I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: easy DIY projects are the best ones! No major artistic skills required, just an open mind and a good old creative itch. Making your own stamps is the perfect example of this kind of DIY project. The result looks super crafty, but the process is blissfully easy. Minimal frustration-potential, maximum output. Because how cool is it to use personalised stamps on your greeting cards and gift-wrappings? (Yes, my definition of cool suffers from a slight craft-geek-bias, but as you are taking the time to read this I am guessing yours might as well ;) ).

I was introduced to this fun craft idea through a cozy workshop at Hello Alice, a creative hotspot near my new home. (Imagine my surprise and delight when discovering these urban hipster-worthy vibes right here on the countryside! ;) ) Together with my sisters-in-law I spent a lovely evening chit-chatting, eating cookies and carving my very first stamps. Perfect way to spend a random Monday evening! No surprise: I went for a botanical theme, starting with an easy cactus shape, building all the way up to my monstera-masterpiece. With little effort and a lot of fun, I am now ready to spread the leaf-love, one stamp at a time!

What do you need:

  • A set of small lino carving knives, varying in width (depending on how fine you want to work)
  • A sheet of flexible linoleum
  • Tracing paper
  • A pencil
  • A coin
  • Little blocks of wood to attach your stamp to
  • Glue
  • Option: make your life easy and just order an all-in-one start-to-stamp set, including all of the above.

How you’ll go about it:

  • Find and print out a nice image (tip: go easy on yourself an choose an image without a lot of fine details).
  • Copy the image using pencil and tracing paper (hurray for no drawing skills required!)
  • Lay the tracing paper with your design on the linoleum sheet, with the pencil drawing facing down.
  • Scratch over the design with a coin, effectively transferring it on the linoleum.
  • Cut out the design with your knives. Rule of thumb: areas you leave untouched will be black (or whatever the colour of your ink will be), what you cut away will be white. Make sure to carve out the spaces in between black lines deep enough so no ink will touch the paper when you stamp.
  • Tip: start by tracing the image with a fine knife, then carve out the open spaces with a wider knife.
  • Last step: glue the carved-out linoleum shape on a wooden block, to create an easy grip.  
  • Let dry and you are ready to get stamping!

Want a little extra guidance or some company while creating your stamps? Check out Alice’s page for more workshop dates.

Happy crafting!

Love, C.

 

There is something so gratifying about playing tourist in your own country. The joy of traveling, right at your doorstep. Or only a little drive away from it anyway. Last weekend we went to visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. The perfect plantlady Sunday plan! Getting to walk in this glass palace (because really: that thing is huge!) makes you feel especially privileged, as it only opens its door to the public once a year. Unorganised soul that I am, I missed it two years in a row… But this year, I finally got my act together!
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Why should you go there? Honestly, it’s one of the best kept botanical garden I’ve ever seen. Crazy to think this is actually a family’s backyard! (Now that’s my kind of princess fantasy.. :) ) The impressive collection houses a number of rare and valuable plants, some of them even dating back to the original collection of Leopold II. And all of this in a stunning classical glass and iron construction that feels like an endless magical maze when you’re strolling through its corridors. What more could you want?
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My favorite part was definitely the Winter Garden, which was the first greenhouse of the glass palace to be built. It’s the true tropical heart of the greenhouses and you will discover some giant jungle beauties there, among which the biggest Monstera I’ve ever seen in my life. Plant goals!
Convinced? The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are still open to the public till the 11th of May. You can find the timetable and practical details here.
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Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did!
Love, C.
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This winter we spruced up our vintage bathroom (oh the miracles a bit of paint can do..), and getting to redecorate it was the perfect reward for our hard work. I could entertain you with a story of the brave fight between my man, some old pipes and a brand-new sink, but I will leave the details up to your imagination and focus on the fun part. Our refreshed white-with-bamboo-touches bathroom was desperately screaming for some green (or maybe that was just me?). Enter a trip to our local garden center, where we fell head over heels with this GORGEOUS Alocasia Zebrina. Sure, it is huge. Sure, that’s not really a practical choice for any mid-sized bathroom. But have you seen those printed stems? How could we resist…

The perfect plants for your bathroom

A bathroom might not be the first place that comes to mind, when thinking houseplants, but actually: it should be! If there is ever a place in your home that has jungle potential, it’s this one. Hello, tropical humidity! They love it.

