Category Archives: Eco Friendly

Spotlight On The Money Box Tree

You’ve most probably heard the saying, “Money doesn’t grow on trees” …. well, my guest this week is out to prove that money DOES grow on trees, especially when it involves the Money Box Tree. The Money Box Tree is a cleverly designed flat “savings” tree that hangs on the wall … savers can see their money “grow” when they add their pound coins or dollars or euros. The creator, Jackie Swainston, is my guest today …. Hi Jackie!

I’m Jackie Swainston, a fun-loving older mum of two young teenagers. I’m an artist and graphic designer by trade, but I’m also interested in being money mindful, reducing waste and being as eco-friendly as I can.

 What inspired you to create the MoneyBox Tree?

When I had my children, I became aware of the amount we as parents spend on unnecessary rubbish – far too many plastic toys and gadgets – and how we inadvertently pass those values to our kids. I wanted to teach mine that they didn’t have to buy into the ‘I want it now’ culture. I wanted them to learn the true value of money, not only the importance of saving and to try to waste less… but also that it can be a fun and enjoyable pursuit. 

I got so fed up with uttering the phrase “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” when my kids pestered me for stuff in shops, it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps I could make money grow for them. An idea started to formulate and before I knew it, I’d sketched out a design for a flat moneybox with a clear front, so that money was visible. I made it tree-shaped so that the coins could drop into the ‘trunk’ and grow right to the top where the leaves and branches are. I created several designs on the back, punctuated by different amounts of money so kids could see when they’d reached £20, £40 and £60 and so on, one coin at a time. It’s so simple but very effective. Children love to see their money literally grow. 

What designs/colour choices are currently most popular?

I put so much care and thought into each and every design as that is what sparks young imaginations. Making saving fun like never before is what we want to build into the brand.We research current trends and try to incorporate those values into all that we do.

 WACKY TREE our best seller!

The WACKY TREE Money Box Tree is designed to appeal to those who love crazy colours. It will help build confidence and understanding, whatever the pocket money saving goals. In addition to being educational, the WACKY TREE Money Box Tree features lovable characters hiding among the branches. Each cute character will help everyone climb the top to success. Bright, bold, weird and wonderful, don’t ask us what kind of creatures they are … it’s a mystery!
Busy Town – Visit the Busy Town community, it’s where we all help one another. Make your way up that winding road and amazing things will happen. Save your precious coins for a sunny day and get to the top of the hill, then look down on all the lovable characters you met along the way. Remember change is good!
Magic Unicorn  – Magic Unicorns and fairies are what little people dream about. With their help you will magically resist the temptation to waste your shiny pounds and stop them disappearing down a rabbit hole. These sweet faces will watch over you as you save and reach the rainbow at the top of the waterfall. Good luck on your magic mission. 
The Bank of Mum and Dad – Bank of Mum and Dad says it’s a big world out there, so be street-savvy and stash your dosh away for a rainy day. Ratty will guard your booty, but have you got what it takes to count up a cool 100 pound or euro coins?

How much coinage can each MoneyBox Tree hold? 

Each tree holds 100 pound or euro coins. As soon as you get to the top, you can visit your bank, deposit the money and start over again. You don’t have to smash it like you do some money boxes. It’s totally reusable. 

From what age do you recommend teaching children about saving money?

With credit cards, online and contactless payments, money has become a virtual concept. Kids can pay with plastic as young as six! Parents and professionals are concerned that this is building bad habits. Children can get the hang of money earlier than you think. From three or four years old, let them handle coins. They can stack them into piles for fun and see how high they can make them. Then have fun  knocking them down. Hide coins in a room and get them to find them. Play shops and introduce the idea of how much money things cost in a simplistic way. As they get older, they’ll quickly get the hang of saving for things they really want.

Any ideas to make saving money fun?

It’s always good to have a goal. Kids love to have a sense of achievement. Make chores and tasks a  game (who can make their bed the quickest?) and then reward them with a coin they can pop into a  moneybox or savings account. Make it as visible as possible, with a MoneyBox Tree or even a simple chart on the wall so they can see how much ‘treasure’ they’ve collected.

When thinking of the designs to add to your MoneyBox Tree collection, do you select by what  has proved popular in the past, current trends, customer requests, personal preferences or all of  those things?

I look at trends in fashion and design for inspiration. I’m guided a bit by what has been popular previously, but I like to innovate as well, so the company is always pushing forward with new ideas and is never boring.

Is your career background mainly design or financial field or neither?  

I come from a design background, drawing was and is my first love. But I wanted to have my own business from a young age and a sense of control over my own destiny. This was borne out of an insecurity of not doing well at school. I’m passionate about people building savings and creating a secure future for themselves. I feel strongly that money skills should be taught in schools and that we should all have a strong understanding interest rates, and how mortgages and credit cards work. I think there would be far less debt in society if everyone understood how to manage money properly.

Can you remember the first thing you saved up to buy?

Worthy as it sounds, I did save most of my money to get my first mortgage, even in my teens! However, I do love clothes and spent some of my hard-earned cash on a gorgeous suede jacket that I wore until it fell apart, and a few singles (remember those?) of the Vamps, Chrissie Hynde, the Sex Pistols and Nick Cave.

Looking towards the future – have you got other savings items or themes in the pipeline to add in addition to the MoneyBox Tree themes you already sell? 

I’m constantly innovating and yes there are new products in the pipeline, both digital and physical, but they’re top secret at the moment, all I can say is that it will be character based!  I’ll come back and share those with you when I can.

 As you are based in England, is the MoneyBox Tree available overseas? 

I am UK based, but I’ll ship to anywhere in the world, at the moment we produce only to fit one pound or euro coins … but can adapt to any market . 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m a classics girl with simple tastes. I live in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, which is a rural spa town, so I wear clothes suitable for being in town and the countryside – usually boots and jeans with a silky shirts and chunky jumpers…. I do love a chunky jumper! I love unusual fabrics and gorgeous scarves though. When I can afford it I go to Stella McCartney, I tend to go for investment pieces that last forever, rather than fast fashion.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

If I could afford it I’d just shop all the time at Stella McCartney. I love her simple aesthetic. Even  though it goes against my ‘slow fashion’ ethic a bit, I also really love Mango and Zara. The clothes are stylish, fun and reasonably priced. It’s all about HOW you wear something… I like to think I look good for my age so can afford to go a bit edgy with my looks.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’d love an investment Stella Jacket!

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely boots. It’s mostly boot weather in Harrogate, you can wear a decent pair boots with anything,  even shorts. I have a spaniel, Jess who loves a muddy walk through the woods. Only boots will do really. You are always ready for anything if you are wearing your boots!

For Pinning Later


Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about CoinIt-In and the MoneyBox Trees.

To find out more about the best gift you can give a child go to https://www.coinit-in.com/ 

Sign up for when new stock arrives and you will get 15% OFF!
https://www.instagram.com/coinitin/
https://www.facebook.com/CoinItIn/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/37486075/admin/

I think the Money Tree is a fab idea – thank you Jackie for showing us your trees and giving us ideas of how to save money as a family.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of CoinIt-In.Com

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AN Interview With Marlene Watson-Tara

Continuing on my healthy living theme this month, this week I’m chatting to Marlene Watson-Tara – author of “Go Vegan”, co-founder of the “Human Ecology Project”, Health councillor, teacher and expert in the field of plant-based nutrition. It was Marlene’s book “Go Vegan” that was the inspiration for my potato dish blogpost recently (view HERE). So, it is with great excitement that I welcome Marlene onto my blog….hi Marlene!

