How to Decorate Eco Easter Eggs with Zero-Waste

HOW TO DECORATE EASTER EGGS USING NATURAL ONION SKIN DYE 

Holidays are just around the bend – a much-needed pocket of time for slowing down and unwinding. If your mind is already whizzing with ways in which you can entertain the kids during this Easter break, here’s a DIY eco-eggs project that will have adults and kids alike transfixed by the magical unfolding of natural plant dying.

I’ve experimented with a host of different food dyes, and for me personally, this one embodies everything I look for in craft projects – it’s easy to pull together, it’s effective and it makes use of zero-waste living and upcycling principles. Perhaps the quintessential gift from an undertaking like this is that by the end of it all you feel wholly relaxed, I’m talking slow-in–your-bones kind of relaxation. Plus, you have beautiful homemade holiday decorations to marvel at.

Here’s what you need to know in order to make your own onion skin dyed natural Easter eggs. The German in me has taken to calling them Kind-er Eggs. (*giggles at her own joke).

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

EQUIPMENT

  • 1 Largish pot
  • Ladle
  • Drying rack – or keep the egg cartons
  • Glass bowl
  • Thumbtack
  • Sharp pointed knife

CREATIVE STUFF

  • Twine or wool
  • Old nylon stockings (with runners in them)
  • Foliage and flowers from the garden (flat leaf parsley works exceptionally well, but get creative with whatever inspires you)
  • Feathers

FOOD STUFFS

  • Eggs
  • White Vinegar (either filtered apple cider or white spirit vinegar)
  • Red and brown onion skins (from about 6-8 onions)
  • 1 Litre of water
  • Olive oil

A NB note on the eggs: Brown farm eggs don’t take colour as well as white eggs do. If you can get the white eggs, they take the natural dyes better. If you can only get brown eggs, there’s a way to lighten them, explained below.

HOW TO MAKE ONION SKIN DYED EASTER EGGS

WHITE OR BROWN EGGS?

If your eggs are of the brown farm fresh variety, you’ll need to lighten them:

  1. Place 2 cups of room temperature water in a glass bowl.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water (the better the quality of vinegar the quicker the bleaching and you also need to use less)
  3. Place your eggs in the bowl (at this stage it’s best if they’re still whole, raw eggs so they sink).
  4. Leave them immersed in the water for about 30 minutes.
  5. You should see a brown film coming off the eggs into the water.
  6. With a little friction this can be rubbed off further.
  7. If you want even whiter eggs leave them in for longer.

WHOLE OF HOLLOW EGGS?

Before you can begin dying the eggs, decide if you want to work with blown out egg shells or with whole eggs.

GO WITH WHOLE EGGS IF:

  • You’re doing this with kiddies who lack finesse and will crack the shells
  • You don’t want to have to turn your floating eggs every now and then while dying them
  • You don’t mind eating the hard-boiled, decorated eggs after a few days (you’ll lose your artwork in the process but gain an opportunity to embrace impermanence)

GO WITH BLOWN OUT IF:

  • You’re doing this with adults or older kids who can work delicately
  • You want to make garlands or hanging decorations
  • You want to keep these long-term

IF YOU’VE DECIDED ON HOLLOW:

  1. Place the thumb tack on a wooden board facing up.
  2. By pressing the egg down on the thumbtack, prick both ends of the egg.
  3. Then using the sharp knife delicately pick the holes slightly larger.
  4. In a container blow out your eggs and set aside.

HOT TIP: I suggest picking out a few recipes beforehand that need eggs so you can blow the needed number of eggs out into allocated containers. I used painter’s friend tape labels on them. Ie. – Rusks – 3 eggs, Chocolate cake – 4 eggs etc.

Otherwise, you’ll just end up with 18 eggs for a family sized fry up (which of course, is also wonderful if you have that many tummy’s to feed).

MAKING ONION SKIN DYE:

  1. Peel your onions. You want to mainly use that papery outer skin, but the first layer of onion skin that is a little leathery is also good.
  2. Place the onion skins in a pot with room temperature water and bring to the boil.
  3. Add in about 4 tablespoons of vinegar once your natural dye mixture is boiling.
  4. Leave to stand on the stove until your eggs are ready to be dyed..

PREPARING YOUR EGGS WITH PATTERNS:

  1. Cut your nylon stockings into wide strips and then in half so you end up with rectangles. You need one rectangle per egg.  Nimble fingers are needed for this next step adults will definitely need to help eager youngsters here.

  1. Placing the foliage in the centre of the rectangle (try and see which way it naturally curves – like the parsley’s front side should ‘hug’ the egg), lay the egg on top of the foliage or feather.
  2. Fold the opposite corners of the stocking over the egg toward each other and tie the ends together.
  3. You can also wrap them with wool around the mid-section for a stripy looking end result.
  4. Once all your eggs are wrapped up – they’re ready to be dyed.

Here are my eggs all lined up and looking about ready to rob a bank.

