10 Garden Decorations

While you’re planning what to do in your outside space this year, give a thought to garden decorations. There are lots of fun and interesting things you can do without spending tons of cash…

1.Wind-Chimes – There are some beautiful wind chimes on the market, and you should be able to find some that suit your style and budget. However, you could go one step further and make your own. Study how they are made, and get the kids to join in! Wind chimes are soothing and very compatible with gardening, so position your chimes well.

They must be in at least a slight draught, which you should be able to find outside with ease. Also, they can scare the birds away from your fruit bushes. Hang them on the patio and in the vegetable garden.

2.Lights and Lanterns – For those smooth hot summer nights. Choose candles for calm nights and opt for lanterns if there’s a breeze about. Solar powered lights are a good choice as there aren’t any cables, batteries or plugs to worry about. They must be in sunlight during the day to re-charge though. Large garden candles will burn for many hours and are available in all sorts of aroma-therapeutic scents.

3.Garden Furniture – Invest in some comfy chairs for the garden. We don’t spend half as much time as we should outside, simply because we don’t feel comfortable. Look at unique ways of furnishing your garden. Do you have a couple of trees a hammock could be strung between? Or how about a park-type bench with comfy cushions set under the shade of the apple tree? Whatever the style or size of your garden, look for relaxing furniture so you can fully enjoy your outside space.

4.Fake Flowers – Well, hey, we don’t all have mature gardens and fresh flowers blooming all year round! If you have to resort to a little ‘deception’ who cares if it looks good? Hang some pretty silk flowers on a wall, or low roof or even in a tree! If nothing else, you’ll keep your visitors guessing about your garden decorations. 🙂

These are pretty. I found them on Amazon (UK) and they’d look lovely in a corner of the patio

Artificial Flowers for Outdoor UV Resistant

5.Colour it up – If you still need a bit of colour around the place, get the kids involved. No, I don’t mean let them loose with a tin of paint and brushes… what they could do is draw some great pictures of trees, flowers, animals etc, and you can pin them around the patio area or ‘blu-tak’ them to a tree or two. Remember to rescue them if it rains!

6.Cut down on Big Toys – Children’s outdoor toys, such as swings, slides etc; can take up loads of room in the garden, and they’re not always very attractive. Look for something a little less permanent. Maybe separate items you can load away in the shed at night, or go for something completely different and build a giant chess set. Or if you really feel creative, what about a tree-house? They can always go to the park for the swings!

7.Containers – Collect large pots and grow plants you can move around the garden, every day if you like! Grow herbs and flowers and position sweet smelling plants on the patio or round your seating area. Strawberries grow very well in containers as do other useful plants.

Make sure the pots aren’t too heavy for you to move, or invest in a garden trolley if they are. If you grow colour co-ordinated flowers, a wonderful display can be created by positioning your pots well.

I love this style of planter although these ones are quite small. There are loads more designs and styles available. Browse through some different designs. You may come up with an idea to make your own!

3x Barrel Garden Plant Pots – 20cm Height Planters Outdoor Flowerpots Whiskey Barrel Wood and Metal Effect

Vintage Style Round Plant Container Pots

8.Wild Corner – I know this may be hard if you like a neat and tidy garden, but leaving a wild patch can be very entertaining and visually very pleasing. Nettles and other wildflowers attract butterflies and bees, and it’s often surprising how delicate and colourful wildflowers can be when allowed to grow in their own space. If you’re still unsure, how about building a little fence around the area and making a wooden plaque declaring it a wildlife zone…well, it was just an idea!

9.Water Features – are becoming more and more popular and also more affordable. Create a water feature that will suit your garden. Try not to be persuaded by an over-enthusiastic sales assistant trying to sell you a system that will be far too big or even too small for your outside space.

Do some research before you start. There could be a fair amount of physical work involved and you should arrange some strong arm help. You could go for a full waterfall and pond or perhaps a simple water feature on your patio.

I love this simple but very effective design. There are even lights so you can even watch the water flowing after dark!

Kyoto Three Bowl Cascade Garden Patio Water Feature with White LED Lights

Garden Patio Water Feature

10.Rock Gardens – Rock gardens can take on different themes and colour schemes throughout the year with a little careful planning. There is again some heavy physical work involved when you’re putting together your rock garden but well worth it in the end. Make sure you can get to all areas for weeding, watering etc;

A miniature rock garden could be a focal attraction in a smaller garden and will need much less muscle to create. Try out different rock plants and flowers until you feel happy with the overall view, and even then you can change it. Nothing’s set in stone!

These are just a few ideas for garden decorations. Let your imagination run free and decorate your outside space with love.

Enjoy the moment!

Linda x

Grow Your Own Healthy Kids!

Of course it’s very possible to grow a bunch of healthy kids, especially if you can find the child in you as well. Being a kid can be great fun, and there’s no reason why we can’t run around and/or play kids games until we are grandparents and beyond.

As soon as the sun’s shining get outside in the fresh air… especially if you live in a climate that has very short summers ( talking UK here!). Make the most of the sunlight. As long as you protect your skin from harmful rays, sunlight is the best form of vitamin D – and doesn’t it make you feel good!