So when choosing the greenterior decoration of you bathroom, think jungle plants. They will thrive in the humidity and warm temperatures. A few prime candidates:

  • Philodendron: instant jungle vibes, and very easy to keep. Its beautiful leaves love medium light and will tell you instantly if conditions are suboptimal (yellow spotted leaves= too much light, leaves growing far apart = too little light).
  • Photos: This hanging baby looks great on a high shelve or in a hanger. I personally love those with a marble style print. Bright, indirect light will make it thrive.
  • Alocasia: we have not regretted our choice, so why not! Make sure you place this one in bright, indirect light.
  • Calathea: always a solid, and easy to maintain choice! They love indirect light but don’t mind shade. Plus: there are so many types and patterns to choose from. Statement plant guaranteed!
  • Aloe vera: its beauty and health applications make this superplant a bathroom classic. Side note: mine is making tons of babies so if anybody wants a little cutting, give me a shout :)
  • Ferns: I’ve never had any ferns myself but they should be pretty easy to care for. They love the humidity and don’t hate a bit of shade, as long as they get a good dose of light every now and then.

 

The perfect plants for your bathroom

So what I’ve you are dealing with a zero-sunlight bathroom? Don’t despair!  Try a snake plant/sanseveria, a spider plant or a pretty little Peperomia! They should do fine in low-light conditions.

Hope you’ll have fun creating your bathroom jungle! :)

Love, C.

The perfect plants for your bathroom

Nothing like some easy peasy crafting for that feeling of instant creative gratification. Well… Except for some easy peasy crafting with plants, maybe! Instant good mood! These tiny air plants terrariums are the perfect example of such an easy fun craft project. While actual terrariums require a bit of knowledge and the right materials to create, using air plants makes for a super simple alternative. They don’t need soil, remember? You can “plant” them pretty much anywhere, anyway you like. When I was shopping for air plants with this terrarium plan in mind, these adorable little ones gave me the idea to go for a mini version. Everything is cuter in baby size, right?

What do you need

  • A glass jar (be creative with shapes and sizes!)
  • Air plants (Phyt plants are always a good idea)
  • Pebbles & dried moss (you can find this in your local garden centre, craft store or even a pet/fish store, I got mine at Action)
  • If you want: a fun little gadget or figurine to add to your tiny landscape

How do you go about it

Well. You stuff it all together in the jar. As simple as that. Told you it was easy.

Bonus: these tiny terrarium jars make a nice handmade gift! I actually created a few but ended up giving them al away! Time for a second round, I suppose :) I might try my hand at a classic terrarium at some point as well, keep you posted on how that turns out!

Happy crafting!

Love, C.

To all you aspiring, charmingly chaotic or secretly lazy plantladies out there: nothing better to release your budding (or non-existent!) plant care skills on than cacti or succulents. They need so little time and attention; it is almost impossible to kill them. Personally, I started my plant collection with some cacti. For some reason I never really got into the succulent game. So, when the lovely people from Plantiful.be contacted me for a collaboration, I took my chance to fill this gap in my plantlady skill-set.

Next to a beautiful collection of succulents and cacti (delivered right at your door in a pretty pot! Easy peasy), Plantiful.be offers plenty of tips on how to take care of your new plant friends. So I thought I’d share some of there pearls of plant-wisdom. Not in the mood to read the deets? It comes down to this: sufficient sunlight, not too much water, dry periods and a bit of food from time to time. No rocket science.

WATERING

  • Less is more! The most common cause of succulent victims is overwatering. Only water when you are sure the soil is completely dried out.
  • When the plant looks slack and a little shrivelled, it needs more water.
  • During summer, every 4 weeks should do, during winter it’s good to maintain a dry period of a few months.
  • Make sure to always remove any leftover water from the (ornamental) pot.
  • Succulents with thinner leaves need more watering than those with thicker leaves, as the latter can store more water in their leaves
  • When in doubt: don’t water!