DYING THE EGGS

  1. Keep the stove with your pot of onion skin dye on a low rolling boil (the movement helps turn the eggies)
  2. Place the eggs into the dye mixture. Raw, whole eggs will sink to the bottom and become hard boiled while they are dying. For hollow eggs it helps to scoop the onion skins up and on top of the eggs to keep them partially submerged. But you’ll have to turn these every now and then. Leaving the onion skins in the dye and on top of the eggs helps tp keep them submerged.
  3. Obviously the longer you keep the eggs in the dye the deeper their colour will become.
  4. 15 minutes is a warm rust shade and anything darker becomes deep brick red. I left some of mine in for up to 40 minutes.
  5. When you think you’re satisfied with the colour, lift them out with a ladle and leave to cool.
  6. You can then untie the nylon wrappings and reveal your patterns by peeling off the plants or feathers.

FINISHING OFF YOUR ECO EGGS

Once the eggs are cooled and dried, you’ll notice they go a milky white colour. This is due to the long exposure in a vinegar bath. Here’s where the oiling comes in – you need to re-moisturise the shell. Rub the olive oil in delicately with the index finger and set aside. You may need to do this a few times.

And there you have it. Hollow eggs can be strung up with nylon or turned into circular Easter wreaths with wire. The hard-boiled eggs can be admired for 2 or 3 days before they need to be cracked open and turned into egg mayo sarmies.

Once you dip a toe into the world of natural plant and food dying you’ll wonder why you ever did anything with chemical dyes.

Your onion skin dye can be kept in a glass jar for another day’s egg dying adventure. Or you can leave it to cool, drain the water into your plants and compost the onion skins and plant and feathers used for imprinting.

I think children will find sheer joy in the surprise and discovery of this unpredictable process and perhaps even learn some of the subtle pleasures of patience. These onion skin dyed eggs stem from a Russian Easter tradition. To me, their wooden, naturally imprinted look holds an old world charm. And with that, I’d like to wish you a happy, slow Easter.

 

OTHER SOURCES OF NATURAL DYE:

  • Blueberries (fresh or dried) – for a light purple blue colour stain
  • Red cabbage (for a deep indigo colour stain: I did try this and had little luck with a rich colour)
  • Beetroot (for a magenta colour stain)
  • Hibiscus tea leaves (for a deep red colour stain)
  • Turmeric (for a yellow colour stain)
  • Paprika (for an orange colour stain)

Clever Tools That Can Help You Keep Your Resolutions

We’re big fans of products and tools that are not only exceptional at what they bring to your life but also help you align with some of your personal lifestyle goals. So, if you’re feeling a little wobbly off the starting blocks on your 2018 resolutions, take a gander through some of these clever tools and maybe you’ll find your inspiration in an area you didn’t even know you could improve on.

CONSOL JAR IN JARS

Less snack drawer and more intentional eating at work goals? These nifty Jar-in-Jars not only help you cut plastic from your office lunch box, but they’ll keep you inspired to whip up pretty and healthier take-to-work layered salad lunches.

SMART WATER SOLUTIONS SHOWER SHORTENER

If saving more water isn’t one of your resolutions, you need to quickly add it to your list (no judgies – okay maybe a little). But in all seriousness, to help you adjust to a new, highly necessary morning routine and navigate getting ready time with ease, this clever shower tool not only lets you set your desires shower time, but also gives you 60 seconds of overtime in case you were faffing and then turns your water to a trickle to cut the wastage.

SPINDEL ECO LAUNDRY DRYER

If saving money if one of your resolutions – maybe you’ve got a holiday to Sri Lanka on the vision board – this nifty laundry dryer is seriously worth considering. Not only will it help you cut your electricity spend, but it will also pull the excess water from your clothes so you can use it for the garden instead of watching the sun evaporate it all. And unsuspecting bonus, it will help keep your clothes in far better nick, so you can curb your shopping sprees and stick to those minimalist capsule wardrobe goals.

SARAH WILSON – I QUIT SUGAR 

Finally accepting that processed sugar is evil and deciding to take charge of your health this year? This cookbook is not only jam-packed with sugar cutting inspirational recipes and ideas, but knowing that Sarah Wilson’s success was so sound that her book went viral, is like having a sugar-quitting support body in your home.

KITCHEN CRAFT COLLAPSIBLE STEAMING BASKET 

This is a minimalist kitchen owner’s dream. If more time for the things you love and healthy eating are on your goal list for 2018, check out this clever steaming basket. It allows you to steam a whole bunch of veggies over very little water (also a bonus), cleans with ease because you didn’t fry anything and then folds flat for easy storage.

HIMALAYAN CRYSTAL SALT LAMP

Want to prioritise getting better sleep this year? Because you know good sleep is a foundation for positive attitudes and high energy levels, hey? Yes. A dreamy salt lamp not only neutralizes those electromagnetic frequencies from your laptop, cellphone, tablet and more but it emits such a gentle glow that you’ll want to kill your tech time sooner. Before you know it, you’ll bedtime will be zen time and drifting off to into a peaceful sleep will be commonplace.

BELLABEAT TRACKER

If meditation, better sleep, sticking to a healthy diet and taking up a more active lifestyle are all on your resolutions list – the Bellabeat is the all in one wellness tracker that collects your data, tracks your progress and helps you action problem areas through the correlating app.

Feeling inspired? Here’s hoping. Stick to your guns and keep finding innovative ways to towards reaching your goals. If the approach you’re trying hasn’t helped, you’ve successfully found one way to not reach your goal. And that’s something too.

What’s your favourite multi-tasking kitchen or home helper tool? Share your minimalist discoveries in the comments.