There are lots of outdoor games that need little or no equipment. The secret is to cast your mind back to your own schooldays, or perhaps your parents day and revive the traditional games played before the digital phenomenon infiltrated our homes. Of course, computer games and other computer stuff are great – I mean you’re reading this right? And I used my laptop to write it, so I certainly couldn’t follow my dreams as easily without the web at my fingertips.

But getting outside is important, as is exercise and fun. A little exercise repays us with tons of energy and the fun factor needs no explanation at all.

If you have a patio area in your garden, invest in a box of giant chalks and draw out a hopscotch game using paving slabs as squares if possible. If you’ve never played this great game, Google it. There are variations so choose one that suits you.

Ball games, including simple throw and catch games for very small children are a great co-ordination exercise as well as being fun. Badminton, tennis and dodge ball are all possible in a reasonably large garden. If you really haven’t got the space, take a trip to the park.

Seasonal Solutions

Make the most of technology and take a camera on woodland walks. In the springtime, the wild violets, bluebells or daffodils that grow in your region can be captured on camera and then later turned into home-made greetings cards perhaps? Or frame your favourites and brighten up your kitchen with splashes of artistic family photography.

During the autumn or winter, there are often fallen branches or wild fungi that can be collected – the edible ones could even provide a family meal – but obviously not ALL fungi are edible so take a reliable identification source with you and be 200% sure before you eat them of course.

Small branches can be turned into Christmas decorations and, with a few fallen pine cones and a sprig of holly, they can make attractive table decorations.

Indoor Games

Pencil and paper games have long since gone out of fashion which is a shame as they really are a great educational tool as well as bringing the whole family together in some quality time. Try traditional battleship games played manually rather than on the PC or other electronic form. The exercise of creating your own playing board can be just as much fun as actually playing the game.

Misfits can be played with younger children; First draw a head and neck of any type of creature or even monster, at the top of a length of paper, fold over the paper to hide the picture and then pass to the next player. Then all players draw a body and arms underneath the neck, fold over and pass on. Then repeat, drawing legs and feet. Open them all up to find an assortment of weird and wonderful mixed up creatures. Young children love this game.

Have Fun!

Linda x

P.S. For more wonderful ideas on how to grow healthy kids and find the kid in you, download this handy book with instructions on how to play 31 different traditional games.

Family Games to play at home or away, and mostly for FREE!

This is the fun stuff that children got up to before the days of computers. Bring the whole family together with a fun idea and the little darlings may even switch off the computer game voluntarily!

Using everyday items, and sometimes none at all, all 31 games are played without plugs, batteries or chargers. Pure and natural resources – imagination, creativity and a little energy – help develop life skills while having fun.

Finding the kid in you keeps you young, and, of course, you get to spend quality time with the children without having to dig out the credit card. Just about every game can be adjusted to suit the age and number of players.

Enjoy a whole month of rainy day games you can also play in the sunshine!

Choose from your favourite online bookstore

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

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 celebrations 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

P.S. For pure off-grid entertainment, playing games will make you feel great while spending some quality time with the family. This book has a whole month of games you can play indoors or out.

Family Games

Indoor Family Games to play at home or away, and mostly for FREE!

This is the fun stuff that children got up to before the days of computers. Bring the whole family together with a fun idea and the little darlings may even switch off the computer game voluntarily!

Using everyday items, and sometimes none at all, all 31 games are played without plugs, batteries or chargers. Pure and natural resources – imagination, creativity and a little energy – help develop life skills while having fun.

Finding the kid in you keeps you young, and, of course, you get to spend quality time with the children without having to dig out the credit card. Just about every game can be adjusted to suit the age and number of players.

Enjoy a whole month of rainy day games you can also play in the sunshine!

Choose from your favourite online bookstore

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

Getting Creative

It may be only a few weeks before Christmas, but in one month there are 30 evenings. During those 30 evenings, it’s hoped you could have at least a couple of hours per day for yourself. Being run off your feet all day can result in 2 or more hours vegging in front of the TV and chain-eating chocolate peanuts.. Ouch!

But let’s switch it up a little.

*Working harder or longer hours to save enough money for Christmas results in stress and tiredness and possibly buying chocolate peanuts in bulk.

*Not having that option but stressing over gifts and other Christmas paraphernalia could have the same result.

Stop for a moment and consider your creative talents – yes they will be there. It could be writing, drawing, sewing, carpentry, gardening, knitting, basket weaving or cooking. There are many more forms of creativity.

In one of those many forms, you will have a talent or a passion. It may be hidden and/or suppressed but it’s definitely there somewhere!

Consider creating gifts and even decorations for this year’s celebrations. A home-made personal gift is always well received and very satisfying for your soul. (“Hm could make a business out of this!”)

You may not be able to make gifts for everyone but there are always small businesses and online handmade shops to choose from. Etsy is the big one but there are other platforms such as Home of the Mall in the UK which in itself is run by a small staff from home. You could help support a small business in your local area perhaps.