LIGHT

  • In general succulents need enough light, if not their colours will become dull.
  • On the other hand: too much direct sunlight for an extended period of time could create burn marks

REPOTTING

  • Your succulent friends like a new home every now and then, as their current one can get saturated by chalk and fertilizer residue.
  • Renewing the soil gives them plenty of new nutrients to grow and bloom.
  • You can repot all year round, unless the plant is in bloom.
  • Go for a new pot that is about 20 or 30% bigger, but not more
  • Use soil especially for cacti and succulents
  • Make sure the clod is dry and only water several days after repotting, as the plant needs to get comfortable in its new home first

MAINTENANCE

  • Some succulent’s leaves can die off. Remove them carefully, as they can induce diseases or rot.
  • Fertiliser helps your succulents grow big and strong. Use adapted fertiliser for cacti and succulents, only during spring and summer.
  • Your succulent is acting weird, and you don’t know what its issue is? Head over to the Plantiful chatbox, the plant doctor will know what to do ;)

Armed with these tips, I should be able to keep the two new members of my plant family (a cute Aloë Longistyla and a quirky Crassula Horntree) alive, shouldn’t I?

And how about you? Tempted to try this at home? ;)

Love,

C.


I must admit: this Austrian pearl had not made it on my city trip wish list yet. But fortune put it there for me :) As a member of my band of brothers decided to move to Vienna for a year, a visit to both the brother and this city he had come to love so much was obviously called for. And hurray for that! Beside it being pretty much an open-air museum (those buildings!), voluptuous (granted: sometimes a bit stately) Vienna has so much to offer! Of course, having an almost-local as a guide did help to discover some of the best things to see and do around town. (Thanks bro ;) ). So I thought I’d pay it forward, and share some of his tips plus our own discoveries, for your own trip to Sissi’s city:

Things to see

  • Where do I begin! As said: the whole city is like an open-air museum, so just wandering through the historic center is a cultural experience. My brother’s tip for that first taste of Vienna: get off at the Volkstheater metro stop and stroll back to Stephansplatz. Tourist highlights guaranteed!
  • Good to know: all places of interest or historical relevance are marked by a red notice board with two little flags. So follow the flags!
  • Schloss Schonnbrun: if you have some time to spare, definitely go visit Sissi’s summer house! This royal palace with its beautiful garden is perfect for a relaxed stroll. On a sunny day, you can lounge on the hill enjoying the stunning view of the palace.
  • Belvedere palace: got a taste for that royal greenery? Then the Belvedere palace and is stately gardens are a close second to Schonnbrun.

Things to do

  • Go check out the Rathausplatz: no matter what time of year you travel over, in front of the city hall there is pretty much always something going on (festivals, Christmas market, skating rank, carnival,..). You can check the program here.
  • Wander through Neubau & Mariahilf: these hipster neighborhoods are a little less stately than the rest of Vienna, and house plenty of little streets, cute shops, cozy cafes and original art galleries. If I lived in Vienna, this would be my home :)
  • Museum hopping: there so many great museums in Vienna! Our favorites were the Albertina (the lilies <3) and the Museum of Natural History (Dinosaurs. Don’t think I need more arguments than that).
  • Haus des Meeres: inside this tall concrete tower you will discover an indoor zoo with impressive sea life aquariums and a mini jungle which is home to dozens of cute little monkeys and beautiful birds. Bonus: when you reach the top floor, you will be rewarded with a great view over the city!
  • Indulge at Café central: for an old skool Vienna experience: head over to Café Central to munch on Sachertorte in a classic decor while listening to a live pianist. Bliss! You’ll probably have to queue for a bit but I think it’s worth it!

Places to eat and drink

  • Palmehaus: for all you plantladies out there, this is where you will feel right at home in Vienna! And I guess the rest of you might enjoy it as well ;) Coffee in this tropical greenhouse was one of my favorite Vienna experiences.