J-beauty: The Zen Principles of Japan Making Their Way into our Aesthetic Mindsets

The beauty industry is not immune to the occasional irrational trend. Last year alone, you would have seen your share of the cornucopia of magi-markeresque, feathered, barbed, diamante and what-not-all-else wild eyebrow inclinations followed in the name of beauty trends. But occasionally even the seemingly fickle beauty scene garners some smarter trends from other cultures.  2017 also saw a proliferation of insight drawn from Korea’s beauty norms with hydrating essences and snail mucin serums as well as sheet masks and 10-step skincare regimes shaping the K-beauty landscape. This year it’s Japan’s turn to tip the scales with ‘J-beauty’ principles now furthering the aesthetic mindset. So, if you’re curious about what this Asian influence holds, read on to learn how a zen approach is shaping more than just eyebrows on the 2018 beauty front.

 

The key principles of J-beauty

Like much else that stems from Japan, J-beauty is a “less is more” approach. Minimalist techniques and a focus on doing only what is necessary dictate the products used and the ingredients in them. Ultimately it’s about adding ease and simplicity to your life, not more ‘defying’ and ‘restoring’ amid the complexity.

Wabi-Sabi

This is an often quoted Japanese lifestyle concept slowly infiltrating many areas of our Westers lives as we begin to truly understand its merits. It’s a Buddhist mantra that means ‘imperfection makes things more unique” and it teaches us to actively seek the beauty in imperfection, accepting that only nature herself can ever be considered as perfect. In practice, this means less critical analysis of the features of the face and more focus on nourishing the body, skin and hair. Accepting the flaws but pursuing your best health will reveal your most beautiful self.

Ban-No

In carrying on their minimalist philosophy, ban-no means ‘all purpose and all mighty’. In J-beauty this reminds us that the things we use should be working hard for us. In essence, it’s multi-tasking with your tools but not your mind. So, instead of a 10-step approach, Japanese skincare favours fewer products with key ingredients that address a multitude of needs, everything from exfoliation to pollution combatting and moisturisation all in one product.

Deep Cleansing

Cleansing is a huge part of Japanese culture with skin cleansing being practised with almost ritualistic intent. While oil cleansing might be a recent addition to the West, in the East it has been popular for going on 50 years already, since being introduced by the renowned make-up artist Shu-Uemura in the late 60s. You might think oil clogs your skin, but science says otherwise. Not only are the oil molecules too large to block your pores but ‘like attracts like’ so oil cleansing binds to any sebum in your pores and draws it out gently without scarring. Natural oils are popular for this and have featured in the double cleansing and 4-2-4 oil cleansing techniques, both originating in Japan. Maybe we have the Geishas to thank for a need for deep cleansing oil-based makeup?

Edible Ingredients

The Japanese have been using simple, edible ingredients like rice water in their skin care regimen for centuries. In holistic living circles, using edible products on our skin drives home the point that our skin essentially eats whatever we feed it. So, seeing this theme recurring in J-beauty principles is another adage to the natural way of life.

Some of the new ranges coming out of Japan’s beauty presence include ingredients like soybean, loquat leaf and white jelly mushroom. Green tea, rice and algae are also made mention of – all with their own highly esteemed skin rejuvenating properties.

A trend should never dictate how you or when you change anything in your life. Some, like holographic hair and unicorn nails, are after all, very fly-by-night. But if aspects of it align with your approach or perhaps lift your way of living into a more mindful space then casting an eye into the trends that catch on is certainly helpful. In the case of J-beauty, most of it feels, to me at least, like taking a step closer to nature instead of further from it. And that’s an upward trend I can certainly get behind.

 

From miracle wound curing balm to an entire herbal beauty range: The story behind Dr Konopka

We’ve recently added Dr Konopka’s range of incredible skin and beauty products to our shelves and couldn’t wait to share this awesome brand story with you. The good doctor devoted his life to understanding how herbs can be used to heal with much of his research and recipes now preserved in these wonderfully rejuvenating balms. But who was this Dr Konopka? Well, we thought you might ask. So, here’s the background check on your soon to be new favourite body and hair range.

Roots and origins

Dr Konopka was an Estonian doctor who devoted his entire life to studying herbs and plants. Based on his findings he created not only medicines but also tools for beautiful hair and skin. The doctor travelled a fair amount, studying recipes and collecting the corresponding plant material. He was based in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, but also visited many other European cities.

Growing a brand

In 1931 Dr Konopka opened his own pharmacy in Tallinn, where he began to sell medicines, creams and soaps based on the herbs he sourced and studied. The natural oils for hair were very popular, in particular, No. 37 against dandruff or oil No. 52 for dry hair. Later, these oils would be included in the shampoos. His products and creams were highly regarded, in particular, the wound healing cream. This one was so popular that he would deliver it by truck to neighbouring towns. It is said his products only made their way onto pharmacy shelves once his wife approved of their efficacy.

dr konopka store

Many years later in 2016, Estonia decided to restore Dr Konopka’s beauty recipes, adding modern knowledge in the field of cosmetology and using production technology available today.

But has it maintained it’s natural status?

Dr Konopka’s range has international certificates of conformity to the highest standards of natural and organic cosmetics including the Cosmos Natural and Cosmos Organic status (certified by BDIH, Germany) with each product containing at least 98% natural ingredients. None of the products are tested on animals and also don’t include ingredients of animal origin, as evidenced by the Vegan sign on the packaging.