Hi! I’m Marlene, a long-time vegan, activist, lover of animals, nature and life and passionate about human ecology. As an eternal optimist, increasing the number of people worldwide to switch to a wholefood plant-based diet and vegan life is my mission. Together with my husband Bill Tara, we have created The Human Ecology Project. 

As a high profiled and dedicated health counsellor and teacher with over 40 years’ experience in the health industry, my dietary advice draws from the fields of Macrobiotic Nutrition, my studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine and my certification in Plant- Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

My clients range from the movies and arts to members of royal families. In the last 10 years I have been teaching chefs the art and skill of wholefood plant-based cooking and nutrition. As a regular columnist for many health magazines and websites I share my knowledge on living healthily. My vast experience informs a body of knowledge that I eagerly share with the world.

As the international author of Macrobiotics for all Seasons and my latest book Go Vegan  I share information that is simple, direct and effective, along with delicious recipes and medicinal teas. I teach alongside my husband Bill Tara. We have graduates from our “Macrobiotic Vegan Health Coach Programme” in 27 countries. I’m a driving force for health and fitness to all who cross her path. Our “Ultimate Health Experience” workshops have been offered in Europe, America, and Australia

My favourite saying – “If you don’t look after your body, then where are you going to live?”

Being a long time vegan, what inspired you to embrace the vegan lifestyle?

On school holidays my family would go to the countryside and it always seemed such a sad time when all the lambs were taken from the fields and loaded onto trucks.  As I grew into my teens, I had health issues with skin, digestion and menstrual pain. As I wouldn’t eat meat, I ate mostly dairy.  When I changed my diet to completely plant-based all these health issues disappeared.  When you connect the dots with diet and the development of disease, there is no turning back. When you look behind the curtain to the scale of what happens globally to our animal kingdom you cannot pretend to not know what is there. 


As you are an author of “Macrobiotic For All Seasons” and “Go Vegan”, surely you must have a favourite tried and tested recipe?  Do you prefer cooking “main meals”, desserts or are you a baker?

I find it exciting to create new recipes and train chefs and home cooks utilizing my seasonal menus and cooking skills, using the five tastes. My favourite creations are soups, I live and love them daily. From my delicious creamy decadence soups to the bean comforting cozy stews, soup is a daily staple in our home.

Food historians tell us the history of soup is probably as old as the history of cooking. The act of combining various ingredients in a pot to create a nutritious, filling, simple to make meal was inevitable. Healthy and healing soups are part of the cooking traditions in every country.

I always try and prepare my soup from fresh, organic, in season, and ideally local ingredients. Whether your ingredients are coming freshly grown from your own garden or you’ve bought them directly from the farmers’ market, making the connection between the food you eat, and your local environment is important. The food we eat is part of our cultural identity. Eating local foods helps produce a more resilient and sustainable future, both for yourself and for future generations.

Recently in my local supermarket there has been a promotional “push” towards plant-based meals. As you are an expert in the field of plant-based nutrition, what do you feel are the main benefits to follow a vegan/plant-based diet?

Thankfully, the popularity of plant-based diets has grown, which makes this an easier era than ever to start. Can I Get Enough Nutrients on a Plant-Based Diet? This is always the number one question that I am asked. Yes, and it’s easier than you’d think to consume these essential nutrients. You just need to know where to get them. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids often come from animal-based sources like fish. However, you can also get an ample supply from hemp seeds, flax, chia, and walnuts. It’s merely about understanding the alternative ways to get the nutrition you need.

Plant-based/vegan diets have been linked to a number of health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes and cognitive decline. Plus, transitioning to a more plant-based diet is an excellent choice for the planet and will end the death and suffering of our animal kingdom. Two billion animals are slaughtered daily for food. There is no need, we receive all the nutrients we require from plants. At the end of the day, the largest and strongest animals in the world are vegan, giraffes, elephants etc., they get their nutrients from the same source we as vegans do… from the plants.

Having received a copy of “Go Vegan”, I was impressed by the range of recipes – the ingredients were not too daunting or difficult to obtain; the cooking instructions were easy to follow; and the glossary was a godsend especially when I came across an ingredient I had never heard of. Was it difficult to put together suitable recipes that lived up to your ethos?  

Eating from my ethos is simple and doable for everyone. 95% of what constitutes my approach is obtainable from most supermarkets. Grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Foods like miso, tofu, and even some dried sea vegetables are now available in supermarkets. This makes my heart sing to see this growth year on year. One or two of the condiments I use are available from natural food stores or online. My teaching of plant-based/vegan nutrition is based on my teachings of Macrobiotics, a wonderful philosophy that teaches us that everything is connected, animal, plant, human, environment.  When I create and cook all of these considerations are always there. 


As you are currently based in the UK, is “Go Vegan” available to purchase worldwide? 

Yes, Go Vegan is available world-wide on amazon. U.K. and US 

You currently teach alongside your husband, Bill Tara, your MACROVegan Health Coach Programme.  Sounds intriguing. In a nutshell, what does that involve? 

We now have students who have travelled from 27 countries to study and graduate as a MACROVegan Health Coach. We see this as switching on lighthouses around the world. We now have students studying with us online which is fantastic. Our students leave as proficient and amazing cooks as well as wonderful health coaches. It makes our heart sing as more and more graduate and teach this work.

MACROVegan Health Coach Course

The dramatic rise in degenerative disease attributed to diet and lifestyle has created a demand for solutions to disease prevention and personal health maintenance. What is called for is a new generation of men and women who are capable of offering practical advice on how to live a healthy life in modern society. 

During the two weeks of study you will have the opportunity to learn the techniques of effective Health Coaching and experience the power of healthy living. You will leave prepared to be a more effective promoter of natural health care and set up practice as a Professional Macrobiotic Health Coach.    

The Macrobiotic Vegan Health Coach curriculum has been designed by Bill Tara, co-founder of the Kushi Institute, creator of the International Macrobiotic Institute (Kiental, Switzerland) curriculum and designer of the American and European Kushi Institute Teacher Certification Programmes along with his wife Marlene Watson-Tara who is certified in Plant Based Nutrition. 

This is a rare opportunity to study with teachers who are expert consultants and draw on decades of practical experience. Macrobiotic philosophy serves as the foundation of these studies and provides the link between the disciplines and life skills we will explore together.  This course also offers additional tools to enhance professional or Para-professional skills in both the orthodox or complimentary health and healing arts.

The Modules

Health, Healing and Human Ecology

Health and Emotion / East and West

Traditions of Nutrition

Wholefoods Plant Based Cooking & Home Remedies

Health Assessment

Principles and Practice of Health Coaching

When you are not working, what activities do you enjoy, to relax and unwind? 

I adore growing my own vegetables, and love being in nature. I am an avid and longtime yogi, (my daily practice keeps me in check) and miss teaching yoga, one day, I will have my own studio again. I adore cycling with Bill and of course, reading and writing, and I am currently working on my next book.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I live in yoga gear… always cycling, doing yoga, or working at my desk here so casual and comfort works for me. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?  

Yes, I love https://bambooclothing.co.uk

I always purchase clothing using cotton, hemp, linen, etc., More and more companies offer these wonderful alternatives for vegan and ethical clothing. I love Matt & Nat for more dress shoes and bags and Wills London for my backpack and casual shoes and have boots from both of them. 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A new Ciao Bella – I adore feminine frilly dresses on the search. My next pair of yoga toe sandals from Supplefeet are on the list. They are fantastic, I have worn them for years and they keep your fee in great shape. 

Boots or Shoes? 

I love my chunky rubber sole sneakers, they look great with jeans, yoga gear, shorts and casual dresses. They are my first choice daily for comfort.