  • Sky bars: if you want to feel a bit fancy, a drink at one of Vienna’s sky bars is a perfect plan. The one at the Sofitel, 25 hours hotel or hotel Melia are good options. Music lover bonus: Dachboden (25 hours) organizes jazz nights. Good music, a luscious cocktail and a stunning view. Sounds like a great night to me.
  • Naschmarkt: a place of foodie dreams! This all-year food market offers yummy foods from all around the world. Bonus: on Saturday there’s a farmer’s market and a flea market as well. By the way: after you’ve eaten your belly full, walk it off towards the linke Wienzeile and feast your eyes on the beautiful facades.
  • Schnitzelwirt: nope, this is not a hipster spot. By any means. But after two trips to Vienna this has become a bit of a staple for us, so it would be wrong not to share. The name says it all. As does the line in front of the door. Great schnitzels. Giant schnitzels. Baby prices.
  • Brunch: Vienna is all about brunch! Two of our favorite spots (both in the Neubau area), were Pure living bakery (try the pancakes!) with its colorful happy décor and equally personnel and wirr (try everything!), which is apparently a bar by night so has an interesting grungy vibe by day.
  • Café espresso: loved the 50ties vintage vibe of this bar! Perfect place for either a coffee during the day or a pre-dinner drink. Personal anecdote: this will forever be the place of the first drink I shared with my new love and my brother. The big introduction. So I guess I’m a bit sentimental in recommending this spot :)
  • Konditoreis: Forget what I claimed above. Vienna is all about coffee! For an authentic local experience, there are plenty of old skool “Konditoreis” where you can enjoy a nice Austrian cuppa with a piece of cake. Worth a mention: the retro Aida chain, which is about as pink as a coffee bar can get, and the cozy “Kleines café.

A place to stay: We were thrilled by our charming vintage Airbnb, located in the heart of Neubau, so would definitely recommend it! Lots of character, a dash of hipster.

Happy travels!

I used to be one of those people who managed to let even the least demanding of plants droop and die. Green thumb? Not so much. While I’ve always loved a green touch in my interior, I never really got the hang of caring for them and pretty much stayed away from anything more complicated than a cactus or a snake plant.

Plantlady

Fast forward to today. I have 93 plants in my house. And counting. I can’t pinpoint exactly how I got here… I guess it started with a sudden urge to give my green babies a little more TLC, including new homes (the first time in my life I repotted a plant…) and a relatively regular care routine. And what do you know? They actually grew. They flourished. They made babies. How about that. I started to get hooked. I bought my boyfriend the Urban Jungle Book. He got hooked. He bought some plants. I bought some plants. We moved in together. We realised we had a little jungle on our hands. We got really hooked… and bought some more plants.

MY SEVEN PLANTLADY COMMANDMENTS

Enter my crazy plantlady life. Does it involve a magically developed green thumb? Not really. I just found myself with a practical routine and a few simple rules that make it work for me.

1. Start simple: Snake plants, cacti and aloe vera are just a few examples of plants that are very easy to release your budding plantlady skills on. Aside from overwatering, they are quite hard to kill :) In a next instance you could add a little jungle vibe with a monstera, calathea or devil’s ivy. They need a little more watering but are not the fussiest of plants either, making them nice additions to a growing plant collection.

2. Wednesday watering day: what really helped me and my cluttered mind (I watered the plants 3 days ago… right? or maybe a week ago? Or yesterday?…) is setting fixed times for plant care. Enter Wednesday watering day! (and Saturday second watering day for the more demanding green housemates, such as our beautiful banana plant). Plus: every first Wednesday of the month I take the green babies that need only sparse watering along on my round (such as the cacti, which I tend to overwater) and add some fertiliser. A simple routine, that has been working out for both me and my plants!

3. Get a little digital helper: If you have plants that have more irregular watering needs (such as a string of pearls which apparently needs a tiny bit of watering every 10 days), setting an alarm can help! There are also a few plant care apps out there that can help you manage this schedule. I tested a few and personally thought Plantbook was the most practical one.

4. Look for the light. If a good watering routine is key, a strong “light strategy” is definitely of equal importance. Especially young plants need the right kind and amount of light to do well. As a general rule of thumb: most plants fare well in bright spots with indirect/filtered light. No dark corners, no direct sunlight (beware of those south-facing window sills!). Obviously, there are some exceptions (calatheas don’t mind a little shadow, cacti love the direct sunlight), but when in doubt, you cannot go wrong with this rule.

5. Observe and enjoy: You know how they say you should talk to your plants? While that might be taking the crazy a bit too far, there is actually a little truth hidden in there. The idea behind is that you spend a moment and a dash of full attention on them. You will notice when they are doing poorly but also discover little signs of the effect of your good care such as fresh leaves, little seedlings or just plain old beautiful growth. Oh, the wonders of (indoor) nature <3 Pretty sure that’s what got me hooked.

