT passionate about housework. Never have been, never will be. I would rather spend time with my family and friends, chatting on the phone, going for long walks or dancing the night away. And guess what – a member of the royal household has yet to turn up on my doorstep un-announced!

Do you really want a clean and tidy house for YOU or is it just so the neighbours won’t say bad things about you when they drop in for coffee? If you are using your precious time to keep on the ‘good’ side of other people, pause for a moment and remember that those other people are definitely NOT perfect. There will be areas of their lives you will not resonate with – guaranteed!

Most of us are committed to spending a certain number of hours every day working, often for someone else, just to earn enough money to get through to the next paycheck. Does this sound like you?

At the end of the working day, we need to find something to make us feel good, to enable us to endure the next day’s hard graft. Governments are wise to this formula and have enabled the average working man/woman to be able to afford entertainment in their homes.

Television helps us wind down – or does it?

I don’t watch television. I’ve always felt, although there are some great programmes and lots of learning to be gained, the television companies are determining WHAT we watch and WHEN we watch it. I want to decide those things for myself.

I had a cold sales call one evening. While trying to sell me a phone package deal, the sales person referred to a TV advert. I told her I was unaware of this advert because I don’t watch TV. She kept me talking for 10 minutes during which time she referred to this particular TV advert a further 4 times, and each time I assured her I had not seen it because I don’t watch television. She didn’t believe me at all.

So everyone in our region watches the same adverts, the same programmes, the same news stories every single day or night? Yep, I guess that’s what’s happening. We are all thinking the same thoughts. Our brainwaves are tuned to the exact same brand of fish fingers being the best thing for our kids since sliced bread – a highly debatable point! And we have no time left for ourselves.

So coming back to passion…

Find your passions in life. Make a list and seriously consider each thing you write down. Is it what you want or is it what you think other people want from you. Remember your life is yours alone.

You may be responsible for the care of others, children, parents, the sick or needy. But ultimately this is YOUR life. You only get one shot at it.

Don’t waste another minute watching those adverts – you can watch the exact same ones tomorrow if you so wish. Believe me they won’t go away! Television is one of the biggest time-consumers. And every moment you are watching, could be spent enjoying one of the passions in your life.

Try this experiment to find time for YOU in your life…

1. Make a list of your passions – remember they must be YOUR passions, no-one else’s

2. Pick one and find time for it.

That’s it!

Many years ago I learned to knit. Knitting has often had a fairly dull press.

-Knitting’s for grannies
-Knitting is boring and time consuming.

But I enjoy the challenge. New yarns and stylish pattern designs make knitting fun and fast, and I can knit even if I am watching a film. Knitting can be picked up during the adverts and worked at for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. The equipment takes up very little space. It’s cheap – often costing nothing – to set up.

Knitting is one of my passions, and over the years I have learned to design my own clothes, toys and many practical household items. And, although at moments in my life I have had to live within an incredibly tight budget, I have always found the materials needed to be able to continue with my hobby.

Knitting is MY passion….what’s yours?

Reading? Writing Poetry? Stamp collecting? Scrapbooking? or maybe your passions lie outside your four walls – Gardening? Tennis? Gym Club?

Find your passion and you WILL find the time AND the resources to carry it through. You may even turn your hobby into a thriving business. Many books have been written on the subject. I am on my way to creating a knitting empire at the moment!…. The Ekokids are teenage dolls who were created during a low budget moment and are now gaining a global audience! (Pop over to this page to see all the knitting patterns I’m developing Knits-U-Love)

Find time for your passion today – you deserve it!

Linda x

P.S. You could even make a family heirloom like this in just a few minutes every day (find it on the Knits-U-Love page)

Time Out Tasks

I think I must have inner leanings towards being a taskmaster. Why? I don’t know, but I do know I’ve been giving myself some huge tasks lately…

Aside from unpicking a hand-knitted blanket – it was far too heavy! – and crocheting two new ones, I’ve decided to do a complete update of my blogposts. There are nearly 300 of them dating back to 2017 and I estimate the job will take about 3 months.