My Chelsea boots are my second choice…they are so versatile and can be worn in all seasons.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter/ instagram etc so that readers can find out more about you and Go Vegan.

Website, Instagram, facebook, you tube, linked In, twitter, 

www.macrovegan.org

https://www.instagram.com/macroveganinternational/

https://facebook.com/marlenewatsontaragovegan/

https://www.youtube.com/user/Molly19571/videos?view=0&sort=p&flow=grid&disable_polymer=true

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/

Thanks Marlene for an interesting chat and you have given me and my readers “food for thought”.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Marlene Watson-Tara

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An Interview With Barlooon Germany

Hanging from trees, shrubs, gazebos and tents, waterproof lanterns known as “barlooons” give an alternative outdoor lighting option for your garden, patio or outdoor space. The barlooons are manufactured by Barlooon Germany using material that has been specially adapted to the climatic conditions in Europe. I chat to Hanna Barten, MD of Barlooon Germany to find out more about these colourful lights. Hi Hanna!

Hello, I am Hanna Barten, in my late thirties, managing director of Barlooon Germany GmbH and mother of two charming and lively girls.

Your company designs and makes weatherproof lanterns “barlooons”. What inspired the company to concentrate on this type of outdoor lighting?

I love lanterns! And I wanted them for our garden all year round. But the lanterns that existed before didn’t last long, because they were made of paper. And you couldn’t light them up either. So I thought to myself: There must be another way! The idea was born.

By the way: The name Barlooon is written with 3xO, because we have our lampions in three different sizes, namely with 30 cm / 50 cm and 70 cm diameter. And the 3xO stand for our 3 sizes. 

It is not unusual for Barlooon to be written with 2xO only, but always with the thought behind it, it will actually always be spelled correctly in the future.


What is the material used to make the barlooons? Are they suitable for leaving outside throughout the year? 

The material we use for our lampions is a very robust PVC material, which is also used for beach chairs and awnings. It is therefore designed for year-round outdoor use and is wonderfully suitable for our products. 

And: Yes! Of course our lampions can be outside all year round. In rain, snow or storms….. 

However, we recommend to clean the lampions if necessary, which is also possible without any problems.


There are some lovely colours to choose from including white, cream, yellow, orange, red, green, black – I rather like the dazzling orange, but which colour seems to be the most popular amongst your customers? Do you have a favourite colour?

In spring most customers choose our lampions in white, yellow and orange. In summer more for white.

Towards autumn, the orange and yellow ones are the most popular and the red lampion is mainly bought in the pre-Christmas period.

It is always very interesting to see how the year passes by in colours 🙂 

Our special colours like green and black are really very rarely asked for. But we are happy if we can also help customers with special wishes.

Furthermore, our customers also have the possibility to create their own personal Barlooon; with our “YOU-Edition”.

I personally like our white lanterns best. They are colour neutral and therefore blend in well in the garden all year round – no matter what is flowering or not.


Are there any new additions/colours to your range of lights in the pipeline for 2020?

At the moment there are no new colours planned. We are currently working on adding a stand for the ground spikes to our accessories so that the ground spike can be used where there are no beds. For example for roof terraces or terraces as such.

In addition, we are developing a very large lantern, which has a diameter of over one meter. We affectionately call it our “Megalooon”.

Are there any rules or recommendations about where to display these lights?

Our Barlooons can actually be used everywhere. Whether it is in a tree or positioned totally flexible with our earth spike and solar module. 

The solar module is recommended for use where it can also be charged by the sun. 

With the wired lighting solution, our lanterns have more power and shine correspondingly reliably, even in the dark season.

As you are based in Germany, are your products available to customers abroad?

The work on our English online shop is in its final stages! Therefore, from about the beginning / middle of March, customers from all EU countries will be able to order easily in our shop. 

Of course we are also happy to accept inquiries from other countries. However, due to customs formalities, it may take a little longer to process them. 

We are so happy that we have such a great response to our lampions!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

As a rule I always wear quite comfortable clothes with even more comfortable shoes, because there are always situations where you have to help out. 

And besides that I am always on the move in my private life. That is not missing with small children. Spontaneous playing catch with the children in high heels is a bit unhappy. Besides, I’m already quite tall with a height of 180 cm and with high-heeled shoes, finding pants is really a challenge.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

Frankly speaking, I’m a bit of a shopping grouch. I have quite a lot of clothes in my closet, but as it is: Most of the time I always go back to the same comfortable clothes.

If I have the possibility I try to support the local retail trade here in the small town, even if it is maybe a little more expensive than in the online shop.

Moreover, most of the times you always meet some friends and get into nice conversations over and over again. 

If I am looking for something special, I am very happy about the medium internet and the possibilities it offers.

Online shops are great and it is impossible to imagine today’s world without them.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

The garden season is coming up and last autumn my beloved rubber boots broke, so I urgently need new ones…..

Boots or Shoes?

I can’t even say I prefer any of them. It depends on the opportunity and what I’m wearing that day. And, of course, also on my mood 🙂

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Barlooon Germany.

These are the links from our German social pages. We are in the process of creating English pages for this. These will be finished bit by bit. 

You can find our shop under www.barlooon.com

https://www.facebook.com/Barlooon

https://barlooon.tumblr.com/

https://www.xing.com/companies/barlooongermanygmbh

https://www.instagram.com/barlooon.wetterfester.lampion/

http://twitter.com/barlooon

http://www.pinterest.de/barlooon/

Many thanks Hanna for chatting to me . Do check out Hanna’s Instagram page, dear readersthe photographs are fabulous as well as the products.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Barlooon Germany

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An Interview With Lucy Jade Sylvester Botanical Jewellery

If you are a big fan of nature then you are going to adore the botanical jewellery by Lucy Jade Sylvester. Inspired by her love of the British countryside and coastline, Lucy makes each piece by hand – beachcombing for shells, scouring the countryside for plants and grasses and insects such as flies and moths. Her wedding jewellery is simply stunning too. I caught up with the lovely Lucy to find out more… hi, Lucy!

Hi! I’m Lucy. I’m a countryside living jeweller, mum of two cheeky boys Archie and Alfie. Vegetarian for 32 years, lover of discovering new places, Chilli, log fires and strong cups of tea (I don’t take the tea bag out.) I have bee, butterfly, beetle and forget-me-not tattoos on my feet and around my ankle bone. I’ve always been a nature lover, on walks as a child my pockets would be filled with snail shells and leaves.

What’s your jewellery design background?

After a college Foundation Art course, I studied jewellery at Birmingham’s School of Jewellery, on completion I worked on my own pieces alongside teaching jewellery at a local college. A few years later I went back to University to take an MA in jewellery and metal work, this is where I focused and developed using nature in my work.

I started working on a website while I was teaching, so doing both on a part time basis. The college changed dramatically and asked staff who wanted to take voluntary redundancy, which I did, it gave me the push to leave my safety net and work for myself full time. This was the first time I applied and got accepted to have a stand at London’s Chelsea Flower Show.

What inspired you to specialise in botanical jewellery?

Nature has the most beautiful lines and textures, so I use it as directly as possible.

I take moulds from delicate woodland finds, dead insects, twigs, fallen leaves, and cast into the cavity they leave, this process allows me to create exact replicas of life in solid silver and gold that retain the finest details.

My insect based jewellery designs are all made from naturally deceased specimens, found by me or sent to me by people who know my work.

I give the specimens a new life in solid silver or gold, modern day fossils of the wildlife we have today.

These natural forms with beautiful textures would decay into the ground and be gone forever, with direct casting from them I’ve created something that will now be here forever, to be worn for a lifetime.