6. Try, fail and learn: The most fun part of being a plantlady is literally getting your hands dirty: repotting, harvesting little seedlings, propagating, … And then witnessing the results of your handiwork! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes a plant just decides to give up on you, for no apparent reason. No biggie! You’ll do better next time. Maybe you’ve even learned something. And you’ve got an excuse to buy a new plant ;)

7. It’s all about plant gangs: When styling my plants around the house, I tend to group them in “plant gangs”. Not only does this look pretty, with a smidge of jungle-feel, it’s also good for them! Houseplants thrive in groups, plus having them gathered in a few spots makes the watering routine easier and more effective (as you’re less likely to forget/skip a gang than a loner plant).

How about you? Any budding plantladies out there? How are you caring for your indoor jungle? Do tell!

Love, C.

PS: Even though the totebag above says plantlady is the new catlady, I’m choosing the best of both worlds ^^ Here’s a pic of our panther in his jungle to celebrate that <3

How time flies! One year ago today I just got back from a wonderful family trip to Brazil. Vibrant, sunny, colorful Brazil…. Someone whisk me away and take me back, please! Since I hadn’t shared the colorful pics and memories at the time (life happens..) I thought a throwback on its one year anniversary was an excellent way to make up for this dreadful negligence.

As we were visiting our Brazilian family (<3!), our stay was all about quality time, relaxing and getting a taste of this beautiful country. No adventurous jungle experiences (I’ll be back for those ;) ), but fun discoveries and activities around São Paulo and Rio.

SÃO PAULO

Places to discover:

  • Embu das Artes: Our Brazilian home base! An hour outside of São Paulo, this artsy little town would probably not be on your standard Brazilian itinerary. But if you have the time, do swing by! You’ll discover a lively town square surrounded by artisan shops, a delicate gazebo hidden amidst a patch of green and numerous craft markets and art galleries.

  • Vila Madalena: When visiting the Sao Paulo center, this was really my favorite neighborhood to stroll through! It has a lovely creative atmosphere and lots of cute shops and artsy hotspots. Highlight: you will discover some amazing street art (especially in the famous “Batman alley”).

  • Bella Vista: The Italian neighborhood, with picturesque houses mixing Brazilian vibes with Italian heritage. Plus good food! Not very Brazilian of course, but yummy nevertheless.
  • Mercado municipal: This eclectic building in the historic center of São Paulo with its remarkable stained glass houses a large food market with a myriad of local and international yumminess on display. It can get a bit hectic but any foodie will be loving the vibe.

RIO DE JANEIRO

Places to discover

  • Santa Teresa: we stayed in this lively area up in the hills. Colourful houses, eclectic street art, cute cafés and of course the tourist classic: the beautiful tiled stairs of the Escadaria Selarón, connecting it to the Lapa area. Should your feet be tired of climbing those hills: the little yellow tram is a delightful alternative :)

  • Lapa: definitely a must for a full Rio experience, as this neighborhood houses some major landmarks (including the impressive Arcos da Lapa)

  • Jardim Botanique: Rio’s botanical garden was definitely one of my favorite day trips! A jungle feel within the city, palm trees in every size, a beautiful archway (such a sucker for archways) and an IMPRESSIVE cacti garden. What more could any plantlady ask for?

  • Ipanema beach: for a real summer-tourist-modus day: head to Ipanema for some shopping (Hello new pair of Havaianas!) and some shameless lounging at the beach. Also: the sunset view is one to stick around for!

Places to eat

  • Zaza Bistro Tropical: We stumbled on this boho looking spot after an afternoon ay at Ipanema beach and felt we hit the foodie jackpot! Yummy organic fusion cuisine in a colorful bohemian setting.
  • Emporio Jardim: This eco hipster-style bistro was recommended to me by a good friend, so naturally we had to check it out. We headed over there for lunch after our visit to the Jardim Botanique and were not disappointed! Original burgers and salads plus breakfast all day!