Whichever path you choose though, home made or hand made gifts are more personal and help to keep the money in your community rather than in the big corporation’s pockets!

For Someone you Love
Because you love them, you’ll probably have a good idea of their likes, dislikes and dreams. Connect to those likes and dreams and consider what they would like for themselves. Side note: “Don’t buy mum a hoover for Christmas”

A simple home-made card with a few thoughtful words is sometimes all it takes to show your love.

These ideas could possibly be made from home, depending on your space, time and passion.

For the Garden Enthusiast

Garden Decor : painted flower pots, driftwood-style signs, decorated smooth edging stones or maybe even a scarecrow!

Clothes: knitted or crocheted warm hat or scarf, a pair of welly socks or even a jumper.

Other: Garden journal (buy a downloadable, print it out and create a nice folder- more on this page)

For the Homemaker

Soft Furnishings: sew some cushions, knit or crochet a throw or blanket, re-upholster an old flea market find armchair.

Other: baskets for all kinds of uses; vegetable storage, fruit bowls, eggs, bathroom accessories

For the Beauty Queen

Face: crochet 100% cotton make up removers. I have some of these for sale myself on Home of the Mall (link above)

Hair: knit, crochet or sew scrunchies and bandanas

Other: charity-shop-find dishes personalized, baskets and brush holders, crocheted bowls (check out youtube!)

For the Kids

Board games: possibly a bit more complicated, depending on the age group, but if you’re gaming-minded, it should be fun to do.

Jigsaws: this will require a certain amount of skill with a jig-saw and the space to create without worrying about the sawdust.

Toys: knitting, crocheting and sewing for soft toys and if you’re a master carver, create some wooden toys that will last forever. ‘Ekoknits’ has over 50 patterns if you feel like getting those knitting needles out! Listed on the Stix & Yarn page.

And for everyone

Decorations: knitting, sewing, painting and even wood carving can come into play with decorations. Have a look on youtube and you’ll get the idea. Collect pine cones and make a centerpiece for the table.

Gift bags: can you fold paper accurately? make some gift bags and small boxes to present your gift. Or, again knit sew and crochet them!

Confectionery: if you like to cook, bake some mince pies (you can freeze them if made in advance), make some candy such as peppermint creams, chocolate truffles, coconut ice etc

There are thousands more ideas to grab from the Universe. Have a look at some hand-made products online and consider if you could make it yourself.

Happy Crafting!

Linda x

Related Pages:
Giving Green
Green Gifts
Christmas in August
Knitting Seasonal Dolls
Making Purses
Homemade Gifts

5 Ways to Save the Planet

Make a difference from the comfort of your own home

There are many of us across the world that would love to do more to help our planet survive but are scuppered by lack of time, energy and often money.

This article shows how it can be simple, fun and inexpensive to dissolve those guilty feelings and enjoy harmony with the environment rather than it being a constant cause for concern.

Here are Five Fabulous ways to do your bit for the planet

As little as 20 years ago, recycled or organic goods and products weren’t mainstream and often cost at least 3 times as much as non-organic, making it harder to do your bit for the environment especially if you were bringing up a family.

There’s been a huge increase in availability as the green campaigns for a healthier planet grow stronger. And there are lots of tweaks we can make in our lifestyles to help even more.

Recycling

Many areas have recycling posts or specific containers for individual households. This may seem like an extra chore at home, but habits only need tweaking to make it work. Make sure everyone in the household, apart from maybe the tiniest tots, knows where each item should go; plastics and glass, paper and food etc;

Find a permanent spot for the recycling containers to make it even easier. If you have to go looking for the compost bin, chances are those food scraps will end up in the regular rubbish.

If you have a garden, create a compost heap for the vegetable peelings. A year later you’ll have beautiful compost to dig into the garden or fill plant pots with.

Check over any packaging before you throw it away. Maybe it could be added to the craft box or perhaps be useful in the potting shed. Clear plastic bottles make excellent mini-cloches for delicate plants. Cut in half and you have two cloches for free! And yoghurt pots are perfect for seedlings with a hole punched in the bottom for drainage.

If you’re planning to make jams or preserves later in the year, wash and dry empty jars and lids and store them somewhere safe.

Health begins at home

Gardening is one of the fastest growing ‘hobbies’ which means a whole lot more of us are eating fresh organic produce picked from our own garden, balcony or even window box. There are many plants you can grow in pots; you don’t even need a garden to benefit from a few organic veggies or a daily serving of your favourite herbs.

Herbs not only flavour your food, most of them have medicinal properties as well. A daily glass of tea made from thyme and honey for example will help prevent colds. With a healthy diet and a few natural remedies, you can avoid spending huge sums on potions and medications from the pharmacy.

As well as natural health remedies, try a few natural ‘quality time’ cures as well. Set aside 15 or 20 minutes here and there to play a game with the children – not a computer game. Play games you used to play and enjoy a nostalgic moment while passing on fun ideas to the next generation… aaah wonderful!

Games can be incredibly simple and so much fun; playing ball with tiny tots helps them develop hand eye co-ordination, pencil and paper games are a brilliant way of teaching children new words etc; and simply having a good old fashioned game of Monopoly could be just what the doctor ordered!