But I’ve found over the past couple of weeks, the task itself is so satisfying that I might take it up full-time!

Sorting through old photos, re-shuffling bookshelves, unpicking blankets or updating blogposts are more beneficial to our well-being than we think.

Taking time out to tackle a task that’s been swirling around in your subconscious for ages or worst still keeps getting put on your to-do list day after day, is both refreshing and relaxing.

What have you been putting off?

We usually put things off for a few different reasons

  • lack of time – questionable but we’ll go with it
  • lack of money – hm, tricky one
  • lack of physical ability – maybe some muscle needed?
  • lack of motivation – there’s always something else to be prioritized

Lack of Time
We-e-e-ll, we all say ‘I haven’t got time’ now and again, but has it just become a habitual response to something we don’t particularly want to do right this red-hot minute? Possibly. Although we can’t press the replay button on time, we can juggle it a bit. Stop for a moment and consider how much time you spend on

  • social media scrolling
  • playing games on your phone
  • watching tv – the father of all time-wasters

Not saying these activities should be scrapped, but when you truthfully add up the hours every day spent watching crap tv or beating yourself up cos you don’t look like every other supermodel on Instagram, it could surprise you and those hours could perhaps be spent tackling a task or even getting creative.

Lack of Money
Yes, a tricky one. If you really want to re-decorate and haven’t the money to buy the paint, it can be frustrating. But there are maybe a few things you could do in preparation..

  • decide on your colour scheme or theme for the space you want to re-vamp
  • Watch out for giveaways on local Facebook free pages – you never know what your neighbour may be throwing out.
  • Clean the space you want to decorate – you won’t want to be painting over dust or dirt after all

When you start preparing for your task ahead, whether it’s painting a room or even replacing a dodgy device, you send out vibes to the Universe. Too woowoo? Well, have you ever wanted a particular brand of car then you end up seeing them everywhere? You become more aware when you’ve already started on a project and you may be able to pick a bargain perhaps.

Lack of Physical Ability
Apart from your own regime of health care, it’s probably not possible to run a marathon if you have arthritic knees. But then who am I to say?! Personally, I get frustrated when I can’t shift furniture around like I used to but, you know, there’s no shame in asking for help. I’m learning!

  • ask an able-bodied friend or family member to give you a hand, or more than one if the task is a biggy
  • check local service providers if you have the funds available. Always check references before letting a stranger in your home though.

Or alternatively, leave it as it is but pretty it up a bit! After seeing the incredible gadget sculpture at the Eden project in Cornwall, I think anything could be made into art! Not that I want a 3m high statue of old washing machines in my garden, but inspiring nonetheless. (I think it’s moved to another location now)

Lack of Motivation
With all the chaos going on in the world at large, it’s not surprising that many of us just think “what’s the bloody point?” But underlying there has to be a reason why. Perhaps you

  • simply want your environment to be healthier/cleaner/prettier
  • would like to monetise your blog posts – random but I’m working on it!
  • want to leave your affairs in order at all times – nice idea

There really does have to be a reason why, otherwise putting the same task on your to-do list every day isn’t going to get it done and will probably impede your progress in other areas. Nothing like a feeling of failure to shut off motivation and confidence.

So, find the reason why, sort out the means and take time out to get on with it. You’ll feel soooo much better for it!

To your well-being and happiness,

Linda x

P.S. If you’re thinking of a huge de-cluttering session, grab this quick download to help you through the process.

‘De-Cluttering’

It has been shown that a tidy environment can help you focus, apply yourself to otherwise seemingly impossible tasks, and generally enjoy your space and feel good!

Don’t let the clutter overwhelm you. This step-by-step guide to de-cluttering your home is simple to follow and will help you create the home you know you deserve. 🙂

Choose from your favourite retailer below..