Guilty tourist pleasures

  • A picture in front of the Cristo statue
  • Sipping from a coconut on Copacabana beach
  • Celebrating Caipirinha o‘clock! (which can take place pretty much any time you want it to)
  • Munching on an Acaï breakfast bowl (to balance the Caipirinha with some antioxidants ;) )

Place to stay

I would really recommend the Airbnb we stayed at in the Santa Teresa area! It was quite basic but clean and convenient with a homey vibe. The owner Beatriz was super friendly and served THE BEST breakfast, completely home made with love.

Practical tips

  • We did not bring a tourist guidebook and used city walk apps to map out our excursions. Super practical and a solid guidebook-alternative! This one is for Rio and this one for Sao Paulo.
  • Uber is a great and inexpensive way to get around the city of Rio, especially if you have limited time and want to cover a lot of different neighborhoods. Bonus: driving from highlight A to B with a local prevents you from wandering on foot into areas you should not visit as a tourist.

Things I am definitely traveling back for: After this first taste of Brazil, I am hungry for more! I’m especially curious to discover some of its lush nature, so on my wish list for next time: the Iguazu Falls, the Amazon, Bahia, Ilha Grande and Ilha Bella. So much more to see and experience!

Hope you like these tips and happy travels!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Present season! Among my friends and family, I’ve built up a bit of a reputation as gift-freak. The one that starts thinking about Christmas gifts in November and gets overly excited about the whole ritual. Finding the perfect gift: yay! Wrapping it using tons of washi tape: double yay! Finally getting to give it: jingle all the way! I blame my grandma’s genes. I swear, she starts buying her gifts in August. Apple & tree.

With only 10 days to go till Christmas, I assume most normal, non-freak peeps are in full gift buying-mode as well. So I thought I’d share some of the most original Christmas gift ideas I bumped into on this year’s hunt and some of my all-time favorites. Laziness bonus: you don’t have to leave the house for any of them. Last-minute laziness bonus: at least half of these can be bought super-last-minute (provided you have a printer or are good at hand-crafting vouchers).

christmas gift ideas

*1* For the endless commuter: an audiobook service This way you help them spend this otherwise lost time in an enjoyable, even inspirational way. Bought this for my dad, who has to spend quite some time in the car, and it was a hit! You can get a voucher of the app I personally use here.

*2* For the person you shared a significant moment with: a beautiful poster with a star map from a particular place, on a particular day (your first date, the birth of your child, your wedding,…). A bit cheesy but a meaningful gesture if you ask me. I got one (for a very special person!) at The Night Sky.

*3* For the busy bee who needs a break: think about what would help this person hit the brakes and take a breath. A massage? A spa visit? A private music lesson? If you have some budget: a stay for 2 at these wonderful Slow Cabins.

*4* For your significant other: don’t give your special person stuff, you’re their gift! Hello, quality time! A moment to share. A visit to a theme park, a weekend away, a fancy night out, the possibilities are endless! (Not giving away mine, the screens have ears ;) )

*5* For the crazy plant lady: She might not need any new plants (guilty..) but anything that celebrates her plant lady life: success guaranteed. How about this “plant lady is the new cat lady” tote by Eva mouton bag for Phyt. A beautiful green interior book is always a winner amongst this crowd as well! The Urban Jungle book is one of my personal favorites. Also: how adorable is this keychain with a real-life mini cactus?

*6* The girl who has everything: you cannot buy her happiness, but you can buy her a little piece of nature. How about a voucher for a fresh bouquet of flowers every week (Bloomon is a classic in this category) or some beautiful, easy to keep cacti or succulents from Plantiful.

*7* The guy who has everything: there are two things a guy can never get enough of: socks and plain white T-shirts. What do you mean boring? Not if you go for Happy Socks or a gift voucher for a responsibly produced tailored white T, made to his exact measurements by Son of a Tailor (thanks for the tip, Elle.be!)

By the way: I’m watching Netflix’ “A Christmas Prince” as I’m posting this. How appropriate and deliciously cheesy.

 

Merry days!

<3 C.

I am not a morning person. Never have been and probably never will be. I’m not likely to ever catch that worm. But when moving house added the extra stress of a long commute to my morning routine, I felt my morning mood getting worse and worse. (Both my boyfriend and my colleagues can probably attest to that. Sorry guys.) Time for a change. Time to beat that morning mood monster. Enter this month’s mantra: Kick Morning’s Butt.