Spend more, save more

Commercially there is more competition nowadays for organic produce, which in turn has helped push the price down for the average consumer. Hopefully the organic producers will benefit from larger numbers of consumers to off-set the lower prices.

Sometimes just a few extra pennies can buy the organic alternative – scan the prices before buying because it’s so easy to assume the organic product will be too expensive, when it may not be. Spending a few extra moments checking prices and food labels is time well spent. Write a list before you go shopping and (try to) stick to it.

Buying two bags of 24 packets of crisps because they are on a ‘buy one get one free’ promotion is dodgy because if there are 48 packets of crisps in the larder, they probably won’t last as long as 2 lots of 24 packs! The only way round this is to have a really good hiding place or avoid the BOGOF promos!

When you shop in a supermarket, you are open to all the marketing skills of big corporations and it’s very easy to be led into the aisles of ‘not-so-healthy’ foods, especially if you have children with you.

But if you know you’ve just spent a little more than usual on some organic tomatoes, you’re less likely to be persuaded to part with any more cash than necessary. Shopping in this way can lead to a healthier fridge and wallet! (And it may be a good idea to leave the kids at home.)

Avoiding Land-Fill

With information and practical videos at our fingertips, we can learn traditional skills, some of which have got lost somewhere over the last few generations and get creative in our gift ideas, avoiding buying plastic ‘land-fill’ stuff at least some of the time.

Home-made gifts are always special and you can make them planet-friendly too! Try home-made jams and dried tomatoes for ‘foodies’ or knit something personal like a toy for a child or a delicate shawl for a fashion conscious friend.

Although it pains me slightly to say that you could start planning Christmas presents a year in advance, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Once you have a few ideas for gifts you can make, they can be separate projects you can dip in and out of throughout the year. Long winter evenings or rainy Sunday afternoons are great times to open your ‘Christmas’ project box and dabble a little in something creative.

If you’re planning on giving home-made jams etc; you may want to grow your own strawberries. Strictly speaking, it will take a whole season to start off your gift, but a little pottering in the garden always gives you a boost of energy and well-being.

Do It Yourself

With tons of scientific evidence proving the ingredients in many processed foods aren’t necessarily good for humans, we are all looking towards a less chemically dependent diet. Cooking programmes on TV channels get huge viewing audiences. Indulge in creating meals to really enjoy sometimes rather than throwing any old fast food on a plate because everyone’s ‘starving’ hungry.

The media have been promoting sterile bleached homes for many years and, although we are wising up to the fact that a sterile environment isn’t necessarily good for our immune systems, the habits are hard to break.

Try to avoid products containing bleach. In most cases it really isn’t necessary and causes untold harm to the environment. Next time you enjoy a G&T, don’t throw the slice of lemon away, wipe it round the sink after washing up and the lemon juice will remove many stains. And it leaves a lovely lemony smell in the kitchen.

*Brush up on traditional skills and create soft furnishings such as throws, cushions, bedspreads etc; Build furniture to fit any space or take a pottery class and create beautiful eye-catching sculptures. Make your home a place of beauty, health and harmony … oh, and environment friendly too of course.

Linda x

Organic Garden Party Plan

Whether it’s with good friends or family or both, an organic evening from start to finish will create a warm rosy glow of contentment.

Plan the day out and you’ll be able to enjoy the evening as well. This is a plan for simple nourishing food but substitute other ingredients if you prefer.

During the morning and afternoon prepare some, or all of the following salads. Chill in their serving dishes in the bottom of the fridge.- you’ll have time.

Anything that needs cooking and cooling can be done while you’re prepping other stuff, so here goes…

During the day, prepare some, or all of the following salads. Chill in their serving dishes in the bottom of the fridge.

Potato Salad:

Steam or boil diced potatoes until tender and leave to cool completely. Stir in some chopped chives and a mayonnaise sauce- try half mayo and half natural yoghurt. Taste sauce before adding to potatoes. Chill before serving. Optional extra: mix in some walnut pieces and chopped celery.

Rice Salad:

Cook rice and leave until cold. Put into a large bowl and mix in; sweetcorn, chopped tomato, onion and green pepper. Chill before serving. Add a few nuts and even dried fruits if liked. Can be served with a mayonnaise sauce.

Green Salad:

Finely slice a lettuce and put into a large bowl. Loosen with your hands or a large slotted spoon. Mix in a very finely sliced onion and a tomato. If available, add sliced organic cucumber, sweet peppers and a few chopped fresh herbs.

Coleslaw:

Grate or very finely chop some white cabbage, an onion and a raw carrot. Mix together in a large bowl with a mayonnaise sauce. Chill before serving. If available add finely chopped walnuts and celery

Now you have a selection of salads, prepare the dessert:

Fruit salad:

Chop any fresh organic fruits you have available and mix with a few dried fruits and nuts. Search the market stalls for an exotic fruit or two, such as mango or pineapple, to add a touch of ‘je ne sais quoi’ to your salad! Leave to marinate for an hour before serving. Cover with a clean cloth and leave in a cool place.