I love the Netted Dog Whelk Shell Pendant and the botanical wedding rings – very beautiful indeed. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

The most recent collection is the coastal collection, the shells and sea urchin shells have the most incredible textures, I can’t wait to add more to the collection in 2020.

Living in Oxfordshire means we have to plan trips to the coast, the coastal pieces have evolved after family trips to stunning beaches on the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Cornwall and Wales.

The Coastal collection is currently silver, but we will be creating it in gold too, with many barnacle covered mussels and limpets set with diamonds, sapphires and rubies.

The coastal work is perfect for the summer, so now compliments the leaves and seed heads that can feel autumnal or wintery.

Acorn pendants are very popular, bought to mark a birthday, new job, new adventure or to remember a loved one, I can make them to enclose ashes.

Simple twig rings are bought as wedding bands, they also work well as stacking rings.

The designs for the botanical bridal and woodland wedding collections are growing, engagement rings from twisted twigs and leaves are created from grass, leaves and twigs that wrap around to form rings, the fragile veins and stems clearly visible with a scattering of diamonds.

Set with brilliant cut, rose cut or uncut diamonds these engagement rings can be paired with woven grass, leaf vein or lichen textured bands providing a timeless alternative for countryside lovers.

And moths are popular, too.

What are your favourite pieces?

My wardrobe essential is the Stag beetle necklace, I wear him or a long or short chain depending on what I’m wearing.

He is a lovely weight, his smooth wing casing makes him extremely tactile. He always creates a reaction from people, most love him, some aren’t sure, but I love that.

The stag beetle necklace is versatile, I wear him with jeans in the day or out for the evening.

As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase overseas?

All our jewellery is inspired by, and made in the UK, but we ship all around the world.

We use a tracked and insured postal service.

I’m very jealous of some of the destinations we’ve posted jewellery to!

You must have come across some interesting finds whilst beachcombing and countryside walking. Do you go out with an idea to look for something specific or do you fill your pockets at will every time you venture out?

My studio is filled with skip salvaged science jars filled with woodland and beach finds.

I love just coming across new inspiration, it could be a leaf on a path while on the school run.

Some finds I save to use at a later date, some finds I keep just to marvel at the magic of nature.

Wasp nests with the coloured stripes from different woods, bird nests blown from trees entwined with feathers, twine, grass and sheep wool, such incredible feats from these small creatures.

My mouse nibbled hazel nut pendant came from my garden when we moved house.

I’d seen a mouse occasionally run along a wall in our garden, under some tiles I discovered a stash of nut and seed husks, including the hazel nut shell, now in solid silver.

This necklace was created after buying a collection of Australian boulder opals, I set them with silver and 18ct gold twigs, hawthorn leaves, snails, bees and a stag beetle set with a round brilliant cut diamond. 

What was the hardest or most unusual piece you’ve created so far?

Technically the flies were the one of the most challenging to make, getting the wings and legs to stay intact took some time.

I occasionally create larger one off necklaces, usually after buying stones.

Have you always wanted to be a jewellery designer or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

I originally wanted to print fabrics, I loved using screens and squeegees.

It was during a college course that I discovered saws and blow torches and changed what path I would take at University.

I recently discovered cyanotypes, very different to metalwork, but I loved it.

Your Hawk moth and poppy seed head ring was chosen by costume designer Michele Clapton to be worn by Sansa Stark in the hit medieval TV series Game of Thrones. Did it feel strange seeing your jewellery being worn on TV?

Michele’s love of craftsmanship can be seen in all her costume designs, the detailing is amazing, a huge honour to be involved with such an iconic programme.

The Hawk moth ring and the matching necklaces are very popular, many have flown across the sea around the world, especially to America.

My jewellery is owned by some incredibly inspiring people, I have a letter from David Attenborough and wonderful card from Dame Judi Dench. I’m not sure my work could be in better hands, both have such a love for the amazing world we live in

What recommendations would you give to help look after and maintain your botanical jewellery?

Our jewellery just needs a occasional rub over with a jewellery polishing cloth, we recommend taking it off before bricklaying or anything to rough!

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love flip flops, I’ll wear them for as long as possible but in the studio I have a pair of Timberland  Nellie pull on boots.

I also love converse, I have 2 pairs red, and leopard print.

I tend to wear jeans, with a simple black or khaki top. I accessorize with my short Hawk Moth or  Stag beetle necklaces

My latest buy was a gold leather bag from Clarkes shoes. 

I tend to use Ebay for much of my shopping or re buy things from the marketplace on Facebook, you can pick up vintage or new, and it comes straight to your door through the post.

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

I’ve just discovered a hole in my Joules Bumble bee wellies, I guess these need to be my next buy!

Find out more about Lucy Jade Sylvester Botanical Jewellery:

https://www.lucysylvester.co.uk/

https://lovefromengland.tumblr.com/

https://www.instagram.com/lovefromengland/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucy-sylvester-aa192416/

https://facebook.com/LucyJadeSylvesterJewellery

https://pinterest.co.uk/lovefromengland/

https://twitter.com/lucy_sylvester

Fabulous talking to you Lucy – it’s amazing what you can find when beachcombing or countryside rambling and I find it even more amazing at your talent to be able to make stunning jewellery out of the moths, shells, leaves…. I once found a fish head on Chesil Beach, Dorset camouflaged against the shingle and shells!

My gruesome beachcombing discovery!! © Linda Hobden

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Lucy Jade Sylvester (apart from my fish head pic!)


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An Interview With Mosaico Jewellery

Brightening up the dullest day, the colourful & fun designs of gemstone jewellery designed by Mosaico Jewellery have been inspired by the combined Brazilian/South African/British heritages of the two lovely ladies whose designs and expertise are behind the brand. I caught up with the bubbly ladies, Paula and Jenny, to find out more about their designs and what lurks in their wardrobes… Hi ladies, please introduce yourselves 🙂

P: Hi! I’m Paula. I’m a married mum of two boys, and live in Maidenhead, Berkshire. My best friend Jenny and I co-founded Mosaico Jewellery. We met while working in a jewellery boutique about 15 years ago and we clicked right away, Jenny was even bridesmaid at my wedding. Needless to say, we absolutely love natural stones and jewellery!

J: I’m Jenny and I live with my fiancé in East Molesey. Paula and I did absolutely click when we met! We were even told off a couple of times for chatting too much on the job 😊 Now, our brand offers semi-precious gemstone jewellery that is luxurious, yet affordable. Designed and handmade in-house which means they are very unique and exclusive.


What inspired the setting up of “Mosaico Jewellery”?

P: I had the idea for the company for many years, but had always been busy building my career and then starting a family. I got to a point that my job was causing a great strain on me emotionally and physically, and I was no longer enjoying the work, the long hours away from my son and flexible work was apparently not an option. So I quit my job and after I had my second son, I did a post-graduation in Digital Marketing. I felt that somehow gave me a bit of a boost in confidence. I think that sometimes you can find yourself in some sort of inertia and lacking maybe the confidence to go ahead to pursue your dreams. Any change is scary as it comes with a great share of uncertainty. I kind of knew that it would be challenging, but I just felt that it would be better to try than keeping myself wondering “what if?…”. I had also done my research, I knew it was a great idea that had a chance. I then invited my friend Jenny who is so creative and talented to join me on this idea, and without much hesitation, she said yes to it. We work really well together and that reflects on our brand.