How is this range different from other plant-based brands?

The product’s uniqueness is thanks to the intelligent combination of the different plant components and extracts used in his recipes, with some ingredients being rather unusual. Among the rarest ingredients in his products are the Northern berries, sea buckthorn and cloudberry. Both are extremely rich in vitamins as well as macro- and microelements.

It is in its very essence a natural herbal cosmetics and vegetable oils range, the quality and purity of which is confirmed by the main European Ekosertifikat Cosmos Standard.

According to these stringent standards, at least 95% of ingredients are of natural origins. The remaining 5% are completely safe for human use and have no detrimental impact on the environment.
So now, even with a completely natural medicine and beauty cabinet, you could say you always have a doctor on hand.
Head this way to explore the new Dr Konopka range of hair and beauty favourites.

Smoothie trends that made blenders churn in 2017

As the reality of work weeks and busy school runs begin to dawn, you might be asking yourself how on earth you’re going to cope with the new pace of life. The answer lies in blitzing breakfasts that take no time at all and are packed to the brim with super boosting nutrition. Once you’re on the smoothie bandwagon, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. And to prove to you this health trend shows no real signs of slowing down, here’s a little look back at the marvellous smoothie trends that gave our blenders a collective spin in 2017.

Mermaid magic

Dubbed the ‘mermaid smoothie’, these tranquil blue-green tonics came crashing in waves into our smoothies last year.

  • Spirulina, the ocean algae prized for its power-packing protein punch and alkalizing effects is also a huge asset to vegans and vegetarians thanks to the iron and Vit B boost.
  • Kelp powders also made their rise from the deep in the quest for umami flavour and immune supporting and ph-balancing blends.

Vegging out on greens

Verging on the slightly more verdant spectrum, the ongoing awareness for alkalinity in the body meant that eating your greens in vast quantities literally became slurping them through a straw.

  • Raw broccoli and spinach powder in vast quantities mean you can get in your plant-based proteins in an unadulterated form for optimum health.
  • Matcha powder, from the hills of Japan, is another chlorophyll-rich contender that promotes serious detoxification and ups your antioxidants in a big way. It may have sprung on the scene in teas and the coffees but now it’s all in for smoothies and desserts too.

Happening hormones

Whether it’s from meat sources, inadequately filtered water, toxin exposure or medications or birth control – out of whack hormones begin a knock on effect for a host of unpleasant conditions and suffering like depression, weight gain and skin issues to name a few.

  • Maca is a potent energy booster and believed to up stamina and fertility. It’s also rich in potassium, copper and iron and essential vitamins.
  • Shatavari is another super-herb with renowned hormone balancing properties in Ayurveda practices that’s also been sneaking into our body balancing blends.

Fanciful fruits

It seems like when it comes to fruity flavours, the contenders take turns in the spotlight. Blueberries and dragonfruits topped the flavour charts in 2017 thanks to the significant nutrient density of these superfoods.

  • Blueberries are prized for their anthocyanins, the deep colour-giving antioxidants that do wonders for protecting and supporting the body against oxidation and cancerous growth.
  • Dragonfruits are not only a great source of protein but they’re super tasty vitamin B and C bombs.

As time goes by and research delves into other fruits, things in this arena will hop trends and be shaken up regularly but we sure can understand why these two made such waves last year.

Phat fats

Healthy fats exploded into smoothies as a super source for enriching our diets. Whether it was spurred on by ketogenic principles or more brain health awareness, good non-saturated fats filled our glasses

  • Coconut butter and brain-boosting nut butter are an essential source of energy and can help your smoothie be a more substantial meal, keeping you full for longer.

Hot tip: Avo is a healthy fat and makes for really smooth operator smoothies.

Pure proteins

The research iterates this time and again – proteins are essential building blocks. For plant loving smoothie drinkers this just boosted the need to add more clean whole amino acids to our drinks.

  • Pea proteins and hemp seeds can quickly turn your smoothie into a power shake and promptly muscled their way into our breakfast and post work out liquid meals.
  • Collagen, as a marine sourced complete amino acid, is a serious hair, skin and nail health boost and also supports general tissue strength and elasticity making sure you’re looking good and ageing gracefully. This adds no flavour to your smoothies so it’s really no wonder that it became a blending best.

Good sleep & unwind time

The more stressful and demanding our lives become the more we need to reach for an off switch. But with healthy efforts being a top priority, 2017 saw many more people switching from booze to healthier ‘off switch’ alternatives.

  • CBD oil, Ashwagandha and Valerian root all promote feelings of relaxation and support better sleep by helping the body cope with stress and fight adrenal fatigue through natural balance. In powder or tincture form these can easily be added to your smoothies.

Activated charcoal

You definitely saw it in soaps and beauty products but unless you were hanging out in hip smoothie joints you may have missed this in some deviously detoxing smoothies concoctions.

  • Activated charcoal is believed to help draw out toxins from the body by binding to them in the gut and also has a powerful way of stabilizing a somewhat overindulgent meal so it’s a great addition for post-party smoothies.

And finally, the only non-consumable smoothie trend you would be seriously remiss to enter 2018 without becoming a cult fan of is the reusable straw.

It doesn’t matter whether your smoothies at home or grabbing your favourite shake en-route – if you’re still blindly accepting a plastic straw, you may want to act fast and get your smoothie loving butt on the good side of the straws suck movement.