For the main dish at your home garden party,

you could choose to have veggie burgers or the equivalent, or even organic steak if you don’t want to get too vegetarian!

If you have a few laying hens or ‘you know a man who does’ make a huge spanish type omelette for your guests.

Most of the ingredients can be prepared in advance:

  1. Dice and steam or boil a couple of largish potatoes until just cooked. Drain and leave to cool.
  2. Slice some mushrooms and simmer gently in a little water in a frying pan for a few minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
  3. Slice and gently simmer one or two medium onions – as you did with the mushrooms. Drain and leave to cool.
  4. Boil a few peas. Drain and leave to cool.

While this lot is cooling, clear up the chaos in the kitchen and find a fairly large flat dish – a chopping board will do. When the veggies are cool, arrange them in small heaps on a board and set aside, covering with a cloth to keep them moist and to protect from flies.

The next step is an outside job!

Shut down the barbeque and build a fire instead. You’ll need some space but investing in a fire pit may be a good option. But, if you have the space and some large stones available, have an old-fashioned fire instead.

Side note: If you decide on a fire rather than a barbecue or a firepit like the one below, you’ll need a trivet to go over the fire.

Find a comfortable spot in the garden, away from trees and wooden fences etc; and make a circle of stones. These should be large stones, about housebrick size – but no bigger. The diameter of the circle should be about 20 inches (50cm) or so. Then make another circle of stones around the first one about twice the size.

……………………………………………………………………….

NB: If you don’t have space to build a fire, use your barbeque grill Or invest in a firepit.

This firepit on Amazon (UK) is around £140 at the time of writing

DAWOO Fire Pit with BBQ Grill Shelf, Barbecue Brazier, Table Brazier Garden Patio Heater/BBQ/Ice Pit with Waterproof Cover (3 in 1Fire Pit Table & Grill) (square)

…………………………………………………………………………

In your middle circle, build a fire. You can do this as you would light a barbeque, or collect some paper, card and small dry twigs and some larger logs to keep the fire burning. The next thing to do is find two sticks at least a metre long around broomstick size in diameter. You can use these to control the flame and, to a few degrees, the temperature of the fire. When your fire has got going and the flames are low, place a trivet over the fire, and start cooking…

Use the long sticks by pulling them out and pushing them into the embers. When you push them in, the flame will burn higher. Normally you will need to keep the flame low, but if left too long, the fire will die, so heating it up and removing the pan from time to time will keep the embers glowing nicely.

NB: Don’t use your best pans for this!

If you’re cooking steaks or veggie burgers – throw them in the pan and get frying! If you decided on the omelette, bring your covered board of prepared vegetables to the fire and place in between the circles of stones. Beat eggs in a bowl, allowing two per person. You could do this in shifts if there are more than four people eating. The cooking time is quick so by the time the first shift have dished up their salads, the next servings are cooked.

NB: Enrol some help 🙂

Pour a little oil in the frying pan and add a spoonful of each of the ingredients on your dish: potatoes, onions etc; Stir gently and pour beaten egg over the mixture. Sprinkle on some grated cheese to taste. Add a little black pepper. Cook gently for a few minutes, then turn and cook for a few minutes on the other side. The omelette will probably fall apart during this manoeuvre, but push it all back together -it will taste just as good.

Now dish up your main course on individual plates and let everyone serve themselves from the delicious spread of salads decorating your outside table.

Carefully remove the trivet from the fire, place a few logs on and enjoy your meal to a crackling fire in the night sky!

Voila! a wonderful organic home garden party!

And still later……

after everyone has complimented you on a delicious meal and scrummy dessert, play a traditional parlour game to round off the evening. Avoid card games or word games. They require far too much concentration!

Entertain each other by showing off what a fool you can be by playing charades. Choose the name of a song, a tv programme, a film, whatever, and mime the title – abosolutely no speaking aloud, unless you’re under ten yrs old, then you can have a few concessions! If no one guesses your mime, you have the added embarasment of having another go.

And when all your guests have gone home and the children are in bed, take a few moments to sit by the fire and watch the dying embers, and remember the evening with gladness in your soul and good food in your body!

Enjoy!

Linda x

P.S. Download the pdf!

The Garden Party Planner will definitely help you get the most from your garden parties this year. Available on Etsy.

Tip: Read through the planner first and collect your ingredients together before you start.

Garden Party Planner

10 Free Family Entertainments

These Top 10 entertainment ideas will be fun for the whole family without maxing out the credit card

Puppy dog eyes and constant whingeing is often all it takes to spend tons of cash. STOP! The most fun ways of entertaining the kids can still be found for free.

Re-discover the inner child in you and find activities that encourage children to enjoy the moment and won’t cost you a penny:

INSIDE RAINY DAY GAMES

1.Target Practice:

Or magazine destruction. Old magazines have great play value, apart from craft possibilities. Put a wastepaper basket in the middle of the room and each player tears out a page from a magazine, rolls it into a ball and throws it at the target. Simple! Just make sure you decide on the magazines to be destroyed before the children decide for you. This is a great game to encourage children to tidy up.