Specialising in jewellery crafted from sustainable sourced top grade gemstones & metals, I do so love your range of colourful jewellery, obviously, but my personal favourite is the Lava -Carnelian, Jet Crystal & Agate Lariat  – very beautiful indeed. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

J: Oh the Lava Lariat is gorgeous. It is definitely one of our most popular ones too. Lariats are so great as you literally buy multiple necklaces in one purchase, and you style as you like, like you do with a scarf. It is all about you and how you like to wear it. Our gorgeous Esther necklace, ocean jasper beads threaded in an overlapping pattern is always eye catching at fairs we attend. Our Leaf earrings, Constellation and  Vivien necklaces are also some of our bestsellers, together with our Flor-de-lis necklace. I think often it’s the unusual that stops people in their tracks. The variety we are able to bring to the collections mean there is really something for everyone, which is great.

Out of all your collection, do you have any favourites?

P: This is a hard question for us. One of my favourite pieces is the Aurora necklace. It is a long Amethyst necklace featuring one large stone at the end, with such particular markings! On top of that, Amethyst is my birthstone… so I just love that piece. I’m a big fan of earrings too, so I also love the Marigold, Alyssia, Caroline and Arabella earrings.

J:I love the Melissa necklace as you can see the work done in between the Tourmalines, it is so artistic! And I also love the Dahlia and Papillon earrings –  definitely personal favourites.

As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase overseas? 

P: Yes they are. We ship worldwide. Although we have focused on the UK market so far in terms of advertising, we have already sent pieces as far as Hong Kong, Thailand and Canada. We have customers all around Europe too. We offer free global delivery and complimentary gift wrapping in our premium signature boxes to everyone.

When designing jewellery to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

J: We do have a bit of personal taste taken into account, and we both have a look at upcoming trends (such as upcoming shades for that year). We also take into consideration requests and popular stones from previous collections. However, this doesn’t dictate the collection to come. We look for stones that are unusual by shape, markings and/or colours, and then build the designs from there. We want people to express their individuality through colours and designs that are as unique as they are. So trends won’t help us with that. 

You do a bespoke jewellery service – what was the hardest or most unusual request you have had? 

P: We had a request for one bead. One nice interesting bead that would have great properties and energy attached to it. This was a gift to be given in a Blessingway ceremony. It was great to source that as the ceremony is historically a beautiful and unique way to honour a mother-to-be, to instil her with confidence and strength. We weren’t aware of these kind of ceremonies before but we loved sourcing the bead, which would be so full of meaning and part of such a heart-warming gift. That was super special.

A couple of hypothetical questions now!  Firstly, if you could go anywhere in the world for inspiration to create a new collection, where would you go and why?

P: Jenny and I pick the stones together and exchange ideas, but ultimately, she puts the designs together and I make the business tick. If we had to go somewhere for inspiration, it would probably be from our heritages – Brazil and South Africa. For me in particular, it would be the beautiful island I was born on, called Florianopolis, just off the South-East coast of Brazil. Jenny is British but has family in multiple places in South Africa. They are stunning places with dozens of beaches and nature. People are outgoing, fun and colourful in every sense of the word in both of these places, so you can’t help but be inspired by how people live and the style they express.  

J: In one of our first magazine reviews, the editor described our jewellery as ‘not for shrinking violets’, and that made us smile, as it sums up how expressive both cultures are and the inspiration we want to reflect in our pieces.

Secondly, which famous lady would you pick to be the “Face” Of Mosaico Jewellery and why?

P: Sofia Vergara! We would love her to be the Face of Mosaico. She has the perfect mix of bold, elegant, fun and colourful which is with our brand stands for. We are all unique and we want our jewellery to reflect this uniqueness in you. Sofia Vergara does that beautifully.   

J: Oh yes, that would be great!

10.  What recommendations would you give to help look after and maintain your gemstone jewellery?

P: We believe you just need to use your common sense and if the jewellery is well made, that should be enough. To clean it, you can use a soft cloth after you have worn it, and place them in your jewellery box, maybe inside a jewellery pouch or in a place where it won’t get tangled. 

J: Also, don’t ever wash them, instead you can use an old toothbrush and some lukewarm water and scrub very gently behind the stone, where dust can collect. Each of our pieces come with care instructions, and a card that outlines the properties of the main stone of the design. We are also introducing jewellery pouches, so if you buy a necklace, you don’t need to keep the box, instead you will have a pouch to store your necklace securely.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

P: You will find me wearing jeans and long, sometimes baggy tops. Another reason we like jewellery is that it can just take any outfit from simple to trendy. 

J: We do believe it is all about the way you accessorise. I vary my outfits a bit, but weekends you will most likely find me in jeans and a nice top too.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

P: Most shopping I do nowadays is for kids! Jojo Mama Bebe is fantastic. I also love this brand for kids clothing called Bluezoo. I am a big fan of online. It is just so easy to browse in the evening, when the kids have gone to sleep. If I need anything for myself I tend to go to the House of Fraser website at the moment as some of my favourite brands are available there.

J: I do quite a bit of shopping online too nowadays, but when I go on a shopping spree you may find me in Zara, or in womenswear at Selfridges.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

P: I need to buy a pair of jeans. I am that kind of person that goes shopping for (needed) trousers and end up buying more (not needed) tops 😊

J: Boots, I just need a new pair of boots at the moment.

Boots or Shoes?

P: Nowadays I say boots! A good pair of comfy Boots! I’ve lived in the UK for 15 years now, but my South American side still needs to be wrapped up warm, particularly between October and March! A good pair of boots and I’m good to go in all weathers.

J: I guess you know now what I will say….. Boots it is! For similar reason, just comfortable and they go with everything.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Mosaico Jewellery 

www.mosaicojewellery.co.uk

Instagram: @mosaicojewellery

Facebook: /mosaicojewellery

Sofia Vergara, if you’re reading this, you know where to contact the ladies!! Thank you Paula and Jenny it has been great chatting to you, and I wish you continued success in 2020.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Mosaico Jewellery.

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5 Reasons To Choose Wool

There are so many textiles in the world, and when you pick out garments for your wardrobe, do you really think about the material? After reading the reports by clothing brand, Celtic & Co, about the impact that microplastics have on polluting our waterways and that every time we wash our synthetic made clothes thousands upon thousands are released into our waterways via the humble washing machine; I began to look into the benefits of natural textiles such as cotton and, as it is currently winter in the UK, wool. You can read my blogpost about Celtic & Co’s report HERE. There is certainly more to wool than meets the eye – and here are my 5 reasons to choose wool:


Photo::Linda Hobden

WOOL IS A NATURAL PRODUCT. Wool is renewable. Wool obviously comes from sheep, but also wool is obtained from other animals including alpaca, llama, camel, goat, yak, beaver, otter, rabbit…. Wool has many eco-advantages over synthetic materials, such as polyester, acrylic and nylon: synthetic fibres all derive from plastic and wool, unlike synthetic materials, is naturally flame retardant. It is the flame retardant properties that makes wool the choice material for garments made for firefighters and soldiers – also wool is a natural insulator and is breathable. Have you noticed that wool carpets are used on trains and planes too?

WOOL IS RENEWABLE AND RECYCLABLE. When wool is disposed of, it naturally decomposes releasing valuable nitrogen-based nutrients into the ground. Recycled Wool is made by cutting or tearing apart existing wool fabric and then respinning the fibres, sometimes adding raw wool – this process was invented in West Yorkshire. It makes absolute sense to me to unravel old woollen items and respin or knit …

Photo: Celtic & Co

WOOL IS ODOUR RESISTANT. Wool clothing doesn’t smell, it doesn’t promote the growth of bacteria and is stain resistant too! Good news if you do perspire a lot, especially as wool is breathable so you don’t feel clammy. Wool doesn’t need to be washed as often as synthetic clothes – saving water, power, and you’re not releasing those microplastics into the environment either via your washing machine. Superwash wool ( or washable wool) technology first appeared in the early 1970s – this is wool that has been especially treated so that it is machine washable and may be tumble dried. So wool is even more convenient. According to Wikipedia, in 2007, a new wool suit was developed and sold in Japan that can be washed in the shower, dries off ready to wear within hours with no ironing required. The suit was developed using Australian Merino wool.