The next time you’re strolling down the beach with your mango berry blend in hand and you see a washed up straw, you can clean it up with a clear conscience knowing that you definitely aren’t contributing to this so-last year wasteful habit.

I don’t know about you, but I’m keen to give more of these a whirl and find out what 2018’s smoothies have in store.

3 things you can learn in 2018 that will improve your life

I don’t know about you but for me, there’s a rejuvenating effect on life when I’m learning something new. Maybe it’s because as a child, life is exciting and filled with curiosity when we uncover new truths and expand our capacity for creation through independence. Maybe it’s just exhilarating to shout, ‘wow – how aweeeesome!’ when we realise, for example, the little seed we planted with our own hands is actually growing – like magic. Either way, a new year is always a great opportunity to invigorate your knowledge base with a cool, new skill. This year, we have 3 things you can learn that will definitely improve your health and maybe even make you that much more popular with friends if you chose to share your new found skill.

1. Get some healthy probiotics by learning to make your own yoghurt

Yoghurt is a much-touted fermented food, rich in probiotic cultures. As more and more research points to poor gut health as the source for many age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s, the importance of increasing your tummy flora becomes exponentially more important. But store-bought yoghurt isn’t necessarily the answer.

If you’ve only recently made the switch to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you may have been completely shocked to discover that some yoghurts are thickened with gelatine. Gelatine is a by-product from the meat industry, extracted from hooves, bones and horns. And for an avoider of animal products that becomes just one of the clear reasons to start making your own yoghurt.

What are the perks of homemade yoghurt?

  • You don’t need to add preservatives because it’s made fresh and consumed fast
  • You get to control your level of desired sugar intake
  • You get to decide how you want to sweeten your yoghurt
  • You can choose if you want to make it with 2% or full cream milk
  • You eliminate a ton of plastic containers from your home by using a homemade yoghurt maker
  • You can even make dairy-free yoghurt by using coconut milk instead

How to get started making your own yoghurt?

You can make yoghurt the DIY way by getting a kit with all the individual components that require heating the mixture on the stove in hot water or in a stable oven temperature or you can get a yoghurt making kit and some starter cultures. Once you’ve made your first batch you can use some of that as the starter for your next batch.

2. Safely dispose of your home’s green waste by learning to compost

Once you get started on a waste-free journey it becomes rather exhilarating to see how little throwaway rubbish you end up with, in your black bin at the end of the week. If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden space, you can cut out a ton more unnecessary waste from landfills, simply by starting a compost bin. Kitchen scraps from regular home-cooked meals build up really quickly. You may think it’s fine to toss these in your bin since apple cores decompose but if they’re disposed of in a plastic bag, which simply gets dumped in a landfill – how are those veggies skins every going to break down and integrate into the soil without oxygen exposure? Home composting is where it’s at.

What are the perks of composting?

  • You cut down on landfill waste
  • You don’t need to buy fertiliser for your garden anymore
  • You can feed your plants and veggies with money already spent on food
  • You cultivate a richer understanding of what makes your garden grow
  • You create a space at home for your biodegradable products like your eco toothbrush, vegetable sponges and shower loofah to decompose
  • All your pet dander and the dust from your vacuum bag fillings as well as the Sunday paper can become garden food for your plants of veggie patch

How to get started

3. Rejuvenate your skin by learning the ancient art of cupping

Nope, guess again, cupping isn’t how inappropriate grandpas hug. It’s actually an ancient art of skin and metabolic rejuvenation that dates back to those gorgeous, golden-skinned Egyptians. Today it’s considered mostly a well-practised Chinese wellness art. Its benefits include everything from reducing fine lines and extends to even improvement in cellulite formation.

What are the perks of cupping therapy?

  • For anyone who doesn’t like spas – this offers you the privacy of therapy in your own home
  • Activating the lymphatic system
  • Clearing deep toxins
  • Said to alleviate aches and pains
  • Clears skin
  • Reduces cellulite and broken capillaries
  • Boosts your self-confidence and wellbeing

How to get started with cupping

Cupping therapy requires a cupping kit if you don’t want to attempt the original method of heating cups to create the air suction.

So, what will you take on in 2018 to learn and improve your quality of life? They say learning keeps the brain young and if it happens to be something that is also beneficial for the planet and those around you – where is the downside?

I always say – imagine if you just added one new skill to your life each year – how rich your existence could be. The growth only stops when you say it does.

New Years Detox Tips to Flush Your System

Feeling a little lacklustre after all the indulgent merriment has passed? A couple of weeks of rich foods likely higher in sugar and fat will do that to a body. As you edge your way towards a brand new year, it can be hard to fill yourself with conviction on all those resolutions when you’re already feeling a little green around the gills. Luckily this one is a simple fix. All you need is a good full body detox to flush your system of all those built up toxins leaving you right as rain to start the new year. Who’s with us?

WARNING: A full body detox has been known to leave its participants tired and grumpy. Be prepared for some side effect symptoms like headaches, lethargy, changes in your bowel movements and the odd skin eruption. Toxins are whiny creatures and just like to make their exit known and can put some strain on your liver, kidneys and skin as your body eliminates them.

