30 November 2014

20 feel-good, eco-friendly gifts for 2014

More and more I've been trying to consume less and do a lot more simplifying in my life. I even made gifts this year to cut down on purchasing. But there will still be people on your holiday gift list that you will want or need to buy something for. So, here is a guide to gifts that will make your loved ones and you feel good:  everything on this gift list is either fair trade, supports artisans and craftspeople and small business, is good for health and a healthy home, and/or is made with recycled or all-natural materials. This holiday gift guide will help you give a gift that will do good for people and planet. That's definitely a feel-good way to shop and give this season!

heirloom organic seeds; eco-friendly gifts
bee-friendly heirloom seed pack

handmade quilted throw; eco-friendly; fair trade
dignify reclaimed cotton sari hand-stiched throw that supports Bangladeshi women

cotton sewed lavender gift sachets
handmade lavender sachets

handmade linen cross-over apron
handmade linen apron

natural soaps for men
all-natural soap set for men

organic herbal teas, immune boosting tea
organic herbal immune boosting tea

string art, all natural art
handcrafted string art

fair trade 10 thousand villages bowl
fair trade Vietnamese accent bowl

simple modern watch
TIM watch that micro-funds families in need

handmade journal, natural, vintage
handcrafted vintage map journal

hand-carved wooden iPhone stand
handcarved wood iPhone stand

handmade gift list; ultimate eco-friendly gifts
handmade wool laptop case

vegan cookbook, simple gift, eco-friendly gift guide
one of the best vegan cookbooks out there - simple and easy recipes for healthy eating

ceramic coffee mug, tea mug
handcrafted ceramic mug

recycled materials bags
Matt & Nat natural material bag with 100% recycled plastic bottle lining

handcrafted string bowl, rope bowl
handcrafted string bowl

watercolour art, top handmade gifts
original watercolour print

washed linen napkins; natural gifts
natural washed linen napkins

headspace guided meditation downloads, top health gifts to give
Headspace gift of guided meditations

feel good gifts this Christmas
gift a gift of child sponsorship and help a loved one make a lasting connection

28 November 2014

4 homemade all-natural gifts under $10

In the spirit of limiting my contribution to consumerism this Christmas, I'm making quite a few gifts. I have to admit, I had a lot of fun on the weekend listening to holiday music, inhaling cinnamon sticks and oranges simmering on the stove, and getting crafty. It felt like I was a kid again! These gifts were made with joy. And a little dancing, if I'm being totally honest.

1. Lavender-scented bath salts. All you need here is epsom salts, lavender essential oil, dried lavender buds, and a mason jar. I found the vintage kind at a local antique market for a steal, but the new kind work just as well. I had dried a bouquet of lavender picked from the fields in Niagara-on-the-Lake this summer, so the buds were perfect for this (I plan on making lavender sachets with the rest).

DIY gift under $10; homemade natural bath salts,

Fill the jars half full will salts, add some buds and 5 drops of oil. Shake around. Fill the rest of the way; repeat. Tie up with some cord and a little kraft card and it makes a really pretty pampering gift for a friend.

homemade lavender bath salts

DIY holiday gifts in mason jars

2. Rosemary-infused olive oil. The rosemary from my summer patio was used up in this project, I'm proud to say. I mixed the rosemary leaves in a pot of EVOO and simmered on low heat for an hour or so - heat must be kept very low, as high heat and olive oil are a no-no. After removing from the burner, I let it sit for a couple of days with an airtight lid. In the meantime, I washed off the labels from the oil bottles and let dry thoroughly. You must be sure no water is left in the bottles, so that mold won't rear its ugly head once the rosemary goes in.

homemade natural gifts under $10

I then strained the loose rosemary leaves before pouring the oil back into the bottles, and then stuck a sprig or two of the fragrant herb inside the bottle, to continue the infusion process. A little jute wrap and I've got a gift for the amateur chefs I know.