WOOL LASTS. Fashions come and go, but wool garments are usually very classical in style. My navy blue wool coat has been in my wardrobe for well over 20 years, might even be nudging 30 years old – it is a classic style that hasn’t dated, it is still immaculate, it still fits and it is still very warm indeed. Wool garments may be more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, but they do tend to last longer.

Wool clothing by Celtic & Co: Toscana Gilet, Flecked Funnel Neck Jumper; Aran Cable Beanie. https://celticandco.com

WOOL IS MICRO-CLIMATIC. Wool is amazing! Wool can keep you warm in winter, and can actually keep you cool in summer! Wool has a natural high level of UV protection. That is why desert peoples, such as the Bedouins and Tuaregs, use wool clothes for their insulation properties. Wool fabrics have a greater bulk than other textiles, and they hold air, which in turn causes the fabric to retain heat. Weather and geographical locations do influence wool in terms of quality and type of fleece – for example, Welsh Mountain Sheep have fleeces that are strong and robust – as the animals have to endure harsh weather; Lowland sheep have fleece that is often softer and finer, which is perfect for blankets. Sheep are resilient animals and can thrive in the hardiest of places where other livestock struggle to survive and crops can’t be grown. No wonder wool is one of the oldest textiles in the world!

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Thanks to Celtic & Co for their report on Synthetic v Wool; Wikipedia & MakeitBritish.co.uk for the facts about wool.
Photographs are by Linda Hobden apart from the Celtic & Co photos that have been marked as such in the article

Linda x

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An Interview With Village Leathers

Established in 1974 by Tony & Angie, Village Leathers is a small family-based business based in London that specialises in a wide range of belts, bags and accessories for both men and women. They began as street traders, growing to stores in Covent Garden, now online too. Although a lot of their styles are classics, their latest accessory ranges are very colourful and very much on trend. I caught up with Verity, part of “Team Village Leathers” to find out more about the very swish bags that she and the team make! Hi Verity!

Hi! I’m Verity from Village Leathers, I’ve been working here for years and I’m part of the team who hand make our leather goods. Village Leathers is a family owned business which started out by selling handmade leather belts from a suitcase on the streets of London in 1974. Since then we’ve grown to have two small shops in Covent Garden’s Jubilee Market and more recently set up a website too. We’re still a small team with just 10 of us in total split between the shops and the studio where we produce leathers belts and accessories in small batches by hand.

Starting life as street traders, progressing to shops in London’s Covent Garden (one of my favourite London spots) and now online – what challenges have you had to face (business or personal) in each selling arena, eg adapting to selling from a market stall to a shop environment or adapting to online technology etc?

When we started selling online it was a big learning curve for us. We do all the photography and website maintenance in house so we had to learn a whole new skillset as well as keep up with the production of goods. It was challenging but such a brilliant experience. The other issue we face, which I know many small independent business’ struggle with, is online exposure. We’re a small fish in a big pond so competing with bigger brands was a little tricky at first, luckily our customers soon found us and valued our ethos. They recognise the craftsmanship and quality of materials we’ve sourced for our range of handmade goods. This means our customers can buy better products, fewer times, supporting the growing number of people trying to reign in overconsuming tendencies.

As for our shops we’re having lots of fun at the moment redesigning the layout ready for a refit next year. As we are based in small shops offering a wide range of products and colourways showcasing all our designs is really important for us but can look a bit overwhelming to shop visitors. To make it a pleasure to shop with us we’ll be implementing sections and adding much more signage throughout the shop that communicates everything you’ll need to know about our leathers, sizing and collections. It’s quite an undertaking but it will make such a difference as I think it’s been about 15 years since the last one!

I love the brightly coloured Leather Belt Bag – a sophisticated version of the bumbag/fanny pack! Your latest ranges, Chroma and Roam collections, are available in a stunning range of bright colours- Yellow, Red, Green, Sky Blue, Tangerine Orange – they are all simply gorgeous! However, what bags are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season? Is there a difference between the popularity stakes of items purchased from your shop and those purchased online?

I’m so glad you like the Belt Bag, it’s new territory for us as we haven’t entered that market before but it was so nice to design such a contemporary product and the response so far has been really positive. Over this season we’ve definitely seen customers both instore and online being drawn to the more fruity and vibrant colours like the sunny yellow of the Chroma Shoulder Bag, zesty Orange Roam Clutch Bag and now that we’re entering Autumn we’re seeing the Tan, Olive and Grey colourways come into their own. In terms of bag design I think the Chroma Shoulder Bag has pipped it this season, it’s such a nifty little bag, ideal for days out and it looks stunning. With a simple silhouette and secure turnlock it means you can pair it with every outfit effortlessly. 

In the shops we have a lot of people come in looking for a special gift to take back from London for their friends and family at home, that usually takes the form of something like a Roam Clutch Bag and matching zip purse. It’s so nice to see people really thinking about which colour or design their loved one will treasure the most. It’s only right they treat themselves to something as well for being so considerate! 

Have you got any personal favourites?

So, one of my favourite products we make sounds so basic but I get really excited telling people about it so here goes. It’s our Classic Black 1 1/4 Belt, the reason I love it is because it is the epitome of a wardrobe staple. I think everyone should own one. It’s made from delicious, thick Italian vegetable tanned leather. This kind of leather is made in the most eco friendly and natural ways by using tannins found in some plants and bark. It’s a very old artisanal process and only a small percentage of leather goods produced worldwide use veg tanned leather because it is slow to produce, therefore more expensive per foot. But, the quality of the leather is so high, rich in colour, supple and ages beautifully. We actually guarantee our Classic belts for 25 years, that’s how good it is, and what’s more is that at the end of it’s like the leather is biodegradable! The other great thing about this belt is that you can swap the buckles really easily to suit your outfit. And yes I have a favourite buckle – Westend Silver, its solid brass!

Your company also offers a bespoke service. Have you had any bizarre bespoke requests?

That’s such a great question! We’re often asked to tweak designs or emboss a meaningful date or name onto pieces to make them extra special. We once individually monogrammed some belts for a group of Groomsmen and one of their nicknames was ‘Snake’, I didn’t ask how he got that!

We work closely with the theatre a lot too and we once had a project that required us to make a bumbag which could hold a cabbage…

As you are based in London, are your products available to purchase overseas?

Yes! Absolutely, we send our goods worldwide. It’s amazing to think there are people all over the world enjoying our products that were made in our little workshop. Recently we had a customer send us a picture of a Bag she’d picked up from us in Covent Garden in 1988, she’s been using it daily in Australia since then!

When designing/producing products to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, vintage quality or bits of all those?

All our designs must first meet our values; affordability and handcrafted quality married with classic and practical design. We have a core range of products which have remained practically unchanged for years and years. The idea is they are classic wardrobe staples that can be paired with lots of outfits, the perfect balance between form and function. We make them using highly efficient, time-tested leather crafting techniques so they can last and build patina as they are worn and used, this means the designs are  timeless, reasonably priced and of unparalleled quality. 

Having this core range of classic products allows us to flex our creativity by designing small batches of seasonal products that consider customer needs and micro trends. A good example of this would be our Belt Bag or Hair on Hide Leopard Bag strap, as we manufacture the products ourselves we can make near instant tweaks based on customer feedback such as swapping a popper closure for a push lock on the Belt Bag. This means the customer gets exactly what they need and the design process is more collaborative. 