2.Skittles

Skittles is the home version of 10 pin bowling. If you don’t have a set of ‘pins’ or skittles, make them by putting a little sand in the bottom of empty water bottles or something similar. Don’t make them too heavy. Whatever you use must stand up on their own and not be too heavy to be knocked over.

This game can be played outside on an even surface. If playing indoors use a soft ball, a pom pom, rolled up newspaper or anything that rolls and doesn’t destroy the furniture!

3.Memory Game

You’ll need:

A tray,
A cloth that will cover the tray,
And 10-12 small everyday objects, eg, a pencil, notepad, stamp, coin etc;

Player looks at the tray for one minute then the tray is covered with the cloth. One object is secretly taken away and then the tray is revealed to the player, who then has to remember which object is missing. If they remember correctly, another object is taken away. Repeat until player is stuck or has remembered all objects correctly.

4.Dead Lions

All players except one lie down with their eyes closed and stay very still. The ‘hunter’ walks around the lions looking for signs of life. If he spots one of the ‘lions’ move, he taps that player and they are out of the game and must sit outside the play area and wait for the rest of the lions to be caught. The last lion is the winner.

5.I Went to Market

Players need to be of reading age or close enough to play this game. One player starts by saying one thing they bought at the market – that begins with the letter A. The next player declares something they bought with the letter B. This sounds fairly simple until you add the twist. This is an example of how the game should grow.

Player 1: “I went to market and I bought an apple”
Player 2: “I went to market and I bought an apple and a banana”
Player 3: “I went to market and I bought an apple, a banana and a cup”

You can see where this is going. The first player to forget one of the items drops out of the round. The players drop out as they forget the sequence and the last player remaining is the winner. You can play this game with any number of players, although it gets harder with more players because you don’t need to repeat the sequence so often.

OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES

6.Twist and Tangle

This is an outdoor version of the game twister. Each player has their own die. Using chalks, draw shapes on the ground in different colours. Number the shapes. Create two shapes of each number from 1-6. So you have at least twelve playing shapes.

Players throw their dice in turn and have to place one arm or one leg on one of the shapes representing the number they threw. You can decide on variations before you start. Either one limb has to move, or two, or even three perhaps? Not sure if three would work but maybe worth a try 🙂

The game goes on until players are too tangled up to move! Or, if you want to add a little competition, eliminate players as they fall over or miss their target shape.

7.Rounders

Rounders is the game to play when there are lots of players with plenty of energy available! The official guidelines for playing rounders indicate that there should be at least seven players on each team, but you can adjust the game to suit the players.

You need a tennis ball sized ball, a bat and items to indicate the batting position, the bowling position and four bases. Don’t use sticks as they can be dangerous if a child falls. However, to add a bit of interest, perhaps each ‘base’ could have a bell that has to be rung as a player reaches the base, or a tin lid to bang?

To play:

The bowler stands on the bowling spot and throws the ball to the batsman (positioned on the batting spot). The ball should be thrown underarm and aimed within reaching distance of the batsman. If the ball is way off course, it’s considered a no-ball and bowler throws again.

Whether the batsman hits or misses the ball, he must drop his bat and run to first base, making sure he touches the base or he may be called ‘out’. The player can be called ‘out’ if one of the fielders catches the ball cleanly before it touches the ground and after it has been hit. Or the player can be called ‘out’ if one of the fielders touches the base he’s running to with the ball, before he gets there.

If player manages to run to base two or three before the bowler has the ball back on the bowlers spot, he scores half a rounder. If he gets to base four it’s a whole rounder.

8.Skipping Games

Skipping on your own can be very satisfying. Competing with yourself and trying to beat the number of skips you’ve set yourself as a record is a sure way to keep you fit! Skip at different paces – Note here: if you haven’t skipped for a while, take it slowly and maybe do a few warm up exercises first. Your calf muscles will shout at you otherwise!

Skipping races: Every player has their own rope and skips along a track as in a running race.

Three or more players with a long rope can have fun for hours. Two players hold either end of the rope and stand far enough apart so that when they turn the rope it just touches the ground. Practise turning for a while. When the rope is turning, the third player has to run in and jump the rope.

In case you haven’t got a skipping rope to hand, there’s a cute one on Amazon for around a fiver and next day delivery..

Children’s adjustable sports skipping cotton rope with wooden handles

9.Piggy in the Middle

You need three players and a ball. All the players should be a similar height or this game doesn’t really work very well, unless allowances are made. Two players throw the ball to each other and the third player stands between them and tries to intercept the ball. If successful they swap places with the player who should have caught the ball. And so on…

10.Go for a walk!

Simple but very effective – especially for burning off excess energy – Take a bag and collect fallen twigs, dried leaves and grasses – then when you get home, the children can make pictures from the items collected while you get on with the dinner!

Have Fun 🙂

Linda x

Necessity, the Mother of Invention

Many years ago, during a period in my life living off the land, money was scarce and children were many!