The bad guys that caused you to feel so yuck

At this time of year, it’s usually being too polite to decline your aunt Mildred’s store-bought mince pies and the punch stretched out with a little fruit juice concentrate. But after the festive season it could also be worsened by any of the following:

  • Unsavoury air possibly from poorly filtered office environments or smokey hangouts
  • Chlorinated water
  • Refined foods high in sugar, flavourants and colourants

Here’s a simple guide to understanding the symptoms and effects of detoxing to prepare you for what your big cleanse.

How to detox like a pro

Detoxing isn’t just about drinking gallons of green juice and omitting all else for 3-5 days straight. Flushing out toxins is a complex process and you’ll want to support the elimination through your skin and boost the organs doing all the extra heavy lifting. Here are some simple things that may help.

Step 1: Be a gatekeeper

Here’s the part where you act like a bouncer to a really fancy establishment that’s been overrun by riffraff. While you gather the guys who don’t belong there and give them the boot – you have to make sure they’re not sneaking anymore in through the back door. Sugar cravings are no joke and once you’ve gotten used to eating refined foods, you’ll be more likely to concede to just one more chocolate truffle. Be firm and cut out as many sugary foods, refined carbs, meat, coffee and alcohol as possible. Up the ante on fibre rich fruits and veggies instead to help alkalise your heavily acidic body.

Step 2: Keep the rhythm

The secret to a good detox is much like a successful conga line. If a bit in the middle breaks away or a handful get distracted by the buffet table – the whole shebang disintegrates into many little snakes all doing on their own ensemble of badly co-ordinated dance moves, which gets no one anywhere fast. Some things you can do to keep your entire body’s detox dance working smoothly:

Dry brushing: By stimulating your lymph glands you’re helping to slow off the old skin and allow the rejuvenated skin to come to the surface easily. A body loofah or exfoliating sponge works wonders. Try the:

Deep soak: This can help to open up pores, draw some more toxins out and soothe achy muscles in the throes of detox. Good soaking assistors you want to try:

Cupping therapy: This ancient custom based on Ayurvedic healing uses tiny suction cups to stimulate circulation and get your body’s energy flowing again. Give these favourites a try:

Step 3: Support!

Your body may be a powerful beast but these organs are working overtime and can certainly use a little extra strength and support. Your liver is the champions here doing all the sorting between which nutrient stays and which toxin goes and your kidneys are doing a lot of the flushing out so arm them with some backup during a detox.

Once you’re armed with the perfect backing cast you can begin your total body detox. Drinking plenty water is a given so make sure you have a refillable water bottle close at hand, topped up and ready for hydration.

Check out this easy guide to 10 fab things to make your detoxing go super smoothly. Everything from a good night’s sleep and a sweaty workout are important things to consider when taking on a full body detox.

Be kind to yourself and don’t forget to be thankful to your miraculous body that can hold you throughout the party season, and, with the right support, bounce back into shape so you’re ready for the new year.

Robyn shares some simple but life-changing New Years solutions

Woah, 2017 was a humdinger of a year for me. It asked me to let go of SO much of my “stuff”. I thought 2016 was about surrender, but this last rotation around the sun has really supported me in continuing my Earth walk to be that much lighter.

Most of us crave a massive exhale and sense of closure before we start a new year. However, my journey over the last two years has taught me not to presume ‘the exhale’ is truly on the cards for 2018.

But I do know this. I am learning, like most of us, that happiness comes from within, that any hang-ups or judgements I project onto others are actually my own and that the universe is my friend. There is a gift in every experience I have, especially the most uncomfortable ones. My personal treasures lie on the biggest mountains I am being asked to climb and, most importantly, the only way to really live this life is to be present to it. “That” holiday, or “this” house renovation, or “that” new hobby is not going to make me happier, less stressed, or more stimulated if I am not present to the experiences.

With this in mind, I wanted to challenge myself to create and share 10 resolutions that could really be life-changing in creating the space for more presence.

1. Turn off your phone at night

This is often when most of us get “our time” and I think it’s a dangerous habit to fill it with hours of comparison that happens from scrolling through social media. Furthermore, studies reveal again and again, that the use of a light-emitting device instead of reading a book before bed, takes us longer to fall asleep, to slip into deep REM sleep, and then it also takes us longer to wake up. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to cleanse yourself of any radiation from your phone for a few hours every day.

2. Make peace with doing nothing, and then do more of, nothing

We live in a fast-paced world where we’re conditioned to believe that moving, working, and thinking quickly is considered the way to success. In reality, that mindset is the surest way to burnout. True luxury in this life is being able to sit and literally smell the flowers. Or feel the sun on your back. Or watch your children play (whilst NOT scrolling through your phone.)

3. Find ways to value laughter more

Spontaneity and silliness must surely be the elixirs of longevity. Whether it’s watching Trevor Noah on Youtube, calling up an old friend for a giggle, double bouncing your kids or friends on a trampoline or watching videos of kittens doing tricks, figure out what activities make you laugh—and do them often. Laughter is our richest currency and will honestly create abundance and success in your life like no other. It also releases feel-good endorphins in your brain, decreases stress hormones, reduces inflammation in the arteries, and boosts your “good” cholesterol.

4. Do what you love instead of what will make you the most money

Joy is a powerful currency and true passion creates success. You’ll find it a lot easier to manifest the money if you find yourself in your particular slip-stream of purpose. The way to find your purpose is to follow your joy. So, this year make your career goals about satisfaction, excitement and purpose rather than money. Then watch the money come in.