When you are not making & selling bags and belts, what do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?

Well, as you can imagine we love to make stuff in our spare time but not always from leather. At the moment two of us are making patterns for some dungarees we’re hoping to have done by next summer if we can find the time. If we’re not working on craft projects we like to ride our bikes or enjoy some of the amazing exhibitions that are always going on in London. We love organising staff outings too as an excuse to enjoy some of the great restaurants around Covent Garden, most recently we went to Padella in London Bridge where we ordered two rounds of food.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I opt for practical shoes that will protect my toes from any dropped tools or hammers in the workshop, that being said I want to feel chic and stylish at the same time so I’m usually rocking a pair of 1461 Doc Martens. We’re all big fans of Luck and Yak trousers and dungarees which are so comfy to wear at home or work and made in an ethical way. Outside the workshop, when we’re not going to get filthy and covered in thread or leather we really like to dress up and wear our own creations. I go for minimal, comfortable silhouettes made from organic cotton and linen. At the moment my favourite colours are rust and cobalt blue, I’m lusting after a lot of L.F Markey designs at the moment. Obviously all our outfits are accessorised with Village Leathers bags and belts.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

As a fan of timeless designs I really love having a look around Labour and Wait in London. They offer amazingly curated homewares, I don’t know how they’ve found them but they stock loads of independent makers from all over who make beautiful and functional items that bring me joy. When I’m thinking of adventuring I like to browse Patagonia, I really relate to their brand values and the latest “Black Hole’ collection of bags is amazing as its made from recycled bottles. Online I love looking at Cool Machine Shop for their brilliantly fun, contemporary  and colourful offerings. Locally to me in Crystal Palace you’ll always find me in Lowie or Elkins for their gorgeous womenswear, books and homeware. 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’m saving up for a Rust corduroy Boilersuit I’ve got my eye on. Effortless, chic and functional, what more do you need? 

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – simply because I’m too impatient to bother undoing the laces on boots and nearly cause myself an injury pulling them on and off.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Village Leathers.

https://www.villageleathers.com

@villageleathers on Instagram 

http://instagram.com/villageleathers

https://facebook.com/villageleathers

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Thank you Verity for your fabulous insight into the company you work for. I love the quality of your products and your small Aladdin’s Cave of a shop in Covent Garden is certainly worth checking out!

Linda x

All photographs are published with kind permission of Village Leathers.

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5 Ways To Be A Sustainable Fashion Consumer

I know it isn’t New Year, the traditional time to make resolutions, but sometimes resolutions need to be made straightaway and now is as good a time as any! I’m talking about a resolution to help make fashion sustainable. When you go shopping, do you enjoy seeing an array of clothing collections and do you like it when the range for sale changes regularly? I admit, I have done in the past – especially when I was a teenager in the 1980s, shopping for new, cheap outfits every weekend and rarely wearing the same outfit twice. It came as no surprise to me that the concept of “Fast Fashion” was conceived in the 1980s – regular new collections at often cheap prices and not so great workmanship to meet the demands of the consumer. The concept sounded fantastic at the time, but nowadays the latest data has shown that an estimated £140 million pounds worth of wearable but discarded clothing goes into landfill each year! That is mind -boggling! Making fashion sustainable is crucial – to save the planet and to save the clothing industry too. As a consumer, buying habits and clothing attitudes need to change also. Not as daunting as it sounds though – here’s my 5 easy ways to become a sustainable fashion consumer:

BUY CLOTHES MADE OF NATURAL MATERIALS

Become a material snob! I was shocked to discover that 63% of clothing is now made from plastic derived manmade materials, such as polyester and acrylic. Every time you wash an item made from plastic, invisible microplastic fibres are released, it has been estimated that over 700,000 microplastic fibres are released in a typical 6kg wash – water that will eventually make its way into the oceans. Choosing natural materials – such as wool, sheepskin, cotton and linen – is the way to go because the materials last longer and they do not pollute the environment due to the fact that natural materials decompose safely. Further reading on sustainable fashion choices: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/an-interview-with-made-with-respect/

A dress made from natural cork spotted in a boutique in Funchal, Madeira. Photo credit: Linda Hobden

BUY GARMENTS THAT ARE DESIGNED TO LAST

It is a sure thing that if you pay peanuts for an item, then possibly it will be poorly made and doesn’t last long. Price doesn’t always mean that an item is shoddy, but you can feel how well an item has been made and often it is worth paying slightly more for an item that has been well made and has been designed to last more than one wearing. Buying brand new isn’t the only way – well designed and well made garments are in abundance at “preloved” boutiques too – timeless classic designs that can bring joy to more than one owner – and are an affordable way to add some variety into your wardrobe. Further reading on garments designed to last: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/an-interview-with-coral-turner-couture/

Me, wearing my favourite Jasmine Guinness designer dress that I bought a few years back and still is a wardrobe staple of mine!

LOOK AFTER THE CLOTHES YOU ALREADY HAVE

Basically, follow the instructions on the label on how to wash, dry and store your clothes! I learnt the hard way after shrinking t shirts in a tumble dryer (label said to line dry); misshaped a cardigan after putting it in a hot wash instead of the 30° wash as directed; hung up a wool jumper in my wardrobe and ended up with two permanent lumps on the shoulders (always fold knitwear); and I’ve used a hot iron on a dress with light voile sleeves … and yes, the sleeves came away from the dress and stuck to the iron, which ruined both the iron and dress and upset me no end as the dress was one of my favourites! I do try to stick to machine washable items, but my Jasmine Guinness dress, shown above, is dry clean only and I do adhere to that guideline and the dress has lasted for years. Lastly, if your wool jumper starts to go bobbly (pilling), it is not due to inferior quality as popular belief often states, but quite simply the natural reaction to material rubbing together, which is why the pilling often occurs under the arms. Regular de-pilling using a comb or an electric de-will help keep the bobbling under control. Further reading on clothing storage solutions: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/an-interview-with-vault-couture/

RENT CLOTHING FOR SPECIAL EVENTS

Years ago, I was invited to a really posh evening function at the Dorchester Hotel in London, and I went into a mini-flap! Despite having a pretty substantial wardrobe, I really didn’t have anything suitable to wear nor did I have the financial means to buy a dress that I had envisaged wearing, nor could I really justify spending £1000 on a dress that I would realistically ever only wear for a few hours. I discovered a local dress agency where I could hire a luxurious designer dress for the weekend – it was the perfect solution – the rental charge was the amount I would have realistically spent on a dress normally, it gave me a chance to feel like a million dollars in my dream dress, and I didn’t have to worry about it languishing at the back of my wardrobe after the event. Renting outfits for special events – weddings, proms, social events, weekend parties – is such a great idea. Further reading about a dress agency: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/an-interview-with-dress-code-nine/

A dress from Dress Code Nine. Photo credit: Dress Code Nine

SHOP YOUR WARDROBE

When I was preparing to move house, one of my most dreaded “jobs” to do beforehand was to declutter and downsize my wardrobe. The job wasn’t as daunting as I had thought – in fact it was very therapeutic and eye-opening! There were some outfits that I had literally forgot that I had and some outfits I was able to bring up-to-date with some well chosen accessories. Your wardrobe can be a revelation – have another look! If you are good at needlework, you could revamp your jeans, skirts, tops, shorts and dresses with beading, lacing … I found a stall at my local Steampunk fair that had made skirts out of jeans, shorts out of jeans and handbags out of jeans! Also, a company like Wingz sells “sleeves” so you could easily adapt those vest tops and sleeveless dresses. Further reading about Wingz: http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/an-interview-with-wingz/

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I hope that the 5 tips have helped in your aim of being a more sustainable fashion consumer. For more details on Fast Fashion and its cost to our planet, check out the excellent article by Celtic & Co. The facts and figures are mind blowing… https://www.celticandco.com/celtic/fast-fashion/

Linda x

Post copyright © LindaHobden.