Amazon (US) Amazon (UK) Apple Books Kobo Barnes & Noble Payhip Etsy

A Change is as Good as a Rest

Why are we all rushing around like crazy people in the weeks running up to Christmas?

Is it because we’re missing summer so much we have to block out the memory of long summer days with busy-ness?

Is it because Jesus was definitely born on the 25th December and we all need to celebrate his birth? (see my post ‘Christmas: A Political Issue?‘)

Or is it because we’ve all been doing it for so long, it’s just become a habit?

So, where do we go from here? The busy-ness involved in the run up to Christmas mostly consists of extra planning and shopping. If the whole family are coming to yours on the big day, beds may have to organized, special dietary requirements may need to be recognized and, oh dear, everyone has to have a gift.

I’ve never been very good at planning Christmas in October but hats off to those who do because it must make for a less stressful December! If you’re at the point now when you have loads more gifts to buy, a limited budget and an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy – don’t despair!

A change is as good as a rest.

First let’s be honest. Are the gifts you’ve yet to buy absolutely necessary or could it be that the recipient of the gift is actually more open-minded to the whole commercial Christmas thing than you thought? And if they are, or if they’re approachable, have a quick chat now to save embarrassing moments later.

For example you could, depending on your relationship,

  • Declare poverty
  • Declare your reluctance to buy cheap plastic items
  • Declare your intention to make gifts this year

Discuss the options with friends and family before you max out the credit card on stuff they may not even want.

Get back to basics perhaps…

Christmas, aside from the religious aspects, should really be a time to get together and spend some quality time as a family or family of friends. If you can’t see them in person, a skype call and a small gift in the post may be the best option.

I remember many crazy, fun and loving moments from Christmases past although I’d be hard-pressed to remember every gift, but then I’m getting on a bit now!

One of my favourite things to do is to make gifts. A small box of home-made candy or a Christmas cake is a welcome gift in most households. Last year, I crocheted a ‘family’ gift of a dozen robin redbreasts with a few chocolate eggs in each to hang on the tree – I didn’t make the eggs but I might this year!

I’ve written extensively on craft and green gift ideas and I’ll list some related posts below should you wish to check them out.

I’ve heard parents say their children will be disappointed if they don’t get the latest device or game, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bought. That may sound mean, but bringing up a whole generation of kids who expect to get whatever they want when they want it sounds a little dodgy to me.

Maybe we should be encouraging our children to share love, compassion and even, dare I say, respect rather than expecting their frazzled parents to spend every penny and more on something that will need updating within a few months.

It all starts with the grown-ups though. I am so lucky and proud of my children and grandchildren who don’t have those expectations and are very happy to share quality time in lieu of expensive gifts. Of course, we lived off-the-land and found off-grid entertainment wherever we could so it’s been kind of instilled into them. 🙂

But with the environment knowledge we have now, many youngsters are understanding the consequences of living in a throw-away plastic world and could easily be encouraged to put up with their device a little longer perhaps.

So, let’s embrace the change and stop filling the pockets of big corporate directors with our hard-earned cash and get back to the basics of sharing love and beauty with our families friends and the world around us.

Have a peaceful and happy December!

Linda x

P.S. If you have a gardening friend, they may find this downloadable journal really useful – it has monthly garden tips and lots of space for notes. Find out how you can turn the journal into a wonderful gift here: Where Do I Start?

Related Pages:

Where Do I Start?
Green Gifts
Homemade Gifts
Christmas in August
Christmas Knits
Knitting for Christmas
Making Purses
Giving Green

Gratitude and Learning

Although we know gratitude is an important element in our growth and development, it’s not always easy to tune in to that higher frequency. These gratitude points may seem simple and it’s certainly easy to take them for granted if you tick all the boxes, but for many people, ticking all the boxes is what they may be praying and hoping for every moment of their lives.

In years gone by, education was unattainable for many. Even basic reading and writing skills didn’t become common place until relatively recently in history. And they still aren’t a universal given.