5. Look for the beauty in your life

Beauty really does lie in the eyes of he or she who can behold it. The more beauty you train yourself to search for and contain in the moment, the more beautiful your life will be. Start a journal to keep track of the beautiful things you take for granted in your own life—you might be surprised by how much there is to be grateful for.

6. Start saying ‘No’ to others in favour of ‘Yes’ to you

Often, the consequences of saying ‘no’ to invites from others are much worse in our heads than they would be in reality. Valuing ourselves enough to just be alone will put us in a much better place anyway when we connect with others. I think it’s near impossible to fully be present and connect with others if you are not giving yourself the time to connect with yourself.

7. Make some space for healing

As much as we wouldn’t like to admit it, we all have “stuff”. And if you think you don’t, then I say it with kindness that you probably need this resolution more than ever. We all need support in one way or another to create the space in our lives to heal, and of course, this will come in different varieties for all of us. But whether it’s seeing a therapist, doing bodywork, or spending more time praying or in mindfulness, allow yourself the humility to find support.

8. Find your physical strength

Being healthy and feeling fit (to your particular level) feels amazing. It’s the crux of vitality and what each of us deserves and are destined to experience. Find your balance. For some, it may require proper endurance training and for others, it may just be a 20-minute walk 3 times a week, but it matters. Probably more than anything else. So make space for movement in your daily routines, and find clever ways to increase your intake of fruit and veggies. This is the foundation to living a happier, more present life.

9. Open your mind

Curiosity cultivates the ability to be present. It creates solutions and it lessons judgement. Make it a goal to open your mind to new ideas, or to even look at the world through more curious and less judgemental eyes. Because let’s face it, judgement of others gives us wrinkles, dampens our glow and keeps us small.

10. Do something every day to nourish your soul

Soul nourishment comes in the form of a particular scent, some music, a certain environment. It’s a key element in the art of self-healing. And we each require a minimum dose of 1 experience of soul nourishment each day. It goes a long way in helping us settle into our bodies and to be present throughout our lives.

I can’t wait to begin implementing these with intention and I genuinely hope you find inspiration in it.

The simple secrets to making gifts extra special

Intentional, heartfelt gifting is a tricky thing. You can do your homework and find the perfect trending, lifestyle gift. It can be right up their ally and suit their favourite hobby or activity. And yet, come the time of giving, giving the thing itself just doesn’t quite hit the mark and leaves you feeling a little less connected to the intention behind why you got it for them in the first place. The magic lies in the often overlooked details. Without getting too Martha Stewart on you – here are a few of my favourite thoughtful elements and little touches that can truly transform a present to unwrap into a cherished gift and some examples to get you inspired.

The elements that make up a truly special gift

The backstory

This is essentially the why behind the gift. You might think the person you’re giving it to will make the connection on their own. And maybe they will. But since we connect through stories, a few kind reminding words will place them in the right mindset to receive the gift they’re about to unwrap. Draw inspiration from the following:

  • an anecdotal moment
  • a shared experience
  • a difficulty you’ve overcome together
  • something they’d like to learn that you’ve listened to

This is the good stuff I would suggest you draw on and bring their attention to on the card.

The experience of unwrapping

It’s probably my very German origins that make the time of unwrapping presents one by one under the tree a rather slow process, filled with anticipation and suspense (and a lot of biscuits). Adding details to the wrapped gifts make it feel all the more sentimental and appreciative when it comes to unwrapping them. It also slows things down enough for the receiver to think about what you took great care in writing in their card. Some of the following might inspire you:

  • twine, raffia or natural ribbon wrapped around the paper with dabs of essential oil on them
  • a few photographs of you and this person sharing this activity printed out and stuck onto the brown paper or newspaper th gift is wrapped in
  • scented things: branches, cinnamon sticks, lavender or dried fruit tied through the yarn
  • some humorous bits and bobs that make them laugh while they unwrap (think of inside jokes)
  • natural finds: shells, feathers, seed pods, etc.  – nature is a glorious creator

The inspiration

This is the fun bit. Think of it as a light embellishment to the main part of the present. It serves to flesh out the purpose the gift serves and paint a picture in the mind of the person you’re giving it to. I love doing this because it immediately gets them excited as they begin to live into the present you’re giving them.

Some examples of how to enrich a great gift

1. The Nutribullet

Why it’s a popular gift: saves heaps of time for anyone living a busy life, adds an easy and quick boost of health, great for fitness-oriented people who need to boost their intake of super nutrients through shakes.
Flesh it out with:
 their favourite flavour superfood ingredients like cocoa, quality nut butter, or a green shake powder
Make it personal with: 
a handwritten recipe they can pin into a cupboard (feel free to steal one from our blog)

2. Silicone Chocolate Moulds

Why it’s a popular gift: gives the power back to a chocolate lover to know what’s in their favourite treat, inspires a creative chocolate lover with creative combos
Flesh it out with: interesting chocolate additions like peppermint essential oil, toasted sesame seeds, salt flakes or goji berries
Make it personal with: a vintage tin to save their chocolates in, lovely labels for their choccies or a notebook for their creative recipes with some wonderful quotes about chocolate in it, as with the example of the photographs above – a picture of you and this person baking together would work well.