Coming from London and a townie through and through, even growing food was an alien pastime for me but we had to learn to survive.

The creative ideas that we came up with every day were based almost entirely on necessity but they worked for us at the time. 🙂

I saw a recent social media post – possibly facebook – stating that the only things that really matter in life are:

how to purify water
how to grow food
how to cook
how to build
and how to love

None of these ‘subjects’ are taught in main stream schools – there may be an exception here and there but basically we are all brought up to rely on a system that is purely financially orientated and pays little attention to the things that really matter, that are in fact a necessity.

Recent world events have shaken up the global population and we all have our own opinions and instincts about

what we are being told by mainstream media
what we are finding through underground sources

but many of us are confused and perhaps just going along with whoever ‘sounds’ like they might be telling the truth. And although I could probably rant on all day about corruption, politicians and the big pharmaceutical companies, nothing is going to change from the top.

It’s us individuals who need to take control, or as much control as possible, for our own lives to help not only the human species but all other life forms.

Food was ‘real’ food just a couple of generations ago. Speaking as a grandmother, I can attest to that. I’m not bleating on about the good old days because they weren’t all good, just as everything nowadays isn’t all bad.

Two of the biggest problems we have is that it isn’t always easy or affordable to go ‘plastic-free’ or ‘organic’ and then the guilt sets in or we just think “aw what the hell”. Neither state of mind is particularly good for our overall wellbeing.

The answer? Baby Steps. We are billions in number and if we all took a couple of baby steps whenever possible, we could make a difference.

So getting back to necessity being the mother of invention:

Yes, it is necessary to start protecting our world
Yes, it is necessary to start protecting ourselves – not only from obvious dangers but generally for our mind, body and soul.
And yes, it is necessary to take control of our lives, even a little at a time will help us and future generations of all sentient beings on earth.

Research a few ideas; how to grow food, how to purify water, how to cook efficiently, how to build and how to love yourself more 🙂

Get that inventive beautiful brain working!

With today’s technology, whatever your views on the privacy and plastic issues are, you can find many solutions as like minded folk share their ideas with the world. There are more than 200 posts just on this website alone that relate to home, family, garden and wellbeing issues.

If you have ideas to share, I’d love to hear from you.

To our Healthy Future

Linda x

P.S. This looks like a handy book to have around. I found it on Amazon (UK)

Natural Home Cleaning

Over 100 ways to clean your home naturally

“In this book, you will find over 110 recipes for practically any cleaning dilemma, from natural disinfectant to safe and effective stain removal. The chapters cover every room in your home with simple recipes to make your house sparkly clean.”

Natural Home Cleaning

Recycle, Upcycle, Re-use

It’s surprising how much we can recycle, upcycle and re-use items that are often just tossed in the rubbish without a second thought.

When that second thought occurs though, it triggers all sorts of benefits:

  • generally feeling good
  • creativity and imagination
  • projects, possibly family centred to enjoy and learn from
  • New and unique items for your home

And if those benefits weren’t enough, how about the benefits to the environment:

  • Less land-fill, generally
  • Less driving to the shops for a ‘new’ whatever

So, what could you recycle, upcycle or re-use?

It really does depend on your own lifestyle, family and needs but here are a few ideas that could help save the planet and the health of your bank account perhaps!

GARDEN

Pots:
Toilet or Kitchen roll tubes serve as small pots and are usually in abundance in a busy household. Cut them in half and place in a tray with sides then a waterproof one. Here, I didn’t have a tray with sides so I made a shallow tray from an old cardboard box to hold the pots in place then put it on a tray I wasn’t using for anything else. It works!

And many yogurt and dessert pots are now being manufactured with less plastic. Punch a hole in the bottom (be careful) and wash thoroughly before filling with compost.

I’ve been gradually buying canvas pots and they have been recently coming down in price. As long as they are emptied and dried out after use, they will last a fair amount of time – and I’ve found the slugs are not so keen on them, although my battle with slugs continues…. 🙂

Saving seeds:
When I lived in France, I found that a couple of crops – nasturtiums and parsnips come to mind – would re-seed themselves. But we did have mild winters so I wouldn’t recommend relying on that system.

Let one or two plants go to seed and collect carefully. With broad beans for example, leave the first couple of pods on the plant and they will eventually dry naturally, allowing you to save the seeds to plant next year.

Do a little research for your crops in your region. Parsley in the UK is biennial. It produces leaf in the first year then flowers and seeds in the second year. Let the plant do its thing if you can spare the space, then collect the seed and sow!

Containers:
A leaky bucket may not be any good for cleaning or holding water, but it could be an excellent garden accessory. If you’re weeding a patch of ground, pop the weeds in the bucket and you won’t be going back and forth to the compost bin or trailing soil across the lawn!

Fruit boxes, wooden or cardboard can be really helpful too, especially if you have lots of stuff to harvest at once.

Netting Bags may be useful to protect your fruit bushes. Be careful with this one though. You don’t want birds caught up in it. The holes would need to be fairly small to avoid wildlife damage.
However, I’ve used regular netting bags to stretch low between plants to deter cats from ‘visiting’.