Morning routine

What the experts say

Like the geek I am, I started with some research. One theory particularly triggered me: In Laura Vanderkam’s “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast“, she states that mornings are the best time to tackle crucial tasks. Why? Because people’s willpower and control tend to get weaker throughout the day. We just get fed up with making the sensible choice. Salad for lunch, pizza for dinner. Makes total sense.

So what distinguishes successful peeps from the rest of us? They focus on the first things first, while they are fresh and have a full daily dose of willpower to spend. They get up (early!) and get cracking at:

  • An important professional task
  • A personal passion project
  • Exercise or meditation
  • Quality time with their loved ones
  • Planning and strategizing towards their life goals
  • Getting their daily dose of news

Aside from the lightbulb powered by Vanderkam’s vision on willpower, I naturally turned to some of the ideas of my life guru Gretchen Rubin, to makeover my morning:

  • A good morning starts the night before, by simply getting to bed in time (I know ultimate #girlboss Arianna Huffington will agree).
  • Loving actions inspire loving feelings (and what better to start the day with).
  • To keep up with a new routine it should become a habit, like brushing your teeth. Something you don’t question, but just do.
  • The one minute rule: for some people (represent!) outer order inspires inner peace. Any chore that takes less than one minute should be done immediately, which will eliminate a lot of clutter.

How could that work for me?

Let’s be real. Tackling all of the things “successful peeps” do in the morning, would just set me up to fail, and probably even feed the morning mood monster. Priorities and baby steps. So I thought about the key things that poison my morning: feeling tired, feeling rushed and feeling like I am wasting time being stuck in the car. Easy. Now, what are things that make me feel happy? Feeling loved, learning new things and feeling like I am making healthy choices.

With that in mind, and considering what I’ve learned from the experts, I resolved to try these seven baby steps to make-over my morning routine

  1. Sleepytime alarm: rigorously following Gretchen’s advice I set an alarm at 10 PM, to remind myself to GO TO SLEEP.
  2. Buy some time: I set my morning alarm 45 minutes earlier, to eliminate the rushed feeling and have the time to add a few new happy habits to my morning routine.
  3. Snoozers are losers: No use setting the alarm if you will snooze that extra time away!
  4. 7 min workout: I am a total victim of the willpower trap, and have had a hard time keeping up my evening work-out. So why not try a quick daily morning workout. (I quite like this app since it gives you a routine, meaning I don’t have to wreck my sleepy brain coming up with exercises).
  5. Start with love: Take time to snuggle with the BF and pet my cat, before starting my morning routine. I get a tiny snooze pass for snuggles :)
  6. Listen and learn: I’ve always been a fan of audiobooks during my commute, but mostly stuck to fiction. On my way back from work I just don’t have the mental energy to listen to anything too serious. But Vanderkam’s willpower rule would suggest this to be different in the morning… Enter my new “reading”-routine: marketing/business/personal improvement in the morning, shameless fictional indulgence in the evening. With an alarm at the hour to make sure I switch to the radio for the news :)
  7. 5-minute clean-up: Inner peace through outer order definitely applies to me. The general application of the one minute rule and one quick household task before I leave the house will surely add to my feeling of efficiency.

How did that work for me?

Did I magically become a morning person by sheer force of will? Not even close. But I did manage to slightly tweak my routine for the better. Let’s take stock:

Success: the sleepytime alarm (prevents losing track of time when you’re Netflixing the night away), getting up earlier, starting with love (that one is not hard to keep up :) ), the audiobook reading routine (since I took up this habit, I’ve feasted my ears and mind on “Start with why”, “Blue Ocean Shift”, “The subtle art of not giving a fuck” and plenty of episodes of “The Happiness Project podcast” on my way to work).

Work in progress: 7 minute workout (daily proves to be unrealistic, but on the upside: have done at least 2 of them every week. Still waiting for this to become like brushing my teeth though.. ), snoozers are losers  (my bed is just so nice and warm…) and the 5 minute clean-up. These last two seem to be directly related to the amount of sleep I get, the former for obvious reasons and the latter because it is the first one I skip when I am running out of time.

So all in all, still some work ahead, but a good start! And I have to say: walking into the office on time (no rush!) and feeling like I already accomplished even the littlest of things, really did boost my morning mood. So there’s that.

What about you? Could your morning routine use a makeover?

Love, C.