Learning about something you are interested in can become a life’s work, a passionate hobby, a talking point and of course something to be incredibly grateful for.

If you have online access and/or a decent library nearby, you are in a perfect place to learn about some basics that will evoke gratitude, understanding, confidence and self-empowerment…. Let’s Go!

Look up at the sky.
Is it overcast? Is it raining, snowing, is the sun shining brightly?

Simply Google ‘how are clouds formed?’ or ‘how hot is the sun?’ or ‘weather patterns in my region’ and you’ll get results from the met office, education platforms and children’s learning sites. Start there and let your curiosity take you wherever you want to go.

Check out you local library for historic weather patterns and, dare I mention it, delve into the reasons for global warming. It’s not always as straightforward as the media would have us believe!

If you’re going to create a project, keep notes and log the sites where you found good information. Don’t be afraid to explore the children’s learning sites. They can really inspire you to go further.

The roof over your head.
Read about historic or even ancient civilizations and imagine how they lived every day.

If you want to go back a long, long way, the Earth’s Children books by Jean Auel are a fabulous read. They’re fiction but the author has been commended for her detailed research and they give us a powerful insight to what life must have been like for life on earth around the time of the ice age.


Or maybe you could fast forward and find the date your home was built, and unless it’s a completely new build, research the history of that time. Was it built during the war years or between them? Is your house a Victorian town house and would they have had servants back then?

Your Beautiful Body
Anatomy is a subject to explore and be amazed by the trillions of cells all doing their bit.

It’s huge subject and an incredibly interesting one. Choose a ‘department’ (!) first e.g. skeleton, endocrine system, organs, even bacteria, of which we have many and varied forms. Grab a book on the human body in general if you don’t know where to start and then delve into the part that interests you most.

And how about exploring physical movement and enjoying a yoga or dance session. Access to the internet and a willingness to move is all you really need. Getting physical isn’t always at the top of the list when you feel drained by the current situation, so take your time. Give yourself a break and explore other options. Even sweeping the path to your house may take a while and get you moving some muscles you haven’t used for a while. And you can be grateful for a clean and tidy path!

Can you see?
If you’re reading this, there is so much more to read.

Not only reading and/or studying books, there are the visual arts as well, from pottery to photography and everything craft. Your gift of sight allows you to appreciate beauty in nature, art and almost anything man-made.

And not only can you appreciate visual beauty and pure creativity, you can also get creative yourself.
Whether you want to get messy with pottery, painting or cooking or whether you want to get into some delicate embroidery the arts and crafts world is so vast, every subject has many books dedicated to it and they keep on coming.

And, as well as enjoying the moment, you may even find yourself with a small business to run using your new found skills and creative ideas. Once that creative button is pushed, it’s human nature to want to explore further.

Do you have food to eat?
Even if the fridge and larder are looking a bit sparse, there’s possibly something you could rustle up for dinner.

Collect some recipes you know will work for you and add ingredients to your shopping list – but remember to cross off any unnecessary items if the budget is tight.
If there are allergies or food intolerances in the family, research the alternatives and use them as guinea pigs in your new-found life skill! Check nutritional values as well.

Often people with food allergies can be deficient in certain minerals and vitamins. A simple example would be perhaps a lack of B vitamins when you stop eating meat.

A few veggies can produce nourishing and warming soups for the winter months and some delicious vitamin-packed salads in the summer. Why not grow some? There’s a handy download ‘Growing Everyday Vegetables’ on the Growing page. And don’t forget many herbs have healing properties. Explore the possibilities and create delicious flavoursome meals every day. ‘Growing Herbs at Home’ will get you started! Find this popular download on the Herb Books page.

Do you have access to clean water?
All life-forms (as far as I know) need water to survive.