homemade gifts for the chef

3. Mason jar terrarium. Aren't the tiny succulents and air plants that are everywhere these days adorable? And so easy to care for - so they make a great gift for office mates who may or may not have a green thumb. These terrariums are so easy to make - add rocks, sand, moss and air plants and voila - a mini zen garden for the desk. If you want to add succulents, add a bit of soil as well. Keep the lid off most of the time - these kinds of plants will need air. If you want a closed-lid variety, choose a tropical plant that thrives in moisture.

homemade terrarium air plants succulents

mason jar terrarium gifts

4. Mason jar natural holiday fragrance. This is really easy and smells soooooo good!! Throw cinnamon sticks, cloves, dried orange slices and tips of fir or cedar into a mason jar with instructions to empty into a pot, add water and simmer. I love this gift - I give one or two to myself each season!

natural air freshener for the holidays; handmade

homemade gifts in mason jars

There you have it - four easy handmade gifts, with all-natural, eco-friendly materials, and each under $10. Who else is with me on making gifts this year?

25 November 2014

18 decorative ways to repurpose paper

Isn't it crazy the amount of paper that can pile up at home and the office? Even with advancements like e-bills and online magazines and newspapers, I still seem to have lots of unused paper hanging around. Well, here's your inspiration for reusing it to make your life a little prettier. Everything from newspaper and magazines to old book pages to wallpaper scraps to paper bags to postcards and maps - even letters: this list of ideas has it all.

repurposed paper bag journal cover
recycled newspaper art
recycled magazines as art on wall
DIY paper gift wrapping
upcycled books to DIY bookmarks
decorative tea bags from books
recycled letter butterfly
DIY decopage map chairs
DIY book table runner
DIY cereal box wallpaper covered magazine holders
reurposed paper bag woven basket
heart wall hanging using repurposed magazines
upcycled shoe box and magazine wall art
DIY mason jar and sheet music paper candle
DIY repurposed book page garland
upcycled postcard bookmarks DIY
repurposed comic book page coasters
by me! 
repurposed newspaper Christmas ornament

20 November 2014

creating a cosy green bedroom for winter

Brrr....winter has definitely arrived in Canada! We had our first real snow this week; I love how pretty it makes everything, but it sure does make me want to stay inside and curl up. So, what better time to redecorate my bedroom to make it cosy, and of course, green, for winter?

winter bright light bedroom

I was inspired by Urban Jungle Bloggers and their challenge to make your bedroom green with plants this winter. Not only do plants in the bedroom keep the air fresh, they also make it feel bright and warm (at least to me).

white and green winter bedroom

I'm really lucky to have big south-west facing windows that let lots of natural light into my bedroom. So I've filled it with plants. And pretty vintage vessels. And DIY art. And reclaimed wood. I spent no new money on this bedroom refresh - other than purchasing two new plants at half price! The big spider plant was a steal - and it's one of the best for air quality.

yarn wrapped plant can

DIY plant can jute rope

New plants needed new containers - so I took a soup cans and wrapped yarn and jute around them. No cost there.

plants in the bedroom, vintage, green

bedside table storage

Books are kept close at hand and neat in a vintage bike rack, and a nature-inspired pottery plate holds bedside stuff.

diy nightstand, lightbulb terrariums

The nightstand was thrifted and refreshed with paint and wallpaper scraps - tutorial here.  And the bed frame was reupholstered myself - instructions here.

repurposed upcycled terrariums air plants

I made DIY lightbulb terrariums to hang by rope - instructions here.

vintage wood cabinet

reclaimed windows DIY

One of my favourite things of all time is the glass cabinet my brother made for me out of old antique windows from a building that was torn down. I keep bracelets and watches in it - isn't it spectacular?

jewellery storage vintage

More vintage vessels hold the rest of my jewellery.

jewellery storage

I simply changed out the knobs on an IKEA dresser for a more glamorous look. Necklaces are hung on the wall as ready-made art and organized storage. Faux sheep rugs add texture and keep things looking cosy for winter.

So...are you inspired to refresh your bedroom with plants and all things cosy? No need to spend- just look around your home for things you already have. Good luck!