Water bottles:
Although this is a plastic product, it’s sometimes the only choice. But they can be recycled in the garden. I sometimes use them for watering ‘cans’. Punch a few holes in the lid and water away! Also, cutting the bottom off (again be careful here) will create a mini-cloche you can pop over more delicate plants until the weather warms up. Push into the earth quite firmly or a gust of wind could blow it away and also damage your plant.

Cutlery:
Save old spoons and forks to transplant seedlings. They are less likely to damage the roots of your small plants than a trowel.

HOME

Furniture:
The upcycle market has been flooded with upcycled furniture over the past few years and it’s often quite expensive. I am totally with these prices even if I can’t afford them myself! It takes time and resources to re-create an old piece of furniture and the designs and ideas some come up with are amazing!

So, are you artistically minded or maybe a little challenged in that area of life skills?! It really doesn’t matter which. Work with what you have, in skills and resources. If you want to upcycle an old chest of drawers and it’s the first time you’ve attempted anything like it, think it through before you start slapping paint on.

Have a look at images online to get some ideas.
Make a list of what you’ll need and some notes on how to do it. Have you got space somewhere you can work and leave it when you’re needed elsewhere? Can you use eco-friendly products? How much is it going to cost?

Upholstery:
Upholstery crosses over with furniture really. Is your sofa really too saggy to be comfortable anymore? Check out whether it’s possible to refurbish it. – Sometimes it’s not so be realistic here!
But maybe it’s fine but could do with recovering. Professional recovering, again can be quite costly but there are other ways.

Blankets and throws can be super decorative and hide a multitude of sins – read ‘stains’! – I made this throw with only 3 colours because that’s what I had in my yarn stash. It got so popular that I eventually got around to creating a super simple pattern. It’s listed here if you’d like a cool project you can pick up and put down anytime. And the throw is unique – 100%. Make it in random colours or stick to a few blending colours.

And even dining room chairs can be upholstered at home. You’d have to do a little research into the tools you need and whether or not to take an evening class, but this is a satisfying hobby according to my daughter and could even turn into a local business. You never know 🙂

Other Textiles:

Collect large and small pieces of cloth for making new cushion linings and/or covers. Curtains, quilt covers and even blankets can often be found in charity shops if you’ve nothing available and want to refresh your furnishings.

Even old curtains could be used to line other curtains for winter months. Keeping out the drafts will help keep your fuel costs down and keep cosy anyway.

Also, clothes that are really too small, too stained or too holey could be harnessed into your recycling activities. Cut the good parts out and save in a ‘cloth box or bag’ and use later to make patchwork covers or even new clothes. I made a patchwork skirt when I was a lot younger (and slimmer!) It’s looking a little sad now but it’s been hanging around for over 40 years and I can’t bring myself to throw it out 🙂

Quick note:

A sewing machine comes in handy and can be bought fairly cheaply these days. They used to be almost a ‘luxury’ but a regular non-fancy machine could cost less than £100 and could save you a lot more. This is a Brother machine that comes in at around the £100 mark but there are cheaper options. Please research thoroughly as I haven’t used this one myself.

Brother Sewing Machine at Amazon (UK)

CHILDREN:

Clothes:
Kids grow out of their clothes almost before they’ve been washed! When that happens, either pass down to a younger sibling or give away to a friend or charity. There are apps you can sell them on too. But if they really aren’t saleable and not really worth passing on, do the same as before; cut the good parts out and save them for other things. Keep buttons and working zips as well.

Some of these pieces of cloth and general haberdashery can be siphoned off to a craft box for the children…

Craft box:
Cereal boxes, egg boxes and all sorts of containers can be used to create models and games and will encourage children to enjoy crafts and make the best use of their imagination.
Often parents say ‘but they’ll play with the box more than the gift inside’ and from my own experience, I would say that’s pretty much true a lot of the time!

So, how about getting one step ahead and creating something out of a box in the first place (and put your credit card away!)

Medium sized boxes can be used to make:

dolls houses, castles, model villages, cars and boats and even puppet shows – This article will give you some ideas- Boxland

If none of these ideas resonate, try googling or youtube-ing – for example ‘how to upcycle my washing machine’ – I’ve known a few friends who have recycled the drum of an old washing machine into a barbecue or garden waste burner. The rest of the machine is normally taken away by a metal scrap merchant although if you’re handy with tools and like messing around with bits of metal, maybe a sculpture or a practical set of shelves may be possible?

Whatever it is you’re getting rid of or perhaps been hoarding for ‘later’ allow yourself a moment of creative imagination before you declutter and throw everything out. Think Recycle, Upcycle, Re-use.

Here’s to a Happy Planet!

Linda x

P.S. If you are de-cluttering your home and it’s all got a bit too much, there’s a handy download I put together to help you get through the task step by step.

De-Cluttering

Just two or three years in one place and the clutter starts taking over.

The problem is when it becomes overwhelming, untidy and eventually chaotic. I lived in a van for a few years and believe me, in a limited space, you have no choice but to keep organized – especially when you have kids to feed and clear up after.

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. 🙂

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