Are there ‘clean water’ projects you could get involved with?
Water covers around 70% of the earth with approx. 95% of that figure accounting for the oceans. We still have little idea of what lies deep within the oceans but the life contained within these huge bodies of water is fascinating and well worth studying. The other 30%-ish of water on earth is made up of fresh water; lakes, rivers etc;

The water we drank thousands of years ago must have come directly from these fresh water sources. Now, we mostly have filtered or treated water to drink, although a lot of it still originally comes from rivers. The rest is sourced from underground pools.
Research water science such as the Dr. Masaru Emoto’s experiments, performed in the 1990’s. Sceptical? Maybe have a go at it yourself!

These 6 bigger picture gratitude and learning points will help overcome those feelings of despair that sneak in uninvited from time to time.

To your happiness and well-being

Linda x

Winter Wonderland

We’re getting very close to December now and in the northern hemisphere winter is in full swing. I live in Cornwall which is as south west as you can get in England. We don’t often get snow down here but it does happen sometimes.

One thing we can guarantee in Cornwall is that we get a lot of weather! Yesterday we had high winds, hailstorms, rain and bright sunshine all in daylight hours. You have to be prepared for all kinds of weather here. One way to deal with this is to be at one with nature; snuggle up when it’s cold and never forget your umbrella when you’re wandering about in our beautiful countryside!

During the days and evenings when you really can’t face the unpredictable weather, it’s time to semi-hibernate and enjoy your indoor space. With festivities looming, this isn’t such a bad strategy. Over the past couple of years, the world has been in a state of fear and confusion, mostly brought about by politicians, billionaires and main stream media, but we won’t go there!

Instead, let’s get personal and make the most of the winter ahead. Here are some quick ideas that will help keep you sane and healthy during the coldest months of the year.

FESTIVITIES

Rather than rushing around off or online trying to buy hundreds of gifts, cards, decorations, food and drinks, put on your creative hat and think outside the box. Hide your credit card for a moment and consider personalizing your Christmas this year by making gifts, cards and decorations yourself or with the kids.

If you don’t consider yourself to be creative enough, it’s probably because you’re comparing your abilities to machine-made products. Put perfection aside and invest a little love into your creations. That love will shine through and delight your family and friends.

Do you enjoy general crafting activities even though you haven’t made a card since schooldays? Give it a go! With a personal message inside, a card can be very simple and unique. Tip: Look online at handmade cards for some inspiration.

If you haven’t time to make them, you could always buy from a small business rather than a huge corporation. Just a thought!

I love these hand-made cards at Home of the Mall.

Can you knit? Crochet? Sew? or Carve wood? Then, the sky’s the limit! Last year I crocheted 12 little robin bags, filled them with chocolate eggs and popped them in a decorated egg box. My daughter and her family were delighted with their family gift and hopefully the robins will decorate their tree for years to come. I forgot to take a photo last year but I’ll try and remember this Christmas. 🙂

Many years ago, we lived ‘off-the-land’ in rural France and money was tight most of the time. One year as my young daughter’s birthday was coming up, I had to think fast and ended up knitting a doll and clothes from some random oddments of yarn I had. The resulting ‘Ekokid’ went on to become a popular and entertaining toy.

**As a side note, since those days, I must have made 30 or 40 dolls but even more excitingly, I’ve revised and perfected the patterns and recently collected them into a popular pattern book. (Ekoknits at Etsy)- so you never know what will happen if you don your creative hat from time to time!

As well as gifts, cards and decorations, food and drink tend to have a big role in family festivities. I am always surprised to see shopping trollies/carts overflowing with ‘treats’. Although I get the attraction of delicious temptations, (believe me – I DO get it!) making a conscious effort to reduce large quantities of sugar, food additives and of course plastic packaging from your shopping list will give you a positive glow of satisfaction and ultimately a healthier family. 🙂

Of course, the Christmas period only covers a week of the winter months but, drawing on the above ideas, the longer evenings could be a creative and fun time for you and your family.