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Review: Ecopanda Reusable Make Up Remover Pads

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The make up remover pads have been supplied by Ecopanda for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

This week I’m looking at make up remover pads. How do you take off your make up? Hands up those who, like me, use wipes to remove your makeup! Or do you use tissues/cotton wool balls to use with your cleanser/toner? I was approached by Ecopanda to try their reusable makeup remover pads…

Ecopanda are a small UK brand that have only just been established this year. They are determined to stop the madness of the disposable use of reusable products – a habit that a lot of people are guilty of. Ecopanda supports the deliberate exchange of plastic for sustainable products made from renewable raw materials. I’m always up for a challenge and so I’ve been using the reusable pads and here’s my opinion:

The Product

When you order the product you get 18 good sized fairly thick cotton pads (you can use both sides) in a pretty cute and handy storage box with a mesh bag. The pads are meant just for removing make up and not for exfoliating… I read one review on Amazon from a customer who bemoaned the fact that the pads were not exfoliating. The pads are dry – you need to add the cleanser/toner – unlike makeup wipes that are already moistened. The pads were soft and removed my makeup adequately. They do the job they were meant to do….. 10/10

Are they convenient/reusable/habit breaking?

Are they convenient? It depends: if you use cleansing lotion/ toners on a regular basis and usually use tissues/cotton wool then the answer is yes. I would use them for home use. Personally, for travelling, I would vouch for the make up wipes – no added baggage and I try to travel as light as possible. I am also aware that wipes are not environmentally friendly – these pads tick the environmentally friendly box. Hard to score. 7/10

The Wash tests

After removing make up, when using wipes, the dirty wipes are then chucked into the bin. With these reusable pads – well they need cleaning. The company admits that after washing, the pads are not snowy white but are clean enough to be reused. The company guidelines are to wash, in the bag provided, in a 60° machine wash, and any stubborn mascara marks, hand wash first. So, I conducted 4 washing tests: machine wash 40° ; handwashed using washing up liquid; handwashed using liquid soap; boiled water machine wash 60°. I decided to try other washing methods because I rarely use a 60° wash on my washing machine and, in this day and age, a lower temperature wash is encouraged. However, I did do a boiled wash test. I used 4 separate clean pads and used to take off my make up on 4 separate days:

Test 1: Machine Wash 40°

Test 2 – Handwashed – washing up liquid

Test 3 – Handwashed – liquid soap

Test 4 – boiled wash 60°

So, I found that hand washing with washing up liquid produced the cleaner result. Although the other washing results produced similar results. I didn’t use vanish, ace or other in wash washing machine stain removers – I imagine using a pre wash stain wash would produce better results. Personally, I would reuse the pads because the stains are very slight and the stains don’t affect the work of the pad in any way. However, if you have sensitive skin, think about washing powder/soap reaction from the pads once washed. They don’t look particularly clean either after washing, although they are, so it is a matter of personal taste whether you’d be happy reusing them. 7/10

CONCLUSION

I’m liking these pads the more I’m using them – they are better than using dry tissue or cotton wools. These will be used at home. For travelling though, I think I’d be sticking to the disposable wipes (sorry!) – but never say never! The box they come in is very cute and looks great on the bathroom shelf or dressing table. Price wise – they are not cheap however as you do get 18 pads and you use both sides, that is 36 days…and then a machine wash and use them again… And they are definitely a big nod towards the non disposable idea. Overall score: 8/10

For Pinning Later

Ecopanda pads are available from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NHYB1BN

Thank you to Ecopanda for giving me the opportunity to try your reusable make up pads. I do endeavour to break the disposable habit!

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden.

Photos and Article copyright © LindaHobden.

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Review: Rydale Boots

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The boots have been supplied by Rydale for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

September! The start of my favourite season of the year – Autumn. Living in the south east of England, I love the warm, sunny days and the cooler nights; I love the changing colours of the countryside; but I think my favourite reason of all is that it heralds the start of “boot” season! I love my boots but I never feel comfortable wearing boots in summer – I do have an open toe heeled pair of boots but it isn’t the same. I like to wear my thick tights or socks with a pair of comfortable boots. So, I was so excited to receive a pair of uber cool suede chelsea style boots to review from outdoor country clothing and footwear company, Rydale.

Ladies Kirby II Heeled Suede Chelsea Boots in Brown/Plum

Rydale is a family company established in 1954 by John Nichols and now it is in the 3rd generation, still based in the heart of Yorkshire. John Nichols was inspired by a true passion for the country lifestyle and today Rydale’s ranges of outdoor country clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women and children are truly impressive. Their website features traditional wax jackets, tweed coats, flat caps, jodhpurs, riding boots alongside skinny jeans and, my favourite, the Chelsea Boot. Rydale has invested heavily into waste management and recycling. To offset their small carbon footprint, Rydale have created a woodland and have so far planted over 10,000 trees. All Rydale’s products are inspired and designed in Yorkshire – with an emphasis on quality, reliability and style…. so did the Chelsea Boots live up to the hype??

What a silly question! They were all that I hoped and more! Let’s look more closely at Rydale’s claims…

  1. Quality. These boots are made of the finest soft suede leather fabric and the comfortable faux leather padded interior gave the boots an almost slipper feel. I took the boots for a day and night continuous “road test” – walking around villages and fields during the day and a restaurant meal in the evening. As the heel is only low, it came as no surprise that my feet didn’t ache. What really impressed me was that they felt like slippers and weren’t clunky or cumbersome; they didn’t rub my heel nor squashed my toes; and the boot has a slightly narrow fit which suits me as I have narrow feet and am forever slipping and sliding in standard/wider footwear. 10/10

2. Reliability. Obviously they are suede boots so not suitable for wearing in wet or snowy conditions. Rydale recommend cleaning with a suede protector spray. The boots have a rubber sole – I can only presume that they will be ok on an icy surface – but temperatures here are hovering around 25°C at the moment it was hard to road test the slipability factor.

3. Style. These boots definitely have the style X factor! These boots are an updated version of the original Kirby boots – which are also pretty stylish – and the colourways on offer are pretty scrumptious. My pair are in brown/plum; the other colours in the Kirby II style are Dark Green/Plum and Navy/Plum. I do so love the contrasting elasticated panel – the Plum colour is so on trend this year. 10/10

WEAR WITH…..

I like to wear mine with skinny jeans – in denim of all colours. Rydale do a range of skinny jeans – “Portia” – in a variety of colours from navy denim to berry. I particularly liked the Chelsea boots with Rydale’s dark brown jodhpurs – made a refreshing change from wearing them with traditional riding boots. Don’t be scared of pairing these boots with thick tights and a short tweed skirt; or embrace the current boho trend and wear with a long flowing 1970s style dress …. the possibilities are endless.

Like the boots?

Check out Rydale’s website and feast your eyes on some lovely footwear and clothing. https://www.rydale.com

Delivery of items are quick and postage costs are pretty reasonable too – I especially appreciate the fast delivery option of 1-2 working days – I get impatient waiting for goods!! The good news for my international friends is that Rydale ship to a wide range of destinations in Europe, America and beyond.

For pinning later

Thank you Rydale for introducing me to your gorgeous footwear range! I’m in love!!

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden.

Photos and Article copyright © LindaHobden.

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