3. Kombucha DIY Kit

Why it’s a popular gift: kombucha can get expensive if you drink it regularly so for someone who values gut health this is a win-win
Flesh it out with: 
glass cordial jars to store their brews in
Make it personal with: some chalk labels with pre-written flavour combos on them to inspire

4. A decadent body scrub

Why it’s a popular gift: luxurious downtime is something anyone can get behind and be appreciative of at this time of year
Flesh it out with: 
a lovely candle, their favourite essential oil or some sassy undergarments
Make it personal with: 
a shower playlist would make for a good laugh

5. Coffee grinders and tea infusers

Why it’s a popular gift: giving someone a more decadent version of their favourite brew is a nice way to add richness to the ordinary
Flesh it out with: 
a tasty brew or their favourite tea, or a mug from their favourite range
Make it personal with: 
a homebaked batch of biscuits, or rather a self-painted mug from a grandchild

6. Adult Colouring In Books

Why it’s a popular gift: everyone can use a little low-pressure creative downtime to unwind and connect with their mindful side
Flesh it out with: 
some good quality clouring in pencils, relaxing tea
Make it personal with: 
a tranquil music background track, a page pre-coloured in by you to inspire them

For me, all these things are about creating a thing I like to call ‘present moments’ – a slice of time in which you and the person you’re giving something to are connected in the exchange of a heartfelt gesture. And that’s just not something you can buy on a shelf. Here’s wishing you the most joyful experience of gifting.

12 Tiny Christmas Cracker and Stocking Giller Gift Ideas to Inspire Change

Stocking fillers and those little knickknacks that end up in Christmas crackers have a tendency to gravitate towards the  “stuff” end of the spectrum. Many of the cracker gift fillers are badly made plastic toys that end up in landfills after their short-lived and barely amusing purposes have expired. This year, why not make sure that the things you add to the festivities, no matter how small, are gifted with intention. This is our selection of tiny stocking filler gift ideas that have the ability to inspire real change.

1. Organisation for crafty types

These nifty chalkboard-like stickers can turn any pantry or craft or hobby shelf into an absolute dream. Personalisation is key for crafty types right? And these stickers will encourage the reuse of glass storage containers too!

2. Sassy cat eyes

Natural make-up and a little glam combined into one? This charcoal eye pencil promises smooth, sultry eyes and lasting kindness to the planet and your skin. It might inspire the switch an en entirely au natural beauty box.

3. Chap free hands

Our hands do so much for us and get very little thanks so a, erm, handy, little tube of nourishing ointment is almost always highly appreciated. And compared to what most stores sell at their checkout aisles, this stuff also possesses remarkable abilities to heal scars and little cuts.

4. Good-for-you choccies

During a time of year when everything is on the decadent side of the spectrum, finding some raw chocolates packed with antioxidants, in your Christmas stocking is a real treat. The lucky person on the receiving end may even decide to cut preservative rich processed chocolate out for good after having tasted these.

5. Lovely lip service

This nifty olive and beeswax lip balm that sits snuggly in your pocket is a gem of a stocking stuffer for any girl who loves her look to be natural and nude. And the cute, plastic-free tin it comes in can be used for all sorts of tiny bits and bobs or for gifting jewellery later down the line.

6. Green footprints

The kindest most sincere gift you can give anyone is a little carbon neutralising love for the planet on their behalf. It’s the most beautiful gesture and will remind them to make kinder choices for the planet whenever they look at their eco Greenpop keyring.

7. Cheerful chompers

Toothbrush time is tough enough for little ones but give them a nature friendly little chap like this biodegradable Kuala toothbrush and they’ll be smiles all-round. It will also teach them how much impact they can make in even the simplest areas of their lives.

8. Seed good thoughts

Your kind but festive paper wishes don’t need to live on because it’s the words that matter not what they’re written on after all. These growing cards embedded with seeds will remind people that even the tiniest bit of waste could flourish into something better if used with intention.

9. Wax on wax off

A true ocean lover will really appreciate that the stuff they cover their boards with shouldn’t harm the ocean they swim in. And because this toxic free surfboard wax works so well they’ll definitely be telling their mates about it while waiting for the next set to roll in.

10. Spiritual adornment

This lovely wooden beaded wrist wrap may be just what someone in your life needs to reinvigorate some self-loving meditation or yoga practices to their daily rituals. And who knows, having a reminder of mindfulness always ‘on-hand’ may help them to carry it through into their daily life.

11. Homely aromas

The gift of natural fragrances that don’t come out of a spray bottle is already a wonderful gesture to the earth. The lighting of nag champa incense is also a gentle reminder to a loved one to slow down a little and enjoy the simpler things in life. By inspiring them to make the switch long term, you’ll both be doing the environment a kindness.

12. Suck-free sipping

If you really want to gift something that will make a huge impact, plastic-free straws are a life-changing gift. Once you start using these, you become deeply grateful for a waste eliminating choice that you can carry with you everywhere you go, so it’s a much-appreciated gift down the line.

And there you have it – 12 awesome stocking filler or cracker gift ideas that have the power to really impact and navigate someone’s life into a better more holistic direction. We hope your celebrations are merry and bright and above all else that you gift in kindness to our beautiful planet.

 

Top 10 Stocking Stuffers

Reducing Your Food Waste for Festive Season Hosting

Our greenies share their ultimate eco gift ideas