Do you tend to make new year resolutions? ouch 🙂 or perhaps you like to make goals for the coming year? If so, include some extracurricular activities and plan to create home-made items to give on birthdays or even next Christmas. A project you can turn your hand to from time to time will give you a burst of positive energy and could even save or make you some extra cash.

I started making this blanket/throw about 5 or 6 weeks ago, in the evenings and at odd moments. I haven’t finished the edging yet but it’s nearly done. And apart from feeling ridiculously pleased with myself, I managed to make it with yarn I already had and a few charity shop buys. Probably spent about a fiver overall!

**Another quick side note: A couple of years ago, I made a decorative throw using simple knitting patterns and, again very little money! And the whole pattern is now in my Etsy shop (Heirloom Throw at Etsy). A simple idea can turn into a beautiful gift or family heirloom before you know it. 🙂

Oh, and before I go, during those longer evenings, give the TV a rest and get into some traditional family games. Last week, at my daughter’s house, after enjoying a Sunday roast together, we played a very silly game of consequences and were all laughing like crazy people for a couple of hours. (Ages ranged from 10 – 65!) How to play:

Each player will need a piece of paper and a pencil. Cut A4 pages in half lengthwise and give one piece to each player.

The first step is to write a boy’s name at the top of the page, fold over the paper to hide what you’ve written. Underneath the fold, write ‘met’ then pass on to the next player.

The second step is a girl’s name, fold over the paper to hide what you’ve written and underneath the fold, write ‘he said’ then pass it on.

Next, write what you think he may have said to her, fold over the paper and underneath the fold, write ‘she said’

Write what she may have said to him, fold over the paper and underneath the fold, write ‘so they’

The write what you think happened, fold over to hide what they did and pass your paper along. Then each player unfolds their paper and reads out the story.

Remember to pass the paper on and keep what you’ve written hidden each time a new step is required. Let your imagination go crazy!

Our cave dwelling ancestors would have spent much of the wintertime inside keeping as warm as possible and using the time to make new clothes or cooking utensils. We don’t have to hunt animals and make tools from their bones (shudder) any more but we can still use our time creatively on practical or even frivolous projects!

Keep warm

Linda x

Positive Vibes

Don’t let the world grind you down. When negative energy invades your headspace, make a conscious effort towards a positive feeling.

Yes, easier said than done, but try bringing to mind a positive quote or heart-warming story that will give your positive energy levels a boost. This energy will glow through your skin and put a sparkle in your eye.

One of my favourite go-to’s is “This too shall pass”

There are a number of different processes to jumpstart positive energies – most of which revolve around gratitude and appreciation. If you’ve been following any of the self-development teachings over the past decade, you’ve probably heard gratitude and appreciation stressed over and over again. Perhaps to the point where it doesn’t really mean anything anymore.

However, gratitude is a powerful energy, can be used in any moment of any day or night and it doesn’t cost a thing! These five ideas from ‘Natural Beauty’ will help you power up your positive energy. Choose one or more that resonate with you at the moment.

  1. Create a Gratitude Journal where you write down any number of things you are grateful for at this moment. It could be the view from your window or even the fact that you haven’t broken a nail all week!
  2. Affirmations with feeling. Don’t simply recite an affirmation, do it with feeling. If affirming your body is healthy, really feel the health within you.
  3. Visuals have a great part in today’s world. And a personalized vision board will encourage and delight you evry time you look at it. Feel the visions as if they had already happened. Yep, that mercedes is mine!
  4. Books you love can change your mood within minutes. Read what suits you at the moment. It may be learning about the sub terrainean world of trees or a heart-warming novel.
  5. Videos are all around us from instagram reels to old comedy shows. Give yourself a fifteen minute break and watch something that makes you feel good – laughing babies come to mind!

These positive vibe ideas, in full, are included in the very first chapter of ‘Natural Beauty’. The book is a must-have for anyone trying to live a more natural lifestyle.

Read more about ‘Natural Beauty’ and grab your copy from your favourite online book store here.*

For the beautiful you!

Linda x